Provision. School. These can go together since one leads to the other. Last semester was a terrible semester for me. I went to a local technical college where the general student population either smoked pot or were too 'thug' to recognize a white girl walking by. I was lonely, I lived at home again - which was hard after a year of independence - and I couldn't find a job. Seeing as Frank and I had plans (listed below) that we were working for, and my wanting to get back to school in the Fall of 2012, I was feeling pretty discouraged and began thinking that maybe I wasn;t ever suppossed to go back to school, and maybe my true calling was supposed to be flipping burgers or something like that, "someone's got to do it," I thought often. After so much praying and so much stress and confusion about what to do, my mom being no help as she felt she knew what I was supposed to do more than I did, I was on the edge of giving up when... November rolls around. It was the last week of November and a cuople from church had asked me to watch their house and dogs while they and their neighbors were away on vacation. Of course I accepted, I had nothing else to do, so why not? A few weeks later, dreading the fact that I would have to be in Hartsville for yet another semester, I get a call from the man of this family, "Hey Jessica, would you like a job at [this corporation]?" I'm like, "Yes! Of course!" And withing 5 days, I had been pushed through the temp agency, contacted by my soon-supervisor, and put behind a desk at this company. Dang! And what's better is the amount of money I make weekly - enough to pay off my loans, start saving up for tuition next school year, and start saving for a wedding!! Amazing! Weeks after that, I get a call from my church saying that they wanted to donate a large matching grant for my school year next year to help me pay for tuition! Amazing! After all that time thinking that I would never be able to amount to anything I had ever hoped to be because that wasn't where my calling would lie, I felt that God really was taking care of me, and He had had me in His hands the whole time. It's a great feeling. I really really really need prayer in that I learn how to be a better steward with my money, and thank Him for being so faithful! I'll talk in another blog about feeling like has left you or is hiding from you and won't help you or listen to your prayers. God has poured encouragement and comfort into me, not so that I can hold it all in for myself, but so that I can pour into someone else who needs it.
Marriage. WHAT!? You might say. Well since a few weeks after Frank and I began 'officially' dating, we were together for New Year's 2011. Before the ball dropped, Frank slipped something about time and how it goes to slow. I asked him what he meant and, not being very good at hiding things especially once they're revealed, said something about wanting to marry me. Phew! That was such an exciting moment and my stomach felt that kind of nervous warm. A few months before then, I told him that when I was an old lady - as long as I didn't truly have alzheimer's - I wanted to make all of my children and grandchildren believe that their grandparents had gone senile. I always think that would be a great laugh with my husband at that old age, and so I asked Frank if he would go senile with me. That was Thanksgiving break 2010. Since then, plans have started churning as we've realized that the other is serious about this proposal for marriage. It's been tough watching friends of ours, or just random people we know, start dating far after us, become engaged and then get married in the long time we have been dating and planning. It's a happy and wonderful thing, yes! But sometimes it's disheartening because we've had to wait for so long and spend so much time apart over the past year. However, this time apart, as hard as it has truly been, has shown through some of the darkest moments in our relationship. The worst is over and we're running towards the home stretch! Over the next few months, I'll be waiting for the moment when Frank actually asks me to be his bride. I'm so nervous! And it is the ONLY thing that I am not aware of in this whole process, so I'm really excited too! Marriage isn't too far from here, possibly only another 9 months... So. Please pray that Frank and I will be able to continue growing through and towards the moment at the altar, that God would remain and continue to be the center of our lives and of our relationship, and that His provision would come through as we prepare for that day. Also, pray that I will keep calm and patient as I await to be asked! ;) I would have saved this best for last, but it's easier to explain everything else once you know our plans...
Sweden. Back around September/October 2011, Frank and decided that we would not talk about missions and calling for a few weeks, but rather talk to God about it. We decided that, if we are to be called together to a particular plain on the mission field, we should seek God as individuals. If we are to be called anywhere other than the United States, we made lists of places (countries, regions, etc.) outside the US that we felt God was putting on our hearts for prayer. Our goal was to bring these condensed lists together and see which countries we feel like we need to pursue in prayer and then, if we felt called, in service. The weekend came that we were to pull out our list of countries, regions, and cities from the US and the rest of the world that we felt had been put on our hearts. Without talking about it EVER before, Sweden was the first one that had been on our hearts in our pursuit of God's calling. Among the others in the top five similarities were Denmark, France, London, and Urban America. Crazy, right? After that, we decided that we should take this pursual slowly as to not burn out or read in to it more than we were intended. We continued to learn privately and together about the spiritual need of Sweden, and different cultural occurances over recent years that help to explains the overall need of the country. Sweden is very spiritually dark; the government has been ruled by the church for over four centuries. You would think that's great, right? Well all the people know of Christianity and a relationship with God is encumbered in their idea of the government; going to church is the only thing that makes you a Christian. In the census of 2010, it was recorded that 53% of Swedish residents considered themselves to be Christians. Recorded in Operation World 2010, less than 5% of the supposed Christians have a true relationship with God, and less than 2% of that are evangelicals! The idea of Christ is no more than an idea of a man to the vast majority of the country, but there is hope. In January, Frank walked by a stand for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) and low and behold, Sweden was listed on the front. We got in touch with the local TEAM representative, Carl Peklenk, and have been discussing future plans to join the missionaries there and see if Sweden is our definite calling. We understand that Sweden might only ever be short term, and we could also be called somewhere else, but for now, we are going to pursue this, and evidently we need your prayer. Pray for the heart and minds of Swedes who need Him, pray for us as we work towards this Holy adventure, and pray for provision in multiple ways as we seek God for help.