Mission to Montenegro newsletter

Blog entry for 19 June 2023

June 2023 Mission to Montenegro Newsletter

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I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
and Your truth unto the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let Your glory be above all the earth.

Ps. 57:9-11

Grace and peace to you in the name of God our Father!

With the season of teams and visitors upon us, God has been very gracious to us this past month.  Praise be His name!

In our morning service, Stan continued in John 14, highlighting the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.   In the evening, we saw that the weighty question posed at the end of Revelation 6: "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" is answered in Ch. 7:  Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues**, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...  

Please pray that God would continue to bless the preaching of His Word and that many would repent of sin and be counted amongst the multitude who will stand before the Throne.

**A Present Foretaste of that Glorious Future
(Serbia, Denmark, Montenegro, England, The Netherlands, USA, and Russia)

In early June we had an excellent week of ministry to families and church members with the GA team, comprised of four adults and four mature teens. Thank you for your prayers for this week--God did do amazing things!

Getting to know one another

Activities included: meeting and encouraging families and singles in their home environments, teaching on several aspects of godly family life in focused sessions on Friday night and Saturday morning, blessing the children with their own teaching on the Lord’s Prayer and engaging them in fun activities while the adults were otherwise engaged, aiding a family who needed all-hands-on-deck practical help with some home maintenance work. It was a busy week!

Some team members out visiting a local family

We know the brethren here were blessed and left with much to ponder over and trust that our New Covenant brethren were as well. We are looking forward to their next (Deo volente) ministry trip.

Please pray especially for the parents that they put into practice those things which the Lord put upon their hearts for their families as they raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Now, we are anticipating the UCCF team from the UK at the end of this month.  They will be reaching out to university students, actively meeting them here in Nikšić, and then holding a 3+ day English Language Camp up in the mountains.  

Please pray for the local EUS (college ministry) team and the UK team as they work hard now that the camp be set up for success.  

Please pray for us as we host and meet the needs of the 10-member UCCF team while in Nikšić.

Please pray for many students to come with open hearts, eyes, and ears, and for them to be touched by God.

We are pleased to have a Book Project Update:  Good News for Anxious Christians is now translated and professionally proofread.  We are currently looking into local printing houses.  Please pray that we would find and choose a printer that might develop into a satisfying, ongoing partnership.

We give thanks to the Lord for all of you reading this newsletter, praying faithfully, supporting us sacrificially; you are God's blessing to us and His people in Montenegro.  To God be the glory!

With great love and appreciation,

Stan and Vicki Surbatovich

Vicki's Snapshot:  "Everybody knows"

One problem with “Everybody knows!” truths that aren’t universal is that nobody thinks to explain such matters to even obvious outsiders like ourselves.  We’ve bumped into a number of these “everybody knows (but us)” faux pas over the years....

With all the recent rains, our rose bushes have exploded with a riot of beautiful blooms.  As I arrange the flowers, I can’t help but think of one of our earliest Oops! moments here in Montenegro.

Our first rented house had a decent-sized backyard with well-established shade trees, roses, and grape arbor.  As that first cold spring of our arrival turned to warm early summer, the roses bloomed and the arbor leafed out.  We were thrilled as we’d never had a rose garden before and now we had one ready-made—a luscious array of colors and enticing fragrance.  Absolutely delightful!

As the days heated up, we placed a plastic picnic table under the arbor and one day, while finishing up lunch outside, Mrs. J, our neighbor and piano teacher, came by and sat to chat a bit with me and Stan.  Our eldest daughter AM, then eight years old, took this opportunity to surreptitiously pick a few roses.  Just as Stan went off to adjust the watering hose, AM brought a sweet bouquet and shyly offered it to Mrs. J.  

We watched in confused disbelief when Mrs. J recoiled and refused to take the proffered bunch.  She would not even touch it.  Although I didn’t understand her torrent of words, I certainly understood her body language (“GASP!  HORROR!) but couldn’t understand the offense.

When Stan rejoined us, I asked him to find out the cause of her inexplicable behavior.  He listened to her emotionally-charged outburst and then turned around to explain.

Mrs. J dared not touch it because “everybody knows” that flower arrangements for the living must have an odd number of flowers since floral arrangements for funerals and graveyards always have an even number.  AM’s offering of six posies was akin to offering a death wish. No way was Mrs. J going to accept that and invite trouble.  

While trying to wrap our minds around such a ridiculous (and to our daughter, hurtful) notion, we nonetheless realized that we couldn’t leave the even-numbered bunch of flowers on the table broadcasting such enmity;  AM was sent off to gather one more rose. With that bloom added, Mrs. J smiled and graciously received the bouquet with thanks.

This superstition regarding “flower number” is quite marked.  March 8th, International Women’s Day, is celebrated by giving a token of appreciation such as a single flower or small treat to significant women (teachers, aunts, coworkers, mentors, kind neighbors) in your life. 

One year, after counting up the number of women they wanted to honor, our children went off together to buy the requisite number of individually wrapped blooms.  Between them, they needed to buy eight.  But the florist refused to sell them eight, even though they were being purchased as individual flowers, not one bunch of eight all together.  She would only sell them seven.  (Sigh). They had to troop to another flower shop to buy the last one.

These days, when filling a vase to place on the dining or coffee table, I don’t consider the number of flowers at all, but for an arrangement intended to be a gift or to decorate the church, I most certainly do.  Because everybody knows…..



Original link: https://us6.campaign-archive.com/?u=aa88391af269f85cb52fbcf66&id=b28b449e26
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