Ferguson family in Ozd
Welcome Kyle, Catherine, Wyatt and Levi!
It’s our great joy to finally welcome Kyle and Catherine Ferguson and their two young boys, Wyatt and Levi! After a long and tiring journey that started in the USA, they all arrived safely to their new home in Ozd. Praise the Lord!
Kyle and Catherine have felt God’s call to move to Ozd for a long-term commitment to help us onsite. Please pray for them as they start a new chapter in their life, that their presence and time spent here might be a blessing to all, both at the Therapy Centre and in the village!
Some of you already know us, have met us, or have heard of us, but we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves (again) and tell you a little bit about why we are here in Ozd and what we are doing.
My name is Kyle Ferguson; my wife Catherine, our two young boys Wyatt (3) and Levi (2) and I moved to Romania in May of 2014. We have come as volunteers and have committed to staying here with Bonus Pastor for two years, at which time each party involved will conduct an evaluation to be sure that it is still beneficial for us to be here. So, while we have committed for two years, we are working as though, and hope, that we will be here longer. We have come at the request of Bonus Pastor to fill two positions: Volunteer Team Coordinator and Property Administrator.
We live in Ozd, in a house provided for Bonus Pastor’s use. I will take some time to explain what exactly we do on an average day or week to fulfill our ministry calling and responsibilities, but first we want to tell you a little bit of a story about how we arrived.
I first came to Ozd with my father in 2002 to visit Geréb Géza (staff member with BPF) and his family. This was the first time that we met Géza and it was early days for the Ozd project; no renovated Therapy Center, no farm etc. Geza was living with his family in the house that we live in now. I returned with a volunteer team from my home church in the summer of 2004 to participate in the renovation work of the granary/Therapy Center, and the farm buildings. In the summers of 2005 and 2006 I came alone to Ozd to work with the renovation and to help coordinate the volunteer teams that came over the summer. Catherine came late in the summer of 2006 as she participated in another short term volunteer work team from the church that we both attended in the US. We were dating at the time.
Fast-forward seven years to 2013. Catherine and I are now married and we have two young children. We own and operate a small business that we started and are actively involved in a congregation in Fredericksburg, VA. We were finding that our business consumed nearly all of our (especially my) time and energy. We began to question if putting so much into this business was really worth it, as we repeatedly had to make choices between what the business asked of us and ministry opportunities with the church. In May of that year we began to a sense a call to more full time ministry than what we were already involved in with our church, New City Fellowship. We began to think, pray, and inquire about local ministry opportunities. On July 19th 2013 as we sat in our house praying about all of this (it was our 5th wedding anniversary so I had taken the day off from work) I happened to look up at a painting that hung in our house. It was a painting of the castle and village of Ozd. It had been painted for me by one of the Therapy Center residents in 2006. I looked at Catherine (and somewhat jesting said), “Hey, what if we are called to go overseas?” The more that we thought and prayed about this the more that it seemed to become a real possibility. We wrote a letter to BPF, and offered to see if we could be of service. BPF responded that they had the positions of Property Administrator and Volunteer Work Team Coordinator vacant and had been trying to fill them for 3 years. In the fall of last year we talked, prayed, thought, asked for advice, asked for prayer, and then at Christmas made our final decision to come to Ozd, believing that God was calling us here. In just five months’ time we were able to raise enough support to commit to coming, move out of our house, figure out how we were being sent (by a church or mission board etc…) and sell our business. May 19th 2014 saw us at Washington Dulles International Airport boarding a plane that would take us to London where we would board another plane to Budapest, Hungary. In Dulles we checked our 11 duffel bags and 1 stroller and began a new chapter of our lives. We are so thankful that we can look back on every stage of our calling, preparation and journey here to Ozd, and see God’s hand and provisions for us.
So what are we actually doing here day to day?
We try to have as much interaction with the residents of the Therapy Center as we can. We eat lunch at the Center together as a family 5 days a week. I work with the residents 5 days a week, and usually have at least 5-6 hours of interaction with them every day. I try to participate in one or two football (soccer) matches with the residents each week. We are struggling to find time to learn the language. Catherine teaches the local pastor’s children English every week in exchange for Hungarian lessons.
Work Therapy: Not long after we arrived we began to work with the residents and staff of the Therapy Center to begin a new work therapy initiative. Our Long Term Program uses a Motivational Therapy Model. One aspect of that model is structured, scheduled times of work 5 days per week. Usually for 4 days the residents work in the mornings about 4 hours and then one day per week we have a full 8 hour work day. The purpose of work therapy is not to just accomplish some projects around the Therapy Center, but to imitate a real work environment (as close as we can) so that the residents have the opportunity to see how they relate to co-workers, supervisors, the work itself, etc… and to see how and what their motivation is for work. I manage the work projects, which range from creative projects, (eg building a new decorative railing, designing and making a new welcome sign for the property) to the more mundane aspects of maintaining the property, which include cutting the grass, maintaining a large garden, managing our small walnut orchard etc. We have spent the last few month trying to come up with a system for executing this work that provides the best opportunity for therapy. Recently we made a change that instead of my telling the residents what to do each day and usually having to tell them how to do it, we now give them a work order for the week of what we need to accomplish and set one resident as a supervisor. This allows the group an opportunity to come together as a team with a leader, and plan out how they will accomplish the tasks. Of course I am there to observe how the work is being done, how the residents relate and interact, to give direction or purchase tools and materials if needed. We give feedback at a scheduled meeting each day. This is such an important part of the overall therapy. This is where the residents can see how they handle stress, authority, team work, confrontations and all the other aspects of life that we all regularly encounter in our work places.
Property Administration: This involves quite a bit of planning and working with BPF to implement a strategic plan in order to reach their goal and vision for the BPF property in Ozd. In collaboration with the BPF Board of Directors we have worked in the past few months to help them articulate their vision, and now we are in the stage of developing a strategic plan. We are really excited to see BPF define their vision for the property here and how it relates to the current ministry, as well as looking forward to see how the property can serve the ministry as it develops in years to come.
Volunteer Team Coordinator: In the summer of 2014 we had only two volunteer work teams come to Ozd. Both were large groups, one from the Netherlands with 35 members, and one from Germany with 54 members. Our task is to integrate the work that can be accomplished by the volunteer teams with the strategic plan for maintaining and developing the property. There are always chores to do to prepare the Castle for the teams before they arrive, and to clean it afterwards. Materials have to be bought, as well as food and water. Usually when teams are here the days are long and busy for us, it is not uncommon for me to be with the team from 7 in the morning ‘till late into the evening. Catherine and the boys come to eat with the teams at the Castle and spend time getting to know the team members to make them feel welcome here in Ozd and with BPF. It has been great to see our young boys make international friends over the summer with people from the Netherlands, Germany, Argentina the U.S. and of course Romania and Hungary.