“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give… More
In early August we sent Lydia and Elizabeth back to Chicago. Mike and Matthew returned 2 weeks earlier from their visit to Romania. For the first time in more than 25 years, we found ourselves alone. Empty nesters!? I cried on and off the next day as I realized that stage in my life, with my kids close around me had come to an end. But to my surprise I realized that the Lord has given Mike and me this special gift of time to rebuild and strengthen our marriage that has been worn down through our commitments to our kids, work and serving at church. We thank the Lord for his faithfulness in providing for all our needs, even those we don’t realize we have.
At midnight last night, my cell phone rang. Matthew had tried to call me, but he didn’t answer as I tried to call him back. Of course, I began to worry as I tried to contact both Lydia and Mike to no avail. About twenty minutes later, Mike texted me that the garage burnt down and that I should call Matthew. Though it seemed like an eternity, it was only one minute later I received the next text from Mike, “Matthew is ok dog ok truck ok house ok gate ok. Driving home.” Matthew was almost finished welding a piece to the floor inside his 1986 Honda Civic CRX when he heard a fire underneath the car. Fortunately he got out of the garage, but unfortunately, the car he had been restoring for the past 2 years is gone along with the garage and all the other things inside it. We are thankful that Matthew is unharmed, but sad that his car, the garage and all that was in it is gone. It was one week ago Mike shared his favorite verse with our kids from Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” Little did we know that one week later the Lord would test our faith in His promise. Pray for the Lord’s hand in the cleanup and rebuilding process.
It has been almost four months since my mom and I arrived in Romania, and almost five for my dad. We have been learning how to communicate with people with the little Romanian we know, how to cook with different ingredients and cooking appliances, and basically, how to act like Romanians. Here are some of the more recent highlights since we moved:
My dad ran his first half marathon in Europe!
In Romania, many sidewalks extend to the curb and are used as parking spaces for cars. When we went to the mall in Timisoara and couldn’t find a parking spot, my dad parked halfway onto the sidewalk… like a good Romanian!
Even if the sidewalk doesn’t extend to the curb, there is still a possibly that someone will park a car on it… This is the view of our sidewalk from our apartment window.
My siblings, Lydia, Mike, and Matthew, arrived in Romania two weeks ago! Our plan was to spend the day in Budapest after they flew in at 10 am. After a long and tiring turn of events, they arrived almost 12 hours late. We spent a few hours exploring Budapest (and waiting at KFC, checking the web for the status of their plane) before they arrived. Thank God all of our luggage was found and delivered!
We visited Brasov, Romania, this past weekend. Our family was joined by two Romanians: Dani, Lydia’s boyfriend, and Michael, Mike and Matthew’s friend from North Park University.
We stayed in two apartments down a small corridor… the parking lot was also very small!
During our visit to Brasov, we drove an hour away to Peles Castle.
We also visited Bran Castle and the city of Sighisoara.
We discovered that in Sighisoara, there is a point at which no trumpets are allowed… and you’re encouraged to throw them out in the the garbage conveniently placed by the sign!
Just kidding! But you really can misunderstand street signs; this is actually telling people to not honk their car horns. On Sunday, we attended the Harvest church in Brasov, and afterwards Matthew gave their piano player Beni a short lesson in playing gospel.
Even after living in Romania the past few months, we are still settling in. We just bought a pan to make pancakes on!
Something that might surprise you: water fountains in the park by our apartment don’t have buttons to turn them on – they just stay on!
This week, I attended my last flute and language lessons before I return to Chicago in August. Mike and Matthew will leave for Chicago this Sunday, and Lydia and I follow two weeks later. During those two weeks, my parents, Lydia, and I will go to the Harvest youth camp, and then my parents and I will go to the Harvest children’s camp. Once I return to Chicago, I will not have quite two weeks to settle in before moving into the dorms of Olivet Nazarene University. Yup, I’m starting college. Please keep my family and me in your prayers as we travel and experience more transitions.
The past three months have flown by. I missed posting some great photos. Here they are!
Enjoying a free day after Harvest U Europe with Harvest Palos friends Mike Ryan and Brad Whitla, on the rooftop of the local Christian radio station Joy FM.
Back in the training center with the 2017 Spring class, #7from7inthespring! What a great group! I love serving alongside them as well as with the HBF Europe Director, Ionica Martonfi.
On the weeks that the #7from7inthespring were not in session we hosted an open house event called Open Doors. On this weekend over 80 Hungarian pastors and church leaders came to experience and find out what it means to be a Vertical Church. Through these events, God has blessed us with many great men who have a desire for church planting.
Rob and Becky Willey came to teach in the training center. We are thankful to Harvest Davenport who graciously lent them to us for the week. I also had the chance to travel with them to Targu Mures.
Pastors Rob Willey and Doru Hriscu (Harvest Targu Mures) are two peas in a pod – see how they mirror one another! The weekend that we visited Harvest Targu Mures was their second week in a new location. It is a beautiful space converted from an old warehouse. Here are a few pictures of their new worship space and their worship leader, Marius and his family.
When I visited Romania two years ago, Marius and his wife hosted Pastor Ryan (Harvest Palos) and myself in their home for a launch team training meeting. They had just found out they were pregnant. Their daughter was born on Launch Sunday! It was great to connect with them again.
The day finally came when Terry and Elizabeth were able to join me here in Romania. Lydia was able to come for a short visit too. I am thankful for the blessing of my wife and children!
Yes, this is a selfie of me and Training Center Pastor Gilbert Ade. He is now the Pastor of Harvest Douala in Cameroon. About two months ago he and I went to the mall so that he could wire some money home to his wife. On our way back to the training center my car started making this horrible noise. I parked it and we got out. The nearby Gypsy teenagers, like bees on honey swarmed around Pastor Gilbert and started making derogatory remarks and touching him. Then one started to pull his hair! We quickly made our way across the street where I was able to get a taxi for Gilbert. Afterward I called for help about the dead car. The mechanic who sold me the car picked me up right away. The people of Harvest Arad have been very gracious to lend me their vehicles. During this time I’ve driven 6 different cars and am currently driving the silver Peugeot pictured above. I’m not sure I should be driving a car that I don’t know how to pronounce. The head gasket and the engine blew on the blue VW van. The engine on the VW has been rebuilt but I’m not convinced of its reliability. Please pray for wisdom and God’s provision for a reliable car.
Many thanks to Harvest Fort Wayne and Harvest West Olive for giving us Pastors Jamie Hart and Ken Gentzler, along with Grant Hart for the week. I really enjoyed their teaching but the most memorable moment was our journey from Budapest to Arad; we were driving a borrowed car through the worst hail storm any of us had ever encountered!
The joyous but sad day came; the #7from7inthespring graduated from the training center. What a great group of pastors! They are going to be sorely missed, but I am so excited about the churches God is planting and building through them. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” in Matthew 16:18b. Harvest Palos friends, take special note of Pastor Alex who is standing with me in the blue striped shirt. I am so excited that he is going to meet all of you when he brings his family to Palos for his internship.
Three weeks ago we had an Open Doors event with pastors and leaders from Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and the Ukraine! Three of the church planters from the #7from7 training center class were able to bring members of their teams. The following week I had the opportunity to visit the Harvest in Brasov, Romania. I met with Pastor Cristi Cherechean and the leaders of his church for ministry evaluations. It was great to visit with old friends and to make some new ones.
God is good! In these past few months he has taken me and my family on a wonderful adventure. It has not been without hardships or tears, but it has been one filled with the joy of the Lord and with a first hand experience of his faithfulness.
My family is here! The feature photo is the arrival of my three oldest after a 12 hour delay and the loss of all four pieces of luggage. Please pray that “the lost would be found”. But God has given us the greatest gifts ever, himself and one another!
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Father’s Day? My first thought is of my father and how much I miss him. Even though it has been more than 13 years since he went to meet Jesus, I remember his smile and his smell. My father was a mechanic, and most days you could find him up to his elbows in dirty motor oil. Even after he showered each day, behind the fresh sent of soap was the faint hint of motor oil. Some days my sons Michael and Matthew work on their cars and they come in smelling like their grandpa. I love that smell!
What I remember most about my dad is that every night I would see him and my mom on their knees at the foot of their bed praying for me and my five sisters. Every Sunday I would find him faithfully serving at church.
My earthly father was the one who taught me to love my Heavenly Father. Through his example I learned to love God and to love others. In 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, Paul expresses his concern for those to whom he had become a spiritual father and encourages them to imitate him as he seeks to imitate Christ:
“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
Regardless if you are a spiritual father or a natural father, we are all called to live a life that points vertically to Christ and to our Heavenly Father. What do you remember most about your father? How can that point you to your Heavenly Father? How does that challenge you to be an example of Christ to others?
Today I celebrated my first Mother’s Day in Romania. I am thankful for my family who took me out for a special lunch. I am also thankful for my mother who daily sacrificed for me and my siblings and modeled the importance of God by faithfully taking us to church every Sunday. Remembering to thank our mothers for all they have done should not be limited to one day a year. Just as the Lord wants us daily to thank Him for who He is and all He has done, we should be thankful for our mother’s each day. A mother’s job never ends. Even when children become adults, mothers continue to be a listening ear and counselor, not to mention babysitters for grandchildren. How do mothers continue to find the energy to keep going? Galatians 6:9 tells us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Our mothers looked forward to the future and celebrating our accomplishments. Many of our successes in this life were made possible because of our mothers’ tireless support, love and encouragement throughout the years. This Mother’s Day, let us celebrate the mothers the Lord has given us. Let us remember throughout the year to thank our mothers for all their hard work, their endless love and support, and for never giving up.
The month of May also signals the end of the school year and the beginning of graduation celebrations. The Training Center in Arad, Romania will also be celebrating the graduation of seven men who will complete their training. These men come from very diverse backgrounds, but each has a passion to use their gifts to help build the church. Alexander Tarasov, from the Ukraine, became a Christian at the age of 16 through the Jesus film. He began discipling students through small groups, a ministry which has continued to multiply. For the past 15 years he has been serving as a pastor at a large church in Kyiv, the capitol of Ukraine. He plans to plant a Harvest church in Kyiv. Beniamin Podut and his wife Monica moved to Germany from Romania and have planted three Romanian speaking churches there. In order to care for these churches, Beniamin travels more than 1500 kilometers each week. He is praying for God to supply additional pastors to help with this exhausting task. Kostas Lazaridis, from Greece, was a teenage atheist who became a Christian as a young adult. He is an electrical engineer by trade, but became pastor of a reformed church in Greece. Nebojsa Dolic became a Christian while he was in the military. He is currently a pastor in Belgrade, Serbia, and wants to transition his church to a Harvest where the focus is vertical and everyone is encouraged to serve.
Marin Sestak was the bass player in a famous Croatian pop rock band. He became a Christian and left the band to pursue the Lord’s call on his life. He is an evangelist who has been reaching out to the youth in Croatia and would like to plant a Harvest church there. Razvan Mihalcea is passionate about ministry, has been a pastor of different churches in Romania for 15 years, and would like to plant a Harvest church. Gilbert is from Cameroon, planning to become the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Douala, Cameroon. Join us in celebrating and praying for these men as they graduate and continue the work the Lord has called them to do.
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of his hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128:1-2
Happy Mother’s Day and Congratulations to all those graduating!
We have learned so much in the few short weeks we have lived in Romania. But we also have so much more to learn. The Lord has answered so many prayers. We are thankful for our furnished apartment, yet it comes with many challenges. We noticed that the dial on the oven is numbered 1-10 instead of having degrees from 0-500. When we asked Lily how to use it, she responded that she would put it at about seven so we just need to play around with it a little. After burning the first three meals, the fourth took forever to cook since it was set too low. But . . . the Lord has provided an oven thermometer from a family who will be moving back to the states. We thank the Lord for hearing our unspoken needs.
Our washing machine is from Germany so all the cycles and dials are in German. Sprichst du Deutsch? Thank the Lord for Google translate to help us figure out how to wash clothes. There are no dryers in Romania. Laundry can be seen hanging out from balconies of apartment buildings, but we haven’t been adventurous enough to attempt hanging laundry from the balcony. We are thankful to the Lord for providing yet another need – an indoor clothes rack.
We are beginning to recognize numbers and words in Romanian as people talk to us, but evidently not enough. Stores in Romania make announcements every 5 minutes so it is easy to tune them out especially when we don’t recognize most of what is said. The other night we were so absorbed in shopping we didn’t notice that we were the last customers in the store until the cashier came up to us scolding us in Romanian. Though we didn’t understand a word she said, we realized the store had closed almost 10 minutes ago. Quickly we headed to check out paying for our purchases, a little embarrassed but laughing to ourselves. Indeed, we have so much to learn.
As we all spend our days learning life’s lessons, our prayer is that everyone would grow in understanding of what the Lord accomplished for us as He suffered, died on the cross for our sins and rose in victorious splendor on Easter. May we experience the amazing love, mercy and grace of our Lord in a way like never before this special week.
May you be encouraged by Psalm 103:8-17:
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like the flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
Happy Easter from the Kijowski family!
You are invited to Mike’s senior recital at North Park University in Chicago on Tuesday, April 25th. He will be playing and singing a very diverse collection of worship songs classical works and a few other genres. It will feature works from Brahms to Brenton Brown and Villa Lobos to Vertical Church Band. It will be in Anderson Chapel located at 5159 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago IL 60625.
On January 18th we left our beautiful old mini-mansion on 2301 S Lawndale in Chicago and moved a few miles north to a small bungalow at 4637 W Deming Place also in Chicago. What a big change that was! We came from a house next to a crowded park full of chattering kids in a boisterous neighborhood near the tracks with trains screeching and cars turning the corner blasting loud music . . . to a bungalow on a small, quiet street that dead ends at some old train tracks not in use anymore. Our new three bedroom/two bath house was full to the brim with all six of us, our dog Teddy, and most of what fit in our big house. We added a cement pad where two cars can be parked next to our new one car garage (our boys are very happy to work on cars inside rather than in the snow, rain and mud) and a gate so Teddy could play in the yard without running away. The first snow in March turned our new house into a winter wonderland.
It took about two months, but we are finally just about unpacked. This is our new home… at least, it was our new home until…
First, Mike moved to Arad, Romania on February 15th. Then, Elizabeth and I joined him on March 15th. Once again we downsized, but this time to a two bedroom/two bathroom furnished apartment on the sixth floor of a 7-story building. Romanians love bright colors as you can see from our yellow kitchen and orange living room.
We bought Elizabeth a used bike so we can run and bike on a nearby trail that leads to downtown Arad. Once again we live near tracks where we hear the clickety-clack of trains and trams going by. Mike was given a few days off to help Elizabeth and I settle in, and is now back to work in the Training Center where seven men from the Ukraine, Germany, Serbia, Croatia, Cameroon, Greece and Romania will return to their homelands to plant Harvest churches in a few months.
Now that jet lag is just about over it’s time for Elizabeth to return to homeschooling, and to learn Romanian. It is very dangerous to only speak a few words in Romanian at the checkout counter . . . someone may think we can speak the language and quickly rattle off a few questions and comments when we haven’t the slightest idea what they are asking or saying. We quickly respond that we don’t speak Romanian . . . but one day, if the Lord has mercy on us, we will not only speak but also understand Romanian including whatever they are telling us.
Spring has already arrived here as the trees are budding, and garden plants and flowers are for sale in the stores. The Romanian people have welcomed us so graciously and are always willing to lend a hand or help out. We are very thankful to Alpar and Lily for renting us their apartment. It is truly a privilege to be here in such a beautiful place among such kind and generous people.
How is Lydia, you all probably want to know? She had radioactive iodine treatment to ablate the nodule on her thyroid on March third. She is doing quite well with no side effects. In three months she will return for a check up to the endocrinologist after she spends her spring break in April visiting with us and Dani, a friend she met at camp last summer. Pray for her continued health and guidance for the future.
Elizabeth has been accepted into five of the six colleges to which she applied. She is waiting to hear about scholarships and grants. Please keep her in prayer for where to go to school. Our goal is for her as well as all our kids to graduate debt-free. Pray for the Lord to provide the money for college.
Our boys, Mike and Matthew, will graduate from North Park University in December at the end of the fall semester. You are all invited to Mike’s senior recital at North Park on April 25th at 7:30pm. It promises to be the most diverse musical concert you will ever attend. Don’t worry about us! We won’t miss it… we will be watching it at 3am Romanian time as it is live-streamed to us. Mike is in the process of starting his own business called M K Fine Instruments. Matthew has the perfect part-time job playing piano for a church choir. He will have a senior recital in December 2017, to which you are also invited. Pray for strength to finish college and guidance for where to work when they are done.
Finally, continue to pray for us to have wisdom, strength and guidance as we transition to help train new pastors, encourage new Harvest churches in Europe and learn how to support and encourage the Romanian people.
So other than the language, which is huge, what are a few things that I have had to adjust to in Romania?
Scents: Romanians seem to love everything scented.ö The first night I slept at the training center I think I woke up three times because my pillow smelled so “fresh.” Not that smelling “fresh” is bad; I just didn’t expect it. The following day I went to blow my nose and there it was in my tissue, that “fresh” scent. It’s even in the toilet paper. Everything smells very fresh and clean. Not that America doesn’t smell clean, but no where in the world does it smell as “fresh” as Romania.
The light to the bathroom is always outside the bathroom door: Now this may seem logical to Europeans. You turn on the light and go into the room, and when you finish, you leave the room and turn off the light. Obviously they have never been around Americans who can’t wait to turn off the light while you are in the bathroom.
love like sausages. First of all, Romanians reserve the word love only for their pets and other humans. When they like something, they mean they really like it. And they LIKE sausages. At breakfast they will put out a plate with 5-6 different kinds of sausages garnished with bell peppers and cucumber slices. The photo below is the sausage aisle at the large supermarket near Harvest Arad. Notice that the whole aisle on both sides has every kind of sausage you can imagine. I’m grateful now for my Polish upbringing that taught me to acquire a taste for sausage.
I have a car! But it’s been dark and rainy here every day so I don’t have any pictures. There are a few things you need to know before you drive in Romania. Like a white dashed line does not mean two lanes on a one way street; it separates two way traffic! Don’t worry, I was driving so slow that I never ventured into the other lane.
The car is a used VW minivan from Germany, and the church member who sold it to me gave me a discount. The Romanians have all been very kind and generous to me. I went to see an apartment this week, and Lord willing, I will move in this Friday. This too is a gift from God; the landlord is a member of the church and also offered the rent at a discount. I am thankful for the generosity that God has shown me through the Romanian people.
We are preparing for the church planters to arrive here at the training center this weekend! Currently we have 6 pastors coming from 6 different countries and a 7th is still in the working. A pastor from Cameroon hopes to join us if he is able to obtain a visa. Please pray that God will open the door for him to join us. I’ll give you details of the church planters in my next post.
Thank you for praying for my daughter Lydia. The nodule on her thyroid was benign. She has a follow up visit with the doctor in a week. Please pray for healing and wisdom concerning treatment.
Terry and Elizabeth will be joining me in 3 weeks. Please pray for them as they prepare to relocate.
Missing my wife and family but falling in love with the people of Romania,
We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Kijowski’s. After going to dinner and a movie two days after Christmas, we came home to a broken window, four missing computers and three missing guitars. Computers can be replaced, but unfortunately Mike jr’s two hand-made guitars that he uses for worship are irreplaceable. Pray with us for a miraculous return of the guitars and for those who took them to turn from evil and to know the Lord.
The house is a wreck as we go through 25+ years of stuff we have accumulated throughout our time living on Lawndale Avenue in the Chicago neighborhood of La Villita. There seems to be no end to the boxes and bags we have stored in every corner and closet. We wonder how we are ever going to get our house ready for the new owners and move to a place that is one third of the size of where we are now? Elizabeth advised that perhaps we shouldn’t live in any house more than three years so packing won’t be a seemingly endless project.
The living room was full of laughter as we looked through beautiful artwork from years gone by when our adult kids were young. It brought back many memories of old friends and school projects.
So when are we moving? Well, we passed the termite inspection and handed in all of the necessary paperwork, but we are still waiting for the bank to set a final closing date. Please pray this would happen soon since Mike is hoping to move to Romania in early February.
We want to thank all of you who have prayed and given so generously to our support. We have raised $45,000 of the $68,000 needed for Romania.
Please partner with us as we seek to strengthen and plant churches in Europe by clicking on our support page.
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