Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
As I write this title, it’s kind of ironic because not only is this update overdue, so am I! I guess that word is just on my mind. My due date was Tuesday and yet here I sit coming up with excuses why it’s perfectly legitimate for me to bake mega-fattening chocolate cake and have plans to devour more than my fair share. So before I transform into Paula Dean, I figured I’d do something a little more useful with my time.
During the last nine months, Jason and I have been going back and forth between our options of what to do concerning International Teams and our previous plans to serve in Chocabamba, Bolivia at the Center of Friendship and Support. Iteams graciously gave us the option of keeping our account open and continuing the fund-raising process after the baby was born. This really appealed to us because we both felt that our call to the mission field was not extinguished with the news of this pregnancy. We both still have a passion to serve and the support we’d raised thus far would really get us off to a great start with future missions plans. We didn’t want to lose what we had going for us.
Of course we were still very unsure of what those future plans would look like. How long would we wait until we’d feel ready to travel with a baby? How would we adjust after the baby was here? Would we still feel like going? These are all questions that remain unanswered even today. Although we were clueless and far from at peace, God was working the whole time to bring us a clarity that still amazes us!
Just before Christmas we heard from Joana, our teammate in Bolivia, that the Center was going through some big changes. The building they had rented since the Center first opened was no longer available for their use. They had to be out shortly after the new year began. This meant the Center would be closed until they could find a new location. After much searching, the team decided to purchase land and build a new Center from the ground up.
This news provided the perfect opportunity for us to help our Bolivian friends in a more tangible way than we ever could have imagined. What they needed now was not the service of two distracted new parents coming to “help” them. They needed resources, and we had just that sitting untouched with no concrete plans for its use. The Lord had made it clear that the support we had raised was meant to be used now! We got in touch with Iteams and asked them to donate all our funds to the Center in Bolivia. This money will be used to help purchase the land and building supplies for the new Center.
Don’t you just love it when God makes sense of all our confusing situations? For so long we had wondered why God had us start this process only to interrupt it. We felt so bad about leaving our generous supporters with no information as to what was happening with their donations. We even felt guilty for having so much support and not bringing it to work for God’s kingdom. We were so busy feeling all these things, we forgot the Lord was at work making sense of it all.
We are happy to share this news with you and for those of you who did support us, we hope you feel content to know your gift is being used as a huge blessing to the children in Chocabamba who so desperately need to hear about the love of Jesus.
To learn more about the new Center in Cochabamba, please visit Joana’s blog. There you will find updates and great pictures as they start construction.
Please remember to keep this team in your prayers and thank you so much for your support during this journey in our own lives. God has been so faithful in showing us how much we are loved and supported and Jason and I could not be more greatful!!
The chocolate cake is calling.......... :)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This news was met with excitement and joy, but also with confusion as we were certain the Lord had called us to serve in Bolivia. The idea of continuing our one-year trip as planned now seems out of the question. Currently we are at about 35% of the funds needed to go. Obviously God can make anything happen, but it is looking like we wouldn't reach 100% until late winter/early spring, which would put us right around the time of our due date. It doesn't make sense to us to travel to a foreign county just to have a baby. We wouldn't be able to serve the way we both want to as we'd be totally wrapped up in learning how to take care of our newborn.
As of now our options are limited. International Teams suggested going to Bolivia now for a shorter period of time and coming back before the baby is due. They said we could also choose to take a group with us and lead a two-week trip serving at the Center. We asked our doctor about traveling overseas and she did not recommend it because of required vaccinations that would be risky for Jeana and the baby as well as other health concerns regarding the quality of water and related sicknesses. This leaves us with two choices. The first is to delay until after the baby is born, take him or her with us and in the meantime continue to raise funds. The last option is to cancel completely, designating our funds to another ITeams mission or to the Center in Bolivia.
We are praying hard through all these options and we ask you to lift us up in prayer as we try to discern God's will. We want to make sure it's not our comfort or selfish desires that make the decision for us.
Thank you for walking alongside us during this journey. Our hearts are saddened as we've asked so much of you, and now are faced with the possibility that your support may not come to fruition in the way originally planned.
Above all we know that God's timing is perfect. We are overjoyed that He has entrusted us with one of His children. We are so blessed to have the love and support of two very proud and excited families, as well as a wonderful church family. We know that God will continue to provide as He prepares us for all that is to come.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The summer months are going by so fast! We’ve traveled a lot since our last update. Through these travels we have been able to share about Bolivia with three church bodies.
We started out here in Elgin. We were really excited to officially share with our church about our calling to Bolivia. Most of our family here in Elgin has heard about these plans, but it was great to share with them the stories that brought us to this calling, more detailed information, and pictures. It’s always inspiring to see the faces of those we’ll be ministering to, as well as those we’ll be working with. Sharing with our church in this way really emphasized our desire that our church family is coming alongside us as a part of this ministry. We don’t want the mentality to be that we are leaving our church; instead we want Elgin Community Church to be entering Bolivia with us. They are and will continue to be our partners in serving Jesus Christ. We were blessed to have our family gather around us in prayer, lifting us, and our needs, up to the Lord. It was a great Sunday of encouragement and affirmation.
The next weekend we headed up north to Wisconsin. It’s a family tradition to spend the Fourth of July up at the cabin. We enjoyed the lake and the company, as most of JeanaLe’s extended family (plus a few extras) were up for the holiday weekend. We played putt-putt, swam, enjoyed a few games of beach volleyball, went fishing, water skiing, and knee-boarding, participated in the first-annual bags tournament, relaxed in the hot-tub, and just relaxed period!
On Sunday we worshipped with our up north church body at Wabeno Presbyterian Church. This is a tiny, little church filled of people with big hearts. Our family is always welcomed with plenty of smiles and even some laughs as we fill up at least two pews. This particular Sunday we overflowed into three. We weren’t able to make a formal presentation about Bolivia, but we talked with the pastor after church and with one other couple who are old friends of our family. We were able to leave our letters at the church and know they will be passed out to people who are thankful to be included in the Lord’s plans for us.
After church we rushed home to change and head out to the Townsend parade, a true display of the Northern Wisconsin lifestyle! The rain held off for the parade, but not long enough to see the fireworks show; it was cancelled. We spent the night indoors and played games while the boys decided to go fishing anyways and got totally soaked.
Our next destination was St. Louis. This trip happened to be on the weekend of our first wedding anniversary, so we did a little celebrating as well. We spent Friday night in downtown St. Louis at a beautiful hotel. It was relaxing and fun to be a little spoiled. We woke up and enjoyed a delicious breakfast before heading home to O’Fallon.
That Saturday night we planned to have some Chapel of the Lake church members over to the Marshall’s house to share personally about how God is working in our lives through this call to Bolivia. It was a really fun day of being in the kitchen and baking some fabulous desserts for that evening. We got to enjoy dinner as a family and then started welcoming our guests. It was such a great time of sharing. Everyone there got to learn more about what we’ll be doing in Bolivia; and since there was really no time restraint, we got to go way back and share about how the Lord has been planning this all along, and how He continues to make it clear to us that we’re on the right path. It was an encouraging night to say the least and we’re so thankful to all those who came. After this the family decided to go bowling! We had such a fun time together and even got a silly at the end with a game of full out crazy bowling. Sunday after church we enjoyed a wonderful steak lunch and then sadly had to get back on the road. Time with family is always too short!
This next weekend we’ll be going to JeanaLe’s hometown and sharing with her church family at Kenosha Christian Reformed Chruch. Please keep us in your prayers for this Sunday as we’ll be sharing up in front of the church and that is always a little nerve-racking. Other ways you can pray for us are:
• Praise for save travels so far and continued prayers for safety on the road
• A big praise that we were kept from a speeding ticket (roses in the car, the fact that it was our anniversary, and a very gracious officer were huge blessings!)
• Praise that we have reached 25% of our needed support!
• Continued prayers for the Lord to raise up more supporters for us; supporters who are thankful and excited to be a part of this ministry with us
• Humbleness and confidence as we ask for help in this way
• Pray for us as God is preparing our hearts to teach VBS next week at our home church and for the children who will attend
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Our week-long training at International Teams has come to an end. It was a great week of learning for both of us. We learned about the vision and values of ITeams and feel so confident in choosing them to send us out to Bolivia. We met so many of the staff members and you could see in their hearts the passion they have for the oppressed people in this world. ITeams focuses on ministering to the poor, the slave, and the blind. We had the opportunity to learn about many different teams around the world and how the Lord is working through each team. We are so excited to be a part of this missions family. If you want to learn more about International Teams and their values please visit www.iteams.org. We are proud to be representing this organization!
Another highlight of our training was meeting some incredible people who are also committing their work to the Lord through missions. We roomed with a couple who will also be serving in Chocabamba, Bolivia. They have three girls and will be moving their family to Bolivia to join a team that builds homes and raises up Christian families to support and care for orphans. We also had the privilege of meeting Katie, one of our future teammates!! She has been living in Chocabamba for about two years and will be going back to join the team at The Center. We had her over for dinner and learned so much about Chocabamba, The Center, and the people of Bolivia. Thanks Katie for answering our questions and spending time with us!! We can’t wait to get to know her more. Please pray for her as she is also raising support!!
In the coming weeks we will start traveling to different churches to share about The Center and our plans for joining the team there. We will for sure be traveling to Wisconsin and Missouri. We will also be sharing with our home church through small groups, and maybe even a meet and greet after church one Sunday. We’ll keep you posted. It’s our goal for our brothers and sisters in Christ to catch our vision and partner with us in prayer and support as we follow the Lord’s call in Bolivia.
If you do not happen to attend one of these churches, we still want you to learn more about The Center and how God is already working there. Please take a few minutes to look at the pictures of these adorable kids, read the information about the Center, and pray for us! We depend on your prayers to help pave the way for us. God is working in huge ways, and He is hearing you as you lift us up in prayer.
If you feel led to bless us with a gift of support, please go to www.iteams.org/give. You can pledge your support online. Have fun learning about The Center. We hope it excites you as much as it does us.
We want you to learn more about The Center of Friendship and Support!
The Center is committed to providing opportunities for disadvantaged children with the goal to reach them for Jesus.
The Center is an after school support program that has classes in mathematics, Spanish, English, physical education and Biblical studies. The Center can provide these programs for up to 55 children. The intent is to keep class sizes small to offer an excellent service and share Jesus personally with each child.
The Bible tells us we are to train children in the way they should go and when they are older they will not stray from it (Proverbs 22:6). The Bible classroom is equipped with the resources necessary to effectively share Bible stories and principles with the children.
There are two library teachers who help the children find answers to unsolved questions from school. The library is equipped with all the resources needed to help these kids with their homework.
Sharing with families
The Center strives to develop relationships with the childrens' families and share the gospel with them. Pray that God will change their hearts and lives and that soon we will see these families attending church.
We will be joining an incredible team of dedicated individuals and families. David and Toty (pictured here) are the founders and leaders of The Center. They have a daughter, Joana, who is about our age. She works at the center as well and has been our number one contact in Bolivia. David and Toty have also worked hard to plant a church in the same building as The Center. This church is called Yo Soy, which means “I Am.” We are excited to join this church.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The lack of posts accurately mirrors a lack of time for posting! It has been an extremely busy last month. We were blessed to take an incredible vacation to Tennessee and North Carolina. We met up with Jason's family and spent one of the best weekends ever camping in Tennessee. We were with Jason's brother Ben and his wife Shanika, and Jason's sister Kelli and her husband Alex. The six of us had a blast sitting around the campfire late into the night and talking, laughing, reminiscing, and listening to how God is working in each of our lives.
From there Jason and I headed to Smokey Mountain National Park where we camped for three nights and enjoyed God's beautiful creation all around us. It was awesome for us to wake up and see mountains everyday. It made us very excited to live in the Andes Mountains in Bolivia!
Next we headed to North Carolina where Jason was in one of his best friend's weddings. It was a wonderful time with lots of friends and lots of fun. We did white water rafting and hiking and enjoyed witnessing the marriage of two incredible friends.
When we got back home we started to prepare for our garage sale and move. It was a busy time but we were able to do both successfully. The whole moving process went so smoothly. We were so thankful to have lots of help. Jason's family came up from St. Louis and my family came down too. We also had Kasey's boyfriend Matt help us out. He has a truck and so does my dad, so with two pick-ups and lots of hands it was a really smooth transition.
We are all settled into our new place and loving it. It is such a nice feeling to be living more simply. It's also an added bonus that Jason can walk to work. It takes him about four minutes.
This week we are at International Teams for our one-week training. It’s so exciting to meet all the other Missionaries in Training (MITs). There are 11 other MITs here for the week. The training is from 8-5 every day and consists of classes in cross-cultural communication, biblical frameworks, financial planning, and the overall vision and values of International Teams. We also had a testimony time where all the MITs shared their testimonies. It was incredible to hear how God is at work in the lives of His children.
On a side note, Jason and I have signed up to run the Chicago Half Marathon. It’s 13.1 miles….kind of far for us…..we are not runners in the least bit! Surprisingly, the training has been going well so far. Right now we are at five miles and are increasing each week. We are thankful to have moved right next to the perfect bike path that runs right along the Fox River. It’s an ideal spot for training that provides some beautiful scenery to take our minds off the run. We’ve seen many deer along the way, and once even a big snapping turtle!
Please continue to pray for us this week as we are in training and God is preparing our hearts for the journey ahead. After our training we plan to really focus on our support raising, talking with churches, and sending out more letters. So if you have not heard from us yet, we haven’t forgotten about you! There is still a lot to be done……as always!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
So at the beginning of last week we set three goals:
1. Find a place to live
2. Jason tell his work about our plans to leave
3. Get our letters done and sent out
When we set these, we weren't exactly being realistic, but it was just a start to get us motivated and on the right track. God had other ideas.
On Monday, Jason was on his lunch break and decided to take a short walk across the bridge on the Fox River. When he got to the other side, he came across a house with a FOR RENT sign in the yard. It was for an upstairs one bedroom apartment. After work we drove past it and got the number off the sign and called. Jason explained our situation to the woman who answered, and as we expected, she was sorry but could not rent month to month.
Later that night we were in small group and got a call back. It was the same woman saying she had talked it over with her husband and they decided that they would love to help us out, they would let us rent month to month! The next day we went over to see the place. It's perfect for what we need. A kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room, all very cozy (and yes that is a euphemism for small) but all newly remodeled. The rent is half of what we pay now, but the best part is Jason can walk to work, which is so helpful being that we are a one car family.
So by Tuesday we had found a place to live, goal number one was accomplished! God was working quickly....and he was even working in awesome ways earlier that morning. Jason talked with his bosses that day and told them of our plans. They were really excited for us and told Jason he has a job until he needs it AND his job will be waiting for him when we get back if he wants it!! This was such reassurance for Jason that he is doing a great job and work and that God again had this all worked out for good!
The Lord also provided time for us to get our letters done and got some mailed out! If you are reading this hopefully you have received one. If not we still have more to send. God has richly blessed us with an abundance of family and friends. The names just keep coming and excel spreadsheets have become our new best friend! Our kitchen table is piled high with stacks of letters, envelopes, address books, and stamps. It's a kind of productive, organized chaos. But it's getting done. After two weeks of subbing every day (praise God for work), the Lord has given me some days of no sub calls, so I've been able to use my time to get letters out.
So all three goals have been accomplished. God is paving our way. We don't know exactly why God is calling us to serve, we don't know what kind of difference we will make to the people in Bolivia, but we know that the Lord is paving our way. He is moving and working all things out so we know we're on the right path. He is giving us assurance and confidence and proving His faithfulness to us.