Month: July 2018

Day 13 Mission Team Update

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today the team traveled together to Isaac’s Seminary in the morning and Blessing Home orphanage in the afternoon.  The seminary and the orphanage are only a mile apart, and there are strong ties between the two.

Rosy who is responsible for our orphanage has a brother Isaac. Isaac’s story about how he came to have a seminary is interesting and thought provoking.  He like Rosy is from the Chin state and was looking for employment a number of years ago to support his family but couldn’t find anything.  He finally found a ministry job in Thailand which he and his family were very excited about.  It was the first time he would have a full time paying job.  While waiting for his family to arrive in Thailand the following week, God told him during his evening prayer time that he should not take the job.  Instead he needed to go to the U.S and get his seminary degree.  Isaac was very concerned about this since it would be very expensive, and in a land he knew very little about, but God told him he needed to have faith.  So he went ahead and applied to a few seminaries in the U.S.  His application was accepted by Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.  He found many donors in Myanmar to help cover his educational expenses.  Love For Myanmar helped cover some of his expenses as well.  When he graduated he had many opportunities for a job in the U.S. but felt God wanted him to go back to Myanmar and start a seminary for poor students which he did.  His seminary currently has 26 students; most cannot pay so he lets them come free, including room and board.  He relies on donors to help cover the student’s expenses.  The team thoroughly enjoyed meeting and ministering to the students.

Isaac works closely with the Blessing Home providing some financial support, food and clothing when necessary.  They currently have 28 children, about half came several months ago from the war torn area of the Kachin state.  They are very much like the HIV or Precious Gem Home with children from the Kachin state.  The team felt these children needed much more attention and love than the other orphanages we ministered to.  They loved working with these special children but were emotionally exhausted by the time we left.

This was the last day of our ministry.  Tomorrow we have a group fellowship with all the orphanage directors, our Burmese staff, friends, and others we ministered to during our time here.  Once this fellowship is over we will catch a plane back home tomorrow evening.  As a result, this will be the last mission team update.

Please pray:

  • For everyone we ministered to over the past few weeks. That God will protect them guide them, and provide for them.
  • For the entire country of Myanmar. They are a wonderful and gracious group of people that we love very much.
  • That God will speak to each member of the team about their personal journey with Him during this trip.
  • That the team will have a safe journey home.

Attached you will find 4 photos.  First is of Isaac’s Seminary, next is our team ministering to the seminary students, next is the Blessing Home children, and the last is teaching a story to the Blessing Home Children.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Day 12 Mission Team Update

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we divided into two teams, a small team of 4 which went to Victoria’s orphanage and a team of 8 which went to the neighborhood school.

Victoria’s orphanage is the smallest orphanage we sponsor with 12 children ranging in ages 9 – 12.  The orphanage director is currently in South Korea completing his seminary degree.  In the meantime his wife is handling the responsibilities of the home.  Through another donor they bought some land to build a church and to house the orphanage just above it.  It was just completed in the past year.  The team was able to fully complete their ministry program in very tight quarters.  As with other orphanages, the children loved the team and team loved interacting with the children.

The neighborhood school is located in a very poor section of Yangon.  We started the school approximately 12 years ago. At that point in time education was not free.  It cost money for uniforms, school supplies, and a yearly admission fee so many families could not afford to send their children to school.  As a result, we hired seminary students to go into a poor Buddhist neighborhood and told families we would provide a free education for their children along with lunch as long as they knew that we would also teach Christian values and beliefs.  We had more apply than what we had room for.We started with approximately 35 students.  Education today is pretty much free except to children from migrant families.  However, since teachers are not paid much, the vast majority of teachers will not fully teach their children.  Instead, they will have classes after school which they charge students to attend.  This is where the students are actually taught.  This is called tuition.  Our neighborhood school today has moved towards tuition classes except they don’t charge.  In addition to school work, they still teach Christian values and beliefs.  We currently have approximately 28 students enrolled in our neighborhood school.  Over the years the students have done very well.  A number have graduated from high school and even from college.  A few have also graduated from Seminary.  The students today along with some children from Elisha’s orphanage attended our ministry.  The children were fully engaged in our program, laughing, singing, and listening intently.  The team fully embraced these children, providing extra attention and love where needed.

Please pray:

  • For all our orphanages, that the orphanage directors continue to provide excellent Christian care to the children under their care.
  • That Love For Myanmar can continue to develop and provide programs that meet the ever changing needs of our orphanages.
  • That the neighborhood school will continue to help meet the spiritual, educational, and in some cases financial needs of the children and their families.
  • Our team is starting to wear down emotionally and physically from the past 12 days ministries. Please pray for strength and wisdom for the last few days of our ministry.

Attached you will find 5 photos.  The first is the village from which the neighborhood school children come from, the second is the children from the neighborhood school, the third is the neighborhood children performing and two from Victoria’s Orphanage.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Day 11 Mission Team Update

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today the team ministered first to Kid’s Life Orphanage, then later in the afternoon to the HIV Orphanage.

Kid’s Life Orphanage is about an hour drive from our hotel.  We had to take 2 smaller vans since the dirt road into the orphanage is so narrow our larger van couldn’t get in.  Kid’s Life sits on 5 acres.  They grow their own vegetables and fruits, and raise pigs which they sell to supplement their income.  This is one of the few times the entire team could minister together so it was good to see everyone on the team working together.  Kid’s Life have approximately 35 children, about half were under the age of 10.  They performed a skit on Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, before singing some songs in English.  The songs were from our previous mission teams performances to them.  It was wonderful that they remembered them.  The team felt like we not only ministered to the children, but the children ministered to us as well.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience for the team and children.

I mentioned in previous mission team updates that it has been raining every day since we arrived.  As a result, traveling from Kid’s Life to the HIV home one of our vans got stuck in the muddy road and we couldn’t get it out.  We had to walk 200 yards from the vans to the home in very muddy conditions.  Once there we needed wash off our feet before entering their home.  We do not sponsor this home but have been ministering to them since 2008.  In 2008 all the children in the home had HIV in various stages.  Today, only 4 of the 28 children have HIV.  The rest come from the war torn area of the Kachin state where the children have seen their parents and other family members brutally killed.  Because of this, most are badly traumatized.  One way we hope to help them is through our Trauma Healing Program which we hope to start with them shortly.  The children at this home are more subdued than at our other homes.  Our objective at this home was to make them laugh and to bring some joy into their lives which we hoped we accomplished.  The real name of this orphanage is Precious Gems Home which we will begin to use from this day forward.  The muddy trek back to the van was even muddier.  Our feet, shoes, clothes were covered with mud.  One of the vans was still stuck, couldn’t get out and was waiting for a tow truck.  As a result, we crowded everyone and our supply bags into one van and headed back to the hotel.

After a quick shower and a change of clothes we met to have a quick dinner, talked about our plans for tomorrow before heading to our rooms.

Please pray:

  • That the directors of our orphanages will continue to provide excellent Christian care for all their children.
  • That through our trauma healing program we can bring relief and comfort to the children at the Precious Gem’s Home
  • For a boost in energy for our team since it has been long days filled with emotional ministries.

Attached you will find 5 photos.  The first is our team ministering to Kid’s Life, the second is craft project with Kid’s Life, the third is Precious Gem Home, the fourth is a child from the Precious Gem Home, and the last is the team trekking in mud to get back to our van.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

Today we drove from Yangon to Mawlamyine which is approximately 200 miles.  In the U.S. it would take us approximately 3.5 hours to make this drive.  Because of the poor road system and intermittent rain, it took us 8 hours with stops for lunch and to fill up with gas.  Luckily we didn’t run into very heavy rain during our journey.

The scenery during the drive was beautiful.  Going from a bustling city congested with cars, to a hilly jungle terrain with lots of green trees and plants was breathtaking.  Unfortunately, as the environment became more beautiful, the poverty became more apparent as well.  Malnourished migrant workers manually planting rice in the rainy, wet fields; small broken down bamboo huts where families lived; and road crews fixing potholes with hammers to smash small rocks into gravel and shovels to fill them lined the drive intermittingly into Mawlamyine.  Mawlamyine is a pretty city with a very large river running through it.  The hotel we are staying at have small bungalows nestled next to the river.

Once we checked into our hotel we had a meeting with the head doctor and matron of the leprosy hospital.  They provided the team with valuable information about the hospital and adjacent leprosy village and answered all questions we had.  The most important information we received, even though there are effective medicines for a complete recovery for leprosy, there is still a great amount of prejudice and misunderstanding against leprosy patients and their families.  As a result, many former patients become destitute, alcoholics and drug addicts.  They need much help.

After the meeting we had dinner and called it a night.

Tomorrow we start our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village.

Please pray:

  • Our ministry to the leprosy hospital and village is fruitful, and the team not only can encourage the patients and villagers, but also plants seeds of hope.
  • The team can be strong emotionally through this ministry.
  • Guidance and His will be done.

Since it was raining the day was dreary and bleak, so I couldn’t capture any good outside scenery photos.  As a result, I am attaching 3 photos.  The first two is from our lunch and the last is from our meeting with the leprosy hospital staff meeting.

Blessings,
Reed

Central Europe

We’re off to a great start on Mission Moldova 2015!  All our flights were more of less on time, or even early, and every bag arrived with us!  We started with 10 folks from Crestview, were joined by five from Thorndale at the airport, and then three more at Newark (Greg Dean and twins from Dallas).

The only little glitch we encountered was with customs here in Moldova.  They thought the t-shirts we carried in were destined for the black market and took a little convincing from our partners here otherwise.

When we arrived at CCI (our lodging for the week), everyone unloaded, unpacked, cleaned up and rested.  After a delicious meal (featuring chicken–inside story for those who have been here!), some played games and visited, others headed for bed, and the leaders met to discuss the overview of the week.

As tends to happen here, our ministries have been expanded from our original plans.  We will do VBS/Read the Bible/baseball camp in the mornings here in the village of Budesti where we are staying.  In making the arrangements with the mayor (including a plea for any type of supplies that we may have left at the end of the week for the children of the village), she made one request for herself.  She asked if she could have a Bible–the whole Bible!  We agreed that she definitely would receive an complete Bible.

Then, after lunch and a little time to rest, we will repeat that in Chisinau, with the addition of some on-the-street tables for surveys and Bible distribution.  We plan to have a big meal on Friday evening celebrating 10 years of service from Crestview to Eastern Europe (seven years to Romania and now three in Moldova).  We’ll throw in a little Fourth of July celebration–a week late.

On Saturday, a portion of the team (volunteers) will travel to the northern part of the country to do a half day of the same things we’re doing the rest of the week, spend the night, worship with the church in Balti, then get back to Budesti in time to go to church that evening in Chisinau and pack to head back home on Monday.  We have a forced overnight layover in Munich, then will get back to the US on Tuesday.

Prayer points:

  • Praise God for safe travels!
  • Thank God for our wonderful partners here!
  • Pray for rest and good health for all to accomplish much in the Lord’s name.
  • Implore our Savior for many opportunities to share His message.

Thanks for joining us in this adventure!

This morning, we worshiped with the church in Truseni, where we worked last year.  It was good to visit with them again!  Jeremy Shepherd (pastor at FBC Thorndale) preached and Tony Clark gave an overview of Crestview’s history with Eastern Europe, plus an overview of what we’re doing this year.  We hurried back to our hotel for lunch rather than spending hours in a restaurant.  Afterward, we scattered toa  VBS planning meeting, naps, and baseball in the field behind the hotel.  Someone in the baseball group (his initials are “Coach”) slammed a ball into the metal fence right beside the VBS meeting and we all thought we had been shot!

This evening we worshiped with Doxa Deo church in the city of Chisinau.  They have an awesome band and singers!  I’ve heard that several of them are professional musicians and I’d believe it!  This is a VERY new type of church experience for this part of the world and they are drawing many young people.  They are in the process of changing venues from the puppet theater where they’ve met the past couple of years into the second floor above a supermarket where they will have access to the location 24/7.  Should be a great move for them.

We met back at the hotel for supper and final announcements about the schedule for the week.  We’ve got a very full week, with MANY opportunities for reaching both adults and children with the word of God, and specifically the Gospel.

Please pray for the following:

  • Smooth logistics in transferring from one location to another each day
  • Continued growth for Doxa Deo, strong pledges from their membership for the increased financial commitment of their new location, and additional funding for the rent
  • Sweet spirits in dealing a very busy schedule and multiple teams going different directions

Blessings to you!

The Minnesota contingent arrived at the hotel about a quarter to 2 this morning, so we let them sleep in, but they joined the rest of us from lunch forward so we had the 25 of us and about that many Moldovans out in the communities today spreading the good news!

We started here in the village of Budesti where we’re living for the week.  We had about 100 kids for music, games, a Bible lesson, and crafts and a good time was had by all.  The “Read the Bible” team met with a number of people on the streets and at their front gates to share Bibles, the gospel, and prayer.  The baseball camp had about 14 participants who eagerly heard about making home runs on the field as well as in life.

After lunch and a little rest, everyone headed into Chisinau where we did the same three things but all with different twists.  The VBS was a smaller group of neighborhood kids, and since they’re a somewhat more difficult crowd to draw, we had a small bounce house and popcorn–and they came!  We had about 40 at one time or another and around 25 who stayed through the Bible presentation and got to make a craft.  The baseball group had 10 older kids (including four girls) from an orphanage who really got into the game and the message that was presented.  The Bible group had some going door-to-door, and some set up on the street to complete questionnaires and share Bibles and the gospel.  Since there was another “religious organization” set up nearby, one group had to preface all discussions with, “We’re not ______  _______s.”  They met with a variety of responses, from eager listeners and questioners, to those who faked important cellphone conversations or stuck their fingers in their ears as they hurried past.  The team was very enthusiastic about the results and the potential of this method.

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to hit the sack.  We’ll get up and start the same schedule again tomorrow!

If you would like to pray for us, please include:

  • Praise for new friends made today in all venues
  • Thanks for eager kids who heard the good news today
  • Good rest for all tonight and great spirits when we gather tomorrow
  • God’s blessing and protection in all we do tomorrow

Greetings from hotter-than-Texas Moldova!  The temps have been in the upper 90’s this week and creeping higher each day.  Looks like there may be a little break Friday and Saturday which will be quite welcome!

You are correct–there was no update yesterday.  Tuesday was much like Monday and I was tired, so I slept instead of writing.  And there will be pictures soon. Folks who are much more technologically adept than I are working on getting that done.  And they will have pictures from multiple folks and not just what I happen to have time to take.

Our VBS numbers are growing each day–both in the village and in the city.  The kids love the games and music, listen attentively during the Bible study time, and really get into the crafts.  Moldova is such a poor country that crafts are an unheard-of luxury and they eat them up!  We heard one account this evening at our post-dinner sharing time about one young girl who had never heard of Jesus before this week and this morning voiced a hear-felt prayer to ask Him to forgive her of her sins.

The baseball group is having a great time!  They have a number of kids who are really improving their skills (though mostly with whiffle balls and tees–but then they’ve never played before).  They did have an incident this afternoon in which a girl (about 10-12) stepped in too close to the batter while awaiting her turn at bat, and got hit on the cheek with the bat.  It opened a split about an inch long.  The ambulance was called and she was taken to the hospital, but Greg and Coach feel that she will be just fine other than having a black eye and being sore.  And I have no idea what her opinion about baseball will be!

We are distributing hundreds of New Testaments each day in the village and the city.  The village procedure is to send small teams door-to-door, where they often are invited in and visit with people and/or pray with them.  In the city, they are stationed in groups of 4-5 (including locals) in the wide center strip of a major boulevard.  As people get off the buses and cross the street, or just stroll down the wide sidewalk in the center of the well-treed median, they are asked if they would like a free Bible.  Many just say no or fake a telephone call, but many others accept.  Some even stop to talk for a few minutes.  Greg Dean had about a 45-minute chat with one older Russian gentleman this afternoon about atheism.  Since Greg WAS one for 38 years of life, he loves talking to them and does a great job of reasoning with them.

The team members are getting to know one another well and appear to be enjoying the exchange of stories and experiences.  I still haven’t heard a cross word among the group!  There is truly a sweet spirit among them.

And the folks here!  They work so hard to facilitate the mission, getting even less sleep than we do, driving countless trips in vans to haul us everywhere, and being away from family.  These people are passionate about sharing Christ and the young ones are growing in leaps and bounds as they lead VBS small groups and approach people on the street offering Bibles.

I would like to remind everyone on this distribution list about the Crestview team leaving tomorrow for Myanmar.  We wish them safe travels and fruitful ministries.

Please pray for:

    • Myanmar team as mentioned above
    • The young lady who was hit by the baseball bat–for swift, complete healing
    • Continuing to deal well with hot weather, and a break in the heat
    • People with new Bibles in their hands to open them and read them and for God to touch their hearts
    • Continued sweet spirits among the team members

After another day on Thursday that was much like the previous few, things changed today.  To begin, a cool front blew through yesterday afternoon and we had some rain overnight, so it was actually a little cool when we started this morning’s activities.

We had our usual schedule of Read the Bible, baseball camp, and VBS in the village.  The kids met in the children’s center (very nice auditorium-type room) for some of the same games and songs from the week, followed by a gospel presentation and an opportunity to respond.  We haven’t heard anything about those responses, but there were a number of kid who went forward to speak to leaders.  Then they went outside for some FUN:  face-painting, popcorn, and cotton candy!!!  They all wrote little notes on cards for the team but it will take a while to figure out what they say since they’re in Romanian.

The baseball group finished up with a great morning of practicing all the skills they’re learned this week.  Who knows!  They may be the nucleus of a budding baseball program in the country.

After lunch, a few people went in different directions, but the majority went into Chisinau to tour tour the future new home of Doxa Deo church.  The property owner is handling the remodeling but has let the church make some choices about removing a wall and wall colors.  The facility is going to be very nice and functional for them.  They will probably have to go to multiple services fairly soon, and even outgrown the facility relatively quickly, but it will serve them well.  We had a time of prayer and dedication in their sanctuary space where they hope to begin services the first Sunday of September.  Their greatest need right now is a little help in meeting early months of rent until they get better established.  Since many of their members are students, they still depend on the generosity of others for much of their work.

Most of the group then went out to the village of Corjova to see the survival camp that Eduard Edu has been running for about 12 years.  They have made great progress on the kitchen facility that will enable them to meet EU standards (in line with the country’s hopes of eventually joining the EU).  Their biggest need at this time is financial assistance in completing the kitchen facility.  Other than that, the camp is extremely cost-effective and is contributing to wonderful decisions and growth in the lives of young people.

This evening, we had a big Moldovan-style barbecue followed by two cakes decorated with US and Moldovan flags for our “10-4” celebration.  (Ten years of ministry in Romania and Moldova, and a belated Fourth of July)  We had our team, our host leadership team, and most of our local missionaries/translators–a BIG bunch of people!  Our contribution to the celebration was s’mores–always a hit in Moldova!

Tomorrow twelve of us will leave for the village of Sofia about 2.5 hours north of Chisinau.  This is the village where Eduard lived until he was about 15, and where he, Greg Knight, and Tony Clark went on mission in January 2014.  We will do an abbreviated version of Read the Bible in a portion of the village, and there may be a one-afternoon VBS.  We’re not sure what that will look like, but we have enough of our favorite craft–fleece pillows–to have a good time.  We will spend the night there–some in a “Christian Center” and a few in homes–and then attend worship the next morning.  Jeremy Shepherd will preach, but I have no idea who will interpret since Manu (Emanuel Grozea) is returning to New York tomorrow so that he can be in his own pulpit on Sunday–and recover from his time here.  (He has been a tremendous blessing to us, as usual!)  Following dinner in Sofia, we will return to our lodging in time to join worship at Doxa Deo on Sunday evening, and a last round of good-bye’s to many.

I doubt that there will be an opportunity for an update on Sunday evening, and maybe not even on Monday.  We depart Moldova on Monday, have a forced overnight layover in Munich, and then return to Texas late  Tuesday evening.  If nothing else, you will probably hear from us on Wednesday for a wrap-up of the weekend’s activities.

Please join us in prayer for:

  • Our ministries in Sofia this weekend, fruitful visits, and fellowship with brothers and sisters
  • Blessings on the growth of Doxa Deo and their leadership
  • Continued maturing of the future leaders of the church in Moldova who have been enabling our work this week
  • Guidance for Eduard and the rest of the leadership of the survival camp in growing this amazing program
  • Safe travels for Manu tomorrow, for the Minnesota contingent as they leave on Sunday evening, and for the rest of us as we travel on Monday and Tuesday
  • Spiritual “water” for all the seeds that have been planted this week in VBS and baseball camp
  • Bibles that were distributed to be opened and read, and the truth therein embraced

On Saturday morning, a group of 15, including Eduard (the Moldovan pastor) and two of his sons, departed Budesti for Sofia, about 75 miles northwest of Chisinau.  The drive was pleasant; we saw huge fields of winter wheat (in the middle of harvest), sunflowers, and corn.  (Reminded me of the South Plains of Texas.)  We picked up a couple of translators (part of the plan) at the round-about on the edge of Baltsi (third largest city in Moldova) as we were heading out into the countryside.

We arrived in the village of Sofia in time for lunch, then broke into two teams to do an abbreviated VBS program and a short  version of the Read the Bible door-to-door program.  Sofia is the childhood hometown of Eduard, so he was able to give us some insight into his early years there.  He showed us the small building, next to the athletic field behind the school, where there was a trap-door that led to a shooting range that ran parallel to the field.  When he was a kid, they were trained in handling rifles, and target shooting, in this facility.  Above-ground, he was able to locate one of the ditches where the children would be placed, then given simulated grenades (same size, shape, weight) to practice throwing at the correct locations on a metal frame representing a tank.  They were prepared daily for the Americans who could attack any day.  (Reminded me of stories of possible Soviet attacks on the US over the years.)  I estimate that this was in the late ’80’s, during the time that Moldova was part of the Soviet Union.  He also told about 12-hour school-days for kindergarteners, mechanics classes for boys, and cooking classes for girls–all a part of training soldiers, not human children (his words).

The VBS and Read the Bible were fairly well-received, considering the short notice and short time-frame.  The following morning we worshiped with the small Baptist church, in the back room of their new building.  The sanctuary is not ready for use yet, but we squeezed about 50 into the classroom for music and three messages (typical of most church services here).  Small churches in this part of the world are prone to ask for someone to sing, so we threw together a quartet the evening before and sang “Amazing Grace” and “Grace Greater Than Our Sin.”

We returned that afternoon to Budesti.  The rest of the team had spent Saturday doing some shopping and sight-seeing in Chisinau and some even chartered a van to go to the nearby city of Orhei Vechi to visit a monastery, caves, etc.  On Sunday evening, all piled into vans to go to Doxa Deo church for their weekly service.  It was a great time of worship and fellowship.  The Minnesota group left from there to head to the airport while the rest spent a good while saying good-byes to our hosts.  I had one particularly interesting conversation with a young woman (maybe 30-35) who was very concerned about the direction our country is taking and said that she and many others are praying for the US.

On Monday, we flew to Munich, where we had a forced overnight layover.  The entire group enjoyed some German food at  Augustiner Keller, a HUGE open-air, tree-shaded beer garden with oompah band, playground, the works.  Then most everyone walked to Karlsplatz and the connected pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz.  We slipped into a couple of beautiful churches for a few moments, enjoyed the architecture of very old buildings, and did a little shopping and dessert-eating.  And of course there was awesome people-watching!

Early Tuesday morning, we headed back to the airport where we caught our flight to Newark, and, after a long layover and a couple of delays, headed for Austin.  We were very happy to see Randy and Denny pull up at the curb to pick us up after an extremely long day!

I’ve attached a few pictures that might give you an idea of some of the things we did the entire week.  They include baseball camp, VBS activities, Read the Bible distribution on the street in Chisinau, a young man at a distance reading the New Testament he’d just received, the cakes from our 10-4 celebration, and the new church in Sofia.  At some point in the near future, there should be many pictures and some videos available on the church website.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • That seeds planted will find fertile soil and grow
  • That the fire ignited in young Doxa Deo members will burn brightly in a dark place
  • That leadership in Moldova will be encouraged by our partnership and the ministries accomplished
  • That team members will adjust quickly to life back at home, but never forget what they experienced and learned the past week
  • That team members will make life changes as a result of this mission
  • That plans for next year will proceed smoothly
  • That many more people will desire to participate in this life-changing mission

View our 2015 Mission To Moldova Video here!

More Missions

Day 10 Mission Team Update

Summer 2018 Mission Trip to Myanmar Thursday, July 12 – Saturday, July 28.

The team is now back in Yangon again after a long ministry from Mawlamyine and Hpa an.   Today we again divided into two groups, one going to the evangelism training and the other taking the day off for some badly needed rest to visit a couple of places of interest.

The evangelism training took place in one of the meeting rooms in the Judson Hall complex, part of Yangon University which  is one of a very few Christian universities in the country.  Not including 5 of our team members and 2 interpreters, there were 26 training participants.  These 26 came from our 6 orphanages, neighborhood school, and a few local pastors and close friends.    The training conducted was step one of seven training steps.  It was developed to be interactive and repetitive and all participants were genuinely interested in the entire program.  The objective of the training is to provide simple, proven tools to evangelize throughout the county.  When you get a group of this size together it is sometimes hard to keep everyone attentive and focused.  With this group it was not a problem, everyone too notes and actively participated in discussions.  It was a very worthwhile training session that should provide great long-term results.

The other 7 team members visited a relatively new attraction featuring 8 distinct ethnic groups from Myanmar.  Each group displayed and talked about their specific ethnic group, i.e. clothing, dialect, food, etc.  The team thoroughly enjoyed this attraction since many of the ministries were targeted to and working with the various ethnic groups in the country.

From there the team had lunch and then went to prayer walk the Swedagon Pagoda.  The Swedagon Pagoda is one of the 7 wonders of the new world.  When Adonarim Judson, the first American missionary sailed into the harbor of Myanmar in the early 1800’s, the first thing he saw was the gleaming tower of the Swedagon Pagoda.  It began to rain rather hard so the team decided to leave early and head to the restaurant to meet the other team for dinner.

We had one team member that stayed behind at the hotel to get more rest.  While both teams were gone he taught the hotel staff a song, I’m So Glad Jesus Loves Me, which they sang to the team when they got back to the hotel.  Keep in mind that the hotel staff are all Buddhists.  What a pleasant surprise!

Please pray:

  • That the group our evangelism team trained today will continue their training so they can effectively spread His word throughout the land of Myanmar.
  • For continued good health, wisdom, and strength of our team for our final week of ministry.
  • For protection and good health for all of our families and friends we left behind in the U.S.

Attached you will find 3 photos.  The first is the Burmese 7 steps to evangelism training that is hung for each training session, the second is the evangelism training participants, and the third is some evangelism participants singing.

Blessings,
Reed