Hello friends and family,
It’s technically still autumn, but we are experiencing Jack Frost nipping at our noses a little earlier this year! The days grow short and the evening comes earlier these days, although this is quite normal since we are so north. We hope it is not too cold where you are, but if it is, we hope that you are enjoying it.
At the tail end of October we had the privilege of spending four days in the literal winter wonderland of the Vysoke Tatry, or High Tatras, of Slovakia as well as revisit charming Zakopane, Poland. While the cold and snow was overwhelming for Natalie, originally from Florida, it was hard not to be in awe of the beauty of the peaceful, snowy scenes straight from a Christmas card. Addie enjoyed it immensely, yet it took quite a lot out of her. We also had the fortune of again meeting with Ruth and Atti and their children, believers based in Miskolc, Hungary, close to Kosice.
Our Sunday morning attendance has grown, and we anticipate the average will be artificially higher in December with all the former Kosicians living abroad coming back home for the holidays to visit. Jordan has decided to pare down his one-to-one Bible studies to three individuals twice per week; the weekly evangelistic group study, however, now has up to 14 “outsiders” attending along with former members. Jordan continues to teach 50+ students at the local high school eight hours/week, and for him it has been exciting to introduce many of the students to biblical concepts for the first time in their lives.
Peter Halustok, an aforementioned brother in the church, led a very successful conference with 90+ attendees called “Finances God’s Way” last weekend. We’re hopeful that at least some of those in attendance will have more interest in studying scripture. Peter also continues to lead two personal Bible studies weekly with Gabi (Addie’s Hungarian uncle) and his cousin. It seems Peter's cousin is quite close to making a decision to be baptized.
Our dear friend whom we mentioned was baptized in July is hoping to return to Kosice next month. Please continue to keep him in your prayers as his life and the lives of his family have become more complicated since his decision to follow Christ. Yet he remains faithful and is eager to see us all again.
Addie continues to blossom and run around in circles, full of life and curiosity and a love of dancing, and striking up conversations we don’t fully comprehend yet.
Encouraging the Brethren in Poland
In the middle of November, Jordan spent 4 days traveling through Poland with Jaro Marcin of Eastern European Missions. They visited and encouraged congregations in Krakow, Warsaw, and the seaside towns of Gdansk and Sopot. EEM’s mission is to not only aid congregations with properly translated Bibles and biblical materials, but to help in any way possible to keep these churches strong. The elders of the Sopot church, which also has a Bible school inspired by Sunset Bible School, asked Jordan if he would be interested in returning to teach a course at the school for a few weeks; this is a distinct possibility as Jordan enjoyed his trip up north (way, way up north) very much.
While Jordan was away, Natalie stayed with a sweet friend who used to attend the church in Kosice but grew busy with life and a child of her own. Natalie first met her last year, when the preacher and an elder from our overseeing church came to visit. They knew her from previous visits several years prior and introduced the two. When she learned that Jordan would be away, she immediately invited (insisted even) Natalie and Addie to stay with her and her child. It was a wonderful time of fellowship in motherhood and for Addie to be with kids her age. Natalie hopes to stay good friends with her and encourage her to return to church.
December will be busy. We’re hosting a singing when Jaro arrives from Poland, expecting 50 or so to attend. We’ll be celebrating Christmas with the Halustoks, who have always embraced us as family, and plan a day trip to Budapest for the Christmas market. In Feburary, Jordan will be teaching three classes at the Advanced Bible Studies Series in Germany. In the springtime, we’re expecting visitors from the a supporting congregation in Texas for a few days. In the summer, some supporters from west Texas plan to stop by for a visit for a week or so.
We pray you have a wonderful Christmas season full of love and good tidings. God bless you and keep you.
For our recently baptized brother, for Natalie's friend, Gabi and Peter's cousin, for Addie, and for the Church.
All Moved In
Hello friends and family,
We are currently under the thumb of a toddler! Soon after moving in to our new home, Addie took off, taking steps and (unfortunately) climbing stairs as if she was born knowing how to do it. She (and our dog Bella) has no doubt been taking advantage of all the space the Lord has given to us to enjoy. We celebrated her first birthday about a month late; we decided to wait until Natalie’s parents arrived to host the special event. We are now all settled in our new place and getting to know the neighbors. We have already been using the house as part of our ministry and hope to do more with it soon - although Addie has already decided to help decorate it in her own special way!
How Time Flies!
Hello friends and family -
It's amazing how quickly time goes when you have a full time ministry plus a baby who is discovering new things every day! Our Adelaide continues to blossom and grow, and within two months has accomplished several courses in advanced babbling, plus taking several unassisted steps. She is becoming braver and braver as she continues to test her limits. Like most toddlers, she is a great supervisor but a little hard to understand sometimes - although she is able to say "bye bye," "hi, baby," and an abstract rendition of "thank you." She has proven herself to be quite the little missionary; it's amazing what an icebreaker she has become. We will be celebrating her first birthday very soon! It seriously seems like it was yesterday when she first entered the world, and it was never the same!
So far, Kvetka and Dixie are well. Kvetka must do daily exercises to strengthen her back and shoulders, and Dixie will eventually go in for more testing. We thank our God that they are enjoying better health now.
The Church here continues to meet faithfully every Sunday morning and Jordan continues to preach completely in Slovak (or switching between that and English if we have English speaking visitors). We have had four regular guests attend, including a precious sister who used to attend the Church long ago but had departed due to some disagreements and hurt feelings. Now she attends often, including the weekly Bible study, and it appears her heart is changing.
Back in Slovakia
Hello friends and family-
well, we’ve gotten resettled. Adelaide continues to grow. We recieved all required paperwork in time and flew to the Staes with minimal problems. Firstly, we’d like to thank from the bottom of our hearts each of you who received us so hospitably while we were on furlough. Thank you for supporting us. We were encouraged and refreshed beyond words to spend time with friends and family, even as God sustains us now by your prayers. To the few we didn’t get to be personally reunited with and introduce to our newest member of the Arnold family, we are no less grateful for your continued support and partnership with us in Slovakia.
A Tough Winter
Everyone around here agrees that this winter was the bitterest in years. We hate telling them we spent a good bit of it in Florida and Texas. The first snow of the year was just beginning to fall early in the morning on the first day of December when we left for the States. Addie only cried when we were taking off. It continued to snow here in Kosice while we were on furlough, accumulating a good half-meter. And having never gotten above freezing for a month and a half, the snow we left behind remained in banks waist-high by the time we returned at the end of January. By now only on the crests of the hills does any snow remain.
Partially on account of the winter’s harshness, for almost a month after we returned we found it challenging to reconnect with many of our contacts, friends and one-to-one English Bible students. Our Sunday morning assembly and Wednesday evening Bible study group continued uninterrupted, but there was definitely a perceptible loss of enthusiasm from when we’d left. We’re grateful that’s beginning to change. Winter, after all, is thawing and the season of sniffles and sore throats is waning. It’s simply a matter of time and trust in the Lord’s providence to build back up to the momentum we had.
Enjoying an autumn walk in Bankov, part of Kosice
Greetings from the Arnold Family in Slovakia!
Winter is upon us, nearly in full. We unpacked our sweaters and coats and are expecting the first snow in a few days. It’s been an extraordinarily busy but invigorating and productive two months for all three of us.
First, an update on Adelaide. Our baby is now ten weeks old! According to the doctors—and she’s seen a lot of them—the girl is growing like a weed and is as developed as a baby twice her age. This is of course good news. Even more so, as when Adelaide was first released from the hospital her doctor had diagnosed her as having mild hypotonia (muscle retardation). At the moment, Natalie and Adelaide are busy adoring one another on the sofa.
Last month we spent a day and a half traveling to Bratislava and back, about a five-hour one-way drive, to visit the American Embassy, whereupon the consulate certified Adelaide’s United States citizenship and issued us her passport. It was our first family road trip. She almost instantly falls asleep when the car starts moving.
Dear friends and family,
Adelaide (Adelka) Noy Arnold was born in Kosice, Slovakia on 19th August 2016, measuring in at 21.25 inches and 8 pounds 3 ounces. We could not be prouder, nor could we be more grateful for all of your prayers and encouragement. Nat spent 11 days in the hospital this month: first, a four day visit on account of preeclampsia before Adelka was born, then on her second visit, three days to allow labor to happen naturally and then four more to recuperate following delivery. Despite the frustration due to culture shock, hospital policy and procedures, and the language barrier, Nat and Addie received the best of care. Nevertheless, there was much rejoicing once they were cleared to leave and come home. Bella, our Westie, is very curious of the new, strange looking member of her pack and has designated herself as Addie's guard dog. We are very in love with our Adelaide and are eager to begin the next new chapter with her. There has been lots of learning and getting to know each other.
Dear friends and family,
What an exciting couple of months the Arnolds have had in Slovakia! For those of you in North Houston, we have been praying on account of last month's heavy flooding. We pray that God's glory be shown in your good works and cheer. As always, we're grateful for all of your prayers and are seeing many of them answered day by day. For starters, Natalie's pregnancy continues along healthily. Only good reports from her doctor. Only three months left now! We've picked out a name for her: Adelaide (Addie for short), or Adela in Slovak, and look forward to sharing more news about her with you. She continues to move, kick, breakdance, and remind her parents that she is present and growing bigger each day.
Jordan's congregational ministry and evangelistic outreach is having very positive gains. We've been praying weekly for the Lord to bring us into contact with people whose hearts are open to the Message. Among regular students are a dentist, an engineer and a young artist, all three of whom are named "Ivana." One of these students, when asked if she'd be interested in studying the Bible in English, said joyfully, "This has to be a gift from heaven!" Another student, Dana, a laboratory scientist, has taken very fondly to Natalie. We have an arrangement in which she teaches Natalie one-on-one Slovak for an hour-per-week and then she gets two-hours of English instruction. In a powerful answer to prayer, we have also been blessed to find a wonderful friend from the Middle East who is falling in love with the Lord. It's an amazing story but we unfortunately cannot share more information due to the sensitivity of the situation. Then there are Dany and Gaby, two "lost and lonesome souls" who are gravitating daily towards us and--even more importantly--other Christians in the assembly.
Dear friends and family,
The past six weeks have been exciting and fruitful for the Arnolds in Slovakia. We announced last month that we're expecting the stork's delivery of our first child in early August. Natalie's four visits to the doctor since then have given us only encouragement and ultrasound pictures of a healthy baby. Whether it's a boy or girl we will be certain near the end of the next month.
Some marvelous folks have asked us about how/where to send shower-type gifts to Natalie and baby from the States. Unfortunately, not only is international shipping exorbitant, but any package we receive in Slovakia originating outside of the European Union is opened, inspected and we are required to pay a 20-40% VAT tax on the contents. Also, trips to the post office for an international package, waiting in line and going to the tax office average between 45 minutes to an hour. We unfortunately must decline your generous intentions.
In other news, Jordan broke his foot (first metatarsal) playing squash at the end of January. The cast is off now, but he is still favoring his left trotter. But during the first couple of weeks when he was not very mobile, Jordy was able to conduct his classes with Bible students via Skype. He has since returned to swimming and eagerly awaits his first squash game after full recovery.
We now have an annual ritual! In mid February we flew to Frankfurt, Germany, rented a car and attended the Advanced Bible Study Series (ABSS) as last year. This year's keynote presenter for the week-long retreat was Jim Mcguiggan. Acting as Jim's sherpa was another dear friend, Ryan, of Midland, Texas. The retreat was rich in Gospel and sweet in fellowship with brothers and sisters from at across the Continent. Jim spoke of a gospel and "God worth talking about", the image of God in the human family - united although individual, and the sacredness of communion.
In addition to hearing from folks from Germany, Belgium, Scotland, England, Ireland, South Africa, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and Albania, we also had the privilege to hear from a delightful brother named Raj from India who was attending an exchange program in Germany. He made a great point that instead of spending resources to send Americans and Canadians to continue to minister to a well established church in India and neighboring countries, the focus should be on training Indian Christians going to those neighboring countries themselves.
The trip home, however, was an exercise in stress management. We missed boarding our return flight by five minutes, and as a result, we enjoyed an 18-hour overnight train trip with three changes back home. But, despite the stress, we were able to see the Lord's gentle hand guiding us each step of the way back. Plus, it was nice to see the Alps as well as the Tatras again.
We are absolutely in love with Slovakia, the people of Košice and the church with whom we are blessed to work. As disappointing, frustrating and slow that the evangelistic task is where we labor, the work is going extremely well, in as much as busyness is an indication.
In addition to preaching and working to strengthen and mature the assembly, Jordy is conducting several personal English Bible study classes each week. The truth is, we have more prospective students, people interested in studying the Bible both in Slovak and in English, than we can possibly manage. To tackle this, we're figuring out how we can partner Slovak students with instructors from congregations in the States with online video conferencing. In addition, we're partnering with the Let's Start Talking (LST) ministry with the hope of receiving short term mission teams from the States beginning in the Summer. We encourage you to prayerfully consider being a part of this life changing ministry or share it with others.
Coming up at the end of March is the annual Czech and Slovak Family Easter Retreat at a mountain lodge in the central highlands of Slovakia. The congregations of Bratislava, Košice, and Banská Bystrica/Martin will be attending. It will be good to be reunited with so many of our Christian friends in worship and learning from all over Slovakia and neighboring countries. The presenter will be Dr. Todd Patten, a family psychologist and Christian counsellor from Harding University. The theme is "Liberated Parenting." Among Christians here there's enormous interest in Biblical parenting skills. This is because they are all first-generation Christians, and many of whom are also young families.
In earlier newsletters we asked for your prayers for our brother Roman's father, Rasto as he battled cancer. Sadly, his battle ended earlier this year; yet his final breaths were lived humbly, courageously, and as a lover of the Lord. We ask for your prayers of comfort for Roman and his family. While he and his family continue to heal, they cling to the hope and truth that Christ has already conquered death. Also, please remember Branyo and Aimee, also in the Bratislava congregation, as they are expecting their first child in May. Andrej and Katka's son is thriving and has learned how to walk - keep them in your thoughts as they baby proof their home!
Thank you all for your support, prayers and kindness towards us. We wish you all a blessed beginning of spring.
Greetings to all our partners and friends,
May 2016 be a blessed year for each one of you.The past month has been an exciting one for us in Košice. First, the big news story. For any of you who hasn’t heard, the Arnold family is due to have a new member arrive this summer! Thank you for all of your past and continuing prayers. Baby’s E.T.A. falls in August, the same time we had intended to be on furlough. We’ll not want to travel so late into Natalie’s term nor soon after delivery with a newborn. The silver lining, however, is that maybe we can be in the States for the 2016 Holiday Season! The plan currently is to deliver here in Košice. Perhaps one of you philanthropists in the Lone Star State will send us a vial of dirt from your garden which we can place under the bed in the maternity ward, enabling the little one at least to be born on Texas soil.
This holiday season, we weren't able to take advantage of all of the social events due to Natalie's "adjusting" to the pregnancy. We missed out on an intimate Christmas Eve party held by Matuš and Viki, a sweet couple around our age, but we were able to attend a lively Christmas family gathering with Slavo and Kveta, Peter's parents. We have been whole-heartedly accepted into their family, which has been an invaluable source of encouragement and support to us, especially during this time. For New Year's, we decided to stay home, keep warm, and listen to the fireworks our neighbors set off to ring in the new year; like last year, it sounded like a war zone, but was oddly comforting.
The little church in Košice, 14 baptized believers and a slew of little children presently assembling, is plodding along to the glory of God. Since our arrival it’s fair to say the congregation’s passion for reaching lost souls with the saving message of Christ has been rekindled. Already we’re seeing visible evidence of this in terms of visitors and evangelistic studies. That’s not to gloss over the difficulties of this field, only to say that the Gospel still captures the imagination when preached in this uttermost part of the earth!
So, what’s involved in a typical weekday for Jordan in Kosice?
5:00 AM - Wake up for prayer and Bible reading
6-7:30 - Go to the gym, play squash game or swim laps, eat breakfast
9-11:00 - Go across city by bus for Bible studies with (currently 3 students) at English Bible Study Centre
12:00 PM - Eat lunch with Natalie at home or meet with church leaders (once/week) to pray and plan
1-3:00 - Prepare for Sunday sermon and classes or plan for Friday night program (Family Fridays)
3-5:00 - Slovak language class with Natalie
6-? Very typically we have a guest for dinner or go meet someone in the city
And what's the current schedule for Natalie?
8-9AM - Try to wake up
10AM-11PM - Try to eat, rest, send Jordan to pick up random foods
We’re looking forward to attending the Advanced Bible Study Series, an annual international lectureship/retreat for missionaries working in Europe, in Gemunden, Germany next month. It’s one of the high points of the year for us. Not only will we get to reunite with dear colleagues, this year’s key note presenter happens to be a good friend, so we’re especially excited.
Thank you all for everything, and thank God for you.