One year ago, we were still blissfully unaware of the journey that lay ahead of us. We could never have guessed how much work it would take to raise money, get rid of most of our possessions, and prepare our family to leave!
One year later, we are settled into a new home in Košice, Slovakia, and are beginning our ministry among the Roma people. Thanks be to God for the journey so far, and for all of you who have joined us on it!
There's so much we could share right now... but you don't have time to read it all. So we thought we would share with you the answers to the questions we are asked about most often.
Did you meet your financial goals?
YES! Thanks to the faithfulness of God and many supporters like you, we have met our goals for cash-in-hand and pledged support. HOWEVER, we are still looking for new partners. Our supporters will sometimes find that they are unable to give (this has already happened in a couple of cases) and we trust that God will continue to provide for their
needs, and for ours.
How does your projected budget match your real needs?
Very well, in fact! Some things cost more than expected (like cell service and language learning), and some things less (like plane tickets and apartment rent). So far, things have "evened out."
What has been different than you expected?
Lots of things, of course! But the most surprising thing to us is how well the girls have adapted. They have been flexible and resilient as they've adjusted to so many different things - new language, new money, new transportation, new climate... The list goes on and on. While we would love to take credit and say this is due to our parenting skills, the fact is that God has blessed us with two adventurous girls - and lots of friends praying for them and supporting them.
Other things that have surprised us include:
Did you find a suitable place to live?
The heat – particularly the lack of air conditioning.
The time it takes to get simple things done! Everything takes longer when you can’t speak Slovak – like setting up electric service and getting internet in our apartment. Simple things take more time as well – like grocery shopping every couple of days because European foods don’t contain the amounts of preservatives that US foods do!
Yes - more than suitable! We found a flat in the city center that is within walking distance of most things we need - including stores, markets and bus stops. The apartment is not perfect - we've had a lot of cleaning and repairing to do. But our goal and prayer was to find and make a place that would be a sanctuary for our family, and a place where we could host local friends and visitors from the US. God provided an answer to this prayer for us! (The picture above is Kaitlyn's room in the apartment)
What kinds of things have you seen and done so far?
We've done a lot of exploring around Košice, and feel like we're learning our way around. We've been to the local zoo, a couple of indoor playgrounds, the city's beautiful cathedral, the circus, and lots of other local attractions. We have also made trips to Krakow, Poland - including visiting the concentration camps at Auschwitz - and the city of Poprad in the Tatra mountains.
What do the next few weeks/months look like for you?
In short, language, language, language! We are immersing ourselves in the Slovak language as much as possible so that we can learn it deeply. The girls have been taking daily language lessons for several weeks, and once they begin school, the adults will have more time to concentrate on language study as well.
Where will the girls be going to school?
They will be attending a private Slovak school here in Košice. It is a “bilingual” school which usually focuses on teaching English to Slovak students. Our girls will be in a setting where they have small classes, teachers and resources for learning languages, and where they can be a “resource” for other students learning to speak English. It’s a perfect fit (yet another answer to prayer)! The picture on the left is a computer lab at the school.
The school is a 10-minute bus ride (city bus) from the flat. When you include walking time, it will take them about 30 minutes to get to school. You can get some basic information from the school’s website - www.zssukromna-human.sk/english.html
When will you begin working at the Roma school?
As soon as possible! We have already made good contacts with the school’s principal and a few of the teachers, and we’re excited about beginning this fall. Another plus for us is that we were able to work alongside the Missouri team that was here in July, doing painting and light reconstruction work in some of the classrooms (see picture at right). It was a good opportunity to get to know the school staff in a different setting.
Have you been able to go to church?
Yes, and we have been blessed to find a wonderful church family! We have been attending Devleskero Kher ("House of God" in Romani) – a church made up primarily of Roma believers, but which also includes Slovaks, Germans, and Americans. They have welcomed us warmly as we find a place of ministry among them, and we have really enjoyed worshiping with them… it’s very different from anything we’ve encountered before, but it’s humbling to hear them pray and sing together! You can learn more about this congregation at their website - www.devleskerokher.sk
What about mission teams and other visitors?
We have already been a part of hosting one group from CBF of Missouri, and we are already talking with groups and individuals about visits next summer. Interested in bringing a team to work, or in joining an existing team? We’d love to talk with you about it!
CARE FROM HOME
In this section, we want to start by saying “THANK YOU” for all the mail, packages, emails and facebook messages you have sent us! It’s hard to describe how encouraged and supported we have felt by all of our friends and family! Our transition has been eased by your encouragement and your prayers, and we literally could not be here without your support.
How can we pray right now?
How can we talk with you?
URGENT – Please pray for our visa process. Tanya’s visa has been delayed by some unforeseen obstacles. Please pray that these would be resolved quickly so that our ministry is not interrupted!
Pray that our work at the Roma school would begin smoothly, and that we would begin building relationships that point to Jesus Christ.
Pray that the girls as they begin school next Monday (September 3). It will be very hard for them, and they can use your prayers and encouragement!
Most easily, you can email us or send us messages on Facebook!
You can Skype with us – if you have a Skype account we would love to chat sometime. Look up our username, “jonandtanyaparks.”
You can call us – just be aware that it might be expensive! Google Voice, Skype and other such services have reduced calling rates to Slovakia. Our numbers are 00421 911 834 787 (Jon) and 00421 911 834 778 (Tanya).
You can send us mail – we love to get letters! You can also send packages, but please contact us in advance of sending a package so we can give you instructions! All mail can be sent to the following address:
040 01 Košice
What things do you need?
But what about ______?
While we have access to most of the things we need, there are a few things we cannot get here that we can always use. We have set up a wish list on our website with some of those things, including some small gifts that might cheer up the girls. You can find the list at prayingwithfeet.wordpress.com/wish-list/.
Send us an email and let us know what questions you think others would want to know the answers to!