"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, August 29, 2012

Loving Unclean Feet

Mopping several times a week.  But 4 kids playing and eating.  Friends and neighbors visiting.  Living in a dusty, tropical year round climate.  It is a given the floors always need sweeping and are dirty. 


 
 I know feet are considered disgusting or as my kids say, "Gross" when I beg them to wipe mine off.  My best friend from college was terrified of feet.  We all loved teasing her by holding her down and tickling her feet.  She would cry.  And we would laugh.  Don't worry, those were the college days I was mean.
 
I have heard the story from John 13 so many times of Jesus washing feet.  And though ours are bad, feet then may have been even dirtier as many did not every wear shoes.
 
"He now showed them the full extent of His love." 
 
 He is about to give His life, the biggest gift of love ever shown.  And before he does this he humbles himself completely.  By washing dirty feet. 

He began to wash his disciples feet, even Judas who the devil had already prompted to betray him.
 
Simon Peter said, "Not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well." 
 
He is thinking only of himself!  Jesus, the master and teacher, is taking the part of a servant.  And yet, this is me too.  I think only of myself.  I wonder how I will get everything done today.  Not thinking of how God equips me and has sent great staff to serve with us here.  I grow grumpy from changing six stinky diapers a day and wiping bottoms.  Not thanking Him for gifting us with another cousin to love.  I long for close friends and family to talk with and not feel so lonely some days.  And yet God has given a time of such easy and cheap communication to those loved ones far away.
 
Now that I have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." 
 
Forgive me....I need to love.  To love the work you have given us to do for you.  To love as you loved.  To serve without selfish thoughts.  Just love.
 
Here is my prayer for our kids this year and the students I teach to
 
"Learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in us" Gal 5:25, Eph 5:2

Monday, August 27, 2012

Encouraged!

Praises

Bro. E.K. & Sis Maddie are such an encouragement to us and the school!  They have had such a passion to jump in and love on the students.  And also help update things here.  Plus provide a friendship to us.  They have seen signs around the school that were falling apart that they went and typed and laminated.  They are helping make a student handbook.  They are preparing syllabi's and classes.  They are making mobiles for the preschool.  All the while battling a new culture, cockroaches, lack of electricity (we had to have all the wiring redone this week), and plumbing issues.  You walk on campus now and just hear so much laughter with students and staff.  Can you hear how prayers were answered through them?  We are so thankful.

Our new batch of college students fly in this Thursday.  We can't wait to meet them!

One of our visiting adjunct teachers who was supposed to fly in this week to teach got very sick.  Please pray for him and his wife - Sherman and Mavis.  We were unsure how to juggle his classes.  God was sure....he provided my uncle Paul to come with only a weeks notice of prayer.  He is a very qualified, retired teacher who is coming to gift us these next 3 weeks with his gifts.  Plus I get family time.  What another answered prayer.

Our preschool opens up this Monday, Kids Club begins again next week in our preschool building, and Sis Maddie is starting up ballet & jazz classes for area girls.  The girls are all so excited, but we have had one mom already who was not happy it was only for girls at this point.  So excited to reach the community for Christ in one more way. 

Sis Claudette is coming on board with our team in the kitchen.  She is married to a graduate from WISE.  And lives right across the street.  She always has a smile for you.

The new basketball hoop is up at WISE, and we may have some of the next Olympians in the batch or at least wanna-be's. 

And I could keep going...but I will close with my nephew's (who is staying with us for a few months) 1st birthday party that we celebrated with the neighbors and friends.


We are blessed. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dwelling in a New Land

We're learning a little about adoption as we care for Micajah.  Adoption literally means taking in as your own family, your own child.  While he is with us for the next few months, Micajah is one of ours.  He eats what we eat, he wears our clothes (Mizzou of course), and he goes where we go.  I get an even better chance to think of God adopting me as His child more now through having Micajah. The immediate love God has for all of us from conception and through our mistakes and trials.  And through it all we are still - His! 

This can be hard for me to grasp as lately the feeling of being a foreigner or an alien has come into play more.  "Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt" (Ex. 23:9).

Overhearing some ladies passing by they say, "Those white people just came in and forced a family out of their home to start a preschool."  I could have went over and explained that the family that had lived in the house moved back to Jamaica to care for aging parents.  We loved them and were sad to see them go.  It was after they left we realized their house was vacant and would be a perfect place to open a preschool and kids studio to teach/reach kids at.  But, probably even explaining would have done no good.  They just saw us whites as foreigners.

Or when we had another preschool inspection this week from the get go the inspectors repeatedly vetoed our ways and ideas.  I have been so thrilled at all the love and care so many sent and gave to make our preschool look like a place of beauty.  So upon hearing someone want to berate all that had been done did make me sad.  I only know my teaching and decorating ways from the US, it is true.  Do I think my ways are better or the only way, no.  But, as I visited other preschools and saw their diversity from each other too, I thought ours could still be a great learning place.  Yet, because we were not from here locals told us they wanted to make it harder for us. I guess overall it made me sad that it had to be cultural.   I want to just love kids wherever I am.
  
I guess it is hard as when I hold Micajah, I am not looking at a black baby.  I am not thinking he's Vincentian or American.  I am thinking of how He's God's and I am too.  I am so thankful for this, " We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  There is neither Jew nor Greek (American or Vincentian), slave nor free (wealthy or poor), male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are heirs according to the promise."  Gal 3:26-29

So this causes me to think of some points I see from God's word on foreigners, as we all are until we get to heaven.  and it makes me think of how even though not all of us are away from our home country now...we may have neighbors who are visiting from another country.  We may be adopting, we may have friends going through a difficult time, we may know some who are sick. 

1. Let's not opress them.  This includes even talking about their differences in a negative way.  Feel free to talk to them and get to know them, but don't just assume they do something without getting to know them. Hear their story.  Don't judge them.  talk to them rather than about them. 

2. Treat them as if they are from here too.  Treat them like yourself.  We teach kids all the time about the Golden Rule, so let's use if for adults too.  They have feelings too and probably hold on to those feelings longer than kids do too.

3. Love them as you do to others you are close to.  We all have felt loneliness and know how hard that can be.

4.  In Egypt, God saved and redeemed the Israelites....use that as a reminder of His saving and redeeming us for Heaven.

I'm so thankful for the past few challenging days of feeling isolated and left out.  For a minute I wanted to defend, cry, and get mad.  But, I got some extra moments with God and He gifted some great moments last night through some neighbors and new friends that He is working through and in differences and His love does not see those things.  I am praying for my heart to mirror His in this and that others here and all around the world that can have that heart too.







Please know as you read this, I mean no disrespect.  There will always be diverse feelings involved wherever you are.  If you feel offended, it was never to do that, but for us to give a picture of how we can see God's acceptance even more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And now we have twins!

I used to think in my premarriage days how fun it would be to have twins one day...and now I have them practically.  2 times the dirty diapers.  2 babies needing their food cut up or spooned in at the same time.  2 babies constantly hanging on a bit tipsy at walking still.  2 babies crying at the same time. 

But also 2 babies to love.  2 babies to makes us grow.  2 babies as answered prayers. 

Here have been my prayers.  God, let us be as a family learning to serve everyone and if our home is needed, help us to use it to help others.  And, God, also help me to teach my own 3 kids sacrifice, sharing, and of Your love. 

My sister's family's prayers were for another baby.  A baby that needed a family too, not one that lots of people wanted, but one that had been waiting for a family. 

Then, entered Mikajah.  His parents were raising him on the streets here, and could not do it any longer, as he kept getting sick in the elements.  He got to come and live with us.  He is almost the same age as our youngest son Pax.  So, they are practically twins and every moment feels like we have twins at this point until his parents, Andrew and Jenna Stout can come get him to take him home.  He is answering our prayers as our own 3 love helping him and having him around.  I thought originally and selfishly that it would be harder.  Some moments it is:)  But, the reward of getting to love on my nephew at this time and seeing my kids loving another in their home as their own has been an answer to everyone of our prayers.  And Maki was also the answer to the Stout's prayers as he is the exact age their baby would have been that was lost in miscarriage. 

We would ask for showers of prayers for this adoption and to get to take him home in a few months!  And for Mikajah as he adjusts and has so many changes in his life. 



And more prayers for our new students that come on Aug 30th!  And for the Keller's who come next Monday!  And for our 19 preschoolers that start on Sept 3rd!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Travel Trials

We just got back from Barbados after attending a Christian Youth Convention there.  Currently there is only 1 airline that flies to most of the Caribbean places from St. Vincent, which is Liat.  It is under new management or actually without management at the moment and since it is the only airlines to travel here....well, you grin and bear it :)  The last 4 times we have flown it we have been between 2 hours or more delayed or had our flight canceled.  I had decided to go the ultra cheap route and have us fly the hours no one wants to get very discounted tickets....which makes the 10 pm flight becoming the 1:30am flight instead! 

On our way home we had been waiting with some delays for 4 hours at the airport already. They then called all of us on our flight to St. Vincent to come to the front desk.  At this point we were all told our flight was canceled, but they would help with rebooking for the next day.  They then directed us to go through immigration and customs again (you will understand the hassle once you have filled out one of these lengthy white forms).  We had just previously done this and since our family fills out 5 it takes awhile.  One of our new friends we had just made while waiting had a wife from the Philippines and she is not allowed into Barbados because of visa issues, so they had told her she would have to stay at the airport.  All of this bonded our little group of 18 friends into a tight knit friendship and helping each other out.

Our group consisted of a man from Guyana married to a lady from the Philippines that had 4 girls ranging 4 years to 9 years.  Then, there was the mom from England traveling with her 13 year old daughter and niece.  Next came a man from Nigeria traveling to see his deceased wife's home of St. Vincent for the first time.  Then, came a young man on business from Dominica.  And a mom with her two teenaged boys was also along from St. Vincent.  And our family of 5 got to be with them!
After our flight was canceled we all waited together to located checked bags, help one another carry all the luggage with all the kids, pleaded for a place to stay, and watched over the kids for another 3 hours together while they rebooked us for the next day.  After finally arriving at the hotel they kept us all in, we had another hour wait as the room keys could not be found.  Then, we shared a very late dinner and early breakfast together only to soon find out the plane was taking off earlier than we had been told.  The family of 6 could not be found and missed the rest of us running to make it.

 It was a chaotic time and made us think, "Are we nuts?  What are we thinking living this lifestyle with 3 little ones?"  And once again God equipped us and blessed us with amazing new friends I hope we are always in contact with.  I admit there were times I wanted to cry from things being out of our control.  Times I wanted to scream from impatience at the kids for being loud, hungry, fussy, and restless.  And I even lost my patience at my husband since he was the only adult I really knew and the last person I should be losing my patience with.  I don't even know that the airline workers saw a very gracefilled person that night.  I was just tired, done, and ready to be in our home.  I'm not perfect and hate that I can be that way.  But, I'm so thankful God did not give up on us.

God provided some wonderful friends and some even that wondered what we were doing and that needed encouragement too.  I was so thankful to be united for those 16 hours of craziness and support each other.  And I realized that even when I thought we had nothing to give as a family at that time, we still could love them, smile with them, and hear their stories and struggles.  We soon saw that God took over and took away the tiredness and impatience as we saw others needs. 

"And God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  1 Cor. 10:13

Hope you catch His blessings in the pictures below. 


How to entertain a 3 yr old in the airport for 7 hours straight?  Getting pushed around in the wheelchairs by the teenage boys!


The girls thought it was so fun to chase after Pax and keep him taking everything out of all the bags.


I could not resist this picture we saw...we need one for the wall by our house, although I guess I can't say too much having a boy who loves to go outside.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Barbados Youth Convention


We got the priviledge of being at the Barbados Youth Convention for a bit.  I can't even describe how cool, amazing, and encouraging it was to see all these youth and their sponsors worshipping God!  They came from Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent, and Grenada.  They have a really neat Christian camp there that held the event, and we only wish we could have been there the whole time!  Brice got to share about WISE, and we ask you join us in prayer to see some future students in the bunch come to WISE and go into ministry.