Strengthening the Church through Education

P1070769

The last week in July was a busy one for us. We helped our daughter Elisabeth as she directed Vacation Bible School at her church First Baptist of Mentone.   The VBS had a summer camp theme: “Camp Sonset” which had the children run through a mini camping experience each night.   Borrowing from our camp program themes and experience, Lisa and I pitched in. P1070720

Lisa had a great time with the youngest group, 3-5 year olds, teaching, doing crafts, and simply loving on these cute little ones.   I, Art, played a dramatic larger- than-life host in the most exciting game show in Mentone, “Who wants to be a Missionary.” It was a fun way to teach and challenge children about missions.   The show featured crazy characters each evening, who purposely gave us less than accurate answers to questions about missions.

P1070610Monday, Brenda Bugworthy, ornithologist , visited our lesson time to help us explain, Who can be a missionary?, What is a missionary? And What is the message of a missionary?   She was great, but she came up short behind one of the children.P1070620

P1070709

Tuesday, Molly Mallhopper, shopping enthusiast, came with coupons for everything imaginable thinking the show was Who wants to BUY a missionary? She helped us explain where missionaries serve, rewards of being a missionary, and the power missionaries need for service.

P1070776

P1070909Wednesday, Professor Edward Egghead, mad scientist, explained in detail his theories of missionaries, their characteristics, age, and how churches are planted. We discovered you don’t use church seeds to plant a church and that even people as old as Art can still serve.P1070919 (caption: It must have been exhausting!)

Thursday, P1070980Pete Patcher, construction worker, showed us that not all missionaries preach and that they face difficulties.

P1070970

P1080046Friday, Harley Davidson, biker dude, road in to help us challenge the children about personally being a missionary and how you can know if God is calling you.P1080036

Each night also had a serious guest as four of the church’s missionaries joined us along with Pastor Mike Wilhite.   Thank you to the great young people who were willing to be a little silly so that the children had a fun time learning Only eternity will tell what an impact was made.   The whole team of workers, teachers, snack people, MC Brandon and Director Elisabeth made the week a successful time.

On our event line, this Saturday, Elisabeth and Brandon will be married. Pray for us in all that pertains to the starting of their brand new family.

Please respond to this especially if you would like to meet with us while we are home. Our September schedule still has room for individual meetings.   Our departure, October 23rd will be here before we know it and we still have much to do.   Looking forward to seeing many of you. Help us make that happen.

DSCN4522So much happens in a month, we have had a great few weeks meeting with churches and individuals, some of whom we have just recently met and others we have treasured for years.

DSC08885

After Olivia and Daniel’s wedding, we once again settled into ministry mode. We have been able to share in churches who have faithfully supported us from the beginning and also in brand new churches. These times have been sweet. We also have had times with individuals that care for us some who support us financially others that love and pray for us regularly. We have been greatly encouraged.DSC08969

We have traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, across Indiana and even into Canada. Along the way we have enjoyed rich times sharing life and ministry. We did have some vacation time along the way to enjoy God’s beauty and see special historical sites as well.DSC09173

We still have much to do this summer, two weddings ahead and much support to find. We have many more churches to report to and still need a few more presentation opportunities if we are to be successful.   Please pray for us as we try not just to ask for help but also to be a blessing to the people we meet and to the loved ones we reconnect with.

DSCN4569

We still have time for one-on-one meetings. Send us an email or give us a call: Art’s number is 317-801-3022. We still want to hear from you and see as many of you as possible. Help us redeem the time with you this summer before October comes, and we once again return to Russia.

DSCN4579

Please consider helping us make additional connections. For example our friends in Canada had a few of their friends from church over. We had a barbeque and shared our ministry video.   Simple to do, no surprise sales pitch just an opportunity to let God connect others with our ministry.

DSCN4587

Next on the schedule is helping Elisabeth, our oldest, with Vacation Bible School (VBS) then her wedding later in August. In between we plan to attend the Blaker Family reunion Aug. 2 in Michigan to see family members we haven’t seen for several years. We are enjoying the time and trying to balance responsibilities of work and family which is not always easily done.

IMG_20150506_111518

One month ago we were writing a blog about spinning through our last days of the school year and through preparations for home service.  Life is still whirling dizzily.

 

Praise the Lord we arrived safely and smoothly to the U.S. all luggage in tow.  Waiting in the airport, Lisa’s mom and our future daughter-in-law greeted us. It was our first time to meet Cassie face to face.  Lisa’s dad drove up in the new/used camper they had purchased for housing during all the summer events and travels.  As Art opened the door to load our luggage, out popped a surprise! Our son Jonathan, with whom we had not spoken since his Christmas engagement because of his new job schedule, was hiding in the camper.  It was a loving welcome home and just the beginning of reunions with family and friends.

 

DSCN4624

We spent the rest of our arrival day, Sunday, May 3rd, with our son, Cassie, and Lisa’s family. Monday we rearranged and repacked our luggage for the first part of our tour of the U.S. Over the next two weeks the camper was to be our home as we traveled first to Florida to watch Olivia’s graduation from college, back to Indiana to celebrate Mother’s Day and to do the first church presentation, then off to Colorado to help Anna move back to Indiana .

IMG_20150506_112006 (2)

DSC08807IMG_20150514_091351

May 17th we finally pulled into the driveway of our Mentone house.  Our oldest daughter and her fiancé, Brandon, who works with the youth group at their church, had graciously organized a cleaning party to prepare the house for our arrival. Going to lunch with Elisabeth and Brandon that day rounded out the four corners of our family giving us at least one opportunity with each of our young adults.

DSC08842

 

The last two weeks of May have been focused on wedding preparations and discussions.   We are currently back to living in the camper which is parked in Art’s brother’s yard in Michigan so that we can prepare for Olivia and Daniel’s wedding June 6th.DSC08840

Not only will that be a momentous occasion for the wedding couple it will be the first time all six of us will be together in the past four years. IMG_20150601_161115  IMG_20150601_161301

 

2015-04-29 09.00.37

Spinning in circles can be fun, especially if you are a missionary kid on a merry-go-round on your last day of school for the year.   Even the teacher took his turn. DSC08780

We had a good time playing together with the children then eating pizza before we said good-bye for the summer.

DSC08777

We plan on a much bigger spin this Saturday and Sunday as we get on the plane and travel back to the States.   We would so much appreciate your prayers for safety as we travel and as we begin our home service.   We have so much to do this summer and are glad many have asked to see us.   We still have room for more personal times; please feel free to suggest a time, and we will do all we can to meet with you while we are home.

IMG_20140723_140053What is home assignment?  Instead of a ministry assignment on the field (in our case Ulan-Ude, Russia), during this period of time we will be fulfilling certain ministry requirements in the USA.  Of course, one part of this home assignment will be “rest and renewal.” Since we are very active in ministry and tend to keep the nose to the grindstone here, we are looking forward to a period of disengagement from life in Russia, so that we can reflect on the past and refocus on the future.

This summer will be especially filled with “family events.”  We anticipate not one, not two, but three weddings this summer.  Olivia and Daniel Underwood will be married in June.   Jonathan and Cassie Long will be married in September, and Elisabeth and Brandon Brown will also be married, at a date to be finalized soon.   We have no greater joy than knowing that they are walking with God.  We look forward to celebrating each of these special days.  Anna has plans for the summer–but not for her wedding.

Of course, we are looking forward to “reconnecting with family and friends.”  Certainly, one of the most difficult parts of being a missionary is separation from family and friends. We are very thankful for so many modern forms of communication that make it possible to remain somewhat connected, but there is no substitute for hours of face-to-face time!

A very important part of our time home will be spent “reporting to sending churches and supporters.”  We are responsible to those who have sent us out!  Lisa and I are thankful to each of our supporting churches and the many personal supporters who make it possible for us to live and serve in Russia.  While we try our very best to communicate effectively about our ministry activities while in Russia, we very much look forward to reporting and interacting in person about all that God is doing in Ulan-Ude.  People at home also need to hear about the difficulties and challenges that we face. This is best shared personally rather than in print.

We want to help “mobilize new missionaries” since mobilizing God’s people is a key component of SEND’s vision and more importantly God’s plan to reach the lost.   Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”  As God brings qualified people with a heart to reach the lost into our lives, we want to encourage them to serve Jesus in strategic roles.  Missions is a spiritual battle, and there is a desperate need for humble, serious-minded, godly people to enter that battle.

And, yes, missionaries often go on home assignment to “raise support” – this is the acceptable way of referring to the act of asking for more money!  Missionaries need more support for many different reasons.  Sometimes the cost of living in various parts of the world increases.  Sometimes faithful elderly supporters go home to be with the Lord.  Sometimes churches and individuals cease supporting for various reasons.  Personally, all these things have happened to us, but we are thankful to God that He has and will raise up new supporters.  We anticipate needing significant funds to return.  For us that is in the neighborhood of $1500 per month additional support.

DSC07624There are other reasons why missionaries go on home assignment.  We will spend time with our mission organization, reporting to them about our work and helping them where possible.  Summer time is the best time for us to go home from a school-year point of view but not for meeting up with people in the States that is why we are working now to connect and schedule. We certainly look forward to seeing many of you.

Time for planning

IMG_20140921_134111

If you are a regular follower of the Blog, you may need to go to the site to check out the new Summer 2015 page.   The page is a little bare right now,  but It will be filling up as we make contact with more and more of you. IMG_20141022_205646

If you would like a face-to-face time with us, please check if we are in your area as it fills in; then send us an email suggesting a date we could meet. In May, we will add a stateside phone number to call and schedule more detailed information.   As always the more the merrier for getting together as we try to make connections with both friends we know, and those we have yet to meet.

DSC07614

We will be flying before you know it .

Our plans for the summer, both personal and professional are very important. Please help us be wise stewards of our time, and plan ahead with us for an awesome summer.   We don’t want to miss anyone or anything God has for us this summer

White Party

IMGP0186Wednesday we had a White Party at English club. Why a “White” Party, you may ask? Well, this is White Month – it’s a holiday the Buryats celebrate. It starts with the holiday Sagaalgan, the New Year according to the lunar calendar and continues for a whole month. It’s a time of cleansing oneself from evil, impurity, bad karma and unluck. This is the first time I’ve celebrated the holiday, and it’s been meaningful to learn more about Buryat culture. However, this holiday has a lot of Buddhist rituals and traditions entwined throughout, which makes for a very dark and heavy time here. But, I want to share about what God did tonight at our White party. DSC09076We made pozi, a Buryat traditional dish, and everyone brought white food (white cookies, sour cream and cottage cheese, yogurt, etc). While we ate, everyone shared how they celebrate this holiday. Then, Art taught us how to make origami hearts, and we played a game. Nettie printed a picture with a verse (Is. 1:18) about God cleansing us from sin and making us white as snow. IMGP0182

However,wedidn’t really plan how to present it and didn’t plan how to share the Gospel with it. But nearing the end of our time, the conversation just happened! God brought us a Buryat girl who is a Christian and she shared her testimony and one girl opened up and asked some very good questions.IMGP0176

We had a great conversation about God and the Bible! This one girl expressed a desire to read the Bible and Renata gave one to her. We  are so excited to see how God is working!!! It wasn’t because we had a great plan or led a great discussion – it was all God!!! Please pray for God’s work to continue in the hearts of those who heard His truth. Please pray that they will know Jesus!!!!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 109 other followers