A New Year (January 2017 Newsletter)

Hi friends,

Happy New Year to you! We thought we'd take this opportunity to update you on the events of the last month or so and share some of what's ahead for us in January. As always, please stay tuned to the end of this post to read our list of prayer requests.  We really appreciate your prayers!

The last 2 months have absolutely flown by - it's hard to believe that we've lived at PDF for two months already! November saw us adjusting to our new life here at PDF and figuring out our new routine. Miriam began attending a German/Romanian Kindergarten in Rasnov in November and even though it's been a HUGE challenge for her to make friends and communicate with her peers, she's really enjoying her mornings there and is learning many new German and Romanian words every week. She even participated in her Kindergarten's Christmas Concert in December (pictured below with her teacher).

We're hopeful that Miriam's language skills will continue to grow as she goes to Kindergarten every day and Eden is already asking to go to school with her sister (she'll have to wait until the fall)! For now Eden is enjoying spending the mornings with me (Chrissie) either at home or running errands or grocery shopping in Brasov.  Both girls got to participate in the PDF kids Nativity play this Christmas, which was a lot of fun. Miriam played Mary and Eden was one of the Magi.

We've been keeping up with our language classes 2-3 times per week and Jerry has been hard at work preparing for the upcoming Bible School that's planned for April-June: creating brochures, communicating with students from all over the world, working on the PDF website and a bible school promotional video, leading prayer meetings, and giving presentations to visiting Romanian groups about the Bible School. He's also been working hard on the PDF social media, trying to increase PDF's presence on Instagram and Facebook, specifically to the international community for the purpose of spreading the word about the new Spring Bible School. He's also been involved with planning a brand new wilderness program for young adults here at PDF that will begin this summer, and he's also the point person for the Torchbearer's PrayerNet. He works mainly from his home office upstairs, although he does spend a fair amount of time at the centre for meetings, etc. It's been nice to eat lunch as a family almost every day since we moved here and Jerry's really enjoying having a hot lunch every day after taking sandwiches to work for the last 13 years!

Unfortunately after a healthy November, December found us sick again with nasty colds and coughs, the stomach flu, sinus infections, and even another ear infection for me (Chrissie). This meant a few doctor's visits, missing out on lots of fun Christmas events and feeling pretty miserable most of the time, but we made the best of it and tried to have thankful hearts through it all. We have a comfortable home with comfortable beds, we have our own washer and dryer, and we have access to healthy food and clean water - these are all things we found ourselves thanking God for during our time of sickness!

Our car also broke down in December and needed the clutch replaced, a repair we knew we'd have to make to our car in the next few years but we didn't anticipate needing to make it so soon. Of course this was another frustrating thing to add to our already frustrating month of illness but thankfully car repairs in Romania are far less expensive than in Canada; our entire clutch replacement was less than $350 Canadian dollars. Surprises like this are never an easy thing but we're thankful for God's provision in this situation.

We also received another expensive surprise at the beginning of December: we owe over $1500 (Canadian dollars) in processing fees and legal fees for our Romanian visas. This expense is far greater than we ever anticipated and right now we do not have the any of the funds in our support account to pay these fees.  Instead of freaking out about it, we're thanking God that he provided our visas for us so we're able to live in Romania and we're trusting that God will provide for this ministry expense since He's the one who brought us here in the first place.

Since we moved to PDF we've been attending the Biserica Harvest Metanoia Brasov church on Sunday mornings. We've really been enjoying the services, despite the obvious language barrier, and it reminds us so much of Riverwood, our church in Canada (there's even a small coffee bar in the back of the auditorium!). We were invited to Cristian and Simona Cherechean's (the pastor and his wife) house for lunch a few weeks ago and it was so great to hear their heart for the mission field of the Brasov area and to learn a little more about the spiritual needs of the people here and how God is working in Romania.  We've also connected with Camelia and Doug Howey, a Romanian-American couple from Kansas City who have planted a church called Izvorul Vietii (Source of Life) in Rasnov, only 6km away from PDF. We had dinner with them at their home in November after randomly meeting Doug at the mall in Brasov and we've connected several times since then, once to participate in their church's Christmas service (Jerry helped lead worship while Chrissie stayed home with sick kids!). They have a 4-year-old daughter who speaks English, and of course our girls adore spending time with her. She's their only English-speaking friend at the moment, so their relationship with her is pretty special for them (and for us!). We will be attending their church in the new year as well (they meet on Sunday nights) and will help lead the worship there as there's no one at the church who plays an instrument. Leading worship in Romanian will be a HUGE challenge for us, but we're really excited to be a part of this church plant and to become involved in the community of Rasnov.

As we look ahead to January we're excited for a whole new set of challenges that will come with Jerry teaching snowboarding for the Romanian ski camps that happen for the months of January and February. He'll be teaching snowboarding at several of the camps and may even teach skiing one week if he's needed. He'll also be lecturing one evening each week on Ezekiel 36 (about Spirit), so he's busy preparing for these teaching times. He's also one of the worship leaders for the ski camps, so this upcoming week he's leading worship every evening in Romanian. The winter season here is pretty intense for the ski/snowboard instructors since the ski camps include ski and snowboard lessons during the day and a spiritual development program in the evenings that's also run by the PDF staff. We're looking forward to this busy season and we really appreciate your prayers for good health, lots of energy, and patience. We also plan to continue with our language classes as often as we can this winter.

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As challenging as the last several months have been for all of us we are more sure than ever that this is where God wants us to be, and we are so excited for all God is doing here in Romania and at PDF. We're so thankful that even through the hard times and the painful surprises that He is always faithful, and that His glory and goodness is revealed to us as we struggle and persevere. Thanks for partnering with us in friendship, in prayer, in love, and in financial support. God is using YOU in our lives and in the lives of the people here in Romania and we're so blessed to have you as our friends and partners.

If you want to know more about why we're living in Romania, click here to read more about our work here, and click here to see a video of our story.

If you'd like to make a donation to our ministry, click here.     

Prayer requests for January:

 - Please pray that our health is restored! We are being hit with so many viruses and it's making everyday life even more challenging than it already is with 2 young kids in a foreign country. Please pray especially for Jerry's health as he'll be teaching snowboarding outdoors almost every day this winter and he'll need lots of good health and energy for this!

- Please pray for Jerry's teaching on Ezekiel 36, that he'd be led by the Holy Spirit and that his teaching would have an impact on the ski camp participants each week.

- Please pray for safety for the ski camp instructors and participants, that there would be no injuries or accidents.

- Please pray for our Romanian language skills to continue growing during this busy season.

- Please pray for the churches of the Brasov area, specifically for Doug and Camelia's church Izvorul Vietii - that God would grow their church with people from the community of Rasnov who are lost and searching, and that it would grow into a dynamic worship community.

- Please pray for our financial support situation. We are functioning at 65% of our required support amount and several months we have been below 60%. Because of this, we don't actually have any money in our monthly support budget to pay for our health insurance ($350/month), our vehicle insurance ($500/year) or ministry expenses like language classes or supplies ($100-200/month). We also mentioned another large financial need above ($1500 Romanian visa fees). Please pray that God would provide these amounts for us through monthly donors or one-time donations.

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Merry Christmas from Romania!

Craciun Fericit everyone!

We want to thank you all so much for your love, your prayers and your financial support of our family and ministry in Romania. We appreciate each and every one of you so very much and we pray you all have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are in the world.

We've been spending our Christmas Day delivering gifts and food to Romanian families in some of the most hopeless situations we've ever seen, and it has been such a blessing to us to be able to share the hope of Jesus Christ with these people. We've loved every heartbreaking moment and it is such a privilege to be able to do this work as a family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!


The Baker Family

PS: Stay tuned for a video of our time in Rasa, Romania for Christmas - coming soon to our YouTube Channel!

Time to Move (again!)

Hi friends,
Our apologies for dropping off the face of the earth over the last couple of weeks. Life has been a little overwhelming and we've been in survival mode until very recently. But we've got some great news for you today and we're excited to share this latest update with you all.

We are so grateful to report that Miriam was discharged from the hospital after being sick for 18 days. She has bounced back amazingly well and recovered almost completely only 4 days after being out of the hospital. She's still on medication that will strengthen her digestive system and she's taking a prescription probiotic that will re-establish all those good bacteria in her gut. Other than that, she's her (mostly) happy little self again and we couldn't be more thankful to God for protecting our little girl and bringing her back to us!

Given that the last few months have been full of both expected and unexpected challenges, together with PDF's director Ebbe we made the decision to move to PDF after Miriam was released from the hospital. We felt very strongly that we just needed some peace as a family to recover from the events of the last few months, and that Miriam needed to recover properly. The day after she was discharged we packed up the car and drove over the mountains to PDF to spend the weekend there for CAMP, a annual celebration of PDF's anniversary where friends of PDF and the PDF board members and their families gather for fellowship and fun. Jerry had some responsibilities over the weekend and Ebbe wanted to introduce our family to the PDF Board of Directors. We almost didn't go because of Miriam's situation, but we are SO glad that we decided to attend CAMP together and we actually got to stay in our new house for the first time! It was the perfect place for Miriam to recover and rest and it was a relaxing weekend for all of us...except Jerry who had to preach a surprise mini-sermon on Sunday morning (he had been signed up for this, but the organizers neglected to tell him about it with all the craziness in our lives). Despite less than 24 hours to prepare, he did great and has resolved to keep a mini-sermon or two in his back pocket for future occasions like this!

At the end of the weekend we returned to Bucharest so that Jerry could attend our final language class on Monday morning and so we had some time to pack up all our things in Bucharest and order some furniture from IKEA.  We spent 2 more nights at the Ionescus' home in Bucharest and headed for PDF early Tuesday morning, stopping at IKEA on the way to pick up our (giant) order. Seriously...it almost didn't all fit in the huge van we borrowed from PDF!

Thankfully we arrived at our new home on Tuesday afternoon and were met by an amazing crew of PDF staff and volunteers who not only helped us unload everything, but also came back after the girls were in bed and put together almost all of our IKEA furniture. It was a huge blessing not to have to do all that work ourselves and we felt so loved and cared for by our new friends. We even received a loaf of fresh bread on our first night from one of the families here.

It's hard to believe we've been living here at PDF for over a week now, even though in some ways it feels so much like home already. Of course we were sad to leave Bucharest and we miss our friends the Ionescus a lot! We will always be so grateful to them for having us crazy Canadians in their home and putting up with all our noise, constant laundry, and questions upon questions about the Romanian language and culture.

Our last week has been spent putting together so much IKEA furniture, unpacking all our suitcases (FINALLY!!!), and trying to make our house feel like a home with very few things and a very limited budget. We've also been whisked away to countless appointments for visa paperwork - obtaining health insurance here in Romania, being examined by a doctor here for a medical report (all 4 of us were required to do this), having our Canadian identification documents translated, and filing lots and lots and lots of paperwork. Oh, and also lots of business to do with having our car registration transferred to PDF (an incredibly long story, and an even longer process!).

We also received some fantastic news recently - we will not have to leave the country! We will be charged a fee to remain in Romania beyond the 90-day mark, but the fee will not exceed 500 lei ($160 Canadian). We were absolutely thrilled by this news, and we're so thankful that we will be able to stay here and continue settling into our home and Jerry's new role here at PDF and put our suitcases into storage for awhile! We had our photos taken for our visas yesterday and the immigration police have accepted our application and issued temporary residence permits until our visas will be issued on December 2nd. We are so relieved and so thankful, especially for the help of Felix, one of the PDF staff who works in the administrative department (He and his wife Rebeca live here at PDF). He attended almost every visa appointment with us and took care of all of the drama with our car and our health insurance, and even though his English is about as good as our Romanian we managed to develop a great friendship. He sure made the process easier for the kids by giving them lots of attention and distracting them with mint candies and they now call him "Uncle" Felix.

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for us. Thank you for praying for Miriam through her sickness, but thank you also for praying for us as a family over these last few months. Your prayers and support mean so much to us and we never would have survived the last few months without each of you.

We look forward to sharing more updates with you soon as we settle into our life here at PDF!

Here are some prayer requests for the month of November:

1.) Praise God that He has been so faithful in bringing us through the challenges of our immersion time and for providing for us every step of the way.

2.) Please pray for Jerry as he transitions into his new role at PDF. Pray for his relationships with the other PDF staff and for clarity and purpose as he begins this new role.

3.) Please continue to pray for our family's health. We have all been healthy for the last while since Miriam was discharged from the hospital and we're praying it stays that way!

4.) Please pray for our financial support situation. We had so many unexpected expenses from Miriam being in the hospital and now we're being faced with some more unexpected expenses to do with our car and some inspections that need to be completed before the ownership can be switched to PDF from the previous owner. Please pray for more monthly financial supporters to come forward to partner with us!

5.) Please pray for our kids as they transition to our new home and begin to make new friends. Pray that they would feel comfortable and secure here and that they would learn to communicate with the other children at PDF who don't speak English (Miriam and Eden are the only English-speaking children here).

6.) Please pray for our language learning as it continues here at PDF. We are nowhere near fluent in Romanian and our language learning is a critical part of our ministry here.

If you're curious about what we're doing in Romania, click here to read more about our work here, and click here to see a video of our story.

If you'd like to make a donation to our ministry, click here.     

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Update: How is Miriam doing? (and an update on our visa situation)

Hi friends,

First, we want to say how overwhelming the last several days have been - you all are SO amazing and supportive and we have appreciated every comment, email, or message you sent us to encourage us and tell us that you're praying for us and for Miriam. As parents it has been comforting beyond words to know that there are loving people all over the globe, some of whom we have never even met, praying for our little Miriam and for our family. Words cannot express how thankful we are for each of you and for your prayers. We have felt supported and loved in a time when we otherwise would feel very alone and afraid.

In the last day or so Miriam has slowly shown signs of improvement. She is eating a little more, throwing up less, and her diarrhea has been much less severe. This morning she actually stole Chrissie's breakfast and ate it, along with part of her own, which is amazing. She hasn't had much of an appetite in over two weeks!

It's nothing short of a miracle that within a day or two she went from this...

To this.

(hopefully she doesn't hate us when she's a teenager for posting a greasy-hair hospital photo of her on the internet...)

The doctor actually suggested that if she continues to improve it is possible she could be discharged this week. We can hardly believe this is a possibility since for so many days we saw no improvement at all. We're praising God for how He has healed her so far and we're praying for her continued healing. Thank you for your continued prayers and for standing alongside us in this hard time. She isn't out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful and thankful for the little improvements we're seeing.

We can't wait to have our quirky and fun little girl back to her normal self!

After speaking with our insurance company and Miriam's pediatrician in Canada we have made the decision to stay where we are and continue receiving care here in Romania. The doctors here have been very attentive and concerned, and Miriam has seen several specialists and endured many tests which have ruled out things like parasites, bacterial infections, appendicitis, and other more serious conditions. She's been a champ through it all and we're so proud of her for being so brave even though she's felt so yucky.

Despite how hard the last few weeks have been, we've had several bright moments, including a hospital visit from Darcey & Reinhard Neufeld and John & Doris Storey, missionaries from Winnipeg who live in Rasa (about one and a half hours from Bucharest). "Grandpa" Reinhard and "Grandma" Darcey have been so loving toward our girls and we're excited to get to know them and the Storeys better. We're planning a trip to Rasa to visit them soon and we were so encouraged by their visit!

This experience has been especially hard on our little Eden and we would appreciate your prayers for her too. She has missed her mommy and sister and because of hospital rules she isn't allowed on the ward where Miriam is staying. Because we don't have help with childcare for Eden, we haven't really been together as a family since Miriam has been in the hospital because one of us always needs to be with each child. We've been switching places often to give Chrissie a break and to give Miriam time with her daddy, but this means we don't get to spend any time together. Making big health-related decisions for your kids is challenging when you can never really be in the same room at the same time, but we are very thankful for FaceTime! We are so looking forward to Miriam's discharge from the hospital so we can be together as a family again.

Another challenge that has come up in recent days is the matter of our visas. We were confident that we'd be able to obtain our visas within the first 90 days of being in Romania but this now looks like it may not be a possibility. The authorities have just now approved our documents to be submitted for a visa application, and the approval process can take anywhere from 10 days to 2 months. We have only 24 days before our 90 days is up and if our visa isn't approved by then we will be forced to leave Romania for another 90 days before we re-enter. This would not be an ideal situation for obvious reasons, as we would not look forward to being displaced again, either in Moldova or Austria for three whole months. We are eager to settle in here as a family and adjust to our new life in Romania, so please pray for a super speedy visa process for our family or some other loophole that would allow us to stay in the country legally.

Thank you so much for your prayers friends! Please continue praying for Miriam in the coming days.

If you're curious about what we're doing in Romania, click here to read more about our work here, and click here to see a video of our story.

If you'd like to make a donation to our ministry, click here

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Please Pray for Miriam

Hi friends,

We're asking for your prayers today for our daughter Miriam. She's our beautiful, vibrant and active 4-year-old miracle and she's been sick for 14 days with vomiting and diarrhea.

She was admitted to the hospital earlier this week for dehydration but after being released the next day her condition quickly deteriorated and we've been in the hospital again for the last 3 days (Chrissie is able to stay with her). Despite the best efforts of the doctors and nurses she is stable (receiving fluids and electrolytes by IV) but her condition has not yet improved. They are running lots of tests trying to determine whether or not this is simply a nasty viral infection that's getting the better of her, or something more complicated - we have been exposed to some unsafe water in the last while so the doctors are keeping this in mind as well.

We would like to ask for your prayers for Miriam, that God would heal her body. If she doesn't improve in the coming week, Miriam and Chrissie will be forced to fly back to Canada to receive treatment there as our current travel health insurance policy expires on October 31st. Miriam won't be eligible for travel health insurance after that date and while private health care is not incredibly expensive here, we cannot afford to pay for her care ourselves (approximately $350 Canadian dollars per day). This possibility brings with it all kinds of fear and confusion, and so we ask that you would pray with us and for us in this situation.

We appreciate your support and prayer more than you know, and we know that so many of you are already praying. Thank you so much for standing with us. We love you.

If you're curious about what we're doing in Romania, click here to read more about our work here, and click here to see a video of our story.

If you'd like to make a donation to our ministry, click here.