… from November 2011 Flag of Belgium

On the eve of this Thanksgiving, here are a few words about life as it happens for us here in Chicago. Thanks once again for your encouragement and interest in ministry among the refugees/asylum seekers and immigrants in Europe.

As I’ve been in the classroom this fall, sharpening my skills for ministering to the Muslim world, I have revisited my high school senior English class on numerous occasions. Mrs. Kruse, who was voted teacher of the year in Chicago, would have us take notes on our different reading assignments in Rolling bandages for Congoher class. It was an important study habit that has proven to be useful in any class situation: in nursing classes, language classes, tropical medicine classes, missions classes. I am often fond of saying “once a nurse, always a nurse”, that is to say, though my ministry situation currently doesn’t allow me to use my nursing skills, I easily react to any situation with my nursing mindset ready to go. These last months, I find myself fond of saying “once a student, always a student” as I learn more about what my Muslim friends are taught in Islam, in anticipation of being able to speak the truth about Jesus into their lives.

Yet today, my notes are on giving thanks, so here goes…. 

  • We are so thankful for the sweet apartment with such a great location in Chicago that we call “home” when we’re not traveling and visiting supporters and friends.
  • Our amazing Honda station wagon has been so helpful for being on the road and is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Did you know that a station wagon can hold 2 large suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, the itineration bag which holds speaking notes, USB sticks, the Belgian flag, fritjes forks (if you haven’t already received one, don’t worry; yours is coming soon!!), and Barb’s every present craft bag, in the hope of picking up craft ideas along the journey. The Honda was even the source of a miracle over the bridge on I-35 in Minneapolis as we struggled to get the electric window to go back up before we headed north to Duluth and beyond on a cold afternoon in October.

Fun times in Minnesota at a quilter's retreatWe have been so blessed — as in blow us away with all of the blessings we have experienced — by supporters, family and friends who are caring not only for us in this time of home assignment, but also caring and supporting immigrants and refugees back in Belgium. As you have welcomed us into your homes, churches and lives, as you have asked lots of questions and have prayed with us and over us, we sense yet again overwhelming affirmation that this is what we’re supposed to be doing in life. Choosing to live far away from family and friends is never easy, yet when affirmation is a part of that choice and journey, life is good. It’s really good, because we know that God is Good!! 

And so, we give thanks, not just on the last Thursday in November, but at all times. As we look to the months ahead, won’t you join us in prayer…. 

  1. That we can remain focused on the message that God wants us to share about ministry and life in Belgium.
  2. Show your care for our ministry team, Jared and Hannah Baker, as you pray for their roles in the life of the local church and also ministries among the refugee/asylum seekers community and among those involved in human trafficking; and for Eric and Heidi Krumland, newly arrived (August ’11) short term missionaries, as they work on Flemish language learning and as they seek wisdom for the ministries that God has equipped them for during this time in Belgium.
  3. That we continue to find joy in the journey, amidst the travel schedule and trying to beef up our ministry skills in these months away from ministry in Antwerp.

Steve venturing out on the Megabus back to ChicagoWe are thrilled to have been with so many of you who are supporting us and praying for us. We’re just as thrilled for the visits yet to come in Advent and into the New Year. And may we all be a people who celebrate thanks at all times, because God is so worthy of our thanksgiving and praise! 

Enjoying home assignment in the U.S.,
Barb Swanson Covenant Mosaics Project — Belgium
5249 N. Christiana Ave. #1N
Chicago, IL 60625
Email: barb.swanson@covchurch.org