July Newsletter

Since the last letter near the end of May, much has changed here in Soroca. Our city’s strict quarantine was lifted, and while there were and still are, many restrictions in place, near the end of May, we were able to visit those within our church and hold short, individual Bible studies with them. After several months completely cut off, it was so sweet to see these dear souls again.

Home Bible Study Visits

At the end of May and beginning of June, we as a team made plans to paint and do repairs within our Soroca church building during this time that we could now legally be out and about, outside of our homes, but while services were still not permitted indoors. Just after we began our project, the government stated that churches could begin meeting in their buildings that coming Sunday. We worked with a will all week, and on June 7th, were able to hold church services for the first time since the beginning of March.

Warm Welcomes

Services are a little different than they used to be, with seating arranged for 2-meter social distancing, temperature checks at the door, and hand sanitizer and mask usage required. The typical Moldovan hugs, kisses, and handshake greetings are on hold, but we are ever so thankful to be meeting together again.

Taking down the “church closed” sign!

All summer camps and children’s programs were canceled by the government, which affects the largest portion of my ministry here. With plans for vacation Bible school and Bible club canceled, other plans were changed. I trust and pray that you have already been informed of the news, but for those who may not have heard, the LORD has been directing me to a new mode of service for Him, no longer in Moldova. While I had planned to return to the States early this fall, with little ministry work here, I will be heading stateside in just over a month.

The words of Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, as he speaks to Rebekah, have been increasingly upon my heart for several years: “I being in the way, the LORD led me.” My prayer has been to be in the way, ready and willing to be led by the LORD, wherever He leads, even if that means leaving the comfort and stability of a ministry that has grown on my heart.

The LORD has worked marvelously here in northern Moldova. So many seeds have been planted, and we are on the cusp of harvest. But the LORD has also worked marvelously in my own life, and has directed me to continue serving Him stateside.

New Church Protocols

Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation I feel for each one of you, and the part you have played in the ministry here. It has been a privilege to partner with you in the work of the LORD here in Moldova. I have enjoyed getting to know many of you, and am thankful for this bond we have in the LORD, our gracious Savior.

Praise – This last week, after a nearly six-month process, I was able to finally obtain my residency permit. It gives me my last month here as a legal resident, but also now, it enables me to fly out of the country. My plan was to fly out on August 10, but that flight has been canceled, and I am in the process of rescheduling. LORD willing, I will still be able to fly out that week. There is still much to do within the ministry, and with preparations for leaving, and I covet your prayers for these last few weeks.

Weeks of rain caused the Nistru River to rise, but praise to the LORD, our town was spared the flooding that has affected so many other communities on the western border.

I am still working on the Sunday School curriculum project, and much progress has been made on that. The end is in sight, and I am happily sending books to the printer as they are finished. With church services resumed, I am also teaching Sunday School to the children who come each week. I ask for your prayers for strength and health as I provide daily health care for one of the ladies within our church community. Please keep these projects, as well as “I’s” serious health needs in your prayers.

My documents and my cat’s shots are ready.

More news will come your way once I am back in the States, but again I thank you so much for the role that you have played in the ministry here in Moldova these last four and a half years. It has truly been an honor to partner with you to reach the people of Moldova. May God richly bless you in His service.

July Update

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Praise: After 6 months of paperwork; and visits to the lawyer’s, the consulate, and immigration; and a three-month pause for COVID, I finally have my long-awaited residency permit.

In the past, it has been a prayer that the renewal of this permit would be for an extended period of time, but this year was a little different.

With mixed emotions of both joy and excitement for what is ahead, and sadness for what I am leaving behind, I share with the rest of you all what my family and closest friends have prayed with me about, and those in my supporting churches have also known for the last couple of weeks. I will be returning to the States in just over a month to continue a new phase in serving our great LORD.

The words of Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, as he speaks to Rebekah, have been increasingly upon my heart for several years: “I being in the way, the LORD led me.” My prayer has been to be in the way, ready and willing to be led by the LORD, wherever He leads. It has been so apparent this last year that I was being led to follow Him in a new path.

I think I could truthfully say that every one of us has been affected by current world events. Hence my time schedule for both this transition and the announcement of it has shifted multiple times over the last few months.

More news will be coming as things fall into place in the coming weeks, but join me in praying for the many details of this transition, that God would be glorified and His work done in my life. Thank you!

May Newsletter

Waiting. As Americans, we often pride ourselves in doing things bigger and better and faster. But is faster always better? I am sure all of us can say that the last few months have been ones of disruption of schedules, changes of plans, and waiting. Whether it is more waiting in lines to purchase groceries, or waiting longer times for things to arrive in the post, or mainly just waiting to know what will happen next and “what can we do?”, we are all waiting more than we are used to.

But perhaps it is a good thing, this season of waiting. This season of changes. This season of slower schedules. For in this season, we can learn to wait on God instead of waiting for some thing. The grammar nerd in me loves that little vocabularic difference that leads to serving instead of expecting.

Spraying the apartment stairwells with disinfectant

For me, having had a ministry that revolves fully around being with people, the changes effected in March completely changed the face of my days. Instead of being out in town and teaching and working with children throughout the week, I stayed home. And when our city’s percentage of infection peaked far above the national average and we were quarantined from the rest of the country, I stayed home some more. And waited. But in this season of waiting, with a completely different schedule, I have been able to do so much. The curriculum project that I began months ago is taking shape. I have had opportunities afforded me to talk with neighbors and share of God’s goodness and the plan of salvation, that I never had before. The changed schedule has allowed me more time to minister to a friend with serious health needs. And this time of waiting and stillness and days upon days at home has given me more time to be spiritually refreshed in God and His Word, for in the stillness of a life that is void of so many of the trappings we have foisted upon ourselves, it is there that we can hear God. And I am thankful for this time. That is probably one of the hardest sentences to write, for these last few months have been undeniably hard and not without their own grief, but God has been so good.

In day-to-day life, how have Moldova and Soroca been affected? Moldova closed its airports and borders to everything but delivery of food and essential supplies, near the beginning of March, about a week after the first case was diagnosed in-country. At the beginning of April, the municipality of Soroca, where I live, was quarantined from the rest of the country, because of its high infection rate. Police and military blockades were at every exit and entry point of the city, with only essential deliveries, emergency personnel, and those with passes, permitted entry. Most businesses were closed, with the exception of food shops, banks, and pharmacies; and residents were to go only to what was closest, when needed, and directly home. No outdoor meanderings allowed. Thankfully, the quarantine on Soroca was lifted about two weeks ago, and walks in the fresh air are now permitted. Emergency measures for the country as a whole have been extended until the end of June, and we will wait and see how this affects the possibility of resuming church services in July and the following months.

Traffic checks in Soroca

Prayer requests: This change of pace has given me the opportunity to help out a neighbor who had been a frequent attendee in our church. At the beginning of this month, her mother, who also regularly came to services, passed away. As my neighbor’s own health has declined, I have been able to spend more time helping with her physical needs, as well as being a spiritual encouragement and testimony to her and her family. Please pray for “I” in the coming weeks.

With being restricted to our homes, at times, my balcony window was my only legal access to fresh air and sunshine. As spring progressed, I spent many hours sitting in the window, enjoying the afternoon sunshine. I was able to talk to many of my neighbors as they passed by, and several had questions of “what is the good in all of this?” and “will we survive?” and “what is the answer to all of this?”. In particular, I have had the opportunity to have several good, lengthy conversations about the Gospel, with one elderly neighbor, “D,” that I pray will lead to his acceptance of our Savior.

Pray for the people who are normally within our ministry circles. With current limitations, we cannot meet, and the majority of them do not have access to the internet for an online format of services, though we are remaining in contact with calls and messages.

With emergency measures for the country extended through the end of June, and not knowing what regulations will be in place for July and August, we do know that our summer children’s ministries will be affected. Please pray for wisdom as we seek to make the best choices.

A kiwi from a neighbor, after a chat from the window

Praises: Food shortages and lack of income have affected people here, but praise to the Lord, I have not been impacted negatively by this. In fact, with your help and support, I have been able to share with others who have needed provisions over these last several months.

While my residency permit and the initial extension are expired, the government is understanding of the situation I and several other expats are in, and there is no penalty. I am looking forward to when I can receive my documentation and all that it allows.

The end is in sight for the Sunday School curriculum I have been writing and improving upon for the last three years. I am very much looking forward to having this project finished.

Having my passport back in hand at the end of March!

This has been a much longer letter than I normally would write, and what started out as “what is there to give an update on, when I have not been doing anything?” changed as I began to think on all that God has been doing. He is good.

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and please know that I am praying for you as well. Those who have had online services during this time, I have listened to many or all that you have posted, and have been heartily encouraged in the Lord. Thank you! May God bless.

Sign up to receive newsletters in your inbox

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Springs of Joy

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

A thought- all too often, and to our shame, we – I – can find it easy to fall into a routine of complaining. And surely there are plenty of things to complain about if we choose that path. Because that’s what it is- a choice.
 
But what also is a choice? Joy. I choose joy in the midst of sorrow, because my joy is in Him who saved me, and that changes not. I choose peace in the midst of uncertainty, for the Prince of Peace holds me in His hand. I choose patience in the midst of waiting, and contentment in the midst of turmoil. 

I don’t live in the States. It’s a whole different world overseas. And very few times in history have Americans been afforded a glimpse at how life in other countries can be, with shortages, and curfews, and extra rules about everything, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Honest confession here- two months ago, when the borders closed, I was left without legal documents, and restricted to a square quarter mile of the city, and only for immediate necessities… when all my plans came crashing down? I cried. When my grocery shopping was restricted to two little stores that were 150 square feet each, and the quiet of the day was interrupted by interminable police bullhorns telling us to stay inside and wash our hands, I wasn’t thrilled. When I almost got busted by the police for being a block away from my apartment, when a lady in our church died and I couldn’t go to the funeral… when another lady in our church was rejected by the hospital simply because she’s from our town, which is a “den of contagion,” … it took a choice. But I chose joy. Because who wants to wallow in misery? God is good.

My busy life ground to a halt, as I’m sure many of yours have. But in the midst of all that… I found something else. When Elijah was troubled, God wasn’t in the earthquake. Or the fire. Or the mighty wind. He was in the still, small voice. And this new stillness in life has given me time to seek God.

Today’s choice was to seek joy.

For the last week, our city water has seemed just a bit… off. Complaints were filed by many people, and all were denied, until another city that we pipe water to, had it tested, and problems were identified. Water will be shut off for a couple of days while they figure out what to do to alleviate the contamination.

Now, I could grumble at this, but honestly- this is great! Why, pray tell? Because I have a perfectly valid reason to leave my apartment and the police can’t cite me for it! I can go walk down to the spring and back, and take my sweet time, and get more exercise every day, than I’ve been able to for the last 54 days. I’ll collect some water tonight for what I need and such, but, you know? If there’s no water, I probably can’t wash dishes. Oh, shame. So- choose joy. Even if you have to hunt for it.  

Since I first wrote this a few weeks ago, I do have water again, but I’m still going to the spring for my drinking water. I should have done this years ago. It tastes amazing!

It’s about 3/4 of a mile round trip, and I can meander my way there and back, taking any one of several different neighborhood paths, and look at flowers and birds and dogs in people’s gardens along the way, and be back home again in less than 20 minutes. It is the highlight of my evenings. 

Furlough Presentation – Moldova, 2016-2019

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A few minutes can hardly do justice to what the last four years have held, but here is a brief glimpse of what the Lord has been doing in Soroca since my arrival in 2016. Please continue to keep the ministry in your prayers as we look forward to what the Lord will continue to do here in the future.

March Prayer Letter

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am still in the waiting process for my residency permit, and the time before my current permit expires is quite close, so prayers would definitely be appreciated that I may obtain my permit soon. I did receive my new passport last month, and I thank you much for your prayers in the swiftness of obtaining that. It is currently tied up within the process of renewing my residency permit.

Earlier this month, we hosted an event for the ladies of the town, coinciding with International Women’s Day, and invited many of our unsaved friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. We had 12 ladies attend, in addition to those of our team, and a dear lady from our church in the village, who was such a help in preparing much of the food – 17 in total! We heard many positive responses from the attendees, which included a Jehovah’s Witness and several Orthodox women. Several ladies expressed interest in coming to our regular monthly Bible study, and we have been greatly encouraged.

One cannot look at the news or social media and not see the effects of the coronavirus in the world around us. So how has it affected us in Moldova? Within this last week, many changes have occurred which are impacting our ministry. By order of the government, church services are cancelled for the rest of the month. As schools are closed and the children’s home is shuttered to outsiders, my ministries with children are also on hold for the next several weeks. This does not stop us from meeting individually with people, but it does drastically cut back on our ministry. We had been anticipating the arrival of a group from the States at the end of the month, and their contribution to the ministry here, but their presence and all other travel plans are postponed. Public venues, postal services, and the majority of non-essential shopping are also closed for the next several weeks.

Ladies’ Event

A blessing in all of this, though – When I came back to Moldova, I had an ambitious goal of finishing and then editing the three-year Sunday School curriculum that I have been writing, as well as several other projects, and the reality of devoting sufficient time to that as well as the day-to-day ministry responsibilities, has been rather overwhelming of late. But God is good, and I now have ever so much time to work on this project, as well as several others which I was getting behind on.

There is a sense of unease with folks here, as they face the uncertainty of their future, but what an opportunity we have! Please pray for us, that we may use the time God has placed us in, to share the answers of ultimate life and peace, which so many are desperately seeking. A great door is opened unto us, and God is good.

Open Doors

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Moldova’s population is less than that of Los Angeles, and the city where I live, Soroca, has just over 20,000 people. Yet even with smaller numbers in regards to population, we have been affected by the current events, and people from our town are currently receiving treatment for active cases of coronavirus. In an effort to slow down the spread of the virus, most functions are now closed – schools, churches, and all social gatherings, the airport, most land borders, all restaurants and non-essential shops and jobs; leaving mainly the pharmacies and food shops open on vacant streets. People are strongly advised to stay home, and crews are spreading disinfectant throughout the town.
So what does that mean for us as missionaries? Yes, most of our outward ministering is currently on hold, but we have opportunities now to reach out to people who are unsettled, scared, and fearful. While I am almost completely staying at home, I have in just the last few days, been able to share with several people the Author and Source of my peace and hope. What an open door we have to share Christ! Please pray for wisdom and discernment in this, that we would neither be controlled by fear, nor take undue risks towards us and the people around us.
I have been using this time to slow down what can often be a more hectic schedule, and then work ahead on writing and planning for the coming months. I may be at home almost completely (where I can touch my face as often as I want with nary a care), but God is so good in His watch-care over us. I have sufficient food, coffee, and kitty kibble, and plenty of work to do and books to read to keep me occupied.
May we seek Him in all we do.

January Prayer Letter

I have been back in Moldova for a couple of weeks, and have been picking up my regular schedule of ministry activities. This includes teaching the children’s English classes and Bible club lessons, as well as much curriculum writing and planning and minor administrative details. When the spring quarter begins, I shall also resume teaching Sunday School.

Last week, I began the process of renewing my passport, and once I have my new passport in hand, I will start the process for this next year’s residency permit. Please pray that the paperwork process will go smoothly with no problematic delays or government red tape.

Review games with my English students

In December, I finished up with the last of my scheduled church meetings, and was able to spend some time with family and friends. I returned to Moldova at the beginning of January, albeit with the flu, but thankfully I recovered well from both that and the jet lag, and was able to shortly step into my regular schedule.

As our team looks toward the spring, we are anticipating a new ministry opportunity with a special program for International Women’s Day at the beginning of March. Please pray with us not only that the many preparatory details would go smoothly, but mostly that the women who come would be impacted by the truth of God’s Word.

With my coworkers the Hughes (right), and several from the Bulboci church

This last week, our team was saddened with the passing of “N,” a sweet older woman in our team leader David’s neighborhood. She was a faithful attendee of our Sunday evening Bible studies in that village for several years, heard the truth many times, and agreed on key tenets of the Bible, but we do not know if she had placed her trust in the Lord. Her passing is a reminder of the brevity of life and the uncertainty of how much time we have with the people that the Lord has placed in our lives.

I truly enjoyed getting to visit so many of you during these last several months, and thank you for your continued prayers and support. May the LORD richly bless you.

November Prayer Letter

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Meeting at a supporting church

The LORD has truly blessed these last several months with safety on the roads, and just enough weather adventure with tropical storms, tornadoes, and a little flooding and snow to keep things interesting. (But never too dangerous.) I have driven over 16,000 miles, covering 30 U.S. states and five Canadian territories, and visited almost every supporting church. Thank you to all who have prayed for my safety in travels.

At the top of Moro Rock

In between meetings, I took the opportunity to visit friends and family, and that time truly has been a refreshment to me. In my travels, I also visited as many places to hike and explore as I could fit in. Random meetings with people such as other hikers, or hotel clerks have led to several opportunities to share the Gospel, just by the simple question of, “Where are you from?” or “What brings you here?” One such meeting was with a man named Frank, at the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. Frank was taking a breather along the trail, and availing himself of the opportunity to talk to anybody that passed him by. As I passed, he commented that I wasn’t even winded. I had the choice to just agree with him politely and keep going, or listen to the prompting of the Spirit with this opportunity that was practically handed to me. So, I told him that my regular schedule of where I lived in Eastern Europe entailed a climb of several hundred steps to get from my town to the next village over. (There is a road, but the steps are such a shortcut!) This led to a discussion of me being a missionary, and what a missionary does. And, at over 6,500 feet in the air, on the side of a steep, narrow mountain trail, Frank began asking in-depth questions about salvation. He had only recently gotten out of the hospital after a serious attempt on his life, and the question of mortality was very much on his mind. By the time I was going down the mountain, he had caught up with his family at the top, and I could hear him eagerly recounting to them the very truths I had just shared with him. We never know who God will put in our paths, and what opportunities we might have to impact their lives for eternity.

Furlough travels

My meetings in churches are just about finished, and then I will have some time to spend with family during this season of Christ’s birth. I have so enjoyed being able to reconnect with many of you, and I thank you for your continued support and prayers.