April 2006

Jatszóház and Worship Service

On Saturday, we held our monthly "Játszóház" (playhouse) for the children in the community. We spent time playing games, singing songs and learning an important truth from God's word.

Above L: Teammate Heidi having some quality time with the kids. Above R: Gabi S. serving in the background by preparing sandwiches for the kids.

Above L: Janka teaching the children a Bible verse. Above R: Julika does a lot of the planning for the teaching, games and crafts for the Játszóház.

Above : Some of the kids help the others to learn new worship songs.

Above: Julika leading craft time as we prepared flowers for Mother's Day (celebrated next Sunday here).

Below: Dia who attended Saturday's Játszóház, also comes to worship service.

Above R: New visitors Timi and her boyfriend with their 1year old child. Timi lives in the same apartment buiding as us and we often cross paths in town. We were thankful that they joined us tonight and even opened up in our small group discussion.

Above L: Miki and Dezső. We gave Dezső the responsibility to lead one of the small groups tonight and he did an excellent job. We praise God for his continual growth in Christ!

Above: Heidi was able to give her testimony as to how she was led to Petőfibánya by the Lord-all in Hungarian! She also participated in our musical worship by playing keyboard. We are thankful for the giftings that God has given her to build up the church and to bring Him glory.

So what's up with the baby? No news yet. We were at the doctor's office early this morning and Sharon and the baby are both healthy. We will update you when we have more news. The expected due date is May 2nd-

Preparing for new arrivals

We are expecting two exciting arrivals in the NEAR future. Brenda Herhei will be returning from the States and joining our church planting team in Petőfibánya on May 5th. Above L: In preparation for Brenda, Allen has been renovating her 'apartment-to-be'. Above R: Who needs a mud mask when you can clean those pours out with a paint spatter face mask. It is very amusing to see Allen walk in the door and the kids in unison shout out, "Hey daddy, what's that yucky stuff all over your body?"

Above: After a long days work, it is the greatest gift to get hugs from the kids. Below: Due date of May 2nd approaching for baby Mercer. Benjamin and Elianna are excited about our new family member. We are packed and ready to travel to the hospital at a moments notice-however up until this moment, no signs yet. Please keep us in your prayers!


Sunday Worship

Above: Elianna enjoying her brother's company. Below: Our apartment has a perfect sized balcony for the kids to play on.

Below Left: Gabi S. and Dávid at public worship service tonight. I was glad to see Gabi who has been sick for a few weeks. He shared some good news with me about how God is working in the life of someone we have been praying for together. Dávid has been busy with helping care for his twin siblings at home, while his step-father and older brothers help build an addition onto their house. He asks for prayer in this stressful time of building.

After an encouraging and challenging message from our guest teacher Péter (not pictured), many people were led to give personal testimony before the congregation. It was great to see how God is working in the various lives in our church. I was very excited to see Dezső, for the first time, come forward and share what he felt God was leading him to say. This took a step of faith for him, as he is not comfortable speaking in public. Being up close, I could see his hands trembling as he gave us a word of encouragement from the Bible.

Below: I was overjoyed being in the 'background' in this service–until my kids ran in with surprise birthday cupcakes that is! Elianna 'spilled the beans' a few days ago unintentionally talking about my birthday surprise. I am so thankful at 24-oh I mean at 34 to have two wonderful children, the perfect wife and a new baby on the way! I praise God for these treasures.


The Last Few Days

It all started a few months back. When washing the dishes, it seemed as if the water was zapping me. It wasn't a strong electrical current-but always made me jump back exclaiming OUCH. I had no idea where the source of this electrical current was coming from. Then, on Thursday night, Sharon called out, "Allen do you smell that–something is burning in the bathroom." Upon further observation, it was clearly the smell of wires roasting. I also noticed smoke coming from our hot water boiler. After a local electrician examined the boiler, he said, "I'm surprised this thing didn't blow up, or something worse didn't happen." The water from the heater was leaking into the wire casing. We praise God that He protected us from an electrical fire or something worse!

The electrician returns tomorrow, and we hope that he will be able to fix this problem. We currently have no hot water until he does. Below: Milán and Zoli came over for thursday night's teen bible study. They both continue to grow in their faith and in their understanding of God's word. Milán recently told us that he would like to be baptized in the future.

Below: Elianna pretending to drive us to our doctors appointment in Budapest today. Our child is due May 2nd, but of course she could come anytime.

Below: Later tonight, we met for our Friday night sports outreach. I was thankful that Laci (Hajnalka's son) came again. The devotional time also went very well as we discussed the condition of our hearts and our need for a new heart which can only be provided by God's grace. I sensed that a few of the teens who have yet made the decision to believe were very attentive tonight. Pray that God would continue to work in their hearts and draw them to Himself.


Wednesday Brings Good News!

Above L: Elianna shielding her eyes from the morning sun as we head to the residency permit offices in the town of Eger. Above R: This car was possibly smaller than my big toe nail.

Below: Why so happy? Because we received TWO-YEAR residency permits for each member of our family today! That means we don't have to go through the abundant paperwork and traveling from office to office for another two years! We praise God for how well the process went and that we were able to get two year permits (could have been much less). Thank all of you for your prayers.

Above: Our balcony isn't too large, so our sand box is on the small side. That doesn't stop Elianna from taking full advantage of the cool gritty texture on her bare feet. Atleast she has grown out of tasting sand.

Above: Ben having fun with his toy handcuffs on our balcony. Today he had a clear view of 'lomtalánitás'–what's that you ask? Well, every year, we are allowed to toss anything we want into big piles on the street. After a day of your junk being exposed to the public and possibly picked up for further use, trash trucks come in the dozens and dispose everything. Don't you wish you had that in the US!

Above: Stop Thief! Oh, that's only Allen. Today, he had to hurdle a fence to get into our friend's house (who was at the airport) to retreive keys hidden in a safe place. We picked up some things for our teammate Brenda which are being stored at this house and returned home without being questioned by the police. However, Allen did get very strange looks from the neighbors.

Monday at the park

Above L: Ben breaking in his new jeans with dirt. Above R: Elianna anticipating the fun she will have in the sandbox.

Just a few months after we moved to Petőfibánya, we noticed that the town was constructing a new playground. It turns out that they had just won a grant from the government for just this purpose. We also see it as a special gift for our kids from God!

Today we were planning on going into Budapest to visit some friends when we saw the holiday traffic had totally brought the main highway to a complete stand still. We decided to go to plan B – go home and spend some time at our local playground. Just as we pulled up, Laci (below left sunglasses) met us. I had just met Laci last week, who is the son of one of the seekers (Hajnalka) who comes to many of our different ministries. Laci sought me out to talk about some personal issues. I was very surprised that we are developing a friendship so quickly! He said he really didn't know who else to talk to. As we talked at the playground, Milán and Norbi saw me and joined us. I praise God for this sovereign appointment that strengthened a developing friendship with Laci.


He is Risen!

Above: After some chocolate chip pancakes whipped up by mom, it was time to read the final chapters of the Easter story with the kids. We then prayed together giving thanks to God for Jesus. Elianna said in prayer, "Thank you God for my friend Jesus who raised from the dead. Amen" Afterwards, the kids searched for hidden plastic eggs in which were different symbols which reminded us about different aspects of Jesus death and resurrection.

Below: Tonight we were able to perform two dramas in a special Easter worship service. In the shot below, I (in black) am separated by my sin from God. We praise God that Hajnalka and Andi (ESL students) came to tonight's service. Hajnalka said she was encouraging her son Laci (22) to come to service tonight. She said he made it all the way to the door, but didn't have the nerve to go in. Let's pray that God gives him courage to actually step in next time. Laci came to our sports outreach last week and may continue to come.

After the service, I had a chance to talk with Andi. She said she saw the reality that we presented in the dramas. She saw how people are in bondage to sin and that only God can free us from this bondage. After my evangelistic message, I invited people to put their faith in Jesus. Andi said that she prayed for her husband at that moment–that he would become a Christian. Praise God that Andi sees her own need and her husbands need for the Risen Lord! Please pray for her husbands salvation.

Above: Dávid, who was saved last year in our English camp having fun with Elianna.

Wednesday-Puppet/Drama Day7

Above: Across the street from our first performance in Héhalom, an older woman is busy with spring cleaning. Below: Drawing the kids in with our ice-breaker activities.

Above L: Teens enjoying their balloon filled muscle-man friends. Above R: Heidi reconnects with Greta (who lives in Héhalom) who attended our english camp a few years ago.

Our second and final performance for Easter was in the town of Egyházasdengeleg. We practically had all the kids from town (both preschool and high-school) attend our puppet and drama performance. We were a bit concerend that the little ones would be a bit lost seeing the drama for the teens, however, they payed close attention. We thank God that in every place we ministered, there was never a distraction, and the message was clearly preached!

Above: Janka and Miki performing one of our drama pieces which illustrates the many misconceptions people have about the characteristics of God.

Above: After the show, Janka got into a discussion with this teacher above. The teacher said that she was glad to hear the message that we brought today and thinks that in this time in her life she is more contemplative about how to live. She said that she knows that she is a sinner and "Well, I'm going to try to live better." Janka kindly interrupted and said, "That's exactly why Jesus came, to pay the price for your sins so that you don't have to live in them." The teacher said, "No, I can't put my sins on Jesus, I must overcome them myself–having Jesus take them away is just too easy." Please pray for this teacher that she may come to understand the depth of God's love and the necessity of believing in the only Way to God.

Thank all of you who have prayed for us through this ministry. You have strengthened us and our ministry through your prayers. You have also helped to sow seeds to thousands of children and teachers in Hungary. With the puppet and drama ministry combined, we can deliver the gospel message to each child 16 times as we return to their school from pre-school to high-school. I trust that these seeds will return fruit in the years to come.

Tuesday-Puppet/Drama Day6

Today we traveled back to the town of Hatvan to perform our puppet show in two locations. Above: Attendees of the Hatvan Care Center payed close attention to the Easter puppet show and this years new songs. The workers told us that our Christmas show was the talk of the Center for weeks. They also told us that they often watched the video from the Christmas show and listened to the CD that we gave as a gift. Praise God!

Above L: Heidi and Janka are sprayed with perfume by the young men (a cultural tradition at Easter). Above R: In between shows, grabbing some 'grub' at the "Glass Tiger Bufe" mmmmmm.

After our gourmet meal, we unpacked and set up for our second show in a pre-school in Hatvan. Above: The children really enjoy the part of the song where we sing, "On the third day He rose from the dead"–this is their que to leap into the air.

Heidi is no longer sick.
Allen's eye infection is nearly gone.
Up until this point, we have had no problems with technical issues when presenting our puppet or drama shows.
Sharon, who began having mild contractions on Sunday night is feeling well. The contractions stopped on Monday.

Below: Benjamin draws mom and "Kira" still in the womb.

Please keep us in your prayers as tomorrow is our last show in the public schools!

Monday ESL Party

Due to a communication break down, our puppet/drama show that was scheduled for this morning was canceled. The town where we were scheduled to perform is called Szurdokpüspöki. This is the town where we were first asked if we could offer anything for the teenagers, which in turn led us to form our drama team. This is also the town where the headmaster was moved to tears after one of our performances that communicated the gospel. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Christmas for another opportunity to enter this school. Please pray that we will be able to return.

Thanks to the help and hard work of Jill, Rachelle, and Cathy (above) we had a great barbeque end-of-semester party for our ESL students. I was also thankful for Tamara and Val who did a lot of preperatory planning for this party. It is so encouraging to have teammates who strengthen the ministry here and help me (as I had hardly had any strength to plan this event) to bless these students.

All the students over the last three months have seemed to become more open and have formed a bond in friendship. Many of them cried as they considered that we would not meet again until after summer. We invited all the students to this Sunday's special Easter service. Please pray that they will respond to this invitation and have an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.

Above L: Heidi and Tamara talking with Kati and Andi. Above R: Jeannot playing a few sing-along worship songs after dinner.

Saturday & Sunday

On Saturday, we were blessed by attending a special book dedication written by György Kovács (below L with wife Zsuzsa). As many of you know, György is a long time friend, not only of ours, but of Pioneers. He was diagnosed with cancer last year. After this news, his heart was even more burdened to complete this book that will help to continue casting his wisdom and vision for church planting throughout Hungary. We praise God that he was able to complete the book!

In one part of the dedication, attendees came forward and placed candles in the areas of Hungary where they have committed to bringing the gospel of Christ. It was exciting to see the map completely covered by those God is raising up and sending out to plant churches! We look forward to the spiritual awakening that the Spirit of God will bring to this country.

Tonight, Dave Hall was our special guest in church. Dave, along with the Pioneers Area Resource Team have committed much time to seeing us grow in our understanding and practical applications of a life of worship.

Above: Elianna being Elianna.

Prayer requests:
Sharon continues to have mild contractions. Please continue to pray for our child to come according to God's chosen time-the best time!
Tomorrow we have a new day of puppet and drama ministry and an end of semester party for our ESL students. Please pray that God would be glorified in both of these ministries!

Friday-Puppet/Drama Day 5

Today we performed our puppet and drama ministry in the towns of Verseg and Jobbágyi. There was a point in the introduction to the puppet show when Janka said, "I'm sure you've heard about the Easter story from the Bible." At that moment a young girl blurted out, "No!" Janka replied, "Well today we're going hear about it!" That was just another reminder of how we are being used as God's messengers to bring good news to these children.

Above: After the show in Verseg, I was able to grab some of the teens to ask some deeper questions. Péter (above L) and the other teens gave their reasons why they didn't believe in God. After hearing-out their doubts, God gave me an opportunity to give an answer for the hope that He has given me in Christ. As our team was leaving they asked multiple times, "When are you coming back?" We hope to return at Christmas with the same life changing message.

Above: Heidi (feeling better), teaching the motions to a song that summarizes the gospel message.

Above L: Erika teaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Above R: After the show, the teens have fun helping jump start Miki's car.

Above: Friday night's sports outreach. Tonight we had a new visitor Laci (far left). Laci is the son of Hajnalka (ESL student) who recently began attending some of our small groups and even church. When she found out that we played sports with the kids in the community, she told Laci about it. Laci had a good time tonight and I hope to see him more often as we build a friendship.

Milán told me tonight that he had some exciting news to share with me. He shared with me that after praying and reading God's word, he has made a decision to be baptized! Praise God for leading Milán and giving him spiritual wisdom. After tonight's devotion, Norbi talked to Miki indicating that he was in the process of considering making the decision to put his faith in Christ. Praise God for working in these teen's hearts!

Prayer requests:
Heidi is feeling better but still recovering from her cold.
Please pray for Allen's eye. He has an infection in his eyelid that causes swelling and pain.

Thursday-Puppet/Drama Day 4

Today, we stayed close to home performing in Ben's pre-school in Petôfibánya and in the neighboring town of Selyp. There are two pre-schools in Petôfibánya, and we were glad to have both of these schools attend. Many of the children from these pre-schools know our teammate Janka from Bible classes that she holds weekly in town. We are thankful that we can continue to have an impact in these children's lives even after these outreach events through Bible classes.

Below: Miki talking with Marika and Anita who are teachers in the pre-school who have attended our thursday night small group on occasion. They shared with us after the show how much they enjoyed the new songs for this year's performance. Please pray for them to come to know the Savior!

Below: The town of Selyp (just a few minute drive from Petôfibánya). Once again, we are thankful for how the children payed close attention throughout the show. I believe this is response to God answering prayer. Please continue to pray for us as we have a tough schedule tomorrow. Praise God with us for victory today presenting the gospel in Selyp and Petôfibánya. Praise Him!


Wednesday-Puppet/Drama Day 3

Once again, the Lord blessed us with a very successful day of ministering to teachers and children through our Easter Puppet and Drama outreach. It was clear that our minds were a bit foggy this morning as we accidently left some important parts of our setup at home. Miki was kind enough to speed back to Petôfibánya and return in time to finish set-up without too much of a delay.

Today we visited the towns of Heréd and Zagyvaszántó. Heréd is similar in size to Petôfibánya, but has two church buildings unlike our village. The Elementary school teachers were very kind and wholeheartedly agreed that we need to stop and consider the true meaning of what we celebrate. After perfroming our drama for the teens in Heréd, the students gave concise answers to questions about the gospel. We are overjoyed to see that they are gaining understanding at a young age!

Heidi praises God that she had enough strength to serve today, and that she had no coughing fits in the midst of performing. Please continue to pray for her as she is still sick.


Tuesday-Puppet/Drama Day 2

Above: Our first destination today: A preschool in the town of Hatvan.

Praise God! Day two of our puppet and drama ministry was great. The weather forecast for the past two days revealed a high chance of rain. Rain makes it more difficult traveling and also difficult for packing and unpacking multiple times at each school. We praise God that he held back the rain!

Above: Our second destination in Hatvan: Each year we visit the school 'Lesznai' in Hatvan that teaches children with learning disabilities and behavioral issues. God moved in an amazing way in their hearts today! These kids payed complete attention through the puppet show, laughing at the funny parts and completely quiet at the serious parts. Afterwards they answered the questions and were obviously drawn in by the worship songs we sang.

I am so amazed at the open door that God has provided in these public schools. We are singing songs with words such as, "Jesus died on the cross for our sins-on the third day He rose". Janka and Erika are reading verses directly from the Bible, such as, "Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life..." Our puppet show clearly communicates the truth about Easter. We praise God for allowing us to deliver his message of hope in these public schools!

Above: Our final destination for today: Csány. As Janka shared about the death and resurrection of Jesus, she said, “wouldn't it be strange to worship Jesus if He was still dead?” In unison, the kids squawked in agreement. Thank you all for keeping us and this ministry in prayer!

Please continue to pray for Heidi as she struggles with a cold. Pray also for a good night's rest and physical strength for Wednesday.

Monday-Puppet/Drama Day 1

To see all the photos from today, click here. Fényképek.

Today, we visited the towns of Erdőtarcsa and Kálló. We praise God for a successful first day of ministry. In Erdőtarcsa, the pre-school teachers sang Christian songs along with us. While Janka was teaching in Erdőtarcsa about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins, a young girl yelled out, "But he rose from the dead, but he rose from the dead!" Praise God that the gospel is sinking into these kid's hearts. After the show in Erdőtarcsa, some of the teachers told Janka that they were close to tears when viewing the puppet show. They gladly await our return at Christmas.

Above: The kids in Kálló were very attentive to the puppet show and the gospel message afterwards. We also performed our drama for the first time this year for the teens in Kálló. The gospel was clearly communicated through this drama and Erika's teaching afterwards.

Praise God for an encouraging first day!

Prayer request:
1. Please pray for Heidi as she has a vicious cold. It is tough for her physically to take part in the puppet show and the drama. Please pray for complete healing, as our schedule will not get any easier and this is just the beginning.

2. Sharon had a few painful contractions today. They stopped, but this is always alarming (in a good way). Our due date is May 1st, but in reality we are one week away from being full term. Please continue to pray for the health of Sharon and our baby, and that the baby would come at just the right time.

Above: In the afternoon, our friend (teammate) Roger came to help move some of Brenda's stuff into her apartment in Petőfibánya. The good thing about living in a village is that you can drive your vehicle in the strangest places without getting weird looks from residents. Roger literally was able to drive across the 'front yard' of her apartment which saved us some serious lifting up steps.

I was grateful for Roger's help! Brenda is currently in the States continuing to raise her support to serve full time on our church planting team in Heves Megye. Please pray that God would provide 100% of her monthly support.

Above: Tonight we held one of our last english classes. Next week we will have a barbecue party. We hope to be able to use this as an outreach and also a way to invite the students to the following Sunday's evangelistic service. Please pray that God would prepare the student's hearts and that we would have wisdom in knowing how to plan for this party.

Sunday Worship

We had a smaller gathering, and a fruitful small group discussion at church tonight. Above L: Dezső has not missed a day of church since the day he made the decision to attend. He participates weekly in worship practice on Wednesdays and plays bass in worship on Sundays. He is also getting more involved in ministry. Recently we received thousands of gospel of John booklets. Dezső took on the responsibility to distribute booklets to his hometown of Rozsaszentmarton (a neighboring village). His whole family helped! I rejoice to see Dezső and his family becoming core members of this church. I have been hoping for just one family for some time-now here they are! Please pray for even more families to come to know Jesus.

Above R: Sharon with Lidia (Dávid and Ildiko in background). Our baby is due May 1st.

Tomorrow we are off to begin our Easter puppet/drama outreach. You can read more about it in the entry below.

Puppet/Drama Ministry Starts Monday!

As an 'experienced' puppet/drama team, It may be easy for us to lose focus. It may be easy to think, we have done this for three years, we have the experience, the tools and the talent. We may go through the motions thinking, "no problem." But we must remember, that this ministry is not seeking to entertain kids, but to battle for their freedom from the bondage to sin. The puppet and drama show are just the sheath for the sword of the gospel (the word of God that the Spirit supplies-Eph 6:17) that we will present in each of these schools. There will be many in these audiences that are the next generation of Christian missionaries, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Together, we are Christ's representatives, calling children and teachers to be reunited with God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. We are stepping into a vicious battle against "the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."–Eph 6:12 You can be sure that these evil authorities will do all they can to dismantle our unified effort and keep thousands of the lost in darkness.

This is why your role in prayer is so important to us, and critical for us to win each day. Therefore, "Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God's people." (Eph 6:18)

Here are some suggested requests-however, pray as you feel led each day:

Team requests:
(We are: Allen & Sharon M., Miki & Erika F., Heidi S., Janka S., Csaba B.)
1. Physical HEALTH and stamina for a tough schedule.  Our voices-leading in singing and speaking. Our bodies-puppet and drama show are tough on our bodies physically.
2. Safety in traveling everyday (We usually travel via 3 separate cars)
3. Unity, patience, good communication among members and abiding love.
4. Protection from the enemy (The team including the children: Ben, Elianna and our unborn baby; Miki's children: Bence & Anna)
5. Restful nights of sleep.
6. Spiritual stamina. That we would be daily built up in prayer and fellowship.
7. That God would equip us to be the brilliant light of Christ in these spiritually dark areas.

The Show:
1. That all the technical elements would WORK! (lights, microphone, guitar, speaker for Puppet show, puppets, sound for drama, props).
2. That all the cars would WORK!
3. That the message of the Gospel would be delivered without distraction. (in the past the enemy has used loud noises, accidents, technical problems, distracting kids etc.)
4. That Janka, and Erika (alternating each show) may speak about the Good News boldly.
5. That God would bless those that come with an understanding of the Gospel and draw them to Himself.
6. That God would especially minister to the teachers and adults that attend and give us opportunity to lead them to Jesus.
7. That the CD's (with the Gospel and song) and the Christian family magazines that we will distribute to each child and teacher may produce fruit. 
8. That the worship songs we sing (led by Miki) may stir the children's and teacher's spirits and lead them to a deeper understanding of our Savior.

Please visit this website each day for the latest updates and prayer requests.

Praising God with you as, "He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships."–II Cor 5:18