"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, December 24, 2012

Nine Mornings Festival


Other than being way early in the morning, the best way to describe it is in this video.  It is a local tradition of waking up way early (3am) and heading downtown to join hundreds of others.  If we were younger, it may be a tradition we carry on as a family, but I have to say the rest of the day I was exhausted and we were not even there for the start.



Monday, December 17, 2012

Sharing Christ's Story with our Community

We started late.  Baby Jesus (aka Baby Emma in our play) arrived halfway through the play, exactly the spot in the play when he was born.  Our preschoolers were shy, one too scared to go up front, one sick, and several arrived too late to participate.  Over 30 kids from Kids Club arrived 2 hours early to come see the play. 
 
Chaotic?  Loud?  Precious!  Humbling.   A Savior was Born to US! 
 
 
Here are some of the preschoolers, still waiting for the other half to sing "Away in a Manger."


Our students performed the Christmas story for the community.  They did so well portraying it.  So proud of all their hard work- memorizing lines, passing out flyers, and handmaking their own costumes and sets!

 
Some of the crowd pre-performance.

 
Mrs. Maddie's dance class did 2 wonderfully choreographed songs for us.

 
More songs and dance from the preschoolers.

 
The students led us in worship songs.

 
We pray and grieve for the tragedy in Connecticut,  and are so thankful for all our blessings. 
(Disclaimer- my nephew I am holding has on red pants, so I am not pregnant, just looks like it:)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Party Preschool Style

 
 
So many people made our preschool party so special.  We had been learning the story of how special baby Jesus was and all the people who came to worship Him.  We were excited to put this in action later that evening at our Christmas program and honor Jesus there!
 
 
My sweet cousins and aunt/uncle collected gifts for each of our students to receive.  Little Keren could not stop loving hers.


 
Mrs. Maddie planned wonderful games with our donated candycanes.  And we got to play pin the star on the Christmas tree!

 
Our assistant, Ms. Marshall baked us homemade pizza rolls and a chocolate cake.  We had so much fun with all the toppers, silly straws, and other fun prizes my dear friend from CA sent. 

 
What a fun way to start the break here!  Over break, we will be repatching the roof at the preschool. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

1st Annual Vincy Children's Christmas Festival

We saw signs posted around downtown advertising this Children's Christmas Festival.  It is so hard not to go into something with expectations and experience.  The sign advertised a giant Santa, horse rides, games, food, bounce houses, and prizes.  I guess I pictured going to an overcrowded carnival!

We arrived an hour and half late and here is what we saw:


 
The kids loved they were the only ones in the bounce house!

 
The giant Santa can be seen in the back.


 
They had one horse, but since there weren't many - we got to ride!

 
Here were the 2 games.

 
Our kids loved it, who knew they would have this and still undiscovered here since it was there 1st ever?

 
Best part of the day - small groups at our house later that night.  Since we are growing - here is the crazy kids room!  The adults are in the next room studying and talking.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Reason for the Season

This time of year can get so crazy for all.  There are some amazing things going on.  This year we are combining all our different groups here for a community pageant next Friday. 

- Our Bible College students are directing, acting out, making homemade costumes and sets, and practicing a play of the Christmas story.

-Our preschoolers are practicing 3 little songs to perform with actions. 

-The girls dance class Maddie leads will perform 2 dances. 

- Our students will also sing some Christmas worship songs. 

We are combining all this and praying for the community around to come and see and hear the reason we celebrate Christmas and the hope we have. 

We are also excited as our family's prayer and hope is just wherever we are (church setting, home, or work) we can show people God.  One new thing we have started is on Sunday nights our church and school students divide into small groups.  We see so many here that do not attend church and have no desire too.  So, we keep praying and have been inviting those that live near us to come just to our house.  One family started coming to study the Bible with us who had not been to church in over 30 years and never exposed her to children to it.

Would you pray?

- For this new family and other families to hear and come to love God through small groups

-  For our community pageant to show the message of God's love through Jesus

- For our students wrapping up the semester.

- For our families at our preschool, since only 2 of them attend church




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Student Council Beach Day

This year is the first year for Student Council at WISE with the help of the Keller's.  It is led by four students selected by the student body to plan events for the students. 
On this day they planned an all day beach/picnic outing.
 
 
Here is the way we get around.  We ride on public buses or the mission van.  No cars seats needed here, as the average speed is 30-50 km an hour.

 
Here are some of they guys playing games.

 
My four were so glad to get to go too!

 
One of the favorites of the day was jumping from one dock to another dock and swimming to another.

 
Trying to get them flipping off the side.

 
Somehow Bro. Jerry borrowed a raft to float around in.

 
Quincy used his flippers and mask to find some beautiful fish and coral.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Starting a Thanksgiving Tradition

Since this is our first Thanksgiving here in St. Vincent and they don't celebrate the Pilgrims landing here, we had to create how we would celebrate here. 
 
 
We still have school on Thanksgiving Day- both at the preschool and the Bible College.  Here are 2 of our students helping out one day. 

 
Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of the Keller's and our visiting adjunct, Vance.  The best part for me was each of us sharing around the table what we are thankful for.  But, finding turkey here and Maddie's pumpkin pie and pecan bars were a close second!

 
And of course, we have to throw in some American baseball!

 
Who doesn't love Mrs. Maddie?

 
We had to go get some things for the upcoming Christmas program from downtown. We had no clue here too they do "Black Friday Shopping".  But, here you only got the 15% off discount if you were wearing black.  So glad I wore my black skirt today.  Unfortunately, Maddie's black purse did not count for the discount.


 
And then we had to get some food from the street vendors.  I got the chicken and chips (fries here).  Maddie, being more adventurous, got the shark and chips.  They were both so yummy!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving in So Many Ways


Give a Gift that Gives this Holiday Season!

Back when we were missionaries in Haiti, I worked with Allison Lowe. We worked right across the hall from each other and both had boys just a few months apart. Needless to say, we became close friends during our time in Haiti. The same year that we left Haiti to begin our new ministry with WISE, Allison and her family moved back to her home state of North Carolina, where her husband Lenny is working on his PhD. She also began working as an Independent Consultant with Thirty-One Gifts and she recently contacted me to see if she could help us raise funds for WISE through Thirty-One and we said YES!

As we all know, the holidays are fast approaching. Through this fundraiser, you have the opportunity to give a gift that gives back to WISE. Allison will be donating her 100% of her commission to WISE for every purchase that is made through this fundraiser being held November 23rd-December 5th.

We are hoping to add some new books to the WISE library through this fundraiser.  Most of the books are falling apart or very outdated here.  So shopping at Thirty-One not only buys great gifts this season, but it also will help us get some new resources here at WISE.

If you are not familiar with Thirty-One Gifts, I am sure you will find something for yourself or for someone in your family as the perfect gift. Thirty-One’s products are versatile, stylish, and many can be personalized with embroidery! Who doesn’t love a personalized gift?  To view the products, you can visit mythirtyone.com/Allisonlowe and click on “View Catalog.”

This is such an easy way for you to get some holiday shopping done AND help us out at WISE. It is simple. To purchase through this fundraiser:

1.       If purchasing before the 27th or if you’d like to pay by check, contact Allison directly. Her information can be found on mythirtyone.com/allisonlowe

2.       If purchasing on the 27th or after, go to mythirtyone.com/allisonlowe to view the catalog. From Allison’s home page, click on “My Parties” and then “WISE Fundraiser!” You must enter your order through this link in order for the donation to be made.

3.       After you place your order, 25% of the purchase price will go directly to WISE!

4.       If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Allison directly!

5.       Fundraiser ends on December 5th!  This is when all orders will be placed together.

Also, don’t miss out on the amazing Customer Special going on! For every $31 spent, get a Mini-Utility Bin, Thermal Tote, Cinch Sac, Timeless Wristlet or Timeless Beauty Bag for only $5!

Thank you so much friends!
Amanda

Hiking to Visit a Student

 
We have always enjoyed being a part of the community wherever we live.  One way is getting to know our students and their families.  Here we are on our way to visit Oreldo.  The path to get there always has lots of snakes sunning themselves claims Oreldo's mom.  My kids were hoping to find some, but this time they slithered off before they heard us coming.

 
Walking with us is Vance Russell.  He came as a visiting teacher.  We are thankful to have him teaching here.  He is also one of the pastor's at my home church and supporting church.  What an encouragement it is to have the support of our churches sending their preachers to help us to teach here.  Thank you, Countryside!


 
Sweet girl helped us find the path.

 
Some of the boys on our walk who have come to KIDS Club!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Disappointment to Hope

Some days I feel like I am drowning and can get nothing done.  Some days I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy and so many blessings.  Other days I feel discouraged I did not do enough.  Sometimes I even feel like I am going so crazy and need a break from it all (or at least hide in my closet while Brice watches the kids). 

The laundry with 5 people everyday always has a dirty pile, and even the goal of washing one load a day, getting it hung to dry, still means after drying it needs to be put away before there is another pile.  The 2 one year olds babies eat at least 3 times a day, and always they leave a pile of crumbs to sweep up.  There is always a neighbor, preschool mom, or college student that wants to talk.  Then, there are meals to make, lessons to prepare, and quality time to spend with family.  And it never all gets done.  I felt like I kept spinning, but never getting anywhere.  Just existing some days. 

I thought I could get through each day on my own strength...I will myself to do it.  I will have the cleanest house.  I will be supermom.  I will have the best marriage.  I will read from the Bible each day.  I will do it this and that.  And I get by.  Existing, but missing something.  And my heart feels it.  I felt this big hole, this disappointment.  This feeling I am not getting anywhere really.  I can't do it all, though it looks like it sometimes. 

I started piling all these feelings on myself- feeling disappointed I was not doing a perfect job at it all.  So I started prioritizing.  Spend real time with God, spend quality time with my husband each evening praying and enjoying each other, giving real attention to my kids, loving our kids at preschool and Kids Club and their families one on one, giving my husband more time to minister at the Bible College.  Then comes correspondence to supporters and friends, cleaning my house, preparing gourment pinterest meals.  This helped, though, since my house and correspondence are last if you visit it is often messy and may take a few days for me to write you back. 

But, still.....my heart hurt.  I would hear news of a friend with advancing cancer or a friend deeply struggling through a divorce and betrayal.  And i hurt and was filled with sorrow.  And I felt so overwhelmed, even though right now my family has so many blessings.  I felt so burdened by our hurting friends and all there is to do each day.  I may seem close to it, but I am not having anxiety or overwhelmed...I just need to praise God. 

I am spending more time choosing to not just daily read my Bible- but relying on Him.  He knows we can get disappointed or feel burdened.  Sometimes I think in quiet times at our house if I look at other statuses or e-mails, I am encouraged.  And while sometimes I can be, other times I can get real discouraged.  So now rather than dwelling on what I see going on around the world (not that I won't sometimes), I am dwelling on God's character and the hope He brings us.  I was letting the pain and daily routine take away my joy and delight in Him.

"You are my God my stronghold,
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight,
 
Why are you so downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him."
-Ps 2-3; Ps 42:5

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friend Sunday

 
This past Sunday was "Friendship Day" at one of the local churches at Glen Christian Church.  This church is led by a past graduate, Bro. Quinton.

 
We have had friends from college (Michael and Megan Brown and their 2 boys) visiting and teaching these last 2 weeks.  Their kids are the same ages as ours.  So, it has been lots of fun kid time here.

 
Here is Bro. Quinton bringing the message. 
 
Our preschool recently took a field trip to the bakery. Our pics did not turn out, so to see some great ones visit our friends/coworkers blog (it is a great one) at kellersinthecaribbean.blogspot.com.  We are now at 10 boys and 2 girls enrolled for the first year of preschool.  We are enjoying getting to teach these young ones.  But, also connecting with their families in the community too.
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Festival

 
Limbo time!

 
Paul was our champion!


 
3 - legged race




 
The boys enjoying the leftover apples from the bobbing bin.

 
Bobbing for apples- they thought it looked so easy!


 

 
Pinning the Nose on the Pumpkin