Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We are home

Well, not our real home. I don't want to panic anyone. Besides, I don't think that we could make a blog entry from heaven. :-)

Our flights went well. We left Sopron on a bus at 8am and the last person got home at 9:50pm, which was a travel time of almost 23 hours. Our only real excitement was an item that Chris carried onto the airplane flights from Vienna to Copenhagen and then Copenhagen to Seattle. At Seattle they would not let him carry it on to the flight to Portland so he had to box it up and check it. It took a bit of time, and we had to travel from one end of the airport to the other. However, we got to our gate with 15 minutes or so to spare.

I have uploaded a few more pictures of Sopron and our flight home for the slide show.

Courtney, the eDot technical coordinator (see post below), provided us with a valuable debriefing the night before we left. Courtney was a youth paster before he went to the mission field and has led many short term missions trips. He coached us through a process of evaluating our experience and how we might share it with others. Thank you, Courtney, for that debriefing and the follow-up worksheet. They have been very helpful. We look forward to sharing how God has been working in our lives through this missions experience.

We hope to have an opportunity to formally share at each one of our churches. If you are interested in knowing the dates of these presentations please contact one of us or send an email to the hungary project.

Home again

Hello to all!!

After getting a little sleep, I thought it reasonable to give you more details of our journey across the world. It took almost 24 hours to travel from Sopron, Hungary, to Copenhagen, Denmark, to Seattle, WA, and finally to Portland and back home.

In Vienna, we were hanging out at Starbucks at the airport thinking we were ahead of the game...that is until we realized that our gate changed and found that the line was rather long at the right gate!! :-) We made it through, though, and proceeded to Copenhagen where we enjoyed some rather large burgers! To the right, you'll find the "handsomest guy on the team" with the handsomest burger in Denmark! At least that was our experience!

The trek from Copenhagen to Seattle was actually pretty smooth, then came the entrance into the states and our only real setback through the whole trip: a snow globe. Eric posted a little about this, but here are some more details.

Our stop at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was the shortest layover of all and where we had the most to do. We made it through passport control and customs and were making good time. Then came security. :-( I had bought a snow globe in Vienna for my wife and had travelled with it as a carry-on from Vienna to Seattle for safekeeping. As we went through security in Seattle, the package was flagged. When I told the gal what it was, she says, "Oh, that can't go." As you can imagine, it was a rather sad moment until she said there was no problem checking it and stowing it under the plane for the flight.

That had potential.

Of course, it wasn't nearly as easy as first thought. In the end, all of us travelled outside security again (thanks, guys!!) and Corey and I ran (literally) down two floors to a shop that prepared my package for travel under the plane. We ran back up, picked up the other two guys, headed through security again, took a train to the gate and actually made it with time to spare! Whew!!

Our propeller-driven plane touched down in Portland just past 7:00PM local time (4:00AM Hungary time), and Joel's family were very kind in meeting us there with our travel arrangements. Home again!

The last nine days have been life-changing for all of us, and we are happy and rather excited to bring those changes home with us. Praise the Lord for what He did in Hungary and what He's doing all over the world!! What a mighty God we serve!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Headed Back

Operation Laptop has come to a close.

It has been a fantastic experience. There are dozens of stories to tell. Far too many to relay right now at 1AM while typing on a Hungarian keyboard, anyway.

We got to wrap things up this evening with an all-together "closing ceremony." You could feel the energy and passion to spread God's Word as we closed out the conference with what happens to be my favorite worship song, "Mighty To Save." Simply put, it was plain awesome.

This has been a growing experience, no doubt. It has caused me to do a lot of thinking. I know I have benefited. I hope that a few missionaries benefited from our efforts as well.

I look forward to see what the Lord will do in the future. Maybe I'll get to do this again. Maybe not. Who knows? Next time He might be calling you.

41 laptops & 15 countries

Before we left home I wrote, "Think of the impact! By solving computer problems we will enable the missionaries to focus more time on building relationships and spreading the gospel. We will be impacting the spread of the gospel throughout Europe! This is so exciting. To know that God can use my skill set to impact the spread of the gospel is incredible."

We have indeed impacted the spread of the gospel throughout Europe. Here is a list of the countries where the GEM missionaries who brought in their laptops live and work.

Czech Republic

And, even North Africa and the USA.

Getting Ready to Travel Home

Well, this is Corey, doing my first blog of the trip. :-) I have spent all my free time correcting assignments for the online classes I am teaching. I want to thank my workmates, Marcia Thompson and Wendy Davis for taking over most of my teaching responsibilities for this week; otherwise I would not have been able to come on this trip.

It is almost midnight on the last night of our stay here in Sopron, Hungary. Tomorrow morning we catch the bus at 8:10 AM to travel to the Vienna Airport. Time has very little meaning when you have jet lag!! One night near the beginning of the trip, Eric and I got up about 3 AM to start working since apparently no more sleep was anywhere to be found. Last night I stayed up until about 3 AM working on my online teaching. I am not sure what time zone I am right now!

The grounds around our hotel are beautiful. Here are a couple of pictures.

I am just awestruck by the gratitude of the missionaries for the help we have provided. Although from our perspective it was an absolute joy to help solve their computer problems (and have great times visiting and learning about their ministries and lives), we were given thanks again and again in many ways for the computer help we were able to provide. They had us stand up in the final conference gathering and publically thanked us for coming and thanked our families and those who supported us for enabling us to come. Also, besides the many thanks given by many individuals, one person said to me, "they sure clapped enthusiastically for you!"

In these few short days we have made a number of friendships with people from all over Europe. We had some very good conversations with people from Germany, Croatia, Ukraine, and the U.S. The foreign travel and seeing new sites is fascinating and fun, but it is the people we met here that will most affect my view of this trip. It is touching to see their sincerity, dedication, sacrifice, and passion for the gospel in Europe. I hope I will not forget this.

GEM tells us "Thank You"

Today has been another full day. Our goal was to be done by 5:30. We had a bit of a last minute rush but we finished on time. At 5:30 we ate dinner and then attended the final session at 7:00. We were given a round of applause, kind words, and a card for our service. The entire GEM family has been gracious and kind throughout our time with them. The card is signed by GEM's president and his wife.

Ask us

Some things we have learned about and from the missionaries can't be posted on a blog. This white space is in honor of the missionaries we have met; their sacrifices, their struggles; their secret journeys; and more...

Ask us in person. We want to share more with you.