Ministry Newsletter - Parks Family in Slovakia
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October: Sad News and New Opportunities

Greetings!  We hope that each of you are enjoying a beautiful fall, just as we are here in KoÅ¡ice.  We pray that you're choosing to find God's grace and peace, no matter where this newsletter finds you.

September is a busy time in Slovakia, an exciting time filled with new things as a new school year begins.  In the midst of this, we were sad to learn that the Roma Gymnazium (high school) here in KoÅ¡ice was forced to close for the 2013-14 school year.  We’ve reported in our newsletters and blog updates over the last several months that the school was in danger of losing funds from various sources – a danger that became a reality this summer.  Further complicating this problem, many Roma students left Slovakia over the summer with their families, hoping to find work. 
 
As with any school in any country, it’s nearly impossible to operate without money or students.  The obstacles were too great to overcome – the high school was not opened this year.  The remaining students are doing something different this year, while the school works toward reopening next fall.  This is very sad news, of course.  It means that many of these students will not have the same opportunities at this unique school. 

But in the midst of this, we have been excited to learn more about a similar school in the nearby city of Kežmarok.  This gymnazium is situated in a region with many Roma families, and there is great potential there.  Some of the teachers and workers from KoÅ¡ice are traveling to Kežmarok several times a week to work at this school, and we have been invited to join them (see photo above).  Because Kežmarok is nearly two hours away, we must leave early in the morning, and only one of us is able to go each week.  But it has become a valuable and satisfying ministry activity in the midst of our busy weeks!

We're also excited about another new opportunity this fall - beginning October 18, we will begin two six-week conversational English classes in the Develeskero Kher church building.  The church members will invite their friends and use the course as an outreach opportunity for their congregation (see flyer at left).

Join us in praising God for new opportunities!

One last reminder here: We recently posted a request for someone to come and provide MK activities for our Romany Team meeting in March in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  If you want to know more, please see the September 25 post on our website!

What ministry looks like right now - knee-deep in language learning!

Ministry Highlights


It’s not easy to report each month that language learning is our primary ministry activity.  It doesn’t “feel” like ministry!  But the longer we are here, the more we realize how important it is for us to learn the language so we can communicate with people on a deeper level.  From that perspective, our current language activities are investments in future ministries.
 
Ministry updates include from the last few weeks:
  • We have 3-4 language lessons each week, and spend several hours in study beyond the lessons – doing homework, learning vocabulary, and intentionally putting ourselves into communication situations.
  • Once each week we make the trip to Kezmarok to help teach English at the Roma gymnazium there.  
  • We continue attending worship at the Devleskero Kher church.  It was our joy last month to watch as our friend, Miro Toth, was ordained and installed as pastor of DK!  We also attend the Kosice Baptist Church as we are able.
  • In September we hosted another fellowship night for girls from DK.
  • Jon has had the opportunity to use his knowledge and equipment to do some basic audio recording for some of our church friends, for use in distributing Christian music.
  • In early October we were able to attend a worship conference with other leaders from DK, that featured worship leaders Matt Redman and Martin Smith.
We recently made pizza as a family on one of our Family Days.

Family Updates


The biggest family/personal event to report from the last several weeks is the starting for school for our girls.  They have returned to the bilingual school they attended last year, and so far are doing very well.  They enjoy their friendships and activities, and they are working hard each day as they learn more of their new language.  

More family updates include:
  • The girls each attend 1.5 hours of Slovak tutoring each week outside their school hours.
  • We are also participating in a new monthly English-language worship service with other American and British missionaries and their families.
  • On October 6, Tanya and Jon ran in the International Peace Half-Marathon in Kosice, the oldest continually-run marathon in Europe.  Running is something we love, and we’re glad to be able to continue this in Slovakia!
  • Outside of school activities, the girls are also participating in sports clubs – Kaitlyn is taking climbing lessons on an indoor rock wall, and Abigail has begun gymnastics. This is a much-needed physical and emotional outlet for them.
  • We set aside time each weekend for "Family Days."  Sometimes that means staying home to make pizza and watch a movie together.  Sometimes it means going on family hikes or bike rides.  Whatever we do, we focus on being together and having fun!

Prayer Requests


We are so grateful for your prayers, and we are encouraged to know that you are on this journey with us!  Here are ways you can pray with us this month:

For a new opportunity this fall, as we teach a Conversational English Course in the Devleskero Kher building.

For the students, teachers and administrators from the Roma Schools in Kežmarok and KoÅ¡ice. 

For the  girls as they continue in school, and for God's guidance in educational decisions for the months ahead.

For patience as we move forward with language learning. 

And as always, for open hearts and minds among the Roma, Slovaks, and others as we try together to understand how we all fit into God's kingdom!
Contact in Slovakia:
Mäsiarska 60
040 01 Košice
Phone: +421 834 787
Skype: jonandtanyaparks
U.S. Mailing Address:           
4214 Garden Ridge Road
Crestwood, KY 40014
Copyright © 2013 Jon & Tanya Parks - CBF Global Missions, All rights reserved.