August 2015 (USA Visit)
We're here! We arrived safely in the U.S. in mid-July, and the last four weeks have been filled with activities, speaking engagements, visits and some times of just plain fun!
Here's a summary of what you'll find in this latest newsletter:
- Quick thanks for your prayers
- Explanation of our three commitments while we're in the U.S. - telling the story, connecting with partners, spending time with family and friends.
- What's behind and ahead - check our blog and Facebook pages for more details
- Ways you can pray with us
We want to begin with a quick update on prayer requests from our last newsletter. THANK YOU for your prayers for us in the past few weeks. The girls' puppet ministry camp (picture at right) went very well, allowing Tanya to build some new relationships with some precious girls. Our "see-you-laters" to our friends and partners in Slovakia were sad, but we left knowing God would bring us together again soon. Our travels to the U.S. went safely and smoothly, and we were able to adjust quickly to the new time zone. Your prayers for our girls have also been effective - they are adjusting well to being back in the States, assisted by lots of love from friends and family!
Here are the three goals we have while we're back this summer:
1. Telling the Story
We're committed to spending as much time as possible in worship services, group meetings and other events, telling the story of what God's up to in Slovakia. It's fun for us to tell the stories of the people we've met and the ways we see God at work, and it's a joy to see people connect with these stories! We're also challenging people to join in God's work right where they are - one relationship, one small step at a time.
All together, we'll have about 30 such meetings and events while we're here, mostly in Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia.
2. Connecting with Partners
We are also committed to nurturing the many partnerships we have with communities of faith, with families and with individuals. So many people are partners with us in God's work - through prayers, financial support, and many other ways. So while we're back, we're working to spend time with as many of these partners as possible, reporting on what God's been doing and how their partnership is bearing fruit.
Sometimes this happens in large group settings, but more often it's happening over coffee, over meals, and over late-night conversations in living rooms. We're so privileged to have so many people joining us in God's work, and it's a joy for us to spend time with them!
Please join us in praying for these many meetings and conversations, and also that during our time God would draw new people to be involved.
3. Spending time with Family and Friends
As you can tell, our time here will be full - we didn't plan this trip to be a vacation! But while we're here, one of our commitments is to spend time with our dear family and friends, many of whom we haven't seen in the last three years. Our busy seasons this summer are punctuated with times of catching up with old friends, extended times with our families, and time for us to relax.
Many of you have been so thoughtful to ask whether we'll have any time for ourselves while we're back - rest assured, we're taking breaks from our busy schedule to take care of ourselves!
What have we been looking forward to doing while we're here? Eating things we can't easily get in Slovakia - Mexican food and BBQ, for example. And going to the beach!
While our time here is full, we still won't be able to see everyone we hope, or spend as much time with anyone as we would like. We're doing the best we can to see as many people as possible, and to make ourselves available when we're nearby. Here are the churches and groups we've spoken with so far:
- First Baptist Church of London, Ky. (July 26)
- Phos Community Church, Crestwood, Ky. (August 2)
- Redstone Village, Huntsville, Al. (August 6)
- Crosscreek Baptist Church, Pelham, Al. (August 9)
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Offices, Decatur, Ga. (August 12)
- First Baptist Church of Rome, Ga. (August 13)
- Fellowship Baptist Church, Fitzgerald, Ga. (August 16)
We will report on some of these visits, and post details about our future visits, on our blog (prayingwithfeet.wordpress.com) and our Facebook page (Jon & Tanya Parks). Check there for more regular updates.
Prayer and Thanksgiving
Here are some ways you can rejoice and pray with us in the weeks ahead:
- Thank God with us for so many people who have filled in the details of this trip - we've been able to borrow a van, a guitar and other equipment that we use every time we speak; we've been hosted by so many wonderful friends and partners for meals and overnight stays; we've been put up in hotels and offered timeshares that will serve as headquarters while we travel to various churches. We can't name all of you here, and many of you wouldn't want to be named anyway... but we thank God for all of you who, by your prayers and by your help, have made our time here so much easier.
- Pray for a fruitful time here in the U.S. - that we would have safe travels, that we would accomplish our goals, and that we'll have energy to do what we need to do!
- Thank God also with us for some extraordinary and unexpected gifts that have made it much easier for us to focus on our presence here in the U.S. without worrying about finances!
- Pray with us about new partners who are willing to invest in what God's doing among the Roma in Slovakia. While we're currently in good financial standing, we foresee a rise in our needs for the coming year, and we've had some giving changes in recent months.