As we came out of the house to get in the car this morning, we thought maybe we had taken a wrong turn and ended up back in Canada! Frost was on the windshield and it was 29 degrees on the thermometer. Actually we were back in Florida! We thought maybe we left the cold behind, but when we returned from our trip up north, we still had a week of 30 degree weather; some parts of Florida even had snow! We got out the flannel sheets (in Florida?!) and brought in the plants. It was a nice change, though, since Florida can get pretty hot. I’m sure the “snowbirds” were wondering what they had gotten themselves into! Our trip up north was a real blessing and encouragement to all of us. We left after work on December 18 and drove through the night. We were watching the weather forecasts because they were predicting a huge storm up the east coast. Well, they were right this time! We got to just below Richmond, VA, and called a friend, with whom we were to have breakfast. We hadn’t seen much snow yet, but he said that he couldn’t get out of his driveway, so we decided to move on and visit another time. About 10 minutes later we knew why he was not getting out of his driveway! We ran into probably one of the biggest storms we have ever seen. And with both of us being from the north, we have seen some pretty wild storms. We didn’t make our second stop in Maryland, either…we decided it was best to keep trudging along. We drove for the next eight hours at 25 miles per hour arriving in PA safely, but about six hours after we had planned.
The kids were handed a shovel as soon as they got out of the car, and shoveled the walkway so we could get our things in the house! The Lord really protected us as there was zero visibility at times. People were in the ditches and some even stopped in the middle of the roads to clean off their windshield wipers! We are thankful for the Lord’s protection. While in PA, we were able to share at Anthony’s church, Air Hill Brethren in Christ, as well as stop and talk to a number of pastors, mission directors and youth leaders in churches we have never been to. Anthony is really good at that! They were excited about the ministry and we were able to make some good contacts for future presentations. We went snow tubing and skating again this year. Anthony and his dad also made homemade chips. They were good, too! A few days before we were to leave for Ontario, I got some kind of stomach bug (you know what that involves) just before we left to come home and had it for a day or so. After I started to feel better, we were ready for the 10-hour trip to Ontario to see my brother, Len, in Collingwood. We woke up that morning and Darin had caught “the bug”, too. We decided to continue on as we were to be at my home church in Barrie the next morning. After a while, Darin could sleep in the car and we were able to finish the trip…but not without Brandon feeling terrible, also. He waited until we got to Canada to “get rid” of his bug. We had a wonderful time with Len and his family. It had been four years (when my parents passed away in 2005), since we were able to get back to Ontario, though both my brothers and their families have visited us in Florida since then. It was a lot of fun just being together. We took a day trip a little farther north to Owen Sound to visit my aunt and uncle and were able to see a few of my cousins, also. We had a wonderful visit together and headed back that night…right into another snowstorm! There were times we could not see the hood of the car! It was a white-knuckle, one-and-a-half hour trip back to Collingwood. If we hadn’t had Len’s lights to follow, we may not have been on the road. Once again, the Lord protected us. We also bundled up one morning to go down to the center of Collingwood to see the Winter Olympic torch come through on its way to Vancouver. We told the kids that they can’t say they didn’t see any snow this time! We had a wonderful time at Emmanuel Baptist Church (my home church) on Sunday morning. They opened up the chapel for us to have a three-hour open house and we were able to attend the first service in the morning. What a joy to see so many people; some we have not seen for years and many with whom I grew up. The church Missions Committee was so hospitable and even set up a wonderful spread of refreshments for all those who came. We really appreciate the continued backing of the church. They have been with us since I started on staff in 1983! We can hardly believe it has been 27 years for me and 19 years for Anthony, serving here with Teen Missions. The Lord truly has blessed us and we have grown in many ways. After spending four days in Canada, we headed back to PA with a stop at Niagara Falls along the way. The kids have seen it before but are now old enough to remember it. We were in PA for a few more days where we were able to help celebrate Anthony’s brother, Lynn’s 39th birthday. Continue to pray for Lynn and Amy. His body seems to be a little weaker, but his mind is sharp. Their baby is due in February and you can keep up with Lynn’s blog on faith4life.org. We appreciate your continued prayers for them.
Now that we are back home, we are already busy getting ready for the summer. Anthony has been working on some electrical issues (especially since people’s heaters are being used for the first time in a while!) as well as printing. I’ve enjoyed cooking for the students once a week in addition to my office responsibilities. We are thankful for the many volunteers who come down to help during the spring months. We could not get ready for Boot Camp without them. We are both going to teach Sunday school this spring, Anthony for the adults and I’ll be teaching the 7-10 year olds. The kids are doing well. Jessica is enjoying learning to play the flute this year. She hopes to get involved in track and field, too. Brandon is on the Merritt Island High Freshmen Basketball Team and will soon start flag football with the local league. Darin will also play flag football, so we will be juggling that with Little League baseball. They are all doing well in school. We are so blessed by our children. We are scheduled to be on home staff this summer and help run the office. It will involve 24-hour phone coverage, keeping up with the teams, talking with parents, and the general maintenance on the property. It is exciting to hear reports firsthand of what the Lord is doing with the teams all over the world. We will also run five Debriefs here in July and August. There are only a few of us who stay home in the summer, so please pray for us as we help to hold down the fort! Brandon and Jessie have not decided whether to go on a team, go up to PA, or stay here with us. We will let you know. We have Boot Camps continually running overseas in different countries every month of the year. In the next few months, India and the Philippines will be running and this summer it will be Siberia, Madagascar, Cameroon, and Mongolia. For those of you who do not know, we have 39 Boot Camps, 26 Bible Schools, 33 Orphan Rescue Units, seven Matron’s Units and 27 Motorcycle Sunday School Missions at 29 bases, in 23 countries around the world! For more information, go to www.teenmissions.org. To God be the Glory, He is doing great things through this ministry!
We are encouraged by all of you who are a part of our lives and ministry here, and we are blessed to be able to serve the Lord as a family. We pray for God’s richest blessings in 2010. Please drop in to see us and the ministry here in Florida if you are in the area. We would love to see you.
Anthony, Shawna, Brandon, Jessica and Darin