Welcome, March!

Spring still feels months away as I write this at the end of yet another snow-filled, cold, wintry day. However, it could be worse. We could live in Boston. :) 

We really did get our “quiet” week that we have needed for a month. Life was relatively back to normal around here and we can tell that things are more in the usual routine based on how our kids act! Our week ended with Brian and I being able to finally have a date lunch and celebrate Valentine’s Day alone. Our last date was before Christmas; this was really nice.

On the MRF front: In the apartment suite, tiles began going up in the bathroom, the walls are getting ready for paint, and all the trim work is done. The suite is booked in two weeks, so they are doing mostly finish work at this point. The final walls are being built to close up the duplex so that it’s officially two homes instead of one. Another work team offered to come up this coming Saturday, the 7th, so that will help push it along quickly.

On March 13, we have a big banquet for local pastors planned. Well, I use the term “we” loosely – it’s our board president who’s done all the organizing; we just need to show up! This will be a great opportunity for MRF to have its name put out there more in the area and for pastors to become much more aware of who we are and what we do. You can pray with us for a good turn out for this evening.

For BCM: the BCM World is published! You can read it here. This edition includes two fascinating articles on Sri Lanka (did you even know BCM existed in Sri Lanka??). There’s an article on what’s up in Italy and then I wrote a follow-up on the first article I wrote for BCM – all about In Step with the Master Teacher’s reach into Bangladesh.

At GBC: This month is my training day. I have LOTS to do to prepare for it. Pray with me for a good turn-out and that things would fall into place this month as far as details are concerned.

Here at Home: I am thankful for the opportunity offered by some of the neighbor girls to come down and help out in the house starting this week. I’m noticing that I’m just not able to do as much these days, so having a few extra hands to sweep a floor or play with the kids for an hour a day sounds wonderful.

We wish you a Happy March! Here’s hoping spring shows its beautiful face at some point this month…

Skill Nite

This past week, we had yet another “Skill Nite” in our Kidz Konnect (Wed. night) program. These are the best nights of the month for our entire team as well as the kids who attend. So far this year, they have learned about outdoor survival, health and nutrition, the nursing home ministry, baking, and now sign language. Someone(s) from the congregation are invited in to share on that particular topic, with activities, and then they share their testimony at the end. It’s become a great way for the kids to get to know those who attend “big church” – and to hear a variety of testimonies. My desire is that by the time they leave 6th grade, they will be able to share their own testimony and the best way to learn is by having it modeled in front of them.

We were excited to invite in our sign language interpreter, Linda. She signs every Sunday for our small deaf church and we’ve even had families move down front specifically so their children could watch her sign. She does a phenomenal job and it really is fascinating to watch. I have no clue how she keeps up with the service!

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During the course of the evening, she taught the kids basic signs that they got to practice (including their names and ages). She also went over the differences in signs – how some just are common sense, but some take memorization. She taught us a song and she had an infinite amount of patience as the kids asked, “How do you do _____ in sign language?” over and over!

Smaller group than usual due to bitter cold and impending snow, but better than nobody or a cancellation, that's for sure!

Smaller group than usual due to bitter cold and impending snow, but better than nobody or a cancellation, that’s for sure!

One of our kids trying to sign her name correctly so Linda could see what it is.

One of our kids trying to sign her name correctly so Linda could see what it is.

Practicing "Jesus Loves Me" in sign language.

Practicing “Jesus Loves Me” in sign language.

This morning in our worship service, the (small!) group of kids that were there came up front and signed “Jesus Loves Me” for the deaf church. It was so nice seeing them participating in the service and showing just a small fraction of what they’re learning Wednesday nights.

On the BCM front:

The next BCM World is slated to go out early March. I enjoyed writing a follow-up article on the first article I wrote for BCM World. Brian is in the final editing stages of the printed compilation of 2014’s BCM Worlds.

Here at MRF:

Construction continues on the remodel! No real big news to report, except that yes, progress is constantly being made. As of March 1, all of our homes will be full (except the remodel, of course), so that’s good news. As Brian was getting one home ready this week, he noticed so many little things that needed to be done simply because the home had sat for so long without residents. Pray with us that God would continue to bring people our way so we can keep the homes full throughout 2015!

And here at home:

The baby is doing quite well and as I’m now in the final trimester, I feel great. Only took me 7 months to get here, but hey, at least I got here, right?? He’s quite active now and we’re getting anxious to meet him. E asked me this week if she would be 10 before the baby gets here. I told her, “I certainly hope not!” Although it does feel that way sometimes! My health is still up and down as my thyroid is theoretically stable, but I can tell I’m not my usual self. I definitely have days where my one and only desire is to lay on the couch and sleep.

The kids are SO BORED with being inside. The weather here, like in most of the country, has been bitterly cold and I just can’t send them outside in it with good conscience. Not to mention that I, personally, would pay money not to have to be outside with them either! Today, we’re about 35* right now so Brian took the kids outside before the sun sets to FINALLY play in the snow. They are THRILLED. So is their mom! The house hasn’t been this quiet since November I’m pretty sure.

Oh, and then if you missed it on Facebook, our little 4 year old got her first real big girl haircut yesterday:

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The bangs made her age a few years, I’m just sure of it! Her daddy about had a heart attack when she walked through the door. We’re just not ready for her to be so big yet! Not to mention I have a Kindergarten application sitting next to me waiting to be filled out. She BEAMS when we tell her she’ll finally be going to school…. somewhere!… in the fall. Pray with us as we make this all-important decision and that if God wants her in a Christian school that He would miraculously supply the funds.

This is looking to be a relatively “normal” week for us. I’m hoping to get back into our routine with the kids as last week was clean-up from being gone to BBC and then doctor’s appointments and meetings in the evenings. This week looks to be quieter. Hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Have a blessed week! Stay safe & warm! And whoever is praying for the endless winter, feel free to stop now! Even E said in the car yesterday, “I like winter, but NOT THIS MUCH!” 

Conference Recap & Pics of the Remodel

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Missions Conference is complete! We were at BBC Wednesday through Friday to represent BCM. The conference was all morning and we used the in-between-sessions time to chat with interested students. In the afternoons, we had lunch with the students and hung out in the coffeeshop in case anyone else had more questions. Honestly, interest was not very high this year. But, that’s okay since our goal is to keep the BCM name out there and be available for those who have more questions, even just about missions in general. Our best conversation all week was really just answering questions about missions in general and how God has led us personally.

We did, however, love the conference sessions. Wednesday, we got to hear Dr. Soong Chan-Rah:

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I, personally, was unfamiliar with him, but Brian knew who he was. His session was absolutely phenomenal. I won’t try to repeat it all here, but the one point that stuck with me was when he said that by 2023, 50% of the children in the USA will be minorities. Therefore, if your church is 99% white, it may not thrive or even exist in only 8 years.

That completely stunned me, especially as I look at my children’s ministry at our church – which is predominantly white. It got me thinking about HOW to reach minorities in our area, of which there are plenty! Something has to change if we want to reach our area for Christ – and it’s got to change soon.

The second session was Q&A, conducted by none other than one of our good friends, Jeremy –

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who also happens to work in the children’s ministry with his wife. It was great discussing all this information with them on Thursday over lunch and to brainstorm ways to reach the kids better.

Thursday’s session was taught by a man from South Africa, Dr. Rob Elkington.

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He was another really great speaker. His session was entirely on the importance of discipleship. It was a great reminder that THIS is what we’re called to do. We will never be “good enough” but in the end, it’s not about us anyway – it’s about the cross. I loved this line: “Preaching morality without the cross is just legalism.” He was another speaker we could’ve listened to for a lot longer than just an hour.

Then on Friday (didn’t get a picture), was Dr. Dale Marshfield – a BBC alum. He talked quite a bit about mentoring and how we are to join with the global church, not try to BE the global church. Every speaker this week brought out the point that we will not fully understand Christ without connecting with those from other cultures. Dr. Marshfield had a good point in saying in that every single country where “unreached people groups” still exist, the church DOES exist. His example was India – there are hundreds of unreached peoples in India, yet it also has one of the biggest church movements at the moment. BCM can attest to that as we have hundreds of churches and pastors in India actively reaching their nation for Christ. So, instead of trying to do all the work of reaching unreached groups on our own, we should join with the church in that country that already exists and that is already trying to reach them.

It was exciting for Brian and me each day to walk away from sessions going, “BCM does that!” We exist to assist the local church, not take over for the local church. BCM partners with churches; BCM’s desire is to help develop local churches. We don’t have 100’s of Americans around the world – we have 100’s of indigenous workers around the world doing the work in their culture, their language, their community, in a way we, as Americans, could never “compete” with. Our goal of reaching children is completely adaptable to each culture and country we work in internationally.

After a long week at the conference, we looked forward to the weekend and being able to spend some time with the kids. Brian took me up to the remodel so I could see it in person and take some pictures:

The exercise room is small, but functional. Perfect for residents to work out in - it's private and heated.

The exercise room is small, but functional. Perfect for residents to work out in – it’s private and heated.

Downstairs in the first half of the duplex. This is the side with an existing kitchen. I am standing in the living room by the front door, with the kitchen in the back, and the far wall divides it from the other duplex, stairs behind me.

Downstairs in the first half of the duplex. This is the side with an existing kitchen. I am standing in the living room by the front door, with the kitchen in the back, and the far wall divides it from the other duplex, stairs behind me.

The existing kitchen. Behind me will be a small laundry room (behind it, the 2nd half of the old garage, now a supply room for Brian).

The existing kitchen. Behind me will be a small laundry room (behind it, the 2nd half of the old garage, now a supply room for Brian).

Upstairs in the new bathroom in the new suite (the old office). The whole apt will be handicap accessible.

Upstairs in the new bathroom in the new suite (the old office). The whole apt will be handicap accessible.

The rest of the apartment. I'm standing by the new entrance (still lacking stairs leading up to it). The kitchenette will be the area to my right with the rest of the apt in front of me. Small, but functional for overnights, weekends, etc.

The rest of the apartment. I’m standing by the new entrance (still lacking stairs leading up to it). The kitchenette will be the area to my left with the rest of the apt in front of me. Small, but functional for overnights, weekends, etc.

Standing in the closet of one of the bedrooms upstairs (both duplexes have 3 bedrooms upstairs and one bath upstairs). They are all already furnished.

Standing in the closet of one of the bedrooms upstairs (both duplexes have 3 bedrooms upstairs and one bath upstairs). They are all already furnished.

Heading down the existing stairs into the 2nd half of the duplex. Brian is pointing at what will be the living area on this half. As you can see, it kinda, sorta, needs to be put back together...

Heading down the existing stairs into the 2nd half of the duplex. Brian is pointing at what will be the living area on this half. As you can see, it kinda, sorta, needs to be put back together…

I look at this and see "MESS!" Brian looks at this and sees "PROGRESS!" I guess it's all in your perspective!

I look at this and see “MESS!” Brian looks at this and sees “PROGRESS!” I guess it’s all in your perspective!

Looking into what used to be a small bathroom and a bedroom and what will soon be the new kitchen/dining room in the 2nd duplex.

Looking into what used to be a small bathroom and a bedroom and what will soon be the new kitchen/dining room in the 2nd duplex.

Hopefully this gives you a better picture of ALL the work going on! I think the transformation is just amazing! It’s going to be beautiful and SO accommodating and functional. Now can you see why we’ll need a work day to move furniture, hang pictures, and put all the linens and kitchen supplies back?? Looks like early March. We’ll let you know!

Coming up this week:

Well, a newsletter was supposed to go out tomorrow. But, sometimes the best of intentions are foiled by poor internet access. I have tried all week to get this newsletter to format correctly online and it is just not working. If I can get the glitches worked out – and our internet will cooperate! – you’ll get a lovely newsletter to your inboxes early this week!

In that yet-to-be-emailed newsletter, you would see that we are slated to be at Baptist Bible College this week for their annual missions conference. I have a number of BBC students who work with me in the children’s ministry, so I’m hoping they will be an open door to more contacts at the school looking into full-time ministry with children. We really enjoy representing, recruiting, and encouraging people into missions, so conferences are something we look forward to greatly. We won’t be taking the kids with us, so pray for my mom as she pulls double duty as Grandma this week and watches the kids for those three long days! At least we can be home at night, so that’ll help!

Brian had more help come out this week for the remodel work. But, he also ran into more glitches with the original structure of the house. So, even though things are coming along, they are now coming along a bit more slowly as they figure out quite technical, difficult electrical issues, among other things. This week, the work will slow down considerably as Brian will be unavailable most of the week. He worked overtime this past week to prepare in case anyone does come to work on their own, but he’s not sure if that will happen or not. Just pray that this week “off” will not put them too far behind.

I am looking ahead in the kid’s ministry. February is my month of prep for a number of things. On the 18th, we have our next “Skill Nite” in Kidz Konnect – this time our sign language interpreter will be joining the class and teaching them about the deaf community and culture and teaching some basic signs. On March 21, I will hold my 2nd “Recognition and Training Day” for my entire staff, which is well over 50 people if they all attend. This is a day of planning, prayer, and training. I look forward to it, but could ask that you pray that all the pieces fall into place, including peoples’ schedules. Then, in March I begin teaching on Sunday mornings during my team’s rotation for children’s church. By late March/early April, I’m hoping to back out in some areas in preparation for baby to arrive. So, I’m lining up people to take over and getting everything set so I can easily do so.

Looks like another snow/ice storm is moving through PA tonight into tomorrow. Little Man J LOVES the snow.

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His big sister, who spent the first two years of her life in South America, is a bit indifferent. I feel bad for her little friends that come down asking her to play outside because inevitably she either refuses to go because it’s “too cold” or she lasts a full 10 minutes! Her brother certainly makes up for it!

We hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day this week. I know many complain it’s just a Hallmark holiday, but personally, I think it’s a great reminder to show others how much you DO love them because so often we take it for granted that they know.

Watch for that newsletter! It’ll come this week – formatted or not!

Happy February!

What a perfect way to start February — a giant snow storm! Brian being from South Dakota and me from Vermont, we actually aren’t used to having so little snow by February, so this is GREAT! Brian has spent the morning out “working” (I use that term loosely), moving the snow with a tractor. I shipped the kids outside – Little Man J lasted more than an hour before a freak-out involving cold hands. E lasted a whopping 20min before a glove came off and chaos ensued. Ah, the differences between boys and girls!

Brian had yet another work day on Saturday! What a blessing these days are, actually. Yes, we miss him as we have seen him less in January than we normally do, but the work is coming along SO WELL. This time, it was a group of men (mostly contractors) who called and asked if they could come out for the day. Who was going to tell them no?? They got so much done, though admittedly not as much as they would’ve liked thanks to different issues they came across. But, more plumbing and walls went up and the kitchen is getting closer to getting done.

The rec room for residents IS done and open to our current residents. Thanks to donations over the years of exercise equipment, it is well-furnished. Now, it’s heated, private, and available 24/7 to residents. What a great amenity to offer!

On the BCM front, we are gearing up for BBC’s missions conference next week. We don’t have a lot to do to prepare, but we want to be ready. I, personally, look forward to conferences and think it’ll be fun to connect with BBC.

Also with BCM, I’m working on my next article and Brian is wrapping up the first print edition of BCM World. I think I’ve talked about this every week lately. That’s because it’s really quite the process and he wants it done right and done well, so it’s taking a while.

February looks like it’ll be the month of prep – prep for the new remodel to open up (March), prep for my annual training day for the children’s ministry (late March), and prep for the baby (end of April). I’m already working on plans for my maternity “leave” and I’d like to have a lot of that figured out this month. Even though the baby is not due to arrive until the end of April, I just have a feeling like February will be the more productive of the last few months. But, we’ll see!

Pray for us this month that prep for all of the above would go smoothly and we’d get a lot accomplished!

Continuing On…

Last week, Brian had two days of helpers – a board member and a retired contractor. He so enjoyed having others helping with the project! It’s taking a lot of the stress off of himself. The work is coming along really well. The new bathroom in what will be a new apartment (the old office) is almost done thanks to the work the men did last week! The men working allowed Brian to get some other stuff done without worrying about getting behind. In the area and want to lend a hand? Let Brian know!

We had a sick little boy last week… ALL week. He ran a high fever with a cough most of the week, which made him quite whiny and clingy. That can be mentally exhausting and physically draining on the whole family! By Saturday, we realized not only had he been sick, he’s also cutting a molar! Poor kid. However, our church family is so generous. It was a difficult week and out of the blue, two different people showed up with meals on two different days. It was a wonderful blessing to all of us!

Brian is working hard on the print edition of BCM World. It’s looking really nice, but is very time-consuming, especially when he has to work on it at night after the kids go to bed! You can be praying he can finish it very, very soon. We especially want them done for when we go to Baptist Bible College in February to represent BCM! We’re looking forward to this time so we can connect with students about missions, in general and with BCM. It’s slated for about mid-February and is the only conference on our agenda this year with the little kids and the baby on the way.

If you missed the last edition of BCM World, you can read it by clicking here (and you can sign up to receive them in your inbox as well!). One of the articles I wrote in this edition was about our orphanage in Ukraine. Just over the weekend, the city where the orphanage was located (they were evacuated in the fall) was bombed by terrorists. The situation continues to deteriorate over there and our missionaries certainly need our prayers. The orphanage itself is lacking in supplies – you can read about it in the magazine and pray about whether the Lord could have you help!

We hope those of you further north and east are staying safe and warm during this blizzard! We were actually hoping to get a little more snow than what actually fell. Today, here in NEPA, is a very quiet day – definitely no blizzard here!!

Another work team!

This past Saturday was another work day out here at MRF. The board president has a lot of connections and he brought in a new set of men to do additional work in the new duplex. This weekend, they worked on plumbing and electricity. As Brian prepared the house last week for the work team, he found so many issues with the electricity that could’ve caused huge fires over the years. This house is quite old and has had additions and changes by numerous people over those years. Some of these changes were not done, well, properly and Brian just had to laugh. By Friday, he was just amazed at the grace of God at allowing this building to stand – with no fire issues whatsoever – all this time. There is zero reason that this house did not burn to the ground a long time ago. Only God.

Progress is being made and it’s going to be just so great to have this done! When I look at it, though, from a woman’s perspective, all I can think about is the finishing work at the end – painting, arranging drawers, hanging pictures, putting towels and pots and pans away, arranging furniture… We would sure love some help at the end! The “end” won’t be until towards the end of February if not early March, so we’ll keep you posted. But maybe if you’re in the area, you can pencil a Saturday in for us and come out and help out! With me being pregnant, I am greatly limited on what I can do (especially by March!) so extra help for Brian would be greatly appreciated. And then you could see the work in person!

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea (though you may have to use your imagination):

One half of the double garage will be a workout room for residents; the other half will be tool storage.

One half of the double garage will be a workout room for residents; the other half will be tool storage.

The downstairs - this is the new wall dividing the two homes (living area).

The downstairs – this is the new wall dividing the two homes (living area).

View of the new stairs leading up to the 2nd duplex.

View of the new stairs leading up to the 2nd duplex.

This is the new hotel suite area (it was the MRF office). The door currently leads to nowhere, but stairs will be added to the outside. Joe is standing basically where the bathroom will be.

This is the new hotel suite area (it was the MRF office). The door currently leads to nowhere, but stairs will be added to the outside. Joe is standing basically where the bathroom will be.

The old downstairs bathroom that is now completely gone. This will be the new kitchen in the 2nd duplex. It is almost completely ready for the kitchen thanks to the work team this Saturday.

The old downstairs bathroom that is now completely gone. This will be the new kitchen in the 2nd duplex. It is almost completely ready for the kitchen thanks to the work team this Saturday.

On the home front – I work with E Tuesday-Friday on school. We have worked our way up to the letter “I” and she can write and identify through the number 8, but can count higher than that. She’s a great student and asks frequently when she will go on Mr. Don’s bus to school. Here’s a picture of some of the review work we did last week:

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I am just about 26 weeks pregnant. Keep praying for me as this pregnancy has been especially difficult. The baby is fine, though, so there’s nothing to worry about!

Have a good week!