It’s about time that I update you on all that is happening with us. Compared to past years, our Christmas season was much more relaxed. We still did a lot of caroling, but it was spread out over many days. We still had a big Christmas party, but we held it on the 23rd, rather than the 25th, and we finished it at midnight rather than the following morning. All things considered, the kids had an enjoyable time and we were able to fully celebrate the season.
After celebrating a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve and Day, I got on a midnight bus to Bucharest – the first of 5 red-eyes I would suffer in January. 32 hours later I arrived in Sierra Leone, grateful to be in the warmth and to be among friends. We spent the first few days on a community retreat that I led on “Kingdom Community” – reflecting on God’s purposes, covenant community, lament and hope, vulnerability, and particular missiological challenges. After the retreat, we spent another few days reviewing 2016 and making a tactical plan for 2017. I was grateful to see their ongoing growth and maturity as
a community and the amazing ways that God is using them.
I departed Sierra Leone for a weekend in the UK, where I met with friends, updated supporters, and spoke at St. Mary’s church of England.
After the quick weekend, I traveled on to Rwanda, my first visit ever in that part of the world. WMF sent Shelbye, the first staff person in October of 2015, after she had done a 3-month internship with us in Galati. In the autumn of 2016, Annie arrived as the second WMF staff. Together, we took a few days to put together a tactical plan for the coming year. I was also able to see some of the beautiful country and meet with some of their friends and partners and was very grateful to visit the weekly meeting in a poor community with women who are responsible for their own savings and loan project.
After Rwanda, I returned to England where I participated in a little golf fundraiser and then shared with friends at Kingsway Fellowship in Liverpool. Then, finally, I was back to icy Romania.
Of course, there was lots of catching up to do in February. We continue to look at ways to help our new staff integrate well, to develop life-giving activities for the children and families at our centers, and to find ways to connect our activities and relationships to the local churches. In addition, I led another local organization with whom we partner through an annual tactical plan, which I’ll review with them throughout the year.
Lenutsa and I have also started planning our sabbatical. This is something that we practice in WMF every seven years. Most likely, we will begin this time in September. We would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance for this time.
Dorin is the third born of 8 brothers and sisters. His mom lives with his biological father, but it seems that the father didn’t want to claim him as his own, as another man’s name is written on Dorin’s birth certificate. The family atmosphere is tense because the father drinks and is often physically and emotionally abusive. Dorin’s mom cannot cope with the situation and confessed that she wished that the man would move out. Recently, she went to the police after a violent fight. The police gave Dorin’s dad a fine for disturbing the peace, but Dorin’s mom had to pay it because he does not work. In the end, Dorin’s mom has given up going to the police. So, the incidents continue to happen and affect the whole family.
Dorin is extremely intelligent and sensitive, but his home life affects him more than he allows to show. He rarely talks about what happens at home. The last time he did, it was about a violent episode at home in which his dad’s head was severely injured. Dorin missed a number of days at school and at our community center because he was spending time with his dad at the hospital.
Although you can see the marks of sadness on his face, Dorin is happy to be at the center where he knows that he is loved and appreciated. He is a bit awkward whenever he is shown any positive affection, but we hope and pray that the love that surrounds him here will help him overcome any obstacle or barrier and that his many God-given talents will be able to show and grow in his life.