July Partners Update

Peter translating during a service

July Happenings

Important News

Because of recent changes in the status of a foster child who was part of Shannon and JoElla’s family for a few years, Shannon and JoElla and their children will be moving back to the United States on August 5. They will be settling in the Chambersburg, PA area for the near future. This sudden departure means that there is a gap in administrative personnel in Poland. The Board is working hard to develop a plan to provide leadership and support for the team. As that plan develops, we will share additional information in Partners.

Word from the Lehmans

Please pray for our family. These are sudden changes compressed into an extremely tight window of time. The focus cannot be on us though. It has got to be on Christ because the storm around me is overwhelming when I try to weigh it against my chance of survival. Jahna needs a family to be her anchor, a north star from which to orient herself after nine years of constant change and upheaval. We will answer that call boldly as we have witnessed the miracles that have even made it possible. We will not shrink back and I urge you, our supporters, to step forward at this time and to help AIM as this is requiring some resources and energy that we couldn’t calculate for. We cannot expect warfare to be different… it will be costly and will demand sacrifice from all of us. Thanks for partnering in this fight even with its unexpected twists and turns.

An Update from Lavern’s

We are having a good time in the U.S. We’ve been in Montezuma, Georgia with Lolita’s family, except for a week we spent in Virginia. We’re glad that we can help out around Grandpa and Grandma’s place—in the wood shop and in the chicken house. Hadassah and Annaliese are enjoying the youth group at the Word of Life church where we attend. We’re engaging in friendships and conversations that refresh and encourage our souls.

Lavern feeding chickens

Agape Church Update

Summer means people are travelling and taking vacations, but it also means we get to host some visitors as well. Polish people take their vacation seriously…they don’t come for the weekend, but rather for a week or two. One brother shared his story of redemption with us. God miraculously spared his life even after he jumped from seven stories in an attempt to kill himself. Peter (R) is translating here, and has also been organizing our meetings and leading out in church administration while Lavern’s family is on home assignment. He is doing a very good job and as he would say “keeping the vertical position.”

Peter translating during a service

Report from Lyndon’s service trip

Lyndon Beiler and his brother Lavelle spent in southwestern Poland helping with a church family camp. Lyndon said, “It was definitely a highlight of my year in Poland. It was exciting to see God at work in the lives of the campers, and it was an excellent opportunity to practice Polish with both the kids and adults. As far as contacts with good people in different parts of Poland, it was like hitting the jackpot, and it was really encouraging to feel the energy and excitement from the short term North American team.”
Lyndon and Lavelle helping with a church family camp

We are very thankful for the strong team of VS personnel we have here right now. Please keep supporting them and praying for them.

Financial and Personnel Needs

Airfare for Shannon’s family cost $3,031. We anticipated this expense sometime in 2018, not in July 2017. Funds are available to cover this cost, but this has the potential to create a cash flow issue in August.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

June Partners Update

June Happenings

A Month of Changes

June was a month we were all looking forward to and dreading at the same time! The early part of the month was filled with visitors from the States.

Matt and Deborah Gingerich were here for ten days in early June. Matt lived here for 3 years and taught in our school. It was obvious that he invested his time and talents well during those years. His hard work on the language is still paying off as he was able to communicate with friends and the church family as well as translating Polish conversations for his new wife. They celebrated their first anniversary while in Poland. We are grateful for their diligent service on the current AIM board.

Smucker Sons’ Visit

John and Laura Smucker’s three boys are now fine young men and they came back for a visit with two of their friends. They were in Minsk for a week and did a lot of projects helping church families and their hosts do some painting and cleanup. They even got to help a local family start a treehouse for their little boys! Once again it was encouraging to see them connecting with family friends from past years. Those who have served here over the years have left a very positive testimony behind and we believe God is calling some of you back to continue building his church through these relationships.

Hosting JoElla’s Grandmother


It was a grand privilege to host JoElla’s grandmother, Sadie Kinsinger, and her Uncle and Aunt, Phil and Kathy Yoder for a few days. Grandma’s visit was a special gift. She had her 82nd birthday with us here in Poland.

Lavern’s Departure


Lavern Hershberger’s family left Poland for a six month home assignment in the US. We really miss them at church. No matter how loud we sing we can’t replace the gorgeous singing of their family and the stellar job of translating that Lavern usually does each Sunday. This is a new experience for the church family and two brothers are stepping up to the plate to organize and lead the church during this time.

Financial and Personnel Needs

The end of English lessons for the summer means that we depend entirely on donations from now until the end of September. We have some funds on hand in preparation for those “dry” months, but we will need nearly $10,000 per month in donations to meet the ongoing expenses.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

May Partners Update

GTE volunteers provided child care during the conference

May Happenings

Church Conference

Phil Beiler and his wife Linda returned for the second consecutive year to be our guest speaker. It was very nice because he is well received by the Polish people and it was also good because he built on some of the foundations he laid last year. His teaching was centered around “Knowing God” and he addressed how we need to know God personally, in our families, and in public and corporate ways. We had a few new families attending this year, but many have returned faithfully year after year. Gustaw and Maria Muszkiet served us well with lodging and amazing meals. Those who attended once again affirmed that they come for the fellowship with other conservative Christians and to hear some practical teaching on the Christian Life.

A family prepares to launch balloons during the church conference

GTE volunteers provided child care during the conference

School Picnic

We had a great turnout at our annual end of school picnic. This year it was at Lavern and Lolita’s house. Many students came with their families and this year was special because it was also Mother’s Day in Poland. We had around 60 guests come and go throughout the evening. The boys loved helping Lavern make the ice cream with the White Mountain churn and the crowd burned through 3 batches in no time. We will be keeping some minimal private lessons going through the summer as we prepare for school next fall.

Sharon visits with her private students, a set of twins

Church Campout

The men and boys from AGAPE organized their first campout at the cabin on Jan Apansewicz’s property. We have grown now to a size that allows us to do these kinds of things and we need more traditions and events like this because it really helps us build connections and shared experiences. Brother Jan A. shared some stories around the campfire from his days of working in the coal mines while we roasted all sorts of meat over the fire. Vegetables weren’t readily available at the campsite.

Lavern and Brayden grill food during the men and boys' campout

Visit from Amos and Shaunda

Amos and Shaunda Stoltfus and family visited for two weeks at the end of May. Amos is on the AIM board and his wife, Shaunda, is Shannon Lehman’s twin sister. Shannon and Shaunda were both on the original team of volunteers who came with Lavern Hershbergers and John Smuckers to establish this outreach in 2001. It was really neat to see one student show up at our end of year picnic and tell us that she used to have private lessons with Shaunda 16 years ago! We had no idea and it just shows again the power and blessing of those daily connections. Praise the Lord for all the willing staff who have served here in the past years. We still meet people whom you’ve impacted.

Announcements

  • Please contact Shannon Lehman at sklmail124@gmail.com if you have any suggestions or would be willing to volunteer to help with church work and teaching at GTE next year. We are looking for someone to come in August or in December.
  • Praise the Lord: The Lehman family gained their legal status as “Temporary Residents” of Poland. The whole team is now authorized to stay until 2019 before they need to go through the process of application and renewal again.
  • We have enjoyed the summer visitors already and are going to have a busy month in June with more. Matt King and Wendy Yoder are both travelling home tomorrow for a short visit with family and home congregations.
  • Lavern Hershberger’s family will be going to the States for a six-month home assignment, leaving Warsaw on June 13. They plan to spend the majority of the time in Montezuma, GA, with some shorter trips to Virginia Beach and Stuarts Draft, VA. Pray for them and for us in this time. Pray especially that the church family in Poland would be able to stay connected to Lavern and Lolita and yet be willing to step into areas of leadership that are unfamiliar to them.

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • We are looking for a pastor to fill in at Agape Mennonite Fellowship for at least part of the time that the Lavern Hershberger family will be on home assignment in the United States. For details, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • We are looking for a field director to replace Shannon Lehman after his two-year term. For more information, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • The end of English lessons for the summer means that we depend entirely on donations for the months of June-September. We have some funds on hand in preparation for those “dry” months, but we will need nearly $10,000 per month in donations.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

Spring 2017 Newsletter

AIM Newsletter Spring 2017 cover image

GTE Director Shannon Lehman writes about using resources for maximum impact, and Lavern Hershberger describes the challenges of living in a largely homogeneous Roman Catholic society in Poland. Read More

April Partners Update

Daniel's family with Wendy and Lyndon

April Happenings

We’ve known there are wild moose in the area, but they’ve eluded us for fifteen years. The teachers finally spotted one while on a bike ride in the countryside near Minsk.

Shannon is teaching one evening a week at a new language school in the Debę Wielkie. We see this as a great opportunity to collaborate with efforts to make English available in the smaller villages. He is teaching a group of adults here. The challenge of teaching people with a variety of skill levels is to minimize the gap between ability levels while keeping things lively and engaging for everybody.

Daniel is a young man who came to our school with almost no exposure to the English language. His mother is Ukrainian who married a Polish man and lives here in Minsk Mazowiecki. Daniel attends private lessons with Lyndon twice a week and his mother and sister meet with Wendy once a week. We love seeing this little family (see photo above) walk through the door with bright cheer smiles. Their family attends the Minsk Baptist church and are very vibrant participants there as well. Daniel is seven years old and absolutely loves playing games that test his memory of vocabulary words. When you meet him he seems shy, but once he’s alone with Lyndon we can hear him shouting out answers. He’s mastered many of the animal names in English this year.

Facebook: gatewaytoenglish
Email: gte2english@gmail.com

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • We are looking for a pastor to fill in at Agape Mennonite Fellowship for at least part of the time that the Lavern Hershberger family will be on home assignment in the United States. For details, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • We are looking for a field director to replace Shannon Lehman after his two-year term. For more information, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • The average monthly cost of all AIM activity (GTE, Seed of Truth, etc.) is nearly $14,000. The English school generates an average of $3,750 per month, leaving around $10,000 per month needed in donations.

To make a donation using PayPal, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

March Update

March Happenings

English Night has a new brand name: “Small Talk.” We kicked it off this year on March 10th. Former students and teachers were welcome to come back to enjoy the group games and celebrate a surprise 60th birthday party for Ela Sokolowska. She works four afternoon/evenings a week in the GTE office and has been doing so for more than six years now.

Sisters try to get untangled at the Small Talk English night Lyndon and Mikolaj work at getting untangled Surprise birthday celebration for Ela Sokolowska

Our long-time Polish teacher, Magda, returned to her job after her maternity leave. Marzena’s sister in-law Basia, was recommended to us and she has stepped in and is doing a super job. She is very patient with us and gives us confidence even as we make mistakes.

Magda returns to teaching us Polish

Lavern and Lolita traveled to the States to attend the REACH seminar in Lancaster, PA. They managed a display table for AIM and gave a short presentation on the work here in Poland. They commented that the workshops were great and that the personal interactions were the biggest encouragement.

Two GTE students, Bartek and Nikodem, enjoyed showing Shannon’s family their two parrots. These boys attend GTE along with their younger brother and Lavern teaches their parents. They are a hardworking family. They sell and service lawn equipment and raise exotic fish and birds as a hobby.

Lehman children meeting two parrots with Bartek and Nikodem

Jerry and Linda Fox stopped in and visited our school/mission during their trip through Central Europe. We hadn’t met before, but it was great to make new friends from the Hampden congregation in Baltimore.

After being here for two months, Ruthie Spicher left for dental work. While she didn’t have an official job with the mission we really appreciate how she embraced the Polish culture. Her presence and help gave us all a good boost.

There are many good games for an English school but there are only a few GREAT ones. “Spot it” is a great game that kids love playing. Currently, we have the “Basic English edition” and “Peg it Edition.” We would love to add these editions… “Numbers and “Shapes”, “Sports,” “Holidays,” “America” and “Camping.” These are not available in Poland and they come in a small tin can which would take very little luggage space. You can message us if you would like to donate some of these.

Facebook: gatewaytoenglish
Email: gte2english@gmail.com

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • We are looking for a pastor to fill in at Agape Mennonite Fellowship for at least part of the time that the Lavern Hershberger family will be on home assignment in the United States. For details, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • We are looking for a field director to replace Shannon Lehman after his two-year term. For more information, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • The average monthly cost of all AIM activity (GTE, Seed of Truth, etc.) is nearly $14,000. The English school generates an average of $3,750 per month, leaving around $10,000 per month needed in donations.

To make a donation using PayPal, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

February Partners Update

February Happenings

Bible school group with a flag they createdWe had a total of 10 students for a full week of winter Bible school. The first two days we had a guest speaker from a church in Northwestern Poland. Joel Paul came and shared about his passion for evangelism in Uganda. The theme this year was Evangelism, and brothers in the church took turns teaching on Faith, Courage, Love, and Practical Evangelism.

The students put their faith into practice on Friday by helping us pack Seed of Truth magazines for distribution throughout Poland. We sent out over 4000 each of the March and April issues, and also a program for the Bible conference we are planning for May 12-14. Phil Beiler has agreed to be our speaker again.

The sun finally found us again here in Minsk Mazowiecki! It had been a full two months of sub-freezing weather and mostly cloudy days.

GTE staff in February 2017We took the entire GTE staff for an annual excursion to Krakow Thursday and Friday. We visited the Graceland English School there. We helped them with classes and partnered with students for Bible story and discussion times. As always, the trip was a good mixture of service, refreshment, and even some sightseeing.

Shannon and Lavern visited Krzysztof and Ania Dubis, a married couple who have been translating The Seed of Truth magazine from English to Polish for 5 years. They wanted to share with us some of their observations about the barriers that Polish readers may experience when reading articles written from an American Mennonite perspective. We much appreciate their concern for a magazine that really is understandable for Poles. Join us in prayer as we search for the best way to produce an effective magazine.

The last two weeks of February were school holidays in our area of Poland. Some warmer weather in the second week gave us a good chance to give the school a much needed scrubbing. The physical work was a refreshing change from our lesson planning.

AIM Presentation

If you are interested in having someone give a presentation to your church about AIM, please contact Matthew Mast.

REACH 2017

We will have a display at REACH 2017, and Lavern and Lolita will be present. We invite you to join us for this time of building vision for the work of God’s kingdom around the globe. More information and registration is at reach.fbep.org.

Financial and Personnel Needs

The Board is working to find a field director to replace Shannon Lehman after his two-year term. For more information, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.

The average monthly cost of all AIM activity (GTE, Seed of Truth, etc.) is nearly $14,000. The English school generates $3,750 per month on average, leaving around $10,000 per month needed in donations.

We would like to have some nice pieces of permanent art for our school/church. Posters and art with scriptural themes and/or some original art from current Mennonite artists would add a dimension we are lacking right now. Personal art donations and financial contributions would make this possible. Donations and ideas can be sent to the AIM office or dropped off at our booth at REACH (see above for more info about this event). We would be happy to pay for original art that we have had opportunity to review.

To make a donation using PayPal, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

January Partners Update

January Happenings

Sharon Spicher extended her VS term another year. This will be Sharon’s third consecutive year in Poland. We are always extremely grateful for longer terms as each year of experience in English teaching is invaluable and it also lessens the legal costs associated with new workers. We are now staffed through fall 2018, Lord willing!

Sharon’s sister Ruthie Spicher arrived for an extended stay to do some dental work here in Poland. She will be here for nearly two months and she brings a servant heart to the rest of the team. Our children loved baking cookies with her.

Shannon’s parents Melvin and Shelia Lehman visited for a week and a half over New Year. Poland welcomed them with an impressive fireworks display at midnight on their first night here. There’s no way you can sleep when nearly every household is setting off fireworks! Melvin’s visit was the first board representative visit of the year and his focus was providing insight and directives for the continued transfer of AIM administrative responsibility to Shannon Lehman. Their visit encouraged all of us. Never underestimate the value of a timely visit to see your friends who are living far from home!

The brothers and sisters at Agape Mennonite Fellowship were blessed with Melvin and Shelia’s visit. Melvin spoke in Sunday services several times and also met with the church to discuss how to move toward Polish leadership in the church.

We are excited that Olga Olewinska has moved to France to begin work with refugees, many of whom are Muslims. She recently graduated from Seaside Missionary Training Center in Odessa, Ukraine, and is beginning her mission work. We are delighted that we at Agape Mennonite Fellowship can help support her there. Join us in supporting her in prayer. If you would like to subscribe to Olga’s newsletter, which she writes in English, click here to subscribe.

AIM Presentation

If you are interested in having someone give a presentation to your church about AIM, please contact Matthew Mast.

REACH 2017

We will have a display at REACH 2017, and Lavern and Lolita will be present. We invite you to join us for this time of building vision for the work of God’s kingdom around the globe. More information and registration is at reach.fbep.org.

Financial and Personnel Needs

From July 1 through December 31, 2016, expenses exceeded income by $2,416. We are asking the Lord for provision of the needed funds and seeking His direction about our role in raising funds.

To make a donation using PayPal, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.