Knowing that the United States is celebrating Thanksgiving this week, our Bahamian friends have asked us, “Are you going back to the States to be with your boys for Thanksgiving?” The answer is, “No, we will not be leaving the island this Thanksgiving.” Does this make us sad, unthankful, or wish to skip the holiday all together? The answer again is no! Although we are a little sad about not being (physically) with our family, we realize going back to the States for holidays is not always possible.
We find comfort in staying focused on being here in The Bahamas where God has called us to be. We recognize our being here as an awesome opportunity from God to be a part of furthering His Kingdom on this earth. It is a joy for us to be here sharing the Gospel of Jesus and serving the Bahamian people and those who come from abroad to serve the Bahamian people.
We are thankful God has allowed us the opportunity to serve Him in a country that has (though sometimes unreliable) internet capabilities, in a time period when so many options for communication exist. We have the ability to talk and “visit” with our children whenever we want to via Facetime, Skype, email, Facebook, etc. Generations of missionaries previous did not have such luxuries.
So at this time of Thanksgiving, despite the fact we are over a thousand miles away from our loved ones, it is our heart’s posture of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for the privilege of serving Him here in this beautiful country that prevents and cures us of homesickness and loneliness.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you near and far!
If you read our blogs or follow us on Facebook, you know we lost our animal caretaker, Sean Wilson, to a car accident at the end of October (click here for link). The ALC&C joined the Wilson family for a memorial service for Sean on Thursday, November 12th and a double funeral for Sean and his mom two days later. Sean’s absence is deeply felt by all of us at ALC&C.
With Sean’s death, Bob and Judi Balson transferred from maintenance/housekeeping/cooking at Camp to taking care of animals and grounds at the Centre. They have done a fantastic job! They plan on leaving after the first of the year to go back to Wisconsin to take care of Bob’s mother who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. We’re sad to see them go, but we understand and support them in their decision.
With the end of the calendar year comes the end of the one year commitment Dilan and Laura made to serve with ALC&C. We are saddened that they too will be leaving, but we understand and support them in their decision. They have been such a blessing and encouragement to the ministry here.
The ALC&C is looking to fill a couple important positions. If you or someone you know has a burden to see the Gospel proclaimed to the children of the Bahamas or a burden for missions to be instilled into the hearts of people coming from abroad, then we have just the ministry for you! We are looking for help in the following areas:
Russ, Bethany and Sean Bahr were here with us in October for a family ministry trip. The Bahr family know Dilan and Laura Van Ryn from their church, Highland Community Church, in Wausau, Wisconsin. The Bahrs were able to follow programing at the Centre, visit Bahamas Association of the Physically Disabled, and tag along with Dilan to a youth outreach.
Tom & Nancy Barnes and Dave and Debbie Tuthill came to visit and help out from upstate New York. They have been here in the past and are friends of the Armstrong’s. They helped out with construction projects and making costumes for the Christmas Lights Drive-thru. They were a huge blessing to the Armstrongs and the ministry here.
Dave Stranks is from Charlie’s church in London Ontario Canada. He was suppose to come on the mission trip with West London Alliance Church in January, but was unable to do so. He helped put a roof on the storage containers at Camp and helped with various other projects.
The board met the last weekend in October. Besides meeting with the ALC&C leadership team, they met with potential board members. They are working to install new, quality board members and filling the executive director position. Please pray for new board members and a new executive director. After the meetings, the board joined the ALC&C staff at the Castle (Billy and Leah Slater’s house) for a picnic and time of fellowship.
Dilan Van Ryn’s parents, Todd and Shari Van Ryn, were here for a week. They and a few people from their church stayed with Billy and Leah Slater at the Castle. They served in various ministries on the island. Todd and Shari were part of the same Brethren church circle that Tim grew up in.
Cliff and Denise Young came for a long weekend at the beginning of November. Denise was here over the summer to help serve a mission team, but this was Cliff’s first time visiting us here on the island. Cliff and Denise are from the Atlanta area.
One of the biggest successful surprises I have ever seen: Charlie’s parents contacted us earlier this fall and asked us if they and Charlie’s boyfriend, Steve, could come to the island to surprise Charlie with a visit. Of course we thought it was a great idea. Charlie had no idea they were coming until they showed up on our porch while she was eating lunch with us. It was a great week for her, and it happened to be her birthday week as well!
Pastor Jack Robbins is from Oklahoma and came to make a connection with the ministry. He came to use on his way to Haiti, Dominican Republic, and St. Thomas islands.
Dave Bryant is a fellow Bahamas missionary. He and his wife Sue minister on Andros. We met Dave last Spring while we were at the immigration office. He saw Zachary’s t-shirt that had Scripture on it and started a conversation with us. We gave him our card and told him to look us up if he was ever back on the island. He has done just that. This is a relationship that has proven encouraging for both sides. We are amazed at how God works!
This week fellow Minneapolis residents and past Living Waters Bible Camp co-staff- Ken and MaryBeth Habel and their three children, Will, Jack and Abby-were on the island for a brief visit. They came via a cruise ship and wanted to see the ALC&C where both Ken and Mary Beth served many years ago.
First, you may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of “Giving Tuesday”? This year Giving Tuesday is December 1st. On that day (or any day really), we are asking people to consider how they might be able to donate towards replacing our train at the Centre. If you have ever been at the Centre during program days, you know how beloved the train is by the children of the Bahamas. If you have never seen the train in action, next Monday we will be posting a video on the ALC&C Facebook page. You may check it out there. The train has been well used for many, many years and needs to be replaced. Please pray for the $120,000 (train, shipping, duty) needed to replace the train.
The second thing we are promoting is a brief survey where we are asking for your input. For the month of November, we are entering all who take our survey into a drawing for a free ALC&C t-shirt. Could you take a few minutes and fill out the survey?
Romans 1:20 teaches that all creation points to a magnificent Creator…Recently we took a tour of the mangroves in the wetlands area behind the ALC. Sam showed us how they use the program to teach school children about the ecosystem and Jesus. The tour was research for a project we are working on. We plan on writing a booklet about the Centre programs, and then the booklet will be a promotional gift for those taking the time to fill out a survey for us. Stay tuned!
As you can tell, not much has happened since our last report. One of the biggest, most frustrating projects we are working on right now is getting the permit to build the new cabin. It is tied up at the engineer/architect’s office. We hope to have the final approved permit within the next couple of weeks. Because the cabin is not going to be done for our large group in January, we have had to make other arrangements to house everyone in the group, and it involves displacing our full time missionary staff. Please pray for all of us as we have to make adjustments.
Young Adult Weekend
October 9-11 we had a nice turn out for our second Young Adult Weekend. The theme was “Faith: Fact or Fiction?”, and our guest speaker was Jay Seegert from Creation Education Center in Milwaukee, WI. We had a great weekend and got a lot of positive feedback from attendees.
Friday Night Youth Outreach
On Friday nights, a core group of ALC&C staff and former Joy Bible Mission people lead our weekly Youth Outreach at the Camp. The numbers remain on average around 10-15 young people a night. Please pray as we start getting out more and advertising the event that God brings more young people our way to minister to.
Assisting COB Architecture Students
We are assisting the College of Bahamas architecture students with a class project. They are learning design techniques and skills and one of their projects is “designing a cottage” for us. It has been fun to work with these students as they learn architecture.
We have had several local groups use Camp this fall for their retreats. We love serving people and are so excited to share this serene, beautiful setting with residents of this island. After all we are here to serve the Bahamian people. We, as a para church ministry, come alongside the local churches and support them in the ministry work they do.
Of course school programs and after school Adventure Programs continue at the Centre, but much of the time is being spent on preparations for the annual Christmas Lights Drive-thru event. The event is one of our annual fundraisers, but more importantly it is a significant Gospel outreach. Please pray for the production, the final weeks of preparations, and for receptive hearts to the Gospel as it is presented.
Although the update is already quite lengthy, we cannot miss reporting on what God has done in response to our last blog post. In our last post (Link to “Eighty-five cents a day”) we shared our need for increased monthly support and made a request for people to consider becoming $25/month donators. We are happy to report that we received a very good response from that initiative. It is difficult to say how many new, consistent ministry partners we have acquired (it will take several months to see a pattern since we have only heard directly from a few people that they plan to give regularly), but giving is definitely up and we have received several encouraging emails from those wishing to join our team. Praise the Lord with us for His provision, and may God bless those who generously give!
There is so much more we could update you on, but as you can tell, this update is already quite lengthy. We will stop the update here for now.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how God is using all of us here at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. We covet your prayers. We praise God for being so good to us (in the good times as well as the trials). We feel so blessed and encouraged as we continue laboring for him here in The Bahamas.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
We are not employed by Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. The work we do here in the Bahamas is exclusively funded by the generous support of individuals and churches. If you feel led to do so, you may partner with us and support our ministry work by clicking on the “Shepherds Staff Mission Facilitators” logo in the side bar of this page and following the instructions. All donations are tax deductible. Thank you for your prayers and generosity. May God bless you!