Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Happy New Year! Has it really been a year already since we returned to the ministry of Teen Missions International, Inc.? It sure doesn’t seem like it has been a whole year – but the calendar says it is, so it must be!
Since returning to the ministry last January, we have been busy, busy, busy! For the first 6 months, we were busy with our office responsibilities. David worked in the Finance Department, processing donations and helping with mailings, and I was busy at the reception desk answering calls and greeting visitors. In addition, I helped with some of the things on the website.
We went to Bulgaria last summer, as I am sure most of you remember. We finished our summer team and just three days later, were on the road to Canada to lead the Missionaries To Canada team. Our training was at the new location of the Teen Missions in Canada office and camp in Outlook, Saskatchewan. Since our training ended at the end of August, we have traveled to a variety of communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta, ministered in churches, schools (public, private, and post- secondary), correction facilities, shopping malls, nursing homes and senior living centers (assisted and independent living situations) using music, testimonies and preaching to share the Gospel. We have met some of the most wonderful people and so appreciate the opportunities for ministry we have had here in Canada.
As of December 19, all the team members were in their host homes for the Christmas holiday, and David and I headed back home to Michigan for Christmas. We were home for 13 days – a real treat! We were able to actually spend time with Azamat and also with Olga and Jason, as well as with friends and neighbors, and attend services at our home church. It would have been even nicer had we had opportunity to see all our kids and grandkids, but that was not possible.
Speaking of kids and grandkids – we are now GREAT-grandparents! Yes, you read that correctly – we are great-grandparents. Our grandaughter, Alisha, gave birth on October 29 to Canten Allen Poletiek. He was delivered nearly 6 weeks early because he was not growing well in utero. He was known to have gastroscisis, a condition in which some of the intestines are outside the baby’s body at birth. Thankfully, he had “simple” gastroscisis, meaning only a part of his small intestines were outside. They were replaced (by gravity feed), the hole in his abdomen closed without any complications, and Canten then began the work of growing. At birth, he was 3 lbs 3 oz and about 16 inches long. He lost a bit at first (very common for newborns), dropping to 2 lbs 15 oz, but as of today (Jan. 5), he’s up to 4 lbs 14 oz, and he’s 16.5 inches long. He went home on December 17, the day before his due date, but had to go back to hospital about a week ago. He was spitting up too much and having too much diarrhea. He’s now stabilized, eating well, and will hopefully be home again either today or tomorrow. He was on oxygen since birth, but that has now been discontinued. That means he’s breathing well on his own. God has been so good in answering all our prayers for Canten, and we thank all who have prayed. Please continue to keep him in your prayers. He’s our little miracle man and we’re so thankful for him. We won’t get to meet him until September of this year – he’ll already be 10 months old when we meet him – but we can’t wait! Iva continues to live in Colorado, and is thrilled with her little grandson, Canten. Alisha and the baby’s father live in her apartment, so she sees Canten a lot. We are really looking foward to seeing all of them in September.
Heather and Josh and their children, Brice and Tayler, are well. Brice ran cross country this past fall and did quite well. He wants to run track in the spring, but has to get his weight up in order to get medical approval for that. Not really sure what is going on, but his weight is quite low for his height and age, so please pray that he can get his weight up and keep it up. He and Tayler are both doing very well in school, and we are very proud of them for that. We are hoping and praying that one, or both ,will come on a team – if not this year – then soon. Brice already did a Peanut team and Tayler did a Mustard Seed team, but we’d like to see them come again for Pre-teen and above, as well.
Jenni and Shad and their boys, Shad Rae and Talon, are still in Alaska, but this is their last winter there. Jenni is not a big fan of the winter darkness at all, and they are looking forward to being in lower latitudes again. I think they are hoping for an assignment to Italy or Japan. Either one would definitely be a big change from Alaska. There seemed, at one point, to be some concern that maybe the educational needs of the boys might be in question overseas, but we think they’ll both do well. Both are doing very well right now, and we see no need for extreme concern. Our hope and prayer is that both of them will also come on Teen Missions teams someday. Jenni did four teams, and it is our hope that both her boys will come on teams as they grow up.
It is difficult to realize, but Olga and Jason will celebrate two years of marriage this coming March – on the 21st. Both are well. Olga had been working at a park in Marquette, but decided it wasn’t right for her as her schedule was so much different from Jason’s, so at the end of the season last fall, she put in her notice. Jason changed jobs recently. He now works for the railroad that hauls the iron ore pellets (raw ore is pelletized before it is shipped to the steel mills down south) from the pelletizing plant to the ore-docks. He really likes the new job and, come spring, his responsibilities will change some and he’s looking forward to that. They still live aways out from our home, but are prayerfully seeking the Lord about possible relocation. We spent most of Christmas Day with them, and also some time together Christmas Eve, and again on New Year’s Day. Just wish we could’ve had more time together.
Azzie continues to work at Wal-Mart, but he is also exploring other opportunities, including the Coast Guard. He has a book to help him prepare for the tests given before enlistment, and we are praying the Lord will give him great wisdom and guidance regarding his future and decisions he has to make. He and his buddy continue to live at our home in Ishpeming, looking after things. There were a few issues when we were home, but that is all worked out now, and things are going along pretty well.
So, what does 2011 hold for us? Well, for now, at least, more ministry here in Canada with the Missionaries To Canada. Currently, we’re working on applying for visas for all the team members to get into the U.S. So they may and minister in some churches there, as well as at The Lord’s Boot Camp. In addition, we’ve been invited to lead the North American team to Russia, where they’ll help train Russian youth at The Lord’s Boot Camp there, and then travel with a team of Russian teens to the Lake Baikal region where we’ll do sports evangelism. You may recall that last summer, that’s what our team did in Bulgaria, and we saw 58 come to know the Lord. We are praying for similar or greater results this summer in Russia. After the summer team, we’ll take some time to travel and visit family and friends, then return to our ministry responsibilities in Florida.
David and I want to thank you for making it possible for us to serve in this ministry. It is a privilege and a blessing to represent you. May the Lord bless you as generously as you bless us with prayer covering and with finances, as the Lord provides and directs. You cannot know how much it means to us to serve here or how much it means to have the encouragement of your loving support.
Together in His Service,
David and Stephanie Spindler Romans 10:14,15