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Johnson Journal

7-25-04, Passed
Dear friends,
You prayed for Kay's driving exam, and she passed, with no errors.  Oh, and I passed the motorcycle exam the same day.  That's the good news.
The rest of the story is that Kay will be taking her behind the wheel test this Friday, so we again ask for your prayers, that she won't be nervous, that the Lord will give her a calm and generous instructor.  I'll take the practical motorcycle exams in September.  I'm going to take another shot at getting the cycle through mechanical inspection tomorrow, for which I have to drive to the other side of Madrid through traffic.  The cycle is important because with gas at $4 a gallon we can save money on short trips.
I confess that I feel self conscious asking you to pray for these relatively mundane, seemingly non-ministry oriented requests.  But the fact is that until we get these and other tasks accomplished we can't concentrate fully on ministry.  We would ask you to pray that the neighborhood community center will open so that we can meet some of our neighbors.  The situation is similar to our first months in Caracas, with neighbors locked in behind their gates.  We need some creative ideas to make more initial contacts.
Thanks for praying with us!
Mark and Kay
Dear friends,
Any missionary that has had to learn a language learns humility early.  One goes from adult to child in his capacity to communicate.  Fairly complicated theological concepts can be shared in my first language, but in the language in which I am supposed to be ministering I'm lucky if I can ask where the bathroom is.  Fortunately we've passed  through that test when we went to Venezuela years ago.
But God likes to keep His servants dependant, and among the cultural challenges of coming to Spain has been getting a driving license.  In theory this should be easy, and it used to be.  Until about 5 years ago, one's United States license was recognized and attaining a Spanish license was an easy procedure.  But that was then.
Kay and I have been taking driving lessons for 3 months now.  This is not Drivers' Ed. from our high school days.  The terminology is different, misunderstanding is common in a second language, and the tests are extremely detailed and difficult.  It was with some fear and trepidation that I took my test a couple of weeks ago, and passed.  Kay took hers last week.  36 correct answers are required out of 40 questions.  Kay got 35.  So she is back in class, back taking practice examinations and trying to maintain a good attitude. 
Even victories in this battleground are short-lived.  If Kay passes the theoretical exam Thursday, she will have to scramble to pass her behind the wheel next week, because the examiners close shop in August to go on vacation.  I did pass both of my exams, and with the congratulations was given a green "L" to put on the back window of my car, signifying that I've been driving less than a year (My rebellious nature took over on this.  I've been driving over 30 years, I refuse to put the stupid "L" up!)  
In spite of the "driving exam wars" this has been a good summer.  We've had good family times, and genuinely enjoy spending time with our boys.  Our neighborhood community center is supposed to open this week, finally, and we're hopeful of developing some good friendships, with whom we can share the good news.
Remember to pray for Kay's test Thursday.
Mark and Kay

Dear friends,
Kay and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this week, on April 28.  We wanted to make it special, so we asked some missionaries where we might go that would be economical.  Friends recommended a hotel converted from a 12th century monastery, called Monasterio de Piedra.  Actually, part of the old monastery is still connected, and we toured it.  There is also a spectacular park next door with more waterfalls and caves in a concentrated area than we´ve ever seen.  But the best part was just being together and renewing our marriage.
Thanks for your prayers about Greg.  We´ve had some good talks with him and we seem to be coming through this time well.  Keep praying for us though as we seek to raise him as God wants us to during the difficult teen years.
And please pray for the appointment we have on Tuesday for Kay and the boys´residency .  Pray for a good reception by the authorities and that we´ll get through this step easily.
Blessings to you,
Mark and Kay

Dear Friends,
It's been awhile since I've been able to write because our computer has had a virus.  It actually froze everything up and I had to restore the original system.  Fortunately things seem to be working well now, well enough for me to get out a note to you.
We are still in the process of getting establish, and getting tired of it.   The mini van and motorcycle have temporary Spanish license plates now, green.  The next step is to get the cars approved by the equivalent of vehicle inspections by the Department of Motor Vehicles.  I've taken the van in, and I need different colored lights.  For example, rear blinkers in Spain are amber, not red as in the USA.  Parking lights are called position lights here, and here the front ones are white, not amber.  Sounds simple to fix, and it is in a way, but all the light fixtures have to be replaced, and that's not cheap.   I haven't even taken the motorcycle in yet.
Driving classes are a lot of fun (ha,ha).   Today we learned the difference between gasoline and diesel motors, and the basics on how an internal combustion engine works.   We learned about the different types of oil, about viscosity and about how the cooling system works in a car.  Did you know that a cylinder can get as hot as 2000 degrees centigrade, and that optimum operating temperature for a gasoline motor is 90 degrees?  That's why the car needs a cooling system.  And these are questions that could be on our exam, as well as questions regarding basic first aid in case of an accident and others more pertinent to drivers education, so we will have a lot of studying to do to get Spanish driving licenses. 
Don't misunderstand, the classes have been good for our Spanish and we are learning good things.  But this whole process is tiring, and we're ready to spend more time on activities directly related to starting a church.  Of course summer is upon us, and we hope to spend time with our boys getting to know more of Spain .  Will be making at least one trip to southern Spain for TEAM's annual conference, and possibly another for a Spanish Church Assn. meeting.
Mariano and Fanny Pineda are supported by Elmbrook Church, and are involved in youth ministry in Madrid.  Fanny had a complicated operation for endometriosis last week.   She is slowly recovering after 5 days in the hospital, and I'm sure would appreciate your prayers.  And pray for us to keep focused and encouraged.
Thanks for praying!
Mark and Kay



Dear Friends,
"We seek to further the Kingdom of God by planting reproducing churches in a way that is God dependent, Biblical, incarnational and culturally appropriate."  That's the vision that the Madrid area church planters with TEAM have come up with after discussing and working through it for more than a year.  It's a great vision for a church, isn't it?  Imagine if everyone in your church had this vision, what your church would look like.  It would be revolutionary!
We arrived too late to have a whole lot of input, so it's good that we can agree with it whole heartedly.  It's a confirmation that we are working with people that think the way we think.
We've learned much from our experience with the impact church movement in Venezuela, and also look forward to bringing the best of that movement into our church planting strategy with Ned and Joanie Steffens.  We'll need prayer to do that in a culturally sensitive way, and for unity in our team as we work through the strategy.    Unfortunately, summer has come upon us and the Steffens will be going to the states for some medical checkups and other things, so we won't be able to get to in depth discussions about strategy until the fall.  We have had some good team building and have a good relationship established.
The boys finished the school year very well.  Ian had more A's than he's ever had, and Greg won awards in choir and Bible, two classes with which he'd had problems earlier.  Greg was also on the school soccer team that beat an MK school from Portugal in soccer
Please remember us as we take our driving test June 18.  Also, we have our final interview for Kay's and the boys' residency June 16.  There is a complication with Kay's  documentation in order to take the test, so pray that that will get worked out.  And pray that both of our vehicles pass their inspections to get them registered.  We want to get to establishing the church!
Many Blessings,
Mark and Kay



Dear friends,
The subject line could read "driving is crazy", or "driving as crazy", or all of the above when you add the phrase "in Spain".    Here's the question of the day.  What is the speed limit of an agricultural tractor.  Answer: it depends on whether or not it has brake lights, whether or not it's pulling a trailer, and what kind of road it's traveling on.  These are the kind of questions I'll have to answer when I take my theory test on Friday.  The test also covers basic first aid in case of an accident and basic mechanics.   There will be 40 questions, if I miss any more than 4, I fail.  If I pass, I'll take the behind the wheel test on the 28th.
In order to take the behind the wheel test, we must take behind the wheel classes.  At 26 euros (about $32) per person per class, it adds up.  In fact we have already shelled out over $1200 for the driving classes and tests, and it will be more if we don't pass the first tests. 
Kay will not be able to take her test on Friday because her visa process is not finalized.  She and the boys have their final interview to acquire Spanish residency, and finger printing, on Wednesday.  There has been a change of government in Spain, and sometimes procedures change when that happens. 
Mark will be going to a Spain pastor's conference from June 21 - 25.  Kay and the boys were going to go, but Kay wants to keep working on her driving studies, plus we'll have some visitors coming from Elmbrook Church.
Thanks for you prayers, we need them!
In Christ,
Mark and Kay

Dear friends,
Last week we asked you to pray for some important events related to getting established in Spain.  One was the appointment for Kay and the boys to get their residency permit, and it went well.  They have been accepted and now are just waiting for the picture id.  We're not quite sure why that can't be given at the same time, like a drivers license in Wisconsin, but we'll try to be patient.  Pray that the id's will come soon, Kay can't take her drivers' exams until she has the id in hand.
Speaking of which, I passed my test!  Now I'll take behind the wheel on the 28th, and hopefully be able to get the motorcycle done next month.  If not, it will have to wait until September, as everything shuts down in August.
Kay had a great opportunity yesterday to continue developing her friendship with Carolina, our JW neighbor.  She had a party for her son, Samuel, and asked Kay to help, which is a fairly big step for a Spaniard.  I also has a nice conversation today with her husband, Victor.
Next week I look forward to getting to know some Spanish pastors at a church association meeting in southern Spain.  We'd all appreciate your prayers as Kay continues driving classes and tries to keep the boys from getting "bored" while I'm gone.
Thanks for your prayers,
Mark and Kay

Dear Friends,
One of many interesting things about living here is that we live on the edge of a small town which is on the edge of the Comunidad de Madrid (essentially the county or state where Madrid is located) that still has many aspects of a rural town.  One is the sheep  that come through our neighborhood.  Apparently the sheep were here first, so they leave a stockyard a couple of blocks from our house and head down our street on the way to pasture land.  A couple of times a day we hear the clanging bells and "baaaas" of the herd going past.  The boys get a kick out of standing outside and watching them pass, and so do I.
Those sheep would have no reason to walk through a residential neighborhood if they were not lead by a pastor.  (You're right, here comes the analogy!)  And we'd have no reason to live in Spain, lovely as it is, if our Good Shepherd had not brought us here.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the FIEIDE Assembly (the association of churches that TEAM works with in Spain).  The commitment of these servants of the Lord who have weathered the worst of Franco's dictatorship and more recent persecutions is an encouragement to us.  God has been faithful and is beginning to establish His church in Spain.
There are a number of opinions about what missionaries should be doing here.  Some believe we should work with the smaller congregations that have been declining, to build them up.  Others believe we should work in existing churches, under a pastor, to help that church accomplish it's objectives.  These are good things to do, and our prayers are with the dear Spanish brothers and sisters that are working so hard for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
But we have been called to something different, to establish a church from scratch in these urbanizations east of Madrid.  And as we work out our strategy with Ned and Joanie Steffens, we feel like sheep, very much in need of direction by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow I will have my behind the wheel driving exam.   Kay still needs her photo ID to take the tests, and is very hopeful that it will arrive by Friday.   Greg is taking classical guitar lessons.  He's excited to be learning from a man that learned from the only disciple of the famous Andre Segovia.  Ian is just excited that it is summer.
Thanks so much for your prayers,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian
Dear Friends,
It was a good week for being approved.  Kay, Greg and Ian are now legal residents of Spain.  I had received my ID card a couple of months ago, because the process dictates that the husband submit his paperwork first.  And now that Kay finally has her picture ID, she can take her driving exams. She is scheduled to take the theoretical test July 14.
Speaking of exams, I passed the behind the wheel test on Monday!  Of course, I won't get the piece of paper that confirms it for a couple of weeks, because this is Spain.
And our registration for the mini van has been approved.  But the temporary permit has expired, can't be renewed because the permanent one has been approved, but I haven't received the paper yet, and it will still be a couple of weeks because, you guessed it, this is Spain.  And please pray as we go on a family vacation next week that our invisible documentation will not be a problem.
Yesterday Kay made some of her fantastic plum tort and we took it over to out neighbors Victor and Carolina.  It gave us a great chance to just sit and chat with them for a little while, to develop our friendship.  Poco a poco....little by little.   And we welcomed Aljandro and Gabriel, from a sister church to the one we established in Venezuela, for a few hours on their way back to Caracas from Venice, Italy.  They did a short term mission there, and are open to coming to help us in Spain in the future.  It was great to experience their excitement for missions.
Thanks for praying,
Mark, Kay Greg and Ian

Dear Friends,
We're back from a terrific family vacation that doubled as more orientation to Spain, as we got to know Barcelona and Tarragon, which at one time was a Roman provincial capital.  We've been able to confirm that the Romans were well organized and built great roads that have lasted until today.  We've also confirmed that the empire fell hard; the ruins tell the story.
During the vacation my devotionals took me to Psalm 104.  The first verse is the famous, "Bless the Lord, oh my soul".  It's one of those verses that are easy for me to just pass over, I know it too well.  But the New Living translation has it, "Praise the Lord, I tell myself."   It occurred to me that many times I have to tell myself just that, to praise the Lord.  It's especially true when things aren't going well, but equally true when not much is happening.  That's usually the case early in a church plant.  We meet some neighbors, they seem friendly enough, but it's too early to discern real spiritual interest.   We go through the steps, acquire visas, find a place to live, get licenses to drive, get vehicles registered, you know, the grind, the daily routine.  I need to tell myself to praise the Lord, and He always blesses me when I do.
Kay will be taking her written driving examination Wednesday, and will very much appreciate your prayers.  And pray that the neighborhood pool will open as planned later this month, as that will give us a natural way to meet lots of neighbors. 
I just went to our web page to update it for the first time since our computer crashed in May, and found that our address and phone number were not current in the "about us" section.  Sorry about that.  I'll be updating it more regularly now that we are settling into more of a routine. 
Thanks for partnering with us to reach Spain,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian

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