I hope this email finds you well! Time slips by quickly and somehow three months have already passed since Johnny and I were married! April 16th, our wedding day, was so beautiful and special. God’s faithfulness and love was knit into every detail. Though a long journey for them, my parents and most of my siblings were able to make, all of Johnny’s immediate family as well. It meant so much to us to have so many of them here together at one time, sharing the time with us. We are thankful to God for His kindness and we are thankful for all those who encouraged and supported us, helped us with the many details of preparation, and loved us so well along the way. Especially our Pastor Balázs and his wife Leah, who gave of so much of their time and energy. They walked with us through pre-marital counseling, which was a tremendous help and blessing to us, and helped us put together a wedding. With both of our families far away, unable to help with the practical details, we couldn’t have done it without them! Here are a few photos to enjoy from the wedding 🙂
After our wedding in April, we enjoyed a week long honeymoon and then returned home to settle into our home together and get back to studies and work. May was Johnny’s exam period, so it was an intense month for him studying and preparing for exams. Praise God, he was able to complete the semester! I continued with teaching, language study, piano lessons, meetings, and the like. Summer arrived, which brought another shift to routine and responsibilities. With traveling less restricted now, many of our international students have traveled home and many Hungarians are also traveling more, so church ministry is much quieter these days. Our Pastor and his family, as well as one of our assistant Pastor’s and his family are taking time stateside this summer, so Johnny and I have stayed present to serve the church and help keep things going. So these summer months are full and yet slower in a way. Johnny has had a lot of opportunity to serve as a sound technician this summer. He serves the church each week this way, and he has also been able to come alongside a couple churches in other cities as sound technician for outreach concerts they are doing. I love to see God giving opportunities for him to use these gifts he’s been given. I helped with a week-long English camp earlier in July, a mix of Hungarian and Ukrainian children, the theme Noah’s Ark. Though challenging with three languages operating in one space, it was a great week and I pray the children grew in understanding of the love and kindness of God towards them. We continue to serve with our worship ministry, children’s ministry, and desire to love and care for those around us well. Johnny has his final semester of university studies in the Fall, which will be demanding with classes, internship, and thesis work, so we are trying to enjoy the time and spend it well!
Thank you for your continual support and prayer!
Pray for Johnny and I in this new season of marriage, that our hearts will remain soft to the Lord, that we may continue to grow in love, patience, and understanding of one another.
Pray for our Pastor Balázs and his wife Leah, that their visit stateside will be refreshing for them and their children.
Pray for us as we prepare for our women’s discipleship groups for the Fall. We are preparing a study through the book of Colossians, pray that God will give us wisdom and lead us in preparing the study.
Thank God for the understanding and progress He’s given with language learning! Pray for continued learning and deeper understanding.
Pray for my friend Gitta to grow deeply rooted in Christ. Pray that I will have wisdom and opportunity to walk alongside her and help disciple her.
For our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in our fellowship, pray that God will give them peace, rest physically and emotionally, wisdom to lead their families, provision, healing, and hope. May God grant us wisdom to love and serve them well.
I hope this note finds you well and thriving in the Lord! I want to apologize for taking so long to send out an update. Life is busy and full these days, both personally and in connection to events happening near us.
As many of you may have heard, I got engaged at the end of January, so let me introduce you to my fiancé! His full name is Jonatán Varga, also known by many as Johnny.
Johnny is Hungarian Serbian. He grew up not far across the border in Serbia, but moved to Hungary to Pécs for university studies. We actually met the first time while I was still a bible college student, visiting the church in Pécs with outreach teams, but it wasn’t until more recently in 2020 that we began to build a friendship & then eventually begin our dating relationship in March of last year. Johnny has been serving in our church for many years, in the past couple years this has looked like serving as a part of our leadership team, helping with worship and sound tech, men’s ministry, and more. Alongside all of this, he is also currently finishing up a degree in electrical engineering.
Our wedding day is coming very soon! On April 16, 2022, with some of our close family members and friends here in Pécs, we will have our wedding in a nearby town here in Hungary. Somehow these weeks have flown by and we find ourselves with less than a month until the wedding, so as you may imagine, we are deep in the throws of wedding planning, alongside our usual responsibilities of ministry, studies, and work! I often need to pause and entrust all the details and pieces to the Lord, so as not to become overwhelmed by an ever-growing to-do list. In reality, God has been faithfully providing and leading step by step along the way and we can be confident of his continued faithfulness and care. I trust he will weave all of the pieces together. The most valuable preparation, however, is the pre-marital counseling we are doing with our pastor Balázs Stanzel and his wife Leah. While there are many practical details consider, we know what really matters is the covenant we will enter into before God. The investment we put into that is far more valuable than anything else. To that end, we covet your prayers for us in this season as we prepare for marriage!
MINISTERING TO REFUGEES
We are safe here in Hungary at this time, but life seems to have taken a big shift in the last weeks. Being a bordering country to Ukraine, Hungary has received now over 300,000 Ukrainian refugees. And while we are further from the border here in Pécs, our church has been receiving refugee families and we know of many others being housed in the city or nearby areas. Our city is further from the border and not one of the major transit hubs, so while many refugees who cross into Hungary move onto another destination country where they have friends or family or some connection, most who make their way to Pécs are looking for more permanent housing. At this time, we know of at least 75 refugees in our city, around 30 of whom our church has received and been caring for, but the number grows daily and it is likely that there are many more than those we know of.
Pray for God to frustrate theplans of destruction and evil, pray for this war to end now.
Pray for continued wisdom and leading of the Spirit to care for each displaced individual and family in our midst. While there are immediate needs to be met when they first arrive (i.e. food, bedding, clothing, shoes, etc.), there is also the ongoing care needed for them as they work through the trauma they’ve dealt and the re-traumatization that occurs as the horrors of war continue to unfold. We are preparing to provide Ukrainian translation in church, for this we have just purchased equipment to be able to provide in-ear translation, which we hope to have available in the next week or two once the equipment arrives. With this, we now have many Ukrainian children at our Sunday morning services, most of whom do not speak English, and we also want to bridge the gap of language to care for them and teach them about the God who loves them. Pray for wisdom in navigating these things!
Pray for upcoming Family Day event for Ukrainians in our county. On April 2nd, our church is hosting an event with live Ukrainian music, food, many programs for the kids (face painting, a bounce house, a robotics demonstration, art therapy to help kids deal with the trauma they’ve experienced,…), and more. Other churches and organizations are also involved, but our church has taken on organizing the event. The main objectives are to connect refugees with one another, to learn what the needs are, to give spiritual and emotional support, a safe space for them to work through the trauma they have dealt with, and to provide a place for networking for those in need of jobs. As I mentioned, our church is personally organizing this event, so we ask your prayer for God’s provision and wisdom and help in putting this together.
Pray for healing and comfort for those who have endured horrific trauma, heartache, and pain. We continue to pray for wisdom to love those in our midst, we know that God is the truest source of hope and help and it is only He who can bring the deep comfort and healing that is needed. Pray that hearts would be softened to the gospel and that many hearts would find their hope and help in the Lord!
Along with all of this, our usual ministries continue: our women’s discipleship groups are going through a study in Philippians this semester, our university outreach, Lighthouse, continues to have events every other week, we are preparing for a Lighthouse outreach concert on April 1st, our monthly men’s breakfast took place on Saturday… Please pray for energy and for times of rest and renewed strength in the Lord. The Lord is faithful and we continue to trust in His sovereignty and unfailing love. Like the words in Lamentations 3:21-26:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD…
Today, as I reflect on these past summer months, I am thanking God for…
The joy of good fruit… seeing students desiring and taking intentional initiative to reach out to their friends and classmates
Seeing the Lord wooing and drawing hearts
God’s patience towards us and desire to give and restore life
Continued relationship and discipleship opportunity with Gitta and her desire to walk with God and grow in relationship with Him
Health progress — recent updated mycotoxin lab showing previous high levels of mold toxins mostly cleared
Though I feel a bit like I did as a schoolchild on many a first day of school at September’s arrival, wishing summer could extend a while longer, I also welcome it’s coming with excitement for the opportunities ahead in this new season. As has come to be expected and anticipated with the start of September and a new semester, there is much to engage with and lean into these coming weeks and months! I am excited to share with you about one specific exciting new opportunity this Fall:
Women’s Discipleship Groups
We are starting something new! I wrote often in the past about a weekly young women’s Bible study that I led the past few years. What a privilege it has been to delve into God’s word with the young women who took part, some for shorter seasons and some for long, approaching hard questions together, marveling at God’s character and goodness, praying for one another, and walking alongside one another in discovery and pursuit of Christ. I praise God for the growth and fruit that I’ve witnessed over the course of these years!
Last Spring, I began to sense a time for change for our women’s bible study and was praying at how to move forward with our women’s group. At the same time, Leah, our pastor’s wife, began to have a growing vision for the women’s ministry in our church. When she shared the vision in her heart with me at the end of Spring, I was filled with a deep sense of peace and excitement knowing this was exactly the direction to go. Even now, I have to marvel at God’s preparation and hand.
The nature of ministry here, working with many international students, is that much of our church body is only with us for a few years before they move on to other places. We have a unique opportunity to pour into them during these years and then send them out, all over the world. Our vision is that they would encounter Christ in a transformative way, growing in their relationship with Him, and that they would leave here raised up to share the hope of Christ and make disciples wherever they may go. The vision Leah shared was built exactly around this, envisioning discipleship groups with a more focused plan and intentional direction for making disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
Our plan for this semester is an eight week study through the book of Ephesians, looking at who God is and who we are (identity in Christ). We will have a few different small groups throughout the city, with four of us each leading a group. In time, during the study, we want to give opportunity for others to have a chance lead a study. We will meet with them to study the passage together and help them learn and prepare to lead, and our hope and prayer is that next semester and in the semesters to come many of them will go on to lead a group of their own.
Next Thursday, September 9th, we will have our first gathering for this. On this occasion, we are inviting all those who are interested to come and hear more. We will share more about why we study the Bible and what we will be studying, and invite them to consider making the commitment to joining a group for these eight weeks.
There is much we desire and hope for for these women, will you join me in praying for this occasion and for these few key things?
That Christ will be known and encountered in a real, transformative way
That these women will grow secure in knowledge of who God is and who they are in Christ
That they will learn how to study and rightly divide Scripture
That any who have not yet put their faith in Christ will do so
That others will be raised up to lead on their own
That God will be known, adored, honored, and praised.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers! As Paul prayed in his letter to the Ephesians, so I pray for you: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom, and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:17-20)
This month marks three years in Pécs! I’m amazed as I think back over these years and reflect on the things that God has done and His faithfulness proven true time and time again. I continue to thank God for our church, Golgota Pécs, and co-workers in the gospel, who set their hearts to seek the Lord, humble themselves for the sake of knowing Him and honoring Him, and seek to walk in love to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them. I see women seeking to grow in relationship with God, as well as stepping out to love their neighbor and be a willing instrument in God’s hands. I see young men going against the grain of culture to pursue the Lord and walk in integrity. I see God pursuing hearts of those who do not yet know Him and revealing Himself to those who are hungry for truth.
It’s a privilege and a joy to witness firsthand and be a part of God’s story in Pécs and I cannot say enough how thankful I am for you who have joined in that work through prayer or encouragement or generous giving. Thank you for being a fellow worker in Christ, for partnering in the gospel to see God’s transformative work in lives in Hungary.
And as Paul prayed for the Philippians, this is my prayer as I think of you: “That your love may about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11).
Thank God for his provision of a new flat. Many things about the new place have been a sweet gift and I am thankful. My prayer is that, like my previous apartment home, it will be a place for real, authentic conversations, love, and encouragement for all who enter its doors.
Pray for wisdom and vision for our church leadership for these summer months.
Monday night young women’s bible study. Prayer for wisdom and vision on how to lead the group going forward. Pray for each of the women that they would grow deeper rooted in Christ.
Continue praying for the growth of Gita. Pray that we can start meeting regularly again, as the last two months she was unable to meet.
Continue praying for understanding and retention with language learning and for opportunities and courage to use it often throughout the summer.
Continue praying for full healing from mold toxins and gut infections
Opportunity to Connect
I recently arrived in the states to be here for my sister Kandra’s wedding. For those of you in the Vancouver, WA area, I will be in town from June 8-18th and would love to connect with you! I plan to visit Glenwood Community Church on June 13th and would love to see you there, or if you have time to schedule a meeting, send me an email and we can schedule a time, as it would be great to connect that way as well! And if you are not in the Vancouver/Portland area, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to schedule a time to connect via video chat!
I hope this finds you well and enjoying the first signs of Spring! I’m still trying to process the fact that it is already March! It’s been a full few months and I am excited to share an update with you.
After meeting online for a few months, our church was able to start meeting together again in January. It became evident that many people were hurting and suffering, and just in the time when we were sensing the overwhelming need for the church to meet again, the Lord opened the way for us to do so. Thank God!!
Hungary again put more restrictions in place. These started on Monday, mainly closing schools for a month-long period and “non-essential” shops and services for a two-week period. Personally, my day to day work and ministry hasn’t been greatly affected by this. I am grateful!
God at work
Some of you may remember Gitta, a young Hungarian girl I’ve mentioned in the past. She had a conversion experience two years ago, but shortly afterward started walking down a difficult path. Earlier this fall she began turning back to the Lord and decided to walk a different way. She reached out to me a couple months ago and we have been trying to meet weekly since, looking at passages in scripture and having conversations about the Lord. She longs to walk God’s way and is very hungry for spiritual things. Please pray for Gitta that she will grow in her faith, closer to God.
Another piece of exciting news: I’m moving! In the past few months I came to the decision that I needed to try moving to a fresh living space for the sake of my health. I started looking for a new apartment together with one of my Hungarian friends, who was also beginning to consider moving. Last week we finally viewed a place that seemed like a considerable option… we signed the rental papers yesterday and move this weekend! My favorite aspect about the new flat? It’s in a lovely neighborhood (not an apartment block) and has a terrace and personal little yard where there is potential to try our hand at a little garden! After living in an apartment building with no balcony or yard access for three years… let’s just say I’m excited!
Thank God for His care for our church!
Thank God for His unfailing pursuit of Gitta and how He is drawing her to Himself. Pray for Gitta that she will grow in her faith and become deeply rooted in the truth of God’s word.
Pray for growth of the women in our Monday night girl’s bible study and others I meet with.
Thank God for His provision of a new apartment. Pray that it will be a healthy space for my roommate and I to be able to further heal and not be compromised with our health.
Friends, the Lord has filled my heart with great joy in this season and I want to attest to His goodness! Words from Psalm 145 ring true: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made… The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works” (Psalm 145:9, 13b).
I continue to remember you and thank God for you. I pray that He may strengthen you, that you may know Him better and stand firm in God’s truth. Are there any ways I can be praying for you individually? I’d love to hear from you, how you are doing and what you need prayer for!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Prince of Peace.
Such hope wrapped up in these words, in these titles of Jesus! I pray this week as you celebrate Christmas, that it will be a strengthening, joyous time of reflection on the tremendous love of God, who took on flesh, coming in the form of a humble baby, and made a way that we could have restored relationship with God. As I ponder these things, I want to say thank you for the ways you have supported and encouraged and partnered in the gospel, that more may know this wondrous love of God and receive the greatest gift of all.
I returned to Hungary at the beginning of November and after ten days in official post-travel quarantine, was able to jump back into much of life and ministry here. Things have looked a bit different due to covid restrictions, the main thing being that our church is only able to have online services right now. Thankfully we are still able to meet in smaller groups, and I am super grateful for our Monday night girl’s bible study and the one-on-one times I am able to have with girls. I have also been able to have girls over Sunday mornings to watch our online church service together, and that has been a great blessing!
Though I wasn’t able to return to the kindergarten to teach my class there, the Lord provided new teaching opportunities for me. I have taken on a few students for private English lessons, which is a new challenge for me! I appreciate the opportunity to teach English and the way it has given a way to connect with more Hungarians outside of the church.
This week approaching Christmas is a busy one! Since we are unable to have our usual Christmas service together, we have been putting together cookie packages to take and deliver as a little gift to our church members and others, like those who had been coming to the Lighthouse outreach events before the restrictions started in November. More than just giving cookies, it is an opportunity to take time to connect face to face with people, talk with them, pray for them, and let them know that they are seen and cared for even amidst this time when we are more isolated from one another. Pray for those we connect with, that they will be encouraged and strengthened. And for those we will visit who do not yet know Jesus, pray that this will be a fruitful opportunity to share the love Jesus and good news of all that God has done for them!
I thank God for the strides that I was able to make with health during my time in the states. I saw a lot of improvement and my health became more stabilized. I ask continued prayer for this area of health. Upon returning to Hungary, I quickly had old symptoms return and it has been apparent that something in my living environment is affecting me. In light of this, the next step I see to take is trying to make some practical changes. It seems possible that my current mattress could be toxic to me, so I am looking into purchasing a new mattress. It’s all a bit of a guessing game to figure out what the source could be, so I ask prayer for wisdom and strength to make the decisions and changes.
No matter the season or circumstance, He remains Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. May you know deep comfort and joy in the Lord this week and in the weeks and months to come. You are wondrously loved!
It’s amazing how much can happen in a few short months. I am extremely grateful for this time that I’ve had in the states. I was able to celebrate the marriage of my youngest sister and spend much time with family as I’ve taken time to address health these past few months.
I have also been deeply encouraged hearing about what God has been doing in Pécs in these few short months that I have been stateside. I am excited to share an update with you about some of that!
This summer, a number of college students in our church stepped out in bold new ways with vision to reach their peers and friends with the gospel. Every other week throughout the summer they planned and held events, which they call Lighthouse events. They invited friends and peers and stepped out to invest in new relationships for the sake of the gospel. Though it would have been amazing to be there in person, it has been a tremendous joy these past few months seeing these students take initiative, step out of comfort zones, and together seek the Lord to guide them, empower them, and use them for the sake of His kingdom.
With the end of summer, these students were seeking God for how to continue during the school year. Last week they held their first event of the semester and were blown away by the number of people that showed up. Dana, an international student from Jordan, shared a testimony about some of what God has done in her life. Dana is one of the girls who has been a part of our Monday night girl’s bible study and I am so proud of her!
We’ve prayed for this. We’ve prayed for students to know and love God, to grow in Christ, and to step out to live on the mission of God themselves. To see this happening in new ways these past few months has been amazing. Praise God for His faithfulness! He is pursuing hearts and carrying out His redemptive work and it’s incredible to have a front row seat!
Monday Night Women’s Bible Study
This is another area that I am excited to share about! The girls chose to continue together through the summer months while I was gone. One of the girls, Flóra, took over hosting each week, and they continued all through the summer and now into the school year. They have had a few new additions to the group and I have been marveling over the work of God with this as well! It’s a joy to see these young women taking initiative to lead and continuing to pursue the Lord together.
I shared in my last update about some setbacks with my health, which brought about the decision to come to the states for a longer stay. I’m grateful to share that I have made some good strides with healing these past few months. I’m thankful for this time where I’ve been able to rest and address health while also enjoying family.
Presently, I am still in the states with plans to return to Hungary after a brother’s wedding at the end of October. I continue to seek the Lord going forward, as I look to address health and make decisions for the future. There are many unknowns for me with the months to come, and I covet your prayers!
Praise God for His continued faithfulness!
Personally, I ask prayer for full healing, for wisdom as I maneuver this healing journey and seek God’s guidance regarding future steps, and for deepened trust in the Lord through this season.
Pray for the Lighthouse events. Pray that God will strengthen and guide the students leading, as they plan events and seek to share with friends and classmates the hope that they have found. Pray for all those who come to these events, that they would have a hunger for truth and that their hearts would be transformed by the gospel
Pray for the women in the Monday night bible study, that God would give them spiritual wisdom and insight as they study His word together, that they might grow in their knowledge of God. Pray also that God would continue to give them vision and empower them to step out in obedience to Him.
Interestingly enough, the same verse on my mind to share in my last update, is one I happened to read yesterday in my personal study time. I think it’s still as fitting for us now as it was three months ago!
“I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
I hope this finds you well and that you are finding great help and comfort in the Lord during this time. Those of you in the U.S. have been on my heart these past few weeks with all that is happening there. I have been praying that God would grant you wisdom and hearts of compassion and love.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN HUNGARY?
Here in Pécs, things began to open up again at the beginning of May and now, five weeks later, life is largely “normal” again, other than wearing masks in shops and on public transportation. Our church has been meeting outside near a local pond. It has been such a blessing to be together again, after months of online connections, and to have opportunity to speak of Jesus out in our community, coming closer to people who would not have stepped through the doors of our church otherwise. Personally, after many many weeks of being alone here in my apartment, I am so thankful to again have girls over or meet over coffee, have our women’s bible study together in person, and gather with the church body.
STORIES OF GOD AT WORK AMIDST THE CIRCUMSTANCES
Though these past few months have brought a lot of unexpected difficulties for many, numerous testimonies of God doing amazing things have emerged through it all. I want to share with you one such beautiful testimony!
Recently, I sat with a friend over a cup of coffee and listened to her share about a bible study that she started in her dorm during the time of lockdown. If you have prayed for the women in my young women’s bible study at all in the last two years, then you have prayed for her. The Lord put it on her heart to start a bible study and she, choosing to walk in obedience to the Lord’s leading, invited two other Christian girls to begin a bible study together.
They began meeting every day, invited others in the dorm, and in time they became eight—eight young women, from different cultural and religious backgrounds, coming together every morning for an hour and a half to study the bible together. Amazing, right?! Last week, one of the girls gave her life to Jesus. Another of the girls unexpectedly lost her dad a couple months ago and the Lord has used it to help carry her through these months.
Listening to my friend share about how God has been using this time, I was deeply moved. This is what we pray for! This is what we long to see—our students growing deeper rooted in Christ and stepping out in obedience to Him to be a part of His kingdom work!
Thank you for your prayers for our students and for God’s work here in Hungary!How great is our God!
He is not shaken when everything around us is/seems shaken. He has been actively working in mighty ways during these past few months, this being just one example. I know there are countless others! Do you have any God stories to share as a result of these times?
In my last update I shared about finding answers regarding some health issues and starting treatment that I would continue in Hungary. With the unexpected circumstances of the past few months, however, I was unable to fully continue my treatment which made for some setbacks with my health. Because of this, the decision recently emerged to spend the summer months in Washington to further address health there, closer to my doctor and easier access to supplements.
Truthfully, this was a hard decision to come to. When the Lord led me out on this path of healing, I knew it wouldn’t all be easy. Even still, I find that I wrestle with God’s timing and plans at times. It’s a slow, sometimes painful process, learning patience when healing doesn’t happen as soon as I would like or when I don’t understand what God is doing.
Yet, I know there is purpose. I know the events of the last few months and the setbacks that have happened as a result were not hidden from God. Through it all I have been safe in His hands. And now, though different than I would have planned, I see His hand in the details that led to the decision to travel home for the summer.
HOW CAN YOU PRAY?
For perseverance and strength to endure challenges with joy
For healing, patience, and deepened trust in the process
For the young women in my Monday night bible study, that they would be strengthened and built up in Christ and that God would give them vision for how He would use them for His glory and kingdom purposes, even this summer.
Pray for my friend leading the bible study in her dorm, that God would strengthen her and continue to lead her and this group of young women. Pray that God would do a transformative work in each of their hearts by His Spirit.
For divine wisdom and discernment in ministry and decision making, to hear God’s voice clearly, and be willing to follow His guidance
Pray for God to deliver people in our city from spiritual blindness and supernaturally open their eyes to the light of the Gospel.
“I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 121:1)
This verse came to my mind as I was writing and is my prayer for you, for me today. May we lift up our eyes to Him, who made heaven and earth, looking to Him for help. May we find rest in Him who keeps our life. Our help is in Him. How comforting that is!
Thank you for your support and prayers, they are powerful and needed. Thank you for coming boldly before the Lord to intercede for the lost, broken, and hurting.
Wow, a lot has transpired in the world in a matter of a few weeks! It’s interesting, going through this experience on such a worldwide level. Here in Hungary, further restrictions of movement are now in place as of Friday. People are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work or to run essential errands (thankfully it is still permitted to go for walks outside, granted the decreed appropriate social distance is maintained).
Before I go into more detail about what that means for life and ministry presently, I want to apologize for the long gap between my last update and this one, and attempt to give you a run down of the past few months. The last time I wrote was shortly before I traveled stateside for six-weeks with the purpose of spending the holidays with my family, connecting with as many of you as possible, and seeing a new doctor to hopefully address some ongoing health issues.
Six weeks isn’t all that long, but somehow a whirlwind of change seemed to take place in that time that extended to my return to Hungary. I regret not writing an update sooner, but truthfully I struggled to put the words together before now. I will do my best now to do just that ?
First of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to each of you who took the time to meet and connect during my time in Washington in January. I left every meeting so encouraged and thankful. This was also true for the short hellos and hugs I got to exchange with some of you at church. I am very grateful for that time!
It was really great to spend time with my family. Thankfully, I was able to see all of my siblings at some point during the trip, as well as visit with grandparents and extended family. One of the highlights was the birth of my first-ever niece, Loretta Eleanor. It was so special to hold her the day she was born, as well as be there to witness my parents as new grandparents and my brother as a father!
As some of you know, I was able to see a new doctor while stateside and I am thankful to share that we were able to find some answers! Thank God!!
For those interested, in short, we discovered that I have been dealing with some bacterial infections and mold toxicity. We were able to begin treatment while I was in Washington and thankfully I am still able to continue treatment and work with my doctor while here in Hungary.
From the start, my doctor warned me that I would likely feel worse before better. These symptoms are termed as “die-off symptoms” and they happen as bacteria die off when an infection is being treated. As I have now discovered, these die-off symptoms are not comfortable and can be frustrating and discouraging. It helps knowing they are a normal part of the healing process. Why am I explaining all of this? Well, because I want to share honestly with you about these past few months and this has been a big part.
GOD, MY STRENGTH
In this past year I sensed the Lord clearly leading me to lean into healing and I saw His hand so clearly in the details of my trip home to WA this winter, being able to see a new doctor and take steps out on a road towards fuller healing. From the start I knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey, yet I knew that God would be with me through it all and that He would strengthen and help and uphold day by day. That has proven true.
It hasn’t been an easy few months. In the days of “worse,” it has been hard to face physical limitations and weakness. Hard to know what to do in those moments. I have wrestled with discouragement, tears, questions, doubts, fear…. but in the midst of it all, I have also known unhindered joy, deep thanksgiving, peace, comfort, security. I’ve discovered more fully that suffering and joy are not mutually exclusive, nor is God’s goodness excluded from hard places. It’s strange to find pain and overflowing gratitude and awe of God’s goodness together, hand in hand. But there they are, companions on the journey. God is gracious, kind, and so very good!
CURRENT LIFE AND MINISTRY IN PÉCS
Upon returning to Hungary it seemed that God had carved natural space for me to heal amidst continuing life and ministry here.
Previously, a large part of my weekly, every day routine included coming alongside Balázs and Leah, our pastor family here, and helping with the schooling of a few of their daughters. Previously, I had been working with them every school day, from morning into the early afternoon. Long story short, their schooling situation changed while I was stateside and from the beginning of February I was no longer needed every day. Though a hard adjustment in some ways (I miss the every day moments with Leah and the kids!), this turned out to be a timely provision because I ended up feeling pretty poorly many mornings of the past few months. Not needing to be up and out the door early every morning was a huge help to me!
Up until last week, when the coronavirus situation really began here in Hungary (worldwide), I was able to continue as normal with other areas of work and ministry: language study, discipleship meetings with university students, young women’s bible study, worship ministry, english lesson with óvi (pre-school) class.. Due to current circumstances much of what that looks like has changed for the time being and I will do my best to share what things look like currently as I share prayer requests for each of these areas:
Hungarian language study – (continuing through skype lessons). Pray that the Lord would grant understanding and comprehension, and for endurance to keep pressing on! Thank God for the progress that has been made.
Óvi class – (currently unable to teach with schools/kindergartens closed). I am praying about taking on more of this kind of work when this coronavirus situation ceases! It’s a great way to build relationships with Hungarian families and individuals in the community. Being a native speaker, there are many opportunities. Pray for wisdom and direction regarding this.
Young Women’s Bible Study – (we are continuing via video chat). Pray for us as we continue to dig deeper into the book of Romans. Pray that God would grant understanding and do a powerful, transformative work in hearts as we read and study the truths in these passages
Women’s ministry/discipleship meetings – (continuing through phone calls and video chats). Thank God for the ability to stay connected through various avenues! Not being able to meet in person has meant many phone calls to stay connected and this will continue in the coming weeks. Pray for God-centered conversations. Pray that God will use every conversation and phone meeting to encourage and build up and point people to the Lover of our souls, Sustainer of our lives, the Solid Rock on which we can stand. Typically we have an all-women’s bible study (different than the young women’s study I host on Monday’s) once a month. We have decided to have this meeting more frequently via video chat (every other week) during this time.
International students – Hungarian students have been sent home, but most international students are still here and more alone during these days. Many of them are facing loneliness, homesickness, and worry for family that is far away. For those that are believers, pray that they would wholeheartedly seek the Lord in this time, soaking themselves in His Word, and running to Him as their source. Pray that they would find great comfort, peace, and rest in Him. For those who do not yet know the Lord, pray that they would have a hunger for Him, a longing to know truth. Pray that they would recognize their need for God, turn to Him in repentance and belief on His son and be saved.
Personal – I would ask prayer for full physical healing, and for endurance day by day as I continue on this journey. Pray for comfort from the Lord in these many days of being home alone. Pray for deep rest, for patience, for guidance, and more than anything that I may know the Lord better.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, and thank you for your continued love and support. I thank God for all of you! I would love to pray for you during these days, are there ways I can pray for you? Please don’t hesitate to share, or to ask questions if you have any. It’s always great to hear from you, but it would be especially nice in this time of social distancing!
As it says in 2 Thessalonians 3:5, may the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ during these days. May you find great comfort in Him and rest in His sovereignty. You are loved, beloved!
“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God…” (v. 1-3)The psalm goes on and towards the end he writes “but I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!” (v. 29) What comes immediately after this is profound. He says, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hooves.” (v. 30-31)
Afflicted, in pain… these are strong, forthright words. But while he says I AM these things, he also says I WILL praise and thank God. He does not sugarcoat his situation or undermine the pain. No, he honestly gives voice to the pain and hardship he is facing AND chooses even stillto praise God and magnify him by giving thanks.
We also discover something marvelous in verse 31, and that is how God is pleased with a sacrifice of thanksgiving. More pleased, David says, than if he had an offering to bring. You mean, even when I have nothing to offer/nothing to bring to the table, I can come and give thanks to God and that brings Him immense pleasure? Yes, yes, yes!
Whatever our circumstance, be that one of evident abundance and gladness or one of intense pain and affliction, we have the opportunity to choose to praise God and give Him thanks, and when we do, it pleases Him! I find great comfort knowing that even in desolate “nothingness” there is something of immeasurable value to bring before God (thanksgiving). It is evidence to me of a God who shines light into darkness, brings forth pools of water in the most desolate wastelands, and brings dead bones back to life. And that God is beautiful and so SO worthy of all of our attention and affection and praise. We can truly give thanks to Him because He is good and his steadfast love endures forever!
I am learning to choose, to practice this thankfulness in the “good” days AND the hard and painful ones. Looking back at the past month and a half, here are a few things I am thankful for:
That God is alive and active, drawing and wooing hearts of people here in Pécs
Hope. For eternity and for today
Opportunities to serve God with music
Friendships with so many incredible people from all different cultures and languages
The beautiful Hungarian language — for increasing understanding and the continual joy of learning, and for a teacher who is helpful and encouraging!
Honest hearts who are facing doubts and questions and pressing deeper to seek out what is really true
Seeing people desiring to know God and honor Him with their lives
The opportunity to teach English to a group of 4-6 year olds and see them enjoying the lessons, singing and speaking new words in English
Getting to spend time with ALL FIVE of my sisters here in Hungary. Especially for getting to share my home space with them and have them meet some of the people who are so dear to me here
That God cares enough to deal with the messy and hurting places in our lives
The list could go on and on! The last thing I want to mention is how thankful I am for YOU! I am so thankful for continued love, prayer, and generous support. I couldn’t be here without all of you and it is such a privilege to have you standing with me. THANK YOU for your partnership in seeing the gospel go forward here in Hungary!
What are you thankful for? If you have time sit down and write a few down, I would love to hear some of what you are thankful for!
PRAYERREQUEST FOR SATURDAY
Saturday our church is hosting our annual Women’s Christmas Tea outreach event. This has been a key event every year, one that God has used in impactful ways to reach hearts of women in our community. It’s a fun evening of yummy treats, music, crafting, a short encouragement, conversation, and more. Each year women in our church invite friends, family, and coworkers and each year many come who would never otherwise step foot into a church. This year the message that will be shared is God’s lavish love for us from the story of the prodigal son. Will you join us in praying for this event? Pray that hearts would be open to hear and receive the truth of the gospel! And pray that this time could be a catalyst for further conversations about God and deeper relationship opportunities between the women in our church and our friends who come.
I am excited to share that I will be traveling stateside for a home visit! For those of you in the PNW, I will be in the Vancouver/Portland area for Christmas and through January and would love to connect with you! I am looking forward to seeing and reconnecting with many of you!
P.S. Below are a few pictures from the time with my sisters!