Bible School Begins!

Hi friends!

We just wanted to share a quick update to let you know that we're in the middle of the first week of the Spring Mission Bible School here at PDF!!!



There are 11 students participating in the Bible School that will run for the next 3 months: 4 Romanian students, 1 student from Switzerland, 1 student from Canada, 2 students from the USA and 3 students from Germany. We've loved getting to know the students this week and we're very excited to see what God will do in the lives of the students over their time at PDF this spring.

Thank you so much for all your support and prayers for us and the ministry at PdF. We look forward to sharing more about the bible school with you as it unfolds over the coming weeks.

Here's a short list of prayer requests until our next update (coming soon!):

- Please pray for our family's physical health. We've been dealing with colds, ear infections, and the stomach flu again and we need all the energy we can get during this very busy ministry season. Please pray for complete healing and strong immune systems for all of us, as well as for the rest of the PdF staff and their families.

- Please pray for the local outreach opportunities the students will be participating in; that they'd be meaningful and effective and that the students would be able to build relationships with some of the Romanian people they meet.

- Please pray for the Easter outreach event in Rasnov on Saturday, April 15th. The bible school is partnering with Izvorul Vieții, the church plant we're a part of in Rasnov, to put on a children's program in the park in Rasnov for local families with the hopes of connecting them to the local church.

- Please pray for the language and cultural barriers at the bible school. With such a diverse group of students and staff there are challenges with communication, especially when understanding the lectures that will be given in English some weeks, and in Romanian or German other weeks (with translation). Please pray for clarity and understanding for everyone involved.

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


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A Broken Humerus Isn't So Humorous (The Baker Family's Winter 2017 Newsletter)



Hi friends,

We had hoped to be bringing you our latest newsletter at the end of January with a bit of a different feel than past letters but the events of the last 2 months have continued to challenge us in unexpected ways. We're so thankful to be bringing you this update at the beginning of March in a much different place than how we began this year! January and February were full of both old and new challenges which is the reason we haven't been able to keep up with regular newsletters.  That's not to say the last 2 months haven't been good - we've really enjoyed all the snow PDF got this winter and Jerry was very busy with the ski camps over these last two months and preparing for the bible school that begins in one month!! Miriam continues to enjoy kindergarten here and our relationships with our friends and fellow PDF staff are deepening in a way we're so thankful for. But unfortunately we've been dealing with yet another big health-related challenge.

Jerry's birthday was the 28th of January and to celebrate we decided to drop the kids off with friends for the day and spend some time as a couple on the mountain going skiing and snowboarding. We've only had a few hours away from the kids as a couple in the last 6 months and a day on the mountain sounded heavenly to us, that is until Chrissie took a tumble and ended up fracturing her shoulder about halfway through the day.


LEFT: our chairlift ride right before Chrissie's fall  RIGHT: the only other photo we have from the day, a selfie in the state hospital ER that we texted to Chrissie's parents


Spending the afternoon at the public hospital emergency room wasn't exactly what we had in mind, but as always God provided for us with doctors and nurses that spoke English, short waiting times, not a single medical bill after a few x-rays and a CT scan (emergency medical care in Romania is free for the first 72 hours at the public hospitals), and our wonderful friends Doug and Camelia (church planters we're working with in Rasnov) who not only watched our girls all day but also fed us dinner and brought over three meals in Chrissie's most painful days. Chrissie spent the first week in a ton of pain and discomfort but after a visit to a private orthopedic surgeon for a proper shoulder brace and a prescription for stronger painkillers, she began doing much better. We're so thankful for the medical care we have access to here and for dear friends who can help us with translation at appointments when necessary. Our dear friend Adela (the wife of Tihi, one of the staff members here who works with Jerry) has not only been our Romanian tutor twice per week since we moved to PDF, she's also accompanied us on many errands and doctors visits to help us with translation and navigating the health care system here. She's been such a great friend to us and we're so thankful for our friendship with them.


Eden distracting Adela from her translation work

We also know so many of you have been praying for us over the last few months, and our new church family in Brasov has also been praying for us. Even in the midst of yet another difficult situation, God is faithful and loving and He is meeting all our needs in ways we never expected. Chrissie was out of commission for about 3 weeks so this presented a huge challenge for our family, especially since these were 3 of the weeks where Jerry was to work as a snowboard instructor for the ski camps at PDF. We somehow survived this stressful time (Chrissie got her brace off last week and is recovering very well!) and we are so thankful for how God sustained us during these weeks. We would really appreciate your continued prayers as her shoulder continues to heal.

Here's an update from Jerry about the winter ski camps:

Even though I really enjoy snowboarding I went into this winter ministry season with a few concerns. The first concern was how I could possibly connect with Romanians in a meaningful way. I'm still not fluent in their language and I still have much to learn about their culture. My second concern was regarding the fact that I was scheduled to be one of the main teachers for the evening lectures. Most of you realize how far out of my comfort zone (and natural gifting) this is, however I was totally surprised at how things actually went. In the teenager camp, for whatever reason, the teens really liked me! They enjoyed speaking English (many spoke fluently). Some even felt comfortable enough to open up and share some of their personal and spiritual concerns with me and I was able to encourage and pray for them. In the OSCEB and Adults camps I was also amazed at how quickly connections were made with the people in my snowboard groups. Many were intrigued by the fact that I came from Canada to live in Romania. This opened up the door to share my personal testimony with a few of the participants. At least two participants actually said to me "I'm really glad that you've come to Romania." I was so humbled by this and even though I'm unaware of exactly why they said it I have concluded that God must be using me in a way that I'm unaware of and I am content with that.

The evening teaching sessions were also a humbling experience for me. I worked very hard to scrape together enough words to fill a forty-minute session from Ezekiel 36:26-27 on the topic of "spirit". Somehow during the sermons I felt God's peace and power working through me and it seemed as though the people were listening. It helped that what I was teaching was being translated which gave me an extra moment to think about what I'd say next! At the end of each camp, students get the chance to reflect and share about how their time went and a number of times participants commented on how much they enjoyed my teaching time. I'm so thankful that God used me to speak into the lives of these young people.

I must say that, as challenging as things have been for us here in Romania, it has really been so worth it to see that God is really using us here. I really believe that God has prepared us to be here. This is exactly where God wants us to be. He made us, shaped us, equipped us, and sent us to be used by him here at this exact location and time; and that is an amazing feeling. It really is the most fulfilling thing in the world to be doing what pleases Him most. It is not easy at times because of the opposition we face spiritually, as well as the fears that have to be faced as well as practical struggles, but it is so worth it. For this reason we also are so thankful to you guys for the important role you play in our ministry here. You are supporting us financially, morally, and spiritually, even when you may not feel like it or understand what we are doing over here. Please know that we appreciate you and that your support is eternally relevant.

Are you a member of our FACEBOOK GROUP? Request to join our group for more regular updates, videos and photos of our ministry here in Romania!




Aside from Chrissie's fractured shoulder, dealing with sinus infections for the month of January, and the craziness of the ski camps we've really enjoyed the winter here at PDF. It's been so mild (we're used to winters in Winnipeg, so this was a welcome change!) and we've gotten lots of snow which is great for the ski camps. We've been taking full advantage of the snow and great weather and spending lots of time outside with the girls going sledding and playing in the snow. Jerry even taught both girls to ski this winter, which was so much fun!


 

To celebrate winter winding down, we spent a nice afternoon in Brasov old town after church a few weeks ago and the girls really enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets and chasing the pigeons (one of Jerry's favourite pastimes in European cities). We're in full-on Spring mode here now after a short but eventful winter - the snow has melted and the days are getting longer and we are counting down the days until PDF's first bible school begins on April 3rd!

When we arrived in Romania in August it really did not seem possible that the bible school would be starting this spring. There were no students enrolled and no teachers scheduled. But once we finally moved into our home at PDF things finally started to take shape. One thing that we believed helped a lot was the Wednesday night prayer nights that Jerry felt called to start. Every two weeks we've been gathering as a staff, to sing a few songs together and pray about issues concerning the bible school and it's been amazing to see many of the prayer items being answered! We've currently accepted 10 students into the program and have all 9 teaching slots filled! Since the ski camps are over, Jerry is now devoting his time to corresponding with the students and teachers, and holding planning meetings to figure out all the major and minor details involved with the 11 weeks of bible school ahead of us. We really don't know how it will all be done within the next 3 weeks before the bible school begins, but we are confident that God will continue working through Jerry and accomplish everything that is required for this new ministry. How wonderful that He can use our inadequacies for the display of His glory!


We also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all again so much for your financial support of our ministry here in Romania. We are thrilled and so thankful for a few new monthly supporters who have come forward to partner with us. We are continuing to pray for several new one-time donors to help with some of our ministry expenses. There are a few items we'd love to be able to purchase and donate to PDF this year .

Here are some of our upcoming ministry project expenses:

- Jerry's upcoming trip to England in June for the Torchbearer International Ministry Conference
- An electric keyboard for PDF for the staff and students leading worship at the daily lectures and weekend services
- A few new (or gently used) snowboards, boots and helmets for next year's ski camps

If you're interested in helping us with any of these things, please email us. We want you to know that when you make a donation to our ministry here in Romania your donation triples when converted to Romanian Lei - $20 becomes 60 lei, $100 becomes 300 lei, and in many cases items are half or one-third of the price they are in Canada, which stretches our Canadian dollar considerably.

Are you a member of our FACEBOOK GROUP? Request to join our group for more regular updates, videos and photos of our ministry here in Romania!


Prayer requests:


1.) Please pray for the Bible School that begins on April 3 and runs until the end of June. This will be the busiest 3 months of our year as Jerry is filling the role of Bible School Co-ordinator and we'll be serving as 'house parents' to the incoming students. Pray for Jerry as he completes all the planning and preparations for the Bible School, that the details would come together and everything would be prepared.

2.) Please pray for the incoming Bible School students. We have 10 students registered to attend, plus several more who are interested or plan to apply. Please pray that God would prepare the hearts of the students who are planning to come and that He would bring in even more students, especially students from Romania.

3.) Please pray for Chrissie's shoulder to heal quickly and completely. She is enjoying life with 2 arms again but continues to have pain daily, especially when driving and carrying heaving things (like the kids or grocery bags).

4.) Please continue to pray for our financial support situation. God has continued to provide for our family through your financial support and we're so thankful to have a few new monthly support partners. Please pray for several new one-time donors to help pay for some of our ministry projects (mentioned above).

5.) Please continue to pray for our daughters. They are becoming more and more settled in their new life here, but their relationships with peers are always a challenge because of the language barrier.  Please pray for their language development and praise God for providing one English-speaking friend in Rasnov for the girls!



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.


Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, sky, outdoor and nature


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!



Love,


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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