Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Fall 2019 Update

Hi friends!

We realize that December is already here and we haven't sent our fall update yet! The weather in Romania is only beginning to turn cold in these last few weeks, so for us it still feels like late fall. We hope you enjoy reading all about what we've been up to in the last 3 months and about the Fall Adventure Bible School!



Ministry Update:

When fall rolls around here in Romania everybody at PdF breathes a sigh of relief. The busy winter, spring and summer seasons are over and everyone can take some time to catch up on all the work that's been piling up during the busy seasons of the ski camps, Spring Bible School, and summer camp programs and to take time for study and sermon preparation for the next winter, spring and summer program seasons.

This year the new Fall Adventure Bible School, called Ascent, launched in September, which almost completely took over the months of September and October for Jerry. Ascent runs for only 5 weeks, so even though it was an intense program with lots of time away from home for Jerry it felt short compared to the Spring Bible School.


Jerry was one of the 3 main leaders for the Ascent program and he was responsible for leading in many of the activities during the program. The Ascent program consists of a week of team building and experiential learning, a mountain survival week (lead by Ebbe, the director of PdF, so Jerry was able to stay home during this week), a rock climbing week including an overnight cave trip, a mountain biking week, and a final week of lectures and an adventure race. Jerry was a leader for the entire program (except for the mountain survival trip), so he was a busy guy!


It's always fun when your job intersects with your hobbies and although the Ascent program made this fall a busy one, Jerry enjoyed all the time he got to spend leading in the program and being in the mountains doing all his favourite activities with others who enjoy them too!




We're so thankful that fall is such a beautiful season here in Romania, making a program like this possible - even into the middle of October. The students really enjoyed experiencing all the challenges of the program and seeing hidden parts of the Romanian wilderness that many don't ever get to see. 



One of those unique experiences was an overnight cave trip during which Jerry injured his femur. We wondered if it might be fractured (he had to squeeze through a tight space and travel around a corner, forcing his leg through a very short space), but the Orthopedic surgeon said there's no damage to the bone. He still has localized pain more than 2 months later so we will soon be investigating further to be sure there's no chance of additional injury during the upcoming snowboarding season. 
(Chrissie is thankful she didn't know about the nature of the cave before Jerry went on this trip...and it's safe to say he won't be going into this cave again!)



Many of the lectures during Ascent took place out in nature while the students were on the trail. Jerry did some of the teaching and his teaching topics were Faith, the Parables of Jesus, and Forgiveness.

Jerry was also a mentor to one of the male students during the program, Aaron, who came from southern Manitoba of all places! It was fun to get to know Aaron (left, in the photo below) this fall.

Chrissie wasn't as involved with Ascent as she is with the Spring Bible School since much of the Ascent program took place away from PdF, but she served as a mentor to one of the students, Dorothy, who came to participate in the program from Hong Kong (Dorothy is also pictured below, on the right). And it's sure a small world!! Dorothy is a missionary kid who was a student at Faith Academy in the Philippines where our friends James and Arlie Harnett were teachers for several years. Dorothy was a student of Arlie's, and so it was fun to make that connection!!




Ascent was also a great opportunity for Jerry and Stefan to work together. Stefan and his wife Michaela (both from Germany) live in the other half of our house (we share a duplex) and they have been stellar neighbours to us. We've done our best to return the favour and it's been fun getting to know them. Their 3 boys are similar ages to our girls, so it been fun to have our kids grow up together over the last several years. Jerry and Stefan work together often in the ropes course and Stefan also works together with Jerry on some of the outdoor components of the Spring Mission Bible School. 


Since Ascent ended in October Jerry has been working hard on preparing for next year's Spring Mission Bible School. He's assisting with making changes to PdF's website to make it more user friendly for prospective students and participants, fielding applications and lots of questions from prospective students and their parents, preparing many program elements and securing lecturers for the program, and preparing some of his own lectures for the final week of Bible School. 

He's spending lots of time in his office, having Skype meetings, phone calls, in-person meetings, and writing LOTS of emails. There's a ton of behind-the-scenes work required and we're sure thankful that he has had some time this November and December to make a small dent in it! 

Jerry has also been spending as much time studying as possible - both his Romanian language study (to prepare for the winter camps where he'll teach snowboarding in Romanian) and Biblical study in preparation for his lectures for all the programs next year. He will be teaching during the winter ski camps, during the Spring Bible School, and during next year's Ascent Bible School. Jerry will be the principal of Ascent next year also and he'll take on an even bigger leadership role for the program than he did this year. The timing for Ascent will also change in 2020 - it will begin mid-August and run until the end of September. This change will accommodate the addition of a 3-month Fall Bible School that's being planned to launch September-December 2021! 

We're also thankful that Lindy Moore from Florida has agreed to come back to PdF and serve as the female RA for the 2020 Spring Mission Bible School! She was the RA last year and it was such a joy to have her here and work alongside her to support the female Bible School students. We're thrilled she's returning for another year and we're praying that if it's God's will He would call her to PdF on a permanent basis to serve on the Bible School team long-term. 


Jerry has also confirmed a second RA, Micha from Germany, who will come in the Spring to serve as the male RA for Bible School. We're excited to meet him and see what God has in store for him here at PdF. 

At the end of October we travelled as a family to Austria and Germany so Jerry could speak at Tauernhof and Schloss Klaus, the two Torchbearer Bible Schools in Austria. He shared with the students all about PdF and the ministry here, and about the 2 Bible School Programs. We are praying that some of the students from these Bible School will consider coming to PdF either as students or as volunteers in the future. Please be praying for the seeds that were planted in the hearts of these students as Jerry spoke there.



Our time in Austria was also a great time to connect with the staff of the other Torchbearers Centres there. We have a good relationship with Dave and Deborah Hines, the principal of Tauernhof Bible School and his wife, and it was wonderful to meet together. Jerry also enjoyed meeting with Dominik, the principal at the German Bible School at Schloss Klaus in Austria, who Jerry met at a Torchbearers Staff Conference a few years ago. It's always nice to connect with others who do a similar job at different centres, to understand each other and share stories, get new ideas, and to know how to pray for one another.

Chrissie has continued to supervise the family care volunteer position at PdF this year, which is now filled by two volunteers, Abigail and her sister Amelia from Pennsylvania in the USA. Abigail and Amelia work alternating weeks in the kitchen/housekeeping at PdF and with the families of the staff. Chrissie's job is to coordinate with the staff moms and with the housekeeping and kitchen supervisors to make the girls' schedules each week and to provide the girls with the support they need to work with the families.

The family care volunteer position is a tough one, since it requires the volunteers to work with 5 different families from 4 different cultures (and in 3 languages!), but it's such an important part of the ministry here at Pdf - supporting the families of the staff who, for the most part, are foreign missionaries here in Romania with no tangible support system to help with the kids and the household, with husbands who work crazy hours in the ministry most of the year. Chrissie is really enjoying being a part of serving the families and supporting the ministry of PdF in this way, and she also REALLY appreciates the help Abigail (pictured below) and Amelia provide to our family too!

Either Amelia or Abigail come to our home once a week to help Chrissie with housework or babysitting. Having their help has meant that we can have a date-night every now and then which has been a great thing for our marriage. And our girls sure love Amelia and Abigail a lot and enjoy spending time with them!


If you know anyone who might every be interested in serving here at PdF for a year as a volunteer, either in the Family Care position or in the housekeeping, kitchen, or construction teams, please reach out to us. It's a great way for a young adult to spend a gap year and we're always looking for more volunteers in all these areas!

PdF is also actively looking to fill 3 full time staff positions: a Registrar/Bible School Administrative Assistant, a Housekeeping and Kitchen Supervisor, and an Outdoor Ministry Leader.  If you know anyone who might be interested in any of these ministry opportunities as a foreign missionary to Romania (anyone from the US, Canada, or any other country) or if you want more information to share with your church or other group, please reach out to us (email Jerry at jerry.baker@pdf.ro)

Looking ahead to winter, Jerry will be involved with three of the 8 ski camps this year. He'll be the main camp leader and snowboard instructor for one of the camps and then he'll work as a snowboard instructor for the other two. He'll speak at all 3 camps (one or two evenings each camp), and he'll be leading the other snowboard instructors. He's hosting a snowboard instructor training seminar this coming weekend (December 14-15) for the snowboard instructors who will be working in the camps this year, so he's been busy preparing for that.

And during the weeks between the ski camps, Jerry will be working hard on Bible School preparations, students registrations, and lecture preparation. Please pray for him to balance his time well and make the most of every moment he has for preparation!

Jerry has put together an outline of his projected 2020 ministry schedule, for your information. Please CLICK HERE  to view the .pdf file of this 2020 ministry calendar. 


 Link to Jerry's 2020 Ministry Schedule


We would also encourage you to CLICK HERE to view a .pdf file containing a further breakdown of Jerry's 2020 ministry responsibilities and more information about his specific duties with each program during the year. 


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). 



Family Update:

Our girls went back to school in the middle of September and they were SO excited to begin a new school year. They absolutely adore their teachers and they enjoy their fellow students very much. The girls leave for school at about 7:20am each day and return home around 1:30 or 2pm which is a GREAT schedule for kids their age. They sometimes have homework (mainly Miriam), but we spend most afternoons playing both indoors and outside, practicing sight words and reading, and practicing piano. The short school day for young children (up to high school age) in Romania is such a blessing since it allows the girls to get an education with local Romanian kids and at the same time spend half their day at home with Chrissie doing other productive things and learning in other ways. We are really grateful for this balance between home and school, and it's definitely something the Romanian school system gets right!!



Since the fall season is generally a more laid back time of year as far as ministry goes it is usually a time of year when we can spend more time together as a family. While Jerry was a leader in Ascent this year he had to spend quite a bit of time away from Chrissie and the girls - the longest trip away during Ascent was 7 days long.  It was a strenuous time for us, but thankfully the Ascent program is short and so for the last month or so we've been able to have weekends together and Jerry has worked a more "normal" schedule.


We have tried to fit in as many "family days" as possible, going on local hikes and adventures in the forest and nearby towns together. It was a sweet time and we really enjoy getting to experience the outdoors together...especially since there's so much to see and do, practically on our doorstep!




The girls got to enjoy the ropes course a few times this fall, and also the big zip-line here at Pdf - it was a HUGE hit with both the girls!




Our road trip to Austria and Germany in October was a breath of fresh air for our family. Every now and then it's nice to get out of Romania and take some time away from the stress of full time ministry. Life in Romania can sometimes be taxing on us...mostly in little ways we don't even notice anymore day-to-day, until we leave Romania and spend time in Canada or other Western European countries!

Since Jerry had to go to the two Austrian Torchbearers Centres to promote the Bible School anyway, and since flights to Austria are very expensive, we opted to instead drive together as a family during the girls' fall holiday from school and make a little road trip out of it.
We're so thankful that driving only 7 hours from home gets us to Budapest, Hungary, a city we thoroughly enjoyed in the one full day we spent there. 


Since our kids are pretty young and not quite old enough yet to make the most of expensive tourist activities like museums and tours, we are more than happy to spend the day walking outside, seeing churches and parks and neighbourhoods...for free! Our kids are easy to please - give them a good view, something to climb, and an old city to explore and they're happy campers. 

We even had a rare opportunity to walk out onto the Chain Bridge in Budapest while it was closed to traffic for an hour or two for maintenance. What a cool experience!!




Driving 2-3 more hours past Budapest got us to rainy Vienna, Austria, and then after a few more hours we reached Salzburg (Chrissie's favourite city in the world). 







During our time in Austria we visited our friends Joel and Tanja Cooke and their kids, a Canadian/Austrian family we've known since the year we lived in Austria about 17 years ago. We visited them 2 years ago as well, and it was so fun to stay with them for a week and enjoy all there is to do around Schladming (near Salzburg). Our girls are the same ages as their boys, so it made for some wonderful family time and lots of fun hikes together! We really appreciate them opening their home to us, serving us delicious Austrian Kaiserschmaarn and Pumpkin Soup, and letting us have a bedtime sing-a-long every night in their living room (with Jerry on the guitar and all 4 kids on vocals, of course)!





One day in Austria we did 2 hikes at the base of the Dachstein just the 4 of us, and then met up with Joel and Tanja and their boys to take the Gondola to the top of the Dachstein where we hiked around some more and enjoyed the view from 3000+ meters! It was sure cold up there on the glacier!!



While we were in Schladming we also paid a visit to our friend Hans Peter Plut. Jerry lived with him and worked with him during the time we met in Austria and Hans Peter played a big role in Jerry's life back then. And if you've ever heard the "Green Stove" song that Jerry wrote - well, we visited the Green Stove at Hans Peter's house too!



 

Our last stop in Austria was visiting Anja, one of the daughters of the family with whom Chrissie worked as a nanny 17 years ago. Anja took our family to the zoo in Salzburg, near where she lives, and then Traudi, Anja's mom, treated us to a delicious traditional Austrian meal at a local restaurant. Anja and her family are very special to both of us, so it was such a blessing to be able to re-connect in person!


5 or 6 more hours of driving took us to Stuttgart, Germany, where we met up with our friends of 17 years, Christoph and Anne Volz! We know Christoph from our time at Tauernhof all those years ago and we're still very good friends. It was a nice time to visit them at their home in Germany, and we were able to share about the ministry of PdF to their church group as well.


Since we returned home to Romania we've enjoyed the slightly slower pace of fall and we've intentionally taken as much time as we can to pour into each other and into our kids. Both Miriam and Eden are doing SO well in school and enjoying every day. Miriam is getting better and better at reading every day and Eden finished more than half a year's worth of Math in the first couple months of school. They're both good friends with their classmates and they're really enjoying life these days, despite the challenges of foreign language learning, and being third-culture kids. 

Every now and then we have a heart-sinking moment where we are reminded of all that they are missing out on because of the language and cultural barriers and the lack of opportunities for them here in Romania, compared to what they'd have in Canada. But in these moments we know God's plan for them is greater that anything we can conceive, and that God's plan is not stunted by language, culture or opportunities - He's providing for their needs each day in unique and different ways and reminding us of how much He loves our girls.



Thank you to all of you who pray for our family regularly. Over the past few months there have been changes in our family dynamic that we've prayed for for YEARS. We're so thankful for all the prayers you've laid at the feet of Jesus on our behalf - He is working in our family and there are chains being broken off of us as a family and our marriage that we had almost lost faith would ever happen. Please keep praying for us as we serve here in Romania - the spiritual battle we face daily is strong (and there is much that we can't share in these public updates) and we are thankful for those of you who stand with us in prayer over this battle!!


If you'd like to become a member of our email Prayer Network and receive more regular prayer requests via email, please send Jerry an email and ask to be added (jerry.baker@pdf.ro).  We share more personal prayer requests to this smaller group via email, since there are some things for which we would like prayer that we can't share publicly online.


Prayer Requests:


Please join us in thanking God for:

  1. the improvements we've experienced in our marriage and family connection this year! 
  2. our health! We have managed to avoid colds and stomach flus this fall so far and we're so thankful for the gift from God our health has been!
  3. His financial provision. We have our immediate needs met each month and we are so thankful He sustains us.
  4. a successful Ascent program this fall!
  5. the fact that there are already several students who have applied and been accepted for the Spring Mission Bible School in 2020!
  6. Lindy and Micha, the two RAs for the Spring Mission Bible School in 2020!


Please join us in praying for:

  1. God's continued blessing on our marriage and family; that we would continue growing closer as a couple and making time to nurture our marriage even in the midst of full time ministry.
  2. Our children; that God would continue drawing them closer to Himself every day, that they would learn how to love God in the way He calls them as children, and that they would love each other in a way that pleases the Lord each day.
  3. Our girls' language learning; that they would grow quickly in their Romanian language skills and have great courage in using the Romanian words and phrases they know. That they would begin to understand more and more of the Romanian language being spoken around them.
  4. Continued health this winter season, and for protection from colds and flus, sicknesses and accidents that would disable us from ministry and life in general.
  5. Safety. Please pray for safety for Jerry all winter as he instructs snowboarding on the mountain, and safety for all the ski camp participants. Please also pray for protection and safety for Chrissie and the girls as they go about their activities this winter.
  6. Jerry's leg. That the pain would stop, or that the doctor would be able to diagnose the source of the pain properly and provide the proper treatment.
  7. Chrissie's health. She continues to struggle with issues related to hormones (she has PCOS) almost every day, affecting her sleep, energy, and general health.
  8. Staff relationships at PdF; we are struggling with some cross-cultural relationships here at PdF and it's taking a toll on us. Please pray for peace among the staff, for heaps and heaps of understanding and love despite the cultural differences, and for us all to learn to serve one another better. Also, for wisdom for us to know how to manage difficult interpersonal conflicts and challenging situations over cultural barriers.
  9. God to send the right students and the right number of students to the Spring Mission Bible School in 2020, and that God would prepare us for the Bible School ministry season too.
  10. God to bring the right people to fill the open staff positions at PdF (we described these positions in the 'Ministry Update' section above), and at the right time!
  11. God to bring more North American staff to PdF, or staff from other cultures to round out the team. It's difficult for us to be the only North Americans among many Germans and many Romanians, and to rarely be understood well by anyone because of our culture. 

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). 


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