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.

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. 

Appreciating 2020

Hindsight is 2020

It’s been a year to have priorities clarified through adversity, hasn’t it?  We’re grateful for the year that God provided, and wanted to take a minute to thank you for being part of it.

Thank you for praying, giving and serving with us through the year!  We are grateful that even though travel was restricted, we could be active in serving missionaries and ministries.  We counted 27 ministries and families that either we served or distinctly served us this year!  Many of you joined in the work with us, blessing missionaries and ministries (and us) with their work and fellowship.  See the Projects 4 Missions annual report for additonal information on our year, financial numbers and both praises and prayer requests.

Thank you for praying with us as Chester and our friend Rich went to Kenya to meet the Kamau family, who are missionaries there and wanting to start a camp.  They have safely returned, recovered back into the midwest USA timezone, and are currently working with the Kamaus and engineers in Kenya to plan the camp!

Thank you for your friendship through the year.  If we have your physical mailing address, you should have gotten a Christmas card from us with a family Christmas letter.  You can read that online too.  

Next week, look for an email with some of our thoughts on the year to come, and guesses as to what God might have in store for us and Projects 4 Missions in 2021.  

If you’d like to make a year-end gift, now is the time to do so, and here is the link.

We praise God for your partnership!

Current support level: 68% overall, 28% monthly

Welcome Home

Dear Friends, When I (Chester) was a tad bit younger I served in the US Navy. I visited many ports in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and loved most of it. The beauty of God’s creation is staggering and it truly stirs your heart to praise.

However, the most moving of times was those days returning from deployment, standing at parade rest along the ship rail and as the morning fog lifted you could just see the outlines of your own home shore. As you chugged into the harbor the fog would continue to lift and the details would become clearer. Finally, when the tugs have gone and the ship is docked, the Captain would give the call “Liberty Call, Liberty Call for all non-essential personnel. Welcome Home and God Bless America”. The moment you hold for a lifetime though is sharing the joy of families reunited with their beloved. Even writing this narrative stirs my emotions. 

This last week we had the joy of welcoming Moriah back home from her service with Matt and Noelle Harris. We are very proud of Moriah for choosing to give of herself to serve during Noelle’s recovery from c-section. Matt and Noelle returned from serving in Uganda to have this latest addition (Charlotte), and connect with their supporters for a few months. Moriah helped them tend the kids and the housework as they scooted around Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska for the last weeks. I do not know if Moriah’s experience in returning home was like mine but what we want to say publicly is “Welcome home. Well done”. I want to engage your mind for just a moment and imagine a colossal homecoming that has been waiting for thousands of years. If you have been up on recent news in the world it may occur to you that perhaps that homecoming is closer now than ever. When Jesus returns there will be a performance review for believers, those who have received the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus. I get so excited about this return because God has said those whose performance excels will receive a hero’s welcome.A hero’s welcome, for me? Is it really possible? Absolutely yes. God wants you to succeed in your spiritual life and has made significant promises which you can trust. Because of this God wants you to add some things to your faith so that your faith will mature and be productive. Read more about this in 2 Peter 1:3-12 but I quote from the Berean Study Bible. “Therefore, brothers, strive to make your calling and election (commission) sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I love it! A lavish reception. Yes, for those who have believed Jesus for everlasting life we can also believe Him to bring through life well. Do not be discouraged. Jude 1:24 says it so well. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

I pray for you, that one day you will have the joy of being welcomed to our forever home with a truly lavish reception and these words “Welcome home. Well done my good and faithful servant”.
Moriah reads to the four Harris children

Projects 4 Missions says Thanks on Giving Tuesday

Dear Friends,

This time of year often gets cluttered with piles of mailings from non-profits who would never write at another time of year. In recognition of “Giving Tuesday” we wanted to send you a note from a friend and ministry partner.

No doubt you already know and feel that this last year has had a few too many surprises and unexpected turns. We have been praying for you all in what we know has been some very trying times. We all need the encouragement of fellowship so let’s work to stay connected in whatever ways we can. Please feel free to call or email if you ever need someone to talk or pray with.

As we work on an end of year report for Projects 4 Missions we want to express to you how incredibly humbled we are to have you partner with us. Of the hundreds of ways you could spend or invest your money you have chosen to sacrificially give toward this ministry and God has blessed that work.

We are glad to share with you that our basic monthly costs, which consist of a small stipend to cover project consumables, tool repairs and administration, are now being covered by regular monthly giving. It may not seem like a big milestone but to us it is huge. We continue to work toward building our regular monthly support level (which is nearing 30%) but we are confident that as we continue to be faithful to serve where God guides that He will take care of those needs. We are very thankful for God’s provision through your partnership.

With all the craziness in the world it is important to recall the faithfulness and constancy of our God. From the infancy of this ministry when it was just us giving a helping hand to missionaries as best as we could, up to today, we have never lacked the essentials for what God wanted us to do. God’s faithfulness goes well beyond just having money for a project. We do not have the time or space here to recount even a portion of the ways God has taken care of us. However, I regularly reflect on things like: wheels not falling off trailers, many thousands of dollars worth of donated equipment, and specific answers to prayer. But there is so much more. All these speak highly of our God and we honor Him.

On this “Giving Tuesday” we would encourage you in this way:
First, not all giving is money. When you are serious in prayer, or send a personal letter to a missionary or lend a hand to a project in person, you are giving a piece of yourself and investing in eternity. What and where can you give of yourself for God’s purposes?

Secondly, Give to God. He deserves respect, honor and a place of significance. Your mouth and life are the means to give something special and meaningful to God.  Hebrews 13:15 says to offer up to God a sacrifice of praise. Colossians 4:2 encourages us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to rejoice, to pray and to give thanks in all circumstances.  Let’s do that!

Finally, Give on purpose to a greater purpose. Be faithful in supporting your Church. This is right and appropriate.  Also consider supporting a missionary whose focus is sharing or teaching the gospel. If you do not already know such people then talk to us, we would love to introduce you to several people who are on the frontlines. Developing such a relationship via phone calls and visits will definitely push your faith into a more active place. (2 Cor 9:10-11)

Thank you again for your partnership in prayer, in relationship, in participation and financially. We are very thankful for you.

If you are not already receiving regular emails and other stuff from Projects 4 Missions we invite you to sign up here.

If God moves you to make a special year end gift or monthly donation toward this ministry, you can use this link here, or click the donate button below.

One of the recent family pictures that didn’t get made into a new prayer card.

Ready…. Get Set….

We’re two weeks away from Chester and Rich flying to Kenya to meet the Kamau family and get aquainted with their ministry – Hope Anew Kenya. Both Chester and Rich have now have the required immunizations, and we’re praising God that Rich’s passport arrived today, so now they also both have the necessary travel papers!

The site of the future Camp Nasaru

The schedule of their trip includes traveling out to tour the camp site (above), meeting local architects, engineers and builders, visiting building supply stores and touring other camps in the area. We’re excited about this opportunity and the way God has opened doors each step of the way so far.

Would you join us in praying for this trip? We hope to email out daily (or nearly daily) short prayer requests and praises starting a few days before the trip. If you’d like to receive these updates to pray for us, please sign up below to pray for us.

Pancake Party!

Join us for pancakes and fellowship!

Hear about our work with Bible camps, and about our upcoming missions trip to develop a Bible camp in Kenya

Share favorite camp stories

Saturday, November 14 (yes, short notice!)
2:00pm – 7:00pm, come and go anytime
VFW in Ashland, NE
102 s 24th St, Ashland, NE 68003

**You’ll also have the opportunity to support our trip and ministry by purchasing handmade items for donation.

We’ve chosen a larger venue than our house for this pancake party so that we all can socially distance as we feel comfortable, but please don’t come if you’re feeling sick!

If you wish to bring along a food item, feel free to bring something that goes with pancakes, but please don’t feel obligated.

And yes, pancakes in the afternoon. Pancakes are good all day long!

We are trying out this idea as a way to increase awareness of our ministry and the ministries we serve. We’d love your feedback, and to see you there!

Prayer request update

Thank you so much, dear friends, for praying. Isn’t it great to serve a God who hears and answers our prayers! We wanted to take a few minutes to share with you a few specific answers to your prayers that we’ve seen in the past two weeks.

  • Stove #3 is still working. Special thanks to our friends who gave us their old stove in our time of need!
  • Chester had been looking for the perfect trailer to use for hauling ministry tools for a few months. A bit over a week ago (the day we emailed asking for prayer for encouragement!) he found the right one, and in God’s perfect timing, a friend was going to Minnesota and would be driving right by the seller of the trailer. He agreed to pick it up for us, and Thursday evening we had a new trailer for ministry use!
  • We asked you to pray for our Suburban to run. Chester got it running, and we left in it on Friday afternoon to drive down to Texas. Less than three miles into the journey, it broke down again. We were grateful for being so close to home. After hobbling it home, we unpacked the suburban, packed it in to the trailer that God had provided just the day before, and set off again in our smaller Pathfinder. God’s timing was perfect, and the Pathfinder ran reliably for the entire trip, even though it was less roomy than the Suburban.
The shadow of our car and trailer as we drive….

  • We asked you to pray for Rich the architect to get the time off work approved so that he and Chester could go to Kenya to meet the Kamau family and the site of the future camp and begin design work. We received word on Wednesday that Rich’s request for the time off was granted. So we are ready to purchase tickets for this trip! God has already provided the cost of the airline tickets. If you would like to contribute to other costs of the trip, donate here, or see our list of other ways to help here.
  • We asked you to pray for our spiritual encouragement and refreshment. The conference we attended was very much just that – a terrific time of being spiritually fed and refreshed. We renewed friendships, added new friendships, learned a ton and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of scripture. What a terrific time! Even the kids very much enjoyed it and stayed engaged through the conference, that is fantastic at a conference on systematic theology oriented toward seminary graduates and those already in ministry.
Micah was given a book titled “Eternal Life” for free, but Isaiah had to earn the book titled “Eternal Rewards” by rubbing his tummy and patting his head.

Supporting Families at Home

Chester is leaving the family behind on a missions trip in early December. Going with him is Rich, who is also leaving a family behind. The families here would love some extra help in their absense! Here’s some ideas (add your own in the comments!):

  • Provide meals for the families at home
  • Help drive kids to/from school and events
  • Provide babysitting for Mom to have an evening off
  • Pick up groceries for the family when you buy your own

As the trip approaches, we’ll add to this list, and create a sign-up of ways to help out.

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….