We wanted to start this letter out sharing with you some of the wonderful blessings that we have received this past month. Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to faithfully and patiently meet all of our needs according to his riches in glory and all for his glory.
Dear Family and Friends,
Dear Family and Friends,
The Lord has been reminding me that in this life and the next He alone is our “very great reward.”* As we come to the end of ourselves and are at a place of being unable to orchestrate life and even ministry according to our plans and strength, the Holy Spirit is teaching us to depend ever more fully on Him. And our eyes are opened to the reality that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. We see the truths that only as we remain in the vine can God continue to grow us and bear fruit in and through our lives.
Earlier this month our family had the privilege of hosting one of Eric’s student’s families for dinner. This seventh grader had really latched onto Eric, and continued to ask Eric when his family could get together with ours. This student informed Eric that his parents are both pastor’s within the Reformed Church in two small village churches. Through Eric’s communication with this student in broken Hungarian and English the two of them arranged an evening that our families could get together (this in itself being amazing).
On the day that we were to have them over (did I mention that they have six kids and that our apartment is small), I was feeling out of strength. I prayed to the Lord for His will to be done, submitting my tiredness and inabilities to host to him, relying only on His strength. What a blessing! As Abel’s family came into our home (with only three of the children it turned out) the Lord blessed our family in an amazing way. The Spirit of our Lord Jesus was present as the children played together, and as we as two couples shared our passion for Christ together, our testimonies of coming to faith, and how the Lord was working in our lives. For the first time since coming to Kalocsa we felt understood by a local family and blessed by being mutually encouraged. This is all through two broken languages, yet the Spirit of Christ was easily understood and shared between us.
As we met with this family for the first time we shared our desire for being in Kalocsa went beyond teaching English as a second language to desiring to share Christ with those around us. We shared that we had followed the call, and were now in a time of waiting on the Lord. “Lord we are here in Kalocsa, now what?” The Lord reminded us through the words of this couple that while this is a time of waiting for our family, it is a time of “active waiting” and not passive. We were reminded of how throughout scripture the lives of God’s servants have been filled with times of “active waiting” as the Lord has used times of waiting to teach, train, use and prepare his servants. Examples of Joseph, Moses, many prophets, John the Baptist, and even Jesus all had periods where God worked in their lives through periods of waiting on Him. It is during this time of waiting that God is reminding me that He, and He alone is my very great reward! He alone is worthy of my praise, my life, my all!
Since our first meeting our families have gotten together multiple times, and we have come away stronger in our passion for the Lord and for sharing Him and His freedom with those around us. Praise the Lord Jesus!
Thank you Lord, for being with each one of us wherever it is that you have placed us. Thank you for making each and every person in your image, in your love. Thank you that in the same way that you view each of us with so much joy that you also free each of us your children to enjoy you with the joy and peace and love that only flows from you and time in your presence! Amen.
*A term from David Platt’s book Radical.
I’m a Rambling Guy
This past month I have been all over the map of Hungary on Sunday mornings. I preached in Budapest to start the month, the following week we worshiped in a home with our friends in Gyor. This past week we were in Uszod (the little village where the family Heidi mentioned lives), in a Reformed church that was built a hundred years before the United States was even a country. The church has its original heating system, so it was cold. We sat bundled in the pew, and were blessed out of our wool socks. This week we will be back in Budapest to meet with the missionaries there and worship together. Next week, I have been asked to preach at a church in a little village where our friend is the pastor. While I am a bit tired of the travel, it has been a blessing to meet with God’s people in so many contexts and to be encouraged by the work of the Holy Spirit in fellow believers.
The Greatest Turkey Ever Sold
This past Thanksgiving, Heidi really wanted to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal. She had invited Muriel’s teacher’s family over to experience some traditional American Cuisine. After hours on the net to find homemade recipes for stuffing, cheesecake, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes, she was on her way to preparing the best Thanksgiving meal ever. The entire meal was made from scratch and made by her in our tiny little kitchen. Down to the french-fried onions to go on the green beans, everything was perfect and exquisite. She was using every possible container we owned to fit the parts of the feast in. From pots to old jam jars, everyone was getting involved. Because Thanksgiving is not Turkey day in Kalocsa, there are no whole turkeys to be found anywhere, so Heidi was thinking ahead and had visited the local husbolt (butcher) the week before and ordered a turkey for that day. The man behind the counter told her he thought it would be two to three kilos (5-8 pounds). She told him it could be a bit bigger, and made sure he knew we wanted the whole turkey. As she left she heard some snickering from the other customers, knowing that ordering a whole turkey seemed ridiculous to them. Thanksgiving Day came, and she was off to butcher to find out why people were snickering, and I went along on a whim. It was God’s providence that I went along; because Heidi didn’t bring a wheelbarrow to haul back the over 13 kilo (30 lbs) turkey we had just purchased. Luckily, she had married a hulk of a man twelve years ago, with a strong back that ached the rest of the day after I had lugged it home. Realizing that the bird was bigger than our stove, I had the butcher cut of the legs and wings, and then went to the kitchen store to buy a bigger pan. Heidi went to work, massaging it with olive oil and stuffing it with onions and spices, and we crammed it in the oven six hours before our guests were to arrive. When our friends arrived for dinner, we pulled the legless, wingless turkey, laying on its side out of the oven and it was perfect. Everything was delicious, especially the bird, and a good thing it was, because we have been eating turkey every day since.
Thank you for your prayers, we are so thankful for all our friends and family who hold us up in prayer.
The Barnes Family