Two Year Recap

It is hard to believe it, but Lenka and I have been in Slovakia for over two years now. When we were in America, and planning our missions here in Slovakia, we could never have guessed what would have happened over the past two years.

Over the past two years we have had many great and wonderful things happen, as well as failures and disappointments. We have had highs, and lows. We have had moments where we felt God was close, and moments where he seemed far away. However, He was always there, always loving and caring for us. 

Looking back to those moments before we left for Slovakia, and what we were expecting, and what our plans were, is humbling. When we came to Slovakia we had plans to work with the Slovak Baptist Union for two years as interns, and then “graduate” into full time ministry.

Our internship was set up so that we would be involved in a wide variety of ministries, everything from preaching and Bible study, to planning crazy games for youth camps. We were both excited and nervous as we boarded the train from Košice to Hurbanovo.

Some of the highlights from the first year were:

Getting on the train in Košice and as we came closer to Hurbanovo hearing more and more Hungarian, and thinking,“What have we got ourselves into?“.

My first sermon on Easter, and having to move out of our house the day before because of fleas

Summer camps, and all of the crazy games and fun times with amazing people

My first Christmas in Slovakia, and experencing all of the traditions

Attempting to preach in Slovak

Playing in the worship band

Precept Ministries conference in Romania

Baptist Union conferences in the High Tatras

English Camps

DEPO club, and many new friends

And much much more, which I could fill many pages with.

As I stated before, we were expecting to have a two year internship, and then “graduate“ as missionaries. However, as the result of some misunderstandings, we did not continue after the first year with the Slovak baptist Union.  You can read a more detailed account of what happened in some of my previous posts. I would rather leave that issue in the past, and just say that we learned from it. 

After one year in Hurbanovo, we moved back to Košice, where Lenka is from. We of course wanted to continue our missions here as well, but as missionaries for the Slovak Baptist Union we had everything ready for us, including where we would serve and what we would do. Here in Košice we were coming to a blank slate.

It has been a challenge over the past year as we have been trying to find what God wants us to do here. We have been thinking about what it means to be a missionary, and what that should look like here, and what is the greatest need here in Košice.

We have been involved in church here, preaching and singing in the worship band when asked, as well as leading Sunday School for kids.

We have also tried to start a group here in Košice, but so far it has not gone as planned. We are not giving up because of this, but are continuing to pray and search. 

Right now Lenka and I are both working in “secular“ jobs, but we also use this as a way to share our faith.

We are also excited to tell you that we are expecting our first baby, which will arrive around the middle of June. It will be a girl, and she will be called Savannah Grace!

We are very thankful and grateful for all of the support that you have given us over the past two years. You have been there for us in the good and bad, and we know that we can depend upon you. We are proud to represent you here, and count you as a part of our missions.

We ask you to pray for us, so that we would see what God would like for us to do here in Košice. We hope that our ties will continue to grow, and that we will be able to show more and more people here that God loves them, and died for them, and that all can come to Him to wash away their sins.

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The hot weather is here!

It seems that the hot weather has made it here to Slovakia! After three weeks or so of rain, it decided to warm up, and we have had some good days of sun. We have been enjoying being outside, especially in the garden where we can relax, and of course eat ice cream!

Lenka and I have been doing well. We have continued to work in our respective jobs. Lenka is doing well in her job at T-Systems, however the night shifts are tough, since she has to work from 7pm to 7am. She also has day shifts, which are from 7am to 7pm. She is learning fast and working hard. My job at the language school has been going well too. I am really enjoying my students, they are all so great to teach, and we even have some fun together. I actually enjoy going to work, even at 7am!

We are continuing to pray to see where God will lead us, and how He wants us to serve here in Košice. We continue to meet with the pastors here when possible, and pray together. We have also been looking at several mission organizations to partner with, so we will have a long term mission.

This past month a friend that we had met last year in Hurbanovo came for a visit. Tuukka, who drove the Bus4Life around Europe last year, is continuing his journey this year, and he made a stop here in Košice! We had a great time catching up!

This past week I was able to preach a few times, once on Sunday evening and another time on Thursday evening. On Sunday evening I actually preached in Slovak! I wrote it out, and Lenka helped me with some grammar. Hopefully one day I will be able to preach in Slovak with only a few notes!

On Thursday I was given the Bible passage to preach on, and as I was preparing I remembered that I had already given a sermon on this exact passage, and not only that, but it was exactly a year ago! It is amazing how God works. The passage was 1 Timothy 1:12-20. A great encouragement!

This week we also have something new that we are starting. On Wednesday we will have our first English Bible study. I wanted to have more opportunities to share the Gospel with my students, so I asked them if they would be interested and they are. So, this Wednesday is the first time we will meet. Please pray that my students, as well as others would come, and that God would bless this time.

Lenka and I are so grateful for all of the support that you continue to give us. We are blessed to have people praying for us, and supporting us financially.

Please continue to pray for us, that we would see the path and mission that God has planned for us here in Košice. Please also pray for my students that their hearts would be open to the Gospel, and that they would give their lives to Jesus.

We hope that you are doing well at home. If you have any prayer concerns you would like to share, we would love to pray for you

For our next blog we would like to answer questions from our loyal readers! So, send us in your questions, serious or silly, and we will answer them! We look forward to see what you will ask!

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Update From Košice

Spring has finally arrived here in Slovakia! After a long winter, full of snow, we have warm temperatures. While I did enjoy winter, I am glad to be able to wear tshirts again. Along with the warm weather in Košice come the street restaurants on the Main Street, and all of the wonderful icecream. I actually found poppy seed and Kofola flavored icrecream yesterday. It was delicious!

Lenka is getting settled down into her job. She is still in training for now but will start with her regular working hours soon, which are 12 hour shifts. It will be hard since it is a long shift, but she will also have more days off, which is a good thing. She is working with various problems that come up in the system, so she is dealing with both people and computers. Please pray for her as she continues to learn and get used to her new job.

I have finally been able to find a job! I am working in a language school teaching English. All of my students are From IT companies, like where Lenka is working. I am really enjoying it so far. Everyone that I teach is really nice, and they want to learn. Right now I am working two days a week, but I hope to get a few more hours soon.

I am so thankful to God for helping me find this job. I know that He has amazing plans, and even though I have a “secular” job, I will still be able to show the light of Christ. Please pray for opportunities for me to share the Gospel, and that my students would be open to hearing it.

I have also found a Slovak teacher, and meet with her once a week. I am taking a free course, but those classes are more general. This new teacher will help me with grammar, which is very important. I see this as the most important step in my ministry here in Slovakia. I need to be able to speak Slovak to reach people here. Please pray that I would be able to do that.

Lenka and I are also meeting with the pastor to pray and see how we can best reach the people of Košice. We have to trust and listen to God for His guidance, to see where He opens doors, and leads us to ministry.

We are also searching for a long term ministry organization, so that we will be able to continue our ministry here. We have been praying and researching, and meeting with people. We know that God has an amazing plan for us, and we look forward to seeing what that will be.

Lenka and I are very grateful and blessed to have you praying for us and thinking about us while we are planning our ministry here in Košice. Last year when we arrived in Hurbanovo we were just able to jump right into ministry, since it was planned for us. Now we are starting fresh, and learning to trust God and His timing.

This Sunday evening I will be preaching here in Košice. Please pray that God would lead me and guide me as I prepare.

We hope that everyone is doing well at home. If you ever have any prayer concerns to share, we would love to be able to pray for you.

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First Weeks in Košice

Lenka and I have been in Košice now for almost two weeks! It was hard to say goodbye to everyone from Hurbanovo and Nové Zámky, but we are glad to be back home. The first year here in Sovakia flew by, and a lot of great things happened, along with challenges, but God was always with us.

Things have been busy here. Lenka started her new job only a few days after we arrived here in Košice. It is tough, and she is having to learn a lot, but she is enjoying it. She has training now, so her hours are different than they will be when she finishes the training.

I have continued to look for a job, without any luck so far, but I still am confident that something will come around. I have also started taking some Slovak classes. They are twice a week, for an hour and a half. The best part is that they are free! Hopefully I will continue to build on what I know, and become more confident.

I also met with the pastor and assistant pastor from the church here in Košice. We talked about different ideas for missions and possibilities here in Košice. I am very excited about what will happen, and to see how we can work together with the church here. Please pray for us that we would be able to find our mission here in Košice.

Besides everything else we are still trying to get our things unpacked and moved in to our new home. One thing that is making it more complicated is that all of our clothes smell like smoke. Our neighbors bellow us in our last place smoked a lot, and it drifted up into our place. So, now we are having to wash or air out everything! When we get everything set up I will put up some pictures of where we live.

We would like to thank everyone again for helping us and supporting us with our Flapjack Fundraiser. We wished we could have been there, but it was good to talk to some people through Skype. We have such an amazing support group!

Our new address:

Povrazová 74
Košice 040 16
Slovakia

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Before the Big Move

It has almost been a month since I last wrote a blog, and things have been getting busy here as our time in Hurbanovo comes to an end. It is hard to believe that it has been a year already!

This Saturday we will be having a flapjack fundraiser at Applebee’s in Rocky Mount. If you have not bought a ticket, please do! It will be a great time with awesome food. How can it be better? We might even make appearance through Skype! Hope to see you there! Here is a link for more information:
http://lakesidechurchrmt.org/news-and-information/current-upcoming-events/

At the end of January, Lenka had the topic for youth group in DEPO. It was wonderful, and there were many kids who were there. She gave her testimony, and talked about Noah’s Ark, that the door is still open for us to go in, and choose Jesus as our Savior. We pray that those who were there will think about this more deeply, and that they will put their faith in Jesus.

During the beginning of February we made a trip to Košice, to get some things done, and while we were there Lenka had an interview for a job. She ended up getting the job, and will begin in March! She will be working with T-Systems. She is really excited, and is looking forward to start. We are thankful for prayers. With her work schedule, she will also have time for missions, so we are also grateful for that.

I am continuing to search for a job, in pretty much any field possible. I am even applying to be a sales person in a store, which I think would be great for me to learn Slovak faster! Please continue to pray for me, that I would be able to find something.

On February 9 we had our last official youth group. It was the last time that most of us could be together, since these last two weeks most of the youth are away, first weekend for a local conference, and then this weekend for the Slovak Baptist youth conference.

Last week was National Marriage Week here in Slovakia, as well as in other countries around the world. It was also the same week as Valentine’s Day, for obvious reasons. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we had a workshop in DEPO for people to come and learn about different aspects of marriage, and how to improve.

Since the marriage workshop met in DEPO, we had to cancel the club for that week. We felt bad for the kids, so we decided to watch a movie on Saturday, to have fun and relax a bit. We watched “October Baby”. It is a great movie, and if you have not seen it yet, then you should check it out. After the movie we hung out, and enjoyed some Kofola.

On Saturday we were able to meet with RADA, and talk about this past year, as well as why we would not continue after this year. It was a good time, and we were able to be open and honest about the good and bad things. A lot of what has happened was a result of miscommunication, and different expectations.

Last Sunday was the last time the youth would be there to hear me preach, so I thought it would be good to get them involved. One thing I am famous for here is asking for volunteers during my sermons. So, I thought why not end by getting the whole youth group to “volunteer” and help me sing the last song. It was great!

This last week here is really busy. Several people want to invite us for lunch, and we have some people coming over as well. We are also having one last youth in DEPO, which is tonight. It will be our last DEPO, and it will be hard to say goodbye. We are also going to both churches on Sunday.

Our year here in Hurbanovo and Nové Zámky has been good. We have met a lot of wonderful people, and have been blessed. I can still remember the first time we came to Hurbanovo, stepping off of the train, and thinking about what this next year would be like. I could never have imagined what would happen.

Through everything though, we knew that we always had people praying for us, and that was a great comfort. At times we were stretched and worn, but God never left us. Our challenges have made us stronger, and we have grown. We are very excited about the next chapter in our ministry. We know that God has great plans!

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Moving Forward with God

Dear Supporters,

It has almost been a year since Lenka and I began our mission here in Slovakia. We had been dreaming of this for a while, and after praying and searching, God led us here to serve. We came here with your support and prayers, and have felt so blessed to have people back home who are behind us.

Over the past year we have been missionary interns for the Slovak Baptist Union. We have been working in two different towns here in the south of Slovakia. We live in Hurbanovo, and that is where we do most of our ministry, but we also serve in Nové Zámky. At times it has been difficult serving in two places, but it has also been a blessing getting to know the people and churches in both towns.

During our year of internship we were to both learn how to do missions and grow spiritually at home by reading and studying. We had a normal schedule that we would follow each week which included going to church, DEPO, and youth group. In church I would preach and Lenka would teach Sunday School. We both also played in the worship band.

In DEPO we were with the kids to play with them and talk with them. We also organized games or special events there. Recently we have started an English class in DEPO to teach them basic English and various American traditions. Over the past year we have seen the DEPO kids open up and become more open to hearing the Gospel.

In youth group we also played in the band and I would sometimes speak on a chosen topic. Toward the end of the year there was a need to change the youth team (the people who lead the youth group and organize events), so Lenka and I joined and we began to take more of a leadership role there. We encouraged the team to meet once a week and to work on communication. We also wanted to bring youth group to the DEPO kids, so we started having youth group in DEPO once every two weeks. Another thing that we started was free youth group where we would have a special event, such as bowling.

We started a kids club in Nové Zámky that meets once a month and began going to a local high school to teach English once a month. In the same school where we teach our monthly English lesson, Lenka is substituting for a month for the English teacher who is sick.

Besides our normal routine, we had other special events during the year. In the summer we had several camps where we would go into the schools and teach English or invite people to English camps. This was a great opportunity to share the Gospel and invite people to DEPO. We also had youth camp for the Hurbanovo church which was a lot of fun.

Some other events during the year that we took part in were Bus4Life, the Hope Festival in Budapest, monthly pastor meetings, Christmas missions, conferences with the Slovak Baptist Union, and even a trip to Romania for a conference with Precept Ministries!

We came over to Sovakia with a certain idea of what we would be doing and how we would work with the Slovak Baptist Union. We expected to come over and train to be missionaries in existing churches, working mainly with unchurched youth and children. The process by which we were hired was a little different than usual since we were living in the US at the time, and we were not able to meet with Rada, the main group of the Slovak Baptist Union.

During the course of our internship, Lenka and I both felt that things were different than we expected. I began to preach more often and we were not involved with as many ministry opportunities with people outside of the church. Other expectations such as assistance with housing and volunteers from church to assist us were not fulfilled. We knew, however, that God wanted us to serve here so we put our trust in Him and continued to serve, never once wanting to return home in defeat.

Within the past month or so, we received word that after our first year is completed we would not continue with the Slovak Baptist Union. We were both shocked at this news. We were told that the Slovak Baptist Union is looking to hire people who want to plant churches and that we were not ready for that (which of course we never had intended to do over here). Also, my Slovak is not at an advanced level yet, so I would not be able to lead a church on my own.

The feelings that we had been having over the course of our first year all made sense. We realized that we and the Slovak Baptist Union were both going in different directions. The Slovak Baptist Union thought of the internship as a chance to slowly place us in missions, assuming that we were prepared before we came over, while we thought of it as a chance to learn and grow more.

Even though this has happened and we are sad about the circumstances, we still know that God wants us here. We know that He has called us to missions, and we will continue to serve Him and to further share the Gospel. After February our internship will end with the Slovak Baptist Union and we will begin a new chapter in our ministry. We will move to Košice and live with Lenka’s family for a while. They have a separate apartment where we can live. While we are there we will be looking for opportunities to serve in her church as well as other ministry opportunities that become available. We are also looking to find work to continue to be able to live and function in Slovakia, and to help fund our missions.

We know that God has an amazing plan for us and that He is always watching over us. We will never find ourselves without His guidance and support. The God that we serve is not a dead God, or a distant God, but a living and real God who is present with us always. We must continue to look to Him and to put our trust in Him.

We thank our supporters back home for all that you have done for us this past year. We are so grateful and humbled to know that we have such amazing people who love and care for us. We are honored to represent you over here in Slovakia and appreciate your continued support.

Please continue to pray for us that we would find the ministry that God has planned for us and that more people would come to know about Jesus and what He did for all people on the cross.

Grace and Peace,

Robert and Lenka

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First Slovak Christmas (Very Important News)

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It has been awhile since I last wrote a blog. We have been busy with things around Christmas, as well as enjoying time off in Košice with Lenka’s family. It was my first Christmas here in Slovakia, and I was very excited to see all the different traditions.

One of the first things that we did was to buy the traditional carp, that is eaten on Christmas for dinner. You can usually buy it on the street in downtown Košice, but we bought it a bit earlier from a village close by. After you buy the carp, you then take it home and put it in the bathtub. It stays there for a while, and then you take care of business, so to say. Lenka’s grandma had the honor.

Another tradition that Slovaks have is the Christmas market, that most larger cities have. We went to the one in Košice. It is set up downtown, and there are a lot of stands selling all sorts of things, from food and cooked wine to presents. They also have live events, such as concerts.

In Hurbanovo we had our monthly English lesson in the school, and our topic was Christmas. We talked about why we celebrate, and how Americans celebrate. It was a great opportunity to share the Gospel, and our faith in Jesus.

The week of Christmas was really busy. We had several missions that we did with the church. We handed out gifts for the less fortunate people here, had a presentation at the crisis center, and also a Christmas party at DEPO. Most importantly we were able to share the true meaning of Christmas, and share the Gospel.

On the 23rd I preached in the morning, and then we left for Košice. In Slovakia they celebrate Christmas on the 24th, with another two days. On the 24th we went to church in the afternoon, and then came home for the Christmas dinner. The main dish is the carp, but we also had two soups, turkey, potato salad, sardines, bobaľky, and plenty of cookies. Before the meal we also had garlic And honey with a wafer. It is for good health in the new year.

The other days we went to church, and then had a meal after. It was pretty much like having Thanksgiving three days in a row. However, I was not one to complain!

The rest of the week we were able to relax and be with family. It was nice to have that time off. My birthday was also during this time, December 29. On Saturday we had halušky, which is my favorite Slovak meal. On Sunday family came over and we had lunch to celebrate my birthday. Lenka’s grandma made a coffee/Oreo cake for me, which was delicious!

We came back to Hurbanovo, and celebrated New Year’s Eve. We had a service that night, where I preached, and then went to DEPO after to have fun and play games. We left before midnight to get home and see the fireworks. Our apartment has a view looking towards the main square, which is where the main fireworks display was, but also other people can set off fireworks. At midnight everyone all over the village began setting off fireworks. It was so beautiful, the whole sky was lit up!

We also have some important news to tell you. I had written before that the Slovak Baptist Union ended Lenka’s practice. Well, we also just got news right before Christmas that I would also be finished after February, and not be hired. Lenka also found out that she will be able to finish her year internship. It came as a shock to both of us. We still do not have all of the details, but they have told us that it is because they need church planters, and not missionaries who work alongside an existing church.

At first I was shocked, then angry, and then sad. Coming into the internship I had great plans and ideas of how we could serve here in Slovakia. However, this is not the end of our mission. I have always said that I have been called by God to Slovakia, and that has not changed. God places people in service, not mission boards.

For now we do not know what will happen after February. We have begun to look for another organization to support us. We will also be moving to Košice, and look to serve in the church there. Another option is to teach English, which we were not able to do while working with the Baptist Union. There are plenty of opportunities to do that in Košice, which will be very helpful.

We are very grateful for the people who are supporting us, and praying for us. We would like reassure you that we will continue to serve, and that what you have given us financially will continue to help in spreading the Gospel to the people of Slovakia. We know that God has an amazing plan for us.

Please continue to pray, that we would see God’s plan, and that doors would be opened for us to continue to serve.

Posted in Christianity, Religion, Slovak, Slovak Missions | 6 Comments