Dear Friends, Family and Former Team Members,
Once again, I am at a loss as to where to begin this letter. What an amazing summer we have experienced! We saw first hand people come to know the Lord as their personal Savior, lives changed, as well as growth in our own lives and in the lives of BJ and Danae as they ministered this summer. There were those difficult moments, but God remained faithful as we sought Him in how to deal with these moments.
Most of the teams could have used another leader or two, but it was so refreshing to see the staff step up and make it happen. Their days were long and not only included their responsibilities to their teams, but also to their normal “jobs”, their Boot Camp jobs and their families. I was so proud to be a part of a group that worked so hard to make it happen. Their dependence on the Lord, their love for their team members and others and their grace was challenging to me personally. To see them put aside “self” to make it happen showed me where their hearts were.
Paul and I moved into our room on June 5 and moved back home on August 11. Paul was busy with the day-to-day running of Boot Camp along with travel and leader responsibilities. I spent most of my time in the office, answering phones and emails, entering information (passport, etc.) in the computer and organizing the fingerprinting for all the staff, students, leaders, volunteers and team members who were 18 or older. I learned a lot through the process and hopefully, it will be much easier next summer!
Once Boot Camp was over, we had a couple of work groups on the property and that was fun. We continued with the day-to-day responsibilities—answering phones and emails, posting reports, dealing with discipline issues, etc. The Debriefs started at the end of July and it is always such a blessing to see the changed lives in the team members and leaders after their summer experiences. Their enthusiasm and excitement were contagious. We had an amazing summer staff! Thank you Bob and Glenda, Sarah, Justin and Felicia, Linda and Christine! You made our jobs so much easier! Once the Debrief teams returned, more staff were available to help in the responsibilities.
Danae had a great, but challenging summer in Ethiopia. Here is her report: This summer in Ethiopia was without a doubt the hardest of my life, but I would not trade my experiences for anything. Through dealing with some difficult situations, I learned patience and discipline and God also showed me how much love you can have for people that don’t entirely return the love. For all the hard things that happened, God blessed my team and myself immensely. At first we thought we were going to be living in tents, but when we got there our missionaries actually had a nice little compound prepared for us to live. This ended up being a HUGE blessing because it was rainy season in Ethiopia and the frequent rain would even sometimes turn into hail.
This summer I was stretched in my leadership abilities and it was amazing. My team members were genuine when they would come to me with the questions and with where they were at with God. It was so cool to be able to work with them and watch them grow in God throughout the summer. I loved this summer! Thank you to everyone who supported me prayerfully and financially! You all continue to bless me and I can’t thank you all enough!
She was home one day before she had to go back to Wheaton. She is now a “second-semester Sophomore” at Wheaton College. She is doing well and lives with two other roommates (and one closet) and is enjoying it. We did not get any additional financial aid this semester, despite the increase in tuition. However, we are praying that there will be some available second semester. She is working a few hours a week at the college Post Office and has managed to get occasional babysitting jobs. We are looking forward to seeing her during her Christmas break. Please pray that she will continue to seek the Lord in every area of her life, good grades and for an increase in financial aid.
BJ also had a great summer. We were pleasantly surprised at how he “stepped it up” this year and was a leader among his peers. Here is his report: This summer I went to Cambodia and had the opportunity to ride motorcycles to different villages where we taught Sunday school lessons to the children, played games and taught them Bible verses. While there we also got to know the students that attend the Teen Missions Bible school in Cambodia and became really good friends with them. Also, we got to go to cool places like the town near the place we were staying at, an orphanage and a waterfall. I had lots of fun this summer and learned many things from the people that I spent the summer with. God taught me a lot this summer, including how to grow up and become more of a leader than a follower, I also learned how to better deal with people, even if they are pushing my buttons. I learned how to be more helpful, instead of just standing around and watching others do things. I can’t wait to see what God has for me this next summer coming up.
He is now a senior and legally, an adult! He celebrated his 18th birthday and his 15th “Gotcha Day” in September. We are trying to savor these “last firsts” this year. He is doing great in school and his club soccer team is undefeated. He and Paul traveled to Tennessee last month so that he could attend the Bryan College ID Camp for soccer and he did well. We found out that Bryan is going to begin their engineering program next Fall and Lord willing, he will be attending Bryan and playing soccer! His GPA is very good, but he needs to increase his ACT and SAT test scores in order to qualify for more scholarships. He has the SAT the first weekend in November and the ACT the first weekend in December. High School soccer tryouts are in a week or so and he is looking forward to this. Please pray for an increase in his ACT and SAT scores and for a good financial aid package at Bryan.
Colton moved out at the end of August. He lives in Cocoa with two other guys. Despite an almost empty refrigerator, he is doing well. Even though he graduated with his AA degree in May, he continues to take classes at Eastern Florida State College. He is taking some film classes and Spanish. He is hoping to begin classes at the University of Central Florida in Film next year. He is planning on commuting to save money. He is still working at Sabarros part time. Please pray for his vehicle situation. He is driving a 1992 Honda Accord which has required a LOT of repairs this past year which has prevented him from saving money for another car. He will need another vehicle before beginning to commute to Orlando next year. Please pray that the Honda will not require more repairs so that he can start saving for another car.
Lindsay continues to do well as a social worker in Tennessee. Her job is hard in that she is dealing with kids who have been through so much trauma. They need someone to love and care for them, but their files scare many possible parents away. We were able to spend a few days with her when we traveled up north for our nephew’s wedding. It was such a blessing to be a “complete” family again. Please pray for wisdom as she deals with these precious kids. Please pray that she will seek the Lord’s wisdom.
Hurricane Irma decided to visit in September. We were thankful to miss the brunt of the hurricane. Once again, we decided to stay home and ride it out. Our home weathered it well. We lost about 40 feet of the block wall in the back and one panel of our vinyl fence. We were without electricity and water for several days—that was the hardest part. Someone loaned us a generator once their electricity was restored and that saved our refrigerator and freezer food. I was at the point of wanting to put a tent up in the back yard (it was so much cooler outside) in order to sleep, but thankfully, the electricity came back on before we had to resort to that. We are in need of new windows and will hopefully be able to take care of that before the next hurricane season.
Paul is now in Ethiopia setting up a Debrief site. He will return for a couple of weeks and then will be traveling to Puerto Rico and Dominica to set up hurricane relief teams for next summer. Please pray for health, travel safety and good contacts to get all of this accomplished.
I FINALLY had a total knee replacement on September 18. Dr. “Doogie Howser” was the surgeon. Man, they are young these days! I spent one night in the hospital, but was walking within an hour of being back in my room (Thank the Lord for nerve blocks!). It has been a fairly easy recovery. Physical therapy can be hard, but I am doing my best to push through the pain. I am going to PT three times a week and have seen so much improvement. My pain has been minimal, but “discomfort” is almost always present with the nights being the hardest. Paul has been a trooper in being my “caregiver” and I don’t know what I would have done without him. I will see Dr. Doogie next week and will hopefully get the green light to drive. And I hope to be back at work, at least 1/2 days, after that. I have been doing some work from home which has been a blessing.
And…we have been asked to lead the Fiji team next summer! We are so excited. Our last time in Fiji was 2004 and that was our hardest team. However, we have grown and learned a lot since that time and are praying for a positive experience for the leadership and team members. We already have about 10 registered and over 100 registrations total. Our team will be building a cabin for the Sabeto Youth Camp. We were at this same camp for two weeks in 2004.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support. You are such a vital part of our ministry and we appreciate the sacrifices you are making that enable for us to serve!