Dear Friends and Family,
Thanks for your prayers for us these past few months; we certainly could feel them! To tell you the truth, it feels like wehave been through a hurricane recently! Her name is Irma! We boarded up the house, packed up some things and put them in storage in the print shop at TMI. We stayed with a couple of other families at the TMI office. It was windy and rainy like we have never seen, but we felt safe the whole time! We lost electricity and water on Sunday night. We moved back home on Monday morning and didn’t get electric back until Thursday, so we were four days without electric. We were three days without water, but we had filled a couple of igloos and some places were providing bottled water and ice so that helped. We borrowed a generator so that helped with the freezer. It was about 89 degrees in the house at night which was difficult for sleeping, but we were thankful for the generator and fans! The main damage to our trailer was half of our carport was blown away, and we have to replace some shingles and skirting. We are thankful because it could have been a lot worse. TMI had some tin blow off the roofs, flooding, and lots of trees down. The schools had been closed because of lack of electricity and water but opened after the kids were off for a week. We are doing well and trying to get back to “normal” as much as possible. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement during this physically and emotionally demanding time.
It is hard to know where to start to tell you how amazing our summer was, but we will try! After a busy week of running the Peanut Camp for ages 7-9, our teen team arrived on June 17. Our team of 12 was an international team of our own! We had seven who were born in America, two in Canada, one in Russia, one in Ethiopia and one in Kazakhstan! Boot Camp training went well. We received the basic training in puppets, music, evangelism and construction skills, though we were not able to directly evangelize or even use the puppets in Kazakhstan. We also were not able to take shirts, duffels or other items that had “missions” or “Jesus” on them. So we packed our suitcases and our own backpacks, and headed to the airport with our destination being Kazakhstan—the ninth largest country in the world, became its own country when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Astana has been the capital city since December 1997, and has over one million people living there, and only 2,000 believers in the whole country! We had uneventful flights to Atlanta, Amsterdam, and then to Astana. We arrived about 11 PM and were met by the pastor and a few church members for the 30-minute ride to the apartments where we were staying. The girls stayed in one apartment across from the church, and we stayed with the two boys in an apartment about 15 minutes walk away. Each apartment was very adequately supplied and even had a washing machine. Most people do not use dryers there, so we hung our laundry out on the porch, which took only a few hours to dry. We filtered our water to drink and had showers available. Each apartment had a full kitchen with refrigerator/freezer and one had a microwave, so we were definitely spoiled this year with great facilities.
During our time there we painted the classroom downstairs, as well as knocked out a wall and the bathrooms to extend the sanctuary. We also poured a new concrete entrance at the foot of the stairs and chipped the old plaster off the outside of the building to get ready for new plaster and paint. We are excited to see what it will look like after the church members are able to complete it. Two afternoons a week, we went to an apartment complex and did “English Camps” with the children. We played games, made balloon characters, taught them some basic English words (though many knew at least a little English), and played soccer with them.
As we said, we were not able to openly evangelize in Kazakhstan, but we pray that our actions showed Christ’s love. We were able to sing and give a testimony in the services. Each Sunday was special as we shared communion with the local believers. It really made us thankful that we are free to worship and be open with our faith here in America. But do we take advantage of that opportunity? We fell in love with the church members (many who have been rejected by their families for becoming believers), who were so gracious to us and did whatever they could to make our stay easier. They were so grateful that the team would take their vacation and come over to help them. A few of the church families prepared delicious national meals for us including: smoked BBQ horse meat sandwiches and “besbarmak” which is horse and lamb (cooked in intestine skins) with flat dough, which is also called “five fingers” because traditionally it is eaten with your hands! We were also served “manti” which are large steamed dumplings filled with ground meat (usually lamb) and you eat it with sour cream. Needless to say, we ate well this summer!
Everywhere we went, we traveled by city bus or walked. We got pretty good knowing where we were, where Bus 51 went and when to get off! There are so many things to see in Astana and so many buildings are going up; unique-shaped buildings as well as large skyscrapers, very futuristic looking. There is a shopping mall that is also the world’s largest tent, the 60 meter tall Palace of Peace triangle building and many more. We also visited the 100 meter “Tree of Life” tower, but the tickets were all sold out to be able to go up to the top. It is located across from the president’s home and parliament buildings.
We spent one day at the 2017 Future Energy Expo which was in Astana this year. It was interesting going through the country exhibits. We had a picnic lunch, walked around more, then enjoyed dinner in a huge mall that had Burger King, McDonalds, KFC and many other choices to eat at! It was a long day of walking, but we enjoyed our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Expo.
We were blessed to have such a great team. They love the Lord, worked well and looked after each other! It was exciting to see them grow in the Lord and at the end of the summer, share what they learned and how some of them want to go home and start Bible studies! That is what it is all about! Pray for them as they are back home, that they will continue to grow in the Lord and continue with their devotions.
While we were away this summer, many things were going on here at home! Brandon and Darin were “bachelors” for about four weeks and took care of each other. Darin was training with the high school football team during the summer and Brandon was doing odd jobs and staff lawns. They spent two weeks in PA with Anthony’s parents. Not one time did we worry about how they were doing while we were gone. We knew the Lord was looking after them, and we are thankful for those who were a part of that. Brandon contacted us about a week before we came back, saying that he had asked his girlfriend, Brooke, to marry him and they were planning the wedding for November 18, 2017! They met at YWAM last fall, and Brooke is a wonderful match for Brandon! We are excited for them and what the Lord has for their future. Pray for them as they prepare for their special day. Brandon left to drive to PA, a few days before Hurricane Irma hit, and got caught in the traffic going north. We are thankful that Brooke surprised him and came down to help him drive up. We are also looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in PA this year (after Brandon and Brooke’s wedding).
Darin is a freshmen in high school this year and is quarterback for the Jr. Varsity team so there are many hours of football practices and games right now. He hopes to be involved in basketball following football and then flag football after that! Somewhere during that time, he finds time for his academics! Good thing he is a 4.0 student!
Jessie’s team to Nepal was a growing time for her. She was the head lady leader in charge of cooking for the team and taught some classes. We are so proud of her. She did a great job and really grew in the Lord. They worked on the foundation for an orphanage in the south of Nepal. She is back to Eastern Florida State College for her last semester to complete her two-year Associate of Arts degree. She is now raising support and hopes to start with YWAM in Tyler, Texas in the early Spring. Let her know if you want more details regarding her time with YWAM or helping with her support. [email protected]
This fall has been busy with cleaning up from the summer, moving Tabernacles to new locations, preparing for volunteers to come in the Spring, and keeping track of the Boot Camps and bases overseas.
Thank you so much for your prayers for our family this summer as we were spread all over the globe! We were so blessed to be a part of the Lord’s work and couldn’t do it without you. We hope to spend some time in Ontario between Christmas and New Years, and the rest of the time in PA. We look forward to sharing personally with many of you then.
Anthony, Shawna, Brandon, Jessica and Darin