Dec 2014

Weekly Update



Above: We praise God for a great two and a half weeks of Christmas Puppet Ministry. Check out the film above I was able to put together from various clips from the many schools we visited.

Christmas Worship Service


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Above: Some of the visitors to our Sunday service included former mayor (far left) and seated behind him, the local middle school’s principal with her husband.

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Above: Roger helped some of the kids from the local middle school prepare a few special songs and scripture reading.

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It was a great night with opportunities to lift up the name of Jesus Christ as our Savior. Praise God for many first time visitors who attended. Pray that the continued follow up with them would lead to salvation as they put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Monday English Club Christmas Party


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We had a great turn out even though we are so close to Christmas. We continue to get very positive feedback from those attending and we plan to continue this club in January. Over the past three weeks we have had multiple opportunities to share personal testimony in the class setting and with individuals at break time. This has been a great tool in the town of Jászfényszaru to build new relationships and tell people about the hope we have in us. Our next steps in the new year involve launching a Bible study with those who are interested from the English Club.

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Above: Kira along with some other children in our choir joined us and sang some special Christmas songs. As we were preparing to leave, Kira ran smack into a column inside the community center. Responding to her scream, I rushed to her and grabbed her not knowing how serious the injury was. Moving my arm, and looking at her head, I saw a green and purple lump the size of a golf ball swelling up above her right eye. We began praying and headed to the hospital where she had x-rays and an examination. Praise God that her skull wasn’t fractured and she was back to her normal self the next day albeit with swelling that continues to subside. Praise God for protecting her and bringing swift healing.

Update on Vivi


I mentioned a few weeks ago a prayer request for Vivi who’s pregnancy was at risk after doctors discovered problems with her baby’s heart and an abnormal growth in the child’s head. It is important to note that Vivi is a young Romani woman and discrimination is prevalent against Romani in Hungary. Doctors are quick to recommend aborting babies and Vivi had to fight just to get medical care because she was designated as high risk.

After one doctor found an issue with the babies heart, I reported that a subsequent exam revealed that the baby’s heart was healthy (praise God) but we were still waiting for the results from a biopsy related to the abnormal growth. On Monday, Vivi had another examination and I rejoice to report that God has touched this child with healing! The enlarged spot that was seen on the baby's brain has decreased, and is expected to continue to decrease based on the results of the biopsy. What a great reminder this Christmas of God’s grace and mighty hand to provide. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

May the peace of Christ guard your hearts and may the blessing of having a personal relationship with Jesus bring you great joy and hope this Christmas. Merry Christmas from our family to all of you who have been a constant encouragement and help to us these many years!
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 15

Gyöngyös


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Above: Arnold examining his ordered pile of puppets before covering them up before our last show.

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Thank all of you who covered this ministry in prayer. Thank those of you who gave financial gifts to cover the evangelistic CDs and magazines. With two teams we were able to travel to 32 schools over the past two and a half weeks reaching close to 2000 kids. As we were driving home I found out an interesting story that brought more encouragement. Puppet team member Eniko shared how she remembered a puppet show outreach in her school when she was younger. It turns out that Miki as a young man was one of the puppeteers in that show (yes, there is a significant age difference between our team members :). How neat that Eniko is now faithfully following Jesus and serving in a ministry that once sowed seeds in her heart. Praise God for sustaining us through this ministry and for the message of Jesus and salvation in Him being shared in so many public schools.

Tomorrow, we’ll have our special Christmas worship service and expect many first time visitors. Please pray for God to draw them to Himself and for them to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 14

Csécse


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Above: Praise God for the two teams he put together. He has given us unity and all have served with joy and selflessness. This is Arnold’s (far left) first time serving on the Puppet team in this capacity and he has done an excellent job. Before he was even saved (this year), he shared with us that he thought he would love to be involved in doing puppets with kids.

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Above: This was Csécse’s last day of school before their winter break. What a privilege to be the chosen special presentation for the kids on this day and leave them with gifts that keep their attention towards the truth about Jesus Christ.

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Szurdokpüspöki


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Petofibanya Christmas Program


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Above: A view of the sunset just outside of our town’s community center. As I mentioned in our previous post, our church was invited to participate in this year’s Christmas Program in Petofibanya. We praise God for the opportunity to share our hope with our hometown tonight.

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Above: Petofibanya’s mayor giving an introduction.

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Above: The local preschool (where Ziva attends) also performed. Ziva was one of the youngest in the class and was comical to watch.

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Above: Our church choir was given a thirty minute time slot in the program. Between songs, Erika read the Christmas story and shared the Gospel message with the audience. We were given the opportunity to close the program by singing silent night in multiple languages. Elianna, Kira and I (Allen) sang the first verse in English, which was followed by German. Afterwards the entire choir sang in Hungarian. The choir did a wonderful job! We hope to see many who came this night visit our church for the first time this Sunday in the same building.

These past two weeks have flown by! Tomorrow is our last day of our Christmas Puppet Ministry. We will conclude in the town of Gyöngyös in the afternoon. Thank all of you for following these updates and joining us in prayer as we share the Gospel in public schools throughout northeastern Hungary. We appreciate your continued prayers for Erika (18 weeks pregnant) who has had abnormal pains over the past few days. Please continue to pray for a good night’s sleep and for success in our last show tomorrow.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 12 & 13

Gyöngyösoroszi


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Above: Who knew we would be praising God for mud instead of battling sleet or snow as we travel from school to school. The weather has remained mild which has been a great help.

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We only had one show on Wednesday and we were able to get some much needed rest. After the show, I visited Vivi who was in need of encouragement and prayer as doctors have identified various problems with her pregnancy. She had just returned from a slew of tests in two different hospitals. Vivi is not well off and it is a financial burden to travel and pay for these tests. A doctor in the hospital that is closer to our hometown saw something abnormal with the baby’s heart and directed her to go to Budapest for further testing. I got word today that after further testing in Budapest the baby’s heart is healthy! Praise God for His mercy. There are still serious concerns for the growth in the baby’s head and we ask you to join us in praying for complete healing.

Szirák


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Above: Kids began shouting as they saw us entering, “It’s the puppet show!” In many of the places we visit twice a year, the kids know us by name.

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Above: Producing imaginary snow to build a snowman with the kids. Szirák is one of the many schools we visit that has a majority of Romani students. Many of them have a tough life at home and not much hope in a bright future. It is our hope that many of them would come to know Jesus and that new church planting movements would rise up among the Romani in Hungary.

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Egyházasdengeleg


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Above: A good behind the scenes photo. This year’s show has multiple transitions and props that the team has done a great job doing efficiently.

Héhalom


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Today, we had our first issue with my car. When pulling away from Héhalom’s middle school, my right front tire dropped into a ditch that I did not see. Since we just began moving, it was easy to simply stop and maneuver out. However, the tire began to quickly loose air. By God’s grace there was a gas station just a few minutes away and we were able to make it there to fill it back up. Unfortunately, the rim was damaged so that we would have to put on a spare. This all happened at a time where we had an hour and a half before our next show. In that time were able to get the tire completely repaired with time to spare! This may seem like something you might expect, but in Hungary things usually take much longer than you may experience in the US. Praise God for his provision and please continue to pray for continued protection as we travel.

Vanyarc


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Above: Some of the scenery on the way to Vanyarc.

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Praise God for sustaining us through one of our toughest schedules of four shows today. Tomorrow we’ll have two shows in the morning and then we’ll begin preparing for our participating in Petofibanya’s Christmas show. They’ve invited our choir of children and adults to sing this year! Please pray that our closing act may keep the attention of all those attending on Jesus. Pray for those participating to bring glory to Him.

Other requests:

• Miki’s wife Erika who is 18 weeks pregnant experienced cramping yesterday and had a doctors appointment today. The doctors are not sure what is going on and we ask you to pray for them.

• Please pray for Vivi (mentioned in this post above). Pray for healing for her child.

• Brenda shared that she had a GREAT night’s rest last night (for the first time in many days). Praise God. Please pray for the team to sleep well this night.

• Miki has been still dealing with pain after a tooth was pulled. Please pray for healing.

• Praise God that we are all feeling better from previous cold symptoms.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 11

Jaszfenyszaru Middle School


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This is only the second year we’ve performed in Jaszfenyszaru. As I mentioned previously, we are currently seeking to plant a church in this town. We praise God for these doors He is opening. After the show, we were invited into the teacher’s lounge. Just a few months ago we launched an English Club in Jaszfenyszaru and there are teachers from this school and the preschools that attend. One of the teachers that attends happened to be there and asked me, “So how did you end up in Hungary?” My mind quickly calculated which version I could share since we only had around five minutes before having to leave for our next show. Praise God for this opportunity to briefly share my faith in Jesus and journey with Him.

Jaszfenyszaru Preschool 1


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Above: The teacher pictured above left (in white and pink) also attends our English Club every Monday. We’re planning on having a special party for our last class before Christmas. Please pray that God would use us in that time to give more testimony about our Savior Jesus Christ.

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Jaszfenyszaru Preschool 2


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Above: By this third show, some of the puppeteers were feeling the difficulty holding the puppets up for the extended periods of time required for the show. Please pray for their strength and stamina!

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Above: Puppets representing Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

Bogacs


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Above: Melissza excited to see Eniko who teaches the kids in our Bible study in Bogacs.

After a short break in the afternoon, we traveled to the town of Bogacs. This is the town where God has opened a door to minister to a Romani family and where we hope to see a church plant in the future.

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Above: Miki serving in a small room with a handful of kids with all of his heart in the same way he performs in a room with over a hundred.

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This is probably the smallest space we would perform in this year and the team did a great job. We were glad to bring this special gift to the kids in this family and to their friends.

Puljka, the father of this household had some recent tests that revealed a hernia. We ask you to pray for this man who has opened up his home to hear the Gospel every week and is desirous to share the good news with others. Please pray for healing.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 10

Jobbágyi


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Above: One of the songs we teach the kids this year. The last line says: The Savior Jesus has brought love at Christmas.

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Above: Teammate Brenda commented that she was feeling better today after suffering from a cold and back pain. Please pray for her complete healing as we still have many shows ahead that require physical stamina and strength.

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Above: Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem. The puppet show this year begins with a grandmother prepping Christmas treats in the kitchen. She is joined by her grandson and soon the conversation turns to a story about faith. Later in the show, the grandmother reads the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus.

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Above: By God’s grace we are not only able to distribute evangelistic CDs and family magazines to every child that attends the puppet show, but we are also able to give evangelistic booklets every teacher.

Ecseg


All the other schools we visit have known us from past years of puppet ministry, but today we would be visiting Ecseg for the first time.
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We see how God is answering your prayers for our team and for those we are seeking to reach. Teammate Norbi who was sick on Friday recovered and felt well the next day. Please continue to pray for healing for Eniko and Brenda. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Jaszfenyszaru for three shows in the morning and then out to Bogács for a show at night. We are currently seeking to plant a church in both of these towns and have other ongoing ministries in both of them. We appreciate your continued prayer!
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 9

Heréd


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Above: Just past 7:30 this morning, we pulled into Heréd’s school grounds being greeted by the principal. Once again the morning colder temperatures left a thin layer of ice on the roads. We’re thankful for God’s protection as we traveled today.

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Above: Building imaginary snow men with the kids.

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As you can see from the pictures, God has used these Puppet Shows to bring joy to many this season. We’re very thankful for the opportunity to tell others about our Savior and why we celebrate. Praise God for this open door in Hungary to public schools that has remained open now for over 10 years!

Please continue to pray for complete healing for those who are still feeling sick. The team will return to Heréd later this afternoon to perform for the preschool, while I’ll be heading into town to participate in an English Camp reunion party. This will be a good time to reconnect with past campers. Thanks for your continued prayers for this ministry and for our team.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 8

Lorinci


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Above: Even the preschool kids lock up their bikes in Hungary.

The temperatures dropped significantly this morning and there were patches of ice on the roads. Praise God for his protection as we traveled and for the beautiful sunshine that warmed everything up by afternoon.

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Nagykökényes


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Above: Our second destination, Nagykökényes, is one of the smallest preschools we visit. Aniko (pictured far right) is one of the preschool workers. Her husband Istvan works in Petofibanya’s public school as the school’s pastor. Istvan is an evangelist at heart and takes every opportunity he has with the kids to proclaim the good news.

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Paszto


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Above: Our final destination today was in Paszto. Miki’s wife Erika used to work in this school which specializes in helping those with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues. These kids were full of joy and so excited to see the puppet show.

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Yesterday, I reported that my car’s windshield washer pump died. God encouraged me this morning when I tried the pump and it began to work! Thanks for praying. As you may have noticed from some of the pictures above, we had two new team members (Brenda and Eniko) participating today as puppeteers. They did a great job with their first live performance after practicing the past few weeks. Unfortunately, many in the team began experiencing sore throats, some with fevers and coughing. Please pray for healing for the team and another great night’s rest. Tomorrow, we’re headed to the town of Heréd for two shows. Thanks for standing with us in prayer!
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 7

Erdotarcsa


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Above: Today, our first stop was in Erdotaracsa’s preschool. We arrived a bit early, so the kids were still finishing their morning snack and looked on with excitement as we set up the stage.

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Above: Miki was quick to get everyone laughing (including the team). For those praying for his tooth pain, Miki said he was feeling better today. Thanks for your prayers!

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Above: Our first team will be together for one more day tomorrow, and then on Saturday the second team will begin serving together. Having two teams has helped us reach more areas and spared the burden from resting on just a few. We praise God for the number of willing volunteers from our church body that serve with us in this ministry!

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Above: Erika passing on gifts to the teachers. This year’s book is called, “The Bible, God’s miracle.” Don’t forget to pray for the teachers who also hear the same message the kids hear every year and receive materials that explain the Gospel.

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Kálló


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Our second destination was the town of Kálló. Kids walked over from the local middle school to join the preschoolers and filled the small gym.

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Above: Distributing the gift CDs and booklets for the children who attended the show.

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Petofibanya


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Our third and final show for today was in our hometown of Petofibanya. Yesterday, we visited the local preschool and today we performed for the middle school.

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Above: Andor (green shirt) attends our church. His mother abandoned him and his brother and his grandmother (also a church member) cares for the two boys. Unfortunately, his story is not very unique in our area. Many kids suffer from the sins of parents who have left them for other pursuits. Pray for kids like Andor and his brother Levi to grow up into mighty men of God who would be a blessing to others who had similar trials in their lives.

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Above: Sharon and Ziva sitting next to Petofibanya’s middle school principal.

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Above: Things are have definitely changed over the years. This school used to consistently be the worst behaved school we attended. Kids would talk throughout the show. Teachers would pay no attention to the kids when they were being disrespectful. But we’re seeing change! The kids today were very attentive when Miki shared the gospel. They quickly learned our new song and sang with joy. They even continued singing after the show was over and they were leaving in single file lines. Praise God for the change He is bringing. We’ll have continued opportunity with many of these kids who attend our Vacation Bible School every year and as they grow older, some will be attending our English Camp.

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Above: Ziva wearing daddy’s vest to keep warm.

Thanks for your continued prayers for this ministry! We had our first few ‘mishaps’ today. My car’s windshield washer pump died, so I can’t conveniently wipe away ice or dirt build up as we drive on back roads. After our second show, our main lights for the puppet show were accidentally dropped in transport and shattered a few bulbs. By God’s grace, we were able to fix them before our final show began. Miki also had a suitcase fall on his leg which didn’t feel great. These are just little things that remind us that we need prayer and we can praise God for how smoothly the shows have gone thus far! Tomorrow we have three shows lined up and need a good night’s rest for a new day of ministry! Please continue to pray.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 6

Petofibanya


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Above: This is the preschool our daughter Ziva attends (center with ball). All of our kids have attended this school and we have good relationships with all the teachers.

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Above: The local postal worker Zsuzsa joining along singing. Zsuzsa’s daughter and son have attended our English camps in the past. Please pray for her family as we continue to have opportunity to share the good news with them.

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Above: Teammates Heidi and Roger’s children Emily and Sammy (who also attend preschool in Petofibanya) were excited to see today’s show.

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Jaszbereny


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Above: After Petofibanya, the team traveled to Jaszbereny which is about an hour away (one of the longer commutes this year). This is a school that attends to children and young adults with special needs.

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Above: Ending the show with this year’s song about the importance of having faith in Jesus.

God continues to give the team favor and grace as we travel and perform. We praise him for our vehicle and trailer working well and all puppet and sound equipment functioning well. Please pray for the puppeteers to have strength and stamina for tomorrow’s three shows. Pray also for the message of the gospel to be clearly communicated. We thank all of you for standing with us in prayer!

Many of us passed our written driver’s license exam (5 out of 7 including Sharon and I) and we thank you for praying for us. Each person received a different set of questions randomly selected and the test was very tricky. Please pray for those who have to retake the exam to find the right time to take it again and to have success in getting past this initial hurdle to obtain their license in Hungary.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 5

Apc


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The team’s first scheduled stop was in the neighboring town of Apc where we are seeking to church plant. We currently have a weekly Bible study in Apc and just last week had new family members visit our church for the first time.

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Above: Hugi, who is serving as one of our puppeteers, recently moved back to Petofibanya after living in Budapest for a number of years. Hugi loves children and sharing Jesus and his love with whoever she comes in contact with. Hugi suffered a sever stroke years ago and continues to have limited mobility on the right side of her body. Even with these limitations, she does a great job and is a woman full of joy. Please pray for strength and healing for Hugi!

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Rozsaszentmarton


Rozsaszentmarton is another village we are seeking to plant a church. Currently one of the elders of our church holds a Bible study in his house every friday in this village. Some of the teachers from this preschool attend including Kirszta (photo below) who has put her faith in Christ.

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Selyp


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Thank you for partnering with us in prayer. Our Hungarian teammates are always encouraged to hear that there are friends in the US praying for them. Today was another great day. Tomorrow, the team will be serving in our home town of Petofibanya.

In addition to praying for the team, please pray for those of us who will be taking a test to further the process of obtaining our Hungarian driver’s license tomorrow.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 4

Kisbágyon


After a good weekend of rest, our team is back out sharing the true message of Christmas. We praise God for this ministry opportunity that gives us access to so many children and teachers throughout northeastern Hungary every Easter and Christmas.

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Above: We’re thankful that the weather continues to be relatively mild which makes driving from school to school much easier. Our first stop was at a small preschool in the town of Kisbágyon.

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Above: Kids from Kisbágyon peering out the window as we pack up to leave for our next destination.

Bér


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We praise God that all the technical equipment has been working great and the puppeteers have been doing a great job. The show has been engaging and Miki has been sharing the Gospel at the end of each show. As the number of shows have increased each day our bodies are a bit more worn out. Please pray for renewal, rest and strength and readiness for a new day tomorrow where the team will have three shows. Pray for Miki as he has been experiencing a toothache and for continued protection for the entire team and their families in this time. Thank you all for your prayers for our ministry!
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 3

Today we headed over to Rozsaszentmarton with three cars loaded with team members and children. Our puppet show was scheduled for the first hour.

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Above: Norbi getting some laughs from Hugi before the show begins.

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Above: Some schools only allow the youngest children to attend. We were thankful that Rozsaszentmarton allowed their entire school to see today’s show.

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Above: Our youngest daughter Ziva was also able to join us today and see the show for the first time.

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Above: The kids did a great job quickly learning words and motions to the songs we are singing this year. After the show was over, the principal affirmed the message that we presented. This may not seem so shocking, but just two years ago we experienced just the opposite from him. This is a door that the Lord has opened! Last year we were received (I think) with a bit of hesitation as the school didn’t know what to expect from us. This year, we were invited into the teacher’s lounge after the show and it is clear that God is allowing our relationship to deepen. Praise God for a great first week of puppet ministry. Praise Him for his grace in continuing to share the good news with a new generation of Hungarians! After a break this weekend, we’ll be back on the road on Monday for two shows. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 2

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Above: The Mercer ministry mobile outside of Sarvasgede’s preschool early this morning. We rejoiced in seeing clear bright skies today. It seems like it has been a week since the sun has been out.

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Above: It is our prayer that these kids encounter the love of God when we come. We’re thankful that even the smallest kids had smiles on their faces and were quick to begin interacting with us.

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Above: Grandma opening her Bible to tell her grandchild the Christmas story.

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Above: This is one of two teams doing puppets this year from our church. From L to R: Miki, Hugi, Erika, Jennifer and Timi. The second team will begin next Saturday as we finish traveling to 32 destinations.

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Above: Norbi helping distribute this year’s evangelistic children’s magazine and CD. It’s always good to have extra guys around helping with the heavy lifting, unpacking and packing. Norbi first came to know us through a children’s outreach in Petofibanya over 10 years ago. We’re thankful that the seeds planted long ago in his heart continued to grow and just this year Norbi put his faith in Jesus.

Praise God for another great day of Puppet Ministry. This week our team only has one show each day. As we enter next week that will change to 2-4 shows a day. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to a neighboring village of Rozsaszentmarton (where our kids go to school). Many of you may recall that we had been denied access to this school for many years and last year was the first time we had the opportunity to enter. This is also a town where we are seeking to plant a church. Please pray that the door remain open in this village and please pray for the other ongoing ministries in Rozsaszentmarton (weekly Bible class in school and weekly house group).
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Christmas Puppet Ministry Day 1

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Above: Arriving at the special care center in Hatvan for those with intellectual disabilities. All of the puppet equipment fits in my trailer while the seven of us fit in my car. Thankfully the weather isn’t too cold, so we didn’t have the challenge of traveling in snow or ice.

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Above: After quickly setting up the stage, Miki leads with a few songs.

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We praise God for a great first day! Let’s keep praying for each day to have success in proclaiming God’s Gospel. Please pray especially for our team members and their families in this time. Often it is our children that come under attack in these seasons of intense evangelistic ministry. Yesterday, one of our team members was attacked by a few dogs that happened to be loose as she was walking home. She was bitten and had to get a Tetanus shot. Hugi said she had to take a taxi home from the hospital. When she asked the driver how much she owed, he told her, “Nothing.” This is really unheard of in Hungary! Hugi is on the first puppet team and was able to do her part this morning without any problems. Please pray for her complete healing.

Tomorrow morning we’re off to the town of Szarvasgede. Thanks for your continued prayer support!

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