Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Looking back at 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, we look back over the last year and once again stand in amazement of who God is and how He continues to work in our lives.  The doors the Lord has opened for us to serve Him and spread the gospel have been amazing.  The new ministries He has given us the opportunity to start this year to reach people here locally with the love of God and the gospel have been wonderful and the chance to serve Him each and every day right here at the Texas-Mexico border is a blessing!

We knew when we made the decision to become full-time missionaries that there would be sacrifices, some easy and others hard.  We counted the costs and knew that we could lose our lives, lose our children, we would lose precious time and memories with our families, etc. but we also knew that following the Lord's calling in our lives was worth all the risks.  Over the past year, there have been mountaintops and valleys in our mission work.  This journey has not always led us where we thought we were going and outcomes weren't always what we anticipated or expected but there have been blessings amidst the curves life can throw us. There is no way to tell what's coming around the corner so you simply move forward in full faith trusting God for whatever lies ahead.   God has been SO faithful to us and He has revealed Himself to us so clearly over the past year. The God that you read about in the Bible (the healer, the comforter, the faithful one, the sustainer, the omnipresent, etc.) is still the same God today!  So it is with excitement and anticipation, that we look forward to 2016.

One song has really spoke to us the past few months as we think about what all the Lord has done and allowed us to do in 2015.  It is the song "Never Once" by Matt Redman and the words say:

Standing on this mountaintop, look at just how far we've come
knowing that for every step, you were with us
kneeling on this battleground, seeing just how much you've done
knowing every victory, was your power in us
scars and struggles on our way, but with joy our hearts can say
yes, our hearts can say...

Never once did we ever walk alone
never once did you leave us on our own
you are faithful, God you are faithful

Kneeling on this battleground, seeing just how much you've done
knowing every victory was your power in us
scars and struggles on our way, but with joy our hearts can say
yes, our hearts can say...

Never once did we ever walk alone
never once did you leave us on our own
you are faithful, God you are faithful.  

We want to say a huge "THANK YOU" to each of you who so faithfully keep us lifted up in prayers each day too. Prayer is one of our most important weapons against Satan and we covet your prayers for our mission work, our ministries, our outreach to the people here, and for our family.  To those of you who are "holding the rope" financially, THANK YOU because we couldn't be here doing what the Lord has called us to do without our financial ministry partners.  We pray that 2016 will be a blessed year for you and your family too.  We look forward to continuing to serve the Lord in 2016 and appreciate each of you who make it possible for us to be here.  To God be the glory! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Family Update - October

The seasons change, and you change, but your Lord abides evermore the
same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

October was a very busy month for our family with multiple ministry opportunities to our students, our local community, and an evangelism outreach event too (you can read about those in other posts below). Our weekdays are busy too with youth band practice on Monday nights, Knitted Together (a ladies fellowship started by Abbey) on Tuesday nights, we both teach a class on Wednesday nights, Nursing Home Ministry on Thursdays, and on Fridays we try to spend time with the kids and do something as a family. Of course, Saturdays are often filled with ministry activities and we both teach on Sundays. Oh, and we homeschool in the midst of all that and the kids recently started mixed martial arts classes two days a week to learn self-defense too!

You may be thinking "busy" but BLESSED is what we call it. Blessed to have the opportunity to be so active and involved in our church, our community, and in the spread of the gospel in this

We have some fun moments that we've been blessed to share recently too. 
 Wyatt found a live eel at the beach! We got pictures of it and then moved away.
The kids all got good reports at their yearly checkups.
Alabama beat Texas A&M Texas! (ROLL TIDE)

We watched the entire super moon lunar eclipse from start to finish.

We thank God for our faithful family and friends who are “holding the rope for us through both prayer and financial partnerships.  We could not be here doing what we are called to do without each of you who so faithfully lift us up in prayers and give financially to our family.  We thank God for each of you everyday in our family worship time!  

Trip to Honduras

Our kids finally have their passports! 

For several months, we had been praying about a door that was opened to us to take a trip to Roatan, Honduras. The kids did not have their passports and honestly, we just didn’t have the funds to make that trip for a family of 5. We told our pastor that we would pray about it and seek God's will for this matter.  In late July, we received an unexpected call that we had been given a monetary gift through an organization and that we could use this money toward a mission trip or missions project. We had not told anyone about this trip because honestly we didn't know if it would work out and we didn't want to get everyone all hyped up for nothing if it didn't come to pass.  So receiving this phone call and this donation was nothing but the Lord answering our prayers!
Mrs. Rhonda, us, and Mrs. Norma (not pictured is our pastor)

So January 23-30, our entire family will be going to Roatan along with our pastor and his wife, and our friend Mrs. Rhonda from our church here who grew up in Roatan. We will be working specifically with the Oak Ridge First Baptist Church there and we are doing a mini-VBS for about 30 kids in the area and David will be teaching the “Follow Me” by David Platt curriculum. We will also have the opportunity to lead worship and David will preach on Sunday night. 
Roatan, Hondruas is one of the Bay Islands of the Carribbean.  It has cruise ship ports on both ends of the islands but once you leave the resort areas, the majority of the island is not as well-to-do or have such wonderful amenities.  It is like many of the other cruise destinations of the Carribbean.  Approximately 65,000 people live on the island and there is an extremely high poverty rate on the island.  
The area we are going to has a church but they have no pastor, the people there are in
great need of discipleship and Biblical training (hermeneutics), and they are asking for a missionary family to come work on the island and work with the church. 

We ask you to join us in prayer in 2 ways regarding this trip. It is a two-fold trip for us as we will be going to serve the people there and share the love and joy of Jesus with them but also it will be a scouting trip for us to see if this is a place the Lord would have us serve long-term as missionaries. Will you please join us in prayer over not only what the Lord will have us do while we are there that week but also for possible long-term work in this area of Honduras?  We would appreciate that greatly!  

Community Fall Festival

 This year, the city of Los Fresnos hosted a Community Fall Festival at the local park. It was open to anyone in the community and our church hosted 4 game booths at this event. We dressed up as clowns and hosted the bean bag toss and the duck pond. 
It is always so much fun to get out and have fun with kids and families in our local community and share the joy found in Jesus with them. We had a great time with the kids and families who came to play the games, we gave away over 2,500 pieces of candy, and we handed out 200 LifeBooks with our church information on them too. 
Of course, our kids wanted to dress up for Halloween too.  Abbey was a "time traveler" from Doctor Who, Sidney was a "loveable monster", and Wyatt was a "mutated gorilla".  They got to go around and get candy and play games at the Fall Festival.  Then Wyatt and Sidney went to a friends house (whose backyard connects to the local park) and played with their kids and Abbey helped us run the game booths.  Since Dia de Los Muertos is highly celebrated by many in our area it was nice to be part of a family-friendly alternative for people on Halloween and participate in the community Fall Festival.  

Praise on the Hill 2015

As the remnants of Hurricane Patricia moved into our area, we were scheduled to take our youth group to “Praise on the Hill”, a free Christian music concert in a town about an hour away. The
weather was less than stellar on the day of the event.  It had rained for about 24 hours constantly and in our area it floods easily.  Despite the torrential rains, some flooding, and winds, we headed to this concert with had 7 students go with us. At one point, we were driving 25 mph on the freeway (speed limit is 75mph on this road normally) because of standing water and horrible visibility due to rain.  Some of the exits off the freeway were blocked and closed due to flooding. It was c-r-a-z-y!  When we finally got to the location, the parking lot had a lot of water in it too and we were a little concerned it might be worse when the concert would be over 6 hours later.  We got drenched getting from the parking lot to the arena but we made it safely and the kids were excited to see all the performers.  
There were several worship bands from local churches that did worship experiences prior to the headline shows. It was fun to get to worship with them and see their different styles of worship too.  The headline performers at this event were both popular Christian artists that are played on the local Christian radio station. We got to see Moriah Peters & her "fierce female band" first and they were great! Then the last performance was by the very popular group, For King & Country and they put on a phenomenal night of worship.  At one point, one of the lead singers walked through the stadium and he came and stood on the bleacher right in front of Wyatt and sang for about a minute right in front of us!  
(Moriah Peters)

(For King & Country) 

We especially loved how both Moriah Peters and For King & Country shared testimonies and encouraged those in attendance to remain pure until marriage and that love was worth waiting for. That is such a powerful lesson that students just don’t hear often enough from people other than their parents.  King & Country even taught the students that they were "priceless" and they even have a necklace you can buy for your child to remind them that they are "priceless" in God's eyes.  

We left the concert around 10:15pm and drove home and thankfully the rain had stopped about 3 hours into the concert so it was a much nicer ride home.  We got home around 11:15pm and were very exhausted but had a great time.  We praise God for His hand of protection over us while we traveled and for the opportunity to take our students to this great evening of worship.

The remnants of hurricane Patricia continued to roar through our area throughout the night and at one point during the night David & I woke up because we kept hearing a "bumping" noise but we never could figure out where it was coming from.  The next morning, we found the large tree at the end of our house had fell during the night from the winds.  The Lord truly had His hand of protection over our home and our children because the tree fell just in front of the house.  The branches were laying up on the kids bedroom (which is probably the bumping we had heard during the night..the wind blowing the branches around against the window).  If the tree had landed on the house it would have been right on the kids bedroom.  In the picture below you can see how it fell and the window you see is the kids bedroom window!  We live in the church's missions house for missionaries and it is SUCH a blessing for us and we thank God for how he spared our home and spared us any damage too.  God is good...and all the time...God is good!  

Laureles Outreach

On October 17, we hosted an evangelism outreach in the nearby area of Laureles.  This was one of the locations of the VBS when the mission team from Decatur, AL was here in the summer.  Members of our church are opening a panaderia (bakery) here and they have graciously offered their facilities for our use in evangelism outreach.

We gave away 250 hotdogs and drinks, we handed out Spanish and English Bibles and gospel tracts, we gave out invitations to our church, and we had an area set up where we helped kids make gospel beaded bracelets (which gave us the opportunity to share the gospel with them). We had such a great turnout that we ended up being there an hour longer than we had planned!

The Lord blessed us with the opportunity to share the gospel with several adults while we were there too and we trust God that those seeds that were planted will continue to grow in their lives.  Of course, we could not have done this event alone and we thank God for the 3 other couples who gave up part of their Saturday to come join us.  We also had a few of our students come help as well!

Please continue to pray for the outreach we are doing in the area of Laureles.  Pray that the gospel will go forth in this area.

Fields of Faith 2015

We were blessed to be able to join the high school FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and participate in Fields of Faith.  David has been helping facilitate the "Coaches Outreach" at the high school on Monday mornings.  This is a weekly Bible study with the high school coaches and he has enjoyed getting to know them and this has given him a great opportunity to be in the school system sharing Jesus too.

Fields of Faith is a night open to anyone in the community where they can come to the local high school football stadium and take part in a praise and worship service.  This service is unique because it is led entirely by students at the high school who are part of the FCA.  One of our favorite parts of the evening is listening to the kids share their testimonies and hear them tell their peers the stories of their salvation, what God is doing in their lives, etc.

David & I served as counselors at the end of the event for any student who wanted to talk to someone or wanted prayer.  It is always such a gift to get to serve in this capacity and be part of encouraging and possibly even praying with someone as they receive Christ as their Savior.  We also had a table set up where we gave out Bibles (in English or Spanish) and we gave out LifeBooks ( to anyone who wanted them.

We praise God for such beautiful weather that evening and for the great turnout as well.  It was a joy to be able to be out in the community helping with this wonderful event.
Wyatt enjoyed getting to play football on the field with some of his 
friends from the community

This was the sweet folks who helped us at Fields of Faith

Ready for a night of student-led worship!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hosting a Mission Team

We praise God for the opportunity He gave us to host and facilitate a mission team this summer. We were so blessed to have a team of 23 people from Parkview Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama come spend a week doing a mission trip here in Los Fresnos with us. They split into two teams while they were here and did so much to reach our community for Christ and helped with projects at our church too. 

They hosted a morning and afternoon VBS in 2 locations, did door-to-door evangelism, pulled up all the carpet in our children’s ministry area, painted 2 of the children’s ministry classrooms, trimmed trees on the church grounds, built shelving in the church garage, organized the Hands & Feet Ministry storage area, and did outreach at the local skate park each evening. 

They were all smiles and full of excitement every day and they willingly walked through every open door to be His hands and feet and serve our community during their time here. We loved getting to know these team members and they quickly became dear friends to us.  We were sad when their week was up and they headed back to Alabama.  We praise God for their dedication, hard work, and desire to come alongside us to help the gospel go forth in this area.

You can watch a RECAP VIDEO OF THEIR WEEK here too!  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Student Ministry Camps

The month of July was very busy for us as we were blessed to have our Student Ministry Kids Camp and Youth Camp in July.  These camps were back-to-back and we only had 2 days in between the camps but the Lord sustained us during these two weeks and we had a wonderful time at both camps with our students.  
The first camp was our Kids Camp and we took 23 third-sixth graders to Camp Zephyr in Sandia, TX.  The theme of camp was "Inside Out" and the spiritual focus was on learning how to be turned "inside out" for Jesus!  The theme was based off the new Pixar film "Inside Out" so the kids instantly connected to the theme even if they hadn't seen the movie yet.  On top of awesome times of large group worship and small group devotionals, the kids got to swim, kayak, play on inflatables, play baba ball and volleyball, have outdoor recreation each day, and much more!  One thing about camp is you go wake up about 6:30AM each day and head back to the cabin at 11:30PM (which means the kids stay up even later getting showers and talking) so you don't get much sleep or rest but you are having so much fun together as a church group that it's worth the exhaustion, lack of sleep, and extreme heat (as you are outside almost the entire time) in 100+ degrees.  The kids LOVED camp this year and we all made some great memories together too!  
2 days later, we headed to Camps on the Rio in Mission, TX.  This camp is actually owned by our local Baptist association and this year, we did our own Youth Camp.  We usually take the kids and the youth to Camp Zephyr each summer but this year, Camp Zephyr filled over 3,000 slots in a couple of weeks and we were not able to get out youth into Camp Zephyr.  The camp facilities at Camps on the Rio were amazing and they even had a 3 acre covered pavilion full of recreational games and activities so we didn't have to be directly in the 100+ degree sunshine!  The spiritual focus of this camp was on David Platt's "Counter Culture for Students".  We did six one-hour Bible lessons that covered this material and the topics discussed were so relevant and personal to issues these students face on a daily basis.  Because this was a smaller group and we had the entire camp to ourselves, it didn't take long for our group to quickly bond with each other and really start having fun together as well as feeling confident enough in Bible lessons to talk and share with each other.  In fact, several of the kids told us they liked going to Camps on the Rio instead of Camp Zephyr because they got to know everyone on a more personal level and really make new friends.  

We praise God for a great 2 weeks of Student Ministry camps this summer.  We thank God for His hand of protection over us as we traveled back and forth to the camps, for his protection over the students while they were at camp, the way He provided the necessary funds for these opportunities, and for His grace, faithfulness, and how He sustained us during these two weeks.  We are already looking forward to Student Ministry summer camps in 2016!  

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Everest VBS 2015

June 15 - 19 we had Everest VBS each evening at church!  This was such a fun theme and even though it was almost 100 degrees each night, we had fun pretending we were mountain climbers and working our way from base camp to the summit of Mt. Everest and learning truths about God along the way.  
Each night the kids started at Base Camp Sing & Play where the kids sang songs, watched a skit, met their Bible Buddy for the day and learned a new memory verse. Then they headed out for a rotation of "stations".  In Bible Expeditions, they got to experience a Bible story each night in an active, hands-on way.  At KidVid Cinemas, they got to watch movies about real kids in the real world who are living out their faith in really cool ways.  Imagination Station is where kids learn to remember each day's Bible point through hands-on, Science experiments.  Glacier Games gives kids the chance to run, jump, and splash through games that relate to each day's Bible lesson.  Mountaintop Treats is where kids come together to enjoy snacks that connect to each day's Bible lesson.  

During Everest VBS the kids had a Bible point that they learned each day.  It was a simple sentence that they can remember to help them not only learn truths about God but also be able to share about God with their friends and families.  During Everest VBS, kids learned:
* God has the power to provide
* God has the power to comfort
* God has the power to heal
* God has the power to forgive
* God has the power to love us forever

Each night, we also collected a missions offering.  Due to the recent earthquake in Nepal which also affected and killed climbers on Mt. Everest, we decided to let our missions offering go to the relief efforts in Nepal.  We challenged the kids in a boys-vs-girls missions offering that went like this: 

If the boys brought in $100, then Kim & I would each take a pie in the face. 
If the girls brought in $100, then David & Curtis would each take a pie in the face. 
If the kids collectively raised $200, then our pastor agreed to take a pie in the face.  

The missions offering each night brought lots of participation and excitement from the kids.  It was awesome to be able to connect that through their missions offering, their money would help provide for the people of Nepal, bring comfort to them, and help them heal.  On Sunday morning, the congregation gave $74.00 toward the missions offering.  Each night at VBS, the kids brought in lots of change and dollar bills and on Friday night, we had raised a total of 
$467.35 to help the people of Nepal!!!!!!  So.........
we all got a pie in the face...and it was SO worth it! 

Hands & Feet Ministry

One of the things the Lord had really laid on our hearts awhile back was to reach out to our local community and be His hands and feet to the people here.  After much prayer and talking it over with leadership, we started the "Hands & Feet" Ministry.
Using agriculturally worthless land, land that often lays in floodplains or other rural properties, developers create unincorporated subdivisions.  They divide the land into small lots, put in little or no infrastructure, then sell them to low-income individuals seeking affordable housing.  These areas are called "colonias".  Colonia residents generally have very low incomes and often buy the lots through a contract deed, a property financing method whereby developers typically offer a low down payment and low monthly payments but no title to the property until the final payment is made.  Houses in colonias are generally constructed in phases by their owners and may lack electricity, plumbing, and other basic amenities.  Colonia residents build homes as they can afford materials or will put really old campers on the property.  One of the greatest concerns regarding the colonias is the lack of wastewater infrastructure and potable water.  Many colonias do not have sewer systems.  Instead, residents must rely on alternative, often inadequate wastewater disposal methods.
We are going out to these colonias to help meet needs.  We have made a connection with Community in Schools and they give us contact information for families who are in need in our area.  Then we go out and assess their situation and see how we can help.  We currently have several families in these areas that we are working with to help provide hygiene items, clothing, food, or help with light construction projects that may need to be done at these homes.  Through meeting physical needs and forming relationships with these families, we are then able to share Christ with them and invite them to church or set up a home Bible study with them.  

We currently have no budget for this ministry and rely solely on donations from others to make this ministry possible at this point.  Please pray for the Lord to continue to provide what we need to be able to meet these needs.  Also pray for this new ministry that the Lord will continue to grow it and open more doors so we can keep meeting physical needs and spiritual needs as we share the love of Jesus with our local community in this way.  

Knitted Together

A few months ago, Abbey came to us and said she felt like our church should start a women's craft group.  Abbey has always been a "crafty" girl.  Her grandmother ("Meager") taught her to crochet and she quickly caught on and has continued to learn new techniques on her own.  A lady at church taught her to knit and after 2 lessons, she knitted a huge blanket for our family.  She loves drawing and painting and she always has a crochet or knit project going. We explained to Abbey that if the Lord was leading her to do that, she should spend time in prayer really seeking the Lord's will for this.  She prayed over it and a few weeks later, she talked with the pastor of our church about it.  He was very encouraging to her and told her that if the Lord was leading her to do that ministry, then she should start it.  So, at the age of 14, Abbey began her first ministry called "Knitted Together".

Every Tuesday evening, ladies of all ages (from young girls to senior citizens) come together at the fellowship hall for a time of crafting, snacks, and fellowship. This weekly gathering is also open to ladies from the community and serves as an outreach tool as well.  There are usually several tables of ladies.  Some of the ladies will be knitting or crocheting together, others working on beaded jewelry, younger girls making rubber band bracelets or doing fashion design templates, some ladies just enjoy sitting at tables fellowshipping with ladies and not necessarily working on anything, etc.

The beauty of it is that young girls are learning from older women, ladies share their knowledge of crafts they enjoy and it's been fun to see ladies learning from each other, it gives ladies a time each week to time to come together and just enjoy each other's company and make new friends.  Knitted Together has been very well attended each week and several ladies have expressed their appreciation for Abbey taking the initiative to start this new ministry.  We are very proud of her for following the Lord's leading and taking the proper steps to start this new women's ministry for our church and community.

Life Update

We realize it has been quite a while since our last update and we apologize for that.  We are going to be more faithful about posting updates here.  We realize many of you are faithfully helping "hold the rope" (through prayers and finances) for us to be here doing full-time mission work and ministry and we want to be faithful in keeping you updated as well.
Sometimes in life we deal with real floods, like the recent flooding Texas is experiencing, and other times we deal with spiritual floods where it feels like all you can do is keep your head above the water.  Ministry is not always easy.  Overcoming the attacks of the enemy in our own lives so we can be effective ministers of the gospel, facing discouragement and frustration, and constantly battling the influence of the world can make you feel like you are struggling to stay above water.

In those times in our lives, it is good for us to remember text like 2nd Timothy 4:7 where Paul reminds Timothy "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."  No matter what we face, we must remember to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  Pray that as we continue following the Lord's calling on our lives to do full-time mission work and ministry, we too can have the same words as Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7.