Hello again to our friends and family far and near!
Our God is so great, is He not? He has proved Himself over and over again with His love and faithfulness and we are truly grateful. During these times of mixed emotions from every angle of life, He is faithful and will never leave. How great it is to serve a God like this! As I sit down to write this letter, I am going back and forth in my mind on how to go about it. With this said, I am going to just mention how God has been faithful in every situation that has occurred in the last few months.
Let’s start with summer. As you all are well aware, Teen Missions’ summer program makes for the busiest time of our year. Leaders, children and teenagers arrive forming 20 teams to go around the world to proclaim His name. They come to our facility here in Florida for a short time to train with their individual teams before being commissioned to go to the mission field. It is definitely not the easiest training to go through. There is an Obstacle Course in the early hours of the morning, you are sleeping in tents for the entirety and there is no running water for you to clean yourself with—just your bucket and water from the nearby lake. There are classes throughout the day that help give you instruction and ideas to assist you in doing the work and evangelism in His name. And there are night rallies to help acknowledge where you stand in Christ. In all of this, you also work on how to be a team.
The team that Sean had a great opportunity to lead was the India Team. There were five leaders and 18 team members. None of them had been to India previously, but were looking forward to what God had in store for them. When Sean was asked to lead this team as the head leader, he knew that the kids and I were not able to go with him. Sean has only led one other overseas team without me and we vowed never to do it again because it was so difficult to be apart for so long. When he was asked to lead the team, we had our doubts that he was even going to go. But as the time for his team to be commissioned came nearer and nearer, we knew that reality was setting in, and he was going. We were ready this time, we have been through it before and we knew how it was going to be. He and his wonderful team left for India after the first Boot Camp ended (there are two Boot Camps for teens, Early and Super). I think he is willing to say that the traveling was the aspect he was most nervous about.
Sean and his team worked with Win Our Nations ministries and Teen Missions in India. The first ten days were spent clearing brush and beginning construction on a security wall at the orphanage property. The team enjoyed getting to know the orphans and many village children who came by in the evenings. The team was looking forward to doing some hard work when they got to the Teen Missions base. God had a different plan—all of the construction supplies were delayed. Instead, they had many different opportunities to share the Gospel at local schools and churches. Although they did not see any decisions for Christ, many seeds were planted in the lives of those kids. The team really struggled with not doing the expected project, but I pray that God used this summer to change their lives.
Kieley also had a chance to be a member on one of these teams. This year was her last year to be in the Mustard Seed program for the 4-6 year olds. It is a three-day camp with their own little Obstacle Course and classes. She learned the basics of salvation, the Wordless Book and many more things. A friend of the family (Megan Gardner) was her guardian this year and we are so grateful to her. Kieley cried on her last night because she knew she will never be a Mustard Seed again. Next year she will be old enough to be in the Peanut program. She is already deciding on which team she wants to be on.
While Sean was in India, the kids and I remained in Florida. I helped in the Boot Camp Office. I was the first face anybody saw when they came to the office and I tried my best to answer any of their questions. I was mostly there for the leaders of the teams as questions arise, announcements need to be made during meetings and making sure all paperwork is turned in. It was a fun job and I am glad I had a chance to do it. I really liked being there to encourage the leaders when the days were getting a little tougher. There are lots of days like that at Boot Camp.
While all the teams are abroad, there is a small group of Teen Missions staff that stay behind in our Headquarters here in Florida to continue the work. The phone is manned 24/7 in case of an emergency from either the teams or the parents. This group also keeps up the maintenance on the property so that it will not be overrun by the Florida jungle. There is also money to process, retreats to run, cleaning dorm rooms, computer work and care for the staff children. I loved being in this group from time to time. My job this summer was helping with the cooking for the summer staff, retreats and Debriefs. It was a very wonderful time being in the kitchen with one of the fellow staff members and help be in charge of making sure everyone is fed and happy. I even had the opportunity to make some Filipino meals for the summer staff which they thoroughly enjoyed!
After a few weeks, teams start arriving from all over the world. India was one of the first to come back. Needless to say, the children were all very happy to have their Daddy back, but we were more happy to hear about what happened in India.
I don’t know what it is about a kitchen, but it seems to be the hub of storytelling. And working in the kitchen as leaders came in for various reasons, it was wonderful to hear all the stories they had to share from their experiences overseas with their teams. God’s faithfulness was truly evident this summer. We had over 680 people involved on teams this summer and there were very few illnesses or injuries. The safety provided for the teams speaks in itself of His faithfulness. The many lives that were touched in some form, whether it is salvation or just a little seed planted shows His Faithfulness. God’s faithfulness was perfected through and through this summer and we cannot find a better place to be than in the center of His will.
We are thankful that Daddy was safe this summer in India and he didn’t bring back any type of sickness with him. We are thankful that through the Mustard Seed program, Kieley was very sensitive to the teachings and is willing to learn more of His Word. I was able to stay busy enough helping others so that I wouldn’t dwell in my selfish nature of missing my husband. To God be the glory for all the lives that were forever changed by the teams this summer and we are looking forward to what next summer has to offer us!
Every single staff member in Teen Missions is faith supported. We do not have a fixed income and live off what is provided through financial support from friends, family and churches. This is where we as a family see His faithfulness proved over and over again. Every month is different in what comes in and no matter what, He always provides. Our paycheck is hardly ever consistent and we see it go up and down. We never worry as we know that He will never let us down. We are thankful for what we have, we never go hungry, gas is always in the cars and the roof keeps us out of the rain. Most of all, we have the love of our family through Christ, no matter how low our paycheck may be.
After the summer is over, we as staff have an opportunity to go on deputation/vacation. It is a time of relaxation while going from place to place and try to raise support for our family to be here. We usually split the time visiting our my parents in Georgia and Sean’s parents in North Carolina.
This trip to North Carolina will forever be embedded in our minds. Our first weekend there was Labor Day weekend, and the entire family (Sean’s parents, sister and her family and us) went up to the mountain property his parents, Grandma and Grandpa, own for a camping trip. It was the first camping trip as an entire family we had ever had and we hope it will not be the last. It was an amazing time. Sean’s sister, Charlotte, has three little girls and they ran all over the place with our three little ones. Grandpa has had back pain for many years and headaches for months, so he rested occasionally, but when he was up he would tell us all about his plans for the property—where he was planning to build the cabin, how it was going to look, where things will be laid out, etc. He mentioned as well how great he felt and how he had not felt that good in a long time. It even rained while we were there and two of our tents were soaked through, but it was still a very fun time and will be the most memorable with Grandpa.
A few days later, he started getting sick. This was nothing new to us, he usually went down with a cold or allergies for a day or two after working so hard a few days before. As the days went on, he started to get worse and worse, his fever wouldn’t go away and he couldn’t keep anything down. He stayed in the room and would only come out for a drink of water. Saturday morning, Sean’s mom decided to take Dad to an emergency clinic. They mentioned how it is some kind of bug going around and gave him a prescription. This was also the day we had a combined birthday party at the house for our daughter Cailyn and one of the little cousins who were both turning two. We did not even know they came back, there were so many kids running around, Dad went straight to bed. Mom was really hoping to get a family picture of all of us, but with Dad being sick, we decided to get a picture of Sean and Charlotte with their families for a Christmas card picture sometime later. The next morning was a Sunday morning. I was up getting ready when I heard a loud crash downstairs. Sean went down to see what happened. Dad got out of bed to go to the bathroom and once there, he passed out and fell into the shower. When Mom went to help him, his hands were like ice. She called 911 in hopes that he did not have a stroke. He may just be severely dehydrated is what I told the kids. The ambulance took him away and Mom followed shortly after. This is also the morning that Sean was asked to speak at his family’s church. He debated whether to go or not but decided he should speak since Dad was just going to be there for a day or two and would be home before we know it. His sermon was only from the Lord. After he was finished, we had a call that Dad’s heart had stopped but they were able to get it going again and he was sedated and taken to the ICU. Sean joined his Mom and sister and other family members at the hospital while I went back to the house with the kids. Texts were relayed back and forth but the news kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, Sean asked me to come while a family member watched the kids. As I pulled into the parking lot at the hospital around 9:30 that evening, Sean called and said two words, “He’s gone”. Sean and Charlotte just lost their Daddy. We couldn’t believe it. One of the toughest men I have ever known, who always had a smile on his face with a story to tell, is just gone. The man who has changed so many lives with his honesty, faith, kindness and generosity. The marathon runner who ran until the last days with the strongest heart. A loving husband and father and one of the most proudest grandfathers. He was the best father-in-law I could have ever asked for and a fellow movie buff. “He’s gone.” So many words can describe this: shock, confusion, questioning, relief he was not in any more pain, sorrow, denial and so on. Memories of that night still linger, joined with tears. It is a night we will never forget.
It was evident how loved he was by the crowd that showed up to the memorial and all the calls and cards. He was an amazing man and he has certainly left a legacy here. And yes, even through all of this, His faithfulness continued on. God knew what He was doing when the camping trip took place. He knew we needed that last great moment in our lives we had with Grandpa before he left us. He knew it was going to be at a time when we were there so we can help in so many ways as a family. We have to remind ourselves of this, Sean could still have been in India, what then? He provided people with so much love and support for mom to take care of any arrangements needed at the church. God provided the funds for us to stay in NC longer than expected to help Mom out as much as we could. It is good knowing Charlotte is only 20 minutes away. We had amazing friends here in Florida keeping our house and yard in order and even got us some groceries for our late arrival. His faithfulness is true and good and we have experienced it over and over again. We love our Grandpa and are so thankful that he is in heaven now, no longer in pain and now running on streets of gold.
Needless to say, our God is Great. We thank Him for His provisions, safety and love. We love the fact that He is always there for us and we praise Him for never leaving us. He is our light in many dark and sad times in life that will never fade. Thank You Lord for Your Mighty hand that is over us all and thank You for never taking it away.
Sean, Sharon, Kieley, Aiden, Cailyn
The Deegan Family
P.S. If you would like to support our family so that we may continue on serving Him here at Teen Missions, we ask that you prayerfully consider it. Our support is currently very low. We know that the economy is terrible and sometimes it even hurts to ask, but here we are asking. This letter reaches the hands of many many people, if everyone who sees this letter were to just give $10 even $5 a month, we would be well beyond our monthly goal. Thank you so much.