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"For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.  Praise the LORD!"  Psalm 117:2
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Blessed to be Busy...the First Month

To just call you our 'Supporters' completely sells it short.  

You are our dearest friends, family, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, mentors, and fellow lovers of the Gospel.  You have linked arms with us in bold faith and intimate partnership, and so our journey is your journey.  The message that we herald is the story of the God we both worship.  May Christ be magnified through all!    

We have now arrived in Bulgaria and are starting to feel a little more settled in our new home city, Velingrad.  We have been very busy and so I've decided to structure this update as a "travel journal" of sorts.

So read on for quick-hit updates, lots of captioned pictures, and how you can be supporting us through specific prayer requests in the days to come.
 

April 25, Depart Ohio: Hard goodbyes, especially with my 93-year old grandmother. She is such an amazing woman of faith!  
April 26th, Arrive in Bulgaria: Rachel, also a missionary in Bulgaria, greets us at the airport. So wonderful to see a familiar face!
April 27th: Our team had a special cake made and sang to Kim in both languages. What a special way to start this new chapter of our life here!
Small But Amazing Moment
Isn't it great how the Lord can use the tiniest, most innocuous little things to encourage us?

Last Sunday during praise and worship I both (1) read the Bulgarian words correctly on the slide as the congregation sang, and (2) simultaneously understood what they were singing!  

It was just one line of text, three simple Bulgarians words meaning "Praise be to God." (after which I went back to being completely lost!)

That might not seem like anything huge, but in the midst of learning this language it fed my soul and I heard the Lord exhort me, "I am here with you, Peter.  In fact I've already gone before you.  Keep going and keep praising me."

Praise be to God.  
Top Left: Quick trip to Thessalonica, Greece, to apply for long-term Bulgarian Residency Visas.  
Top Right: This group will help us launch the first-ever Bulgarian Fusion (Josiah Venture's choir camp ministry) later this summer.  The mayor of Velingrad gave permission for us to give the final performance on the main stage in the center of town - praise God for this platform!  

Bottom Left: Bulgarian believers lead worship regularly and are growing in their faith.
Bottom Right: Introducing the game 'Coyote' was a huge hit...a quick & easy culture bridge.  
Top Left and Right: This is our summer intern team, composed of 6 Americans and 2 Bulgarians.  These college-age students love Bulgaria and have raised support to be here all summer to help with camps and go deep in relationships with young people.  

Bottom Left: Quick stop in Backa Topola, Serbia, to meet and encourage Pastor Matt, faithfully shepherding a small flock there.  

Bottom Right: Literally an underground church in the historically significant port city of Vidin, Bulgaria. Believers gather in an 800-year-old facility (think catacombs) that was built to store wares for shipment up and down the Danube River.
Family Matters
Peter just got back from a two-week trip which spanned 5 countries and was focused on welcoming and training the summer interns, as well as laying relational and logistical groundwork for upcoming summer camps.  He is thankful to be home safely for hugs and bedtime stories!

Kim has enjoyed getting to know her way around Velingrad and is enjoying the cultural adjustments of shopping, cooking, housework, etc. in a new language and culture.  She is also tackling language learning head-on and is never afraid to try out new phrases! She recently orchestrated two big surprises for Peter. (1) Driving 6 hours to Vidin, Bulgaria, so that Peter could reunite with them 3 days earlier than expected, and (2) moving into our new apartment early so that Peter returned from his long trip to a new home!  The author of this sentence adores his wife.  

Savannah has been doing much better these last couple weeks than when we first arrived. She is slowly starting to try more foods, and recently got a new bike which she LOVES!  She enjoys all the walking and neighborhood playgrounds, and is still the queen of dress up.  

Keegan falls roughly 46 times per day and consequently always has a split lip.  This doesn't deter his enthusiasm for exploring his new environment, though!  Red hair is super uncommon in Bulgaria so he is constantly marveled at and petted by passersby.  He takes it like a champ.  
Powerful Prayers of Petition & Praise!
Ask God...
  • For physical, emotional, and spiritual strength.  We have 8 camps between now and the end of August.
  • For discerning wisdom; that we would be aware of those who have 'ears to hear.'
  • For our interns' hearts - that they would be eager to serve and led into fruitful relationships.
  • For fruit only He can bring: saving faith for many Bulgarians walking in darkness.
  • For Pavel & Ramona's church in Vidin and the new camp there this summer, as most of you know this is a special place in our heart.  
Praise God...
  • For physical health this first month+. We never take this for granted!
  • For favor with the mayor of Velingrad. Our Fusion choir gets to sing Christian songs and talk about our ministry on the main stage during a citywide festival later this summer.
  • That Savannah is no longer having night terrors and generally seems to be adjusting better! 
  • For our new apartment. Perfect size, location, and price. 
THANK YOU all so very much for partnering with us for the glory of God here in Central and Eastern Europe. We could not be here without you and we feel that dependency every day.  Our hearts are full of gratitude for all that you sacrifice.  Yes, that sacrifice is for us.  

But we know O so clearly that the Starkeys are not worth the type of sacrifice you're making.  Only Christ is.  The expansion of His Kingdom and Him getting every ounce of glory and praise due Him is worth it.  

That's the message you send loud and clear with each gift.  And that's why your faith is so inspiring.  Please keep coming at us with words of encouragement...we need them so much and will continue to as the "Honeymoon" phase starts to wear off and the challenges of living and doing ministry here start to feel more burdensome against the backdrop of being here 'for the long haul.'

This video always gets me pumped for camp season, so enjoy it...to God be the Glory!!
Bulgarian Josiahs Are Out There!
Copyright © 2016 Peter & Kim Starkey, All rights reserved.


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