Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Christmas Letter

Andrew & Geta Roby & family, at marble mine in Ruschita, Romania, December 6th, 2009

Dear Friends and Family,
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)
In Christ,
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!

Elijah, Jeremiah and Ammi work together on the wall of a snow fort.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Summer Turns To Autumn

Geta and the kids take a rest during a hike up the hills
while visiting the grandparents in Rachitova. May 2009.

Dear Friends and Family,
The summer is nearly over; it's hard to believe that it is almost time for the leaves to start falling from the trees, and for school to start again.
We had a summer full of things to do around the property here where we are living, of opportunities for fellowship, ministry, and growth. The kids played all summer long outside, running in the grass, and splashing in an inflatable pool we were able to get. We raised 150+ chickens (live and learn), and went camping with people from the fellowship we attend and serve in.
Geta, together with the pastor's wife has been involved in leading a women's study group on and off over the past few months. The ladies really enjoy getting together on a regular basis, and seem ready to learn and appreciate what is being discussed. They are currently going through Debi Pearl's "Created To Be His Helpmeet".
Andrew went recently to a men's retreat nine hours drive away with several men from the church, where we were encouraged to live a life that will leave a legacy that honors God - very powerful teaching on families and being "men that bear the imprint of the Master". This is the second year we've heard the speaker - Greg Buorgond of Heart of a Warrior Ministries - and it is an experience not easily forgotten, and one I would recommend to any of you men back home without hesitation.
We have had a busy summer, and are expecting to have a busy fall and winter too, with Joseph starting school, and Ammi and Elijah beginning to learn some new things; and preparing for winter by getting the house ready, fixing the wood stove, getting fire wood ready, and making sure certain pipes and things don't freeze again this winter.
We thank you for your prayers for us and know that many of you have been so faithful in praying for our family - please continue to pray for us! Prayer requests right now would be: 1> that we would be able to get enough fire wood to last the winter; and 2> that we would be able to insulate the small bathroom next to our house so it doesn't freeze this year. Please pray that God will provide the means for us to accomplish this. Also, please keep the van in prayer - it has been at the repair shop for two weeks, with the mechanic not knowing how to fix it, trying different things, etc. It appears that it may finally be fixed in a couple of days (we hope so!).
We want to end this update today with a praise. As many of you are aware, we have been praying for and searching for a rear bench seat for our van for over a year now. While at the men's retreat I met a man who put me in touch with a friend of his, and we were able to "secure" a bench seat for our van. It is in Timisoara (a city about four hours drive from where we live), and it just remains for us to go and pick it up when we can. God's hand was clear in this situation!
Thank you again for continually holding our family up before the throne of God; it is encouraging to know how much we are loved, and please know that you are loved as well. May God, who has everything in His hand, continue to watch over and bless each of you; and may you continue to walk with Jesus more closely each day...
In Christ,
Andrew, Geta, & Family
p.s. We have been reading Proverbs with the kids almost every morning at breakfast, and came across this great one the other morning: "My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off." -- Proverbs 24:13-14

Elijah, Joseph, and Ammi together with some of their friends at the "kids table" during Sunday afternoon fellowship. Summer 2009.

The kids watching in delighted wonder at nearly 300 baby chicks. (Almost half of the chicks would die in the following days, mostly from suffocation). June 2, 2009.

This is the site where we went camping this year - our "church camp" if you will. July 22-26, 2009.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The God Who Is Near

April 19th, 2008 (Easter Sunday in Romania)

for 'In him we live and move and have our being';” (Acts 17:28a)

Dear Friends and Family,
greetings in the name of Christ from our family, and from your brothers and sisters here in the country of Romania. We pray that this has been a year of blessing for you so far, and that each of you have seen God's hand at work in your lives.
We continue to serve here in Drobeta Turnu-Severin at the church of Smirna, and it continues to be a blessing for us to be here, to be able to grow in our friendships with others, and to grow together in the learning of God's ways and who He is. I (Andrew) am continuing to serve as an elder, as well as teacher in the church, and Geta continues serving as either a the teacher or helper in the children's ministry. It is exciting to see what God is doing in the hearts and lives of people - even just to hear what the kids learned in Sunday School!
We have been able to be a part of a citywide project that brought youth from all over Romania to help clean the streets and do various projects as a testimony of Christ, to Geta attending a History Makers leadership conference, to Andrew attending the Romanian Global Leadership Summit; there have been endless opportunities to grow and learn more about the God we serve and were created to glorify.
It has been a great blessing to be able to live in a house this last year or so – to have the room for our family, and to have the outside open space for the kids to run and play and just be kids. Among our various responsibilities here at the property, this year we have a small garden with some strawberry plants (very popular with the kids) and sweet corn that we brought from the states (very popular with Andrew and Geta).
Our children Joseph (6), Ammishaddai (4), Elijah (3), and Jeremiah (1) are growing too fast. Joseph is a good reader and continues to develop his writing and math skills. Ammishaddai has shown an interest in school and will begin learning to read in the fall. Elijah loves to color, and play outside. Jeremiah has been walking on his own for several months now, and loves it. The kids have all had excellent health this last year that we have been living in a house, just outside the city. They have gotten colds a couple of times, but nothing like what they had to go through when we lived in a block apartment in the city. Thank you all so much for your prayers for our children - please know that they are much appreciated. God has heard your faithful prayers and our family has been blessed because of them, and because of who He is!
Another way God has blessed us this past year is with a good van (you can see pictures on our website). The exterior needs a bit of work, but the engine is in remarkably good shape. We have had it for about ten months now, and it continues to function well, and has been such a blessing. For those of you that are aware, we have been praying for a rear bench seat for the van since we bought it, and we know that many of you have been praying along with us. We know that God will provide one at a good price at the right time. Please continue to pray with us!
God has continued to bless us abundantly this year through His grace continually poured out upon us, and His direction in our lives for His purposes, and through you as well, from your continued friendship, to your encouraging communication, to your faithful support, to your much-coveted prayers.
We hope that this update from the other side of the world about the great ways that God has been working in our lives and the wonderful ways in which He has been taking care of us here in Romania has been an immense encouragement to you. I would like to end this letter with one more encouragement to you, taken from Paul's address in the Areopagus, Acts 17:
“...he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything...that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,” (Acts 17:25b, 27)
May the God who gives us all and is always near continue to pour out His blessings upon you.
Love in Christ,
Andrew & Geta, Joseph, Ammishaddai, Elijah, Jeremiah

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The End of the Year and the Start of Another

Joseph and Jeremiah out in the snow!

Dear Friends and Family,
We have seen the end of one year, and the beginning of another...and already, a whole month of the new year has passed us by; how fast time seems to go by these days!
Our family had a good Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year together, and we trust that those were special times for you and your families as well.
For Thanksgiving, we had a great family dinner together at the house we are currently staying in. December was a cold month, with snow falling about the middle of the month. It was not a lot of snow, but it was cold enough that it actually stuck around -- frozen -- until about the middle of January.
Joseph (our oldest) celebrated his sixth birthday on December 24th, and we had a special day just being together for him.
On December 21, we had a short Christmas play at the church, in which Ammi and Joseph played Mary and Joseph, Elijah and Geta were shepherds, and Andrew was a wise man (hmmm).
On Christmas Day, the believers from the church gathered together and had a wonderful Christmas dinner. There was a lot of fun, laughs, and good fellowship. Later that evening, we enjoyed our Christmas together as a family, and all had a great time.
New Year's Eve was spent with some friends of ours at their house, enjoying fellowship and food, and bringing in 2009 together. Some of us went into the city just before midnight, though it was bitterly cold, to get a good view of the fireworks. I've never been in a war zone, but perhaps it was similar -- fireworks explosions going off constantly all around, literally right above us, and many others lighting off roman candles and all manner of other fireworks that shoot sparks and fire.
Just after the new year, on January 4th, we celebrated Jeremiah's first birthday, again having a great time together.
Praise God, we have been able to keep warm this winter. Our original plan to use heaters was not as affordable as we had hoped -- there seems to be some issue with the electricity hook-up here at the house -- so we have been chopping and using firewood in the one fireplace in the house, and using a fan to circulate the heat into the next room, which seems to work pretty well.
We have included four pictures here for you which we hope you enjoy. God be with each of you as you start this new year together with Him.
Thank you for your continued prayers, support, and friendship; each is greatly appreciated.
Your friends in Christ,
Andrew & Geta and family
Elijah and Ammi out in the snow!

Joseph turns 6

Jeremiah turns 1