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!

Answers to Prayer

Thank you for praying for us through February.  Here’s a few updates:

 – Chester continues to have ear problems, though there is a slight improvement after surgery.  Please pray for infections to clear up.

  – The Glad Tidings Bible Camp kitchen is very close to completion.  Chester will be spending much of the next week out there, wrapping things up.

 – The Mexico fundraising dinner was a huge success, bringing about 100 people, and providing about 30% of the needed funding!

You are vital partners in this ministry!  Thank you so much for praying!

The commercial mixer on it’s new stand (the kids helped to make it!)
The new-to-camp commercial dishwasher!

Upcoming prayer requests

Thank you for praying for us through the family health challenges of January!  Our extended family seems to have returned to healthy, and we are greatly encouraged to know that so many of you were and are praying!

Please continue to pray for us.  We’ve put together a prayer calendar of upcoming requests for the month of February – it includes a little of everything (from Chester having surgery on Monday, February 10th, to a little bit of travel and a project at Glad Tidings Bible Camp).  Please join us in prayer though the month!

One additional request (not yet on the calendar) is for wisdom in our summer/fall plans.  We’re applying to volunteer at a camp in France! 

Thank you so much for serving with us through your prayers and support!

Download a printable prayer calendar here, or view and subscribe online here.

Thank you for praying

Thank you so much for praying for and with us and our family these first few weeks of January.  Everyone is back home from the hospital and recovering nicely!  Peggy is back to her normal, spunky self, Merlin has returned to the care center in Ashland (where Peggy visits him daily), and baby Martin was discharged yesterday and is doing terrific!

It’s humbling to us that so many of you prayed, and let us know that you were praying.  Our sincere thanks.  God answered your prayers!

Baby Martin is home and feeling much, much better!