The Missing Piece

image-1

13620842_10204940042619778_5180455037307416049_n

Hi, my name is Karna Steel, and my husband and I, along with our five boys, have been overseas on the mission field for twenty years now. We just celebrated our 25th year with Youth for Christ (YFC). Eleven of those years were spent working with a military youth ministry in Italy, and over the past eight years we helped establish YFC in the Czech Republic. We are looking forward to having Caity join our team of missionaries in the Czech Republic.

In the past few years my heart has been drawn more and more to the absolute need women have, especially those on the mission field, for community. Over the years I’ve made a lot of moves for ministry, and every time it’s been hard to start over again and re-establish myself in each new area.

I think “community” can mean different things to different people. For me, it means connection, the things which place us on a common ground together, whether it’s a common vision, being married with children, speaking the same language, or simply just loving chocolate.

There’s a quote by Brene Brown that really speaks to this:

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

That’s some pretty powerful truth! Studies show that women are hardwired for friendship. When life becomes challenging, women seek out friendship with other women as a means of regulating stress levels. Men don’t necessarily need that to the same degree in their lives as women do. When a woman gets stressed, her natural response is to “tend and befriend,” which means that women instinctively tend to nurture others around them and reach out to others.

Women need community. We need to tell our stories, to process our emotional experiences with others, and to receive their aid in moving forward. As one article cited, “We need to build and maintain these important bonds to protect our physical and emotional well-being.” (The Huffington Post, 2013)

After being in the military ministry for ten years, I told my husband I was done. I was done seeking out friendships with other women because people were always transitioning in and out of my life and I felt like my heart was just raw and couldn’t take another good-bye.

He asked me, as he always does, “Have you prayed about it? The Lord isn’t afraid to hear your heart’s cry.”

So I told the Lord that I just couldn’t do it anymore. If He wanted me to have a friend, He was going to have to bring her to me and plop her right in front of me because I wasn’t going looking for her — and He did! I met a family at chapel the next week and found out they’d been relocated to Aviano even though her husband was in the army. I offered to watch her children for her while she received her household shipment, even though we didn’t know each other at all.

The next week, while I was sitting in a parking lot on base, she came up to the side of my van and asked me, “Do you want to be my friend?”

I told her that I just didn’t have it in me at the time, but she responded that it was okay, and that she’d do all of the work. And she did! That was the start of our intense but very short friendship. Nine months later we felt called to move to the Czech Republic, and her husband got orders to move back to Germany to the army base there. I’ll never forget our conversation while we were packing up my house. She said, “I’ll never understand why the Army moved us down here and uprooted our family for only nine months.”

“It was for me!” I told her. “You were the answer to my heart’s cry!”

While there are always positive things wherever you live, there are also hardships as well. Living cross-culturally has its own set of difficulties. When you add separation from family and friends to that mix, I’ve seen a lot of missionaries who’ve left the field early because it was just too hard for them. If they can’t establish community where they live, they cannot sustain life there. It’s just that simple and that difficult. Brene Brown, in her book “Daring Greatly,” said it quite succinctly, “Connection is why we’re here; it is what give purpose and meaning to our lives.” Please pray that Caity will find her place of ministry here in the Czech Republic, and that she will be able to make connections and find her community.

Mission Update – January

img_3019

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first post of the new year! I’m excited to update you all on my fundraising progress, and what I’ve been up to this past month. It’s been a great holiday season, and I can’t wait for the many new adventures waiting just ahead.

Life

During a busy holiday season, it’s easy to neglect time with friends and family. But as I prepare to move to the Czech Republic, family time is more important than ever. I’m grateful for the chance I had to spend Christmas and New Years with my parents and siblings. We didn’t keep all of our holiday traditions. We usually spend more time traveling. But the chance to welcome in 2017 with my family in the comfort of our own home was very special. Thank you to those who were praying for me during the holidays.

Now that it’s January, it feels like the countdown has begun. I’ve been looking at my calendar and counting the weeks until March 22, and … there aren’t very many of them left! I keep writing down in my planner all the things I need to do before moving to the Czech Republic, and the list grows longer and longer. Please continue to pray for me as I make the necessary preparations to move overseas.

Before Christmas I was able to create and mail a bunch of Christmas cards to friends and supporters, along with the mission brochure I recently created. Making those cards reminded me how much I love scrapbooking, and also how much I care about all of you. Having so many friends to write to at Christmastime is very special. Writing each note reminded me just how far we’ve come together. Know that I’m very thankful for all of you, and that I’m so happy to get to make this journey along with you.

img_2576

Christmas Cards – Some Assembly Required

Fundraising

You might remember that the amount of monthly support I need to raise before moving to the Czech Republic is $2,100. Well, I’m pleased to report that over the past month my total amount of monthly support pledges has increased. It grew from $480 at the end of November, to $640 by the end of December. I’m just $60 short of being a third of the way to my support goal.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-29-38-pm

Growth of Monthly Support Pledges

Of course, these are still mostly pledges, but a few of you have started turning your pledges into actual donations starting this month, and I am very grateful. Because of your generous support I am able to continue to pay rent on the apartment in the Czech Republic I will soon be living in. My hope is to be receiving enough support by February to be able to pay for the plane tickets I will soon be needing, along with all the other travel and moving expenses that will occur before arriving in the Czech Republic. I may not seem like I need your support now while I am in the States, but I really do.

My hope is still to move to the Czech Republic in March 2017. The earliest date I would leave, March 22, is only ten short weeks away! If you know that you are interested in providing monthly support for my mission work, would you please contact me and let me know? Even if you aren’t quite able to give yet, or aren’t sure about an amount, I’d love to be able to connect with you. Your support is making my mission work possible.

Prayer Needs

I’m looking for opportunities to speak to churches about my mission work before March. If you or your church are interested in hearing from me, please let me know. I’m excited to be able to share pictures and stories of how God is working in the Czech Republic. Please also pray that the Lord would help me to make the connections He wants me to make, and that He would open the doors He wants to open. I am excited to see where He leads.

I have an opportunity this Friday to make some new connections as I continue to sell off my large collection of books. I can’t take them all overseas with me, and I’m hoping to find good homes for them. All the proceeds will go to my mission work. Please pray for wisdom as I prepare, that others would be blessed, and for some good conversations as well.

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Until Next Time!