Puppets and Packages 2009

Christmas season at "Betanija" church in Orahovica includes giving away thousands of Samaritan's Purse Christmas shoeboxes.  This year we put together a puppet show and a short presentation before distributing packages in each location.  We began in Đurđenovac where a new church plant began just a year and a half ago.  The church was filled to capacity 3 times.

Puppet team before the show in Đurđenovac
Distributing shoeboxes in Đurđenovac
We also had the opportunity to offer shoeboxes to the children in the elementary school where Petra and I teach English in Mikleuš.  Altogether our team traveled to six locations and gave out over 2,000 packages before Christmas - including the annual Christmas Eve celebration in our church in Orahovica. 

The amazing thing about Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes is that they not only provide a Christmas present for children who may not otherwise receive one - they also provide an opportunity for us to meet people in the community who wouldn't normally come to church. 

This is the last year Croatia will receive shoebox packages from Samaritan's Purse.  Though we won't be able to give away as many packages, we are hoping the Samaritan's Purse model will provide a good example of what we can do for our own community in the future.  Praise the Lord for the opportunity we've had to share the gospel through these presentations.  Please pray for those who have heard the Good News!

A Time to Sow and a Time to Reap

Seasons like this confirm God’s sovereignty in our lives and ministry! This fall has brought along completely unexpected opportunities that we are excited to share with you!

During the week Croatian students were heading back to school, we received a phone call inviting us to come to the high-school in Orahovica and be guest English teachers. They asked us to teach 2 classes a month for each of the eight high-school classes –making a total of 16 hours each month until Christmas.

If you remember, two years ago we were in the same high-school offering after- school English workshops for those who wanted to stay and practice their English. Though it has been nearly two years, they remembered what we had done and wanted us to supplement the current English program with the same sort of English activities we did back then.

Having more experience now, in addition to already knowing several of the students through baseball has opened more doors than we imagined.

In many ways we feel like we are reaping from our work at the beginning of our time in Orahovica. At the same time we know this is just the beginning of our efforts to plant seeds.

Our goal in teaching English is to be a positive presence in the high-school as we try to touch upon values we believe can be influential in the teenager’s lives.

For example, during one of Petra’s classes she talked about goals and how important it is for us to be thinking about our future. If you are to ask most high-schoolers what they want to do in life, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Our desire is to demonstrate the importance of hope and vision in each of their individual lives.

Praise the Lord for his provision. We feel like this has been one of many open doors we’ve been able to take advantage of since our ministry here began a couple years ago. Please pray that we will continue to see fruit from our work in the Orahovica High School.

Camps 2009

For Petra, the summer means camp. Camp has been the highlight of her summers for the last 14 years and this year was no different. The board Petra serves on organized a children’s camp, teen camp and youth conference. Since the building in Orahovica is still under reconstruction, camps and the conference were once again held at the seminary in Osijek. Children's camp was attended by over 100 kids from all over Croatia, many of them from outside the church. What made this year's children's camp extra special is that for the first time since the war, we did not use a translated children's program. Instead, our team wrote a program ourselves entitled 'Knights and Princesses of King Jesus'. It was a lot of work but we are very proud and already have plans to create a new program for next year as well.

Teen camp was attended by close to 100 teenagers and the theme was friendship. It was exciting to see that many of the teens who attended camp made the decision to be baptized in September, including one of our high-schoolers from Orahovica – Sara V.

The youth conference theme was 'My Place on the Mountain'. We heard about pursuing God's calling in various areas of work such an politics, education, social work, media. etc. Youth camps have been very poorly attended since our temporary move to Osijek and the hope for this conference was to once again start breathing life back into it. We feel like it did just that and it was wonderful to see young people from both Slovenia and Bosnia and Hercegovina attend as well. It is our hope that we can continue to see more and more people from other countries of the former Yugoslavia attending these kinds of events. Thank you all for your prayer and support for these camps!

Youth Conference 2009

The Place Where They Keep the Smiles

“Zvono” or “Bell” has become one of our favorite places to visit. In November we took a few of our youth group members to do crafts, read and make music with the students. Sometimes it’s hard to find a smile in Croatia, but never when we visit Zvono.