Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Prayer Letter

One of the oft repeated phrases in our house is “You don’t need more stuff, you need more contentment.”  Joshua and I pull it out after toy commercials or walking past toy store windows or pretty much any contact with toys that do not belong to our children.  Some day the girls will surprise us and use it on us when we’re walking past an Apple Store.  In this season bookended by Thanksgiving and Christmas we have a welcome reminder to stop and contemplate what we have been given. 
home/hōm/  (noun) The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.
We have called so many places home in the last year due to our travels in the US.  We were overwhelmed by the hospitality offered us.  But at the end of our trip we looked forward into walking into our own front door and sleeping in our own beds. 
On the short walk between the bus stop and church there is an abandoned market square, with crumbling cement stalls losing the battle with the weeds.  As we walked into the cold wind this Sunday I watched some children duck out of one of the stalls, run to another and knock on the scrap wood covering the doorway.  There are families living in those buildings, without insulation, heat, or plumbing.  I am thankful for an apartment with a door that locks and windows the wind can’t penetrate, radiators giving off heat, pipes running with water.  We are richly blessed, and deeply responsible.  When I pointed the makeshift homes out to Noemi she instantly tried to think of ways to help.
We are thankful Jesus left the unimaginable luxury of His home in heaven and came to earth where he had “no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) We are looking forward to our forever home in heaven with him, and praying that the families living in the market stalls today will join us there, living in the joy of God’s presence.

hope/hōp/ (noun) 1archaic : trust, reliance
2a : desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; also : expectation of fulfillment or success
b : someone or something on which hopes are centered

The train’s headlights were shining on the walls of the tunnel as it headed around the corner to pull into the station.  A woman slid off the platform, onto the tracks and walked into the tunnel.  The people nearby instantly reacted with frantic shouts, arms waving.  Somehow the train stopped in time and she was rescued, for the moment.  Joshua and Noemi witnessed this episode from farther down the platform.  A few days earlier one of Joshua’s students was late to class in the morning because of a similar event on her train.  We imagine the financial climate here has something to do with these incidents, but there could be any number of explanations.  When it comes down to it, the despair of life without Christ must be overwhelming. 
We are thankful for the hope He gives us. Jesus not only gives us hope, He IS our hope.  Merry Christmas from the Dunckel Family!  Thank you for partnering with us in sharing this hope!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Only in Romania...

... would a great-grandmother stop my children on the sidewalk on the way to school, reach into her bag with a shaking hand to give them each a candy, give them a kiss on the tops of their heads, and I call it an average, everyday walk to school. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


So today I was waiting for the bus with Isobel when a woman asked me for directions.  And as happens so frequently here we started chatting.  When I told her that we are in Romania as missionaries with the Baptist church she gave me her insider's perspective on Romanian Orthodoxy. " Romanians are very, very Orthodox.  We are deeply religious, going to church almost daily," she told me. "That is why God has allowed us to be so poor, because we have faith and we have hope."

October Prayer Letter

We have been back in Romania for almost two weeks as we write this letter (a month before you read this).   School has started for Noemi (1st grade) and Joshua (teaching US Government).   Stepping off the airplane in Bucharest was rather like diving into a pool on a summer day.  We were instantly immersed in Romanian language, and unlike our arrival two and a half years earlier, we had the tools to manage.  We were so thankful for our language skills as we dealt with lost luggage (now found), kitchen repairs, and reconnecting with our neighbors.  That said, the more we learn, the more we realize we have to learn.  

Before our visit to the US Joshua had made remarkable progress in learning Romanian yet fell short of our team’s language requirements.  Joshua also felt that something wasn’t clicking in the language process for him.  The lessons, homework and practice didn’t produce the progress he wanted.  Kara began researching learning disabilities and by God’s grace we found helpful information.

One of our goals for our time in the US this year was to have Joshua evaluated for a condition called Auditory Processing Disorder.  It is a learning disability that affects the brain’s ability to decode sounds.  So, in a crowded room at a party, a person with APD struggles to pick out the sounds of the person next to them even though they are speaking loudly enough to be heard over the din.  Or in a normal conversation using everyday language a person with APD will be decoding the conversation two words slower than it is progressing, and miss the end of the sentence.  Some people with APD hear random words in a sentence as nonsense words or mumbles.   Approximately 20% of adults have APD and males are two times more likely to be affected.  

When the evaluation confirmed that, yes, Joshua did have Auditory Processing Disorder we began looking at solutions.  It is not “curable” but we found tutoring with proven results in improving processing.  This tutoring was expensive, but once again we saw God’s goodness, this time through His people.  Our church in Minnesota covered the entire cost of evaluation and training.  We returned to Romania equipped with our two years of language lessons as well as processing tools for APD.  We are looking forward to seeing what God will do this term.  

  • Please pray for Joshua as he strives to meet an ambitious language goal by December. 
  • Pray also for his continued efforts to encourage young Christians to fulfill their role in the Great Commission.  We are certain God has brought us here to do His work and are privileged to be a part of it here in Romania.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September Prayer Letter

As we write this … We are packing up and beginning the process of saying our goodbyes in the US for another two years. The next few weeks will be like a 1600 mile farewell tour as we drive to visit families and churches one last time.  As we near the end of our first home assignment we are excited to get back to Bucharest and all that is waiting for us there.  Our time in the US was refreshing, encouraging and humbling as we saw the kindness so many of you offered us on our visit. As our hearts overflow with thankfulness to God for providing all our needs, we want to thank you as well, and let you know you have been a blessing.  We were richly blessed by so many people who offered us housing on our travels, enjoying their company even more than the comfort of their homes.  Those who offered vehicles were invaluable, filling an unavoidable and seemingly insurmountable need.
Thank you to our churches for welcoming us home after two years away.  We walked in your doors and felt instantly at home.  Meeting so many people who actually read our prayer letters and pray for us humbled us, and infused us with a fresh sense of the responsibility we’ve been given. 
We are thankful for the small groups and prayer groups that took the time to learn about our ministry.  Especially precious to us is our small group in Minnesota who let us crash their meetings even though they knew we were only around for a short while.  Being enveloped in Christian community made us even more at home than being surrounded by Target, Starbucks, Taco Bell and English speakers.
As you read this… Several weeks will have passed.  We will be settling into our routine in Bucharest.  Joshua will be spending time in language study, involved in our team’s ministries, mentoring missions-minded youth and teaching Government/Economics at the MK high school.  Kara will be juggling homeschooling with school runs for Noemi’s part-time attendance at the MK school.  Isobel will be working on pre-school at home with mom and learning Romanian as fast as she can. 
Thank you for your prayers!
The Dunckels