Friday, December 31, 2010

Prepare Ye the Way...

As I (Aaron) read over the "God's Promise" section of last week's liturgical devotional outline, I was struck over and over again by the significance (and imperative) of the following passage from the book of Luke:

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:4-6)

Theologian and author John S. Mogabgab observes, "On the road ahead someone is coming toward us, someone for whom we must prepare by undertaking massive new construction. Valleys of loss and despair are to be filled with new hope. Mountains of self-assigned virtue are to be replaced by humility. Crooked minds are to be straightened through repentance, broken bodies to be healed through compassion, and misshapen ideologies to be graded by truth."

The more time we spend as volunteer missionaries here in Poland, the more I'm convinced that these are perhaps foremost among the reasons God called us here in the first place. Not merely to pursue particular self-fulfilling, self-satisfying short-term goals, but to help further develop the work here in accordance with God's long-term plans and purposes.

In short: we are called -all of us- to be path-makers, hole-fillers, mountain-movers, and hope-finders. We are called to prepare the way!

Christmas Sunday: God Clothed in Human Flesh

AFFIRMATION: "Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

PETITION: "Make me worthy, Lord, to serve you and all the world's people who live and die in loneliness, hunger, poverty, and sickness. Give them through my hands this day their daily bread, and by my love, give them peace and joy."

GOD'S PROMISE: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight., and the rough shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:4-6)

MY RESPONSE: "They set out; and there, ahead of them, the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2:9-11)


Monday, December 27, 2010

The True Meaning of...Advent

The following is an excerpt from the collected writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, selected from Week 4 of "A Guide to Prayer for all Who Seek God." Aaron also read it in one of our house church's recent weekly services:

"Advent creates new men and women. Look up, you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by the events and changes on the surface of this earth. Look up, you who turned away from heaven to this ground because you had become disillusioned. Look up, you whose eyes are laden with tears, you who mourn the loss of all that the earth has snatched away. Look up, you who cannot lift up your eyes because you are so laden with guilt. 'Look up, your redemption is drawing near.'"

"Lift up your heads, you army of the afflicted, the humbled, the discouraged, you defeated army with bowed heads. The battle is not lost, the victory is yours - take courage, be strong! There is no room here for shaking your heads and doubting, because Christ is coming."

Amen!!! :)

Advent, Week 4: I Am Yours

AFFIRMATION: You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. (Psalm 118:28)

PETITION: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. (Psalm 143:10)

GOD'S PROMISE: For [God] has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:5, 8)

MY RESPONSE: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)


Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Week 3: "God's Revolutionary Purpose"

AFFIRMATION: "I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me." (Psalms 57:2-3)

PETITION: "Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge...until the destroying storms pass by." (Psalms 57:1)

GOD'S PROMISE: "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

MY RESPONSE: "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast...For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds." (Psalms 57:7-10)


Prayer Request

Please be praying for Aaron this week...he's had a nasty cough/chest cold/sinus infection for about 3 weeks, and he just can't seem to get rid of it. Plus, the busy pre-Christmas season really isn't the best time for him to be missing work in the shop! :(

We appreciate your prayers!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent: Week 2

AFFIRMATION: "My God, in you only do I find the answer to the questions that perplex and confuse me. Yet I know that in your good time the answer will be made to me."

PETITION: "Give me grace, Dear God, to live with my questions until you are pleased to make my way clear."

GOD'S PROMISE: "If you listen to my word I will answer you. I will not leave you in the darkness of doubt. Always I am seeking to converse with you, but not always do you listen."

MY RESPONSE: Speak your word to me, my Lord, your servant is listening. I yearn to hear your voice and to be transformed by you."


*All selections taken from "A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God," edited by Norman Shawchuck and Reuben P. Job

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeremiah 29:11...and 13-14!!

Last Saturday night our friend Katie (aka Reverend Kay-Kay) preached a really good sermon about (among other things) the frailty and uncertainties of life. Her central text was Jeremiah 29:11-14, which starts with a verse we all (well, at least everyone who grew up in my house) have heard many times before:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

Great verse, inspiring stuff. Always good to feel like God is in not just in our corner, but in control...that his ways and plans supersede ours at times in our lives when our plans get crumpled and faded. But what really caught my (Aaron's) attention were the verses that came afterwards:

"Then you will CALL on me and COME and PRAY to me, and I WILL listen to you. You will SEEK me and FIND me when you seek me with ALL your heart. I WILL be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will BRING you BACK from captivity. I will GATHER you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14, NIV)

Three things really inspired/convicted/reassured me about this passage: 1.) God's direction in our lives so often depends on the simple acts of seeking his face through prayer and supplication. 2.) He does hear our prayers, and he always listens to and answers them (even if it's in his time, not ours). 3.) Not only can God be found by us, but he promises to redeem us despite the challenging circumstances in our lives. He longs to gather us back to himself.

Good news in all seasons...especially in the midst of a particularly busy Advent season. God can be found, he can be trusted, and he is mighty to save!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

As Always, These Are Real Conversations...

BRIT: What is this place?

ME: It's a lot of things.

BRIT: But how would you explain it?

ME:'s owned by NCM Polska, which is a ministry of the Church of the Nazarene. There's a coffeehouse, an English Club, there's Głosik (women's fellowship), Barista Life (vocational fellowship), there's (almost) a Polish Bible study, there are concerts and movie nights, and a church that meets here on Saturday.

BRIT: Yeah.

ME: It's not any of those things by itself; it's all of those things put together.

BRIT: Kinda like the Christian walk itself; you read, pray, work, serve, and encourage, but faith and effectiveness are the sum of those things, not any one thing by itself.

ME: Exactly.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New photos!

Hey all!

November in Poznan means we have two new holidays to celebrate...All Saints' Day (11/1) and St. Martin's Day (11/11). How cool is that?

Check out our Facebook photo albums here and here.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Prayer for this Place

As I (Aaron) was doing some reading during my devotions this morning, I came across a passsage from Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians that struck me as clear, coherent synthesis of our prayer/desire/vision for continued development and maturation of the Sweet Surrender coffeehouse/house church location here in Poznan:

"Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring...

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thessalonians 1:2-4, 11-12)

Make it so, Lord, we pray! :)

Ev & Rhonda in the States

Just a quick note to ask for your prayers for our mission directors, Rev. Ev and Rhonda Tustin. They recently returned from a month-long fundraising tour in the United States during which Ev's father passed away.

Please pray that God will continue to guide and comfort Ev & Rhonda, as well as their friends and family members (especially Ev's mom and elderly grandmothers), in this time of ransition.

Thanks for your prayers...we always need and appreciate them! :)


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hey Look!

Brittany's on YouTube, talking about our shop's stellar pour-over specialty coffees!!

Click here to watch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nordic Barista Cup 2010's been a while since we updated our blog, and one big reason why is our staff's recent 5-day trip to Oslo, Norway, for the 2010 Nordic Barista Cup!

The NBC was a time of incredibly rapid relational and professional growth for our young staff. We made SO much progress during our week away from the shop, and we came back VERY pumped about bringing specialty coffee to Poland -together- through the Sweet Surrender coffeehouses! In a series of lectures, seminars, cuppings, and tastings, we learned from the very best minds in the industry about every aspect of the specialty coffee production process, including planting, maintenance, harvesting, processing, storage, sale, transportation, roasting, re-sale, and brewing. For more info on the conference program (and all the amazing things we learned), check out the NBC website here.

We also sandwiched 1.5 whirlwind days of sightseeing around 3.5 days packed with specialty coffee education and inspiration...photographs of beautiful downtown Oslo, as well as the coffee conference and venue, are available here and here.

Thank you all SO for your continued prayers and support...we can really see -every day- how they are making a difference in our lives and those of our co-workers. God is at work in Poland!!!

Love, Aaron & Brit

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jack of All Trades, Master of None...

One thing that constantly amazes and amuses me (Aaron) is the never-ending list of odd jobs that being a volunteer-missionary-in-a-coffeehouse-setting requires of me. That's not a bad thing, it just means that my work weeks are often a series of small crises to be resolved, many times in ways that exceed my previous experience (and certainly my expertise)! :)

By way of examples...consider that we've lived here a little more than two months. In that time I've either volunteered for -or- been asked to accomplish the following tasks: assess and document damage from flooding associated with unseasonably heavy rain; transport large furniture items between our apartment and the shop; design, paint, repair, weather-seal, and install outdoor signage; repair upholstery, tabletops, chair legs, and other furniture pieces; sort and install miscellaneous hardware; repair a broken bathroom fixture; re-caulk a tile backsplash in the dishroom, install towel bars and hooks; chisel wiring lines in brick and concrete (both by hand and with power tools); wire, mount, and install indoor spotlights; install and maintain planter boxes; cut/prune grass, trees, and hedges...the list goes on and on. Also, as our coffeehouse's designated "gopher," I make virtually all of the shop's buying runs to retail and wholesale food & beverage distributors, as well special trips to various hardware and grocery stores...we average at least one or two such extra errands per day.

In addition to my handyman responsibilities, I'm also the shop's de facto Business Manager, which means I'm also in charge of the following: design, create, and maintain all spreadsheets; track daily, weekly, and monthly sales trends; present sales data at monthly staff meetings; create shop letterhead; correspond with various bands/artists about using their music in our shops; create and maintain all front-counter and money-counting paperwork logs; create and maintain all retail and wholesale ordering checklists; okaying and conducting everyday shop transactions with outside vendors and staff members; purchasing and replenishing all office supplies...this list goes on and on, too! :)

I say none of this to complain -we absolutely LOVE Poland- but to help explain the myriad responsibilities and complexities that also accompany our "coffeehouse ministry" service here. There's SO much to do in terms of everyday operations alone...please continue to pray for our continued flexibility, vision, perseverance, and determination!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Photos!!

Photo albums from two of our most recent Thursdays-with-Katie cultural side trips are now online!

Click here to see photos from our visit to Poznań's St. Stanislaus Parish Church.

Click here to views photos from our trip to Poznań's Imperial Castle.



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Letting Go (and Holding On)

During last Saturday night’s worship service, the head missionary here in Poznan (Rev. Ev Tustin) spoke about the importance of surrender in living a life of freedom in Christ. In doing so, he explained the concept of surrender in a way that was really intriguing to me (Aaron).

“What does surrender mean?” he asked. “Letting go of...” At this point, of course, the Sunday School answer is “me.” The more we talked about it, however, the more I really began to understand that the answer isn’t just an amorphous, abstract “me.” It’s also “my” and “mine.” As in...“my ideas, dreams, and desires” and things that are “mine”...possessions, goals, etc.

In many ways, this is a big part of what I’ve been learning the past few weeks: how to let go of things that are only important to me because they’re mine...while also clinging to the things and ideas that are important to me because they’re a part of something bigger than me.

It’s a process...please pray that we are able to learn (and teach) patiently! :)


Friday, August 13, 2010

Major Prophets, Major Promises

Literally the last thing we dd before leaving Oklahoma to get on a plane for the East Coast (and eventually Poland) was spend an evening of food, fellowship, and prayer with our combined families at Brit's parents' house. All kinds of people from all over OKC were there...Aaron's grandparents, aunt and uncle, little brother, and his adopted brother, Josh; Brit's grandmas, parents, aunt and uncle, sisters and brother-in-law, her adopted brother, Nik, and his family, too.

Just before our family prayer time, Brit's dad, Rex, read the following promise from the book of Isaiah:

"This is what God the Lord says - he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: I, the Lord, have calle dyou in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will mak you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." -Isaiah 42:5-7 (NIV)

It reminds me (Aaron) of another powerful promise, this time from the book of I first heard referenced as a child listening to my Papa Els's cassette tapes of missionary sermons (in this case, Elmer Schmelzenbach's recollections of life of service spent in Swaziland, South Africa):

"Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." -Jeremiah 33:2-3 (KJV)

These promises remind us of our only real purpose here in call out to God for sustenance and guidance, to trust his will for our lives, and to carry out the work that he has called us into here. We pray every day that it will be so!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thursdays with Katie!

Every week we spend our Thursday mornings (the coffeehouse opens at 1 PM right now) exploring Poznan with a fellow American volunteer, Katie from California.

Previous trips have taken us to the Katreda Poznanska, the city's Old Town Square, and St. Stanislaus's Parish Church. Last week's destination, however, was something completely different: a trip to Stary Browar Mall.

Enjoy the pictures!

-Aaron & Brit

Monday, July 26, 2010

One Prayer, Four Requests...

"That night God appeared to (Solomon) and said to him, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.' Solomon answered God, 'You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promises to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 'Give me WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE, that I may LEAD this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?'" -II CHRONICLES I:7-10

This our prayer...that God would give us the strength and wisdom to lead, and the humility and perspective to allow him to work in and through us however (and whenever) he sees fit.

4 prayer requests for you to consider:
1.) That our final construction permits would be approved by the Poznan city government so we can continue to promote and grow our coffeehouse ministry here...
2.) That God would provide funds for the purchase of a facility for the new work in Krakow...
3.) That God would also provide funds for our Poznan and Krakow staff members to attend a week-long training and networking conference in Oslo, Norway, in September.
4.) That he would continue to work in and through the lives of our current and future Sweet Surrender staff members, in Gdansk, Poznan, Krakow, and beyond!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Photos...LOTS of New Photos!

Brit has posted a lot of new photos of "A Day in the Life" in our apartment and the can view the album here!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We Heart Cathedrals!

We spent last Thursday morning exploring Poznan's Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul with our friend (and fellow American volunteer) Katie.

Lots of pictures are available here. Enjoy!

-Aaron & Brit

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poznan Pictures!

Photos of our apartment in Poznan are available here...

Photos of the coffeehouse are available here...

Photos of the church that meets here are available here...

...and photos from our trip to the Town Square are available here.

Happy looking!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's All Happening, Part 3

After landing in Warsaw (pronounced Var-SHAW-vah in Polish) and clearing Customs in about fifteen seconds, we learned that our connecting flight to Poznan (pronounced somewhere between POZE-nahn and POZE-nine) had ALSO been delayed. Joy! :(

After a brief period of despair, a helpful and fairly bilingual ticket agent managed to A.) get us in the last two seats on an EARLIER flight to Poznan -and- B.) re-route all four of our bags along with us. Sweet action! :)

We hustled down the hallway to our plane...then down a double set of stairs...then across the street and into a waiting shuttle bus...then across 3/4 of a mile of tarmac...and finally up a set of old-school airplane stairs into a compact commuter plane. Less than an hour later, we touched down in Poznan...but a full 2 hours earlier than the missionaries (Rev. Ev and Rhonda Tustin) here expected us!

After another shuttle trip across the tarmac to the main/only terminal, we collected our luggage at the baggage claim (pretty easy, since ours was the only plane landing at the airport). We immediately cracked open the laptop and our iPod and began casting about for a suitable wi-fi signal with which to contact our ride before the laptop's battery died. We JUST made it, after only 20 minutes of experimenting with different positions in the baggage claim area...we posted the Facebook SOS and got a response less than 5 minutes before the battery died!

Realizing we hadn't eaten in something like 16 hours, we made a late-night stop at a gas station on the way to our apartment (Note: never, ever attempt to eat a pizza from a Polish gas station!). But after a few more minutes of wide-eyed car transport, we finally arrived at our 3rd-floor apartment above the Sweet Surrender Coffeehouse. We are finally home!! :)

It's All Happening, Part 2

After arriving in the international terminal and learning that our flight was going to be substantially delayed, we immediately decided to return to one of the (many) main terminals for some higher-quality food than the (much smaller) international terminal food court had to offer.

There was only one problem: the boarding passes for our now-six-hours-late flight only afforded us admittance to the INTERNATIONAL terminal...which is how we ended choosing between a 24-hour coffee place, a sort of Chicago/Philly fusion hot dog stand, a McDonald's (where neither of us has eaten in 3 years), and a bar.

To make a long story short, we ended up splitting a cheesteak, some cheese sticks (are you sensing a theme?), and a giant sort of combination roast-beef-and-sausage sandwich. Overwhelming at first, surely...but, as it turned out, the only decent food we'd get for the next 16 hours!

What followed was a seemingly interminable six-hour wait (during which Brittany slept a few hours and Aaron slept none at all). To be fair, it also included an enjoyable re-viewing of one of Aaron's favorite movies, "Almost Famous." After a few anxious moments when it seemed like we might not receive our specific seating assignments (again!), we finally boarded our plane.

After settling into our lumbar-restricting seats, the flight attendants almost immediately began serving breakfast...which seemed nice, until it turned out to be six-hours-old beef and rice intended for the previous day's dinner! :) During the balance of the 8.5 hour flight, Aaron narrowly averted a series of INCREDIBLY painful neck spasms and managed to get 6 or 7 hours of sleep (his first in about 36 hours). Brittany, however, was forcd to endure two consecutive movies (dubbed in Polish, without English subtitles) and a Polish-speaking seatmate who refused to let her walk/climb/hop past him into the aisle.

At around 7:00 PM local time, we finally arrived in Warsaw!

To Be Continued...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's All Happening!

We have officially left the United States (heck, the Western Hemisphere) behind us!

Last Sunday evening we began re-packing (for the 3rd or 4th time) for our trip to Poland. Six or eight hours later, we stumbled into bed with four 49-pound suitcases, two 13-ish-pound carry-ons, a purse, and a laptop bag waiting for us downstairs. We had less than three hours left before we needed to leave for the airport, so neither of us slept much!

We arrived at BWI at 6 AM for our 8 AM flight to Boston. Thankfully, all of our bags weighed in under the limit (if only JUST) and we made it to our Southwest Airlines gate with plenty of time to spare. The short flight to Boston was a breeze; not sure either of us was awake for more than 20 minutes of it!

Boston Logan International Airport, on the other hand, was perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to us. At Logan we switched carriers to United, the airline that our Polish carrier (LOT Airlines) uses in the US. That's where the trouble began. United's Boston ticket counter staff, gate agents, and customer servicepersons were either overworked or incompetent, and a very real possibility exists that they're both. In any case, it took 4 separate lines, nearly 3 hours, and conversations with 3 separate agents before we had our bags safely checked and our boarding passes in hand. And we were only flying from Boston to Chicago!

Once safely landed in Chicago (more sleep on the plane for Aaron!), and being the conscientious international travelers that we are, we bypassed all of the delicious-smelling restaurants in our terminal, bypassed security, and headed straight for the international terminal to check on the status of our flight to Warsaw....which, as it turns out, was running 6 hours behind schedule! :(

To Be Continued...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Down to the Wire

We spoke at our last 2 churches on Wednesday and Thursday night during our last week in Maryland (and the United States)...the Cambridge (MD) and Damascus (MD) Churches of the Nazarene.

The pastoral staff and members of both churches received us very graciously, and we enjoyed sharing our call to Poland for a final time in with friends in the US! We also had the opportunity at both churches to eat and fellowship with members of the congregation and friends from their respective neighborhoods before the service began. It was different some places where we've gone to church in the past, but we really enjoyed the food and, no one had to rush home from work, corral their kids, make dinner, and THEN try to make it to church by 7:00 PM. It was a great system!

Special thanks to Pastor Richard in Cambridge, and to Janet, Roy, and Pastor George in Damascus...we really enjoyed sharing with (and getting to know) you and your people!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Step One

We have officially begun our journey to Poland! Yesterday we flew from OKC to Baltimore, Maryland (where Aaron's parents live) for one last week of family time, preparation, and re-packing our bags to get them under the weight and size requirements for our flight to Poland.

We'll be in Maryland for a little over a week, with speaking opportunities planned at the Cambridge (MD) and Damascus (MD) churches of the Nazarene on Wednesday and Thursday nights. We also hope to visit at least one last Civil War battlefield site before the weekend, when Aaron's dad's church (Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene) will break ground on their new campus in Severn, MD. After one last night (of tamales!) with friends and family, we'll leave for Boston-Chicago-Warsaw-Poznan EARLY on Monday'll be about a 21-hour trip, all told. Fun stuff!

Please pray for us as we spend time with Aaron's family, trim our things-we're-taking-to-Poland list even further, feverishly study Polish, attempt to make the most of our last 2 fundraising opportunities, and wait (we hope patiently) to hear back from a potential major donor.

In the meantime, we're trusting God...this is way bigger than us! :)

Double Trouble

One week from last Sunday was our last on-the-road Sunday of speaking engagements in Oklahoma. Thanks in no small part to the always-helpful Rev. Geoff Gunter, we had opportunities to share what God is doing in Poland with the Chandler (OK) and Collinsville (OK) Churches of the Nazarene.

Aaron, Brittany, and Brit's Grandma Mac spent Sunday morning together in Chandler, where Rev. Keith Cole had graciously handed us the reins while he was on vacation. We felt very welcomed by the congregation, who were also very receptive to our explanation of our calling. After church, we had lunch in historic Downtown Chandler, complete with DELICIOUS homemade cherry pie from Marsha's...Marsha can really bring it!

After lunch, Brit and Grandma returned to OKC (where Brit had her next-to-last shift at Starbucks on Sunday evening). Aaron continued on to Collinsville, where Rev. Tim Odom had invitied us to share a special Sunday night missions message! Aaron's paternal grandparents, Rev. F.H. and Virginia Bolerjack, pastored the Collinsville church in the late 1960s, and his dad, Dr. Phil Bolerjack, graduated from CHS in it was a homecoming of sorts for everyone involved. In fact, Papa Jack married the missions president and her husband in the Old Sanctuary more than 40 years ago!

The Collinsville church was also received Aaron's message very graciously and generously; we even capped the evening off with an after-church round of pizza at Mazzio's! It was a very positive end to a rewarding-but-long weekend speaking tour than we've been engaged in off and on since that we've since extended to include Wednesday and Thursday night dates this week while we're in Maryland! Please pray for us to be effective (and well-rested) communicators of God's call on our lives during these last few stops.

We love you guys...thank you ALL for your support!

New Contact Info in Poland...

We also have a new mailing address and (405)-area-code phone number in can e-mail us at if you'd like to receive them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Contact Info!

A few links to more info about the Sweet Surrender coffeehouse/house churches in Poznan and Gdansk are posted below. This is for you, Aunt Debbie!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Penultimate Sunday in OK: Lake O.

We spent last Sunday...our next-to-last in Oklahoma City (we're on the road speaking again next week) Aaron's home church in OKC, Lake Overholser Church of the Nazarene. We had a great time reconnecting with friends we've only been able to see a couple of times since we moved to Stillwater (and being shocked and appalled by who old the teens we worked with have gotten in the meantime)!

Dr. Doug "P. Diddy" Samples and Rev. Steve "Steve-O" Hendrix graciously invited us to briefly share our coffeehouse/house church calling during the Gene Hancock Memorial Missions Minute. Big shoes to fill! :) Even though our video didn't's a link for those of you who missed it: ...we DID get to see "our" flag hanging on the north wall, and to try to explain why we're so excited about our coming-up-so-quickly adventure!

Diddy also dropped a couple of gems during his sermon over a passage we're HUGE fans of to begin with, Luke 12:15-21:

"Then (Jesus) said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' 'But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" 'This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.'"

Doug's take? 1.) "God LOVES to put money in pockets with HOLES in them." -and- 2.) "Not a ONE of (us) has enough money to BUY a seat at this (Communion) table. So true!

Our (additional) take? Stuff is just stuff. Money is just money. What counts is how we USE it to make the world -not just our little corner of it- a better place, one that reflects God's love and the priorities of his kingdom. Amen!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Everything's Bigger in Texas

We recently returned from an amazing, four-part(!) speaking engagement at the Richardson (TX) Church of the Nazarene over Memorial Day weekend. We were privileged to share our message and mission with (in chronological order) RCN's Nexus Community, two different youth Sunday School and Children's Church groups, and as the featured speakers in the main Sunday AM service. Whew!

It all made for a long - but incredibly rewarding - weekend! The folks at RCN were SO welcoming and accommodating...they gave us free reign in a variety of areas, and responded graciously to our presentation about what God is doing through the Church of the Nazarene's coffeehouse/house churches in Poland! A video of Sunday morning's service is allegedly available at: Many, many thanks to Adam, Jane, Todd, Scott, Stephania, and everyone else who helped make our weekend possible. We love you all!

As a bonus, we ALSO got to spend time with Brit's sister and brother-in-law, Mallory and Adam, as well as our recently-2-year-old nephew, Kaden...he's unquestionably the cutest Brown Bear in Wylie, TX!!

PS: If you're ever, ever EVER in Fort Worth, HAVE to go to Fuzzy's Taco Shop across the street from TCU's campus. Order one of'll change your life!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Aaron and Brittany's Going-Away Dessert Fundraiser

Cadence Yoga in Oklahoma City is hosting a Going-Away Dessert Fundraiser for us! Saturday, June 19th at 7p.m. Stop in and munch some finger-foods and bid us farewell. Our last day in the U.S. is June 28th, so this will be one of the last oppertunities we have to hang out with everyone. Hope to see you there!
To view the Facebook event, click here.
To visit Cadence Yoga's website or get directions, click here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Songs That Insire Us, Part 2

Another song we love, and one that has especially spoken to us recently, is Louisa M. R. Stead's 1882 hymn, "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus":

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at his word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er.
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

In a 1974 letter, Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom describes her own faith journey in the context of the Father-child relationship:

"When I was a little girl, " [she] said, "I went to my father and said, "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ." "Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train." "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength...He will supply all you need just in time."

That's the kind of journey WE'RE on as we attempt to reconcile "we KNOW this is what we're suposed to be doing" with "how on EARTH are we going to pay for this?" :) Similarly, THAT'S the kind of prayer this hymn inspires us to pray in the meantime: "Father, we trust you. Show us what to do, and we'll do it!"

It's also a prayer that we invite you to pray with (and for) us...we believe that God can do anything if we let him!!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Songs That Inspire Us, Part 1

On our next-to-last Sunday at Stillwater 1st, the new worship leader (hi Loren!) chose several songs that spoke to us in general, and with regard to our upcoming ministry in Poland in particular.

The first such song (and perhaps Brittany's all-time favorite) is titled "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy," and was originally penned by English clergyman Joseph Hart in 1759. The words (as recently popularized by the Robbie Seay Band and Todd Agnew, among others) read as follows:

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore.
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and power.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome,
God's free bounty glorify
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

I will arise and go to Jesus.
He will embrace me in his arms.
And in the arms of my dear Saviour,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms!

Come ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the Fall.
If you tarry until you're better
You will never come at all.


Why does this song speak so powerfully to us? At least two reasons.

1.) It will always, always remind us of the churches and communities we've sung it in before...including with OKC 1st's Kaleo congregation, at our own wedding, and as worship team members at Stillwater 1st (where they always, always ask Brit to sing lead because she obviously loves it so much).

2.) The lyrics beautifully and profoundly describes the brokenness of the world in which we -all of us- live, and the arms-wide-open love, mercy, tenderness, acceptance, and compassion with which God welcomes and embraces his children. THIS is the love we -all of us- are called to think, speak, and act into the world every single day. WE'RE called to do it in coffeehouse/house churches in Poland...but it's what we're ALL called to do!

We HEART Stillwater!

We spent Sunday, 4/25, in scenic Stillwater, OK, speaking at our home church, the Stillwater 1st Church of the Nazarene. We got to share what God is doing in Gdansk, Poznan, and Krakow in detail, and to explain what we'll be doing in the coffeehouse/house church ministries there.

As they have throughout our 2 years in Stillwater, our friends and family here absolutely BLEW US AWAY with the love and generosity with which they responded to our presentation...we thank you all SO much for your prayer, emotional, and financial support in this always-exciting, sometimes-terrifying faith journey we're taking from Oklahoma to Poland.

We are now officially halfway to our fundraising goal of $40,000...which is several different kinds of exciting, depending on how you look at it! :) We're trusting God to do what we absolutely, positively he has throughout this process, and as we're sure he will continue to do in the future.

We love you guys!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Fundraising=Hard Work

Well, we're about HALFWAY to our goal (which is exciting), but we still have a long way to go! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has contributed so far. We are 8 weeks away from our plane ticket, and we're so excited. This weekend, Aaron will graduates from OSU with his Masters in History--wow! After that we are visiting BA First, Regency Park, and Richardson Church of the Nazarene in May. All this, plus learning Polish and getting our affairs in order makes May a busy month. Thanks everyone for the prayers. We'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4/18: OKC First Church of the Nazarene

We want to thank Pastor Jon Middendorf and all of our friends & family at OKC First for having us back to speak during the Sunday AM service a few weeks ago...we love going home (it's Brit's home church in OKC, and ours as a couple there, too).

We got to speak for about 10 minutes in detail about what God is doing in East/Central Europe, and why the Nazarene church is using the kinds of coffeehouse/house church ministries we'll be helping to lead in Poznan (and possibly Krakow). We even did a little fund-raising!

In any case, we really appreciate of the emotional, financial, prayer, and everything-else-support from our OKC First family. We love you guys!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Baltimore, MD

Just got back from our Baltimore trip. For those that don't know, Aaron and I were Speaking there because Aaron's dad is the pastor. It went REALLY well! A few ladies from the church put together a coffee shop atmosphere in a local school and held an, "Open Mic Night" fundraiser and tons of people came! Thanks to everyone from the east coast that is supporting through prayer and giving! We are so grateful. We cannot say enough thanks. A special shout-out to Hobie and Phillis for the bomb cheesecake!

Friday, April 9, 2010

You asked for here it is!

Our upcoming Poland speaking/deputation schedule looks like this...

4/11: Grace Pointe Community Church of the Nazarene in Severn, MD (Aaron's parents' church)
4/18: Oklahoma City 1st Church of the Nazarene in OKC, OK (Our home church as a couple in OKC)
4/25: Stillwater 1st Church of the Nazarene in Stillwater, OK (Our home church as a couple right now!!)
4/30-5/2: Cross-Cultural Orientation (missions training workshop) in OKC, OK
5/16: Broken Arrow First Church of the Nazarene in Broken Arrow, OK (Brit's home church in Tulsa)
5/23 Regency Park Church of the Nazarene in Tulsa, OK (Aaron's home church in Tulsa)
5/30: Richardson 1st Church of the Nazarene in Richardson, TX (Brit's sister and brother-in-law's church).

You'll notice a few things....

1.) We are really, REALLY blessed to have the opportunity to speak to so many people and so many places about what God is doing in our lives, in Poland, and many points in between. We are so very thankful, and a little nervous, and excited!

2.) As it stands right now, we're still available to speak on 5/2 and 5/9, as well as a couple of weekends in if you have any ideas or requests, just let us know! :)


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our First Real Speaking Engagement

Thanks to the church in Hinton, OK! We had a wonderful time meeting and greeting you guys! Aaron's grandparents, Herb and Louise Els are the pastors of Cedar Lake Chapel. If you are ever vacationing there, stop by. We went this past Saturday and stayed the night there in the parsonage/chapel (really cute). Sunday morning we sang the obligatory special and spoke for 15 or 20 minutes about our calling from a young age and our mission to Poland. God has really sent us on this journey and we are totally made for this. We are blazing the fund- and awareness-raising trail, so we'll probably be at your church soon! :)
-brittany (of aaron and brittany)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Public Service Announcement

We sent out our first round of "Who wants to help us go to Poland?" mailers today...please join us in praying that God will inspire the right people to act/think/share in our mission. We're trusting in his help and timing, big-time...scary, exciting, exhilarating stuff! :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

That Reminds Me...

Today's update was inspired by this morning's Faith Promise sermon by our friend Henry Siems, who reminded us of a passage we latched onto a few weeks ago as we contemplated our trip:

" the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.'

I was very much afraid...Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king. 'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it....

I also said to him, 'If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?'

And because the gracious hand of God was upon me, the king granted my request." -Nehemiah 2:2-8(ish) [NIV]

There's so much to be inspired by here! God sees us even when we are discouraged...he has a plan for our lives, and is willing and able to meet our needs, and give us favor with those in authority over us...he loves us, and is gracious to us, and his hand is upon us...we're so blessed to be his children!

GOD is the only way Aaron will be able to graduate from OSU in May, on time and under budget...GOD is the only way we'll be able to afford (and navigate) 2 years of volunteer service in Poland...GOD is who we're trusting to grant us favor and meet our needs...and he is mighty to save! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Food for Thought

As we get closer and closer to some very real trip-related deadlines, we wanted to share some of the "theme verses" that have inspired us along the way. We also invite you to pray them with (and for) us as we continue on our journey.

This installment comes courtesy of a Doug Samples sermon we got to hear while visiting our Lake O. family last month...

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ...Pray that [we] proclaim it clearly, as [we] should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." - Colossians 4:2-6 [NIV]



Monday, February 15, 2010

Semester in waiting...

There is so much to do! We are 4.5ish months away from our big move to Poland and life is crazy. For those of you just joining us, we felt God's call to make a big change in our lives last summer. We found out the Church of the Nazarene was opening a coffeehouse/housechurch ministry in Poznan, Poland. The missionaries there put a call out to the church for a young couple with ministry experience and a love for Jesus and coffee! Needless to say, we are a perfect fit! Poznan is a college town with about 600,000 residents, almost 150,000 of which are students! Lots of young people for us to connect with. The coffee house is called Sweet Surrender after the song of a visionary young man named Spencer Green.
Aaron will finish his History Masters degree in May, and then, we're off!
Please pray for us as we are planning, fundraising, and tying up loose ends here in the States before June. And feel free to keep up with us here, on our blog!