A Year in Review

We’ve had some pretty crazy stretches of road in our lives, but nothing—nothing!—compares to the last 12 months. It’s been a year where we’ve seen God move in incredibly clear ways. And it’s been a year where our faith has been stretched beyond what we could imagine. Here’s a brief sketch:

Caleb in box ready to moveIn February, we moved to Europe, not knowing our final destination. We arrived in Romania exhausted from saying “good-bye,” and excited to finally be on European soil. Ten days after we arrived, our house in the States sold. Five days later, I travelled to Czech to buy a car, and then our scouting began.

In March, we visited Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Hungary. We met with ministry leaders, walked the streets, soaked up the cultures, and invited God’s clear leading. Multiple 10–12 hour travel days added to the adventure with a 2-year old!

In April, we followed God’s clear call to move to Hungary. We spent three weeks living out of suitcases in a hotel, before moving into an unfurnished flat at the end of the month. We were out of money in our Josiah Venture account and our personal account. We could count the people we knew in Hungary in single digits …

In May, we spent 1 week at our new home before entering a stretch of 3 conferences in four weeks. We also bought a couch—our first furnishings for our flat!

Team HungaryIn June, our crew of 5 summer interns arrived—to live with us! Together, we led a weekend camp for the Veszprem church. Two weeks after they arrived in Hungary, we left for a 19-day trip to Slovenia and Austria, where we helped with a Josiah Venture camp, and scouted for future Hungary camps. They were a fantastic, nearly perfect team, and God used them to open many doors for ministry.

In July, we visited our fifteenth country since arriving in Europe. Seven high school students came to Christ at the camp in Slovenia. And, two days after camp, someone broke into our host home and stole both of our computers, while Liz and Caleb were there.

In August, we put the summer interns on a plane back to the States—they served well! The three guys—Marc Meland, Eric Meland, and Austin Elkins—stayed on to complete their 6-month extended internship. We hosted a 10-day vision trip for a couple considering Hungary.

In September, God’s people provided the monies to replace our computers and ship our container! Praise the Lord! An amazing team loaded our container in the States and put in on a boat for it’s long journey. We hosted another 2-week vision trip for prospective teammates. I (Rob), attended the JV Fall Conference with Marc, Eric, and Austin. At the end of September, we decided to move to Veszprem.

Walking Veszprem streetIn October, we rerouted our container to Veszprem, found a place to live, and began negotiating to move out of our flat in Budapest. They told us we’d have to pay double rent until it rented to someone else. Our container arrived after 8 months of living in Europe! We moved into our new place in Veszprem, with incredible help from our new church family. Home!

In November, we faced a whole new round of culture adjustment—new city, new home, and the permanence of having our stuff on this side of the ocean. The fatigue of the last 9 months settled in deep. I also began the privilege of mentoring Bence, the 19-year-old who leads the new Middle School youth group. We meet every Friday—one of the highlights of my week!

In December, we said good-bye to Marc, Eric, and Austin. We also found out that Marc, Eric, Austin, and Kecia Kulla decided to apply to come back full-time! (They’re at Josiah Venture orientation this week!) So exciting! Additionally, after talking with some Hungarian friends–and at attorney–we found out that the landlord in Budapest was wrong to keep charging us rent—that our lease had an escape clause. It’s taken awhile to get the whole story, and he’s still fighting this with an attorney. We’d love your prayers!

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In January, we put the 20,000th mile on our car since we purchased it. Liz’s back (which has seized up periodically for the last 3 years) locked up, and we saw a back specialist. The doctor gave Liz two cortisone shots, and one of them punctured the spinal column and caused a spinal fluid leak. Liz experienced severe pain: indescribable head pain, dizziness, nausea, racing heartbeat, etc. After an overnight stay at the hospital, she’s continued to recover at home. Four weeks later, she no longer has the pain, but still suffers from extreme fatigue. She’s at about 50% of her normal strength. I also started meeting with a young man interested in finding out more about Jesus. Please pray for him! And, we started a 10-week series in youth group focused on Identity—Who Does God Say We Are?

Now it’s February, and we’re ever-so-thankful for your prayers and support! We’re truly feeling the 1-year mark of adjustment. To be honest, it’s hard. We have an incredible church family here. We are beyond-thankful for the pastor and his wife and their care for us. The youth group has welcomed us with open arms. And yet we’re lonely. We’re incompetent in our new culture. We’re fatigued beyond what even we know. And we’re feeling the attacks of the evil one.

We’re also confident that God has called—and is calling. As we look back at this last year, we see lots of difficulty—multiple moves, stolen computers, a delayed container. But we also see God’s incredible hand—four long-term teammates coming, a loving church and community to call home, and the opportunity to join what God is doing in Hungary.

So thank you for standing with us. Thank you for praying over us. Thank you for financially supporting us. Thank you. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Here’s to another great year … !

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