Feb. 2, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
It’s so great to know that we’ll be back in Serbia, Lord willing, in just a few more months! Sometimes we’re literally counting the days. The country is in an absolute mess: over 40% unemployment, corruption everywhere you turn, a volatile political situation (especially with the southern province of Kosovo trying to break off), a dwindling population… So many people over there think we’re crazy for wanting to come back; but with so much instability and great needs, come great opportunities for ministry. Although it feels like you’re on a sinking ship while living there, God so often uses circumstances like these, not just in Serbia but all over, to bring people into a desperate state where they will stop depending on themselves and cry out to Him for salvation. We’re really looking forward to participating once again in bringing God’s great message of hope to this dear, broken nation; particularly to those there affected by disabilities.
We wanted to let you know about some practical ways you could get involved in helping us in our mission to Serbia over the summer:
1. Volunteer – As I mentioned in the last newsletter, plans are in the oven for our annual “Joni & Friends” retreat for families affected with disabilities that will be held from June 25-29. So far we have had two such retreats and both were just amazing! It’s hard to put into words the incredible things God did during those camps – so many tears, lives touched (volunteers, children, parents…), unconditional love of Christ being manifested daily through serving and caring for people that are often so neglected… (see May 2011 & May 2012 Newsletters on our website for more details www.SerbianOutreach.com) Please consider possibly being a volunteer for this retreat. You don’t have to be experienced in working with people with special needs. The cost will be around $700+airfare. If you’re interested, please contact us!
2.Sponsor a Volunteer – There will be several volunteers attending from Serbia that will need financial support. Most just can’t cover their expenses from their own pockets for such an event. In the past, “Joni & Friends” has been able to cover most of the expenses of the volunteers attending, but this year they raised considerably less. Because of this, we’ve had to reduce the duration of the retreat down to four days (as opposed to five) and we’re asking volunteers to try to raise their own support. If you would like to give a donation to help a volunteer and/or help out with extra expenses of the retreat:
• Make check payable to:
Fellowship Bible Church Arapaho
7815 Arapaho Road
Dallas, TX 75248
• Place in memo section of check:
J&F Retreat - Sivulka
Note - The church we go to here in Dallas has set up a separate account for this event. All donations are tax-deductible.
3.Support us! – The Lord has been so faithful in providing for us, through various means and people. (Please scroll down to read about a miracle of God’s provision that happened a couple years ago).
Here’s how you can help us:
* Make check payable to:
Calvary Chapel of Vista
885 E. Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084
* Place in memo section of check:
Greg and Jelena Sivulka
(All of these donations are also tax-deductible)
Thanks so much to those of you who have ever given to our ministry and/or are giving regularly. Thanks also for your prayers. We really appreciate all you do to help us.
Love in Christ,
I’m so happy to inform you that Hana is slowly but surely progressing in her development! Thank you for your continued prayers for her. I’ve posted a video on our website showing her actually reading a book with simple sentences! Check it out at: www.SerbianOutreach.com under the “videos” option.
|Hana and Jelena's Birthday Party (Yes, their birthdays are the same date!)|
We’re planning on returning at the end of the summer from Serbia to have her continue the program she is in. There are still a lot of “unknowns” as far as our future plans go, but we’re continuing to trust the Lord to show us step by step what we should do and it is a huge comfort to us to know that He is still in control.
Money from Heaven
A few years ago we had just moved back into our church building that had been partially renovated. It was starting to get cold and we desperately needed some money to put in some insulation before the winter hit. We told the church about the problem and got everybody praying.
A few weeks later as I was washing dishes in the kitchen a heard Jelena scream – “Greg, get up here!” I quickly ran upstairs thinking there was some kind of accident or something. To my amazement, I saw money spread out all over the floor of our son’s room and Jelena with a look of surprise on her face, right in the middle of it. I looked closely at the money and noticed it was in German Marks – 6,000 DM (the equivalent of about 3,000 Euros or $4,000). “Is it real?!” I exclaimed. “I think it is,” said Jelena. “Where did you find it?” I asked. Jelena said that she was just cleaning the room, throwing out stuff when she came across a small, ordinary box that she almost threw away. She decided to open it, just to check and see if anything was in there it was – 6,000 DM!!! Now, I was completely confused. We have no idea how that money ended up in our house! I know that God can do miracles, but why would he send us money in German Marks? It didn’t make any sense. Another think that I was wondering is if we would even be able to exchange that money into currency that’s valuable and still being used. (Germany switched over to the Euro several years ago). I called our neighbor who’s a banker to ask him for advice. He laughed so hard when he heard that we just “happened” to come across this huge amount of money. He told me that we could exchange it, but that if we do the exchange in Serbia, the banks would charge a lot. He emailed me the name and address of a bank in Mainz, Germany that would do the exchange free of charge into Euros. But how would I get up there? It’s about a ten-hour drive to that place and I would lose a lot of money on gasoline. (In Europe gas/petrol is around $6 a gallon)! Then I remembered a friend of mine from Budapest who often goes on business trips to other countries. I called him up to ask him if he was planning on going to Germany anytime soon. To my amazement he replied, “Yeah, in a couple weeks I’ve got a business meeting coming up in Germany. There’s room in the car for you. You don’t have to pay anything for gas. The meeting is in a city called Mainz. How far away is that from the place you need to go to?” I started laughing. “You gotta be kidding!” I said. “That’s the very city I need to go to!” I went on the trip and my friend dropped me off right in front of the bank on his way to his business meeting. I walked in, handed the German Marks to the cashier and he gave me 3,100 Euros in cash. The next day I got back down to Sombor and immediately called a friend of mine who does insulation. I told him to give me an estimate of how much it would cost to insulate the whole church. After taking measurements, we sat down and he wrote out the figures. Not knowing anything yet about the money Jelena had found, he showed me the total cost – roughly close to 3,000 Euros!!
Not only did God provide the exact amount we needed; He also gave us a tip of 100 Euros!! What a great God we serve!! I still get goose bumps every time I tell this story. It was a definite, indisputable miracle of God’s provision! Praise You Lord!!!
|Church Building with Insulated Facades|
Speaking in California
From March 8-15th Jelena will be in California! She’s going to be speaking at a women’s conference from the 9th-11th sponsored by “North Coast Church” in Vista. If you would like to get together with Jelena or would like to attend the conference (that is, if you’re a woman!) please let us know. She would love to see “ya’all!”