Monday, July 28, 2008

Please pray for our friends

We got some really sad news today - our colleague and friend Teri Tarleton, who serves in Russia, has passed away suddenly from an apparent heart attack.  Please pray for her husband Ed, their kids, and everyone involved.  We don't get to see the Tarletons very often since they live so far away, but they are a very special family who have been faithfully serving the Lord on the mission field for many years.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Baseball day wasn't rained out!

Yay--the baseball day happened in spite of dire predictions of gusty winds and torrential rain!  Thank you to everyone who prayed for good weather.  They actually played softball, but the info sheet they got told the difference.  Gary said they really enjoyed it and want to play some more.  He was so busy working with them that he didn't get any pictures, but we'll ask some of the girls from Kaba if they'll share some photos they took on their cameras.

Tonight Gary will be giving the presentation, and the topic given to him is "Heaven and Hell."  Not very easy information to present in a short amount of time, plus he has to be kind of careful since there are some little kids there who probably can't deal with the more graphic material.  Please pray for him as he prepares today and speaks this evening. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Answered prayers

I'm so thankful to be able to write that Levi is doing better now...thanks so much for your prayers!  Gary was able to talk to him for quite a while and gave him some Scripture verses printed out in Romanian, Hungarian, and English, so he could compare and study them.  He seems much happier now and is getting involved in the camp activities. 

The "Creation and/or Evolution" presentation went well, with some of the young people asking very good questions.  Tonight's event will be the film "The Cross and the Switchblade."

We got quite a bit of rain last night, but not the dangerous winds that had been forecast, so we're thankful for that.  It's too wet to do outdoor sports, though, so they're using the gym again today.  Tomorrow is supposed to be baseball day (every day is an introduction to a different sport), so please pray that the weather will allow them to play outside.  Gary is taking the equipment and will be helping a lot with the training since he's more familiar with this sport than the Hungarians are.  I think it's wonderful that the local Baptist churches are doing this creative outreach, and I'm glad that we're able to help even a little bit. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not an easy time

Good morning, everyone.  Please pray for Levi...things have gotten very tough for him and he's WAAAYY out of his comfort zone.  Differences in customs, culture, language, etc., have hit him upside the head this week, and he's not having such a good time anymore.     The preparation days are over and the actual sports camp begins today, so now he'll be dealing with other campers in addition to the church folks who have been there getting things ready.

There are about 19 people taking part in the camp--high-school and college-aged.  About half of them are not believers.  They're at varying levels of spiritual interest, all the way from "seeker" to self-acknowledged atheist.  Plans for the camp have been rapidly changing because of logistical issues and bad weather; this morning I saw on the news that a storm warning has been issued, calling for strong winds and rain.  Gary said they plan to have the sports time inside a gym today.  Hopefully this front will move on through quicker than the forecast calls for and outdoor activities will be possible again after all.

Each evening of the camp there will be some kind of presentation.  Tonight's subject is "Creation and/or evolution."  This will be interesting for the young people, because most of them have never heard anything other than the teaching of  evolution that's given to them in the schools and they don't even know that other views exist.  We appreciate everyone's prayers for Levi, for the camp, and that the possibly dangerous storms that have been forecast will not come after all.  Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2008

People responding, 312 Bibles distributed!

I'm at home now, so I'm going to try to catch you up a bit on what's been happening these past few days. I'll try to keep it short, but so much has been happening that it's going to be hard!

Our booth Friday (July 18) at the Püspökladány open market was a busy place.  We gave away Bibles at the long table, and there were free blood pressure checks at the small table. Things started off a little slowly to begin with, but pretty soon we had plenty of people stopping by, talking, accepting a Bible or New Testament, and getting their blood pressure checked.  Each person signed a statement promising to try to read the Bible through; this was printed onto a book mark for their Bible, which we hope will serve as a good reminder to them.  It was great to get to continue some relationships that we had made in previous projects in the town, as well as making new friends.  And what a blessing it was to work alongside the local Baptist church folks, from Kaba and Hajdúszoboszló as well as Püspökladány.

On Saturday we had our Bible booth at a park in Püspökladány next to the big tent the church had set up for their family fun outreach days.  Once word got out that people could get a free Bible, we kept very busy!  Over the course of the weekend we gave away 312 Bibles/New Testaments!  We're so excited to have such a great response!  In this same town in a previous year, over the course of a December  project where we spent 6 days in the market doing a Bible distribution project, we gave away only 32 -- we believe this is one more sign that the Lord is really working here.

In the picture below you can see Levi and Gary with one of our new friends. This gentleman came by and talked to us quite a bit, and gave us his address so we can get together again in the future.  Please pray that the Lord will continue to work in his life, as well as in the lives of the many other people we came into
contact with during this project.

The church also had children's programs, with music, Bible stories, and games.  You can see some of the kids here having a great time
tossing water balloons from sheet to sheet.  It was a beautiful day to be outside!

The youth from the area Baptist churches provided music for the evangelistic services held in the big tent, and they did a great job.

On Sunday afternoon a psychologist who works at the drug treatment center in Debrecen--and who is a believer--came out to the park and gave a talk about drug dependency, alcohol, smoking, and other addictions.  He was a great speaker and really drew his audience in, getting people to interact with him.  He talked a lot about the reasons people turn to drugs of all kinds, and brought in the spiritual aspects.   Afterward he spent a lot of time answering questions and talking to people both in the group and one-on-one.

Both on Saturday and Sunday there was a 6 PM evangelistic service.  On Saturday Gary spoke, using stories from his experiences as a flight instructor back in the States to illustrate spiritual principles.  He really got the people's attention when he talked about a dangerous situation when a student's error sent the plane hurtling straight down toward the earth; in that moment it was imperative for the student to immediately give total control over to Gary as the flight instructor, who could correct the situation.  I believe the listeners got the point he made...that in our out-of-control lives we must yield ourselves to God, who is able save us.

Pastor Tibor preached on Sunday evening, and it was great--he really told it to them straight, and the people sat extremely still, just listening. At the end when he asked for a response, two people said that they had accepted Christ!  I believe that many more folks there were deeply affected, though, so please pray that the Lord will continue His work in them.

The church in Püspökladány is about to begin their outreach sports camp, which will be going on from Wednesday through Sunday, so please keep praying for this little town and the people here.  Thanks!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More happenings in Püspökladány

I have some pictures I want to post to show you what's going on, but I've got to leave in just a few minutes so I'll have to put them on later.  The Scripture distribution went GREAT yesterday--lots of people now have a Bible that didn't before!  More on that later. 

Today the Püspökladány Baptist Church has been having the first day of their community outreach family fun time, with sports and all kinds of activities.  This evening (in a little more than 2 hours from now) there will be a evangelistic service in a tent, with music, preaching, and testimonies.  Gary will be preaching, and Levi and I (among others) will be giving short testimonies about how God has worked in our lives.  Lots of people have said they'll be coming.  Tomorrow will be a continuation of this outreach, so please keep praying specifically on through tomorrow!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scripture distribution tomorrow

Tomorrow morning at 4:45 AM we'll be leaving to go to Püspökladány to set up a booth in the open market, where we'll be giving away Bibles.  2008 has been declared the Year of the Bible here in Hungary, so we're trying to emphasize the need to actually read the Bible...not just study about it or see museum exhibits of old copies of Scripture.  Each person who gets a Bible signs a little statement that they promise to try to read it through during this year.  We're also giving away reading plans to help them to stay with it a little each day.  Please pray that it will go well, and that the Lord will use this change a lot of lives. 

We did a similar project here in Debrecen over the Christmas holidays and was great, so we're excited to see what will happen in Püspökladány.  It's a wonderful thing to see people who've always wanted a Bible of their own realize that they can have one, and that they don't have to pay us a thing!  We always try to emphasize that it's a gift, not that it's free.  It allows us to bring up the subject of grace....what God gives us isn't "free,"  it's just already been paid for!   8-)

Volunteers from the little Baptist churches there and in Kaba will also be coming to help us, plus they will be providing free blood pressure checks at another booth.  This seems like a simple thing to do, but it's a great way to help people and show that we care.

Our thanks again to those whose giving made it possible for us to buy the Bibles to share with these folks.  You all are an important part of this project, both through your funds and through your prayers. Thank you!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Old friend, McDonald's, and Serbia

Yesterday an old friend came by--Chip Riley from Alabama.  A really great guy. Writes books and works with young people, and I'm sure a whole lot more I don't know about!  It's great to see him again, and such an encouragement to hear what the Lord's been doing since we last talked.  Last night he took us all out for supper, which was the first time Levi has ever gotten to experience McDonald's!  He really liked it, and asked me to take his picture next to Ronald:

Today Levi's working on memorizing some Bible verses in Hungarian, watching and answering study questions on the Visual Bible's Matthew DVD, things like that.  This will help his Hungarian vocabulary and get him to thinking more and more in Hungarian before the outreach projects begin the end of this week.

This morning Gary and Chip left for a quick trip into Serbia.  That is, if you consider a 7-hour drive to be quick!   They're going to visit another friend of ours, Zoltán Nyúl, who's an ethnic Hungarian bivocational pastor who also serves as president of a foundation that reaches out to disabled children and their families. (If you want to know more, he has an English website at  Chip and Zoltán are going to discuss possibly partnering together in the future to provide a Christian camp experience for the young people in that part of Serbia.  Chip's been doing this kind of thing in a lot of different countries; his passion is to creatively disciple and mentor young people.  Please pray with us for a safe trip for Chip and Gary, and for wisdom for them all as they discuss future possibilities. 

This picture is a little old, but here you can see Zoltán Nyúl and his family; please pray for them and the ministry there in Serbia, as life is very difficult and the needs are great.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Some photos with Levi this morning on the front balcony of our apartment. What a beautiful day!

Gary's been working with Levi on how to share his testimony in Hungarian, since his mother tongue is really Romanian and he doesn't have all the vocabulary he'll need here.  Tomorrow (Sunday) we'll be taking him to a couple of different churches, plus we'll be meeting with the Hungarian Baptist leaders who are organizing the upcoming sports camp in Püspökladány [PEWSH-pewk-lŏ-daahñ].  Please pray for good connections and for wisdom in planning.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Levi's here!

Gary and Levi got in around 2 a.m. this morning from the train station in Oradea, Romania.  I thought maybe we'd all sleep in this morning, but everybody woke up so we went ahead and started the day.  This morning was a little tour of Debrecen, a ride on the tram, that kind of thing.  He's been getting to see things that are very different from what he's used to since he's from a small village.  We're still trying to get through on the phone to his family back home to let them know he got here OK....we'll try again this evening.

Please continue praying for Levi as he adjusts to life here, and that the Lord will use him to impact the lives of those he meets.

Levi and Gary in front of the Nagy Templom
(Big Church)
on the main square in Debrecen.

Levi enjoying the beauty of the day in front of
Debrecen University's main building.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

He's got a ticket to ride...

Exciting times!  Even as I type this entry,  Levi--a young Roma (Gypsy) from Romania--is on the train coming this way!  Gary will be crossing over into Romania to pick him up in Oradea tonight a little after 11:30.  Levi will be with us here in eastern Hungary for 6 weeks helping with outreach among the Roma of this area.  A girl named Camilla was also going to be coming, but we heard just the other day that there's an illness in her family and she's needed at home.

Please pray for Levi's quick adjustment to life here, and that the Lord will lead him to the people who are ready to hear about Jesus.  The Roma have a tough life and face a lot of difficulties in society--they really need the hope that Christ gives.  We're praying that several new Bible studies will be started among them this summer, and that as those folks repent and are discipled, new churches will form in several different communities.