Saturday, January 26, 2008

Anyone have a map?

One of the sayings we heard over and over at our training at Missionary Training International (MTI) in Colorado is, "You never know where the missionary road will lead." This proved true during our time there as a missionary preparing to go to Uganda as a nurse received word about an Ebola outbreak in the area she would be serving. The outbreak took the life of a Ugandan doctor who was to one of her colleagues and held the potential to delay her departure date by months. After a few weeks of uncertainty she left for Uganda a couple of weeks late.

Another time this saying proved true was as another family at MTI who was planning on tent making on the mission field received a phone call telling them the company they were going to work for had to make cuts, and their contract had been terminated. In one 5 minute phone call 2/3 of their support was gone. God has since provided a way for them to go to language school as planned and they are currently working at raising the needed support and trusting that God will provide.

Now it is our turn, although what we are considering is not nearly as drastic as the previous two. Up until now we have been focused on moving in June and attending a two month intensive language session in June and July. After talking further to the language school it sounds like a better fit for our family would be to attend language school from late August to mid-December.

Pushing back our move date would have other advantages as well. It would give us more time to meet our support goals and would us more time to prepare to move. We are currently planning on moving about a week after Tracey is done with school. Waiting a couple of months also has its draw backs as it would basically move our "ministry" start date from early August to January 1. This would cause things to be moved and shuffled in 2009.

At the moment we are leaning toward pushing our move back to August. Please be in prayer for this decision and that God would grant us and Students International wisdom and that we would choose the course of action that would best start SI-Costa Rica.

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 as of January 1, 2008.

We have had $14,220 come in towards our anticipated one-time need of about $20,000.
We are currently receiving or have been pledged a total of $1,760 per month towards our monthly budget of $3,500.

The $1,760 does not include a couple of current supports who have expressed that they will be increasing their giving toward us in 2008 or 3 or 4 other families who have committed to giving, but have not indicated an amount. So, assuming everyone follows through we are probably between $1,900 and $2,000 a month.

Please also be praying for us as we are in conversation with 4 churches about the possibility of joining our support team. Pray that God would guide and direct them as they seek to be stewards of the funds He has entrusted to them. Of course we would also pray that they would be lead to support our family.

If you have any questions about our support process or know of someone whom we should contact please let us know and/or direct them to this blog to find out more about what God is doing. The info packet on the right would be a great place for someone to start.

Back to the Jungle/Just be faithful

The evening of January 11th I (Jeff) left with 27 other men to go to Costa Rica for about 10 days. We went to Shiroles to work alongside the same missionary and church we worked with last summer. It was a great trip, although a difficult turn around after only being home for 5 short days. We worked in various areas ranging from cabinet making, building walls in a home, digging drainage ditches, footers, and septic tanks, and in medical clinics. While much was accomplished (which we North American men love to see) I believe more work was done in the hearts and minds of the men on the trip and in the lives of those we served and served with in Costa Rica. It is always a privilege to be an eye witness to God's transforming power as he calls people back to himself or to himself for the first time. It is also a privilege to be a small part of reaching out to a people (the Bribri and Cavecar indigenous people of Costa Rica) who have largely been forgotten. God is doing amazing things in this remote corner of the world and it is awesome to see Him work.

As for me I had a profound encounter with God sitting in a remote village in the hills. We had hiked in the day before with food to distribute, had worked with a local doctor in providing a health clinic, and held a short time of sharing the evening before. I sat reading in Ephesians. To be honest I was simply going through the motions as it was our time of daily Bible study. To make matters more interesting it was my turn to facilitate the discussion on the passage following our quiet time. THe passage for the day was Ephesians 1 and I got as far as verse 1 before God stopped me in my tracks. In beginning the letter Paul writes, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus." (NASV) As I thought to myself, I hope I can be described as faithful God spoke deep to my soul the phrase, "You are and that is all I ask of you." As tears flowed from my eyes I was overwhelmed with God's great care for me that he would speak simultaneously words of great encouragement and admonishment. I so often present to God what I have done for him, when I am not convinced he really cares what I do for him, but rather he is calling me to just be faithful.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

5000, 10, 7, 2, 1!

As in 5,000 miles traveled, 10 states visited, 7 weeks, 2 blown tires, and 1 great trip!

We arrived back to Visalia Sunday evening after spending the last couple of months on the road. A quick tour of where we were and what we were doing.

Week One: Raising support at an open house in Colorado; celebrating Thanksgiving with Jeff's family; visiting Great Grandma.

Week Two: Began SPLICE training at Missionary Training International (MTI); Great Grandma's funeral

Week Three: 2nd week of SPLICE training, spent an afternoon with Jeff's Uncle Jim and family

Week Four: Began by being 'locked down' (see post; 'Weep with Those Who Weep'), final week of SPLICE training, visiting friends and supporters.

Week Five: Celebrated Christmas with Jeff's family, visited friends and supporters, drove to Arkansas (stopping in Kansas City to visit Tracey's Aunt Ruth, Uncle Terry, and Cousins), flat tire #1 (how else could we have seen the WalMart in Russelville, AR? By the way they have decent fried okra in their deli.).

Week Six: Celebrated Christmas with Tracey's family in AR, Tracey's cousin Joseph's wedding, Looked longingly at several golf courses.

Week Seven: Celebrated the New Year with Tracey's family and our friends the Pittman's (SI - Fiji directors), Support presentation, drove to AZ to visit Tracey's Aunt Janelle, Uncle Phil, and cousins (Stopping in Lubbock Texas to visit Gary and Cinda Smith), flat tire #2 (but west Texas is so beautiful that we are thankful to have been forced to drive 45 mph on the spare 'donut' for about 50 miles, okay we could have done without that, but we are convinced this flat tire is due to the comment made by Jeff the day before of "We better put air in the spare so we don't get stuck in the middle of no where in TX!"), travel home!

All in all a good trip!! We are thankful to have been able to see many family and friends. Thanks to everyone who opened up their homes to us (in 7 weeks we only stayed the first night in a motel! We need to meet someone in St. George Utah!) We are also grateful for the new friendships that were developed at MTI!