August 2007

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Wednesday Update



Above: Elianna and Kira settling into their new front yard play area. Benjamin and Elianna have been exploring the various colored rocks and building fortresses with them. Kira gazes out at the road with cars zooming by and says, "Ouch, Ouch". She means that they are very loud and scary. This house is just perfect for us and such a blessing in this time of transition for us.


Above: This is our furry friend that Ben found yesterday roaming around our front yard. Elianna and dad went out this morning searching for him and surprisingly found him hanging out in the shade by a bush in the neighbors yard.


Above: Ben completing his first homework assignment. Yesterday was officially Ben's first day in the first grade. On the way to school he said that his only concern was that a bully would beat him up. He was bright and cheery when I picked him up. He said it was different than 'ovi' (Hungarian for pre-school) in that he had to sit still a lot in one place and be quite. He made a friend named Katen (boy). We praise God for a positive first day, and for helping us get in all of the necessary paperwork for him to register.


Above: We praise God for the way the kids are handling the transition to so many changes. They seem to be adjusted to the time change and have been sleeping very well at night. Kira has developed a cough at night which may be related to allergies since she has no other symptoms. Please pray for her.


Above: The joys of seeing my son grow. Benjamin and dad reading through a book that Ben picked out at his school library yesterday.

We are thankful that some of you have already contacted us about coming to your small group to share about what God has been doing in Hungary. We look forward to reconnecting with many of you face to face.

Monday News



Above: Pictures from last week when we went to an open house at Ben's school. We were able to get the last required papers in for Ben to register on Friday and hope that he will be able to begin school on Tuesday (one day late).






Above: Cousin Matthew showing his jumping skills at a family get together on Saturday.


Above: Celebrating Aunt Tania's birthday. Tania is expecting her second child and it is possible that we may still be in the US when the baby is born.



Above: Sunday, after church, we went to a reunion with those friends that we were close to before we left for the field. It was a blessing to see them all and to also see so many new children that God has blessed us with.


Above: Elianna enjoying the pond out back while Ben chases the geese away.





Above: Of course we had to play some football or 'American football' as the Hungarians call it. We had a great time and thankfully didn't break any bones. I am thankful to God for the impact many of these men and women had on my life and how he used us to encourage each other in a special time in our lives when we were seeking God's will for us. Although we now live in different countries and different states, we cherish that unique time in our lives when God brought us together as friends.

The Mercers have landed!



Above: Thank you for your prayers for our flight. The children did a great job, and Kira was even able to sleep on the flight. She only cried slightly once! Benjamin and Elianna were also able to sleep and found interesting things to do like building a tent with airplane blankets.


Above: Static cling.


Above: Our first leg of the trip took us from Budapest Hungary to London where our transfer flight was delayed one hour. This was actually a blessing as it gave us more time to find and get to our gate.


Above: Thankfully Elianna gets goofy instead of grumpy when she is tired. She kept us laughing in our exhaustion.


Above: Allen's older brother Bob met us at the airport along with Sharon's parents and Allen's dad. Customs was quick, but finding our bags took some time. In the end, all of our luggage came through.


Above: Ben and Elianna playing with Grandma and cousins RJ and Anna B.



Above: Fun with Mom Mom and Pop Pop. We praise God for all the help and hospitality that our family has offered us to make our transition to coming home so much easier.


Above: Ben showing off the car that God has provided for us through a Christian rental agency. We have a minimal fee for milage and will be paying for insurance costs. This saves us significant money as compared to renting from a regular rental agency.


Above: God has also provided the perfect house for our family for our time on furlough through Bible Fellowship Church.

Tomorrow we look forward to seeing many of our friends at BVBC. Thank you again for all of your prayers on our behalf. We are blessed by your support of our family and ministry!

Full speed ahead!

As we are in the final days of packing and preparing to move out of our apartment (not to mention leaving for furlough next week), this will be our last blog entry until we get situated in the States next week.

The house we are buying in Petőfibánya is still in 'process'. We are still waiting for the permit that allows us as foreigners to purchase property. It doesn't matter if that paper comes while we are still in Hungary as we have already drawn up the proper papers and given power of attorney to those who can complete the deal. We are thankful for the current owners of the house allowing us to move all of our things into their house for storage even though we have not yet received this permit. Please pray for us as Friday and Saturday are final moving days and soon after that, we fly out.

Please pray:

1. For the current house owners to find a house of their own in the area they are looking to buy.
2. For the permit to buy a house as foreigners to come and for the final process to go well to close the deal.
3. For our Friday and Saturday moving days.
4. For our flight (with three kids). Ability to sleep and also entertain the kids.
5. For our first week back in the States, getting re-acclimated and adjusting to the time change.
6. For success in getting all the papers in for Ben's school in the US.
7. For our team in Hungary who will have to adjust to our absence in ministry for 6 months.

Thank you for your prayers and we look forward to seeing many of you face to face in the States!

Peace in Christ,
The Mercers


Janka and Csaba's Wedding!


Above: Hungarian style bachelor party. Some of the guys met together at Miki's house for a late night barbecue. We prepared sticks for roasting sliced bacon, onion, and salami and gathered around a fire for conversation.


Above: Two of Csaba's friends Balázs and Tamás drove 3 hours from Vesprém to attend Csaba's bachelor party and wedding. Late into the night through conversation, the subject of our faith and the reasoning behind our decision to believe came up. Both Balázs and Tamás are not believers and asked us very pointed questions that we spoke about for over an hour. Gabi S., who also attended, told me the next day how great it was the bachelor party turned into an opportunity to share the Gospel. He said, "It was cool that they brought it up, and they asked all the questions."


Above: Rise and shine, it's the big day! Zoli leaps with a handful of balloons as he helps prep the grounds for Saturday's wedding.


Above: Lot's of benches for lot's of people. It was a challenge moving, cleaning and finding proper places for seating and tents, but God gave us wisdom and strength to make it all work out.




Above: This was Allen's first time performing part of a wedding ceremony. He was responsible for the part of the service where Janka and Csaba said their vows. It went well!



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Above: The day has finally arrived!

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Above: Don't leave yet, you still have a reception to attend!

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Above: We praise God for bringing these two together as one in marriage. Please pray for them as they begin a new life as one!

Friday Update


Above: Most of our week has been spent packing. The owners of the house that we are in the process of buying have allowed us to begin moving our things into their basement for storage. We are thankful for God's provision of friends who have come to help at various times and for the good relationship with the sellers of the house. We have about 65% of our things moved which were boxed and the remaining furniture and larger items will be moved just before we return to the US on furlough.

We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on Wednesday the 8th. We praise God for our marriage and for sovereignly causing us to meet at just the right time in our lives 9 years ago. When we look back at what He has done, we praise HIm for His constant grace and blessings that He has brought about through our marriage.



Above: Meeting in the morning to begin preparing the local community center for Janka and Csaba's wedding ceremony tomorrow.



Above Top: Csaba and Janka. Above: Janka's brother and sister.


Above: We had the help of many church members as well like Andi.


Above: The children rehearsing a song they will be singing in Janka and Csaba's wedding.


Above: Final touches for tomorrow's special day.

Csaba and Janka have made their wedding ceremony an open invite to the residents of Petőfibánya. There will most likely be people passing by who may choose to remain to hear the message being preached in the ceremony. Both Janka and Csaba have a heart to see God glorified in all that they do. Please pray that their wedding may be a blessed day and be used to display the glory of God.

Monday News

Thank you for your prayers about our meeting with the lawyer today. The meeting went very well and everything is in place for us to purchase the house in Petőfibánya. The last paper we need is a permit which allows us as foreigners to buy property in Hungary. This paper can only be obtained once a contract is signed and the money is in a holding account in Hungary. All these things are now in place and Lord willing, we should receive this permit within 60 days.

We are thankful for the ways God has opened doors to give testimony throughout this process. On Saturday while talking to Tibor (seller), we discussed the feeling of being homesick. Tibor is Hungarian but has worked in Austria for the past few years. He asked if I had trouble living in Hungary. I told him that there are good and bad things one can find in any culture, but I was happy in Hungary because of God's will for me to be here. While talking with the lawyer Irén today, she said, "I'm sure there must be reincarnation or something. It is not by chance that you guys ended up living in Petőfibánya...right?" I wasn't completely following why she brought this up, but when she repeated the word, "right?", I took the opportunity to tell her about our faith in God. It turns out that Irén has relatives that live in Rozsaszentmarton which is a neighboring village to Petőfibánya. She also invited our family to join her hiking through the mountains that lie between Petőfibánya and Rozsaszentmarton. These are new opportunites for new friendships and to share the hope in us that we have in Jesus Christ!

Sunday Update


Above: Peti (who teaches every other week in our church) spoke about the marriage covenant tonight. Norbi and Lidia (seated pictured to his left) were legally married last week and wanted to proclaim their wedding vows in tonight's service as well. We were thankful to see some of their extended family attend as they were able to hear what we believe about marriage and also were able to hear the Gospel.




Above: We also celebrated Erika's birthday tonight. Erika (Miki's wife) is a hard worker behind the scenes of all that goes on in Petőfibánya. She opens up her home for Bible studies and is gifted in hospitality. We are thankful for her friendship and her love for Jesus.


Above: Julika made a special basket with hand painted mugs to present as a gift to Norbi and Lidia. We also gave them a family Bible as a gift to encourage them to use God's word for wisdom in their new covenant of marriage with each other.


Above: Gabi K. who attended English Camp this year has come for the second time to service tonight. We are hopeful that this will be a new place for him to grow in his faith in Jesus! Please continue to pray for this young man that God would draw him closer to Himself and give him complete understanding of the Gospel of grace.


Above: Hugi and Gábor also attended tonight's service. Hugi struggles with health issues which sometimes keep her from being able to to come to church or Bible studies. Both Hugi and Gábor have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ and we hope to see steady growth in their lives. Gábor was kind enough to stay after and help us pack up the room we rent for church. When we had the VBS just a few weeks ago, Gábor opened up his home to two of our teammates from out of town to shower and eat breakfast at his house every day. I am thankful for Gábor's willingness to help. Please pray for Hugi and Gábor.


Above: A mixed group of church members, regular attenders and visitors to our church tonight.


Above: Csaba and Janka will have their wedding this Saturday! Please pray for them and for our team as we seek to help them in preparing for over 200 people who will be attending the wedding in Petőfibánya!

Monday morning we will be meeting with our lawyer and the owners of the house we are seeking to purchase to draw up the final contract. Please pray for God to oversee this whole process and to continue to protect and bless us in this purchase.

Thursday Study



Above: Tonight Miki held a bográcsózás (Hungarian version of a barbecue) and Bible study at his house. We have found that this type of hospitality opens the door to deepening relationships and creates a more interactive form for learning from God's Word.


Above L to R: Géza and Gábor.



Above L to R: Mária, Andi and Edit


There were some in the study tonight that raised important questions regarding the reliability of the Bible. I am always happy to see real questions presented giving us an opportunity to present why we have this hope in us! The discussion was heated at times as passions flared regarding doubts and convictions. In the end, the discussion was very fruitful and I believe gave answers to those who have not found answers in other churches. One person even shared that they had posed these type of questions in other Bible studies and churches and they were either ignored, labeled as troublemakers or were not given sufficient answers. I am thankful that they have not given up asking and that God is using us to provide truths to consider in making their decision to reject or receive Jesus as the Son of God.

I was very thankful for teenager Dávid, Miki, and Dezső giving an intelligent defense of the Bible.

Gabor, who made a profession of faith just a few weeks ago shared with me that he has been drawn into prayer for the first time in his life. At work, there was a misunderstanding with a co-worker. Gabi said instead of arguing, he continued to work and began to pray asking God to give understanding to the other person. Soon after, the other worker came back and there was no problem. Gabi also said that God has been putting a burden on his heart for the first time to read His Word. However, he shared that there has been something powerful that keeps him from opening it. Miki encouraged him to stand against the schemes of the enemy tonight and to listen to God by opening the Word. The entire thread of conversation in our study seemed to continue to center on the reliability and necessity to trust in the Bible. Please pray that God would impress on the hearts of these men and women a burden to read His revealed Word in the Bible. Please pray that they would also understand what they read through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.

Gabor shared how his neighbor came to him for help last week. She said to him, "I am possessed and need to be saved from evil spirits." Gabor said that there is help available, "In the Lord and in Jesus Christ." Gabor said that she was ready to throw out her life after repetitive tragedies and suffering, and had lost all hope. He convinced her to come to our service last week and afterward she said that she was comforted. Gabor hopes to bring her again this week. Please pray that she would truly be saved and find freedom from the enemy by personally trusting in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

Zoli's grandmother shared with me the joy she had for coming to know us and her thankfulness for a deepening relationship with Jesus with help from our church. She came to know us over a year ago out of curiosity as to where her grandson was going on Sundays. Almost in tears, she shared how sorry that she was not saved earlier in life. She said, "But, I know that Jesus is my Savior and I have the gift of eternal life."

Those that attended tonight extremely vary in their degree of faith and understanding of Jesus. Praise God for His patience and work in each of our lives drawing us to Himself.




Above: Norbi (the one with the big grin) was just married to Lidia last week. Norbi and Lidia have been attending our church for some time. We pray that our church will be a source of loving support for them as we seek to lead them to know and follow Jesus Christ as one.


Above: Teenagers Dávid and Zoli. Dávid was unable to attend English camp this year and has been struggling in his personal life with various issues. We were thankful to see him on Sunday and for some of the new decisions he is making in obedience to Jesus. Please pray for this young man to grow in his faith by His grace.

On Sunday, many of those who served in this years English Camp attended our service in Petőfibánya. Campers Regina, Gabi K., Gabi S and Zoli also attended service. It is interesting that over 4 years go, Gabi K. attended a children's Bible study with Miki. As time went by, he drifted away. Just last year, in our sports outreach, Gabi K. began coming to different events. Now after this year's English Camp, Gabi K. came to our worship service for the first time. Please pray for him as one members of his family does not want him attend anything that we do because we are viewed as a sect.

I was thankful for the help of Attila Szögeti, who translated for me in the service. He did an excellent job even though he was sick with a sore throat. I was also thankful for those who attended that have not yet received Jesus and could hear the gospel message.

Since I was unable to report about last weeks worship service, here is a brief overview that Sharon sent me while I was serving in English Camp:

Tonight's church was good.  I really wasn't' sure if they might cancel it because of the tremendous heat, but it was as good of a turnout as usual.  

Lots of people prayed out-loud tonight when Miki asked that people pray to praise God in spite of the circumstances that they find themselves in.  It was one of the few times that I've seen the  church as a whole be so vocal about prayer.  

Hugi and Gabor brought their neighbor (I think her name was Marika.)  In a conversation with Erika, it turns out that one of Marika's sons was missing for a month and then found floating in the lake in Petőfibánya. (This was just a year ago) The other son  is in prison and she doesn't know when he will get out because they don't speak to each other any more.  She seemed quietly content to be there, but really sad while talking to Erika about her sons.  

Gabor (Hugi's husband) stood up and gave praise to God for miraculously restoring his relationship with his estranged brother.  He said he didn't have any contact info for his brother at all for 3 years.  Gabor said, "I was holding my phone and it started dialing a number.  I didn't recognize the number, so i hit 'hangup'. I figured if that person knew me, they would call me back.  A few minutes later the phone rang with that number on my screen.  I picked it up and asked who it was, and it was none other than my brother.  Since then we've been able to talk again and our relationship has been restored.  Thanks to the Lord."  He must have said Praise God, or Thanks Lord about 10 times in the course of telling the story.  It was really good to hear him giving praise to God tonight.  



Above: Brave Ben getting blood taken for various tests required for attending public school while in the States on furlough.


Above: Elianna showing off her band-aide after receiving an ouchy shot at the Doctor's office.

We praise God for the healthy bodies He has given to both Benjamin and Elianna. They are both full of spunk, personality and fill our lives with joy.

Buying a House in Petőfibánya

The house we are seeking to purchase sits upon shared land and we had to obtain signatures from our future neighbors giving us permission to purchase our specific plot of land. The lawyer gave me the necessary paperwork and we needed to get eight signatures by this Monday when we will be finalizing the contract with the owners. As we approached the row-houses, Edina happened to be walking outside with her boyfriend. Edina was Elianna's preschool teacher and will be our new next door neighbor. She snatched the papers from my hand and proceeded to knock on doors to get the appropriate signatures from the various neighbors. What a blessing from God! One of the neighbors is our current landlord's sister, Zsuzsa. As we began to talk with Zsuzsa she kept saying, "I look forward to hearing about your things." I didn't know what she meant at first. Then she said again, "I look forward to hearing about your beliefs." It was striking to me because I didn't initiate anything related to my faith...she did! She then shared in tears how she lost her 19 year old daughter years ago. She said that she began seeing fortune tellers/palm readers after this tragedy but she saw in the Bible that she shouldn't, so she stopped. She said, "They didn't know what they were talking about anyway." She said she doesn't attend church, but she is interested in hearing about what we believe in! We praise God for these sovereign appointments that he had planned from the beginning of time. Please pray for Zsuzsa that she would come to a full understanding of the way, the truth and the life found in Jesus Christ.


Above: The house pictured in the middle is the one we are seeking to buy.


Above: Elianna on the back porch.

We praise God for a supporter who is giving us a personal loan for the purchase of this house. We praise Him for the exchange rate of the dollar which has risen over the past few weeks which saved us a few thousand dollars. We hope to be finalizing the contract this Monday with our lawyer and the current owner. Please pray for God to protect us in this process and to give us success in all that we need to do to complete the transaction.