Monday, 30 July 2018

Mid-Summer 2018 Update

Hi friends!

We're bringing you a mid-summer update today with LOTS of new photos, an update on our summer ministry activities, and a family update!





MINISTRY UPDATE:

First of all, Thank You! Thank you to all of you who support us monthly, with one-time donations, with prayer, and with friendship from afar. We think of you all often and thank God for your faithfulness to Him in partnering with us in this ministry in Romania. We're so thankful for each and every one of you who stand with us in ministry, who faithfully give and who faithfully pray for us and for PdF. We couldn't do this without you, and we want you to know how much God is using you in our lives and in the lives of the people we work with here in Romania!

We shared our last update 3 weeks before the end of Bible School in June. Over the last 3 weeks of Bible School the students completed the Outdoor Team Challenge, a multi-day trek into the mountains where they learned survival skills and were stretched to their physical and mental limits by the hiking and mountain biking challenges. It was an amazing time of growth for the students and one of the highlights of the Bible School for Jerry, as he comes alive in an outdoor leadership setting. He led the students on the multi-day hike, led worship on the ukelele and taught the students about leadership. 










It's hard to believe that "just another day at the office" means views like this, but Jerry's sure not complaining!!




During the last 2 weeks of Bible school we had the pleasure of hosting Chris Mainland and his father-in-law Wayde, a professional photographer from the USA. Chris works for Torchbearers International as their photographer/videographer and so he and Wayde followed the students around for a few weeks to capture some amazing photos and videos PdF can use for Social Media and the promotion of the programs here. Chris is producing a formal promotional video for both the Spring Mission Bible School and the brand new Ascent Wilderness Bible School program beginning in Fall 2019. These videos will include interviews with Jerry, Ebbe (PdF's director), and several students. We'll be sure to share those with you when they're available, since Jerry stars in both.



Chris brought his drone to Romania, of course, so he was able to capture some amazing footage from above PdF. The photo below is an arial view of PdF, minus the big crane currently operating behind the main building in the middle of the photo (Chris Photoshopped the crane out of the photo!). Our home is the closer half of the white and brown duplex in the foreground of the photo. 


**Many of the photos in this post were taken by Chris and Wayde for the purpose of furthering the ministry of PdF, so credit goes to them.  If you're interested, you can find Chris' work HERE and Wayde's HERE. **


The last few weeks of Bible School included final lectures, the students wrapped up their local outreaches, and they spent time seeking God about their future plans. The final weeks were also packed with lots of fun and outdoor activities, as well as the students' final evaluations and final meetings with their mentors.











Since Bible School ended, Jerry has been busy working with the Summer Team volunteers - he and Chrissie lead weekly Bible Studies with all the volunteers and serve as support for the volunteers during their time at PdF. 





Jerry shared a post on PdF's Instagram account showing off just some of the Summer Team volunteers and all their hard work to keep PdF up and running. (And if you're not following PdF on Instagram, you should!!)






Jerry helped lead the Max Bike mountain biking camp, which wrapped up last week. It was a very rainy week, which meant lots of mud on the trails, but it was still an enjoyable and challenging week for all the participants. Jerry had a great time getting to know the participants, several of whom come from Romanian Orthodox families and have never been to church. It was a great opportunity for him to share the hope of Jesus with them, as he preached a few sermons about Forgiveness during the camp.










Jerry's next camp, the Outdoor Challenge, begins this week. The participants will have the opportunity to use the ropes course, go mountain biking, climbing, caving, repelling, and on a multi-day hike into the mountains. Outdoor Challenge is a "light" version of PdF's Survival camp, for participants who enjoy the outdoors but want a less-intense experience. One of Jerry's responsibilities for Outdoor Challenge is to plan the Adventure Race for the final day of the camp. 





FAMILY UPDATE:

When Bible School ended our family breathed a big sigh of relief. Of course we were sad to see Bible School end, and we do miss the students we got to know so well, but spring has become our toughest and most demanding season and it is always a challenge to thrive as a family during the busy spring ministry season.  As we mentioned in our last update, this spring was particularly challenging and so we knew we needed some time after Bible School to re-group and spend time as a family of 4. Because of the demands of Bible School, we had almost no dedicated family time during the three-month program, which took a big toll on the kids and on Chrissie, who essentially single-parented for three months and assisted Jerry with the Bible School whenever she could.

Since we live on PdF's campus it's very difficult to have time off without actually getting away, so we knew that leaving PdF for a few days was exactly what we needed.

Thanks to Europe's cheap airlines, we were able to spend a few days in Greece together before the beginning of the summer programs - just the 4 of us. Thankfully, Greece is only a short drive or flight from Romania, which made it an easy trip. It was a wonderful time of rest for us and the kids to focus on each other and on just having fun as a family of 4 again. 

 







Our time by the sea was life-giving, and we came home refreshed and ready for the busy summer ministry season! While Jerry has been busy with camps, Chrissie and the kids have been trying to enjoy the few sunny days we've had this summer. Unfortunately it's been a rainy summer so far, but we're trying to keep a positive attitude about it all.

The kids have enjoyed going on short hikes in the forest, picking flowers, riding bikes, playing at the playground, and enjoying their time with the kids of the other PdF staff.





All the staff wives with young children (there are 5 of us) decided we should have a weekly bible story time for the young kids this summer, so Tuesday mornings have been set aside as a Sunday School time. Whoever hosts the gathering teaches the Bible Story and plans an activity in that family's language, so we've been learning in German, Romanian and English! It's been a nice time for the children and also for the moms to have a reason to come together every week during the busy summer. There are 15 kids among the families at PdF, so it's always a fun (and busy!) morning!






Rachel, one of the Bible School students from the USA, has stayed in Romania and joined the PdF volunteer team with a one-year commitment. One of her roles will be to support the housekeeping staff with cleaning, but her main role will be to support the PdF staff families with young children with babysitting! She spends one day per week with each of the 5 families to give the mom assistance with the kids and to enable the moms to go to medical or other appointments, run errands, etc. It's already been a life-changing help for many of the families, since we all live in Romania as missionaries away from the support of family and friends - we're so thankful to have Rachel here this year! Of course the girls love her - she bakes cookies with them, they do crafts, go for walks, and just have fun.

       


We've also had Mary from Bucharest living with us since mid-July and she'll stay with us for the rest of the summer as our nanny. This will enable Chrissie to get extra work done around the house and on her food blog, as well as work alongside Jerry with the Summer Team volunteers, taking over the work with the Summer Team volunteers while Jerry is busy with camps. It's been a blessing to have Mary living with us again, and the girls love spending time with her. It's also good for Mary to live with our family, as she doesn't have many positive Christian influences in her life other than her family - she and Chrissie spend lots of time together, and Chrissie has become a mentor for her. 


We celebrated Miriam's 6th birthday last week with a fun princess party! We invited all our PdF friends, some friends from Rasnov and from our church in Brasov, so we had quite a crowd!! Everyone enjoyed themselves, and Miriam felt very loved and celebrated.








PRAYER REQUESTS:


Please pray with us:

- And thank God for a successful Bible School season and a great start to the summer programs! Over 30 kids started a relationship with Jesus Christ at the Junior High Camp in July! Praise be to God!!

- And thank God for a good, solid rest time after Bible School and for the renewed strength and energy we've experienced because of it.

- That God would continue to use this summer season to strengthen our family and give us lots of good fellowship with one another; that we would have a safe and healthy summer full of fun and ministry.

- That God would continue to provide for our family financially through monthly donations and bring a few more monthly donors into this ministry - Thanks be to God for His provision!

- That God would lead us as we prepare for our visit to Canada at the end of 2018.

- That God would bring the RAs He wants to PdF for Bible School next Spring, and that God would be preparing them for this work, even now.

-That God would bring the students He wants to PdF for the upcoming Spring 2019 Bible School, and that God would be preparing them and working in their hearts already.

-That God would bring more high-energy, skilled staff to PdF to help bear the burden of the ministry here. Please pray for the current staff who all have high workloads and are feeling overwhelmed.

-That God would continue to provide for the construction project here at PdF as the construction team builds a new dorm building to house guests and students.


If you'd like to join our Facebook Group for more regular updates, request to join HERE.


If you'd like to become a member of our Prayer Network and receive more regular prayer requests via email or Facebook Messenger, please send Jerry an email (jerry.baker@pdf.ro). 




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



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Friday, 1 June 2018

Spring 2018 Update

Hi Friends!

We're here with a Spring Update for you today, to let you know how the Spring Mission Bible School is coming along and to share about our summer ministry plans!



Ministry Update:

First, we want to say a big THANK YOU to our monthly supporters, donors and prayer partners. The last 3 months have been extremely challenging for us and there have been many days where we have felt held up by your prayers and have been so encouraged by each of your standing with us in our ministry here in Romania. We value you all so much and we are so thankful for each and every one of you and how you hold us up in prayer and provide for our daily needs - you're an integral part of what God is doing here at PdF!

It's hard to believe that there are under 3 weeks left in the Spring Bible School. It's been an extremely busy time for us and our weeks have been full to the brim with normal Bible School activities as well as hosting the students in our home, one-on-one mentoring and counselling, and lots of daily challenges. The group of students at Bible School this year has proved to be more challenging than we expected, and we've had to spend lots of time pouring into their lives, providing correction and accountability, dealing with the breaking of rules, relationship problems, etc. Since this is the second year of the program there are many aspects of the program that feel much easier to us than last year, but managing the students this year has become a huge job and one that takes almost all our time and energy.



In these difficult moments we are reminded of the privilege it is to disciple young Christians and walk alongside them as they experience God, some of them for the first time. This spring has been a challenging one, but very rewarding as well. We can see even more clearly how God has prepared us to minister to these students and we're thankful for His provision and that He is guiding us in each step.






The students completed the Cultural Encounter Challenge earlier this month and enjoyed their adventure in Romanian villages and an overnight stay with a Gypsy family. Unfortunately the students picked up a terrible stomach virus or water-borne bacterial infection in one of the villages, and once the group returned to PdF it quickly spread to 5 of the students and 2 of the volunteer staff. Thankfully our family was spared, although Chrissie spent over a week nursing sick students back to health, taking temperatures, handing out medicine and rehydration salts, and coaching the students on virus prevention.

In the last few weeks the students have enjoyed lectures on Apologetics, Jesus in the Book of John with Andy Thomas, the Book of Ephesians with Birgitt Gehring, and the book of Acts with Frank Cirone, the director of Ravencrest, one of the Torchbearers Centers in Colorado.  This week we're hosting Phil Peters as the guest lecturer. He's teaching the students all about Christian Leadership and it is wonderful to have him here as we have known Phil and his wife Tammy for over 15 years. Phil was the Principal of Tauernhof, the Torchbearers Bible School we both attended in Austria in 2002.



The students have also continued their weekly outreaches, enjoyed an independent travel weekend, and completed the Mission Outreach challenge in Mangalia, a town near Constanta on the Black Sea. The students hosted a youth and children's ministry outreach program for the weekend in partnership with a local church.



On Monday the students will depart for the Outdoor Team Challenge portion of the program where they will spend 3 days in the mountains completing group and individual challenges that will test their physical and mental abilities and encourage spiritual growth. Please pray for their safety and for them to grow as a team.



During the students' travel weekend the female staff (and staff wives) hosted a Women's Conference here at PdF. Many local women attended and it was a wonderful weekend together. The theme of the weekend was An Oasis in the Desert and the women enjoyed teaching from the Bible about how God meets us in the desert times in our lives. Chrissie led worship on the piano along with a few other staff, she shared her testimony at one of the conference sessions, and she instructed an afternoon craft workshop. It was a full weekend, but an enjoyable one!






After Bible School is finished and summer begins, Jerry will be busy managing the summer team volunteers who keep PdF running for the busy summer months. He's already accepted several volunteers and filled many of the positions, but there are still a few more needs. He will spend time with each of the volunteers one-on-one each week and host a weekly Bible Study for them, as well as planning fun events and outings, taking them to church, etc. Chrissie will also help with the mentorship of the female volunteers. In addition to managing the summer team volunteers, Jerry will be involved in several of the outdoor camps beginning toward the end of July. He will lead the Max Bike mountain biking program and the Outdoor Challenge Camp in August.

Another exciting development here at PdF is the completion of the "Fun Court". It's a multipurpose outdoor sports field that is already getting a lot of use here! It will be great for the summer camps to have a place to play soccer, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, etc.





Family Update:

Family time is difficult to come by during the Bible School season, but Chrissie and the kids have enjoyed hanging out at PdF with Jerry and the students for meals and free times. They've also been enjoying the beautiful spring weather and maintaining the small container garden we planted when Chrissie's mom was here in April. The Bible School season this year has put a huge strain on our family, and Chrissie and the girls have missed Jerry since he's been away a lot with the Bible School. We are all looking forward to spending more time together as a family in the summer.

We recently went rock climbing together with the Bible School, and the girls got to enjoy some climbing time too.






We are SO thankful that were able to get a garden swing this year for our yard, which we're using daily to enjoy the mountain views from our yard.



After saving for many months, we were also able to purchase screens for our doors and windows so we're able to keep the wasps and flies outside and have the windows open at night and in the morning to let the cool mountain breeze in before the heat of the day (there's no such thing as air conditioning here!!). After Chrissie woke up with a huge beetle on her pillow one night last summer, we knew insect screens were going to be a necessity for the hot summer months. We're so thankful for blessings like these that allow us peace of mind, and moments of rest and rejuvenation.

(crooked photo courtesy of our favourite 5-year-old!)





The girls only have a couple weeks of school left before summer begins and we are in the midst of making decisions about their educational path here in Romania. Miriam is registered for Grade Zero in the public school system German/Romanian program for September, but we've been presented with the opportunity to put the girls in a private Christian Homeschool Cooperative run by a Romanian teacher in the nearby village of Bran. This would mean they'd attend school in English and Romanian and have the opportunity to study with local Romanian children who are learning English, and study using American and British curriculum. Tuition is affordable and Chrissie would be able to have much more input regarding their educational experience than if the girls continue attending public school here. It would also give us the flexibility to travel to Canada during the school year without fear of the girls falling behind in their learning. Please pray for us as we discern what would be best for our girls and our family regarding their education and their future studies.


As Spring comes to a close and summer begins we are playing outside for hours and hours each day. The girls love riding their bikes and playing outdoors with the other children here at PdF, and having so much space to run around in is a huge blessing for them. 





We are looking forward to having Mary from Bucharest come and live with us for the summer. We lived with Mary's family for three months when we first arrived in Romania and we've continued our friendship with their family ever since. Mary visits us regularly and she'll move in with us for the summer to be our nanny, so that Chrissie is able to help Jerry with managing the Summer Volunteers, leading Bible Studies and worship, mentoring the female volunteers, and also just to have some breathing room after an extremely stressful spring season. We're excited for Mary to come and be a part of our family again for the summer.



Prayer Requests:


Please pray with us:

- And thank God for a successful Bible School season that's almost complete - Thank God for keeping all the students and staff safe and (mostly) healthy.

- For a good, solid finish to this 2018 Bible School, for renewed strength and energy for these last few weeks and rest, even amongst the busyness.

- That God would use the summer season to strengthen our family again and give us lots of good fellowship with one another; that we would have a safe and healthy summer full of fun and ministry.

- That God would continue to provide for our family financially through monthly donations - Thanks be to God for His provision!

- That God would provide the funds needed for our trip to Canada at the end of 2018. We need to raise $5000 CAD to cover the costs of our flights.

- That God would lead us in making decisions regarding our kids' education situation.



If you'd like to join our Facebook Group for more regular updates, request to join HERE.


If you'd like to become a member of our Prayer Network and receive more regular prayer requests via email or Facebook Messenger, please send Jerry an email (jerry.baker@pdf.ro). 




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



If you'd like to sign up for our email newsletter to receive an alert each time we share an update, please sign up using this form:

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