It feels like it has been a long time since we have been able to write, even though it's only been 1 month! A lot has happened since we last wrote. So here goes!
Quick update on the Home Away from Home Year-End Giving!! We were able to go exceed our goal of $5,000!! After buying the children Christmas gifts, the remaining money will be used to fund the café as construction will hopefully begin soon!
In other big news...... we were able to surprise our families at home for Christmas! Unfortunately, the visit was initially prompted by a family member receiving sad news, but God was able to use this as a way that we could bless our families for the holidays. For this reason, we kept our visit on the down-low to be able to spend the most time with our families. I think the video below speaks for itself 😊.
So not only was God able to use us to bring joy to our families, but, because He always wants to bless us, He provided US with a fresh new perspective and attitude. Before coming home, Cullen and I had been feeling isolated, burned out and tired. Tired of the mental fatigue, tired of bickering with each other, tired of the emotional weight and tired of feeling alone. Coming back to Okemos/East Lansing was something that had kept us going forward for the whole month prior. Seeing our family was exactly what refreshed us. In some ways, not much had changed, but everything had changed. Our routine / family relationships felt like no time had passed. But on the other hand, SO much had been fit into those 5 months for us, that we felt like different people looking into the past with a clearer lens. In so many ways, the Lansing area IS home for us. But this time, we felt like a piece of us was missing while we were there. Not only did we miss our dog, but we missed our new life, our new friends and our new home. It was God's way of telling us that home is not necessarily a location, but a place where we felt like we belonged. It also clarified our purpose here in Hungary. And it clarified our purpose as individuals, as a married couple and as missionaries in intangible ways. We will get back to you when we figure those ways out 😉.
Some other exciting updates for you all!
We have been blessed with multiple people who have stepped up to help us with the coffee shop. We are currently in contact with a potential contractor/team who can hopefully help with the whole project and give us a definitive number of the cost of everything (including building an upstairs for our youth/programs!!!).
We also have Pastor Ron Walker from Family Life Church in Williamston visiting us with a team of 4 men in February. He is the pastor of Cullen's late grandparents Dick and Sue Menke, and he has expressed interest in partnering with us! Please pray for this to go well and for us to represent our ministry and village well.
In terms of Blooming Abroad, we believe in honesty and transparency. We have finished our End of Year report! Please see our document below for more information.
PTL (Praise the Lord)
Thank you for praying for our fundraising! We have made our fundraising goal for the entirety of 2022! However, we are far from being FULLY funded for the duration of 2023 and 2024! Please see our Support page (https://www.bloomingabroad.org/support) for further details on how you can support us. Thanks to all who have given their time and money for us to be able to make this possible!
Our youth group (HOPE Ifi) has continued to grow. Not only in numbers of children, but in our conversations and relationships with the students and our fellow leaders/friends.
What a wonderful blessing we have in our team members. We have continued to grow in our relationships/trust, and have been able to meet to share our visions, goals and thoughts for 2022!
Speaking of team members, we have a new one coming next month! An answer to prayer, as he is an experienced social worker, a strong Christian and will provide Miki with more time to be the school/church pastor and a husband/father.
Our purpose has been more clarified, and we have a new excitement and passion to push forward with the coffee shop after many setbacks and questions. Much progress has been made in Café planning and fundraising! (see above for more details)
We have been blessed by participating in 21 Days of Prayer/Fasting with Church of the Highlands and Element. This has also renewed our spiritual lives individually and our spiritual intimacy as a couple.
English classes in the village are going really well. Relationships and trust are being built and God is working personally and in our ministry team.
*this one will be a constant prayer request* Please continue to pray for Cullen and I: that we would continue to grow in the Lord and in our marriage together. It has been made very clear to us that our marriage is the foundation of this mission, as without it, the rest of it falls away.
Please pray for Pastor Ron's visit to Hungary (see above). That travel goes smoothly and that we are able to partner with him and Family Life Church in a meaningful way.
The IRS is behind in going over tax-exempt companies, and we still have not received our 501(c)3 tax exempt status as of yet. Don't worry! It will be back-dated to February of 2020, but please pray for this process to be sped up and clarity if there is anything further we can do.
Our friends Hajni and Geri are searching for a house in Tatárszentgyörgy. Please pray that we find a good, affordable home for them!
Please continue to pray for Hungarian language learning. DuoLingo and teaching has been helpful, but we need to be able to communicate more effectively.
Pray for Cullen's students in Tatárszentgyörgy. As we have described, many of them have extremely difficult home lives. Pray specifically for (Student 1) who is missing a lot of class and battling meth addiction. Pray for (Student 2) who lives in an abusive home and shared this recently with us. Pray for (Student 3), who's father is the biggest meth dealer in the village, yet she finds it within herself to come to class eager to learn, to come to youth group and bring friends... These are just a handful of students, there are so many more. Please be praying for these beautiful young people and for the incredible opportunities we have to make a difference in their lives.
Your prayers for safe travel for us and for Copper were (as stated above) answered! No hiccups or surprises or challenges met us on our way to our new home.
We were able to drive our new car home on Monday! A lovely Ford Fiesta with so few miles, a good price and in great condition. Praise the Lord that we now have more independence and freedom!
Our stay here in Hungary was approved! The immigration office recently approved our stay and work here until October 2023, we will then re-apply for our final year.
We were able to launch a new youth group in Tatárszentgyörgy! The kids are LOVING worshiping and we are starting by reading John together. The youth group is also continuing to grow!
We have both been able to settle more into our roles, and have felt a renewed sense of purpose here.
Our soccer schedule has changed to the afternoons, and is now allowing us more time together and more time with the team. PTL.
Our End-of-Year fundraising goal was exceeded!!! This gets us even closer to having all of the funds needed for the Coffee House project.