Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rachel

Happy 26th Birthday Rachel!!


There is no way I could name everything I love about you, Rachel -- living life as your little sister has been simply the best and there is just no way to sum it all up! But one of the things I most appreciate is your encouragement in so many ways. Not only in developing skills or trying new experiences, but also in living life on a daily basis with a joy that I always learn from and delight in. I love you, sis!


"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works...exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching."
Hebrews 10:24


And just for the fun of it -- here are a few of Rachel's favorite things:
  • store - small town tourist shops
  • candy bar - java twix
  • sports - volleyball and biking
  • snack - sugar/cinnamon popcorn
  • Bath & Body Works scent - blackberry amber
  • place to stay - "wherever my family happens to be!"
  • drink - french vanilla cappachino
  • vacation spot - Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO
  • shampoo - Pantene Pro-V
  • restaurant - Amigos (budget conscience!) or Olive Garden
  • vegetable -- tomato
  • Bible character - Joseph, and the blind man in John 9

Monday, January 28, 2008

Travelin' On

After an all-night bus-work marathon, we have officially left the snowy state of Nebraska, spending a couple days on the road before arriving in sunny Alabama. Again -- many, many thanks to those of you who have been praying (and helping) us throughout this week!


And now our hearts turn to focus on more than the practical side of the trip. Yes, buses and transportation are needful, but they are only tools enabling us to fulfill a greater purpose.

Yesterday was the start of the We Care prison crusade --a day filled with orientation to cover details, hearing other music teams and sirring messages to prepare our hearts for the upcoming week.

I was reminded again of statistics that were shared last year ---

Out of the 300,000,000 people in America, there are currently 10,000,000+ men, women, and juveniles incarcerated in our prisons or on parole. With the current return rate at 70%, this is a serious problem. Through God's Word we know that "the truth" is our only hope for real freedom. It is exciting, then to discover that 'faith-based' programs are experiencing a 85%+ success rate in the lives of these inmates.

And through our presence and your prayers, we have the opportunity to share God's Word with many of these men and women this week. Beginning tonight we will be going into four different prisons over the course of the next few days -- three men's facilities and one women's.


A few specific prayer requests:
  • An openness and hunger in the hearts of the inmates.
  • A total reliance on the Lord's wisdom, grace, and strength -- not only for our family, but also for the 300+ volunteers who are also serving here this week.
  • Flexability as we will have two services without our younger children (under 18).
  • Fruit! Pray earnestly both for our brethren behind bars to be encouraged and for the unsaved to be drawn to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Thank you so much for all you support as we endeavor to fulfill the great commission in America's prisons. Truly the fields are white unto harvest!

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:32

Home Sweet Bus

Welcome for a short tour of our new 'home'! Looking back over the past week, we marvel at the Lord's timing, provision, and sustaining. Only a week ago our bus more closely resembled a wooden box with colored cords dangling around the unfinished walls (at left).

But now, with help from local friends, many 16+ hour days -- and one all-night marathon -- it is a beautiful and functional home.

So, if you have a moment, wipe your shoes and come on in! Welcome to our home...



This is our living room where we spend most of our time..... traveling, talking, having family devotions or school. Ruth spent a couple days re-upholstering the couches and we're thrilled with how they turned out! The couches also play double-duty as fold-out beds to sleep four.

And speaking of Ruth -- this is a very familiar sight as she keeps us happy and filled with delicious home-cooked meals. This has been a little challenging without the microwave oven installed, but as you can see, the bracing is mounted on the wall just waiting for us to get to a hardware store for the necessary equipment. One of our favorite features in the kitchen is the big, double sink.

Next comes our closet space. It's simply mind-boggling how much clothes is required for 14 people on an 8 week trip. We have over 40 pairs of shoes alone! Thankfully, we have this very handy built-in storage to handle the bulk. [smile]


Our bunk area sleeps seven -- with bunk beds piled three high and a nice floor-bed for Nathanael. So cozy! Lots of reading time happens here -- and an occasional nap!

Further back we have our 'necessity' room, complete with storage and a vanity. Our eventual goal is to get two mirror/light sets mounted. With nine ladies in the bus, this mirror is often very crowded!!!
And I just had to include this cute picture of my photographer. She always keeps me in supply of great pictures to post here and actually makes me look like a decent blogger!!! [smile] Love ya, Bethany!

Finally, we arrive at the master bedroom. This room has some finishing touches to add yet -- built-in shelves and ceiling cover. But it's carpeted and cozy with two big windows for a great view while traveling down the road.


...And that concludes our tour! Thank you for joining us -- and for your prayers during this whole project. We rejoice in His strength and grace!


"It is good to give thanks to the Lord...
to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
and Your faithfulness every night."
Psalm 92:1-2

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Work Zone

:: People hard at work ::

It has been almost a week since the last post, and thankfully it has been a very fruitful week. Many more hours were put in on the bus. Not only did the last walls go up and cupboards get screwed in, but the finishing touches are being worked on now tonight: wallpapering, laying vinyl, putting down carpet, ect... It is wonderful to see the inside looking more and more like a home than just a plywood box!

To give you a small glimpse of what that has all entailed...

hundreds and hundreds of screws

countless wiring

and yes, even some moments of frustration when the wall just won't go in quite right for the ?? time and needs a little more trimming and re-cutting before it will fit where it is supposed to.


While some labored diligently at the bus, the home front stayed busy, too...

covering the bus window frames

upholstering the two front couches

cooking meals for the freezer

and now tonight -- a flurry of packing!!

It has been very exhausting at times, (just ask those who only got 3-5 hours of sleep every night this week!) yet we have been so encouraged by the prayers and support we've received from the body of Christ.

"Be of good courage,
and He shall strengthen your heart,
all you who hope in the Lord."
Psalms 31:24


And stay tuned for more pictures as we head south tomorrow!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Countdown...

With our departure date only a week from today -- and much still to be done -- we have officially entered the 'countdown' zone! [smile] Work continues to progress on the bus with the start of applying wall coverings, plumbing for the shower, and the final walls. We are so grateful for several young men who have spent many hours helping us!!


Measuring carpet.

Applying the wall coverings.


Many thanks for your prayers for our friend, Fred -- After his fall, the doctor x-rayed and said his ankle had a bad sprain and that he was to stay off it for quite awhile. However, shortly after we started praying, he put pressure on his foot, felt a 'pop', and the pain was gone! He's been walking around and putting in long hours of work on the bus ever since!!! Praise the Lord!

As the bus project is taking place 20 miles from our home in Seward, we girls get to take a hot dinner down to the workers every evening for a make-shift picnic. Mm-m-m-m! [smile]

And on the home front, we've been preparing for the food and clothing needs in the upcoming 8 weeks. Since we were all in dire need of new casual and dress skirts, a couple dear friends came and we commenced a sewing marathon -- 18 skirts in 2.5 days!!


Ironing.

Thank you, Courtney and Brittney!!! What would we have done without you!?!!


We enjoyed making each skirt different as we discovered the beauty and simplicity of pin-tucks. So fun!

Again, we are so grateful for you -- our friends -- who lift us before the Father's throne. Looking ahead, the upcoming days look full and slightly overwhelming, but we trust and know that the Lord's hand is working and we praise Him for bringing us this far!!


Stay tuned....


"Yes, the Lord will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway."
Psalm 85:12-13

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week in Review

The saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun", but I'd say the same is true when a person is busy! These past days have been filled with a little of both...

It was a tremendous blessing to have lots of help with the bus last week -- friends from Iowa and a couple young men from church came out for a couple days. Many thanks for your hours of help, guys!!

And as I didn't do well at documenting last week's work, here is a picture post with a few highlights and a bus progress report...


Tuesday's work crew
With a wood-burning stove for heat, s'mores make a great mid-day snack!

Measuring. We made a few discoveries that slowed progress by a couple days. Thankfully we now have them resolved and all the side-walls are complete.

Little by little the interior walls are set in place.
Running all the electrical wiring.

Thomas and Andrew stop to give a quick smile.


And in addition to the work on the bus this week, we also had a couple birthday celebrations to fill our evenings with food, friends, and fun...

All festive for a '50s' themed party.

Go, Susanna!

Bowling....with a new twist.





And finally, we'd like to share a prayer request... Our good friend and carpenter-extraordinaire, Fred, fell yesterday and injured his leg. Please join us in praying for a fast and complete recovery!


Again, thank you all for your encouragement and prayers. We are deeply grateful for you --the body of Christ.


"Now thanks be to God Who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." 2 Cor. 2:14

Monday, January 07, 2008

Intimacy

This morning I was challenged by the following quote from my all-time favorite devotional, 'My Utmost for His Highest'.....



"I have called you friends."

Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His Word,
but do we know Him?
--Oswald Chambers

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Snow Smiles

With temperatures stretching into the 40s today it almost seemed a major heat wave compared to the mid-teens of previous days. Well... almost!

And with the sunshine came the eager giggles of excitement as boots, gloves, and snowsuits were donned and they raced out the door! Oh, what enjoyment on these winter afternoons.

Experiencing all this for the first time. She LOVES it!!!

Isn't God good to give us these simple pleasures of life?!
....and then He gives us children to remind us of these joys we so easily take for granted!

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises!"
Psalm 98:4

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Marathon...

...has officially begun! With only 20 days before we leave for an eight week trip, every work-day counts as we turn our empty "shell-of-a-bus" into a travel-ready home. At this point it seems a somewhat daunting project with our amateur carpentry skills. Thankfully we learned allot building our previous conversion -- and we have experienced help working with us! [Thanks, Fred!]


The current interior.

Piece by piece

We'd appreciate your prayers this month and will do our best to keep you posted!


"How precious is Your lovingkindess, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust
under the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 36:7