Heidi Koppen

In Ireland

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Heidi Koppen

Forest Walk

Though it was meant to be more relaxed, this summer has been packed full! I am thankful because of the fact that I still don’t know if I will have to leave in October (it all depends on if I get this visa extension). The crazy back to back pace of the summer, and some unexpected extra loads of work, has left me totally exhausted and a bit burnt out with kids ministry. This whole last month I have been crashing and vulnerable to spiritual attack. One day when I was really low and struggling I went driving and found myself at a hiking trail where the forest had been burned quite badly during the summer drought.

Walking through this forest was so cathartic. I could relate to the burned out look of the trees. It was raining and though the fire had been months before, I could still smell the smoke and ash. There was a little warn path that hadn’t gotten burned because it was already stamped down, there was little grass bits along the path. As I walked and sat there in the sprinkling rain, I could see how God is giving the rain that was so needed and that this place will regrow into a nice green forest again. My heart went to a song that my church back home used to sing, “You Have Redeemed My Soul”. The lyrics, ‘I was a hungry child, a dried up river, a burned down forest; and no one could do anything for me. But You put food in my body, water in my dry bed, and to these blacked branches You brought the spring time green of new life. Because, nothing is impossible for You. You have redeemed my soul from the pit of emptiness, You have redeemed my soul from death.’   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVRj5C2pS7w

I am so thankful to know the God of the universe who cares for those who might seem so insignificant and forgotten, people like me and you. We so need His grace and love to live and grow. It doesn’t mean we won’t get burnt out, but He knows exactly what we need, and because of the cross, He is approachable.

The marathon of planting seeds

It’s been so good to get my feet back on the ground and get back into regular ministries. The kids were asking me is it fun to live in America. I had to say there’s a lot of great things but it’s real life and so you’d get board just like here or tired or just feel normal. I can relate this to mission field. It’s so thrilling and a battle with huge victories. What an amazingly fantastic work to be in (or supporting like you are). In the same token – it’s also real life. You have to be reminded that God has placed you here and any movement is in His hands. At step by step, one aspect of God mentioned at a time, one visit, one kind act and one encouragement at a time. We’ve got to trust our powerful God that He will use all of these little bits and some clearer sharing times to mix together, to plant the seed, to water and cultivate and tend and, please God, one day see someone personally trust Christ for salvation And then you can be a friend to help them grow. Keep serving, keep spreading God’s amazing love. God this is our prayer!

 

Galatians 6:9  –  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Beautiful Dubuque Visit

I’m in the states for three a three week trip and spend the first week where I lived the last 8 years before going to Ireland- Dubuque IA. All the pictures are below! It was incredible to visit with family, friends, friends who are like family and even meet some new people in beautiful charming Dubuque Iowa. I can’t believe I got to go to my friend’s Ashleigh and Steve’s wedding, see old stomping grounds, feel hot sunshine, and even speak about Ireland seven times in less than a week. God is amazing!

The beginning of the week was quite overwhelming for me. It wasn’t just because of retro culture shock, different pace of life, being able to drive my moms car around freely or store selection. The biggest difference was how many believers I saw and met with in such a short amount of time. My heart almost couldn’t take it all in.

I’m so glad distance and time hasn’t changed how much I love these people. You all mean so much!! I guess once you’re my friend, well, you’re stuck with me ;] It was so cool to just pick right back up where we left off with some friends and families. By the end of the week I just felt like a normal person again and made me think coming for visits is so doable.

Thank you everyone for amazing hospitality, interest and generosity. I’ll look forward to when I an come visit again next time. Now off to Louisiana and Minnesota before ending my trip in central Iowa with Family!

     

          

 

Missionary Conference


Two weeks ago I was able to go to a European missionary conference in the French Alps near Annecy – I can’t believe I was able to go!!

My prayer going in was that God would remind me how wonderful He is. It was a restful, spiritually refreshing time but I was most taken back by the incredible kindness and care I experienced from all these other missionaries who are in the same type of hard service as me. I saw Christ through them, and yes, He is wonderful. I was incredibally blessed.

There was brilliant speaking about the minor prophets and helpful talks about burn out  it was so good to look at these things and hear how so many others ministry workers go through it. The whole atmosphere had no masks or pretenses-no pressure to impress but just be together.

Thank you Lord for making it possible to go. Now I’m ready for a three week visit to the states through September -mostly going around sharing about the ministry in Ireland.

I lift my eyes up 🎶

Intentionally looking to God, reading my bible on my balcony today, I was reminded of the song :

“I lift my eyes up, up to the mountains, where does my help come from? It comes from you Lord, maker of heaven, creator of the world. Oh how I need you Lord, to come and rescue me, to come and give me life.”

This song is written from a different psalm than I was reading but it ended up in my heart as a response – I was reading Psalm 57. In the middle of it, the writers heart is bursting into singing praise to God aloud, not caring who might hear it. It said His loving mercies fill the sky to the clouds. I looked up off the page to the hills near my apartment and started to sing the above song – this beautiful warm ray of light broke through the dark clouds and shone right on me. It was a sweet moment – and a good reminder to look up to Him.

Blessed by the youngest E-Team Yet

Last month Kevin and Katy Woytowich, with their kids Olivai and Charlie, brought an all teenage team from Canada to focus on children clubs in Kilkenny, Waterford and Dublin. They asked if I would join in with some help leading and driving. It was neat to see everyone using their gifts and willing to try new things when we put on club after club. I’m praising God for these great servants and the future that God has for them.

Please pray for kids who came to our clubs for the first time and that each church can ether start up new or keep up with existing kids clubs.

Kevin and Katie

 

the team in action – teaching a verse

 

Puppet show!

 

Just a bit of rain – won’t stop the clubs!

 

Music ministry at churches and even street work

 

one of the games at last day carnival club

 

some of the views the team will be missing

 

Again and Again – But With New Insight

Isn’t it funny that the same scripture can come up again and again and though you’ve gotten a lot out of it before, all you thought you could, something fresh and new jumps out. During this first year and a half of being in Ireland, Psalm 27 has been in the center and keeps coming up as my theme passage. It talks about a heart’s desire to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, to seek His face, to fear not but be strong and let your heart take courage. This psalm is so beautiful and resets my focus from distractions, pressures, challenges, the goals, desires and trudging, to remember that this is eternal life, to know the only true God. The desire in this psalm is just to seek His face.

This last week there were three occasions where I was walking in Dublin City center and ran into someone I know. I couldn’t believe out of the thousands and thousands of people who walk through those streets I would happen to be in the same exact place and time as a friend of mine, let alone three different friends at three different times. Tonight God put a cherry on the top. When I was heading home from a long day in town my bus driver paused for a moment, I looked up and saw one of my elders from my tiny church who’s a bus driver. Again, this had to be just the perfect circumstances out of the hundreds of people he would have come on His bus and that I would happen to wait for the stop at that right time.

With each of those incidences of running into a friend, I was walking along on my own, getting from one place to the next and then I look up. I’d be sauntering by, seeing countless passing strangers and then see a face, a familiar face, a face of a friend. Suddenly my face would bust into a smile, I’d get an extra skip to my pace and my backpack would even get lighter. It’s just so nice to randomly meet with people who mean something to you when you’re in a busy city. This is the feeling I thought of as my friend shared Psalm 27 with me again this week and the parts that talk about God’s face or seeing Him and she pointed out the seeking of His face would be time in the word. When we seek His face, when we get to see His beauty and spend time inquiring in His temple -do we make that connection of the joy and light and refreshment in it? – Wow He’s so special, what a privilege!

New Opportunities

Though most of my focus here is in Shankill and working alongside Shankill Bible Church with the Youth Group we’ve started and the Moms and Tots group – I’ve been networking and discovering new areas to serve and connect with. Two weeks ago I was able to have three brand new experiences that I have to say seemed pretty intimidating.

First was a three day preachers conference that my elder Len convinced me to sing up for. This conference ended up being over one hundred men of ministry (and 4 women) coming together to hone their preaching skills and collectively learn from one another’s critiques. How intimidating for me to be there with all of these male pastors and ministers! It’s very well organized, each attendee is assigned a passage and put into small group work shops who meet a few times for several hours to work through and then preach through the passages. Each has a seven minute slot to preach their passage and then hear feedback. We were all challenged and built up.  The main sessions were also impactful with great speaking and a unique experience of hearing a room filled with men of God singing together. It was so encouraging to be there and see all of these men humbly coming together from across Ireland. I was very blessed to be able to be part of this and am excited to follow up with new connections.

Second is that I was able to finally connect with DCM’s Light House homeless ministry. Dublin Christian Mission is based in Dublin City Center and has been flourishing these past few years with Joe Murphy (American missionary through CMML) and his leadership. Light House has a type of soup kitchen that I was able to come and help out for one whole day. I’ve never actually done anything like it before so I was pretty nervous coming in. It was such a great experience. I was impressed that it was so dignified and the focus wasn’t only on providing for people in need, but building relationships with them. It was a really nice atmosphere and I was able to take a break from serving food to sit down and eat with some guests. I had some great conversation and was even forced to play a song on a guitar someone had with them. I found serving here is something I definitely want to do as often as I am able.

 

Third was that a friend who works with Scripture Union needed help with an in-house retreat for at all boys Catholic secondary school (high school). It was an all day event with games, messages, reflection time and small groups. Eric asked me a couple of days before if I would be willing to help and if I would have a message I could share. It was actually pretty intimidating being the only girl on the team of four with a big group of high school boys and knowing how to speak to them. They were one of the most high energy groups of teens I’ve ever worked with. It turned out to be a great day, we just went with it and used their energy for more competition and fun. It left us quite exhausted but there was some great questions and thoughts brought up in the last hour that just proved that it was impactful and totally worth it.

I’ll be helping Eric and his teams once or twice a month with these school retreats. Though the boys were great, I am looking forward to going to an all girls school this coming week and seeing the change in dynamic. (Sorry I didn’t get any pics so there’s the sight \/ )

Remembering Psalm 27 – Encouragement!

Last year I had Psalm 27:14 on my heart and I wanted it to be the theme of my year.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14 ESV)

It has been quite a journey this year – wow. Too much to even process. That might have contributed to struggles these last two months. In these months I’ve been brought down by discouragement and wanting to know God’s direction and to be sure I’m doing what He wants me to here. I gotta say, started to loose sight of the incredible hope and courage of my theme verse. I’ve been told that discouragement is one of satan’s sharpest tools here. I didn’t feel like I had much strength to pull out of it. Just to pray ‘I trust you God. I believe, help my unbelief.’

God is amazing.

Right in the middle of this weak and low place, He finally pulled things together for us to start a youth group! Great way to show me that I don’t need to take it all on my own shoulders. He’s drawing me out of this low place and this week I’ve finally been feeling more like myself. I could still use some prayer and encouragement I’m sure, but as I start to come out and catch fire/vision again – I feel so foolish to have lost sight even for a moment. Have you ever been there? This week I was blessed with the thought that I can’t mess up more than His strength, or His faithfulness or His mercy can overcome. He will bring back, heal, work through and carry me. He has such desire for your life too – just look to him. You on’t need to stay stuck.{Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:14} You’re not alone.

Square peg that could

As adults we’ve been around ourselves enough that we can get a pretty good grasp of how we’re designed and what we’re well suited for as well as what we’re not. One thing I felt I have concluded about myself is that I love children but running ministry for them is not my thing. I’ve had many attempts before and I’m all thumbs. For some reason, I can totally role with the punches in many settings with teenage and college age ministry. In fact, investing in and challenging people of those ages is the joy of my life. Children on the other hand, totally intimidating. I panic that they’re someone else’s little child, they want to dive in your arms for hugs but child protection says don’t touch them, and I have no idea how deep spiritually they can actually go.

These past two months have been quite interesting. Guess what God has been having me heavily involved with – children ministry! It’s been summer projects, CEF clubs, and holiday bible club’s in three different cities. Can you believe it? It’s been amazing, but so different than what I would have thought I’d be doing here. I think God might be stretching me with this very valuable and important ministry that I have always overlooked and maybe even avoided.

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I’m so thankful for what I’ve learned from watching such gifted people at work this summer. For most of the clubs I’ve simply been an added helper as I’ve come alongside the experts, but this last weekend I was actually organizing and leading a children’s ministry for a conference in Waterford. I had the chance to try the new teaching method I learned with Simply the Story. Though I was a bit nervous it went really well. I had help from Holly, a new friend from Kilkenny (Ruth), and two 15 year old girls (Ruby and Anna) who I work with in Gorey. God really lead it and it was really neat.

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My heart will probably always be with teens and college age ministry but I want to be willing to bring a word from God’s scripture to anyone. I’m thankful that His ministry doesn’t rely on my gifting or even my ultimate vision. Sometimes He will put a square peg in a round hole just to give you so new perspective and to show off some of His baffling power and purposes.