Tuesday, January 30, 2007


 (from Ecclesiastes 3:1)
 First of all, we would like to wish all of you a very happy new year, and we pray that 2007 would be a memorable year for you, full of wonderful memories and the incredible experience of God's blessings and mercies -- for they are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23)
 As you can probably imagine, we had quite a different Christmas here. There were many different things for the kids to experience here that they hadn't in America, and they had a good time generally -- except that they were pretty sick right at the turn of the year for a few days, but they're doing much better now. The picture we included with this post is of our three children on Christmas Day 2006.
 We enjoyed our times together as a family both on Joseph's birthday (December 24 in the evening; he turned four years old!) and for Christmas (December 25, again in the evening). Ministry-wise, we were also pretty busy, and we also enjoyed those times with other people as well. We went caroling with some other people for several hours on the evening of December 23 in the village of Ilovita; we went to the big church here in Turnu-Severin in the morning and evening of December 24; on December 25 we went to the village of Gemeni for a Christmas Day service; and finally on December 26 we went to Gemeni again for another service and a fellowship meal with the church there, followed by caroling.
 Some of you will be thrilled to hear that on December 24 in the evening at the church here in town, all the kids in the church were given Operation Christmas Child boxes! On December 26 in Gemeni, christmas boxes were given out to the children there as well. Geta and I thought of Bridgeport Chapel each time when we saw them being handed out, and the look of joy and delight on the children's faces as they opened the boxes; it was quite a sight, moving and emotional. It was unforgettable, and we were proud (the good kind) of all of you at Bridgeport Chapel and other places who have taken time and such care to pack a box (or many!) to send to a child somewhere. Believe us when we say, it is so worth it when you see the children's faces, smiles, and joy as they receive and open one of those boxes.
 For New Year's Eve, a couple that are very good friends of ours, Cosmin and his wife Mari, came from Caransebes to spend time together with us and stay the night to bring in the new year. We had a lot of fun together, and it was a very encouraging time for us as well.
 Even amongst all the ministries, festivities, and experiences of Christmas time, we are saddened to say that we had a rough couple of weeks in relation to our ministry. Sometimes God has us go through things that we don't understand at the time, and maybe won't understand for awhile; but at the same time we can understand and believe that God is allowing it with His purpose in mind, and for His glory, and Geta and I believe this to be true. Without going into details, let me just say that though it was at times very discouraging and emotionally draining for us, we have been greatly encouraged by all the praying that we know people have done for us, and by the emails and counsel from a couple of people with whom we shared the situation and sought counsel and/or advice.
 We were also very encouraged and blessed by the way in which God continues to show Himself to us, and take care of our family day by day. It just seems like God keeps blessing us, and it is really amazing. We believe that it is because of who He is ("...God...acts for those who wait for Him." from Isaiah 64:4), and also that it has a lot to do with all of the people who have been and continue to pray for us; it has a lot to do with you.
 Another verse that has really stood out to us lately is Isaiah 65:13-14. These verses (among others) are comparing those who forsake God with God's servants ("my servants"), and part of those verses say, "...my servants shall eat...my servants shall drink...my servants shall rejoice...my servants shall sing for gladness of heart...". Encouraging for us, and these scriptures are so true! May they be an encouragement to each of you as well!
 We know that God is absolutely sovereign, and He leads us where He wants us to go. Even though the last three weeks or so have at times seemed like quite a trial for us, we know that God has a purpose in it -- that He has something even more incredible for us to do here in Romania than we could have imagined. Please continue to pray for us and for God's guidance as we consider more ministry opportunities; pray for clear direction for our family and that we will always seek to honor God by doing what He wants us to do.
 Always Servants Together With You In Christ,
 Andrew & Geta and kids


Update, and Address

(Blog entry originally intended for early November 2006)
Update on last enry: We had a great (and long - three hour drive) day of ministry in the village of Rast (where there are one or two believers), and later, in the town of Bailesti. In Rast, we saw many places where the floods had destroyed or partially destroyed people's houses, and everything they had. In some areas, houses that were made of mud bricks were completely gone -- melted, as it were, by the flood waters. Other areas of the village had houses with walls and/or roofs collapsed, and foundations ripped apart or broken and causing the house to lean as if it were about to collapse. Still other areas of the village had houses that were virtually untouched by the flood, and still intact. It was interesting and heartbreaking at the same time. We enjoyed our two hours or so of ministry there. As we left Rast and headed toward Bailesti, about 5 kilometers down the road, we saw where the government is constructing an entire new village from scratch! In other words, they are rebuilding and relocating the village of Rast a few miles from where it currently is. That was pretty amazing. Included in this blog entry are two pictures from the time we spent in the village of Rast: one of Andrew speaking and Utu translating, and the other of one of the houses devastated by the floodwaters.

The service that evening at the Baptist church in Bailesti was really good, and it was a wonderful time of fellowship. It was their day of thanksgiving, and the church had also invited the Pentecostal church to join them for the service. So there was a lot of singing, four people spoke from the Bible (both the Baptist and Pentecostal pastors, myself, and another American that was with us that day), and when it was all over, some ladies from the church had made Romanian sandwiches for everybody, so there was a great time of fellowship for another hour or so. Geta and I really enjoyed it there; the people were so warm and friendly, the youth group is alive and thriving, and there is just a spirit of love and family in the church. Geta and I were especially blessed that evening because we felt we had found a church like Bridgeport Chapel...we felt like we were home.
Bailesti (or a village near it) is one of several places we are considering moving to this spring or summer, because it is in an area we may be working in. We believe that possibly God had our family in Bailesti that Sunday for more reasons than just ministry that evening. We don't know exactly what God has in store for us as far as moving next year (2007); please pray for continued direction for our lives and ministry, and that the Lord will continue to provide for us.
And...our address for now is as follows:
If you send us mail, we should get it at that address!
Psalm 100:5 says, "For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." Praise God for His love that does not end, and for His faithfulness to us always! God be with you, and may you be blessed this day! -Andrew & Geta & Family

Life Continues...

 (Blog entry originally intended for late October 2006)
 We moved to our new apartment on October 13th and have been settling in since that time. We are getting used to life here in the city of Drobeta Turnu Severin, and learning where we need to go to do different things.
 We are doing well, and the kids are enjoying running around and having their own bedroom/playroom. The other room is our bedroom/living room, and we also have a bathroom and kitchen. It is very nice to have a bathtub for the kids, and a cord and shower head from the faucet for Geta and I.
 Thank you for all your continued praying for us; we are very grateful to have this apartment to live in, and we definitely believe it is an answer to our praying, and yours as well.
 October 22: we went to Gemeni for the first time since we have been back in Romania. Only one young woman and her baby girl came to the church that morning, along with with another girl of about 7 years. We had a service for about an hour and fifteen minutes; we sang, prayed, and then had a discussion from the Bible. Please pray for the people in the village of Gemeni - there is much to be done, and many to be reached with the Word of God!
 October 29: We will go to the village of Rast, east of where we are living, a village that was devastated by the flooding in Romania last spring. I understand that most of the people still don't have a place to live for the winter, except for the tents which they currently occupy. We will be speaking there together with Utu and his family in the afternoon, and then we will go directly to the church in the town of Bailesti, where we will also be speaking. It is their "Day of Thanksgiving", similar to our harvest celebration, so it will be a time to be thankful for what God has provided, and the service and message(s) will reflect the goodness and providence of God in our lives. Please pray for our family as we go this coming weekend and minister to people that seem to be on both ends of the scale: people who's lives have been severely tested by loss of home and possession; and people who's lives have been greatly blessed by the abundance of God's providence. Remember that God sees the lives and hearts of each of these people, and hears them when they cry out to Him; pray for these people! 
 Thank you each for your friendship, love and prayers. We will see you again soon! Please enjoy these pictures of our kids. One is of all three of them in front of the car; the other is our youngest, Elijah. Joseph is 3 years and 10 months now, Ammishaddai is 1 year and 9 months, and Elijah is 8 months. Time flies, and they are growing fast...


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


(Blog entry originally intended for late October 2006)
This entry is to let you know what else we have been doing the last few weeks and some of the things coming up for us in the next few weeks: what has been going on in our life here. As always, we do appreciate that you care enough to take the time to read our blog, and please feel free to ask any questions you would like to, whether out of curiosity or in order to clarify something.
September 10th: Our family went to the church in Rusca Montana. We knew when we walked in that I would probably be speaking (and that means Geta translating) because there were only a small handful of men there that day. Sure enough, when the man currently leading the Sunday School hour got up to close that hour and move on the the regular worship service hour, he announced that the church would sing a song together, take the offering, and then that "we will hear a message from the Word of God from brother Andrew". I wasn't surprised, it was just kind of funny, that's just the way it works over here. If you come to visit us here in Romania, make sure you have a message prepared to share, and keep it handy (in your Bible)! We had an interesting time during the service because we couldn't leave the kids with anybody (they don't know anybody well enough), so we had to have them on the stage with us, and that was an experience in itself. Sometimes one of the kids wanted a toy or book the other had, and sometimes they came to us and wanted us to pick them up. Needless to say it was a different experience. In the end, everything was okay, and the people weren't too distracted.
September 17th: Our day in the church of Izgar, a wonderful day of ministry and fellowship; see entry below for the whole story.
September 24th: We went to the church in the village of Dalj, which is near the city of Caransebes, about 15 miles away. Our friend Cosmin (who was ordained as a missionary August 20th, see previous entry) and his wife and son are serving there on a regular basis as basicly the pastor and leader of the church. It was great to have the opportunity to visit the church in Dalj and see the way that God is using Cosmin and his family to minister to the people there. It has been a real blessing to see the various ways that God is using fellow students from the bible school in ministry; it has also been an encouragement to us as we begin our ministry.
October 1st: We went to the church in Rusca Montana again, where we heard Diana (a graduate of the bible school) speak. She shared about the year she spent in Mozambique with Janice Peters, a missionary that we at Bridgeport Chapel support. She learned Portugese in about 3 months there and then taught classes to children, and shared about Jesus. God has certainly used Diana in a great way, and has placed a true and deep love in her heart for the children in Mozambique. She would like to return to Mozambique, and we believe that she will, at God's appointed time.
October 6th: I went with our good friend Utu and his van to take a load of our things down to Turnu-Severin, to an apartment that we will be living in, probably until next spring or summer.
October 13th: After a long search -- and I believe much praying on your part -- we finally found an apartment to rent; it has two rooms, a bathroom and kitchen, and we will be moving on the 13th to Turnu-Severin to live. The apartment is on the third floor, and also has two balconies, one of which is enclosed (very useful for storage). Although smaller than we had originally hoped for, it is a price we feel we can afford. Rather than 120-200 euros per month for a 2 or 3 room apartment, we will be paying 70 euros per month (about $90) plus utilities. Isn't God amazing? We are very grateful for this apartment for a number of reasons: 1> The price; 2> the owners are very nice, and fixed it up for us before we moved in; 3> the utilities (gas, water, electricity) all have meters on them, so we only pay for what we use (this is normal in America, but not normal here, although it is becoming more common); 4> the apartment has hot water and heat (which we didn't have in Otelu-Rosu); 5> By moving down to Turnu-Severin, we are much closer to the villages where we want to be working, and we have a nice warm place to stay for the winter.
Later: We will move again next spring or summer to be even closer to the villages where we will be primarily working. We don't know for sure exactly where we will move to at that time, whether it will be a town or a village. Please pray even now that God will be preparing a place for us to move to next year. We would have liked to have moved closer now to the villages we will be working, but nothing worked out for us at this time. We definitely believe that we are to stay the winter in Turnu-Severin, and be prepared to move again late spring or summer. We hope to be able to put our new address on the blog sometime soon.
Thank you for your continued prayer for us, and your continued support of us. We think of our family and friends often; we miss each of you and we pray for you as well. We'll talk to you again soon. May God be with each of you...

Castle Trip Photos, Continued...

 (Blog entry originally intended for early October 2006)
 Here are three more photos of our trip to the castle. The first is a picture of Geta and the kids with Geta's grandparents (the kids' great grandparents) on the bridge that leads to the main gate and into the castle.
 The second picture is of Joseph and Ammishaddai on some stairs inside the castle courtyard.
 Finally there is a picture of our whole family together on the same stairs, but a wider shot to show you more of the structure and architecture of the castle: Gothic wooden doors, stained glass, fantastic arches and pillars.
 We hoped you enjoyed these pictures, a slice of our life from here in Romania.


A Castle for My Birthday!

(Blog entry originally intended for early October 2006)
Well okay...not exactly. I (Andrew) didn't get a castle for my birthday, but I did get to visit a real castle for my birthday (10/04)! The castle is commonly called Hunedoara Castle, but is correctly called Castelul Corvinilor (The Castle of the Corvins, the family who came into possession of it in 1409).
 The first photo here is a publicity shot of the castle from a postcard, and the second is a photo I took giving you an idea of how huge it is; it even has a good sized creek running through the grounds and underneath the towering bridge that leads into the castle.
 I had never been to this castle in the time that I lived in Romania before, even though it is only about 1 hour and 45 minutes from where we live. We had been staying with Geta's grandparents for a couple days before that for a visit, and so we also took them with us. They had never been to the castle before either! We all had a good time together, and it was pretty interesting. Geta and I enjoyed the architecture and beauty of the various rooms and halls, and the kids enjoyed the towering walls and wide open areas to play a little bit in. We want to visit some the other historical sites in Romania as well, but that will be sometime in the future.
 Please see the next entry for some more photos from the castle trip.


Izgar: The Unexpected

 (Blog entry originally intended for late September 2006)
 On September 17th, we went to a small church in a very small village about 2 hours drive away called Izgar. We have been there quite a few times before in years past, and the people are very precious to us -- they have a special place in our hearts. There are only a handful of people in the church in Izgar (6-8 or so normally), but they are dedicated. One of the attached photos (above) is a picture inside the church of our family with the people that attend there (although a couple of regulars were not present). It was wonderful and moving for us to return again to a church that has come to mean a lot to us, and spend a day in ministry and fellowhip there.
 When we arrived at the church, we were a little early, but as the people arrived, several of the ladies wept when they saw us. Even though it has been over 3 years since we were in Izgar, they knew us and remembered us right away. There were many kisses and hugs of greeting (Romanian style -- the kids still aren't used to being kissed repeatedly by total strangers). During the morning service, Geta and I had prepared a list of songs to sing together, which we did. I had prepared 2 messages (one for the morning service, one for the evening service), but another pastor showed up and spoke. After he left (he was going on to another service in another church to speak), we still had some time left in the morning service, just enough to give an introduction to the message for that evening. Geta translated, and it went well.
We all decided to have the evening service at the home of the elder of the church (see the other photo with Joseph and I). He is very old, and cannot walk almost at all anymore, and so cannot come to the church. He also cannot see or hear well at all (we needed to yell in his ear when we talked to him, and even then he did not hear us all the time). After the morning service, our family ate lunch outside the church, and then went to the home where the elder lives (also the home of his son, and daughter-in-law; she is first on the left in the group photo). We spent the afternoon with their family which was very nice. Joseph had his first negative encounter with a bee (he got stung), which was not very nice. He was pretty upset, but calmed down after a few minutes. When we went to see the elder there at the house, the daughter-in-law had warned us of his problems, and that he doesn't even seem to know them anymore, which is very sad. When we saw him, he knew us right away and seemed so happy that someone cared enough to come to see him. We had the impression that no one really cares about him anymore. The whole situation made me nearly cry. (I told Geta later that since he knew us right away, maybe he just pretends not to know his family so they'll leave him alone!). It was very good to visit with him and spend time together.
 When the time came for the evening service, we set up chairs in the courtyard of the house. I expected the church people to come for the evening service, and they did, even the ones who had not been present in the morning. And then something totally unexpected happened: other people from the village began trickling in, until we had not 6 or 8 people, but 18 adults, 3 children, plus our family packed into that little courtyard that warm evening. I suspect that many people that would not normally come to the church came, probably more out of curiosity than anything else. I want to share with you that I felt the weight of responsibility for those people there like I haven't felt for a long time -- responsibility to share what I could about Jesus Christ and the Gospel, and responsibility to make it as clear as I could. I felt this was a monumental opportunity, and that here and now may be the only time some of these people would ever come to a Christian service or hear or listen to a message from the Gospel.
 We proceeded with the service, Geta and I had a few songs again that we had prepared, and then a number of the other church members shared various songs and/or poems, until a whole hour had passed. We still had a second hour to go, and it was time to start the message. Geta translated for me, and we spoke from Matthew 5:13-16 about being salt and light in this world. There are many opportunities in those few verses to share the Gospel message and who Jesus is and why. By the grace of God, I felt that we made use of each opportunity to explore and make as clear as possible the truth that Jesus Christ is the true Savior and the only way to heaven, and after 50 minutes, we closed the service with another song and prayer, and I felt pretty tired. We visited a few more minutes and then headed for home.
 The people gave many hugs and kisses when we left and were so grateful we had come. I belive though that we as a family received so much more blessing than we were able to give that day in Izgar. We hope to go again from time to time to Izgar to continue to share with the people there, and encourage them as much as possible. Please pray that God will strengthen and build the church in Izgar, and encourage the believers there, and that He will give them wisdom and strong faith to stand in the face of anything or anyone that would lead them astray or feed them false doctrine. May you be encouraged in your faith as you read this story and see that God loves this small handful of people in a village far away and that His mighty hand is at work!

All About Jetta

 (Blog entry originally intended for early September 2006)
 The Basics: On Friday, September 8th, we got to drive our "new" car home to where we are currently living. It is a 1987 Volkswagen Jetta 5 speed turbodiesel which is in excellent condition. It gets very good mileage -- a big deal since diesel runs about $5.00 a gallon here (just barely cheaper than gas). We payed 2300 Euros for it (about $2900) plus about another $300 for all the paperwork and taxes to get it in Geta's name. We have enjoyed having it the last few weeks; it has already been a huge blessing to us, and a great help in getting us started in ministry. Our family is so thankful to each of you who have been praying that God would provide us a car.

 The (Really) Long Version: Before we bought this car, we had been praying a lot that God would bring the right car to us, and that there would be clear direction as to which car was the one for us. We also felt very strongly that we should not make a decision to pursue any car until September 1st or later. So we had been praying, and looking for several weeks in newspapers and autotrader-type papers.
 On August 27th, I went with a friend named Ionica (who's also a mechanic) to an automarket in Deva, a city about 2 hours away. People come from miles around to bring their cars to this outdoor swapmeet sort of market every Sunday. We even saw cars there from the area where we live! Out of all the cars we saw there, we liked a 1987 Volkswagen Jetta, and a 1984 Mercedes. They were both in fine shape, but we spent a lot more time talking to the man with the Mercedes, because overall it seemed to be a better car (although Ionica said the VW had a very good engine). Both cars had about the same price on them. We left the automarket with the phone numbers of both cars' owners, and I was fairly convinced that the Mercedes was probably the one for us. We would pray about it that week, and perhaps call the man with the Mercedes on the following weekend (after Sep.1, Friday) if we felt that was the car God had for us. We pretty much forgot about the VW Jetta -- but God did not!
 On Wednesday, Geta's father called us (he works in Deva) and said he had been looking in the newspaper, and had found a Volkswagen that we should come see. I said okay, so the next morning (Thursday) I took a bus to meet him, and we went together to see this car that he had found in the paper. We went about 10 miles out in the country past Deva, through several villages until we came to the village of Fizes, and arrived at the house where the car was supposed to be. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the courtyard of this house, only to see a car that looked familiar for some reason. When the owner appeared, and I recognized him and realized in that instant that the Volkswagen Jetta I saw there before me was the very same one Ionica and I had looked at just days earlier at the automarket. I was really taken aback at the seeming "coincidence". I knew this was definitely not a coincidence, but that it could just be the "clear direction" we had prayed for. We looked the car over very well, I took some pictures to show Geta, and I told the owner we would call him On September 1st (the next day) or later if we decided to pursue it. After I finally got home that evening (via Geta's dad and then hitchhiking -- safe in Romania) Geta and I talked about it, I showed her the pictures, and we prayed about it. We felt that we should pursue the Jetta, and so we called the owner the next day (September 1st) and told him we were interested in pursuing the car.
 We spent the next week (Monday-Friday) running back and forth to Deva and going through the entire process of buying the car (not a simple process here), getting the technical inspection done, and so on until at last, on Friday evening about 8pm we arrived back at out temporary home in Otelu-Rosu. That was the first set of hoops to jump through, in the county of Hunedoara. Then we spent another couple of days running around the county where we were registering the car (Caras-Severin) in order to get all the correct taxes paid, and the new plates for the car. Let me just say, I am not looking forward to buying another car here in Romania. But, thankfully, everything was done legally and in order, and the car is in Geta's name, so if we ever have to sell it and get something with more seats (more kids? You never know!), it won't be too big of a problem.
 One question I know is probably on a lot of peple's minds is: why in the world would you pay over $3000 for a 20 year old car? Yes, I admit I asked myself the same question. If I were in America, I would have to be insane (maybe even committed) to pay that much for a 20 year old VW Jetta. But we're not in America. The market is very different here in Romania, and this type of car is very popular and highly sought after. This is because it is diesel, and because it gets very good mileage (about 1.25 gallons for 100km or 60 miles), so it is comparatively inexpensive to operate. It is also because Volkswagen is a very reliable car, and the parts are not expensive. The car should hold it's value pretty well. (The other Volkswagens in this era, Golf II and Passat, are generally going for anywhere from 2500 Euros to over 3800 Euros!) We got a pretty good deal on this one because we had to do some extra papers on the motor (it is newer than the car) and because we will probably have to paint it at some point in the next couple of years. After we brought the car home, I went to a junkyard in Lugoj (1 1/2 hrs away) and got seatbelts for the back seat so we can buckle the kid's car seats in!

 The car has run beautifully for us; it has already been a huge blessing for us, and a great help in getting us started in ministry. Again, our family is so thankful to each of you who prayed with us that God would provide us a good car at a good price; you are a blessing -- thank you!
 UPDATE: January 09, 2006 -- The car continues to run beautifully for us, and has been such a blessing in ministry for us. We have changed the rear shocks and coils, and the water pump since we got it, but that is it. We are so thankful for this car. Praise God!