Friday 13 October 2023

Spring & Summer 2023 Update

 Hi friends!

We hope you enjoy this update letter where we'll share all about the 2023 Spring Mission Bible School, our summer season, and the first month of fall!

Ministry Update

We last updated you during the Spring Bible School this year. It was a great semester with 11 students, 3 of whom were from Winnipeg and Southern Manitoba! That was a nice surprise for us! Other students came from the Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Romania, the USA and Kenya.

The students enjoyed getting to know one another and formed a tight-knit group. They had several weeks of lectures and also went on the Cultural Encounter week in the area around the village of Prod. Our whole family went on this week so Chrissie and Leanna Bird (one of the Canadian volunteers) could cook for the students and the Bible School team. We loved serving alongside the Bird family and we're thankful for the friendship we developed with them over their year here. We plan to visit them in Vancouver the next time we're there. 

Even the kids got involved with the cooking, along with some student volunteers. It was a nice week away for the students, and for us, staying in a remote village in a different part of Romania. 

Jerry also led the Mission Outreach week where the students went to the Calarasi area, both to serve at Darcey and Reinhard Neufeld's ministry Gateway to Hope in Rasa, and to Vali and Emilia's ministry in the village of Roseti. They also went to Mangalia on the Black Sea to work with a church there and serve with the local youth ministry with the Anderson family, American missionaries who live and work in Mangalia. 

The students led programs for children, served Ukrainian refugee families, did practical work projects, led youth Bible studies, evangelized on the streets with the local church, put together food hampers and delivered them to local families in the village of Roseti, and put on the Sunday church service in Mangalia. It was an action-packed week and a big highlight of the semester. 

As always, the students did lots of hiking, biking, and spending time in nature around PdF. They completed the Outdoor Team Challenge toward the end of the semester spending several days in the mountains.

In June we had a visit from Dom, our friend from Italy who we met during our Bible School days way back in 2002. Dom is a part of a ministry team in Italy who are exploring the possibility of a Torchbearers ministry in the north of Italy. It was fun to see him and re-connect. 

In June after Bible School ended we said goodbye to Krystal, the RA from both Fall and Spring Bible school. She had spent almost 2 years at PdF because she was a student in the previous fall and spring semesters and came back to serve the following year. We love Krystal and already miss her dearly!

We also said goodbye to the Bird family from Canada in June as they returned to Canada. We're so grateful for their faithful service at PdF over the last year and for how much they poured into the Bible School students during their time here.

After the end of Bible School we drove to Tauernhof in Austria to attend the Torchbearers International Delegates Conference. Jerry participated in the sessions with the delegates from all the other Torchbearers International Centres throughout the world. It was a great time of reconnecting with the larger Torchbearers community and meeting with the other Bible School principals from the other centres. 

After we returned from our vacation in July (more on that later!) Jerry jumped right into the Outdoor Challenge camp as a leader. He led mountain biking excursions for the participants and helped run the program as they went on an overnight hiking trip, went climbing and even completed an adventure race.

Jerry also worked in the ropes course for several days this summer and our kids had the chance to join in - one of the perks of being a staff kid at PdF!

Jerry spent the month of August preparing for the Fall Bible School, working on his book of John lecture series and the other stand-alone lectures and sermons for the fall season, and he began a Master's program in Biblical studies with Kairos University (connected to Sioux Falls Seminary in South Dakota, USA). The program is designed for missionaries and people in full time ministry so much of Jerry's ministry work here at PdF will work toward his degree. The outcomes and goals of the program are flexible, according to the ministry situation, and Jerry has 3 great advisors who he meets with regularly to help him with his studies: Jonathan Bird is his personal mentor, Greg Jenks from Italy is his vocational mentor, and Tanya and Paul Gericke are his educational mentors. He is very excited about this opportunity to study again and he's excited for everything he'll learn and how this will help him grow in his role as the Bible School Principal. 

Jerry also received a certificate of appreciation for his work in providing aid to war-affected Ukrainians. We are continuing to accept donations for Ukraine and are working with our Ukrainian friend Vova and a group from his church who are distributing food and supplies to hard-hid villages. 

At the end of August we said goodbye to Matt from Riverwood Church in Winnipeg who spent his summer here at PdF volunteering on the Summer Team. He spent most of the summer mowing a LOT of grass and taking care of the garbage at PdF, and we never heard him complain!

Christina Mihai, the Bible School Registrar and Assistant, quit her job at PdF this August to move back to Bucharest with her family. This rocked our world a little bit and has shifted Jerry's workload again. The PdF leadership has decided to move many of Christina's duties around to other staff and a volunteer staff member rather than hiring a replacement. It's a complicated situation, one which we're still working through and not exactly in agreement with, and we're trusting God to provide so tasks from Christina's workload don't get put back on Jerry and so that the Bible School students and the program itself are well supported.

Eli, a Romanian Bible School student from 2021, joined the PdF staff this year and she has taken over part of Christina's job as the Bible School Registrar. Eli will be working with Jerry and registering students for both Spring and Fall Bible School as well as Ascent, the adventure Bible School that runs in the summer. Eli is great and we're glad to have her back at PdF on staff. She also works in some other outdoor adventure programs, with the Ascent Bible School, supervises the volunteers at PdF, and has administrative duties in the Reception office. She's a very busy lady! Please pray for her as she settles into her new roles here at PdF and works alongside Jerry. 

As fall has arrived we're so thankful for the new Bible School team members who are serving together with Jerry for this semester. Hannes from Germany and Lucia from the Netherlands are  the RAs, and Ana, a volunteer from Romania, is serving part time with the Bible School to fulfil the Bible School Assistant duties in Christina's absence.

L-R: Hannes, Ana and Lucia

Jerry had the privilege of baptizing Ana in the lake this summer, which was a blessed time! We're very grateful she's here to serve this year at PdF and will be involved with the Bible School. 

The Fall Bible School semester began a few weeks ago and we're excited to have 16 full time students plus a few taste-and-see students joining us. During this Fall Bible School our family is leading a K-Group Bible Study (the K stands for Koinonia, which means fellowship or communion), we'll host family group, Jerry will lead the program, he'll teach one week of lectures on the book of John, and he'll lead the Mission Outreach week to another part of Romania. Chrissie will lead one of the girls' prayer and share groups each week, mentor a few of the female students, and teach some Christian Living lectures on the topics of Biblical Womanhood and Decision Making. 

We're praying that the Fall Bible School semester will continue to go well with these students and we're excited to see how God will work in their lives through the rest of the program. It's a privilege to be a part of their spiritual journey and to disciple them during their time at PdF. 

One last ministry-related note: PdF is very short on volunteers at the moment and we're asking people to pray for more volunteers to come to work on the housekeeping and kitchen teams, and for a volunteer to fill the family care position. North Americans can volunteer here for 3 months without needing a Visa, but it's possible to get a one-year Visa for a longer-term volunteer. If you know anyone who's looking for a short-term serving opportunity overseas, please contact us (

Family Update

Because of the awesome Bible School team this spring, the Spring Mission Bible School semester was the easiest on our family so far. Jerry was able to be home with Chrissie and the kids several evenings every week and because the team was so capable, he was able to delegate many tasks that in the past have taken him away from home in the evenings and on weekends.

Chrissie and the girls also attended the Cultural Encounter week with the Bible School in the Sighisoara area since the Cultural Encounter fell on the same week as the girls' Easter break from school. It was a nice time of fellowship for our family with the Bible School team and the students.

We also celebrated Eden's 9th birthday in April with friends at the local trampoline park.

One of the big challenges for our family this year has been searching for a new car. We've driven our 2008 Peugeot 307SW for the last 7 years and it has been a HUGE blessing from the Lord. But as cars do, it started to become unreliable and we found ourselves putting a lot of work and money into it every few months. Since we live so far from the city and do a lot of driving to get the kids to and from school every day, a reliable vehicle is a necessity.

Our car search seemed hopeless for awhile, as vehicle prices in Romania have climbed significantly since we first moved here 7 years ago, but God provided the perfect car at a very good price at the right time.

We are SO thankful for the blessing of our new car - a Dacia Jogger. It's exactly what our family needs and it's very reliable. 

The girls finished off the school year well, both achieving extremely high marks on their Cambridge English exams in May. We're so thankful for how well our kids are integrating into their school, making friends, and excelling in their classes, speaking Romanian fluently at school, and working so hard to keep up with their peers. 

At the end of June we packed up the car and headed for Austria to attend the Torchbearer's International Delegates Conference. Since Tauernhof was hosting the conference this year, we asked for Chrissie and the kids to come along - we have many friends in the Schladming area and we couldn't pass up an opportunity to go to one of our favourite places in the world and see some of our favourite people! 

We made a quick stopover in Budapest on our way to Austria - it's a city our kids love to explore (we do too!).

We stayed at Tauernhof for the duration of the conference and while Jerry attended sessions, Chrissie and the girls hung out with friends, went for walks, and went swimming at the local outdoor pool. 

Tauernhof's brand new lecture hall was the venue for the conference and it was a privilege to be a part of the first event held there! Jerry served on the worship team during the conference.

We went on a small hike as a group up near the Dachstein. Below is a photo of us with Ebbe, Elke and Florin, all from PdF.

It was such a meaningful time connecting and re-connecting with other Torchbearers' staff and spending time with David and Deborah Hines and their family (David is the Bible School Principal at Tauernhof). We wish we lived closer to them!

After the conference we stayed up in the village of Ramsau at our friend Hans Peter Plut's farm which was a fun and unique experience. It was so good to reconnect with him and stay in his 300+ year old farm house where we have so many memories from our time in Austria in 2002-2003. We really enjoyed our time together there because it was quiet and slow - the perfect break from our busy life.

We also had the chance to say hi to the Green Stove while at HP's place, of course. If you've ever heard Jerry's Green Stove song, you'll know what we're talking about ;)

During our last few days in Austria we spent time with our friends Joel and Tanja Cooke and their kids. Jerry even put on a little singalong concert for the local 3rd grade class in their backyard.

We spent a very hot day at the icy cold Enns River with our friends, riding the current down the river, cold-plunging, and having a bonfire. 

After our time in Austria we hopped back in the car and drove down to Croatia through Italy and Slovenia. We had booked a campsite in Croatia and enjoyed 9 absolutely beautiful days by the Adriatic Sea. Camping in a tent for 9 days in +30-something temperatures was a challenge, but spending our days in the sea kept us cool and an icy cold shower before bed helped us to sleep well...most nights at least! We loved almost every minute of it and it was the most relaxed we've felt in years. 

After our camping trip we drove back to Romania through Serbia so we could pay a visit to the Luibrand family (American missionaries working in Serbia). Their son William was a Fall Bible School student in 2022 and we got to know him well. We also met his parents and siblings when they came to take him home at the end of Bible School. We stayed with their family for one night on our way home and they introduced us to their city of Novi Sad in northern Serbia. 

Miriam celebrated her 11th birthday at the end of July with a sleepover party with her friends from school and a lake party with our PdF friends. 

The month of August was busy with work around the house, gardening and working in the yard, playing with friends outside, and a visit from Chrissie's mom! Chrissie and the girls got to spend 2 weeks with Grandma, introducing her to all their favourite Romanian foods and activities, and it was an absolutely lovely time together.

Over the last few months we've been settling in at a new church, Calvary Chapel Brasov. It's a small bilingual church with Romanian and English translation, and the girls really enjoy the Sunday School class with some other kids their age. We lead worship once or twice per month at church and we're looking forward to bringing some of the Bible School students to church with us this fall. 

The girls returned to school at the beginning of September and they're very glad to be back at school. We're thankful for their positive attitudes toward school and we're all glad to be getting back into a routine after a busy summer. 

School is still a big challenge for the girls, especially for Miriam, mainly because of the language. As the content they're learning at school becomes more complicated the language also becomes more complicated and difficult for them. Miriam has entered the 5th class, which is the first year of middle school here. The educational program is intense for 11-year-olds and some of the math she's learning is part of the Canadian Grade 9 Curriculum! 

We'd appreciate prayer for their schooling and for Chrissie as she navigates advocating for their needs at school in the Romanian culture and school system that's very different from the Canadian school system. 

The girls continue to play tennis one day per week after school - they're getting pretty good and really enjoying learning to play. It's a popular sport here for kids and we're glad they have an opportunity to learn a sport since children's sports activities aren't as prevalent here as in Canada.

One big stressor on our family in the fall and winter is sickness. Whether it's the world post-covid or just having kids in school, we seem to pick up colds and other viruses at the worst times. Last fall we struggled with so many viruses that made the Fall Bible School season so difficult for Chrissie. Please pray for our health this fall and winter - we've already been hit with two colds since the beginning of September and although they've thankfully been mild, they've still disrupted our lives and ministry, and kept the kids home from school for several days. 

Financial and Prayer Needs

We want to say again how grateful we are 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 help cover ministry and travel costs for our family. We appreciate your prayers and financial support so much, and we want to say a big THANK YOU for partnering with us in what God is doing here at PdF through the Bible School and in the lives of the students and through the camps and in the lives of the participants. 

We mentioned in our last update that we've been struggling financially this year. Jerry continues to receive between 50-60% of what his salary should be (according to PdF's policy) and it's becoming a big struggle for us as a family. This week he'll receive only 30% of his bi-weekly salary.

In the last few months we've had to purchase a new vehicle, our dryer has stopped working and needs to be replaced, and our dishwasher also stopped working. We're SO thankful God provided for our dishwasher to be fixed (which was a highlight of Chrissie's summer!), but we've been without a dryer for about 10 months. With cold weather on its way, we're praying that God will provide the funds to purchase a new dryer as drying our laundry outside will become more difficult as winter approaches. 

Jerry has also begun a part-time Master's program in Biblical Studies designed for missionaries and full time ministry workers. His work with the Bible School will go toward his schooling and coursework, which is amazing, and he's very excited to be studying to increase his knowledge of the Bible and his ability to teach it - this is a HUGE part of his job! We need to raise an additional $450 in support per month to cover the cost of Jerry's studies and we are stepping out in faith and praying that God will provide for this need.

In addition to these expenses and our regular living expenses, we're supposed to be travelling back to Canada to visit family, our Riverwood church family, and our friends and supporters in the summer of 2024. Right now we can't see how this will be possible, unless we're able to raise about $12,000 to cover our travel costs.

We are asking God to provide in the following areas and we'd love it if you'd pray along with us:

1.) $800 per month in monthly support so Jerry can begin taking a full salary

2.) $750 for a new dryer

3.) $450 per month to pay for Jerry's Biblical studies

4.) $12,000 for our travel expenses back to Canada in 2024

If you believe God is calling you 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 (

Praise & Prayer Requests

  1. Praise God for an amazing Spring Mission Bible School semester and a great beginning to the Fall Bible School Semester.
  2. Praise God for 16 students in this Fall Bible School Semester! We're so grateful for each and every one of them!
  3. Praise God for a restful summer and for meeting our needs every step of the way!
  4. Praise God for the opportunity for Jerry to begin studying again and for providing the perfect educational program for his unique ministry situation.
  5. Praise God for bringing Ana Acomanaoi to PdF as a volunteer to serve as the part-time Bible School assistant this year.
  6. Pray for our health this fall and winter season, for our bodies to remain healthy and strong, and for God to protect us from colds, flus and other viruses so we can serve consistently and faithfully.
  7. Pray for financial provision - that God would provide in the areas of financial need in our lives. He knows what we need and we are trusting Him to provide.
  8. Pray for our relationships with the staff and leadership here at PdF, that there would be harmony and unity and understanding.
  9. Pray for our kids - for their safety and protection, for their schooling, for their relationships with friends, and for their spiritual growth - that they'd trust Jesus with their life and choose His ways daily.
  10. Pray for our marriage - for us to make time to spend together and grow in our relationship with one another.
  11. Pray for God to send more volunteers to PdF to serve in the housekeeping and kitchen teams, and for the Family Care position.