"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!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Home. Is. So. Very. Sweet.

   We made it home almost a week ago.  We were so ready.  We love our time with friends and family, but sure are ready to be just us in our own place and not living out of suitcases.  We started out early in the morning. The airport gave us a huge hassle with our student visas for the kids and we had to wait and hour and a half while they got a hold of immigration in Barbados.

   After traveling all day - we don't spend the extra money for seats together, so we could not be together, so Brice got a baby and I got a baby apart.  We finally arrived and got to immigration.  And wonder of wonders - there is a huge plus traveling with so many kids (travel days are the only times I question myself on having kids :) they had us come to the very front.  So after a great welcome by staff and students and church friends we were home close to midnight.  Such. a. long. day.

   But even then, both babies were crying.  We were all tired.  And yet we were all still so thrilled to be home.  Until a few minutes from home our teammate says, "Sorry, but your water pipe at your house busted yesterday and we have not been able to get anyone to fix it yet."  ....   I almost cried.  We were sweaty and thirsty and tired.  Thankfully, the cafeteria was not far that did have water.

  So the hidden blessings were - usually the next day as we unpack and get settled I am doing and hanging lots of laundry from all our dusty bedding, but no water to wash with.  And dishes just got to sit for the day.  And the floors that all needed to be mopped from not having been touched in 2 months and covered in lizard poop got to wait.  So our first day we got to spend just visiting.

   Water came back the next day and we celebrated with our other Bajamerican friends here!  So thankful for all the freedoms we have because of the courage and faith of our founding fathers.  And so glad we are home.




Sunday, May 27, 2018

Our 8 week Summer Furlough Time

Started out our early morning flight!  It usually takes us leaving at 4:30am for the airport and getting in at 11 or midnight.


Each Sunday we are traveling and Brice is sharing and preaching about the mission.  We have some very, very exciting news regarding the mission to share soon (still waiting for a few things to be processed).  Often times this means long road trips, so if so....we always take advantage of the free Jr. Ranger programs!


This summer since our teammates are doing the later summer furlough, we were back for all the kids to play baseball and softball.  It is a fun break for us and neat to see them on a team and doing something their father loved too!


We have called this our medical summer.  I (Amanda) had several issues with teeth (not fun at all).  One of those things has been with our youngest, Greeley.  She had a big hospital stay with numerous shots a day for a prolonged time 2 months ago.  Since she came home, she went from sleeping mostly through the night to waking up every hour screaming.  When we visited her pediatrician here and we told him about her hospital experience, spinal tap, and all he said - she must have trouble sleeping, right?  We said - how did you know?  And he said....an infant going through that much trauma usually suffers from PTSD and will wake often from night mares.  The good news he said should clear up in 6 months.  The bad news 6 months of waking every hour with her right now :) Still, we are grateful to have her and that she is ok.


Kensington was also scheduled to have her heart Cath this summer.  We had been give a 2% chance of her holes disappearing.  After keeping her lying still for 45 minutes, the cardiologist told us one hole had disappeared in her heart, the other gotten smaller, and the other one we could just watch!  No surgery needed now.  Which meant, we could get her surgery on her ears.  The only date they have available is her birthday, June 1st.  But we are looking forward to getting that done for her, as each month she was having reoccurring ear infections for over the last year.


While back, we always enjoy grandparent and cousin time!  






So thankful for dear family and friends!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Typical Day for US

     A few have told us living on an island in the Caribbean must be  so fun to head to the beach and sip smoothies and just relax all the time.  Though, life is at a slower pace here and not as hurried, the beach and smoothies are not daily occurrences.  We typically get to the beach when a group visits- maybe once a month or every other month.  We actually live on the other coast with the Atlantic coast of rough water and so to get to a beach that is swimmable for out kids takes 45 minutes and daily schedules are filled to where that does not happen often.


     The sun is up bright and early and with the chickens and goats making noise, we all wake up early at 6-6:30.  I get in a bit of quiet time and then we start chores of - the boys feed and water the chickens and gather the eggs and get them to the cafeteria and wash them, the boys feed and water the dogs, the girls help me wash and hang the laundry outside (with our family of 7 we have to do at least hang one load a day).  We have breakfast and Brice burns the trash and then heads to his office by 8a.m.  He is gone for the day teaching, leading, and preparing whatever needs done that day with students, staff, and ministry needs.



    This leaves 5 kids and me :). We have a pretty good schedule down.  This is definitely our time where the house is not clean and there is a ton of multitasking.  The 2 little girls are playing, crawling, and dragging out every imaginable toy while "most days" we get piano practiced, I go through Naiyah's teachings of math, history, grammar, writing and then she works independently in the morning on her subjects.  They boys read, do flashcards and then once the girls are fed and Greeley laid down for her 2 morning nap, we do their teaching and workbooks in their math, phonics, history, and reading.  There are several breaks in there where the boys suddenly decide a coconut tree needs climbed or a monkey needs chased across the backyard.


    Then, it's time for lunch where we join all the staff and students and have local rice and chicken or fish typically.  We see Daddy here!  After that, Kensington takes her big nap and the older 3 Varsity squad will do group projects from science, history, Spanish, and Bible together.  Then, we do a quick 10 minute pickup of the house and the door usually bangs open and they all run out- the 4 older at least and run and play and I figure out what to make for dinner (most things are done homemade here, so dinner sometimes take longer for dough to rise) and then Brice comes home and we'll read a few chapters of the Bible Study we are doing together on the porch.  Then, he'll play baseball with the students and our boys and depending on the night we may have Bible study with the students or one of the kids soccer practices.

    Days are full and by the time dinner, devotions, games, and baths are done, it's usually 8:30.  My role with WISE and responsibilities often have to wait until now- so I am doing letters, correspondence, website work, and other things at this time or any other breaks we squeeze them in.   Sometimes Brice talks me into watching a show and then nights get later.  It's these days where they are going so fast and I am enjoying them so much and thankful we are living them together.  I could never have imagined being in this place years ago and feel so blessed and tired - ha!



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Our Greeley Girl

Over 2 weeks ago, our little Greeley got really sick.  She had a slight fever and we thought it was her six month teething time.  Then, her fever worsened and we thought it was the flu as it was going around with a high fever.  The doctor's office here confirmed that and said to wait ten 10 days.  After, several more days of a fever of 103 to 104 for several more days we felt like Greeley was getting worse.  And it seemed strange that no one else in our family was getting this supposed flu.  So we went to another doctor here. Upon seeing how lethargic she was, she sent us straight to the public hospital here.   


What an adventure!  To be honest we had heard lots of horror stories about the public hospital.  And after being there 7 days - we are so thankful for them.  Yes, there were trying times.  16 babies in beds with their moms in chairs next to them.  All in one room, so every cry is heard by all - all. night. long.  The cleaning crew comes and has everybody up and out to mop at 5:30 a.m.  One fan is shared in the open air hospital by 8 families.  Only cold showers with one stall, the whole pediatrics shared.  Each patient provides their own toilet paper, water, etc.  This was especially hard to remember to bring each time you went to the bathroom.

Since Greeley's only nourishment is breastfeeding and she refuses a bottle and the fact that we lived an hour from the hospital, we knew I would be the only caregiver to stay with Gre.  If you would have told me I would average 1-3 hours a night before all this I would have said there was no way I could manage, I love my sleep.  But, with God's help and Brice's constant encouragement while keeping the other 4 at home, we made it through.  Moment by moment.

God sure knew exactly what he was doing.  Both sets of our parents had expired passports, so neither were able to come at the hospital or with the kids at home.  So it forced us to rely on our family here. So many friends, teammates, students, and our church here loved on us.  Our pastors wife brought breakfast and lunch each day, since food was not provided there. Teammates helped watch kids while Brice came to see me and fed them.  They and students came and kept me company, letting me get a break to go to the bathroom and leave Greeley to shower down the hall.  

Each day the intern doctor assigned to us, would say - you are getting out today.  I would get so excited and then when the doctor came around a few hours later, she would say we are still running tests and in a baby this young the only medicine we have here to treat her has to be through an IV here.  So - you will be here for 7 - 10 days.  It was a roller coaster of praying Greeley would be okay and they could discover the problem, hopeful to get out, praying to function with little sleep, and realizing we were in for awhile.  

After a few days, we (Greeley and I) decided to walk around and meet everyone there.  We were the only foreigners there which sometimes is challenging.  In fact, our cleaning lady kept muttering about things as a mother I did wrong.  So, I told Brice that day - Brice, if I am here for awhile, gonna need you to pray about this situation.  She just doesn't like me and I am so tired and don't want to cry each time she says something.  So we prayed.  And...God answered huge!  

A lady from church came to visit and while there, she saw the cleaning lady and....introduced me to her friend of 18 years.  Each day they rode the bus to and from work together.  After that the cleaning lady (Nana) never said another cross word.  She told me she was now Greeley and I's Nana and loved holding Greeley when I needed a break.  In fact, we look forward to having her over soon for dinner and seeing her at church now too.

Then, since visiting hours are just 4 hours a day and kids 12 and under are not allowed in, it was really hard to see my own kids.  So, two of the girls sick in the hospital adopted Greeley and loved her so much.  They pretty much camped out in her bed with us for the stay.  They kept me from getting lonely and provided so many smiles.  We even got invited to their upcoming birthday party next month.

So, after we found out Greeley had a bad UTI and kidney infection and that she was in the clear, we were able to see how God had in a different way that we would have ever thought provided so many new friendships here for us in this country we love. 

Thanks for praying for us and with us!




Saturday, February 3, 2018

Coloring

      This past week a boy on our kids soccer team told our 6 year old after a month of playing together, "You don't belong here.  You have white skin and all the rest of us have black, so you should play somewhere else."  The rest of practice he kept calling him stupid because of his different coloring.
     It didn't make us angry.  It didn't make us quit.  While we hurt over our son's tears, we explained that God made us all beautifully different on the outside.  And one of the reasons we are here is to show God's love and spread it and we have to even more so with this little boy. It made us sad as someone has not taught him to love all yet.  It was a good learning lesson for all of us.
     And a good reminder that there is so much work to do here in the world!  Just this week a sweet young mom came forward at church to accept Christ as her savior for the first time - because her kids had been encouraging her to come!  Kids can have a huge impact on the Kingdom, and I pray mine are doing that while they are in soccer and each place God takes them!  (By the way - this week at soccer they were friends!)




     It did make me angry, though, when we heard a neighbor and dear girl we mentored each week in St. Vincent had a baby recently.  She is just a child- still and has her own now.  The same occurred with her mom at that age and her grandma.  But still.  She was only 10 when we laughed and played with her and now such a young mom at 14.  This is a dear family close to our hearts that continues in this cycle and we pray they'll remember God's love and for God to bring justice in this situation.  We pray she can be a young lady to change her circumstances and raise her child to know God.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Whirlwind


WISE put on their first youth retreat - so many came to help - speaker friends, game friends, our students, local ministers, etc.  We were thrilled to see youth growing and fellowshipping and look forward to the future of WISE. 


The van that was left here by the former owners is over 20 years old and died :(  A used one is over $40,000 so we are praying we can get it going or get another one somehow.


Uncle Andrew came to help do all the organization, sound, etc of the retreat.  So our cousins came along to entertain us!  Our kids had a blast!


5 kids, a 1 year old with a recurring ear infection, and a 4 month old still getting up at nights - means Brice and I's new room is the living room.  Brice reminded me of our blessings - we have a mattress to sleep on!  


We love cousins near our age!


The retreat seemed never ending with late hours and early mornings!


Christmas at WISE is always special.  Each of us bring our favorite local dish- so there was Bajan food, American, Haitian, Jamaican.  Yum!  Then, E-town sent gifts for all the students and staff.  And then we all have a gift  exchange of homemade things we give each other.


Our family photo - still hard to believe we are 7!  Would not change it for anything!


Naiyah has prayed for a best friend for so very long here- and she has one and we are thankful for this sweet girl.


Kensington loves her friend Jasmyn- who is just a few months longer.


One of our student's had a son who was sick and not able to come back this term.  We love our students and miss him and praying his son can get the treatment he needs.


Mizzou Campus House came back and they always spoil us, encourage us, and are family to us.  We love Lance and Becky and how they come each year!


Our kiddos play tennis and played in a tournament on the island.


My shoulder got injured and for about 6 week I could not lift anything - which was a bit hard with 2 babies....  Mrs. Pam came down and helped us!  She is family and we were so grateful she came for a week!   And during this time, Kensington decided crawling on the table is her new favorite - along with  turning on the shower and cleaning the toilet with toothbrushes - ugh.


And our kids also finished up this term with a piano recital.  We sure do live in an amazing community.  We are so thankful where God has us.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Things that made me tear up......

     Yes, I am highly emotional and cry at the drop of the hat with post-pregnancy hormones.  But, some very neat things this month made me tear up this month:

- Our 3 students from Dominica lost their homes and all their belongings from the hurricane last month.  And yet these boys give so much of their lives to love here.  They have carried on with strength only from God.  They continually think of their families struggling to find shelter and food back home and yet they live each day with such joy as they study to go back to love others to the Lord in 2 years.  One of the students has a young son my youngest son's age and he has patiently helped my son build bird traps to catch birds here, all the while I can see he is missing his son so much.  He recently said that he was so grateful to be at WISE and that while he may not go back to be a preacher one day, he will be a better father and able to lead His son to the Lord.

- Our students in our home Bible study shared their testimonies - they give up so much to come study from here.  Leaving jobs they won't have once they go back, family, familiar foods, and cultures.  And yet they write us letters and tell us constantly how thankful they are which makes us feel so blessed to be here.

- We recently went to an event with the students.  One of them declined to go.  Finding out later- he did not even have $1 and thought he would have to pay for the outing. We take so much for granted on spending a $1.

- Our littlest Greeley is getting dedicated this Sunday for baby dedication.  We picked 2 people to stand up with us as her prayer warrior and supporter.  One of our past students and now staff we have grown to love as an auntie is standing up with us.  Seeing her choke up and feel honored when we asked meant so much to see how well loved our kids are here.

- My kids love each other so much.  The 3 bigs help with the 2 littles, with chickens and dogs, with laundry, and with dishes. They love God and teach us so much.  We feel so blessed (and tired :) ) that God gave us all 5!

- My husband God gave me.  I recently celebrated my birthday - we always do simple gifts- letters to one another and a candy bar is tradition.  We started this in Haiti as it was all we could afford and now just cherish it.  My note this year on the envelope said - To my wife and mom of 7.  The fact that he acknowledged the 2 babies we lost to miscarriage ( 9 and 2 years ago) meant the world to me.  He loves me so well and helps in so many ways- the biggest right now doing the midnight bottle feed, so I can get some extra rest :)