December 2023

Christmas Puppet Update

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Above: What a great Christmas gift to have our daughters back over Christmas break! Ellie returned from Chicago and her studies at Moody, and Kira returned from Black Forest Academy in Germany.

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We were met with a nice snow storm as we kicked off our Christmas Puppet Ministry to 27 public schools throughout northeastern Hungary. We were thankful that all of our team members were healthy and through some difficulty with scheduling with various schools, God still made a way for a full schedule over two weeks.

On our first day, the snow conditions were so bad that a tractor trailer jackknifed and blocked the mountain road to our daughter’s school in a neighboring town. Needless to say, she wasn’t sad that she could stay home and play in the snow. Thankfully, the three destinations on our first day were in areas where we didn’t have any issues traveling. Over the course of the next two weeks, God was gracious to protect us when traveling and gave us success in getting to every school on the schedule.

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The name of our show is “Csoda Könyv” (Miraculous Book). The story begins with two children venturing into an old attic and discovering a “miraculous book” in an old chest.

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When they begin reading the Miraculous Book, the story of the birth of Christ comes to life. They later share their discovery with their grandmother who reveals that this book is the Bible that she reads every day.

At one location as the show was going on, one child was heard saying, “But I don’t have a Miraculous Book!” Little did the child know that we had brought Children’s Bibles for all the kids that God had provided. This young boy and all the others would have their own Miraculous Book for Christmas.

In the town of Bér, one of the preschool teachers told her kids, “Now when you get home, ask your mom to read to you the stories from this book.

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After the puppet show is over, Erika brings an object lesson using candles to represent the light of Christ. But these were not normal candles. They are the type that once blown out, they immediately reignite and continue to shine. She reads from the Bible about how Jesus was the light and the darkness could not overcome His light. She shares about his dying on the cross and then blows out the candle. In a moment, the candle reignites and she tells the children the good news that Jesus rose from the dead after dying for our sins. She then lights another candle that cannot be overcome by darkness to represent those who put their faith in Jesus and spread His light. The children were very engaged and remained amazed that the candles could not be put out. They were also very excited that each would receive a Bible to take home.

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Above: Sharon talking with “aunt” Marika who taught our kids when they attended this preschool in our hometown of Petofibanya.

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Above: The Rainbow Special Needs Center. We were able to take this year's show to a few special needs schools/centers in our area.

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Above: We also had a good turnout for our Christmas get together for the Mothers of Preschoolers Club. Along with presenting the Christmas puppet show, crafts and fellowship, we offered families free photo portraits.

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Above: Sharon was able to invite our across-the-street-neighbor' Fanni and her son Armand (pictured above) to the event. Fanni's sister used to attend our children's Bible club many years ago. I mentioned in our last news update that our Hungarian teammate Erika is opening a sensory therapy business. Fanni's son Armand is actually signed up for classes, so we hope to have continued opportunities to build relationship with them. I also learned that the family pictured above them will also be our neighbors in the future as they are restoring a house across the street from us. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with both these families.

Overall, we had a very successful Christmas Puppet Ministry, however it was not without challenges. In the midst of serving, our Hungarian teammate Miki got word that cancer was discovered in His dad's body and he needed immediate radiation therapy. His dad is still not doing well after therapy and we ask you to pray. Various team members (including myself) got sick having to miss some days, but God was gracious to provide those who could fill in. Sharon got sick the last day and is still recovering. We praise God that we were able to distribute around 1,500 Bibles and God gave us the strength and provision to successfully bring the Good News to these schools at Christmas. Thank you so much for standing with us in prayer and partnering with us in this ministry.

Take a look this brief highlight film and praise God with us that we are allowed to openly proclaim the Gospel in public schools in Hungary through this ministry!



Retirement home visit



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Above: "Aunt" Gizi with Ellie, Ziva, Kira and Sharon. Church member Gizi knows that she is called to be light in her retirement home and with God's strength she brings encouragement and love to those in her community. We brought our church choir for a special Christmas performance at her retirement home in the neighboring town of Rozsaszentmarton where our youngest daughter attends middle school.

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Christmas Worship Service



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God gave us a wonderful snowfall in the afternoon, blanketing the surroundings in pure white just before we began our evening Christmas Worship Service. Our choir performed and we read through the Christmas story. We also had some church members give testimony. "Aunt" Gizi shared the following testimony:

“May God bless you all. Being here tonight is being with my family. We are one family. I am very thankful for this fellowship. Yesterday, at our retirement home, there was an announcement that a priest would be coming at 9:00 and afterwards at 10:00, there would be a group coming from First Love Baptist Church. I spoke to two of the oldest woman in our retirement home, asking if I could also come to the 9:00 gathering. They told me that I could come, but that the priest would only be there briefly and not to expect much else. And, that’s what happened, after fifteen minutes, he had come and gone. But when my “family” came, they didn’t leave when they finished singing. They dispersed and went out to spend time and talk with those who attended. And these very ‘poor in spirit’ people told me that they experienced such love on that day, they now understood what ‘worship service’ was. I told them that love is always flowing at our fellowship. And I’m very thankful, because my strength is most often not enough being at the retirement home to serve all those who are there. The love they experienced was so powerful and now they know what I experience and how I am strengthened each week when I attend worship service here. Hallelujah. May God’s blessing be upon you.” — Gizi

Yes, this Christmas we love because God first…
He first came to us in the incarnation.
He first called to us through the word of His grace.
He first served us in great humility that we would know true love.
Jesus is the firstborn of God, the preeminent eternal Creator who first loved us. We love because He first loved us.

May the blessing of God's love encourage you this Christmas as you turn your attention to Jesus and continue to find your life in Him. We wish you all a Merry Christmas!
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