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What If I Told You...?

...that 2017 has been one of the most amazing, fruitful, and blessed years of our lives, AND YET the greatest blessing of the year was still to come for us (with only a few days left on the calendar)?!!

Keegan's face says it all: amazement! anticipation! excitement! joy!

As I write this, we eagerly await the birth - any day now - of our baby boy. Starkey, party of 5!  

More on that shortly!

But first we wanted to finish the year by giving proper praise to God for all that He has done in Bulgaria over the past year.  

Here are some highlights from the past few months since our last newsletter!

 

OCTOBER

We welcomed a team from Vessel Community Church (Ohio). They served WITH JOY on church projects in Velingrad and Vidin. They encouraged local Christian leaders and taught English with the aroma of Christ to 60 middle-school students in Vidin. This ministry in the local schools is so strategic and a crucial first step towards connecting young people with Christians and allowing them to hear the Gospel for the first time ever.  Thank you, VCC! 

NOVEMBER

Although Bulgaria does not officially celebrate Thanksgiving, our local church did host a feast allowing people to publicly recall the many blessings of God in their lives, and to corporately pray for each other and for the body of Christ across the nation. 

Also in November, Kim and the kids flew back to the States while I remained in BG for language classes, and to move all our stuff out of our apartment and into storage for the winter months.  

DECEMBER

After some final greetings with dear Bulgarian brothers and sisters, I (Peter) flew back to the states. I whirlwind-ed through Columbus and Cincinnati before finally reuniting with my family here in Arizona.

Great to see Grandma B in Ohio!

"The Plan" for our time in the USA
 
• Our son will be born in Arizona in less than a week.  If Kim does not go into labor naturally, she will be induced this coming Tuesday, December 19th. Pray pray pray!!

Medical Update: many of you know that our son has been diagnosed with spina bifida. THANK YOU for many prayers over the past months!
 
There are some medical indications that perhaps our son's case of SB will fall on the less severe end of the spectrum, but much remains unknown until after delivery.  Please keep praying with us for a miracle (complete healing immediately at birth!!) and for God's grace and strength for us to bind together as a family. If God does not perform a miraculous healing, our son will require surgery and close monitoring in the NICU for a while after he is born. 

Regardless, we trust God completely! In His infinite goodness, He knows best!

• We will remain in Arizona alongside Kim's family until the baby is stable enough for travel.

• We estimate traveling as a family back to Ohio in mid-February (pending baby's health).  

• We will then be in Ohio (and environs) to see many friends and family. It will be our joy to update many of you in person on the work here in Bulgaria and fellowship with you after two years away!  
 
• At this point our return date to Bulgaria is scheduled for mid-April.  We will be moving to a new city (Vidin) and starting a new model youth ministry in a previously unreached part of Bulgaria. 
Oh dear, the year is almost through,
So here's The Last Three Things, from us to you:

(1) THANK YOU!  We are incredibly thankful for each of you. Your support through the last two years has done much more than just enable us to live and serve in Bulgaria. Your prayers and gifts have BROUGHT MUCH FRUIT into the harvest of God. Your sacrifice has direct, eternal impact thousands of miles away (we see it every day!)...please remember that!!

(2) YEAR-END GIVING!  Please take a moment to check your records and if you have fallen a bit behind on giving, or if you would like to make an additional one-time gift to our ministry, you can do that by clicking the button below, or by clicking this link: https://josiahventure.webconnex.com/1210240.   

We do have a need for some one-time funds in order to launch the new youth ministry in Vidin when we move there in the Spring. And always remember, all gifts given on or before December 31st are tax deductible for 2017. Thank you for staying faithful!

(3) STOP AND REFLECT! I'm thinking alot about the blessing of "family" right now. I'm here in AZ with Kim's amazing family. And my amazing family is supporting us from OH. And I have countless friends spread all around that I consider family. They give to us. They sacrifice. They listen and laugh and cry and encourage and inspire us. A healthy family is a MASSIVE blessing!!

God designed family as the fundamental building block for society. There is so much brokenness in Bulgaria, the term "family" is often depressing or non-existent or even scary for young people. 

And so the hope that we offer as missionaries is ultimately adoption as sons and daughters into the FAMILY of God. Where Daddy is also King. Where there is no fear, constant victory, fantastic freedom and eternal life. 

We wish you all the greatest blessings from Christ this Christmas season. 

We hope you have lots and lots of time with your family; please fill those times with hugs and love and forgiveness and patience and buckets of grace. 

And thank God for them.  Thank your heavenly Father!   
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