How do we feel right now? I think the best way to describe it is that our cup is full and running over. We thank the Lord for His many blessings and His working in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Praise the Lord that we were able to buy the van mentioned in the last prayer letter. We have already put it to good use with transporting people to church in the extra seats and taking tables, stroller, and other gear in the back to church.
We celebrated the Lord’s resurrection this year on the same day as Easter in America, which is not always the case. Including our family and Sarah, we had 19 people in attendance. We had a breakfast meal first and then the service. This year, Abby has started learning the violin, and Caleb and I started learning guitar. We played for the first time in the service for Easter.
Each Thursday evening in May, in place of our regular midweek prayer and Bible study, we have had a Family Conference. We made a conference workbook and had some free and discounted materials about the home for people. Six Moldovans came the first week, seven the second week, and nine this past week. While this may not sound like a lot, one woman who came the first week has come to every Sunday morning and evening service as well. She was saved and baptized in a Baptist church in northern Russia and had just found out about us. Another couple has come the past two weeks and plan to come every Sunday as well. One of my ESL students has also come each Thursday with her husband. The responses from those attending the conference has been very positive. Pray for the Word to have free course in the hearts and lives of those who have come. Also, pray for the last week of the conference to be used of God as we talk about the dangers of technology, including social media and pornography, and how to enable filters.
The Bible studies with the one man I had mentioned continue to go well. Since then, an older woman also wanted me to start Bible studies with her. Her son was coming to our church periodically before he moved to the capital city to find work. I am currently covering the topic of salvation with her. Please pray for salvation to be clear to her and for the man to grow in his walk with the Lord.
SUNDAY EVENING BIBLE STUDY
The lady I had mentioned in the last prayer letter who comes Sunday night to our home Bible study recently married and now comes with her husband each week. Ironically, her husband is the Orthodox young man whose father had told me I could not talk to his son when I had called a couple times. The Sunday evening Bible studies started three years ago with just a neighbor. We now have five coming regularly. Please pray for the work to continue to grow, not just in the city of Soroca, but also in our village of Zastînca.
My wife’s younger sister came to visit us for a week, along with her husband and three children. The week was one of needed refreshment, encouragement, and fellowship. We thank the Lord for the opportunity for them to come visit us.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support.
What else can I say other than God answers prayer! Join us in thanking the Lord for the blessings mentioned below and petitioning for the following requests.
Jacob and Viola made it back to America safely for their furlough. We thank the Lord for the safety thus far in their travels (I believe over 3,000 miles thus far in the span of just about a month). Please continue to pray that the Lord will strengthen, encourage, and refresh them during their time visiting churches, friends and family.
I had specifically requested prayer for help in using my time wisely and keeping up with my responsibilities during the Hughes’ absence. Thus far, the responsibilities are being fulfilled, in part due to the Lord providing some Moldovans to help in different aspects. Please continue to pray for me in this area as a number of unexpected but good responsibilities have been added to my schedule recently.
Thank you for praying for us to find a van. After much searching, praying, and seeking counsel from many sources, we decided on a van to purchase for our family. As I write this, a friend of mine from Soroca is on his way to Germany to check out the van and Lord willing make the purchase. The trip is about 25 hours each way, non-stop, add in the times to fill up, cross through customs at borders, and it is over 30 hours each way. Please pray for him and his co-driver to arrive there safely, the van end up being what we are expecting, the money transfer to arrive without problems, and for them to make it back safely with the van.
We thank the Lord that we were granted the two year residency permits. I always rejoice to see the new residency cards in hand, thankful for our service to Christ to continue here in Moldova. Though we will not be attempting this in the near future, please pray for us to receive permanent residency permits in the future. I inquired further at the migration office if this is a possibility for us. I was given a paper with the list of requirements, which we currently could meet, if we took a language test and worked on a couple other documents. This is a goal of mine within the next 6 years. Our lawyer said they don’t give out permanent residencies. Maybe the Lord would see fit for us to be the first.
During our ministry team retreat in August of last year, we specifically began praying for two things. First, we saw the need to gain entrance into people’s inner circle. We had people coming to services but not willing to come over for a meal or allow us to personally disciple them. We also saw that people we witnessed to through day-to-day life or visitation were not interested in us going further with the Gospel than the first visit. We began asking the Lord to allow us to enter into people’s circle of influence. Second, we started praying that God would raise men that we could disciple and lead along for Christ.
Over the past couple months, we have seen answers begin to both of these requests. One lady who had visited us our second year started coming regularly with her daughter to our Sunday evening Bible study. She was facing a very serious decision in life. Through a couple long conversations and much prayer, she chose to do what was right. Another man has started coming regularly each week and was also counseled in an important decision. He also has seen the validity of the biblical counsel he received and is following the Lord. On a weekly basis, I have been meeting with another man, going through a discipleship course. He lives outside the city in a village and would like to see a church planted in his village. I am also working to start a weekly discipleship with another young man. The majority of these have been men! Please pray for the Lord to continue to work in the lives of these dear people and to raise up strong, male, godly leadership.
OPENING CLOSED DOORS
Over the past couple weeks, I had tried to call a young man in another village to see if we could meet and talk about salvation. Both times I called, the young man’s father answered the phone. He asked me numerous questions very rudely and refused to let me talk to his “child,” a young man in his 30’s. I was told to never call again, and he made some threats. I thought that the door was closed. Much to my joy and surprise, the young man showed up at our house Sunday evening! He did not have time to talk much, but we did get to start talking. Please pray for this young man, who is strict Orthodox, to meet with me again and allow us to open the Bible to see what salvation really means.
Thank you all for praying for us and the work here in Moldova.
We usually like the word “arrival.” It often accompanies positive events. With the arrival of Spring, the children have enjoyed being outside and even working in the yard. In addition to Spring, the Lord has blessed us with some other arrivals.
Our new team member arrived on March 17th, Sarah Bodaly. We have loved to see the Lord orchestrate so many of the details. The Lord provided a nice place to rent and wonderful landlords. The Lord provided a Romanian teacher for her. The Lord also provided a way to get her belongings here cheaper, quicker, and more efficiently than originally expected.
Please pray for Sarah as she adjusts, begins Romanian lessons, and awaits the approval of her residency permit application.
Simeon David Gross was born on Saturday, March 19th at 3:15 am. He weighed in at 3.03 kg (6 lbs. 11 oz.) and 50 cm (19.6 in.) in length. Not only did we see the Lord’s provisions with Sarah’s arrival, but we saw His hand in Simeon’s, too.
We had planned to go to the capital city on Stephanie’s 36 week appointment and stay there until the birth. The day before, I was leading the Sunday evening Bible study at our house, and Stephanie started to have regular contractions. When they continued for an hour and a half, many being only 5 minutes apart, we quickly loaded up and sped to the capital. The entire way there, the contraction, though not the strong, painful ones, were consistent. When we arrived at the hospital, though, they stopped and did not begin again. While waiting in Chișinău, wondering how this would all work out, we were able to do some other preparations for the baby and pick up Sarah from the airport. The evening after the Hughes picked up Sarah and her luggage to take her to Soroca, Stephanie began to have contractions again. This time we went to the hospital, the contractions continued and Simeon was born.
We were grateful to the Lord for providing the Buck family to help watch our children during the night of the birth. The Lord met so many needs through working out the many details.
Over the past couple months, we have had some visitors come to the Thursday and Sunday meeings. This past Sunday, some believer friends had sent several people our way. One man is Ukrainian and speaks only Russian. He was very happy to find out that Jacob preaches in Russian and we also sing Russian hymns along with Romanian ones. He said he plans to come back.
Three years ago, when shopping for a home to buy, we were considering buying an apartment from a couple who went to the Pentecostal church in town. She and her adult son came this past Sunday after being invited by a friend of ours who works for her. Please pray for these individuals, some who have been saved and some who we do not know about their salvation, to know and follow God’s will.
ARRIVAL UPSTAIRS AND OF STEPHANIE’S PARENTS
A week ago, we had the joy of getting to move upstairs in our house. The bedrooms are now finished. I underestimated how long it would take to finish our house. What I had hoped would be done September of 2014 was not done until April of 2016.
We moved upstairs just three days before Stephanie’s parents arrived for their visit. The children are enjoying their time with “Grammy and Papa.” We have also enjoyed having the finished room in our house for company.
ARRIVAL TO THE GOSPEL
After the English lessons on Tuesday evenings, we have a Bible study for those who wish to stay. The study lasts only 30 minutes. Though some have come only once, Ala has been the only one to faithfully stay for the study. We have spent the past four lessons studying “How we do NOT become a child of God” and then “How we DO become a child of God.” After this past week’s study, Ala said that she had repented of her sin before but was unsure of actually being saved. Please pray for Ala as she thinks through what we have shared from her from the Bible regarding salvation.
Thank you all for praying. It appears that the pro-European groups won the majority of seats in Parliament. The Pro-Russian parties still hold many seats and were not far behind the others. In fact, the socialist party received the greatest % of votes and the communist party the third greatest %. The three pro-European parties came in 2nd, 4th, and 5th place but together make up a greater % to keep the Pro-Russian parties from controlling Parliament. So far, we are seeing a peaceful reaction, but PLEASE PRAY IT CONTINUES THIS WAY.
On another note, due to complications with needing to get our marriage license with an Apostille affixed to it, we still do not have Ana’s birth certificate nor passport. We are now in a time crunch with documents in order to reapply for our residencies here in Moldova. Please pray that all this comes together without problems. Wednesday we plan to work on renewing Stephanie and the kids’ passports.
Since our arrival back in Moldova, we found that all the apartments for rent are already taken that we had on the list we were compiling. While we know there may come up other available apartments later, this led us to considering the possibility of living in our unfinished house by doing a quick fix on two rooms upstairs. We talked things through and prayed about it over the past couple days. Many Moldovans will live in a room or two while they work on finishing their homes, which often takes many years to do. We are planning to do things the Moldovan way, too.
I will be leaving for Soroca, Lord willing, on Monday with a Moldovan friend of mine to enclose in one room for our living quarters and turn the other one into our kitchen/dining room. We have electricity run to the house, I just have to run wires to the inside for us to have what we need. We also need to make the nicest outhouse we can :0) While out water will in the meantime come from the well right outside our gate, please pray that the running water project will complete in the near future and that we’ll have running water. Please also pray for safety as my friend and I work next week.
An update on Dr. Natalia, too. Stephanie had her appointment with her this week and was able to find out if there has been any spiritual progress. She told Stephanie that she has been reading the New Testament and her daughter has been reading and asking her mom questions. We thank the Lord for this progress. Please continue praying for Dr. Natalia.
An update on Gregori. I accidentally called the wrong Gregori this week and ended up getting the one who I had met with to share the Gospel before we left for furlough. He is the one who has a son who he wanted me to meet but he never called me. His wife and son are now going to a large Baptist church in the capital city, Chisinau, and he has given much thought to our discussion. I asked him if he has repented and trusted Christ yet, but he said he has not. Please keep praying for Gregori.
Furlough has been very busy, but we have enjoyed being with those who have been praying for us and supporting us through the years. We had highlights while on deputation, but furlough has been much more enjoyable than deputation.
We wanted you to rejoice with us in a young lady trusting Christ as Savior this evening! After the message, she talked to the pastor and he led her to Christ. Pray for her to continue on with believer’s baptism and grow in the Lord and in the faith. Our Savior still saves!