December 2012


Above: Highlights from Evelyn’s memorial service on Wednesday. We were blessed by friends and family coming to celebrate her life devoted to Jesus and her faithfulness as a friend to so many. Though it will be some time before we see her again, we WILL see her in a place where there will be no more threats of death but only life with our Savior Jesus Christ.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” — John 5:24

We are very blessed by the number of you who have surrounded us with support in this time. God made it possible through you to be back in the US and to experience this memorial service together as a family. We are truly grateful.

Christmas Puppet Ministry

Above: After my departure to the US, the puppet team faithfully continued to perform in public schools throughout northeastern Hungary. I put together this short film (from clips I took when I was still with them) that helps you to experience the joy we also experience in this ministry. Thank all of you who prayed for the team and for this ministry to the next generation of Hungarians!

Random Shots


Above: So good to be back and visit BVBC on Sunday.


Above: Thankful to see my brother Sam who flew in from California to be with us at Evelyn’s memorial.



Above: Kira and Elianna enjoying their time with their cousin Anna B in the middle.


Above: Ben and his cousin RJ playing late night chess.




Above: Little bit of Christmas Eve sledding on slightly frosted grass.



As most of you have heard, Sharon rushed back to the US with Ziva to be with her mother Evelyn in the final days of her life here with us. Evelyn had a stroke and also was found to have cancer in her liver and lungs. Her body was in critical condition from all of these things combined. Sharon was able to return in time to sing over her mother, speak to her and even show some special pictures the kids had prepared for her. We praise God for allowing this special time before Evelyn went to be with Jesus early Friday morning.

Evelyn and Sharon

We appreciate the words of encouragement and assurance of your prayers over these past days. With the generous donations that came in from many of you, I will be able to join Sharon on Tuesday and we can be together as a family in this difficult time. We’re very thankful for all of you, and most of all thankful for our Risen Savior Jesus, who gives us a sure hope of resurrection and reunion.


With the flurry of events that have come unexpectedly, I haven’t been able to keep you all up to date on the Christmas Puppet Ministry. I have continued to travel with the team and am thankful that God had me as a driver and set-up person this year and not a puppeteer. The team will be able to handle the final leg of the Puppet ministry without me and I’m thankful for their servant hearts.


Above: Faithful friends and puppet teammates, Timi, Jennifer, Eszti, Erika and Miki.



















I hope these pictures give you a sense of what God is doing through this ministry. What a blessing to be able to go from school to school telling about our hope in Jesus Christ. The materials we are distributing allow the message to continue to be heard in families all over northeastern Hungary.

Please pray for the final week of this ministry which will be a bit more work for the team (doing stage set up and packing) in my absence.

Please pray for our final ESL class Christmas program in Rozsaszentmarton on Monday night. We’ll have Christmas songs, I’ll give my testimony and share the Gospel and a team from church is preparing an evangelistic drama.

Please pray also for the kids (Benjamin, Elianna and Kira) and I as we fly to the US on Tuesday. When Sharon flew out a week ago, her initial flight was canceled because of it being stuck in another country. By God’s grace she was able to fly with another airline without delaying her return to the US. Please pray that we would have no problems getting back in time for Evelyn’s memorial service.


Our first stop for the day was in our hometown in Petofibanya’s preschool. Three of our kids attended here and this was the first year that I returned having no kids of my own to greet (since Kira is now in the first grade). We have a long history with the teachers here and have had previous opportunity to share the gospel with the majority of them through various outreaches and Bible studies over the years. Our teammate’s daughter Emily is now attending this school and soon enough our Ziva will as well.



Above: Levi getting laughs from Miki’s pet ostrich. Levi and his brother Andor attend our house group every week with their grandmother Zsuzsa who is their primary caretaker. Their story is a sad, but typical one of parents abandoning them out of lack of care. Zsuzsa sees them as her calling from God and could use your prayers as she continues to raise them with His help.












Szivárvány Care Center

Our second stop for Monday was in the Szivárvány Care Center in Hatvan for adults with developmental disabilities. It is always a joy to go to this care center and see the excitement expressed in all their faces. They all have a great sense of humor and did a great job singing along with us before and after the show.


Above: Miki having an imaginary snow ball fight with those attending.





Thank you for your continued prayer support. God has been gracious in protecting us as we travel and all equipment has been working without any problems thus far. Please continue to pray for our team, for rest, for health and the strength we need for this intense schedule over the next few weeks.



Above: Ziva singing along and practicing some new songs with the team. Saturday’s show was in the larger town of Gyöngyös in their local community center. We were thankful for the turn out of parents and children to hear the wondrous truths of why we celebrate Christmas.



Above: Miki loosening up the crowd. When we go into bigger cities like Gyöngyös to perform there is a definite difference in atmosphere with those attending. People are more reserved, not so quick to stand up and join in. Miki does a good job of helping the crowd to forget the formal setting of the large auditorium and makes it feel more like a family living room.



Above: Jennifer, Eszti and Timi all giving up time sacrificially to serve in this year’s puppet outreach.





Above: Erika teaching after the show. Girls from the audience holding sings that say “Salvation from Sin” and “Loving King, Lord of all” as Erika explains the Gospel.


Above: Ziva with Miki’s daughter Anna. Since this show was on a Saturday, all of our kids were able to attend. Miki’s kids and our kids attend a school in Rozsaszentmarton that has been opposed to us coming since we began puppets in 2003. Please pray that there would either be a change in the principals heart, or a change in leadership at the school to allow us to begin coming every Christmas and Easter.


Above: Jonatán with his son. Jonatán has been church planting in Gyöngyös for as long as we have been in Petofibanya. We have had seasons of meeting together for prayer and partnering. Recently we brought our teens together for a special night of hearing a testimony of a Mongolian girl coming to Christ in Hungary. Please pray for wisdom as we look for more ways to work together in the new year.



Above: Beautiful morning skies on Friday as we head out to our first destination in the town of Szirák.



Above: Some of the children who were the first to greet us in the school foyer where we would be holding our show.


Above: We love to see the kids involved in singing along with us.


Above: With the number of kids squeezed in this foyer, we almost expected that there would be distractions and talking during our show. God was at work as the entire room was silent and all the kids were engaged in the story throughout the show. This is a tough neighborhood with some tough kids. The teachers even commented afterward how amazed they were about how the kids paid attention. This is an answer to prayer!


Above: Praise God that He has opened the door for us to not only read the Bible in these public schools but share the gospel as well.


Our second stop for Friday was in a preschool in Kisbágyon.


As we set up our stage, one of the kids kept saying, “I’m so excited about the show.”






It is great to see that kids so young are grasping some of the important truths of the gospel through this Puppet Ministry.



We awoke to freezing temperatures and a fresh frozen snowfall this morning. After meeting together at our house for prayer, we loaded up the Mercer mobile with our puppet supplies and headed to the town of Pásztó.



Above: The Barka Daycare Center in Pásztó.


The first one to greet us at the Daycare center.


Above: Jennifer, Timi and Eszti quickly setting up our stage.


Above: Miki getting the kids to laugh with his pet ostrich Tobi.









This was our first time in this daycare center and we were thankful for the warm greeting. After the show, we were asked to sing a few more songs with the kids, and even got a request to sing “This Little Light of Mine.” As I was walking out, I asked a four year old how he liked the show. He replied, “Can you come back tomorrow too?” May Jesus bless these kids and continue to reveal His gospel and His love to them. Thanks for your continued prayers!




Above: Our first stop for this year’s Christmas Puppet Ministry was in the town of Heréd, a ten minute drive from our village. As a result of doing puppet shows in the past in this town, we have been invited to participate in various community events and have even held an evangelistic Bible study in the past. Although we have yet to see any immediate results from these past opportunities to sow seeds, we trust that God can cause any of those seeds to flourish in His timing. Heréd continues to be on our hearts as a possible place for future church planting.




It is always great to see kids taking part in our time of singing. One of the songs we sing simply uses the words from John 3:16; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”



Above: Erika teaching about the meanings of the names given to Jesus and sharing the Gospel. Our show was not void of glitches. Our speaker system which has traveled all over Hungary in extreme conditions is showing signs of weird behavior. At one point, the main mic went out, then I switched to our secondary mic. Then the secondary mic went out and I found that the main mic was working again. Thankfully, we were able to switch out mics quickly for the show to go on.


Above: Miki talking to some families after the show outside of Heréd’s Community Center. Unlike other shows this year, this one had entire families attending as it was done in cooperation with Heréd’s family day celebration. We’ll be returning to Heréd’s public school in a few weeks to perform again.

Thank you for your prayers! Our next show is on Thursday the 6th. If you would like to download a specially designed prayer calendar PDF file, you can find it by clicking here: PRAYER CALENDAR PDF



We took some time to remember and rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus Christ by lighting our first Advent candle on Sunday. Jesus says in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”



Above: Gabi (preaching above) who we have known since arriving in Petofibanya in 2003 is growing into a mature man in Christ. One of my greatest joys is seeing God’s miraculous work in people like Gabi who had no means of hearing the Gospel through his dysfunctional family living in an atheistic town. Gabi is now finishing his fourth year of theological training and continues to have increasing opportunity to use his giftings (of preaching and teaching) to build up the body of Christ. His wife Eniko (teaching Sunday School Class) is also in a two year theology course which we hope will give her opportunity to work in Petofibanya’s elementary school teaching Bible classes. I’m grateful to see their growth and how God is using them to share the Gospel with others.



Above: Kira adding some final touches to the Mercer’s Christmas tree.


Above: Baby Ziva anxious to get in on the ornament hanging action.


Above: A recent shot taken at Eleven Park in Hungary where we celebrated Ziva’s first birthday together.