Dec. - 2002
Dear Loved Ones,
Greetings from Tallinn! We pray that you have been enjoying a wonderful THANKSGIVING DAY holiday, and that you are surrounded by friends and loved ones at this special time of year. Our family has been blessed by rich fellowship with Dennis and Gayla Hofschild, missionaries to Tartu, Estonia, who came to celebrate this holiday with us. Weenjoyed a time of sharing and encouragement, and well as good food and fun. Our dinner was turkey and dressing, with all the (Estonian) trimmings,plus imported cranberry sauce, and rhubarb pie(instead of pumpkin)for dessert!
Things seem to stay busy here. These past two monthswere especially full! We started October out withthe church FALL RETREAT, held at the same campground as our summer children's camp, BAL-CHYO-CA (BALtic CHristian YOuth CAmp). This, a first for us,was a time of richfellowshipand recommitment as we were challenged to be "God's People for God's Work". You can see pictures of this retreat and the facility were we were by clicking on the picture below.
The next weekend our teens were invited to a YOUTH RALLY in Tartu. They left Tallinn on Saturday morning by bus, and enjoyed a weekend of fun and fellowship with the brothers and sisters there. Our teens were housed in the families of the Christian teens from Tartu, which was in itself a rich blessing. Everyone enjoyed the weekend, and the teens from Tallinn and Tartu grew closer to one another. The Tallinn teens will get a chance to reciprocate in March, when we, Lord willing, will host Tallinn's 2nd annual Youth Rally.
Our next major project, involving the entire congregation, was to host a CAMP REUNION... where we invitedkids from camp to come to our building and enjoy a time of puppets, stories, singing, games, crafts and food! We had almost 70 (campers and helpers) for this first reunion, enjoying time together and remembering how special a time we had at camp. We promised to send them an invitation to the NEXT reunion, for November! That was this past Saturday, and ,again, we had almost 70 in attendance. It was so good to see so many from the church helping to minister to these kids: some were registering them, some were in skits or puppets, some were leading games or crafts, several were making plate after plate of "voisaiad" (VWEE-sigh-odd) -- Estonian open-faced sandwiches. Helpers, young and old, enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with these kids and with each other.
Beginning in mid-October, and continuing for several weeks, webegan a TEACHERS' TRAINING COURSE for Bible class teachers. There were 9 whocompleted part one, and all have decided to continue training after the holidays are over. So far it's all "theory", but it won't be long before they will have a chance to put their training to good use.A dinner was arranged for these "teachers-in-training" and their families at our house two weeks ago. Such a rich time together!
Our new mission intern, STEPHANY TIBBLES, has been in Tallinn now for two months, and is already a vital part of things going on here. We are thankful to Stephany for her willingness to be used wherever she is needed, whether that be in teaching a Bible class, an LST follow-up group English lesson, or music to 10-14 year old kids. She is a help in the office (we've REALLY appreciated her computer skills), in leading discussion groups in Ladies' Class and is such a good "Barnabus", always saying encouraging words.Our thanks to all who have helped Stephany come to Tallinn and work with us!
We are still in the process of working things out to purchase the rooms we've been meeting in at ASUNDUSE 2. We've not quite reached our goal financially, but we know that the Lord is watching and blessing, and we feel confident that everything will be in place in time. If you haven't seen the photos of the facility,we invite you to click on the link below and enjoy the pictures.
The group studies during the week continue: KIDS' CLASSES each week (besides Sunday morning Bible class) include theGIRLS' CLASS (on Tuesdays after school)and the BIBLE CLUB (Thursdays after school).On Tuesday evenings we are following up the Let's Start Talking campaign we had this summer with our "LST CLASS" which just keeps growing. Wednesday evenings it's theLADIES CLASS andMEN'S CLASS. Otherindividual studies are also held during the week, with a special time of studyand rich fellowship with Nikolai each morning, Tuesday through Friday.
The work in Tallinn is going well. We are noticinghow the national Christians are maturing and growing.Our co-workers, Ron and Judy Warpole,have been gone since August, soit's been important that the Christians here are taking more responsibility.Our brother, NIKOLAI, isdoing more of the planning and organizing of activities and events, like our recent "Camp Reunion" events for October and November. He is doing more preaching and even a little song leading on Sundays mornings, andhe is looked tomore and moreas a leader among his brothers and sisters here.Our young adults, like Stas, Galina and others,continue to mature and are an important part of things that we do as a church.Several of ourteens, like Peeter, Anna, Andre, Svyeta andseveral more, are all-round great helpers.
We are so very thankful to be your partner in the Gospel, and it is our prayer that our Father in Heaven bless you richly, and reward you for all that you have done for us and for the work here in Tallinn. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. As the hours of daylight grow shorter, and the temperatures get colder and colder, we count on the prayers and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for holding our life lines. We love you.
Because of Jesus,
Mike and Debbie Banks