Thursday, 2 May 2019

Spring Update 2019

Hello friends!

Our apologies for the radio silence over these last few months...life in Romania this winter was extra challenging (more on that in a minute) and we're now several weeks into the Spring Mission Bible School semester! We hope you enjoy this long-overdue update and all the photos!!



MINISTRY UPDATE:

Jet lag hit us hard when we got home from Canada (thanks to our kids who thought getting up at 3am for the day would be a good idea...for almost a week straight!), and so the transition back to daily ministry was a tough one for us. Our time in Canada was wonderful yet tiring and stressful at the same time, so we definitely didn't arrive home in Romania feeling fresh and energized for the next season of ministry. Having your "home" in two places is a unique challenge overseas missionaries face and we're still learning how to navigate this. We've tried to do some reflecting on this over the last few months, but jumping right back into full time ministry doesn't leave a lot of time for reflection!

Thank you so much for all your prayers over the last months. We have felt them, and we know it's the faithful prayers of our family, friends, and supporters that help sustain us during difficult seasons and busy ministry seasons! We appreciate your prayers and support SO much!!

After we arrived back in Romania from our visit to Canada in December Jerry hit the ground running with ski camps almost immediately. He was the main leader for one of the camps and in the others he served on the team of leaders and taught snowboarding, also leading the other snowboard instructors. He also preached in the camps during the evening program. The ski camps this year were a wonderful time for the staff and the participants, and the winter season is always a highlight of Jerry's year. He sees many of the same participants now from year to year and he has been able to develop ongoing relationships with many of them. His Romanian language skills are also getting better and better, so he's able to communicate much more effectively and even teach his snowboarding lessons only in Romanian now. Praise God for this!


We also welcomed Lindy Moore from Florida to PdF in January. She worked in the kitchen and on the housekeeping team for her first 2 months at PdF and has transitioned into the female RA for Bible School. She spent March working with Jerry preparing many behind-the-scenes things for Bible School and now she's serving with the Bible School as one of Jerry's two assistants, spending lots of time with the female students, leading a prayer group and mentoring 2 of the students. She plans to stay until the end of the summer (at least) and will help Jerry mentor and supervise the Summer Team Volunteers.


Jannick Schaefer from Germany is Jerry's second assistant and the male RA for Bible School this year. We welcomed him to PdF on the same day the students arrived as Jannick was a student at the Torchbearers Bible School in Albania before coming to PdF. We're excited to have both Lindy and Jannick here at PdF serving in the Bible School ministry - Jerry, Lindy and Jannick make a great team and we're thankful for the ways in which Lindy and Jannick lighten Jerry's work load and allow him to spend a little more time with Chrissie and the kids, and take at least one day off each week.

The Bible School also got its own office this year, which has been a HUGE blessing for Jerry! He's able to meet with the RAs and other staff privately (before there was no place for meetings), meet with students when necessary, store supplies, etc. The RAs also enjoy having a space to mark homework and meet with students.



We're 5 weeks in to the Spring Mission Bible School and we still wake up each day with wonder and thankful hearts before God for how AMAZING it's going! The group of 17 students have so much love for one another, they enjoy spending time together, and they're embracing the challenges of each day with open hearts, open hands and a grateful and positive attitude. We can honestly say it's been such a privilege to walk alongside these 17 students for the last 5 weeks and we can't wait to see what God has in store for the last 6 weeks of Bible School. We know you all have been praying for the Bible School this year and we are so humbled that God heard our prayers and has given us this amazing group of students -  we never could have imagined Bible School would turn out this way and we are just SO thankful.


Jerry has been very busy facilitating the program as the Bible School Principal. He oversees all the daily activities and the weekly schedule, leads worship, leads an outreach team, mentors several of the male students, leads a prayer group, and serves as the go-to person for everything Bible School-related. It's a very challenging role that's all-encompassing and sometimes all-consuming, but he is enjoying every moment he spends with the students.

During the first 3 weeks of Bible School the students learned all about the History of Missions, they had a hands-on lecture week all about Ministry Tools, and an interactive week on Contagious Discipleship. They've also done lots of team building activities, started their local outreaches in the villages surrounding PdF, and had lots of fun experiencing God's creation here in Romania.


The non-Romanian students participate in Romanian language lessons each week and because we have one Romanian student this year whose English is VERY limited, Chrissie has been working with Darius on his English. We hope this will help him communicate more easily with the other students who all speak English, and help him to understand a little better what's going on around him. Of course, PdF is providing Romanian translation for all the lectures and formal activities so he's able to take in the program.


During week 4 of the Bible School the students were challenged by the Cultural Encounter as the Bible School staff dropped them off in three groups in 3 remote villages where they had to survive for 3 days with no food, no money, no phones, and no place to sleep for the night. This challenge forces the students to engage with the culture in a deep way as they complete challenges for points, and it encourages them to interact with the local villagers as they stay in their homes and eat with their families, telling them about Jesus and His love for them. 



The Cultural Encounter pushes the students out of their comfort zones and challenges them to work together and grow as a team, trusting God to provide for their immediate needs in a way most of them have never had to do, sometimes even completing practical work in exchange for a place to sleep for the night. This challenge brings the students together, provides opportunities for them to use their growing Romanian language skills and to tell others about Jesus, and it's always a life-changing experience for them.





After their 3-day stay in a village, the students completed more challenges as they made their way to the village of Archita where the Bible School staff and our family were waiting for them with open arms. They had the opportunity to share about their experiences, rest, take a shower, and explore the fortified church in Archita, even sleeping in the watch towers in the walls of the church. Chrissie planned and cooked the meals for the staff and students for this part of the Cultural Encounter, and since the kids were on a vacation from school we all enjoyed getting away from PdF and experiencing the village life in Archita for the week.




We also visited our friends Istvan and Georgiana, a Hungarian Roma (Gypsy) couple who lives in Archita. Istvan took us and the students for rides in his Caruta (pronounced caroot-sa) and we were able to bring them a big box of food for their family. 



After the Cultural Encounter, the students participated in the Easter Outreach event in Rasnov run by our friends Doug and Camelia and their church Izvorul Vietii.


The students led songs for the children, painted faces, made balloon animals, and helped organize the Easter Egg Hunt. A group from Word of Life Romania presented the gospel message with a children's puppet show, and we formed a band together with a few of the Bible School students to perform some Easter-themed Worship songs in the town square. It was a fantastic (but very tiring!) day for all of us, and a privilege to be a part of.












This week, Peter Reid and his wife Gaby arrived at PdF. Peter is the Torchbearer's International General Director and he's also the director of Bodenseehof, the English-Speaking Torchbearer's Center in Germany. Peter is the lecturer for week 5 of the Bible School, teaching all about 'Christ in Us'. We've enjoyed Peter's teaching for years and it's been such a privilege to have them here at Pdf. We were also able to host them for tea in our home, which was a very encouraging time.





FAMILY UPDATE:

Since we arrived back in Romania after our visit to Canada in December we were hit with one sickness after another. First, Eden fractured her right wrist (she fell while ice skating) which meant a few trips to the hospital for a cast and to see the orthopedic surgeon. Next, both girls and Chrissie came down with the influenza virus which had them all in bed for almost a week with high fevers, upset stomachs, terrible coughs and colds. We made 2 more trips to the hospital and clinic during this time as Miriam's cough became very bad and Eden needed fluids and medication by IV because of her high fever and vomiting. Thankfully Chrissie managed to survive the flu without needing medical treatment by a doctor, but it was a very long recovery for all three of them.


After this, the kids were hit with yet another (much more mild!) stomach bug they likely picked up at school, and more recently another bad cough and cold that turned into Bronchitis for Eden and mild Pneumonia for Miriam. Thankfully, we are all better now and enjoying the beautiful spring weather here in Romania. It's been so nice to be outside and enjoy the sunshine and the breeze, and the girls have been spending lots of time on their bikes.



Since Bible School began at the beginning of April our schedule has been totally packed with activities with the students. We've been so thankful to have Rachel (a Bible School Student from last year) as PdF's Family Care Volunteer do quite a bit of babysitting for us during this time, so Chrissie is able to help Jerry with Bible School events and spend time with the students - We've really depended on Rachel a lot this spring since Chrissie has taken on a bigger role in the Bible School and we're very thankful to have Rachel here. The girls adore Rachel and they have lots of fun with her.


Recently, our friends Daniel and Emily Chang visited PdF - they own a pottery studio in Brasov and minister to the local people of Brasov with WEC International Ministries. They come to present their ministry to the Bible School students each year and we end the night with a pottery activity where the students get to make their own coffee mug. It's always a highlight of the program, and it's also fun for us to participate and spend time creating something beautiful with the students!


Chrissie has been spending so much time with the female Bible School students this year as a personal mentor, a prayer group leader, and also in an informal role spending time getting to know the girls and speaking into their lives as a friend. It's been a great support to the female students as they go through the challenges of the program and as they go through the transition from Bible School to whatever it is God has next for them. It's been a blessing for Chrissie to be able to fill this role in the students' lives and now that our children are getting older it's becoming easier for Chrissie to become more involved in the Bible School ministry. She meets with students almost every day and loves the time she can spend pouring into their lives!


The students have also spent a lot of time with our girls and both Miriam and Eden have developed special relationships with some of the students, even naming two of our kittens Kallie and Daria after two of the female students!!




The girls have also continued to enjoy school and carpooling every day with our friends and neighbours, the Mittelstadt family from PdF. Both girls are learning to read in English and Romanian, which has been a fun adventure! Miriam is working toward completing Grade One this year, and it looks as though Eden will complete the Kindergarten curriculum, which means she may begin Grade One next year -  one year ahead of where'd she be in a Canadian school. We're still prayerfully considering accelerating her education in this way, and we'll have to make a decision about this soon.



This spring we celebrated Chrissie's birthday with a fun Paint Night with friends from church and PdF, and we celebrated Eden's birthday with a Mermaid birthday party with all her friends and neighbours!



We also participated in Staff Day last month - PdF staff days happen about once a month and they're a time for the staff and families to do activities together, to spend time having fun together playing games or enjoying the outdoors, and enjoying a meal together. This month we played a fun GPS game, spending the afternoon running through the forests in teams (Miriam and Chrissie's team won!), and we all enjoyed a pig roast afterwards!





We are so thankful spring is here and we're very much enjoying the beautiful weather, the incredibly busy ministry days, and experiencing everything God is doing here at PdF during this Bible School time!



PRAISE AND PRAYER:


Please pray with us and THANK GOD:

- for His provision; that we were able to spend some time in Canada at the end of last year re-connecting with family, friends, and supporters.

- for our children's school! We are so thankful for their teachers and that our girls are in such a supportive and loving environment every day, and that they LOVE going to school each day!

- for providing 17 wonderful students for this year's Bible School! Praise God for the beautiful community he's forming here!

- for healing us of our sicknesses this winter and restoring our health and strength!


Please pray for:

- the remainder of the Bible School to be fruitful; that the students would continue to learn, grow, and grow closer to one and another and to God. That they'd embrace the upcoming challenges (the Mission Outreach Trip and the Outdoor Adventure Challenge).

- the Bible School students who are considering remaining at PdF as volunteers for the coming season or even the coming year. Pray for direction and confirmation for them, and for God to open up opportunities for them to serve where and how He wills it.

- Jerry as he leads the Bible School; for him to maintain his energy levels, for endurance to get through each day, and for wisdom as he leads the program and mentors many of the male students.

- Chrissie's health. She is experiencing some issues related to hormones that are causing her a lot of discomfort and migraine headaches a few times a month. Please pray for her as she continues to work with the doctor here to find a solution.

- our family; that we'd continue to experience good health and strong bodies this spring and summer, that we'd have lots of energy with which to serve and pour out into the lives of these Bible School students.

- our children; for healthy, safety and protection, for positive experiences with their peers and friends, for their Romanian language learning, to finish the school year well, and for their own spiritual growth.

- our marriage; that we'd be able to make time to spend together, just the two of us, taking time for communication and growth.




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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Information and Appreciation Evening in Winnipeg!

Hi friends,

We are currently in Winnipeg enjoying time with family, friends and supporters, and we want to tell you about an Information and Appreciation Evening we'll be hosting on January 2nd, 2019!



We arrived in Canada in mid-November and spend the first couple weeks on the West Coast (Vancouver, Victoria, and Vancouver Island) visiting Jerry's family and friends. We enjoyed our time with Jerry's family in Vancouver and Ladysmith after not having visited them for many years. It was a great time of connecting with family, getting into Jerry's beloved West Coast nature, and enjoying our favourite "Canadian" things, like Tim Hortons and fresh oysters, after being away from Canada for so long!
 






 






We also stopped by Victoria to visit Chrissie's aunt and uncle, and so Jerry could re-connect with an old friend going through a tough time.

 




We are now in Winnipeg, staying with Chrissie's parents, for the month of December. Our schedule is packed with visits with family, friends and supporters, and we hope to be able to see all of you if we can!


We will be hosting an Information and Appreciation Evening on Wednesday, January 2nd at 6:30pm at the Firehall (Riverwood Church Community) on Talbot Avenue in Winnipeg. We would LOVE to see you there! We'll be serving dessert and hot drinks, and we'll be sharing about the ministry of Torchbearers International in Romania with some musical entertainment too!


Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/925874741106037/ to RSVP to the event, or feel free to send us an email at chrissiebaker@hotmail.com to let us know you're coming! This will help us ensure there's enough food for everyone.


Hope to see you there!!!