As I put thoughts together for this update, I am reminded that this time last year, we were evacuating for Hurricane Irma: 3-4 days without electricity and running water and sleeping in 95+ degree weather really makes me grateful for what the Lord has blessed us with. Pray for those who continue to be affected by Hurricane Florence.
The 2018 summer ministry went very well. It was exciting to hear the stories of what the Lord did through the teams. We had a small crew of staff who did endless day and night phone duties, kept the grounds mowed, cleaned dorms and also hosted a work group while the teams were gone. Anthony led the Debriefs while I helped with the cooking. I told Anthony I didn’t know before that there were two 4:30s in the day (I don’t see early mornings very often!). We really appreciated the Meuhlings who volunteered in the kitchen all summer, including Debriefs. We know that numerous team members and nationals accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior this summer, but even if just one life had been changed, it would all be worth it! Wells were dug, English was taught, eye and medical clinics were held, painting, construction and many other projects were done by the teams this summer. The reports are still on the Teen Missions website (for a little while longer) if you would like to read some of them. We are thankful for the changed lives through this ministry.
Riley, on the Malawi Well team shared:
“Since I have arrived here in Malawi, God has shown me a lot of great things. During this past year, God has brought me to the ultimate realization that life without Him is meaningless. Without God, we live, we die, and it all means nothing. Earthly possessions, money, and power cannot be taken with us after death. While not all of these things are bad, they can easily become idols. Instead God has shown me that my joy should be rooted in Him, not in the things of the world. The people of Malawi have such an overwhelming amount of joy, despite having next to nothing. During my time here, I met a little boy, about two years old, named Davidson. Davidson was abandoned by his mother and now lives in a small hut near our campsite with his grandmother. Early in the morning, about a week before our team arrived, he stumbled into the fire outside his home and badly burned his elbow. Because his family did not have the funds to bring him to a real doctor, they resorted to bringing him to see a tribal doctor nearby. This doctor smeared charcoal all over the burn, only making it worse. It is so bad that even today the burn is still raw, black and infected. Nonetheless, every evening I sit with Davidson and we watch the other kids and team members sing, dance and play games. And every night, without fail, he has a smile from ear to ear. If a little boy, who lives in a small hut in the middle of Malawi, has been abandoned and badly burned, can find happiness in some kids playing “Duck, Duck, Goose”, then I can find my joy in things other than my earthly possessions. I can find joy in God’s creation, His love for me, and the hope of one day joining Him in Heaven. The source of my joy is not found in the things of this world, but in Jesus Christ.”
In August we were truly blessed to have the whole family together for a short time. We kayaked, cheered Darin on in football and just enjoyed each other’s company. Jessie is doing well with YWAM. She has a number of responsibilities including getting visas for international students, fundraising for events, helping out at the coffee shop, being a mentor and posting for the YWAM Tyler Instagram. She is also helping with the TOGETHER 2018 conference at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 20, 2018. She has a few roommates and is finding out that being on her own can be expensive! She recently had to replace the transmission in her car. Pray for her as she raises her own support and continues to serve the Lord daily. You can contact her at [email protected] if you want to be put on her mailing list or to support her in any way.
Brandon and Brooke will soon be celebrating their first anniversary! I can hardly believe it has been a year! Brandon is enjoying painting (houses, etc.) and Brooke works with the family business (Esbenshade’s Garden Centers & Greenhouses). They are involved in their local church and are enjoying married life.
Darin is a sophomore this year and is busy with football and endless hours of studying. He is over 6 ft now (and recently turned 16), but I keep reminding him that I am still his mother even if I am almost a foot shorter than he is.
We have had a few days off to do some things around the house, then we were blessed to have Anthony’s parents come. They planned to stay for about 10 days to see a few of Darin’s games, but ended up staying over two weeks because of Hurricane Florence flooding some of the roads up north. We enjoyed the time with them, and appreciate them repainting our kitchen cupboards. While they were still here, Anthony and the crew left for Cibolo, TX, where they put up a Tabernacle at the Cibolo Valley Baptist Church. It will be there until sometime in the spring. He was not able to see Jess as it was about six hours away from Tyler. They had a good trip and all went well putting up the Tabernacle.
We are now finalizing the locations of the 2019 summer teams, though we already have over 40 registrations! The front office is getting a “face lift” and we have other projects to be done. We look forward to the many volunteers who come each year to help. If you have some time off and would like to come and volunteer, there are many things to do here at the Florida base.
Also pray for the Boot Camps that will be running overseas during the next few months in Cambodia, Honduras, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Anthony’s Crohn’s Disease has been flaring up and his iron is still really low which makes him tired. He has been getting headaches quite often so is needing to keep hydrated, and I’m sure stress plays a part sometimes. I had some x-rays and tests done recently and they found a bone spur on my right hip, as well as arthritis all the way down my lower back (lumbar region) and tailbone. I will start with physical therapy to try to help with that. Pray for daily strength and healing so that we can continue to serve the Lord without physical restrictions. Even with the few physical things that we have going on with us, these seem minor to the things that we see happening around us.
Once again we look forward to going to PA for Christmas. We will be in PA December 22-Jan. 6. We plan to visit some supporters while there and during our travels, Jessie will fly from Texas to be with us for part of the time, and of course, Brandon and Brooke are already there. It will be good to be together again; each time together is precious.
We are so thankful for your continued prayers and encouragement in so many ways. This has been a difficult year in some ways, and in others, we have been truly encouraged. In all, the Lord is faithful and never leaves us.
Lord bless you.
Anthony, Shawna and family