Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jeff's Reflection from MTI

It is hard to summarize all that was learned and contemplated during a 3 week training program. It was a great time of preparation for us. Some of the richest times for me were precessing things after the sessions with Tracey. To talk about our hopes, dreams, and fears about moving and all that entails was invaluable. It was great to be able to talk and pray with each other without the usual pressures and responsibilities of life.

The principle that most impacted me is really quite simple and may not seem all that profound. The concept is to simply take care of myself and my family. To pay attention to signs of stress and to take practical steps to relieve it. To make sure that I and we are taking times to simply be with the Lord and are regularly practicing the discipline of Sabbath rest. From my limited experience abroad as well as in ministry it is easy for me to be consumed by my "work", the expectations of my supervisors, and of those around me. As a result the last person I think to take care of is myself. Yet to be effective and to have some longevity in Costa Rica I need to make sure that I am taking care of myself and our family in order to avoid burnout. In a way these are not necessarily new concepts to me. Rather it was more of a confirmation of what I knew deep down inside and permission in a sense to schedule in times of rest and restoration and to make them a priority.

I think at the core of pushing myself and stretching myself to thin is a desire to see God's kingdom extended and to do all I can to see his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. It is easy to think that I am responsible for producing the results and then taking them to God. Rather I need to remember that I am not responsible for the results or for our work being successful. Rather my job is to simply be obedient to what he has called me to do and to be faithful. Part of that is making sure that I do my part to stay healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that I am able to run a marathon instead of a sprint.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weep With Those Who Weep

The last couple of days have been almost surreal for us at MTI. Most of you will probably already know about what has happened around here. On Sunday shortly after midnight there was a shooting at a YWAM base near Denver, and then after a church service at New Life Church, near Colorado Springs, there was another shooting. MTI is only about 10 miles from the second shooting. With many sketchy details and because MTI is also a mission-related organization, yesterday our building was in lockdown, with police patrolling the area regularly. Jeff, the kids, and I were actually away yesterday afternoon on the Santa Train Cog Rail in Co. Springs and didn't know about the second shooting until we received a call upon disembarking the train. However, on our way back to MTI, we saw New Life Church from the freeway, complete with flashing lights and a search helicopter flying overhead.

When we arrived back at MTI, someone had to open the door for us and we sort of scrambled inside. After a Wal-Mart run for diapers for some friends, Jeff had said, "Let's make sure everything is together in the trunk just in case we have to make a run for it." It was, and we hurried as quickly as we could, not wanting to believe the worst could even be a possibility.

We were greeted by worship songs coming from a group of our new MTI family that was gathered in the common area. Olivia and Sawyer melted into play with the other kids and dinner was served as usual soon after. The normalcy and fellowship uplifted everyone's spirits, and we fought fear in the evening by making gingerbread houses with the children! The festivities distracted us from the uncertainties and questions for a time. We have been thankful that the kids all seem to be oblivious to what has happened.

This morning we had a time of processing and sharing. It happened to coincide directly with the moment that I was hit emotionally with the reality of what happened. And not only with what happened here, but the violence that fills our world. Many of our friends here are heading to places of potential danger--Myanmar, Sudan, China--I don't know that any of us would have picked Colorado to be on that list. It is sobering to reflect on the darkness in each of our hearts. We all have such potential for good and for evil--and freedom. God forgive us and teach us to love instead of hate!!

As a mother, my greatest fear is that something bad will happen to my children. We are given no guarantees in this life except that God is faithful to walk with us in every situation. God is Good. We have no answers, and I grieve for all the moms and all the families today. And I pray that my children will be safe, and that they will choose Good as the path for their lives.

Thank you to all of you who have inquired about our safety and to those who are praying through this whole thing. Fellowship is so sweet.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Awe!!

Have you ever been in awe of God's beauty? This morning we awoke to blue sky with trees, mountains and fields covered in a dusting of fresh snow. The God who created this also created you and I. More than that he created us in his image. I can only imagine how beautiful he is, as the beauty we see around us is a reflection of him. God knows just what we need to hear from him each day and today I (Jeff) am grateful to be reminded of his beauty, splendor, grandeur, and that he is God and I am not!


We are in the middle of a training program called SPLICE at Mission Training International (MTI). It is a 3 week program and we are enjoying our time learning about our heavenly Father, ourselves, each other, and getting to know new friends in the same stage of life as we are. One of the things we are learning to do is to live in paradox. This has proven true as in the midst of this exciting time of training we had the funeral for great grandma (see post below). We were also able to spend some time with Jeff's family before the program started as Jeff's parents live about an hour away. We have also found time for some walks in the foothills, playing on the playground, and yesterday visited Focus on the Family so the kids could explore "Odyssey and Witt's End" (their indoor play area, as it was cold and snowing!).

We have covered subjects such as conflict, life transitions, stress, life style choices, building community, sabbath rest, soul care, and entering a new culture. It has been a full couple of weeks with one to go! It has been a time of encouragement and introspection. We are still processing and reflecting on what God is doing in our lives and will post again soon with a window into our hearts. Please pray that God would continue to mold and shape us to be more like him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Great Grandma

On Saturday November 24 Anna Malone, Jeff's Grandma, passed away. She has been battling severe dementia for the last few years and apparently had a stroke a week before she passed away. She was 93 years old. We were thankful to have been in Denver during the last week of her life and for the chance to see her and to be with family. She was a remarkable lady and we will all miss Grandma and Great Grandma.

Teaching in the DR

In late October/early November I (Jeff) traveled to the Dominican Republic for a couple of reasons. One was to serve as a last-minute substitute professor for a class as part of a study abroad program! I taught a course on transformational development and holistic ministry. There are 21 students in the DR as part of a program in which Students International partners with Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. As part of this program the students study Spanish, take courses on Dominican culture, and work at an SI ministry site. The course I taught is designed to help students understand the “how” and the “why” behind the ministry they (and SI) are involved in. I had a great time preparing for the course and interacting with the students during the class time and at other informal times during my visit. Here are some photos of me in action.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall Festivities

Autumn is a fun time of year with harvest, pumpkins, costumes and carnivals. The kids and I helped at our school pumpkin patch this year--Olivia even got her face painted and her hair sprayed pink!

Then we had a Halloween party at Mimi's Munchkins (the daycare where Olivia and Sawyer go).

On the day of Halloween, I took the kids trick-or-treating for a little while with some friends (Jeff was in the DR--watch for that post shortly). Note the cute Raggedy Ann and Andy costumes, courtesy of Grandma Doot-doot.

Wishing you a Happy Fall!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Support Update

Thanks to all of you who have supported us prayerfully and financially! We have been overwhelmed by people's response!

Here is a quick update on where our support stands at the moment.

We have had $4,710 come in towards our anticipated one-time need of about $20,000.
We are currently receiving or have been pledged a total of $1,130 per month towards our monthly budget of $3,500.

The one time funds will cover the expense associated with our training at Mission Training International coming up in November/December! Praise God!

If you are thinking/praying about joining our monthly support team would you please consider starting to give at the first of the year (or before:). This will allow us to get a good gauge of where our support stands. From January - May we need to receive $1,100 per month to go towards Jeff's current salary at SI (The same as it has been over the last few years). Any amount received over the $1,100 during these months will be applied toward our one-time expenses.

We have been made aware that some of our last newsletters sent via snail mail did not make it to their final destination. If you did not receive one and would like to (It has cute pictures of the kids in it!) let us know. Also, if you have any questions about our support, budget, how things are going as we fund raise and prepare to move please don't hesitate to ask!

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Giant Step For Small Feet

Olivia officially entered the world of school this past month, joining Mommy at her FIRST 5 Preschool in Ivanhoe. She is one of two three-year-olds in the class, and doing well! She loves doing "homework" and even won the "Catch of the Day" award one day for being an "enthusiastic singer." :) Proud to be a Big Girl, we hope her love of learning continues for a lifetime!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Half Dome

On Monday September 10th I (Jeff) climbed half dome with 3 close friends and co-workers (Dave Hansen, Hector Pinto, and Jonathan Thompson). For those who don't know half dome is in Yosemite National Park. It is about an 8.2 mile hike in which you gain around 5,000 feet of elevation. It was a tremendous day of hiking and fellowship. The view along the trail and from the top were absolutely amazing! If you're a hiker and have never climbed it, it is a must do. Worth the trip from anywhere in the world! Here are a few pictures to help illustrate the point.

Looking up at half dome from the trail

Standing at the base of the cables before the final assent

Views from the Top!!

SI Banquet

On Saturday September 8th we had the Students International Fundraising Banquet. It was a fabulous night! Just under 400 people came to hear about what God is doing through SI. It was a fun evening for us of connecting with new and old friends. To put the icing on the cake about $40,000 was raised for SI!! Praise God!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Visit With the Roubs

We're a little behind in our blogging, but here are some pictures from a few weeks ago when my (Tracey's) parents were out here for a visit. We confess, we did NOT take these pictures--they did. But we are taking the liberty of posting them anyway! We hope you enjoy!

We'd also like to give you an update on our lives since returning to "normal"--we're doing pretty well adjusting back to California life, I think. It's always with mixed feelings that we come home. I personally have been enjoying being in one place and not having to live out of suitcases, and the kids seem to like having a little more routine in their lives. Olivia talks about Costa Rica and "Gualamala" a lot, and says she would like to live in Costa Rica. Jeff has had a little harder time coming home and would be ready to move to Costa Rica tomorrow if he could. Oral surgery two weeks ago didn't help (ouch!), but that seems to be on the mend now. Mentally, we are making lists in our minds about what to keep, sell, store, and give away. However, we are also trying to live in the present and enjoy this next year together in Visalia. We had a get together last week with some people who want to go with us to CR. It was a wonderful time! Please be praying that God would continue to lead clearly in each of our lives. I told somebody yesterday that we are walking on the road that leads to Costa Rica, and so far it has been a very smooth one! May it continue to be so!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One time...

"One time, when I was in China by myself, a girl asked if God and Jesus were together when they made crocodiles and elephants. I said no they weren't together that one time when I was in China in Pasadena. Mommy where's China?"

A snippet from our conversation this evening on the way home from church. We learn so much from Olivia! In reality it is amazing how much our kids teach us about the most profound subjects in life.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Coast

If you have never been to California's Central Coast, it is something to add to a list of to-dos. It is full of rough, rocky coastlines, grassy hills, sandy beaches that double as treasure coves, and tide pools that hint at what must live deeper in the ocean. We were privileged to visit there again last week with our friends the Thompsons (that's Tricia with the whale carcass), and Alipaz,' Hector Pinto, and also the Pittmans who are the field directors for the new SI Fiji site (they are the family sitting on the rocks). It was a wonderful time of relaxing and hanging out. We stayed in Morro Bay and traipsed around some great beaches in the area. The weather was perfect, and the kids had the time of their lives running around in the sand and waves. The following pictures will help tell the story:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The culmination of our 6 week family adventure was 2 weeks in Antigua, Guatemala. We stayed at the home of Fernando and Marianela Saravia, who are our dear friends, as well as field directors for SI Guate. The first week was busy as Jeff helped facillitate a "vision trip"--a group of about 15 people who are interested in leading groups to one of the SI sites, either short-term, or through academic programs (semesters, J-terms, etc.) There were also a few people who came along just for the ride to see what SI is all about. (If any of our dear readers is interested in something like this, let us know--there will be other trips like this in the future. . .)

We had a great time visiting ministry sites (education, appropriate technology (cisterns and water purification), agriculture, art, social work (working at Hermano Pedro Hospital with people with special needs), and health care) We also had a lot of fun with the Saravias, and their girls blessed us immeasurably with many evenings of babysitting so that we could attend meetings with the vision group, go to dinner with Fernando and Marianela, etc. They took us to a great new restaurant in Antigua called Palacio de India. We also got to spend some time with our friends Jose and Norita and their girls. They took us to a great zoo in Guatemala City and then to their home. Jose has done some graphic design work for SI and has expressed interest in running a site where he would teach those skills to youth. (Please pray for them--they are considering CR with us!)

Ending our trip in Guatemala was a refreshing reminder of why we love what God is doing through Students International and why we will continue to be a part of it. It was encouraging to see the unity of the SI staff, as well as the powerful transformation going on in the lives of individuals in the communities where SI ministers and in the lives of students and outreach participants. We are happy to be home, but so thankful for our time this summer in CR and Guate. Many thanks to all of you who have prayed for us during our travels--we were keenly aware of God's grace hovering over us! Please continue to pray for guidance and wisdom as we feel out the details for moving to CR next year! Until our next post--The Dixons

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm Free!!! (July 2)

The week of Olivia's Birthday, we did not have internet access since we were at the beach (near Jaco, CR). It was a relaxing time, with our friends, Jeremy and Erin Janzen and their kids, Ella and Judah. We stayed at a great little beach house owned by a Canadian couple, called Casa Amarilla. We were right on the ocean, though the beach in the back yard was better for collecting rocks than it was for swimming. But that was fine because plenty of great swimming beaches were a short walk or drive away. Both Olivia and Sawyer REALLY enjoyed the water (and the sand)--as you can see from the photos. Anyway, here are some pictures in honor of our "free"-year-old, as well as our week at the beach! (July 1-9)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Now What?

After a week or so of exploring San Jose we have more questions than answers. However, things are beginning to become clearer. Our time in Costa Rica was a confirming time for us that God is leading us to move.

Where exactly we will live and minister we are not sure, but we continue to believe that we will most likely live in or around San Jose. A strong possibility at the moment is Desamporados (see picture in previous post). We are leaning toward an area like this as there are areas of extreme poverty and need, yet there are also places in or near these areas that would be great places for us to live.

Most likely we will not know exactly where we will be until we move to Costa Rica, but it is nice to have a more concrete idea of some possibilities. Please be praying that God would direct us to where he would have us live and that we would have the ears to hear him and the courage to follow.

Exploring San Jose

Following the 2 outreaches in Shiroles we spent a week familiarizing ourselves a bit with San Jose and the surrounding area. We spent time with various contacts picking their brains and asking what they would do and where they would do it if they were us. We spent Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday driving around San Jose with people as they showed us the city and introduced us to people ministering with the poor. Tuesday we met with a language school that could be a potential partner in some of our future student programs and is where we will most likely study next summer. Friday we explored a region of the country called Sarapiqui. Sarapiqui is about 2 hours from San Jose and there is a slight possibility that this could be the area we choose to live and minister.

Here are a couple of pictures of areas we visited:

La Carpio


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shiroles #2

Let's back up a little and we'll tell you about our second outreach in Shiroles, Talamanca, CR. We were there with a high school group this time, and they were hard workers. They finished the projects that the first group began, as well as beginning a project to filter spring water and bring it into the community. Here are some pictures that will assist in telling the story of our week.

The kids taking advantage of some front-porch seating--the carseats got cleaned and went outside when the crumbs started attracting ants. . .

Olivia and some new friends. Our house and girls dorm are in
the background.

Jeff is hard at work here loading rock and sand into the cement mixer. This group is pouring floor for a dorm for the seminary and future work teams.

Sawyer and his "novias" (girlfriends). Seriously, these girls were a huge blessing! They loved our kids and entertained them at every opportunity!

Like I said. . .every opportunity.

These guys are fertilizing the experimental community garden. If successful, Shiroleans will be able to sell produce as well as learn methods of maintaining family gardens.

Olivia and Gabriel. This was our last night in Shiroles. They were sitting by the outdoor oven, waiting for homemade pizza!

We love you all! More updates to come!

Happy Birthday Sawyer! (June 25)

Sawyer followed Big Sister's footsteps by having his first birthday outside of the US. We celebrated his number 1 at Pizza Hut on Sunday with those who were left after the outreach that ended that day. Though he was fairly clueless, the staff sang a rousing "Feliz Cumpleanos," and brought him a piece of cake with a candle, and, most importantly, we took pictures. He took his first steps last week as well. Oh yes, and we went to Mc Donald's last night (nothing like soaking in the local culture, is there?), and Sawyer was able to crawl up and down the slide; Mom and Dad are a little frightened by what his next accomplishments might be. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lo Hicimos (We Did It): Week 1 in CR

It feels like we have been in Costa Rica for longer than a week and a half. We have been busy, but in a fairly laid-back way. . .if that makes sense! We spent our first couple of nights at a place called "Elijah's Cave" in Heredia with a ministry called Pura Vida Missions. Then it was off to the rain forest near Shiroles (Caribbean side) with the teams that came. The students worked at various sites, all supporting the work of Curtis and Cathy Sharp who are missionaries there. Some taught English at a school, some went with Cathy to visit women in the community, and others worked on projects around the base like digging a well, constructing new dorms and breaking up land for a community garden. There was also a medical team that helped at a mobile clinic. The students were great and it was exciting to see God work through them. A highlight was a 3 1/2 hour climb up (literally UP) a somewhat muddy mountain to distribute food to Cabecar Indians living in a remote village called San Miguel. Yes, ALL of us Dixons made the climb. Jeff carried Olivia in a back pack carrier the WHOLE way up and down. Sawyer hitched a ride with "Macho" who ran up and down the trail to keep him happy. (He is our new hero.) This climb is the reason for the title of this entry. I, Tracey, had many doubts about going at all (much less with O and S), but with the gentle pushing of my husband, I, too, was able to convince my feet to keep moving until the end, and the kids enjoyed the ride. Next time, though, I think I will train a bit before I go! Anyway, lo hicimos.

Another highlight for me was sharing at a girls Bible Study one afternoon. Many of the women and girls in the area are victims of abuse and other injustices. So I felt led to share with them God's heart for women. We looked at Gal.3:28 and the passage in Luke where Christ heals the hemmorraging woman and raises Jairus' daughter. My prayer is that they will cling to the love God has for them and that the transforming work Jesus wants to do in them and through them will not be inhibited by their position as females.

Jeff, I have to say, did an excellent job at helping facilitate the outreach. He was also able to pitch in with some of the construction of the new dorms. And Olivia and Sawyer had a fun time playing, exploring and working their way into the hearts of everyone they came into contact with.

Pictures will follow soon, as we were not expecting this opportunity to write so are unable to upload pictures at the moment. Tomorrow (Sunday the 17th) we will be going back to Shiroles with a team that arrived last night.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Adventure of Life

We are beginning to see all aspects of life in terms of adventure. Our big ones right now are the adventures of marriage, of parenting, of work, of service, of following Jesus. Adventure gives excitement, or at least a certain anticipation and purpose, to even the routine areas of our lives. May God give us the perspective to see each stage of our lives as an adventure no matter how seemingly mundane.

On the Road to Costa Rica

We have an amazing opportunity for adventure as a family this summer in Costa Rica. Our trip will have dual purposes. The first will be to help lead two outreaches near a town in the rain forest called Shiroles. We will partner with a missionary and a local church to do what God has called them to do with the Bribri and Cabecar Indians. Students will be assisting with various projects including a water project, community vegetable farm, and teaching ESL classes at a local school.

The second purpose for our adventure in Costa Rica will be to scout out future opportunities for Students International. SI would like to create a more long term ministry presence in CR, including at least one semester program for college students. We have sensed that the time was coming for us to leave Visalia and go somewhere overseas. It seems that God is opening doors widely for us to move to Costa Rica next summer! Please pray with us that our time of scouting will be productive, and that God will continue to make clear paths for us and for SI. Please pray, too, for all of the logistical aspects of traveling (and possibly tenting) with children!

We are also tacking on two weeks in Guatemala at the end of our time in CR. We look forward to reporting to you all that God does during this summer adventure. Our dates of travel are June 7 - July 21.

Olivia and Sawyer

Kids, I think, are experts at finding adventure in ordinary things. Olivia uses her endless imagination and chatter to create daily adventure. She has 3 imaginary friends: Gooka, Jershin, and Bit. She is mostly accident-free in potty training and likes to watch Daddy “move the lawn.” Sawyer, at 10 months, is turning out to be quite an adventurer. He likes to climb and explore (sometimes where he shouldn’t). He’s also become very vocal when Big Sister takes away his toys.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Costa Rica

In February I (Jeff) had the opportunity to go on a trip with a bunch of men to Costa Rica. It was a Students International men's trip. For the first time, in a long time, I was a participant not a leader. It was a great trip! Imagine a men's retreat and a mission trip combo and that is pretty much what it was like. We worked alongisde the missionary SI partners with in Shiroles (a small town in the south east part of Costa Rica in the Talamunca region). We were involved in various projects ranging from a medical clinic to a water project in the jungle to supply water to the town. It was refreshing and rejuvenating for me personally and a chance to regain perspective.

Above is a picture of the group.

After most of the team left five of us spent a few days in San Jose exploring opportuntites for SI to expand what we are doing in Costa Rica. God was good and there are many open doors and opportunites. Pray for us to be able to clearly here God and how he would have us move forward from here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Good Reminder

Last night I had the privilege of speaking to the InterVaristy chapter at Fresno State. As part of the time there a couple of students shared testimonies about their experiences at Urbana (the tri-annual student missions convention recently held). One of the students shared about how Urbana in conjunction with other experiences, one of them being a Students International outreach, had cemented in her a heart for the poor and a calling to work with them. Because of that she recently declared Social Work as her major.

It is easy for me to get bogged down in the “little” day-to-day things involved in my job and to forget the big picture. But hearing a testimony like that from a student who truly encountered God on an outreach is a good reminder about why I do what I do and how God is using it. He really is transforming lives! Praise God!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sawyer's Tricks

Sawyer says:
I can crawl,

I can sit,

I can pull myself up to stand,

I can even be a polar bear!!

Not too shabby for 7 months!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


From the mouth of Olivia:

"Mom, can I have some yum-n-nums?" (M&Ms)

"Sawyer popped awake!!"

"I'm still a big girl. . .AND a baby."

"Olivia went pee-pee on the pot-TEE!! Ok, now I need a Jell-o Bean!!"

"I want too much of that."

"I got Owen, an' Alyssa, an' I got TWO Williams and TWO Rachels--no, too MANY Rachels."

"Alyssa's seeking (hiding) in the favily room. I don't know where she is!"

"Daddy, you go seek. I'll count: 2, 4, 2, 6, 1, 8. . ."

"Jesus loves me, all the children. . ."

"Dear Jesus, Thank you Mommy, Daddy, Sawyer, Olivia, Bob the Builder (giggles). Thank you all us sleep good. . ."