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. 7:13-14On 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)