Thursday, February 25, 2016

Transitions Ahead

Greetings and love to you all!  We hope this post finds you enjoying your February so far and seeing God's work all around you.  It's warming up here... in fact, one might say it's almost Spring!  We want to take a moment to thank you for following along with our blog and for encouraging and supporting us from near and far.  We are so grateful!  It makes a difference in our lives to know we are prayed for and loved.  Thank you!

Throughout each of our lives, we have sought to follow where God is leading us.  We have loved following His guidance into the full-time ministry here, first Paul in 2012 and then Katie in 2014, and we have seen Him bless our obedience and the obedience of the believers here.  In our partnership with the local churches, we've continually seen God raise up new workers and leaders among us.  It's been a joy to watch as our desires have unfolded: the discipleship of new believers and the development of new leaders in our churches.

In fact, we have seen so much growth in the programs that we are a part of, that in the last several months, we have sought God's guidance once again about what our roles will be in the future of the local ministry.  We now feel with confidence that there are several people who are now ready to take on some of the responsibilities that have been ours.  Praise God!

Of course, that leaves us asking, "What do we do next?" Our work in Romania has confirmed our passion for education and for working with those who find themselves on the outskirts of society.  After much prayer and seeking wise counsel, we've decided to make a transition back to the States to pursue these passions at home.  We feel so thankful for the opportunity to have lived in Romania and to have been a part of this ministry.  God has blessed our time here so much.  Now we are ready to follow Him into the next stage of our life, trusting that He is faithful and has a purpose for our lives no matter where we are.

We will be transitioning to Charleston, South Carolina at the beginning of April.  We are pursuing teaching jobs in public schools for next school year, and Paul will be starting graduate school this summer.  We are looking forward to being closer to family and also to being able to attend Katie's brother's wedding in Atlanta at the end of April!

We will always have a home in Romania, and we are excited to imagine how God might allow us to continue being a part of the ministry here even in our new life in the States.  There is still much work to be done, and God has knit our hearts together forever with the believers here.  What a blessing it is to have homes on both sides of the ocean.

Thank you again for your faithful encouragement, support and care.

Paul and Katie

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Best of Instagram: "On the Road" Edition

Here's the latest installment in our Best of Instagram series: On the Road!  Here are a few of the sights we've seen while driving around this sometimes-crazy country!

Ahh yes... the classic "Just for clarification" Romanian road sign

I took this photo the week I moved here.  I thought it was hilarious.  Now it makes sense!  No use of horns allowed here!

A daily occurrence: horse carts and hay wagons! 

Another daily occurrence: the sheep (or cows!) have got to cross somewhere!  At least stray dogs have the decency to use crosswalks (it's true!).

Gorgeous roadside sunflowers in sunflower season (July)

These roadside alters are everywhere, each one uniquely handcrafted


Another "just for clarification" sign: you can park anywhere, I guess!

Thank you, Romania, for forcing me teaching me to be a braver driver than I ever thought I could be!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Who's Who in After-School, Part 3

We've been back in school for almost a month now, so I thought it would be good to share about another one of my students. Before I do that though, let me tell you a little about what happened in the final weeks before the winter break. We were in the States, but the after school program continued for three weeks. Claudiu and Cristina approached me in November about doing some sort of Christmas performance for the families of our students. I was excited about the enthusiasm they had for wanting to take on something special with the kids. We worked out a plan for them to practice during the second hour of the school day for this program. On December 17th, they invited families and friends to the church to perform what they had been working on. It was great to get the pictures while we were in the States.

Now, we've been hard at work getting back to the grind of learning to read and write. One of my students, Cristina, is doing an excellent job! She is one of the poorest kids in my group, and she has struggled with reading since I've known her. She's now in the 6th grade and still far behind. At the beginning of the school year, she did not attend regularly, and didn't show much interest in committing to learn to read. Over the last few months, something changed. I wish I could say that there was something special that we did to encourage her, but I think she really came to this decision on her own. Since we started back to school in January, she has come everyday, and her reading is getting stronger! She no longer has to "sound out" all of the words. She is recognizing words and using comprehension to make sense of what she is reading. She is even able to tell me what she's read after reading it! On top of all that, Cristina smiles now more than I've ever seen her smile before. She's just happy! I'm really proud of her decision to take learning seriously. Now, I'm encouraging her to help those around her when they struggle. She seems to take on this new role with excitement. It also gives her more confidence in her own growth and ability. Congratulations Cristina!

Until next time,