Larry Leach, Jr., along with his wife and five children
went to Romania as missionaries in November of 2004. In 2006, by leading of
the Holy Spirit, they moved to Bulgaria where they now minister. Larry
preaches in church meetings, helps with food distribution, helps get the
gospel out by making and handing out the CDs and DVDs (used instead of
tracts to the illiterate), and helps out wherever he can.
Supporting and Mailing Address:
Dear Brethren, Fall 2013
Almost immediately after writing our summer prayer letter, our plans and focus changed unexpectedly - we took Hannah to the pediatric ER at a local hospital because the wound on her foot had taken a turn for the worse and required immediate attention. After numerous tests, she was admitted to the Children’s Hospital to await surgery to debride the wound. She came through surgery fine and after having a PICC line inserted in her right arm, was released for in-home care. Carrie and I had to learn how to administer her antibiotic infusions four times each day, in addition to oral antibiotics. This was to take care of the infection that had tunneled in to the bones of the foot. Nurses came for a while to tend the wound vacuum attached to her foot. Her doctors put her on a “no weight-bearing” order, which meant she was confined to a wheelchair, chair, or bed. It was a trying and exhausting time for all of us. But, Praise the Lord, Hannah is doing great now. The wound that was once an ulcer that would not heal, is now a pin hole. The infections that affected the bones of the foot are gone. Special shoes have been ordered and when they arrive, we are to see the Orthopedic Surgeon again and get Hannah up on her feet. It has been ten weeks since she has walked and even though we have been able to do some physical therapy at home, walking may be quite a challenge for her at first. We ask for your prayers as she continues to heal, as well as strength for the challenges ahead. Getting help for Hannah has made our trip to America worth it all. But, because of everything Hannah needed at the time, such as doctors’ appointments, wound care, etc. we needed to stay close to home and couldn’t travel to many places we intended to visit. We apologize to those we were unable to see during our furlough.
We have some good news to share - very good news - a good portion of money has come in for the finishing of the house in Bulgaria. Already we have sent some over to complete the insulating of the lower half of the outside of the house. This will make for a much more comfortable winter. But, as prices usually do, we have been informed that the cost of building supplies has again risen. This causes us some concern that the original figure we were praying about won’t be quite enough. But, God knows. He has been faithful to provide and we know He will continue to take care of us.
We have four weeks until we return to Bulgaria and they promise to be busy ones. We are trying to get to a few more churches, as well as have camp meeting here in Bristol at the end of this month. In the next few weeks we will take care of final medical/dental/optical appointments, ship over a few of our belongings (as well as some donated socks and shoes for the kids overseas), pack up, and say our goodbyes. It’s bittersweet. We will miss our friends and loved ones here, but our hearts are still in Bulgaria. Please remember us in your prayers.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
P.S. We still plan on doing the Coats for Kids distribution this winter. If you would like to help with this project, there is still time. Please send donations designated “Coats for Kids” to the support address above.
Dear Brethren, Summer 2013
Our time in America has been busy and blessed. In April we were able to spend time in Michigan with family, friends, our Home church, and supporting churches. It was so good to see everyone again. We also took the kids to see our old stomping grounds—the house I grew up in, the park where I played baseball for several years, the camp where Carrie and I met, the church we were in youth group together, places we went during our courtship, the church where we married, where each of them were born, etc. The kids weren’t too excited about it, but we surely enjoyed the drive down memory lane. We looked back over our life and remembered things God had done for us and it was a blessing.
We just finished two weeks of meetings, first in Milan, TN at a missions conference and then here in Bristol, TN for camp meeting. The church in Milan had sent over a couple hundred coats a couple years back for the Coats for Kids drive. It was a blessing to us to be able to thank them in person, on behalf of the people they helped clothe. The Pastor and church family there were gracious hosts and we appreciate our time there. When we returned to Bristol, camp meeting began. We were again able to tell about the work overseas, particularly about the coats and socks the Lord lets us give out each year. The preaching and singing was very good and we were encouraged by it.
Even though it seems as if we’ve only just arrived in America, we’re already beginning to shift our focus to what we need to do to make sure we have what we need to return to Bulgaria in three months. We’re believing God to take care of the balance on our plane tickets, as well as the needed funds to finish our house in Bulgaria. It’s a large amount of $20,000, but we’ve seen God work before and we feel certain He can and will do it again. Nothing is too big for our God.
Please remember us in your prayers. We have some traveling we have yet to do, as well as some personal goals to accomplish. Remember also the work in Bulgaria and Romania. They are in camp meeting and baptism season and the work is great—pray for strength for the missionaries and encouragement for the churches. Pastor Ismael’s health is still poor; keep praying for him. And finally, keep Hannah’s foot wound in your prayers. It is the best we’ve seen it yet, but we’d like to see it heal completely before we return to Bulgaria. Thank you all for your faithful prayers!
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, Spring 2013
God is doing big things and I wish there was more room on the page so I could share them all with you. I will do my best to briefly share a few: About three weeks ago we hurried to distribute the yearly flour and oil to the two hundred and four families in the nine churches Pastor Ismael and I care for. It was timely because the needs are many. Immediately afterward, our family went to Romania for English camp meeting. It was a Thursday evening and we were about to finish with the congregational singing when Brother Dave Turner requested we sing one more song. While we sang, the Lord moved in our midst and three were saved: Dave and Dara’s oldest boy, Grayson, and two children from the Children’s Home, Niki and Sheker. Praise the Lord!
When we returned home from camp meeting (with only two days to spare before heading to the airport), our neighbor told us that a strong wind storm blew roof tiles off our house while we were away. We needed to hurry to fix them, but the weather was bad. Carrie and I drove to the home of a friend in our village, who does that kind of work. When we got there, his wife was weeping. She pulled us inside the house and told about their grandbaby who was in the hospital with unexplainable fainting spells. She told us that before we came, she had told her husband she needed the believers around her, praying. But it was late and they didn’t want to bother anyone. And yet, God sent us to their home. We all fell to our knees and prayed for the baby. God sent a wind storm so we could be with them in their hour of need. Praise the Lord!
On March 20th, we were able to return to the United States to begin our nine-month furlough. The trip took well over 30 hours from start to finish, but went well (we are thankful for the help we received in the purchasing of plane tickets. $4,100 came in from supporters, with a balance of $4,750 still needed). We arrived at our mission in Bristol, TN, exhausted, but thankful. Especially because we didn’t have to travel by hot air balloon, as one believer in Bulgaria supposed. Shortly after our arrival we attended a camp meeting here in Bristol and were encouraged by the singing, preaching, and fellowship. During one sermon, this particular verse touched our hearts and will be our theme for the coat and sock ministry—I Samuel 2:19 “Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” Now we are preparing to hit the road and head to Michigan for the month of April.
Our furlough plans are three fold: First, to rest. This is our first full furlough since arriving on the field nearly nine years ago, and may be the last one we share as a family before the children start leaving home. Secondly, to raise the remaining funds to finish our home in Bulgaria. Having a comfortable home where we can rest after a day of working in the field is very important. Much of the house is finished, but Carrie and I have been sleeping on the couch in the living room for the past five or so years and now that the children’s rooms and much of the downstairs is finished and comfortable, I would like to finish an area for us. And thirdly, to raise support levels, both personally and for the ministry. Please pray with us about these three.
If your church would like to have us visit, our U.S. phone number is 423-534-6541. We look forward to hearing from you.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Coats for Kids - Update from Bulgaria
Dear Friends, 1-4-13
It was another good day working in the coats. Actually, it has been a good three days. On New Year's Eve, Larry and I went to Varna to the second-hand shop that has worked with us for the past few years. Once again, we bought them out. Brother Robert Shrader drove a full car load of coats back to our house and we put nearly that many in our car and went on to buy the socks to match. Then yesterday our family sorted and bagged all the coats, readying them for distribution.
This morning we began in our village. We needed to start early because we had a lot of villages to get to while the weather is good. Once finished here, we ran home to reload our car and to load up Brother William LeFevre's car. Together we began the trip up the mountain to villages I'd never before visited.
It was foggy and Larry was visibly concerned about the mountain drive. I became concerned myself when I saw Brother William's car slide across the ice and nearly miss an oncoming car. I prayed the sun would come out. I even asked the sun pretty please to shine and burn off the fog. The fog got worse before it got better, but it wasn't long before the sun peeked through the haze and made the journey a lot easier.
At the second village of the day, kids came a runnin'. Pastor Alish, who was riding with Brother William, called ahead to let the church folks know we were coming. They were so excited to see us. It was wild and crazy and fast, but in no time flat, nearly 50 coats were given out.
On up the mountain... the ice was still thick in patches, with walls of snow on both sides of the road in some places. Larry couldn't safely take his eye off the road, but I was able to take in the beauty of the ice, amidst the danger of it. In one place, the sun had melted a mound of snow atop a mountain peak, and then it refroze in the shape of a waterfall. I wish I had a picture to share because it was really something!
The trip to the third village was a long one. When we arrived, kids quickly gathered. But, before I could be of much help, I needed to use the restroom -- the outhouse was out back behind the house. Larry went with me in case there were dogs. I don't normally write about outhouses, but I am now because this one was particularly interesting. First, it was only about five feet tall. I'm 5'7". Second, the floor was mud. And third, there was no door. The "toilet" is just a hole in the floor. If you use your imagination, I'm sure you will be amused also. Or, maybe I'm just easily amused by such things.
Back in the house... we walked through an enclosure of sorts, used as an entryway. It had wood framing and plastic sheeting for walls. Inside the actual house, it was basic and small, but fairly comfortable. Here there were many, many children and it took all four of us (Larry, Brother William, Pastor Alish, and myself) to keep control and fit the children. And it was here that one little child pulled at my heart in such a way that I may never forget her...
She had short curly hair. She wore a light jacket that was just a tad too big. But what really stood out were her feet -- she wore tiny old sandals and no socks. I have attached a picture of her standing outside on the ice. It was taken with my cell phone, so it is not great quality, but it lets you see her pretty little face. We didn't plan it, but she ended up being the first to be fitted in that village and I got to not only put a warm coat on her, I also got to warm her feet with my hands and put a pair of socks on her icy cold feet. I wanted to hold her and warm her up, but there were many children waiting. We worked quickly and before we knew it, around another 50 children were warmed.
On to the next place... from here on out, we stopped at the homes of a few church families and fitted their kids at the car. One group of kids was giggly and so happy with anything we gave them and everything we said. They made me smile with their happy countenances.
All in all, we stopped at five villages today and gave out well over 100 coats and socks. Brother William has the remainder of coats needed for the villages he has been going to, and this concludes the second stage of distribution. We praise the Lord that things have gone so smoothly and for the short break in the weather so we could get to the mountain churches of this region. And we thank you all for your prayers.
Stay tuned for more Coats for Kids news...
Writing on behalf of Larry and myself, Carrie Leach - Bulgaria
Please click here to read about the "Coats for Kids distribution 2012"
Dear Brethren, Winter 2012
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
This morning as we look out over the first snowfall of the season and think about winter and all it holds, we are thankful for everything we’ve seen the Lord do this year. We’ve seen many new believers baptized, churches strengthened, and people clothed and fed. We’ve also received a long-term visa for our family, for which we are very thankful. With the many things we’ve been through this year, we’ve seen the Lord’s hand of protection and provision and seen our family strengthened as a result. Your prayers and financial support have helped us remain on the field and be a part of this work that God is doing. Thank you very much!
Coats for Kids 2012-13 is in full swing. We’ve done the first half of the purchasing. Today we are making DVDs of a Turkish church service, to distribute with the coats and socks. Tomorrow we will sort through 300-400 coats and socks and prepare them for distribution this, and the following weekends – hopefully finishing this region before Christmas. Then we can purchase and sort the second half for distribution in early January. We appreciate all the prayers and support for this ministry; the needs are great. There is still time, if anyone would like to give. It costs approximately $6 to put a like-new coat and a new pair of socks on a needy child.
While we are excited about what is going on in the ministry, we are also looking forward to our spring 2013 furlough. We’ve not yet set the exact date or purchased the tickets, but we are shooting for mid-March through the beginning of November. Please pray with us about the financial needs of the furlough. If your church would like to schedule a meeting with us, you can email us at email@example.com or call us internationally at 011-359-895-647-154 (please note that we are seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time).
Thank you for your faithfulness! Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, Fall 2012
This summer has been by far my busiest since arriving to The Field in 2004, but it has been such a blessing to so many. Camp meetings and baptisms, along with our regular church meetings, filled the summer months and the believers are very encouraged. Over one hundred believers were baptized this summer. Praise the Lord! Now they are using the last of fall to prepare for winter. Many are gleaning and gathering, as well as preparing a supply of firewood.
We are also preparing for winter, and, with your help, we’d like to once again give out coats and socks to the needy (especially children) in our area. A good used coat and a new pair of socks will cost $6. We’d like to gather all necessary funds at the Support Address above by November 1st. This will give us time to buy and distribute before the worst of winter hits. If you would like to contribute, please mark checks in care of “Coats for Kids”. Feel free to email us for more information.
In family news, we are excited to announce our first full furlough, planned for early spring 2013 through late fall. A definite date has not yet been set, but if you would like to contact us for scheduling information, you can use the email address above, or call 011-359-895-647-154 (please remember we are seven hours ahead of EST).
Praises and Prayer Requests: 1) We thank the Lord for protecting Carrie during a recent attempted abduction. Please pray for her as she deals with the after effects of the trauma, and continue to pray for safety for our family as well as the other missionaries. 2) Hannah’s foot wound, after years of tending, is nearly healed. Please continue to pray for her, as well as the health of us all. 3) Our residency cards have finally come through and we are thankful it will be several years before we have to reapply. This victory has taken many years (and nearly $50,000) and has been quite stressful, so it is a blessing to us to be able to receive so many years of rest from it. We are thankful for all the prayers and financial help we received for this need, both from supporting churches and individuals. 4) Please pray for Ismael, national Pastor. His arms have been going numb and he has diminished strength in his hands. And finally, 5) Please pray about our upcoming furlough, and the expense of it.
In closing I would like to thank you all for your faithful prayers and support for us and for this ministry. You are an important part of what we, by God’s grace, are able to do here. Thank you!
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, Summer 2012
I would like to apologize for the tardiness of this letter, but it is for good reason—I wanted to wait until I could share with you all the wonderful news that our long-term visas have come through. I received mine a couple weeks ago and Carrie and the children just received theirs. There is more paperwork for the Department of Migration yet to process, as well as receiving our residency ID cards, but the visas themselves have been approved and purchased. It has been a long road to get to this place, and with a cost in total of nearly $50,000 in six years; but as long as this final step in the process eases through, it looks like rejoicing is in sight. Thank you to all who have prayed and given toward the financial need of these visas. You have been such a blessing to us and this ministry!
Things are going very well here. We are beginning a season of baptisms and camp meetings. This encourages the people and strengthens their faith. It makes us happy to see them doing so well. At the last big meeting, the church was completely packed, without even standing room. It gets very hot in the church, but the people seem hardly affected. They sing with their whole heart. It’s a blessing to hear them.
The family is doing well also. The children keep busy with their daily chores and whatever imaginative games they can come up with, as well as their karate classes. Their least favorite thing to do is weed the gardens, which Carrie has them help with for fifteen minutes each morning. Carrie has been busy with the summer canning. She already canned up cherries and apricots and she’s getting ready to take care of the plums. She makes a lot of apple plum jelly, which is my favorite. But the family’s favorite part of summer is only just beginning… the birthdays. Hannah just turned 14 and in August Joshua will be 13, Jonathan will be 16, Esther will be 11, and Cherith will be 8. We’re busy, but at least it’s never dull.
Prayer Requests: 1. Carrie's Grandpa, John Moses, went to be with the Lord July 4th. Please pray for the family. 2. Hannah’s foot, which is healing very slowly and has had complications. And 3. Strength for the missionaries and national Pastors.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers. And thank you for loving our family!
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, Spring 2012
Everywhere and in every church, we are thanking God for bringing us through the “big winter”. This past winter was the worst in recent history with temperatures remaining well below zero for lengthy periods of time all across Europe. Though oft delayed because of the weather, we thank the Lord that 800 coats and socks, along with the Gospel on DVD, were distributed among the needy youth of our area.
Morning prayer meeting in our village has been low in attendance for quite some time, but we’re seeing a surge of interest, particularly among them men, which is unusual for this culture. This is the work of God. One young man, around seventeen years old, has been coming faithfully. His name is Orhan; please pray for him.
One morning while on my way back from town, I gave a ride to the former shepherd of our village. He is Muslim and told me that there is basically no difference between good Christians and good Muslims. I told him there was and when I found out he could read, I gave him a Turkish New Testament. He was very happy and carried it home under his arm. Yesterday I saw him outside his house and he excitedly waved with both hands. We’re praying that the Lord is doing something in his heart. Please pray for him. His name is Rasheet.
The family is doing well. We’ve had the usual colds and flus for this time of year, but all in all, we’re doing very well. The kids were not able to go to karate class during the bad weather, but they’re back to attending now and Carrie is glad for it because they’re not climbing the walls as much.
In closing I’d like to ask you all to pray with us about our visas. Because we have five accomplished years, we were eligible for five-year residency. I put in my application and accompanying documents last week. Yesterday we were called in with a problem. The Chief of police told me of a missing stamp in my passport that would disqualify me for this long-term residency. She handed the passport back and offered for us to find the stamp in it. Praise the Lord, it was found. While she put the final touches on the application file, she explained to us the newest law. Instead of being eligible for five years, we are eligible for a new class of visa, which will allow us legal residence for the duration of our passports, which is over nine years for Carrie and me. This is such a blessing! We are thankful to all the churches and individuals who have given to help make all of this possible up to this point in the process. The final part of the process is due ASAP and we need to raise $4,100. This will take care of Carrie and the children’s portion. If all goes well, and the laws don’t change on us again, this will be the last visa work that needs to be done for many years. What a relief! Please pray with us.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers on our behalf; they are not in vain.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, Winter 2011/’12
Happy New Year! 2011 was a good year for our family and for the ministry and I’d like to take a few minutes to share with you all just a few of the many wonderful things God was up to:
-Esther was born into the family of God!
-1,000 coats and socks were given out in Bulgaria and Romania
-Flour distribution, baptisms, and camp meetings were all a blessing to Nationals and missionaries alike.
-Our health concerns, which seemed many this year, were helped—pneumonias, allergic reactions, cellulitis, hypothyroid, and more. When I had to go to The United States for six weeks for medical diagnoses and treatment, while leaving the family in Bulgaria, God proved to be the strength we needed during our time of need. And the help I received from friends, churches, and medical professionals was such a blessing!
-Work on the house picked up again—1/2 of the kitchen cabinets, tiled kitchen floor, tiled entryway and halls, and 1/3 electrical added to the upstairs.
-Our financial support, which took a pretty big hit due to the economic crisis, is coming back up.
While the year certainly had its struggles, we find peace and comfort in seeing the hand of God at work through it all. Ever Present. Ever Faithful. What a Friend is He!
We ask that you continue to pray for us and for the work here among the Gypsy Turks. There is a lot to be done, but we know God has it all under control. Thank you, dear friends, for your faithfulness! May you have a very blessed 2012!
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
A winter wonderland---or is it? December 26, 2011
Snow fell. Not much, but enough to make a snowman. Across the hills, the
farmers' fields are dusted lightly, still showing the would-be rows underneath.
If snow were to continue to fall, we would be delighted. We have enough food in
the pantry to last a while. I would sit in my rocking chair and cover my feet
with an afghan, while reading a good book. Larry and the kids would gather on
the big rug on the family room floor and play a game. The dog would flop down by
the woodstove and sigh, as if her life were a difficult one. It wouldn't matter
if we were snowed in for a few days. The quiet, along with lack of hustle and
bustle would almost beg for an occasional snow day.
And yet, not 1/4 mile down the road, the overall feeling toward such a storm would be entirely different. The ladies who live in the house down the road, have a very different life from mine. Though mine is simple in many ways, theirs is downright hard. They not only have to go outside to go to the bathroom, they don't have an outhouse. Instead, they climb down into a deep hole (resembling an old well) with the use of a ladder. During a snow, they keep a sheet of plastic and a large rock over the hole. After a snow, they have to dig it out just to be able to go to the bathroom.
Elsewhere in the village, little old ladies have to brave the ice, cane in hand, and go to the center store for their daily bread.
A nearby friend, though 60 years removed from the years he nearly froze as a child, keeps his house so warm that he spends his last penny on wood throughout the winter, often going in debt to do so.
This is life in the village. It's not new to them. They do this year after year. It's how they live.
So as I sit in my rocking chair by the fire, I want to have a thankful heart. Thankful for my warm home, a full pantry, and my family around me. But I also want to have a heart for others. To not only whisper a prayer for them, but to be ready and willing to help anywhere I can.
It’s hard to believe summer is on its way out and the cool nights of fall are taking its place. Time flies too quickly.
Two weeks ago it was a blessing to be a part of this year’s baptism. What a way to end the summer! We sang and testified and preached from noon until after midnight. The believers were all encouraged and the churches, strengthened.
Our family is going to Romania one Sunday a month to the English church there. A few Sundays ago, it was my privilege to preach to a group of US Marines stationed in that area. It was one of the highlights of my ministry, actually. This group of men have been attending church there and lending a helping hand at the Children’s Home. This group will be leaving in a day or two, but there are others who are supposed to be coming. What a blessing it is to be able to minister to the American military as they serve our country.
As the weather starts to cool down, our minds are preparing for winter. We are trying to ready our own home for the cold to come, but we are also focusing on the needs around us. Our main focus at the moment is for this year’s Coats for Kids drive. Last year we were able to have a hand in getting 1,000 coats and socks to the needy here in Bulgaria and also in Romania. And we would like to do it again. For around $6, we can buy a good used coat and a pair of socks. If you would like to give to this coat drive, please mail a check to Charity Baptist Mission (middle address above) and mark it Coats for Kids.
Prayer Requests: 1. Missionaries and their families, National Pastors, and churches. 2. Health for our children. For about six weeks, we have battled one sickness after another. 3. Our 5 year visas, for which we will apply very soon.
I’d like to leave you with this thought: I have been musing on Romans 5:8, which says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I’m amazed at the unconditional, eternal love of Almighty God.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support for us and this ministry!
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
It’s hard to believe that summer is here already. Time flies faster and faster all the time. This summer my son, who was born just a few months ago it seems, will be fifteen. And the baby of the family will be seven. As time flies by I’m finding myself trying to take in everything I can because they’ll be grown up before I know it. I’m thankful for my family.
We took a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, a few days ago to renew our passports. Everything went smoothly and we should have our new passports in about a week. Praise the Lord! Once we have them, we can move on to acquiring the needed documents and official paperwork so that we can go to the Department of Migration and apply for our visa extension. This is all needed in order to apply for the five-year visa. Originally we were set to apply for the permanent visa, but the law has changed once again and not in our favor. We are now required to get the five-year. At the end of the five-year, we can then apply for permanent residency. The real upsetting part of this is that the five-year costs the same as the permanent, but without all the benefits that go along with it. We are looking at a need of $10,000 to take care of the extension and five-year.
I want to thank you all for praying for my language studies. Sometimes the language comes easier than others. Sometimes it doesn’t flow at all. And then sometimes the Lord comes by and gives me the words the people need to hear. Just last week when I was preaching, a lady in one of the churches looked at me and said, “The Lord is with your mouth.” (Exodus 4:12) That blessed my heart. Language barriers can be very discouraging, so it’s a real blessing when the people are getting help from the message. Please keep praying about this.
One more prayer request is for Ismael, the national pastor I work with. Last week he took a fall on his bike and bruised a couple of his organs. He’s in a lot of pain and no one is certain of the extent of the damage. Please pray that the Lord would touch his body.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers. The Lord hears and answers.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Coats for Kids final update 2011
(The above link is a brief photo essay of the "Coats for Kids" distribution in Bulgaria)
It was a cold, snowy day in December of 2008 and we were driving through a nearby city when I saw them. It was a mother with a couple children, the youngest of which, a toddler, she was lowering into a dumpster to fish out items outside her reach. The whole scene broke my heart, but my focus went to the child in the dumpster. This child had barely any clothes on. I wanted to stop and give the mother something, anything, to help keep her child warm, but I didn’t stop. Thoughts of that child haunted me, breaking my heart a little more with each passing day.
It was then that I decided to go purchase a van load of coats from a nearby second-hand store to keep on hand for such occasions. That first year, 50 coats were given.
In the fall of 2009, the Lord spoke to my heart again, reminding me of the coats. I wrote to friends, family, and a couple supporting churches, telling them what I wanted to do. Enough money was received to pass out 200 coats, 300 pair of socks, and 300 DVDs of Turkish church services.
Then in September of 2010, I wrote again, asking for prayers and support to get coats to the needy children of our area—to help keep them warm. The response was overwhelming! One church in middle Tennessee heard of the efforts and bought 200 coats to be shipped to Romania. Others gathered money and sent it to Charity Baptist Mission for “Coats for Kids”.
As of today, January 6, 2011, the 200 coats have arrived in Romania and 280 coats, socks, and DVDs have been given here in Bulgaria, as well as several bags of stocking hats. From here we hope to get to fellow missionary Zachary LeFevre’s villages and then move on to National Pastor Mitko Stefanov’s villages. There is much work yet to be done.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your support in the form of prayers, financial contribution, and/or letters of encouragement. It is my prayer that Coats for Kids will continue to grow and that many little lives will be touched by the love of Jesus Christ.
With Sincerest Thanks, Carrie M. Leach
Dear Brethren, February 5, 2011
Winter has been mild, for the most part, and we are thankful for that. Generally in January and February, we get quite a bit of snow and ice, making it impossible to get to the churches in the mountains. But the churches are thankful that we have been able to get to them. One would think that the mild winter would mean that the people's financial burdens would be lighter, but not so this year. The economy is in terrible condition and there is no work (especially for Gypsies). It's harder than last winter. Though there is no work, the cost of living continues to rise. Fuel is currently around $6.50 per gallon. The Pastors are needing help with fuel money to get to the villages. Please pray with us about this.
I have a praise to share: a couple days ago, Carrie and I were in the nearby city, paying bills when we were nearly struck by another car. I hit the brakes, and though we were jarred, we were safe. I am thankful to the Lord for delivering us.
We're getting ready to start passing out this year's flour and oil. The people have been asking for a while and are very thankful to hear that they will receive this help soon.
Thank you for your faithful prayers for our family and for this ministry.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
November 2, 2010 Hello Everyone,
Phshew! The days are flying by and running together! I'm sitting here trying to catch my breath. Lately my life has been such a whirlwind of activity that if I had a few minutes to sit and do nothing, I might get bored.
But, it keeps me young
One thing that has kept me busy is this year's Coats for Kids drive. This ministry is near and dear to my heart and it is a blessing to watch it grow. It has gone from a few coats in the back of the old van the first year, to 200 coats and 300 pair of socks the second year------and now..... I don't even know how many we will get out this year!
At this moment, 260 (or 270?) coats are on their way over here from the U.S., being shipped on a container to Romania. I have already been in touch with a fellow missionary there and Larry and I will travel up for the distribution when they arrive. I look forward to sharing those testimonies with you.
In addition, enough money has come in get a coat and a pair of socks to well over 300 children in our area.
We expect that when the last coat has been put on a child, we will have given out 600 coats. Pray with us that the Lord will give us wisdom as we figure out where to start. I'd also like you to pray that the Lord will lead us to the right store owner who will care as much about helping these kids as we do.
Thank you for letting me share my excitement with you. Thank you for encouraging me when I felt too small and unworthy to take on something this big. Thank you for praying for me. But thank you most of all for praying for and loving these kids. If only you could see their faces and feel their hugs...
I should close for now---too much to do to sit still for much longer. The next update you receive should have plenty of pictures!
Love to all! Love, Carrie
September 1, 2010
Praise the Lord, our visas have come through for another year. All that is left is to wait for our residency IDs to come through within the month. The visa process is rather in depth, but this year has gone pretty smoothly for us.
I have started going with Ismael again to the nine churches he pastors. It has been very good to see the people again. Since being back I have testified/preached at each of the meetings and am thankful to the Lord for helping me get to this place with the language.
In the last few weeks we have had three baptisms. The people are rejoicing in the Lord and are testifying about the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ. We are pleased to see the growth of the churches. At one baptism, there were so many people that there was no more room in the church and some of us sat outside the door to listen. Some were on the porch, looking in the door, and some were outside each window. What a blessing!
Carrie and the kids are doing fine. She was bit by a dog last week, but is doing fine now. Thank you for praying for her. The children should be starting school in a little over a week; only Joshua and Cherith are looking forward to it. It should be a rewarding year, even if the children aren't excited about reading one of the classics.
In closing I'd like to ask you all to continue to pray about our need of a vehicle. Some money has come in already and we are eager to watch the Lord bring in the rest. Please pray with us! Thank you for your faithful prayers on our behalf.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Greetings from cool, sunny Bulgaria! November 21, 2009
Fall began with rain and mud and it looked like the rain was going to carry us right through to the snow, but the last couple weeks have been rather nice. We've been able to buy, cut, and stack wood for winter. We were also able to do some insulating of the house. The kids were able to take some walks and play at the new little park in our village. We appreciate the good weather. We still have roses in bloom.
The work is going strong. The churches are praising God for salvation through Jesus Christ. They testify about their life while serving Mohammed and how Jesus changed everything so completely. He gave them love. He gave them peace. He gave them grace. Slava Na Boga!
One part of the ministry that gives the people strength is the morning prayer meeting. In our village, we meet together each morning. We sing a few songs, pray, and fellowship. On one recent morning, the Pastor's daughter told us of some of the people she has told about Jesus. One lady, a "clean Turk" from Shumen, asked her one day why she prayed to Jesus. She told her all about Christ, salvation, and unconditional love. The lady said she would think about it. Well, one day the lady got sick. The Dr said her condition was grave. She called the Pastor's daughter and said, "Pray to Jesus for me. I need to know that He hears prayers." God heard the prayers and answered. Now the lady is a believer.
Another story is of a man in our village. He used to have wealth, but lost it all. He lost his wife, his children, his cars---everything. Today he has no job, no wood or woodstove, and no family. He is an alcoholic. The Pastor's son-in-law is a friend to him. He invited him to church. The man, Miglen, said that an alcoholic couldn't go to church. He said that he was ashamed and thought that the people would tell him to leave. The son-in-law kept after him that he would find love in the church. He promised he would come. That was last week. He didn't come. But they are still inviting. Still reaching out. Still showing him kindness. It is our prayer that he will come to know the Lord as his personal Saviour. Pray for Miglen.
The last story was about Rocko's grandmother. Perhaps I've not mentioned Rocko before. He is a young teen, born in prison to parents who are inmates. At birth he was taken from prison to live with his paternal grandmother. She is a poor widow in our village with barely enough to care for herself, let alone a child. As Rocko grew, he became an angry, bitter young man. He hated everyone and every thing. He caused many problems in the village. By the time he was ten, he had a small gang. Many were afraid of him.
Then he started going to the church's feeding center. At first he was angry and treated everyone at the center badly. If he was having a bad day, he would throw his food and yell at everyone. When hymns would be sung, he would mock. Then one day things changed. As he was yelling at the lady who was feeding him, she answered him softly. She remained kind. He saw something in her that day that he wanted. He went away that day and didn't come back for a while. When he did return, he was different. He showed kindness to all and wouldn't allow his friends to be mean, either.
That was a few months ago. Now he waves to us as we pass. When we are at the park, he comes over and talks to us and wants to play with our kids. He has volunteered at the center to help with any work that may come up. It's night and day difference.
A couple weeks ago, Rocko got the flu. He was very sick. The Dr told him to stay home and not go to the center because he could spread the illness to the other kids. But, if he didn't go to the center, how would he eat? His main source of daily nutrition comes from the center. So he went early one day and asked for food. The lady gave him a jar of soup to take home. She also sent a jar for his grandmother. Day after day for a week she sent a jar of soup to their home. Finally the grandmother came to the center (hunched over, walking with a cane) to thank them for feeding her. She'd never been treated so kindly. The cook asked if she wanted to come to the center daily and eat with the kids. She said no. She said that it should be for the kids. But when the cook insisted she take home some soup, she didn't turn it away.
The feeding center is feeding the poor, the widows, and the fatherless. What a blessing! Thank you all for your prayers and support to reach these people for Christ. You have been more of a help than you know! Glory to God!
I hope these testimonies have been a blessing to you! Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
Dear Brethren, November 15, 2009
Today was like none other in my history as a missionary. On my way to prayer meeting I got a call from Ismael that one of the believers had died. The "Baba", they called her (which means old lady or Grandmother).
I went on to prayer meeting where I received the full details on what would need to be done to conduct a funeral and go to the graveside.
First, we needed to find a white sheet material for grave clothes. Then we needed to go to the Dr's office and get a death certificate. From there we would go back to the Baba's house where the cloth would be sewn and last respects would be paid.
Of course the usual stores did not have the white cloth, so we walked around Novi Pazar looking for it. As we walked around Novi Pazar, we met up with other believers, who all wanted to pay their respects. It was quite a van full.
Then, because it is Saturday, the Dr was not at his office. We called him and he said he would come to the office right away. He wanted to examine the body himself, so he joined my van full and we headed to the village. By the time the van had completely unloaded, the Dr was ready to go back to his office to write up the death certificate.
After waiting a while outside the Dr's office, the certificate was finally ready. Ismael and I headed back to the village to have the funeral. We sang and prayed.
At that time a makeshift room was built outside where the women would wash and dress the body. They took a lot of time making sure everything was done properly. It reminded me of the women who looked after Jesus' tomb.
Then it was time to go to the cemetery. The wrapped body was put in the back of a horse cart and taken to the cemetery. Only the men went.
When we got there, the hole was already dug. It was about 4ft deep and at the bottom, the hole was inset. In that inset, the body was laid. A mud brick wall was built to enclose the body in the inset. Then the dirt was put back, leaving a mound. From death to end of burial was 14 hours.
One blessing that comes from days such as these is that any lost who gathered got to hear the Gospel. They heard one Pastor at the grave announce, "She's not here! She's in Heaven with Jesus!"
Also, while we were gathered in the house, singing about Heaven and about Jesus' resurrection and Amazing Grace, it set in strongly that as a missionary, all ministry to this one lady was over. But as I looked around the room, my heart was challenged once again to reach as many as I could. Please pray.
Thank you all for your faithful prayers. It is because of your prayers that missionaries stay on the field, telling the world about salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
November 7, 2009
Dear Faithful Brethren,
The weather has turned nice once again, so people all around our area are taking the opportunity to prepare a little more for winter.
A man down the road is gathering fallen limbs and sticks for firewood. I saw a man in Shumen gathering plastic bottles from dumpsters to burn for warmth. A missionary brother is putting on new roof tiles and hoping to be moved in before Christmas. As a family we have been cutting wood and doing some winterizing on the upstairs of the house. The upstairs is still not being used because it's unfinished. So it must be closed off for winter. We appreciate each little project because it gets us that much closer to a finished house. Having lived for a while with gravel floors, holes in the walls, and showering in the barn, we are very thankful to have a warm house. We appreciate everything our supporters have given to help us get where we are.
As attention is turned to the needs of winter, I ask that you pray and give as the Lord leads. Of priority is the yearly flour distribution. During this distribution, around 1,500 families will each receive a 110lb bag of flour and 5 liters of cooking oil. $25 will help one family survive the harshest winter months.
Also, the feeding centers will have greater needs during the winter. Because of the lack of work, more children are coming to be fed. The feeding center in our village is one of the newer ones and is lacking in monthly support. It needs a little more money monthly for potatoes, noodles, rice, beans, and bread. Over 20 children eat at this center daily.
And lastly, for the missionaries. Winter is especially hard because the needs are so great. Also, the dollar is low and gas is on the rise. Hopefully it will stay under the $8 mark it hit last winter. Some of our missionaries spend $1,000 each month on fuel to get to the meetings and distribute food among the feeding centers. Additionally, car repairs are common because of the number of miles traveled and the bad roads.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we think even more about you all. You have been such a blessing to us in so many ways. Your faithful prayers have given us the strength to go on when we were sure we couldn't take another step. Please know that as we sit around the table on that traditional Thursday, we will be saying a thanks to God for you. Thank you for everything you have done for us and for this ministry.
Because He First Loved Me, Brother Larry Leach, Jr.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” Philippians 1:3-5
Dear Faithful Friends, Fall 2009
Harvest is here and it causes me to reflect on this year’s harvest in the fields of Bulgaria and Romania. People are being saved. Lives are being changed. God is being glorified. Praise the Lord!
Since my last prayer letter, we have had several baptisms and camp meetings among the Turks. Around 140 believers were baptized in the last few months. The churches are very encouraged and are praising God. They testify to everyone about their salvation and the love they found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every morning in our village is a prayer meeting. We all find such strength during that daily meeting. We sing a few songs and then pray together. They thank God for the missionaries who came to help them. They thank God for the churches in America who sent the missionaries.
One morning at the prayer meeting, Brother Alish and his family shared their full testimony with us. They said that for many years, he was a strong Muslim. He was mean and his children didn’t like to be around him. When they would hear about Jesus in the public school (Orthodox influence), he would become so angry. Then one day his youngest daughter (who was an adult by this time) heard the Gospel and got saved. She opened up her home for a church. She invited her parents but they nearly disowned her. She stayed strong and eventually her mother came to the church. When she heard the hymns, her heart was stirred. Before she left she told her daughter that she had never felt such peace. She kept going, even though Alish was angry about it. Somehow, slowly, Alish’s heart softened---so much so that when he finally heard the Gospel, he got saved. Now he pastors several churches faithfully. All his children are saved, as are most of his grandchildren. He stands before the people and with tears tells of God’s amazing grace.
Alish’s life today is much different than his days as a Muslim. He is happy. People enjoy being around him. His youngest daughter feeds the children in our village. Another daughter in a distant village hosts a church in her home. His sister is married to a national Pastor. And, just this summer, he had the privilege of baptizing his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.
I’m happy to say that these types of testimonies are common among the churches. God took a people that nobody wanted and has done a mighty work among them. I’m thankful to be a part of it all.
I’m also thankful for the part you all have in this with us. Your sacrificial giving and faithful prayers on our behalf have been such a blessing to this ministry. The emails of encouragement, the Christmas boxes, the birthday cards, the help in building our house---it is all appreciated more than words can tell. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts! Without you, we could not be here. You are all in our heart and we love you.
Because He First Loved Me, Larry Leach, Jr.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things sayeth he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:7-8
Greetings Brethren, February 2006
I hope this letter finds you all well and as in love with JESUS as He is with you. In this letter I have a bit of information to share and also a testimony of God’s goodness.
Information: In our last prayer letter I wrote that we had a situation with our visas. I’ll try to make a long story short—Our Bulgarian visas hit many snags and while we waited, our visas in Romania ran out. We had to be out of Romania by January 31. We flew back January 18 and are anticipating a 6-8 month stay in the States to finish the needed paperwork for our Bulgarian visas.
We hope to visit some new churches while we are here. Also, if you, our supporting churches and prayer warriors would like us to visit you.
Testimony: We arrived in Michigan late Monday night. Tuesday morning we saw the need to do some grocery shopping. On the way to Wal-Mart, we stopped at Hungry Howies for lunch. As we ordered our food, we talked to the man about life in Romania, being missionaries, and the gospel. He was very interested. We sat down and waited for him to bring our food. When he brought the last of our order, he handed me $30 and told me he wanted to buy our lunch. Carrie and I cried. After we ate I went to thank the man again. He asked us to write “Dan loves Jackie” in Romanian for his wife. Then he wanted to hear the kids sing. So in the middle of Hungry Howies we sang Amazing Grace in Romanian, Turkish, and English. He called his wife and held the phone out so she could listen also. We were all blessed by this experience! I’m so glad the Lord gives us things like this along the way! Praise the Lord!
Thank you all for your prayers. Please pray for our visas, our stay in the States, and for health and safety while we travel. Pray much for the souls of the people in Bulgaria and Romania.
“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” I Corinthians 16:9
All Because He First Loved Me,
It all started before the actual flight
It all started before the actual flight. It was Monday, Nov. 1. I was planning on packing all day, meeting some friends for a farewell dinner at our favorite restaurant, and then to clean our little apartment the next morning, load up the van, and finish any last minute preparations. Well, my plans hit a snag!!!!! No, an iceberg!!!!!!!!! At the end of a long day of packing, I came to the end of my luggage allowance only to find that I had a bed full of necessary stuff yet to take. I called the airline to enquire of their baggage allowance. Things went from bad to worse. 8 of my 14 bags were considered too big. Beside the fact that I was only allowed 13 bags. What a dilemma. On the way to dinner, I explained to Larry the problem. I cried and cried and cried. We knew we had to empty every bag, sort through what was “needs” and what wasn’t. So, the morning before our flight, we had to ask for help. I went to another missionary wife, explained my situation, and asked if her older children could watch my children and let them play outside. She agreed, having been in my shoes before. So Larry and I sorted through our life’s possessions and decided what needed to be left behind. In bag #14 we put things that would be nice, but could also be taken back to the mission if the airline didn’t allow us to take it. We worked steady until 3:00 in the afternoon and then loaded it all in the Children’s home van. I then cleaned the apartment, and finished up those few final things. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep, knowing that I would need to get up at 4:00 a.m. and get the kids ready for the “big trip”.
Morning came all too quickly and we began the drive to Atlanta. One of our missionary men drove us down. We got to the airport nice and early. It was full of soldiers getting ready to be deployed. Brother Frank told two of them of his appreciation and wished them “God speed”. We waited in the Lufthansa line for a while. We were such a sight---a good looking couple (ha ha), 4 kids with back packs, a newborn in a carrier on her mother’s chest, and 14 army bags on two carts being pushed by those that drove us. At one point, the kids and I sat on the floor to rest while I nursed little Cherith. When our turn at the ticket counter came, it helped that we had so many “beautiful children”. They let us have that extra bag, didn’t check the size of any of them, and didn’t even weigh the last 5. That was a breeze. Next was to say goodbye to our missionary friend and make the rest of the journey on our own (well not really---The Lord was ever present). We then had to go through security. We had to take everything off such as bags, purse, baby carrier, wallet, watch, etc. Larry and I both had a pouch around our waist with our important documents, etc. and we had to take those off as well. We put it all through an x-ray machine, and then had to walk through a metal detector. I warned in advance about Hannah’s braces. They took her and Larry into another room while I kept the kids and watched our things. At one point Esther was crying for her Dad and an airport employee told her to come with her and she would take her to her Daddy. I (a little too enthusiastically) said, “No, she is going to stay with me.” Larry said I offended her, but that was the least of my worries. After getting through security and strapping everything back on, we continued the trek. We had to take a subway train to our terminal. There wasn’t a pole for me to hold onto, so I had to brace myself against each movement of the train. The kids thought that part was fun. When we got to our gate, we were so hungry. Larry went to the Burger King in that area and got us all a little something. We all sat and watched planes land and take off.
Finally the time came to board the plane. We were almost all the way to the back---which was fine by me. Jonathan was by a window, then Josh, then an aisle, then me, then Hannah, then Esther, then another aisle, then Larry, then a fella from India with one of those rags on his head. He was a big, ugly fella. We were a little intimidated by him. Larry said he ended up being a really nice guy. Larry got to talk to him about the Lord and about us being missionaries. Anyway, back to the order of events. We all got in our seat belts and the plane started to taxi. The Lord had given me the peace I had prayed for, so I was not afraid at that point. The only emotion I had as I watched the ground get farther and farther away was sentimental. I really was leaving the land of my nativity---leaving everyone and everything I had ever known. I tearfully whispered a goodbye. The flight was fine---for the most part. We did have a group of old people getting drunk not too far in front of us. Also the movies of choice were smut. Then, my frustrations began and lasted for the rest of the trip. I’ll give it all to you quick----Esther pees in her pants, Hannah needs a change, we go to the bathroom just as the movie ends and everyone is in line, squeeze in the cubicle they call the bathroom, take care of business, sweat like a pig, get back to seat, boys need to go, Jonathan climbs over a back pack and pulls the lady’s hair in front of him, Joshua steps on the feet of a lady who covered her whole head and body (except her feet) with a blanket, Esther’s dinner table is broken and her supper ends up on the floor (fortunately she wasn’t very hungry), and then while going in for a landing, Esther throws up on herself and Larry and I can’t reach her to clean her up and we can’t get up out of our seat belts---that was the most horrible part. The funniest part was when a male flight attendant came by my seat with his hands folded and said, “yes?” I looked at him and said, “What?” He said, “You pushed your call button.” I said, “I’m sorry. I must have bumped it.” He then realized that it was Esther that had pushed the button (I think she was grinning). He said (Say this in your best feminine, broken English, German accent), “Tell her to stop. It keeps ‘bing bing’ in the galley.” Then he walked away. I just laughed.
Finally, we landed in Frankfort, Germany. We were so worn down that Larry and I barked at each other a little bit around this time frame. We wearily made our way to our next terminal. It’s a lot harder to find when English is the second language there. Larry walked in front with a couple travel bags, the boys were behind him, and I pulled up the rear (ha ha) with a girl in each hand and a sleeping baby strapped to my chest. At one point, Hannah almost pulled me down a flight of escalator stairs. We waited there for 3 hours before taking a bus out to the runway to our TINY plane. We were one of the first on, but people were coming in so fast from two directions and stuffing their belongings in the overhead compartments that we couldn’t get to our seats. I was shoved by a rude Romanian. There was no fighting back. They were just going to be pushy and rude. There were disputes over the seats and in an obvious discriminatory manner, one Romanian was taken from his seat and pushed to the back of the plane—but not without a fight. He let them know his mind. I felt some fear at this point. The last thing I wanted was to be 30,000 feet in the air with and irate man sitting behind me. I cried and prayed. I knew I needed some strength. Hannah asked to sit by the window, but when we took off, she shut her shade---so typically Hannah. Things calmed down quickly and just as quickly I fell asleep. The rest of the family soon followed—actually, Esther was out before we off the runway. Not long after, I woke to the sound of landing preparations. I waited until Larry woke up and asked him if he was ready to go home-----that is, our new home awaiting us. It was a sweet moment for us, tiredly looking at each other, ready to do what we were called to do. When we landed, everyone started to scurry to get their bags. Larry had quickly learned their mannerisms. He stuck his body out in the aisle and proclaimed, “I can only hold them back for a minute. Hurry and get the kids and their bags and get off the plane.” It worked. We made our way to a waiting bus—I think. That is all blurry now.
When we got to the area where we were to get our bags, a man ran over to us and said, “Leach?” He said yes and we looked over to see all our bags gathered in one area----they had all made it (We were told that we are the first family to have all their bags make it and none be lost). 3 guys with carts helped us take our bags to meet the two missionaries that met us there. Larry and the boys rode with our bags in a van. The girls and I rode in a car. Brother Zack said, “You may want to get some sleep. This is the hardest part of the trip.” I asked why and he told of the bad traffic and the dangerous roads. I told him I wasn’t much of a car sleeper----wrong!!!!! There in the back of that little car, I slept. Not at first, though, because the girls were so goofy. They were laughing hard and singing a song about britches. Then they saw a field and Esther said it was the mission field. Brother Zack laughed. I tried to take the scenery in, but I was too tired. The times that I did wake up for a moment, I saw a LOT of poverty. I saw one little boy running by the road in the dark with no shoes or socks. I saw houses without windows and some with corn stalks for a roof. There was also a lot of buggies on the roads---feeding the animals for transportation might be cheaper that the gas here.
Anyway, after another four hours, we were home. The men carried our heavy bags up the stairs to our apartment. It was so pretty---not the outside. That was dirty. I couldn’t believe this was considered a clean neighborhood. Well, I guess it’s not really too bad. It just has a lot of litter on the ground.---The apartment was clean and neat and ready for me to move in and make myself at home. I went through the cupboards and desk and everywhere else to see what all I owned---Isn’t that funny?! Larry called me to the big bathroom and said, “Here, step on the scale. You will be sooooo encouraged.” I stepped on, looked down at it and laughed. It was in kilograms. Here I weigh less than half of what I did in the States. I LOVE my new home. We then found everyone a place to sleep and crashed for the night.
I couldn’t believe it was 10:00 when Larry woke me up to get ready to go to Brother Zack and Sister Verity’s house for dinner (or lunch if you are a Yankee). Joshua complained of his tummy hurting, but didn’t have a fever, so off we went. When we got to their house in the village, Josh threw up all over himself and the van seat. “Hello, we’re here!!!!!” What an arrival. Verity got me some rags and soapy water and called for another missionary wife that I had not yet met to borrow some of her son’s clothes. So that’s how I met Sister Tracy. I greeted her while cleaning up vomit-----not the introduction I was hoping for. She was so sweet and said that they had all been there before. Thankfully, she ate dinner with us and I got to give a proper hello. Verity fixed a wonderful meal of chicken and dumplings. After, we sat around and talked. Their girls played their violins and sang for us. Later, Larry and Zack went to town to take care of a few things while us girls sat around swapping birthing stories. When the men got back, Brother Zack told me a funny story. He said that he pulled Larry up to our apartment so he could run up and get something. After a few minutes, Larry came back to the van from another direction and said, “I don’t know where I live. Can you help me?” See, we got there at night and all the buildings in our area look the same. We all got a kick out of that one. I got really tired that day. They brought us home and we fell in a heap.
The next morning I didn’t wake up until 11. Tracy brought us some pizza—not the American style, but similar. The kids were so hungry that they chomped down two pieces real quick. Then when Jonathan got his 3rd piece, he wasn’t so happy. He said, “Mom, this one has chunks of tomato in it.” I told him that they all did, but he just didn’t eat slow enough to know it. That day, we got almost everything unpacked. The kids watched their videos while Larry and I tried to figure out how to organize everything. We quickly realized that we would need a bookshelf.
The next day was our first church service. We were picked up and driven out to the Children’s Home where they hold English service in the upstairs. WE were greeted by the missionaries and got to meet the rest of the group. Last of all, I met Brother Ralph, the head missionary. They had set up our chairs. We sat down and soon service began. We sang for an hour, prayed, and then Brother Ralph preached out of Romans 7 for an hour. We thoroughly enjoyed it all. Then we went downstairs to prepare the potluck meal in our honor. We took the food over to the Mayor’s house (this one is a longer story---It belonged to the mayor, but our group had to buy it in order to get electricity for the home complex. So we use it for Turkish Meeting and other such events). It was a wonderful meal and then the kids went outside to play and the adults sat around and talked and sang. It was WONDERFUL!!!! The ladies sang while they cooked and sang while they cleaned. This is my kind of group!!!!!! I love music!!!!!!! Anyway, then we went home and slept some more.
The next day, we unpacked some more and hung family pictures on the wall. Then, Brother Nathan came to pick us up for another meal out at the Children’s Home. They fixed lasagna and garlic toast made on this wonderful Romanian bread (we eat this bread with every meal---it is so cheap). I started feeling sick that day—kind of a head cold thing coming on. The next day they brought chicken potpie to the house—delicious! We arranged the house some more.
That night was Turkish meeting. Brother Nathan picked us up. We were so anxious to go. This is what we had been waiting for. We walked in to the mayor’s house and were greeted by a lot of the Turkish believers. They hugged us and kissed our cheeks. I was forewarned that they would want to pass the baby around, so I had her asleep in the carrier on my chest. Some of the women tried to talk to me. I had no idea what they were saying. Talk about speaking in tongues. We began to make gestures to each other to explain what we meant. It worked for the most part and I was able to communicate. One young woman holding a small baby came and tried to ask me some questions. I, felling horrible about it, had to tell her that I didn’t know what she was saying. She sadly walked away. See, to her, I was someone with whom she would have a few things in common with. She came back a few minutes later and tried again. As hard as I tried to talk with her, neither one of us could understand each other. Again, she sadly walked away. I knew I had hurt her. Brother Zack came over to give us some news from the kitchen. They had fixed us some Turkish coffee and put milk in it---a BIG thing because they don’t have the milk to spare. Brother Zack had told them that we don’t drink coffee. I asked if they were offended and told him I would drink it before I would hurt them. He said that they weren’t offended but rather excited that they could drink our coffee with the milk in it. While he was standing there, the young woman came back. She asked him to tell me some things. He stood there and acted as translator until we had enough of each other’s information to communicate on our own. She told of her 3 sons. Her baby was also a 2-month-old boy, but she had wanted a girl. We told our children’s ages and even discussed nursing and bottle feeding (this part was not through the translator, knowing it would embarrass him). This time she walked away encouraged. One young woman walked in and greeted us, counted our children and said something loudly to the whole group. Everyone laughed. We were the brunt of a joke that we couldn’t understand. Brother Zack called from across the room and said, “Larry, she says you should make 9 like Matt Welch”. Again everyone laughed. This time so did we. Someone also made a joke about Larry’s beard. They said they couldn’t recognize him with it. Originally we thought it made him look more like a Turk, but they said it made him look more like an orthodox priest. This was when they gave us our names. Larry sounds like Leddy. Carrie is Ceddy. Jonathan is Jon (long o). Hannah is Anna (A sounds like a short o). Joshua is Josh (long o). Esther sounds like A-stair-uh (roll the r). Cherith is Cheddy. It was actually emotional for me to be given a name by these people. They had accepted me into their group right away. What a wonderful blessing!!! Now it was mealtime. They gave us a hot bowl of some kind of meat soup. It was very oily. I guess they like a lot of oil. They also gave some kind of cabbage dish. I ate some soup, but wasn’t feeling well, so that’s all I had. I was proud of myself, though, for being able to swallow the mushy piece of fat from my soup. Then they set on a plate of some kind of powdered sugar dessert. I didn’t know what to do now. I asked Brother Zack and Brother Nathan if the Turks would be offended if we didn’t eat it (you all probably know we don’t eat sugar). He gave a wicked grin and said to leave it on the table and it would get eaten---by him, I’m sure. When we got done eating, we just sat there and waited for service to start. It only took me a short time to realize that they were eating in shifts. When one group was done eating, they would get up and let the next group eat. They wouldn’t tell us this. They think too highly of the American missionaries. So we got up and walked around for a bit. They told us that it was time to go to the basement for meeting. Brother Nathan whispered something to Larry and he came to tell me. He said that if there were chairs down there, the men sat in those and the women and children sat on the floor. He apologized. I said I thought it was great. I said I would do however the women of that culture did. I am no better than they. When we got down there, there were no chairs, just blankets lining the floors and lower walls. I took off my shoes and took my seat with the women. One gave up her wall seat so I could lean my back on the wall. She and my girls were about to make fast friends. Cherith had gotten hungry so I had her on my lap. Then Hannah was having trouble taking her braces and shoes off so I, knowing she would get snatched up, laid Cherith on the floor to go help Hannah. Sure enough, upon return, I found Cherith happily in the arms of the older lady that had given me her seat. They started singing. It was loud---very loud. They sang with their whole heart to the Lord. They got to raising their hands and shouting. I cried. I looked around at the faces of the people that I had longed to be with. Here they were, no one dressed fancy, probably wearing the best thing they owned. No one was there to impress, it didn’t seem. They just loved. They didn’t mind at all sitting crammed together on the floor of a basement room that was about 20ft.x20ft. I guess there were about 50-60 people in there. They sang for about two hours. Then Brother Zack gave Larry a chance to to say something to the people. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something along these lines: Glad to be with them, glad we serve the same Savior, glad we are going to the same Heaven, and a few other things that I can’t remember—sorry. Whatever it was, they liked it because they were shouting pretty good. Then He gave me a chance to say something (he interpreted for both of us). I told them that I had seen their faces in pictures and loved them before I came, but that I was gladder that they loved me. They all said amen (they say it as o-min—short o). Brother Zack then preached to them about Heaven. They loved it. We didn’t know what he was saying—he speaks the languages very well—but we have the same Spirit dwelling in us and we enjoyed it anyway. After the preaching, one man stood up to testify. Brother Zack interpreted some of it for us, but we could also understand by some of his gestures. He said that before he was saved, he was into everything. Then he pointed to his peacefully sleeping child and told how the Lord had completely changed him. What a wonderful first service with the Turks!!!!
The rest of the time here has been too much to remember. It has been full of learning where to shop, meeting our faithful taxi driver Mihai (sounds like Me-hi), scouring the city for a book shelf and bunk beds, getting the computer fixed, meeting the administrator of our building, upsetting our downstairs neighbor, meeting the Romanian nationals, etc. I’ll tell of how we have been trying to get the kids some beds. First, you need to know that EVERYTHING in Romania takes FOREVER to get done. First, we had to find a furniture store that knew what a bunk bed was. You see, the people here think that 2 kids is a big family---ha ha ha ha ha. Then we had to specify mattress measurements---they have mattresses of every size and measurement. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to buy a bed when the sales person and the customer don’t speak the same language. Thank God for Mihai---no seriously---he speaks a good amount of English. Larry and I are so funny sounding by the time we get home from things like that. We are still talking to each other like Indian Chiefs---“You –want—butter—on---bread?” When we realize how we sound, we just laugh.
Speaking of laughing at yourself, try going shopping. We went with Brother Nathan to the Metro (this is a very nice store for Romania. It’s like a small Super Wal-mart, but set up more like a Sam’s club). He took one of our Romanian workers to buy a pair of shoes. We went exploring. We decided that Larry should have some yogurt. We found the dairy area and saw a yogurt shaped container and it even said “Danone”. That should be it, right? Wrong. Brother Nathan’s son Jacob said that it was some kind of milk (butter milk is what we were told later). So we looked in the next aisle. Bingo. Yogurts of every kind. You could tell by the picture. But I thought we needed a bigger container. I found a nice big container and thought the picture looked like the plain yogurt I was looking for. Just the Brother Nathan and Lulu(the Romanian fella—We just call him Lu) came over and told me I was getting ready to buy a giant tub of sour cream. That has been just the first of many, many mistakes.
We have learned enough words to be able to go to market, though. You all must be praying for Larry’s language skills just like he asked of you before we left. He is picking up words, learning their money, exploring Unity Street, and even laughing with people. He is trying out his new words—such a wonderfully pleasant surprise. He has gone out with Catalin—another Romanian believer---when he went looking for beds and bookshelf. We call that man “cutta”. He and his wife brought us home from church one night. He told Larry if he ever needed help with anything, just to call him. He said his name, but it was hard to say, so Larry said he would just call him “Brother”. He thought that was funny.
Everything here is such a process. We can’t get a phone without the landlord. We can’t call the landlord without a phone. We can’t talk to our landlord without an interpreter. The interpreter has a family of her own and is quite busy. We can’t get Internet without a lease and we can’t get our lease without meeting the landlord. We don’t know where to pay our bills until the interpreter has time to show us. We can’t even get the gas bill out of the mailbox because we don’t have a key and we can’t get a key until we meet the landlord. We need to get a garbage key from the administrator but we don’t know where his office is and we won’t know where his office is until the interpreter has time to show us. We were told we need to get a car but we can’t get a car without a visa. We can’t attend language school without a visa. But we can’t get a visa until we have a lease and we can’t get a lease until….Well, you get the point. We are anxious to get all this done, but no one here seems to be in any hurry. This is their way. Who really cares if you are an American anyway?????
The scenery in our neighborhood the best I can describe it is like old Italy. There are little houses with fences around each one. They all have hanging vines that grow their own grapes to make their own wine. There are a lot of stray dogs, none of which really bother anyone. We have outdoor fruit and vegetable markets---the grapes are WONDERFUL!!!!!!! Then we have a street full of storefronts with everything imaginable. WE have a market across the street from us and she sells anything from soap and toilet paper (small paper towel if you ask me) to olive oil and yogurt. If you can’t say what you want, you either point at it or write it down on paper before you leave the house (we have a tourist word guide). On that one street, we have an Internet café, flower shop, jewelry store, salon products store, toy store, shoe store in back, indoor produce market, several nice mini markets, and even a place to buy bathroom sinks. Larry investigated all that. One day when he got home from Metro with Mihai, he was knocking on the door. It takes a while to open the door because of our high tech lock system. I opened the door to find Larry holding 3 beautiful roses with a giddy Mihai behind him grinning and saying, “He love you!” That was special. Also special was yesterday when Larry brought me home some mousse. No one thought they had any here. He tried to look at Metro and thought he found some but came to find out it was spray deodorant. I tried some today and it is salon quality for much cheaper.
The kids have adjusted well even though new demands have been put on them. The biggest one is “quiet time”. I guess the apartments here have a time everyday where everyone is supposed to observe this quiet rule. It is between 1 and 5 in the AFTERNOON. WHAT!???!!!!!! Who makes children be quiet for four hours in the afternoon????!!!!!!! Mihai says a quiet child is as rare as a pretty old woman. Anyway, we found out this rule when the man just under us complained to the administrator. He then came to the house to tell us to be quiet. I guess the man downstairs told him that I have a kindergarten up here. The administrator told him he thought we only had 3 kids. He said, “No way. There’s got to be more than that. I want to count.” This is funny, but we want to keep the peace, so we strive to observe “quiet time”.
Other points of interest-----we have no hot water most of the time. WE have only taken one warm shower right from the tap since we’ve been here. Fortunately we have a water heater in the shower---EXPENSIVE to run!!!!!!!!! Still, a warm shower is a lot better than the alternative. Also, no screens on any windows. People park their cars on the streets to where a 2-lane street becomes more like 1 ¼. Still they fit two cars coming at each other. Traffic is ridiculous. I’m so glad Mihai drives us everywhere. A small thing of real butter costs $1 at least. No one here seems to want you to say thank you for anything, but most everyone wants a tip. It’s customary to tip for almost everything. They also seem to take the long way around for everything they do. Like the man that had to come to our house and remove a pipe from the wall. He kept banging and banging on this pipe and putting a big hole in our cement wall. Larry had my friend Sandy (Brother Ralph’s wife) call Dana (our nice interpreter friend) and had her talk to this man on the phone and tell him it would be easier and less messy to cut the pipe and pull it out in two pieces. He said, “No. I bang big hole in wall, pull out pipe, then fill hole.” They do not listen to reason. Husbands and wives here don’t seem to be very close. They love each other, but they speak harshly to one another. One example is our upstairs neighbor. They are always speaking loudly to each other—not mean necessarily, just loud. Oh yeah, we also have to pay 19% tax on everything we buy---OUCH! I just heard tonight on the way home from church (I’m writing this in bits and pieces. Just trying to keep up with it all so that when I get internet, I can just send it like this and not have to try to remember everything) that gambling is legal as well as controlled prostitution. The girl on the street corner is apt to get arrested, but there are services you can call for such things---Disgusting isn’t it?!?!!!!!!! Also another thing we were told is how much football (soccer) is an important thing here. I guess the mafia has a lot of money invested in the sport and one account told of a goalie who missed the final goal of the game and lost it for his team. The mafia had him killed because they said he threw the game. Now that’s taking sports a little too seriously. Then Lulu (he’s a young man just out of school. He’s going to university—I think—in hopes to keep out of the mandatory military service) was so upset when he told me about the new shoes he bought last week at Metro. They were 3,000,000lei ($30) when he bought them, but now they have been put on sale for 700,000lei ($20). This $10 is such a HUGE loss for him. Brother Nathan told us last night that this young man has made a list of things he wants to buy if he ever gets money. The first thing is a natural gas bottle for his Mother. The second was something nice for his girlfriend. The third was a can of corn. Can you believe that?!?!?!?!?! A can of corn to him is an extravagance. Oh the things we take for granted. I have been trying to figure out how these people even survive. There are some wealthy here, and for that the prices are high—about like America—even more sometimes for imported items. But most of the people are poor. The average salary is $40 per month. Their electric bill is more than that. I guess they put every able body to work to help make ends meet. They also do a lot of canning so they can make it through the winter. I am so spoiled!!!!!
Okay, now it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. Yesterday we went to spend the holiday with the other Missionaries at the Children’s Home. We had a wonderful dinner by candlelight----not purposefully---they shut off the power to work on the lines. Sandy called me to tell me in advance. I said, “What?!?! Don’t they know it’s Thanksgiving?!?!?!?!?!!” She and I both laughed. They don’t recognize that American holiday. We did have a great time, though. The kids played outside for a short while but go too cold to stay out. It even snowed some. Then when they came in they pretended to be dinosaurs. Wonder who’s idea that was, Jonathan? Brother Nathan even walked on his hands for them. After a while, Monica got out her wedding pictures. They were so beautiful. This past summer she married Brother Mitko, national Pastor in Bulgaria. They are now expecting their first baby. They are sweet together. Eventually all the girls went back to the living room to talk “baby” talk while the men sat at the table and talked about whatever. It was starting to get pretty dark around 4. Finally the lights came on at 20 minutes to 5. Then they lost all water. It had been there a little up until that point, but they lost it completely. It’s still out today.
Speaking of today, Larry got to go for his first ride-along. He left with Brother Nathan this morning. First they planned to go get one of the ministry vans and tow it to town for radiator repair—Larry was nervous about that one. He has never driven in this kind of traffic, let alone steering a towed van. Then they were off to buy food and disperse it among the believers. One of the villages on the agenda was the “Believer’s village”. It is full of believers that were kicked out on Constanta in the attempt to “clean up” the city. I’m anxious to hear more about that visit. He said he would be gone all day, so the kids and I are doing a few things on our own. We just got back from taking out the trash and getting butter from the mini market. It cost 50,000 lei for two small squares of butter ($1.67). I even got a nap while the kids watched the Jungle Book two on our computer. Now I’m doing laundry---Oh let me tell you about doing laundry. Everything is miniature here, including my washing machine. It takes me three loads to get one American size load done. Laundry here is a never-ending battle, let me tell you.
Well, it’s Monday now and the landlord says she will come today to meet us and go with us to have our Internet turned on. We will see if she actually shows up. Also Dana said she or her husband will take us to pay our bills. That will accomplish a lot of our goals all in one day.
Yesterday after church we went with some of the missionaries to an Italian restaurant called “Scapino’s”. The food was delicious. I had lasagna. We all sat around discussing proper child rearing. Brother Ralph had a lot of practical suggestions. Near the end of the meal, I was asking Sandy about a language tutor for the children and me to possibly come to the house and teach us some Romanian. Larry asked Brother Ralph what he suggested for our tutor. He said that the best way for a missionary family to learn the language would be for them to live with a Romanian family and just pick it up. He knew that wasn’t practical for us with a family of our size. So he said I should hire a woman to come in that doesn’t speak any English and just have her talk to me. I have a book of words and she could help me learn how to properly say them. The kids could sit and listen and automatically pick it up. That makes me nervous, but I’m eager to get started. Dana recommended a woman—very friendly and talkative, loves kids, and would be patient with me. Brother Ralph said I should be open to correction by her when I say things wrong. He also said that now is the time to make mistakes. It’s expected—kind of like a small child learning a new thing. In five years, making silly grammar mistakes won’t be appreciated. I’m hoping to meet this woman soon. I think we will start with two days a week and than when Larry starts language school, I hope to have her come every time he goes. Brother Dave is checking in to a language school for Larry this week. He and I both are anxious to be able to clearly communicate with people. We don’t want to lean on an interpreter too much because it will make us lazy. Plus, who really wants to stand there looking like a big dummy when someone asks you a question. We have learned how to ask for butter and orange juice. The kids can even say it. Butter is “unt” and orange juice is “suc de portucale”. Learning is slow, but at least we are trying.
Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally after almost four weeks here, we finally have a breakthrough!!!!!!!!! We have internet!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t tell you haw wonderful this feels. Especially because yesterday I rode on my first elevator and was scared out of my mind. Then I get word that I may have to give up on my idea for the girls’ bed. And then I also met a woman who was a prospective tutor for language. I didn’t realize ahead of time that it would be like a poker game. She told me how much money she wanted. Then the interpreter looked at me and said, “Now it’s your turn. Now you tell me if this price is okay and if not, you give me your price.” I gave my price and she looked me in the eye and said it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was negotiating an international governmental deal. I told Larry I was Colin Powel with the ear piece in, sitting there with the quartet at the negotiations table. In the end, she gave her lowest price and I told her I would have to think about it. I hope she thinks I called her bluff. Then today I found out that our bunk beds are not being made even though we ordered them because of a misunderstanding----How could that happen? Did she not understand us? Ha ha ha.
Anyway, this is a wonderful thing having the internet at home. We even got to pay our bills and meet the landlord. Things are really starting to happen. Pray much for our language. I will keep updating from time to time. This one is just so long because it’s four weeks worth. The next one won’t be so long----I hope.
Love to All, Carrie
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