Prayer Requests

Friends – Would you mind praying for us today and this week? For the past few weeks now, we’ve felt spiritually attacked. It’s been comical (two broken stoves within a week), a bit painful (a broken tooth) and annoying (computers that don’t work right). It’s also been distracting (a project was delayed while we tried to fix stoves), and is starting to hinder our work (we tried to haul a load, and discovered that our trailer has two flat tires and of course, only one spare tire). Our patience is being tried(we’ve been trying to wait patiently for Rich’s boss to approve time off so that he and Chester can go to Kenya, but the approval keeps being delayed). And it’s starting to discourage us (after Chester spent an entire day working on the Suburban, it started backfiring).

This week, we are planning to leave for a week of visiting family and friends and getting some spiritual refreshment at the Grace Evangelical Society conference. It’s our version of a family vacation. The conference is an eleven-hour drive for us, and we want our vehicle to be in great shape to do it. Today, Chester plans to spend a portion of the day, in the freezing rain, troubleshooting and fixing whatever is causing the Suburban to backfire.

Would you please join us in praying:

  • For us to not be discouraged in our circumstances
  • For the Suburban to start working properly with very little additional time invested
  • For our health to stay good (we seem to be in a covid hotspot right now)
  • All the details of our upcoming trip to work out
  • Rich’s boss to allow his time off, and soon, so that we can purchase tickets for Chester and Rich to go to Kenya in six weeks.

And an additional prayer request: Our friends, the Shires, who serve in Southern France are in the process of buying a home. They have asked us to consider coming to help renovate so that they have sleeping quarters for all eight children as well as an office space to use for their work. Please pray for God to provide for them and to work out for us to help them if He would like us to.

The first of the broken stoves….

Hope Anew Ministry

We are glad for the opportunity to introduce you to some other missionaries with our agency (GlobalGrace Fellowship).  Francis and Kim Kamau are missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, serving impoverished children through Bible clubs and after-school activities.  Their ministry, called Hope Anew, shares the hope that comes through God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Kamaus have a dream of extending their ministry to a camp outside Nairobi for kids to get out of the slum, see the beauty of God’s creation, and be introduced to Jesus and discipled in a focused environment.  Nine acres of undeveloped land have been donated to this project, and God has provided a 1200 ft. well and pump on the land.  This campground has been named Nasaru – a place of refuge.

Francis (everyone calls him “Kamau”) and Kim have asked us to prayerfully consider joining the ministry of the camp by developing a masterplan. Working with other industry professionals and the Kamaus we hope to develop clear plans for infrastructure such as electrical, water and waste systems, camp layout, building design, agricultural and animal management, security details, and whatever other things needed to help realize their vision without making costly mistakes in building location, inadequate structures or utilities.  

Clearly this is a project bigger than just our family but God had already laid it on the heart of an architect to help and we have been talking with other professionals as well. We are moving ahead taking each step as God provides.

Based on God’s provision and initial leading, we are tentatively developing plans to send Chester and Rich Burton (the architect) for a survey trip in early December. This survey trip will allow us to meet the Kamaus in person, visit the campground, and visit possible sources for materials and construction equipment. A good survey starts with understanding the goals of the projects, the materials and methods which are commonly available and even the unexpected weather conditions which need to be taken into consideration. The survey data guides initial brainstorming but becomes essential reference material for the masterplan in determining which solutions fit best for the costs, the manpower, and the materials available. 

Would you prayerfully consider partnering in this endeavor?

Here’s a few ideas of ways to get involved:

  • join the research team to help find solutions or resources 
  • give toward the cost of the trip (we expect costs to be ~$3000 total for Chester and Rich to go)
  • join our prayer team (we’ll send out a daily prayer requests near and during the trip)
  • help support the families staying home (provide a meal or a babysitter, or drive kids to school). We very much believe that the whole family is part of the team so we want to make sure that they are supported as well. 

Cruising on into Fall

The past two weeks

Thanks for praying for the Glad Tidings Bible Camp craft fair two weeks ago.  We (especially the kids) had spent time preparing crafts to sell, and were a little disappointed by sluggish sales, but we still had a really fun weekend!

Last weekend, we were glad to be able to help a long time friend and missions co-worker in the Omaha area by stripping and preparing her house for painting. We are very thankful that God provided perfect weather over two days and just the right amount of people and material at exactly the right times. It was awesome to spray the last square foot just as we ran out of paint. We’re especially thankful for several people who stopped by to help scrape and prime.

A seven-year-old helper asked her “Why do you want your house spotted?”
Even little ones got in on the fun of scraping and priming
Isaiah took the trophy for “largest paint peel”
The leftover paint from last time her house was painted ended up to be exactly enough to put a base coat of paint over the primer.

Looking ahead

Several weeks ago, our mission (GlobalGrace Fellowship) introduced us to another missionary family. Francis Kamau (he goes by ‘Kamau’) grew up in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, became a Christian as a teenager, served as a missionary to Zambia, then returned as a missionary to the very place he grew up in. He and his wife Kim have been serving kids in this slum for several years now, and have a dream of starting a camp that will get kids away from the destitution and filth and into the beauty of God’s creation, and at the same time teaching them about Jesus.  Nine acres to build the camp was donated last year, and they have asked us to help design the camp before they start construction.

We’re excited about this project and God is blessing our involvement with it.  Right now, we’re preparing for Chester to visit Kamau and the camp grounds in November.  He will be accompanied by Rich Burton, and architect who has offered to take off work to join on this survey trip.  We hope to develop a camp design, and if God would allow it, we’d also like to return as a family to also help with the construction of the camp sometime in the future (possibly in 2021).

For now, please pray with us for the details of the November trip. There remain many details to work out, but of particular concern are renewal of passports in time, getting time off work for Rich, and potential travel restrictions. We anticipate the survey trip cost to be around $3000. In the next few weeks, we’ll tell you more and introduce you to the Kamau’s ministry “Hope Anew”.

Summer is for Ministry

This summer – well, this whole year – isn’t very much like we imagined, but that doesn’t mean there’s no opportunities to serve.  Here’s a few of the things that have kept us busy the past few months.
 

  • We hosted a few work parties to finish up the Glad Tidings Bible Camp kitchen renovation, including the installation of new double doors!  We were very encouraged to have several families and individuals join us, and are pleased that the new kitchen and dishroom are very functional.
  • Later on, Chester served two weeks at Glad Tidings Bible Camp, cooking, handling maintenance emergencies and discipling staff during their limited camping season.
  • Micah also served six weeks at Glad Tidings Bible Camp, doing maintenance and groundskeeping.  He and another staff member listened to “Kingdom Man” by Tony Evans during the time, and found it really beneficial to their spiritual growth.
  • Eva, Moriah and Isaiah detasseled corn for about a month.  Isaiah broke his thumb toward the end of the season, but is mostly through the healing process.
  • Seven Wednesdays were spent with Chester and the kids hanging ceiling fans for a family from church.
  • Chester and the kids also did a couple of small landscaping projects for people who serve God here in Omaha.
  • We removed carpet from a local house so that the owner (a widow reaching out to an unreached people group in Omaha) could get new flooring.
  • We hosted “Gramma Camp” at our house – four days of up to 18 local cousins for a camp.  It was a blast (and now we’re tired).
  • Chester helped three people in ministry find suitable cars during the summer.  In one case several of you partnered with us to make the car a gift.  

The biggest highlights of the summer for us were the opportunities for local people (you) to join in the projects.  A really special thank you to those who joined in serving!

As we look to the fall, we’ll have more opportunities and “work parties” for you to join with us. Thanks for serving with us and praying for us!

Chester fixing a van door
Isaiah and Josiah cleaning up after carpet removal.
“Gramma Camp” fun with homemade boats.
The last day of detasseling for 2020!

June at Home

We spent most of June at home in Ashland.  It’s no surprise, really, even though things are opening up around here, that travel is still quite minimal.  But that doesn’t mean that we’re doing nothing.  On the contrary, we’ve continued to serve at our church, host friends and family in our home, and have even done a few small local projects.  Below is a few pictures of our from-home ministry in the past few weeks. 

Wiring for and hanging ceiling fans for a family at church.
We had several “art parties”, painting and coloring art for Vital Signs Ministries to distribute in nursing homes.
Isaiah fixes a kids “jeep” for a family from church.
We may have some unconventional methods of bush removal….
Fresh landscaping for friends in ministry (note the absence of a bush…)
Isaiah running the video camera for the church service.
Hosting friends and family gathered at our home for sweet fellowship
Teaching the Battle of Jericho in Sunday School.
We are thankful for our nation, which despite it’s problems, is still a great place to live and serve God. (photo credit: Dan Gerber)

Here in July, Chester and Micah are currently serving at Glad Tidings Bible Camp for their shortened camping season.  Chester is cooking and discipling staff, while Micah is counseling campers and helping with maintenance.  Amy, Eva, Moriah and Isaiah are at home, working and preparing for the detasseling season which will start any day. Thank you for keeping all of us in your prayers!

Serving Together

During the week of memorial day, we made our first visit in quite some time up to Glad Tidings Bible Camp.  It was to be a week of working on maintenance projects, and we invited you to join in the fun.

To our delight several of you did join!  Thank you so much!

Our theme verse for the week, and cleaning parts to the new range.
Installing the new-to-camp double convection oven.
The clean new range (with a huge griddle), installed and usable!  Also shown: the recently donated pan rack.
Cleaning up un-usable items around camp and getting them to the trash.
Breaking out concrete in the rain – a highlight for our teens.
The opening through which the oven came (and in which the new double doors fit), and the new sidewalk ramp to the door.

During the week, several families came to help out for some or all of the time.  Together we cleaned up around camp, finished cleaning and re-assembled the new-to-camp range, and cleaned and converted the new-to-camp double oven.  We chopped a big hole in the side of the dining hall (to move the oven in!), and installed double doors.  We wired the camp with ethernet and fiber optic cable in preparation for internet, and we painted the dining hall wall. 

We bonded over the mishaps of the week (flooding the dining hall twice, a trip to the ER, and neither the door installation nor the concrete work going quite as planned), and over board games and a bonfire, we enjoyed the fellowship of working together toward a common goal.

Together, it was a great time serving the camp, and we’re grateful for the opportunity, and especially for those who came out and made the week extra special with their presence.

You’ve Got Mail

You’ve got mail.

Maybe.  If we have your physical address correct, then you do!

If not, we thought perhaps you’d like to know what we wrote about anyway, so here’s an online copy.

Spoiler alert:  We have pictures of the Glad Tidings Bible Camp kitchen, newly upgraded and ready for use.  And, you’ll read on page two that we have been invited to serve with a Bible camp in France later this summer!  Please pray with us about this opportunity.

And, if you didn’t get mail from us and wish you had, let us know on the Keep in Touch page!

Projects at Home

A few years ago, our pellet-fed smoker on the back deck malfunctioned. During the malfunction, the wind took off with some hot pellets, and blew them out of the smoker on to our porch. There a small fire started. Some neighbors (we never found out exactly who) were playing at the playground near our house and saw the fire. They called the fire department, then walked over to our yard, and used our hose to put the fire out before the fire department arrived. By the time we got home, the only remaining evidence of the fire was the burn hole in the deck.

The burn hole in the deck.

We covered the hole with a piece of plywood, and went on with life.

The past weekend, Chester tackled the project of removing the burnt boards and replacing them.

Several supporting boards also had to be replaced.
Replacing the supporting boards required removing a large portion of the surface deck boards.
The faithful helpers, removing charred supports.
The hero of the day is almost finished with the new deck floor section.
All put back together!

And the deck is almost as good as new! The only tiny remaining evidence of the fire (and our neighbors kindness) is that some boards are obviously new, and there’s still some melted/charred scars on the rail.

This may be my favorite thing about social isolation – so many at-home projects getting done!

Recent ministry fun

We’re staying close to home, but it doesn’t mean that we’re not busy. Church, prayer meetings, Bible studies, home school co-op classes and socialization have all adapted to online formats. Chester is making great progress on projects both related to ministry and on our home, and we’re all driving each other just a little bit crazy. So when some nearby friends called asking if we would help with a little work on their farm, we jumped at the chance.

We had a great time knocking down a building!
We took down a mostly dead blue spruce tree.
Riding the four-wheeler afterwards was a real treat!

This time at home has proven a unique time for ministry.   We’ve been praying that God would provide opportunities to share His goodness, and have been blessed with opportunities to share about Jesus’ offer of eternal life, to be a friend, and to pray with and for people.  

Please continue to pray that we would be faithful to act on the opportunities God gives us – whether or not they include riding a four-wheeler!

It affects us all

We’re sure the threat from this virus has disrupted your lives too.  Here’s how the virus is affecting us at the moment:

  •  The trip to Mexico is cancelled (or at least postponed a few months).  Your donations toward this trip are safe with Sabre missions, and will be used for whenever this trip happens, whether or not our family takes part.  Please pray for the four families that are waiting for houses we had intended to build.
  • Everything else in the short term is cancelled too, as you know.

Some Praises

We already work from home and home-school, so the extent to which our lives are altered by this virus is less than many.
Before the virus was found in our area, we already had the respiratory flu, so had already been keeping to ourselves.  We are so grateful to live in a digital age where so much is available online!  We’ve enjoyed holding our own worship services at home, with songs requested by the kids, an online sermon, and discussion.  (We even had communion with crackers and Emergen-C).
We’re grateful for the help of several others at Glad Tidings Bible Camp, at a work party to get the kitchen and dish room back to ready for use!
The kitchen now includes stainless countertops, a steam-table serving line and standardized dishes!
The dish room also include stainless countertops, a commercial dishwasher and sanitizer and a revamped workflow.

Thanks for keeping us in prayer as we do our best to support and encourage missionaries and ministries in this challenging time!