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I think we found a Van!

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

4 and 1/2 years ago we sold everything we had and in 8 bags moved half way around the world.  2 weeks and a day ago we moved back with 11 bags and 1.5 more family members!  Life is full of adventure for the Graves Family!

We have been so thankful to have friends and family allow us use of their vehicles. Not having to worry about transportation our first 6 weeks back is such a blessing.   But we may have found our Van!  In the next city over we found a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country.  It was a recent addition with brand new tires and has all the features we had hoped for.

We had expectations of paying well over $15,000. We found this van for $8000!  We believe we have around $2500 raised, so we still need around $5,500.  We are super excited about this possibility.

Please join us in prayer as we seek God’s wisdom moving forward.  We will get to test drive the van this Friday for a final evaluation.  If you would like to contribute towards the vehicle purchase,  let us know and we can provide more details.

 

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Chapter 54: Father’s Day

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

Luke 6:38

As we sit and think about the Father’s in our lives today, we have memories surface from our experience of WHO and WHAT a father is.  I pray that I am to my children, what my dad was to me!  The example he set, the presence he had, the love he gave.  The standard was set high, and I do my best to follow in his example (which is following His example!).  I realize that as a father, the example I set for my children will have an influence in who they become as they grow older.  May God grant me the wisdom to raise Godly children!

These last three weeks, and this upcoming week, have been incredibly difficult.  Poland has been our home for the better part of the last four and half years.  Our children have all lived longer in Poland than the United States, becoming true Third Culture Kids.  Dottie has actually only spent 5 days outside of Poland!  The dynamic of friendship as an expat changes the intensity of the relationships.  This means that for our family we have very deep friendships here, which means the goodbye’s (or see you later!) are really hard.

Even in the midst of this difficulty, we have glimpses of our future which brings great joy.  The joy comes from knowing that our family is following God’s direction and leading.  This path will take us to Vancouver, BC, through Portland, via Pagosa Springs, and beginning in Oklahoma City. We hold tight to the promises of God and have a great hope in having a home to live in, the right job for me, and a balance with our growing family (remember we have another on the way!)!

We have a plan for the next month, but August is really a time of unknowns.  Where will I work?  Where will we live?  What school will our children attend?  When (or which city?) will we get a vehicle? Financially how does this all work out (hah, this is my favorite!)?  We, as humans in this fallen world, can get overwhelmed.  I took my eyes off of the problem solver and onto the problems that seem to be a great mountain before us.  I became downcast, frustrated with God’s timing, and almost hopeless even in light of the promises.  But God (one of my favorite parts of scripture), spoke truth and wisdom to me, granted me peace, and filled my heart with His love and compassion.  I know I will not have all the answers, but I trust that God will continue to be my family’s provider and protector as He has been all this time.

Please be praying for our family as we conclude our time in Poland.  We have a major transition in our lives as we move from Central Europe to the Pacific Northwest.

Please also continue to be praying for:

-Clothing: For all of us (message for sizes)

-Car:  We will need a 6+Passenger vehicle for our growing family (probably mini-van or SUV)

-Travel Expenses: Food/Gas/Hotels

-Deposits/Down Payments/Furniture/Moving Expenses

-For the Art Auction/Fundraiser

If you wanted to participate in the Art Auction/Fundraiser, it will take place at Centerpoint Church in Pagosa Springs, Coloardo.  If you are unable to visit in person but still want to contribute towards the fundraiser, you can follow the details below:

  1. Go to http://www.centerpointpagosa.com/resources/giving.html
  2. Select First Time to create an account (recurring options) or quick give (one time)
  3. Change “my donation” to “MISSIONS-Poland Mission”
  4. In the “Other Comments” you can say “Graves Family”

– OR –

Make checks (or cash) payable to: “Centerpoint Church”
In the notes say it is for: “Graves Family”
Send to:
Centerpoint Church (Attn: Logan Irvin)
2750 Cornerstone Dr
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

Thank you all for your prayers and support during this major change in our family’s life.  Your prayers have lifted our spirits!  We are excited to take this next step in our journey following God’s leading.

 

The Graves Family

 

p.s.  As always, if you have something we can be praying specifically for, please feel free to send us an email at thegravesabroad@ gmail.com

 

 

Quick Praise Update!

The other night Loralie had a friend come to church.  During our time of worship, I could over hear her talking to her friend about God.  It was so awesome to hear her sharing her faith in God.  At one point she began to describe how God can provide, “and God knows your heart, if you like pray for like $1,000 He will see your heart and then he can provide it for you.”   Now I am not saying that God is a bank, genie, or dream caster, but He is a loving father!  I swallowed my desire to intervene and let it play out.

As we finished church and talked about the kids conversation, I was a bit defensive.  I couldn’t just say that God would provide $1,000 if you asked for it.  But isn’t that what my family is doing?!  I thought about all the needs my family has been praying for and realized very quickly that we are probably looking at needing between $30,000 and $40,000 for our move.  And hasn’t God answered our prayers so far?!

Praise:

We have our flights covered! This is easily around $5000.

We have accommodation for the first month and a half.  Easily another $1000.

We have been given the funds to cover 2nd bags! $500.

Our home church, Centerpoint is having an Art Auction to help us raise funds for a car $??

We have friends in OKC who have some clothes for the kiddos!

Almost all Doctor appointments and visits are covered!  At least until we figure out Canada’s health care for our family.

Our loving home church is making preparations for an Art Auction and Fundraiser for the 1st weekend of July.  The proceeds will go to our family towards either the purchase of a car, deposits at our place in Vancouver, or other costs associated with relocating our family around the world.  The details for now, is that the event will be held at Centerpoint Church in Pagsoa Springs, Colorado.  They would like to invite you to participate in person or through donations via post or online giving.  As more information becomes available, I will send you updates.  So here is the giving information:

  1. Go to http://www.centerpointpagosa.com/resources/giving.html
  2. Select First Time to create an account (recurring options) or quick give (one time)
  3. Change “my donation” to “MISSIONS-Poland Mission”
  4. In the “Other Comments” you can say “Graves Family”

– OR –

Make checks (or cash) payable to: “Centerpoint Church”
In the notes say it is for: “Graves Family”
Send to:
Centerpoint Church (Attn: Logan Irvin)
2750 Cornerstone Dr
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

So can I really say that we can’t take our needs before God?  $1,000 seemed unreasonable, but yet God has provided over $7000 of the $30-40K in less than a month!  When I prayed this past week, I believe that God is asking us to have a child like faith about this. Kids don’t have to wonder about financial provision, they trust their parents.  I believe that when God says He wants to provide, He means it!  Sometimes it takes a bit of patience.

For those who are interested in knowing about what needs we have remaining, here they are.  Will you join us in prayer about these needs being met?:

-Clothing: Michelle and I need new clothes (badly), the kids will need some items (message for sizes)

-Car:  We will need a 6+Passenger vehicle for our growing family (probably mini-van or SUV)

-Travel Expenses: Food/Gas/Hotels

-Deposits/Down Payments/Furniture/Moving Expenses

-For the Art Auction/Fundraiser

 

We would love to join you in prayer as well!  Please send us your requests, remember you are never alone!

 

Much Love!

The Graves Family

Chapter 53: When Life Gives you Lemons, …

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.”

1 Samuel 9:3 NKJV

Have you ever started off on a journey expecting it to take you on one path and it leads you on a completely different one?  I bet Saul felt this way when he went looking for his father’s donkeys and ended up becoming King of a nation! The phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” comes to mind.  I guess that can be true about most things in life, like: “When life gives you another child, love him!”

So, in case you missed the subtlety of that last line I will repeat it in another way, THE GRAVES ARE EXPECTING ANOTHER BABY!  I know what you are thinking, ‘Really, another child?’  Sometimes no matter how much you plan, God changes those plans!  So we choose Love.  We believe the delivery date will be sometime early December.  We will be visiting a Doctor when we arrive back stateside, due to some Visa issues we are currently experiencing, and will confirm the dates then.

In the next 6 weeks our lives will completely change.  On May 31st, I will serve my last day as a barista/manager with Sweet Life.  The last two years have been an incredible journey of sacrifice and joy.  I am so thankful that God gave me this opportunity in life, and will always have a special place in my heart for Sweet Life.

During the month of June, we will use this time to connect with people here in Krakow, plan our first steps back Stateside, and prepare to transplant our lives from Poland, back to the West.  This is going to be very tricky!  Think about making a move in your home country; logistics, what to keep/save, prioritizing and setting a value on everything you own…always asking the question, “Do I need this?”  We get to add the question, “Will it fit on the plane?!”  Unless we receive additional financial support, we will be looking at taking 5, 50lb(23kg) bags back.  To add a second bag will cost 80Euro each, or around $425 total.  Oh man!

However, that does mean we had a HUGE prayer request answered!  Our flights have been taken care of, and we have a departure date, June 27th!  WOW!  Thank you God and those willing to help us!  So now that the hard part is over, we just have to find: a vehicle (6+ passengers), figure out a timetable for traveling to Vancouver from OKC, find a job, find a home, and find a school for the kids.  If we didn’t have the peace of God knowing that we are following His calling, I think I would be paralyzed with stress and anxiety.

Everything is dependent on something else.  We can’t enroll the kids in school until we know where we live.  We won’t know where we will live until we know where my work is and what our budget will be.  We won’t know how we will be traveling and to which city until God knows when (literally), because if we get a vehicle we can drive, but if we don’t then we will need to rent or fly.  But how do you buy a vehicle or plane tickets when you don’t have an income?  Hah!

I realize I can’t focus on our problems, but the problem solver.  After all, in Matthew 14 Peter is able to walk out on the water he was called to.  As long as he kept his focus on Jesus, he did just fine.  So, we shall do the same.

 

Will you join us in prayer?

For Poland

…as we close out our time with Sweet Life.  That we would have great fellowship with the staff and customers, and set up the business for our departure.

…as we connect with friends and family that we have made here.  That we would speak truth, encourage fellow missionaries, and build strong connections.

…as we pack, clean, and prepare for our departure.  For God’s blessing, strength, and wisdom.

…for the kids as they say good bye to their friends.

For the US and Canada

…as we transition out of one culture, live 2 months or so in another, and then resettle into a third.

…as we transplant our lives across the globe.

…as we seek out business and ministry partners in Vancouver.

…as we reconnect with family and friends in the US.

…as we search out transportation, travel plans, connections, etc.

..for financial provision for this crazy adventure!  For additional bags to the US from Poland, a vehicle for use Stateside, transportation, hotels, gas, doctor appointments, new clothes (for all of us!), and all other costs associated with moving into a new place (deposits, down payments, new accounts, etc).

 

We are incredibly humbled by the love and support that has been shown to us.  Every time we have had need in our lives (prayer, financial, or otherwise), you have been there for us.  God has blessed us with your partnership in our families journey.  For that, we are incredibly thankful for you!  Thank you all so much.

 

Chapter 52: Power, Love and a Sound Mind

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

How we respond to the trials of life show a lot about our character, our faith, and what spirit we allow to dwell in our hearts.  Our family has been tested greatly this past year and a half as we opened a business and added a new member of our family.  Challenged. Pulled. Stretched.  God never gives us more than we can handle.  With God anything is possible!  It is all about perspective in life.

Our adventure is far from over.  After the beginning of this year, we focused our prayers for God to guide us in our life here in Poland.  We began to realize that we needed to change our kids school as the school is forty minutes away, as well very far away from our flat and Sweet Life. Soon after, we notified the school. At similar timing we noticed water damage in our flat which led us to work an understanding with our landlords that we would have permission to move out of our flat before our rental agreement concluded.

Everyday a renewed prayer of surrender.  Every answer to be still and know that He is God; a call to trust.

About a month ago we heard God clearly tell us we will be leaving Poland.  Waves of emotion continue to crash in our lives as we have been informing our business partners, staff, local friends and family.  With so many to tell please forgive us if we missed telling any one of you face to face! And again as we inform you all, ya’ll who have been with us on this grand adventure.

Now, I am sure you are curious for more details.  So here is what we know so far, our current timeline:

-Transition cafe for our departure (now-June)

-Head back stateside (end of June-Mid July)

-Visit Family/Home Church (mid July-August)

-Colorado-Oklahoma-Portland (Seattle?)

-…

Yes, the dreaded “…”  We believe our next step is to the Pacific Northwest, more specifically Vancouver BC Canada.  I (Brad) will pursue connecting with the coffee community.  After all, my passions and desires have not changed.  I love coffee and people, so my work with coffee and ministering in/with/to/around this community will continue.

When we pray for this future, we hear God’s response of “Be still, have faith, and trust in me.”  He points to the task at hand of our departure and the transition taking place.  Just because we wont be in Poland does not mean Sweet Life will cease to function.  Sweet Life will continue to operate as usual as our business and ministry partners remain in Poland.  There is a lot to get done, conversations to take place, and people to love.

So what might our future hold?  Good question!  For the longest time I felt there was a great divide between Ministry and business.  Michelle and I have been learning a lot about how these two things are more connected than separate.  Business as Mission, Mission as Business.  This could mean Roasting Coffee, Trainer, Account Manager, or full ministry side as more of a Coffee Pastor.  This will probably lead more towards working with a Roaster with a cafe instead of a stand alone cafe, or possibly working with Green Coffee Sourcing.  OR …something completely different!

As you imagined we have a plethora of prayer requests:

Now:

  • Sweet Life and our Transition
    • Management and job transition
    • Our future presence in the cafe and its leadership
  • Connections
    • As we meet with people before our departure

Next:

  • Transition
    • As we switch cultures twice in the next 6 months
    • As we pack and move 9 timezones
    • For safety in our travels
  • Direction
    • Where and how to spend our time stateside
    • For our future destination, we believe to be in Vancouver BC Canada
    • Whether we find something established or fly more solo with business creation
    • Where in Vancouver?  (Downtown, Suberb, Surrounding towns)
  • Ministry
    • What church community to partner with -or- are we creating something new -or- both?
    • We can get plugged in correctly
  • Transport
    • Flights to the US and Canada
    • A van that can seat 6+.  Either for traveling up to Vancouver or after our arrival.  A family of 5 is difficult to transport around town!
  • Vocation
    • Which Coffee Company (Cafe/Roaster/Green Sourcing) to partner with
    • What direction to take on our own

In all of this, we seek His will.  God has a plan, He has the provisions, He will lead us.  We thank you for all of your support of our family.  Every package, letter, email, connection.  It has not gone unnoticed and has been so encouraging and uplifting on our family’s journey.  As we take our next steps, we invite you to continue on this grand adventure with us.

If you would like to partner with us on this journey, contact us directly and we can share how!

You all are amazing and we love you so much!

Love from,

 

Brad, Michelle, Loralie, Jack and Dottie!

 

 

 

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