Monday, December 15, 2008

9 airport visits in 60 hours

Friday evening Dennis just got home and we decide to call the Lufthansa airline as the Budapest airport is still on strike. We call and get some information. Because we lost Kevin’s ticket we need to buy a new one but we have a problem. They open at 5 am and our flight is 6.20 am so this will not give us enough time to buy the ticket and check in. The solution: Dennis needs to drive to the airport tonight to get the new ticket. Not a fun idea. I pack a sandwich and off he goes to battle rush hour for an hour drive to the airport, getting lost on the way.
I feed the boys and start preparing them for bed. They need to sleep by 7 pm so they can wake up at 3 am.

Saturday 3 am. I am awake since 1 am. I just can’t sleep. Dennis is sleeping and he doesn’t even hear the alarm. I wake him up and get Ryan up and dress him. Kevin is so sleepy that even when I put the snow suit on him he doesn’t wake up. The taxi comes before 4am so we rush out the door. The airport is a mass of people. People everywhere, big lines. Where do we start? Dennis sees the man who helped him print our tickets last night and he agrees to check us in as we have a small baby. Other people try to skip the line by standing behind us. He prints the boarding passes and we need to take our luggage to the other terminal and check the luggage there since the baggage handlers are on strike. We go outside, walk to the other terminal and look to check our luggage at counter 64.
As we wait there we hear rumors that our flight to Frankfurt is canceled. Dennis runs back to the other terminal to tell them what these people are telling us. There he catches the end of an announcement in English about our flight. They are going to put us on a bus. To Frankfurt?! That will take days! Dennis runs back to find out what they are announcing in terminal A. Nothing in English, so we ask. They will put us on a bus to the Vienna airport and fly us to Frankfurt from there. There will be a bus leaving from the B terminal at 6.30 am. “Have we already checked our luggage?”, she asks. No, that is good. So we take our luggage back to the B terminal. I can’t sit outside in the cold with 2 boys, and we expect them to announce when the bus is here. So we sit down to eat yoghurt, hard boiled eggs, and apple cake. How wonderful we were prepared, and needed to empty our fridge. Between breakfast and urgent trips to bathrooms with Ryan, our bus left. They didn’t announce anything. Now all flights before 1pm are cancelled and I see some people crying. Some have already been here several days.

6.45 Dennis is back in line at the Lufthansa counter to see what we do next. The lady is unhappy that we missed the bus. I came and put Kevin in Dennis arms as Ryan needs another trip to the bathroom. She softens seeing our little ones. She tells us to get on another bus, but there is no way to make our Frankfurt connection so she writes a handwritten ticket out of Vienna for tomorrow. Where to sleep is our problem.

8.00 We are on the bus heading toward the Vienna airport. We start calling some of our friends on the cell phone to get some tips on where to stay overnight. None of them have any good tips. We pray and wait to see what God has for us. I express my desire to be close to the airport as I don’t want another 3 am wakeup call to get to the airport.

11.00 We are at the Vienna airport. A man helps us to put our suitcases inside the airport as we don’t have any Euros coins to get a cart and have to hold on to 2 boys. Dennis goes to check as I stand in the middle of the terminal with 2 very tired boys and a pile of luggage. No place to sit down so I tried to keep them busy.

11.30 Dennis comes back smiling. He went to the Austrian airline and told them our story and they decided to put us up overnight at a hotel just across the street. This was more than I prayed for. They even loan Dennis a euro to get a luggage cart. We walked into a 5 star hotel with our backpacks and pile of luggage. We had even the meals assured. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness toward us.

12.00 We had a good lunch in the hotel restaurant. We took the day off to rest as we were exhausted.

6.00 pm We eat a buffet dinner with fancy cheeses, great bread, lamb, fish, and various desserts. We use the evening to walk our luggage back to the airport again to be easier the next morning.

Sunday 5.30 am We wake up and have a quick breakfast and walk back to the airport.

7.05 We fly Austrian air to Frankfurt. What a great airline! After another hour the flight takes off for San Francisco. We don’t have seats together, and there is no basinet for Kevin. So I hold him all the time. Not fun but I will survive L

1.30 pm We arrive at San Francisco. We are 1 hour late as the airplane could not land right away due to storms. We hurried up to pick up our luggage and to check in again for our flight to Medford OR.

We are exhausted and children as well. Both of them fall asleep on the chairs at the gate as our next plane is delayed. So we wait and wait for 6 hours and our plane is canceled again due to bad weather. They hope we will be able to fly at 10 pm but this is too much for us. No one can pick us up at midnight and we are totally exhausted. Dennis finally gets in the correct line for customer service and problems. The manager sees our children asleep and sees that we came from overseas and has pity on us. So she gave us a voucher for a hotel and meals and she will put us on the flight for the next morning. God is so good to us!

Monday 6.30 am We woke up again and hurry to the airport again. The weather is so nice now. Sunny and clear skies.

8.45 We are on the last leg of our trip. Welcome home to Medford OR. We call Dennis’ father to come and pick us up. We are tired but very happy to land in a place.

Now we start the challenge to adjust to the new time zone and get the kids to sleep through the night.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life is never boring on our end!

After misplacing Kevin ticket… maybe Scrooge took it when we were asleep…
We didn’t find some lost items from last month either even we search our entire house. The mystery is continuing here.

We didn’t find it but we got more acquainted with people who work for United airline and also got to see more of the Lufthansa website. Anyway we are on our way tomorrow morning 6 am.

As I mentioned our life is not dull here. The Budapest airport is on strike!!! Couldn’t they find a better time? I am guessing not. Maybe is more nice to sit home than be outside in a freezing weather to direct the planes. But for a strike there is good news and a bad side of it. The good news is that the airport is open and there are some flights that will depart. Which one? It’s a secret. You need to go there in person to find that answer.
The bad part is even your flight is going you will leave with a delay from 30 minutes to 1 hour. What about our connection in Frankfurt? Maybe they can catapult us in the next flight. Or maybe we will get bump in the 1st class. (This is my dream … but I doubt that they will like us there with a baby..)
So this is an opportunity for more prayers on our side. Please pray with us!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Life at a high speed (I could get a ticket maybe)

We have just 5 more days till we are leaving for US. So I try to get everything done in those 5 days. I still need to finish packing but…

Packing with 2 kids around is not easy. Ryan wants to help but his idea of packing is different than mine. Also he wants some clothes to pack that are not for winter. He still thinks he can wear short pants in the frost. Also anything you put in the suitcase is out when you leave the room because Ryan is checking on what you put in the suitcase. Or the best scenario is with any thing you pack in the suitcase is coming a question “What is this mommy?” And is fun for the first 10 times to answer the same question (even your child know what are the names for those things) but then is not fun at all I guarantee. Also I need to pack things in Kevin room when he is not asleep and he does not want to be hold. So I feel that I need to move super fast. Also I need to move fast to guess as well how much he will grow up in the next 3 months. So I packed a couple of things then Kevin decided that if mommy is around he wants to be held. Holding is okay but he likes to chomp on my hand as well. So I offer my arm better. He is at the drooling stage so my left sleeve is soaking wet.

Yesterday I took Ryan to give him a hair cut and it was a circus. It was my hair appointment but Hungarians are very nice with kids. Kids are the main attraction every place you go. They don’t need to be just babies any child will find a grandma or a grandpa in a store who will entertain your child for you as you try to find your food. So I took Ryan in, left Dennis with Kevin who was asleep in car. So all the ladies are happy to see a child and talked to him in Hungarian. Ryan is smiling to them. I start to prepare him and calm him. His turn came for a haircut so then we had a crisis. He started screaming mommy, mommy mommy HEELP!. And the lady had not even touched him. He was just sitting in the chair. After more negotiations, bribes, and threats, I needed to give up. Dennis came and tried to convince him but to no avail. He jumped out of the chair and hung on daddy’s leg screaming Mommy help me! Just then he realized that was quite a long leg, not mom’s so he switched quickly: daddy let’s go!
I got my hair cut and walked to the office in high speed as I knew Kevin needed to nurse. He was happy to see me but the most happy was his dad who endured and hour of high volume screaming. I never felt more wanted in my own life.

Today I went with Kevin to his 4 month doctor appointment. I was the first one in line. Then more moms with children start coming. Everyone who came asked me who is the last in line. I don’t know Hungarian but I know the protocol. It was quite funny when the second person came and asked me even I was the only one waiting there. Then the third one came and asked me as well. Then the forth one did the same thing asking me again. So I start to point as my Hungarian is not coming. Other people are coming and asking me so from now I pay close attention to who is the last. Point my fingers there and there … I could become a traffic agent with all this motion. Some came and asked me where the doctor is. She just stepped out in another room so I did more signs.
Now time for more packing… Ryan is excited and is waiting to tell me what clothes I need to pack for myself…

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christ Day in Turku Finland

In October I went with Tateos, our Jesus film leader in Bulgaria to visit Turku, Finland. CCC Finland organized a national prayer congress with the goal of transforming the country. Believers from each town registered on a website and were represented in the stadium with their flag, showing responsibility to pray for that political area. Returning to their area these representatives are asked to help mobilize each believer to adopt one person to pray for. Few people, when asked, refuse to be prayed for. All participants received a 32 page magazine on prayer.

It was exciting when the stadium filled with 7,000 believers from all over Finland from every denomination. They invited international representatives to learn from the event from as far away as Egypt and the Solomon Islands. I met CCC staff from Spain and Holland as well as friends from Russia.

We had a chance to debrief with 7 from Russia and others from Holland on Sunday before church. Here were some of the highlights of that discussion.
What did you like best about Christ Day?
• The emphasis on love and unity, you could sense it everywhere.
• Young leaders worked together with older leaders and had their support. There was a big emphasis on connecting across generations.
• Respect for different traditions, even if you don't agree.
• How relaxed they were, blessing each other even when things didn't go quite as planned.
• They had different types of worship, without extremes.
• They taught on prayer, showing several ways to pray and then gave us a chance to pray
• The flag parade was a special moment, we were presenting our individual cities or countries to God. This made us feel like official representatives to God in praying for our city and also in bringing God to our city or county.
• It was great when the 4 church leaders knelt the first evening and confessed the wrongs of the church and of Finland.
• It meant a lot when the Swedish Mennonite man broke down as the 30 pastors took turns praying. He expressed how they had isolated themselves and felt rejected by others.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Biking to school

Today we rode the bike to school. It wasn't easy or super safe with the narrow roads and trucks, but we did it in about 20 minutes. Ryan likes "sliding" fast on the bike.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ryan Starts School

Several coworkers found an English speaking kindergarten that is just starting and we are their first customers. Ryan likes it and it gives us a break at home. This month he is going 3 days a week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kevin meets ambassador

While Kevin was waiting for mommy to return with his passport photographs he had a chance to walk around the US embassy in Budapest. Ryan was exploring his universe at a high speed and I was following him with Kevin in the frontpack. That was when a red haired woman with several other people got into a black mercedes with a US flag on the front. That was April our ambassador. She won't remember us, but hey that's not the point.

Monday, September 8, 2008

One Month With Kevin

I never give a thought about how sweet is a night sleep. I took it for granted and enjoyed it till now. Now that I can’t have one I learned to appreciated more.
Having a newborn is quite a task. I remember the advice I got when Ryan was born. “Every time when the baby sleep you go to sleep as well” . Well… This is not so easy right now having Ryan in the team. But it is okay as this time will make me more grateful when I will get a full night sleep.
But also are some good things about having all this “awake time”. This gives me plenty of time to read. I need to turn on the light to feed Kevin otherwise he just gets a snack and goes to dreamland and then is up in an hour. So I need some drastic measures to keep him on task as well. Also I am so tired that I could fall asleep even in a chair but I am afraid of falling and hurting Kevin somehow so the light keeps me on duty as well. So I use all these time to read for myself not just the toddler’s stories. It is quite nice to have all this quiet time to read to think, to pray.
Honest I still wish to get a full night sleep :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cuddling with Kevin

It is nice to have Luiza's parents with us at this time. Here is Stefan holding little Kevin and loving on him. Luiza had a quiet day today with much needed rest. Ryan was curious about his brother, for about 5 minutes, then it is time to go play or do something. Today Kevin cried for about 5 minutes as the doctor had him naked after his bath and checked him with a stethoscope, otherwise he is so quiet. His temperament seems much different than Ryan's, starting in the womb.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Strellman Kevin Paul is here! 8.8lbs on 08/08/08

(Hungarians put the last name first.) Strellman Kevin Paul is resting up after a rough journey at the Telki hospital in Hungary. His mom is worn out. Everybody is OK. All dad had to do was hold mom's hand, and eat her hospital lunch. Wow Luiza has a strong grip! Mom was curious to see the placenta and umbilical cord, which was whisked away in the US. He weighs 3.99 kilograms x 2.2 = 8.8 pounds, a little less than Ryan thankfully, but more than the 3.2 kg from last weeks ultrasound. Maybe 3.99 will be his grade point average.

Most of the attention came from the midwife, her doctor was busy seeing patients downstairs and ran up just as the head came out. The pediatrician was standing by to check out the baby and clean him up. He arrived at 11:45am on 08/08/08
Now Luiza and baby get to rest up at the hospital for the standard 4 days after a normal delivery.

Tomorrow brother Ryan will come to visit and ask his favorite question now, "What's that mommy?"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

No baby yet, but 48 pounds of wheat

While Luiza was waiting for the doctor on Wednesday, I went back to the wheat field to glean some more. We carried home 48 pounds! That was just from this one little spill by the road. There was another spill but I ran out of plastic bags and they were not strong enough. Another car of people nearby seemed to be picking elderberries. It seems that Hungary is just full of free food laying around. In May we picked over 40 pounds of cherries from our tree and others. We saw other trees in our neighborhood that nobody picked.

This reminded me of Ruth and the instruction in the Old Testament to allow the poor to glean the fields during harvest. It makes sense that with a huge field and powerful tractors and paid drivers, you don't have time to pick up a spill with your fingers and then try to sift out the dirt. If it lays very long, it will spoil and attract rats. So as a gleaner I am providing an important service.

Another thought was the amount of effort it took to create those 48 pounds of wheat. It took a lot of seed to plant this, gasoline to power the tractors to turn up the soil, someone had to make those tractors and the combines. There was a huge investment. It is a shame to overfill the trucks so that they spill grain on the way to the buyer.

Are we just as careful in harvesting God's fields? Or does a lot of fruit get wasted because we are in a hurry? Do we take time to ask questions, to listen?

Monday, August 4, 2008

4cm and our date in the wheat field

No baby yet, but we had a wonderful walk in the fields near the hospital. The baby wasn't awake and moving for his prenatal tests so we took a walk. Here is the hospital surrounded by fields. They just cut the wheat and we found a pile of grains that fell off on the road so took 2kg home to sprout.

Luiza is at 4cm, so the doctor doubts we will make it to Friday (08/08/08).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Neno Truck

Ryan is teaching me Romanian. Cars are his thing. Today I tried to play cars with him after breakfast. He is everywhere making ambulance sounds "vrmm vrmm nee-no nee-no". I grabbed the police car and started saying "neno neno" because it also had a siren. He corrected me, explaining that this is not the "neno truck", it is "u-o u-o".

Friday, August 1, 2008

All Systems Are Go!

Today Dr. Varsanyi did an ultrasound and the baby is head down in position! Thank you God. Everything looks good. Contractions are becoming more frequent. She predicts the baby will come this weekend.

Isn't it encouraging to read how Jesus insisted that little children have access to Him? I would probably be like the disciples telling parents and children "go away". "Can't you see He just healed a lame man? They had to dig a hole in the roof and made a mess. Look at the long line of people waiting to see Jesus! Why should they wait while Jesus blesses your healthy child?"

When I read about the prayer requests of others (cancer, kidney problems, prison) my requests seem so small. But my God is sooo big! He is big enough to care about my smaller concerns (which seem big to me). "Be anxious for nothing, but instead pray about everything (with thanksgiving)."

How big is my heart to pray?

Fast people don't need wind!

Ryan doesn't wait for the wind to blow to fly a kite.

Friday, July 25, 2008

17 Ways to Turn a Breach

That is my current seminar I am researching on google. Before the baby was sideways, now he is head up. It was disappointing to hear the doctor tell me this today. He didn't seem very concerned, but then he holds the knife, I am the one who gets cut. Praying.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Train

This was Ryan song when he saw his birthday cake. He saw me doing a cake the night before (do you think is something you can hide form this little curious mind?).
He also helped to beat the cream. He loves to help me with the cream especially as he gets his commission at the end.

The funniest thing is that he gives me instructions how to do the cake and shows me where the things are in my kitchen. He is a very curios and fast learner boy.

We started his birthday with a trip to the doctor to check on the new baby. It is a long drive 45 minutes but he enjoys it. While I see my doctor at the hospital, they have a small indoor play area for children. So he was there and found a little buddy to play with. Ryan was building towers and the other boy knocked them down. He was maybe 2 years old only. Ryan was doing over and over again and he laughed every time the other boy destroyed his work. I could hear him laughing and laughing. He enjoys little children and likes to play with them. I pray this will not change when his little brother will arrive.

After I finished there we decide to take a walk in the forest near the hospital. So after a snack time (Ryan's favorite time) we started on the muddy path. It rained all the night before. Ryan loves to walk and he started looking for snails and other animals. He was interested if we will see any animals so Dennis joked that maybe we will see some bears. So when we were ready to come back Ryan said “No let’s go farther to see the bears”. There are no bears and we tried to explain but in the car he said that he is disappointed that we didn’t go to see the bears.

Home his consolation was a big package. His birthday present was a fire station construction set. Dennis worked with him to build it up and I could see his eyes lighting every time when he could see the things coming together. It took a lot of time as he was taking the instructions away to check if Dennis is doing the right thing. I could hear from the kitchen “No! This is not the right one. Take this daddy. Oh, yes this looks better tnow. “When everything was done even the fire truck who has lights and noise Ryan was already jumping up and down.

The fire truck (the “nino” truck as he calls it) is his new friend now. He sleeps with it, walks in the house with it and of course I hear a lot of the “nino nino nino” sounds.

Life is very simple at 3 years old. He enjoys every minute of each day. He is full of joy and imagination. For me Ryan's birthday was more a remember time and a thanks time. I could remember the day when he was born and all those emotions of my first baby. I could remember the doctor who was scared because at one moment she couldn’t hear any more the heart beat of the baby, but it was just a cord that got unplugged. I could remember and thank God for all the care he took of our little one as we have somef scary incidents. We moved to Russia when he was only 2 months old and it was scary when he got sick with high fever for 3 days. God protected him as well later when he fell on the stairs and got a big bump on his head; or when he got a stomach flu that took us to the emergency room because he became lethargic; or when he fell on the stairs with his bike. I can say thank you God for many other times when you were there protected our little one. It is a privilege to be parents and I am so grateful for the joy of seeing and having this 3 years old boy in our lives.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Simon Peter School of Suffering

We are blessed to be in a church where the Bible is taught in an engaging way. Here was a message I wanted to share on John 21 where Jesus tells Peter he will get a second chance to fulfill his promise "even if I have to die for you". The next week was even better over the same passage "Assurance".

Saturday, July 12, 2008


We enjoyed the dolphin show so much in Odessa we wanted to share it with you all. This first part is with seals and then a sea lion. Very fun.

The second video shows the dolphins. Wow, what a show! Just click on those links and enjoy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hold Me Tight

That last blog entry was pretty sweet. Now you deserve to hear the rest of the story...

The 4th of July Ryan started with an eye that was swollen shut. Why? Unknown. Possibly a mosquito bite from 2 days before. This was a good chance to line up local pediatricians near our new home. It mostly went away by evening, and then was swollen again the next morning.

Now that is past and the 7th of July started at 1am with vomiting. This continued most of the night until about noon. No photos this time. Are you glad? ;-) Even in this night of little sleep there are some sweet spots. "Hold me tight." "I need a kiss."

I am sure thankful for the internet and being able to find home remedies for pedialyte to try and replenish his electrolytes. Can you believe this stuff?! Koolaid, Jello mix, all kinds of stuff that if I could get it, I could also find pedialyte. The best were from a missionary from Ecuador on a family forum. Water, sugar, salt, and a bit of orange juice. Simple.

Are we through with vomiting now? I hope so. He must have caught this from a friend in the sandbox on the 4th. It went through their entire family. How long do I wait until I find out if I get to experience the same? Oh God, hold me tight.

Being Observant, Being With Him

Being a mom is a lot of fun! This is my conclusion. I am looking at this little boy who is like a rose ready to bloom. He can find a lot of fun in everything. Taking water with his sand bucket from his little pool and pouring out on the grass is the most hilarious thing for him. I hear him giggling every couple of minutes.

Then there are the boats and other devices that can float (like my Tupperware). Then cars and trains are a big fascination. With books he has his own version of the stories. He has learned to be very observant. He looks at the pictures and sees things that I don’t pay attention to and he makes up his own story. He is fun. I am looking to him and see the joy in his eyes. Life is so fascinating for him and he wants to share it with me all the time. I hear hundred of times every day: “Mommy look, look! Mommy come see! Mommy play with Ryan please!” I can't refuse his sweet invitations, but he is looking for my presence almost all the time. Right now he brought his cars and is playing under my chair “to be with mommy”.

I am thinking about God and my relationship with him. Am I eagerly searching for Him all the time? Just to be in His presence, not just when I want something. Am I looking at His gifts with the same fascination of my child as he approaches life every day? Or do I forgot to enjoy and rejoice always and I see just the half empty part of the glass? I am so thankful to have this reminder every day that “every good and perfect gift is from above from the Father of lights”. And there are so many good gifts every day hidden in the picture that I don’t see. I forget to pay attention to and look for them.

Thank you Lord for teaching me to say “thank you” often as my boy says to me after every small thing I do for him.

Thank you Lord for this wonderful new day to live for you and to learn more about You and your love for me!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Russian Leadership Project

We just returned from 2 weeks in Odessa on the Black Sea at the "Russian Leadership Project". This was a very strategic time. We heard a lot of great seminars. "Reacting to Criticism" was very helpful since spiritual leaders have ample opportunity to practice this. "Passion for Leadership" was a great starting point since unlike Americans, Russians have been taught by history to avoid leadership since the tall blade of grass gets cut off. Political leaders are often corrupt and leaders in the workplace (and the church) are often dictatorial, so models of godly leadership are hard to find. But God says, "If any man aspires to the office of overseer it is a fine work he desires to do" (1 Tim. 3:1). We were reminded that God is growing leaders.

The key ingredient of the conference was mentoring. Evaluations from coworkers helped mentors look for blind spots and areas where God would have them grow. This evaluation was introduced by a seminar on the "Leader's Disease", failing to hear about our weaknesses. This is a sensitive process, as you can imagine. The mentors are a key factor in coaching this process and helping them see that this feedback is a way others express care for them for their growth. I am grateful we have this "feedback culture" in CCC. Since we are an organization of leaders, this is a very healthy practice. Do you have someone like this to speak into your life?

Each leader left the conference with a personal development plan to correct weaknesses and build on strengths. We couldn't have done this without the mentors who came from Moldova. They were fluent in Russian (and Romanian) and had been through this process 2 years earlier. I served as a mentor for 3 senior Russian staff members. It was challenging to lead discussions in a second language.

One of my men was having various problems working with people. These problems seem connected with comments about his poor time management. So we worked on time management, listening skills, and friendships. Another man was excellent in time management but did not understand the importance of communicating vision to those he led and had made no efforts to develop this skill. As they return I will email them periodically to hold them accountable for their PDP (personal development plan) and to be sure they find a local mentor.

The last few days we talked about strategic planning and applied the training to indigenization. Some of the Russians were hearing about this subject for the first time, others felt betrayed by the lack of progress and felt our ministry is too American. Few had thought about the steps needed to prepare leaders for this transition. Not only did we learn how to create detailed strategic plans, but we all contributed to a plan for weaning our Russian ministry from dependence on western leadership.

The conference included 85 staff members and 60 children. There were Russians, Americans, Koreans, and Moldovans. Many expressed how they felt loved and served by this family time in a beautiful location. One family brought all 5 children from Siberia, their first time together at a conference.

Luiza and four adults and three teenagers cared for the smallest 28 kids. It was challenging doing crafts with children in 3 languages (Russian, Romanian, and English). Some of the younger kids were shy or slow to communicate they needed the toilet, so wet pants were common during the first week. Ryan was an outsider most of the time since any cartoons or crafts were in Russian. The room was small and Russians believe you catch colds from drafts, so Luiza sweat a lot. (We expect the baby in 7 weeks here in Budapest.)

During free time I was able to meet with a number of people to work out misunderstandings about our Russian version of the discipleship materials. We also enjoyed some hours on most days at the beach (Ryan loves the waves). Our free Saturday we all went to the dolphin show. It was actually more of a water circus with acrobats, seals, and a sea lion.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Odessa Bound

We are looking forward to working with our Russian leaders in Odessa. We have heard the place is nice but the experience can be difficult. As a mentor I will be helping our CCC staff members from Russia to learn from evaluations made by their peers. Pray that they will come with open hearts. Pray that hearing personal criticism will lead to growth not scars.

Here are some photos of last year's project in Odessa with our leaders from Moldova.

Some of the children were especially enthusiastic!

Our Budapest Interns Graduate

This week we had a graduation celebration for our BuILD interns. This is in our conference room at the office.

Luiza was honored for her service in handling the finances for the program this year.

We enjoyed getting to know several families in our internship program. One family was from Albania and the other from Romania. They are really super folks that enriched our lives and we will miss them. One night each week we took turns caring for each other's kids.

Our pastor Ronnie is here giving them an official commissioning. Wow what an eloquent charge from the word! Two days later Ronnie was in the hospital with a blood clot near his lungs. You can hear his sermons on

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Connecting with Bunu

Ryan is building something strange and wonderful on the balcony with Bunu Hindlis spare parts.

Monday, May 12, 2008

God did it

It was a privilege to join this farewell party for students of the ministry in Brasov. A few months before a pastor had told his students to choose either his church or the CCC group. The CCC leaders graciously encouraged the students to stay connected with their church and asked God what to do next. As they began to pray and share Christ in the dorms, God brought an entirely new crew of students, many of them in their first year. We can not out give God. I was impressed at how well they had bonded and gotten to know each other after only a few months.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Exploring the Train

Yeah cars are fun, but cars have to stop for trains. Plus you can run around and jump on trains. They have toilets and I even conquered my fear of using it even though I could see and hear the tracks roaring by below, but that sure wasn't the highlight.

Train Trip with Thomas

Today we left home at 6:30am to take the train to Brasov, Romania. The night before Ryan prepared his little Thomas train and snacks by the door. Ryan is really into trains, so it was great that the conductor took an interest in him. We arrived at 8pm. It was a long trip, but fortunately we had the 8 seat compartment to ourselves for half the trip and could lie down and even sleep a bit. Thank you God.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Take a tour

Ryan is offering tours of the house and his car collection. Watch out for spiders. Isn't that grass green? That is because it is growing like a tropical rainforest! If we don't mow weekly we will need to get a machete. You can click on the title to see photos of the house.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Green Pastures

Our Good Shepherd has provided a new place for us to camp, thank you for praying with us. This time we have a large green yard, 3 fruit trees, and wonderful furniture. We bought a house!
Here are the photos.
We had been looking for a place to rent, and not finding much. Wednesday evening Luiza was searching on the internet and called me upstairs, "Now here is a house that is worthwhile! It looks like it was decorated by Americans." The next day we called and went to visit. Sure enough, an American missionary family was leaving and eager to sell. On Good Friday we went back and made an offer and reached an agreement. Then that same evening we had the fun of going through the house shopping their furniture and appliances. We needed or could use most everything, which greatly simplified their lives and blessed us. Wow!

It has been wonderful dealing with Christian people. They take good care of things. We are able to move in by our deadline to move out, so don't have to move twice. I was born on Good Friday, they trusted Christ on Good Friday. It even comes with a baby gate for the little boy we are expecting (they used it to keep dogs upstairs).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Don't Miss Beauty

We really enjoy reading Our Daily Bread and wanted to share today's with you. The story hear illustrates how easy it is to miss beauty and genious in our universe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Son of Man

The meaning of the title Jesus used for Himself throughout His ministry becomes clear when Caiaphas demands, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Here Jesus not only affirms His identity as the Christ, but connects it with the title Son of Man from Daniel 7:13 “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69). This statement got immediate results, a death sentence. One of the most familiar names of the Messiah used by the rabbis was Anani, meaning “He who cometh in the clouds of heaven.” Jesus didn’t need to quote Daniel 7:14 which continues to describe the scope of His reign, “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”

Upon closer examination although the phrase “son of man” occurs 106 times in the Old Testament (93 times in Ezekiel), the combination of “Hebrew” words in the text “Son of Man” in Daniel 7:13 occurs nowhere else in the Bible. “Son” (Bar) is of Aramaic origin and occurs only 7 times in only Ezra and Daniel. “Man” (enash) is also of Aramaic origin and occurs 19 times in only Ezra and Daniel. So if Jesus used these words throughout His ministry his reference was extremely specific, even if obscure. Even Daniel is called “son of man” (8:17) like Ezekiel, but the words are (Ben ‘adam). Unfortunately we don’t have the exact words that Jesus used on each occasion for Son of Man, because they come to us via a Greek translation. The word “Bar” has slipped through even into our English New Testament (Matthew 16:17; Acts 13:6), so it was used by Jesus at times.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Anita in Poland

Anita manages the online Bible school in Poland (among other things). Here is her recent newsletter.
This is her website

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Try Your Hungarian Pronunciation

Last week I started Hungarian lessons. They call the language Magyar. Here is a pronunciation drill on the GY and TY sounds. The GY is used a lot (Magyar), It is somewhere between our DY and GY. You can listen to this Mp3 file online to get an idea of the challenge. My problem is that I don’t need to speak Hungarian with anyone during the week, so you can pray for opportunities to try out my new vocab. --Dennis

Friday, February 15, 2008

Partner in Bulgaria

Would you be interested in making a difference in Bulgaria?
Check out what God is doing through Toncho.
January 2008 LetterToncheviJan2008.pdf (259.82 KB)
November 2007 Prayer_letter_1107_ENG.pdf (1.43 MB)

October 2007 prayer_letter_10_2007ENG.pdf (3.89 MB)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remember Olga with the abusive husband?

Sergei & Lena with our Family Life ministry in Siberia and Russian Far East sent this update ---

We are grateful to you for you prayers about Olga and her family relationships. We were trying to think of a good way to help her and invited her to the music practices of our church worship team. That was a good opportunity to talk and pray with her. We have met 5 times with her in the last two months. We’ve had some difficult conversations, but we relied on God because we could not rely on our own strength. She made the decision not to fear physical abuse any more and tell her husband about her feelings. God has made a huge change in her consciousness and has brought peace and strength into her heart. She has taken responsibility to protect herself and her daughters from her husband’s arbitrary behavior. And even more: she is asking God in prayer to help her trust in Him.

She began practicing Biblical principles in the relationship with her husband. She has told him recently: “I won’t let you hurt me and the children!” when her drunken husband decided to have a fight with her again. The husband looked at her surprised and went to bed. After her older daughter saw that she came up to Olga and said: “Mummy, you did well! I am proud of you”. It’s great joy to see that Jesus is acting through Olga and is growing in her heart.

These events gave us a chance to talk with her about her personal relationships with Jesus. Many years ago she heard about Jesus and even prayed the prayer of faith. Now she is ready to revise and renew her relationships with Him. Please, pray that God would come into her heart.
We decided to change the strategy of ministering to married couples. We noticed that husbands in Ulan-Ude are less willing to come to seminars and Homebuilders groups. In order to invite new married couple to Homebuilders groups we started separate small groups for men and women where issues of being a husband/wife, father/mother would be discussed. We realized that men were more open at those kinds of meetings than if they had been at the meetings with their wives. At those meetings we discussed what it means to be a husband and father and we were able to invite non-Christian men who were planning to get married soon. Many of those men became my friends and friendship helps to overcome many difficulties in relationships. I am expecting God to change many of them and He is already changing their attitude towards marriage, the wife and women in general.

For example, Alexey said in one of the meetings: ”Why doesn’t anyone speak about that in church?” Many men started taking an active part in the lives of their families and ask their wives about their needs. And now many women come to us in order to bring their husbands to the meetings because they see changes in their friends’ husbands.

And one more thing: earlier we saw wives bringing their husbands to conferences and Homebuilders groups, now we see husbands looking for opportunities to help their wives have some free time from family cares in order to be able to attend Homebuilders groups.

Please pray about God’s break-through in the lives of those people, pray that He would make these men real leaders of their families. Today 12-20 men attend the men’s group in Ulan-Ude.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Outstanding Messages to Hear Again and Again

Rolland from Sweden asked, “Is there beauty? Why?” Often we assume the existence of God in our gospel presentation, but people here start with evolution. You can’t explain beauty with evolution.

In preaching on the activity of our triune God in missions he pointed out the great commission says in the "name" not "names" of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Consider Acts 10:42 "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead." Notice who is speaking. The God and His Judge are already mentioned. Notice He isn't suggesting but ordering. Earlier Dr. Erik Thoennes pointed out that sharing the good news isn't optional for the disciple. The option is being obedient or not. Being a silent witness isn't enough according to Romans 10:14-16 "How will they hear without a preacher?" "How will they preach unless they are sent?"

We needed to hear that! Even though proclaiming Christ is central to CCC, we need to hear it. The other topic that hit home was a message on suffering. "What is our blindspot in America?" Erik asked an Asian pastor. "You Americans have a great theology of church growth but nothing on church groaning." Erik went on to point out that we are not suffering alone, all creation is groaning with us (Romans 8:18-25). Maybe believers suffer more, not just because we have an adversary who loves to destroy, but because we suffer from homesickness. "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." 2 Peter 3:13

You can download the messages with the links.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Maciek & Kasia Michalowski

You could become partners with this great family serving in Poland and their ministry to students. Just get their email from one of these letters and tell them you would like to pray for them. Support their ministry by sending your check to CCCI and specify their account number (also on the letter).

At the students’ club - letter_may07.pdf (297.04 KB)

The recipe for happiness (Phil. 3,1) - letter_june07.pdf (250.1 KB)

Some mathematics - letter_september07.pdf (272.85 KB)

So everyone might hear… - letter_november07.pdf (284.98 KB)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

We have GREAT friends!

We have the privilege of working with some of the top Christian leaders in Eastern Europe & Russia. Over the next few months we want to introduce you to many of them by including their prayer letters in our blog.

Our very first is Marek & Ala from Poland. Marek is a regional director and so is often in our headquarters office in Budapest. We spoke today over lunch about the difficulties of raising personal support for national staff in Poland. Read their December letter.

Irek and Ewa Barela are reaching Polish Scientists and university professors. You can visit their website or Read their letter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Save me from the fireman

This plea for prayer I translated from our Russian friends Sergei & Lena representing Family Life ministry in Siberia:

Please pray for Olga. Her husband is getting drunk more now that she is coming to our church. He says he hates her and the children, especially because she reads the Bible. In recent weeks he is beating her and doing it so that bruises aren't visible on her face and neck.

Olga is an English language teacher and tries to support herself and her two children, so she is working two jobs. Her husband is a fireman. For 24 hours he works and then he is with his friends behind a bottle of vodka. When he is home he gives his family no peace, especially at night. He harasses them and won't let them sleep. This is so terrible when a person has no safe place to go, when you can't defend yourself because your enemy is inside your own home.

Only 8 months ago God gave Olga a new daughter Dasha. She is a beautiful little blue eyed girl. She is growing and now she is able to observe all the horrors of her parents' relationship.
We have talked with Olga about the situation. We see that God has revealed to her her right to protect herself, especially in the presence of her daughters. She has determined to protect her children from the cruelty of their father.

Please pray for God to strengthen Olga and give her wisdom in these days when she is trying to bring godliness into her family. She is still very young in Jesus, she has gone to church only two months. But she is very strong in telling her colleagues about Jesus. It is important that she leaves no room in her heart for evil and anger to grow.

We are very thankful for your help. We hope that our Great Lord will protect His daughter in these difficult times.

In Christ,

Sergey & Lena Aleev

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