One week left.
It feels very strange to even think about this summer objectively. Being caught up in the daily life here—the relationships, the team schedule, the lack of responsibility—I forget that I’m in another country. I forget that I’m technically on a mission trip. Life here feels a lot like the norm now—not at all the schooltime routine of driving, cleaning my room, spending money, working, speaking English with everyone, and being in a thriving, established church. So to imagine the impending reality of America, Waco, Antioch Discipleship School is more than weird. I’ll leave that for my final post.
Since my last update, I’ve had a unique time here. Right after camp, the girls stayed a night in the Ramada hotel, and the guys had an awesome man night alone at the apartment. We ate a huge dinner at the coolest Indian restaurant and then had great conversations at home afterward. But the coolest thing that happened was the next morning–I had an encounter with God I will never forget for the rest of my life. If you want to know about it, ask me and I’ll gladly tell you about it!
After the sabbath day, we settled into the reality of our fast-approaching departure. But my week was defined by something I would never have expected. During our Tuesday church production meeting, we had a lot of things to plan because this last weekend was Antioch Mongolia’s 20 year celebration. We had more details to cover than ever before, and we wanted to make the Sunday celebration service as epic as possible. Brandon had the great idea of filming a video to play on Sunday, and though it was an extremely daunting task, we decided it would be worth it. Not only would it be a great encouragement for the church body on Sunday, but it would be a reusable tool to give Antioch Mongolia credibility on facebook and other online media outlets.
Literally all of the next 4 and a half days were completely dominated by the video project. I spent hours writing the script, capturing audio, and editing the soundtrack. Jeff spent hours filming in the city, and we both spent hours together editing, perfecting, and polishing the video. Despite lots of translation issues and errors, we finished the video during Jimmy’s sermon on Sunday morning (after pulling an all-nighter) and played it at the end of church. You can see it when it’s fully finished and uploaded online!
20 Year Celebration
This year marks 20 years since Antioch began working in Mongolia.
The celebration was amazing. Although sunday morning church was awesome to say the least (one of our biggest turnouts yet, a 2 hour long service instead of one, and the one and only Jimmy Seibert preaching), the real deal was Saturday. Saturday was a four-ish hour long festival of a celebration with many of the older church network leaders, the Franzen clan, and all of the people from the good ol’ days. It was complete with a buffet, Mongolian worship, a waltz, a gymnastics routine, traditional singing and dancing, and of course, unbelievable stories.
I was blown away by the breadth of the Antioch movement. There were hundreds of people at this celebration (only a fraction of the church leaders, mind you), and hardly any of them spoke english. It was just amazing. I was in the same room as the Mongolian church. Not just “Mongolian believers” who are led by foreigners. I was standing among the Mongolians whose God is Yahweh.
No words can describe what it’s like to hear Mongolians speak about the sacrifices they’ve made over the years for the gospel. To hear their impassioned cries of determination to see the gospel reach all of Asia. To see their faces as they try not to cry speaking about the worth of the cause of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not the missionaries’ god that they have somehow adopted and tried to follow. Jesus is their God. He is the Mongolian God. He really is their savior. And they really will follow Him till they die.
During this celebration (in the parts that happened to be translated) I learned that through the Antioch movement in Mongolia, we have churches and groups all throughout the Mongolian countryside, Russia, and other places I probably shouldn’t mention for safety’s sake. More than that, I found out that through the Antioch church network in Mongolia 6 previously unreached people groups have been engaged and partially reached!
Antioch is just a name. Jesus is the king and He’s the one impacting these countries. He would do it (and already is doing it) through anyone else if they were available. As Antioch, we’ve simply put our hand up in the air and made ourselves available! God, let us continue to keep our hand raised.
Last Friday at the end of our open mic party we had worship and someone shared the gospel. I wasn’t there because I was still filming for the video. But when I came back to the Blue Sky (the hotel where our church meets), Eba told me he prayed and accepted Jesus! It’s a miracle! And literally 2 hours before I had prayed specifically for that night to be the night of salvation for him. God heard me and answered!
The downside is that he’s in the countryside again, and won’t get back till I’m about to leave. Hopefully I’ll get to hang out with him at least one more time. If not, Paul Triebel and Brandon Seibert are on serve team and they’re also friends with Eba! Oh the joy of long term church planting combined with short term missions.
Other great things that have happened:
– I’ve saved up money buying groceries and eating out less
– I’ve written on tons of new songs, some for Glenmerle and a LOT for church
– I’m starting to get some great vision for this next semester
– The new Antioch CD is gonna be sick
– I’m getting better at playing the Yatug
– Multiple people in others’ friend groups have gotten saved
– God is winning 24/7
Bad news: Karl Jreijiri went home already :(
This week I’ve been on two significant adventures in the mountains.
The first was on our Sabbath day (Monday). Everyday we look out the window and see this mountain
just taunting us with its beauty, closeness, height, and glory. I’ve been wanting to climb it for a while, and thanks to Brandon’s pioneering, we made it happen.
Storytime. Elijah, Jeff, Brandon, and I ate at a delicious Xinjiang Chinese restaurant together and then took a taxi closer to the mountain. After sneaking through a construction site and crossing some railroad tracks, we came to a river. The water was freezing cold, but the sun was hot, so we waded chest-deep through and came out the other side smiling. Then we just climbed straight up the closest face of the hill.
After getting to the first low peak, we noticed storms approaching. But they all seemed to be going past us toward the city. We continued up the mountain with little worries, oblivious to what might be on the other side of the mountain we were climbing.
Halfway into the forested upper part of the mountain, the wind started blowing. Then we felt raindrops. By this time we were 80% up the mountain and needed to make a decision. Would it be better to turn around and go as fast as possible toward the nearest building on the side of the mountain (a 20 or 30 minute trip)? Or could we possibly find shelter at the top?
We decided to continue forward, but then the raindrops grew more frequent. Then it started raining. Then pouring. I saw some rocky cliffs toward the peak, so I bolted off the trail and up toward the cliffs.
Brandon, Elijah and Jeff quickly followed, running through dense underbrush that surrounded us up to our waist. We didn’t have time to avoid the evil Mongolian plants that give you a weeks’ worth of poison ivy pain in a one hour period. By the time we reached the cliff, our legs were burning, our clothes were wet, and we were getting cold.
Under the large cliff we found a ledge slanted enough to provide shelter from rain, so we huddled down together, too excited to feel the pain of the plants. Thunder crashed all around us and over us, and as the storm passed, we watched lightning strike the mountains in the distance.
Thankfully, what could have been a dangerous situation turned into an incredible moment of adventure. The rain passed, the thunder stopped, and we ascended the next 20 feet to the top. The view was certainly worth it!
Our descent was rather peaceful, although the river rose a little higher from the rain. After a couple of hours, we were back home, warm, showered, and happy.
The second adventure was yesterday and today- Brandon and I took a backpacking trip outside the city and camped on a hilltop. It was epic, it was unforgettable, it was really scary (still have no idea what that CREEPY noise was in the middle of the night), it was radical, and overall a blast. Crazy to think Brandon and I will be separated for such a long time! There are too many details to include, and I don’t know how to communicate them interestingly, so I’ll just show you a few pictures:
Pray Pray Pray
These are my last days here! While part of it will be spent preparing for home, connecting with Brandon and other people here, and getting souvenirs, my biggest goal is to obey Jesus. I want to do whatever he says, and trust that it’s enough. I also want to prepare well coming home. Pray God gives me wisdom and clear direction for this last week, and pray that God uses me powerfully for the last days I’m here! It’s never too late to see someone healed, saved, or even just encouraged!