Fall Beginnings

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And we’re off and running! I spent this week prepping for today’s start-up of fall programs at church. I’m not a decorator at heart, but thanks to Pinterest, there’s new decor and new bulletin boards in each classroom along with more things on the walls in the Kidz Church area. It may not be perfect, but at least it’s colorful! We had a phenomenal first day back with a full worship service and overflowing classes. I have a fantastic group of teachers who came prepared and ready to go for a new year. Move-up Sunday is busy and exciting for everyone. This Wednesday will be our kick-off for our Wednesday evening program. If today’s attendance was any indication, we’re going to be filled to overflowing this week – the best kind of ‘problem’ to have! Praise the Lord for being fully-staffed!

Meanwhile at MRF, Brian got siding done on another portion of the Main House. He has one more end to do – way up high – the hardest part. And then he’ll work on painting the front of the house instead of trying to side the whole thing. It was a cold, rainy week, hindering a lot of his outside work.

I have an awesome opportunity this month that came up last minute. An organization in Philadelphia contacted our BCM HQ and asked for some help for an evangelistic event they’ll be holding in Courthouse Square on Sept. 23. It’s a huge event and they’re expecting about 1000 children to come through. They needed someone to present the Gospel about every hour during the event to groups of children. After some prayer and discussion with Brian, I went ahead and accepted the invitation. Amazing how our Family Carnival has become practice for a much larger event! I will head to Philly on the 22nd and the event is 11am-6pm on the 23rd. Please pray with me; I have never been to Philadelphia by myself and have to navigate a large city and find my way around, plus meet up with and work with a group of people I have never met. And I’ll be presenting the Gospel 4-5 times to inner city children in one afternoon. I feel very unqualified and nervous! Yet so excited and humbled to have this opportunity!

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School is going very well for the big kids. As you can see in the picture, we’ve had to break out some winter clothes lately due to some cooler temps. All three kids managed to come down with colds this week, randomly enough. I’ve been busy disinfecting every night and trying to get a handle on germs because this feels just too early to have to be dealing with this! The toddler and I are enjoying some quieter days alone, allowing me to get work done at church beyond just my Mondays in the office, and to even sit and relish in a quiet house for a little bit each day.

For those who may be wondering – my parents are not in Florida yet and don’t plan on heading down until the 20th, barring no major hurricane damage since their condo is now in the direct path of the storm (at least, as it sits right now). My brother and family are in Pensacola and do not need to evacuate, but are keeping an eye on things and will adjust life as needed. We are just continuing to pray that God calms this storm.

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Back to Fall Schedules.

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School is back in session! We have a 2nd grader and a preschooler. BigJ attends K4 3 full days every week. This week felt more like a trial run than a regular week since E started Tuesday, BigJ started Wednesday, and now they’re off for Labor Day Friday-Monday! Poor BigJ loved school so much, yet doesn’t get to go back for a week! At least it was a good start to the school year. Everyone is very happy and excited and let’s just be honest, a few hours of quiet and nobody fighting a few days a week is quite blissful right now.

Brian got the shed completed, except for the electrical and heat. He’s working on siding the main house now. He has a few other fall projects. Fall hit fast and hard, though, so hopefully the cold will hold off so he can get things completed.

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The end of August was our Family Carnival at church. Friday evening was slow, but Saturday more than made up for it! We had a huge crowd Saturday evening, mostly people from the community who heard about it from Facebook. We had a short puppet show every 20 minutes and I gave the Gospel after every one. It was a real burden on our (the leadership’s) hearts to ensure that we seize the opportunity to share the Gospel clearly with our guests. While I didn’t counsel anyone, the seed was definitely planted.

September 10 begins our fall schedule at church with the 13th starting up our Wed. evening program. We are fully staffed and mostly ready. Even going over the class rosters today, I realized yet again how full we are and what a great ‘problem’ we have this year!

A very packed BCM World came out last week. I had the privilege of writing 3 articles and then, of course, Brian did the design. The articles include quite a few updates of things that have happened over the course of a year, including new ministry in Madagascar and an update on the flooding disaster in Peru. If you haven’t done so, take some time this weekend and give it a read!

My parents are still around as my dad recovers from his broken ankle. He’s doing really well, though, so it looks like it’ll only be a few more weeks of them in the area. He’s been busy painting our kids’ rooms – a task I have neither the time nor the will to tackle! The kids are thrilled to have pretty rooms and it’s given me an excuse to clear out their toys and rearrange.

Brian is super busy with church things, including a bunch of wiring into a new office this week. Being on the elder board he has a whole new set of responsibilities each month. But, I’m pretty sure there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

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Newsletter is slated to go out Monday! We always include a bit more info than what’s here and prayer requests, so if you’re not on our list, let me know and we’ll add you.

Welcome, Summer!

Summer has finally, gloriously arrived! It is so nice to throw off our sneakers and run around in flip-flops again! The kids are loving being able to be in and out (and in and out, and in and out, and in and out…) all day long without the burden of eight layers to take on and off! E is out of school and we are glad to have this little breather.

After saying goodbye to my family, we enjoyed a lovely week of sick children. That seems to have finally run its course and we can now get into the random routine of summer. We’re still figuring out what our days look like, but it’s been nice to just be able to chill a little and spend time together, including late night Sweet Frog runs and longer library visits.

Brian is rushing to get Unit #3 done since new residents arrive on July 5 and, well, it still has no bathroom fixtures, every linen in the house needs to be washed, the entire kitchen needs to be organized and cleaned, and, oh yes, there’s still not all the tile on the walls. But, don’t worry, Brian’s got it “all under control.”

Besides unit #3, the storage shed is being slowly worked on. One of the board members is coming up for a few hours a day and has gotten at least two walls up so far. The second bathroom at the pavilion is just about ready for fixtures (finally!), but Brian is going to put a hold on that if he has to do it until after the house is done. We said goodbye this week to another resident who was here for a year. Over the next month, we’ll have various people coming and going; by September, a whole new crowd will be here long-term.

I am working on various projects over this summer. I may not be teaching full classes on Sundays, but I will be working with the kids each week, which will require some lesson writing. I’m doing some extra writing on the side and hoping to make some good progress, even sending it to a test group yet this month if all goes well.

I am doing something I’ve never done before: I joined a book launch group to help promote a brand new book coming out in July entitled “Remarkable Faith” by Shauna Letellier. It’s been an amazing book to read through and I’m privileged to help her get the word out about it. Check it out – it’s absolutely incredible!

I’ll be starting my articles for the next BCM World pretty soon. And then, I begin discipling one of our 6th graders in July and I’m organizing the church’s summer carnival for August. So, you know, just another lazy summer.

This Sunday marks the end of an era in my family as my father will preach his last sermon as a full-time lead pastor and step down. He is desiring to remain in ministry, but not in a full-time capacity. For this season of their lives, though, my parents have decided to do what every good retired person from PA does: move to Florida. At the end of July, Brian and my brother-in-law will be helping my dad move their stuff to Florida. They’ll do a little more visiting and finally move down after our children return to school the end of August. It’s bittersweet, and sometimes downright sad, but we know this is what they need to do. Just continue to pray for our kids, especially our daughter, as this transition will be hardest on them.

A newsletter will go out in the near future; as always, just let me know if you’re not on our list! It really does cover things we don’t talk about here, just to keep it interesting. 😉

Thanks for tracking with us!

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Oh yes, and I’m facilitating a ladies’ Bible study online (which is awesomely fun!), but this is how it happens: with a little stinker throwing socks at me the whole time and thinking he’s hilarious. 🙂

Full!

May has been jam-packed! Let me see if I can highlight our different ministries for you:

Bible Centered Ministries:

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Currently, our projects have been in direct relation to the massive flooding occurring in real-time in Sri Lanka. Brian is doing the web work of getting up donation pages, etc, while I’m writing. My evening yesterday was spent working on writing an update to be sent out globally and talking quite a bit with our field director online. The situation is dire, sad, and unfortunately, not over yet. Please pray with us for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka! Protection, provision, and the cessation of rain.

Grace Bible Church:

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We closed out our Wednesday evening Kidz Konnect on May 10 with an awesome group of kids and parents. We are attempting to have monthly Wednesday night meetings this summer in order to keep momentum going. My summer plans include the planning of these events, organizing a family carnival slated for the end of August, and writing some Bible lessons {a project I’ll explain another time}. I will also be discipling one of our girls, something I’m probably most looking forward to!

Brian and I had the opportunity a week ago to share our ministry at our church. For some it was the first time that they heard all we are involved in, so we were glad for the chance to give an update!

Missionary Retreat Fellowship:

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This picture is already dated; Brian finished tiling the floor in the bathroom in Unit #3 and is preparing to tile the walls. Of course, the unexpected always arises and this morning he’s helping the sewer guys take care of a sewer alarm. But, I know he’s hoping to get the walls tiled as soon as possible.

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This is the area for the new heated workshop. They are getting ready to pour concrete and then the structure should go up fairly quickly. Brian is not working alone on this, which is helpful. He’s definitely looking forward to having a space to do projects and have storage {and I have to admit, not having a giant tractor in my garage will be rather nice!}.

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This is a driveway in behind the Main House duplex. They began the clearing of the woods last fall and Brian was finally able to spread gravel and actually turn it into a usable driveway. The current tenants are appreciative of their own parking spot with closer access to their door. And let’s be honest, Brian didn’t have a hard time “finding time” to play with the tractor!

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Last Friday, we had our pastor’s banquet for MRF where we invited in area pastors and provided a meal, first and foremost to thank them for their involvement with MRF and then to encourage them in their own ministries. We had a pretty good turnout and it was an enjoyable evening.

This week, we say goodbye to our neighbors who have actually been here three years. They are now all my children know for neighbors, so this transition might be the most difficult yet for them! We are happy for them, though, that they finally have their support to get to the field (a testament to how hard it is to raise funds anymore!).

The Children:

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E will finish school in one week! She is looking forward to being home. Even a week ago, she drew us a picture that showed us how very much she craves being with family. We spent Memorial Day with good friends and she kept commenting how it was “the best Memorial Day ever!” since we were all together all day long.

The two boys are wild and want to be outside constantly. Our nasty rainy weather has impeded that, though. The 2 year old is fighting some pretty awful allergy issues so we’ll be in the doctor’s office again this afternoon. Poor kid. Just can’t seem to kick his fevers and stuffiness. He’s talking up a storm, though, and we are actively working on being a “gentle giant” since his go-to is a tad more violent than necessary!

This week, one of my closest friends is visiting from the south! Haven’t seen her since she showed up in Peru in 2009. Counting down the days until Sue gets to meet my children for the first time!!

Then next week, my siblings arrive and we have the retirement celebration for my dad. They listed their home less than two weeks ago and it sold within the week. You can be praying for our family as we walk this new road and begin this new season of life. Our daughter has not been good at “goodbyes” since we left Peru and this one is especially difficult for her, probably because it’s not especially easy for me, either, since they will be moving to Florida and not staying in the area. Just pray for all of us, including my parents. It’s rough.

Thanks for checking in! See you in June…

Cleaning Up!

The blizzard of 2017, “Stella”, really did a number up here in NEPA! We got about 32″ of snow when it was all said and done, most of that falling Tuesday during the day, sometimes 2″ an hour. Brian was incredibly thankful for the new tractor, which made digging us out so much easier.

While we were busy cleaning up snow, we began to receive messages from friends in Peru regarding the massive flooding. By now, you have probably seen it on Facebook, on here, or received emails from BCM about it. In a nutshell, the rains in the Andes have caused flooding in the coastal regions, up and down the entire coast of Peru, including the BCM Peru property outside of Lima where we used to live. The property has been decimated and it’s unclear yet when or if they will be able to move back home and begin ministry there on the property again. We ask for your continued prayers and support as they go through the weeks and months ahead. You can securely donate by clicking here.

This Saturday is the annual training day at our church. I’m wrapping up prep now and looking forward to the day. I head to Lancaster for a writer’s conference in a couple of weeks, hoping to glean some more information for future reference. Brian and I are helping plan a marriage conference for April that we are super excited to be a part of. We have some very close friends whose baby has been in and out of the NICU since the beginning of March. Brian helped take them down to Hershey to a better NICU and as they come home this week we’re part of a group doing all we can to be their support system during this exceptionally difficult time. Pray for Jax and his parents, Jeremy and Kara; the last few weeks have been really trying for all of them.

E is back in school this week! No word yet on when her last day will be, but we know it’ll be later due to all the snow days. Baby J has taken off talking lately! Most of his vocabulary has to do with vehicles: car, bus, “kuck” (truck). He FINALLY learned how to say “Joe Joe”!! He ran into his brother’s classroom after my Bible study Tuesday yelling “Joe Joe!” at the top of his lungs to let him know it was time to go. Big J is busy playing fireman as I write this and he just informed me that he will, in fact, one day leave me in order to be a fireman, but it’s okay because I can go visit him whenever I want.

Watch your inboxes for a newsletter this week! Don’t get it yet? Let me know and I’ll add you!

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Info about the Peruvian flood:

You may have heard of the weather phenomenon “El Nino.” We literally heard stories about El Nino while we lived in Peru – how bad it would rain and the dangerous floods. But, it hadn’t happened in years!

Well, it’s happening now. Rain up in the Andes Mountains is causing horrible flooding and landslides all throughout the country. There are 25 regions in Peru and 20 of them are struggling with floods. At least 56,000 people are displaced. And then as the rains come down in the mountains, the rivers in the valleys flood as they head out to the ocean.

A river runs along the edge of BCM Peru’s property, where we used to live. The property is home to missionary houses, the campground, and  many other buildings. A usually idyllic setting has been turned into a disaster zone. As night began on March 15, they were warned the river was beginning to crest again. By midnight, all 55 people were evacuated, including 19 children. They left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Neighboring ministries have opened their doors to house all these people and are offering food and shelter for the time being. Some men are staying on the property to ward off would-be looters and do what they can to salvage what’s left. They were able to enter homes and fill bags with essentials and valuables, which is a good thing. But, the roads going in and out of the property are gone, so they have no idea when they will be able to get back in with trucks for more personal belongings.

Keep in mind as well, this water is not crystal clear, clean river water. This is the run-off of local pig and guinea pig farms and the village sewer.

I can’t really describe to you the pit sitting in Brian’s and I’s stomachs as I type this. We are part of the home office of BCM now, so our task  has been getting this information out to all of you as quickly and succinctly as possible. It’s been hard to separate “work” from “heart” all day as we sift through videos and images and try to word this in a way for everyone who has NOT been to Peru to understand the gravity of the situation.

This is not a ministry that was  constructed overnight. This is years and years of work, donations, blood, sweat, and tears. We lived there. We walked those paths. We have pictures of little E throwing rocks into the river. I remember sitting in my bedroom with the window open listening to the melody of water running in the irrigation canal early in the morning. It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting – like nowhere else I’ve ever been. To see it just ravaged and unrecognizable really does a number on your head, and your heart.

I encourage you to take a minute and put yourself in their shoes. Some have lived on that property for their entire married lives. Pretty much all of those 19 children have known no other home. To have to wake your children up and rush them through a river in their front yard, leaving behind all their belongings, clothes, snacks, pictures, memorabilia – and into trucks and backhoes to safety – I can’t even imagine. Now today, they are able to stay with Christians nearby, but that is not a permanent solution. The school year just began; do the kids even have their uniforms, backpacks, or pencils with them?

Life has been altered for them for an indefinite amount of time. Would you help? BCM is collecting donations that will be given directly to the leadership to help with supplies and living essentials right away. You can click here to do so.

Watch our Facebook, BCM Intl’s Facebook, BCM Peru’s Facebook, and BCM’s website for additional information, updates, and even live video and pictures.

Pray that God will stop the rain! Pray for safety, provision, and protection.

Click Here for a brief video.

Snow Day!

I want to see how quickly I can write an update since I need to call in my snow children very soon or else they will be frozen children!

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this was about 9am – you can see the van behind the pile on the railing, just barely

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This is in the afternoon – keep in mind, Brian cleared the porch completely between the two pictures! And he’ll have to clear it again in the morning.

We are nearing the end of a very legitimate blizzard. The last real blizzard we’ve had was back in South Dakota the day after Easter, 2006. I believe we’ve actually more snow here in PA than we did back then! We have more than 2 feet and it’s still snowing super hard – and is supposed to continue for a few more hours yet! The wind is beginning to pick up and school is already canceled for tomorrow.

Brian went out before 9 this morning to begin clearing off our porches and get the tractor out. By law, we have to have the MRF road clear in case of a fire emergency. But, it’s taken Brian and Don literally all day and they still have not finished the road. The snow has come down so fast and hard, plus there’s a layer of ice underneath, so they keep sliding around! Brian was home three times – twice just to swap clothes in and out of the dryer and once for a quick lunch. He’ll need to stop soon with the sun going down, but they’re hoping to have the bulk of it done by then.

The kids think this is glorious! And I don’t blame them! They got a little nervous this morning, though, as it was coming down pretty fast and hard and Big J kept getting stuck. This afternoon, our neighbors are out with them, building forts and igloos and pulling Big J out when he can’t move anymore! They’re having a blast and I hate to end it, but E was just inside for a minute and she is RED and so, so cold and wet. I think I’d be a bad mom if I let them stay out much longer…

Here’s a brief family update in the interim:

  • Training at the Chinese church on Saturday went very well. We were told to plan on 25-30 and we had 35-40 trainees. Very attentive, so welcoming and considerate. It was a joy to teach them and see the grasp concepts and plan to put them into practice. Had some great conversations afterwards and am looking forward to returning next year, Lord willing.
  • I have been struggling with a cold/cough for three weeks now and it’s finally got out of control on Friday. There was really nothing I could do about it by then, so I got a bunch of cough medicine and powered through Saturday. By Sunday evening, though, I was pretty sure I was getting Influenza A because I was so sick and run down. I dragged myself to urgent care Monday morning and was told I didn’t have the flu, but I needed to rest (she even offered a doctor’s note if I thought I needed it, so I guess she was serious…) and she got me some stronger medication. So far, the only difference has been no fever. I’m pretty wiped and ready for bed, but that can’t happen for a while yet, so I’ll hang on a bit longer! Brian’s coughing too; praying he doesn’t get as bad as I did!
  • Brian has the one bathroom down to the studs and has purchased a new cast iron tub for in there. It has a ways to go, but it’s going to look much better. All of that is on hiatus during this blizzard, though.
  • The printed BCM World should be off to the printers any day now. Final edits are happening and whenever Brian can take a breath from all this snow, he’ll do the updates and it’ll be ready to go! Phew.
  • My article is off to the editor for the e-zine, which Brian will begin, again, after this storm! There’s just not enough hours in the day…
  • The 25th is our church’s training day so now that I’m done with NJ, I can really finish up prep for ours.

That’s pretty much life in a nutshell! Okay – off to call in the snow children and figure out what in the world to feed them… Stay safe & warm!