Jan 2010

WEEKLY UPDATE

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Above: Cute candid shots of our children Kira, Elianna and Benjamin.

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Above: Today, Ben had a soccer tournament in the town of Hatvan which is about a 20 minute drive away. Schools from Hatvan and small towns in our area participate in the tournament. Ben’s team is always at a tremendous disadvantage as the gym they practice in is about 1/8 the size of the gym these kids in Hatvan practice in. Even though they came in last place, their team always has fun playing together. Norbi who is a frequent visitor to our ministries and church came with me to the tournament which gave us a chance to catch up after my surgery. I challenged him again about considering seriously a decision to put his trust in Jesus. Beyond the necessity of salvation from judgment for sin, It is only in Christ that he will find wise trustworthy leadership in his life. It is only in Jesus that he will find faithfulness and love that endures. Please pray for this young man to truly encounter the living Christ, to understand the Gospel and to make wise decisions.

This past Saturday, Klári who attends our English Bible study visited us with her friend Ildikó. I helped them set up a webpage for their basket weaving business and gave them some training on how to update the blog online. Both Klári and Ildikó brought their kids and it was great to see the children having a good time together. We are thankful for our continued friendship with Klári and a new developing friendship with Ildikó.

SUNDAY WORSHIP

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Above: Dezső continues to preach 2-3 times a month. I told him this past Sunday that his messages are always good, and his communication and presentation skills are dramatically improving. Dezső, now having over a year’s experience preaching and gaining more insight from currently attending Bible school is a real blessing for our church. I praise God for how He continues to mature Dezső in his faith and reveal to him how to build the church up.

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Above: Hugi wishing Niki and Betti (Dezső’s daughter) a happy birthday after worship service.

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Above: One of the first people to be saved when Miki moved to Petőfibánya over four years ago was a woman named Ica. After a year of attending our fellowship meetings (in homes at that time), Ica and her family for various circumstances no longer attended. Just recently, her husband Miki (above center) ran into medical problems and they called upon our church for prayer. Soon after, they attended our church for the first time and wrote an email telling us how grateful they were to return and how they felt God’s grace and love in our midst. Praise God for His work in their lives! Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to draw this family to Jesus and that they would be strengthened in their faith as they attend our church.
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2009 YEAR IN REVIEW

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Above: Beautiful sunset in Petőfibánya.

I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.— Psalm 143:5

We are full of praise to Jesus for His continued work in building His kingdom. As we look back at 2009, here are some highlights that bring encouragement to us in a new year of serving Him!

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• Easter and Christmas puppet ministry, sowing seeds twice yearly to over 1000 kids in public schools.

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• VBS summer ministry, reaching kids in Petőfibánya and surrounding villages. We saw more 'ownership' taken by the church in serving and members from the community donating to help us in this ministry. We had more success this year in seeing some of those who attended transitioning into our weekly meetings that followed (Teen ministry, English Bible and Sunday Worship Services)

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• English Summer Camp led to many new students being drawn closer to God. Some returning students made decisions to put their faith in Jesus, while faith of others' was strengthened as they were encouraged once again by the testimonies and life of those that served with us.

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• English Club/English Bible study provided a means to develop new relationships with the community and allowed us to go through an overview of Biblical truths from Genesis to Acts with four particular students.

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• Friday Teen Outreach ministry gained momentum and has grown as those who attend spread the word. The teens are now joining us in singing worship songs which have Biblical truth and we are able to share various aspects of God's truth and the gospel with them each week.

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• Women's prayer group initiated by PI teammate Brenda and turned over when she left for furlough. The women continue to meet an hour before worship service to encourage one another and pray.

• Two church members respond to discipline and correction after a time of willingly living in sin, opposed to Christ's Word. They are now both fully restored and growing in their faith.

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• The consistent meeting of a discipleship Bible study group with a core group of church members. We have sought in the past to disciple members with limited success. This is the first year that a number of members have committed to attending and are growing in maturity in their faith in Jesus.

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• New Pioneers team members Roger and Heidi (above) join full time and decide to serve long term with us. Their first child was born this year and they have been adjusting well to our team and their new home.

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• Church member Eszti's husband Peti (above right helping in Puppet Ministry) turned from ignoring and ridiculing God to putting his faith in Jesus. He was baptized in October.

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• Church member Dezső received confirmation from God of his calling into the pastorate. He is now attending an extension Bible school four year program. Two other men from our church, Peti and Gabi are attending this Bible school with Dezső. We praise God for his work in these men's lives.

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• Church member Eszti (above purple) began attending training for children's ministry and has begun working side by side with us to be a future leader in our children's ministry. Eszti also gave her testimony in our teen ministry, no longer just attending, but participating in the ministry with us.

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• Official reception of our congregation into the Hungarian Baptist Church providing legal standing and various means of networking support for our church planting efforts.

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• Baptism of 15 year old Niki (teen pictured above) who was initially invited to church through her older brother Gabi (also saved in our small town) who is a first generation Christian in his family.

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• Church members beginning to take on more responsibility in ministry. This is the first time we have seen consistent participation in leadership development classes, in our teen ministry and in our worship group.

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• Marriage class has continued to direct those on our core team to be attentive to their marriages and encouraged growth and healing.

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• A precious team (above) that continues to serve in unity and love. I praise God for our ability to work through conflict when we have it and to always seek peace and unity with one another.

• God's continued provision of financial support in a terrible economic situation.

HEALTH UPDATE

I continue spend a lot of time resting. Each day the pain lessens and I gain a bit more strength. I continue to suffer from what we currently believe to be GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). This could have been aggravated by the appendicitis and also the surgery. GERD causes me to have trouble breathing normally, nausea at times and is just a general annoyance. I am currently on medication for GERD and changing my diet to see if we can get it under control. After I am healed up from my appendectomy, I plan on getting follow up tests to solid up the suspicions of GERD. I would ask for your continued prayer for complete healing. I long for the day of feeling ‘normal’ again. Thanks for your prayers!
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MEDICAL UPDATE 3

As most of you know by now, it was very difficult for doctors to diagnose what was going on with me when this all started on Christmas night. The surgeon who took out my stitches today informed me that my appendix was freekishly 20 cm long. As I met with him and my doctor later in the day the pieces finally all seem to fit together as far as an explanation of all my atypical symptoms. Read the captions below each picture for a better picture of what was going on.



Above: An average 2-10 cm long appendix in the normal position pointing downward.



Above: My appendix, 20 cm long (approximately twice the average size) pointing in an abnormal upward direction.



Above: My "shallow breathing" that caused the initial trauma and that followed for days (and is now subsiding) was a result of my diaphragm reacting to the pain and infection on the abnormally long appendix which was pointed toward it. I had unconsciously pulled up my diaphragm (as illustrated above center) and was no longer using it for deep breathing. This is what gave me the feeling of tightness in my chest and a lack of oxygen, when in reality my body had plenty of oxygen (as the medical equipment revealed). Just yesterday as we were driving into town, I felt my diaphragm pull down which expanded my chest and lungs to what was previously normal capacity for me. Up until yesterday, I had been protecting myself from pain (unconscienciously) by not expanding my diaphragm because this expanded my belly and caused pain by my appendix.



Above: You can imagine the stress I was putting on my body as I have been primarily "shallow breathing" for the past week. Although this gives enough oxygen to the body, it just didn't feel right to me. In the illustration above, you can see the difference in lung capacity when the diaphragm is in use and pulled downward and when it is pulled upward away from the appendix.

As of yesterday, the stitches (two snips and a yank) are out and I continue to feel better each day. Yesterday was a break through day for my breathing as I sensed my diaphragm finally engaging normally and my lungs reaching the capacity I am used to. I had enough energy this past week to help Ben and Ellie build a castle in the snow and I feel less fatigued each day.

Last night, Miki gathered a group of men and visited me for prayer. It was encouraging to see six hungarian men, younger and older praying for my complete healing and giving thanks to Jesus for extending my life here.

Praise God that the once mysterious symptoms and the trauma were all related to the appendix and not the heart or any other serious lung problem. Thank you all for your support and prayers!
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MEDICAL UPDATE 2

Being sent home with the diagnosis of Angina on Saturday, I rested into Sunday with an episode of chills at night. With an entire day of feeling weak and breathing shallow on Sunday, my symptoms lead me to motion Sharon to call for help around 8:00 on Sunday. I was once again sensing that I had a lack of oxygen, there was a tingling and a numbness spreading through different parts of my body. Instead of the kids being spared from seeing an ambulance and an emergency response crew for me, this time they had front row seats. Kira was kind enough to come over to me and kneel down to pray for me. Thankfully, even with all the emergency activity, the kids were at peace and sensed no fear.

This nights attack was decidedly less aggressive than the one on Sunday. I tried to control my breathing, but felt as if my upper body had been submersed in water all day which tired out my respiratory system. There is no other way I could explain it. Arriving in Hatvan’s emergency room, once again I was met with more skepticism as far as how serious my problem was. The doctor loosened up after some back and forth bantering, seeming to respect the fact that Sharon and I could speak Hungarian so well as Americans. She basically told me my symptoms don’t add up and there it is unheard of to have the type of tingling/loss of circulation I was sensing that was moving to various parts of my body. She basically said that part was in my head. She treated me as one suffering from reflux and once again the EKG, oxygen and blood tests all indicated that my heart did not suffer any trauma. With a dose of calcium, and some medicine to settle my stomach, I thought she just may be right as I felt more comfortable that night and slept better than I had since Friday when this all began. I was released on Monday and by God’s grace was able to set up a visit with a Christian physician (Dr. Györi) who has worked with many of our missionary friends throughout the years. Our other options to see a specialist would have had us wait another week, as most in Hungary were taking vacation. Without this pivotal visit ordained by God, the end of this story may have ended in much more suffering or even death.

Taking my first dose of acid reflux medication didn’t seem to do much for the other symptoms I continued to have. I continued to feel as if I was hyperventilating at times and just didn’t feel right. Sharon and I made our way to Dr. Györi in Budapest, hoping and praying that we might find specific answers that had not been found until this point. With our initial conversation and reading through all the papers from the two emergency hospital visits, Dr. Györi seemed to agree that these just might be panic attacks but was not sure as to what was triggering them. Then, after a blood test, Dr. Györi called me back into his office. He said that my white blood cell count had jumped to abnormally high levels in one day. The blood tests taken at the emergency hospital visits did not indicate high levels and he understood why the physicians therefore would not have pursued some type of internal infection. He had me lay down again poking, pressing and examining my stomach. Then with a deep poke near my appendix, I felt an abnormal amount of pain. Sharon said, “That’s his appendix isn’t it!” Dr. Györi with a half relieved smile said, “Yes, and if this is the cause for all of the trauma, it is only by the grace of God that we found it.” Apparently, practically none of my symptoms correlate with appendicitis. Another work of God’s grace was an off duty ultra sound specialist coming in just to examine me at Dr. Györi’s request. Sharon told me that now I would find out what it means to be pregnant. Guys, ultrasound jelly is freezing cold!

The specialist located the beginnings of appendicitis. Apparently, my appendix is abnormally facing up and not down which would explain the strange pain and other symptoms I was feeling near my heart over the past few days. I was then sent swiftly to an emergency room in Budapest upon Dr. Györi’s request. Before leaving his office, Dr. Györi prayed with us, giving thanks to Jesus for this important find and for successful surgery and healing. I was very thankful to have a brother in Christ as a doctor.

Hospitals in Budapest are always a treat. After telling the doorman why we were there, he directed us to the left side of the building to a dimly lit hallway similar in architecture to what you would find in an almost vacant museum. High ceilings, stone walls, dimly lit.

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Above: Me wondering what I should do next in front of a big door.

Here is where the ‘treat’ begins. What do we do now? Unlike the US where you are greeted, your name taken, and some type of obvious system where you know you are in process... here you are greeted with large shut doors, no information window, no environmentally friendly signs, like “knock here” or “ring this bell” or “have a seat, we’ll be with you in a moment.” Just doors. Shut doors. And glass that you cannot see through to know if anyone is behind those doors.

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Above: The big door.

Thankfully the doorman made his way to a coffee machine set up right next to the bench we were seated on. I asked him, “What should we do now?” He said, “Did you knock on the door?” The thought crossed my mind, but which of the three towering doors was I supposed to knock on? He was kind enough to knock for us and a doctor popped his head out, grabbed the folder I had in my hand with test results and said, “Have a seat.”

I was then called into the big doors and asked to lay down in an area sectioned off by heavy duty hospital curtains. The doctor, fitting the Hungarian stereotype of doctors, said, “What’s your complaint.” I thought to myself, didn’t I just hand over to him a stack of papers with blood and ultrasound results that confirm appendicitis. Feeling quiet well at the moment, I said to him, “I don’t have a complaint.” He said (with no humor intended), “No complaint, no emergency” So, I tried to backtrack and explain once again how I had arrived in his cubicle this night. Once again, fitting the Hungarian stereotype of doctors, he said, “Those aren’t symptoms of appendicitis.” Umm, ok. He began examining my stomach in with the same poking and prodding almost in disbelief. As I said, earlier, I guess he had every right as I didn’t have any normal tell tail signs.

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I was then escorted to have another chest x-ray (just had one three days prior) and an abdominal xray. Here again is another treat. The man escorting me through the vacant dimly lit museum like halls to the xray room proceeded to tell me, “Now remember this path, because after you are done you have to return to the emergency room. Now if this door is closed and locked on your way back, just hit this buzzer here... and.” I thought to myself, this is amusing. Someone could pass out in one of these hallways “on the way back” only to be discovered hours later. Let’s just hope this appendicitis thing isn’t so dangerous. After my x-rays, it was off to another ultrasound. Two technicians took turns trying to locate what Dr. Györi’s ultra sound specialist located, but they could not. I heard the one saying to the other, “I don’t see anything.” Wiping off the cold jelly, I made my way back through the twisting hallways, all the while seeing not one person. I called Dr. Györi to tell him what was going on and he had me pass the phone over to the doctor. After that point, things began moving more rapidly.

Because I had eaten earlier in the day, I had to have a tube snaked through my nose, down through my throat into my stomach. I have to say, this was the most dreadful and painful part of the entire surgery. Soon after, I was rolled into the surgery room, given anesthetic to knock me out and awoke being rolled into my room with Sharon waiting. After a long night drifting in and out of sleep and desperately waiting for the tube to be removed from my nose and throat, morning came. Ready for another “treat”? A man enters our hospital room in normal clothes and says to Sharon in a rather stern voice, “Can I help you.” “Umm, what do you mean?” Continuing in a stern tone, “Visitors are not allowed at the hospital, you will have to leave.” Apparently, because of the H1N1 virus, the government has put limitations on hospital visits. Sharon packed up her stuff and headed home.

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Above: My primary view for the next few days.

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Above: My secondary view.

Thank God that I had a roommate who came to my aide when I just couldn’t sit up to get out of bed. He saw me struggling and came to help. Small activities, small movements that once took painless seconds, now took painful minutes to complete. I also learned that wearing a fuzzy night gown combined with crocks, combined with dragging feet, combined with touching the side of your bed to lay back down produces an electrical shock of 230 volts.

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Above: On the second day, I was able to slowly walk up and down these halls.

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Above: Ahhh, a much better view.

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Above: My craftmatic adjustable bed. O.k. not craftmatic, but adjustable.

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Above: Don’t reach up for this light in the middle of the night.

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Above: My room.

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Above: Good use for medical tape, fixing the daily schedule to the wall of my room.

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Above: R2D2.

After finding new ways to climb in and out of bed, walking a bit more and more each day, I was released from the hospital on New Year’s Eve with a heart full of thanks to Jesus Christ for truly giving me a new year. I started this journey laying on my back in my entrance hall way. I was gripping my chest, dizzy and almost losing conscientiousness. I was calling out to Jesus to deliver me. I was helpless and had experienced more personally than ever that God is the One who sustains life, and only He would be the One to deliver me. Jesus, thank you.

“How blessed is the one whose helper is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the one who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who remains forever faithful...” — Psalms 146:5-65

And, I also wanted to thank all of you who have been with me through prayer on this journey. I am deeply appreciative of your prayer support, a sign of love and of faith in our LORD Jesus Christ. What an encouragement in life to know that I have so many friends and family ready to pray, ready to encourage, ready to help in my time of need. I praise God for all of you.

I am now at home for the second day and seem to be recovering well. I have no signs of fever and thankfully the pain isn’t too much to bear. I am able to move about the house, touch my children, hold my wifes hand, sit back and watch my family laugh. And all of these good gifts which come down from our Father are what bring great joy to my heart. This is a specially grace filled happy new year for me.

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