March 26. 2020 – we are now on day 13 of the Government shut down of most businesses here in Bulgaria. Over the past week, restrictions have increased to where you cannot even drive to another town without a permission...
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Al & Diane Mellinger's Missionary Adventure - 5 new articles

Our Pandemic Update: What we have been up to!

March 26. 2020 – we are now on day 13 of the Government shut down of most businesses here in Bulgaria. Over the past week, restrictions have increased to where you cannot even drive to another town without a permission slip from your employer (and it has to be work-related).  Also, if you are out with 3+ people in a group you could be fined and only one member of the family can go into the store to shop and you have to sanitizes your hands when you enter many stores.  We know that many around the world have similar restrictions so that is not new – we just wanted you to know.

So, since we have to be home to work (which is what I do most of the time) we have been trying to stay connected and up on what is happening around the world.  We have been working on new ideas for production for our livelihood groups (they are suspended right now and not working) when they start up again. Also lots of writing and paperwork. 

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(Here are some of the 21 new knitted finger puppets we are thinking of making - let me know what you think)

Since Michigan has a stay at home order on them – our store there had to close and we had to lay off the team during this time – Please pray for them and the store when we reopen.

Our partnership time is up in the air – We do not think we will be able to fly back to the US on April 8th as planned and since a big part of our travel this time was to Annual Conference meeting and they have all been canceled we will have to refigure our partnership time once we figure out when we are going to be back. Pray about this too!

Even with all the changes and curveballs Diane and I are very much at peace about all that is going on.  Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.  Praise Him for His peace!

       


How are we impacted by the COVID 19 Virus?

March 19, 2020 - We like you are trying to figure out the impact of the COVID 19 Virus is having on our everyday lives. As missionaries living and operating a business (including our livelihood groups), this pandemic is putting a strain on what we do.  We have encouraged our church not to gather in large groups (although most are not large) but to meet and pray in homes in smaller groups.  In fact, the police are stopping groups of 3 or more and can fine them for being out.

Our 2 businesses have been ordered closed for at least 2 weeks meaning basically laying off the employees as with no money coming in we cannot afford to pay them and we will still owe for rent, utilities and taxes.  We do not operate with a surplus right now which means there is no cushion for this crisis.

The health risks are great but as is being reported most people will get over the sickness What will not come back quickly and for many like us is the economic loss. We have listed our problem above and we are not the only ones facing this. Multiply this problem by many family-owned and other small businesses and I fear many will not be able to come through or reopen.

Our shop in Michigan has also seen the decline in total sales this year as foot traffic has slowed (most likely do to COVID 19 virus fears).  I was hoping that some online sales might offset the decline but that has not happened (I think people are concerned that we talk about our stuff coming from “around the world” scares them.). We find our sales seasonal and right now they are off enough that it jeopardizes the business staying open.

Why am I writing this?  3 reasons:

  • Continue to pray for all those impacted by this world-wide pandemic – and pray specifically for those who are now impacted not by the virus but the fallout from the actions being taken because of the virus.
  • You need to know and see the impact the lockdown measures have. People may recover health-wise after a short time but non-health issues may take a great deal longer to recover from these actions. So, if you are able, support small local businesses as you can during this time.
  • For our ministries, specifically: making an online purchase or donation to help us weather the financial shortfall. https://squareup.com/store/marketplace-mannas-around-the-world-shop/item/fundmarketplace-manna-development Our personal salaries are not impacted but it does impact those who we are trying to help.

We know as we see the social media post that everyone is affected by what is going on.  It is happening all over the world we are praying for and trying to encourage everyone that we can. We also know that prayer is our greatest tool to make a difference.

       


States Side Partnership Building - Your Kingdom Come!

March 12, 2020 – We are scheduled to be stateside from April 8-July 10, 2020.  Our plan was to attend many annual conferences to promote the Economic work in the Balkans and beyond. With the travel ban from Europe, we are not sure how that will affect us and our plans so we will keep you posted.

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Here is where we are scheduled to be at this point.  We hope to see some of you at these locations.  If there are open dates or we are nearby (or might be traveling through) and you would like to have us for a meal or overnight - please let us know.

April 8, 2020 – Fly Home

April 12, 2020 - Easter with the family

April 14, 2020 – Al’s 60th Birthday

April 17-18 2020 - Gateway Annual Conference – Greenville, IL

April 19, 2020 – Moundford FMC - Decatur, IL -

April 23-25, 2020 - North MI Annual Conference – Evart, MI

April 26, 2020 – Watervliet FMC – Watervliet, MI

May 1-2, 2020 Ohio Annual Conference – Galion, OH

May 3, 2020 - Pulaski FMC – Pulaski, MI  

May 8-9, 2020 - East MI Annual Conference –Clio, MI

May 10, 2020 – OPEN (Mother’s Day)

May 14-15, 2020 - Genesis Annual Conference - North Chili, NY

May 17, 2020 - OPEN

May 21-22, 2020 - Great Plains Annual Conference - McPherson, KS 23 –Drive to

May 23-May30 – Southwest Trip connecting with supporters

May 31-June 1 - Mid America Annual Conference– Midwest City OK

June 4-6, 2020 -  North Central Annual Conference – Montello, WI

June 7-8, 2020 Keystone Annual Conference – Phillipsburg, PA

June 11-13, 2020 - The Harvest Annual Conference – Fairmont, WV

June 14, 2020 – Brooke Hill FMC - WV

June 21, 2020 - OPEN (Father’s Day)

June 25-26, 2020 – Southern Michigan Annual Conference - Dearborn, MI

June 28, 2020 – Janesville, WI

July 5, 2020 – OPEN

July 9, 2020 – Fly back to Bulgaria

This week pray for…

...the people around the world with the COVID 19 Virus

…our Partnership building plans and the details about getting back to the US

…the sales of our shop – people are not coming out – Pray for online sales.

       


Why Economic Development is Needed!

March 5, 2020 – Recently we shared about the forming of the Balkan Provisional Annual Conference.  We stated there that with the nationals leading the churches we would now be changing our role in the work here.  Up until now, we have done “Leadership Development” but we will now be changing titles to “Economic Development”

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What does that mean?  That is a great question, that to answer needs a bit of background.  Team Balkans has worked to meet and train quality people to lead the churches.  The reality is that many of these churches are in very poor areas.  In one village in the winter, unemployment can be over 80% of the village. They have little money to live on and no money to give to the church (in their minds). We want the churches to grow to be self-sufficient and sustainable. 

For the people to survive many members of the family find that if they want work they have to travel to another country for employment and leave their families.  We do not feel that is the best way. 

We have been trying on a smaller scale starting livelihood groups and offering a limited amount of loans for the start-up of new businesses. 

We have had some success but are now going to see if we can crank this up a bit.  We can make products but we need to figure out a distribution system both in-country and overseas.  That means figuring out the systems needed to educate and draw along-side the folks who want to stay here and not go abroad.

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Just like when we arrived and were not sure how to proceed we trusted God and began to serve the people that best way we could – we believe that with a servant’s heart we can learn the best way to help and empower the folks to not only support their families but also the work God is raising up here in the Balkans.

We are going to jump in all the way and although we will be still sharing about the expansion work through-out the Balkans our focus will be on helping the people and churches support themselves and the ministries God is raising up.

We have been given until the end of the year to show that this can happen so we are going to be doing all we can and trust God (if this is His plan) to make it happen.

Pray for us in transition – We plan to be at 10+ Annual Conferences and many churches in the states this spring sharing what God is doing and how we can work together economically to make a difference.

Pray for the connections to get the merchandise that we have to folks who can purchase it and use it.

Pray for investment funds for the new groups that we want to see happen so that every one of our churches has some form of an economic opportunity.

To expand the work will also require some additional working funds – if you want to invest in what we are doing you can click here to give to our development fund.  (https://squareup.com/store/marketplace-mannas-around-the-world-shop/item/fundmarketplace-manna-development)

       


Agriculture Update

February 27, 2020 – This week we saw 4 greenhouses delivered and assembled. This will allow us to expand the produce that is grown for giving to the poor, for paying those who help work and to share with the girl’s home.

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This is one of the livelihood groups that we support that functions inside Bulgaria.  The dream and plan is to set up 2 additional locations in new areas near our newest church planting projects in very poor regions of the country.

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Some may see this as an extra project and not as important as planting church and discipleship.  We think it is discipleship and can be a foundation of church planting.  As we commit and demonstrate that we are concerned about the physical needs they are more open to listening to what we have to say about spiritual things.  As we get them to work with our team, they share Jesus with the workers. They teach discipleship and if needed they speak!

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Jesus was teaching and delivering the sermon on the mount and it got late – He told His disciples to feed them.  They did not have much but reluctantly they obeyed and God did a might work.  We believe that as we expand agriculture to new areas it will be used as a tool to draw folks in to hear the Good News about Jesus.

Pray for the Agriculture Project(s) – pray that we would get the grants to expand the program and that they would be effective at reaching folks with the Gospel message.

Pray for Diane and I as we are working at finalizing the transition of the leadership roles we have had to the nationals.

Pray for our late spring/early summer partnership building schedule – we are scheduled to be at 15 churches and 11 Annual conference and travel from California to New York  with many stops in between.

       



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