Friday, June 27, 2008

Taiyuan Arrival

We've arrived! To the welcome of new sights, sounds, and smells, our weary team has officially settled in to Taiyuan! Now we are becoming acquainted with our surroundings, catching up with our jet-leg, and thoroughly enjoying the friendly people and new culture.

Bethany has posted a more thorough update here, complete with some of the great pictures she's been busy capturing. Thank you for your prayers and we look forward to keeping you up to date!

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor 4:6

Monday, June 23, 2008

More goodbyes....

We heard Him call you out and by faith we had no doubt.
We knew that you must follow and obey.

Though you're answering a call, I can't help but think of all
The times when you weren't so far away...

But when I pray for you the way I often do,
and when I think of you each and every day.



Though it seems we're far apart, I know within my heart,
We'll be together when I pray.


God will work all things for our good,
He gives us strength just like He said He would.

On my knees you're not so far away,
Cause I'm closest to you when I start to pray!


"Wherefore also we pray always for you,
that our God would count you worthy of this calling,
and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness,
and the work of faith with power:"

2 Thes 1:11

Hannah

Happy 13th Birthday Hannah!


You're a teenager today! In the past months you have been quickly been growing from a sweet little girl to a joyful young lady! We older girls have enjoyed having you join our chats and shopping excursions. [smile] It's fun to see you've been developing your homemaking skills recently and we all agree that your homemade rolls are delicious!!! Your cheerful smile and contagious laughter bring much joy to our home and we look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to work in your life this coming year. We love you LOTS!


"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God,
and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself,
a special treasure."
Deut 14:2


These are a few of Hannah's favorite things....
  • Fruit -- strawberry
  • Store -- thrift stores!
  • Restaurant -- Amigos
  • Bible Character -- Esther
  • Pastime -- reading
  • Animal -- horse
  • Dessert -- tapioca pudding
  • Vacation Spot--Florida or Branson
  • Color--blue
  • Afternoon snack--a glass of milk
  • Summer activity--swimming
  • Music group--Von Trapp singers

Friday, June 20, 2008

Branson...

Home to millions of lights, crowds of visitors, music, and other attractions -- make this one of the nation's most visited Christmas destinations.

And it's one place we never dreamed --or desired -- to stay for more than a quick visit on occasion. But God takes our prayers seriously. Let me explain...

During our 'Seek the Lord' week this January, Dad was impressed with the need to pray that the Lord would show us how to have an impact in our nation's secular culture. Yes, we treasure our times of encouragement and fellowship in hundreds of churches across the country. But what good does the salt do if it continually sits in the shaker with the other salt?! [smile]

And thus we began to pray. To our amazement, we've been given the opportunity to share our annual Christmas 'Show' at the Circle B Theater in Branson, Missouri during the months of November and December. Every day --except Sunday -- the 90 minute show will start at 10AM.

This is a whole new venue for us and we'd appreciate your prayers as we work on all the details involved. At this point, a major obstacle is getting the word out to a nation-wide crowd -- especially bus tours who plan their schedules far in advance. If you know of tours planned in your area or would like to share our information with family and friends, please contact us for free brochures.

With many thanks to our dear friend, Mindy, our new Christmas site is underway and we are excited to see what the Lord has in store as we embark on the new waters ahead. We covet your prayers as we prepare musically, theatrically -- and most of all....spiritually. May we be found faithful and the Lord's name be glorified!


"I will praise You, O LORD, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth;"
Psalm 108:3&5

Ukraine Week 2

This week the Ukrainian 'field report' was written by our friend, Micah Nelson, who is serving with Andrew...

We are back from our second trip into the mountains and everything is hanging out to dry. As you can tell we were r--ned on. (Rain is now considered a bad word among us guys.) We hiked in the r--n all the way up to the village of Ctrelbychi. As soon as we arrived it quit long enough for us to pass out our first set of fifty Good and Evil's, get our tents set up, eat some supper and even enjoy some good fellowship between the team members. As soon as we went to bed it decided to r--n again and this time it really came down.


Somewhere around 3:30 in the morning Andrew woke up and to his disappointment found out that his tent was not actually "water proof". His green Therm-a-rest pad had been turned into a lily pad on a pond inside of his tent. Not a good thing. The next morning when he packed up his tent we found out that he had brought the kitchen sink in what we thought was his ground tarp. We quickly used the water caught in it to wash our faces. Thank you Andrew for thinking of everything! (Andrew is such a great guy.)

The next day we gathered the other set of fifty Good and Evil's [Bible literature] that we had brought, hiked on to village #2, called Bilychi. We were encouraged by the positive response we received in both villages. Having finished our literature distribution, we packed up our gear and returned to L'viv. We were all exhausted, which is understandable when you consider that during this two day trip we hiked over 24 kilometers! (~15 miles)...

To read the complete report, click here.


It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
Psalm 94:1 &4

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Josiah & Abi...

...and God's wonderous love story for them both!



FRIENDS:

Josiah -- Where to start!?!! God is good and that is a fact. Well I guess I'll start at the beginning. I was born at a young age close to my mother. She called it labor day…

Ok, so maybe not that far back. I’ll start in early 2007. Marriage was something I had always geared for, but early in 2007 God had been working on my heart to give those dreams up, and to be content serving Him single for the rest of my life.

That year Thomas, Abi, and Anna traveled with us to serve during Prairie Bible Camp in North Dakota, as they had in years past. I remember one day we were all having a discussion and I walked away afterwards impressed with Abi’s walk with the Lord. I could tell it was real, and it was her own. About that time God put the thought in my mind, “She would make a good wife and mother.” “Yep!” I thought, “for some lucky guy.” Went right over my head. However, God kept bringing it back and laying her on my heart for the remainder of camp -- and by the time camp was over I realized God was saying that to me!

I really prayed about it and finally came to the place that I remember realizing that if it was God’s will for me to marry, that Abi indeed was the right one. But for me the big question was, “Is it God‘s will for me to marry?”After much time in prayer, God gave me peace that it was His perfect will for me to marry -- and that Abi was the one. So I started praying He now would be laying it on Abi’s heart as well, and also her parents hearts. Before camp I had committed to work in Wyoming for some friends, the Atnips. In mid July I headed out to Wyoming and it was a time of continually laying the whole situation before the Lord and seeking Him in it.

I came back home the end of August and while my family was out traveling that autumn, I would head to the Rehm's and spend time with Thomas, my “Twin” (Abi‘s older brother). Thomas and I were really close friends -- to the point that people dubbed us ‘the twins‘. So naturally when my family was gone I spent the weekends with my best friend, my Twin!

And as I spent time at their house it gave me a good chance to observe Abi from a distance. The more I saw, the more I was impressed with her walk with the Lord, her character and joyful and serving heart. God used that time to confirm to me the peace I had in knowing she was the one. However, I also knew that it was not the right time to move forward in a relationship and I wanted to guard her heart and not send any messages that might defraud her. My dad and sisters (knowing where my heart was at) cautioned me concerning that as well. So all my time was spent with, Twin and Abi’s younger brother and sisters. Throughout the fall and winter I spent a lot of time with them, almost becoming part of the family.

Abi -- Well...now that you all know, Josiah is engaged I'm sure you'd like to know who it is he's engaged to, and how it all transpired...at least from my point of view! First off, I'll tell you a little about myself. I'm the 2nd oldest of six children, and the firstborn girl in my family. I have 3 sisters, and 2 brothers. My parents made the choice to homeschool me for all 13 years of my education as their responsibility to bring me up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

I live on a farm in Iowa, and love the peace and hard work of country life! I graduated from highschool in 2006, and since then I've worked at a care facility as a Certified Nurses Aide, giving care to the elderly there, until this past April. I've also done midwifery for the past 18 months, and absolutely love welcoming into the world each new little one God allows me to assist!! Playing the piano it like therapy to my soul, and I'm currently giving lessons once a week. My desire is to love, honor, and serve my Savior Jesus Christ, wherever He has me!


Now for the story! About 2 years ago (2006) God started drawing my heart towards Josiah. We had known each other from church for sometime, but could God be doing a deeper work in my heart regarding Josiah? At first I thought that is was just something I was making up, and tried to make excuses to push it away! I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that God would take it away, and give me His peace, but it continued to stay. I slowly started to realize that God didn't necessarily want to remove it from my heart, but that He wanted me to trust Him with every detail of my life. Whether or not that meant marrying Josiah! So I asked God to help me guard my heart, and if Josiah was the one He had for me, to SHOW him. Desiring it not to be anything I'd do, or say to even hint in that direction.

COURTSHIP:

Josiah -- When my family left in January of this year, God began to impress on me that it was time to get things going. So, when I flew down to Florida the end of February, I talked with Dad and Mom, and they gave their blessing for me to move forward.

I flew back late in the evening on March 4th, and the next day I called Mr. Rehm and asked if I could meet him for lunch that coming Friday (March 7th). I think he had a pretty good idea of why I wanted to have lunch with him, and he was more than willing to make that work. Friday came and I headed up to Denison, Iowa to have lunch with Mr. Rehm. Due to my friendship with Thomas I was already accustomed to calling him ‘dad‘. But I was still pretty nervous!

Coming through one of the small towns where Abi worked at the nursing home, I remember thinking, “I hope I do not meet her here on her way to work“. But this was early and I knew that she didn’t go to work till 12:30pm. I finally arrived and figured Mr. Rehm knew exactly what this was about as he had a table reserved back in the corner, separated from everyone else. We had a good lunch I told Mr. Rehm that I was interested in Abi. Mr. Rehm seemed to really like that fact, and said he would talk to Mrs. Rehm and get back to me.

I ran a few errands and headed over to their house and got there just before, Twin and thought everything had gone really smooth. Until I overheard, Twin talking to Abi on the phone, “No, Josiah just got here!” I quickly picked up that she had met me on the road en-route to work and was she wondering why I had just gotten to their house a little after 3pm. She was very gracious and didn’t ask me anything about it that evening when she got home from work.

Abi -- I didn’t know how God was working in Josiah‘s heart until March 7th when I passed him on the highway on my way to work. At first I thought nothing of it. I knew he was planning to be out there that weekend since his family was gone. This was not an uncommon happening as he and my older brother are very close! :) Honestly, at first I thought nothing of it...that was until I talked to my sister on my work break, and found out Josiah has JUST got to our house! It was now 3:00pm, and I had passed him at 11:00am!! What had he been doing all this time?!? My heart started racing, but I determined in my mind not to go there. Thus applying myself to finishing out my work shift before heading home for the evening.

As the weekend progressed I was more and more convinced that Josiah had met with dad, and that it did pertain to me! I'll admit, it was very hard not knowing something. But I also felt God asking me, "Abi, can you trust me even now? Can you surrender to walking in this now, if that's my will for you? Will you obey Me?" For the following week I cried out to the Lord, holding it all before Him who knows best...not wanting anything to be what I had done, but only what God had planned!

Josiah -- The next weekend (March 14th) I meet with Mr. & Mrs. Rehm for supper before going to their house for the weekend. They had a list of questions to ask me and we had some great conversation. It was a blessed time. They gave their approval and blessing and said they would talk with Abi sometime within the next week. I was thrilled and will never forget the message that Mr. Rehm left on my phone saying that Abi was willing to let me court her!!!


Abi -- Though I did have a pretty good idea that Josiah was interested in me, because of having met him on my way to work that day, I had no idea if the timing was now. My parents knew where I was at, and I needed to trust their judgment. Finally...the long awaited night came! :) It was March 19th when Dad, and Mom pulled me aside into my room to 'talk to me'. Dad told me that what he was about to tell me would probably not surprise me, but regardless it was time for me to know. Josiah had asked permission to court me.

I guess you could accurately say that I was not surprised, but I was shocked that it was happening now! I was so content where God had me, why would He be calling me to something else? Was it true, that all God had been working on my heart these past years was happening before my very eyes?! My heart was overwhelmed at the lovingkindness of our God, and humbled to think that He would chose me for such a task--such a privilege--such an honor! My reaction wouldn't be one of jumping up and down, but of total peace that this was the will of God for me, and He was calling me to trust Him all anew, as I entered a plain of life I'd not traveled before.As time moved on it was fun and amazing to watch God work in both our hearts.

ENGAGEMENT:

Josiah -- God has so specially handcrafted us in preparing us for each other! From big life issues to small tiny details and personal tastes -- such as both of us liking dark chocolate! It soon was clear to the both of us that this was God’s will for our lives. So, after doing some “diamond shopping” I took Abi for a walk Sunday May 18th at a county park not far from their place. It was a beautiful day, sun shining, and birds singing. I gave her a hug and told her that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Then getting down on one knee I asked her if she would marry me and be my wife. And she said YES!! I pulled out the ring and gave it to her as a token of my love to her. Now everyone else can see and know that she is taken, she’s My Girl!! And I’m Her Man!



Abi -- Time changes things, and as God continued to work on my heart, and Josiah cared for it in a tender, loving way I very quickly moved from, "I know this is right, to I want to marry this guy!"

So while hiking the nature trails at a park near our home, Josiah popped the question. It was a gorgeous Sunday evening, on the night of May 18th. The birds were singing, accompanied by a soft breeze when we entered a meadow area with the sun beaming down on us. A great place to pull out a diamond ring to shimmer in its glorious rays! And glistened it did! Josiah told me he loved me, (proceeding to get down on one knee), and with a sparkle in his eyes, he asked me to be his wife tenderly saying, " Abi, I want to spend the rest of my life with you!"

I can't tell you the joy that flooded my soul! Could this really be happening?? God was giving me above and beyond the desires of my heart! "Yes, I'd be delighted to be your wife!" No one could be happier than I was, and am! We serve such an awesome God who desires to do great things in, and through us if we will only surrender our lives and will to His precious keeping! He who called us is faithful, and I stand in awe to think that He chose me to serve as a daughter in His kingdom!



"This was the LORD's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes." Psalm 118:23

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Matthias




Happy 17th Birthday, Matthias!

We are so grateful for all the creativity and ingenuity you add to our family, Matthias! From your orderly ways to your diligence in music practice and work, you add so much to our family. As Charissa could readily attest, you have a special heart for young children and our younger ones greatly benefit from your patience and care! It's exciting to see you step into the 'big brother' role this summer as the older boys have commitments away from home. May the Lord continue to bless and guide your life as you seek HIM!

"that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,"
Eph 1:17


A few of his favorite things --

  • Sport -- football
  • Restaurant -- anything Mexican!
  • Vacation spot -- Branson or Florida
  • Store -- Scheels
  • Pastime -- Practicing instruments
  • Bible character -- Paul
  • Brand -- Adidas
  • Dessert -- vanilla pudding, bananas, and graham crackers
  • Car -- Classic Dodge muscle cars

Monday, June 16, 2008

Camp Pictures




How does a person sum up a week of ol' time revival meetings, dozens of youth ages 4 - 18, colorful dramas, meaningful lessons, enthusiastic games, and priceless moments with friends?!

Well, hopefully this slide show will give you a glimpse into the week of activity better than a wordy post could do. Building on the theme, "The Greatest Discovery", we studied the principles of seeking Truth, the courage to stand for Truth, and the importance of spreading the Truth. [John 14:6]


These principles came to life for us through humorous daily visits from our lively *explorers*, memorable Bible lessons, and a powerful 3-part drama detailing the life of Martin Luther. And of course, there was plenty of time for the ever favorite "Mighty, Mighty Scoop Noodle Challenge! [smile]


Also, with Josiah, Andrew, and our friend, Thomas, having other commitments this year, we were thankful to have Samuel Lyon join us for the week. Thanks, Samuel!



Stand for truth -- though you're standing all alone,

Stand for truth -- God will help and make you strong.

Run with courage in the fight, Walk in faith and not by sight.

Stand for truth, stand for truth!


Pilot Progress

Congratulations, Josiah!

After persevering through numerous bad weather cancelations this spring, we are thrilled to share that Josiah passed his certified flight instructer ratings with flying colors! With just over 100 hours to go before meeting his mission school requirement, we look forward to the coming days as the Lord continues to guide his steps.

(And yes -- the story of God's writing his and Abi's love story is almost ready to post!)

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor 15:58

Friday, June 13, 2008

Prairie Bible Camp


In case you've all been wondering...no, we haven't forgotten about you, our blog readers! We've just finished a full three days of Prairie Bible Camp in Lehr, North Dakota. While we have over 700 pictures and oodles of stories and testimonies to share (besides another one of Ruth's great slideshows), most of that will have to wait until we're back to the world of wireless internet....next week.

For now, here are a few pictures. A big THANK YOU to each of you who were upholding us in your prayers this week!





"Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You."
Psalm 119:11

Ukraine Week 1


CMO 2008 has officially begun!

Six young men (including myself) have arrived and are settling into the rhythm of life here in the Ukraine. Although some had more eventful travel experiences than others, everyone and their luggage made it safely. Wednesday Micah Nelson, Mathew Day, Roy Gregson, Joshua Dasher and I flew into L’viv. After unpacking we headed to the grocery store to get supplies for the week. After buying and stowing enough groceries to last five guys almost a week, we were ready to go to sleep and try to be rid of jet lag.

Thursday morning we started with a time of sharing from the Bible, a time of prayer, and then going over the details of the day. (Otherwise known as Team meeting) Then it was time to hit the streets. After arming ourselves with phone cards and maps, (in case we newbees got lost!) we were ready to start tract distribution. Going from apartment to apartment, we filled post office boxes with invites for the correspondence Bible course and an invitation to get a copy of the illustrated Bible called “Good and Evil”.


Friday we went into the neighborhoods and went door to door. We also had the privilege of meeting many neighborhood dogs. I don’t think they liked us, at least as near as I could tell!


Saturday morning we loaded up our packs and headed for the train station to board the train that would take us to the mountains for the weekend. After the train ride we hiked 5-6km to the village. God decided to give us a refreshing rain on the way, so we put on our rain gear and headed out. In the village of Volya we handed out about 50 of the Good and Evil booklets.

Sunday morning after breaking camp and having team meeting we headed back to meet Mr. Beal and Benjamin who drove in from L'viv in Mr. Beal's van. Sunday found us in the village of Tysovytsya, where about 30 people attended the showing of The Light of the World. Even the village head came and sat through the whole film!



For more updates and for weekly prayer requests and pictures, please visit
here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Mommy

Happy 50th Birthday Mommy!

I know we normally don't share our parents ages but this is such a milestone birthday! Our mommy is truly one of a kind. It's not every woman who could simultaneously be a member of the "Red Hat Society" and "MOPS" (Mother of PreSchoolers) --but she lives too full a life for either!

And in all seriousness, Mommy, we can hardly find fitting words for a tribute. Your life is an amazing example to each of us as you daily live a life of self-sacrifice, love, and joy! We love the way your face lights up when Daddy walks through the door...and how you enjoy cuddling while reading a good story. We're grateful for the chapters of the Bible you've helped us memorize over the years and how each day is an exciting adventure to learn and grow together. We love you dearly!!!


And just a few of Mommy's favorite things....
  • Evening Activity -- Family reading
  • Sport--tennis [smile]
  • Music--Piano practicing in our home
  • Vacation Spot -- Anywhere with Daddy
  • Bible Character -- Jesus
  • Historical person --George Washington Carver
  • Dessert -- Fruit & Yogurt
  • Stores -- 2nd Closet & EtCetera


"Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all."

Prov 31:20-30

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Here I Am, Lord

The words of this precious song have been singing in my heart today as we gave our final hugs and goodbyes -- and after a final prayer together, watched Andrew head towards airport security. We are missing him already but at the same time, look forward to seeing how the Lord will use the next ten weeks.

As often as possible, he will be in contact with us and we will endeavour to post updates and pictures here throughout the summer months. For those of you who would like more regular updates and specific prayer requests, you can follow recent news at the EuroTeam Outreach website.

And now for a few pictures of the last couple days....

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.


I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have born my peoples pain.
I have wept for love of them, They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone, Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak My word to them, Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.


Being confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun a good work in you
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all,
because I have you in my heart;
Phil. 1:6-7


Monday, June 02, 2008

Highlights

Time has flown and tomorrow arrives soon. It's been a very blessed few days -- or has it been a week -- since I last posted. Andrew has made time to do several very special activities with with us -- besides the normal family routine. Here's a quick look at a few highlights of our week.....


Camping

On Wednesday Andrew loaded up with Elizabeth (our 'ourdoors-girl') and headed out for an overnight camping adventure! Hiking through winding trails, cooking over an open fire, and even getting a bit wet in a rainshower. They both came back smelling of campfire -- but full of smiles and good memories!


Enjoying 'together'!


Love, Love, Love!

Yes, love is certainly in the air as Josiah has been working long hours -- but still manages to find much time to devote to his very special friend. [smile] They are currently working on writing out the Lord's working in their lives over the past months. We are excited to share this with you soon!


Recording & Mixing

We loaded up again this week and headed back to the studio for a couple days of mixing -- and recording a final song for the collection. We are excited with how things are coming together and have sensed many prayers throughout the whole process!

Photo Shoots

And along with the recording has come a series of photo-shoots to capture pictures for the cover and tray cards of the new project. We were hoping for something outdoors, but upon starting out for the rock pile here in Seward, we discovered that recent rains had turned our photo-shoot area into a lake! Thankfully, with the help of a friend and a sturdy ladder, we were soon back in business and got oodles of fun shots! Watch mid-summer for the arrival of the new project!


"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;"
Heb 12:1-2