Update 11/27/2012

Greetings to you all and a Belated Happy Thanksgiving.  We had a great week last week, busy but great.  Amy was at home for most of the week by herself with the kids, and I was out with a mission team from Conover North Carolina.  The HUGE blessing last week was that we were serving our church, Hattieville Baptist Church.  SO…Amy and the kids were able to be with me for some meals and the church services.  It was so fun to be able to share my family with the team!  Amy even made pumpkin bars and apple crisp the Friday after Thanksgiving for the team to enjoy!

How God is teaching me?

I immensely enjoy meeting new people but more than that I really enjoying people serve our Lord in the area that He has gifted them in.  One of the greatest priviledges of this job is to provide opportunities for people to serve, encourage them to step up and serve and then sit back and watch them blossom.  This week a member of the team really encouraged me to step and serve when the opportunities arise.  This particular team member was a single amputee right above one of his knees.  One day at the Youth Cadet the kids started asking him about it and he took the time and his training as a teacher to teach the kids about how the leg works.  The kids were AMAZED.  You need to understand, Belizean kids have NEVER seen, held, learned about something like that before.  He passed around his leg to them to hold, touch, feel, bend, etc.  After it all, he talked to the kids about how they needed to study math and science so maybe they could work and make legs like his one day.  After the Cadet, he did the same thing at each of the schools we served.  It was a treat to watch him grow more confident and comfortable and watch the kids’ eyes light up as they were told maybe one day they could make a prosthetic leg!  It seems small but what this team member did was use his story and giftedness to provide these kids hope and direction.

The Lord was showing me that there are many times I don’t use how he has gifted me to the best of my ability  This trip opened my eyes to always be prepared to share of my talents, skills, and story, especially in spontaneous situations because we never know how the Lord will use those situations to encourage or change the lives of those I am ministering to!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  • Belize
    • Team –The team had a great week.  Pray for our ministry locations where we served specifically that the ministry would continue while the team is away.  We hear some horrific stories at the YouthHostel as well.  Pray for physical protection over the girls at that place as well! Lift up the team as they assimilate back into “normal life” after a week in Belize!
    • Christian Men – Please continue to pray for a revival among men in the church.  Pray that men are rescued from their sin and redeemed.  Pray that churches are willing to work together to get men in the church.
    • Details – We are now getting ready to work through the details of the Jan – May 2013 trips.  Pray for wisdom as we place teams into communities.  Pray for all the details to come together smoothly!
    • Personal
      • Amy – Feels kind of sick, so please be praying for her this week to feel better!
      • Protection – Most of you may already know but our car was broken into about a week and a half ago.  I heard the dogs barking next door and went out to see and I saw the guy on our veranda.  He didn’t get anything but it was a little unnerving.  Continue to lift up our protection physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
      • Travel – We are getting ready to travel to the States over Christmas.  Pray for us as we start to pack and lift up our trip that it will be fun, relaxing, and that we are able to see everyone we want to see.
      • Support Raising–We are back at it now.  Support raising downshifts and goes into high gear starting in January.  So start praying through what you can do for the next year.  Also, all financial support to us through Praying Pelican Missions is a tax deductible donation; therefore, be sure to get in your donations before the end of the year for your 2012 taxes!

Thank you for taking the time to read.  Please write when you can.  We love hearing from each and every one of you all!

 

Because They Haven’t Heard,

Amy, Madeline, Joseph, and Josh

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What I have learned since moving here

We have been living here for almost 3 months.  I can say that I am finally getting used to it.  I have decided there are things that I will always miss;  clothes dryer, dishwasher, trash pickup, and lots of selection at grocery store.  Of course I miss friends and family.  I miss the ability to go hang out with friends during the day.

Clothes Dryer:

Drying clothes currently is not hard because it is dry season but during rainy season you pray that your clothes do not get rained on.  You must get your clothes out on the line by 8 to have a chance for them to dry before the rain.  Then when you get the clothes off the line you have to pick at least 10 ants off every item.

Dishwasher:

Dishes well Josh and I both have always hated doing dishes.  We didn’t even like doing them with the dishwasher.  Here you have no choice and you have to make everything from scratch which equals more dishes.

Trash pickup:

There is no such thing.  You can’t just throw your food scraps and trash in the bucket and roll it out to the road.  Since we don’t have a dog we have to freeze all food scraps until we have a full trash bag and then take it to the dump.

Grocery Stores:

There is very limited items to pick from.  I didn’t like trying to figure out what to cook before but now it is even more difficult.  I am slowly learning Belizean dishes which makes it easier, but since the kids are not fans of rice and beans it makes it difficult.  There are no premade foods and dairy is very expensive.  So I have learned to make a lot, tortillas, chicken nuggets, goldfish, etc.  I really miss dairy milk, they have powdered here which is gross.

Things I Love:

walking down the street and feeling like being in the middle of no where.  It is just beautiful.

Watching Josh do a job he loves.  Josh could do anything because he is just a genius but he followed God’s path for his life and it is awesome.  All the money in the world can’t change that.

Worshipping with Belizeans.  They have a song they sing at Hattieville Baptist, that says “God is good, God is good, how can I let him down hes so good to me.”  I am so glad that we listened and came here.  It would have been a lot easier to stay in Holly Springs with my big house, money and friends but God had bigger plans for us.

Walking into church and being greeted by everyone.  The women here are so strong and know so much scripture.  I have so much to learn from them.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.  Although there are things I miss, I wouldn’t take back our decision to move here.  I have learned so much and I know we have just started the journey of living here.

Update 11-14-2012

We had a Happy Birthday to Joseph last week.  Amy and Madeline enjoyed making his cake and he REALLY enjoyed eating it!  Some of our friends even brought him a present which was totally unnecessary, unexpected but touching nonetheless.

Last week was busy as I was “down south” traveling to Dangriga, Independence and to Punta Gorda.  I have now been to each district in Belize.  During this trip south, I was able to spend quite a bit of time in traditional Maya Villages.  It was a true blessing to speak with some of these pastors and people and understand what their lives are like.  Highlights of the trip south include

  • Belize is beautiful – Southern Belize consists of Maya Mountains, rainforest, and beach.  It was awesome
  • Mayan Hospitality – I was able to learn about sustainable farming (seeing coffee beans drying, chocolate preparation, corn ground into masa, etc.).  I spent time in traditional Maya thatched roof houses and drank some Mayan tea. I am currently trying to convince Amy to move to a Maya Village…not happening any time soon.
  • Understanding challenges – as I wrote last time, I am working on a nerd report of the Belizean needs.  I was able to understand from our Southern pastors what the true needs are…In Dangriga there is a HUGE problem with witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo.  Independence needs help with the young people.  Maya Villages need micro-loans to start up small businesses to pay for high school tuition.
  • Conch fritters – Pastor in Independence made us conch fritters.  THEY WERE AMAZING!!!

Brief Life of Maya People

Mayan people are located in Western and Southern Belize primarily, although there are some located in the North.  They are either Mopan or Ketchi, two different groups, with two different languages and no understanding of the other one. They live off of the land, collecting palms and timber to make their houses, sleep in hammocks (including the babies) and grow everything they eat.  With living off of the land, when catastrophe like hurricanes, bad crops, etc happen, it leaves people scrambling.  For example, the last hurricane came through and took out many palms and timber for houses.  Mayans that wanted to build had to then travel to purchase the materials instead of cutting the materials themselves.  Also, I spoke to a pastor who in a good rice season gets 80 bags of rice.  This year was particularly poor; he harvested 8 bags.  He looked me square in the eye and said he didn’t know what he was going to do.

Most villages have primary schools (through 8th grade) but no villages have high schools.  Many Maya would have to send children to the “city” for high school and with no source of income it is not possible for these teens to further educate.  Therefore, people get married early (as young as 12 – 13) and have children as early as 15.  Many families are extremely large (think The Duggards).  One pastor I met has 9 kids with ages ranging from 26 years old – 6 months!!!

The largest need in these communities (at least in the South) are jobs or small micro-loans so the Maya can start businesses like grinding corn into masa or providing coffee (through picking, cleaning, drying, roasting beans), or seamstress through an old school sewing machine (not electric).

Hospitality is over the top with the Maya.  I can’t believe how hospitable they were.  Burt and I had a pastor purchase us Cokes and snacks and simply refused to accept no for an answer.  I can’t wait to lead teams in some of these Mayan villages in 2013.

Other Week Highlights

  • Community – We have a great friendship with Pastor Mark, his wife Shari and their two boys MJ and Shadrach.  We went over there last week for dinner and Amy went over on Saturday night for a game night with the ladies of the village (they apparently played Wii Dance and Amy killed it! All the ladies were telling her to shake it!).  In fact the reason that I didn’t get the update out last night is that Shari called and said that they didn’t have a chance to make dinner.  We had just made a pot of chili so they came over to eat with us!  The kids love playing with each other and we all get along so well.  Even writing this I am moved to tears on how the Lord provided such community!
  • Volunteerism – I went to the Youth Hostel (note: Hostel is a dwelling/school or delinquent teens who are their due to behavioral problems or criminal activity).  I was speaking to one of the workers and they were sharing what they really need help with is creating IEPS (individual educational plans) for the teens that are slower in math. I literally laughed out loud and said well next week I will introduce you to my wife and she is the one who can help with that.  Amy is beside herself with excitement.
  • Preschool – I went with Pastor Mark to the Mennonite preschool in the village and talked to the principal and teacher.  They are ready to accept Madeline today, so now Amy and I are getting all of her paperwork in order and plan to enroll her the first of the year. My baby girl is going to preschool!! AHHH!!
  • Shopping – Last week Amy found / went to Benny’s (the Lowe’s Home Improvement of Belize). Amy had a great time looking at things and the kids LOVED riding the escalator over and over and over and over….Also, I was down town with Pastor Mark yesterday and found a toy store with Christmas decorations, an office supply store, and a fabric store.  I will be taking Amy there this weekend.
  • Church Program– Madeline is going to be in a church program this weekend for Thanksgiving! She has had one practice so far and has two more this week.  Can’t wait to share pictures and video of that!
  • TV / Cable – Pastor Mark and Shari gave us a small tv that they weren’t using anymore.  So Monday I went to sign up for cable and yesterday we got cable.  Last night I watched Kentucky vs. Duke and right now Madeline is watching Dora!  This the first time we have had cable since being married (7 years).  Needles to say everyone is happy here!

So it has been a GREAT WEEK!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  • Belize
    • Men in the church – Please continue to pray for a revival among men in the church.  Pray that men are rescued from their sin and redeemed.  Pray that churches are willing to work together to get men in the church.
    • Pastoral Busyness – Many pastors stay busy.  Most work bi-vocationally and take jobs on the weekend to make ends meet.  This is in addition to the demands of church ministry.  They are most definitely called but are squeezed for time, like all of us.  Pray for protection over their health (some have suffered stress related illnesses including facial paralysis), and pray for their families.  Pray for the pastors to rest.  Continue to pray for this!
    • Team – We have a team serving at Hattieville Baptist starting on Sunday.  Pray for protection over the team and for their lives to be forever changed as part of this trip. Pray for smooth logistics all week.
    • Personal
      • Amy – Continue to be lifting up community for Amy.  We are really enjoying getting together with Pastor Mark and his family.  Community is developing.  Continue to pray!
      • Amy – We seem to have found where Amy can use here teaching skills.  Now it is up to her to make the move.  Pray for boldness and confidence.  Pray for open doors for Amy. Pray that my schedule is consistent and I can provide her the support to go and do this!
      • Joseph – Praise – we had a great birthday with Jojo! Little man is growing up fast!    Praise God!  Thank you Jesus for Jojo Edmonds!  He is such a joy!
      • Support Raising–Support raising has been slow.  We are going to start actively raising support for the next year shortly.  Specifically we are seeking to get more monthly supporters, either on board now, or pledged to be a monthly financial partner next year.  We are praying to have 60% of our financial support come from monthly gifts by the end of next month.

Thank you for taking the time to read.  Please write when you can.  We love hearing from each and every one of you all!

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Trusting in the Providence of the Lord – 11/5/2012

Tomorrow is Joseph’s first birthday.  Happy Birthday to Mr. Man!  We are so excited about this past year; how much he has grown, and the true blessing that he is to our family.  We pray for him every night, praying over him, that he would grow into a MIGHTY MAN of God.  We pray that the Lord would give him an equal balance of boldness in proclaiming the gospel with all gentleness and love.  Honestly we can’t wait to see the man that he becomes!

But that got us thinking…we officially sent our application to Praying Pelican Missions, the week Joseph was born, so one year ago this week.  In a year, we have sold our house, quit my job at Merck, and moved to Belize.  And we are here living, watching God work, and learning how to see Him.  It’s been a CRAZY year!  But what a year it has been. We are eager to see how God works in this next year!

Family Life….

Our days here are filled with a lot of books, outside time, basic family tasks (cleaning, laundry, cooking). Points of interest… Amy found an OUTSTANDING chicken nugget recipe.  They are super healthy (seriously they are….no egg, no oil, just chicken and oatmeal and they are baked!)  If you want the recipe, then Facebook or email Amy!

Other points of interest…our children LOVE music.  Seriously they love it.  We play songs from children’s ministry all the time and just tonight, we sang Mighty to Save and God is Able by Hillsong, along with some musical accompaniment.  My dream when I got the guitar was to be able to lead our family in worshipping our King.  Now I still can’t play anything on the guitar but I have a joyful noise and every night before we go to bed, our family is worshipping the Lord a capella or with Hillsong playing in the background!

On the Work Front…WARNING NERD ALERT!

So I have met with just shy of 40 pastors.  After sitting with that many pastors and asking the same questions, I started to get a feel for what they were saying.  But that was just a feeling….I started to ask myself “how can I take what these pastors are saying and put some “data” behind it.  So I was “noodling” that around in my head and I got to thinking…What if I set up the data and created a pareto chart!”  For those who don’t know the Pareto principle states that 80% of the problem comes from 20% of the causes.  At Merck we used this principle to eliminate problems or defects.  Tackle the thing that is causing 80% of the problems and then you will have reduced that many more defects….think of it as a “more bang for your buck analysis.”  Well what if I did that for the needs of Belize.  Everyone could argue that Belize is hurting the question now is after interviewing these pastors what causes 80% of the hurt….I think I have found some good insight.  However, stay tuned…more analysis is required and this week I go South which is the last geographical region I need to visit.  In the next few weeks, I should have an official “report” out on what are the biggest needs of Belize!  How cool is that??!??!?

Ok I am a nerd!  Sorry

In other news, I am going South for about 3 days next week, so be praying for open doors into new communities and safe travels for me and Burt!

How is God Teaching or Leading me?

So I have had this Garmin for some time and I never uploaded the data online.  I just didn’t.  The other day I went on a run and uploaded the data and BOOM.  Total obsession…you might need to pray for me!  (again I am a nerd!). Anyway, so I have gotten into running a little bit more consistent which is good because it leads to great sermon listening time.  I am currently listening to Pastor Mark Driscoll just kill it in the book of Esther.  And he mentioned something that really struck me about the book of Esther.  He said, “Trust in the providence of God.”  Nowhere in the book of Esther is God’s name mentioned. Nowhere does someone pray. Nowhere is there a great prophet speaking God’s word.  Nowhere is there a miracle or even an angel.  But God clearly is at work orchestrating the events of the entire book.  Here is one example….Esther 6:1-3

“On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana[a] and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?”

 

Now Mordecai was going to be killed in the very near future….and the night before Haman was coming to tell the King that he wanted to kill Mordecai, the King happened to not be able to sleep; he happened to choose to read the chronicles (boring by the way), and he happened to come across the story of how Mordecai saved his life.  Things in this story didn’t just happen…the Lord was in control.  He was orchestrating the events.  His providence was what had to be trusted…So what.

Well for me….we are here in Belize.  We haven’t seen God heal anyone.  I haven’t had a prophetic dream.  Heck someone hasn’t even given their life to Christ.  I often can get discouraged, asking “God are you even here?”  But just as in Esther, God is orchestrating something.  Our family doesn’t just happen to be here in Belize, happen to be serving with Praying Pelican Missions, and happen to be interviewing pastors right now.  The Lord is working up something for His plan, His purpose, and His timing.  I will be obedient and trust in the Lord’s providence.

Look at your life this week…stop and think for a few moments.  Are you waiting for God to show up miraculously…or are you trusting in His Providence!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  • Belize
    • Men in the church – I had a blessed opportunity to sit with a Pastor at a church in Belize with a great many men in it. I learned a great deal from him on how he reached the men of his village. Pray that I am able to communicate this to other pastors and pray that there is a revolution of men in the church.
    • Pastoral Busyness – Many pastors stay busy.  Most work bi-vocationally and take jobs on the weekend to make ends meet.  This is in addition to the demands of church ministry.  They are most definitely called but are squeezed for time, like all of us.  Pray for protection over their health (some have suffered stress related illnesses including facial paralysis), and pray for their families.  Pray for the pastors to rest
    • Needs – As I get an opportunity to meet with pastors, pray that they would be honest about what the needs of their community / congregation are.  Pray that my questions would be provoking enough to draw out the real answers and that the Lord would give me wisdom and discernment during this time.
    • PRAISE – Many of you prayed for me as I led a trip to Pastor Transito’s church in Buena Vista.  I was able to sit with Transito and his wife Carmita.  They expressed that Buena Vista church is really growing and that they just baptized 10 new people.  They said the new benches that we made this Spring are already full!
    • Personal
      • Amy – Continue to be lifting up community for Amy.  We are really enjoying getting together with Pastor Mark and his family.  We ate dinner over there Thursday night, Amy hung out with Shari on Saturday night, and she just went over there tonight to take some pictures for the family and two hours later and she isn’t back!  Community is developing.  Continue to pray!
      • Amy – Continue to pray for opportunities for Amy to do ministry.  We still haven’t gotten over the hump so plugging in.  We did learn that there is a teen girls center within stones throw (quite literally) of our house.  This is the week.  Pray for boldness and confidence.  Pray for open doors for Amy.
      • Joseph – Little man is growing up fast!  He is a year old tomorrow.  Praise God!  Thank you Jesus for Jojo Edmonds!  He is such a joy!
      • Support Raising– We are seeking to get more monthly supporters, either on board now, or pledged to be a monthly financial partner next year.  We are praying to have 60% of our financial support come from monthly gifts by the end of next month.

Thank you for taking the time to read.  Please write when you can.  We love hearing from each and everyone of you all!

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