I grew up overseas in a missionary family and returned to the United States in 1968 to attend college. In August, 2003 the opportunity arose for me to go on a mission trip with a friend from church. Elfriede called me July 9th with her exciting news. She was 14 when she and her family left the Vrbas/Werbas Hungary/Yugoslavia (now Serbia) area in 1944. She has been proud to be an American citizen since 1957. Her father was the Methodist pastor at a church in Vrbas from 1937-1944 and she had just found out that due to the new situation in that area, people are getting together there to renovate and reclaim the disintegrating church for Christ.
I was excited for her. I thought that it would be so wonderful for her to participate in the rebuilding of her home church and her father’s church and that it would be meaningful for those who live there now to have her there to bridge the gap between the past and the future. It was also meaningful for her to represent her family. Her sister, who lived in Germany, died in July 2003 of cancer but she knew of Elfriede’s plans to participate in the mission trip. Elfriede asked if I would go with her. Then, I was excited to be participating in this building for Christ and outreach opportunity. We asked for prayers for safe travel, for new friends, for joy in service, that Christ be present among us, that God’s love be witnessed, His peace attained and His will be done. He Lives and works through us.
It certainly was a wonderful privilege to be a part of this special time in Elfriede’s life as well as being part of the rebirth of this church. I also felt a sense of carrying on my own family tradition in missions. Elfriede was interested to find out that the Methodist church in America was instrumental in building the original church and felt that was one more reason that it was important for us to represent America and be a part of this rebuilding mission. God truly worked through unique channels to bring this happening together (especially so quickly) and we felt truly blessed to be chosen.
Vrbas Mission Trip Scriptures: