"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. We worked day and night in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9

This blog is much more than our family and our crazy antics. After being overseas in Haiti for 4 years we prayed about coming back to the States and just still felt like God was going to use our family overseas...so here we go again. The big move to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and now the school growing and moving to Barbados. We just can't seem to rest until our family can love as many as we can to relationships with Christ. We always feel so blessed to meet the many people we get to serve with overseas, and of course love that you are reading with us as we serve in a new culture!

Monday, September 21, 2020

A Journey of Unknowns

We started our trip back to Barbados. Flights were constantly being canceled and so the only reliable flights to get into Barbados at this time were through Air Canada or British Airways from London.  Air Canada is always the cheapest airways and $269 for a ticket here is a great price, but it means overnighting in the airport and extra hours in the plane.  We decided to go for it.  We had gotten COVID weeks back as it passed through our whole family and decided to test to get back. (Barbados says if you Are from America you must have one to travel).  Brice tested positive.  We all tested and the kids and I were all positive, but Brice was then negative.  We waited two weeks and again tested.  This time Brice was positive again and we were all negative.  Brice tested again and and we all got on the plane.  Honestly in talking with MU Health and the Home Health doctors who call you they all thought our cases were super rare.  

We were told from the heads of the department:
-we don't really know anything about this virus
-tests have a 30% margin for error
-there's only one documented case for reoccurrence so soon after
- for 90 days we can keep testing positive
- only the first 2 weeks are we contagious (thankfully, friends:)

So, we traveled.  Stayed all night in the Canada airport and on arrival to Canada we talked to some agents who told us everything there in the international hall would close at 8:30p.m. We arrived at 8:15 after an escort through customs to not escape.  I don't think there was anyway of secretly doing that with all our luggage, kids, and stroller.  We quickly asked agents the best place to sleep that could be quiter for the kids and 3 agents showed us an empty hall we could attempt to rest in for the night.  After several hours of trying to get all 6 down with pillows made from travel clothes and masks covering eyes from the bright lights, they were all somewhat asleep for maybe a half hour and then a supervisor came and told us at 12:30 we would have to locate to another hall as that one was being closed for cleaning.  I asked if there was any way we could stay since waking up all of them and lugging everything to another corridor would be a nightmare and if they could clean around us, but he shook his head and just stood there pointing.  So, we packed up, woke everyone up, and moved.  That man obviously has never had kids. And then we got on the plane again after a very long night.

This little guy loved his first plane ride! (Please disregard unwashed & unbrushed hair and teeth. We all stunk!)

We made it to Barbados!  We had to show our negative tests that took a miracle to get to the doctor there.  This was so hard to get as a doctor friend worked so hard getting them for us and checking for results constantly.  I think he worked his 70 hours in 2 days helping us.  He emailed us the results he got.  But unfortunately official results take 4-5 days and they dont usually give you the lab results.  So, we just had the emails stating if we were positive or negative.  When we showed our papers to the doctor here after all that, she just said, "Where are you from?" After she heard the US - she immediately said you have to get tested.  I asked if she could look at our tests since we worked so hard, and she would not even glance at them.  It would have been nice to know even though the rules say you must arrive with a negative test, that it is pointless and we could have at least saved the kids from getting tested then.  But, at least we knew we were negative flying.  So, we waited with all the other Americans traveling whose tests were rejected too.  We finally got to leave to go to a hotel around midnight.  And then realized no elevators or ramps, so had to climb two flights of stairs with stroller, limp toddlers, and all the luggage.  And collapsed until temperature and room checks started in the morning.

They have 10 hotel options you can stay at from $61 a night to $10,000 a week.  You can have a meal option for $125 a person delivered to you, but thanks for friends and food we packed we are set.  The most expensive gives your your own pool, what a dream, huh.  We chose the lower end :). But it has the most amazing view, even though we can't swim or leave the room.  The littles don't quite understand not able to get in.  But they were so happy to not sleep with bright lights on their eyes.   We can hear the taxis passing by honking and smell the ocean air and it feels like home!

The Bajan people have been amazing.  We were given food, fruit, many promises tests would be done in few minutes (a nice way of saying hours ha), and another friend had her friend in customs deliver some needed feminine toiletry products.  Coaches, school friends here, and new friends here have been such a blessing!  We so appreciate all the thoughts and prayers and messages, internet is kind of spotty so we write when we can.

Here's pictures of meals today....WISE friends sent beloved cheese paste sandwiches, eggs, & forgotten shampoo!  We can't wait to hug them!  And then a sweet friend from CO sent us food to get by before we left - so we had oatmeal for breakfast & tuna for lunch!  She even included two schoolbooks, since all of ours are in our house and when we left and finished school last year we thought we'd back in June, so had no clue it would be Sept to be able to get back to our books.  

Our biggest praises - we are all together, on home soil, and healthy!  Our biggest prayer - they called this morning and Beckett and Paxson's tests showed that they have something in their blood.....they are not sure if old COVID residue hanging on or new.  (Obviously old because we had it)  But makes sense they have to be sure, so they drew samples from the boys - we are praying it is old so we can get out of here by Friday or Saturday or Sunday if it takes test results to come back a bit.  We are just praying the results show that.  If not, they said boys will go to holding facility on other side of island and Brice can go with them to quarantine with others with COVID.  
 Thanks, friends...


Friday, September 18, 2020

Special Gift Delivery

Months ago (5 to be exact) I went into labor 3 weeks early, which for me is full-term.  We had no clue some special terms would be given to him.  There was no prenatal warning, nor to be honest would I have wanted one.  In fact, our doctors in Barbados said he is so active, for sure has nothing wrong with him medically.  Then, our doctor in the states said he saw no signs of anything since he doesn't have the traditional foot gap most DS kids have.  

A few hours after checking in at the hospital under COVID measures, (no guests allowed and masks donned- sorry, I hate masks, I really do get headaches after wearing them.  And so trying to labor is hard enough and then add a mask on that keeps slipping off.) Anyways, he came super fast and they whisked him away and the nurses keep whispering and all was so quiet.  We kept asking if he was okay and no one would really answer.  I finally asked if I could hold him, and when they laid him on my chest, and I saw his different shaped ears and his almond eyes....I knew.  

I was terrified, worried for the future, scared of the unknown.  I leaned over to Brice and said, "He doesn't look just like us or like our others.  Something's wrong." Brice patted my hand, said it's fine, he's fine.  He's always a rock and from day one was in love with our newest little guy.  But I looked up to the doctor and nurses and said what I didn't want to know, "He has Down syndrome, doesn't he?"  And they said.....we think so.  That's it, nothing else was said and they asked if they could take him to run some tests.  And I knew then without further tests, he did.  I just didn't know at the time that DS can bring so much joy, laughter, and add so much more to all our lives than I ever imagined or prayed for.  At that moment, I just wanted a healthy baby that I knew how to raise and nothing to be different.  I wanted safe and not to be stretched and I am so very thankful we have a God who wants more than that for me and all of us.

I have always wanted a big family and babies!  Obviously we love them (we have 6!).  Brice kept agreeing but after 5 he was ready to be done, but agreed we could have one more to even up the JV with our Varsity.  He loves our kids, but he looks forward to the days when they are raised and he and I can travel and do post-kid things too.  I can't believe in those first few moments of Rusk's birth, I thought....what have I done, I should have stopped at 5.  Now, we will always have him with us and never have time for ourselves.   I'd give anything now to go back and yell or whisper to my just given birth, high hormonal body that lay sobbing on the hospital bed that life with Rusk added in was going to be amazing and not to be scared.  I hope to one day be able to help in educating hospital staff how to sweetly congratulate a parent that her child has been given a new baby, instead of scaring them and saying nothing.  Because that is what he was - a brand new baby to be celebrated.  

The hospital was small - ran several tests and told us his heart was enlarged and he needed to be sent to a bigger hospital for more tests.  So within a few hours of a new world, he was taken by ambulance to another hospital and they discharged me early to go be with him.  Barely walking and my eyes so swollen they couldn't even open up a slit, we left there.  Honestly, those first 24 hours all I remember is sobbing, choking, wailing, praying.  I recall someone mentioning my faith was weak at that point and honestly all I remember was feeling God's arms around me and crying out to him.  We could not have went through everything without the Lord in our lives is all I know.

After that each appointment and each Doctor's visit there were and are so many high's and low's.  In fact, we think that will be a given from now on.  We were told his heart was enlarged, and after several echo's and cardiologists, he has a hole but it can be addressed later.  News came of him having another disorder, but those tests came back falsely positive.  Then, we were told he was blind, to later discover they were cataracts.  Surgery removed them and he can see so well now!  And then just this past week, he failed hearing in the right ear and after more extensive tests, he can hear fine.  Whew, being thrown in the ringer or stampeded on by bulls is what some days feel like for sure.

I am not just saying this - if you don't know anyone in your life with DS - find someone.  I didn't.  And man, was I missing out.  Our little guy is still just a teeny thirteen pounds, but his smiles are pure heaven.  DS kids tend to have low muscle tone and be floppy, so he just is super scrunchy and contented and loves to be cuddled.  Ask me and you can get some of those cuddles, for sure!  And I can tell you way more facts and lovable things about him too.  I didn't have anyone in my life with DS before this year really and I can't believe how much I missed out.  We now have newer friends in our lives with DS that are older than Rusk,  and it's been a blessing to see their excitement and sweetness and also extreme stubbornness:)  We have so much to look forward to in years to come.  In fact, another dream is to add another little DS buddy to our family through adoption, but that's another story and maybe another husband since mine is on kid overload.  

Now, I look at our gift and think I will miss so much if he ever leaves us...
and those almond eyes that opened and scared me so much that first day of life
I am in so much love with...
and I am so very thankful God made him just the way He is 
and while I want to protect him from ugly things in this world, 
I also want him to meet so many to change the world so everyone can see that 
Different is Amazing too!


Monday, December 9, 2019

Yesterday I was on my way to church, a bit hurried as usual.  I hung the laundry in my husband's old sandals and rushed the kids to the car, realizing the girl's dresses they had only been wearing for 20 minutes were stained from breakfast.  Guess the extra minute I was trying to save not putting on bibs, didn't actually save time after we quickly changed into clean dresses.  Do 2 and 3 year olds do anything quickly?   

And then we arrive at church, and I grab the bag for entertaining the kids in service (services here last a lot longer than the typical 1 hour services in the States).  And grab the girls out and look down at my feet...

I still had my husband's old sandals for church on.  Here people dress their best for church to wear their best they have for God.  This was definitely not my best or even my mediocre.  

 I panicked for a second, and then realized while I may get some weird stares, no one is gonna dislike me for my strange shoes.  We were all there to worship and fellowship.  So despite hurriedness, mistakes, and forgetfulness I hope you had a great day of worship, fellowship, and rest.  

(A fun pictures of our the future worship leaders in our church.)

Monday, April 22, 2019

So much thankfulness

     Over and over I see God's hand providing.  A giver sends $120 and it is exactly the need the school has this month for an unexpected expense.  Prayers answered when we asked supporters to pray for a specific request.  These things have happened so many times I have lost count and memory.  I really need to write them down.
   This past month 3 huge miracles happened.  Literally I still can't stop thanking God and don't think I ever will.  Not just thanking God for His saving grace in these matters, but for his care and provision. I am also praying that in knowing of His care,  if these situations had gone the other way and not turned out well we would still be praising Him for His love.  But today we are saying, "Thank you, Lord and praising Him!"
   First, while repairing a dangerous situation on campus a work team member fell 30 feet with debris trapping them.  This person walked away with nothing broken!  Only God!
   A few days later, one of our students disappeared.  After hours of searching, prayers, and fear of the unknown he was found.  We honestly did not see how he could be found alive, and He was!  Prayers he can continue to get help he needs.
   Lastly, some of the power went out in our home one afternoon. When an electrician could get here the next day, he said,  "God was really watching over this house."  He said whoever had installed the wires had done them incorrectly and they had all melted together  and it should have caused a big fire.  But in this case, it just turned it off. He said only God could have done that.  
   We are so thankful and will continue to share of God's goodness to all.  And we are especially celebrating this week of Jesus death for us and more students graduating to go out and share His extravagant love!

    As much as I would like to, these stories are limited in detail to protect those they happened to, so please feel free to message me or ask me more about God's hand in this.   This is a public post, so to protect people and the school I have kept details vague.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Culture Surprise

     Even after 12 years overseas, some things are still different for us.  Culture is defined as the customs of a particular nation or people.  So even though we have been here for a bit now, things are still different than what we would assume or even do ourselves.

    Just yesterday one of our off campus students surprised us.  She sent her 2 children over with a note saying it was one of their birthdays and her child wanted to have her birthday with us.  Cake, juice, napkins, even a candle were sent over with the kids.  (If you know me, I may have panicked the first minute thinking - what?  Birthdays take planning, time, getting a gift for the birthday girl).

   So we went with the impromptu party :). We sang, we ate, and then we asked the birthday child to tell us 9 things she loved for her 9th year...

    She listed them in this order
 - Hanging with our kids
- Getting this special cake
- Having this special birthday together
- Her mom
- Her dad
- Her brother
- Her dogs
- Her friends
- And again this party :)

Again humbled just to be in the moment and enjoy them.  Not to stress over endless details.

P.S. I didn't even take one picture of the party since we were enjoying it, so this is a just a random picture of the new dogs on campus.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Ten Idea Blessings for Missionaries we loved!

     After 12 years on the field, it's still hard to say you "thank you" adequately for all we have been given.  God has supplied our every need.  We praise His name through His goodness through so many dear people.

    Several questions were asked of me over the last year.  How can we help our missionaries physically with care packages? What can we send them?  What have you cherished that was sent to you?  So, in just a few seconds I easily thought of this list.  I could easily list hundreds of  more things of people praying, giving, loving.  So, if you are looking for a unique way of loving and encouraging from afar here are a few ways we have been:

1) One of our home churches pays half for church camps and activities for our kids to attend.  Even though it is not the home church we are currently are at throughout the year if we are back at the time of camp it sure is a blessing for the kids to be able to attend.

2) Another church found out what our favorites were and brought 6 different gifts for each, so that way at different holidays or birthdays we would have gifts to spread out and give.

3) Supporters brought school supplies and gave curriculum we were studying.

4) Sweet loved ones gave us vans, car seats, and their gas card to use when back in country since we have no vehicle and this saved so much and allowed us to visit more people when back.

5) Dear ones sent care packages via teams coming to visit of favorite sweets we miss, cooking spices we can't get here, favorites of Sports teams, pictures, personal notes, new books to read, sweet prayers, favorite verses to hang, and Holiday decorations (this was special as sometimes missing Holidays, time with family, and the changing of seasons can be bittersweet).

6. A prime membership - this was such a blessing in being able to ship books and items to groups when coming.

7. A travel bag - a special person would got us a travel bag knowing ours get used so much.

8. When back on furlough we are on the road a lot so a couple gave us a gift card for fast food and bags with snacks & travel toys for a fun treat on the road.

9. Some have had us over or treated us out to food we miss - like American, Italian, Mexican. And getting to run around (one family thoughtfully took us to their blackberry farm where the kids go to run, eat delicious berries, and not have to be cooped up in chairs after the 10 hour car drive) was huge!

10. People checking in and updating us on them and what we can pray for and letting us feel like we are still remembered.  But they also specifically asked about us and let us know what they were praying for our particular needs.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thanks for Prayers

     So many of you wrote and prayed for Brice - thank you!   After finally collecting tests, he did not have cancer.  Results did say advanced COPD, but we are thinking it was a misdiagnosis  and answered prayer as after several months he is feeling great again and all signs are gone.   Just wanted to update and thank you - we have the best supporters and friends!