We hope this letter finds you well and full of joy, as we remember and celebrate the birth of the One who came to save each one of us.
This year has been an interesting year for us as we have sometimes struggled and sought counsel in understanding what it is that the Lord is doing in our lives, and how we can best serve Him where He has placed us right now. We have been blessed to be continually involved with the church of Smirna in Drobeta Turnu-Severin. God has blessed us with many great friendships which continue to deepen, relationships that God is using to prepare us for the next stages of ministry.
We have had many opportunities to serve within the church. I have been continuing to teach and serve as an elder in the church, and Geta regularly teaches Sunday School. The kids have enjoyed singing in church, and learning in Sunday School. At the property where we live, we had the privilege of serving others through hosting fellowship gatherings of anywhere from ten to forty people, from different churches every Sunday afternoon from spring through fall (weather permitting). I (Andrew) was also recently able to go with a group from church for a day to help a church planter in another area cover the roof of his church (still under construction) with tar paper. These have been chances to witness God's hand at work in people's lives here, and be a part of it; they are but glimpses of what God is doing in Romania for His kingdom.
We have also had opportunities to learn and serve outside our church as well. Early on in the year we were the principal caretakers for a very poor family. This family with four children had nothing but the clothes on their back, and nowhere to go where they could stay warm. To make a long story short, it was decided they could stay at the property where we were staying until winter had passed. They were allowed to stay in a camping trailer here complete with beds, table, and heat. We, together with others from the church, were able to give the family much-needed food and clothes. Since we lived right here on the same property, we were able to take part in the day to day needs of the family in different ways including serving them cooked meals – and of course coffee and tea in the mornings! God blessed us through this experience and it was a great learning experience.
Our opportunities to serve outside our church continued throughout the year with things like History Makers, conferences that are designed to help young emerging leaders identify that God is calling them to be leaders, and to seek how God is in fact calling them to lead through service to Him. It continues to be a privilege to be a part of the History Makers conferences as a teacher; it is great to see God moving in such a way through young people all across Romania.
We were able to go to a couple of different villages a number of times this year, continuing to work toward building relationships with people there, and ministering how we could. In Giubega, where we believe God will place us to live permanently, we were able to go several times this year and encourage Niculeta (the one christian lady there), as well as visit with some of her relatives and neighbors; we even had the opportunity to have an Easter “service” for the neighborhood kids. Hobita is a small village that we are blessed to be able to visit whenever we are in the western part of Romania. It a very small church in need of encouragement, and God used us to encourage the believers there through visiting with the people and continuing to build relationships with them, as well as by participating in their services through sharing, singing, and Bible teachings. In the cases of both Giubega and Hobita, while we believe that God used us to be a blessing to others, it is clear that God also used them to bless us and encourage our family as well. What a great God we have!
Opportunities to serve that we see on the near or immediate horizon include: continually being willing, able, and ready to serve those with needs around us; increasing our understanding of leadership God's way through experience in serving at Smirna where God has placed us at this time; being ready to follow God leading in ways He wants to equip us to better serve Him and understand how we can best reach this culture for God; having a continued impact on young leaders through the teaching opportunities we have with History Makers.
Also, in the weekend of December 18-20, our church hosted a group of people coming from another city that went together with us to families in the area that have little or nothing. The plan was to go to these families where there is great need, do some singing, and take much-needed food and clothing to as many as possible. We were able to do that, as well as give out Operation Christmas Child boxes to children in those families, which was a moving experience. Everyone involved in this prayed that it would be a huge blessing to those families, as well as a chance to share the reason behind why we are doing something like this (Jesus!).
Please continue to pray for our family as God continues to work in us, teaching us little by little and directing us only one step at at a time where He wants us to go. God has been teaching us over this last year and a half that He cannot be “put in a box”, or fit into some formula, and that his timing is not always our timing. In the end, it is about understanding, and being aligned with, what God has for us to do here and now, and faithfully serving in that.
Please pray for boldness, courage and more of a servant's heart for us as we serve where God has directed; we also ask your prayers for wisdom, patience, and continued determination to serve the Lord to the fullest of our capacity and the best of our ability in the place and time where He has placed us now.
God has showed us again and again that He is the one who provides for us. We never went hungry, and (as many of you have heard us speak about before) God has always been faithful to provide for us, and we believe He will continue to do so. God has never let us down. We would ask that you pray for God's continued incredible financial providence for us. God's hand continues to be seen in small day to day things; He has continually kept His hand of blessing upon us.
God has truly been good to us this year, and continues to teach us so much! Thank you for your continual friendship, your continual sacrificial support for our family, and of course, your continual bringing of our family before the throne of God in prayer. You are a part of what God is doing in His kingdom here in Romania.
God be with each of you, and may you be blessed by Him this Christmas season more than you can ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20)
Andrew & Geta and family
Jeremiah, enjoying the deep snow that fell just days before Christmas.
Ammi, Joseph and Elijah and the joy (and utter freezing coldness) of snow angels!