"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!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blue Eyes at Glen

We were able to visit Glen Christian Church this past weekend. It is about 15 minutes from us and the 4th church in our brotherhood on the island.  It was of course a good time of worship and seeing yet another graduate of WISE pastoring the church and another attendee leading worship there. 

The funniest moment was that the preacher's daughter (I would guess about 9 years old) had never seen someone with blue eyes before.  And so she just kept exclaiming, "I never knew there were people with blue eyes alive!"  So our kids had to get lots of pictures taken of their eyes so she could tell everyone that some people do have eyes other than brown:)

And we are continually learning at Kids Club....just may be a bit mixed up.  We decided to start with the basics at the beginning..so we have been reading on creation, Adam & Eve, Noah, and Abraham.  Brice asked the kids what was God's promise to not flood and destroy mankind again?  And the answer from one boy was, "an apple fruit tree".  We're learning :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

He Who Has the Most Toys.....

Just read an obituary of a man who died in a tragic death and it said about him, "He who has the most toys…wins! This was so true of this man and what he lived for. He had every toy you can imagine and really lived, the best boats, the best clothes,  the best electronics!”

It made me so sad...he's gone and it’s too late for him.  Naiyah (she's 5) saw me crying and asked about it. I tried to explain to her, so this started a conversation on why can't he take all his toys with him when he died. Then, she started thinking and wondered if the toys we have can we take to heaven. Then, she wondered if we left them here, who would get them next. Could we choose who they go to?

It's not the abundance of toys that make me sad, it is that this man truly missed living and dying. And apparently his friends are missing it too if they think that is what life is all about. And I feel responsible. I know we can't reach everyone. But I do feel like my kids and I can be reaching people even when we are at home together most of the day, and so we are trying to do that.

It also made me think. Hmmm…We live in a culture where because of your skin color everyone assumes you are rich. Just the other day someone asked Brice if they could have our stroller, because they needed it for their 2 kids.  What about our 3 kids? Where we live if you turn on the light, the kids living here are in awe you can just do that and not worry about money to pay for the electricity. We have access to family and friends who spoil us with gifts, garage sales when on furlough, and hand-me downs....here if you get something passed down it is almost worn through and there aren't extra gifts in their families. Some kids own just a few toys or a book here in their lifetime and yet each time friends visit we get a new surprise.

But whoever we are it is just stuff. Not going to go with us to our real home. Sometimes the kids here envy our kids and I envy them some...their excitement over the simplest things and their pleasure in an eraser. We are still learning how to live simply, how to live with a “heaven is coming” mindset. For us rather than give away all we have at this time...we are trying to share in our home the things we have as people come and teach through them. I am not sure this is the best way, but it is working in reaching some of our neighbor friends at this point.

When I taught 3rd grade we had a saying we would say and then finish with a writing activity. (I am sure it came from somewhere, but at this point I am sad to say I don't know who to reference.) It said:

Because people are lost without Jesus,

Because people are hungry for food and faith,

Because people are living in sin and need to know there is a better life,

I will…

They would then add in how they would do their part to impact their community.  Naiyah and I did this and I was thinking through with her all we would/could do for outreach things and she said, "Mom...let's just talk to God about what to do."

So, we are talking to him on how to help here or wherever we are. We'd love to hear what you will do or are doing? And very soon without all of our toys "we shall see Him as He is" 1 John 3:2b

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3 Part Blessing Week

1. The chairman of our board of directors and his wife are here visiting for a bit to encourarage and assist.
2. Kids Club almost doubled this week, although several had to learn snack time is at the beginning to promote promptness so when you come an hour late- no snack this week.

3. We had lots of help getting the guest room next to our house ready for upcoming groups.  Special thanks to Quincy who painted most of the room and himself.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Top Ten Joys of Loving Your Missionary Overseas

 We are by no means experts at doing missions away from our home country….we’ve only been doing it for 5 years.  But, we did think it would be fun to share things we find joy in or think at least while serving overseas.  (Please note this may not be the opinion of every missionary, this is what ours has learned the last few years, but if it does help you in your relationships with other missionaries….then we are pleased too!)  And these are not in order of importanceJ
1. News may seem mundane to you…but to us we cherish it.  Who got married, baptized, or the recent move you made….we care about and still want to share in what is going on with your lives.  But, if you don’t let us know…even with facebook we may miss it.  So personal e-mail of what is going on in your lives we care about and it brings back the familiar to us.
2. Mail really is still in!  I know most people don’t write letters much now, since it takes about 6 weeks to reach us.  But, it is worth it…even just writing on a post it note with some pictures included to send.  Your latest family Christmas picture we love hanging on our refrigerator so our kids can still recognize you.  Of course care packages are wonderful with treats we can’t get here…but the best really is pictures.  Usually if it is something you all love, chances are we still love it too.

3. We’re not crazy, we’re blessed!  Most everyone we meet says, “I couldn’t do what you do!”  Yes, you could and you’d love it.  We feel so blessed (most moments) that we get to be ministering to those that have so much less and yet are so grateful for people to come and train them and minister alongside them.    If you held one child here and held their sweet dark bodies close to you and had them smile up at you, you’d want to stay too.  And because of God and all of you, we get too.  Yes, we are adventuresome, but God has given us the love for people here and families that encourage us but that we get to see and stay with when back on furlough. 
4. Prayers really do matter.  We could write a book on all the times we have been struggling and as it resolved we got an e-mail from people saying they had gotten up at 3 am to pray for us as we went through that hardship and that is when it was healed.  Or the times people were praising God in joy over things God was doing here.
5. We love leftovers!  Not the food, though we do love that too.  But, we have so much fun getting for ourselves and passing out to area families here (plus this was always a treat for us ladies in Haiti to get beloved skirts when groups would leave them behind for us) supplies left that you don’t want to haul back or extras your church may have used like Bible Study or VBS materials.  Just hang onto the dirty underwear and socksJ
6. We know in the States when people ask how we are in furlough….we’d love to catch up, but unless we sit down over dinner or an extended period…hard to say much other than “doing great or fine”.  There’s just so much to share of that’s different from there to go into in a passing minute. 
7.  Who doesn’t like having visitors?  You are a part of home...even if you aren’t family.  It means you really care to come take part in the work here.  And bring your family….we bring ours and it doesn’t hurt themJ  Same with the food we eat and the things we do…our 3 do it…and they are thriving!
8. Still include us….just because most of the time our home base is far away…when back in the States it is nice to be able to get to do things not offered on the field, etc… being a part of a Christmas Nativity or invited to go along to camp with the other kids their age.  We felt really blessed as one of our home churches had invited us to their toddler church activities and even let our oldest have her turn at being “Child of the Day” on the Sunday she was back.  Those are things they don’t have here, and are fun for our kids to be a part of when back. 
9. Read the newsletters….you may not support, but if you sign up for our newsletter…at least read it please.  These take time, creativity hopefully, and money to send out.  The times when we have sent them out to people and those same people say, “What country are you in again?” makes you know not everyone reads them.  We try to keep them short...just a page or 2 at most.  It really makes us smile when you mention something about the work going on here when we see you or write about it.  We do write them for you.
10. Don’t cut us off…keep us on the prayer chain; getting your newsletter…..we want to rejoice in your news with you.  We want to be praying for you too. 

Here was a picture of our 1st care package from my sister!  It only took 6 weeks to get and our kids went nuts over mail, pictures, and starburst~

So, with that said....we'd love to hear what you think of missionaries and what you'd like to see/hear from us :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wreck in our Wall

During Kids Club a drunk driver wrecked his car into our wall (note-he was not the first....the wall had been driven into and crumbled previously too).  I did not hear it at all, I guess our house had too many kids in it!  But, all the neighbors were out there to see what was going on.  He was fine. But, after stopping anyone close by 16 guys were able to finally haul the car out of the ditch:)

Here they are realizing they will need to recruit a lot more to get the car out!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Neighbor gone

On a sad note.....our very next door neighbor has passed.  We had not yet gotten to know him, but my kids knew him as the "fire man". He would burn huge big piles of palm leaves and other yard stuff to make big billows of smoke in our yard.  He had done that the day before.

When I had heard a man down the street had been strangled during a burglary, I had not realized it was the older gentleman next door. All they know yet was missing was groceries and food items so far.

 I am sad we had not gotten to know him.  And I am sad this happened.  Living in Haiti and now here, when people asked about thieves....I never worried.  I always thought they really need it to eat if they were stealing.  But, this is harder to understand- that you would kill someone else to get his things. 

He did not have immediate family that we know of, but pray the neighbors and distant relatives can find comfort and yearn for a deeper meaning for their lives in this fleeting, temproray world.

Kids Club

I should have known.....kids will find a place to go if they want to!  An hour early my first 5 kids were at our house knocking, good thing the balloons were out early!  Out of the 12 kids who arrived on time....only 1 has a dad in their home.  When I turned the lights on to do our craft, they all gasped over the use of light unless absolutely needed.  I guess I am Americanized too much, as even though it was still light outside I turned them on to see better. 

We started with the basics at the beginning for our Bible time....whew...just getting the words out God made....and 1 little boy kept saying "Man made everything."   Glad we started with the basics!  And glad we are continually meeting. 

And of course after they dismissed and started walking home....here came 4 more boys.  I told them we were already done, and they dug out their flier and showed me the time, to which I showed them yes....that was the time and that time is long gone. 
See you next week!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adding More Kids to Our Home

My role has tranistioned a bit in our move here.  With 3 young kids I don't get to be as involved in the school as I would love, and yet I get the privilege of being with my kiddos.  To be honest, it has been a bit of a transition I've always been such a people person and wanting lots of contact with people and until Brice gets home each day from work at the school, I am with the kids and the neighbor ladies.  We laugh as Brice is such an introvert and he is now the one meeting with all the people, entertaining visitors at the school, and teaching.  God sure knows us so well where we need to be stretched.

We'd been praying for a way as I watched and taught the kids how we could still impact the community from our home.  Plus lately on our street there have been a ton of crimes.  A man was killed during a home robbery 2 houses down and another home down the street was burglarized.  So, as we prayed I wanted a way for the community to not be scared but be more focused and united on a better home. 

Mitch and Tiffany Reed, new friends from Texas (have we mentioned we love visitors?) came this past week and helped so much here.  They put fans in the girls dorm rooms....how nice to have in this heat and they helped get some computers hooked up to the internet and so much more.  And yesterday Tiffancy was the biggest help to me!  She went door to door to all our neighborhood community with Naiyah, Pax, and I to pass out fliers inviting our into our home every week for kids club.  And it starts today!  We passed out 40 fliers just in our block radius.  I decided that though there were more close homes with kids, I needed to stop there.  Brice and I can't handle any more than that at this point:)  I have no clue if any will show up, but we are praying.  We're teaching manners & etiquette, games, music, crafts, and Bible stories.  I kept seeing so many cute kids on the street that I kept extending the ages.....so we'll see who shows up:) 

Since there are no street addresses, it was a bit hard to give directions.  So pray that is not a hinderance!  My neighbor informed me that the way I directed them to our house I have them going to the next street over, since you go by landmarks...whoops:)  She said even being my neighbor, she could not have found it.  Still lots to learn here even after being here a few months!

So pray for our community today to grow in fear of the Lord, not in fear of man.....

Saturday, March 3, 2012

WISE vs. The Volcano

St. Vincent is full of black sand beaches, black rocks and the island is very lush and green, much to do with the volcano located on the northern part of the island.  The volcano's name is Mt. Soufriere (French for sulfur outlet) and is a little over 4,000 feet above sea level...oh yeah, and it's active! 

The Halfway Point

The Edge of the Crater

Since we decided to serve here with WISE, it has been on my short list of "gotta go see this!" things on the island.  So today we piled six of the students interested in going, a graduate who was our guide, myself and Mitch and Tiffany Reed (who came to visit us and the mission all the way from Texas - how fun to have visitors)  to see if we could conquor the volcano!  It was full of many funny and exciting things from several students getting cramps while hiking to one student tripping at the trail-head and spilling all the lunch of rice and chicken for everyone before we really started hiking!

I wanted to hike down into the crater with several other students and Mitch as well, but it was so foggy that you really couldn't see much, so we just made it to the rim of the crater, but there's always next time!  Naiyah and Beckett were so excited as I brought back a rock from the top of the crater as they have been so amazed that we live somewhere with a volcano! 

The scenery all the way was some of the most beautiful I've ever seen from bamboo, to exotic and strange looking trees and plants.  It was such a great reminder of the beauty of God's creation and what a great imagination our Creator has! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hard working neighbor ladies

Meet Zinita (not pictured yet) and Joan (below).  Brice can't figure out how I remember Zinita's name. But being a strange person about facts when I heard the "Casey Anthony Case", I recalled how her madeup nanny's name that supposedly abducted her daughter's name was Zinita and thought it unusual.  So, when I met this one, of course it was easy to remember.  And just to be sure...she does not even know who Casey Anthony is!

 They both work for the lady next door.  Everyday from sunup (5:45am)  until 5:00 these ladies are cooking and cleaning in the yard next to us.  They are so sweet to my kids, though I am sure our running in the yard tries their ears.  They cook tons of foods early, then it gets loaded it into a van, driven downtown, and friends sell it from the back of the van in the middle of downtown during the day.  Meanwhile, they are stuck back here washing all the dishes and then preparing more food for the next day.

Here is Joan cooking breadfruit!