Saturday, November 29, 2014

Steps of Faith

Dear Friends & Family,

With every step forward we make God has purposed and promised to be one step further ahead of us; leading us in the way He would have us go as we grip firmly onto his nail scarred hands. Some steps have been easy to make and even happily welcomed (we’re practically skipping along), while other steps have been made with great hesitance. Sometimes fear and even doubt. But those challenging steps to take in faith, the ones where we feel like we are barely even moving forward, shaking as we hold still so tightly to the Lords hand. Those steps of great faith refine us; refine and mold us into God-fearing, humble servants. Throughout these last few months we have taken many joyful steps forward but many challenging ones as well. Yet the Lord has remained the same yesterday, today and will tomorrow (and over tomorrow –as our kids would say). 
 “Consider the work of God: For who can make straight what He has bent? In times of prosperity be joyful, but in times of adversity consider this: God has made one as well as the other, so that no one can discover what the future holds.” Ecc. 7:13-14
On March 21st we welcomed our 4th daughter into the world: Lucy Lenore Ibbotson fits right in with our small collection of girls :-) Our older 3 could not be more happy to have a real live baby doll to play with, needless to say Lucy is well taken care of!! 

Shortly there after in April we went on our annual Austria retreat, which brings together the few Calvary’s here in Austria for a sweet time of fellowship and refreshment in God’s word.

In May we had a baptism and rejoiced over 13 people publically proclaiming (at a public lake mind you) to follow Jesus Christ!! It was an awesome sight to see!! 

Then to follow throughout the summer we were encouraged and blessed to have the opportunity to have a “Summer of Testimonies.” This mid-week Bible study time allowed various individuals in the church body (starting with the leadership) to share personal testimonies of the work God has done in their lives. This proved to be a sweet time of digging in a little deeper, uniting the church body here at Calvary Chapel Salzburg.  

This last summer also provided us with the opportunity to sponsor 20 Romanian orphans to come to Austria and join our youth retreat at the Schwaigmühle retreat center. For these children of all ages ranging from 5-16yrs. it was their first time going on a “vacation” or even traveling out of Romania. It was truly a blessing to love on these kids and just see the smiles on their faces as they enjoyed simply different food (from what their used to) and some new scenery to run around, new friends to play with etc. It was a real testimony to not only our youth but also to our church as a whole to witness their sincere thankfulness for even the smallest of things. We look forward to what the Lord might have in store for us in the future in reaching out more often to these orphans.

Our girls are enjoying their schools. Nollie is now in 3rd grade, Ella is in (vorschule) translated “pre-school” which here in Austria (contrary to how its done in the states) comes before 1st grade. And Emery is in her first year of kindergarten and is learning more and more German everyday.

Little Lucy of course is in what we like to call “homeschool” right now ha, ha!! We are very happy with where the Lord has placed our girls in their schools and could not be more proud of the progress they are making in the German school system. The challenges of being a foreigner, learning two languages simultaneously, adapting to the culture etc. can be very challenging (especially for children) but the Lord has really cared for our girls in every area and for that we thankful!!

In other news we just finished with a busy time of having two outreach teams come here to Salzburg from York Bible college and from Italy as well. The teams kept busy doing street ministry as well as practical ministry. Shortly thereafter a small team from our church went on a mission trip to Egypt. There the Lord used them to minister at a local church as well as an orphanage in the area.
That brings us to the season we are in now in preparing for our Christmas outreach. As we have done in years past we go out on the streets with our coffee/tea cart and amongst the Christkindlmarkt (“Christmas market”) we hand out free tea as well as Christmas cookies. Our theme of “Wärme die Bleibt” (translated: warmth that remains) speaking of the everlasting gift of salvation in Jesus Christ allows us to practically show the love of Christ. Upon receiving a nice warm cup of tea people often ask why we are doing this. Joyfully we have the opportunity to respond by sharing why and the response is awesome to witness.
Please join us in prayer as we go out and do this over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. To Him be the glory!!

And lastly we would like to share with you all the most recent step of faith the Lord is calling us to. Starting in January 2015 Patmos Reality Discipleship program will be for the first time here in Austria. Patmos Reality Discipleship is a Calvary Chapel ministry and was established 8 years ago to train up people for ministry. We are excited for this opportunity to have Patmos here and look forward to seeing how the Lord will use it to make His disciples. Please join us in prayer over this.

We will never know what the Lord might have in store for us if we don’t take that first step in faith. On Sundays we just finished up in the book of Hebrews, which is fitting because the whole book screams ‘living and walking by faith.’ We are encouraged and know that the Lord is busy at work here in Salzburg and we are thankful to be a part of it. Many thanks dear friends and family for all your love, prayers and support we could not be continuing on without it. We serve a great God who is worthy and who has a plan and for that we are thankful. Until next time, tschuss!!

In His service,

Ivan & Michelle
(Nollie, Ella, Emery & Lucy)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dear Family & Friends,

            Liebe Grüße aus Salzburg (lovely greetings out of Salzburg), hope this email finds you well and off to a good start in this New Year. With the end of one year and the start of another it’s comforting to witness the Lord’s steady and faithful hand of provision and grace eternally present. A life lived with the Lord in the drivers seat is ALWAYS an adventure and NEVER disappoints. “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” (Augustine)

            To highlight a few things from this past year the resounding theme I would have to say remains irrefutably recognizable as “an adventure” an adventure lived with the Lord.  God has led us as a family and as a church in ways that have not only stretched and challenged our faith, but more than that has strengthened that which we already know to be true and that is that GOD IS IN CONTROL, and GOD IS GOOD!! In a personal way we have experienced this through receiving the exciting news that we are expecting our 4th child, due on March 19th  (for those of you who don’t already know). We are overjoyed that the Lord has decided to add to our family and cannot wait to meet him or her very soon. If you think of it please keep the remainder of the pregnancy and a safe and healthy delivery in your prayers as well as another place to live as our family grows.

            To add to the excitement we also received our permanent visas. As I have mentioned before at the end of each year we have to reapply for another year. This last July was our 5-year anniversary living here and after 5 years we were eligible to apply for a permanent visa (having met all the requirements of the visa office, passing B1 German tests etc.). So with much anxiety (yet at the same time confidence in the Lord and His leading and guiding) we submitted our paperwork. By the Lord’s grace just a few weeks later we happily marched right into the visa office and gladly paid the (outrageous price inflicted) to receive our permanent visas. Therefore without the hassle and expense of having to reapply each year we can move forward for as long as the Lord would have us here.

In other news our church “The Chapel” is remaining steadfast and strong having celebrated in September 2013 its 5-year anniversary. Its similar to raising a baby in the sense of the new adventures and challenges that present themselves along the way as the “baby” grows. New seasons of tests and trials can be challenging while other seasons of growth and maturity can be so exciting and rewarding to experience as well. The most recent example of this was our Christmas outreach this last December. The streets of Salzburg come alive around Christmas time with the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) where eager tourist and shoppers anxious to find that perfect Christmas gift flood the streets. So we took advantage of this crowded, busy time as a church body we built a coffee/tea cart and assembled a team to hand out free, hot beverages and cookies as well as flyers explaining who we are as a church but more importantly who the Lord is and what he came to this earth to accomplish.  

Throughout the month of December with a team of about 20 from our church they hit the streets armed with this good news. The response from strangers on the streets was great but only the Lord knows what seeds might have been planted or how hearts might have been impacted by this opportunity of outreach. We as a church body were greatly blessed serving the Lord in this way and it strengthened our faith and fellowship with one another in working as a body of Christ for the greater good of reaching the lost in our city. To Him be the glory…

In continuing in ministry here in Salzburg our hope and desire is to move forward in faith and wisdom to effectively reach the lost here in this dark city. We believe the Lord is going to do great things and we trust Him in that, therefore we are asking you join us in prayer as we also pray. We are looking into moving to a more permanent church building that we can rent. As we have shared before the city Salzburg is a very expensive city to live in. Prices within the city of places suitable to rent to accommodate our size church are outrageously priced yet we are seeing the Lord moving us in that direction as where we currently meet is getting to be to small. Our prayer is to have a permanent place of our own that we can not only hold Sunday services at but also all mid-week bible studies, functions as well as the church office at as well. As D.L. Moody put it, “If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!”  Therefore with patience and wisdom and with a BIG GOD by our side we are making our plans BIG!!! It would be greatly appreciated if you would join us in prayer regarding this; we trust and know the Lord will lead us in His timing.

Many thanks for your continued prayers and support; it’s invaluable to us. We will do our best in keeping you up to date in the coming months as we move forward in serving the Lord in this great city. Bis später, until next time!!

Ivan & Michelle (Nollie, Ella, Emery & baby)

Praise report:

Prayer requests:
Church Building, Birth of our fourth child, A larger living space for our family, Those who heard the good news,

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Been A While...

Dear family & friends,

Greetings from Salzburg, we hope that so far this year has been a good start for you all. The start of a new year always seems to come with a refreshed excitement and anticipation for what the Lord is going to accomplish. Much to look forward to as Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Taking a quick look back at the past few months it’s unbelievable to think that we are already over half way through the school year. Nollie (our oldest daughter) is really enjoying 1st grade in the Austrian school system and is expanding overall her German comprehension and speaking skills. Ella (our middle daughter) as well has grown a lot in her German language understanding through Kindergarten this year. The great thing is Michelle as well gets to learn right along with them as she attended the University of Salzburg and now is in the Volkhochschule for German courses. It has been a huge learning experience for her as she meets new people and progresses with the language. Nollie and Ella get a kick out of the fact that mommy has school too, mommy has homework too; it’s a funny concept to them!! Emery our youngest is learning a few words here and there but we don’t expect too much from a 2 year old though.

This winter for us has been pretty mild in comparison to others but not too easy health wise. Unfortunately Ivan and the girls have battled with being sick quite frequently this winter, even at one point (Ivan, Nollie & Emery) having the Influenza virus.  If you think of it, please keep us in prayer regarding good health. Springtime is here but the warmer temperatures are scattered amongst cold winter-like days.

Moreover we are happy to report that the Lord has been strengthening and sustaining Calvary Chapel Salzburg and is always faithful to do so.  February we enjoyed having our first annual “Couples Dinner” for married couples within our church. We were blessed to have guest speakers Frank and Judy Boulet (American missionaries in Germany) with a heart for ministry to married couples share with us. This thought of nurturing a marriage relationship is a foreign concept to the Austrians, but thankfully every married couple that attends our church was represented at this event. It was a sweet time to take a short pause from our busy schedules and really focus our attention on our marriages and dig into how God intended marriage to be.  So often the marriage relationship is where the enemy will attack first and sadly enough Satan is far too often successful.

All ministries within the church are continuing strong. Our mid-week bible study, Women’s bible study, prayer meeting, prison ministry as well as occasional street witnessing opportunities are keeping us as a church body busy and about the Lord’s business.  Next month we are excited about the opportunity to have an outreach team from the Hungary Bible College come and join us.  Please be in prayer with us as we seek how the Lord would like to use this time effectively for spreading the good news of the gospel.  

We thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support for us and Calvary Chapel Salzburg; it’s a privilege to serve the Lord here and we look forward to sharing more about the good work the Lord is accomplishing in the future.

In His service,
Ivan, Michelle (Nollie, Ella & Emery)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear  Friends and Family,

It’s hard to believe that summer is soon coming to an end and fall is quickly approaching. Thankfully the Lord has been gracious in giving us several beautiful, warm and sunny days to enjoy outdoors this summer. Now as we are facing the reality that school starts soon, there comes a certain urge to get out and make the most of the last few warm days we have left and at the same time prepare for the rigorous school schedule that lies ahead.

When we arrived in 2008
As we reflect back on this summer and all that has taken place it’s comforting to see how the Lord’s hand has carried us close. This past July we celebrated 4 years living here in Salzburg and this month completes 4 years the church has been established. To try and sum up in one sentence these past 4 years, all we can say is the Lord is FAITHFUL and so worthy to be praised!!! The Lord’s hand has been at work this summer doing some exciting things here in Salzburg and its awesome to watch the Holy Spirit awaken the hearts of the believers within the church and draw in those who are searching.  We often have students who will find our church while they live here during their semester studying abroad and then as normal the occasional visitors who will pass through or come with someone who already attends our church. Well the Lord brought one young lady our way who is a student studying German at the University, she was searching for a church in the area and she found us. She attended the first time with her host family over a month ago now and has been coming ever since (as well as her host parents).  Boe is her name and one Sunday she had brought her friend Yukiko with her who was just visiting for a few days here in Salzburg.  Well that day we know that the Lord had brought Yukiko to church because the gospel was clearly presented, the Holy Spirit was speaking to her heart and she accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.  Since she has returned home and we are in the process of connecting her with a church back in her home town; another soul saved, to God be the glory!!!

Nollie's new school 
Another crazy connection to our friend Boe and her host family is that one Sunday they had brought with them another lady that we happened to recognize. We quickly realized that we had recognized her from Nollie’s school that she will be starting soon (Grade 1). Upon speaking with her after service we soon realized that it was Nollie’s 1st grade teacher that she will have.  We were so surprised and blessed that she was there and it was nice that Nollie was able to become more acquainted with her teacher and we were able to share more about why the Lord brought us here to Salzburg. Needless to say we are super stoked for Nollie to begin 1st grade and likewise Ella’s kindergarten teacher (same one Nollie previously had) are we equally thrilled with. The Lord has really answered our prayers regarding the schooling here for our girls and we are excited to see what this next school year holds. To add to that, Michelle will soon be continuing with her German classes at the University and would greatly covet your prayers as she dust off her German skills (Ha!!) and moves forward. 

Bible Study
       Furthermore as we are moving into the next season we are reminded that, “God’s past faithfulness, demands our present trust.” Moving forward is sometimes intimidating but we know and trust that the Lord (who has NEVER failed us before) is right by our side as we take those steps of faith.  As I had mentioned earlier God is stirring things up within the church (in a good way), and more and more we are finding that the places that we meet for prayer meeting and mid-week Bible study are becoming increasingly cozy.  Of course for this we are thrilled, but at the same time it has prompted us to be praying more earnestly for perhaps a space that we can rent facilitating a work office as well as room for all mid-week events that already take place.  We would ask you to join us in prayer regarding this as we seek how the Lord would direct us and grant us wisdom also with the faith to move forward when the time is right.  As this is one of the most expensive places in Europe to live, you can imagine even the rent for a place (somewhat conveniently located) is also very expensive.  Moreover we are comforted knowing that the Lord has this in His hands and as Luke 1:37 promises, “Nothing is impossible with God.” 

     In other ways as a church we have already taken steps forward in the leadership of the church. Most recently we have appointed an assistant Pastor as well as an elder within the church to serve alongside. This important step forward in church structure we believe is a stepping stone in building the Lord’s body of believers (His church) here in Salzburg.  Our mission and our desire is to magnify the glory of the Lord and His saving grace, to expand the Gospel throughout Salzburg and beyond and make disciples. Thank you for your prayers and support that greatly encourage and bless us always and we will be sure and keep you informed on the exciting progress. 

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

In His Hands,
Michelle and the Girls
Ivan, Michelle (Nollie, Ella, Emery)

Prayer requests....

1. Church building and the provision for that.
2. The Lord's protection for our brother in Christ who is in Iran right now sharing his faith with his people.
3. For Michelle as she continues her German classes and the girls as they start School and kindergarten.
4. Prison ministry - for those that have come to Christ.
5. That we would have the health and strength to press on in these last days we are living in.

Thank's so much - We covet your prayers

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dear Family & Friends,

   Grüsse vom Salzburg (Greetings from Salzburg!!). I hope this newsletter finds you well. With the passing of spring and the beginning of summer the essence of the Lord’s faithfulness carries on. The change of seasons and the summertime air brings the promise of more simple days spent outdoors enjoying the Lord’s miraculous creation.

   We are excited to report that the Lord is continuing to do a mighty work here in Salzburg and we are humbled to be used by Him. In March we had our first ever Leadership Retreat and had the privilege of Pastor Ron Sanchez (Pastor of South Hill Calvary Chapel in Puyallup, WA) here as our guest speaker. What a treat it was to separate ourselves as a leadership team and really glean from His word through Pastor Ron what it means to be a New Testament church. The Lord met us there and really poured out His blessings and renewed our spirits to continue strong the work He has begun in and through us. The Lord is building His church here in Salzburg and it’s exciting that He lets us participate in what He is doing!!

   Furthermore we are also eager to share that last month (June) we had our very first church Baptism. Once again we had the honor of Pastor Ron Sanchez along with his wife Jenny this time visiting us here in Salzburg. Though unplanned we were also blessed to have Ben and Emily Spector (Missionaries in Croatia) visiting that weekend as well. Pastor Ron that Sunday service shared on the meaning and importance of being baptized then thereafter we went down to the river (well in this case a canal) and had our baptism followed by a church picnic. In a special way the Lord confirmed to two individuals in our church the importance of being baptized; one being a young 13 year old boy (Josua) and the other an Iranian man (Can't mention his name due to his background) who was saved out of Islam and now is a believer; a decision that still to this day puts his own life in danger. Also unexpectedly during the message the Lord had been prompting Ben Spector (missionary in Croatia) to take this step as well to be baptized once again. Ben had been baptized before but never since after his rededication to the Lord. In the sunshine that day it was a time of rejoicing for us all in remembrance of how the Lord has delivered us all from the slavery of sin and washed us white as snow. We look forward to having more frequent baptisms in the future.

   In other news we are gearing up for our All Church Retreat in a few days at Calvary Chapel’s Austrian Retreat Centre at Schloss Heroldeck in Spittal/Millstatt. A small town 1.5 hours away situated in the Alps on a beautiful hillside overlooking a magnificent lake. This week long retreat is geared towards all Austrian Calvary Chapel’s in the country for a time of refreshment and spiritual nourishment as His larger church body. We know the Lord is going to meet us there and we look forward to this time of coming before Him as His servants to be renewed, refreshed and revived to continue being used by Him in this lost country. Prayers are appreciated that the Lord would protect this time and that the enemy would be bound against any discouragement or cause for people not to attend. “The Lord dwells in the praises of His people,” and it is good thing to be found in Him and our desire is that this time would be all about Him, so please pray with us as we prepare our hearts and minds for this time.

   Join with us also as we wait upon the Lord in prayer regarding a new church building for Calvary Chapel Salzburg (“The Chapel”). For years now we believe the Lord has been preparing us for taking this step of faith forward in pursuing our own church building. As costs are high here in Salzburg, we have only had the funds to rent a place Sunday mornings. We have rented 3 different locations for nearly the past 4 years and the Lord has been faithful in that, so we trust and know that through faith He too will lead us in this seemingly giant step of faith forward. As it is said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse demands complete and uttermost faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; faith to allow Him to lead and guide as He sees fit. “The Chapel” (Calvary Chapel Salzburg) belongs to God; therefore we trust that He will establish us right where He wants us, so many thanks for your continued prayers regarding this.
   The Lord has been teaching us lately that we MUST be dependent on Him for the effective work of the ministry no matter where he has placed us. We are Christians 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week and with an eternal perspective in mind we continue the good work the Lord has begun here in Salzburg. Many thanks again for your continued prayers for us and Calvary Chapel Salzburg.

In His Service, Ivan & Michelle Ibbotson (Nollie, Ella & Emery)

Here are some prayer requests for those that read the whole letter. :-)

1. For the Josua, Ben and the brother from Iran that were baptized.
2. The Lord's protection for our Brother from Iran who longs to reach his people in Iran and knows it might  cost him his life.
3. Church building and the provision for that.
4. Prison ministry.
5. Our neighbors (We have had many bike tires slashed and things stolen.)
6. Church Retreat.
7. That we would have the health and strength to press on in these last days we are living in.

Thank's so much - We covet your prayers

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Good News....

Dear Family & Friends,

Greetings from the frosty, cold Salzburg right now, We hope this email finds you safe and warm. Good things to report here from our little corner of the world. The Lord’s faithfulness and provision prevails abundant and strong!!

First and foremost we are happy to report that we have all been granted our visa’s and to make it even sweeter Ivan, Nollie and Ella all now have 3 year visas. Emery and Michelle only have a one year but hopefully next year they too will qualify to apply for 3 year visas. To further explain, about a month ago Ivan passed the B1 German test which automatically qualified him for a 3 year visa and Nollie and Ella have already previously had more than two consecutive visa’s which also makes them eligible for receive 3 year visa’s. Emery is only 16 months and therefore is not even old enough to have had received two consecutive visas, and Michelle is currently enrolled in the A2 German course and steadily climbing the ladder to eventually complete the German B1 level required by the visa office and hopefully successfully pass the test by the end of this year. Prayers regarding this would be greatly appreciated; according to Ivan the exam is pretty in-depth and intense.

Furthermore, we are excited to share that most recently a our Church became involved in a prison ministry here in Salzburg. In years past the warden at the prison would not allow Christians to go in and minister. Gracefully the Lord has opened the doors for a sweet and much needed ministry opportunity to take place, involving doing worship and sharing the hope and joy of the Lord with the inmates. Your prayers are greatly coveted for this amazing opportunity the Lord has presented us with.

And so it goes for us here in Austria, not much else to say other than simply the LORD IS GOOD, but I’m sure you already knew that. As winter melts into spring we will continue to keep you updated on all the latest and greatest happenings here in Salzburg, till then may you continue to reap and sow all the greatness of our heavenly Father.

In His Service,
Ivan & Michelle (Nollie, Ella & Emery)


Got our Visas.
Through the Prison ministry a young man came to faith.


Church building we could use 24/7.
Michelle's German coarse.
Salvation for the unsaved that come to church week after week.
Health for the whole family.
Daniel and Petra Ornelas as they prepare to move to Salzburg to serve.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Frohes neue Jahr

Dearest family & friends,

How can another year already be coming to end? The close of a year and the beginning of another compels one to reflect and ponder the amazing faithfulness and glory of the Lord in our lives. So undeserving yet He continues to love, protect and bless His children. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all……”

As we reflect on the last year and how the Lord has led and directed our family, we are left in awe of His unfailing goodness. We considerate it an honor and a blessing to be here in Salzburg; in whatever way we can be His hands, His feet to spread the good news of the gospel. We trust and know that the Lord has a mighty plan for this dark city and our prayer in the next coming year is that the Lord’s light of grace would shine even brighter.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your continued prayers and support for us and Calvary Chapel Salzburg. It truly is humbling to have been serving here the last 3 years with such an amazing army of support behind us. We look forward in anticipation of what the Lord has planned for us and CCS and will continue to update you all in the months ahead. Thanks again und Gottes Segen im neuen Jahr!

In His Service,
Ivan & Michelle (Nollie, Ella & Emery)

Prayer requests:
• Visas would be granted for another year
• German course beginning in January for Michelle
• Spiritual growth for Calvary Chapel Salzburg
• Continued financial providence for the year ahead
• Good health

Praise Report:
• Ivan passed the German exam required for the visa
• Faithful men and women who serve in the church