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)