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.       

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2018 Spring Mission Bible School Has Begun!

Hi friends!

We just wanted to send a quick update letting you know that we've made it through the first 4 weeks of the Spring Mission Bible School!!

Family Update:

We wanted to show you what the first few weeks of Bible School has looked like, so enjoy the photos at the end of this update. The first 4 weeks of Bible School has been an incredibly busy time complete with helping the students settle in, doing introductory sessions, team building activities, high ropes course, introducing the students to the nearby community of Rasnov and the PdF staff team, beginning the first few weeks of lectures, starting our Prayer and Share Groups and Family Groups, local outreaches in Rasnov and other nearby towns, and developing relationships with the students. The last few weeks have been VERY full for our family and but we are enjoying our time very much.

Jerry worked more than the equivalent of two full time jobs in the first week of Bible School alone, and as time goes by he's trying to take a day off here and there to spend time with the girls and Chrissie.

Thankfully, we've had a bit of help these first few weeks - our faithful friend Mary from Bucharest stayed with us for the first week of Bible School to help with the girls and around the house so Chrissie could be available to help Jerry. She's the 17-year-old daughter of the family with whom we lived in Bucharest when we first arrived in Romania, so we know each other well and she's become like a part of our family.

And now Chrissie's mom is here for 2 and a half weeks as well! We're so excited she's here and we're enjoying spending time with her, especially since our summer weather has officially arrived!

The girls absolutely love riding their bikes and we go on walks/bike rides almost every day. Living at PdF is so wonderful for the kids as they get to spend so much time outside enjoying God's creation.

Bible School Update:

At the end of their first week of Bible School the students helped lead an Easter outreach in Rasnov (the town closest to PdF) and we had hundreds of people turn out to hear the students sing children's songs, watch a puppet show, participate in an Easter Egg Hunt, and hear a message of the love of Jesus Christ for all people. The students led music, supervised the Easter Egg Hunt and the inflatable bouncy slide, and painted the children's faces. It was a wonderful day of fellowship and working together as a team. And the event even made it onto the national news in Romania that weekend!

We had several missionaries from WEC International visit the center to present their ministries to the students. One Korean/Romanian couple who run a pottery studio as a ministry in Brasov taught the students how to work with clay and shared about their ministry and how they use pottery to share the gospel. Several of the other WEC International Missionaries shared about their ministries in New Zealand, the Philippines, Chad, and China. It was both a day of refreshment and learning for the students and the Bible School staff.

So far the students have had a week of lectures on Ministry Tools, a week on Contagious Discipleship, a week on the History of Missions with Ebbe Beck, the director of PdF (pictured below), and a week of lectures on Ethics.

Since the weather has been so amazing these last few weeks, we had a traditional Romanian Barbecue outside together as a group using PdF's outdoor grill. Ebbe and Jerry did the grilling and everyone enjoyed the fruits of their labour. 

The students have engaged in team building games and activities, both to strengthen them as a team but also to learn the importance of team building in a missions setting.

Despite their busy schedule the students have had time for walks in nature to enjoy God's creation, playing volleyball in PdF's beach volleyball court, mountain biking, and personal and spiritual reflection.

The students left for their first challenge this weekend, the Cultural Encounter Challenge. They'll be sent out into remote villages with a list of challenges to complete for points, but no money, phones, or translation, and only the clothes on their backs. They'll have to find food and a place to stay with a Romanian family and then somehow make their way to another village to meet the Bible School staff for a few days at a fortified church where they'll learn about the spiritual history of Romania. Some of the students were excited for the challenge and others were very nervous. Please pray for the students as they begin the Cultural Encounter Challenge!

We'll be back in a few more weeks with another update to share more of what the Bible School students are up to!

Upcoming Needs:

We are planning to return to Canada for a visit in December and January. In order to do this, we need to raise several thousand dollars to pay for our flights to Canada. We are trusting God to provide for this need so we are able to go home to visit our families, friends and supporters and reconnect with our church family.

If you are able to help us out with this need, please email jerry.baker@pdf.ro or make a donation HERE.

Please pray:

- For us to find time to spend as a family during this hectic ministry season and for Jerry to be able to take at least one day off each week.

- For lots of energy for Jerry, Chrissie and the Bible School RAs (Andi and Marianna) as they continue ministering to the students on a daily basis.

- For the students to continue building relationships with one another and growing together as a team despite their differences; that they'd have an abundance of patience with one another and courage to deal with challenging situations.

- For the students as they prepare for their big Mission Outreach Challenge happening in 4 weeks.

- For God to provide the finances for us to return to Canada to visit our family, friends and supporters this December!

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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Winter 2018 Recap and Update

Hello friends!

It's hard to believe that January and February have passed us by and it's already the end of March! We have an update for you today all about the ski camps that happened at PdF this winter, as well as an update about the upcoming Spring Mission Bible School starting next week!

We know it's been too long since we shared an update with you all - please know that we think about all of you often and regularly thank God for each of you, our supporters and our friends. If our updates are few and far between it's only because we're so busy doing God's work here in Romania. There have been so many weeks this winter where we have been overwhelmed with all the work needing to be done here and we've been falling into bed late at night completely exhausted, but also so thankful that God has us here in Romania doing His work. 

Ministry Update:

Jerry has spent the last several months working on what seems to be endless behind-the-scenes Bible School preparation. We had several students apply for the Bible School in November and December, so Jerry was busy communicating with students, reviewing applications, and contacting references. He also continued planning the program, communicating with and booking teachers from all over the world to come and speak at the school, preparing for his own week of teaching, and planning each week of the Bible School program in-depth - everything from meals to devotional times, to local outreach and outreach prep times, and of course the 3 big program challenges, the Outdoor Team Challenge, the Cultural Encounter Challenge, and the Mission Outreach Challenge. This year Jerry is solely responsible for planning and leading the Outdoor Team Challenge and the Mission Outreach Challenge, both of which require a ton of careful planning in advance and are a lot of responsibility for him to lead alone. There is so much that goes into planning this 11-week program and Jerry's to-do lists seem to be never-ending!

Currently, there are 9 students who have applied and been accepted to the Spring Mission Bible School and a few more who will be attending for Taste-and-See weeks (students who attend parts of the program only). We are so excited about this, and so thankful for each and every student God has led to this program. Please continue to pray for God to prepare the hearts of the students who plan to come.

Jerry also planned and led a Snowboard Instructors Training weekend for the PdF snowboard instructors in December. He taught and trained 4 new Snowboard Instructors to be able to teach beginning snowboarders, so many of this year's ski camps had 2 snowboard groups (Jerry teaches the intermediate and advanced groups and another trained volunteer instructor teaches the beginners). There were over 40 snowboarders at the Ski Camps this winter and Jerry instructed for 5 of the camps. This was exciting for Jerry to see the snowboarding program expanding here at PdF - almost all of the ski camps have been at maximum capacity, bringing up to 54 participants at a time. We're praising God for how He is blessing this ministry and we're excited to see how God will continue to expand the ministry of the ski camps here at PdF.

We had a visitor from Riverwood Church Community, our church in Canada, at the end of January. Cole works at the church and flew all the way to Romania to shoot some update videos for us and help PdF film footage for some upcoming promotional videos and a fundraising video for PdF's new construction project. We enjoyed having Cole here and showing him around Brasov and we really appreciate his help. We spent the week filming with him, which was very tiring but totally worth it! We're excited to have new video content for next year's Ski Camp promotional video as well as other promotional videos for the PdF programs and fundraising activities. Here's a couple cool shots of Jerry that Cole captured while they filmed on the mountain for the day:

In December, Chrissie had the opportunity to speak at the Women's Advent Event at Biserica Harvest Metanoia Brasov, our church in Brasov. It was a beautiful event for the women of the church to bring their friends and colleagues who aren't Christians, and it was a privilege for Chrissie to share the hope of Jesus with these women, many of whom come from challenging situations and lead difficult lives where their faith is challenged daily. She was also invited to speak at another women's event at a church in the city of Ploiesti at the beginning of March and enjoyed meeting the women there and sharing the hope of Jesus with them.

Chrissie will also be leading the girls Prayer and Share group during the Bible School every Friday morning. This will be a place where the female students gather and share what God is doing in their lives and pray for one another. This will be a wonderful opportunity for Chrissie to build relationships with the female students and share wisdom from God's word with them, from the perspective of a missionary wife.

This month marked the arrival of the volunteer RAs (Resident Assistants) for the Bible School. Andy (from Switzerland) and Marianna (from the Ukraine) will be spending the next several months at PdF working with Jerry to run the day-to-day activities of the Bible School, focusing on developing relationships with the students and providing one-on-one mentorship. They will also be helping Jerry prepare for the larger components of the program, like the Outdoor Challenge, the Mission Outreach Challenge, and the Cultural Encounter Challenge, and plan weekly group outreaches. Andy is very into the outdoors and mountain sports, so we're excited for what he will bring to the program. Marianna has been working with a ministry in another part of Romania for the last few years, so she will be helpful for the students and be able to provide some translation and help with the worship teams. Please pray for Andy and Marianna as they prepare to come and serve here at PdF, and also for Marianna's health as she has some health and nutrition challenges because of her Lyme disease.

We have started volunteering in the worship ministry at our church, Biserica Harvest Metanoia Brasov. It is an added challenge for us, given the long drive to Brasov and the time commitment, but we are excited to be serving in this way whenever Jerry's PdF schedule allows, and we're excited about joining the worship team community at the church.

Lastly, we thought we'd include a copy of Jerry's Year-at-a-Glance schedule for you, so you're able to see what he's up to any time of the year. If you'd like to open or download it for easier viewing, CLICK HERE

Family Update:

Over the last few months it has finally begun to feel like we have hit our stride with life here in Romania. Of course we still face the daily challenges that come with living out of your home country, but those challenges are becoming easier (or maybe we're just getting used to them!?) as our command of the Romanian language gets better and we're learning more about how people do life here. 

December was an interesting month for us, ending with 3 of the 4 of us sick with mild coughs and colds. The girls managed to participate in their school's Christmas concert in December which was very fun, despite their colds. They sang Christmas songs in German and Romanian and we were, once again, surprised by how they were able to sing along with their peers despite the language barrier.

We made the decision to stay home for the Christmas holidays, instead of travelling to Rasa (in the south of Romania) to visit Reinhard and Darcey Neufeld and John and Doris Storey and help with their Christmas outreach ministry. We went to Rasa as a family last year and it was an amazing experience for us, in addition to being able to spend Christmas with fellow Canadian missionaries here in Romania. But because of the cold virus that hit us in December we decided to stay home and have a quiet Christmas together, just the 4 of us, and focus on getting well and resting after a hectic fall season, knowing the New Year would once again bring many ministry challenges and we'd need our health to be in good shape. We felt the pull of the Holy Spirit toward rest and we're so thankful we obeyed. The week between Christmas and New Years was probably the most restful week we've had since leaving Canada more than a year and a half ago; we slept in, ate homemade blueberry pancakes, watched movies, went skating, went hiking, played games, and went on bike rides (since we had no snow until mid-January). It was a sweet, sweet time and we are so thankful for the time we had together, just the 4 of us, and we're thankful that this time of rest helped us stay pretty healthy for the rest of the winter season.

Jerry was incredibly busy in January and February with ski camps and during this time Chrissie and the girls enjoyed their daily routine - the girls have continued attending the German/Romanian Kindergarten in Rașnov every morning which gives Chrissie time to take care of the household responsibilities, run errands, meet with other women for discipleship and prayer, and work on her food blog. She has also been establishing a relationship with a single mom from Rașnov who comes to our house once per week to help Chrissie with some housework while Chrissie cooks for their family. It serves as a great opportunity for Chrissie to practice speaking in Romanian each week and we're so glad to be able to help this woman support her 2 young daughters and provide healthy meals for their family when they're not able to buy food.

We continue to be involved at Biserica Harvest Metanoia Brasov (Harvest Church in Brasov) and we've been attending a small group every Monday night since September. It's a huge challenge for us to attend small group regularly because of Jerry's ministry schedule, and because it's a long drive to Brasov and we don't often have a babysitter, but we're so thankful for the friendship we're developing with the other members of the small group and for how supportive they've been to us as we've gotten to know them. They've been very forgiving to us for our "caveman" Romanian skills as we try to participate in the meetings (all in the Romanian language), and we've experienced real, sacrificial love from these new friends and we're so thankful to know them and to be doing life alongside them. The theme of this ministry year at Harvest is 'Niciodata Singur' which means 'Never Alone', and this idea has become very meaningful to us in our situation as missionaries living here in Romania. We are the outsiders here, the ones who are different and strange, and this church has accepted us and welcomed us with open arms, helping us in times of need and coming alongside us in prayer and support of our ministry at PdF. Our relationships with the people of Biserica Harvest Metanoia Brasov have truly made us feel like we're never alone, and we're so thankful for this!

Our German neighbours, Michi and Stefan Sailer, returned from their 4 month furlough in Germany after Christmas and it has been wonderful to have them back. Chrissie and Michi are great friends and their boys and our girls get along beautifully so the kids have also enjoyed having their friends back. Since the weather was so mild this winter we spent a lot of time playing outside, riding bikes, and playing in the snow (for the few weeks we had snow!).

Every few months or so we set aside some family time, head into the old city of Brasov and walk the cobblestone streets, let the kids chase pigeons and grab a coffee. It's such a relaxing place to stroll around and experience the "European" culture here in Romania and we enjoy visiting the old city very much. We spend so much time far away from the city (PdF is 6km from the nearest town) and so it's nice to experience the city life again every now and then.

Now that spring is here we're enjoying the warmer weather, going for lots of walks and bike rides, and jumping in puddles on rainy days. We've finally found a ballet class for the girls in Brasov with an excellent instructor, so they're enjoying being ballerinas again and doing something active while working on their language skills (the class is taught in Romanian). It's also a great opportunity for them to interact with other little girls their age.


We are coming up on the end of our second year in Romania, which means a trip to Canada at the end of 2018 is in our sights. It's important for us to travel to Canada every few years to visit family, friends, and our church, and re-connect with our faithful ministry supporters. We're so thankful to have the opportunity to travel to Canada for this purpose, but we need to raise a significant amount of money to fund our trip (around $6000 CAD). If you feel led by God to help us fund this trip back to Canada, please click the link below to make a one-time donation.

Also, our current Romanian Visas expire in November 2018 and so we will be responsible for renewing them before we return for our visit to Canada. The costs associated with this are approximately $1500 CAD. 

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

Please pray:

- That God would prepare the hearts of the Bible School students who will attend the Spring Mission Bible School this year.

- For our continued health and safety for the Bible School season, for our family, the students and all the staff.

- For Andy and Marianna, the Bible School RAs (Resident Assistants) who will serve at the Bible School this year; for high levels of energy and high capacity to serve the students attending Bible School.

- For continued wisdom and patience for us as we navigate the Romanian culture and language on a daily basis.

- For our Romanian language skills to continue developing quickly and that we'd have many more opportunities to grow our language skills.

- That God would continue to equip our children with all the patience and skills they need to thrive at school and at play; that our children would continue to grow in their faith and love for Jesus. 

- For our children to sleep well at night so we all wake up rested in the morning and ready to do the work of the Lord with lots of energy!

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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