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LitNet! News February 2015
posted by David and Sharyn Curtis on 2015-02-28 12:59:28
 
Compenetration...huh??

Dear friends and family,

One of the challenges of getting older is to maintain a physically, mentally and spiritually active lifestyle. Our bodies, minds, and spirits need disciplined activity in order to be healthy and strong. This has been especially true since Sharyn and I retired. Without the rigors of working 9 to 5+ jobs, it’s easy to slip into a more passive mode of living.
Sharyn and I love to read books. At the end of the day, curling up with a novel from a favorite author is relaxing and entertaining. We have also determined to read non-fiction books which require more thinking and effort. It’s been challenging but rewarding to read about new ideas and vocabulary that flex our brains and thinking.
One of the books that I am presently reading is John of the Cross, Selected Writings (Kieran Kavanaugh) . Honestly, I’m still in the introduction, and need to have a dictionary close at hand to wade through it. Here’s a new word that I had never read before: “Compenetration”. The book reads, “Thus we find in John (addressing his quest to understand both natural and spiritual realities) the experience of their compenetration.” Stay with me a little longer, I’ll get to the point…
New ideas and vocabulary are only relevant if we can apply them to our lives, and we are impacted by them. Compenetration describes the fusion of a natural and spiritual reality. Words, objects, symbols, and even parables help us to understand and internalize what is spiritual.
In the late 1970’s I attended a men’s retreat at the St. John Cathedral in Spokane, Washington. During that weekend I had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. I surrendered my life to Him. He said to me, “I will make you a fisher of men.” There are many ramifications to these words. Many years later I came to realize that Jesus was commissioning me to minister in other nations. Jesus used the word “fisher” to describe a spiritual reality in my life.
Over the last eight years Sharyn and I have made multiple journeys to Znojmo, Czech Republic, to minister with our friends of the Znojmo Christian Fellowship. Znojmo is a lovely and ancient city. There is evidence of continuous human habitation since the Bronze Age (3000 BC)!
One of the oldest structures in the city is the rotunda that is pictured here. As an American it’s hard to get your brain around living in a place with a building that is over 1,000 years old. Originally, the rotunda was built as a place for Christian worship. Over the centuries this structure has been used for many things (wood storage, pigsty, pub, basket workshop, and presently museum). The rotunda is an ancient legacy from the Znojmo Christian community. It provides evidence of deep Christian roots to the believers who live there.
Sharyn and I have discovered that meaningful Christian ministry flows out of relationships of love and trust. In 2006, while living in Kalispell, we formed a lasting friendship with Jarek and Ema. Jarek and Ema came to the U.S. to work as Fulbright Exchange Teachers at the high school in Whitefish, MT. After returning to the Czech Republic, they invited us to visit them in their lovely home city of Znojmo. Sharyn and I traveled to Znojmo in 2007 and have returned several times since.
While in the Czech, I am always struck by a profound sense of the rich spiritual heritage that our Christian friends enjoy in Znojmo. That isn’t to say that living the Christian life has been easy. Our friends and their families have lived through a history of occupation, suffering, and repression wrought by Nazism in the 1940’s and subsequently Communism until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
Yes, there is a Christian heritage, but it has been buried. Most of our friends in Znojmo are first generation Christians. They are in the process of discovering how to live victorious spiritual lives. And that is why Sharyn and I believe we have something important to share.
We are partnering with local friends, Don and Ruth, to offer our Znojmo friends practical input and encouragement about the Christian life. Don and Ruth are living in Znojmo for the next six months. They have made frequent journeys to Znojmo, living there for extended periods of time. They are respected as Christian mentors, impacting the lives of students, singles, husbands and wives, as well as the church leaders.
Since Sharyn and I are educators and teachers by profession, we are focusing our efforts on Christian education for children as well as supporting Christian marriage for couples. We will be returning to Znojmo in Sept., and remaining for six weeks. Currently we are writing and illustrating a children’s book of fables and Bible stories. It will be bilingual, with text in both Czech and English. We are hoping to have the rough draft completed in time for our return to Znojmo in September, 2015. This illustration is from the story about Pogo, the sheep dog and Auntie Ewe. Pogo’s love for the sheep protects them from harm. As parents read this story to their children, we hope they experience a compenetration of natural and spiritual realities.

Love,
David and Sharyn

David and Sharyn Curtis for LitNet!
P.O. Box 913
Kalispell, MT 59903
 


LitNet! News January 2015
posted by David and Sharyn Curtis on 2015-02-04 12:34:57
 
This is always that WAITING time of year in Montana...It’s beautiful, it’s invigorating, but about now, we feel like it’s ENOUGH ALREADY. We start looking at seed catalogs and watching for birds at the bird feeder; we visit our favorite PT for back treatments needed after over-zealous snow removal…
It’s that time of year when most of the growth activity is hidden by deep snow and frozen soil. It’s that time of year for faith and hope and perseverance.
We spend most of our LitNet! time in the office, where a lot of the work is behind the scenes, too. David has completed travel arrangements for our planned trip back to the Czech Republic in September (in addition to his usual tasks of bookkeeping and correspondence). He continues to turn out lovely
stories for the Stories from the Shepherd children’s book that will be published with Czech and English text. Not much display of color yet, but a lot of hard work is going on “invisibly” at this point in time. The “payoff” will occur when we hold another new book in our hands!
Sharyn has begun drawing again (now that Christmas and 2014 have been “put away”. It was fun to start with an illustration of Běla, a crayfish who detects polluted water, warns and saves her friends.

Unseen to us, but significant in Uganda, is the current publishing of 50 School in a Briefcase reading programs, and 50 copies of Animal Alphabet Stories. This could only be accomplished by the quiet, “invisible”, faithful, generous giving of our many LitNet! friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We began of think of the other “invisible” LitNet! contributors recently… those supporting behind the scenes and allowing growth to happen in season:
Annie Mugisha’s husband, Richard, and her three children have shared Annie’s time and energies with us since 2001. They have hosted us (and several other Americans) in their home, provided us with meals and transport, and offered their welcome, smiling faces to weary travelers at the Entebbe airport countless numbers of times. We can’t recognize or begin to thank you enough for your sacrifices.
The families of our other Uganda team members
have adjusted their schedules and their plans many,
many times, as well. We are eternally grateful.
The Czech friends that are partnering with us to
built a book for kids are writing, translating, and
editing while raising families, maintaining houses,
and often working outside the home, as well. May
your labors be blessed!
(wait, there’s more…)
We rarely express publicly our profound gratitude to these other “invisible” co-laborers:
Our LitNet! Board of Trustees, who have stood by us through many seasons giving counsel, praying faithfully, encouraging us, extending resources.
Our wider circle of prayer support—they are the ones to whom we can send an S.O.S and know they will be interceding on our behalf.

The consistently faithful monthly reports from our two Uganda teams are bright spots of color in our world, too. The annual report for 2014 brought impressive statistics:
28 schools participated in teacher-training workshops, where they learned how to be more effective in the classroom, and how to use the 38 SIAB reading programs that they and their teachers purchased.
237 teachers received training at these 3-day seminars. Each teacher represents 50-100 children affected by new knowledge this year alone (that’s at least 12,000 kids for 2014… those teachers will encounter another 12,000 students in 2015!)
237 Sunday School teachers from 24 churches attended training for bringing the Word of God to children. They purchased 27 Alphabet Animal Stories books that will help them.

We say, “Well done!”

All of this (and more) was accomplished through a year of personal hardships: physical injury (remember Juliet’s motor cycle accident?), childbirth and illness, family issues, personal teaching commitments, higher education classes (Annie and Bibian both completed their Bachelor in Education degree programs in 2014!) and financial challenges.

May the Lord of all Seasons sustain you and give you hope through whatever you are facing right now. He is working His purposes out, and He is faithful!

Love and blessings,

David and Sharyn

David and Sharyn Curtis for LitNet!
P.O. Box 913
Kalispell MT 59903
 


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