November Partners Update
All Saints’ Day and Staff Retreat
The first week of November was a big week for Poland, as the church holiday of All Saints’ Day was celebrated on November 1. Many of our students and friends visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, to pray that their loved ones’ time in purgatory might be shortened, to light candles for them, and to remember their stories (pictured is Minsk’s Catholic cemetery on November 1).
For many people, it’s a good time to have family gatherings and talk about the family lore, but for others, it’s a great burden to keep up all the family graves and say prayers so that their family members can get to heaven sooner. We have had some interesting English lessons talking about these holidays with our students. We are happy to tell them that we don’t have to pray for our family members who have died and that God knows everything about them and their future. This holiday and these conversations provide us with a good chance to stop and reflect on the meaning of death, resurrection, and our hope in Christ.
AIM staff took All Saint’s Day to hold a staff retreat day, a time to reflect, pray, and create space to listen to what God has to say to us. After a worship time and brunch in the morning, we split up to spend about five hours of solitude before reconvening for supper and wrap-up. It was quite refreshing to step away from our daily responsibilities for a few hours to focus on connecting with God and each other, and to reflect on what God has done in our lives over the last months.
Thanksgiving is not a Polish holiday, but we find ways to celebrate it here, enjoying the chance to connect with each other and with our Polish friends and reflecting on what we are grateful for. It’s traditional at GTE to have a Thanksgiving themed Small Talk around the time of the American holiday. Small Talk is a monthly event for our English students and friends from church to get together, eat food, speak English, and, in general, make connections with each other. This year, we had a pie contest, with five teachers making five different kinds of pies.
We had other activities as well, including a harvest hymn sung by the team and a gratitude activity that everyone participated in. Last year, when we were new here, our first Small Talk of the season had maybe five guests. We decided to ramp up publicity, plan more group activities, and really encourage our students to come. Ever since, we usually have between 30-40 people coming for these events, and this school year, they’ve been even bigger.
It was special to gather as a team over a good Thanksgiving dinner (pictured), chat, and reflect on the good gifts God has given us. It was special to have Dervin Martin and Derek Sensenig visit over Thanksgiving weekend. Dervin served in Poland 2015-2017, and Derek sang with the Hope Singers 2018.
Prayer and Praise
- Please pray with us that God would use holidays such as All Saints’ Day and the upcoming Christmas holiday as a means of pointing people to the Truth. These holidays are governed by tradition, but we pray that they might be the means for people encountering Christ.
In December, we expect to need $11,300 in general donations to support the team and the ongoing activities in Poland. In November, we received $5,183 in general donations. We have some reserve for December, but we may have a shortfall of several thousand dollars by the end of the month.
The Board is working with Jaden and Jewel to raise $30,000 for their financial support this year. If you would like to contribute to that need, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com or 814-789-4394.
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