The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
One year ago today it all officially began!
One year ago today (January 16), with 11 suitcases and 5 backpacks in tow, we boarded a plane in Charleston, SC bound for what was destined to be one of the biggest adventures of our lifetime. As we reflect back on that day and remember it as if it were yesterday, we recall the emotions we were experiencing: sadness from the previous weeks of tearful good-byes to family and friends, relief that our worldly possessions were successfully disposed of (given away, stored at family’s homes in the states, or packed in the 20 foot shipping container en route to Nassau), and excitement and wonderment from the anticipation of what was to come. Blatantly absent was any feeling of reservation for what we were doing. Not once did we feel a doubt that we were doing the right thing. We testify to God’s faithfulness to us in that He paved our way en route to Nassau just as He continues to pave our way each and every day as we labor here. Trust in a sovereign God who controls all aspects of our lives provides not only comfort but also the ability to trust that what is happening or will happen is for His glory and our ultimate good.
As we ponder our first year in ministry in The Bahamas, we can’t help but think about the many personal lessons we have learned. There are so many, but we will share only some of them:
1–It is a myth that God will not give us more than we can bare. In fact, there have been times when we thought we would buckle under the “load”. God allows us to go through pretty hard times, but with those hard times, He always provides grace. It is only through Him that we can bare the load. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
2–When we arrived in January of 2013, we had ideas of what we wanted to accomplish and what we thought God would have us do while we are here. In many ways, our first year looks nothing like we had envisioned it being. God has used us in ways to do things we could never have imagined before we arrived.
3–We love ministering to people and building relationships. Hospitality is our gift.
4–How easy and quick it is to fall in love with the Bahamian people.
5–During hard times when we are tempted to doubt, God uses the smooth, paved road He gave us in getting here to show us His past faithfulness to us so we can be encouraged and strengthened to continue our journey.
6–In ministry work, blessings far outweigh the hardships.
7–Grieving the loss of something (not just death of loved ones, but losing comforts and normalcy of life, saying good-byes) is not necessarily sinful.
8–Good-byes and short term relationships are just a nature of the business. Another reality that makes an eternity spent never saying good-bye that much sweeter.
9–Nothing is certain except that there is going to be uncertainty. Flexibility and trust in our Sovereign God is necessary.
10–A 2 night get-away does wonders at refreshing and re-energizing one who lives in the same place they work. Along with this, vacations are necessary in preventing burn out, and “vacations” in the USA are anything but restful. We need to learn to be more disciplined when we do try to vacation in the States. (Truth of the matter is, we are never away from ministry work. People and relationships are the center of our ministry, and they are forever with us.)
11–Driving, shopping, working on construction projects (navigating permits and codes) in the Bahamas are not only different than in the USA, they can be very frustrating experiences.
12–Just when we thought we would never be able to find a church like our beloved church in Minnesota and our beloved church in Wisconsin, God graciously guided and directed us to an equally good church here in The Bahamas. God is good!
13–If God ever calls us away from The Bahamas, it will be every bit as painful as moving away from Minnesota and from Wisconsin.
14–How important and encouraging it is to have people from back “home” come for a visit or at least contact us. Although we are surrounded by people we love and enjoy being with, there is nothing like being with people from back home. A simple email saying hi and that you are thinking about us goes a long way in alleviating homesickness.
So many more lessons…but there is not enough time and space. We look forward to 2014 and what God has planned for us. We serve an awesome God and feel so blessed to be a part of the Adventure Learning Centre and Camp ministry here in The Bahamas.
What a Difference a Year Makes
January 16, 2014 looks far different than January 16, 2013. Today we are all settled in with a whole new perspective of what the Bahamas is and what the ministry work we are doing is. Last January 16th we were the ones being welcomed to the island, but today we are the ones doing the welcoming to the island. We have 98 young people and their leaders coming to Adventure Learning Camp from Florida. This is the biggest group we have ever served at camp, and we are looking forward to being a part of this great endeavor. Last January 16th we were tired from 3 months of planning, packing, sorting, discarding, traveling, support raising, etc. Today we are tired from all the work it takes to get a camp that comfortably accommodates 72 people to a camp that accomodates 98 people. How exciting it all is!
As We Look Ahead to our Second Year
As our first year was spent focusing on learning the island, culture and ALC ministry and making improvements to the camp facility, it is our heart for the second year to focus on building relationships with Bahamian people- individuals and local churches.
As we look ahead to a new year, we thought it would be the appropriate time to remind everyone of ways you can stay connected. Like us on Facebook: Like ‘The Seeley Family Serving in the Bahamas’ and receive more timely updates on our ministry work. Follow us on our blog: Have you opted to “follow” this blog? You may do so by clicking “follow” above. We would like to reach a milestone of 500 followers this year. We are in the upper 300’s, so please consider following our blog, if you have not already done so. Email: Are you on our email list? We periodically send out emails to give updates, alert people of blog entries, mention special prayer requests, and occasionally send out an email newsletter (most of our updates are done through the blog). If you would like to receive emails from us, you may email us your request that you be added to our emailing list. You may also send your request through this blog by clicking on the tab that says “newsletter sign-up” above.
How you can pray for us in our second year of ministry
That God would continue to grant us wisdom and discernment as we work, minister, share the gospel, and build relationships
That God would continue to provide comfort at times of loss (for information on this, please see the previous blog post)
That God would work mightily here at the Adventure Learning Centre and Camp and in the lives of all the staff and those we serve
That we remain focused on Jesus Christ
That God would open doors and give guidance as we seek to work with local groups/churches
“One Down, Nine To Go”
Many of you are probably scratching your head by now and trying to figure out what in the world we mean by, “One Down, Nine to go.” Well, first of all, if you read through this article trying to figure it out, we accomplished our main objective. The cryptic title drew you in and made you want to read more. Now for the real meaning behind the title: it is just another way of saying we have made it through our first year of ministry work in the Bahamas. When asked how long we plan to stay in the Bahamas, we generally tell people we have committed to working at the ALC for 2 years. Our ultimate goal (from our human perspective) is to train a Bahamian to take over the ministry within 10 years. In all actuality, we have no idea how long God intends to keep us here and willingly submit to His guidance and direction. We will be here until He tells us to go somewhere else.
Thank you for supporting us with your thoughts, love, prayers, and financial contributions during our first year of service at the Adventure Learning Camp in The Bahamas. We appreciate you and look forward to continuing the work God has called us to do to further the kingdom of God!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Tim, Mindy, Logan and Zachary Seeley