Archive for praise

Signs of Spring

The end of March brought some really lovely weather to Hungary!  Trees and flowers are coming to life, people are out and about with no more than a light jacket, and we are reminded of how much we have  to be thankful for as we look back over the last months, as well as what’s on our calendar for the days to come.

We’ve been dealing with some illness, so please pray that the Lord will give us strength and energy for each day’s work, and that we will continually be reminded to live in His joy and to share it with others.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Carolyn with spring buds and bushesIn the picture above you can see the blossoms on the tree in our front yard and the neighbor’s flowering bushes across the street. You can also see how the still-cool, gusty wind has turned my selfie into a real….glamour photo!

Conversations that matter

The first full week in March we were blessed to have David Knight with us in Debrecen serving as a volunteer through Bob Hartman International Ministries. David’s had many years of experience pastoring and working with young people, and is currently a PhD student in apologetics. Some things that we’d thought he might do during his time here didn’t come together, but as the days went by we could see that there was a better plan than ours! It’s always exciting to see how the Lord puts things together in ways that we never could on our own.

Debrecen University main building

Debrecen University main building

With David’s background and current studies, it was a very natural thing for him to spend time on the Debrecen University campus meeting students from around the world and dialoguing with them about their belief systems and views on life and God. He found the students very open to talking, and across the week some of them came back for more discussion…bringing friends with them! We’re so thankful for the contacts that were made and the conversations that took place.

We had a wonderful time on Saturday afternoon visiting the English Fellowship, an interdenominational group that meets monthly on campus. David preached, then most of the group stayed to eat and chat. What a blessing to worship and spend time with brothers and sisters from around the world!  (Visit the English Fellowship’s Facebook page.)

 

  • Pray for the young people who took part in important conversations during the week, that God would continue to work in their lives. Ask that the Lord will bring more believers across their paths and open up further opportunities for dialogue.
  • Lift up the English fellowship group, as they will soon be losing access to the facility where they’ve been meeting. Pray that God will guide in what comes next for the ministry, and that He will use this transition to expand the work among the substantial number of English speakers in the community. Ask God to guide and bless as English-language ministries are used to reach further into the lost community.

Gardening outreach update

Ever since the outreach gardening program began last year we’ve been asking for prayer that the Lord would raise up nationals to take over leadership.  Praise God, while the volunteer US horticulture expert Dr. Curtis Smith was in eastern Hungary in January, the very national that we had been thinking would be a good leader volunteered to act as the future coordinator for the program!  Her calendar has opened up and she is willing to begin moving into a leadership position.  She will assist with planning, communication between teachers and program participants, and other duties.  While Dr. Smith was in-country new connections with other churches and interested nationals also developed. 

Praise God for how He has been working!  Pray that He will continue to lead as the program moves into the next stages of its development, that it will maintain the vision of sharing Christ in both word and deed.

Photo of those at gardeners outreach group meeting
Dr. Smith, the Millers, and one of the Hungarian teachers met with some of last year’s participants for feedback and discussion about moving forward with the program

Some adventures we’d rather forget

I usually avoid talking about health things – they’re always more interesting to the teller than to the hearer.  But this situation has really impacted life and ministry, and it’s not over yet.  For years I (Carolyn) have had knee problems which always resolved with a little care, but while down on the Debrecen main square mingling with folks at the big August 20 holiday celebration my right knee suddenly gave notice that I was DONE.WALKING.  Pain was so intense that I had to call Gary to come to my rescue in the car (he was working at home that day.)  Not an easy task for the poor guy to reach me since the streets were still blocked for the parade. It was one of those days full of adventure and excitement we’d rather forget!

Here are some photos of the more pleasant part of the day:

 August 20, “St. Stephen’s Day,” commemorates the founding of the nation and its first king. The Flower Carnival in Debrecen includes a wonderful parade. Here we see the float with the royal crown, some Hungarian people in their native dress, and a pony cart displaying the sunflowers which are so prevalent in our part of the country. The parade includes groups from all around the world – the 4th photo shows a flag team from Narnia, Italy. Yes, my friends, Narnia does exist!

Sunset by the Adriatic Sea in CroatiaThe pain gradually eased off some but there was obviously a problem, so Sept. 3 on our way to a vacation in Croatia we got it checked by a well-recommended doctor in Zagreb.  He advised meniscus surgery for that same afternoon.  Things got a little complicated and what normally would’ve been an outpatient procedure turned in to several days in the hospital.  Our vacation was a little shortened, but we did still have four lovely days on the coast (Gary bought a nice folding chair so I could sit by the water and prop up my leg.)  The photo shows the beautiful sunset on the Adriatic Sea that we enjoyed our last evening there.

Back home the knee slowly improved, but then I re-injured it at the end of September and had to start all over with the recovery.  Praise God, this last week I’ve been able to tell that it’s getting a lot better!

  • Pray that the knee will continue to heal properly so I can get back into more of my regular work.  Gary has had double-duty over the past months since I’ve not been able to shop, cook very much, etc. I’ve missed being on-site with him for quite a few ministry events, providing what support I could from home.
  • All of this has really messed up my sleep patterns and aggravated some other pain issues.  Pray that God will grant peaceful sleep and pain relief.
  • The doctor recommends an additional surgery for both of my knees to help put off eventual knee replacements. (Yikes! Guess I’m really not a teenager any more!)  Pray for wisdom for us in making decisions about treatments.
  • Thank the Lord for how He brings us through difficult times, showing us that who we are in Him is more important than the things we can do for Him – this can be a real battle for someone like me who loves to feel useful and productive!  These last months have been an opportunity for me to ponder the fact that it’s about Him, NOT about me or what I can accomplish for Him.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Quite honestly

It’s not easy to admit, but Sunday morning we didn’t feel enthused about driving to Karcag for Gary to preach. We both felt tired, and neither of us felt like getting out and going, but we had agreed to serve…and we do love the people. Most of all we wanted to be obedient to what God had for us that day. As we drove down the road, we also reminded each other how so often in the past negative feelings have tried to pull us down as we prepared to go to ministry events — and how many times these ended up being times when great spiritual impact and blessing took place! (We call this “coffeehouse syndrome” since we experienced this feeling of oppression pretty regularly before a particularly wonderful evening of gospel sharing at the outreach coffeehouse we had for many years.) We have an enemy that would love for us to stay home…for ministry to go by the wayside….for blessings to be missed.

Gary preaching in KarcagLooking back on the day, we can say – once again in all honesty – that we are so thankful we went in obedient service rather than giving in to feelings. The message that Gary shared was impactful for us as much as for the people there that morning (Scripture has a way of doing that!) During the service several people got up and shared encouraging testimonies, and a small group of us lingered in the building talking afterward.

  • Pray for the Karcag church, that they will be encouraged, will grow, and that more leaders will be raised up to help in the ministries and mission points they are involved in.
  • Some really difficult and tragic things were shared with us. Pray for the people and their families, that God will give them wisdom, would provide for their needs, and bring them through life’s trials.
  • Pray for us and other Christian workers, for health, strength, and encouragement when times are hard.
  • Praise God that He gives strength to go on serving even when feelings/emotions tell us to give in!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)