First Advent Sunday

Well, it is December, and we have officially put up our Christmas decorations! Even some of our neighbors have lights on their balconies. Something about this time of year makes me feel like a kid, not that some don’t still think of me as a kid. Just seeing all of the lights and decorations puts a smile on my face. It has even snowed twice here in the last week!

I had my monthly pastors’ meeting last Tuesday, and it was nice to see them again. We finished up our marriage course, which has been really helpful and encouraging. We will start a new lesson on small groups in church, which will also help Lenka and me in our mission work. We also had our traditional meal at the Chinese restaurant, complete with an all you can eat buffet. This is a very rare thing in Slovakia!

On Wednesday we continued our family group in DEPO club. We had a few more kids show up this time, so that was encouraging. We hope that this week even more will come. We put up some posters at a local school as well, so more kids will know. Please continue to pray for that ministry.

On Friday we had a special topic in DEPO about abortion. There were a lot of kids there, which was great! We watched a short video, and after had a short talk. The video we watched is called 180 the movie, and if you have never seen it you should check it out. Last year in Slovakia there were almost 16,500 abortions, which is a lot for a country of 5.5 million. We talked about the value of human life, and how God has created each person unique and special, with a purpose.

On Sunday I again attempted to give my sermon in Slovak. It is tough, and takes a while to prepare, but I need to force myself to do this. This was the first Sunday in Advent, so I spoke about hope. One thing that is different about this church from what I am used to is that there are not a lot of Christmas decorations. We only have an advent wreath. So, I made a paper Christmas tree, and used it as an illustration in my sermon.

After the morning service in Hurbanovo we went to Nové Zámky. Cecil and Ruth, who have been here teaching English, are leaving this week, so we had a goodbye party for them. We had lunch, followed by afternoon church. There were a lot of people there, which shows how much they mean to the people here.

Today we woke up, and it was snowing outside. It was a great way to start the day! We had our monthly English lesson at school this morning. Our topic was Thanksgiving, how it began and how we celebrate it today. The students really got a kick out of our after meal nap! We also talked about the true meaning of Thanksgiving, which is that we are thankful to God. It was a great opportunity to share the Gospel, and I pray that they will think about it, and their personal relationship with Jesus.

We are still waiting for a new question to answer in our blog, so send one in if you have something to ask. It can be about anything!

Please continue to pray for our ministry, and that the hearts of the people here would be open to hearing the Gospel.

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First Sermon in Slovak

This past week Lenka and I were back in Košice. Lenka had to get some school things done, and I had to see the doctor about my dizziness . I had a MRI done, and am waiting on the results. Hopefully everything will be alright, and it will not be anything serious. Besides all of the serious things we had to get done, we had a fun time in Košice. We even had a little “thanksgiving” meal. Lenka made a pumpkin pie, and we cooked turkey. It was not the same as being in the States, but it was nice to do a little something.

We were also able to spend some time with our nephew Max, who has really grown up. He is very active and creative. I was asking him what he had done the past week, and at first he said that he had forgotten, but then all of a sudden he started telling me this story of how he went to the woods, met some dragons and flying horses, and the characters from Narnia (Aslan, Edmond, Lucy, Peter, and Susan). I asked him where they were from, expecting him to say England, but he said Narnia. Then I asked him what language they spoke, and he said Czech. He always makes me laugh.

We came back on Thursday for English Hour in DEPO, and talked some about Thanksgiving, the reason for the holiday and what Americans typically do then. In our English Hour we have not really had a consistent group of kids that come every week, and we never know what to expect. Some days we have two kids who are just starting to learn, other times we have older ladies and kids, and then other times we have just older kids. So, it is hard to plan.

This past Friday we also had our youth meeting in DEPO. Before we had our topic, we had a contest in which three guys had to drink soda out of a sock, from one of the other guys. It was a little messy, and gross, but hilarious! The winner got a clean soda, and all the participants got a new pair of socks.

Peter Nagy, a guy from the youth group, had the topic. We watched a short video, which depicted people waiting in line to get to heaven. It showed people holding their “life files” and everything they had done. The basic message was that it does not matter how many times or how much you sin, or how many good things you do, only faith in Jesus can get you into heaven. Peter talked about this fact, that no one is good enough, and that we all need a Savior. He did a really good job, and I hope that the kids will think about what he said.

On Sunday I had a little surprise. I had my first sermon in Slovak. I had said before that I would have my first sermon on New Years, but I decided to try it a little bit earlier. It was simple and short, but I was pleased. I preached on reaching out to the community, to tell them about Jesus and what He did for them, being involved in missions, and inviting people to church. We as a church should not just sit in church and wait for people to come, we need to go to them.

As an illustration I had two chocolate eggs. I asked two guys from the youth to come to the front. I gave one of them the chocolate right away, and made the other one wait. The chocolate represented God’s love. I said that the first guy was someone who comes to church, and hears about God’s love. The other guy lives in the community, he does not know about God’s love, and I need to go and tell him about it.

I hope that this first sermon in Slovak is only a beginning, and that I will continue to preach in Slovak and improve. It is hard enough to preach in English, but thinking in a second language is very interesting!

This week Lenka has her English certification test on Saturday, so please be thinking of and praying for her. Also, please continue to pray for our mission here, that we would continue to follow the path that God has planned for us, and that we would have strength and courage.

We are still waiting for another question to answer on our blog so please send one in!

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New Missions in Hurbanovo

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It is hard to believe that it is already November! Time has been flying by! Christmas decorations are already in the stores, and Christmas commercials are on tv. Even in Slovakia you can’t escape the two month long season of Christmas.

In DEPO club a week ago on Friday we had a special presentation by ACET. ACET is a Christian organization, and someone from the Apolostic Church in Nové Zámky came to lead the discussion. The topic was about sex, AIDS, and relationships. To give a brief summary, it was about the myths and rumors about AIDS, how it is spread and the cause, as well as myths about sex as we see in popular culture. We also talked about relationships from a Christian perspective, that they are a gift from God, and not something that is to be put on a trial run or just to check to make sure it is a “perfect match”.

The guy who was leading the topic was very good. I think that he was able to relate to the kids, and keep the topic entertaining. He also gave his testimony, how God has changed him, which was very powerful and encouraging. I pray that those who were there will think about this, and make good choices, especially when faced with peer pressure.

We are also starting two new ministries, and we are very excited! The first one is a family oriented time in DEPO, mainly for parents with young children. Each Wednesday we will have a few hours to just have fun and enjoy family. Depending on the week we will have games, crafts, food, a topic, or a movie. Our first one will be this week, and we hope that a few families will already come.

Another ministry that we are also starting in DEPO is crafts for women. A lady in the church is leading this ministry, and Lenka is helping organize. Last week was the first meeting, but unfortunately we did not have anyone show up. We had given letters to the kids to take home to their moms, but after asking a few of them they said they had forgotten. Hopefully this week more moms will have heard!

With these new ministry opportunities, we hope that they will grow and thrive here in Hurbanovo, even after we leave. Last Sunday we asked members of the congregation to volunteer and serve as often as they could. I encouraged them to invite their friends and family, and to spread the love of Christ not just in the church, but also to the entire community!

One concern that we also have is about my health. Lately I have been having a dizzy feeling, which lasts for a few hours or so, and does not seem to have an explanation. We went to Košice to see a doctor, and we will be returning soon for some more tests. Please keep me in your prayers.

Also, please pray for these new ministries, that they will be a wonderful place of fellowship, and that we will be able to share the love of Christ to the entire community through them. Please also pray that people from our church will feel led to volunteer and become involved in these missions.

We did not receive a question to answer for this blog this past week, so please don’t hesitate to send in one for the next blog!

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Fall Party and Thanksgiving in BJB Hurbanovo

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Well, winter weather is officially here in Slovakia! Just yesterday we had our first snow here in Hurbanovo! We woke up on Monday morning to find a light coating of snow on the ground. We were very excited, and went outside for a bit to enjoy the view. However, the snow melted quickly since it is still too warm. I am looking forward to having a Slovak winter, and hopefully more snow!

This week we had a Fall Party in Nové Zámky with the DEPO club there. We had a lot of fun games, like pumpkin bowling, a popcorn eating contest, turkey stuffing (which was stuffing balloons into a person wearing a trash bag), and even a pumpkin carving contest. Along with games we also had a ton of pumpkin cakes and apple cider! It was a lot of fun, and the kids really enjoyed it.

This past Sunday was also Thanksgiving in our church in Hurbanovo. We had guests from the Baptist church in Levice and an orchestra of mandolins from Tekovské Lužany. Thanksgiving here is of course only related to the church, since most people living here do not celebrate the pilgrims going to America.

We had a morning service which lasted about two hours. It was the usual church service, with a concert by the mandolin orchestra. The church was packed, and there was not a lot of room to move around. I played with the worship band, and since the orchestra took up the entire floor, I had to stand at the top of the steps beside the cross. I guess that in the end it is always good to be close to the cross.

After the morning service we had a covered dish lunch. There was too much good food to choose from, but no problem choosing! Everyone was able to relax and talk with each other before the afternoon service.

The afternoon service was the same as the morning, but shorter. We had more music and the orchestra played again, and I had the sermon. Since this Sunday was also Reformation Sunday, I tied the two things together. I used Romans 1:21 which says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

It says that even though they knew God, that they did not honor Him or thank Him for all of the amazing things He has done. They became futile in their speculations, and their heart was darkened. When we stop thanking God, and talking to Him we drift away from Him, and we forget His will and direction in our life. This is where the reformation is important. Martin Luther saw that the Catholic Church had serious problems in their teaching and practice. I asked if we had the same problems in our churches today. Where have we come since the Reformation?

We have started answering questions from readers of our blog, and this week we are answering a question from Ann Winstead. She asks, “With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, how do you explain the way that Americans observe both of these holidays to the people in your ministry? Since our holidays are so commercialized, do they really understand that we are thankful for all that we have and are thankful to our God?”

This is a great question, and I think that Slovakia has the same problems that Americans have. I can’t really compare Thanksgiving, but I believe that Christmas is the same here. There are already Christmas decorations and candy in the stores, and even Christmas commercials! Of course all of these things have nothing to do with being thankful to God, or the amazing gift in the birth of Jesus Christ.

So, explaining is not difficult since they have seen the same things here. The struggle here is getting people outside the church, or people who are nominal Christians, to understand the real meaning.

This would be a good prayer to have, that people in Slovakia and America would see the true meaning behind these holidays, and that their hearts would be opened to receive Christ as their Savior.

Please continue to send in questions that you have, we have already had some great ones! Either comment on the blog or send me an email!

This weekend we will be going to Košice to get some things done. We will also be there for the election, which is exciting for Lenka becuse this is the first time she can vote! Please pray for safe travel!

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English in School and Youth Team

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We have had an interesting week here in Hurbanovo, not that any other week is not interesting, but this one was “action filled”. I guess as much action as a missionary can have, somewhere between James Bond and Chuck Norris. … Continue reading

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Slovak Baptist Union Conference

Since the decision by the Union to end Lenka’s internship, things have still stayed the same. Lenka has continued to serve, and be a part of the missions she was a part of before. I am proud to have such a strong wife, who is able to do this.

We have also started a new program in DEPO called English Hour, which is on Thursday. We meet in the back of the club and have a short “lesson”. It is very informal, and mostly conversational. The first week went well, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

The weather has stated to turn cool now, and we are starting to take out our winter clothes. I love cold weather, so I am excited about my first Slovak winter! I have heard that in the southern part of Slovakia there is not a lot of snow, but I hope that we will get at least a few good snows. It will still be very cold though, usually around freezing.

This past weekend I attended the elders conference for the Slovak Baptist Union. All of the churches had representatives there based on how many members are in each church. The meeting was held in Komárno, which is about 15 minutes south of here. It started at 10am and lasted until around 6pm. We discussed important issues, possible changes to some rules, and the budget.

Some of the changes discussed involve the internship position with the Baptist Union. They would be to add rules stating that a person has a call from God, been in the Baptist Union for three years, been born again for 7 years, to take a personality test, promise not to attend school either daily or part time, not to work in another part time job, and to give priority to people who have had a “secular” job for at least two years.

All of these changes will be voted on by the member churches, and the representatives will again meet to decide if the changes will happen. I personally do not hope that these rule changes will take place, since I see them leading the Union in the wrong direction.

This past Sunday was Thanksgiving for a local church. Most Slovak churches pick a Sunday to thank God for the harvest. We met with the Apostolic Church in Nesvady, which is a village near Hurbanovo. We had a morning service, followed by lunch and fellowship. Lenka and I were also able to play in the worship band. We had a great time!

Please continue to pray for us, that God would continue to give us strength for our mission, and that He would lead us to where we will serve next year.

We would also like to know what you want to know about Slovak life. We would like to have a special topic in some of our blogs, so let us know if there is something you would like to learn about. Topics cold be food, transportation, weather, etc. just send us an email and we will put it in our next blog!

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Slovak Baptist Union Decision

Over the past week, ever since I posted about Lenka’s situation with the Slovak Baptist Union, we have received many emails and comments in support of us. We felt so blessed to have so many people praying for us, that God would soften the hearts of the people. We know that prayer is powerful, and can move mountains.

However, I am sad to report that even though we prayed with all of our might, that the decision was not in our favor. The main group of the Union, with one voice, ended Lenka’s practice. I know that God is in control of all situations, and that He is watching over us. I am still hurting inside, and feel that justice was not done in this case.

This being said, this is not the end of Lenka’s practice or mission work. We do not need to be hired missionaries or pastors to do the work of God. In fact, we are all supposed to be on a mission to spread the amazing news of Christ’s love and sacrifice. Lenka can be a good role model for the Slovak Baptist Church, that all members are responsible to take part in missions.

After the conference we went straight to Košice to get some things done, such as going to see the doctor and taking care of paperwork. While here, I became sick, and am now taking antibiotics. I think it was a combination of the change in weather and stress from the decision. Please pray that I would get better soon.

I will still continue to work for the Slovak Baptist Union, and Lenka will do as much as she can. She also has to get a job now, since she does not have one. I will begin preaching a lot more during these last 5 months in Hurbanovo, as well as starting an English Hour in DEPO club.

Even though we are going through a difficult time now, we know that God has an amazing plan for us in the future, and if we are both called to do missions that He will make it happen. Please continue to pray for us that we will see God’s plan for us, and especially that we would know where He would like us to be for my second year of practice.

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