You may recall from our blog post in January, 2016: Dread or Delight?, this is a huge transition year for us.
In two months, our homeschool classroom will empty, and in a little over 6 months, Zachary will be returning to the United States to begin the next chapter of his life. As we contemplate Zachary’s departure and try to enjoy every day we have left with him, we can’t help but thank God for the blessing and opportunity we have had in getting to raise this awesome young man. God has done a miraculous job in molding and shaping him into a godly man, and we are so proud of him. More importantly, we thank God for his heart and desire to live a life that honors and glorifies his Creator.
We have planned to honor Zachary with a simple graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21st here in the Bahamas. The invitation is open to everyone (please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org). We are looking forward to Grandma and Grandpa Mikels and Logan joining us to celebrate this time with us, and we would love it if you could join us. Let us know if you are interested. If you are not able to attend Zachary’s graduation (and that is probably >95% of you), we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for him.
Upon leaving Nassau in October, Zachary will be living with his grandparents in Indiana and will continue to take Liberty University Online courses. Please pray for him in this time of transition. Besides normal challenges faced by all new college students, he will be coming off a foreign missionfield, and as such, will need to find his first gainfully employed job, learn to drive, and adjust to American culture again.
Please pray for the following staff needs.
Camp: Summer cooks
The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun, and that includes working through busy Camp schedules with little staff and few days off. Three years ago we served mission teams all by ourselves. Of course then we went into it with a relatively light schedule compared to what our schedules are now and not fully understanding what lie ahead. We survived the busy, do-it-yourself schedule, but it was difficult. This year we face a year of serving teams with just us and our office manager (you may recall Bob and Judi left in January), but unlike 3 years ago, we have a busier schedule. We have teams here from May 24-August 1. Although we are not unduly anxious, we realize we need to be proactive and get the word out: we need help!
Primarily we are looking for people who can come and help us cook for the groups. This year we organized the kitchen, set up a system, and documented clearly what needs to be done for each meal, so almost anyone willing to learn, work hard and has some leadership and organization abilities can do the job. We could also use people who can come and be support staff (ie bus driving). If you have a desire to serve the Lord on a foreign missionfield (for a week, two weeks, a month, two weeks, etc), please let us know of your interest by email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). It is hot, hard work, but it is rewarding, and you get to meet a lot of great people and minister alongside other missionary staff.
Centre: Summer Day Camp Counselors, Program Facilitators
The ALCentre holds an annual Summer Day Camp for 5 to 12 year old children for 5 to 6 weeks in the summer. Activities include a required bible class, sports, dance, crafts, animals and science. We utilize our animal petting farm, nature centre, playground, nature trails, wetlands, and planetarium to share God’s love with campers and each other. The teacher/counselor to camper ratio is approximately one to five which provides a safe and intimate Christian environment in a super fun setting. If you (or someone you know) are over 18 and faithfully walking with the Lord and are interested in ministering to children and volunteering as a short-term missionary this summer by being a counselor at Day Camp, please contact us.
We are also looking for program facilitators. Program facilitators help run and maintain programming at the Centre through out the school year. If you (or someone you know) are over 18 and faithfully walking with the Lord and are interested in ministering alongside other missionaries and local staff for the next school year or indefinitely, please contact us.
Thank you and Good-bye!
Last week we as a staff said good-bye to 3 fellow laborers who have been here since December (Bob and Faye Browing) and January (Tobias Jaton) shouldering the burden of ministry work with us. We made commemorative video for them and if you would like to view them, here are the links:
Special thanks is also in order for Debbie Tuthill. She is friends with the Armstrongs and was here for 3 weeks to help us cook and to provide her artistic abilities to props for Easter Monday Funday. We could not have served the groups the way we did without her. She was a blessing.
Thank you Bob, Faye, Debbie and Tobias, for all the work you have done!
Please pray for the ALC&C reverse osmosis system. It has been broken down a good part of the last month. Tim has been doing what he can to try to diagnose and repair it. We have had some challenges getting repairmen to come and look at the system. In the meantime, we have had to order bottled water delivery. It is amazing how much we take things for granted.
Whirlwind. That is how we can describe the month of March. Besides normal day to day work needs around Camp, we had 5 different mission teams (3 at one time), one local group, and many visitors. We have also been helping where we can to get ready for ALC&C’s big fundraiser, Easter Monday Funday.
The new cabin permit is getting closer to being completed, but it is still not in hand yet. Please pray this gets done soon!
Aaron continues to amaze all of us with the work projects he is getting done. We have tried to chronicle most of them in pictures, but he does some projects without us knowing about them until after they are done. He is a huge blessing with his maintenance and cleaning abilities.
We continue to see increase in numbers for our Youth Night. God has brought us some great young people to impact for Him. Three boys in particular are challenging, but we continue to love them and encourage them. Mission teams, TKA and Woodlands (see below), worked with the outreach on 2 consecutive Friday nights, and it was a blessing to see the involvement and interaction between the Bahamian young people and their USA counterparts. We would like to promote more interaction between mission teams and our Friday night Youth Outreach.
Mission Teams, Local Groups and Visitors
At the end of February, Mission Discovery brought in a team from Las Vegas, Nevada. We enjoyed getting to serve this team with the leaders of MD. Usually MD comes in the summer. This February/March trip was a nice deviation from the norm.
Eighteen students from James Madison University’s Recreation Centre have been coming to Nassau for many years to serve the physical education department at Uriah McPhee Primary school. They arrived Friday afternoon after the Mission Discovery group left. We enjoyed hearing the stories these young people brought back to Camp each day.
The day after JMU arrived, we welcomed two more teams to the Camp (yes, we had 3 mission teams at Camp at one time.) Judson University is from the Chicago area and was led by our board member, Stacie Burtelson. The group served at Adventure Learning Centre (programs and work projects) and at All Saints Camp. They got a lot of painting done at the Centre. The front gate looks great!
The King’s Academy from Florence, SC is a group of mostly 8th graders who came and ministered at Abundant Life Bible Church, Children’s Emergency Hostel, BAPD, ALC&C, our Friday night Youth Outreach, and a Haitian Church. We spent a lot of time with this group facilitating team building, directing work projects, and guiding their days through their ministry sites. We really enjoyed getting to know the young people, and were blessed by them as they prayed around us one evening after we shared our testimony and how God brought us here to The Bahamas. We received some great comments and testimonies from the young people on this team after they returned home. We praise God that He allowed us a small part in impacting these kid’s lives.
This year we welcomed back the eleventh graders of Woodlands Church in Stevens Point, WI. The team was led by Pastor Heath Erickson and was here for a week. The group served at the Centre and Camp (led Youth Outreach on Friday, did work projects), All Saints Camp, and BAPD. Serving at BAPD, though brief was the highlight of the week for many in the group.
Good-Friday evening, we welcomed over 50 people from Rebirth Ministries to Camp for an evening/overnight retreat. We pray that God impacted the lives of the young ladies this ministry ministers to.
Visits from family and friends are so important for all our staff. This past couple weeks, many of us were blessed by visits from family: Lee and Jan Seeley (Tim’s parents), Debbie Tuthill (friend of the Armstrongs), Vance and Jan Armstrong (Janice’s brother), and the Godsey family (Micah’s family). Though painful to let go when it is time for them to leave, all of these visitors bring such blessing and encouragement!
Brief visits are also an encouragement to us. We believe God brings people into our lives at just the right time and for a specific purpose. We call them divine appointments. This weekend, a gentleman walked into our front gate and introduced himself as Wolfgang Ebener (he had taken a taxi downtown from the airport then a bus from downtown to here). He is here for only a day from Germany. He is visiting family in Florida and wanted to come back and revisit the ALC. We welcomed him in and had a great time fellowshipping with him, hearing his story and finding common friends and acquaintances (Theo Habel, Randy Grebe, Ditthardt family). Ricardo Stubbs was influenced 10+ years ago by Phil Barker and was on sight to speak at the Rebirth Ministries program at Camp. Phil Barker was here last week with Woodlands and is staying over. Betsy who was here on the island through a cruise yesterday had been on a mission trip 3 years ago (and has stayed in contact with us on Facebook). Susanna Flanders is friends with our good friend Cranston Knowles. Cranston brought her and the Miller family from Bill Rice Ranch here to see the ministry.
(Though not all inclusive, here is a little highlight of what is going on at the Centre. We often times are out of the loop at what goes on at the Centre, not because we are disinterested because we have our hands full at the Camp. If you want more on what is happening at the Centre, Jen has a great blog!)
Jen Rogers is the current program director. She has been doing a fantastic job at leading the facilitator staff through day to day programming at the Centre and after school Adventure Clubs. In Feburary, 1301 students from 27 schools came to Adventure Learning Centre. That means over 1300 Bahamian families were touched with the gospel in that month alone!
Easter Monday Funday (EMF) continues to dominate the Centre’s attention. EMF is one of our two Fundays for the year that is a fundraiser for the ministry as well as a gospel outreach. Please pray for God’s working on the event. Staff at the Centre will be getting some much needed down time this next week after the EMF. Pray for their rest time. The work here is often times long and hard, and they need to be refreshed.
The Centre is getting a facelift. As with everything else, over time landscaping becomes drab and run down. A revitalization of the landscape at the Centre has been taking place. Of course, it will take a few growing seasons to show its full benefit, but the time and effort we put into it now will make it all worth it in the end. Andrew Cartwright is donating his time to help with the plan and we are looking to local nurseries for donations of plants in exchange for recognition. Thank you, Andrew, for your time and expertise!
What started out as an assignment for school has now become an every week occurrence for Zachary. He has been volunteering his time to help in the office at the Centre every Thursday. He helps the office staff answer phones, and he does the weekly clean-up of the surveillance camera SD cards.
At the end of Feburary, we flew to Indiana so Tim could attend a charitable giving conference in Chicago. Zachary and I stayed with my parents and got some projects and shopping done. After the conference and a couple days visiting family, we flew to Cleveland, OH to meet with a mission team that is coming in June. We had a great time getting to reconnect with Pastor Ryan and Pastor Scott, meet their wives, the mission team members and Ryan’s former assistant Pam and her family, and share the ministry and Bahamas culture with the team.
This is Iva Hepburn and her son Alexander. We attend Kingdom Life Church together, and they are in our Care Group. She blessed me by coming and helping me clean my very dirty, neglected house. She has been in need of work, and I have been in need of deep cleaning my house. We hope to work together again.
Tim’s parents came for 10 days, and their presence was just as much an encouragement to the ALC&C staff as much as it was for us. Thanks Mom and Dad for the pizza, Chinese Food, and DQ cake! We appreciate all the help you gave us while you were here. We loved having you guys.
Thank you again to all of you who battled through another very long update. We appreciate you interest in our work and our lives.
May God be glorified!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley