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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)

TITLE: Just Call Them the Kroeckies
By Anita Vander Elst
02/25/09


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“Woohoo!” I jump ecstatically in my chair and almost dump my coffee over to enlarge the Rorschach blot on the carpet from a past morning’s clumsiness. Sufficiently resettled, I scan the comment on my on-line facebook wall to make sure my eyes do not deceive me.

“Just today I got your letter!!! You are such a sweet heart! Can you believe that we will have coffee together in about 2 month??? I'm looking sooo forward to it! Today we've been to the airport in Rome to get a new Missionary-Couple to the field! The Lord is great! Love you, 1000 hugs, Rebecca”

The two years since our last visit with Rebecca and Thomas Kroeckertskothen seems much longer. April cannot come soon enough.

How did I meet this couple with the impossible-to-pronounce last name? Well, not to brag but I can say it quite adequately. It makes up for my lack of ability to keep a cup of coffee upright. But Rebecca and Thomas quickly and graciously overlook any pronunciation difficulties and say, “Just call us the Kroeckies”. Another friend has dubbed them the Eigensteigens. To paraphrase a poet, by whatever name, they are just as sweet. But I digress.

Our friendship began in 2002 when they came to the United States to, in their words, “polish our English” and interned for several months at the church I attended. Both were born and raised in Germany. Thomas had a position as a pastor in a church there. Now God was calling them as missionaries to Italy. Their Evangelical Alliance Mission required that they live in an English speaking country for a time. This might seem a strange request but it makes sense when it is explained that most of the missionaries are English speakers and the conferences they attend are in English.

Rebecca is in the same age range as my children and a true delight. She is a “feeler”, as she puts it and yes, that’s me too. So it wasn’t a surprise that we connected almost immediately. At first she was shy about using her English skills. But she understood English very well and pretty soon we could chatter together for hours, often while sipping lattes at Starbucks. Even when she turns sentences around and struggles to find the right word, I understand her. It’s that heart level of understanding that crosses language barriers. And to my ears her accent is simply charming.

Thomas and Rebecca returned to Germany to continue telling churches about their future ministry in Italy. Over the next few years the Kroeckies blessed us with three more visits. On one of their visits they showed their Power Point presentation about Italy at our church. Because I was out of town that weekend and missed it, they arranged to show it to me at my house later. They made my 50th birthday very special.
Their first assignment once they reached Italy was to learn the language. They found a place to live in Perugia, a town in the region of Umbria, right smack dab in the center of the calf of the boot and took classes. As they studied they formed friendships with classmates and neighbors, friendships that are bridges to the ultimate friendship with Jesus.

Now they have settled in Umbertide, about 19 miles north of Perugia, and are ministering with an American missionary family in a small church. Rebecca and I exchange letters, notes and e-mail often and keep track of each other through facebook. She has shared with me about the children’s day camps, Christmas concerts and other activities they have organized, all with the intention of inviting people to know Jesus. Although I have not been called to minister in a foreign country I am honored to offer love, prayer, support and encouragement to those who are. It’s especially a blessing to do so for this vibrant couple I know personally.

I thank the Lord for allowing connection with a brother and sister from the other side of the world in Thomas and Rebecca. What a joy to soon be face-to-face with them and give warm hugs. My ears are tingling in anticipation of hearing how God is blessing them in their friendships with the wonderful Italian people. They have much religion but Thomas and Rebecca bring them a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the One who saves, redeems and gives power for daily living as well as the rock solid promise of peace and a home with Him forever.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke02/26/09
Well written! Friendly conversational tone throughout this whole piece makes reading it easy and enjoyable. It is good to be made aware of those who humbly serve in far away places. Your friends sound delightful. It is a privilege to be able to pray for them and they are privileged to have your prayers.
Lyn Churchyard03/08/09

A warm, chatty, reminiscing style, and your excitement at knowing they will be visiting you soon, made them all the more real. I loved to enlarge the Rorschach blot on the carpet from a past morning’s clumsiness.

I can appreciate how you feel about your friends the Kroeckies, being in a similar situation with missionary friends working in the Philippines.

I pray that one day I'll be able to meet my friends face to face too; preferably before Heaven :- )

Well written Anita.