Thursday 9 March 2017

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!