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Yearly Archives: 2016
It is the end of December! You know what that means. It is the time of year we commemorate the birth of Jesus and take time to look back and reflect on the lessons learned this year. As we contemplate 2016, there are five clear lessons God has taught us this year:
- God’s grace is sufficient and timely. God sometimes gives us or allows us to be burdened with trials that are too difficult for us to bear, but with those trials and hardships, He provides His all sufficient grace to bear the heavy load. The grace He provides is also timely in that He provides it only in our time of need. What a comfort it is to know that there is never a short supply of grace to make it through those difficult times.
- What God is doing is so much bigger than us. We do not always understand why and how God is doing things. God’s plan for this world, our passport country, our country of residence, the ministry and even our own lives may not be clear or exactly how we think it should be, but God has a plan, and it revolves around Him and His glory. Everything we do, from the smallest of details to the largest of decisions, is fulfilling God’s purposes. Sometimes He graciously allows us to see glimpses of what He is doing. For the times we don’t see or understand what He is doing, we know we can trust Him that He is orchestrating life for His glory and our good.
- Things are not always done in our timing. “Have patience.” “It will be ready tomorrow” (yet tomorrow turns into next month). “It will get done eventually.” “These things take time.” Statements like these can be quite frustrating when you are waiting for something to get done or the results of an important decision. God has His own plans and acts on His own time schedule. It is often times hard to be patient and wait on the Lord. We can rest and know from past experience that our sovereign, providential God is in control of time schedules.
- Never assume, but rather ask more questions and give grace. We are sure we have been guilty of making assumptions based on incomplete information, and often times in our haste, we have come to the wrong conclusion about motives and actions of others. On several occasions this year, we have been on the receiving end of others making wrong conclusions about situations with which they had incomplete or misguided information. Each time it happened, it was very hurtful. These hurtful instances have caused us to be more diligent in making sure we are not too hasty. Things are not always what they appear. We are learning to ask more questions, assume less, and always give grace and the benefit of the doubt.
- You can never out give God. We decided earlier this year, despite not being fully supported (that is we did not have enough support coming in to cover all our projected expenses), we were going to go “above and beyond”. Besides giving to the Lord what is already His (tithe), we decided to meet needs of others as God brought them to our attention. We did just that this year, and do you know, despite giving more away this year than usual, we are in the black for the first time in a long time (what we brought in has met our expenses)?! Of course, support fluctuates from month to month and supporters come and go all the time. We will continue to be wise stewards of the resources God gives us, give generously to those in need, and trust God to supply all our needs (and then some). We know God is faithful.
As we come to the end of 2016 and reflect back on the lessons God has taught us, we are thankful He loves and cares for us. We remain humbled, blessed and amazed that God would so graciously allow us (with all our imperfections, idiosyncrasies, and general sinful tendencies) to be partakers of the great work He is doing here in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Ministry’s Many Facets
Ministering to strangers…God brought us to Nassau to serve as part of the ALC&C team by providing leadership to the Camp side of the ALC&C ministry. God has provided us ministry opportunities beyond the goings on at the Centre or Camp. You may recall earlier this year, we ministered to a young man from Turks and Caicos that was on the island for medical treatment and needed housing and assistance. Well, God has brought several others to us to minister to and care for throughout the year, and the most recent individual is a young man with us now for a few days. We have a burden for young men of the Bahamas, and God seems to be bringing them to our doorstep. We humbly seek to serve, mentor and encourage these young men. Please pray for this area of ministry as it provides unique challenges and opportunities for us.
Keeping things working…is always a challenge. It seems like things do not last long here. With the salty humid air, things seem to corrode and break down quicker. Tim and Aaron are constantly making adjustments and repairs of things at Camp (rest of the maintenance staff keep busy at the Centre as well).
Serving visitors/groups/mission teams is part of the job we do, but most the busy work is done before they even arrive. It takes a lot to prepare: email communications, menu planning, inventory taking, grocery shopping, staff meetings to coordinate schedules/logistics, cleaning, laundry, repairs, stocking supplies, lodging assignments, etc.
Putting out fires (literal as well as figuratively), repairs, and improvements are just some of the many talents of our very own Aaron Mills. We are so thankful for all he does and gets accomplished. We could not do it without him.
Assisting and Encouraging Young People…it is always a joy and privilege to support and assist young people we know. Recently we assisted in preparation and then attended a debate on homeschooling. The Opposition team to the premise “Homeschool is Inadequate and Socially Isolating” was comprised of students from CV Bethel; one of which was Zachary’s friend Devin McKenzie. CV Bethel competed well and won the debate. Another event we were able to attend was the Ministry of Education’s Art Exhibition. Megan Rolle won the Governor’s Choice Award for her art work. Megan has attended our Friday night Youth Night in the past and is the daughter of a friend and former Joy Bible Camper.
Enjoying community life…One of the benefits of living in community with other missionaries is the fellowship times we get to enjoy together.
Janel and Jon Keizer are Jesse’s mom and brother. They came for a visit from Wisconsin around Thanksgiving time and helped a few days at the Centre before taking Jesse offsite to enjoy some time at a resort for a couple of days. Having family here is always a huge encouragement.
Steven Lucht is a relative of ours and came for a week at the end of November/first of December. He helped out with various projects at the Centre and Camp. One of the jobs he helped complete was the painting of the ceiling in the new cabin. We appreciate the work he did.
Bob and Judi Balson are no strangers to ALC&C. They served with us here from the end of February 2014 until the first of January of this year. They helped with various projects around the Centre and Camp and helped the first night of the Christmas Lights Drive Thru. Having them back for 10 days made us realize how much we miss their presence and hard work. We were glad to be able to catch up with them and to see how God has been working in and through them. We look forward to other visits from them in the future.
Anne Kinsley (left) is good friends with Debbie Bird. She came for an extended weekend and helped with the Christmas Lights Drive Thru. We didn’t get to spend much time with her while she was here, but we so appreciate the encouragement she brought and the work she did.
Tracy Wiegand (Mindy’s cousin), Dick and Jerilyn Rausch, and Don Hinesly came from Rossville, Indiana and volunteered their time to help us get the bunk beds built for the new cabin as well as help with odd jobs around Camp and work with the animals at the Centre. They also helped with concessions on the last night of the Christmas Lights Drive Thru. We really appreciate their hard work, attention to detail and servant hearts. It is such an encouragement to have people willing to come and lend a hand with jobs that need completed. The beds for example had to be completed by the first of January when we have our group of 94+ people come.
Knowing that most of our staff would be off island the week before Christmas, our son Garrett and his wife Abby volunteered months ago to come and help us serve the mission team that came the week of December 18-23. They helped serve at the last night of the Christmas Lights Drive Thru, helped with various jobs around Camp, helped do jobs that have been needing done around our house but have been neglected as items of low priority, and helped us serve the AMSA/FAU group.
A group of college students who are a part of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) from Florida Atlantic University came December 18-23 for their fourth annual mission trip. They volunteered at Princess Margaret Hospital, Red Cross/Hands for Hunger, and Ranfurly Home for children and provided hypertension screening at a local store. We were able to attend their final night debrief and heard their stories of how the service opportunities impacted the lives. We enjoy serving this group and having our own share of impacting the lives of these young people.
Our sons Zachary and Logan came December 19 and December 24th respectively. They came to spend Christmas with us. We enjoyed their help with odd jobs as well, but mostly we have been enjoying time spent visiting with them.
Painting is done, fans are installed, beds are built (Thank you, Tim, Aaron, Dick and Don!), mattresses are in place, temporary curtains are hung on the clean windows, broom/dustpan/trash can are in place, and so on…The cabin is now ready to be occupied next week by Calvary Chapel Academy. We are so glad to have this beautiful cabin to offer to our guests.
Program at the Centre
You may recall from our last update that because of missed school during the hurricane, government schools cancelled all field trips for the fall term. Despite the lack of government schools, we did have a few private schools and preschools come for programming at the Centre. It is always a joy to see the children learning, playing, laughing, being loved on and encouraged, and experiencing the adventures at Adventure Learning Centre. It was also an encouragement to see organizations in the community blessing children with “fun days” at the Centre. All programs include a Gospel presentation. What a wonderful opportunity to touch each and every home in the Bahamas through the children.
Imagine the accomplishment and excitement for a small child after conquering her fear of the 40 foot super slide and finally sliding down. It is a heartwarming event to observe that is for sure. Remember, many of these children have likely never climbed stairs because many houses are only single story structures, the island is nearly flat, and there are very few tall buildings. We can go days without encountering more than a couple stairs into a building.
Adventure Club Christmas Party
Need we say more? The video says it all. Those of you who are not familiar with Adventure Club, it is an after school program for 5th and 6th grade children where ALC staff bring discipleship focused programing into the schools on a weekly basis.
Christmas Lights Drive Thru 2016: “Lights of Hope”
For the last couple weeks in November and first week of December, staff were occupied with preparations for the Christmas Lights Drive Thru 2016: “Lights of Hope”. You may recall from previous updates, the CLDT was in jeopardy because of time constraints brought about by Hurricane Matthew. God graciously sent us a volunteer, Debbie Bird, to come and oversee the set-up, execution and successful completion of the production. Debbie was a huge help to staff, particularly our event coordinator, Tika Penn. It can be easily said that the production would not have taken place if she had not come aboard to assist in the effort. Thank you, Debbie, for your guidance and the work you did!
The event was decreased from a 2 weekend event to a one weekend event, and instead of charging admission, we offered the event free of charge to the Bahamian community as a post-hurricane encouragement. We had over 3600 people come through our gates over the 3 nights of the event, and all were presented a clear Gospel message.
Update: Seeley Family
We have had a great Christmas with 3 of our sons, one of our daughter-in-laws and our granddaughter. Their presence with us for the holidays is a gift. We feel so blessed and are thanking God for a great time together.
Thank you for wading through this long update!
May God bless you, and may you have a blessed New Year!
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenancec upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)
When we first came to Nassau almost 4 years ago, we had two of our 4 sons with us. Now it is just the two of us facing an empty nest together and ministering side by side at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp.
You may recall in posts from earlier this year that I had been dreading Zachary’s October departure. A wise friend told me, “Mindy, God promises grace in all life’s circumstances, but grace isn’t given until it is needed. You don’t need it now because Zachary is still with you. When the time comes, you will be surprised at how God’s grace will meet you in your time of need.” Well, we have entered the “time of need”, and I must testify that God has more than abundantly provided!
I am surprised and amazed that an infinite God would care enough for me to not only provide peace and comfort in my time of sadness but also orchestrate life’s circumstances and my perspective so that I can see His grace.
Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath coincided with Zachary’s departure and thus has given me something else with which to preoccupy my time. Instead of coming back to the island to “normalcy” (people, events, schedules) after dropping Zachary off, things are so different then what they were a few months ago (even the landscape has changed). This “new” busy with clean-up efforts and serving many guests/volunteers has left me with little time to be sad. Furthermore, time heals wounds, and I am anticipating by the time things slow down, my heart will have adjusted to life without Zachary here.
As Tim and I enter this empty nest phase of our lives, we are doing so with a reliance on God, knowing that wherever life takes us, whatever comes our way, we will be carried through by an infinite, awesome God who cares very deeply for us. May God be glorified in all we do!
The last blog post centered around Hurricane Matthew: the aftermath video and resulting damages at ALC&C. Since the hurricane, we at ALC and those that have come to Nassau to help us clean-up and make repairs have gotten a lot accomplished. God has been good in providing funds and man power as well as fellowship from those here visiting. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it will take time to get everything completed. Please pray for wisdom/discernment in prioritizing tasks, finances to make necessary repairs (some damages were directly caused by the hurricane and others were brought to a head by the storm causing us to see the need to make repairs earlier than planned), and strength/stamina to complete storm related tasks as well as “normal” ministry tasks.
Welcome aboard to a couple of missionary ladies who are joining the ALC&C staff family! Both ladies are named Debbie and both come bringing with them talent and encouragement.
Debbie Bird is a past ALC&C staff member. She is returning to assist wherever she is needed in the ministry. In the immediate future, she is helping us direct the planning of lights and pageant scenes for the Christmas Lights Drive Thru.
Deborah Degen is from Germany (originally Ghana) and was referred to us by ALC founder, Randy Grebe who met Deborah on OM’s ship Logos Hope. We are excited to have Deborah and look forward to her time and talents being used here serving the Bahamian people as a facilitator at the Centre
We would also like to welcome local landscaper Andrew Cartwright to the volunteer staff of ALC&C. Andy has a servant heart and is volunteering time to help ALC&C oversee the grounds and getting it back to pre-hurricane beauty. He is also working with the ground guys to develop a schedule. Thank you, Andy, for your service!
This fall, all but one of our local guest groups cancelled their weekend stays at ALCamp because of the hurricane, but that did not mean we were not serving guests at Camp. You may recall from previous posts that one part of our ministry is hosting not only the mission teams and guest groups that come to stay at Adventure Learning Camp, but we also host individuals that come to minister at the ALC&C, see the ministry while on the island for a vacation/cruise, or require a place for respite from work done at other ministries around the country or around the world. Hurricane Matthew’s damage to the ALC&C provided a lot of opportunities for people to come and serve; we had a few ministry people stay with us to rest and retreat; and we had two couples come through while on cruises.
Calvary Chapel in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area sent 2 teams to help with hurricane clean-up and repairs on two different weekends following the hurricane. Both teams were a blessing to ALC&C as they helped with a bulk of the initial tree/brush clean-up and other various clean-up and repair jobs around the Centre and some at the Camp.
Youth by Youth group came after the hurricane to assist in the clean-up effort at ALC&C as well. Thank you: Denise Curry, Leader, Leonard Thompson, Briah Brown, Deandra Basden, Deneisha Knowles, Rickia Miller, La’Quaya Bethell, Erin Flowers, Sabrea Mackey, Lyndon Wallace, Rickai Roker, Rickia Roker, and Michael Miller, D’Shelle Duncombe, Lloydesha Brown, Samia Adderley, Samar Adderley
Mark Clark and his two sons were here at the beginning of November to help. They were scheduled to be here before the hurricane was even predicted. The plan was for them to help us build bunk beds for the new cabin at Camp, but his work at building fences at the Centre was needed more. Mark and the boys are from Pat and Janice’s home church in Delhi, NY.
Jordan K is good friends with Jen Rogers and came to help out with the animals at the Centre as well as in other areas at the Centre. We appreciate all she did to help as well as the time of encouragement she offered to Jen.
David Nunn is a young man who was here for 3 weeks from Windsor, Ontario Canada. He attends church with an ALC&C founding board member and was sent by the church to assist with the hurricane clean-up and repair. His first week here was spent in helping get the fences built and wired at the Centre. He also repaired small engine tools and put together Christmas light displays. We appreciate all this young man did and his godly character and testimony. He is going to be missed.
Dave and Gale Herwerden came to us for 2 weeks from Cleveland, Ohio. They worked hard (painting, cleaning, building fences, fixing the buses, etc), and their fun personalities were a bright spot for all of us during the working ours as well as the off times in the evenings. They had had plans to come and work here with us before the hurricane was even forecasted. Dave had been here in June as a chaperone with his church youth group at Grace CMA Church of Cleveland, Ohio.
Nicole Wojcik is from our church in Minnesota and was here with us a couple years ago. She returned at the first of November to help with hurricane related clean-up. She was one of the first persons to contact us and ask if she could come and help with the hurricane relief work. We enjoyed having her here and appreciate all the hard work she did.
Roger and Grace Grebe are ALC founder Randy Grebe’s parents. They know several of us here at ALC from our connections with them back in the States, and they stopped in to see the ministry while on a cruise that brought them to Nassau. It was a blessing getting to see them and receive a hug from “home”. We also got to enjoy a meal together at Outback Steakhouse.
Marty Fanning, Steve Mayo and Sean Fryer from Calvary Chapel Academy were with us for 2 days on a scouting trip. They are 3 of the leaders bringing the 8th graders from CCA on a mission trip here in January. In this picture they are standing in front of the fire ring bush area. The fire pit area is special to this group every year. This year the hurricane hit the area pretty hard and the team is going to come in January and help us clean it up. We always look forward to serving this team.
Celine Barr is a young lady from Red Bays, Andros. She has been here a couple of times. This time she was on sight for several days trying to get the proper paperwork to travel to the USA for a couple months. While she was here, she was introduced to what it is like to be a facilitator at the Centre, and guess what! She loved it. A possible application to be a facilitator maybe forthcoming from this sweet young lady!
Adam Greenhow is from the same church as David Nunn and came to serve with us a week and half ago. He is scheduled to be with us until December 8th. We have enjoyed getting to know him as well and appreciate the work he is doing with helping us get ready for the Christmas Lights Drive Thru.
David and Sue Bryant are fellow missionaries on Andros island just to the west of New Providence. They are the only missionaries in Red Bays (a settlement of about 400 people) and have come to us to rest and relax. They are spending Thanksgiving with family in Michigan but will be back with us again this weekend before heading back to Andros to continue their ministry work there. We feel blessed by their presence and are enjoying giving them the opportunity to retreat.
Walt and Marge Hutter are a couple from Andes, New York where Pat and Janice Armstrong hail from. Marge had been to ALC&C in earl 2014 on a mission trip with her church. We were able to stay with Walt and Marge when we were in Delhi, NY in November 2014. The Hutters had come to Nassau for a vacation with their daughter and her family, and we were able to pick them up at their hotel and bring them back to the ALC&C to visit and show Walt the ministry. This couple are great encouragers, and we are so thankful that they took time out of their vacation to spend some time with all of us.
Aaron, a couple of our visitors, Tim and I have been plugging away at getting the new cabin completed. It has to be done by January 4th when we welcome Calvary Chapel Academy here on their annual mission trip. The group of 94+ will be the first group to use the new cabin. With the painting and trim work nearly completed and the tile floor near completion, we will soon be able to start constructing 10 bunk beds. We have a team of 4 people from Rossville, Indiana coming in December to help us complete this very important project. Please pray that we are able to complete it before the holidays, so we can get some much needed rest while family is in town for Christmas.
Front Gate/Fence Issues (again)
Two weeks ago, we had two cars come through our fence and front gate within 2 nights of each other. It is hard to believe that it happened again. You may recall that we had 3 separate instances of cars coming through our gate/fence about seven months ago. This time the second accident took down our entire gate, opener, poles and fencing. We are “patiently” waiting for police reports to be finalized so we can have the car’s insurances pay for the work this time. We are also “patiently” waiting for the Ministry of Works to come and do something about this corner. Please pray that something is done about the curve and that the insurance comes through soon so we can get the property secured again.
We have not had many Youth Nights due to Hurricane Matthew, but the nights we have met, we have been studying the Armor of God. We have averaged 20-30 young people each night. The kids are divided into four groups for small group discussion times. Tim has been working with the grade 7-9 boys and I have been meeting with the grade 7-9 girls. It has been great getting to know these young people.
Some programming at the Centre has continued, but mostly the groups have been pre-school aged children. The government schools have been advised by the Ministry of Education to not go on field trips because the lost school days during the hurricane. The children coming into the Centre may be young, but we are thankful we get the opportunity to minister to them. Adventure Clubs (programs int he schools) have been taking place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please pray that school programs will be able to begin again in the new year. Also pray for the facilitators that have not been using the learned curriculum that they will be able to remember what they have learned.
Christmas Lights Drive Thru
For a while following the hurricane, the Christmas Lights Drive Thru (one of our 2 annual community Gospel outreaches/ministry fundraisers) was in jeopardy. Hurricane damages as well as manpower and time needed for repairs and clean-up efforts made it unclear whether we were going to be able to pull it off. But we have decided, the show must go on! This year, as an encouragement to the Bahamian people following Hurricane Matthew, ALC&C will be presenting its Christmas Lights Drive Thru (CLDT) free of charge. Of course the event is not “free” to operate, and it is costing the ministry in terms of lost revenue, but we are providing the event free of charge nonetheless. We are encouraging the people of the Bahamas while getting an opportunity to present the clear Gospel message to all those who come through our gates. Please pray for all who attend that their hearts will be softened to the story of Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection!
In October, we took Zachary back to Indiana to live with my parents. He will be continuing his studies with Liberty University online, working full time, and getting settled back into USA life. We enjoyed our visit with family and helping Zachary acclimate. He has grown up so much over the last month.
Our trip to Indiana was a whirlwind trip with visits to a couple supporting churches and one of our ministry partners/major donors, visits with some of my relatives, and attendance at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor’s Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Besides the conference and the visits and helping Zachary get adjusted to adult life, we were also able to take advantage of working internet and telephones to connect with ALC donors and work on hurricane relief efforts from State side.
We will be staying here for Christmas. We have a mission team at the Camp December 18-23rd and then a team the first week in January. All our children except our oldest son and his wife will be coming for Christmas. Garrett, Abby and the baby will be coming on December 10th to help us serve the mission team and will be leaving the day after Christmas. Zachary comes on December 19th and Logan on December 24th. We are so looking forward to having them here.
At this Thanksgiving time, we cannot help but pause for a moment and give thanks to God for you and your interest in our lives and ministry work and for your support of us in your thoughts and prayers. For those of you who contribute to our ministry work, a special thank you! Without prayers and financial support of people like you, we could not be doing what we are doing.
We pray God’s blessing on you! Please keep in touch. It is a great encouragement to hear from you!
ALC&C staff are tired and overwhelmed, but we are all safe and praising God things are better than they could have been. We are thanking God for sparing us the excessive storm surge and rain that was originally forecasted and that he sent the storm at low tide rather than high tide as originally forecasted.
Impactful Video of Hurricane Matthew’s Destruction
Even with the lower amount of rain/surge, we still have a lot of standing water at both sites, buildings at both the Centre and Camp have sustained some roof damage and other minor to moderate damage, many fences have been broken, cabinets in the Centre kitchen and Nature Centre were damaged by water, uprooted trees damaged underground utilities, the new boardwalk in the wetlands is gone, and there are many downed trees. We are also without power and cable/internet because of downed cable/power lines in the area. It may be days or weeks before we get power restored.
Although the amount of work ahead of us may be daunting, we are praising God for no loss of life and that we are already receiving a few calls from people asking how they can help with the relief effort.
We are helpless without God. We need Him for strength, stamina, wisdom, discernment, daily provision, and so much more. Everything else comes to us as a result of prayer.
Please pray that God will guide us, direct us, sustain us, keep us, give us wisdom and discernment, and provide all our needs.
Please pray that we are able to start ministering to the Bahamian people soon. In order to do this we must first get our own houses, lives, and facilities in order.
Please pray that God supplies funds (for our staff as well as for the ministry) for repairs and supplies and laborers to come and help us clean and make necessary repairs.
Please pray for the clean-up, repair of not only the ALC&C but also for the people of the Bahamas.
Please pray for the strains and concerns that many may have that may lead some to commit crimes. We all know desperation can cause people to do bad things.
Please pray the power comes back on soon. We are in the coastal area, and as such, all houses in our area need to be inspected one by one to make sure that there are no water issues that will affect the power lines before the power company turns on the current.
Please pray for the people of the Bahamas that their hearts are softened at this time and turn to God.
Of course the easiest material ways to help is financial contributions, both for the ministry and for the missionary staff.
The ministry will not be bringing in funds while the facility is not operating.
Repairs and replacement of damaged or destroyed items will be costly. The board walk alone is over $30,000 (it was just replaced in 2014).
Normal everyday expenses continue to accumulate: Bahamian staff salaries, animal care, animal feed, utilities, increased costs of goods and services due to shortages and supply interruptions and lack of refrigeration.
Some needs are not noticeable now but may become evident as time passes (ie cabin 6 appears ok now, but it still has water in it and around it)
Donations can be made by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/1Kh8o5Y
Missionary Staff Needs
The main issues for the missionary staff are loss of food from spoilage due to power outage and increased cost of food due to shortage issues and supply interruptions. Many staff are barely making it on the donations they receive, and this added expense as well as other added expenses will strain already tight budgets.
Donations to missionary staff can be made at this link: http://alcbahamas.org/staff/
Come and lend a hand
This is something that is going to be needed immediately as well as over the next several months. We already had a long list of tasks and deadlines of things that needed to get done, and with this hurricane, our maintenance staff will be stretched further. As you contemplate and pray for laborers to come (maybe it is you), here are a few things to keep in mind.
Our staff is stretched and will need people to come along side us and help pull the load, not burden it further. We are looking for skilled (NOT only construction trade skills), hard-working, mature individuals.
In the interim, the work will be hot, dirty and in not so desirable conditions. We may or may not have electricity available.
Food: Volunteer laborers will need to come prepared to take care of their own food needs (especially over the next month) as store supplies and refrigeration here may be limited. Volunteers can use the Camp kitchen to prepare their food, but remember if we don’t have electricity, stove and refrigeration is limited. Think camping in the wild when planning food (ie MRE’s, Freeze dried food, etc).
Lodging: Volunteers working at ALC&C can stay at Camp (just remember power may or may not be available and staff will do their best to make you comfortable).
Run chain saw
Construction help (siding, soffit, fascia, kitchen cabinets, mason/cement work, fence repair)
Spread the word
Could you please help us out by disseminating this blog post. We need as many people to see this as possible. A few people cannot do it all, but a large group of people sure can!
Thank you so much for your support of us and the ministry here.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
As many of you may have heard by now, we are dealing with our very first hurricane here in the Bahamas. We are in the direct path of Matthew. Matthew is New Providence’s very first, direct-on hit, category 3-4 hurricane since 1929. A category 1 hurricane is dangerous enough, but this category 3-4 hurricane can be catastrophic for this tiny 7 mile x 21 mile island. There is no precedence and the fear is that people will not take this one seriously.
We should begin seeing affects of the storm around 2pm tomorrow which happens to be high tide. This does not bode well for New Providence, especially for us that live on the low lands on the south side of the island. The storm is arriving from the south and will cause a storm surge of 15-18 feet. Because we are only .5 mile from the ocean and are on flat ground (near sea level) we will not be staying here. We are going to higher ground on the north side of the island. We will be staying with our pastor and his family.
We have been working over these last 2 days to get the Camp secure (We have done the best we can, and though not what we would like, we have to leave the rest in God’s hands). Today I finished up packing our house and moving many things to loft areas around Camp. Tim and Aaron worked cutting wood and boarding up windows.
Please pray as we finish up our “getting ready” tomorrow and that we are able to finish well and get out of here by noon when things start deteriorating. We still have quite a bit to do. We are exhausted (I essentially packed our house alone today while Tim and Aaron boarded up windows).
Please pray for safety. We pray that life is preserved and that no one is hurt. (All staff here are evacuating to the north side of the island). If you could see how some people live here and know how stubborn people can be (they will not heed warning to leave), you can imagine that loss of life in the South Beach area is a real possibility.
Pray for the aftermath. For smaller hurricanes that have not hit this island directly, power outages can last weeks and months. Infrastructure is such that repairs take a lot of time and some times just don’t get done. We are concerned for the inconvenience of it but also for the affect it will have on this ministry.
Please pray for miraculous care of the facility both here and at the Centre and pray that the animals live. We have no way to secure them for this type of storm. We are afraid for them. It saddens us. But we are doing everything we can do safely.
I am not sure when we will be able to communicate again. We will keep you posted as much as and as soon as we can.
Thank you for your prayers!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
We have been full-time missionaries for over 7 years. Before we began the full-time ministry work in Wisconsin and then here in The Bahamas, God gave us a very important ministry in our own home. Ministry to our young children began on March 15, 1989 and continued until the 22nd of this month when Zachary turned 18. For more than 10,053 days, we were responsible for stewarding, shepherding, guiding, loving, training, discipling our sons into adulthood.
For those of you beginning or in the middle of this journey of parenting young children, let us encourage you. Parenting children may well be the most important ministry you will ever have. Like any task, if God has called you to it (which He has), He is faithful and will equip you for the task. Remember, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24, ESV). Even though parenting is hard work, parenthood is a great journey, a rewarding full-time ministry. Do not go it alone. Rely on God’s all sufficient grace!
We rejoice for the 10,053 days that God allowed us to minister and pour into our sons, and we look forward to the next chapter of our lives and the journey He has for us. Though different and unclear, we can rest assured that God is in control and has a plan for us.
Let the new year at ALC begin!
The new year has begun at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp, and we began September with staff orientation and training. After the board sponsored retreat day for all staff and board members at The Cove Atlantis, Camp and Centre staff joined in on 2 weeks of team building activities, Centre/Camp orientations, and some trainings. Facilitator staff had more detailed training by themselves. We have a great group of staff this year, and we are excited to see what the year will bring.
We welcome 2 missionary and 2 Bahamian staff members. From left to right: Eva (pronounced Afa) Sartor is from Germany and is here for a year working as a facilitator at the Centre. Kentario McKenzie is from Nassau and is a new facilitator at the Centre. Returning to work in maintenance and do project management for mission teams is Jesse Keizer. Also returning after being gone for a couple years is Elton Deetjen who will be facilitating at the Centre. We are excited to have all 4 of these young people serving alongside us!
Business Trip to Pennsylvania
A couple weeks ago, we were in Philadelphia, PA for a conference: networking and learning how to better use ALC&C’s donor software. While in Pennsylvania, we were able to connect with the church in Lancaster, PA that has sent a mission team to Nassau these last 3 years.
Buy a Seat
We have been struggling to keep our old busses up and running. We have school groups asking us to bring a bus that has seat belts to pick up their children. We have issues with large buses moving in and out of some of the smaller school parking lots. We also serve smaller groups at the camp that do not specifically need the big school busses. Because of these needs and concerns, we are looking to add a Jitney style bus to our fleet of buses. In order to do this, we need to call on the generosity of people like you. We have started a “Buy a Seat, Bring a Smile to a Child” campaign. For $1500, individuals, youth groups, VBS programs, school groups, churches, etc can purchase a seat. Only 34 seats purchased will buy a new bus, and the nice thing is, we already have 2 seats purchased. Isn’t that wonderful?
Every child that comes through the gates of Adventure Learning Centre is presented the gospel. Please prayerfully consider joining us in this venture that will have eternal rewards! You may click here or on the bus above, and it will take you directly to our donation link. Thank you!
Not much has changed on the new cabin this month. Between being at a conference mid-month, Friday night Youth Night starting back-up, and trying to get things up and running for our upcoming 3rd annual Young Adult Weekend, we have not had much time to work on finish work of the new cabin. We have the windows and will be getting them installed soon. After the window installation, finishing of the branding can commence, and then we can work on painting and tiling.
Projects too numerous to count!
A harder working plodder would be hard to find. Aaron continues to amaze us with his abilities and the amount of work he gets accomplished. Camp: tweaking front gate opener, installing wiring to supply back-up power to gate opener, trenching to replace overhead power lines and water piping, rewiring the entire office building (including adding upgrades), building a closet in the office, replacing light fixtures destroyed by brown outs and power surges, and the list could go on. All these projects are on top of the organization and cleaning jobs he does to keep Camp looking beautiful. We are so glad to have Aaron and are blessed with his presence, not only as a good worker but as a friend.
Guests and Visitors
David Beasley, a past Patmos graduate and a friend of a former Camp Director, came from Fort Lauderdale area for a 10 day trip to minister at All Saints Camp. We enjoyed the opportunity to get know this guy. His testimony and story is inspiring, and we are so honored to have had him with us at the Camp and in our home.
Did you know we also serve family mission trips? This week we had the privilege of hosting the Krohn family from the Atlanta area. They served the Bahamian people at Children’s Emergency Hostel, BAPD, and Bahamas Downs Syndrome. They also helped with chores and work projects at the Centre and Camp. We were able to host them at our house for dinner one night, and as we asked them (the children particularly) to share their feelings of what they have learned and experienced on this trip, the first thing Morgan (the daughter) said was, “We don’t usually spend this much time together in one room” (speaking of the family’s time together during ministry work and staying in Cabin 6 together). These trips are more than service opportunities for families, they are also opportunities to be together, to minister together, to work together and to learn together.
Friday Night Youth Night Resumes
We have had good turn outs for our first 2 nights of Friday night Youth Night. This year we are learning about the Armor of God, and Tim and I both are getting to disciple boys in grades 7-9 and girls in grades 7-9 respectively during small group discussion time. We are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in the young people’s lives.
Young Adult Weekend
Our 3rd annual Young Adult Weekend is a week away. We are excited to be having Jay Seegert back as our guest speaker. The young people will be learning how to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile, intolerant society. We have partnered with Bahamas Youth Network members and are looking for a good turn out this year. Tim was able to get in a couple of radio commercials at local radio stations. We are so excited for the weekend.
Daily school programs and after school Adventure Clubs have resumed for the year. We have had a great week of government preschools this week, and the first week of training we had a Funday hosted by Family Guardian for the Bahamas Downs Syndrome. It looks like it is going to be another exciting year at Adventure Learning Centre!
Update: Seeley Family
On September 22nd, we had the ALC&C family join us for pizza and ice cream/cake for Zachary’s 18th birthday celebration! Parents of minor children no more. We made it!
Ok, you knew it was going to happen! I have to share the latest picture I have of our sweet baby girl Anastasia. We won’t bore you with the details. Just let us say that she and her parents are doing well. The rest of the kids are doing well also. The family picture here was taken at the end of August while we were back in Minnesota.
As we finish this update, we ask that you keep us in your prayers:
God be glorified: First and foremost, please pray that God be glorified in all we do, and that we and this ministry remains faithful to Him. Pray that we will remain true, gracious and merciful.
Support: Our support has dropped off a bit since earlier this year, and things are a bit tight for us. Please pray God raises up some new ministry partners to support us in the work we are doing here. Other staff here are struggling with low support levels as well. Please pray for all of us! It is tough trying to raise support while trying to continue the work here on the ground. If you would like to access our online donation site and make a donation, you may do so by clicking here or on the logo to the left. Thank you!
Travel and Transition: We take Zachary back to the States on October 13th. He will be living with Mindy’s parents in Indiana. Pray he adjusts quickly, finds a job easily and is able to get his driver’s license. Pray for us as we adjust to life here without him. We will be taking a few days between dropping him off and returning to the island to attend a pastor’s conference in Indianapolis. Pray we receive some much needed R&R.
Wisdom/Discernment and Strength/Stamina: As always we pray for wisdom and discernment as we serve the people of the Bahamas and those coming to serve the Bahamian people. We also ask that you pray that we continue to serve with energy and vigor.
Praise the Lord: For opportunity to serve and to minister to our family as well as the people of the Bahamas and those that come here to serve the Bahamian people. What a privilege it is to be able to take part is helping to build the Kingdom of God. We are so incredibly blessed.
Thank you for your interest in our lives and ministry work.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
(This month is heavy on the personal update and lighter on the ministry update. You will see why as you continue through the post.)
We are currently in Minnesota. Zachary and I have been here since August 4th and Tim since the 23rd. We will be returning to Nassau on September 3rd (this Saturday).
When we came, our goals were to get a break from the heat/humidity, rest up from a busy season (remember we had only a couple days off this summer), spend time with our kids/parents/siblings, welcome and get to know our first grandchild, and get refocused/renewed in our excitement for the ministry work we do (this always seems to naturally happen when we are away). Although rest was not quite attained on this trip, we are happy to report that all other objectives were pretty much met. Of course one can never have too much time with kids and grandkids, we are thankful to God for the time we did get to spend with Andrew and Katie, Garrett and Abby, Anastasia, Logan, Tim’s parents, my parents, my twin sister, and Tim’s sisters/families.
An Addition to the Seeley Family
God has blessed Garrett and Abby with an adorable, sweet baby girl, Anastasia Lucile Seeley. She was born at 8pm on Friday, August 5th and has not only been sleeping through the night since day 3 but has also wiggled her way into all our hearts. Grammy is in love/enthralled/captivated, Grandpa thinks she is pretty special, and Uncle Logan and “Big Z” are enamored with her and love the brief moments they can steal her out of someone else’s arms to hold her and love on her. We have enjoyed this month (week for Tim) getting to know her, bond with her and help her parents adjust to parenthood.
The new phrase we heard often from our boys on this trip was, “don’t be one of those guys.” Well, we must be “one of those grandparents.” We are about to share some, in our opinion, pretty amazing photos and video footage. After all, you are only a first time grandparent one time. Many of you will likely be unimpressed, but for those of you who are interested, enjoy! (Just be glad I did not share all the photos. You would be looking at them all day.)
I was not aware of the 2 videos being taken at the hospital. I thought Logan was just taking pictures, but I am so glad he did. The first two videos are of our son first introducing each of us to his daughter. The third video is of me getting to hold Anastasia for the very first time.
Ministry Update: ALC&C
With August being a slow time for the ministry (especially at the Centre), many of the missionary staff take the opportunity to go back to the States to visit family and report to supporters. Most of the missionary staff (except Aaron Mills and Tim) did indeed leave for the month of August. Most of us will be returning this week. When we all return, one of the faces that will be missing is our sweet Micah Godsey. She came last August to serve a year as facilitator at the Centre. She left on August 2nd to return to Indiana and begin the next chapter of her life. We appreciate all this young lady did and her sacrifice and willingness to give up a year of her life to serve the Bahamian people. We are going to miss you, Micah Joy, and wish you all the best.
Many of you remember Jesse Kaizer. He is the young man from Wisconsin that came here in late April to volunteer with the Summer Day Camp. He decided this summer that the ALC&C is a good fit for him and is returning this next weekend to serve for a year helping out in the maintenance department, with after school Adventure Clubs and with project management (working with mission teams when they serve on work projects at the Centre and Camp). We are so excited that Jesse has decided to stay another year. Please pray for him as details of his job and support raising are ironed out.
Ministry Update: Camp
Guests and Visitors
Eglise Evangelique Haitenne C&MA from Montreal Canada
As I mentioned earlier, Tim did not arrive here in Minnesota until last Tuesday. He could not come back with us on the 4th because we had a mission team on site for the week of August 15-22nd. The report is that the team was fantastic and a joy to serve. They served Carmichal Evengelical Church, pouring into their youth department and their women’s ministry. Ms. Ada came and cooked for the group while, Tim, Aaron and Julian served the team’s other needs.
Julian is no stranger to the Bahamas and ALC&C. He comes nearly every year from his home in Toronto to help out. He loves the heat (we have not quite figured that one out yet) and serving alongside us. We enjoy having him around, and the work he does is a huge help. This year he helped Tim serve the mission team and worked on many projects around Camp. Thank you, Julian for your hard work. (I am so sorry I missed you this year. You are just going to have to come back at Christmas.)
Cabin Construction in August
Since I was not on site to take pictures or watch the progress of the construction, other then what I see in the pictures, I could not begin to tell you what is done and what is going on. At least you will have some idea what is going on when you look at the slide show.
Part of the reason we are so busy and not able to get a lot of rest while we are here in Minnesota (of course supply shopping/packing, working on ALCamp things from afar, and “baby” duty/care of mommy and daddy are taking some time) is because Tim’s folks just bought a new place and are in the process of selling their home of 49 years. This has left us scrambling to find a storage facility so we can move all our personal things out of their basement. Thankfully, God had that all worked out and we have been making the 27 mile trek to the storage locker to store what few things we have left. It was a great experience purging things yet again. It is such a liberating feeling to be letting go of more worldly possessions. Other than the small amount of personal items we own in the Bahamas, our worldly possessions are contained in that 5×5 storage locker. We have also been doing projects around the house to get it ready to sell.
Time out to visit friends/supporters
We had the opportunity to visit a supporting church this past Sunday and give a brief update. This Sunday was also the date another missionary was speaking. This gentleman is a Columbian man serving in Bolivia. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear his story and how God is working in the ministry he is a part of. We also got to visit some dear friends from Eden Baptist Church where we attended when we lived here and with an aunt, uncle and cousin on their farm about 3 hours away from here.
This is not a lengthy post this time, but it is full of pictures. There is a lot coming up over the next several days and weeks. We appreciate your prayers as we journey back to Nassau and hit the ground running on Monday. The ALC&C board will be on site this weekend when we return, and they have a special retreat day planned for staff for Monday as we begin 2 weeks of orientation.
Thank you for taking the time to get caught up on what is going on. Thank you also for your prayers and support of us. We look forward to any and all correspondence, so please write when you can.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
If you know me (Mindy), you know that I am textbook extrovert. I love people, am energized by people and thrive on being around people. I cannot remember a day where I have not been an extrovert. That is until a couple weeks ago. That day, I switched from being an extrovert to being an introvert, much like flipping the light switch from light to dark. It was foreign to me, and I could not understand my feelings and emotions. Yes, even we extroverts get days where we need some privacy, but on that day it was much more than that. It was beyond “I need to go in my house and shut the door to the world.” It was all that and, “I don’t want to see, talk to, or think about people.” I even found myself disliking people (not certain persons, only people in general). What made those feelings worse for me was the guilt I was experiencing for feeling so unloving. As much as I prayed that day for that feeling to go away and for my love and desire to be with people to return, it would not. As the day would pan out, God had lessons for me to learn that day.
As the day began, I found it very hard to get up and think about facing the mission team, staff and others at breakfast let alone serve them with a cheerful smile. Being greeted with “the freezer door was left open last night and everything is thawing” did not help my already troubled spirit as I entered the Camp kitchen just before breakfast, and as I worked through cooking all the meat that had partially thawed, I found myself growing more and more impatient and uncharitable to people. After the work was done, I walked home, relieved to enter my house and close the door behind me. But wait, we live on sight of the ministry which means our door is open to all. It wasn’t too long after I arrived home that someone on our staff came walking in our back door. This usually does not bother me, but all I wanted to do was scream, “Doesn’t anyone know how to knock around here?” I just smiled and pretended I was ok.
At lunch time, I had reached my limit, and began almost in tears to explain my foreign feelings to my husband, who immediately (unbeknown to me) took that as his opportunity to get me out of the house and off property that evening by saying, “I am taking you out to dinner tonight.” Almost immediately, the thought of getting away from people we know began to soften my heart, so I was able to plod through the afternoon. As we left for dinner and my excitement at finally having my husband to myself began to set in, I found myself relaxing a bit, but I still felt ornery and not wanting to see anyone I know. We had a wonderful quiet dinner and then drove out East to watch the sea reflect the rays of the setting sun behind us. Sitting on that bench with my sweethearts arm around me-just the two of us-I felt safe and at peace all the while realizing that only several miles away, a group of people I know and love were waiting for us to return. I did not want to return. In the end, I knew we must so I agreed to going back.
As we entered the Camp, we saw Aaron fixing the gate (again, poor guy), and my uncharitable thoughts towards people came back. Even as we pulled into our parking spot and started walking toward the house, my thoughts were of getting inside before someone saw us and decided to pay us a visit. As I hurriedly walked up to the porch (our car alarm was going off and Tim’s clicker was not working, so I was going in the house to get mine), I noticed through the dark screen around our porch that RJ was sitting in the corner by the door. I could also see Kevin. My immediate thought was, oh no, Zachary decided to have the young people over for the evening. I was about ready to whisper to him, “I was hoping to come home to some peace and quiet”, when all of a sudden, “Surprise, Happy 5oth Birthday!” erupted from a porch full of people. Just as the switch that morning went from extrovert to introvert, I immediately switched from introvert to extrovert again. The transformation was sudden and amazing to me. After a few tears (more out of feeling guilty for my uncharitable thoughts) and a speech of gratitude to everyone, my heart was gladdened and I once again enjoyed the presence of these dear people.
Why is this story so important? It is because of what I learned that day…I not only learned what a wicked sinner I am (I had some pretty uncharitable thoughts about people and circumstances), but I also learned what my introvert husband (and others who are like him) experiences when he is around people all the time. It gave me a sensitivity that I could never understand before. Above all, the experiences of that day showed me how God is in control and works things out for His glory and our good. Had I not wanted to be away from people, I would not have cried out to my husband at lunch; he would not have said and I willingly accepted, “I am taking you out to dinner tonight, away from this place and all the people.”; we would not have gotten away and allowed the other staff to bless me in the way they did with the surprise party; and in the end I would not have seen how God switched me miraculously from not wanting to see people to loving and embracing those dear people around me (which is exactly how I felt immediately after the “surprise” welcomed me onto our porch that night).
Please continue to pray for our bus situation. We were blessed by the addition of another very, very well used bus to our fleet of already well used buses. We were able to purchase it on the island, and although cosmetically a little rough, it does run. We could still use another nicer, more reliable bus. Buses not only transport the school children to the Centre during the school year to experience the adventures at Adventure Learning Centre and hear the Gospel presented, the buses are also heavily used to transport mission teams to and from the airport and to ministry sites around the island and to transport summer day camp children to off site outings and field trips.
As we mentioned in the June update, we had several volunteers come this summer to help out. They came at their own expense and worked under very hot/humid conditions to serve the Bahamian people and those here to serve the Bahamian people on mission trips. Thank you to all of you who came to help us serve the mission teams at Camp and the day camp children at the Centre this summer! We appreciate all you did and the time we had to spend with each of you.
Back to back to back groups and cabin construction has been the name of the game for us at the Camp this summer. We have had someone at the Camp every day (except 2 days) this summer since mid-May. A lot of ministry and a lot of progress on major construction has taken place. It has been a grueling schedule, but we have made it through by God’s grace and with the help from some very dedicated volunteers that came to help us out.
We will let the picture slide show tell the story. The local guys worked on the construction up until this past Monday. Now the rest can be completed by Tim and Aaron. It is coming right along.
We are already preparing and looking ahead to our next big construction projects at Camp: 2 new staff cottages. Cottage 2 (Pat and Janice Armstrong’s residence) and Cottage 3 (single female staff cottage) are currently located to the southeast of the dining hall. We have the permits in hand for the construction of Cottage 1 (single male staff cottage) and Cottage 4 (couple housing). Our maintenance guy, Denny, has already been working at clearing the sites for construction. We are hoping to use mission teams to help construct these cabins. Please pray for teams and materials to complete these two projects.
July Guest Groups and Visitors
Shekinah Family Ministries Summer Camp (June 29-July 1)
The last week of June into July was supposed to be a week long camp for a group of precious children from a local church, but the week long camp had to be changed to a 2 day camp because of financial hardship of the church. The joy of the children at this camp was touching to say the least, and because we got to be a part of the camp because we cooked for them, we were blessed to see the exuberance of the children. On departure day, the children were sad to have to go. Their loving leader, Samantha Evans, is such a patient kind lady and takes her job as leader of the children’s ministry at her church very seriously. It is a blessing to see this group and to serve them.
Mission Discovery 3 (July 1-July 10)
The second summer week for Mission Discovery (the third for the year) took place the first week of this month. The group that MD hosted was from Fort Worth Texas. It was a large group, and they served at 2 Haitian churches and both the girl’s school and the boy’s school. This was a mission team experienced church that did a great job teaching and discipling their young people. Of course we enjoyed the fellowship with the returning MD leaders as well.
Peace Church (July 10-16)
The Blitz Student Ministries of Peace Church from Wilson, NC has been coming to Nassau for mission trips for many years. Their leader, Brad Perry, is the youth and missions pastor of their church. He brings his wife and parents with him on the trip to chaperone, and of course we are always blessed and encouraged by these dear people. We enjoy partnerships with them in ministry and friendship. This year they worked with VBS at Pastor Bazile’s church (a Haitian church) and did work projects at Pastor Bazile’s house and around Camp. One of the tougher jobs they helped with was the trench digging to help Aaron bury a line leading to the bath house. What great servants they are!
E-team (July 16-23)
The E-team, comprised of members from 3 Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Pennsylvania and Maryland, came to help run the Music Camp at Kingdom Life Church (a Sovereign Grace Ministries Church here on New Providence which happens to also be our church). Because the team is from our sister churches, we feel a special connection with them. Zachary was able to spend the entire week as the 16th member of the team. We were excited that Zachary was able to serve alongside this awesome team. We got to spend one evening out with this team.
First Covenant Church Hamilton (FCCH) (July 16-23)
Another awesome team (our summer was full of these awesome teams) which happened to coincide with the E-team, was the team from First Covenant Church of Hamilton, Massachusetts and led by our very own Chelsea Kingston Erickson. Chelsea not only did a fantastic job of serving the community associated with Pastor Wilney Joseph’s church, Carmichael Evangelical Church, she sacrificed time home with her new husband (she was newly married in June) to lead the team to Nassau. She has a heart for the church here, and their group came alongside the church members and helped the church members operate a day camp/VBS in their community. It was such an awesome ministry that they did in that they partnered/came alongside an existing ministry to help equip the local ministry instead of taking over and running the show. Way to go FCCH! We got to spend an evening with these folks and enjoyed the fellowship and hearing from each of the team members through out the evening.
Methodist Churches of Caribbean and America Summer Camp (July 24-28)
This week we hosted another local group that ran a kids camp of their own on our property. The group consisted of 24 children ages 9-12 and 6 leaders. On one evening, a bus of 30+ teenagers aged 13-18 from the group’s church came to join the younger children for a camp fire. Camp was full of children’s laughter, bouncing basketballs on the basketball court, and the occasional stern reprimand of leaders trying to get the children to obey orders. We always love having children use this facility. After all, it is a camp, and Camp ministry is our passion.
Boy’s Brigade (July 29-August 1)
This weekend, we will be hosting a group of young boys from Abundant Life Bible Church. Our Ms. Ada (cook at the Centre) is one of the leaders of the Boy’s Brigade and brings the group here for an annual camp the first weekend in August (Monday is a holiday-Emancipation Day-so it is a 3 day weekend). We do not have pictures yet of course, but we will try to squeeze some in to next month’s blog.
Summer Day Camp has been the dominating scene at the Centre. The children have been treasure hunting here, there and everywhere. Most of all, they found the treasure of God’s Word in classes and daily interactions!
Happy Birthday to my wombmate, Melissa McDaniel, who lives in Summerville, SC! Wish we could be together for this milestone birthday. I love you, Twinnie!
Besides my 50th birthday which happens this Sunday, Tim and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary on Monday, August 1st. It is so hard to believe that it has been nearly 3 decades since we began doing life together. As we reflect back on the years and see how God has worked and moved in our lives, we are in wonder and amazement at what a great, awesome, providential God we have. Our union has not only brought about a great deal of sanctification in each of us, it has produced 4 great young men, 2 wonderful daughters-in-law, a soon-to-arrive granddaughter, an exciting life of ministry, and many joyful, treasured memories. We thank God for His blessings on our lives!
Celebrating our Passport Country’s Birthday
July 4th was a work day for us. We had a mission team here and decided to treat the team to a quick birthday celebration with decorations and traditional 4th of July picnic food. Paula Brown made a beautiful watermelon carving.
Enjoying Family and Friends
Zachary and I will be leaving for Minnesota on August 4th, and Tim will be joining us on August 23rd. We will all return to the island together on September 3rd in preparation for new staff orientation on September 5th (Zachary’s return to the States for good will come in October).
Please pray for Tim as he stays behind to hold the fort down and serve the one last mission team that is coming August 15-22. He has Aaron and Ms. Ada here with him, and Jullian Williams (a Toronto man who used to be program director at the Centre and that comes every year for several weeks) will be coming on the 17th to help serve the group for part of the week. Tim will be managing the team and staff alone.
Whew! You made it through another lengthy post. Saving these updates for once a month, though necessary because we don’t have time to do them any more often then that, makes for long posts. We really appreciate your support of us by keeping up to date on what is going on. Please contact us and let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you!
God bless, and have a great weekend!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:26 (ESV)
Long ago I learned the verses, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13, ESV) and “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19). For many Christians, these are go to verses in times of trial and struggles or when they have a list of things they want or think they need.
Recently I read a “Solid Joys” devotional (from Desiring God ministries) where author John Piper challenges the reader to understand that true contentment in all circumstances is possible in that God promises us the strength to do all things and will supply all our needs. When it is perceived that a need is not being met, a person can become covetous which is “loss of contentment in Christ so that we start to crave other things to satisfy the longings of our hearts.” We need to battle back against covetousness and rest contentedly in God’s grace.
There are those who, in their attempts to encourage us, would say, “God knows what you can handle and will give you nothing more than you can bear.” Did you know that that is not biblical? It sounds good, and I confess I heard it all my growing up years and believed it, but it is wrong. God will indeed give you or allow to be given to you that which is more than you can bear. The key is, He will give you nothing more than what you can bear while availing yourself to His all sufficient grace and strength. You cannot do it alone. He will give me a too-heavy-load, but with that load, he has given me the grace to bear it through His all sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As this post is going to press, we are in the midst of a very busy season. We have been serving groups since May 24th, and have had someone here at Camp to serve every day since then (and will have someone here everyday until August). Add to all the groups we are serving the maintenance issues (expected and unexpected), staff training/development, new cabin construction, leadership responsibilities, enduring the heat and humidity, and not having enough staff, one can easily see why we say we have a very heavy work load.
We love serving others, and we are so thankful God has allowed us to serve Him full time here. We love being able to pour into the lives of others and minister to the needs of Bahamians and those coming to serve Bahamians. We also are encouraged as we see the work God is doing in those we are serving, but reality is we are still frail humans suffering from exhaustion (not meant as a complaint, only a fact that needs prayer).
We are in need of constant refocusing and reminders that God is in control, He is the one that provides us with strength, He supplies all our needs, and His grace is sufficient for us in bearing the heavy load he has called us to bear. He is the source of our contentment. Please continue to pray for us as we keep going and doing what we are doing. Pray also that God sends the right people to help bear the load here. Pray that we are able to recognize Satan’s attempts to defeat, destroy and discourage so we do not succumb.
Ministry Update: ALC&C
It seems like only yesterday it was January and we were welcoming Chloe Eisermann (center) to the ALC&C family, but time flew by so quickly, and it was time to say good-bye to her earlier this month. Chloe came in January to volunteer a semester as a facilitator at the Centre. We appreciate the time she was here, the opportunities to impact the lives of Bahamian children, and the ministry she was able to accomplish. Thank you, Chloe for your service. May God bless you.
They may look beautiful and colorful on the outside, but inside and under the hood, the condition of the buses tells a different story. Vehicles break down and deteriorate no matter where you are in this world, but in this salty humid climate, things seem to rust and break down quicker. Recently we did some major repair work on two of our buses. The buses are old, but praise the Lord we were able to fix them. However, this last month spent fixing the aging buses reminded us of our need to start looking into securing buses to replace our aging fleet. We hope to soon start a capital campaign to add a bus (or two) and replace the train. Please be in prayer with us as we work to raise the necessary funds. Perhaps you, your church, your Sunday School class, your youth group, etc is looking for a worthy cause to raise money for. Did you know that the buses at ALC&C are used not only to bus children to the Centre to experience programming that brings “the wonders of God’s Creation together with the curiosity of kids”, but they also are used to transport the hundreds of foreign mission team members to the various ministry sights on the island where they are serving Bahamian people and where we are “exposing laborers to the harvest through short term mission.”? Please be in prayer for the current buses, those given the task to keep them running, and for God’s provision for new buses.
God has sent us some helpers this summer to help lighten our load a bit. We appreciate the many volunteers that use their own free time/vacation time, resources and energy to fly here and work alongside us as we serve the Bahamian people and those coming to serve the Bahamian people. Many of them came as a result of pleas from staff and from notices in our newsletters and update blogs. We appreciate them and their partnership with us.
Chris and Sheila Eisermann are not only Chloe’s parents, they are also good friends of our and part of our sending church in Wisconsin. They came in early June to help Chloe return to the States and to bless us, encourage us and help us with work projects around Camp. They painted and helped manage mission team work projects at the Camp.
Connor is Zachary’s cousin and came this summer to help out with odd jobs and to spend time with Zachary before he leaves the island this fall. He mostly helped support us by helping Zachary take care of odd jobs at our house (which freed us up to do Camp business) as well as run the snack shop for Ms. Janice, serve teams at meal times, help Aaron with clean up jobs, among other things. We have enjoyed having him here. He leaves July 5th.
Karissa Salm and Lauren Thomas
Our facilitator Micah (far right) was blessed to have a group of young people from her home church here earlier this month on a mission trip. A couple of Micah’s friends, Karissa and Lauren, stayed an extra week to encourage her and to help out around ALC&C. We enjoyed getting to know these young ladies and appreciated their help in various areas.
Debbie Tuthill and Nancy Barnes
Nancy Barnes (left) and Debbie Tuthill (right) came the first full week in June to cook for the mission team we were serving. These ladies have been here before and are greatly appreciated for all they do for us and the ministry. They are from the Armstrong’s church in Delhi, New York.
Jenni Morgan, Allison Morgan, Macy Oliver and Bekah McKee
These four ladies came from my (Mindy’s) cousin’s church in Rossville, Indiana. They have been wanting to come and serve for a long time, and when they heard we needed help in the kitchen this summer and with the horses at the Centre, they jumped on the chance to come and help out. They were a great help in the Camp kitchen, and Bekah was a great help with working with the horses at the Centre. The girls also got to volunteer at the Centre’s Day Camp a couple of days. Thank you ladies for all your hard work!
Kathryn and Kinsey Nguyen
(sorry, no picture)
One of the Calvary Christian Academy 8th grade mission team members from January of this year and her mother came last week to volunteer for the first week of Summer Day Camp. They were not only a huge help in serving the children, they enjoyed the experience. They said the week went way too fast for them and are looking forward to doing it again.
Nick and Lydia Liebe
Volunteer staff and help come and go all the time. Rarely do they return. But this weekend we had the privilege of welcoming again Nick Liebe and his wife, Lydia. Nick volunteered for six weeks at Summer Day Camp in 2013. We are thrilled to have him back and the two of them together. They will be with us for 3 weeks volunteering at Summer Day Camp.
Ministry Update: Camp
We wish we could say we are kidding, but we cannot. If you will recall in our last blog post (“It is Finished”), we mentioned a series of accidents that had happened on Marshall Road. One of the accidents involved someone hitting our fence and damaging the gate. In that instance, the car did not come into the camp and just drove off without taking ownership of the damage. Exactly four weeks to the day (almost to the hour), we were awakened at 1:00am on a Sunday morning to the sound of a car coming through our fence and hitting a tree/wooded area inside our property. The gentleman was not hurt, but we suffered significant damage to our fence and gate. You may recall, Aaron had already fixed the gate twice, and with this accident, he had yet another opportunity to fix the system. We appreciate Aaron and all he does.
Ok all you construction buffs, interested supporters, and prayer warriors who have been praying for this project, here is a slide show of the June accomplishments on the new cabin. Tim and Aaron have done a lot of work along side the team of workers employed by a local man, but we have also had a lot of help from mission teams. Enjoy viewing the progress!
Bedford Free Methodist, Bedford, Indiana
Bedford Free Methodist is Micah’s home church, and they came to minister to the children of the Children’s Emergency Hostel and to help at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. They were also here to encourage, Micah. Once particular job they got done was paint the trim in the dining hall yellow. They also did cleaning jobs and cement mixing and rock moving for the new cabin.
Grace CMA Church, Cleveland, OH
The junior high youth group along with parents (52 total) from Grace CMA church of Cleveland, OH were here the second week in June. They were a huge blessing to us and many ministries on the island. They served at Ranfurly Children’s Home, The Seahorse Institute and Bahamas Downs Syndrome. At the Camp and Centre they worked on cleaning and painting jobs, moved rock, helped with ground work around the new cabin and painted the snack shack, the dining hall and the picnic tables. They got a lot accomplished, and the Camp is more beautiful because of their diligence.
Carolyn and Cam Muir
Carolyn Muir and her husband Cam came on a reconnaissance trip to Nassau from Chicago area and stayed with us for a few days. Carolyn grew up in the same church circle as Tim, and the Muirs know a lot of the same people we know. Carolyn will be leading future mission teams here.
We were blessed by a return visit of a young man that came and stayed with us last month. He was back on the island for doctor appointments and brought his uncle with him. They were Camp guest for 4 days. I got to practice some nursing skills on him as he was injured recently while on his home island.
Orlando Football Team
The football team of a Christian school in the Orlando area were on the island again this year to conduct football camps with Bahamian children living near Abundant Life Bible Church. In the mornings they like to squeeze in manual labor work projects at island ministries. They served us again this year. Their being here coincided with the fence accident, so they were able to help us dig holes for the footings of the fence posts. They also helped move rock and dig around the new cabin.
Mission Discovery 2
Mission Discovery was back for week number 2 just last week. (Their first week was in February of this year). The teams from Pennsylvania and Kentucky were led by Rich Rhode and Nate Ryver, and Nate’s wife Cara was the worship leader. The teams served at Elizabeth Estates Children’s Home, All Saints, and a Haitian family’s home. The team members were blessed by their experiences and were glad to pour into the lives of the people they were serving. Week 3 of Mission Discovery with be the first week in July.
Final Youth Outreach Night For the Year
The final night of the 2015-16 Youth Outreach at Camp was on June 18th. We finished up the year discussing Fruit of the Spirit. We saw numbers go from 10-15 at the beginning of the year with numbers in the 30’s by the final night. We feel God blessing us and working in the lives of the young people in the South Beach area and communities surrounding South Beach.
Future Events: Clean Slate Living in September and Young Adult Weekend in October
Work has begun on two big events coming this fall. The first event is connecting a Hip Hop Ministry Team, Clean Slate Living, with youth venues here in the Bahamas and is scheduled to take place at the end of September. Last week we had a meeting with a local pastor, Pastor Q from Epic Church, that knows youth and young adults well and is very interested in the ministry of Clean Slate Living. The second event, Young Adult Weekend, is scheduled for the first full weekend in October. Please pray for both events, and pray as we endeavor to reach the youth of the Bahamas for Christ and direct them into godly living.
Ministry Update: Centre
End of the Programming Year
The 2015-16 programming year at the Centre ended strong earlier this month. Besides groups of children in all age groups coming through out the school year to experience the wonders of God’s Creation, this past school year we worked at getting EVERY 6th grade class in the Bahamas government school system on the island of New Providence to Adventure Learning Centre. We got very close to accomplishing that goal (only 2 schools did not make it). Praise the Lord! That means almost every Bahamian child leaving government primary schools on this island will enter junior high school next year having heard the Gospel!
Summer Day Camp
In a couple weeks, after submitting Zachary’s finalized high school transcript to Liberty University, we will officially be able to say, we are finished! Our classroom will be empty, and The Seeley Family Academy will close its doors forever. God called us to this task of homeschooling over 15 years ago, and after many years of work, we can relax from this significant responsibility. What a privilege it has been to pour into Zachary (and his brothers) all these years. Praise God for His work in us and for allowing us to minister to the next generation of Seeleys in this way.
On Saturday, May 21st, we were joined by Logan, Mindy’s parents, ALC&C family, Kingdom Life Church family, and many Bahamian friends for Zachary’s graduation ceremony which was held here at ALC&C. The ceremony was a blessing to many and Zachary was surrounded by the customary well wishes and prayers from many and even heard from friends and loved ones from back home in the States. Pastor Moss closed the ceremony out with prayer and some wise words for Zachary. He reminded Zachary that he is being blessed by all the prayers that were being offered on his behalf that day and not everyone receives such honor and prayers at this type of occasion. Since prayer is so very important, Zachary was truly blessed on that day. Following the ceremony, we gathered in the dining hall at Camp and enjoyed food and a time of fellowship.
Thank you everyone who came, everyone who sent video messages, those who joined us via internet live-stream, and anyone who joined us in their thoughts and prayers. We felt loved and supported!
(For those of you wondering, “It is Finished, Round 2” will be continued in October of this year, so stay tuned!)
Ministry Update: ALC&C
This month we said an early good-bye to one of our facilitators. Charlie left to go back to her home in Canada in early May. As we do with all our short term and long term staff that come and serve with us, we had a time of fellowship and prayer as we bid her good-bye.
WHAT IS GOING ON ON MARSHALL ROAD?
These last couple of months we have seen many “strange” happenings on the road outside of Camp and Centre. You may recall from our last month blog that we had a 3-car fire right outside the camp gate in late April. The first week of May we were awakened around 315am to smoke and went outside to find another car on fire outside the Camp. This car looked abandoned. Two weeks ago we had 3 accidents within 3 days from cars obviously going too fast around the curve. Just this past week, we found skid marks in the gravel and grass area outside our gate where another driver lost control of his/her vehicle. We had a meeting scheduled with someone connected with Ministry of Works to discuss what can be done about this dangerous curve out front, but the person never showed up for the meeting. Please pray for safety of drivers, pedestrians and property. It is only a matter of time before we see some major injuries and damage. The week before our front gate was hit, Aaron had worked hard to get the gate fixed: pulleys, wheels, track, gate opener. Thanks to Aaron’s abilities, he was able to get the gate and fence repaired after the vehicle hit it.
SUMMER INTERNSHIP AT ALC&C
Alexandra King (center) is a hospitality management major at College of Bahamas, and she is working with us at ALC&C as part of a summer internship program. This week she is with us at Camp, learning how to plan, prepare for and serve mission teams. We have enjoyed getting to know her and appreciate all her hard work. She will be working at the Centre and Camp until late July.
POWER SURGES/BROWN-OUTS, AGING VEHICLES, WORN OUT EQUIPMENT
This last month we have been experiencing a high number of costly, time consuming repairs to vehicles, equipment and electronics around the Centre and the Camp. Two of our four buses are out of commission right now. This is concerning because we will need all buses this summer as we transport mission teams around and the Centre needs the buses to transport day camp children on field trips.The gate opener and the mechanical parts of the Camp gate were damaged and needed replaced. In less than a week after Aaron repaired the gate, a car hit the fence/gate and messed the gate up again. Our electric company does not have the most clean, reliable service, so power surges and brown outs are common. One brown out earlier this month fried the transfer switch that switched power from the generator to BEC use. The part required to fix that fry was over $1500. Of course we are still dealing with an aging train at the Centre as well. Please pray protection and longevity of equipment, that repairs are made affordably, and that we have the right help at the right time to make the necessary repairs.
Praise the Lord, we have the permit for the new cabin and the 2 new staff cottages (a future project). We laid the forms and steel for the footings and foundation for the new cabin, had the first inspection (it failed), made corrections, and had the inspector back today. The inspector’s comment: “I wish more people were like you and do what I ask them to do.” Inspection passed!!! The sand, gravel, cement, more steel, and cement blocks are on site and ready to start the build. Hopefully tomorrow building will commence. We are so excited to have this finally underway. Please pray for wisdom and that everything goes smoothly here on out.
Ministry Update: Camp
Besides deep cleaning the kitchen and dining hall and organizing and mapping out storage cabinets/refrigerator/pantry this spring, Mindy has created kitchen procedures and put together a manual that will assist the many new weekly staff that will be coming this summer (and hopefully into the future) to help cook and serve in the dining hall and kitchen. The procedures will assist all who are serving and add a bit of professionalism and improve safe food handling.
We continue to see increased numbers at our Friday night Youth Outreach. We are blessed and encouraged by it. Some of our mission teams have helped lead the outreach this spring, and the young people seem to connect well with their USA counterparts. We continue to have “opportunities” (a nice way of saying we have some boys that are not always the best behaved) mixed into the group of delightful young people that come out each week, but we are so thankful that these “opportunities” keep coming back every week. Please pray for each child that comes, and especially for these “opportunities”. Pray also for wisdom and discernment as we deal with the increased numbers and the challenge that brings.
…for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Hebrews 4:10 (ESV)
Satan tries to convince us that rest is for lazy people who are not serious about serving God. How wrong He is! Rest, properly applied, is not only biblical in and of itself, it is also testament to one’s faith in God (Hebrews 4:10). Perhaps that is why Satan works so hard to discourage us and tempt us to keep plugging away at life and ministry work and not taking time to rest.
For 5 days earlier this month, we were able to get away from the Camp and get off densely populated, noisy New Providence Island and go to a sparsely populated, quiet island southeast of here called Exuma. While away, despite the less than ideal lodging arrangements (when we arrived on the island we found out the cottage we rented was double booked resulting in us having to stay in a rundown smelly fisherman’s cottage), we were able to get a couple personal projects done, explore a “new” Bahamian island, spend quality time together away from the pressures of ministry life here at ALC&C, and most importantly take some time to rest and relax.
Coming back so relaxed and refreshed and being confronted with the heavy work load that did not miraculously go away while we were gone, we found ourselves almost feeling guilty for leaving. At least, we were conflicted as to whether we should feel guilty of not. Providentially, we never reached the point of total guilt, and by Sunday God had prepared another reminder and reinforcement that our going away to rest was indeed good.
Our pastor spoke on Ecclesiastes 2:18-26. In that sermon, Pastor Moss reminded us that to rest along with joy and contentment in our work is a gift from God. He said, “Taking seasons to worship and rest, is an expression of faith in God.” There needs to come a day in our labors where we stop and trust God by taking time, in faith, to step back and rest from our labors and not spend ourselves.
As I (Mindy) sat there listening to Pastor, God spoke to my heart saying, “Do you trust me? Do you have faith in me? Then, rest! Let go of all that you think is important and needs to get done, and rest in me. That is showing me you have faith in me.” Wow! How freeing. How humbling. How convicting. We can work at what He has called us to do and still take time to rest knowing that in His strength, power and timing, we can accomplish what needs to get done. Furthermore, if something doesn’t get done, was it supposed to get done in the first place? We can be content in what we get done or what we don’t get done, knowing that God is in control.
So, for those of you (and there are many of you out there) who are consistently inquiring how we are doing and if we are taking time to rest, be assured that we have been enlightened to our failure and have confessed our sin of pride and self-reliance in this area. Although we realize our days of being “on the clock 24/7” are far from being over, we intend to be more purposeful at expressing our faith in God by resting!
Now for some “restful” pictures of our trip to beautiful Exuma!
Ministry Update: ALC&C
This week we welcomed a short term missionary staffer, a young man from Wisconsin. Jesse Keizer is here to help with Summer Day Camp at the Centre. He has been helping with chores around the Centre these last couple of days but will soon be helping with Day Camp preparations. He was a huge help this week when we were out fighting the fires (see below). He has experience with camp ministry and mission trips. We are glad to have Jesse here to serve with us and look forward to getting to know him.
We are still in need of kitchen help for July 10-24 at Camp, and the Centre is in need of Summer Day Camp staff. As we look to the fall, we could use facilitator staff for the Centre. If you or anyone you know is interested in a short term mission experience or a longer term commitment to serve along side us here at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp, please contact us. Please pray that God sends the right people.
Earlier this month board members met to conduct ALC&C business. Following the meetings, they blessed the ALC&C staff with dinner at Lucciano’s. We enjoyed the food and fellowship together and even celebrated the first half of the year birthdays with a special cake.
Ministry Update: ALCAMP