Ten days ago Mark got a text that read, "Are you busy this weekend?" One thing led to another and my man was on a plane to Okinawa within 48 hours. A long-time friend and Harbor attendee, a Marine named Jeremy, had recently surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. While Jeremy had faithfully attended the Harbor and even watched as his wife was overwhelmed by God's grace and started following Jesus, he himself did not believe until just recently. For Mark, this was huge news, as he had prayed for Jeremy, relentlessly shared the Gospel with him, and hung out with him for many, many hours during our years in Okinawa. When Jeremy mentioned to someone that he wished Mark was there to be a part of his baptism, the ever-generous and thoughtful Harbor community passed a hat, texted Mark, and bought him a plane ticket. Just like that.
The baptism happened just hours ago and Mark told me on the phone that it was a deeply meaningful and God-honoring event. Not only did Mark have the joy of baptizing Jeremy, but he also had the great privilege of preaching at the Harbor last night, he'll preach at Calvary Chapel Okinawa tomorrow, and he was also blessed to participate in the retirement ceremony of a faithful family leaving the Air Force and going to the mission field. All of this includes quality time with friends still in Okinawa and taking in island scenery when he's not cramming a sermon into his head.
This trip is a gift and encouragement to Mark. We've been away from the Harbor for almost 17 months and he's been a pent-up preacher and missions mobilizer since then. Czech declensions and conjugations just don't respond the way that Spirit-led people do! I think this week will serve as a boost of energy for him and enable him to return home to the Czech Republic with renewed vigor to see the church planted and grown here.
In other news, Abigail has had a brace for her scoliosis for one week now. We are blessed to have a leading Czech scoliosis doctor just five minutes from our home. We knew that her scoliosis had probably worsened and that a brace would be prescribed to her, so this wasn't a surprising development. Her custom-made brace is meant to be worn for 23 hours a day and is, at this early stage, pretty painful for her to wear. We are so thankful that God gave her a resilient spirit and a positive outlook. It does break my heart, though, when she begs with tears in her eyes to take a break from the discomfort of it. Her treatment will include physical therapy and x-rays every six months to monitor the curve.
The girls and I are headed to family camp today. Our church is having a weeklong camp for families in western Czech Republic. We're taking the dog, all the Czech language we can muster, and an adventurous spirit. I'm praying for great language practice, opportunities to deepen friendships in our church, and a can-do mood for all of us--we're going to need it with Mark--our fearless leader and best camper--far, far away in the East China Sea.