Exciting Week

A number of great things happened this week:

P1050802

That is the {mostly} finished pavilion! Where the basketball hoop is is where the former 30 year old pavilion stood. The new one dwarfed the old one!

P1050796

Brian and three other men worked on shingling this week. Of course they picked the one week that was up over 90! They worked early in the mornings until it simply got too hot, then went back at night. Since there were four men, they were able to divide the work and finished in only two days. Thursday afternoon, the bulldozer arrived and the old pavilion was taken down.

P1050799

P1050805

The last thing left to do is the bathrooms, pictured above (middle room will be storage). It will be quite nice having outdoor restrooms available! I’m sure the CEF Day Camp will agree as they usually bring in a port-a-potty!

Wednesday evening while Brian was busy shingling, I had a very interesting conversation with Elena. The dad of a friend of mine passed away this week and I was explaining to her how I needed to attend the funeral, but that it was okay because he’s in heaven now. Before bed that night, she came to me asking questions about heaven and who will see there. I asked her how you get to heaven and she responded with, “By asking Jesus into your heart.” When I asked her if she’d done that herself, she replied with, “No.” Long story short, she ended up praying to receive Jesus as her Savior that night! She understands that she is a sinner and that Jesus died to take her place and forgive her from her sin. She believes that Jesus rose from the dead and she asked Him to come into her heart. It was the sweetest, most sincere prayer. It is just absolutely amazing being able to be there with your own child as they receive Christ as Savior! So, today in church, my dad – the pastor of our church – lit a candle in celebration of Elena getting saved. She didn’t quite make it up front in time to help light it, but she did give her Grandpa a big hug.

P1050812

Also this morning there was a baby dedication at church. So, we went ahead and had James dedicated. It’s so special that my dad has been able to dedicate all three of our children.

P1050810

I’m not sure what all Brian has planned for this week. I do know that we’re finally taking the kids to a zoo. Shhh… it’s a surprise for them. :) The last time Elena was at a zoo, she looked like this:

DSC07609

Needless to say, she doesn’t remember.

Watch your inboxes for a newsletter this week! Thanks for tracking with us and praying for our kids!

The Pavilion

This week, Brian shifted his focus from the duplex to the pavilion! If you remember, they began the new pavilion in the fall:

pavilion

but once cold weather hit, they put it on hold. Funds came in during the spring and now that the duplex is at a good pausing point, they decided to work on the pavilion and try to get it done before winter hits. The pavilion is always heavily booked and this year was no exception. I believe the old pavilion and/or Compton Hall have been booked every weekend the entire summer. It’s the site of anything from church picnics to wedding receptions! As you recall, our wedding reception was held in the old pavilion…10 years ago! :)

Starting Wednesday, Brian and some other men began getting the roof ready. The weather was just about as perfect as they could get. Monday and Tuesday, it was super hot and humid, but then the weather broke Tuesday evening and so Wednesday-Friday, it was warm, but not humid, making it perfect weather for being up high doing heavy work.

P1050766

P1050770

P1050771

P1050773

The trusses were completed in two days and then the plywood began going up. They have one side completely finished with the plywood, but I didn’t get a picture of that. So now, they need to finish the plywood and shingles and then complete the restrooms and VOILA – new pavilion!

It’s been a super long week for Brian. He’s the youngest and therefore the most agile, so he spent the entire time on the roof doing the climbing and hard physical stuff. Thankfully, it’s work he enjoys, but still, he’s pretty tired and they’re not done yet. I’ll just put a shout-out out there for anyone who’s done shingles before and has time on their hands… give Brian a call this week and see if they could use some help! I know it would be greatly appreciated!

One of the joys that we have ministering at MRF as a family is just that… we’re here as a FAMILY. So while Brian has been super busy working all day on the roof, we go up and visit! At least twice a day, we make the trek up the hill to see how it’s coming and play on the basketball court. The kids love watching daddy work. We are discovering that Elena is amazing at baseball and Joseph loves basketball.

P1050777

On the homefront, Elena had her Kindergarten testing:

P1050745

P1050752

Not even her first day and I had to get a picture! :) She got a 91. I’m so proud. Now it’s time to shop for school supplies and I’m just nerdy enough that the idea of shopping for pencils and backpacks gets me giddy.

James is all smiles now, attempting to roll over as I type. He has successfully rolled over, front to back, a couple of times now and he’s almost made it back to front… and he turns 3 months this coming Friday!

P1050784

This coming month, we look forward to:

  • Finishing the pavilion
  • Finishing the duplex (or coming close at least)
  • James’ baby dedication on Aug. 2
  • Elena beginning Kindergarten on Aug. 26
  • Completion of fall program plans for church
  • Writing for and getting ready to publish another edition of BCM World

(among other things)

Come out and visit us at MRF! We’d love to show you around.

Has it really been a month??

I opened up our blog this afternoon and the first thing I read was, “It’s been 30 days since your last post…” Woops. That month FLEW by!

For me, I spent the majority of the past month finishing up getting ready for Vacation Bible School at our church. This is a big endeavor and honestly I felt very out of the loop this year with having the baby so soon before the event. I had a great team that pulled together and did a phenomenal job. Without them, the week would not have been possible. We averaged close to 50 kids again. That was a disappointing number for me since we had planned and prayed for 80, but God brings who He wants to be there so I can’t argue with that. The program went very well – very smoothly! I don’t know of any children receiving Christ as Savior, but I know of 4 that committed their lives to missions, so that’s just as awesome. We focused on Thailand and the kids brought in an offering for our church’s missionaries to Thailand. They brought in $342.88 – in CHANGE! The boys brought in over $200. Awesome! My internet is not allowing us to upload anything this week, so pictures (if you’re not on Facebook) will just have to wait I guess.

While I’ve been coordinating that, Brian has been here working on both the pavilion and Side B of the duplex. He’s getting a lot of work on the duplex done in preparation for teams of contractors (some of the same ones who helped with Side A) to come in and do more of the heavy lifting, difficult work. Side B needs the entire kitchen since Side A had the existing kitchen. Over the winter, walls were torn down and a downstairs bathroom removed in order for the kitchen to go in. Brian has begun fixing walls, adding a window, and putting up sheetrock in the kitchen. He also built a laundry room and the door for that room.

The pavilion is coming along well and should be done by August, I believe. Brian and a few other men have been working on getting it ready for the roof. Next week the trusses arrive. It’s looking really great!

Elena is experiencing the hardships of our ministry as her next door neighbor playmate is gone on a month-long candidating trip with her family. I’m so glad she has the opportunity to make friends who are also MK’s, but the reality that her neighbor friends are going to constantly change is a difficult one for her to grasp. I found her on the see-saw this morning, sitting with her head down, tears pooling in her eyes. She climbed up onto my lap and expressed how much she misses her friend. Thankfully, they aren’t gone permanently yet! That day will be a very hard one, I’m sure. She also doesn’t quite realize that other friends here on the property are also leaving in August.. for Asia. That will be another difficult goodbye, especially since they leave for the field the day she starts Kindergarten. Talk about an emotional upheaval for our 4 year old! Pray for her if you think of it! If you know her, you know that she has always struggled saying “goodbye” – literally, for the first three years of her life, she simply would not say “goodbye” to anyone. She’s just recently begun saying “goodbye” to people – I hope these permanent goodbyes don’t reverse that.

Joseph and James are doing great. James is growing like a weed. Apparently so is Joe as we keep putting outfits on him that fit in May that are now too small!

That’s it from NEPA for now. Enjoy your summer!

It’s D.O.N.E.!

The first half of the duplex is compete AND occupied! Months of work and prep have finally come to completion. For the moment. The second half will get completed over the next few months, especially as more funds become available. We are fully booked at MRF right now (the suite is even booked sometimes twice a week and the old pavilion is being used every weekend all summer long). Pray that funds come in and that Brian and the guys have the time to finish the second half soon so we can accommodate more people as we are still turning applications away almost weekly. Okay – onward to the pictures!

P1050479

The exterior of the house that’s being remodeled. The porch is part of the suite and will eventually be the back entrance. The duplexes are to the right.

The entrances to the duplexes. The one that is complete is the sliding door closest.

The entrances to the duplexes. The one that is complete is the sliding door closest.

The downstairs view from the front door

The downstairs view from the front door

Another view of the downstairs, from the stairs.

Another view of the downstairs, from the stairs.

Panorama of the downstairs

Panorama of the downstairs

Nice, spacious kitchen (this was pre-existing). The door handle in the very left of the picture opens to reveal the stacked washer/dryer.

Nice, spacious kitchen (this was pre-existing). The door handle in the very left of the picture opens to reveal the stacked washer/dryer.

Finished bathroom, upstairs.

Finished bathroom, upstairs.

1st bedroom

1st bedroom

Bedroom #2 (bunk beds come apart if a family prefers them that way)

Bedroom #2 (bunk beds come apart if a family prefers them that way)

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

We could not have gotten this house done without loads of help, not just from the teams of contractors that came through during the winter, but also to some residents here! Families here helped do laundry, clean, wash dishes, organize linens, and watch our kids so we could finish the work. We are so grateful for them! The house looks amazing, very homey and inviting. We hope and pray that all who stay here are refreshed and enjoy their time at MRF.

School, Magazine, Duplex, and More…

Since moving back to the States, we have been praying and thinking about an upcoming big decision: School for Elena. Though I taught school in Peru and thoroughly enjoyed it, I just have never been at peace about homeschooling our own children. Not having time is  just one of the many factors. We really wanted her in Christian school, but just did not  know if we could swing it financially. But, we went ahead and applied to a local Christian school out of sheer faith, knowing even under the best of circumstances, we simply cannot afford it. A meeting with the principal the week before James arrived, though, was confirmation that she should go there. Thanks to scholarships and grants available, some specifically for missionary families, our little girl will be a Kindergartner at Canaan Christian Academy this fall! What’s even better is that her Kindergarten teacher is not just a member of our church and a personal friend, but she and her husband attend our Life Group at our house, so E knows her! We are thrilled that she gets to attend her and are excited for her about this fall. If you think of it, though, be praying with us as we help her transition into this new stage over the summer.

Here at MRF, we are officially a full house! I rarely get to welcome new families since I’m at home with the kids, but yesterday I was out getting a home ready and was there when the new family arrived. It’s so much fun greeting a new family who’s never been here before and is obviously needing a home. There are now 19 children on the property! MRF stays booked through the entire summer and already most of the fall.

This week, we are finishing up Side A of the duplex! Furniture is in and arranged. Brian is finishing up some painting and putting the toilet in. We need to deep-clean, wash all the linens, make beds, wash dishes, and arrange the kitchen before the 19th…when the first residents arrive who happen to also be with BCM! We so love it when our ministries coincide.

The new edition of BCM World has been out for a week now. Brian’s layout is, as always, just beautiful. I know Nepal has been on everyone’s hearts and minds a lot lately. I encourage you to read the feature article by clicking here. The other article I think you should read is about my favorite thing, In Step with the Master Teacher, in Africa. Click here to view the full magazine.

Some of the family got hit with a stomach bug Sunday night. We’re praying no one else gets it, but are bracing ourselves for round 2 just in case. James is growing like a weed and definitely currently in a growth spurt, which means he’s eating almost constantly and outgrowing his cute newborn clothes. The other kids are loathing summer rain storms since it keeps them inside (most of the time), but are loving the fact that “summer” means “ice cream.”

Watch for pictures of the duplex! Can’t wait to show you the finished product.

Finding God in the Pain

Many of you know about my cousins’ journey through adoption. My cousin Jared and his wife Krystal have been traveling the road of adoption for quite a while now. A year ago, things came to a head – but not in a good way. A little girl they were just about to bring home from Ukraine (literally within the week) was whisked away from them and they haven’t seen or heard from her since.

Adoption has always been on our hearts, so we have been following their story very closely. When we heard what happened, I cried as if it had happened to us. My heart just ached for them and their very real loss. I could only imagine what Krystal, especially, was going through.

Now, it’s been a full year and they are just months away from now bringing home a little boy from the Caribbean. Krystal has started a blog, is writing a book, and now travels the States sharing their story.

Why do I share this with you? For one thing, I am so proud of Jared and Krystal and how they have used their pain to try to bring awareness and change to adoption policies. She’s become an advocate for the voiceless, nameless, parentless children of the world and I think that is absolutely awesome and if I didn’t have so much on my plate already, I’d join her!

Secondly, I’m sharing this because I know for a fact that it’s so easy for us, myself included, to blame God for the pain in our lives. If anyone had a reason to do so, they did. I found myself asking God that very question when I heard what happened to them – just wondering why God “allowed” this to happen to them. It’s so easy to have the first thing we do to be to turn on God when tragedy strikes. “Why, God? Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? What did I do to deserve this? Where are You?” etc etc etc. We’ve all been there. We may have even been there this week.

Believe it or not, it is OKAY to cry out to God and be angry with God. If you read even 1/4 of the Psalms written by David, you can hear his frustration and even anger at God. Yet, you can also see how he reconciles himself with the fact that through the pain, God is still on His throne, He’s still in charge, and He’s big enough to handle our accusations. He is not the one at fault or to blame. He is the hope and reason for getting up and keeping going.

Instead of running from God screaming in anger, try running to God.. even if it’s screaming in anger. He is your only true hope for healing from immeasurable pain and brokenness. I have been reminded so often recently that truly the answer to every question, to every need is simply… Jesus.

I encourage – no, implore – you to check out Krystal’s new website and read through their journey. Start by clicking here and then read the rest of their story. Start at the beginning for it to make complete sense. Join Krystal in her desire to take care of the orphans of our world by sponsoring a child through Holt Int’l (all info on her blog). Have her come speak at your small group or women’s Bible study.

Above all, next time life throws something at you that is literally unbearable, take it the only One Who can bear every burden thrown His way. Even if throwing it at Him means you do it weeping on your bedroom floor out of sheer frustration and anger, that’s okay. He’ll gladly lift it from you and heal the wounds hidden deep in your heart. You just need to let Him.

Moving into June:

James is now three weeks old and the new rhythm of life is finally settling in. I returned to the office this morning, James in tow, though I’ve been working from home basically this entire time. It was nice to begin to get back into a routine. The main thing I’m working on right now is our church’s Vacation Bible School. Last year’s was a huge success, so we’re praying it goes even better this year. Our theme is “Thailand Trek” and will introduce the kids to a new culture. We’ll be communicating with our missionaries in Thailand and encouraging kids (and the church body) into missions. I am SO looking forward to it! Just need to find enough volunteers and we’ll be good to go!

Brian is ecstatic that Side A of the duplex is just about complete. The carpets were cleaned last week and they look brand new. It’s a little humorous — the ladies who originally lived in the duplex couldn’t afford to carpet the entire upstairs, so carpet pieces were donated and pieced together in the hallway, so nothing really matches. But, at last they’re now clean again!

Joseph and I walked up to visit Brian on Friday while Elena was out on a play date and the duplex looks phenomenal. Did I think to bring a camera? No, of course not! But, you can take my word for it – Brian and the men who have volunteered their time have done an amazing job. Friday when we visited, Brian was working on putting furniture together and arranging the bedrooms. The bathroom tile is done and he got the grout finished that afternoon. He’s working on pulling everything back out of the closets and putting the house back together. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m going to be able to help him make the beds and arrange the linens and the kitchen so he doesn’t have to do it all alone. The house is booked this month, so we’re right on time!

Brian is also busy finishing up the latest edition of BCM World. I just finished proof-reading it and let me tell you, you’re going to want to read this edition! It should go out this week. He’s also working (still!) on building websites for co-workers in NY. Thanks to James’ arrival and all that entailed, he’s fallen a little behind, so you can pray he can find the time and energy to get everything accomplished.

As for the family — Elena is a helpful big sister (even helping me with James as I type this). We are thankful for friends who come over to play and, like I mentioned, take her out on play dates. She’s such a social butterfly, she really needs those times. Joseph would live outside, tormenting the frogs and talking to our cat (who we have transitioned to an outdoor cat, much to his chagrin) under the porch. He gets covered in dirt and frog guts, is a mess of bug bites and sunburn, and is the happiest little boy you will ever meet. The two of them spend hours on the swingset and riding their bikes through the yard. Summer is such a blissful time of year!

James is growing like a weed – we estimate he’s up over 9lbs now and finally filling out newborn clothes. He’s sleeping from about 11pm-5am every night, for which we’re all thankful. He’s still very content and easy-going. We’ll see if that’s really his personality as time goes on!

Next time, I’ll try to have pictures to show you of the work and our growing kids. You’ll just have to check back in…