Boldog Uj Evet!
Happy New Year! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas season, celebrating with friends and family. We also hope that you are looking forward to the year ahead and how God wants to work in and through you. We had an incredible month celebrating the Christmas season! It started off with a visit home to Alberta and Vancouver. We spent a weekend in Calgary with friends and also visited Brentview Baptist Church. We were able to speak in their services as well as lead the Bible study to share about Romania and the work that has taken place this past year. Following this visit, we headed out to Camp Caroline to visit Paul’s parents as they live on property there. We had a great week of family hangouts and activities and were joined by Paul’s sister visiting with her two kids. We also had the opportunity to share about Romania and Camp Falcon Rock with the Camp Caroline staff. They continue to be huge supports and encouragements to us and the ministry here.
After our time out at camp we headed into Edmonton for the weekend. We started with an important business meeting about moving forward with fundraising and camp development with some of our local partners. Following that, good friends of ours George and Arliss Cuff hosted an open house for us where we were surprised by over 60 people who came out. We had the opportunity to share more about the camp ministry. We were excited to invite the Wagners to join us for the meeting and the open house to share about their calling and heart for Romania. Next we had the opportunity to be a part of Central Baptist’s church service. Paul was able to preach and I was able to meet with people through our booth. Again, we felt so blessed by the encouragement and support we received from Central and it was great to see our friends there! Right after the service we rushed to the airport to fly into Vancouver to visit my family. It was the first time I was able to see my sister since her accident in June. I was blown away by how well and healthy she is! God is so good and showed her so much grace through this process. She is recovering from her brain injury incredibly and is receiving a lot of support to get her back to normal life. It was great to be able to have some sister time with her. We also had a number of family hangouts and activities that week with my family and even had a giant Christmas dinner together.
It was such a blessing for Paul and I to be home for a taste of Canadian Christmas but we knew that it was important to be back home to Romania for actual Christmas. We flew back in on the 22nd and were quickly wrapped up in the celebrations here. While we were away Tamas was able to serve on behalf of the camp by handing out donated Christmas shoe boxes to the village surrounding the camp. Every Christmas the pastors here receive some of the Christmas boxes from the Christmas shoe box program and then get help to give them away to families in need. Tamas took the opportunity to meet with the impoverished families around the camp and shared the Gospel with them.
We love the way Romanians celebrate Christmas and the focus they put on actually celebrating Jesus! The Christmas celebrations start the week before Christmas through evening church services the week leading up to Christmas. Then on Christmas Eve there is a special night service and the 3 days following there are a morning and evening service each day. After each service we were invited to different people’s homes for a meal and time to hangout and every evening we were invited to be a part of the village caroling. The young people stay up late and go through the villages caroling in the streets either by signing or playing their brass instruments. Caroling is an important part of the Christmas celebration as it is a tool Romanians use to evangelize and share the story of Christmas. One night during caroling we had a family join us for a song, we had another elderly lady come stand outside of her house with her hands raised worshipping during the carols and finally we chatted with a drunk man coming from the pub about what we were doing. It was quite the experience!
During the holiday we had many opportunities to hangout with our friends in the village. One night included us taking some of the teens into the nearby city to go ice-skating. It was the first time for all of them. We had a lot of fun hanging out and teaching them how to skate! We finished off the month and year with a New Year’s Eve church service followed by a meal with some friends from the village. The young people were then up until the wee hours of the morning lighting off fireworks to celebrate the New Year and then still managed to make it into church the next morning and afternoon for services. We are so grateful for the ways God has led and provided for us and the ministry here. We look forward to what 2016 will bring for Camp Falcon Rock and how God will continue to grow Paul and I to be better followers of Him. Tanya and Paul