Every year, I look forward to the summer with the anticipation of a school child (or that of a teacher, which, I will definitely argue, is a greater anticipation). While I no longer have the drastic change of pace, every year, the shift from school year to summer activities is refreshing and exciting.
English classes are put on pause for these few months, and Bible day camps are begun. This year, we planned three camps (Vacation Bible Schools). Our first one, in the village of Zastînca, was last week, and while our attendance was just a little lower than it had been the previous two years, it was our best year yet in terms of how the children listened and participated. The theme of Joseph and applications to life today was well-received.
Next week, beginning July 23, we will repeat the program at church, and we are busily working on final preparations. We will have additional assistance from a Ukrainian believer, and are praying for her safe travels here. Also, please join us in praying for the children who will come, that they would be receptive to the Word.
In lieu of our regular Bible club at the children’s home, we are doing the day camp program there every Tuesday in July. Our first week saw a large number of children, and the second, surprisingly, almost a completely different group. We are not sure who will be there this week, but we are thankful for the opportunity to share God with so many of the village children.
Praise: We were able to send five of the children who live at the youth center to a week-long Christian camp in central Moldova. One of the teens from the center, D, trusted in the Lord as his personal Savior. It has already been so joyous to see the change in his demeanor since then.
An answer to prayer and a request – E, who has run away multiple times this last year, was returned to the youth center, but has once again left. Both I and one of my missionary coworkers separately had good talks with her last week, and we are praying for the Lord to work in her heart, as well as for her safety at this time. E has a good base of Bible knowledge, but needs to take the next step of repentance and trust.
Spring came biting at winter’s heels this year, it seemed. Mid-March was snowy and below freezing, and not ten days later, we were seeing temperatures hovering at 70. Now, the crest of summer is upon us, and I and my missionary partners are preparing for a busy summer of special activities here in Soroca and the surrounding villages.
I was able to briefly spend time with several friends and family members this spring, and it was a balm to my soul. Time spent in fellowship with like-minded believers is refreshing and uplifting for those in the ministry.
Praise – My residency permit came through with three days to spare. An answer to prayer – I received my first two-year permit. This significantly cuts the cost and hassle of annual paperwork, and hopefully paves the way for continued longer-term permits in the future.
Ukraine – I spent the first week of May in Ukraine, at Slavic Baptist Institute, where I had been invited to share the field of Moldova, and opportunities for missions, to the students. In addition, I was able to speak to the young ladies about being a single female missionary. For many, this was their first opportunity to be presented with the concept of church-supported missionaries. On Sunday evening, I was able to share my work in Moldova with the local Baptist congregation. It was a blessing to sit in on several of the lectures each day, spend time in fellowship with other Christians, and share my heart for Moldova. It was absolutely delightful to see so many young people eager to learn and desirous to serve.
Youth Center – We have not heard any updates on E, who had run away from the center, nor the other teenage girls who ran away at the same time, but we are continuing to pray for both their safety and their hearts. Fewer children are at the center than had been previously, and while that is disappointing in the aspect of how many can hear the Bible each week, it does mean more concentrated time with those who do come, and lessons and applications that can be tailored more specifically to the needs of the individuals there.
Finances – I mentioned in the previous letter that several supporting churches had sent funds for specific designations. With some of these, we were able to purchase additional hymnals for both the church in Soroca and the church in Bulboci. Also, thanks to those who gave, desiring to help me both with my residency permit and the purchase of a vehicle here in the future.
Summer – There are two weeks remaining of our school-year English classes, and then we begin our busy summer schedule. June will see a Bible Conference, and July, several Vacation Bible Schools. Please pray that the Lord will use these additional outreaches for His glory.
It hardly seems possible that it is March so soon. A quick update on what 2018 has held in store already:
Housing – due to several escalating circumstances with my landlord and the housing I was in, it was becoming apparent that I needed to move out of my house and find a new place quickly. With a good deal of searching (mainly on the part of the men of our mission team), I was able to find an apartment in town. It needed only some minor repairs, is safer and much warmer than the house had been, and the appliances and utilities are in working order. (My cat is completely bored with the lack of mice, but I’m not minding.) At the end of January, I packed and moved within three days’ time, and unpacked and completed final repairs the day before company arrived.
Friends – I feel so blessed to have had visiting me a dear friend from the States. God knows exactly what we need, and this visit has been such a time of sweet friendship. In between the times of snow and wind, we have been able to see some of the local sights, as well as spend many hours reconnecting.
Youth Center – It has been both rewarding and heartbreaking working with the youth at the center in the next village over. I have written in the past about a young girl, E, who had run away from the center. We have known her for about a year and a half now. She has run away, and been found, and run away again at least four times in the last six months. Earlier this year, she spent several days in the hospital due to injuries sustained from her time on the streets. Please pray for God to work in her life, and the lives of the other teenagers at the center, some of whom are desiring to follow that same life path. We are also working with a young mother at the center, N, who has asked for prayer for the direction of her and her children’s lives in the future.
Residence Permit – I am still two Immigration visits out from receiving my renewed residency permit. My prayer this year is for a two-year permit to replace my soon-expiring current permit. (Previously I have only received one-year permits.) Please pray for all the details of this process to work out.
Finances – Several supporting churches have recently sent funds for specific designations, and for this I personally, and we as a team, thank you. I look forward to sharing more information about how these funds will be used in the near future.
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In the last several months, God has opened the doors for our outreach in Soroca to expand to several neighboring villages.
The town of Soroca, where I live, is the region’s capital city. On one of the two main streets in town, we have our church plant, and are greatly encouraged to have a small but growing number of regular attendees. As of yet, we do not have any whole family units coming – we have widows, unmarried people, and partial family units with one spouse of a different belief or unsaved. Please continue to pray with us for those in our church, that they would remain faithful, and that families would desire to come. Looking back over the last year, we are thankful for several believers who have begun coming to services and who have been godly examples of faithfulness and Christian service.
Several months ago, we began a project of collecting funds within our church to purchase Bibles for a missions program in another country. It has been a joy to see the excitement those in our church have had of contributing their change to this project. Almost every person in our church has the limited income of being a pensioner or unemployed, and yet, our first collection was able to purchase seven Bibles, and we are close to filling the collection container a second time.
In addition to our Sunday and mid-week services, we are able to use our church building for outreach with adult English lessons and a Bible study on Tuesday evenings, and a children’s English class that I teach on Thursday afternoons. This last week, four new students joined my class. While the class is not evangelical, when I informed the new students why I open every class with prayer, it was good to see them agreeing with me that God is the One who directs our lives, that we need Him, and that He can help us, even in our academic studies. From relationships built in the class, we are able to invite the children to our VBS programs, Sunday School, and other outreaches.
In September, we expanded Sunday School from one week a month to every Sunday. I teach the first half of each month, and my missionary partners teach the other weeks. The analytical side of me has been enjoying putting together the curriculum (with the help of my teammate Viola for the Russian portion). The monthly Russian Ladies’ Bible Study that Viola has been leading since autumn has been well – received by the ladies in our church, as well as several of their friends and family members.
On the other side of the ridgeline that parallels the Nistru River is the village of Zastînca. There, our coworkers, David and his family live, and every Sunday evening at their house is a Bible study. It has been encouraging to see those who come expanding their participation in the study.
Following the river north from us is the village of Cosăuţi, a small quarry village of about 3,000 people. We are continuing our weekly program at the center there. The youth and young mothers who live there have nowhere else to go and have come from heart-breaking circumstances. Many are hardened from their past while others are becoming open and receptive. Please pray that they would receive the truth of the Gospel. We held a Christmas party there with the Christmas story, carols, games, pizza (and much more food). It was so good to have extra time to spend with these children and the staff at the center, in a more relaxed and personal setting, and with fewer time constraints than we usually have.
This fall, the men of our team took on the leadership of an existing house church in the village of Bulboci, about 40 minutes west of Soroca. Those in the group come from several religious backgrounds, and our prayer is that they may grow in unity and the true Gospel rather than existing religious tenets that are not always aligned with Scripture.
New News: Our candlelight service before Christmas was a time of reading passages of the Christmas story and singing Christmas carols in both Romanian and Russian. It was good to see several people who do not normally come to our mid-week service come for this event.
Last month, we held our first Winter VBS, for three days of the Christmas break. While not as many children came as we had hoped, we were encouraged to see children from our summer Vacation Bible School come.
Over the Christmas break, I spent several days in the capital city due to illness and needing to be close to medical facilities. I am so thankful for good friends that I was able to stay with, decent medical care, and swift recovery. For those of you whom I informed about this during the course of events, thank you so much for your prayers. A nice part of it all is that while the impromptu stay was not in my plans, because it was over Old Christmas weekend (Jan. 7), I was able to see and attend a few traditional Christmas events that I would not have been able to see in Soroca.
With New Year’s Eve being on a Sunday, we expanded our usual fifth-Sunday fellowship dinner to include a time of Bible-related games and trivia contests. We invited those from the church in Bulboci to join us and were greatly encouraged to have thirty people almost filling the church to capacity for Sunday School, worship services, dinner, and the fellowship time after.
Spring brings continued ministry, an extra hour a week of Romanian lessons for me, and the annual process of renewing my residency permit. My last two have been single-year permits, and I am praying for a two-year permit this time.
Thank you much for your prayers, and may God bless you in this new year.
In His Service,
In the last letter, I wrote about the closing of the children’s home where our team had held a weekly Bible club. This last month, we have been able to begin outreach at a new center that is a group foster home and women and children’s shelter. It is a different venue, with the majority of the children being older, and David, our team leader, has begun a study about who God is. We have been encouraged by the number of children from the village who come each week to the program, with numbers increasing each week. For the past month, I have been working to purchase needed winter clothing for the youth at the center, and have spent many hours searching through the second-hand market. My prayer is that while the coats and hats, gloves, scarves, and boots will keep them warm in the months to come, that the children will see that they are loved not only by us, but by the Savior.
In September, I was able to help with a clinic in the nearby village of Bulboci. Doors are opened and people there are interested in the Gospel. We have been praying for the Lord’s will concerning expanding our ministry there, and this Sunday we will hold our first service in the village. Please be in prayer.
Since the last letter, I have begun lessons with my new Romanian teacher, and I am very encouraged already. She is dedicated to teaching and ensuring that her students learn correct grammar, and I can already see progress since beginning under her tutelage.
As we enter this season of thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for with my house. Two weeks ago, after multiple delays, my house was connected to city water instead of the well that had been giving out since July. At the same time, my landlord completed some necessary repairs on the radiator system, and I can already tell the difference in house temperature between this year and last. I feel very spoiled now with both of these in full working order. I am so thankful for all with which God has blessed me. Above these physical comforts, thank you much for your prayers and notes of encouragement. They really do make a missionary’s day.
This last month, our team has had the privilege of going to a nearby village and sharing God’s Word with children who live at a center there. There has been a great need for winter clothing for the children, and I have been spending several mornings a week at the local second-hand market, trying to economically fulfill their needs.
This week has been such a blessing with seeing how other people have desired to help. Thursday and this morning, two shopkeepers not only drastically reduced their prices for me, to a loss on their part, but also helped search through their entire inventory, for multiple pieces of clothing. They both said that they wanted to be a blessing for the children at this center.
This morning, I “just so happened” to run into a woman from our church. She wanted to be a blessing, and gave monetarily, to help with purchasing the coats and boots and pants and sweaters that I have been accumulating. It was moving to me to see how the Lord laid it on her heart an amount that in this economy means much to a pensioner.
The final blessing with this endeavor, is that after almost six weeks of multiple shopping trips, hours of searching through piles of clothing for just the right price and size, and more loads of laundry than my landlord can understand, I purchased the very last items this morning. My house is adorned like a Chinese laundry, with drying clothes on every rack, radiator, door frame, and shower rod, but I am so looking forward to getting these clothes to the youth. More about this new ministry at the center in the soon upcoming prayer letter!
I debated whether or not to post again so soon, but how could I not share how good God is? This week has seen several blessings and answers to prayer:
- On Thursday, I began lessons with my new Romanian teacher. I am very encouraged already.
- The pump for the well that supplies water to my house was repaired yesterday afternoon. First hot shower in over a month this morning!
- Was able to do outreach in a nearby village this last week, and shared the Gospel with several people.
- And if I want to add a fourth, my young ESL students all got 100s on their first test, so something at least is clicking with them.