Unexpected Blessings

We knew back in August that E’s Christian school (the elementary school part of it) were taking on MRF as their offering project this year. I had volunteered to come in and share about MRF’s ministry in person so the kids could understand where their offering was going, but I had no idea when that presentation would be. I got the call Monday that they wanted me on Wednesday! A last minute change meant I could come in and speak to the elementary kids! The only caveat: I had 35 minutes and the last few presentations we’ve done, we’ve had no more than 10! So, I did some quick rearranging, adjusting, adding, and practicing between Monday evening and Tuesday and finally felt prepared by Wednesday morning. Chapel went very well – it was K4-Grade 6, so quite a large group with varied ages, but it was so fun. They were attentive and the feedback from the teachers was that it really helped with understanding the ministry out here. Mission Accomplished.

This week was kind of an unofficial relaunch of our MRF Facebook page. It took a hiatus for a while for a number of reasons, but I am starting to keep it much more current now. If you are on Facebook, please Like our page! Search “Missionary Retreat Fellowship”

Brian’s back is not getting any better. Though not particularly getting worse, he is not seeing great improvement either. So, he was floored when he found out the Board had decided to put together a work crew to do the one roof that really needed new shingles before winter! Today is that work day and they’ve been here since 8. One board member even came last night and began the work since he knew he couldn’t be here all day. Brian is the official runner, nail fetcher, etc. It’s torture for him, but he knows he has to take it easy. We’re just so thankful for these guys that are giving their time to get this roof done! It was in pretty rough shape and the family living there is very grateful.

Brian will see a doctor on Monday and figure out a game plan for his back. Please continue to pray for him as the pain can get pretty intense.

I leave you with a picture of our {drained!} lake at the bottom of the MRF road – fall is gorgeous in NEPA!


Online Giving Link

We realized we haven’t shared our online giving link recently! BCM has made it super simple to give online to our missionaries. Click here for the link. This takes you beyond just the generic giving page on the website and directly to our own profile. You can set up automatic withdrawals from there as well.

Our support is slowly increasing; we have had two new supporters join us this year! We are still in the red for our general account, so any one-time gifts are being placed directly in there. Having funds in our general allows for months when our support does not all come in or if an emergency arises and currently our general fund is in the red.

The page above, Support News 2016, gives a more detailed account of what we do and how you can be involved. We are always excited to share about our ministries, so if you’d like to meet for coffee with one or both of us, set up a dinner date (our place or yours!), or drop us an email, please do so! We are willing, and able, to come to churches and share in person about our ministries or if you’d like to hear about BCM or MRF specifically. Just let us know!

Thank you, above all, for caring for us by reading our blog and keeping up with what we do, praying for us and our children, and being involved in our ministries. We simply could not continue serving the Lord in these capacities without your help.


Our beautiful MRF. The directional sign lists our current residents – a full house!

Weekend in VT

Thursday morning, we loaded up and headed up to Vermont!


We were a little wired to be visiting Uncle Andy, Aunt Tanya, and their dog, Ziva!

The trip up went very well and we arrived in the evening, just in time to celebrate, officially, E’s 6th birthday. Her Aunt made them a special dinner and a cake and we had transported gifts from their SD grandparents so they were thrilled!


Friday morning, we went down to the church (check them out here) and visited with the pastor for awhile. So, back story on this pastor: he was basically my dad’s intern and then associate years ago, then he took his family to Honduras and were missionaries there for a long time. They transitioned to Houston for a few years and are now back in Vermont. At one point, he was even in Peru doing some pastor training and we got to see him for a bit, which was a big encouragement at the time. It’s really neat to have them back in VT. Definitely a highlight of the weekend was sitting and talking with someone who knows what it’s like to be in missions, knew what kinds of questions to ask, and just let us talk, debrief, unload, and share the ups and downs of ministry.

Saturday, the church was having pictures done for a new directory and since we’re missionaries of the church, we joined right in. The kids did awesome (well, minus Baby J wanting to walk off with all the props in the middle of the session). Brian took them back to my sister’s while I had lunch with a good friend (another blessing, just being able to sit and chat with a high school friend, uninterrupted, for a few hours).

Sunday morning, I spoke in the children’s Sunday School class. They had a good size group:


We had about 10 minutes during the morning service. We had a great response and felt like the church family really connected with us and the ministry. They’ve supported MRF for something like 30 years and us since we joined BCM 9 years ago. After church, we had a great luncheon with the Outreach Committee. They were thrilled with what’s going on at MRF and we look forward to future interactions with the church as a whole.

The weekend was really enjoyable with my sister and her husband. It’s just relaxing being there, spending time as a family. They live in the woods with a bunch of chickens, a dog, a big yard, a quiet road, and lots of walking trails in the woods. The kids helped Tanya with her garden, fed the chickens, gathered eggs, picked blueberries, and went for lots of walks. The dog was probably more tired than the kids just trying to keep up! Their uncle gave them a tour of his sugar shack and explained how syrup is made. All three had a hard time leaving Monday morning!

Now it’s back, again, to reality! Brian’s back is slowly healing, but he’s still taking it very easy. Any extra work or movement causes a great deal of pain still. Please pray he heals soon! Thankfully, the board is putting together a team to do the roof that really needs shingles this fall and the other bigger projects can’t be done right now anyway since the homes are booked. The only thing that he’s not able to do is side the Main House. On days that he’s in less pain, he’s going to work little by little. Currently, he’s been doing lots of BCM computer work, focusing on the design of the 2017 calendar.

I have had back pain since about May and finally saw a physical therapist this morning. Wow, I wish I’d done that sooner! She knew exactly what was wrong and after an hour, I was able to move with such a minimal amount of pain that I felt brand new!! However, this means a few weeks of additional PT… another thing to put on my schedule… but if it continues to help like this, it will be worth it in the long run.

Until next time…



Oh, and she lost her 2nd tooth while in VT! You can’t tell because her permanent teeth are basically already in! She was very impressed that the Tooth Fairy found her in VT. Her uncle convinced her tooth fairies in VT are all blue because it’s so cold!

6 Years?!


How, how, HOW can it be possible that she is 6?! I go through this every year, and yet somehow, I feel like 6 is a real milestone. I don’t know why.

This little one arrived with a bang and has been surprise after struggle after surprise ever since. She is strong-willed (as evidenced by her delivery – she refuses to conform to the ‘normal’ way of doing anything… from her own birth to how she wears her socks…), independent, yet strangely dependent, friendly, and imaginative. She is super creative and artistic with a beautiful singing voice. She can be extremely obedient, helpful, and caring when she wants to be.­čśë

Watching her grow in school has been spectacular. Now, I get to teach her in church, too, since she’s in 1st grade. Just yesterday I watched her join in with all the other kids playing gaga ball and I just couldn’t believe she was big enough to be in the fray with everyone else. She is smart, inquisitive, and just pure lovely inside and out.

I think my heart’s desire for E is that she does not grow bitter towards us being in ministry. Her love language is quality time and sometimes it’s very difficult to give it to her in the quantity that she so desperately needs. This year will be all about my own priorities as I learn to respect her need of, well, me. My other desire is to see her heart shaped to be more like her Savior – to let Him more fully control her attitude and her will. She has great potential; I hope she lets herself be directed well.

I love this girl with everything in me. I’m so glad she’s ours. Happy birthday, baby girl.


And just like that, he’s 4.


“Joseph” means “May Jehovah add.” Well, He definitely “added” to our family when He gave you to us! He added laughter, tears, frustration, and volume!

Ever since birth, you’ve reminded us of a miniature man. At birth, you had your wrinkly forehead; at 4, you would rather work outside with Daddy than sit at home and play. You have a better work ethic than most teens and even some men these days and for that, we are so proud!

What stands out to me the most about you, though, is your joy. You are almost constantly happy, finding joy in whatever is going on. If I’m crying, you’re the first to snuggle up and wipe my tears and then try to make me laugh. You are a clown – and you KNOW it!

You have enough of your Daddy in you that you would rather be alone than with a group, so even though you beg for play dates, you still end up playing by yourself. You just like knowing others are there, but you’d rather not have to actually interact. You would live outside if you could (although currently, noises are scary so you don’t like to be alone out there). And Spiderman is the best thing there is┬ábesides lollipops, even though you’ve never actually seen him on TV!

You are inquisitive, smart, friendly, and super sweet. You have “added” to our family more than we could express. God knew we needed you. I hope you will remain my Buddy, your sister’s protector, your brother’s friend, and your daddy’s helper. Jesus loves you, Joe Joe; maybe this year you will make the decision to give him your heart. He’s got some big plans for you, little man. Live up to your middle name and be a Christ follower! That would make us happier than anything.

Happy birthday, Buddy. We love you!


selfies with my boy – last year (L) and this year (R)

Take 3.

I have sat down and begun this blog entry two other times! Hopefully tonight, I can actually finish it.

Since returning from SD, we have been trying to settle back into a semblance of a routine. E began 1st grade and is doing very well. She loves school, rules, and routine and is thriving. We had a tough week last week since she was very tired and fighting a cold, but she powered through (and so did we!). We had a proud parent moment when, after a very difficult week of not wanting to apply herself, she still came home with 100% on her first ever spelling test. Just the night before she was too exhausted to even care, so we were very proud of her!

I began preschool with Big J:


Oh this little boy was so excited to begin ‘school’! We are now in week 3, so we’ll start the letter “C” this week. He’s doing well!

Brian jumped back into siding. He also did a variety of routine maintenance on homes as soon as we got back. In the evenings, he’s been working on the next BCM World, so he’s keeping steadily busy.

I began the fall programs at church this past week. We had an extraordinary kick-off night on Wednesday! We had 28 excited children and so we pray we can keep the momentum going! It was an awesome night and we’re looking forward to an exciting year.

At this point, it’s common knowledge that Brian hurt his back last week. After a day in the ER, we were told he has a bulging disc. He’s in excruciating pain, but thankfully the meds he’s on have gotten the pain down to a manageable roar (for the most part). He’s been walking and able to do small jobs with the hope of doing a little bit more later this week. Last week was a little more difficult with him immobile most of the week and unable to lift anything (like, small children). We’ve been married 11 years and he’s had some pretty crazy injuries, but this one was definitely the worst. Pray he heals quickly and completely without the need of physical therapy or any additional measures.

Coming up:

  • I’m hosting a brunch for the MRF ladies this Friday. Only two homes are empty at the moment. There are 18 kids on the property (including our 3) and 3 families (including us) are attending the same Christian school.
  • Saturday we host the annual MRF Board picnic
  • Sunday we’ll celebrate the big kids’ birthdays – Big J turns 4 on Sept. 27 and E turns 6 on the 29th.
  • The BCM World will be out within the next week!
  • Next week, we’ll travel to Vermont to speak at our supporting church up there and give updates! Contact us if you’d like to see us!
  • October is a full month of children’s ministry events, programs, and planning. It’s also time for Brian to get the property ready for winter.

Our biggest need at the moment is simply prayer for Brian’s back. Considering his job, a bad back is just a tad restrictive. We appreciate all the offers for help! The jobs that he has left to do this fall can be put off until next spring, so there is nothing that is an emergency. A few things he can work on slowly, as he feels better, taking his time. It’s just that, if you know Brian, you know sitting still and letting his back heal is probably worse torture than the disc itself.

You can also pray for E as she adjusts back to a school schedule and for wisdom for us as we raise her. Lastly, pray for a fruitful trip to Vermont – a clear presentation on our part and for more to join our financial support team in 2016.

Across the Country…and Back Again!


Day #2 of our trip out west, about two hours in, and this was what our GPS said. 540 miles, 8 hours of driving, before the first turn of the day. Literally. The road was basically just one straight line that last day. Iowa and South Dakota may be pretty, but they are also pretty boring!


See what I mean? Even the kids slept through Iowa.

The trip out took two full, long days. It is 26 hours driving – no stops, no kids, no traffic, no construction… no way around it. The first day, we got stuck in construction in Illinois and stopped for the night around 10pm in Iowa, literally moments before the torrential rain hit. The cities in Iowa where we were at all flooded that night, but we still made it out just fine in the morning. The second day was almost as long, but thanks to the time change we got in around 8pm (MST). We were wiped, but thankful to be there and done driving.

Saturday afternoon and evening we spent with Brian’s parents, one of his brothers and his fiancee, a nephew, and the fiancee’s brother and sister. We visited a popular drive-through animal park which the kids LOVED (even though it was more driving!):


The elk was licking E’s window. They said “up close and personal” and meant it!


Sunday morning, I joined a meeting at the church we attend out there while they planned for their fall children’s ministry. I was able to give them additional options for their curriculum and hopefully it was helpful! It’s always fun collaborating on children’s ministry.

During the week, we were able to spend time with good friends and Brian’s family. Our birthday was that Thursday and we spent it in one of the best ways possible: at our friend’s house with their four children.


When we were first married and living in South Dakota, Clay and Miranda (above, with their youngest) were our closest friends. We did everything together, spent every spare moment together, and basically lived in each other’s houses. When we decided to move to Peru, it was a toss-up what was harder: leaving Miranda or leaving my mom. Coming back to visit is always refreshing and this time did not disappoint. It was like walking through a time warp as they are now officially settled in their home (they’ve been working on buying land and moving out of town since they got married 10 years ago) and have a nice little farm and four kids. It felt just like old times, except we’re all the old ones now! Their dog even did what he’s always done – fell asleep on the recliner next to Brian – except now, Bruno is old and gray and not a puppy! Amazing how time marches on even when you’re not around to witness it. The best, though, was seeing our kids get along and play (loudly) the entire time we were there. Seven kids – 5 boys and 2 girls – between our two families and it was an absolute blast.

The main reason we went out to SD this time was to be there for the wedding of one of Brian’s brothers, Scott. Sunday afternoon, the 21st, we celebrated with Scott and Christine as they got married:



Bride & Groom with all the nieces & nephews (minus BabyJ who was sound asleep)

It was a very pretty wedding and we’re glad we got to be there for it!

We were able to purchase a van the week before we left for SD, which was a huge answer to prayer.


However, it had a few issues and as we drove cross-country, they became more apparent. Brian ended up taking it to the dealer early in the week to get it fixed. Naturally, they didn’t fix it. He took it back on Thursday hoping it would get fixed Friday or Saturday, but working with a dealer is… fun… and they not only did not do the work, they didn’t even order the part they needed. So, instead of leaving Monday morning as planned, we had to leave Wednesday morning since they finished working on the van Tuesday evening. We figured there had to be more of a purpose behind us being delayed a few days than just the van needing to be fixed and we were right. Monday, the kids were able to spend some really good quality time with their uncle who’s a police officer and doesn’t get many days off. Then Tuesday, E woke up very sick and we couldn’t have traveled anyway with how sick she was all day. And Tuesday evening, we got to spend a good amount of time with Scott, Christine, and their two kids – something we hadn’t gotten to do before the wedding. So, leaving Wednesday was definitely a good thing.

Coming home was much harder than going out. Time changes are awful. We took three days instead of two and… ugh… they were long. We couldn’t find a motel the first night and ended up in one that was… lacking. Let’s just leave it there. We kept reminding ourselves it was better than sleeping in the car. We planned ahead for the second day and gave ourselves a goal of how far to get. Brian found an amazing online deal and we got a way nicer hotel with a pool for cheaper than we paid for the miserable place we stayed at the first night. We got in late and just prayed the pool would still be open for the kids since we had promised it ALL day long and they NEEDED to do something! And yes, it was open! And there were two! We took the kids outdoors and let them swim for about an hour. It was so nice.

The last day of traveling was by far the worst as BabyJ decided his carseat was the worst possible place to be and he shrieked and screamed for the better part of our six hour trip.


Oh the misery. For everyone. Home never looked so sweet. Unfortunately, now pretty much every time he gets put in his seat, this is his reaction. Not cool.

Saturday was school shopping day. We went from having plenty of time to get ready for school to having zero time thanks to getting back later than planned! I spent the day with E getting all she needed. It was a really nice day together.

And now today, we shipped her off to first grade!


This is the face of a super excited almost 6yr old. She got in the car this afternoon and said, “This was the best day ever!” She is anxious to get moving on learning and thought it was hilarious that mom and dad have “homework” each night (though she doesn’t understand yet that our “homework” is making sure she does her real homework! ha!).

Being gone for two weeks definitely did not lessen our work load. If anything, our work load has probably tripled in our absences, but we’ll make it! Coming up this month:

  • I begin the fall kids’ programs at church
  • I have an article to write for BCM World
  • I begin doing preschool with BigJ at least 2-3 days a week
  • Brian has piles of internet work to do for BCM, including the next BCM World
  • Brian needs to repair at least one or two roofs at MRF before it gets too cold
  • We head to VT the end of the month to share about our ministries

Pray for us. It’s just overwhelming to return home to piles of work, especially when most of it has deadlines fast approaching.


A picture of us since normally I inundate you with the cuter members of our family!