Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Surviving Alone

Well, this past week can definitely go down in history as my most adventurous one yet this fall!  Paul went out of town with Attila on a mission tour-of-sorts, and that left me at home to "fend for myself" for almost 5 whole days!  While there were definitely some lonely moments, I also had some great opportunities to reflect, catch up with family, and spend time with new friends.

The week started off with a busy few days as Paul prepared to leave town.  I have to say, he did a great job making sure I would be taken care of!  He put gas in the car, took a trip to the ATM, and even bought a big load of water and carried it all the way up our four flights of stairs to be sure I'd be well hydrated while he was gone :) We also took some time to hang about 30 posters around our town advertising the free English classes we want to offer.  It's been fun getting phone calls in response to our posters, and we are looking forward to starting these classes soon!

After Paul and Attila left on Wednesday, I took over Paul's responsibilities at After-School.  I was so nervous to serve my first meal to the 35 hungry students, but they ate what I made and I was so relieved! :) Thursday and Friday I also went to after-school, and during the other  times when I was at home, I did a little more cleaning and decorating.  I got to Facetime with my parents and brother, but then there were some long stretches of it being just a little too quiet around here!  To combat the quiet, I had a friend over for dinner on Thursday night, and on Saturday night I drove to Gornesti to pick up several girls from the youth group to bring back to our apartment in Reghin.  I also picked up Adél, and we had a fun night of making pizzas and singing karaoke!  Sunday was a day of church, and Adél and her mom invited me for lunch after the morning service.  Finally Paul's trip was coming to an end, and when Paul finally arrived home after 11:30 p.m., I was so happy and relieved.  Those were a tough few days, but it made me even more thankful that Paul is here with me and I feel so much more appreciative of all he does!  I also feel more comfortable and confident in many of the new tasks I took on while Paul was gone.

Thank you for your prayers for us.  As we close the month of October and begin the next one, I'm a little overwhelmed at all there is to accomplish and attend and do.  We are returning to the states for the month of December, so there's even more pressure to get it all done before we're gone!  Please pray that we will focus on the daily opportunities that God gives us to share love and light and not just on our growing to-do lists :)

- Katie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Birthday week for Attila

Ok, before I begin with some news about last week's activities, I have to share another apple story.  Yesterday, Katie and I decided that we needed to get rid of some more apples (of course by using them, not throwing them away).  I found a recipe for apple butter that looked good, but required 12 hours in the crockpot.  Who was I to stand in the way of apples being used to make delicious home made apple butter...nevermind the fact that it was already 3:00 pm.  Ok, now do the math, and you'll realize that our apple butter was set to be done at 3:00 in the morning!  The apple butter tastes delicious, though, so it was well worth it!

Now about last week...we had our normal activities, but I wanted to write about some special times we had with our boss, Attila (plus a little story about another Attila, but more on that when I get back to Sunday).  

This week we celebrated Attila's birthday.  Now for those of you who don't already know, Katie and I actually met on Attila's birthday in 2010.  This means that we also celebrated 4 years of knowing each other this week.  Attila loves to take credit for this! :)  We started off the celebration week by bringing him a vanilla pastry on Monday morning to our weekly meeting.  As much as he gives Katie a hard time about celebrating special days, he really loved his vanilla treat!  

One of the church members from Apalina approached me a week before Attila's birthday and asked me what we were going to do.  We decided to try and surprise him on the day of his birthday.  On the Sunday before his birthday, when he wasn't at the Apalina service, we shared the plans for the surprise with the church.  We were to all meet around 5:30 on Wednesday for the big surprise.  We also got together some money and bought some food, drinks, and even had Adel make a cake.  On Wednesdays there is a church service in Reghin at 5:00 and another in Gornesti at 7:00, so I knew we didn't have a lot of time to get him there.  I wrote him a message asking him to come help with something, but at 6:10, he still hadn't responded or arrived.  Finally, around 6:25,  he pulled in to the church, and we were able to celebrate with him.  I think it was as fun for the church members as it was for Attila.  We had a great time of fellowship and sharing, even after Attila left for his next meeting.

 Some of the women preparing sandwiches before Attila arrived for his surprise.

There's the birthday boy in the middle

On Friday, Katie and I had a double date with Attila and Adel.  Not long ago, we discovered a bowling alley in Targu Mures, so we decided to check it out.  We had a great time, and we were the only people there.  It's a good thing, though, because there were only two lanes!  Afterward, we went to a great restaurant, and Attila was able to order his favorite, a steak!  We are thankful that we also got to enjoy the benefits of Attila's birthday!

It's dark...but that's us at our little bowling alley!

Before I finish, I just wanted to share an update of our creation mural in Apalina.  The kids are really loving it, and they seem to be learning a lot about the world God created.

This week we added feathers and sea shells.

Now, I mentioned another Attila.  His name is Attila Moldovan, and he is the children's ministry leader in Glodeni.  We were able to go to his children's meeting on Sunday afternoon, and we just loved it!  We have been at camp with Attila for the last several years, so it was no surprise to us that he was doing a great job.  The kids were able to share so much about what they had learned from the last week.  Attila also did a great job of preparing, and the story was so well presented.  We really enjoyed being with them for the afternoon.  

Children's meeting in Glodeni.

This week, I'm headed out of town to visit some churches with Attila.  We are going to share our ministry with these churches in the hope that some people will feel called to come and join us in the ministry here, whether it be for two months or two years.  We are excited about this opportunity to see people from Romania coming to serve in their own country.  Please pray for us and for those who will hear God speaking to them.  


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Autumn in Reghin

Hi everyone!  It's Katie this week!  Thanks for popping in for an update!

We have had the most beautiful fall weather here in the past week - warm afternoons in the 70s and chilly nights in the 40s!  We're remembering not to take this weather for granted; in a few months, we'll be thankful for memories of this sunshine!  And for those of you who have picked up on the apple trend... they're still coming!  This week, I made pork chops with apples, apple pie, chicken salad with apples, and applesauce.  Tomorrow's lunch dessert: apple pastries!  Paul doesn't seem to be sick of the apples yet!  And I love having fresh fruit in the house!

I snapped this photo of an idyllic day outside our balcony

Paul did some "yard work" for us this week!  Pansies and mums are brightening up the balcony!

My very first ever apple pie!

We're still adjusting our regular schedule to be something that's realistic in terms of time together as well as getting all of our work done.  Last week, I started accompanying Paul to after-school a few days each week!  It's been so fun to help him cook for the kids and then to clean up and help with all those dishes; that frees him up to be able to do some other tasks that he has not had time to do in since the surge of new after-school attendees.  I love the interaction with the kids - not just because they are dear to me, but also because it's helpful language practice!  Children's meetings are also a great time for language practice, although this week's meeting in Apalina was a little bit more like an exercise in crowd control!  We had over 50 children this week!!  That's more than 30 more than our average for this year so far.  Paul did a great job teaching the children about Day 4 of Creation - when God created the sun, moon, and stars - and we made suns and moons from gold and silver mirror paper.  Paul also began working on memory verses with the kids, and we were able to provide a snack for them this week.  We had a great time, but boy was it crazy at times!!

Paul teaching the children in the sanctuary of the church - look how many kids!  This order and attention didn't last long, but they started off great! :)

Mid-mirror paper craft - lots of motion in this one :)

Our Creation Mural is coming along!

I think it was last week that I said to Paul - without thinking too much - that "I'm not scared of a lot of things I used to be scared of when we first got here!" and since then, I've been thinking more about that fact and feeling encouraged by it.  There are still plenty of things I can't do quite yet, and still others that I'm growing in day by day, but I can be very thankful for a couple of things!  First, I am not afraid to light our oven and stove by myself!  I used to call Paul into the kitchen whenever I was ready to turn on a burner or the oven (our stove is gas and it must be lit with a match each time), but now without too much fear of burning the whole building down, I light it myself!

And second, I am not too terrified of our car now!  Paul mentioned that we had a "turning point" driving lesson last week.  Since then, I have driven some every day.  I am still 10000% horrified at the thought of driving within a square mile of any hill of any size, but I am feeling more and more confident each time I take the wheel.  Tonight I drove through the downtown of our nearby 'big city,' Targu-Mures, and all the way home - in the dark!  It was stressful, but we made it back safely.  I'm so thankful for Paul's patience and for his skill in teaching me to drive the dreaded stick shift automobile.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our ministry here.  We feel so privileged to be working among the people we love so much, and even the long, hard days feel worth it to be in partnership with God and with you to bring the Gospel to our little part of Romania.  We love sending these updates, and we hope you enjoy reading them as well.  Pray for us as we pray for you.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

It's October!

Greetings from apple country!  It is the season of apples in Reghin, and we have received gifts of apples many times!  It's also a great season in our ministry.

One of the new parts of our ministry this fall has been working with music and worship in three different churches.  Because we arrived back to Romania shortly before school started, this was something I couldn't give much attention to right after we got back.  In the last week, though, we have started worship team practices in two of those churches.  One of the things that we have really seen a need for is to have our practice times also be a time for talking about and praying about what we do in leading worship.  In the past, we have just gotten together to rehearse for the upcoming worship service.  Now we are trying to prepare ourselves for worship and to be thoughtful about the songs we choose.  Additionally, I also want to teach more about music.  For example, we have worked on skills like reading music and running sound.  This week in Apalina, it was also great to sing with some of the new people in the community.  They are excited to learn and be a part of the worship team too!

Church service in Apalina

In our after-school program, we are still having a lot of kids come every day.  While this is still a lot of work in the kitchen, I have found time to be with the kids and see what they're learning.  I am happy to say that many of those children who were struggling with the alphabet have already begun to show improvement!  On Friday, one of the groups performed comedy sketches they had written themselves!  It was so fun to be in the kitchen and to hear the laughter of the other kids as they watched.


One of Friday's skits

While I don't get to teach much in the after-school program (many of the kids speak Romanian and I don't speak Romanian well enough to teach...yet!), I have had opportunities to teach in Hungarian in our children's meetings in Apalina.  This was only the third week since we started back after summer, and the kids are excited and are remembering the lessons we've taught.  It's also fun to teach in Hungarian!  Katie has done a great job of helping prepare lessons that have hands-on activities.  The kids even help create visuals that remind them of what they've learned.  These visuals are on display in the church, so our children as well as our church members can admire them throughout the week.  We are proud of our kids!

Making trees and eating apples on Creation Day 3!

On a family note, we had two major accomplishments this week!  On Wednesday, we started the paperwork for Katie's residency permit.  We were able to get two papers we needed to begin the application.  After visiting several different offices in one building (and being passed from one to the other and back again), we finally found out that the type of government insurance we need no longer exists.  We will have to visit the immigration office in Targu-Mures (the closest "big city" to us) to find out what we need to do next.  Please pray for us as we continue to work through this process.  Our second big accomplishment this week happened on Saturday.  It wasn't Katie's first driving lesson, but it was the first time she drove me home!!!  What started out as a simple driving lesson turned into Katie driving all over town.  I'm so proud of how quickly she picked up driving a stick shift!  Once she's ready to drive alone, she will have more independence and flexibility to focus on her ministries while I'm at work.

Please keep praying for our work with the worship teams, after-school and children, as well as for Katie's paperwork.  We will feel better when we know she has permission to stay here in Romania after the 90-day limit.

As we say here in Romania, "békeséget!" ("Peace" in Hungarian)