Thursday 15 August 2019

Summer 2019 Update

Hi friends,

It's been a few months since we've last shared an update and today we hope you enjoy hearing all about the end of our Spring Mission Bible School ministry season and the summer ministry season!

Ministry Update:

In our last update we shared all about the first half of the Spring Mission Bible School and how great it was going. The last half of Bible School was just as amazing as the first and we are so thankful for how God worked in the lives of the students through the Bible School this year.

During the second half of Bible School the students went on the Mission Outreach trip (half the students went to Chisinau, Moldova and the other half went to Mangalia, Romania) where they served for one week in local churches, doing street ministry and evangelism, sports ministry, children's ministry, music and drama ministry, and practical service projects.

Jerry led the team in the town of Mangalia, near the city of Constanta at the Black Sea, and it was a wonderful week of ministry for him. He enjoyed stepping back and allowing the students to take charge of the planning and they showed tremendous leadership skills under his mentorship.

In the last weeks of Bible School we also enjoyed our final Family Group meetings, our last mentorship sessions with the students, and the last prayer and share meetings. It was a wonderful time of making those final connections and going deeper with the students before sending them off into the world again.

The second last week of Bible School was the Outdoor Team Challenge where Jerry led the students in a multi-day trek through the mountains in treacherous weather.  It was a very challenging experience for everyone involved, but it certainly allowed for a lot of growth. The students relied on God for strength and hope and learned a lot about leadership during this week.

Our longtime friends Phil and Tammy Peters came for the Outdoor Team Challenge week as lecturers. They lectured about leadership in a cross-cultural context and served as living examples as they helped lead teams on the Outdoor Team Challenge. Phil was the principal of the Bible School at Tauernhof when we were students in 2002 and we've known Phil and Tammy since then. They've been a big support to us, and we're so thankful for their impact on our lives and their support.

We had a great last night of Bible School celebration with the students and the PdF staff. It was an emotional night as we began to say goodbye to the students who became such a big part of our lives, and the tear-filled goodbyes lasted through the next day.

After the final Bible School meetings and debriefs, we also had to say goodbye to Jannik, the male RA from Germany who served alongside Jerry during the Bible School.

Jerry hit the ground running in July with the leadership of the summer volunteer team and preparing for the 2 summer camps he helps to lead. The female Bible School RA, Lindy from Florida, has stayed on for the summer months to work on the housekeeping and kitchen team and to work as the Summer Team assistant supervisor alongside Jerry.

Lindy's help has been invaluable to Jerry this summer as he's been very busy with summer camps and spending lots of time preparing for the fall Bible School that begins in September. Managing the growing summer volunteer team is a big job and it's been great to have help!

We also said goodbye to Rachel, the family care volunteer, at the beginning of June. Rachel had been at PdF for one year and returned to the USA to study. Chrissie was Rachel's supervisor and mentor during her time at PdF and she spent a lot of time in our home and with our family.

We are so thankful that 2 Bible School students, Abigail and Amelia made the decision to stay at PdF for the year to serve on the housekeeping and kitchen team, and to fill Rachel's family care position providing support to the staff families at PdF. Chrissie will continue to be the supervisor for the family care volunteer(s), so she has been spending lots of time with Abigail and Amelia, helping them settle into their new roles and orienting them on what it means to support missionary families in a cross-cultural environment.

In the last 2 weeks of July and the first week of August Jerry helped to lead the Max Bike mountain biking camp and the Outdoor Challenge camp for Romanian young adults. He has helped lead these 2 camps every summer since we moved to Romania and they're both programs he enjoys very much.

These 2 camps are a great way for Jerry to stay connected with the Romanian participants, many of whom also attend Ski Camps in the wintertime and know Jerry from previous PdF programs.

Max Bike and Outdoor Challenge are also great opportunities for Jerry to work on his Romanian language skills - this summer he directed a group in the Ropes Course during Max Bike completely in Romanian for the first time ever, including all the safety demonstrations and debrief discussions! It felt like a HUGE accomplishment, and he was so thankful for this milestone!

This year the theme for the camps was the book of Exodus and Jerry's lectures were based on the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, and the Covenant. Some of Jerry's lectures were on the trail with the participants, which makes for a really meaningful and relaxed time of sharing from God's word.

Now that Jerry's summer camps are complete, he is switching gears to prepare for the new Fall Adventure Bible School, Ascent. He will be leading many parts of the program, and he'll also be doing some lectures on Faith and the Parables of Jesus. He's also responsible for all the registration and communication for the program, so he's spending lots of time corresponding with future students. The program begins in September and there is a lot to prepare in advance.

We'll send another update to you all soon to let you know how Ascent is going!

Family Update:

The Spring Mission Bible School season is always a tough one for our family, only because we are so incredibly busy. Our kids always do a great job of going with the flow, but our family routines are disrupted and living a "normal" life as a family is almost impossible. 

Even though this provides our kids with a unique and sometimes difficult life, we wouldn't have it any other way. It's such a blessing to bring our kids along with us as we minister to the Bible School Students - they get to see firsthand what it means to give away your life in serving the Lord and they're witness to all our joy and challenges, and our mistakes too. As the girls are growing up we're starting to see how living as missionary kids is positively affecting their own faith journeys. They are sensitive to the needs of others and are always excited to tell people about Jesus.

The girls' school year ended on the last day of Bible School, and we were able to attend their year-end celebration and recital where Miriam recited a Bible memory verse in Romanian and played a song on the piano from her weekly piano lessons. 

The girls also participated in the school's art expo where they sold their work from painting class to willing parents and grandparents of their fellow students to earn some pocket money for their summer vacation. 

We are so thankful for the girls' teachers, Alina and Gabriela, who went the extra mile this year for our girls. The girls are already looking forward to going back to school in the fall, which says a lot about the positive experience they had last school year. We are so thankful to God for the gift this school has been to our family!!

Because of the intensity of our Spring ministry season the girls don't always have our full attention when they need it, which is why we are so thankful for such a wonderful school environment AND for attentive and loving babysitters who spend quality time with our kids while we work with the Bible School - especially babysitters who think of creative ways to get the kids to eat their dinner!!!

Because Spring is so overwhelming, we do our best to prioritize family time in the summer - so, after wrapping up Bible School, we took a few days away from PdF to rest, recuperate, and regroup as a family after an incredibly busy ministry season. We drove to the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, a short 7-hour drive from our house, and spend a few quiet days as a family before the busy summer ministry season would begin.

After returning from Bulgaria, while Jerry was gearing up for Summer Camps, Chrissie and the kids prepared for their trip to Winnipeg to spend time with grandparents and cousins. Since Max Bike and Outdoor Challenge were planned back-to-back this year, Jerry's schedule involved 16 to 18-hour work days for more than 2 weeks straight. It seemed like a good time for Chrissie and the girls to get away and visit family since Jerry would be so busy anyway.

Our trip to Winnipeg was a fantastic one - we spent 3 weeks having fun with family and friends, focusing on reconnecting and strengthening our relationships. It was a blessed time and we're so thankful for the opportunity to have this visit!

We also spent a few days at the family cottage at Ingolf, Ontario. After not having a chance to be there for 3 years, it was so wonderful to be back!

We celebrated Miriam's 7th birthday in Winnipeg with a pool party with friends and cousins, and a long-anticipated trip to Build-A-Bear!

We also enjoyed re-connecting with special friends! The girls loved seeing their friends again after only 6 months, and we squeezed in as many play dates as we could!

Chrissie was also able to see her Grandpa and Grandma again, both of whom are in their 90s. Every visit with them is special, so this was a highlight of the trip.

As we look ahead to the rest of the summer and the fall season, we're thankful for a few more weeks of warm (hot) weather before the Fall Bible School will begin and the girls will go back to school. 


Please pray with us and THANK GOD:

- for His provision; that our immediate needs are met each month because of the financial support we receive for Jerry's salary.
- for an amazing trip to Winnipeg for Chrissie and the girls! The time re-connecting with family and a few friends was life-giving and we were able to create wonderful memories, for which we are SO thankful!

- for a dynamic and successful Bible School season! We are so thankful for the deep relationships we were able to develop with the students and for how we were able to see God's hand on the program this year!

- for next to no sicknesses in our family over the last several months! We are so thankful to avoid viruses and we have experienced God's protection from sickness recently - Praise God for this!!

- for great summer camps! We're so thankful for how God provided for the camps this summer, and for the relationships Jerry was able to build with the participants!

Please pray for:

- the upcoming fall Bible School program, Ascent. That God would prepare the students and the staff for the program, and that He would give Jerry everything he needs to serve the students for these 2 months.

- Abigail and Amelia, the Bible School students who are staying at PdF for the year to work in Family Care; that this would be an eye-opening experience for them in which they're able to experience God's power and grace in new ways.

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

- Chrissie's health. She continues to experience some issues related to hormones that are causing her a lot of discomfort. She has experienced some improvement in her health with the help of an elimination diet and supplements. Please pray for continued healing for her.

- our marriage; that God would give us the gift of time to spend together, for clear communication and that God would help us nurture our relationship even amidst the busyness of full time ministry.

- our family; that we'd continue to experience good health and strong bodies this year, that we'd continue to have lots of energy with which to serve and pour out into the lives of everyone around us here at PdF and in the community.

- our children; for health, safety and protection, for positive experiences with their peers and friends for the rest of the summer and as they begin school again, for their Romanian language learning, and for their own faith to continue to grow strong and deep.

- our relationships with the other PdF staff; sometimes cultural challenges and ideological clashes occur and it's our desire to walk these situations with grace while speaking the truth in love.

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