The Cloud has lifted

In the Old Testament we read that God led the people of Israel in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In early March, when I returned to Europe, John said to me, the cloud has lifted. Its time to pack up this house and move on. Well…we are packing, and where the cloud lands us, we still do not know. We have various very exciting options which are connected to what we have been doing. For instance, recently I was on the beautiful island of St. Lucia…not as a tourist but as a teacher for cross cultural workers going from Latin America to the middle east to work with LiveDead. What an exciting week it was for me, and how fun it would be to continue to support that school in conjunction with the work we are doing in Cairo.

So stay posted…our bags and boxes are packed…we are ready to move!

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Lessons from Cairo

A trip to Egypt would be incomplete without a visit to the pyramids and a ride on a camel. Personally, I prefer horses!

A trip to Egypt would be incomplete without a visit to the pyramids and a ride on a camel. Personally, I prefer horses!

As John and I have traveled this last month we have seen rich and poor, young and old, majestic beauty and—well, not so beautiful. Mighty pyramids were built to secure the eternal life for one man, and stunning buildings stand as witness to the faiths that are lived out in this land. We also walked through neighborhoods that I could not in good conscience photograph…these are people who live in circumstances vastly different from my native home Killdeer, North Dakota. Narrow dirt streets lined with houses several stories high, street vendors, animals being slaughtered on the street as older men and women sat and smoked their hookahs (water pipes). As I watched children play in the street, I wondered, what do they hope for in this world? What are their expectations and dreams? Does the world look friendly? Secure? Is there sufficient food for their tables and books to capture their imaginations? And do they know the only One who can form the solid foundation under their hopes?

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I was reminded of the thoughts John had on faith (he often is “feeding” me with thoughts for the day!)

Faith is not an idea, but an action…

  • It is looking back at the cross and seizing the sure fact of Jesus’ resurrection
  • It is looking forward and capturing the sure fact of Jesus’ return
  • It is tying these two events together to form a solid net under our hopes and dreams, assuring us that all is well because we have Jesus holding the ends of our net!
  • “It is the property of faith to render hope secure”, William Lane says in his Commentary on Hebrews (Vol 2 p. 394). Hopes yet unrealized, events yet unseen are made solid by faith.

Lots to ponder, much to be thankful for. And much to hope for—

Staying warm in Cairo!

John and I are tucked into our room for the evening after our first day in Cairo. A “wintry” day—where the temperature has been about 48 degrees F, so neither cold nor hot—but cool enough inside the unheated center where we are staying to keep us in our down jackets and scarves. However, this afternoon a dear friend took us to the market to buy groceries for the coming 3 weeks. The ride on the rickety buses, crowded with warm-hearted people, along with the two hours of searching for what we needed in the bustling market aisles, chased the chill from our bones and made us thankful that we are privileged to be here.

Hungry for chicken for lunch? We found just the place to purchase one! You pick one out, and it will be ready to take home and cook in just a few minutes!

Hungry for chicken for lunch? We found just the place to purchase one! You pick one out, and it will be ready to take home and cook in just a few minutes!

Cabbage in Cairo

A cabbage bigger than your head would make enough coleslaw for fifty people!

Market in Cairo

One of the less busy streets at the Market in Cairo.

Bread in Cairo

Bread comes in many shapes and sizes, and we saw quite a variety this afternoon.

 

Thoughts on Faith

John and I are preparing to leave on Christmas day for several countries where we will be “walking” with young people who will be taking the Story of Jesus to people who have never heard. As John has been praying for our time there—and as he studies his way through Bible every year– he “stumbled” across a study of Faith. The certainty of things that have been promised but that we have not yet experienced as today’s reality. Here is what John says:

William Lane’s Word Biblical Commentary on Hebrews was helpful to me in understanding the famous chapter on faith, Ch. 11. ‘faith is characterized as a quality of response to God that celebrates the reality of promised blessings and the objective certainty of events announced but as yet unseen.’ p. 394. This is basically putting 11:1 in his own words. Lane says this is Illustrated by ‘persons and events viewed from the perspective of faith in action.’ As we study the list of people in faith’s ‘hall of fame’ under the old covenant, their lives ‘verify the character and possibilities of faith for the Christian community.’ IBID.

When I look to my own life, I have to ask whether mine would qualify to be part of this august group? James’ thoughts come to mind like I am sure they did to yours as well. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God.’ Courage friends….and boldness too.

Our travels have us on the road this year, so my decoration was simply this...but what could be better?

Our travels have us on the road this year, so my decoration was simply this…but what could be better?

 

On the road…or in the air!

Coffee and fellowship--a global experience!

Coffee and fellowship–a global experience!

From the end of October till just a few days ago, John and I have been on the road…or better said…in the air. We journeyed from South Korea to N Asia, where we visited, taught classes, and encouraged student work with some very wonderful people. Now, several days after arriving in the States, we are still struggling with the 14 hour jet lag, as we listen to men and women at AGTS present their proposals for doctoral projects and dissertations.

The combination of experience on the field and teaching in the classroom energizes us. The complications and challenges on the field come into the classroom with our students who are trying to figure out a way to conquer the hurdles faced in cross-cultural ministry. And it means that John and I have to keep nimble minds too!

I will post more pictures soon.

In the meantime…we begin the season of anticipation…like I said in a recent newsletter…without Jesus, there is no Christmas, and we cherish the thought that Jesus came so that we can have hope for today and the future. Others don’t know him, and there is no hope. Sad.

Texas Chi Alpha –Erfurt Grandkids

One thing I love about our lives is the variety. Right now, John and I are on two sides of the ocean, both investing in the next generation. John is doing his favorite October task of ministry to ChiAlpha students in Texas. For seventeen years he has challenged student leaders, small groups, and ChiAlpha staff at bar-b-ques, in student unions, in student apartments over ice-cream, and preaching in large group meetings. As a result he befriends students as freshmen, watches them as they mature and lead small groups, find their life partners, and get called to either go to other lands to share or stay behind and support their friends on the field.

 

John has tons of stories and had prepared for weeks to have content for these students.

John has tons of stories and had prepared for weeks to have content for these students.

In the meantime, I have taken a brief week to love on our grandchildren in Germany. What a joy to see these little boys make very effective paper airplanes, listen to them as they learn to read English, and run like the wind in the park. Not to mention the little girls who are growing so fast and are delightful little girls.

Anita with Emilie, Johnny and Matthias. Matthias was ready for all possible weather, except he admitted he did not have a swimming suit on!

Anita with Emilie, Johnny and Matthias. Matthias was ready for all possible weather, except he admitted he did not have a swimming suit on!

Beginning the end of October, our lives return again to resourcing and challenging friends in other “far away” countries to “do” student ministry. We will post what we can, when we can.

Back again!

As we pick up our pens one more time and try valiantly to keep up this blog, please forgive us for leaving out particulars—where and with whom we are working. As John and I travel to help student ministry find root in nations far and wide—or as we travel to walk along side new workers in difficult places—we are aware that we often are sharing with those who will walk hard paths in closed countries. We want to make sure that they do not suffer because of our foolish announcements!

Seeing the world through the fog.

Seeing the world through the fog.

Don’t Shake the Rugs!

So, we decided to shake the rugs in the bedroom, which led to sweeping the dust up from the floor, then we decided that we needed to tip the mattress off the bed to clean under the bed and replace the extra little legs in the middle of the bed…which worked fine till we tipped the mattress back on the bed, which moved the bed causing the little legs to come off their pegs again. So we decided to tip the mattress the other way and re-place the little legs. Up went the mattress, but instead of landing up, the bottom skooched towards the card table, knocking the legs out from under it. Of course, on this card table was my computer, all my notes for next week and class handouts a pile or two of books, a lamp…and a glass of water. So the glass spilled all over everything as it slid slowly to the floor (the table didn’t totally collapse, since the chair was underneath it. John held the mattress, as I tried to re-straighten the table legs. Then I dashed the computer into the living room and took out the battery. Then back to pick up papers, and shake off the water (its amazing, a little glass a third full of water acted as if it were a river!). So the computer is drying in the bathroom over the heater, and I am hoping that I don’t have to teach this class next week off the top of my head!!!
Moral of the story, DON’T SHAKE OUT RUGS!!!

A New Grandpa’s Thoughts on the Babies in Berlin

Forgive us friends for our tardiness. Anita and I became grandparents March 23rd. John and Kristen are great parents to two sons named John Paul and Matthias Alexander. They are not identical twins but paternal guys and weigh almost the same weight and look pretty ‘identical’ to us!
We have had the opportunity to be in Berlin a lot in April and May. I simply did my traveling/flying out of Berlin rather than Brussels to the countries where we have responsibilities. The arrangement worked out quite nicely and Anita accompanied me on the majority of the trips.
So we have had the opportunity to watch these little guys from the bowlegged, scrawny reddish guys to looking like the well fed, triple chin, stuffed sausages that they are now!
What has been amazing to me is how helpless they are, how totally dependent these little guys are and how attentive parents can be, should be and have to be? I look into their faces and can’t help but think of the babies of the world and wonder what kind of care they receive. I find myself praying for babies.
Now at the three month stage as they are awake more and more of the time and have a growing awareness of their surroundings especially our faces as we hold them and talk to them and pray for them and speak blessings and admonitions into their spirits. It is just a growing amazement of the cycles of life and the beginning of a new John and Anita Koeshall generation. Most of you who read this are aware of my attempts at sharing this new discovery and are smiling as you read. Others of you, hopefully will come to realize some day what I am trying to share.
Each night before we turn out the light and go to sleep we look together on our computer at a random selection of pictures of the boys. We thank God for allowing us to be part of John and Kristen’s lives as new parents and realize we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, thinks of us, has feelings for us, knows us….this fact is simply almost unimaginable to me, but what a comfort it is to me. John
Grandpa John and Grandson