Sometimes it is hard to know when to send out a prayer letter. This has been one of those. I’ve waited over two weeks, hoping to be able to share better news, but in the end, God chose what He deemed best.
In the middle of January, Stephanie went in for her first pregnancy checkup. We were encouraged to find that the doctor said the baby was healthy and all looked great. Later on in the evening, though, Stephanie started bleeding, which required us to return to the hospital. She was in the hospital overnight and sent home on bed rest and some medication. A week later, she was back in the hospital for two days with kidney infection. While at home the following Sunday morning, she started going into labor. Enoch Gross was born on January 27 at 8:11 am, “but he was not, for God took him.” Stephanie was 17 weeks along when we lost him. Please pray for Stephanie’s healing and for us.
In the midst of all this, God so wonderfully worked out so many details, including Enoch’s burial. Due to Enoch not being a certain weight in order to be considered “a life” by the government, we did not receive a death certificate, which makes getting an actual plot at the cemetery a difficult option. At the same time, I was told by the hospital staff that it would be illegal for us to bury him on public property. A man in the church here, both he and his son, went through the same trial of losing a child due to miscarriage. Wanting to be a blessing to us, he provided us a place on private property. He had dug the hole and was ready for us when we arrived.
Stephanie’s last morning in the hospital started off difficult, hearing babies crying at the hospital and knowing she won’t be holding hers. But God quickly changed grief to joy. The doctor, Natalia, who has been tending to her since our loss on Sunday, came in to ask Stephanie a question. She said that she has seen that we are very different. We talked some with her on Sunday right after we lost the baby and told her we were believers. Even though she is Orthodox and found out we are Baptists, she still was intrigued by how we were handling the situation (we were not handling anything….. it has only been God’s grace and enablement). She pointed to Stephanie’s Bible next to her bed and asked Stephanie if we could get her a Bible. Her ten year old daughter had asked her why her grandmother has a Bible but they do not. Stephanie was ecstatic to see the Lord using Enoch’s death to draw someone to the Gospel. When I arrived to pick up Stephanie we were able to give her a Bible for her daughter and one for herself. We also gave her a Gospel tract and evangelistic book. We gave her our contact info and the info on the church we are attending. Please pray for Dr. Natalia’s salvation. She was such a blessing to us during our time there. We would love for her to be saved and meet Enoch in heaven one day.
When we first arrived in Moldova, the government here granted residency permits for only one year at a time. This changed in 2011, and we have since been able to apply for two year residencies. Two weeks ago, we worked on getting our health certificates and other documents together and turned them all in to the lawyer last week. Please pray that we will receive our residencies once again for the next two years. It is crucial for us to receive a two year residency in order for us to take our upcoming furlough.
During our first year here in Moldova, the Lord began to impress upon me the biblical example of team missions. Jesus sent His disciples out two-by-two. He later told the seventy to go out ministering in pairs. Barnabas brought Paul to work along side of him in Antioch. The Holy Spirit told the church in Antioch to send out Paul and Barnabas together as a team. The first response that Paul and Barnabas had after separating was to choose another partner in ministry. This led me to ask God if He had a ministry partner for me with whom to work in church planting.
Later on, missionaries Jacob and Viola Hughes arrived here in Moldova. In the times that we spent with them, we began to see how much we are in agreement on doctrine, standards, and even ministry philosophy. While they were on deputation, they had been faithfully praying for another couple to work with them here in Moldova. Over a year ago, we agreed to seek God’s will about working together and started meeting together once a month to spend time in prayer and learning more about each other. After a year of praying together, getting to know each other, taking survey trips together, and seeking guidance from our pastors, we believe God has brought us together for the future work in Soroca as a team. We are very excited to see what God has in store for us. Please pray for the Hughes and us as we continue language studies and make plans to work together in Soroca after our furloughs.