Hitch-hiker deja vu

A month or so ago, on my way to Chisinau with Daniel to work on applying for Ana’s birth certificate and passport, we had picked up an Orthodox priest who was alongside the road trying to hail a ride to the capital.  You can imagine the interesting chemistry that a Baptist missionary and an Orthodox priest can have.  He was not interested in talking about Scripture once he found out who I was.  I was able to get some conversation going with him and learn more about the priests here.  We separated amiably that day.

Wednesday evening, while driving back home with Daniel from Chisinau, having picked up our renewed green cards and Ana’s passport, we passed an Orthodox priest along-side the road trying to hail a ride (hitch-hiking is everyday life here).  It was dark and below freezing at the time.  Once he thankfully hopped inside the warm car, I found out that this priest has been trying to get someone to stop and give him a ride for the past hour.  Both he and I also quickly found out…..that it was deja vu, he was the same priest I had picked up last time!  I couldn’t tell if he was happy to know the driver or not 🙂  I offered to drive him to his house (which I was not expecting to be off the beaten path and add 50 minutes to our trek home).  We were able to talk some more.

I told him that I bought an Orthodox Bible in order to read to our neighbor and am interested in reading through the added deutero-canonical (apocryphal) books that are not in our Bible.  He said that if I read through the Orthodox Bible I will find “the truth.”  He was not convinced that, outside of the 10 additional OT books, our Bible and theirs says about the same thing.  He was still not interested in talking about Scripture.

He took a phone call and explained to a lady that the price of the icons had increased due to the devaluation of the Moldovan currency.  One of the icons was now being sold for 700 lei (about $40).  It was sad to know that some Moldovans will spend money for a picture of a saint or Mary, truly believing that it will help answer prayers or enrich their spiritual life.

I then asked for his input in regards to a situation with our neighbor, Varvara.  I told him how she is up in years and unable to do the good works that she used to and is worried about making it to heaven due to her decreased abilities.  I then asked him what he would tell her?  His response, “No one knows where they go after they die.  Only God knows.”  He was taken back when he heard me say that the Bible says we are not saved by our works and that we can know where we go after we die.  He then told me some three-fold system for salvation that included faith, works, and I didn’t catch the third.  He did not know about what Paul had written in the New Testament.  After 4 years of “seminary” and 4 more years of practicum (total of 8 years to become a priest), he showed very little familiarity with the Bible.  I encouraged him to read Ephesians 2 to start with.  He reluctantly took my contact info when we arrived at his gate.  My heart longs for him to pull off the vale of church tradition in order to see the light of God’s Word and beauty of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.  Providentially, we have now met twice…. and maybe we can again one day.  Please pray for Valeri to search the Scriptures and find true salvation through Christ.

2015 January Prayer Letter

God has given us a wonderful start to 2015, and we look forward to His working in our life and the lives of those here in Moldova.

At the end of November, Moldova held a very critical election. Would Moldova vote for the pro-European parties or one of the socialist, pro-Russian parties? The majority of people in Moldova speak of they days under the Soviet Union as the “good ‘ole days.” The elections were close, but the pro-European parties won. With the unrest in Ukraine, many people here in Moldova questioned how the election results would affect peace here. We thank the Lord that thus far, we have peace. Some violent plots by radical activists were found out by police before they were carried out. Please pray the peace would continue.

At the beginning of December we finally moved downstairs. We love having a kitchen with hot, running water, a separate room for the kids to sleep in, and all those rooms heated. All we have left to finish downstairs is the toilet room and bathroom.

Part of December was spent trying to apply for necessary documents. We finally succeeded in receiving Ana’s Moldovan birth certificate, renewing our passports, and applying to renew our Moldovan residency permits. Please pray for us to receive our permits.

In December, the Hughes and we spent a couple days to plan out 2015. The Lord worked in and through those couple days in unexpected ways. Having another couple to work with has shown us how iron can sharpen iron. We thank the Lord for the Hughes and how God has recently been working in our own lives to make us more like Christ. Please pray for us that we will continue to be conformed to the image of Christ.

We ask that this year, you join us in praying for fruit. Last year seed was planted and watered. We are seeing growth in people’s knowledge of God’s Word and of salvation. We patiently seek fruit, though. Please join us in lifting up the following:

Varvara, our neighbor who is over 70 years old and strong Orthodox, refused to let me talk to her at any length about the Bible when we first arrived here last year. As we have helped her, shown our gratitude for the fruit and vegetables she shares with us from her garden, and refused payment from her as an example of salvation being a free gift from God, she has opened up more than ever before. January 7th was the Orthodox Christmas, based on the old calendar. I was able to spend almost 2 hours talking with her after we went over to sing some Christmas carols to her (we went over on Dec. 24th with the Hughes to sing carols, but she would not let us since it was not the Orthodox Christmas). She knows every jot and tittle of the Orthodox traditions and lives of their “saints” but so little of what the Bible actually says. On their Christmas, though, we had a very good talk together about salvation and Christ’s work to save us. She believes one must do many good works to get to heaven. Now that she is older, she cannot do the number of good works that she used to and this concerns her. “It is very hard to get to heaven,” she told me. According to her, only God knows who will make it to heaven or not. I shared with her that God does know and has made it known to us, too, in the Bible. Refusing to even look at our Bible, she said she only would read the Orthodox Bible… so I bought one from an Orthodox priest in town. Please pray for Varvara to allow me to use their Bible to read to her and that she will trust in Christ’s finished work rather than the futility of her good works.

Maria continues to ask us questions and be very open. Due to the holidays and being really busy, she has not been able to start into reading the Gospel of John yet. Please continue praying for her.

Jacob and I visited Victor again last week. He has been reading in the Bible we gave him. Please pray that this would continue.

We finished studying through the Gospel of Luke with Nadia and are now into Acts. Her 10 year old grandson, Claudiu, has been regularly joining us, following along in the Bible. As Jacob pointed out, we came to minister to Nadia, but God knows what influence the studies may end up having on his life, too. The study in Luke made clear the Gospel to her and we pray that the study in Acts will make clear to her what the church is and what God’s plan is through the church. Please continue praying for Nadia and for her to see the contrast between the church found in the Bible and what is practiced by the Orthodox church.

We had previously mentioned Jeanette, the Filipino woman who is temporarily here in Moldova. After meeting her, she came every Sunday morning until she returned to Germany with her husband for vacation. She trusted Christ as Savior in 2005 and has been without a pastor or church for most of the time since due to her husband’s working abroad. When Jacob and I met with her before we had the Lord’s Supper, she told us she was not baptized yet but really wants to be. Jacob and I have found a place to hold the baptism after her return to Moldova in February. Please pray for her husband to have a soft heart towards the Gospel and for the plans for Jeanette’s baptism.

After talking to one of the men who had worked on our house this fall about Christ and giving him a Bible, I gave him an open invitation to contact me. Recently, he called me to find out how we were doing. Please pray for Oleg as we may be getting together this Sunday afternoon with both he and his wife.

Jacob and I would like to witness to people at the markets in our town and give out the Gospel of John and our contact info. We spoke with the managers of both markets and were told that we would need to talk to the mayor. Please pray for the door to be open to us doing so.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support for us and the work here in Soroca.

Update on Moldovan Elections

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.

URGENT: Pray for Moldovan Elections Tomorrow

I know that we sent out a prayer letter recently, but we have several large items we implore you to take before the throne of God.

Tomorrow (Sunday) Moldova will vote.  The divide in Ukraine between those who want ties with Russian and those who would rather join with Europe is paralleled in many ways here in Moldova.  Around Moldova there are signs for parties that say “Moving ahead with Europe” while the Socialist Party (Communist Party) declares “Together with Russia.”  In talking with people today, there are many mixed feelings, mostly negative ones.  One person told us that they are concerned that the same conflict in Ukraine will erupt here as well tomorrow.  Others have said that they do not know for which party to vote since none stand out as trustworthy or as a clear answer to the many problems here.  I personally read through a couple of the party fliers that have been handed out.  I shook my head at the ridiculous promises some were making without any explanation as to how they could accomplish such goals.  This amounts to many empty promises in order to win votes.  In the past, missionaries ability to serve in Moldova have been threatened with the Communist Party was ruling.  At the same time, there are other problems that come with a greater connection with Europe.  We ask that you pray for the voting to allow us to lead a “quiet and peaceable life” here in Moldova.  Please pray for the government to have wisdom in dealing with people’s response to the election results.  Please pray for us believers to trust the Lord, regardless of the result.

Several months ago, I had mentioned a lady named Maria, with whom I had begun shard the Gospel.  Last week, Jacob and I went to visit her and see if we could pick up where I had left off.  Last week and today, we have continued explaining the Gospel to her.  With her Orthodox background, we are trying to be very clear and patient to explain the Gospel to her.  Today, she had several “aha!” moments.  She had really struggled with the idea that salvation is not based upon our works but faith alone in Christ.  She believed that all people are children of God.  We showed her that, even though payment in full on the cross by Christ, it must be personally received by faith in order for that payment to be applied.  In explaining passages of Scripture to her today, she bluntly asked us, “What must I do to become a child of God?”  She is soooo close to trusting Christ alone for salvation.  Please pray for Jacob and I to have wisdom in what we cover with her from the Bible.  Please pray for the seed that has been planted and watered to not be choked nor stolen but to bring forth fruit.  Her husband, a Russian, is against us simply because we are American.  Pray that we continue to have an open door with Maria.

Jacob and I also visited Oxana again, who was part of the previous Baptist church in Soroca.  When we tried to talk with her last week, she was talking with a friend and did not seem to want to discuss things with us at that time.  Today, she was open and talked much with us.  She was hurt by the situation in the pastor leaving to Russia and the church dissolving, leading to cautiously considering any other churches.  She said she wants to be a part of a church that is doctrinally sound and not just “church-hop”  Please pray for her as she considers allowing us to minister to her and possibly join us.

We also had a great visit with a man who invited me to come back and talk to him.  Victor is an insurance salesman and very busy.  We had a profitable visit with him today.  We gave him a Russian Bible, which he promised to read.  Please pray for him as well.

While picking up some items before heading home today, I saw a lady who did not look Moldovan, but Asian.  When I found out she did not speak much Romanian, I asked her if she understood English.  I had heard today that there was an American teaching English at one of the schools here and thought maybe she was the one teaching.  She very happily said that she does speak English and was surprised to find out that I spoke it, too.  Jeanette is a Filipino, married to a German involved in the road renovation project in Moldova.  She has been here for a little over two years.  When she heard that we are Baptist, she was very excited.  She trusted Christ as Savior back in 2005 and has been longing for Bible study with other believers here in Moldova.  Lord willing, I will be picking her up with the Hughes tomorrow morning to being to our service.  Usually Jacob preaches in Russian and I preach in Romanian.  But since only our two families meet on Sundays right now, we can switch to English for at least one of the messages tomorrow for Jeanette.  Depending on how the elections go tomorrow, she said she may be staying in Moldova longer.  Please pray for us to know how to minister to her and help her along with her walk with the Lord.  Also, please pray for us to have an opportunity to witness to her husband, who is not saved.

This week, we were able to begin witnessing to Abby’s friend, Sabina.  She has only been to the Orthodox church a couple of times.  She knows very little at all.  She believes God exists but could not tell me anything about Him.  Her reputation in our neighborhood is not good at all.  Please continue to pray for Sabina and for boldness for Abby and I when we go to visit her parents and talk to them about Christ.  Her father does have a problem with alcohol.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for us.

November 2014 Prayer Letter

Since our last prayer letter much has happened. Nadia, our neighbor, has continued to have a Bible study with David. They have been going through the book of Luke and recently finished chapter 19. From Nadia’s own words, she is trusting in Christ alone for salvation and not her works. She continues to show a hunger for the Word of God. Her daughter, Sofia, on the other hand, still is not settled on salvation.
Galia, the gypsy lady we mentioned before, has not been able to meet with Jacob and David very often because she is caring for her sick husband who is hospitalized in a different town. Please continue to pray for continued contact and progress with Galia.
We recently received an email from Ioan, a Romanian believer David met while on furlough who has worked on creating a Romanian hymnal with notes. Due to some complications at printing, it has yet to be published. Please pray that it would come to completion.
While at the market, I started talking to a vender and found out that she was a member of the Baptist church plant that was started a number of years ago but fell apart when the pastor left. They shared with David that, without having a church, they are not where they need to be spiritually. Please pray for wisdom as David and Jacob meet again with Oxana and her mother to hear their testimonies and how to further minister to these dear ladies.


Our neighbor, Varvara

My parents are visiting us for about a week this month. Due to our house still not having an indoor toilet or shower and having only the one room where our family sleeps, it was best for them to stay at a local hotel. Through this, David was able to witness to several hotel clerks and find them very open to the Gospel. One in particular had already heard what David was sharing with her from another hotel guest in the past. We rejoiced to not just be sowing seed, but also to partake in watering. Please pray that God would give the increase.
David had the opportunity to witness to some of the construction workers that were here the past few weeks and even gave a few of them a Bible. We praise the Lord for these opportunities to share the gospel.
IMG_0732 (1)One of Abby’s friends Sabina has been coming over regularly for the past few weeks. She said she is not allowed to go to the Orthodox church on Sundays and she doesn’t have a Bible. Please pray we will have an opportunity to share the gospel with her and reach her parents as well. Her parents work a lot and she is often left to herself. I am glad she has looked for refuge here.
We applied for the gas line to be run to our house this past June. We were told we were scheduled for July, then August. August rolled by with no word from the gas company. After reminding the gas company several times and explaining the urgency of the gas for heat this winter and have children and a baby, they finally started the process in October. The gas line is now connected and our heating system is working downstairs.

This past August we were able to install a septic system with the help of our friends. We P1060294also have gotten the insulation put on the outside of our house. They were not able to finish with the final coat because the temperatures dropped too low, so it will have to be finished in the spring. We need to finish the flooring and some final details in the kitchen still before we move downstairs. Lord willing, we can move down by the end of the month.

Thank you for your prayers for us and for the financial support. Continue to hold the ropes there as we do God’s work abroad.

July 2014 Prayer Letter

Much has happened since our last prayer letter, many encouraging things. David has started a Bible study with one or our neighbors and her daughter, Nadia and Sophia. Nadia is elderly and Sophia has two young sons that come play with our kids from time to time. He has also made contact with a gypsy family who is eager to learn more about the Bible. Their first language is Russian, though they understand Romanian as well, though they cannot read Romanian. Jacob and David went last week for the first Bible study with them and plan to go again this week. Pray these families will remain open to the truth of the gospel and be saved along with their families.

As I mentioned, we have started having neighbor children come to our yard to play with our children. That has been a tremendous answer to prayer. One of the problems is that some tire of it because my children are not fluent in Romanian. My boys in particular have a hard time understanding and communicating in Romanian. To help solve the language barrier, we hired our neighbor’s college-age daughter to teach our children Romanian for the summer. It was very convenient for us that she lives so close and was willing to have lessons with them.

Jacob and Viola Hughes, our co-workers, arrived last month and settled into an apartment in town. They have already been a tremendous blessing to us in helping with construction of the house. as well as in other areas. We thank the Lord again and again for our co-workers.

One of the greatest blessings about the house this summer is that the running water was hooked up and turned on in June, much earlier than the November we had been told. My personal prayer was that the water would be on at least by July, by the time the baby was born. It has turned off for a week or more twice, so when it comes back on we always scramble to catch up on laundry. It tastes much better than the well water and it is probably safer to drink. Not only is there running water, but a neighbor actually paid to put rock on the street that runs in front of our driveway. Now getting out with the car after it rains is not so problematic. No more mud!

David also was able to finish applying for the gas connection to the house and we are just waiting on the company to come. The projects in the near future are the septic system, finishing the walls in the kitchen, and laying the tile in the kitchen. We were able to buy the tile this week! Please pray for wisdom, patience, and speed as the men work to complete the house. The kitchen should be complete in another week or two. That is very exciting because we will be able to use these two rooms upstairs for bedrooms instead of squeezing all six of us into one room.

Yes, I said six. Ana Joy decided to come three weeks early (July 13), blessing our home photo (8)with her easy, sweet disposition. I was very nervous about how the Lord was going to work it out to get to the hospital in time and get the three kids handed off to someone else. My water broke on Sunday morning, but I didn’t go into labor until six hours later, which gave us plenty of time to make the three hour trek between Soroca and Chisinau. We even had time to stop and buy diapers. We P1060228called some American friends of ours that live in the capital, and they graciously met us at the hospital and took the kids with them for the rest of the day. Ana has had some minor complications, but for the most part, she is healthy. Praise The Lord. Please do pray that her jaundice clears up soon and that I continue to recuperate from the birth.

We have a new mailing address since we have been in Soroca. It is included here:
Str. Independentei 73
C.P. 7
Or. Soroca 3006
Republic of Moldova, EUROPE
Thanks again for the prayers and support.

Help is coming!

Lord willing, Jacob and Viola Hughes will be flying out today to make their journey to Moldova, arriving here tomorrow (Friday).  We are looking forward to their arrival and our team being back together.  Here are some specific ways you can pray for them:

  • Enjoyable last moments with family before flying out
  • Safe travel to Moldova
  • Luggage to make it here without problems with the airports or customs
  • Rest on the flights over
  • Opportunities to witness to others on the way
  • Quick adjustment back to Moldovan culture
  • Adjustment back to speaking Russian and Romanian
  • An apartment for them to rent here in Soroca
  • Encouraging fellowship with Moldovans that they know here