We found out yesterday that we will be spending this summer in New York City!! As many of you know, we spent the summer of 2008 in NYC and absolutely LOVED it!!! We are really pumped that we get to go back to this wonderful city to serve the Lord! We'll give you more details in the months to come but for now, would you just pray that LOTS of students would give up this summer to go to NYC with us!?
Also, we will be heading up to New York City on Sunday for a week long ministry opportunity called Cross 09. Basically we will be engaging in cross-cultural ministry in Brooklyn all week alongside the other Campus Crusade staff who work in the city. We are excited! Our one hesitation all along has been that Stephanie is 35 weeks (as of today) and we were nervous about her traveling so late in pregnancy. Would you pray that she would stay healthy and that for now Baby Johnson would stay right where he is? Thanks so much!
A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to Black Mountain, NC to reunite with some of the GREAT people we served alongside in Sweden this summer! Not only did we get time to catch up and have fun, we also took time to be reminded of God's heart for the world, and how He can continue to use us in what He is doing there. It was a really motivating and encouraging time! Quite a few of the people who went this past summer are considering going back to serve there again at some point in life....in fact, our friends Ben and Jen are leading the team again next summer! If you want more info on summer projects, check out: www.gosummerproject.com
As of yesterday...Friday Oct 30th...we only have 6 more weeks until Baby Johnson is due! Still no names decided upon but I've also still been feeling really well for being 34 weeks pregnant!
In about a week, Reece and I along with the rest of our staff team will fly up to New York City for a week of cross-cultural ministry in Brooklyn! This will be the very last trip we'll get to make before the month of waiting at home for Baby Johnson to arrive.
We'll post pictures and stories as soon as we get back!
We are a little less than 8 weeks from our due date of Dec 11th! The past month has been filled with lots of celebration and preparations for Baby Johnson. A few weeks ago, some of my greatest friends threw me a baby shower, which was so fun! Not only did I feel so celebrated and blessed with their gifts and prayers, it was also amazing to reunite with so many special friends. Thanks to Amalie, Brandi and Amy for planning it!
All the girls at the baby shower with their hands on Baby J!!
Here I am with Amalie and Amy....we're leaving a spot for Brandi who couldn't make it to the shower...we missed you Brandi!
Last week Momma Love came to Wilmington for a cooking day in preparation for baby's arrival. after a day of cooking, we had 13 days worth of dinners prepared! That really made me feel a sigh of relief just knowing that some meals were already made, since I hear that the first 2 months are especially tiring and draining. Thanks Mom!
And last, this past weekend, Reece and I went on our long awaited BABYMOON! You may be wondering what that is--it was basically our last getaway together before the baby arrives. It's crazy to think about it like that! We're so used to life just me and him...it'll be quite the adjustment! We went to Myrtle Beach for the weekend and had a relaxing time just being together. We walked on the beach, ate good food, and had important talks about what life will be like when baby arrives. We tried to decide a name for him, but we're still stuck.
I'm so excited about our baby's room! Craigslist.com has been a lifesaver....we found this dresser and a matching changing table on there, as well as his crib bedding!
We also had our first baby shower over Labor Day weekend, and many sweet friends and family helped fill baby's room with all kinds of goodies, clothes, diapers and other great items! Here is a picture of his closet so far:It's so fun preparing for him to arrive. I can't believe that he will be here in around 3 months!!
Here is the most recent picture of baby boy in my belly....this is 27 weeks and 3 days:
If you get our newsletters, you'll hear this story again, but I couldn't wait to tell this wonderful story about a Japanese exchange student here at UNC-W....ENJOY!
Mary, there are no pictures in the Bible...but this makes sense to me!Mary Ann sat quietly studying when Japanese exchange student Yuki stopped by to tell her about the life changing lunch he just had.
Yuki came to UNC-Wilmington for 5 weeks last spring with the English as a Second Language program,. While in Wilmington, many students involved with Campus Crusade befriended him including Mary Ann. One day over dinner, Mary Ann asked Yuki what he believed about God. Everyone Yuki knew back home in Japan was Buddhist, so he told her that’s what he believed as well. Yuki continued to come to CRU events throughout his short 5 weeks stay in America, and after going home he bought a Bible corresponded with Mary Ann about his studies of Christianity . Over the summer, Yuki decided to come back to Wilmington, and emailed Mary Ann to tell her he would return as an exchange student for the whole fall semester! Mary Ann remembers Yuki emailing and asking “Can I join Campus Crusade when I return to Wilmington? I am not a Christian, but I am really into it!.” Of course, Mary Ann invited him to come back, and he was reunited with his American friends.
On August 31st, Yuki sat down over lunch with his Campus Crusade Bible study leader, Riley and staff member Chad. Throughout their lunch conversation Riley and Chad were able to clearly communicate the gospel message to Yuki. They explained and drew diagrams that would bridge the communication barriers, and over lunch Yuki understood Jesus and the gospel for the first time! He decided right there that he wanted to become a Christian!
Yuki is excited about his newfound faith. He even asked Mary Ann to take a picture with him on the day he gave his life to Christ. As the picture snapped, Yuki held up the picture diagram Riley and Chad used to explain Jesus to him. It was evident that Yuki wanted to remember what his friends had done to point him to Jesus.
It's the second week of school, but it feels like we've been going for months now! We love Wilmington, and it's been a fun and tiring transition to a new campus with new students and a new way of doing ministry! We've already begun our freshman Bible Studies in Graham and Hewlett dorms (we both were assigned to reach out to the same dorm!) and it's been so fun meeting with freshmen!
Here are a few pictures of a way we tried to meet freshmen---we did a raffle for FREE rainbows! It was so fun and funny to see how students reacted to our larger than life Rainbows we displayed at our raffle table. (thanks to Hot Wax Surf Shop!) Brittany (my Bible study co-leader) and I at the giveaway table in Graham-Hewlett dorm!
Reece with his Rainbow next to the BIG Rainbows :)
Another fun thing the first week of school was we threw a Pig Pickin out at Carolina Beach State Park. The first weekend of school, freshmen are always looking for something to do, and people to meet. We wanted to offer some fun, games and pig for those sweet freshmen...and upperclassmen too! Here are some pics of the preparation: How ironic that just days after we were eating delicious pig, the swine flu rolls onto the scene here in Wilmington. I don't know many people at UNC-Wilmington yet but I know at least 6 people who have come down with the swine flu in the past 48 hours...no joke. And somehow I've managed to be with 3 of them the day before they found out they had it. YIKES!
Please pray for us....and baby Johnson...that we won't get sick!!! It's a big deal getting the swine flu while you're pregnant and I'm praying that I will somehow avoid it. thanks!!
We have been in our house for over a week now! The paint is on the walls and the boxes are mostly unpacked....thanks to our wonderful family and friends down here in Wilmington! Tomorrow we head off to our leaders retreat with the student leaders with Cru at UNC-Wilmington...please pray that it would be a refreshing time for the students and that we would train and equip these students to reach out to their peers this year.
We'll leave you with a recent pregnancy picture... I'm currently 22 weeks, but this is from week 20!
That's right....we're PREGNANT! Sorry for the lateness of this news, but life has certainly been crazy lately. On Easter, we found out that we were expecting and now we are almost halfway through with the pregnancy. Last week we went to our doctor's appointment and found out that we'll be having a baby boy around December 11th! It's going to be a CRAZY Christmas this year!! So far everything has been great...I really couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy. People tell you that you'll have a pregnancy like your mom and my mom was sick the whole pregnancy. So, obviously I was pretty nervous finding out that I was pregnant before our summer in Sweden. It would have been so difficult to be sick while being overseas, but God really protected me from that. I'm so thankful!
We also have other changes in the works as well...we're moving to Wilmington! In August, we will begin working at UNC-Wilmington with Campus Crusade. We are really excited about this new adventure, but also pretty nervous about moving to a new location during this crazy time of life change. Here is a picture of our new house that we'll be moving into next week:
"I want to believe in something...but I just can't," said Emil. Josh, a student from Duke, and I met Emil, Jonatan and Eric at Stockholms nation (think co-ed fraternity that everyone has to join with a restaurant) during lunch. When the conversation turned to spiritual things, we learned that Emil is an atheist, "but not a belligerent atheist like Dawkins," Jonatan and Eric are agnostics; they have belief in some sort of higher power, mainly just to "cover their bases." The lawyers, as Josh and I refer to them, are great fun, but with their strong personalities, its hard to keep the conversation on spiritual things when they decide to take it elsewhere. We had a great time hanging out and cutting up with them. When it was time for them to go study, they expressed a lot of interest in hanging out again.
Since then, we've been able to hang out with them again and with Jonatan. We were able to ask him a lot of spiritual questions and dialogue quite a bit about his beliefs. Near the end of our conversation Jonatan said that no one is asking these types of questions, but they need to be asked. Please pray for Jonatan and the rest of the law students as they think about spiritual issues for one of the first times in their lives.
Today (June 2, 2009) Reece and I celebrated 2 1/2 GREAT years of being married! We both really enjoy the opportunity to celebrate the time God has allowed us to enjoy each other...it's been amazing! We worked on campus all day-which I'll talk about later- and then enjoyed a nice meal out to eat by the river that runs right through downtown Uppsala!
Here is Stephanie posing on a bridge that runs across the river in downtown Uppsala!
In other news, SO much has been happening with our ministry here! The first two weeks were pretty discouraging because most people you talk to here don't even have the desire to know God at all. It's been challenging and we've needed to cling to the Lord to keep stepping out on campus everyday to bring the Gospel to a people who seem like they really don't want it.
We're starting to see that there are people who want to know God--and we've been privileged to walk alongside some of these students in their journey to know more...here is just one snapshot of what God is doing here in Sweden...there are seriously so many more stories so we'll keep posting! Please keep praying because we are seeing God really do cool stuff in the lives of students who have never ever considered God before!
Stephanie met Sophie, a self proclaimed agnostic the first day we stepped foot on Uppsala University's campus. Through various conversations and getting to know Sophie, she has expressed that she believes something is "out there" but she doesn't think it's necessarily God. One night at dinner, Stephanie was able to share how she had experienced the reality of God in her life, which launched into a long conversation about how Jesus impacted her life. Sophie initiated asking her questions about "Why Jesus had to die?" and "how is God's love shown in Jesus' death." It was so obvious that God had been at work in Sophie's life even though she didn't even aknowledge Him as God. It's been great seeing God at work in Sophie's life! We are continuing to meet up with Sophie to talk through her questions and she is really considering this faith in Jesus that we profess...please pray for her...that God will help her see the reality of His love for her in Jesus!!I'll end with this really pretty random picture of the Domkyrkan viewed from the river. We wish you could be here to see how beautiful this city is!
After a long week here in Uppsala, we all headed out for a Saturday adventure in Stockholm! It was a great and exhausting day....tons to fun, and TONS of walking. Here are some of our favorite shots from our day in that beautiful city. Enjoy!
Stephanie enjoying a huge coffee at a famous cafe in Old Stockholm....they take coffee very serious here!
The staff women in front of the famous red and yellow buildings in Old Stockholm (called Gamla Stockholm) The cafe was in the first floor of the red building.
Reece enjoying one of his favorite Swedish foods--KORV! ...from a street vendor of course!
This is a pretty view looking over the Stockholm bay...the architecture here is so beautiful!
It's day 9 here in Sweden, and already we've seen God do cool things.
This week we've jumped right into ministry which means ALOT of initiating with students and building relationships. Everyday we go out to different "nations" which is basically where everyone hangs out all the time-- at the nations we eat lunch and meet different people. It's so easy to meet new people here because you just tell them you're an American who has only been here a week, and they want to know about why you're here and what you're doing.
Through eating lunch at the nations I've met 4 friends who I've gotten to have significant talks with about Jesus, their beliefs (of lack thereof) about God, and so much more! It's been great. There is a great cultural thing called Fika, which helps us build relationships with the friends we meet here. Basically Fika is something friends meeting up for coffee/tea and pasteries. It's anytime you meet up to eat and hang out outside of a normal meal time. Someone going to Fika with you is a big deal because they commit to spending at least 2 hours with you when they plan to fika.
2 days ago I had my first Fika with a student here, and it was GREAT. It actually was a student from Finland, who is here studying in Sweden. Her English is beautiful and she also fluently speaks Swedish, Finnish, and Spanish. The students here are amazing. Uppsala University is comprable to the Harvard of Scandanavia if that gives you any idea who we're dealing with. here are a few of us at our very first fika at a local coffee shop
....so back to Fika. My Finnish friend Nadia hung out with me for fika the other day and we had a 2 hour conversation about who Jesus is to her and how that can and does transform our lives. Nadia is unusual for most students in Uppsala--she calls herself religious, which is very taboo here. There is a terrible stereotype here with being a person of faith. People assume you are brainwashed and stupid really. It was so interesting talking with her, and I'm excited that I was able to introduce the truth that not only is Jesus a good person, but he is God and Savior. Please pray for Nadia--that these essential truths would become real to her in the coming weeks.
It's our 2nd full day here and we are surprised to have seen much of Uppsala and learned a lot about this great city! Already, today we have moved out of one housing location and into our more permanent residence.The picture above is an attempt to capture the hilarity involved in our move. Imagine 20 people walking with all their stuff to the bus stop, loading onto a public bus and moving across the city together....it was a highlight of my day today.
Another really fun highlight has been seeing this beautiful city we're living in! Above, is Reece and I in front of Domkyrkan (pronounced: Dom Shirkin-- it is the HUGE church in the middle of Uppsala). It's amazing and really helpful for us as we try to navigate throughout the city--you can see the awesome steeple from almost any part of the city!
In the last couple of days we've also gotten to tour the campus of Uppsala University, where we will spend so much of our time. We visited the Economikum building (Economics) where Agape Sverige (the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry here in Sweden) had a poster where students could tell what their thoughts of God were. It was an encouragement to the local missionaries that anyone even wrote on the poster...let alone filling it up!
Tomorrow we will experience our first church service here...It'll be interesting considering it'll be in Swedish. We'll let you know how it goes!
It's 10pm our time here in Uppsala, Sweden and we're finally nestled in our beds at the hostel! After a whopping 12 hours on the plane and numerous layovers we are exhausted and very ready to sleep!
When we arrived, some local missionaries with Campus Crusade here in Sweden invited us to their apartment for dinner--which was such a blessing on so many levels. We were sick of airport food over the past few days and also needed some company to stay up so we could adjust to the new time zone. Above is a picture of me (stephanie) and some of the girls! ...And yes, those are scarfs we're wearing. The high was in the 50's today here, so we were bundled up as soon as we got here....quite a surprise to me. I quickly noted that I didn't pack nearly enough "wintery" clothes, so I'll have to grab a warmer coat in the next few days. It was great hanging out with the local missionaries and picking their brains about what ministry is like here. We can't wait to tell you about that firsthand in the next few days!
Thanks for the prayers...we are SOOO glad to be here finally!!!
Tomorrow at around 3 pm our team (pictured above) boards the plane to Sweden! For the past 2 days, we have been in Greensboro getting to know our team and the country we'll be serving in this summer. It's been so exciting and we're thrilled to finally leave tomorrow! The picture above is from tonight, at the commissioning service we had. Teams heading to locations all over the globe gathered to pray and celebrate with anticipation what the Lord will do in and through us this summer. It was awesome!
For me (Stephanie) this will be my first overseas mission trip and also my first time overseas! I'm a little nervous--especially about the plane flight because I tend to get a bit motion sick when I fly, so please pray for me tomorrow.
Just FYI, our blog will be the main way we keep in touch throughout the summer since we won't have access to phones. We'll probably get sporadic internet access as well, so we'll update as soon as we can! Thanks so much for your prayers and for keeping up with us this summer!
The first week of March, we did something we've never done since joining staff with Campus Crusade for Christ--we took a group of students down to Big Break down in Panama City Beach! For the past few years, we've never had enough interest to plan a Spring Break trip, but this year we were so excited that our students at Western Carolina University wanted to go.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Big Break, it's a week-long conference that exists to train college students how to share their faith in Jesus, and give them opportunities to reach out to Spring Breakers on the beach. Our students were really excited for an opportunity to step out and introduce their peers to the transforming message of the gospel. One of the students who came with us to PCB went on spring break there in 2008 to party and drink the week away. This time he wanted to come with us to come alongside students who were confused and desiring more in life...it was cool to see him use his past to bring glory to God on spring break!
One of our favorite parts of the week was spending so much time with our students. Since we work on multiple campuses, it was a treat getting to spend a whole week with the students we work with. Getting to "do life" with students is something we love, so it was a great opportunity for us! We cooked meals, hung out on the beach, and shared our faith with those we met...it was a great week! In other news, our summer project in Sweden is approaching fast! Two months from now we'll be in Uppsala, Sweden! We leave Mid-May, and will spend 5 weeks ministering to college students in that great Scandinavian country! As one of the directors, Reece has been very busy planning and getting details for the summer project worked out. Please pray for him as he gets all of these necessary details together. Thanks friends!