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Spain: Seek and You Shall Find


Spain: Seek and You Shall Find

Josh bringing a message of hope to the church in Barcelona with translation aid from Ester, a youth in the church.

Josh bringing a message of hope to the church in Barcelona with translation aid from Ester, a youth in the church.

For this post to make sense, I suggest you read our LAST ONE first.

In short, the trip to Spain was very good. Incredible, even. But I wasn't going for leisure. I was looking for answers.

When I read the Bible and see these conversational exchanges between people and God, I struggle to relate. It's never worked like that for me. There are very few times I would point at a moment and say, "I know that was God speaking."

However, I went with one prayer -- that it become abundantly clear if Spain is where God most desires for us to serve or not. Nothing in between, just "yes" or "no."

The answer was overwhelming: yes!

Between conversations with church leaders in three very different communities, personal observations, affirmation during the leader's retreat in Madrid, and a consuming sense of inner peace, it's become clear Spain is the right direction for us.


Between my Spanish and their English, there was no problem communicating with the various leaders from the three communities I visited -- Barcelona, Vigo and Madrid. I was able to learn about the unique needs of each community and could feel my heart jump into my throat as words like "worship," "youth leadership," and "art" came up over and over again.

It was powerful to see a similar reaction as, after hearing these needs, I revealed Alisha and my giftings.

Perhaps this is how God speaks to us.

Josh, left, and Abel participating in a very local, very fun   Catalonian tradition that revolves around eating a   spring-onion-like vegetable fresh off the barbecue.

Josh, left, and Abel participating in a very local, very fun Catalonian tradition that revolves around eating a spring-onion-like vegetable fresh off the barbecue.


At each stop, it wasn't difficult to see the potential in each city. Each has ministry connections that make them very important, powerful forces in their communities: aid and housing for low-income families, loving minority groups (Muslims and "gypsies"), and education for kids are just a few examples.

It also wasn't hard to see the factors keeping that potential from coming to fruition. In one community, it might be an overworked pastoral team that has their hands too full with the week-to-week needs to develop other parts of the community that want to grow. In another, it might be competent youth and worship leaders who are approaching burnout.

Regardless of the nature, I observed a real need for help.

Perhaps this is how God speaks to us.


Pastor Davide in the church building in Vigo after receiving a great deal of   food for local needy families.

Pastor Davide in the church building in Vigo after receiving a great deal of food for local needy families.

It's one thing to think you hear God's calling. It's another for others to share that they hear it, too.

At the retreat for the Anabaptist church leaders, I had a chance to speak with lots of different people and was also asked to share a bit about our current ministry in Lithuania and also our hopes for the future. I was able to ask many questions and I answered many, too.

By the end of the retreat, five churches had formally extended invitations to serve with them as long-term mission workers.

Perhaps this is how God speaks to us.


When we announced we would no be returning to LCC International University for a fifth year, our view of the future became very blurry. This, combined with the knowledge we will soon be parents, knocked the forecast completely out of focus.

The moment we allowed ourselves to say, "Spain is our ultimate ministry destination," a significant part of that future came into focus and we were filled with a sense of peace. Not just the peace that comes with making a choice, but the peace that comes from making a blessed decision.

Perhaps this is how God speaks to us.

Next Steps

The Sunday-morning worship service in Barcelona -- full of passion and love

The Sunday-morning worship service in Barcelona -- full of passion and love

While in Spain, there was one community in particular that seemed to have a "Josh-and-Alisha-shaped hole" in it. The others certainly had need, but they also had people in place who, with the right resources and support, can fill those needs.

We are in the midst of conversations with the community in Barcelona and Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) to ensure we're all on the same page and will continue to establish what a long-term project with them might look like. Nothing is confirmed yet, but we are hopeful this is a good direction both for us and them. We will continue updating as things continue coming into focus. Prayers, in the meantime, would be greatly appreciated.

(CLICK HERE to see photos from Josh's most recent visit to Spain.)

(CLICK HERE to see photos from Josh and Alisha's first visit in October.)

A special thanks to MMN for making this trip possible. About three years ago, we began developing our relationship with MMN and it has been through their support and guidance that we had the means to travel to Spain and connections with so many incredible communities.

Pregnancy Update

Super pregnant, super sassy --  now  featuring artistry!

Super pregnant, super sassy -- now featuring artistry!

Alisha is super healthy and super happy. Maternity leave has been good for her: she's been diligent in reconnect with her artistic roots and has allowed herself as much rest and relaxation as a pregnant woman can experience.

She's also been feeling the love. You can check out photos from her surprise baby shower HERE and from her surprise birthday celebration HERE.

Due date is still mid May, but we all know the kid will come when he comes.



Leaving LCC

A few of the Spiritual Life student leaders bond during a recent retreat at our flat. Students and their respective countries are, from left, Kamilė (Lithuania), Lukas (Germany), Xhorxhina (Albania) and Katya L. (Russia).
We're making it official -- this is our last semester working at LCC International University.

*insert cries of sadness and gnashing of teeth or cheers of joy and jubilation, depending on how you feel about this*

We've spoken these words out loud to a handful of people now -- mostly family and supervisors -- and they sound strange each time we've said them. But, with each time, the weight that hangs on them comes into focus more and more.

Although we are in year four of a two-year commitment, this is a decision that has always felt much more connected to a sense of God's call than personal choice. As such, this is a decision we've wrestled with each year we've been here. 
  • By the end of our second year, it was clear our work at LCC wasn't finished.
  • Last year, we knew our efforts were already changing LCC's DNA (in positive ways) and that it would be possible to transition out. However, we've also learned that, in missions, it's always best to be running towards something -- God's plan -- and there wasn't even a remote destination in sight. With staff/faculty members constantly changing at LCC, we've also come to appreciate the gift of good, thoughtful transitions and saw this year as one where we could offer that.
  • This year -- as we shared a couple blog posts ago -- it's been hard to know exactly what to write about. The systems we have helped develop are starting to run themselves. This community graciously stretched when we first came and now it has a different shape. At the risk of sounding boastful, we have changed some of LCC's DNA, which is both humbling and encouraging. When we consider whether we are to return or not, the sense we get is, "It's OK to move on."
Again, LCC was never meant to be the place where we would stay until we're too old and senile to work. We came wanting to participate in God's mission as well as develop our calling as God's agents of change.

"What's next?"

The first thing people have asked us is, "What's next?"

Our immediate plans are to have our baby here in Lithuania, spend some time with our relatives, and reconnect with our Phoenix family. But the big picture is still blurry -- these plans are still in God's hands.

"Wait, what?"

While it's clear our time in Lithuania is drawing to a close, we're still looking towards God for guidance for our long-term plan.

Julija and Alisha take a much-needed break after a long
Through our time in Lithuania, we've felt affirmed that these past four years haven't been merely an experience intended for just a season of our lives. Rather, this has been a time of preparation for something bigger. 

Perhaps it's appropriate our time serving at a university will end after four years. As the students have been transformed, so have we. Whatever we were before we came to Lithuania, now we are mission workers.

We've been working with our mission agency, Mennonite Mission Network, this past year and there are some exciting ideas we're looking into. I'll even be traveling a bit this semester to visit some communities that have expressed interest in our help (Alisha is too pregnant for that at this point).

For now, we ask for your prayers and support as we continue to seek God's greatest desires for our next actions.

Finishing Well

All of this said, don't think we've checked out of our work here at LCC. God continues to move in this community and we are privileged to be able to be part of that movement.