Taking Steps

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This last week has included some further discussions about our upcoming trip to Poland and some action steps towards preparing for the journey.   It also brings some specific things that we’d like to ask you to be praying about.

First, we exchanged some e-mails with David Hatfield about the possible dates and our concerns about some of the travel details – specifically navigating Warsaw and getting to Ostróda with the children!  From these communications, we’d like to ask you to pray that God will give us direction about how he wants to use us for His plan while we are there.  There are some opportunities to serve that would require a longer stay than we originally planned.  On one hand, we have the children with us and the time off work – why not stay longer?  On the other hand, it is a long time away from home and other summer activities.  Please just pray that God will help us to hear his voice and follow his leading.  Another component is that one way we could serve might mean being away from Camp Ostróda for the last few days of the Holocaust Survivors camp, but would allow us to become familiar with some other aspects of the ministry and churches in Poland.  Since Ben is now on the board of Polish Christian Ministries, we are feeling pulled toward this even though the Holocaust camp was our original draw to this ministry.

The second thing we need your prayers for is our fund raising.  Taking a family of four across the ocean is unbelievably expensive.  Sadly, the airlines do not discount for flights that lead to expansion of the Kingdom of God.  I think they should, but they don’t listen to me.  We have been saving and have calculated what we can save between now and our trip.  Everything is based on estimates, but we think that we can cover all the trip expenses (ground transportation, food, lodging, administrative costs, passports, etc.) except for the air fare…. but this expense will be significant. We are very grateful for the financial supports we’ve received so far, but we are a long way from meeting our need.  We know that money matters are small obstacles to God and He has always faithfully provided, but it is hard not to worry about this aspect.  Please pray that we will cast this anxiety on Him and that he will speak to the hearts of those who are able to help.

Finally, we ask that you pray for wisdom as we prepare our children for this trip.  We want them to understand why we are doing this and what their role is.  We also know that they need to have a little understanding of the history of this country, but we need to give them only what they can handle at their young age.  Please ask God to give us the words to help them know what they need to know, but protect them from that which is too heavy for them to carry.

Thank you for caring enough to read this post and for your prayers as we begin making bigger strides toward spreading God’s Word to the people of Poland.  Thank you to Michael Frame at CVS for taking Anna and Ethan’s passport photos.  Next step… applications to the post office!

    You think it's hard to get a picture of everyone smiling? Try telling them they CAN'T smile!
You think it’s hard to get a picture of everyone smiling? Try telling them they CAN’T smile!

A Journey Back… Again

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Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 10.09.43 PMAfter Ben’s trip to Poland in 2009, he occasionally mentioned that that he wanted to return as soon as we could do so together.  He “journeyed back”, this time with me (Rachel) and many of you followed this blog of our experiences ministering to the Holocaust survivors and encouraging Christians in Ostróda and other nearby cities.  When I’ve returned from short-term mission trips in the past I felt it had been a great time of service that I would always remember, but it felt complete.  When we returned last spring, however, it didn’t feel complete.  We had this sense that there was more involvement in this mission to come.  We began talking about not only returning, but taking the kids.  Crazy, right?  They’re too young, it would be too expensive, they won’t eat the food…. a hundred objections.  Yet that was the nagging desire of our hearts.  Anna remembers Ben going in 2009, “To tell people Jesus loves them.  People need to know that.”  Both children learned a little more about serving God through missions when they saw both of us go last year and we discussed with them the reasons and the stories of the people we met.  Yes, they are young, but we want them to experiencing ministry… starting now.  While at Ostróda Camp we kept thinking that there wasn’t any reason they couldn’t have come with us.  Andrzej and April’s kids would make them feel right at home.  But more than that, there is no reason they couldn’t be serving along side us… cleaning, working on the grounds, forming relationships with people and showing them God’s love in action.  So we began asking God if he wanted us to continue to serve the people of Poland.

As we prayed for God’s leading on this decision, wanting to make sure it was His plan and not our own, Ben received an invitation to serve on the board of directors for Polish Christian Ministries.  Shortly after, we received notice that he was given the vote of approval and officially begins fulfilling these responsibilities in the spring.  We feel this is God’s resounding “Yes!”, that this is indeed a way in which He wants us to serve Him.  We asked both Dave Hatfield (PCM Executive Director) and Andrzej Korytkowski (Ostróda Camp Director) how they felt about us involving the kids, and that too was received with approval.

As a family, we will work to prepare Ostróda Camp for the upcoming season – landscaping, fixing things, construction, cleaning, making cards for the visitors… whatever is needed.  (We may even get the opportunity to plan and build a prayer walk through the camp grounds!) The kids will be involved in every way they can be at their young ages. We hope to have the chance to be involved again with the Holocaust survivors, and may also be able to help with a week of children’s camp as well.  We’d like to reconnect with those we met in nearby Christian churches to encourage them and help support their ministries.

IMG_0466We invite you to join us in two ways.  First, we need your prayers.  If you are willing to commit to praying for our trip, the ministry there, and the hearts of those who will hear the message, please sign the Prayer Support page by posting a comment at the bottom.  We can’t tell you how important your prayers are.  Second, financial assistance is also needed to make this family mission trip possible.  It is very difficult for us to ask for dollars, but our personal budget cannot make it happen despite our willing hearts.  We do not yet have an estimated cost, but we know that it will exceed the $5000 we needed for last year’s trip.  If God places it on your heart and you are able to financially contribute, please visit the Financial Support page for more information about ways to donate.

Through this blog, we’ll share with you as we experience God’s amazng plan at work.

We are blessed to have you as part of our family.  
Thank you for supporting us.

Ready to be His Feet,

The Porter Family

International Conference On Missions

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Anna Porter & Dave Hatfield
Anna Porter & Dave Hatfield

About a month ago now (it’s been a busy month, sorry!)  We got the chance to attend the International Conference On Missions, as it was held in Indianapolis this year.  It was a great opportunity to see lots of people from old churches, family members and missionary friends.  We got to visit with some of our Polish friends as well.  Andrzej Korytkow (Ostróda Camp Director) was there, along with George Bajenski (Impact Europe) Dave and Sandy Hatfield (Polish Christian Ministries).  We attended a reception in which Dave was officially welcomed as Executive Director-Elect of PCM.  It was a wonderful celebration of what God is doing around the globe.  If you get a chance to attend, you should.  The 2013 Conference will be held in Kansas City.  Go Check It Out! 

 

Catching Up…

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So, it has been a while since I posted any sort of update on the ministries going on in Poland, and for that I do apologize.  We just received our monthly update from Dave and Sandy Hatfield and I realized that I’ve neglected to pass along a few months of news to those of you who are still praying with us.  So, here are some things Ben and I would like to ask you to pray about, along with the highlights (now written in past tense) of the Hatfield monthly update as the camp season continued at Ostróda Camp.

Prayer
  • Pray for the Korytkowski’s (Andrzej and April, Camp Directors)
  • Pray for Matt and Laura, two Impact Europe interns who remain in Ostróda until Thanksgiving
  • Pray for Sandy & David as they transition to their new position with Polish Christian Ministries
  • Pray for Ben and I as we continue to seek God’s will concerning our future involvement in Poland.  Our hearts still feel that God has more for us to do, and we’ve recently learned of an exciting possibility.  Please pray for God’s plans to prevail and for us to obey in whatever capacity it may be.
 The End of The Summer at Ostróda Camp
(Hatfield Update)
What an exciting month it has been here in Poland and Ukraine.  All nine Impact Europe interns (along with Angelika, our Polish translator) traveled with David to Dubechno, Ukraine, for a camp with 92 children.  Everyone was fully engaged in the success of the camp as they led in crafts, told bedtime stories, led in worship, shared testimonies, and sang silly songs.  Each of us took on different roles in two “forest” games. One of the “forest” games was called “Pilgrim’s Progress.”  The children had to make choices along the way.  They received a positive mark if they made a good choice and a negative mark if they made a bad choice.  At the end, their marks were tallied.  If they made the choice to have Jesus cover their sins, then they were welcomed into heaven (no matter how many bad choices they had made at other stations along the way).  At the end of the week 23 children made first time decisions to have Jesus cover their sins for real.  That was exciting.
When nine of us returned to Poland we said goodbye to three of our interns.  The remaining six then traveled to Ostróda to lead in Makeover Projects I and II.  There were teams from Indiana, Illinois, California and Connecticut, the first week  Another team from Connecticut came  the second week.  Here are two links to see all the renovation that took place during those two weeks at Ostróda Camp:
While renovation was taking place there was also a significant outreach to the Ostróda community going on at the same time.  Over 100 different children came to Ostróda camp for a 3 hour “VBS” with Bible lessons, children’s worship songs, crafts, and large group games.  It was exciting to see the children open up from the first day until the last.  One girl, Kinga, came both weeks.  The transformation in her demeanor over the course of these two weeks was visibly recognizable.  One of the mothers who came every day the second week told us that her four children loved the day camp.  She said that they were singing the camp songs at home throughout the day.  She wants to bring her children next year.  Ostróda Camp is hoping to host a weekly meeting for children during the school year beginning in September.

Sharing Our Hearts

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ImageJust a quick announcement for those of you who supported our trip in any way and live near the Rockville area – Ben and I have had several requests to share about our mission trip at church and will be doing so on Sunday, August 12 during the Sunday School hour (10:00 – 10:50).  We’ll be in the sanctuary and would welcome anyone who wants to join us.  Although a great deal of what we will share will be things that were written in this blog, we will be able to show a few of the pictures we haven’t been able to post online.  

Hatfield July Update

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Dave & Sandy Hatfield, send this update from Ostróda Camp.  If you’ve forgotten the connection…. Dave is the son of our associate minister Don Hatfield, and was our mission trip coordinator.
Hubert

The past two weeks have been filled with two Polish children’s camps.  The first week we were with some special needs children from Warsaw. Two children will forever be etched in our memory. Hubert is one of them.  He is being brought up by his dad and has some health issues. His eyesight is impaired yet his desire to participate in everything was strong.  When he scored a basket in the basketball game you would have thought he had just sunk the winning shot of a state championship game. I was so happy for him. His dad wanted Hubert to be at our camp because he knew his son would be in good hands.

Dave & Julia

Julia is the other child I will long remember (see pic).  When she was 5 years old, a TV fell on her, damaging her brain. After the accident, she was in a coma, affecting her sight, speech, and movement. God is restoring her, though, and we enjoyed walking and talking with her and watching the swans on the lake. The very first day of camp Julia went out in the kayak with me.  I became her “forever friend” the rest of camp. She shared a praise at the evening service that she was grateful that she didn’t die when she had her accident. Julia always wears a smile. Praise God for her thankful heart and recovery.

  • Please pray for the Israeli youth camp that begins on Sunday (July 22), especially in light of the recent terrorist attack in Bulgaria.
  • Pray for Sandy as she remains in Ostróda with the Israeli youth and pray for David as he travels with the nine interns to Dubechno, Ukraine, for a children’s camp.  There are already 90 children registered for this camp.
  • Pray that each camper (at Ostróda and Dubechno) would encounter God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for Makeover I and II in Ostróda which is taking place the first two weeks of August.  There are 68 US short term team members coming to Ostróda from six churches.  We are seeking to have children’s outreaches that will touch as many as 160 children of Ostróda (half of them will be coming from the local Social Service Agency)  We will also be building bathrooms, restoring cabin floors, rebuilding the dock on the lake and many other projects.  We are grateful for all of the support that will be coming to assist us in moving forward in mission and ministry.  Pray for safety in travel and good weather so that all projects can be completed.

Pray with us!

Faithful in Prayer

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If you know me well, you’re probably sick of hearing my “life verse”, but I find it to be the perfect guide for every point in my life.  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)  Right now, I’m focused on the last phrase.  So many of you have been faithfully praying for us, for our children and for the Jewish people throughout this mission trip.  We are very grateful for those prayers, and we ask that they continue.

Europe is an area of the word that is neglected in terms of missions.  When people think of sending out missionaries they think of Haiti, Mexico or any place in Africa, but not one thinks of Europe.  Although most Poles would consider themselves, Catholic,   many are missing a true relationship with God based on grace, but they don’t see that.  As Ben often says, (borrowed from Peter Furler) “You don’t know you’re deceived until you’re not”.  There are also lingering effects of communism and war that impact how many Europeans see God. There is a great need for mission work in this part of the world and join us in praying.

Since we have arrived back home in Indiana, officially ending this short-term trip, our blog posts will become far less frequent.  As we keep in touch with our new friends in Poland and Israel, we will post occasional updates for those that are still praying with us.  In the meantime, here is a list of how you can pray.

  • Pray for the Jewish people who attended the camp and have now returned to their homes in Israel
    • For those who have accepted Christ – that they will continue to grow in their relationship with Him
    • For those who worship God, but do not know Jesus as the Messiah – that He will reveal Himself to His brothers
    • For those who have abandoned the faith of their fathers -that the message of their week in Poland will penetrate their hearts and minds and bring them to God
  • Pray for Andrzej and April as they serve as directors of Ostróda Camp.  They are passionate for the camp and it’s future, but it is an overwhelming task to accomplish all there is to do.
  • Pray for Poland to come to know God in a personal relationship based on grace.
  • Pray for the Christian churches in Poland as they struggle to overcome a Catholic heritage.
  • Pray for the Porters – We feel connected to this place and a strong desire to continue ministering in Poland.  Please pray that we will know how God wants us to continue serving through this passion.
    • How can we support God’s work in Poland from The States?
    • Are we to return?  When?  How long?
    • How can we involve our children in this ministry and mission work?
We thank you for your prayers and support for our journey.