Join us for Breakfast!

We started off summer with a big road trip to visit and reconnect with several friends and supporters.  It was a great time, and we loved seeing you!

We’d also like the opportunity to see our local friends and supporters, and to hear and share about what God has going on with all of you and with us!  In order to facilitate that, we’ve scheduled a few small local events.  Each of these will be a short time with a ministry update from us (and possibly others too), some pictures, and the opportunity to ask questions and pray together.   We’ll serve coffee and a light breakfast (no need to bring anything).   

The places and times are:

Lincoln, NE:  July 24th   9:00am – 10:00am 
Omaha, NE:  August 7th   9:00am – 10:30am
Ashland, NE:  August 21st   9:00am – 10:30am

Reply to let us know you can come, and we’ll send you the address!  (That way, we also know about how much food and coffee to prepare).  If you would like to host a similar event at another time or location, let us know!

We look forward to seeing many of you soon!

This time, connecting with you – our friends and supporters – won’t require a five-week road trip!

Current Support Level: 41% monthly, 68% annual

Summertime!

Summertime is vacation season, and we know a lot of you are traveling and keeping a different schedule through this season.  We are too, and wanted to share a few of the things we’re up to.

Since Memorial Day, most of our family has been up at Glad Tidings Bible Camp serving in a variety of ways.  All the kids and Chester were there for Staff Training, Moriah helped with a Vacation Bible School near camp, Isaiah and Micah got seasonal employment for a few weeks with a farmer, Chester cooked for most of the camping season, All the kids have taken turns as staff and cabin leaders during various camps, done maintenance and mowing, and have been helping out anywhere they were needed.

The camping season is close to wrapping up – one and a half more weeks as staff, and then possibly another week of work and a final camp for Micah, then we’ll be together as a family again in August!

While Chester and the kids have been deployed, I (Amy) have been specifically pursuing ministry and work here at home too.  God has allowed me several friendships that are focused on God and His word, and I’ve spent the summer cultivating them.  I’ve also had a week here and there with kids that are home – most notably two weeks in a row where Josiah and I spent the week together in Ashland, just the two of us.   They were quite special – we went on mom/son dates (to look at camper trailers), and he helped out several locals with yard work and various cleanup tasks.  Our kind neighbors took him fishing and swimming, and he had a couple of all-day play dates with cousins and friends too!

In the midst of this, Chester and I are preparing to teach Vacation Bible School (in two weeks, yikes!) at our church – Grace Bible Church.  The lessons are over the life of Paul with the overarching theme of “God is Faithful”  We’re excited to serve this way too!

Overall, this summer feels like most summers do for us – a big whirlwind.  It’s spiritually intense, and oh so fun!  We very much appreciate your prayers for our stamina and strength as the camping season wraps up, as we prepare and teach lessons and as we start to plan the next few months.

Thank you so much for praying and partnering with us!

Josiah cleaning up brush at a neighbor’s house
Chester and I are keeping our weekly date tradition by each driving half-way and meeting between home and camp for a date.

Current support level: 41% monthly / 68% annual

Date Nights and Gun Fights

It seemed to be a date-night like many others, a little ice cream and good conversation. We had managed to step out together for an evening out alone during our recent trip and we were delighted to practice this important routine in a new place.  As we finished our ice cream and walked back to the car, we recalled seeing an Indian grocery store nearby, and thought we’d like to go check it out.  We pulled through the parking lot toward the Indian grocery and noticed a group of bikers standing at a bar and grill. But what shocked us out of our conversation would change our night. 

It started with yelling suddenly getting louder than our conversation.   

“I’m not f… drunk.   … on’t let him go..  …  keep him away fr…..  “

A bike revs to life as a handful of bikers run toward the commotion. Five or six others were trying to restrain a guy on a bike.

“get your….  he’s got a….. Bi..’s gonna run… Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go”

Before we knew it, there were more then twenty guys in leather were rushing forward. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.  People went down, bikers were shooting and running, and cycles were racing out of the lot.

In a matter of a few seconds, our evening was transformed from a peaceful date night conversation into one with gunfire less than 40 feet away.  It could have easily ended badly for someone.  It sounds like a bad TV drama, but this was no romantic Hallmark rewrite of “The Wild One“. 

As the action slowed, people poked their heads from behind cars and looked around.  As far as anyone could tell, there wasn’t going to be a bloodbath right in front of us, and the danger was past.  Amy and I looked at each other and said “Welcome to the big city”. 

Later, I reflected on the situation and was reminded again that five seconds can be a very long time.  God was gracious that night, and reminded me again how precious life is, and how uncertain is the number of our days.  We are given but a small window of time here, and the choices we make significantly impact our own lives and the lives of others, both here and for all eternity.  

If you have not believed in Jesus to give you the free gift of everlasting life, please talk with us – we would love to share with you some of the reasons that we are persuaded that you can believe Him to do as He promised. 

If you a believer and not experiencing closeness and vitality in your Christian walk, I want to share a bit with you from my heart.  You have probably heard me say it before.  Even though you can’t lose eternal life, there is something which you can walk away from – discipleship.

Luke 14 defines a disciple of Jesus this way “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”  You can try to sugar coat things a bit but let’s just be honest here, if we look at what we have been given (time, talent, treasure) and we see relationships, objects or affections in close competition for our lives, you can call it lots of things but one thing you can be certain is that it is not discipleship. If we meditate more on Facebook than on His book, it’s not discipleship. If we are seeking the praise of others, it’s not discipleship. If we spend more time investing in our sports team than God’s mission, it’s not discipleship. Discipleship is learning from Jesus and putting this knowledge into action. Discipleship must permeate all aspects of life or it is not discipleship. It is not free and it takes hard work, commitment, and endurance.
 

Perhaps the hardest thing is that for every one of us there are times where we can see we are not living the life of a disciple. But do not give up. Luke 15 goes on to tell three of the most gracious and emotionally stirring stories which answer “Can I regain discipleship – and become salty again? Is there hope even for me?” I encourage you to read them on your own and note just a few things. 

  • The sheep, the coin, the son – they are always the Shepherd’s sheep, the Widow’s coin, the Father’s son. No matter where you have strayed, any who have believed in Jesus’ promise for everlasting life are secure in that position.  
  • See the common thread of God’s joy over anyone who gets right with Him. See 1 John 1:9 on how to get right with God. 
  • Note the patience and forbearance of the shepherd, the widow and the father in looking for the restoration of his valued possession. Remember that this is the picture of God who in His lovingkindness is merciful and longsuffering yet looking for the restoration of you, His valued child.
  • See the tender kindness of the shepherd who carries his wandering sheep back. Remember that you can’t restore yourself, only God can. 
  • Observe the father who does not bully or cajole but waits for a straying child to ‘come to his senses’ and does not withhold richness much beyond what the son deserves or could earn through his own labor. 

There is much more and coincidently our pastor chose to teach this particular passage just this last week. (You can watch the service here) .

Friends, I hope that you know that there is little more important to us than that each of us would be able to stand before Jesus one day and with a radiant, warm smile on His face He would wrap you up in His arms and say to you “Welcome home, you were a faithful servant. I am so proud of you. Rejoice, come share in your inheritance.”   

Your life is precious, and your time here on earth is finite. Use it with great discernment. And if there are issues between you and God, now is a good time to get things right. 

If you have any questions about this passage or other matters we would love to chat with you. 

We’ve been taking a date every week for more than 20 years, but didn’t get a picture on this one.  So here’s a different picture from our trip – where we found a “Davis” truck stop!

Current Support Level: 41% monthly, 63% annual

Home!

Thanks so much for praying for us during our supporter-connections trip, dear friends!  We had a wonderful trip, successfully connected with several supporters and a few churches, and are thrilled to be back home (even if it’s only for several hours).

During this trip, we memorized Romans 15:5.  It says “May the God of encouragement and endurance give you the same attitude of mind toward each other as Christ Jesus had”.  As we drove home, we took some time to notice that indeed, God had provided encouragement and endurance all through the trip.

Several times on the trip, there were several small things that threatened to discourage us – poor nights of sleep, guilt over what felt like missed opportunities for deeper discussions, a bout of stomach flu and interpersonal tensions.  But there was so much that encouraged us too – so many people willing to host us (even some complete strangers!), opportunities to help out on small home or grounds improvement projects at our hosts, people asking to know more about this ministry, then taking the time to let us know that they think what God has given us to do is really cool.  Even our kids encouraged us by serving heartily and by really enjoying and participating in the Grace Evangelical Society conference we attended.  

God also gave endurance through long days of working and long days of driving, and gave the extra measure of grace we needed to withstand (most of the time) the temptation to be irritable with each other and with our hosts, instead helping us to have a bit of Christ-like attitude toward each other, as mentioned in the verse.  Those of you who have traveled with kids know what a miracle that is, and we are grateful to God for that!

We reached home five weeks and two days after departing, did lots of laundry, attended church and visited our local area family, then forty hours after arriving, Chester and the kids left to be staff at Glad Tidings Bible Camp.  As we look forward to a summer of serving with the camp, we’re again so grateful to God for His encouragement and endurance, and are continuing to pray that we’ll have the same attitude of mind toward others that Christ Jesus demonstrated to us. 

Thank you for partnering with us as we serve!

A taste of the work we did on our trip.
We also had lots of fun!

Current support level: 41% monthly, 65% annual

Road Trip!

We have been on our supporter connections road trip for the past two weeks, and are currently enjoying our eleventh host of the trip!  A special thanks to the many who have shared of themselves through lodging, food or other resources.

If you visit our website or are connected to us on social media, you’ve probably seen several pictures of our adventures (we’re posting pictures a few days after visiting a particular place).

The highlight of the trip for me (Amy) so far has been the wonderful fellowship.  We’ve made or renewed connections with a number of people, and have been greatly encouraged by the community of those who love God and His word.  

Along the way we’ve done a handful of small helping projects – scrubbing a school bus, constructing a fence, and filling potholes, and we’ve also had some terrifically fun experiences – barrell riding, swimming, four wheeling, and bowling!  We even got to enjoy some tourism – it was the kids and my first time to the Gulf of Mexico, to see an alligator and dolphins in the wild, and to visit  Washington DC.

We’re so grateful to God for allowing this trip (and providing the car to do it in), and to our friends for hosting us, praying for us, donating hotel time, and giving toward this ministry.  Truly, we are beyond blessed.  God is using this time to refresh and encourage us, and help focus in our mission and methods toward greater effectiveness. There also have been so many wonderful opportunities for conversations that glorify Him also. Please continue to pray for us on the trip especially that God would give opportunities to share the gospel while we are traveling. 

Thank you!

Sweet fellowship at the Grace Evangelical Converence and in many other places!

Have Car – Will Travel

Thank you for praying!

Thank you for praying for our car situation, and for the discouragement that it caused us!  God has supplied a replacement vehicle for our family and ministry – and it’s already in use.

We dubbed the new-to-us Ford Expedition “Excalibur”.

Lord willing, this coming week we will be departing on an extended road trip to attend a conference and visit friends, family, supporters and churches. Will we be near you? (see map below)  If so, we’d love to meet up for coffee, lunch or dinner. If you are really crazy (like us), let’s flip some pancakes for breakfast  or have a dessert with your Bible study group or a few friends from your church!   Emailing us right away (or use the form on our “Keep in touch” page) will increase the likelihood that we can figure out a time that works!

Our current hoped-for stops.  You can add your location to the map by emailing us now!

Current Support Level: 36% monthly, 62% annual

Stories of God’s Awesome deeds

A week ago, our family had the opportunity to serve for a long weekend at Glad Tidings Bible Camp.  They are celebrating their 65th anniversary as a camp this year, and the theme for the summer is 65! Stories of God’s Awesome Deeds.   We had a great time serving, and were reminded that time spent considering and remembering God’s Awesome Deeds is time well spent.

The kids stuffed 832 envelopes for a camp mailing!
Chester built an addition to the new kitchen for a serving line, then assembled and installed a fire-rated roll-down door to close the opening.
Moriah painted a display board for the camp theme

An update on the cars:  We asked you to pray for us to trust God and act with wisdom.  We decided to replace both our non-functional family/ministry vehicles with one that we hope will serve us for at least a few years, and are currently car shopping!

This weekend at camp reminded us to recognize God’s perfect timing in our current situation.  Just before our Pathfinder’s transmission problems became serious, we had bought a second Prius.  This means that we can still go anywhere we want as a family – we just need two drivers.  And we have four drivers (with a fifth one in training – when did we get this old?), so having a second driver isn’t difficult! 

We have found the two-driver scenario quite workable, and were even able to go out to Glad Tidings Bible camp to serve with the two Priuses (what’s the plural of Prius anyway?).  Still, we’re car shopping so that further-away projects as a family are possible in one car, and because we often need to haul tools to a project.   Pulling a loaded trailer is just a bit much for a Prius.

Thank you for your prayers and for taking the time to encourage us!  

We’d love to hear some of God’s awesome deeds, small or big, from your life – please share!

Current support level: 36% monthly, 62% overall

Car Talk

Vehicles play a huge role in our ministry. In our first year of Projects 4 Missions we drove almost 40k miles. Even with the effects of Covid, we drive quite a lot. We recently evaluated our vehicle usage and decided to reduce costs and increase our flexibility in service by buying two new-to-us vehicles: an older Prius (40+ mpg makes a real difference), and used cargo trailer that will replace our portable work shed.

In the Prius we can pack a few kids and a few tools and quickly serve a nearby project. The trailer will allow us to run work parties of any size, and significantly reduce the labor necessary to prepare for work parties while also providing storage space for tools and supplies. We expect both of these to have a major impact on our ability to respond quickly.

However, these encouragements have been accompanied by two car “issues”, and we would like to ask for your prayers (and advice, should you choose to give it) in this respect.

Our first “hauling” vehicle, dubbed Barnabus for its encouragement to us and others.

First, it was our intention that the extra Prius would replace our family car (Nissan pathfinder) as the pathfinder does not match our usage and costs more to drive. The selling would replenish our savings account from purchasing the Prius and the cargo trailer.   However, the Pathfinder recently developed transmission problems which should not be ignored. We ask for wisdom in choosing whether to sell it “as is” or to repair it before selling.

Will the current Suburban be a “Barnabus” with more invested, or should another replacement be sought?

Second, we have a Suburban that is our primary ministry “hauling and projects” vehicle.  It’s been sitting idle for the winter, waiting for a thaw to perform needed repairs.  We started on these repairs last week and are experiencing some real frustrations (some are almost comical: fuel spraying out of electrical connectors, rebuilt parts arriving with the wrong pieces, and driving all over Omaha chasing a $3 o-ring).  To simply get it back to running, we need to repair a fuel issue that causes the engine to stall.  Beyond that, it needs suspension work and steering repairs.  And with it’s age, there’s likely some rusted lines and other work that will show up in the process. We see this type of vehicle as essential to our ministry, and we need wisdom to decide whether to continue to invest in this particular Suburban or to sell it off.  And if we do sell it, we need both wisdom on what to replace it with, and prayer for an amazing deal on a suitable replacement.

We know that God meets our needs and that we can trust Him in this.  At the moment, we’re asking you to pray that we trust Him even more fully as we anticipate both His wisdom and His providence.

Throwback

A little over three years ago, God led us to change course.  We had been pursuing a goal of serving in missions by working toward a mechanical engineering degree to use in this service.  After much prayer, we set aside the pursuit of the degree to jump into service with the skills we already have. God confirmed this decision in sending us to France on short notice, to help fellow servants in restoration of a building they had purchased for ministry.

This is how Projects 4 Missions began.

Our first project was working with the Van der Veer family doing renovation work on an old elementary school in southern France.  This renovation project continues but is now being used to provide housing for others who also serve God in the same area, and when finished will be able to be used for housing as well as meetings and conference rooms.  Working on the project was a blast for us, and we were genuinely encouraged by our host family, the Van der Veers and their heart to serve.  We worshipped with a small English-speaking church in the area (called Simply Church) and loved the fellowship and opportunity to be part of their community.

The building we worked on, called Maison de la Plume, currently houses two families (a total of 15 people!) who serve God full time by reaching out to those in the area.  God has used these two families as bright shining lights to many, and we are pleased to have had a small hand in serving their ministry.

Currently the Van der Veers and Simply Church are building a new church home for Simply Church to use on the Elementary school property!  We wanted to highlight their ministry and share with you a few pictures and their current prayer requests.

The future Simply Church home – currently a covered courtyard on the old school grounds.
Digging for the church wall foundations.
Our family in front of the old school (not yet habitable), just before we left in March of 2018.

The main prayer request from the Van der Veers is that God would send skilled workers to help with with ongoing renovation. They have been working on this project with their own funding and as much time as they can without going broke.  Not only are they constructing a building for Simply Church, they are continuing to renovate indoors (currently plastering bedrooms), and outdoors (currently building a pool, installing solar panels, and landscaping the school yard).

Please pray with us that God would send workers and encouragement their way.  We would love to be among those God sends to serve and encourage these faithful servants of His, and are praying that God will see fit for us to return and continue to serve in 2021.  Even better – we would love to take a team of YOU along.  Contact us if you’d be interested in joining! 

Thank you for joining in the work of Projects 4 Missions, and in the ministry of these families in France through your prayers and donations.

Another way to help

There are four tools that the Van der Veers need to purchase to continue their work:

  •  A hammer/drill ( €150 to €200) 
  •  A concrete vibrating tool (€250 to €300)
  •  A heavy duty jackhammer (€100 to €150)
  •  A laser (which is pricier) 

We’d love your help in sending them funding for these tools.  You can donate online here, and it goes directly to them (Choose missionaries, then “Van der Veer, Stefan & Rochelle”).

Looking ahead

It feels a bit presumptious to even try to predict what this year will hold, to be honest.  This year in particular it feels like we know so very little, but we do have a responsibility to not sit around awaiting an engraved invitation. God knows the good plans He has for each of us, and our job is to be in the process of learning and following in the areas where there is clarity. 

What we are sharing with you is an active step of faith, laying our ideas and plans before God and asking Him to guide and bless. We trust Him to open or close doors in accordance with His knowledge, and timing.  We would also appreciate your input, thoughts and advice!

We’ll intersperse these plans with a few pictures of special times over Christmas, just for fun.

Looking at the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

The Spring: With fresh lockdowns and uncertainty circulating, it seems likely to us that we’ll spend most of the remaining winter and spring in the Omaha area.  We have been working with engineers and the missionary in Kenya to develop a plan for the construction of Camp Nasaru, and will continue that.  Additionally, we have a lineup of repairs and maintenance at our home, shop and cars, and expect to help out local missionaries and ministries wherever there is opportunity.  We’ll keep you posted with local projects  – we’d love to have you join us!

Nerf wars

The Summer: We expect to spend a good chunk of the summer helping out with one or more Bible camps.  You know how much we love camping ministry!

Loving on our newest niece

By late summer, we are hoping that sufficient vaccines will have been disbursed or perhaps the political and national sanity level may have stabilized sufficient to allow the resumption of normal travel. There are several interesting project possibilities.  Because of our ability to work remotely, We believe that with a little creativity we might be able to include several projects into a single extended trip.

First, we are hoping that construction might be beginning on Camp Nasaru in Kenya. We would love to visit there, provide some training and and work alongside them on the camp construction. Second, Kenya is next door to Uganda which is where Chester’s sister and husband are serving on a site with farming & medical ministry, doing pastoral training. If we are “in the area”, we would like to visit and lend a hand. Third, two seperate bondservants of Christ in France are involved in building or renovation projects. Fourth, there are Christian camps in France and England which are working on buildings, repairs or renovations. We love clear, strong grace evangelism, encouragement to discipleship, and we love projects. So camps are a natural fit.         

A rousing game of taco-cat-goat-cheese-pizza

We don’t really know how these pieces might fit together, but believe that it’s right to move forward – that’s how great things get done.

In addition to these larger items there are several smaller projects we expect to be involved in:  Grace Bible Church is building out a space for a church home, and we’d like to help wherever we can.  We hope to attend the Grace Evangelical Society conference in Texas.  We’d like to join in working with the Tecate Mexico missions trip.  We hope to lend out a baby whisperer or two to friends in Virginia, and hope to do some more Pancakes 4 Missions events. 

Folding newsletters to help a fellow bond-servant

In all these things we are so grateful that God has always provided not only for our needs, but for each ministry project we’ve served in.  Thank you for your partnership in this ministry, we feel blessed to be able to serve with you in this way!  This year we would like to increase our monthly donations closer to our normal budget so that we can effectively plan and be responsive to missionaries’ needs.  Would you pray about joining our team as a monthly donor? We would love to talk with you, share stories together of the great things God has done and answer any questions you might have.