Saturday 8 April 2023

Winter 2023 Update

 Hi friends!

Today we're sharing an update on the end of the Fall 2022 Bible School, the 2023 Winter Season and the beginning of the 2023 Spring Mission Bible School.

Ministry Update

We know it's been awhile since our last newsletter update, and we apologize for that. Things were very busy during the fall season, and through the winter season, and we've dealt with some personal struggles that made life pretty challenging (more on that later).

As we mentioned in our previous update, the Fall Bible School saw 18 students come and stay at PdF for 12 weeks. We enjoyed discipling them, challenging them in their walk with Jesus as they studied his word and served the people of Romania on their weekly outreaches.

Jerry went with the students on their one-week mission trip to the area of Micesti, Romania. It was a fairly diverse missions trip where the students served the community in a variety of ways - some of the practical: construction, renovations, gardening preparations, painting, English lessons in the local school, etc. Others were spiritually-focused: children's ministry in local Roma communities, a marriage evening for couples from the community, and a Sunday church service. Students and staff alike were challenged but also blessed by the ways God used them to impact the local people with the good news of Jesus.

Jerry also led a teaching series on the book of John during the fall semester. This was been a big challenge for him - preparing and delivering 12 hours of teaching content is no easy task - but it seemed to go well with positive feedback from the students.

We also had the opportunity to mentor a couple students who were in a dating relationship through the semester. It was cool to see God use our past experiences to give this couple some wisdom for the road ahead of them.

We both led Prayer and Share groups in the fall semester, and we enjoyed having students in our home for Family Group and K-Group Bible Study each week.

Another big highlight of the Fall Bible School was the privilege Jerry had, alongside Jonathan Bird (from Vancouver), to baptize 2 students and one of the one-year volunteers, Lucia from the Netherlands, Joel from Germany, and Sam from Germany. We had to break the thin layer of ice to get into the lake, but it added to the excitement of the step that these 3 were taking in their walk with Jesus. It was a blessed day and we're so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the spiritual journeys of these young people. 

We experienced a rather abnormal winter this year in Romania. Normally PdF runs 12-13 ski and snowboard camps each winter but the warmer temperatures forced us to adapt and cancel most of the January camps because there was no snow. 

Jerry was scheduled to be a leader in 3 ski/snowboard camps this winter, but the first one was cancelled due to lack of snow.

Thankfully, the week before the Snowboard Camp Jerry was scheduled to lead, we received one meter of fresh snow! The weather for the snowboard camp was absolutely perfect and Jerry and his team of snowboard instructors enjoyed ministering to the 38 snowboarders who came to the camp. Jerry lead worship along with some of the instructors and participants, and he taught an evening lecture from the book of Galatians, fully in Romanian!

The snowboard instructor team that Jerry has trained over the course of several years is awesome, and working with them has been a huge privilege and a ton of fun. It's a fantastic group of like-minded boarders and we're blessed to call them friends too. They even helped Jerry celebrate his 42nd birthday in January.

After the ski season was over Jerry's attention turned to Bible School preparation with the Bible School Team, Krystal the female RA, Jonathan the male RA, and Christina, the Bible School Assistant and Registrar. The Spring Mission Bible School began last weekend with 11 students and it's been a great first week. 

We're really looking forward to seeing what God will do in the upcoming Bible School semester as the students grow in their understanding of God's word, and as they experience Him through the challenges of the program. 

Next week is the Rasnov Easter outreach where the students will serve the community by leading the Easter Egg Hunt, with face painting, making balloon animals, and leading the children in some Christian songs in Romanian. In the next few weeks the students will go on the Cultural Encounter challenge week and will start preparing for the Mission Outreach week, where they'll be heading to the south of Romania to the Calarasi area to serve with Darcey and Reinhard Neufeld's ministry Gateway to Hope and Vali and Emilia's Ministry New Life for Everyone Calarasi

The new building at PdF is getting closer and closer to being finished. All the dormitory-style bedrooms are now complete, the Bistro area is almost complete, the upstairs loft (a quiet study room/library) is being furnished soon, and the ground floor "hobby room" with a foosball table, ping pong table, etc. (we'd call it a games room) is almost complete too.

The main floor rooms in the main building are now being transformed from bedrooms into offices for the staff, which has been a LONG time coming, and some of the staff have also moved their offices to the ground floor in the new building. 

Family Update

As we mentioned the last season has been a very challenging one for us, personally. Beginning in October, Chrissie was sick with Salmonella poisoning, and then the kids began catching colds, flus, and a variety of other viruses that prevented them from going to school regularly. From the end of October until mid-March we've been hit with virus after virus, including Covid (again!) - nothing terribly difficult or dangerous, just generally miserable colds, coughs, fevers, etc. and enough to prevent us from living life outside our 4 walls for more than a couple days before we get hit with something else.

Chrissie has especially struggled with this since she's the one who has had to stay home with the kids and deal with a lot of cancelled plans, runny noses, coughs, upset stomachs, and the like. Life has felt oppressive, lonely & very hard - a feeling we know is probably common to a lot of families with school-age kids right now.

As we write this during the first week of April, everyone in our family has been healthy for almost 3 weeks straight and it feels like a dream. We thank God every day for our health and for allowing us to live life somewhat normally again.

Almost all of us were healthy for a few days over Christmas and we enjoyed hosting old and new friends for Christmas Dinner. The Bird family (volunteers at PdF from Vancouver), Krystal (the female RA) and her sister, one of the Bible School students named Nora and her family from Colorado, and our friends Doug and Camelia Howey from Rasnov all celebrated together, sang Christmas songs, played games, and just enjoyed being together and eating the North American classic Christmas dishes - Chrissie felt well enough to make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. 

Miriam had her first taste of being a participant in a PdF camp when she joined the first children's ski camp of the year in January. Unfortunately there was no skiing to be done, since there was no snow, but the kids had a blast anyway going hiking, playing games, singing songs, learning about Jesus, eating delicious food, and staying up late. Miriam invited her best friend from school named Ava (left) to go with her to the camp. They both had the time of their lives, and they've been attached at the hip ever since!

The kids have really settled in to their school in Brasov and are starting to build some good relationships. Thankfully they were healthy enough to participate in their school's Christmas concert in December.

We also hosted Eis Van Dijk for dinner in December. Eis was on staff at Tauernhof when we attended there in 2002 and we've stayed in touch with him and his wife Maja who live next door to our dear friends in Austria. Eis came to teach for the last week of the Bible School in December and it was lovely to spend time with him in our home.

The girls' Romanian language skills are growing SO quickly. It's still difficult for them when it comes to reading and writing in Romanian (their test scores are lower than they would like, due to their difficulty in comprehension), but we are so thrilled with their progress. Eden's teacher told us she treats Eden like a Romanian student now and often forgets she's a foreigner! 

Naturally, their English language scores are very high and Miriam is a star student in Music and Sports, out-playing all the boys in her class at basketball. They're really enjoying the Cambridge English program at school and they are currently preparing for the annual Cambridge University English exam at the end of May, completing practice tests at home and at school. This Cambridge English program is a critical part of their education because of its international recognition - it will open a lot of doors for them after high school and make it easier to attend a university or college in Canada, if that's what they choose.

One HUGE answer to prayer is that Miriam has been working with Tania Saitis, PdF's Program Director Florin's daughter. Tania attends high school in Brasov and lives here at PdF with her family. She tutors Miriam 1-2 times per week in Math and Romanian. Miriam has shown SO much improvement over the last few months, especially in Math, and she enjoys her time with Tania so much. We are very thankful for Tania's help, for her kindness to Miriam, and that God has provided this support for Miriam when we weren't sure what to do to help her because of our own difficulty with the language and lack of understanding of the Romanian school system and curriculum. 

Thankfully we made it up to Poiana Brasov to go skiing a few times this winter, between the sicknesses and lack of snow, although we haven't skied as a family nearly as much as we would have liked. It's an activity we all love to do together, and we're so grateful for every day we get to spend on the mountain together. Thankfully it just snowed again, so we're hoping to get up a few more times before the season closes.

We did manage to go on a family hike in January, since there was no snow and the weather was warm. It was a beautiful day, and we're very thankful to live in a place like this where we get to experience God's creation in such an amazing way.

2 other highlights were celebrating Chrissie's 40th birthday this March and the opening of a new Kaufland (a HUGE grocery store) in the town of Rasnov, only 6 kilometres down the road from the PdF centre! This is making our life a lot easier as now we don't need to go to Brasov as often for groceries.

Financial and Prayer Needs

First of all, we want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those of you who regularly pray for us and the ministry here at PdF, for those of you who give financially every month to pay Jerry's salary, and for those of you who make one-time donations to cover ministry and travel costs for our family. We appreciate you all so much, and we want you to know that we consider you partners in what God is doing here at PdF. We are so grateful to each and every one of you.

This isn't something that's easy to talk about, but a significant personal struggle we've been experiencing in the last several months is a financial one. Our monthly support is at its lowest point and Jerry is currently working at about 50% of what his salary should be, according to PdF's regulations (all staff are expected to raise the same salary). Although Romania is a relatively inexpensive country by North American standards, the expense of our kids' school fees and our transportation costs are very heavy burdens on us. These two expenses alone are more than double the salary Jerry is currently receiving.

Chrissie's job with The Busy Baker blog has been a gift from God these last several years and it's helped supplement Jerry's income to provide for our family, covered most of the costs of our trips back to Canada every two years, and made it possible for our kids to attend their international school in Brasov where we have to pay tuition. But with Jerry's support dropping as low as it is, the financial burden on Chrissie is quite heavy.

Jerry works far more than full-time and goes away a lot with the Bible School (this is the nature of full time ministry). This leaves the majority of the household and family workload to Chrissie and, coupled with the financial burden, has become too much for her.

Our car is also on its last legs and we've been paying for repairs far too often in the last several months. We have known we need to purchase a new vehicle for a couple years now, and we're praying for God to make a way and provide for this need as soon as possible. 

If you want to partner with us financially, please check out the link(s) below:

For Canadian donors - click here for more information or to donate

For American donors - click here for more information or to donate

For International donors - please contact Jerry for more information on how to donate (

Even though times are hard for us at the moment, we have a lot to be thankful for. God has continued to provide health insurance for us so we can access good health care here. Chrissie has been seeing a new ENT and a Rheumatologist at a private clinic in Brasov for some of her health concerns and is finally getting answers and very good care - and it's all 100% paid for through our insurance. 

We have a wonderful and comfortable home to live in on the PdF campus, and since we've been stuck in the house a lot these last few months with sickness after sickness, we've been very thankful to have the space our family needs.

We have healthy food on the table, clothes in our closets, and our car still drives...most of the time. 

Our family hopes to drive to Austria at the end of June (after the end of Bible School) to stay at Tauernhof, the Torchbearers International centre there, for the annual Torchbearers International Delegates Conference. Jerry's role as the Bible School Principal means he should attend and since we can stay at Tauernhof and pay only for the cost of our meals, Chrissie and the girls also plan to come along so they can enjoy some hikes in the mountains near Tauernhof and spend time with our friends there while Jerry attends the conference. 

After the conference, we are hoping to do some camping as a family and enjoy a little bit of time off before Jerry serves in the Outdoor Challenge camp at PdF in mid-July.

One last item to update you on - Amelia, one of the PdF staff members, has been struggling with a chronic illness for the last year and a half. She married Jonathan Beck in September (Jonathan is the son of Ebbe and Elke, PdF's director and his wife), and she's dealing with some autoimmune issues that are quite debilitating and painful. Please pray for Amelia's health, for healing, for her husband Jonathan and for their new marriage, and for wisdom for the doctors who are providing her care here in Romania. Amelia is very special to us - she was a student from the USA in the 2019 Spring Mission Bible School, stayed as a volunteer, and eventually joined the staff team. Please join us in praying for her. 

Prayer and Praise Requests

  1. Praise God for the amazing Fall 2022 Bible School, and for the spiritual growth of the students - and 3 baptisms!
  2. Praise God for the 2023 ski and snowboard season, that so many participants heard the gospel and had the opportunity to grow in faith.
  3. Praise God for a great start to the 2023 Spring Mission Bible School!
  4. Praise God for such a great Bible School Team (Christina, Krystal and Jonathan) who are working hard and doing such a great job supporting the students.
  5. Please pray for our family's health: for the kids to remain virus-free and for Chrissie's health to continue improving.
  6. Please pray for our financial situation, that God would provide the support we need to cover our monthly expenses and increase Jerry's salary to 100%.
  7. Please pray for our car situation, that God would provide the finances for a car and that He would provide the right car at the right time!
  8. Please pray for our kids, their language learning, their relationships at school, and for their spiritual lives - pray that they would love Jesus and not the things of the world.
  9. Please pray for our marriage - that we would continue prioritizing time together and not allow the stresses and difficulties of life to come between us.
  10. Please pray for PdF - for the continued construction projects, for the upcoming summer camp programs, for the current and future Bible School semesters, for the staff team to be united and cared for, for the leadership, and for the board of directors to make wise, informed and spirit-led decisions about PdF's future. 
  11. Please pray for Ukraine. We are still sending aid to Kateryna and her team "Angels of the Front" near Kiev and they continue to distribute the aid to the villages in that area that have been hit the hardest and are in the most need. 
  12. Please pray for Amelia's health.

If you would like to join our regular prayer team, send Jerry an email at He sends out periodic short updates with specific prayer requests.