Things here in Croatia have looked a little differently than previous visits. Allow me to explain.
This week we have brought Athens to Croatia as we had VBS!! This week was full of singing, crafting, Greek costumes, skits, and big smiles. I arrived Tuesday morning ready to go to VBS that afternoon. Maja promptly asked me to take a nap before VBS and I listened to her! (I would have died if I didn’t take that nap). VBS was great! I got to work with the smallest kids attending the program. It was an adventure. My favorite time of the program was when there was music (surprise surprise). I loved hearing the VBS songs from my childhood translated into Croatian. I loved hearing the Croats singing and dancing praising the Lord. I loved learning the motions and attempting to sing them with the correct pronunciations.
August 26, 2019 was a monumental day in the life of Emily. Big developments have been made regarding me staying permanently in Croatia. On Monday, I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office with my friend Denis. He asked the office what documents I needed to get in order to get a visa to move to Croatia. This was a huge step in the right direction towards getting me to Croatia. Between health insurance, proof of funding, and invitations, I look at the list with an anxious desire to start checking things off.
Now, lets move backwards.
A few weeks ago, I was having serious internal conflict about what to do about the Church in Sisak. I was praying and I said “Ok God. I know you want me in Sisak, I just don’t know if you want me at Bethel Church. Will you please give me a sign about what to do? It would be really cool if you could show me the name of the church if you want me there.” It was a crazy prayer. A few days went by and nothing happened, quite honestly I forgot that I asked for that specific of a sign. Then on the plane from America to Croatia I was doing my school work. I was reading in my textbook and it was listing some Biblical names of God. 6th on the list “El Bethel.” My mouth dropped open in the middle of the flight and I thought to myself “maybe its not actually the sign” (LOL I’m unnecessarily stubborn). So I did a search through my online textbook to see how many times the word “Bethel” appeared in the book. Bethel only appears once. In the entire 488 page theology book… Seriously?!?
When I went yesterday to talk to Milos, the pastor of Bethel in Sisak, I was very nervous. I had no idea how well he would receive what I was saying. There is a big difference working with and in a church than attending on Sundays and Thursdays. I talked to Milos about the possibility of working with Bethel and he was very excited. I talked to him about the ministry ideas I have such as VBS, Sunday School, and Weekly Bible Studies and he was so excited. He stressed to me his desire for people who join the church to be spiritually mature and connected with the Spirit. I explained that I agree that all Christians should work to become spiritually mature, however they need to have a place to start. They cannot go from newly converted to a well-seasoned Christian overnight. He said he agreed and again we discussed how the ministries would benefit the church. We then discussed my visa and he said that he would be happy to provide the necessary documents and invitations that I need from a church in Croatia. This fulfills one of the biggest items on the checklist.
My days in Croatia are numbered. Without a visa, Americans can stay as a tourist for 90 days in a six-month period. I have nearly reached this limit. I will be leaving Croatia on September 3rd to head back to the States to begin obtaining the documents needed for a visa. I will visit the FIM headquarters in order to begin the process of getting a mission board. This will help me continue to fulfill visa requirements. My trip to America will also begin the process of fundraising.
Because of the strides I have made in Croatia, I feel I will not be able to return here until I have a visa (Unless God calls me to come back before). The ministry opportunities that are going to begin are not ones that can go for three months and then pause while I leave the country. This breaks my heart in some ways, but makes me excited in other ways. Now my full focus should turn towards getting visas and preparing to live in Croatia. Please be praying for me while I go through this process. This season could prove very difficult and I want to start these ministries so bad. Please be praying for patience and for God to go before me. Please also pray that God would use this time to prepare my heart for the ministry I will do. Finally, please be praying that I will use this time wisely to continue to learn Croatian and Biblical knowledge.