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/.

Winter 2016 Newsletter

Catch a glimpse of Christmas in Poland with thoughts on local traditions plus year-end reflections from the new GTE director, Shannon Lehman. Also enjoy a closer look at GTE through student and teacher introductions and reports. Read More

December Update

Sharon had her first guests from home. Her sister Mary and her husband Jethro visited during Christmas break. Read More

Fall 2016 Newsletter

What is AIM? What is its long-term goal? In the editorial of this edition, Matthew Mast answers these questions and provides an overview of the work ahead. Enjoy a staff wife’s reflections on her fifteen years in Poland and a glimpse into the Hope Singers’ tour this summer.

AIM Fall 2016 Newsletter