Do we need to write 2014 already? It’s like we just started 2013, but it’s true, another year has come and gone! Someone said to us recently…“you know that some of the kids who come this summer aren’t even going to know (about) anything before 2000”! Man that makes us feel old! Many lives have been touched around the globe by the ministry of Teen Missions and many more will be changed that don’t even know it yet! What a wonderful opportunity we have to be a part of God’s work through this ministry. We are thankful for all of you who partner with us in prayer and financial support.
Things have been very busy this past few months. Anthony had rotator cuff surgery in the middle of October and is still working on regaining his full range of motion. He is coming along well, but has to be reminded that he still needs to take it easy sometimes. You know how well that goes over! The insurance paid for part of the surgery, but we have been trying to pay the rest off. We received a couple of unexpected gifts just for that purpose and are so thankful for them. He probably needs the other shoulder done, but that will have to wait. We are thankful that the Lord continues to provide for our needs.
Anthony tried his hand at doing a garden at home and at Teen Missions this fall. We had a special agriculture teacher come in to teach the students and staff gardening to be able to help with the bases overseas with the different soils, climates, etc. He learned a lot and was able to grow a bunch of sweet potatoes and tomatoes as well as some beets, broccoli and yellow peppers! He has done farming at home in PA, but the last time he planted sweet potatoes here, he got nothing! The kids learned that it takes more than just putting the seeds in the ground!
Anthony is also teaching at the Teen Missions Bible School this semester. He has been teaching Support Raising. It does take a lot of studying, but he is enjoying it.
We recently returned from a wonderful Christmas break in Pennsylvania and Canada. We enjoyed Christmas day with Anthony’s family. It was pretty cold, but we bundled up and enjoyed a hayride! The day after Christmas we drove up to Ontario to stay with my (Shawna’s) brother, Len, and his family. As usual, there was never a dull moment! The kids loved the Great Dane, Dexter, who is just a puppy at 135 pounds and is over six feet standing up. It is like having a horse around! There was lots of snow on the ground which we enjoyed…probably because we were able to leave it up there!
We only go to Canada every three to four years, so we had a lot to do and a lot of people to see. We visited Emmanuel Baptist Church, which has been my home church since I was young, and who has supported and encouraged me since I started with TMI in 1983 (going on 31 years)! We were able to set up a booth and speak to a lot of people. We enjoyed attending the two services and hearing Pastor Buck. It is great to see the growth and the ministries there. The Lord is blessing.
Another highlight was getting together with my niece, Shawna, and her family, which included 19 of us! That is the first time I have met most of her eight children! We had a wonderful afternoon together. We also spent an afternoon with my Aunt Lois and Uncle Marsh. After four fun-filled days in Ontario, we returned to PA and hit the ground running for the next few days visiting former team members, friends and supporters. We were supposed to share at a CEF program, but schools were canceled because of snowstorms. Anthony was able to share at his home church, Air Hill Brethren in Christ Church as well as an Adult Sunday school class. They collected ties for the overseas Bible School students as well as socks for our Foot Washing Teams to take overseas. Thank you so much! If you are interested in doing a project such as this, let us know. We have many needs overseas, and the projects do not have to be large and involved.
We had some rain and icy roads on our trip back to Florida, but we were thankful to not be caught in the huge storm. Overall, we drove 3550 plus miles, paid anywhere from $2.99-$6.00 per gallon of gas, and had temperatures of 80 degrees when we left Florida, to 2 degrees when we left Canada! We are thankful for safety in traveling many miles and for the relaxing time we had with our families during the holidays.
Brandon has returned to Eastern Florida State College and started his second semester. It is a blessing because it is only 15 minutes away from home! Please keep him in prayer for guidance as to his future direction. Jessie is a senior and can’t wait to graduate in May! She will also be going to the same college, Lord willing. She needs to get a job and car before then! Darin is doing flag football at this time, which will be followed by Upward basketball. He has been selected as a Pop Warner East Coast Conference All-Conference Scholar Athlete for the 2013 season because of his academic excellence and community involvement. He received an award on February 1.
Back at home, we are busy with getting ready for the summer teams. There are over 450 young people and leaders registered already! During the summer we will be helping to run the office while the teams are overseas, as well as lead Debriefs when they return. Jessie is signed up for the Madagascar Motorcycle Team. She has wanted to go on this team since she was younger, but you have to have your license to go on it! The team will be going into remote villages, some only accessible by small paths and bridges to do Sunday schools and share the love of Jesus! Darin has signed up for the Ecuador Bike Preteen Team. They will be at the Teen Missions base near Latacunga. They will be riding from village to village sharing the love of Jesus as well as helping out at the base. Jessie and Darin will need to raise a total of $5300 to cover their expenses. Brandon is planning to get a job and stay home this summer, but may go to PA for a few weeks.
When we see how many of our friends overseas have very little and sometimes struggle to survive, it is hard to put into words how thankful we are for the Lord’s blessing and His love for us. It has been a difficult year at times, but we know Satan does not like the Lord’s work and will fight it! We know we are stronger because of it. Thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement and we trust that 2014 will be a year that we all grow in the Lord and learn to trust Him more.
Anthony, Shawna, Brandon, Jessie and Darin