Many of you know that Bernie Bland, our Director’s wife, went home to be with the Lord on May 12. She had a stroke two weeks before and was pretty much bedridden after that. Some of the staff had the privilege of sitting by her side and feeding her as she needed 24 hour care. Bernie was a very special part of our family. She watched Brandon for a while, when Shawna went back to work after he was born and she was “Grandma Bernie” to all of our kids. The kids loved to go to Bob Bob and Grandma Bernie’s room during Boot Camp to get snacks, have their baths, and snuggle into their bed to watch TV, while we were busy with our team at rallies, etc. We love Grandma Bernie and know she is whole now. It was a privilege to have her in our lives. Continue to pray for Bob as he really misses Bernie after 66 years of marriage.
The teen Boot Camp began on June 18 and we moved out to the TMI property for the summer. Three days
before Boot Camp was to begin, one of the team members on the India team had to cancel so we asked Darin to pray about going. He had just gotten his braces on, so he was concerned about that, but by the next day we had him signed up on the team. Then we realized that we needed to get him packed and other doctor appointments changed in three days! The Lord worked everything out and he joined the team for Boot Camp on arrival day. He has really been blessed by going to India (where Jess went in 2010) even though he caught some kind of bug at the beginning. He lost 13 pounds (which prepared him for football season!), probably grew about four inches and looked totally different! He also grew in the Lord which is a blessing to see as parents. It was also an encouragement for us to see Darin baptized a few days before he started Boot Camp!
We were blessed to lead the Peanut program (ages 7-9) this summer which ran during the first week of teen camp. The main emphasis was on teaching them how to share the Wordless Book colors through making Wordless Books, Wordless Bracelets, and other things they could take home and simply share the Gospel. There were two teams with 35 team members and leaders. One team helped build trusses for the walkways at Boot Camp, and the other team did presentations at nursing homes. It is exciting to see the kids get involved at a young age. They enjoy the Obstacle Course and night rallies just like the teens do!
We enjoyed having Anthony’s parents come and volunteer for the two weeks of teen Boot Camp. Ray taught block laying classes and Rozanna helped out in the kitchen. Anthony’s niece, Kayla, also came on a team this summer and did well in Uganda.
It is always exciting to read the reports that come in from the teams and see how the Lord is using them. I would put them on the website for the parents to read and keep up with how their child’s team is doing. Overall, things went well with the teams on the field for which we are so thankful. We are also thankful that the Lord protected the teams in travel and while they were overseas as there were many difficult things that happened in the world this summer. The Debriefs went well. We had Preteen Debrief July 24-28 (61 people), Early Debrief (219 people) and Late Debrief (203 people). I was in charge of the cooking (and had some wonderful helpers!) and Anthony ran the classes and other aspects of the Debriefs. Anthony’s shoulder bothered him this summer so he went for another MRI. The doctor said there’s a 90% chance that it’s torn again, but they started with a cortisone shot to see if it helps. We’re praying whether or not to have the surgery again.
Jessie left for Greece on June 20 with YWAM. They cleaned up an apartment to get ready for refugees to live in. They also helped out with Operation Joshua, whose goal is to give out Bibles to every home in Greece by 2020. They gave out 400,000 New Testaments during the month they were there. The day they were packing to go to Kosovo, they thought their van was locked and went to have breakfast. When they came back 9 of their bags were missing! Three of the students had their ID and passports stolen. That is when we got the call from Jess at 4 AM the morning of July 14 that she was one of the three. So that began a long day of canceling ID and helping her get a new passport. Within 24 hrs the three of them traveled to Athens (about 5 hours), met with the consulate to get a new passport, and returned to Athens. That was the Lord! The next day they headed to Pristina, Kosovo and met up with the rest of the team for ministry. I’m sure that was a joyous reunion! They did a lot of one-on-one sharing and building relationships with the locals. She flew back to Texas on August 9 for debriefing, then to Florida on August 15 and started her second year of college at Eastern Florida State on August 16! So many of you have played a vital part in her growth this past year with YWAM and we are so thankful for that.
Brandon has been working this summer, but wanted to get some Bible training and still is really interested in sports. After much prayer, he has decided to sign up for the 5 month, YWAM Sports and Fitness DTS (Discipleship Training School). It started on September 25 and is near Orlando. He will also have an outreach overseas, but does not know where he will be going yet. He is really at peace about doing this and is excited to see what the Lord is going to show him. He still has about $3000 to raise for his outreach, but knows the Lord will provide it. If you would like to share in Brandon’s next step in his life, please contact us at [email protected]
Darin is back to school and is in eighth grade! He is playing Pop Warner football again and he also made the basketball team at school this year. It takes up a lot of time going to practices during the week (starting with basketball practice at 7:30 AM and football practice ends at 8:00 PM!), with games in the evenings and on Saturdays, but we are a sports family so we really enjoy it!
We had some time off in September and were able to get some things done at home. Anthony’s parents were able to visit for a week also. We kept busy with going to Darin’s games, getting Brandon settled with YWAM and catching up with Jessie since she is home with us!
We look forward to going to Pennsylvania for Christmas. We know that Christmas and New Years are both on Sundays this year, but if you would like for us to share about our ministry (Jess and Darin can share also!) anytime while we are in PA (Dec. 22-Jan. 7), we would be happy to share with you what the Lord is doing. If you are making a trip to Florida this fall (or Spring), let us know. We would love to have you drop in for a visit.
Thank you for your involvement in our lives and ministry here.
Anthony, Shawna, Brandon, Jessica and Darin