Friday, December 5, 2014

New Life Wood Work is Birthed

We have been living in Jamaica for 9 months now. Hard to believe. In some ways it feels like we just got here, yet others, it seems like forever since we left all that was comfortable and familiar "back home." There have been many transitions for our family:  new home, new country, culture, new workplace and coworkers, new baby, new school year, new ministry we are pioneering here with YWAM. With the newness of so many things, we find ourselves facing new struggles, and with that we find new parts or aspects of our character which aren't always pleasant to discover. God is growing us.

Even though there have been great challenges, there have been great rewards. We praise God for his faithfulness in all areas. And specifically, we give thanks that the seed he planted in us to begin a skills training center, has not only taken root, but begun to bear fruit. October 6th, the New Life Wood Work program was officially birthed.  With 4 students committed to the program, 2 teachers (Paul & Michelle), God, and all of you backing us up with prayer and support, what once was a vision is now a real thing in existence. Worship time, Wood Shop, Math Class, Bible Devotions, Theology Discussions, Reading Class and Prayer Ministry. We are already seeing great progress with the students. The students completed their own birdhouses for their first shop project in October, they helped to build a Homes of Hope house in November and are now building kitchen cabinets! And one of the students was happy to announce that he can finally read all the verses printed on the wall of the prayer room! There are so many great testimonies of what God is doing in their lives, even guiding them in restoring some family relationships. It is truly amazing to watch as the things we pray about begin to be redeemed.

The year's course is divided into 3 sessions, each 11 weeks in duration, and Level 1 is quickly approaching its completion. We are excited to be able to honor these young men next week at the annual YWAM Christmas banquet, where we will celebrate their accomplishments, and give God glory for all he is doing in their lives (and ours). 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come!

We are also very thankful for the opportunity to "go home" for Christmas, to be with family, and connect with our church and friends in Minnesota. We look forward to a time of refreshing, and pray God will continue to speak to us in regard to what is in store for the next session, which begins in January.

We give thanks for all the people God has brought in our path who have supported this vision, offered encouragement, friendship and prayer along the way. We know it is a long journey, and we are pleased to know we do not go alone. Please join us as we continue to pray for more financial supporters, for the funds to complete the new Skills Training building, and for more staff to come alongside this vision as teachers, administrators and mentors.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why Not Now?

I posted on my facebook, on March 18th,  about meeting a guy named Randy at a Homes of Hope site. He commented to me then that he would like to be a Christian "someday." At that time, he admitted he really did not want to give up his lifestyle... which included parties and girls. I didn't want to push, but he struck me enough that my wife and I began to pray for him regularly, that he would be touched by the Holy Spirit. We then asked people from our home church to start praying for him as well, and for me to have the opportunity to continue conversations with him. I did actually see him a couple times since then, and he was open to having me pray that he would get a job. A good start. But then I haven't seen him at all this last month.

Until Saturday.  He came on campus to watch a soccer match.  I was working in the barn, building a bunk bed for Liam and Evie.  I was very focused on trying to get this bed built since we are only a week or so away from having this baby, but here was Randy...  I had to see what was happening in his life.  He told me that he had gotten a full time job.  He got the job shortly after we prayed about it.  Praise the Lord!  Jobs here are very scarce, especially a full time job.  We chit-chatted a while and then he told me that we was very hungry and asked if I had anything for him to eat.  Of course,  I did, so I just had to stop what I was doing, lock up the barn and walk a little ways up to my house.  So I ran back home and heated up some left-overs and ran them back down to the barn.  A large plate of food quickly turned into a few chicken bones.  He was super appreciative, but then just left.

Then Monday came.  At the end of day, I went down to the barn to make sure everything was locked up and such, and there was another soccer game happening.  There was Randy again, watching the game. So we just hung and talked for a bit.  After a short while, I could tell something was different about his demeanor.  So I asked him,  "Is God doing something in your life right now?"  To which he quickly replied,  "Yes".  I had this feeling I should ask if he wanted prayer for anything.  He kind of stumbled "can you pray for me to become a Christian someday?"  I said "why someday, how about right now?"  Then he said with confidence "Yes, I want it now."  So we were able to pray together this time; he repeated after me, asking Jesus to seal him, and cleanse him from his sins, and fill him with His Spirit, and to help him to follow him. We continued in prayer about protection, asking God to shield him from the enemy. When we finished our time in prayer, I invited him to come with our family to church on Sunday, and he excitedly said yes.  It was so awesome!

I want to thank everyone for praying.  I have confidence that these prayers, prompted by the Holy Spirit on Randy's behalf, paved the way for Randy.  I even told him that people from MN and my home church were praying for him.  He was shocked and amazed.  People that didn't even know him cared enough to pray for him.  Hearing that alone made an impact in his life.  So please keep on praying for our new brother in Christ, Randy.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Packing Time

As we prepare for our March 4th move to Jamaica, we are excited and nervous about what lies ahead.  Our excitement outweighs our anxiety, and our faith is carrying us through the uncertainty.  We are amazed at how God continues to show up as we move forward. 

There is much to be done before we leave. Aside from finishing a couple cabinet jobs yet, we are now in the thick of sorting and packing. Blessed by a shipping container donated to us, we now have to determine what will go in it... as we will begin loading Feb 7th! While we are downsizing tremendously, there are some things we hope to acquire for the move to better suit our needs in Jamaica. So, if by any chance you, or someone you know, has any of these items in good condition and you would like to donate, or even sell, or you want to contribute toward anything, we would be so thankful! This is the list:

  • Canned Foods/Pantry Items: (Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Corn, Tuna, Applesauce, Raisins/Dried Fruit, Nuts, Peanut Butter, Oats, Granola, Pasta, Olive Oil)

  •  Food storage containers with lids: We need these because of ants, lizards and humidity. Various sizes for cereal, crackers, teas, baking goods.

  • Good mop and bucket: Everything is tile in our house and it will have to be mopped a lot.

  • Clothes drying rack: especially for cloth diapers when its rainy

  • Reusable cloth diapers: (usually an outer shell with cloth insert: guessing about 20?... new to this)

  • Summer maternity clothes

  • Stackable washer and gas dryer: We are hoping for larger ones for our family. Drying outside is not always dependable during rainy season.

  • 2   (now 1) Twin size mattress: hard to believe Evie is graduating out of crib, so we will bunk singles for Liam & Evie.

  • Area rugs: We are hoping to throw some rugs down in the bedrooms. 3x5-5x8 Anything to go in pink girl room, and more neutral or multi-color for Liam & Evie.

  • Gas Grill:  It would be great to have the option to cook outside when it gets really hot!

  • Corelle/or other unbreakable  dishes:  We are thinking we will leave our glassware and breakables behind. (service for 8 or more)

  • Juicer

  • Fans (4) (now 2):  It is very hot there and need fans for bedrooms and living room (no A/C).  The pedestal type is best.

  • Dishwasher:  Looking for a standard 24" DW, preferably newer or new.  This will be a time saver for us.  The base is allowing me to cut one into our kitchen.  It currently does not have one.

  • Cell Phones (1-2):  They don't need to be anything fancy.  Just an unlocked one with a sim card.  If you have one laying around you're not using, we can use it!

  • Battery operated radio/ alarm clock (2) (now 1):  The electricity is slightly different there and if you use the plug-in kind it doesn't keep the time.

There may be things we aren't thinking of yet, but these top our list. Thanks for your help! And remember, we load Feb 7th.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In God We Trust


It has been almost 1 year since we first traveled to Jamaica for a vision trip, to see if this is where the Lord was leading us as a family.  As most of you know, we are volunteers and have to raise all of our support to do the work we feel God is calling us to do.  I am finding that it takes a lot of trust and faith for provision as we step out further into full-time missions.  As the Dad and Husband I want to provide for my family, so this is hard for me.  I have struggled with this question along the way: Who is the real provider for my family; Is it me or is it God? I know what the 'right answer' is, but it is hard to understand what my role is, and what the Lord's role is.  As I think about this, I am reminded how funny it is that we have the words "In God We Trust," written right on our money. But do I trust in God, or in me, or in money? How do I trust God?

One of the big concerns I had to give to God was how to move a family to another country. Having to furnish a home and our basic necessities once in Jamaica,  shipping all of our stuff seemed the best option, versus buying there. I don't know anything about shipping a container. After talking with other missionaries that recently moved there, we found out that it would be quite expensive. On top of all our fundraising, it seemed a bit overwhelming. So we prayed and asked God to move on this.

We were sharing with a small group from our church, talking about what ministries we were going to get involved with and so on.  After sharing, a member of our church came up and asked us how we were going to ship our stuff to Jamaica.  We sheepishly said we didn't know.  He said, "that is what I do. I am in international shipping." 


Fred, a guy who goes to our church, someone who I consider a buddy, yet did not know his occupation,  is in shipping... This is so beyond coincidence!

He says to us, " maybe our shipping company will be able to donate a container for you guys."

And, guess what?... they are!  Praise God!  One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle for us to actually get to Jamaica has come together. It was nothing I did to earn God's favor. Nothing. Hopefully Fred likes me, but in the end, it was him merely responding to the Spirit in a tangible way, a way in which the Lord had set him up to do with his life circumstances. Just a reminder to me that God's plan, the big picture, is also a puzzle, and it is just a matter of time to see the peices fit together.  Perhaps some of it we will only see once in Heaven, but until then, I am encouraged that God uses us as a team.

As I continue to see God move, He is convincing me that He is indeed our provider. That He is supplying our needs. And God is using others too. There is a partnership that has been taking place. As we share our needs and visions with the body of Christ, His Church, His Spirit is moving people to come alongside this ministry. Friends and family, and even complete strangers, are pitching in their time, talent and treasure. While not yet fully funded, we are so encouraged as we are getting closer and closer.

"So we, though many, are one body in Christ." Romans 12:5