Bulgaria…What!?@!!@@#

Many of you receive our email updates and know that we will be moving on from Cyprus to Bulgaria this summer.  If you don’t have any idea about this or would like to get our email updates, just post a comment and I’ll be sure to send our latest announcement and add you to the list.  For a few reasons, I would not like to post the details of our upcoming journey here just yet.

But, this post, is meant to answer some questions we have been asked.  There are a few out there who scratch their heads, pull their hair and wonder why in the world we would drag our kids to yet another destination that is not the cozy USA.  Our sanity has been questioned.  Our parenting skills have been questioned.  And, I have been at a loss for how to respond in a kind, graceful way to those questions.  And, surely there are some who know us that we haven’t been able to share at length about our faith or motivations.  Hopefully this post will help with that too.

I would like to first say that I am blessed to be a citizen of the USA.  Being raised there has afforded me great opportunities.  Being near family and friends is a great draw on my emotions.  But, the reason behind our family pursuing something other than our homeland can, in part, be answered by the following sermon by John Piper.

The Radical Effects of the Resurrection – John Piper

I hope this helps convey what my words lack.  I also hope this starts a fruitful discussion venturing toward a peaceful understanding, even if we can’t all agree what my family should or shouldn’t do.  If you have questions or concerns, please post a comment and allow us to respond openly and honestly.  But first, please listen to the talk by John Piper.  I think it will give you a glimpse into how we are trying to live our lives.

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Two Questions

We get asked a few questions frequently.  Here are two with today’s version of responses:

How long are you staying in Cyprus?

We get asked that a lot. We tend to answer with contractual obligatory details. But, we typically leave this open ended. Not sure this satisfies the interrogator. It is peace….for us. Time and location are no longer within our desire to control, on good days. Certainly this produces some discomfort in missing family, friends and our home culture, in tandem with this is the miracle of certain peace.

A good third of our life (pending normal expectancies) has been spent procuring the place, position, domicile and monetary idols, which our world deems as normal. Get a bit more, stay a little longer, and make it softer and bigger. Yep, we were the picture of the American dream. Peace it wasn’t. And, the moments when we drift back towards this elicits a bit of chaos within our family.

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Unrestful Celebration

Cairo, Misrata, Benghazi, Busra – these cities have been at the forefront of my mind the last few months. 

UNREST.  

This term has become equivalent to breathing.   Yet the heaviness of the reality of that term is the yoke that working in ministry in the Middle East and North Africa bears.  It taints everything.  Because the term UNREST does not just involve masses of people, challenging ideas and military actions.  It carries with it the reality of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons and dear friends pressed to the point of breaking, pressed even to death.  And, if we stop and ponder just for a minute the grief each one must experience, we can realize that no one chooses revolution and conflict easily.  Yet, there are causes that warrant the sacrifice of UNREST.  Mere existence, freedom of breath and expression, ability of spiritual brothers and sisters gathering for encouragement and worship together, these are worthy morsels worth putting on the line hearts, relationships, homes and life.  

Let’s pause now and not just think of these situations as news stories, as happenings from afar.  Let’s approach these as intimate, tactile, dirt under the fingernails, tear or blood matted hair – real situations.  Unlike the typical headline: More Unrest in the Middle East, we should refer to UNREST in a different light.  A more realistic headline should read:  Breaking News – More Unrest in the lives of Bushra and her daughter Daliyah who can’t find one another amidst the acrid smoke of tear gas and smell of burning tires, who can’t return home because the way is blocked and even if they did, their home now has a gaping hole in the southwest corner from an errant mortar.  And, tomorrow they will need to begin finding a way to scrape together enough money to buy bread since Ali their husband and father was slain as he returned from gathering supplies, in the Middle East town of Misrata, Libya.  This is the meaning of UNREST.

I bring this to you today because I’ve just had my perspective hit with a 7.2 temblor.  While my work requires me to think often about the above scenarios, I found myself this weekend on a furlough in the USA, on the American Independence day.  In some respects it is the most joyful time to re-enter my previous habitat.  This independence celebration is newly joyful but also weightily pensive in contrast to my new region of domicile.  

We took the kids to the 4th of July parade in a local Michigan town.  It was festive, colorful, peaceful.  Celebrating freedom that was won on the backs of hard fighting men and women from long ago is such good place to be.  Sitting in the sun, watching the flags, veterans, kids and candy is so sweet.  I soaked it in with my inner being.  

It also became clear that there is a strong correlation between the sight and sounds of this celebration and the UNREST still on-going in the Middle East and North Africa.  In the midst of a fight ending in either an uncertain freedom or certain death is the pinnacle of tribulation.  The people fighting now are not any less loved by God, are not any less diligent in their struggle, nor less deserving of their freedom.  And, they may or may not actually obtain their goal despite fighting as hard as our forefathers did.  

So, as it turns out our return at this time was a blessing.  The freedom in the USA is a blessing.  But, these blessings are not deserved, nor a privilege of being from a certain location, nor for being righteous.  It is undeserved favor.  If this is true, receiving these blessings without uttering words of intercession on behalf of those enduring or even succumbing to the struggle is far short of the mark set before us.  This idea is causing me to be in a state of UNREST.  Time to pray.  Will you join me?

Youngest Refugee on the Block

It’s been a strange week or so, which had all of the following:

  • Becoming a Refugee
  • Cardiac Care Unit
  • a phrase full of truth
  • and coming home.
**not necessarily in that order.
_________
For the past few months, I’ve been bustin’ it pretty hard on all fronts.  Yet, like a treadmill runner, putting on the miles but getting no closer to accomplishing much visible progress. Well, maybe that’s true.  It certainly is a perception.
_________
Feeling the pressure to be minimally productive at home, in relationships, at the office and in local ministry I was driving to work last week thinking, “not sure today is possible.”  Then, without asking for it, the Lord instills this nugget in my life, “my blessings are more than enough for you.” That doesn’t happen too often, unfortunately.  And, if this had come from any Christian friend, I would have felt like opening up a can of righteous indignation on their Christian-easy input.  But, coming from the only one who actually can make that true, it was life sustaining, substantive, “take-another-step-enabling” nourishment.  Cool, right?
_________
Then on Sunday, it was my turn to preach.  Um, first, um real sermon without any other motive but to teach the Word.  The passage, Psalm 31.  I preached on how we must live out the fact that Christ is our only source of refuge.  And, how we should lay aside our worldly status and our ability to produce security and comfort and instead take on whatever He would give us – for His glory and our Kingdom inheritance.  I really enjoyed preaching and hope it was relevant and true.  You can listen here, feedback is welcome.
_________
Little did I know, I would have the chance to put these words into actions.  Around 3pm on Sunday, I started to experience discomfort in my chest – a strange tightness.  I went to bed and woke up with the same sensation and a feeling like my heart was racing, fluttering, um, doing the Ickey Shuffle. Cute, but not entirely helpful.  I went to the office and lasted till afternoon before I was too distracted to work.  I was thinking, this most likely is a bit of anxiety or heart palpitation that just requires a short nap.  I’m not a doctor, but that seems logical, right?  By evening, around 30 hours of feeling like a rock tumbler, I decided (with much prompting) to go the ER.
_________
Within, oh, 30 seconds, they start moving with purpose, getting on the horn and prepping me for the ride upstair to the Cardiac Care Unit. I sort of figured they would only look at me and send me home.  Not so much.  I spent the night, the youngest kid on the cardiac care block.  After a lot of tests, all known causes for atrial fibrillation were determined not to exist.  But, the AF persisted all night but subsided with medication meant to slow my heart rate from 140bpm to around 100bpm by 6am.  Not much sleep, but my chest cavity was finally able to rest.  Hopefully this was a one-off 40 hour carnival ride.  With no known cause it seems to be a fluke, most likely made possible by the afore mentioned stress load.
_________
So, after a sweet homecoming, hugs and snuggles for all, Sarah and I talked and now see the writing on the wall.  We’ve known for a awhile that I need to find daily moments of peace and a few substantive days of retreat.  It’s not really too optional.  How, when and what that looks like remains to be seen.  If His blessings are more than enough for me, then perhaps spending some extra time in His presence is a smart approach.  So, pray that making this a priority becomes our reality.  


If He is our Refuge, then it’s time to be a Refugee!

An Easter Celebration

We love our church here in Cyprus!  One of the reasons is that our kids are able to be surrounded by the global church.  Another reason is that they are encouraged to act out their faith.  For example, Elisa (age 7) was recently welcomed on to the worship team.  Here is a video from today (Easter Sunday) where she was able to be a part of the Easter celebration music.  She doesn’t just sing, she worships…it’s what she was made to do.  She said to me this afternoon, “Dad, today (during the normal worship time) I didn’t even have to look at my paper.  I just closed my eyes, raised my hands and sang to Jesus!”  As a Dad, not much is better than that!  Enjoy this clip…Oh Happy Day!!!

Work, Life and Family Updates – April 2011

SAT-7 Update

  • During the revolution in Egypt, many prayers were answered for safety and protection for staff in Cairo.  The staff has pressed on to provide a platform for Christians to offer a Godly perspective on the changes.  Local Church leaders have been able to comfort, shepherd and get feedback from their flocks via live call-in shows.  For more on this and SAT-7’s response to the regional unrest, check out:
  • The SAT-7 Network Conference was held in the beginning of March bringing in over 150 ministry leaders from across the globe, including South Korea, Finland, Tunisia, USA, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.  This was a great chance to connect and share how God has been working through SAT-7.  Some highlights were two discussions on the North African Church with leaders from Morocco and Tunisia and the Iranian Church.  Issues of church health, persecution and the recent change in the region were discussed in-depth.  Dan was able to connect with many colleagues from other offices, including an informal worship session with Egyptian, Tunisian and Lebanese worship songs – nearly all in Arabic.  Dan was very moved to be worshipping with these colleagues in their language.
  • The Communications Dept. that Dan is managing has gone through major changes in the last year.  Dan’s former manager, David, is leaving the organization at the end of April.  David has been quite helpful during this transition.  But, with this change, the department will be very short-staffed at a key time of growth in work and focus.  Please pray that the 4-5 staff that Dan needs will come on board soon.  If you know of any communications/media professionals who would like to come to Cyprus, send us an email with details.

Local Cyprus Ministry

  • Dan has been serving as an elder in Nicosia International Church since the autumn.  As part of the leadership team, Dan participates in various aspects of Sunday mornings, ministry decisions and discipleship.  Dan will be giving his first-ever sermon in May as the elders are part of the teaching team.
  • Sarah has recently begun teaching Children’s Church, discipling kids from ages 4 and up.  In her class, our kids, kids from Zimbabwe, Cyprus and Nigeria are led in prayer, taught lessons and explore their young faith.
  • In our home on Sunday nights, we have been leading a “new-believers” Bible study.  The focus is on discipling and preparing all in the group to be able to disciple others.  We focus on how to study but also how faith is interwoven into all aspects of life.  We’ve just added another woman from Zimbabwe who brings a young, but quite mature perspective on faith.  As we seek to disciple others, the Holy Spirit finds a way to grow our own faith and understanding.

Family Update

  • Dan has been involuntarily working on his motorcycle mechanic skills.  The motorcycle we brought from the States has had a series of repairs needed.  The latest is requiring transmission and clutch work.  This is producing more than its share of frustrations, as the bike is his means of getting to work and running errands.
  • Sarah keeps very busy with the kids and their activities.  She is Calvin’s Cub Scout den leader, Children’s Church teacher, homeschool teacher and Mom/Wife.  The days are long, hectic and often rewarding.  Joyanna provides her hug quota, Elisa her thanks and Calvin…well, patience the way only a 9 –year old boy can.  She was able to go to Germany for a long weekend with Calvin, thanks to a Cub Scout grant to attend some training courses.  It was nice for her to get off the island.  She has been able to connect with some other Moms through the kids’ activities, which has been an answer to recent prayers.
  • Calvin has been enrolled in the American Academy school here since January.  This move has seen him really progress in his studies and has produced renewed confidence and joy for learning.  His teacher remarked that Sarah prepared him well in his previous studies for this next phase.  It is nice to see him thrive again in school.  He continues to play soccer and will test for his orange belt in tae-kwon-do later this month.
  • Elisa is continuing to be Mom’s best student.  She works hard and is now reading wherever she is, standing, leaning or walking.  When she isn’t reading, she is doing handstands on the furniture.  She is in gymnastics twice a week and has progressed very quickly.  This class has allowed her to make some very good girl friends and has allowed her to get stronger physically and mentally.  Lately, she has been joining the worship team chorus on Sunday mornings at church.  The girl was made to sing His praises!
  • Joyanna has grown so much physically and in every other way in the last few months.  She loves to laugh and make others laugh.  She still prefers Mom to everyone else, but has just begun to enjoy making new friends.  She loves music.  But, to make her dance, she likes a good groovy tune.  If it’s a soft song, she barely sways.  If it has a beat and a funk, she really gets down.  Joyanna and Dan seem to have the same taste in music…although Dan is not so fond of Elmo!

 

Busy Week & New Challenges

It has been a long time since we’ve updated you all on the happenings in the Reeves’ household.  The last couple of months have been building in intensity for Dan, as he is organizing and planning the SAT-7 “Network” conference which will begin this week. He anticipates a crowd of up to 180 people attending from all over the world.  As you may remember, Dan’s department is short-handed and this is the first conference in which he is in charge, so he’s been under a good deal of stress.  Important management meetings will take place early in the week before the conference as well.  We would appreciate your prayers for Dan and SAT-7 this week–that the meetings and conference will be fruitful and that the focus will stay centered on Christ.  Please also keep me (Sarah) in prayer, as Dan will be staying in another city  at a hotel during the week, so I will be home alone with the children.

A couple of new challenges have arisen in the last couple of weeks, which we’d like to share with you.  Dan’s motorcycle is not working well and he hasn’t yet had the time to figure out why.  We only have one car, besides the motorcycle, so I have been adding in commuting time to bring Dan to and from work into my already busy schedule.  Hopefully, Dan’s motorcycle can be fixed by himself and without needing to get new parts.  Please pray that Dan will have reliable transportation to and from work soon.

Very abruptly, the Children’s Church teacher at our local church stepped down from this role.  There is currently no plan in place to have the children of NIC fed from the Word – although it is on the heart leadership team.  I am debating whether to fill in this role on a temporary basis, or whether to wait to see if and when someone else can fill that void.  In the meantime, all three of our children are sitting with me during the service and it has been difficult on them and me.  Please keep our church’s children in prayer–that God will raise up the next teacher for the school-age children and that the young children (under 5 years) will eventually have an environment to learn and grow in as well.

A big change on the homefront has been Calvin’s introduction in January to a Christian English-speaking school in Grade 3 here in Nicosia.  The transition has gone really well and it has been a good fit for our entire family.  Calvin is thriving and enjoying the competitive nature of being in a classroom setting and he loves the social interaction too.  I am still homeschooling Elisa in the 1st grade and she continues to excel in her studies and is a great helper to me with Joyanna.  Joyanna is now 19-months old and I am putting a big focus on getting her out of the house more to interact in other environments and with other children.  Once a week, I assign Elisa independant homeschool work and I take the girls to a playgroup.  I realized that since I spent so much time at home until recently, Joyanna was not opening up to trust and interact well with others outside of the family.  In the few weeks that we’ve been focusing on her social development, I’ve already seen some progress!  So, hopefully by this summer she will be ready to meet all of you in the States 🙂

That brings me to my final subject, our furlough.  With Calvin’s enrollment in a school here and the school year ending in mid-June and a mandatory trip to Lebanon that Dan must take at the end of June, it appears that we will go on home assignment for 8 weeks starting in July.  After Dan’s conference, we plan to being researching flights and to make a schedule of where we will be and when!  We will keep everyone posted as the details fall into place.  It is exciting to bring the family back to the States after 2 years of service in Cyprus and we can’t wait to introduce our newest member, Joyanna, to you all then.

Blessings to you all as you begin a new week!  Sarah