The last two months have seen us moving cities, celebrating Kurban (the religious holiday where Muslims sacrifice a lamb or goat), and getting to know our new neighbors.
Before we left our previous city, Alex was buying bread at our local bakery. We’ve bought bread there many times and were getting to know the people who worked there. One of the ladies always wore a wrist brace. After seeing her several times Alex asked if he could pray for her wrist. Surprisingly, she agreed. When Alex went by the next time, she wasn’t wearing her wrist brace, and when Alex asked her about it, she said it was feeling better since he prayed! They had a tiny conversation about faith (as far as Alex’s language could take him) and we hope and pray that she will encounter Jesus at some point as her healer.
For a variety of reasons, we decided to move further east along the coast. At the beginning of June, Alex flew to our new city and began looking for an apartment to rent. He had decided to stay with a non-believer that he had met once before and we were blown away at the kindness of this new friend. Once this new friend saw what kind of place we were looking for he phoned his relatives and asked if they had a place for us to rent. Miraculously, they did! Alex went to see it that evening and it fits almost everything that we prayed for. The relative (now our current landlord) agreed to rent it to us, which is actually not normal. Many landlords do not want to rent to foreigners. However, because Alex was staying with their relative, they welcomed us into the neighborhood!
(a bug we found flying around the house!)
A couple of days after we moved (July 1st) we had the rich opportunity to see locals celebrate Kurban. Kurban is a religious holiday where each family will purchase and sacrifice an animal (if they can afford it). They then celebrate with family and friends for four days and give food to friends, neighbours, and the poor. It appears to us that the ‘sacrifice’ part of the holiday is now breezed over, and the main focus is celebrating with family and friends.
This makes the holiday seem more like Christmas than anything else, with special trips to their mosque and many family feasts. We were blessed to be invited to our landlord’s home when it was their turn to host the feast. When we walked through the door, Alex and I found ourselves steered into separate rooms (men and women eat separately), sitting around large mats on the floor, desperately trying to understand the language that was being chattered all around us. We also received lots of stares, as we were the only non-family members there!
Needless to say, we have been thrown deep into the culture with this move, and are praying as we try to navigate living close to a tight-knit circle where everyone knows everyone. Just before I wrote this, my doorbell rang. It was my landlord’s wife with fresh bread in her hands. This is the third day in a row she has brought us part of her supper. I thanked her, then went back into the kitchen and stared at my counter. I had made brownies earlier, wanting to give them to my neighbors, but it appears that wasn’t fast enough to out-give this generous family. Oh well! Hopefully, they don’t mind brownies on the same plate they gave me yesterday!
After moving to our new home, we’ve settled in and started to get to know our neighbors; find language resources and make friends with locals.
However, we are also required to register our new address at the local government office within 20 days of moving. When Alex went to register, he was told that we were not allowed to simply change our address, but had to apply for a new visa. We were also informed that our new city is no longer giving out the kind of visas we require (or, at least, precious few).
We were given the options of applying for a different visa (none of which we currently qualify for), moving back to our old province (costing over $1000 and losing many connections), or applying for a new visa (which would mean leaving the country if our application were rejected. We were also told that the chances of being accepted were next to none).
None of these options seemed great. We took some time to pray about our choice and ask for more information. Eventually, we decided to apply for a visa to stay, and then pray for a miracle. While we waited for our appointment (it often takes several weeks to get an appointment) we heard many stories of other workers getting rejected during the past months as it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a visa.
Two days ago we went to our appointment and were granted our visas without hassle or difficulty! We walked out of the office feeling grateful, surprised, and blessed by the kindness of God. We were also granted a slightly longer visa than we requested, which is also very rare.
Thank you to everyone who prayed with us through this process. For those of you who didn’t get the prayer updates and want to be praying for us, you can receive frequent(ish) prayer requests from us on this whatsapp. Send us a message through our profile (click our names below) and we’ll add you!
Our next step is finding a tutor for Alex (Sarah has already begun to study with a local gal. She really enjoys the lessons and is learning quickly).
Thank you for being part of our journey and partners in this ministry. We wouldn’t be here without your support and prayers!
- Please pray for us as we navigate how to honour our neighbors and landlord
- Pray that we will be sensitive when speaking about the good news. They already know we are believers.
- Please pray for the people we left behind in our previous city, that the seeds sown would not be in vain.
- We had the blessing of witnessing a young man’s baptism last month, and that was super encouraging! Please pray that he would continue to grow in his faith.
- Alex has also become friends with a local who is interested in reading the Bible together. Please pray for him, that his curiosity would continue and he would find Jesus.
Until All Know Him,