Spring is Here!

I am so grateful for the beautiful spring weather!!  Everything seems to be so full of life with the coming of spring!  This winter and spring have been full of lots of fun, such as:

Celebrating Aria’s first birthday with friends,

Spending many special moments with friends,

Lots of fun playing in the snow,

And then enjoying beautiful spring weather,

Seeing God work in amazing ways through the Greenhouse Project,

Celebrating Easter at church and with English class kids,

Engaging in a new work of helping to get kids who are not in school ready to be enrolled in school,

Seeing God work through Theological Education, including a fun trip to Budapest for a TE conference,

And waiting with eager anticipation for the Prishtina Ministry Center to be completed.

We continue to be so grateful to be part of how God is working in Kosovo.  He is good!

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Christmas Fun

December has been a fun month for us with lots of celebrating Christmas.  Here are a couple highlights:

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English Class Kids

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English Class Kids

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English class Christmas party

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Adult English class

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Women’s gathering

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Christmas party fun

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Malachi reading Scripture in Albanian

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Traditional men’s gathering

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Kids from our team

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English class party

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Christmas worship service

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Merry Christmas from the Thibaults!

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Enjoying Albanian hospitality

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Kosovo Greenhouse Project

A super exciting thing that we are doing in Kosovo right now is the Kosovo Greenhouse Project.  Through a partnership with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, we are helping families to construct greenhouses on their property.  The purpose of this project is threefold:  to increase the amount and diversity of the food supply for the family who receives the greenhouse, to increase the income for that family through their sales of the produce at the market, and to enable the families to impact their neighborhoods by giving produce to their impoverished neighbors.  We are currently constructing our third greenhouse for the year and are hoping to complete a fourth one before the end of summer.  Here are some pictures of the greenhouses:

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Our Family!

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Gil, Sarah, Megan, Malachi and Aria Thibault

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Coming to America!

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We are so excited to be coming the the United States this summer from June 1 – August 29 to share about how God is working in Kosovo.  We would love to see you!  Please email Sarah at sthibault@eurasiaregion.org to set up a time to see each other.  We’d love to meet for a meal or a cup of coffee.  While most of our Sundays are full, we still have mid-week times available.  Please contact us about speaking at your church, small group, or really any setting. Our schedule is below:

June 3-5:  Wollaston Church of the Nazarene, Quincy, MA

June 5 (evening): Keene, NH Church of the Nazarene

June 12 (morning): Avon Grove Church of the Nazarene, West Grove, PA

June 19 (morning):  Orange First Church of the Nazarene, Orange, TX

June 19 (evening):  Port Arthur Grace/Port Arthur First, Port Arthur, TX

June 20 (evening):  Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene, Pasadena, TX

June 21 (evening):  Baytown Church of the Nazarene, Baytown, TX

June 22 (evening):  Houston First Church of the Nazarene, Houston, TX

June 23 (evening):  Houston Open Fellowship, Houston, TX

June 26 (morning):  Cornerstone Lake Jackson Church of the Nazarene, Lake Jackson, TX

June 26 (evening):  Alvin Church of the Nazarene, Alvin, TX

July 3 (morning):  St. John’s Church of the Nazarene, St. John’s, MI

July 10 (morning):  Mt. Pleasant Church of the Nazarene, Mt. Pleasant, MI

July 17 (morning):  Portland Church of the Nazarene, Portland, MI

July 24 (morning):  Three Rivers Church of the Nazarene, Three Rivers, MI

July 24 (evening):  Nashville Church of the Nazarene, Nashville, MI

July 30-31:  Battle Creek Church of the Nazarene, Battle Creek, MI

July 31 (evening):  Alma Church of the Nazarene, Alma, MI

August 7 (morning):  Lansing South Church of the Nazarene, Lansing, MI

August 7 (evening):  Eaton Rapids Church of the Nazarene, Eaton Rapids, MI

August 14 (morning):  Midland Church of the Nazarene, Midland, MI

August 14 (evening):  Lansing BreakThrough, Lansing, MI

August 17 (evening):  Sparta Church of the Nazarene, Sparta, MI

August 21 (morning):  Clyde Park Church of the Nazarene, Wyoming, MI

August 21 (evening):  Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, Vicksburg, MI

August 28 (morning): Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene, Prairie Village, KS

August 28 (evening):  Blue Springs Church of the Nazarene, Blue Springs, MO

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Finding Hope in Hopelessness, Rest in Unrest

These have been interesting days in Kosovo, both as a nation and for me personally.  The nation of Kosovo is struggling with unemployment, corruption, and mostly, feelings of hopelessness.  Yesterday, we celebrated the 7th year anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, but there wasn’t much celebrating happening and there were a lot of feelings of hopelessness.  People were out, but it was a pale comparison to the previous years.

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Celebrating Kosova’s independence day

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Keeping warm with a little hot chocolate

People are tired of living in a country which constantly seems to be getting worse.  College-educated workers have spent years unsuccessfully looking for work.  We know many people who work for months on end, never to see a paycheck due to lack of money to pay them (and likely, some corruption).  There are reports that thousands of people are leaving Kosovo daily in hopes of finding a better life elsewhere.  For me, this shows true desperation because Kosovars love their homeland and must feel truly desperate in order to feel they need to leave.  It just seems like there is a general feeling of unrest; people wanting things to change, but unsure how to go about it.  And if I’m not careful, I can let this unrest take a hold of me.  If I take my eyes off the true Hope, I can start to feel a little hopeless.

Kosovars leaving Kosovo Armend Nimani / AFP/Getty Images

Kosovars leaving Kosovo
Armend Nimani / AFP/Getty Images

I’ve been meditating this week on Psalm 116 and verse 7 has especially spoken to me: “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”  It is true.  The Lord has been so good to me. The only place to find true rest in the midst of unrest is in Him. I shall not lose hope.  God has a plan, not just for me and my time here, but for Kosovo and the Kosovar people.  He is faithful.  In Him, there is hope.

Kosovo's newly painted Newborn sign

Kosovo’s newly painted Newborn sign

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In my weakness…

These last few months have been quite a mixture of blessings and struggles, with a whole lot of weakness thrown in.

We have had some really great times this fall.  My English class, for instance, is going great.  I have some really great kids in the class and enjoying teaching them quite a bit.  We had a super fun birthday party with Malachi, complete with lots of his new friends from his preschool.

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Adults enjoying time at Malachi’s birthday

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Malachi’s birthday

We have started small groups with Prishtina Church and these have proven to be really blessed times, where I have been challenged to grow in my faith.   I have almost completed teaching my first class through European Nazarene College, which has been a great experience.

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Malachi enjoying time with Arben after home group

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Enjoying time at a pastor’s retreat

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Teaching a class for European Nazarene College

God seems to be breathing new life into Suhareka Church in different ways.  God has given me a job at Prishtina High School that I really love this year.  I am doing exactly what I love to do and am so grateful to have this opportunity.

And still…life has really been full of challenges lately.  We came back from America this summer really renewed, excited to see what God was doing in Kosova, and hopefully through us.  And, it feels sometimes, we have been met with significant challenges at every turn.  Struggles with friendships, struggles with vision about how to be using our time here, struggles with just lots of daily life stuff that just add up.  And it feels exhausting.

At a women’s conference I was at a few weeks ago (which, by the way, was a huge example of those blessings and struggles all wrapped up into a couple days), I was really struck by one of the speakers sharing about how God is made strong in our weakness.  Of course, I know this.  I’ve heard this a gazillion times.  And yet, perhaps never before in my life have I experienced this more fully.  I am so weak right now.  After all my attempts to learn the culture here, I still feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface.  I am so weak.  In the endless hours I have spent learning the Albanian language, I am still regularly stuck when trying to have a conversation.  I am so weak.  After my hours I have poured into relationships with others, I still feel lonely sometimes, unsure about my friendships, so hurt sometimes.  I am so weak.  I work so hard to be the kind of parent my kids need, the wife my husband needs; and yet I fail often.  I am so weak.

And then God comes to me and says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And then Paul says he boasts about his weaknesses.  What?!  I want to hide my weaknesses.  I want to be a good example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  And if people see my weaknesses, they might not see Jesus shining through me.  But this isn’t what Paul says.  He says that when we are weak, God’s strength shines through.  We don’t need to hide our weaknesses, but instead, we should delight in them.  When we have difficulties, we should be full of joy.  They are opportunities for God’s strength to be shown.  I have to admit, it doesn’t feel like this sometimes.  I feel like when I am weak, when I make mistakes, this reflects badly on God.  But this isn’t what God’s word says (and I’m really thankful for that!!).  He says that when we admit our weakness, then his grace, his power, his love can be fully shown.  So, in a time in my life where I have never felt so weak, I pray that somehow he would help me to rejoice in these weaknesses, that somehow his power and grace might fully be shown.

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