Thursday, August 26, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Today is a quiet day around here. Ted is on his way to Australia, Bruce is home packing, and Ed has returned home to Indiana. Ed was here in Montana for almost a week. For a few days, he spent some time for R & R in Yellowstone National Park with his sister and brother-in-law. Then he came to the office for some planning work and a Board of Directors meeting. It was great to actually see Ed. He is beginning to heal. He showed us some of the progress he is making and why it will take so long to regain mobility and strength in his shoulder and arm. His irrepressible personality is still quite intact, and it was a joy to have him here. We pray for continued healing for Ed, and patience and fortitude as he begins therapy in September. Ed is back to work and still notices some fatigue, so we pray that he also be blessed with endurance.
It's official, Bruce has accepted a call to Hamilton, Victoria in Australia. He will be there for a year and this will be a Reconciliation Ministry Pastorate. The congregation has had some conflict which resulted in the vacancy. Bruce's role there will be to help them reconcile relationships in the congregation and put together a reconciliation ministry in the congregation to address lingering and future conflicts. He will teach biblical peacemaking studies, train reconcilers in the congregation, coach and mediate existing conflicts, and help them to prepare for calling a pastor. In some ways, this will be a more thorough process, similar to a Group Reconciliation Assistance that AoR does with congregations. Bruce and Kathy have rented out their home and will need to sell their cars, get visas in place, and make their transition over the next couple of months. We pray that all will go smoothly and that God will bless them with the knowledge of His guidance as they try to tend to all the details. Bruce completed his last training event as an AoR representative yesterday in Wyoming. It is a bittersweet occasion. We will miss them terribly, but know that God will be with them. It is an uncertain time with many unanswered questions. We pray for God's will to be plain to Bruce and Kathy, and that they will understand His leading and directing. He has still been coming into the office to continue his work here, but his hours will be lessening. We also pray for Ted, Susan, and me to be able to pick up all the things Bruce is so good at here at AoR.
Ted is in transit to Australia. He will arrive just after lunch tomorrow, Adelaide time. Taking into effect the time change (at present it is 1:45 pm here but 5:15 am Friday in Adelaide) that means he still has about 7 1/2 hours of travel yet. He left early afternoon yesterday. His first presentation is the evening of August 21, so he has a little recovery time. He has begun this trip already tired, so we pray for his strength and good health, as well as God's direction of his teaching. Ted will begin with a presentation at a district convention of Lutheran Church of Australia. His next event is at Australia Lutheran College, then on September 3rd, he begins teaching with PeaceWise in a number of different locations. He will begin his journey home on September 11 and arrive (with time change, he loses a day) home that evening. He will change suitcases and leave for Washington, DC on the 12th for the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference. Ted won't be back in the office until September 22nd, a very tired man. We pray that God will help all the details to fall into place, and that Ted's teaching will bring God glory. We pray for those who will receive the training, that their hearts will be open to the Gospel and see God's plan for them in regards to peacemaking.
Last Tuesday, our Board of Directors met by conference call. We were very pleased with our phone system. We were able to have the conference call at no extra expenses other than our normal phone bill. We have a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone) that has been very economically beneficial. This is the first time we had used it for this purpose, and it came off quite well. Thank you, God for all Your blessings, even technology. The Board looked very thoroughly at our financial situation and discussed some options for the future. We pray for God's direction and for improvement very soon. We pray for God to provide the answers so that AoR will be able to continue in the work that is so necessary in the kingdom.
In October and November, AoR will be having Church Reconciler Training events. The first is October 3-9 and will be at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning, MN. The other is November 7-13 in Aurora, Nebraska. If you, or someone you know, is interested in attending or in seeing more about this training, see http://www.hisaor.org/web-content/Training-Practicum-Reconcil.html. We would love to fill up these events to train more people for service in peacemaking. We pray that God will provide the participants, and bless the preparations and training.
I pray for you, dear brothers and sister, that God will bless you. With the summer winding down, most people are returning to more regular schedules. Kids are back in schools and churches renew classes and see people return to regular worship. Thanks be to God for the ease of summer, but also for the resumption of "regularity". May we all be strengthen for service to our Savior.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Hi everyone. We are experiencing one of those glorious summer days. The sun is shining, but the temperature is just right, not too hot and not too cold. Forgive me for sounding like one of the three bears here. J
Ted had a very moving trip up to Cross Lake, Manitoba. He joined a group of youth and adults from our congregation to lead Vacation Bible School for a week. Each day they gathered with kids at two different schools in Cross Lake and on Thursday had an evening presentation for the parents. They return very tired, but exhilarated by the week. One day, they had over 200 kids, and had many opportunities to speak to people in meaningful ways. We praise God for the trip. Ted is putting in some long hours preparing for a multitude of upcoming events. Next Tuesday, Ambassador's Board of Directors will have a quarterly meeting. We pray for God's direction for the board as they make decisions about our organization. On Wednesday, Ted leaves for Australia. He will be gone until September 11th. We pray that he will be able to get all the many things completed before he leaves. We also pray for his strength and stamina as he goes. These long days and the trip to Manitoba have begun to take a toll and he is weary. The day after he returns to the USA, he will travel to Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference in the Washington, DC area. He will lead some sections there and then return home a very tired man. So we pray for his preparation for all these events, for his travel to be problem-free, and for his health over the next months.
Bruce has made a decision on the call to New Mexico. He has declined the call and is awaiting information for a congregation in Australia. We pray for God to direct him. He and Kathy are making plans to leave Billings. Wherever God places them, they will be going for a limited time, and hope to be able to come back to Billings. With that in mind, they have decided to rent out their home. God has provided a family who will move in the end of September. Zagels have begun to pack some things and move them into a storage unit. In a recent report Bruce said,
"These past 5 ½ years have been a life changing and extremely rewarding time for both Kathy and me. We have had the opportunity to see God’s grace personally at work in many individuals and congregations and have witnessed God work powerfully through Ted’s leadership. While I regret I will not be able to see first hand how God will continue to work through AoR and CLM, I will continue to promote AoR’s mission wherever the Lord takes me and however he allows me to interact with AoR in the future."
We are so thankful for Bruce's years with us. He has brought much richness and wisdom to our interaction with clients. I personally will miss him so much here in the office. He ministers to me often and both he and Kathy have become good friends. We pray God will be with them through this transition. Before he goes, Bruce will lead a seminar in Wyoming for us. We pray for him as he prepares, travels and presents next week.
Ed is on his way to Billings right now. He will have a few days off visiting his sister and family here. Then next week he will be in our office for meetings. He is working at approximately a 2/3 workload. We pray for his continued healing. He continues to work with clergy couples, congregations, schools, and individuals. He plans on presenting at Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference in September, as well as, a seminar for Blessed Are the Peacemakers also in September in Indiana. May God bless Ed as he prepares and presents at these events. CrossLife Ministries will host a major annual fundraiser at the end of September. It is a golf outing and hence Ed will be hiding out on one of the holes, seeing how he can make the day of those passing through. Golf is not one of Ed's favorite pass times, preferring to be on the tractor instead. We pray for the success of the fundraiser, and for Ed to enjoy/endure the day.
Our finances continue to be quite strained. Recent sales have increased a bit, but only nominally. We have learned that a training event scheduled for early next year has been significantly reduced because of the client's finances. Our two Church Reconciler Training events for this fall are still planned, but the registrations so far are very low. We trust in God's providence, and pray that the sales, registrations, and events will increase and that our finances will improve. We pray for God's direction and also for strength to follow Him in this and all things.
I once again thank you for your interest and faithful service to Ambassadors of Reconciliation. The community of believers gathered around God's Word are a wonder and comfort. May He bless you as you walk with Him.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Hello again to all of you.
Today the weather is in the mid 80's and just feels gentle. It's lovely and a respite from the high 90's that we have been having. I got up to a chuckle this morning. When I opened the shades, I saw that my front yard was filled with pink plastic flamingos. One of the fund raising ideas of the mission team (of which Ted is one of the members) used the idea of inviting people to "flock" others in the congregation with this surprise. Each night they set up the flamingos on someone's front yard, for a fee, of course. They return the next day to retrieve them. When you get "flocked" you can pay a small fee to find out who the culprit was. You also can buy insurance to protect yourself and not get "flocked". It has been much fun and quite profitable for the team. They have had a HUGE response and are getting a bit fatigued with all the requests, but so thankful for the contributions that continue to come in. Great fun!
Ted is presently in Cross Lake, Manitoba with the Mission Team from Trinity Lutheran in Billings. It is the second time our congregation has sent a team to this community for Vacation Bible School. They are putting the VBS on at two different schools. On the first day they had thirty children at one and sixty at the other. This evening they will have a program for the whole community, focused on the adults. We pray for their continued efforts at bringing God's word of love and forgiveness to those in Cross Lake, and for a safe journey home this weekend. It's a very long drive for the team of 27. It takes 26 hours over two days to get home.
On August 17 our board of directors will be meeting by phone. Ed has decided to come to Montana for a few days around the time of the board meeting. He will spend some much needed time off with his sister and her husband who live here in Billings. Ed and his brother-in-law plan on going to Yellowstone National Park for a few days, and then he will be here in the office for some planning. We ask for your prayers as the board meets, reviews our situation and makes decisions for the future.
We are pleased that our orders have picked up a bit. As churches make plans for their fall Bible studies, we usually have an upswing in orders. I suspect we are also having some interest from the Synodical convention essays. We pray that God will move His people to gather around His Word in study and growth. We also thank and praise Him for living in a place where we have the freedom to study His Word openly.
Bruce is still deliberating the two calls he has received. He hopes to make a decision soon. We pray for God to make clear to Bruce what His will is and to close doors on things that are not His will. Bruce continues to administrate the casework for AoR and to tend to the financial affairs of our organization. He also continues to coach over the phone. When he leaves, there will be much for us to take on. We pray for a smooth transition when that all takes place.
Ed has returned to light duties at CrossLife. He has resumed driving for short periods which allows him to resume some counseling for the district. He still gets tired quickly and notices the jiggling of travel. He also cannot lift (briefcase or suitcase) so has had to learn how to ask for help from others. This is not an easy thing for a very independent man, but he knows that he must be very careful as he resumes activities. He appears to be improving and we pray for continued healing for Ed.
Ted will return on Sunday evening. He will have a little over a week for the Board meeting and prep for Australia. Some prep has been done, but I know there will be some late nights involved. We pray for Ted and his prep, and that he will not be overtired even before beginning a long trip of intense work. Ted will return from Australia September 11 and do a quick turnaround to the Peacemaker Ministries Annual Conference in Washington, DC on the 13th. The conference begins on the 16th, but instructors have work to do before the training begins. We pray for those who will instruct and those who will participate that the training will be a blessing to many as they make peacemaking a lifestyle. The theme this year is Forgiveness, and we pray for God's Word to flow richly, and for Peacemaker Ministries as they manage this training event.
We continue to struggle with finances. Donations, sales, and training events are all down. We have some casework scheduled, but it also is down. We ask for prayers for as we face this crisis. We know God is with us, but once again, Bruce and Ted were not paid this month. We pray for God to sustain and direct them. Ed has also seen a real decrease since his injury. We pray for God to see him through this difficult time. "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
We ask for your prayers for the congregation in North Dakota that will have the first visit of a Group Reconciliation at the end of September. We pray for God's Word to have full effect in their hearts and for the team to be well prepared to serve them. We also pray for the congregation and team to be protected through this process.
We pray for you, our supporters in prayer. "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven." Thank you for your faithful service.