"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, December 30, 2016

Christmas in the Caribbean

Christmas for us is warmth, sunshine, palm trees, reading stories together, decorating the tree with popcorn and decorations we have made over the years, celebrating Jesus' birth, worshipping with our church family, and more. A few pics to show you...


Ours kids at church telling the story of Christ's birth.  Beckett was Joseph.  


Paxson and Naiyah were shepherds.




Our church held a special Christmas feast - cucumber soup, rice, stew, macaroni pie, and ice cream!


Several hours later - we had a small popcorn string to decorate with!



We hope you had a Christ filled Christmas full of so much joy we are thankful for God sending His son!


The motor shop here did a Christmas display.  After a 3 hour wait, we got to walk through and the kids got to see snow for the first time, though still not real snow...


Monday, December 12, 2016

Cherishing each moment

     Excuse the potty photo - but it spoke to me so much today!  Ha!  Was trying to do better at having the kids help clean the house and make sure they always put their toys away.  And then when I went into the bathroom and saw toys laying there I almost shouted....."Boys, who forgot their toys in the bathroom?"

     And then it made me smile so big and I thought, "This is real!  And this is just for now.  It means while one of the kiddos was one in here using the bathroom, they were playing. And soon they'll be grown and no more kids playing and leaving toys behind.  And I am so thankful for the joy of teaching and loving them at this stage and every stage God gives us!


Friday, December 2, 2016

There is No Place Like Home!

      We are Home!  We had been dreaming of our own place, beds, dressers, cooking our own meals- ha!  Even the kids were missing their daily chores of feeding the chickens, gathering the eggs, feeding the dogs, and burning trash.  And we all were looking forward to warm weather.
   
      When we first moved overseas, our first few Christmas' felt strange not being in cold weather, seeing snow and lights, stores packed with Christmas decorations, and drinking hot cocoa and cider.  But this year it felt strange to not have warm weather, palm trees, and cold drinks:)

     We had work permit in hand and thought we can finally live here!  But as soon as we got to the airport, the US side said we would need to buy a return ticket, which we have always had to show.  They said the paper from the Bajan government had no official stamp, the handwriting was scratched out, and no way would we pass there.  Basically, they said we would be put in the holding room and on our way back the next day!  And we have had friends spend the night in the holding room, so we know this happens.

     3 long flights later, we arrived!  8 hours of flying time, 6 and 1/2 hours sitting on one airplane due to 1st class not getting food delivered, 4 tired kiddos, one cranky momma (Brice has always said travel days are not my best days), and we finally arrived back in Barbados. As they went over our papers, the holding room door was open and brightly lit and Brice and I kept looking at it fearing that was our bed for the next few hours.  Our kids were so sleepy at this point and the boys were crying (both had ear infections and so many flights and the late night weren't helping).  One lady in the immigration line leaned over and said, "My kids always feared flying too, but they grow out of it when adults".  At 2 am I was having trouble and just smiled.  How to explain my kids love flying- just not with ears hurting and in the middle of the night standing in line an hour:)

     But, by 3am we had passed through and all 4 kiddos were tucked in and we are home!  Very thankful as so many prayed and dear friends here kept pushing it to make it happen!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Completing the Fundraising Tour & Doctor Visits

     After 3 specialists and 4 doctor visits, we have just one left to go for Kensington and she is cleared to leave!  Which is great news, as we just received word our work permits are processed!  Yay, we can head to what is home to us here on earth!

 - We got to vote in the presidential election in person for the first time in 11 years!
 - We got to travel and see so many dear friends.
 - We got to see dear supporters raise over $51,000 extra for the new property!  From huge gifts to a homeless man giving a $1, so thankful for the body coming together!
 - 2 of our properties in St. Vincent look to be close to being sold to help purchase the new property!
 - We got to meet several potential staff families.
 - We got to experience fall/Thansgiving season in the States, which our kids never have and enjoyed (even though 60 degree weather sent us scurrying to put on borrowed winter coats and hats!)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

On the road, just fundraising

Wow...we are about to finish our first week of fundraising events!

Our target aim is for $300,000 for the land due in Feb.

We loaded up the donated camper with all the supplies. (Yes, a company donated an older rental Rv to WISE).  Amanda's family cooked the food ahead of time for several days. Andrew prepared and joined for speaking, sound, set up, video, and brochures. We also had picked up former teammate Pam Ferguson to help cater the meals.  And Brice's parents joined the caravan team to help serve meals and watch our kids. Quite an amazing team!

Our first event in Canton was a time where only a few could make it but an encouraging one. Then the Beamer's joined up with us for Ohio and Indiana and have the most amazing message about their partnership with wise, how to survive the worst day of your life, and make sure you are ready the day before and how to prepare for that. Truly hope everyone can hear him.

 With the 3 events we raised right at $10,000 and served 60 combined. While we had hoped to see more we were blessed by the ones we did see, know so many were excited by the amazing grad video the Shumate-family put together through our graduates help and David Beamer's wise words, and God bringing it all together.
We did realize we had a miscommunication and us and the church prepared a meal for the Indiana event... but having extra meals is better than not enough as David says, "Some is good. More is better!"

We head to share at Houston, mo this weekend and then would ask for your prayers and to invite your friends to our main events in Pittsburg, Columbia, and Arkansas this next week. Also if you would like a tape of the evening we are working on getting that too.  And continue to pray for the wise staff and students as ongoing classes continue on campus and for their perseverance.

Grateful for this team God has put together, 

Friday, October 21, 2016

More craziness

     So we received word from the government to finalize our work permits to be overseas we had to leave the country for 6-8 weeks.  Honestly, we have always been adventurers, going with whatever the Lord had. But this time I wanted to throw a fit!  We had only been in our home a few months.  I dreaded packing up for 6 of us and living out of suitcases again all living in one room in host homes and families.  I could not even fathom how we would try to school each day moving around.  And I loved having routines- cooking our own meals and having our own space.

     We had a great group here and then with the hurricane they were delayed several days and we got out.  We received word our paperwork had been denied, so it added another week onto the time out of the country.  We felt so frustrated.  And then at a routine checkup we got word Kensingtons's 3 holes in her hearts were still there, and her birthmark they thought could be causing vision problems.  So we lined up a heart specialist, pediatric eye doctor, and pediatric dermatologist.  If they went the aggressive treatment we would need to have close monitoring and appointments every month.  Our family does not do well apart and so we wondered- would this bring us off the field?  What was the future?  At this point, I am crying, not realizing how we can add all this on.  And of course meanwhile we are hosting 6 fundraising dinners to raise money for the new WISE property- 4 of which are families are catering in the next 2 weeks.  It did feel we had put too much on our plates.

     
     I was clinging to that verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God does not give us more than we can handle.  And he doesn't.  He has given us so many things to grow us and teach us to trust Him more. That day we heard our paperwork had been accepted, so we would receive our permits after the waiting period!  We heard students started getting their student visas through!  And that same day 2 of the specialists got us in the very next day!  We were told this could take a month.  And they were amazing and after we explained our situation, worked with us on appointments and best course of treatments. Today we head on the road for the first fundraising event and we do covet your prayers that our family can balance work, life on the road, family, and schooling.  And that these fundraising dinners could bring more support for the school and students.

     And if you see a borrowed Missouri van in a McDonalds's parking lot- likely it is us- me schooling the kids in the backseat, the baby getting used to a carseat, and Brice using the free internet there calling students for interviews on Skype.  So- knock on the window and say hi- we love seeing friends all over!
   

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One of the most amazing weekends

I am so thankful that God gave me Brice and our marriage.  Our wedding day and the day each of the kids was born were some of my most favorite days.  But Naiyah studying with us and getting baptized was such an amazing day!  Knowing we will spend eternity with her and that she understands that thrills us more than anything!  


We are still praying her siblings fully grasp that one day to as this time they swam out and dunked themselves, declaring they baptized themselves...so could they have communion now:)


The next day was the one house for the island.   It rained some, but we still had several students sign up for the spring!

The First Christian Church from Elizabethtown came in the same day- they worked so hard and finished the last 2 leaky roofs in 2 days!  And even got an extra 3 days in Barbados due to the hurricane!


Kensington loved her first dip in the beach!


We had community service with the churches- our kids so enjoy being a part of the Ruby group.  Thankful for friends they can grow with.


Mrs. Pat was here and taught the girls how to sew!


And that same weekend our cousins gifted us with a gift certificate to a resort restaurant.  It was our first date here and so special.  And former teammate and friend Mrs. Pam came to visit and she watched our kids for us!



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kids in Church



video

   
     Today at church they were more focused on the kids, since kids start back to school here tomorrow.  They asked for volunteers to come up and share a song or poem.  The youngest kid in the audience volunteered - Paxson :) So, here he is....I thought he would choose "My God is So Big" or "Jesus Loves Me"- Ha! Not Pax!

      Then, they came and did a special anointing prayer on the kids foreheads.  My kids had never seen or had that done before.  Beckett whispered, "What are they doing?"  I said, "It is a special kind of prayer. "  To which he replies loudly- "I have never seen that kind of prayer."  What a special morning!

   

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Each and Every Count!

I am writing this as the electricity and water is off today from 8-6.  I finally stopped guarding the kids from opening up the fridge so things did not spoil.  The kids were hot and resting under the shade.  And the computer was surprisingly charged so I thought this could be a good time to blog – if I remember to post this when the electricity does come on J 

              Even though we have had this month as a break from classes, the time has been used to redo all our inspections (fire, health), work on immigration for ourselves and students, insurance renewals, recruitment, and lots of meetings,  And meetings (meaning 1 at a time) here usually can last for a whole day, because the waiting takes a whole day until you get inJ  It never feels like you accomplish much, but we are learning if we can get one things done each day- it was a successful day on the business side of things!

              This weeks business things were…interesting.  One of the things was we had a meeting with the pediatric surgeon on the Island.  People often think health care will be so amazing here with so much tourism.  But we have heard several scary cases.  Our current student had a sister go in for routine surgery to remove a cyst this year and they operated on the wrong side – TWICE!  So, we have thanked God we have not had to go to the hospital. 

              That changed when Naiyah fell and broke her arm.  So, we prayed.  And since we don’t have official papers here nor insurance still because of that, medical care is through the roof.  So just the xrays, reset, iv, and doctors visit were over $2,500.  It would have been cheaper to hop on a plane to a doctor we know and love in the States.  But, we decided to firmly plant our feet and stay here and trust God and the doctor here. 

              After an hour wait for him to arrive, we realized all 5 patients in the waiting room were given the 9am time slot, so that meant more waiting. After we were finally called back, he immediately started telling us her break would likely need surgery, would require Naiyah being put to sleep, getting a shot, cutting- she was a mess and scared.  I guess we weren’t used to the directness with kids there.   Then, he sound out we homeschool and were missionaries and proceeded to interrogate the kids on what part of the restoration movement we were from  - to our 5 year old!  Pax, of course, had no clue so then he pointed out homeschool was not working for them.  Somehow we made it through the $175 appointment to be told to come back in a week after the swelling had gone down.

              Later in the week it was time to renew our driving licenses.  Yes, we waited until the day before they expired.  The main office was close, leaving open one office for the whole island.  We arrived, waited in line, only to find out a lady in front of us had already been waiting 3 hours!  We decided to come back the next day- the day we had to get it done!   And we would be genius and arrive 30 minutes before the office open to get there first.  By the time, we arrived the line went way into the road!  We are standing there with all 4 kids in the sun for a half hour, when a security officer comes out and says we can’t have the baby in the hot sun (yes, by 8am already hot here!).  So he takes us to the front of the line and has us go first.  And that is when the mob started.  So many shouting, “Unfair Americans.  Pay taxes and then you can go first.  Of course, the Americans are treated better.  We have been waiting for over 3 hours, etc.” 

              It was horrible.  We said we’ll just wait like all the others.  Because it was not fair.  And the officer said no, you have kids.  So we finished our business, tried to apologize to the line on the wait and kept our heads down because we got through in an hour.


              All this to say – this summer when back we heard so much on black lives matter, saw firsthand foster care kids uncared for, and so many other situations.   It made us think we all are in situations.  In our situations we can sometimes feel like a minority for homeschooling, for being American, for being a Christian, for having several kids.  All of us are in different situations and each and every life counts!  Our family goal we are striving for to learn and show is we don’t know everyone’s story but we know they are each significant and to help love them to see that – no matter our circumstance or story! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Catching Up

    Several months to bring up to speed.  We had such a sweet time this summer becoming a family of 6, visiting churches, having a big road trip out to the convention in CA and a few churches out that way, getting great time with family, and then finally heading HOME to our own place!  We surely do cherish having dresser drawers to unpack in!
   We did go through a discouraging time. (Don't we all?)  We had many doubts if we were fit to do this job and the right people.   So many scary faith builders for us of waiting for the properties to sell, God bringing staff to WISE, the accreditation process taking more time here than we had thought, having to wait on students to come, and our work permits still not being done.  All this to say God has a plan and we are so excited as we watch Him unfold it!  We have always felt He was doing big things through WISE and the move here and each day we are seeing that come true.
    We were at our 1st church where we were crying and felt overwhelmed and said there is no way we can walk into this meeting and pretend things are great.  We have always felt so excited to share.  This time we said, let's just be honest.  It was one of the best nights of the church body surrounding us in prayer and encouraging us.  From there, we heard from another church that from a trip they had taken in March, they were so encouraged by WISE they were going to give more to missions and also  be more involved all over.  So even in the waiting for the Bible College to grow, God was still working through WISE.  Just not how we had envisioned.
      Brice and I had decided personally to have a day of fasting for the accreditation process to be completed.  We set the date, had to change it, and then decided to invite those on social media to join in.  We literally heard from thousands they had been fasting and praying.  That day we heard from the council and we could not have international students come!  It truly has been so humbling to see God working.

FAMILY TIDBITS


Naiyah has always been Kensington's biggest fan!  She loves changing and holding her.  This past week she fell and broker her arm and now she herself needs help changing.  We are praying that this Tuesday when the swelling goes down she will not need surgery and her cast can be put on.


Everyone says she is Paxson's twin :)  


Our cousin's came down and led workshops to the community and churches and we sure did love personal time with them!


One of our videos from the trip this summer :)


Reunited back home with dear friends here! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Kensington Caroline is here!

We feel so incredibly thankful to God for our little blessing!  We are enjoying baby time!  Kensington  (from our favorite place Brice and I visited) Caroline (named from my great-grandmother) is such a sweet baby.  She has already traveled over 3,000 miles in her first 3 weeks of life and never once complains or fusses.  She is for sure our little missions traveler!  

She was 3 weeks early and had a few things the doctors were concerned about, but keeps progressing and getting better.  We received her social security card and birth certificate, so now just waiting for her passport to be able to travel back to Barbados.


For our family we always somehow have to keep things hopping.  Brice tore his knee in a basketball game with 20year olds (I did warn him we aren't that young anymore before), so we have had his appointments.  Then, Kensington had an extra hospital stay and some ongoing tests with her hip and heart the doctor is keeping an eye on that usually clears up in a few months.  


We visited a few churches, camps, and mission teams in the area.  Now we head to the NACC and then to several churches on the West Coast.  Brice vetoed my camping in tents to California with a newborn, but we'll make it there!  And then we head back on the plane home.

We still covet your prayers for future staff, the accreditation process, and students applying to come.  
And we are so very thankful for the couples that taught at WISE this summer and watched over the campus!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Health Update

     We got all the tests and results back and so very thankful for the clear reports.  Baby girl is still staying inside, which is good as still a bit early.  The problems were minor infections cleared up and some fluid on the kidneys related to pregnancy.  We feel so grateful to the good report as so many have to go through so much.  We are especially mindful of this as we pray for so many hurting and suffering.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Change of Plans

     I had been having lots of pet-term labor signs, so we made the decision for the kids and I to come back early.  Brice will still be another month in Barbados teaching.  The good news is baby girl is doing so well and while still looks like will come early, she is doing so well now.
     Some different news was my enlarged spleen.  Early tests showed that an infection had not been cleared up.  So, this coming week I will have further tests at the hospital to see and if the ultrasound shows still enlarged, the doctor is referring me to an oncologist.  While it could be something serious like leukemia or a blood cancer, it could also be malaria or something similar as we have been in places with it!

1 - We would ask your prayers for baby girl to wait a bit longer at least until Daddy is back!
2 - For us without Daddy as will be a long month!
3 - Praise for teachers this summer and students as they continue to study and the help in covering while we are gone.
4 - Praise for the new staff joining us!
5 - Praise I have a great doctor and searching for answers and diagnosed this early to get treatment.

Love to all!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Staff Family Prayers

     Things are going so well with WISE.  We just recently got word from the accreditation that we can now bring in students!  We have been interviewing several staff members to have a full team for the fall!  And there are so many great families we have had interested to join!

     Our family from the get-go has prayed for a family with kids to serve with- so our kids have other kids to play and grow and serve with here.  When we first joined with WISE, that was the plan and our dear friends were set to come with us to serve and we would teach together and raise our kids together on the mission field.  Tragically around that time, they lost their precious son and were not able to join us.

     So we have kept praying for that family to join us.  We recently interviewed and were eager to welcome a family, who had 7 children near our kids ages.  They were so sweet and could tell would be a great addition to the team here.  They had sold their house recently and all seemed great after the visit here, until we just received news the father found he has kidney failure and they will not be able to leave the States now.

     We are sad for the WISE family to not have them and selfishly for our family to have them.  But, we are also praying for their family as they go through this.  We'd love for your prayers for the father's health and for staff here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Joyful in hope!

      Grandma just passed away.  One of the harder things on the field is dealing with sickness and not having family support, missing out on saying good-bye to loved ones and grieving with family when death occurs, missing best friends weddings, and the list goes on- but those are the big ones.  How we longed to have spoken to grandma in person one last time and to be with family at the funeral!

      There's a hill (about 40 feet) that dips into a valley on the way to my grandparents house.  Oh man, did we get so excited driving up to her house.  As we turned down her road....us kids would all shout and beg, "Go Fast, Daddy!"  Drive so fast!"  And our stomachs would drop out as we plunged down the hill and we squealed with delight.  Many times we would get to do it more than once a visit.  

     This week has been our hardest physical week we have experienced in 9 years.  Our family came down with some sort of flu that involved fevers of over 103, bronchitis, ear infection, vomiting, etc.  It started with one and would attack another the next day until it passed through all.  On top of it, our cook was sick and we were filling in.  And on top of that we have groups this week and a family interviewing to join the staff.  We are go getters and so to have to say we have to rest, was impossible to do.  

     While we kept wishing and praying it would get better and go away, God was giving us such hope.  Hope in knowing we will see grandma again in a better body.  Hope in the team we have here helping us out and persevering on their own, hope in God giving us strength each day even if was just to hold the kids and get meals out for all.  Hope in meeting a family doctor (we did not yet know one) and he is only 30 min away, as opposed to an hour which most are here since we are in the country.  And even with vomit all over he was so nice and kind- not even holding his nose :)   Hope that premature labor was stopped after we got the right medication.  And hope in God continually hearing prayers!

     While feeling sick and down we wanted to have that feeling of excitement as we dealt with things- that we were joyful for the next things....the exhilaration on the ride God has us on.  But on the road we are on today we are ready to turn around the corner or to quit climbing the hill to get there....but God is giving us strength each day.  

     We are so thankful for your prayers and love to our family.  We are praying in all you have joy and hope as well!




               "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
                                   Romans 12:12






Friday, January 29, 2016

Zika Scare

     Our e-mail has been flooded with caring messages of individuals warning us of safety from the Zika virus.  If you don't know much about it, the danger isn't much unless you are pregnant.  That's me!

     Honestly we have never much thought about risks in different places.  It's always been God has us in this place and we are here.  No questions.  So when Naiyah got malaria as a baby in Haiti, we never questioned moving back.  We fully realize every place has things you deal with.

     Now, this time we have prayed so much again.   We both have found ourselves checking the internet late at night (not wanting to scare the other) as to what exactly causes the brain development problems in babies in the womb if they get the Zika virus.  We got rid of all standing water on the property that harbors mosquitos.  We wear bug spray when I haven't in the last 6 years.  We find ourselves constantly pulling out our ultrasound pictures to measure our baby's brain to see if it may have the microcephaly.

     I can't imagine if our baby has this, but know we would love it still.  But the thought that our baby could get it and die during birth does scare me.  For us, we just keep praying.  And know that what God brings us to, He will carry us through too.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Grand Re-Opening

So much went on the past 2 weeks!  School started back at WISE.  We had a few disappointing times and also such joyous times!  If you miss our newsletter, here explains what happened with most of our students: 

This week we received disheartening news. When one of our students from Dominica tried to travel to Barbados, they were denied due to the school’s registration status with the country. 
Previously we thought we would be able to have out of country students move in and start their classes. However, we will have to continue to wait patiently on the government to approve our registration in order to have students from other islands move in. All classes will still begin on Mondayand will be open to any Barbadian students, both on-campus and evening classes.
Although a bit disappointed, we continue to trust that the Lord’s plan is perfect and look forward to seeing our other students move in soon. The Lord has been faithful to us in this move and we know He will be faithful throughout this process as we continue to wait on the government here. 
Please pray for patience, for the registration to be completed and for classes to start off well with our Barbadian students. Would you also join us in praying for our students who are ready to be here but aren’t able to be? Thank you for your prayers the past year. We are excited to begin a New Year and new chapter in Barbados!


On a different note, we had a wonderful opening with dedications


Banquets and many special guests coming


Dear friend and brother Lance was in to challenge and encourage us to do the Lord's work!


Brother Andy joined our staff from OCC


And Bro Pearson joined our staff from Barbados!

God's doing so much!  Our current students say they are learning so much from this dedicated staff!  We're thankful God brought them!  We were so thankful to have several board member families here to continue to work and pray for and with us!

After the team and opening here and all the guests left, the water went out..thankfully it was fixed.  Long story short our pastor's wife's brother called the newspaper and told them that they were reporting the water authority for wasting so much water from the leak that had been going on near our property for 2 months that was washing out the road.   What do you know, except they fixed the leak and restored the water the next day:)

Then, today a man the police had been looking for was spotted on the campus.  He ran before we could catch him into the cane fields by us.  We called the police, but 8 hours later they still have not shown, though they said they really hoped to catch the guy! 

Well, that's enough adventure for today!