One of my favorite hymns is “It is Well.” The hymn was written by Horatio Spafford after four of his daughters died when their ship sunk while crossing the Atlantic. The hymn details a variety of situations and circumstances, even stating, “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.”
These next two weeks are the last two weeks that I have to prepare for the Technical Evaluation (try-out) with JAARS. I have been studying almost every day, volunteering at a local maintenance shop, and doing whatever I can to get ready for the try-out process. The rest of the time has been spent getting reconnected at our home church and trying to get settled here in Reno. (We still have a number of boxes that haven’t been opened!)
As I drove home from volunteering at the maintenance shop today, I was listening to Phil Wickham and “It is Well” came on loud and clear. It was just what I needed to hear. As I think about the try-out, I get extremely excited and somewhat nervous all at once. One minute I can’t wait to get to Waxhaw, NC and dive right in. The next minute I wonder, “Am I ready for this? Do I remember how to do that?” In the midst of my roller coaster the peace of God can always break through. Regardless of what happens, it is well with my soul. God is with us. He has brought us this far. He has laid out the path and we must simply walk in faith. I am certain that His will shall be done and I can rest in that.
We celebrated Jessica’s 30th birthday this last week. Wahoo! We had a great time hanging out as a family and letting Jessica know how much we love her. Jess got to be at Summit for all 4 services and give a communion meditation on the importance of gratitude. It has been such fun being back at Summit and seeing so many people. (I know that I said this last week but we keep on seeing more and more people that we know!!!)
Please keep us in your prayers as we get ready for the Technical Evaluation with JAARS. We fly to NC on October 3rd, the Technical Evaluation starts on October 8th and goes through October 19th, and then we get the results on October 20th! Thank you so much!!!
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Give ’til it hurts?” I had the opportunity to get away last Friday night and spend time at a retreat. The word that God impressed on my heart was sacrifice. I was able to examine my life and ask if I have lived a sacrificial life, or if I have been giving and living out of the abundance, the excess in my life.
You might be thinking, “Come on Phil, you and your family are planning on leaving the US to serve as missionaries. Wouldn’t you call that sacrificial?”
My answer is yes and no. Yes, it is going to be a huge change and it is going to stretch us in big ways. But, I know there are other ways to be sacrificial and God is always calling me to greater devotion to Him. In fact, His call is for all of me, my hopes and dreams, possessions and future, yes, even my heart, mind, body, and soul!
As I examined my life, I know there is more to give. Even though it may hurt at the time, I am looking forward to the growth and freedom that occur when we obey and submit ourselves to God. I don’t know what this is going to look like, and I can’t answer it for you, but I am excited to spend more time with Jessica and see how we can trim the fat in our lives and give ourselves extravagantly for the Kingdom of God.
We were able to visit our home church for the first time since last September! What a GREAT time! It was wonderful to see so many friendly and familiar faces. We were encouraged to see all of friends. We were blessed by the worship and the message. We were blessed by the hugs and handshakes. God is GOOD!!!
(Sorry that there are not more pictures. I just found the battery charger for our camera and there will be more next week!)
Kevin and Kim MacFee have had a tremendous impact on both of our lives. Kevin is the campus pastor for Chi Alpha at Embry-Riddle, he married us on July 31 2004, and he and Kim have spent hours of time mentoring us. One of the best things about Kevin is that he has the ability to know people extremely well and then call out the good things. To put it plainly, Kevin and Kim are family.
Kevin broke his leg almost 4 weeks ago as he was leading a group of pastors down a slot-canyon in Zion National Park. Two weeks later, his leg began to swell so he went to the E.R. They found three blood-clots which span the length of his right leg. They are restricting the return path for the blood and causing pain whenever his leg his not elevated. It is a serious situation and we are praying for Kevin and his family. It will take roughly 6 months for the clots to be absorbed by his body. Please pray with us that God would give their family peace, heal Kevin’s leg, and use this time for His glory.
Jess and I were able to meet with two churches in Prescott and tell them about our plans to be missionaries. Both churches were excited to hear about where God is leading us. We also had the opportunity to speak with two different groups at Chi Alpha. On Tuesday we encouraged the leaders to follow God wherever he may lead as well as share some helpful principles to be an effective leader. Then, I spoke to the main body of Chi Alpha on Friday evening about pursuing a rich relationship with God and people. A pastor on Sunday put it well when he said, “Leverage every relationship for the Kingdom.”
We made it back to Reno!!! After 3,778.3 miles, give or take a few, we drove into Reno at approximately 3:58 pm. We had a wonderful road trip but it is good to finally land somewhere! Whew! God continued to pour out his grace and our kids did an amazing job the whole time. Thank you again for your prayers! We will spend the next three weeks getting ready for the Technical Evaluation with JAARS, connecting with friends, and hanging out at Summit Christian Church!
We have made it to Prescott, AZ where everything began for this branch of the Vana family tree. Jessica and I met at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, we were discipled together in Chi Alpha (the campus ministry), we served together in a variety of ministries, and we learned to fly airplanes! It was a blessing for us to be present for the first Chi Alpha meeting of the 2012-2013 school year. That was me 11 years ago and Jess 12 years ago. Wow, so much has happened since then! God used Chi Alpha, the weekly times of worship and fellowship, and the relationships with others to permanently impact our lives for His glory. We are grateful for this ministry and awed by the goodness of God!
We have spent the last five days at our good friend’s house. They are an amazing couple and we love them dearly. They have a daughter 5 months younger than Adelina and the girls have had oodles of fun together! We had some great talks, shared some amazing meals, and enjoyed every minute that we spent with them. They were extremely gracious hosts and allowed our family to stay in their bedroom.
We have spent some of our time with the current students who are a part of Chi Alpha. In addition to attending the weekly meeting last Friday night, we went to the BBQ they had on Labor Day. It is a blessing to meet the students. We are both a little jealous because of all of the ways that God changed us through Chi Alpha and we would love to go through it all over again!
We are excited about this next week. We are going to hang out with and speak to the student leaders of Chi Alpha this Tuesday. Our job is to encourage the leaders about giving everything up to the Lord and allowing Him to direct their steps. We hope to be a living example of a couple who is trying to go wherever God has called us, regardless of the cost. We are also going to speak on Friday to the entire group. It will be an honor to talk to the students and share what God has done and is doing in our lives. Please pray for us! We want to make the most of our time and our influence.