Answers to Specific Prayers

Our first few trips of the summer have left us encouraged and grateful!  You heard about our whirlwind month of trips to Colorado, Texas and a bit about Wyoming in the last update.  This time we want to share a little more about the project at Haven on the Rock in Wyoming, some special praises, and what’s coming up.

Local crew installing trusses at Haven on the Rock.  The siding is painted to look rustic western.

Last fall we left Haven on the Rock after their camping season, and we were discouraged.  The work on the bath house had been fraught with burnout and many other challenges.  This year is starting on an encouraging note – before we even arrived in the spring, work crews had come to help.  Over the few weeks of work before starting their summer camp programs, walls were erected, sheathed and sided, a top plate put on the walls and roof rafters lifted into place, fastened and sheathed.  There’s still lots of work to do, but we’re very thankful to see God’s provision through local work crews and churches stepping up their involvement.   Work there is currently on hold for safety during their camping season, but they have a standing structure that is partially sided. (An additional praise was that the internet service was better than usual!)

God sent encouragement in many forms: local help with the work on the bath house, gifts to cover the expenses of ministry, and even the desert blooming!

Thank you for your gifts!  Through your special gifts these past few months, we made two trips to Haven on the Rock this spring.  Your gifts primarily provide our travel expenses, which allows us to serve this project at Haven on the Rock, and through this work, further their ministry.  

Additionally, we’re grateful for the several regular supporters of our ministry.  Through your regular monthly gifts, we can maintain tools and replace the small consumables used on projects.  As you saw last time, we replaced the trailer that broke on our last trip with one that we expect to serve us very well.  We’re currently replacing headlights on our vehicle after a fender-bender on this trip, as well as a handful of smaller tools that break under this sort of use.  Your gifts allow us not only to travel to serve, but also to keep the tools necessary to serve well.  Thank you!

Micah and Moriah have spent an effective few weeks serving with Glad Tidings Bible Camp.  Three little girls in Moriah’s cabin accepted Jesus’ gift of Eternal Life a few weeks ago!  This week, we’re looking forward to our whole family serving together at Glad Tidings Bible Camp.  (Chester is cooking for the Middle School camp, Micah, Eva will be on staff, the other kids campers or “helpers”, and Amy will be working from a town nearby with an internet connection).  

Ongoing work at the building in France we visited and helped with early in 2018.

We are now beginning to consider this coming fall.  Would you pray with us for God to direct our steps?  If God chooses to provide for it, we’d like to return to France to help more with the Van der Veers renovation project (the same building we worked on last time)  as well as help another missionary family as they work to make their newly-purchased house safe and serviceable.

We also hope to continue to be involved with the bath house project at Haven on the Rock as God provides for those trips.

Showers of Blessing

It’s summertime! And for us, that seems to mean “time to go everywhere!”  Here’s a few pictures from our most recent adventures – each one was full of blessings in its own way.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we attended and witnessed the wedding of Nathan and Jennifer Davis.  What a blessing to celebrate with couples who whole-heartedly follow God!  

Even Chester’s Dad was able to make the trip to Colorado Springs to celebrate.

We were refreshed and encouraged by the Grace Evangelical Society in Plano, TX.  At the conference, we discussed the book of Ephesians, verse by verse.
(You can see us in the lower left corner of the picture)

All five kids spent a week up at Glad Tidings Bible Camp – four as staff, and one as a camper.   I’m not sure there’s any greater joy than seeing one’s kids serve God.

In our last update, we showed our broken trailer.  We’re thanking God for providing a great deal on a replacement that was just what Chester wanted: dual axles, tilt and a 5,000 lb. capacity.  We pray this serves us well for a long time.

Right now, we’re at Haven on the Rock, continuing to build the bath house (minus Micah and Moriah who are still serving at Glad Tidings Bible Camp).  The walls are now up, and we have a crew planning to come out to roof on Thursday.  We are praising God for this progress!

God is at Work

Our first trip to the bath house project in Wyoming has begun!

As you may recall, we are involved in helping facilitate the building of a large bath house at Haven on the Rock camp. As the building season ended last year we wrapped up pouring stub walls on the foundation in the snow. At the time we were pretty discouraged due to the work not going well and a decline in community support for the project. Both of these have been getting extra efforts in prayer. 

We are very pleased to report how God is at work. We are seeing God’s provision in some local people stepping up to serve on the project. It looks like we have an electrician and a plumber who are willing to act as local point men and possibly supervise volunteer work teams. We would really like to see some additional roles volunteering as well.  Lord willing we have at least two larger groups coming out for about a week each. All the specifics are still getting worked out so keep them in prayer. 

The goal of this trip is to assess the current state of the project, materials and grounds and prepare the next steps for construction.  A group is planning to come out to help on Saturday and we are praying that with a large enough group we could frame the remaining exterior walls and prepare for assembly. 

Camp director with a car-trailer to the rescue!

As so often happens when one steps out to serve God, we’ve encountered a bit of

At Home: Amy and one particular child spent part of a day in urgent care for the tip of an earbud lodged in an ear canal. We are thankful that we were able to get in quickly and it worked out alright. Pray that she and the kids stay sane homeschooling, working, and fending off a mild fever that seems to be making the rounds.

On the road: Chester made it out to Scottsbluff (1.5 hrs from camp) and during a quick break discovered a blown bearing on the trailer. We are incredibly thankful for God’s protection –  it could have gone very badly. Zach, the director at Haven on the Rock, drove out with a car trailer to pick up Chester’s trailer, and late that night they made it back to his house.  This morning, Chester continued (without the trailer) out to camp. He is hoping to inspect the damage on the trailer on Friday but initially it appears that the axle is beyond repair. We expect replacement to be at least $2K so are asking for God’s wisdom and provision. Pray that if it’s not reasonably repairable, that God would provide a replacement at the right time and price. 

At the Camp: Another little bit of opposition is Wyoming weather. Rain for the past several days have left the camp road almost impassable. Their type of soil makes a super slick, almost slimy mucky mud. It is about 10 miles of low maintenance country road to the camp and 2 miles from the road to the buildings. It took Chester more than an hour to drive it this morning.  Mudding is fun, but less so when you do not have cell phone access and it is miles to the next neighbor.   We are thankful he made it onsite.  We’re praying that it clears up and dries out enough for the work party planned for Saturday.

Thank you for joining us on this adventure.  We love seeing God provide and work through your prayers.  Thank you for praying for us and supporting us.  It makes a difference!

Catching up

Our apologies for the silence the past few weeks!   We’re still here and want to take a bit to catch you up on the happenings of the past several weeks.

In the Past Month

The kids went to Mexico, and returned.  They forgot to take cameras, and somehow no pictures got posted to Facebook either, so we have no photos to share with you.  But we do thank you for praying!  They had no major sicknesses on the team, enjoyed the time, and constructed two houses and replaced an additional two roofs. 

The ladies of our Bible Study group spent a Saturday morning reading updates from, praying for, and writing cards to missionaries.
We were invited to join a luncheon of the Asian Christian Leaders Network in Omaha.  It was a fabulous time, (with home-made Nepalese food), hearing how God has been growing churches with international congregations in our area.  We came away quite encouraged.

On Easter, we had the privilege of serving at the Arabic speaking church in Lincoln Nebraska.  It was a special time of celebrating our risen Lord!
Right NowThe Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course that we’ve been taking the past three months is nearing completion!  As I write, we have three assignments and one lecture remaining.   We are so grateful for the opportunity to take the course – it’s been a lot of work, and has also triggered a lot of thinking and discussion between us.  We are more than ever inspired to serve missionaries – either from here or from wherever God sends us.  

A few actions that this course has inspired from us:We have begun to de-clutter our house with the goal of being able to provide temporary housing to missionaries.We have been invited to be more involved with the Arabic church in Lincoln, and are considering it.We would like to start an email or text group of people interested in serving missionaries or international communities in our area with us.  Please let us know if you’d like to know about such opportunities.
Coming up soonAfter completing the Perspectives course, Chester plans to make a trip out to Haven on the Rock camp in Wyoming, taking up tools and planning out the next phase of construction on their bath house.  

He’ll return just in time for us to attend the Grace Evangelical Society Conference in Plano Texas from May 20-23.  We’re looking forward to this time away (no kids!), and hoping to connect with like-minded believers while there.  Special thanks to those who donated a stay in a hotel while we’re there!

We plan to return a day early from the conference, just in time to drive with the kids to Colorado Springs for Chester’s brother’s wedding, then come back from the wedding just in time for the kids to start staff training at Glad Tidings Bible Camp.

If you think that sounds busy….. so do we!  Please pray that God would direct our paths, that we would stay healthy for and through all this running around, and that we’d be an encouragement to those we encounter.

Thank you for praying for us, for giving toward our ministry, and for encouraging us as we seek to learn and serve.

Snapshots of recent life

We have started the missions class that God provided for through you all!  It’s a fifteen week course, and we are nearly 1/4 of the way through. We’ve wanted to take the class for years, but were daunted by the prospect of having to do homework (with a textbook of about 800 pages, it promised lots of reading) in addition to keeping on top of normal life in our household.  And we were right – it’s a lot of homework.  So far, God has graciously given us pockets of time, and we have not yet fallen behind.  We are grateful that they offer the book in an electronic edition.  It’s particularly helpful to Chester to have his Kindle read the book to him at lightning speed while he runs the kids to and from various activities.

Chester inspects a cabin for evidence of mold at Glad Tidings Bible Camp.

We’ve made two trips up to Glad Tidings Bible camp recently.  The first was a week was a few days of vehicle repair to a Durango who had the brakes go out and rammed in to a cabin (eventually, there will probably be a project to repair the cabin…), and the second was a quick day trip for a camp board meeting with a side of cabin inspection (above), and getting various vehicles stuck and un-stuck in the mud (not pictured).  We’re grateful for the mission of this camp, and for the opportunity to serve with them.

Micah, Eva and Moriah say ‘MOOOOCHAS GRACIAS’ to God (and you) as they watch Him provide for their missions trip to Mexico in March.

God has begun to provide for the trip that Micah, Eva and Moriah would like to take to Tecate, Mexico with Sabre missions to build houses (more info here).  One generous donor has offered to match donations up to $500 for this trip.  If you’d like your donation to be doubled, make a check out to Sabre missions, and either get it to us (we’ll send in a pile all at once) or send it to them with a note (not a memo on the check!) that it’s for the Davis kids’ matching fund.  We are excited about this generous offer, and always love watching God provide for His work!  Thank you for being used by God!

A visualization of our family’s ministry activity in 2018.

Several hours in the past month were spent writing an annual report to our mission of how things are going for us as new missionaries.  In order to be transparent with you, our support network, we have posted the report here.  Please enjoy this detailed look into our thoughts about our activities of the past year.

Introducing “Barnabus”

We have, for a while now, been looking for ways to serve missionaries during these next few months that we plan to be in Nebraska, and for however long God keeps us here at home.  We have a few ideas, that as we pray about you’ll probably hear more of.   But this note is about one idea in particular: A few weeks ago, Chester mentioned that he liked the idea of keeping a fleet of cars to lend out to missionaries.  They’d have to be in good working condition (not like some vehicles we’ve lent out before….), but we could do the maintenance and repairs and such, and just have them available. ( If such a thing were to happen, he was saying, he’d like a garage in which to work on them…)

About that time, we found out that some family friends were selling their Suburban.  We passed their name on to another family, whom we knew were looking to replace their broken-down van.  When they decided to purchase something larger (a 15 passenger), we thought we may as well consider it ourselves – with this idea of a missionary fleet in mind.  The selling family responded to our inquiry by offering to give it to us (the price had been very reasonable before).  It seems that God has confirmed this direction!  (We nick-named the suburban “Barnabus”, because of this great encouragement).

In reality, it’s something we’ve already been informally doing.  For the past few months, Chester and I have had one car.  To be sure, we own more – but one is on loan to Chester’s sister’s family, and two others were on loan to a missionary family.  Another one is dead, in our back yard (it would have been taken to the junk yard by now if we hadn’t misplaced the title).  The one drivable car we have is a seven passenger Nissan Pathfinder, so it really hasn’t been an inconvenience – we all fit in it.  And when we’ve needed a second set of wheels, we’ve been able to borrow Micah’s Subaru Outback (purchased from the same family that was selling the Suburban).  At the beginning of December, the missionary family mentioned that they were no longer using either of the vehicles they had from us, and that since they’re preparing to return to the mission field, soon would be a good time for us to come get them.   (They were no longer driving them because both need work – some of it serious – and they have two other vehicles to use).

So two weeks ago, we set out to visit the missionaries in their Nebraska home about an hour and a half away.  And by the end of the day, we had gone from the ability to transport seven people to the ability to transport thirty-six people:  Seven in the original Davis Pathfinder, fifteen in “Jonah” – an old 1992 Dodge van that needs a good deal of work, but did manage to hobble home, five in “Kermit” – a Mitsubishi Mirage, and nine in  “Barnabus”!

We are happily driving “Kermit” all over the place again.  “Jonah” needs some work before it can be trusted.   “Barnabus” is already in service, lent to a family for a few weeks, and the other day towed a giant military vehicle that had broken down nearby.  Our insurance isn’t crazy about this idea of intending to keep loaner vehicles, so they notified us that after 22 years with them, our policy will be cancelled next March.  So we’d love it if you pray that we find an insurance company that’s a great fit for our family (and fleet), and that God would continue to direct us in  serving missionaries and ministries.

We are grateful for these opportunities to serve, and grateful to you for holding us up in prayer!

Reflections on Habakkuk (pt 2)

I’m continuing to mull over Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 1:5 says:
Look among the nations and watch – 
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe though it were told you.

All of my life (I think – maybe just all of my adult life), I’ve avoided keeping up with the news.  It’s sensational, it’s skewed, it’s depressing.  I’d rather not know.   This verse convicted me of preferring to keep my head buried in the sand rather than opening my eyes to see what God is doing and be astounded.  Interestingly, Habakkuk complains in the first section about what he sees, and God continues with that theme – telling Habakkuk to look and see even more.  

God’s not pretending that what will astound Habakkuk is pleasant or beautiful.  He’s not glossing over the evilness of the Chaldean nation.  But He’s showing that He’s in control, and using even evil nations for His purposes. 

In my conviction to be willing to look and see what God is doing, I installed the BBC world news app on my phone.  I haven’t read it much yet – two or three times.  But I do look at the “breaking news” flashes they send.  I like the idea of being astounded by what God is doing, but not of seeing that types of things that Habakkuk got to see.  The nations today are just as evil as they were back then (nothing new under the sun).  But God is also just as good, and just as in control.  And I can be astounded both at his using evil nations as pawns and at His masterful plan.  I can allow myself to be burdened, then be astounded, and instead of wallowing in dismay at what I see, I can turn and look to God, like Habakkuk does.

Thanksgiving Praise Update

Home again with much thanksgiving. 

Merlin and Peggy share special time at the family Thanksgiving feast. Thank you God for allowing both Mom and Dad to join after a difficult couple weeks.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I pray that your time has been well spent and enjoyed. 

The beautiful fall weather, the anticipation of snow and Christmas not far down the road, it is both invigorating and relaxing to me. I often find Thanksgiving less stressful than Christmas, perhaps because I am not bombarded with remixed songs and jingles non-stop 24 hours a day. Regardless, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.

This year we have an extra thing to be thankful for. My Dad returned home to His care home in Wahoo, NE. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago, the whole family struggled with different aspects of this terrible sickness. It has been difficult for me to realize that I will not have his willing ear to listen or much of his wise council, but I think it has been most difficult for my Mom who until recently has hardly ever spent a night without his conversation, reading God’s word and prayer together. This all came much closer to our hearts about two weeks ago, when after escalating difficulties with agitation and aggressive behavior, the care center where he’s been living, in Wahoo, had to send Dad up to a hospital nearly two hours away for special evaluation and study to find the best treatment options. While Dad was out there social contact was extremely limited.  Mom visited for short periods of time – visitation was only during certain hours.  We know this was to help them develop a treatment plan, but we found the time very frustrating.  After talking with the caretakers in Wahoo, we were pretty concerned that he may not be allowed to return if a satisfactory treatment plan could not be found. This was a big concern as we are simply not sure another feasible care taking option exists anywhere close by. 

After much prayer and conversations, we finally got the good news early this week that Dad was going to be able to come back to Wahoo. The news came in frustratingly slow bits and pieces with a lot of ‘maybe’ thrown in. But after a long week of ‘maybe’ it finally happened. It was a huge blessing for Dad to be released back to Wahoo and an answer to prayer that Mom and Dad were able to join the family for a short time as we celebrated Thanksgiving together on Friday.

I told Amy that I was not going to write long but I’m not doing a great job of that. Here is what I want to share with you from the depths of my heart.

Time is short. 
We can we not count our own days nor those of our family and friends. We do not know what will happen in ours or others lives. Each day God has given is a blessing and opportunity. Your life has great value and it would be such a shame to waste that time God has given. But have you ever considered outside yourself to see that you could be the person who changes another’s life? God through the pen of James in chapter 5 writes to believers and about believers “confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed” and later ” he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins”. Further, the author of Hebrews exhorts “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”. You see God wants us careful thought to how we can best encourage other believers to strong faith and lives of faithfulness. Do you have a few people you can pray with and for regularly? Is there something you can do today to extend God’s love to someone, especially those you know could use encouragement? 

As I give thanks that Dad was able to come back to the Wahoo care center and also join the big family for Thanksgiving supper, I want to make every count every moment count. I’ve got much to learn and so I am thankful for a God who will never will leave me and never forsake me. Heb 13

Thank you all so much for your continued prayer with Dad’s care. Your kind words are a great encouragement to us and the family. 

Reflections on Habakkuk

A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned Habakkuk as one of her favorite books.  It piqued my interest.  Sure I’d read it, but I had no idea what it was actually about. I’d never really paid attention to it.  Then last week I was asked to consider leading a little study (just once – for about an hour), and one of the possible topics was Habakkuk.  So I took the chance to read it more closely. These are my notes.

Habakkuk 1:1-1:4  Habakkuk had a burden for Israel and the trouble they were in: violence, plundering, strife contention, bad judgements, wickedness was winning.  It seems to me this burden was from God.  Has God given me a burden?  Do I diligently pray and eagerly look for God’s response like Habakkuk did?  Why do I ignore the trouble around me and in my own nation, and try not to see?  Am I avoiding being burdened?

Habakuk 1:5-1:11  When we look, we will be astounded at God’s work.  Instead of avoiding looking at the trouble around me, I should look to notice what God is doing around me.  It’ll astound me.

The Chaldeans are described as bitter, hasty, greedily conquering nations, “Their judgement and their dignity proceed from themselves”, They have fast horses and are more fierce than wolves, they love violence and hate authority.  Their greed is what stands out to me – always wanting more and never satisfied.  Do I do this too?  Not content with what I have now, but wanting more even though it’s just for sport?  

Habakkuk 1:12-2:1 God is everlasting, Holy, and a Rock.  He’s appointed Israel for judgement, but by a country that God is too pure to behold (because they’re evil).  I’m inspired by this prayer to know and God’s attributes and pray them back to Him.

Habakkuk’s further comments on the Chaldeans also touches on their insatiable greed and their prosperity through harming others.  They take captives like a fisherman filling his nets with fish.  They praise their  nets as gods because they see them as the source of their prosperity.  What do I see as the source of my prosperity?

Habakkuk determines to watch for God’s answer, and expects to be corrected.  This is Habakkuk’s second prayer, and we already see a different attitude from the first prayer.  He went from “Why aren’t you hearing me?!” to “I’ll watch for an answer and expect to be corrected”.  Every section so far has commented on what Habakkuk is seeing.  In 1:1-4 he sees the violence around him.  In 1:5-11 God tells him to look and be astounded.  In 1:12-2:1 he purposes to watch.

Habakkuk 2:2-5 God answers Habakkuk a second time, this time telling him to write the vision he sees (another reference to what Habakkuk is looking at).  But the emphasis here, I think, is on time.  The vision is not for now, but it will still be true (because truth is timeless), and Habakkuk should wait for it.  God’s timing isn’t our timing.  He’s timeless too.

He contrasts the proud with the just who walks by faith.  I think this section is the whole point of the book.  God knows what he’s doing, and we can live by faith because of that, and wait for Him, because He know.

Home Again

This weekend finishes up our construction season at Haven on the Rock!  

Our family returned a bit over a week ago from an intense push to get as much done as possible before winter.  We worked hard, and by God’s grace, got the concrete stub walls around the perimeter of the bath house prepped and poured – even in the snow.

This weekend, Chester and his sister’s family are driving some more building supplies out to Haven on the Rock from Omaha (where we purchased them at an auction for a much reduced cost).  

Here’s some pictures of our work.

We all got to practice using survey equipment (made by the company Amy works for!)
Snow on the day we poured cement threatened to cancel the pour, but it had to be done before winter, so we proceeded.
The girls smoothing the cement into the wall forms.
Leveling the floor above the basement.
Chester and Josiah putting a radius on the corners of the wall.

Unless God surprises us, we plan to be home for the next several months.  We’ll be helping out with smaller, more local projects as He allows, and taking a missions course – Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. 

Watch for more from us as we look back on the year (what a year it’s been!), and add more ways to communicate with you (instagram, anyone?).  

Thank you for praying for us!