Let’s Celebrate!

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!

Terry Kijowski

Experiencing Love, Mercy and Grace

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.

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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!

Mike and his instrumentsYou 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.

Transitions, Transitions, Transitions!

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…

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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.

-Terry

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Life in Romania!

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.

Sausages:  Romanians 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.

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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,

Mike

 

Saying Good-bye to This Old House

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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Awesome God!

Have you ever felt desperate? Have you cried out to God and wondered if he is listening? The week before I started at the training center I checked the amount of support that I had raised and it was only a few hundred dollars. The problem was that I needed to raise $5,000 by the end of that same week and needed to raise an additional $5,000 within the next two months. Let me be honest with you, my default feeling was not faith but fear. What would happen if I weren’t able to raise the funds, would they allow me to attend the training center? My fears kept me focused on my circumstances and took my eyes off of the vision God has for my life.
God placed me in that situation to drive me to him, to realize that he alone is the one who sustains me. That week I was reading in Deuteronomy and came to chapter 8 verse 3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” I realized that God was humbling me. In the past I was the person with the means to give, but now I was the one who was dependent on others. On my last day of work I felt the full pressure of knowing that I would no longer have an income but be dependent on what God would provide through the generosity of others. I would love to say I was filled with great faith knowing that it is God alone who sustains me, but instead I was filled with fear.
That evening as I sat down to dinner my wife handed me a large envelope and said, “It’s from a lawyer.” “Great” I thought, “the worst day of my life and someone wants to sue me besides.” But it was the notification of an inheritance, and I thought to myself, “Really God, you let me be anxious all day about money, and you already had this envelope at home waiting for me. Please forgive me for forgetting that you can use any situation to care for me and to grow my faith.” During my first week at the training center I watched my account go from a meager few hundred dollars to the full $10,000 needed to complete the training! God provided beyond my expectations.
God humbled me and made me hungry, so that I would fully understand what it means to live by every word that comes from His mouth. God spoke at the beginning of time and brought the world into existence, and He is the same God who speaks to us today. I am thankful for the way that He provided for me and my family through the generosity of others.
Please continue to pray for me and my family. Pray for Lydia, Mike and Matthew, that God would keep them safe and watch over them while Terry, Elizabeth and I live in Elgin. Pray that we would be able to close on the sale of our home and find a safe place in Chicago for Lydia, Mike and Matthew to live.
When the inheritance money comes in it should cover the cost of relocating Terry, Elizabeth and I to Romania. Pray that God would provide for our day-to-day expenses there. That cost is estimated at $3,665 a month for two years for a total of $87,960. Boldly pray that God would provide as we step out in faith to strengthen and plant churches in Romania and throughout eastern Europe. Pray for me that the training center would prepare me in every way to assist national pastors as they grow and make disciples of Christ.

Elgin Training Center

 

We officially moved into Elgin! Last night – more acurately, early this morning – we moved the last of our belongings into our little apartment. We will spend the next four months here as my dad (Mike) attends the Harvest Training Center.

We have been very busy fixing and painting our house so we can sell it. As amateur painters, this is hard work! Our neighbor Raul Valdovinos helped us paint and work on the yard for over a week.  He was an answer to prayer and a relief to those of us who were tired from painting.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in prayer and financially! On Thursday, when my dad checked how much support was raised, we were quite short of the $5,000 we needed by today. But by a miracle of God, we not only have enough to cover the $5,000 but are close to having the $10,000 needed to cover our fundraising goal for the training center! Now we can concentrate on fundraising for our relocation and monthly support to fulfill the mission of strengthening and planting churches in Romania.

-Elizabeth Kijowski

P.S. My three older siblings, Lydia, Mike and Matthew, did not move to Elgin with us. Because they have jobs and college to go to, they will stay in Chicago, even when we move to Romania (but hopefully they will come and visit in Romania).

Sunday to Tuesday

On Sunday after saying good bye to our new friends from Arad, we traveled to Budapest, Hungary, where we spent a day before returning home to Chicago.  Budapest is actually two cities separated by the Danube River: Buda on the west bank and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the east bank, which united to become one city in 1873.  The narrow cobblestone streets are surrounded by buildings of intricate Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Byzantine architecture.  With a population of over 1.7 million, the streets are filled with people of many nationalities speaking different languages as it is an industrial hub and popular vacation destination for people around the world.  It also has a large Jewish population.  Some of the highlights of the sights we enjoyed were Matthias Church,  Buda Castle, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastion, Gresham Palace and the ruins of the old Jewish synagogue.  In one day we could only scratch the surface of what there was to see in Budapest.   We hope to return some day to experience more of the great beauty of this city.

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Early Tuesday afternoon, we boarded a plane headed for Munich, Germany, and then flew home to Chicago by Tuesday evening Chicago time.  Once again a piece of luggage was left behind and delivered two days later, but at least it was the suitcase with all the dirty clothes.  We have fond memories of our whirlwind trip to Romania.  Thank you for all your prayers and support.  We look forward to returning hopefully in January of 2017.

-Mike, Terry and Elizabeth

Friday and Saturday

 

On Friday afternoon we visited a monastery up in the hills which was quite beautiful and peaceful, rich in religious traditions of the past.  As we walked through the wooded hills surrounded by beautiful wild flowers, we first visited the new monastery which was also home to a number of animals including chickens, peacocks and doves.  From there we drove past the stations of the cross to the old chapel where we drank from a natural spring running down the mountainside.

In the evening Mike and Terry visited Marcel and Nelly’s small group where we ate a traditional Romanian meal of sarmale cooked by Nelly.  Then we had quite an engaging discussion about what it meant for a wife to submit to her husband among the 13 new believers in the group.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth enjoyed attending the youth group where more than 40 young people ages 13-25 worshiped, enjoyed fellowship and a message from Pastor Raul, and broke into small groups for discussion.

On Saturday morning we successfully took an adventurous journey on the tram downtown to the mall to return an item we bought for Elizabeth before her luggage arrived.  In the afternoon we enjoyed an outdoor barbecue with Yonica and Christina’s family at the home of Simona and Adi, who is an elder in the church.   Simona told us that now we could be considered true Romanians since we drank water without ice and traveled by ourselves on the tram.

In the evening Mike and Terry ventured out again on the tram to the house of Scott and Carolyn Pouncey who have a ministry to young, orphaned or abused women.  Elizabeth took the evening off and rested at the Bed and Breakfast.  As we dropped off to sleep that night after packing our things, we thanked the Lord for the wonderful time we had meeting the people of Harvest Arad who so willingly shared their lives with us.  The next day after church we began our trip home.

-Terry and Elizabeth