Captain Kelly Pontsler keeps accounts in 4 countries


Captain Kelly Pontsler

Captain Kelly Pontsler reported recently to New Frontier on her responsibilities and challenges as European Command financial officer. Here, she explains the nature of her work in four different commands in Europe: Italy, Belgium, Portugal, and Spain.

“Every visit I learn a bit more…discover something new…try a new dish of food….find a new ‘shortcut’ through town….and pick up a new vocabulary word or two. We have made good progress with some of the practical things of the finance department (such as budgets and year end reports) and seem to have found a bit of rhythm for my visits.

“Although there are many similarities to what I’ve been doing in each location, every command has its own identity and unique circumstances that determine the use of my time.

“In Italy, we’ve been concentrating on updating and restructuring the accounting system at headquarters. This has meant doing quite a bit of research to analyze individual accounts (a time consuming process!). The next step will be to get up and running with new software in the new year. The command has a long road ahead to arrive at a point of financial stability, but having good management information is already proving helpful.

“My time in Belgium has been concentrated primarily on corps and social institution audits. This has given me tremendous exposure to the many facets of the Army’s work in this country. It’s amazing how different the ‘rules’ can be from one country to the next. I’ve had to have some coaching in “value-added-tax” (VAT)!

“Firsts” are always exciting. The Portugal Command held their first Annual Civic Dinner this year, and I was pleased to be present for that event. A nice group of people met together to celebrate the work of the Army. I will confess that my Portuguese is not very good…just a few words…and breathed a sigh of relief when I found myself at an English-speaking table! In fact, I was seated next to the U.S. Consul Officer and her husband. On the other side were some folks who operate an independent thrift shop. We found plenty to talk about!

“I’ve enjoyed the chance to get acquainted with so many of the officers as I go around. Early in the year I was pleased to be able to participate in the Officers Councils in Spain. The focus of the few days was on excellence in leadership.

“In the fall, my usual activities were supplemented by an assignment to a Software Task force at International Headquarters. Our task was to select an accounting software that will be recommended to commands and territories in the future. The group was composed of members from a wide spectrum of experience internationally in finance, auditing, and computer systems.

“Not an easy process!! Choosing software for one territory is difficult enough, add to that diversity of currencies and languages as well as local accounting requirements and you’ve got an idea of the challenge that was laid before this group. The final recommendation is to be made soon. I’m personally very interested in the final outcome of the project, as we will be looking to implement the software in both Portugal and Italy in this year.

“This position of European Command Finance Officer is still in a development phase, as we continue to work out some things to make reality out of a vision. Part of that process was a relocation of my ‘home base’ from Rome to Brussels, in September.

The change has been significant and helpful, particularly for practical things such as traveling. I’ve gone from a very large 3-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom studio, but it is much more manageable and sits in a nice neighborhood. I live in a building owned by the Army and occupied by three officer/Salvationist families.

“The matter of my residency here in Belgium is still pending. I would appreciate your prayers, that we can find a satisfactory solution. More than just a problem of having a visa in my passport, it concerns medical coverage and work permits and legal status for tax purposes.

“Looking back over the year I’m amazed at all that has happened, the experiences and encounters that have made every day interesting. The Lord has been good. His provision of health and energy and practical resources throughout the year has been very much in evidence.”

Her address is: Captain Kelly Pontsler, Rue de Tenbosch 122 ­ A, 1050 Brussels, BELGIUM

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