Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

The F. Family (Secured)

May 2022 Update
Bulgaria has been in the world news more than usual lately due to Russia cutting off gas supplies. In Europe gas refers to natural gas, not oil (gasoline or diesel). We are thankful this happened as the weather turned warmer, but it is still a major issue for the EU's poorest country. Also, there is talk about an EU oil embago which would drive up fuel prices even more and possibly lead to shortages. Continue to pray for peace and for wisdom for political leaders as they navigate these difficult days.

The week after our last update (on April 19) was one of our busiest. We had about 50 people stay at the church refugee center that week and 18 in our apartment guest space. With Orthodox Easter, things slowed down a little bit as far as refugees coming in. We had one mom and three kids from a Baptist church in Odessa stay with us for five days over the Easter holiday. Last week we moved her into an apartment owned by a couple in our church. Easter was busy with other ministries. The church had an Easter concert. "A" joined the choir and handbell group for it, and she and the kids sang Amazing Grace in Bulgarian. "P" preached Wednesday and Friday night, as well as, the Sunday after Easter. We are thankful that last Sunday "K", an ABWE teammate that was serving in Ukraine, flew in to Varna to help us for a few weeks. She has already jumped right in helping where she can, especially with Hannah's school and translation. One day this week, she spent most of the day with us trying to help one refugee find a job with a church member.

Thanks for your prayers for spiritual fruit. We have seen an openness and hunger for God's Word from many of the people we have helped. There were two showings of the film "Pilgrim's Progress" in Ukraine the week of Easter, with over 100 Ukrainians attending. The Russian-language congregation that meets in our church building now has over 50 people attending and probably only 10 are believers! Pray for the Ukrainian pastor, "S" as he leads this church.

Remember the lady we told you about in the last update who son has a disability? One of our partners said she and her sister can't get enough of the Bible. One of our colleagues in Romania put us in contact with three ladies and two kids they met passing through Romania to Bulgaria. We delivered some supplies to them and recently moved them into an apartment owned by one of our partner churches in Varna. They are attending that Bulgarian church and coming to the Russian-language church in the afternoons in our building. They are also showing eagerness to learn about the Bible. The church is planning to start a Bible study with some of these nonbelievers that want to learn more. Keep praying!

On a logistical note, we are still planning on a furlough this fall. We have scheduled several churches and are working on getting the rest scheduled. We will be traveling quite a bit early on, but we do need housing for October-December in the Hampton Roads area. The best scenario is something in Newport News to be close to our sending church, Denbigh Baptist, and family. If you know of any cheap (or even better free!) options please contact us. Thanks! 
May 2, 2022
It has been a week since our last update, so here is the latest. First of all, just a reminder that Bulgaria follows the Orthodox Christianity calendar, so Easter is this upcoming Sunday. Since our last update, we have had 8 people in our guest space (3 units) and about 40 more people at our church refugee center. The last couple days have been a bit slower which has been nice for us to catch our breath and get caught up on other things. Last Sunday, our church had its annual Easter concert with "A", "D" and "H" participating. "P" is preaching this Wednesday and Friday night and the two Sundays after Easter.

                      Long-term Refugee Ministry
We have been discussing lately with our pastor, deacon, and Ukrainian-American helpers about wanting to transition more into long-term refugee ministry. When we say long-term, we mean eternity! There are now over 30,000 Ukrainians living in Varna on temporary protection. We all want to begin focusing on outreach and evangelism. We have so many Ukrainian friends now that are staying in different parts of Bulgaria. Here are a few things we are beginning to do and plan for:
    •   It has been difficult to find Russian language Bibles, but our colleagues the Guess family in Romania sent us a box of 25. They are already being distributed. We also have Ukrainian children’s Bibles we are beginning to distribute
    •   Our church is offering free Bulgarian lessons 4 times a week with over 30 Ukrainians attending
    •   We have acquired the rights to the 2019 “Pilgrim’s Progress” film in Ukrainian. This week we will have two viewings at our church in partnership with the Ukrainian church that meets in our building. They are already doing an outreach with over 60 refugee kids every week. We have an idea to start traveling to the different resort hotels and show the film, make popcorn etc. Please pray as this would give us a way to reach thousands. We just need the time and manpower.
   •    The Ukrainian church in our building has grown probably 4X larger. Also, we have many Ukrainians attending our church as well. We are starting to get requests from people we have helped to bring them to Easter services this week. Please pray for logistics as some are an hour or more away.

Let us give you one testimonial. A couple weeks ago on a Saturday we picked up two sisters that each had a child with them from the train station and took them to the church refugee center. In the van, the lady said her 8 year old son has a disability and needed physical therapy. I contacted our friends from church that have their own physio-therapy office in Varna. He did a checkup on the boy after church that Sunday and confirmed he needs therapy 3 days per week. Our Pastor and his wife let them move into their extra apartment so they could be in Varna (all the hotels close by are full). A sponsor from the States is paying for his therapy. They attended the Ukrainian congregation at our church the next week. They came up to our friend after the service with tears and said “we are Orthodox Christian and go to church some but never understand the Bible. Why do we come to your church one time and understand everything about the Bible that was said?” Last Sunday, they attended our Bulgarian church and the Ukrainian one in the afternoon. What a praise! Keep the prayers coming!


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April 11, 2022

It has been a week since our last update. we know you are praying and want to keep you updated so you can pray specifically. Refugee ministry continues to be a focus for much of our ABWE ministry region. We are so thankful to have this Ukrainian/American couple here that we mentioned in our last update. If not, we would be doing almost everything by ourselves right now. "D" and "H" have also been active in helping us with whatever they can. Below we will give you a look at "a day in the life" of our family engaged in refugee ministry and the most recent statistics we have. Regular ministry continues too for us. "A" is still leading music and training one teenage girl on piano. "P" will preach a few times in the coming weeks.

Below is a snapshot of one day of our ministry lately. There is no such thing as a "normal" day right now. Some days are busier than others, but no two ever look the same. However, most days do include taking people to the bus or train station in the morning, picking up and dropping off laundry at the laundromat, preparing and buying food, and picking up people from the train station.
 
"A day in the life" Saturday April 9
6:45 - leave with the mom and 2 kids staying in our guest space to drop them at the train station
7:15 - stop by bus station to buy ticket for refugee for later in the morning
8-10:15 - home for breakfast with the kids
10:15 - leave to pick up laundry (linens and towels used the night before) at church refugee center and drop it at laundromat
11:00 - go to a blessing of a new business opened by a man and his wife from church with our Pastor and church people
12:00 - receive a call that one of the sort-term refugees from the church needs to be picked up from a job fair; take her to the church, go to store to buy food for church refugee center
1:30-4:00 - home for lunch and a little rest
4:15 - "A" heads to the church for music practice and "P" drives to a hotel 30 minutes away to deliver medicine to a sick refugee child that stayed at the church a previous night
6:00- "P" picks up kids from home, picks up laundry, picks up "A" from the church and go to the mall for supper and to buy more refugee supplies
7:45 - drop kids off at the church for a movie night (debut of Pilgrim's Progress in Bulgarian), drop off food and laundry at church refugee center and drive to train station
8:00 -9:00 - at train station waiting for refugees to be sorted, our Ukrainian/American helper takes 7 refugees to the church and we return to church
9:15 - receive a call there are four more people at the train station with nowhere to go, "P" and helper pick them up
10:00 - "P" drives "A" and 3 refugees to our apartment, returns to church to pick up the kids
10:30 - all the family is home

Statistics
Approx. 25,500 Ukrainian refugees have been registered to stay in the Varna region on "temporary protection" status. Most of them are housed in hotels for now.
14 Ukrainians are staying long-term at our church refugee center or in apartments owned by church people
51 Ukrainians have stayed one or two nights at our church refugee center
26 Ukrainians (and 3 dogs) have stayed one or two nights in our own guest space
57 pairs of shoes purchased for Ukrainian refugees
30 Ukrainians taking free Bulgarian lessons at the church from church members
70 Ukrainian children provided school supplies
Approx. 50 bus tickets purchased
Hundreds of meals provided by us and our church people

There are many other things that we and our church have done over the last several weeks like rides and pick-ups from many places, delivery of medicines physical therapy for a boy with a disability, and buying specific supplies to meet needs. 


March 2022 Update
Winter 2021 Update
As we end 2021 and 2022 begins, we want to start by saying how thankful we are to God for each of you as you pray for and support our ministry in Bulgaria with ABWE.  We had a great trip to the States, although it didn't look exactly like we thought it would. However, we were able to visit three supporting churches and saw quite a few supporters. Those we didn't get a chance to see, we hope to see next time. Our family also celebrated "D's" 13th birthday!

We hit the ground running when we returned. After arriving back in Varna on a Tuesday night, by Thursday we found out "P" needed to preach that Sunday and "A" needed to cover that coming Wednesday's Bible study. "P" preached that Sunday on Jesus at Hanukkah from john 10 and "A" spoke about the Christmas carol, "Silent Night".

Thank you for continuing to pray for our Bulgarian pastor. He returned to England for follow up tests in november, and he was cancer free. Praise the Lord! "P" preached three more Sunday mornings in December from Luke chapters one and two.

"A" was also very busy upon returning with Christmas music opportunities. The worship team did a Christmas music night in December. "H" continues to sing with the group. "D" is now the main sound guy for the sound system, and he also sometimes helps with the power points on Sundays. It is a blessing to see the kids serve the Lord with joy. Below you can read about another awesome Christmas music opportunity for "A".

As we move into 2022, please pray for wisdom as we make decisions about ministries such as the church plant. Also, we are planning a longer furlough in the fall, but there are a lot of logistical factors that we need to figure out. If you know of dates for fall mission conferences or other activities at your church for 2022 please let us know.

The choir from our Varna church had a unique opportunity this year.  There is a religious television station in Bulgaria that plays a wide variety of programs ranging from Muslim to Orthodox to Evangelical. Our Bulgarian pastor is friends with the man that  owns and operates the Christian recording studio here in Bulgaria, and they decided to film our choir singing Christmas songs. They asked "A" and a few of the people from her worship team at church to join in for the recordings. here is a link to "Silent Night" from Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v+WrBCuRPKINE. "A" sings a counter melody on the second verse on "Silent Night". She has also been discipling the college student who sings the solo first verse, Sveti. Here is the link to the whole program that was on national TV this week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4oNa-BKNtM

Once cool thing about Christmas in Europe is that most cities have Christmas markets. Both kids have been wanting to try ice skating for a long time, and one of the markets had a rink this year. "D" and "H" both had a blast and did really well and are already asking to go ice skating again soon. They are doing well with our school system of online American school with a couple afternoons a week at their old Bulgarian school.

F. Family Fall Update - October 2021

We want to thank you all for your faithful prayers and support since our last update. August marked our four year anniversary of moving to Bulgaria. it is a little strange to us that we have now lived longer in Bulgaria than we did in Israel. we give all the credit and honor to God, and we are thankful for the privilege to serve Him.  

First, thanks for praying for our Bulgarian Pastor. He and his wife returned from medical treatment in England at the very end of August. So far, it seems the treatments were successful He returns to England in November for follow up appointments. please pray that the cancer is completely gone.

We recently had a baptism at our church for three young people and one lady. Because of his recent surgery, our pastor couldn't get into the water, so "P" baptized them while Pastor led the service. It is always a day of celebration at our church, and it was special for us because "P" also was at the 7 week baptism course this summer with the participants. We have several other newer believers at our church who are now considering baptism.

Thank you to everyone for praying about our church plant group. In October we started gathering again to pray and discuss plans. However, with new recent restrictions we are going to have to put the group on hold again for a while.

In our last letter, we asked for prayer about visa renewals. We got everything done, and our visas renewed for another year, so that's a huge praise! Please continue to pray for our team's translation projects. our newest project is translating a book called "corporate Worship." If you are interested in helping with this kind of project please let us know.

D. and H. switched to an American online school this year and that has been going well. In addition to online classes, they are also attending their former Bulgarian school two afternoons a week. This model is working really nicely for them, because we wanted them to have social interaction with other kids in Bulgarian. Also, D. really wanted to continue with German lessons at the school. Hannah is still singing on the worship team at church and D. has now transitioned to helping with the sound and technology on Sunday mornings.

We are making a quick trip to the States for a few weeks at the end of October, taking advantage of some airline vouchers from a trip cancelled because of COVID. For those in the Hampton Roads area, we are scheduled at our sending church on October 31st to give a ministry update during the Sunday School hour, and P. will preach during the morning service.
Last year, A. was unable to travel to Missouri to see her family, so she will spend some time with them this trip and be at our supporting church on November 7th. Also, we look forward to celebrating D.'s birthday with family and friends in the States. Please pray for health before the trip and logistics for travel including COVID testing before the flights.

Next year, we are planning to do a longer furlough and visit all of our supporting churches. We are due next summer to apply for a 5 year visa, so we don't know exactly how that will affect our furlough plans. Once we have more specifics and know actual dates, we will be in touch with everyone to plan visits. If you have any questions please let us know.

Because of our pastor's absence this summer, P. was not able to put as much time into our men's outdoor ministry as he had hoped. However, he did take a few groups out this summer that included men from our church and also the senior pastor from a Sofia church who helped preach while our pastor was gone. They had a good time shooting air-guns, and this activity is always a hit with the men here. There was a larger outing planned for several college students (both believers and unbelievers from the college ministry that some of our church colleagues work with), but the event was cancelled due to rain. We look forward to expanding the ministry even further when the weather turns nice again. 
F. Family -Jul 12, 2021

This year for the first time our church did a VBS! The theme was Jonah and our kids and A. helped with the play and the music. The idea to host VBS came from one of the people at our church from England (evidently VBS is called "Holiday Bible Club" in the Queen's English). She shared the idea and the wife of our deacon like it and helped her to plan it.

We are asking you for prayer for our pastor and our church right now during a difficult time. He has been out of town for several weeks because he had a tumor removed and is now undergoing chemotherapy. The doctors are quite confident he will have a full recovery; however, he will not be back at church until September at the earliest. There are several ways you can join us in praying.
  1. Pray for a quick and full recovery for Pastor G. and that he is able to return as soon as possible. 
  2. Pray for our church while he is gone. Currently, we only have one deacon, so he and Phil are providing the Spiritual leadership right now, handling scheduling, and dealing with any problems that arise. 
  3. P. is doing a lot of the preaching this summer. In July, he is doing a series on Hebrews 11 called, "The Hall of Faith". We are thankful that in August and September we will have help with the preaching schedule from two pastors that lead another church. 
  4. Please pray that God uses this difficult time to strengthen and grow our church. We are very encouraged by the way the congregation has pulled together in prayer and unity right now. Join us in praying for more leaders for our church. We have men that are qualified for the position of deacon or pastor; however, they just need to be led by God to have a desire to serve in this way. 

COVID is still an issue here, but things are improving. Our main church is still not back up to pre-COVID numbers, and we are still not sure about when we can restart the church plant group. Also, please pray for another issue facing our church. We recently started a small project on our property that has the potential of making some extra money for the church. However, one neighbor has become very belligerent and managed to convince city officials to stop the project for now.

Even with all the challenges, God is still working and building His church. We have several people planning to attend the church's baptism course starting next week. Please pray for these people as they seek to follow the Lord in baptism. Also, we were excited that the family of one of H.'s classmates attended church this month. None of them are believers. Please pray they continue to attend and respond to the Gospel.

Summer for us means visa renewal. As we have said before, visa renewal is like a really expensive scavenger hunt where the prize for winning is getting to stay here for another year. Please pray that everything goes well with the whole process.

D.'s Corner ... As we mentioned in the last newsletter, we are making some big changes on the kid's education. In our previous location D. attended a private international school and two different public schools. He did one school year at our sending church's Christian school while we were on furlough, and he has attended two different private schools since we have been here. We are very proud of how he has done with all these different changes. For a variety of reasons, we decided that now was the time to change to an online Christian school for both kids.

H.'s Corner ... It is hard to believe H. is 10 now! She was 16 months old when we started out as missionaries. She had a great birthday this year. A. planned a gathering at the park to celebrate with some kids from school. There ended up being thunderstorms, so they had the party at our church. It is very cool how God worked because it was the first time most of the families had been in an evangelical church. Both kids will be attending the Christian camp in August that they attended two years ago.

We had a guest speaker from another church on the first Sunday in July, and A did the translation for the English speakers. We are still taking lessons and have a lot to learn, but it is nice to be able to use our new language more and more. In May, P. did a Wednesday night sermon in the native language and will do another in August. A. has also done several Bible studies in the native language. Language acquisition is always a prayer request.

In June right after the kids finished school, we made a trip to renew the kids' passports. We also attended a couple of services at one of the Baptist Churches where several of our friends and ministry partners attend. We met with their pastors to talk about help and support for our church. We took a little time to do some fun things too, as well as a day for a trip up in the mountains.

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