Christmas Wood Shavings

Ok, this is going to get a bit long.

Last night our great sister-in-Christ invited us to her apartment for a traditional Christmas Eve (Wigilia pronounced vigilia).  Wigilia is about family and Jesus so they wanted others to join them.  Four continents were represented: Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.  And there were only seven of us.  There were two Poles, one Armenian, one Ivorian (from Ivory Coast), and three Americans.  But there was one empty place setting, there must always be, for someone to come and join unannounced or previously invited.

The Feast

The Feast

We sat down to a bounty of “fasting” food, traditionally 12 dishes (types of food), one for each of the Apostles.  I think we counted 15 dishes since it is also traditional to count each of the types of drinks.  It is fasting food because there is supposed to be no “meat”.  But fish is not considered meat, so it is a big part of the meal.

Reading the Christmas Story

Reading the Christmas Story

First we read the Christmas story from the Bible including the prophecy found in Isaiah 9:6-7.  A single candle was then lit to represent Jesus (the light of the world) and around it was straw to remind us of Jesus humble birth and our bounty.

Jesus, the Light of the World. Marianna and her mom.

Jesus, the Light of the World
Marianna and her mom.

Then we took small wafers of bread called Opwatek (this is what the word sounds like).  Each person goes, one at a time, to each of the other people and both share their Opwatek.  But they also are to share something they appreciate about the other person.  It was a wonderful time of sharing, and as you might think, it was a bit awkward.

Learning about the Opwatek from Marianna

Learning about the Opwatek from Marianna
(Not sure why Denise took the shot this way, but it is way cool!)

Sharing the Opwatek

Sharing the Opwatek

Then we sang “Silent Night”, each in our own language at the same time, followed by the Lord’s Prayer the same way before closing in prayer.  Then we sat down again for the meal.  It started with a broth-like soup called borsch into which you add ears.  Ok, so the ears are small dough balls stuffed with cabbage and other yummy stuff.  They really are called ears and I really don’t know for sure what was in them.

The Borsch with Ears

The Borsch with Ears

Then came all the other amazing food as you feel led.  Dishes included salmon, carp, potato salad with pickled herring, potato salad without fish, boiled potatoes, boiled beans, sauerkraut with forest mushrooms, sauerkraut without mushrooms, and more.  Seven years in central Europe and I finally was able to try carp, and it was good.

Awesome food!

Awesome food!

After eating too much we moved to the front room where we chatted, sang carols and generally enjoyed each other’s company.  Then we, you guessed it, had desert with tea.  First was the Makoviets which I was told is fruit, honey, poppy seeds, and noodles.  Then came the Compot, dried fruit which has been heated in water with sugar so that it is like a soupy fruit cocktail of sorts.

Then we had fun with a small gift exchange including a time after everyone had opened a present to sway if people wished.  Traditionally Christmas Eve everyone opens their gifts.  To top it all off we had a wonderful prayer time in four different languages, it was awesome!  It was a wonderful time and just before midnight we returned home.

Praying together.

Praying together.

On Christmas day, traditionally, Polish people attend a morning service at their church.  Today we are celebrating American style.  We stared with opening stockings, then gifts, then a bit of breakfast, and tonight a big meal just the three of us.

We wish you a very Merry, Joyful and Christ-Centered Christmas.

Ps.  Ok, so you may be wondering about my prayer request in the Wood Chip.  Maybe you are thinking something like: has he had too little sleep, or fallen and hit his head, or maybe too much Christmas carp?  Though it is true that I test high on the weird scale, I am “in my right mind”.  Maybe almost, anyway.

My greatest hope and prayer this Christmas is that all the modern traditions will lead me to worship and celebrate Jesus on the day we honor His birth.  I have a long way to go, but I am confident that our Heavenly Farther is pleased to work in my heart to attain this goal.  I also pray that you will join in this endeavor to always keep Jesus literally the “reason for the season”.

Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to come to earth, knowing what it would entail, to be the Savior of the world.  Thank you for being my Savior!  Happy Birthday Jesus.  My gift to You is all of me.  I worship You.

Christmas Wood Chip

Merry Christ-Centered Christmas!  We wish God’s wonderful blessings to you this birthday of the Savior of the world.

For you who are “stout-at-heart”, after last night I felt compelled to share all we experienced at a traditional Christmas Eve in Poland.  I put quite a few pictures in as well.  You will have to click on the bold blue underlined text above – The Wood Shavings

Prayer request:
That Jesus will be pleased with each of our offerings to Him on His celebrated birthday.

Thanks for praying.

 

Wood Shavings

In addition to what I shared in the Wood Chip for today, we did have a few highlights from the carol program.  The first is that I believe the teaches and staff have come together closer related to the event.  The others have to do with comments after the program.  One of the most important to me was hearing from the woman who started the school in 1987, Ruth.  She was very encouraging about how the program captured her original vision for the school, to share the Gospel in every way possible.  The other comment that was extra special was from a man who came and found me to share how he especially appreciated our spiritual focus for the program.  He introduced himself as one of the Deans of the Wroclaw University.  He even gave an open invitation to have a personal tour of the oldest parts of the university.  I have no question that this was a contact God established for future ministry.  Sorry I don’t have pictures yet, there was a photographer, but I and not yet sure how to get his shots.  I hope to post some soon.

Here are two of the pictures from the pizza & movie night.

Pizza Party 2012

Pizza Party 2012

Pizza Party 2012
Pizza Party 2012

Thanks for praying.

Wood Chip

Thanks for praying for the carol program on Sunday.  We had about 150 people attend and many people shared how they enjoyed that we did some things differently this year.  I am glad we made small changes this year, but next year I hope will be way better and a lot more of everything.  I shared the “reason for the season”.  Using Simeon and Anna’s accounts of meeting Jesus as a baby, I encouraged everyone to recognize the Messiah as they did and choose to worship Him.  More about the story at thewoodshavings.org in the Wood Shavings.

Thanks also for praying for Hannah.  She arrived only missing one bag that arrived the next day.  27 hours of travel took their toll, but she has even adjusted to the new time zone quickly.

Later today I will be able to add pictures from our pizza and movie night with Denise’s English class.  See them at thewoodshavings.org after 12:00 PST.

Please pray for the first “official” service for the International Church of Wroclaw.  Sunday morning we will meet for an hour of worshipping in English through singing, praying, and reading the Christmas story.  Then we will all go to the Polish service for the sermon time.

Other prayer requests:
Upcoming Christmas Celebration Service
Polish Lessons
Our time with Hannah and without the rest of the family
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (Did you watch my video?)

Thanks for praying.

Wood Chip

I am hoping you noticed there was no Wood Chip (WC) yesterday?  But I am sure I am hoping too much.  The truth is that I am grateful that you have not outright quite receiving the WC.  And more importantly Denise and I are grateful when you have time to read the WC and pray.  This week I will make the WC a little longer and not do a Wood Shavings, fyi.

Last week I failed to inform you of a meeting that took place on Saturday.  Denise’s class came over to our apartment, eight out of thirteen.  They made their own pizzas and then we watched “The Princess Bride” movie.  We had a great time and I was able to meet a few of them for the first time.  Next time they come over I will ask you to pray for us.  Oh, I did get to answer the question of why we came to Wroclaw.  So they did hear about how God does lead those people who are seeking to follow Him.  I will put up pictures on the website when I get a chance.

Please pray especially for this weekend.  Hannah leaves California Friday and she arrives here Saturday evening (pray for all the holiday travelers).  Then Sunday afternoon we will have the Carol Program for the language school.  In the past about 200 have attended.  Pray that we will continue to prepare in direct alignment to God’s will.  Pray also for everyone who attends, that they will respond to the invitation to place Jesus the Messiah, who came as a baby, as their Messiah and Lord.

Other prayer requests:
International Church of Wroclaw
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
A spiritual awakening in America to the real Christ-Mass

Thanks for praying!

Wood Shavings Flyer

Here are the flyers that I made to promote joining the Wood Shavings prayer network.  The files are designed for printing (.pdf).  Choose the version you wish to see and copy it to your computer.

If you have difficulty with getting the flyer you wish, please leave a comment and I will send the flyer to you.

I pray you find this flyer useful.

Wood Shavings Flyer, Copy Version

Wood Shavings Flyer, email version

Thanks for praying.

Wood Shavings

I don’t have a lot to add to the Wood Chip.  I say that and it is possible I will have a few pages before stopping.  Na, I will make sure that doesn’t happen.

Today I led the Wroclaw Language School staff as we prepare for the Caroling Program Sunday the 15th.  I will give you more details next week.  For now please pray for all the planning and preparations taking place.

Things have slowed a bit for the new church.  I continue to pray people’s lack of attendance and interest is primarily related to the busy season.  Please pray for us as Denise and I reach out to the prospects and see if there is interest in any form of a Christmas gathering/celebration.

It looks like I started a month too late, need to start the first of October, to coordinate with churches related to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO).  Two skype calls have been scheduled and two more churches would prefer a video.  This is a busy time and a challenge for scheduling on top of a challenge technologically.  Please pray that God will reveal the script for the video.

You probably have students in your life that are facing final papers and tests.  Lets lift them up to the Lord.  I believe one of the great ways our students are a witness to others is how they apply Godly principles to their studies.  A good student who knows where their help comes from (Psalm 121:2) is a living testimony.

Sarah came to visit us in March.  She came to explore the possibility that God is calling her to join our ministry team.  She is in the process of her last tests and papers to earn a degree from seminary.  Pray for her studies, but most her biggest request is for a clear understanding of God’s will for next steps.

Praise the Lord for saving two of my family members while in a head-on accident.  They have broken limbs, scrapes and bruises, and I am not sure what else.  Please pray they recover quickly.

Oh, and I am looking for a dentist.  This week while flossing a filling came out.  Searching for a dentist around here is not so easy as back in the states.

Thanks for praying.

Wood Chip

Thanks for praying last week, it really helped.  But please don’t stop.  This time of the year means final reports of various kinds, planning for Christmas events, and writing goals for next year.  I feel like a juggler sometimes trying to keep too many balls in the air at one time.  Thankfully we have a wonderful Heavenly Father who make all things possible, even reports get completed.

It was a joy to chat with Chestnut Street Baptist Church, Ellensburg, WA during their Sunday morning service.  Coming up is North Addison Baptist Church, Spokane, WA.  A few churches told me they really wanted a video, so I am working on that and my goal is to have one available on the internet for download by Friday night your time.  I will send the link in a special Wood Chip when I get it done.

Prayer Requests:
Discipling relationships
Christmas Carol Program planning.
Learning Polish (it is going well).
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
International Church of Wroclaw.
Students doing finals (Hannah is in this group).
A young woman, Sarah, finishing seminary and praying about joining our team.
Two of my extended family who are recovering from a car accident.

Thanks for praying.