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…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
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 email@example.com). 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). 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
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel
I have not been listening to a lot of Christmas music this year, but the times I have indulged, I usually find myself listening to three of my favorites: “Mary Did You Know?”, “How Many Kings?”, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. All three songs tell the story of not just our Savior’s birth but also of his divinity, his life and ministry, and his death and resurrection. Praise God for the birth of that tiny baby who was 100% God and 100% man, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross for my (and all those who put their trust in Him) sins, and then rose again defeating sin and death so I might have an eternal relationship with Him!
Seeley Family Update
As I sit on our front porch enjoying the “cool” breezes against my skin, the soft white Christmas lights strung around the perimeter of the porch, and the Christmas Carols wafting from my laptop’s speakers, I am reminded it is only one week away from Christmas. My wonderment may sound odd to many of you since it has been December now for 16+ days and I do not live in a bubble, but for this girl who grew up with cold, snowy Decembers, it is sometimes hard to remember what time of year it is here. It is green outside instead of brown or white; I am still wearing shorts, flip flops and light weight cotton blouses instead of sweaters, jeans, boots, parkas and hats; and I am not greeted by numerous houses in our neighborhood adorned with Christmas lights and yard ornaments (electricity is so expensive here).
Regardless of the tricks being played on my un-retrained, unacclimated senses, my common sense tells me it is indeed one week away from Christmas. That means we leave in couple days to travel back to the USA. We will be spending Christmas week in the Charleston, SC area and the week of New Years in the Charlotte, NC area. Although we will not see our other boys for Christmas, we will get to see Logan, Garrett and Abby for a couple days while we are in Charlotte. We will all be attending a niece’s wedding on New Years Eve.
This Sunday we will be meeting with a mission team from Charleston that came last June to the Bahamas and is interested in coming again on another mission trip in the future. We will be sharing the ALC&C ministry with the group as well as Bahamas culture and the area ministries we work with. Next Wednesday we will be traveling up to Florence, SC to meet with the leader of another mission team that is bringing a group in March. This group has been here the last 3 years under the direction of Randy and Kim Grebe, but we will be doing most of the facilitating of the team this year since Randy and Kim won’t be coming. While in Charlotte, NC we hope to connect with a young lady that is interested in missions and has expressed an interest of maybe serving at ALC some day. She is the daughter of someone I went to Bob Jones University with years ago.
The ALC&C December newsletter went out this morning. (Are you on our mailing list? If you would like to add your name to the email list for the ALC&C newsletter, you may do so here at this link.). In it we mentioned how ALC&C could benefit from generous donors looking for places to send donations to for their end of year giving. ALC&C has been around now for 22 years, and that means equipment is aging, breaking down and needing to be replaced. If you would like to put your money to good use helping the ALC&C to continue its mission to reach the Bahamian people for Christ and serve those coming to the island to serve the Bahamian people, then consider donating to ALC&C. You may do so electronically at this link: Donate here, or by check at the address at this link: Donate here.
If you or someone you know is looking for a ministry opportunity, we have several positions open. We are looking for a program director, cook, maintenance staff, animal caretaker, and facilitators.
Ministry Update: Camp
Good News Seventh Day Adventist Church
These are some of the young ladies of the group that was at Camp for a church youth retreat the first weekend in December. There are two sets of twins in this group, and when they found out I was also a twin, they wanted to see a picture of her. I invited them to the house to see her. We love visits at our house from young people like this!
Grace CMA of Cleveland, Ohio
Ryan Davis and Scott Lessings, pastors of Grace CMA in Cleveland, OH were on the island for a scouting trip. They will be bringing a team of 50-60 next June. They took us to Fish Fry for Bahamian cuisine. They also helped us pick the winner of the free ALC t-shirt. We had a drawing from all the names of those who filled out a survey for us. Our very own Allison Sands won the t-shirt. Thank you Allison and everyone else who filled out the survey.
Fellow missionaries from Andros
Dave and Sue Bryant are missionaries in Red Bays, Andros, The Bahamas. We met Dave earlier this year at the immigration office. He had noticed Zachary’s Bible verse on his t-shirt and began a conversation with us. Dave and Sue were here last weekend to rest at Camp and get some paperwork taken care of at the registrar’s office for some Bahamians they minister to. We were glad to host them and serve them in this way.
The last Youth Outreach for the year was the 27th of November. We had a campfire with marshmallows and hotdogs, and time for singing, games and a challenge that finished up our discussion on the Fruits of the Spirit we studied this term. We look forward to the restart of the Youth Outreach in January.
College of Bahamas Architecture Students
You may recall in our last post that we introduced the architecture students from COB that are working on a project that we were assisting them with. We had a great time working with these young people. We hope to have them to Camp in the new year for a time of fellowship.
It feels so good serving mission teams again. It has been a while since we had our last mission team here. AMSA from Florida Atlantic University is here this week. This is their 4th trip and 3rd year being here. They are serving at Princess Margaret Hospital, Willamae Pratt Centre for Girls, Red Cross and Hypertension Screening Clinic at Town Centre Mall.
Connecting with Orphanages
This week we met with the directors of the Nazareth Centre and Ranfurly Homes. We were able to understand their ministries better and how we can assist them as teams come to the island wanting to serve them. We had tours of both facilities.
Ministry Update: Centre
For the past 2 months (while regular programming was going on), facilitators and maintenance staff have been transforming the Centre into a winter wonderland (minus the snow) with pageant props and thousands of lights for the annual Christmas Lights Drive-thru. The event was held the first two weekends of December. The Drive-thru (and its Easter time counter part, Easter Monday Funday) is one of our ministry’s big gospel outreaches/fund raising event. We had over 1200 cars come through the gates those 6 nights, and over 4600 people saw the spectacular event and heard the Gospel story clearly proclaimed in pageantry as well as spoken word. Although pictures cannot do it justice, enjoy the pictures of the event.
Life of Ministry in the Bahamas
Thanksgiving with our ALC&C family
We had a great Thanksgiving. We celebrated twice- the first was late on Thanksgiving Day with all the staff of ALC&C in the dining hall, and another more quiet, laid back intimate dinner on Saturday afternoon after Thanksgiving. We enjoyed the time with our island family, and the food was delicious!
It is part of our way of life in the type of ministry work we do: saying frequent good-byes to those we work with. This time it is hard because we are losing not one or two people but four people at one time. Dilan and Laura have been here for the last 11 months and Bob and Judi have been here for 22 months. They have added so much to this ministry and have worked very hard while they were here. They are going to be missed. We were able to get together one day last week and have a time of fellowship and opportunity to formally say good-bye.
You may remember Elton. Elton was a facilitator at ALC until he left last year for a job elsewhere. He is in school now and waiting to get into his own place. He is staying with us for a few weeks. We are glad to get to help him out in this way. He is serving us while we are off the island by holding down the fort (and keeping unwanted pests and burglars away).
Praise the Lord for a great turn out at the Christmas Lights Drive-thru. Pray for the souls of those that heard the Gospel proclaimed
Praise the Lord for the positive response to our recent “85 cents a day” fundraising campaign; continue to pray that we reach the fully funded level and remain there
Praise the Lord for time to get away. Pray for travel safety and that we are able to experience some rest and relaxation while away. We will be hitting the ground running when we return.
Pray for Staff needs: program director, cook, facilitators, maintenance, animal caretaker
Pray for funds needed to replace the train at the Centre ($120,000).
Whew! Another lengthy blog. There is just so much going on. Life is never dull here. Thank you for your time and interest in our lives and ministry work.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary
Should missionaries use support money to take vacations, and should they share the news of their vacations on social media and blogs? We had to grapple with these questions this last month. We are always concerned about announcing vacations because often times reports on trips, specifically vacations that do not involve ministry reporting or support raising, elicit some rather insensitive comments from people.
The difficulty of answering the question of whether we should use support money to pay for a vacation or not was compounded for us this year in that our monthly support levels remain lower than what our monthly expenses are and the donations for June and July had dropped further (as it generally does every summer). We felt guilty using money we did not have to do something that initially seemed frivolous.
“God worked at Creating everything in six days; then He rested, not because He was tired but to set the standard for mankind to follow.”
As we continued to pray about whether to pay for a get away or not, we were approached by one of our supporting churches and were told that they wanted to help finance part of a getaway for us. We were encouraged by yet another person that said taking time and getting off site (especially since we live where we work) would provide much needed rest and recuperation after a very busy, hot/humid, physically and mentally draining season. Rest is biblical; God worked at Creating everything in six days; then He rested, not because He was tired but to set the standard for mankind to follow (Genesis 2:2-3). Rest is important; it prevents burnout. Rest in the form of vacation time is pretty standard for employees anywhere. Like many missionaries who live at their place of ministry, we don’t punch a clock and often work 7 days a week for weeks upon end.
As for sharing photos and news of our vacation on social media or in blogs, we were challenged to not shy away from sharing the blessings God gives us. Time away and how God provides for it can be a testimony to God’s care and provision.
So, we said “yes” to a vacation and are now saying “yes” to sharing the good news of God’s provision!
On August 17-21 thanks to our encouragers, a great “deal” from a contact at Atlantis, and a generous donation from one of our supporting churches, we disconnected from ministry work, rested, played in the water together, enjoyed the beauty of the ocean from our 9th floor guest room, rubbed shoulders with tourists, and absorbed a lot of around the clock a/c at the world renowned Atlantis Resort!
Although Atlantis is only 7.7 miles from our home/ministry, what we experienced while on that side of the island was such a polar opposite to what we experience everyday on this side of the island that in some ways we felt we were worlds away. We remember one night looking out over the city lights of New Providence from the top of the Paradise Island exit bridge (we walked to the top one evening) and thinking how different the two worlds are here: Paradise Island with all the tourists, money, and frivolity and New Providence Island (specifically in the area where the ALC&C is situated) with people living normal and even subnormal lives. How can there be such a dichotomy in such a small area.
We returned to Camp blissfully tired but relaxed and rested (we know this sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t). God is so good to us!
No hurricanes yet (Erika threatened to visit us, but fell apart before she could get here), but oh the heat and humidity! Bahamas weather data online confirmed what we already knew from experience: this summer was hotter than normal! There were four days since June 15th where daytime highs were less than 90 degrees (86-89 degrees). The night time lows were around the 80 degree mark. Add in the high humidity, and we had heat indexes well above 105 degrees nearly every day. In the States, these temps are not hard to deal with because air conditioning is prevalent and relatively “cheap”, but here we do not run our air conditioners but at night due to high energy costs. Working in these hot, humid conditions is not only uncomfortable, it is also exhausting. Some ALC&C staff took breaks from the heat by leaving the island for vacations and enjoyed the cooler temps of the upper midwest; the rest of us learned to change our shirts often, drink LOTS of water, and find shade whenever possible. We are looking forward to cooler temps in month or so.
Shekinah Family Ministries
We picked up a group of 23 very excited young people to come to Camp for a weekend in early August. They had a great time and are looking forward to a week long Camp next year. The leader of the group, Samantha, used to attend Joy Bible Camp as a child. It was great ministering to these young people.
On August 8th, Winky (one of our Summer Day Camp Counselors) held a community outreach. ALC staff provided a Gospel puppet show, live animals, face painting, and Mark gave his testimony.
Staff and Camp often get visitors from afar: parents and siblings, adult children, past facilitators, former missionary volunteer staff, and even people who have “found” us on the internet. We love the encouragement, not only in the little care packages that some of them bring us, but also in their mere presence and the extra set of hands they offer to do some of the work that needs done around here.
Marga Jann (August 4-11)
Marga had a relationship with ALC&C years ago when she came with Judson University on a mission trip. She is back on the island to teach architecture at College of Bahamas. We were able to provide temporary housing while she found a place to live. She has been a blessing and encouragement to all of us.
Julian Williams (August 12-September 4)
Julian was Progam Director at the Centre 12 years ago. Since returning to Toronto, Canada, he comes back for a visit in the summer. This year he came for three weeks. We enjoyed spending time with him and appreciated the painting projects he completed.
Logan (August 8-25)
It was like old times again having Logan here. We enjoyed time around the Camp together, and he was able to join us on our getaway to Atlantis. The 2 1/2 weeks he was here flew by, but we had a great time reconnecting with him.
Geoff De Sousa (August 10-12)
Geoff De Sousa (light gray t-shirt) was a facilitator for about three months when we first arrived in 2013. He and his girlfriend and her brother were on the island for a family wedding. It was great getting to connect with him again.
We had our first leader’s planning meeting last Friday and are looking forward to starting weekly Youth Outreach meetings on Friday, September 18th! Last week we had some anxious young people calling to see if it was starting that night. We had to disappoint them and tell them it would be two more weeks. We will be focusing on the Fruits of the Spirit.
Young Adult Weekend
On October 9-11, we will be hosting our second Young Adult Weekend at Camp. Jay Seegert from Creation Education Center in Wisconsin is the guest speaker. Jay is bringing his wife Amy with him again. It is going to be an exciting weekend, and we are looking forward to it!
A New School Year at the Centre
A new school year has begun, and that means coming back together as a staff at the Centre every morning for devotions (a highlight of the day for many of us). The last 2 weeks we have been doing staff training. It has been a great time of bonding. The first school groups will arrive in 2 weeks, and after school Adventure Clubs will be starting that same week. We have also heard that we have received grants from various Bahamian organizations and from the Bahamian government. The $25,000 grant from the government will allow us to bring in children from poor schools at no cost. Exciting times!
Staff and Facilities Update
Welcome New Facilitators
We have three new facilitators at the Centre: two foreign missionary volunteers and one paid Bahamian. Micah is from Bedford, IN, Charlie is from London, Ontario, Canada, and Hope is from here in the Bahamas. Welcome aboard ladies!
Out with the old to make way for the new! Cabin 3 is slowly coming down. Packing-up and cataloging all Bob and Faye Browning’s belongings preceded the demolition project. The utilities have been disconnected and all the fixtures have been removed. We are trying to reuse and recyle things. We hope to use the roof to make a covering for a leaking storage container. As soon as the cabin is taken down, we hope to get teams or individual volunteers here to help construct a new cabin. The new cabin has to be completed by January 6th. If you or someone you know would like to come down this fall to help with construction, please let us know.
Celebrating 28 years together! On August 1, we celebrated our wedding anniversary on Paradise Island. (There are perks to living in the Bahamas: exotic places to celebrate!)
Spending time together in prayer and celebrating Janice and Jen’s August birthdays and Marga’s God-given apartment. There is a long story behind this, but I don’t have time and space to share right now. God is good!
The last first day of school for the Seeley Family Academy was August 24th! This is our 15th and final year of homeschooling. It is hard to believe we have reached this year already.
Sheldon and his wife are currently YWAM missionaries in the Caribbean. Sheldon preached at Kingdom Life Church this past Sunday. He spoke on “Gaining a Passion For Missions”. Lord willing he will be heading to Louisville, Kentucky to attend Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor’s College. He would like to start a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Jamaica. We met Sheldon last October at the Pastor’s conference in Nashville, TN.
Just letting you know
This is never easy to say, but we feel we need to be honest and let you know what is going on. Donations to our ministry have been down the last couple of months (and education bills are coming due). Summer months are traditionally very lean months, so we are not overly concerned. However, we are not fully funded even in our best months, and when the donations drop lower, it becomes a further strain on our budget. If God lays it on your heart to donate and/or partner with us in our ministry work, you may click on this link (Shepherd’s Staff) which will take you directly to our funding organization. Please pray with us that God provides the needed funds to cover our expenses.
The prayer requests under the “Prayer” tab above have been updated!
Thank you for your interest in our lives and our ministry work. May God bless you!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
We are not employed by Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. The work we do here in the Bahamas is exclusively funded by the generous support of individuals and churches. If you feel led to do so, you may partner with us and support our ministry work by clicking on the “Shepherds Staff Mission Facilitators” logo in the side bar of this page and following the instructions. All donations are tax deductible. Thank you for your prayers and generosity. May God bless you!
Today, January 16th, we commemorate two years of service at Adventure Learning Camp in Nassau, The Bahamas. As we look back on all that has been accomplished these past two years, we are blessed, amazed and encouraged. The fact that God has used us as instruments in accomplishing some of this is just another testament to how gracious and loving He is. We praise God for opportunities to glorify Him and further His Kingdom on this earth as we serve the Bahamian people and those who come to serve the Bahamian people.
It would be easy to post pictures and “boast” of all we have helped do since we arrived in Nassau, but we are not going to do that. (We welcome anyone who wishes to see what God has accomplished here since our arrival to come and see us or simply check out past blogs here.) Instead we desire to look ahead and to share vision of what we desire and feel God is calling us to do here in the years to come as He tarries and allows us to remain here.
We are nearly finished with the construction of the new staff cottage so the single female staff will be able to move into it. The cottage where the girls currently live will be housing for one of our new staff couples. We are in the need for one or two more staff cottages-one for single guys and one for another couple.
In order to house large groups like the one we are hosting this week and potentially serve more than one group at a time, we need another cabin. Plans are in the works for building a new cabin next to our current cabin number 1.
Our dining hall is where our mission teams and guest groups eat, but it also is where they gather for meetings. It does not have a large capacity, and groups have to flip the space when they need to use it for both meeting and eating purposes. We hope to move towards a dining hall/kitchen remodel over the next year or two.
Relocating the front entrance into the the Camp is still a high priority. The entrance is not safe because it is located on a bend in the road and there is a wall that blocks the view around the bend. Ministry of Works has approved the gate relocation, but we are waiting on finances and direction from the board. Lord willing we will be able to complete it this year.
In the fall we held Friday night youth outreaches once a month. Beginning in February, we will be having 2 outreaches a month as we work to starting a weekly outreach later this year. Through these outreaches we desire to impact the lives of young people and continue our relationship with the past Joy Bible Camp campers/staff who serve along side us in these outreaches. It is our prayer that through these outreaches, doors are opened up for the development of a kid’s overnight camp here at Adventure Learning Camp.
2014 was a record year for mission teams, and 2015 is looking to be another record breaking year. We are so excited to get to be serving all these people and look forward to what God has in store for them as they come and minister to the Bahamian people.
Staff Growth and Development:
Next week we will be welcoming 2 new couples to the staff roster here at ALC&C. Dilan and Laura Van Ryn from Wausau, Wisconsin will be coming to work at the Centre as facilitators. Janice Armstrong will be coming with her husband Pat who has been working here on maintenance since September. The Armstrongs are from Delhi, NY. Janice will be working with us at Camp as Tim’s office assistant. Bob, who had been filling in with maintenance at the Centre, will be coming back to work at the Camp as our maintenance guy. We are so excited for the additional help.
With the addition of the new staff here at Camp, Tim will be freed up to do more connecting with pastors, churches and other ministries on the island. These connections are an important part of the ministry we do here. Tim is also looking forward to having more time to work on developing a kid’s camp program here at Adventure Learning Camp.
Staff care is important in any ministry organization. This is an area we are trying to work on and develop, whether it is being “Mom and Dad” to young missionary staff members far from home, arranging staff dinners and get togethers, or simply providing a birthday cake to celebrate staff birthdays.
Please pray with us in all this. We have seen God doing some amazing things already, and we are excited and look forward to seeing what God will do in 2015 and beyond. The bottom line is we are here to serve the Bahamian people directly and indirectly by serving mission teams that come to serve the Bahamian people. May the Gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed to all!
Ready or not, VAT is here!
Those of you who have been here to visit us or have read our past blogs know the cost of everything is substantially higher here than in the USA (as with other island nations, everything has to be shipped in which increases costs). Most items purchased here are about 50-100% more expensive then in the United States. Here is an example:
The items on the left were purchased in Illinois at Thanksgiving time for $7.73. The gallon of milk in the right picture was purchased here in Nassau just last week for $7.39.
Up until this year, there has been no sales tax on goods and services here in The Bahamas. Instead, revenue was collected on items that came into the country in the form of duty (roughly 45% duty on nearly everything). On January 1st, the Bahamian government implemented a 7.5% VAT (value added tax) on nearly all goods and services. Even with VAT, duty did not go away. We are still paying duty on imported items, and vat is added on top of duty. For example, if someone sends us a package where the contents value about $10, we will pay duty on the $10 and the cost of shipping and handling that the person paid to ship the package to us. After the duty is tabulated, 7.5% vat is added to the total. (This is why we ask people not to send us anything through the mail. It would cost us a lot to pick up the package at the post office.)
Although the VAT is affecting our bottom line, it is the effect it is having on poorer Bahamians that concerns us most. The Bahamian mother trying to feed her children on $100 a week ($100 will not buy much here) is now left with $92.50 to buy groceries. She is essentially giving up one gallon of milk per week.
Please pray for the poor of this country, and pray for safety for all. With poverty comes increased desperation, and with increased desperation comes increased crime. We have already been affected by crime here at Camp and would not like to see any repeat activity.
Finances and Insurance
If you follow our support thermometer at all, you will notice it has decreased somewhat since the middle of last year. Part of that is because we have increased our budget to coincide with the increase in cost of living here in The Bahamas, but we have also experienced a decrease in the amount of monthly support we had been receiving from supporters. Over the last year, some who were supporting us monthly have had to stop supporting us for financial reasons. We realize times are hard for many people and understand and support their decision.
Along with support being down, we have had to cancel our health insurance plan through our mission facilitator. The premium went up nearly 21%, and with the decrease in monthly support, we could no longer afford the premiums. We are currently uninsured but are looking into options for coverage for the three of us and for Logan. We are not anxious about this because we know God is in control. We do not doubt for a minute that God will supply all our needs.
Please pray for health and safety for all of us and that God shows us the route to go for securing health insurance. Also, please pray that God sends the additional supporters we need.
If you feel God leading you to support us in our ministry work (no amount is too small), you may access our donation website by clicking on the Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators link in the sidebar or under the “donate” tab above. Donations can be made electronically online or via snail mail. Any size gift is greatly appreciated.
The Next Blog Update
Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our lives and ministry work. Because of the length of the post, we were unable to share everything we wanted to share with you. Perhaps we will have time in the next couple of weeks to update you on more, but until then, we invite you to check out our Facebook page (The Seeley Family Serving in the Bahamas) and the ALC&C Facebook page (Adventure Learning Centre and Camp) for more up to date information. Because of time constraints, we will probably not be updating our “Picture Update” tab this time around either. Please feel free to check us out on Facebook for pictures.
Have a great weekend!
It’s all about You, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and Your fame
It’s not about me
As if You should do things my way
You alone are God and I surrender
To Your ways
Jesus, lover of my soul
All consuming fire is in Your gaze
Jesus, I want You to know
I will follow You all my days
For no one else in history is like You
And history itself belongs to You
Alpha and Omega, You have loved me
And I will spend eternity with You
Yes, another song that we sing at Kingdom Life Church! As I listen to this song for the fifth time this morning, my heart is encouraged. The lesson in the song is so important as we need to constantly adjust our perspective in life. Indeed our focus as we go about our daily life needs to be on bringing glory to God.
Ministry Team Building
This week God gave us yet another glimpse of how He is still at work in The Bahamas. We were blessed and encouraged as we met with the director of Great Commissions Ministries. Great Commissions Ministries feeds and ministers to children, the poor, the homeless, alcohol and drug addicts, and other needy people of the Bahamas. In that meeting we also got to meet William who has a great testimony of how God saved him from a life of drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and basic depravity. He is now serving in full time ministry with Great Commission Ministries where he is seeking to help others who are now where he used to be.
The purpose of our meeting with Great Commissions Ministries was to see what their needs are and how our ministry here at the ALCamp can partner with them and their ministry. We have a lot of mission teams coming to the island, and many of them are new and have no previous relationships with local ministries with which to serve. We have felt the need for a long time now to get out into the community to see what real needs are out there and start connecting those who come here on mission teams with those in need in the Bahamian community. Meeting with GCM was eye opening for us and very beneficial as we seek to connect mission teams with needy people on New Providence Island. We are so excited about future partnerships with this ministry.
This next week we meet with Willie Mae Pratt Detention Centre for Girls to assess their needs and how we can help them. Meetings are in the works for the Simpson Penn Detention Centre for Boys and with Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctor’s Hospital. Please pray for us as we meet with these organizations and establish/further establish our relationship with them.
This week under the “Happening/Up-and-Coming” we share information on:
- Support/Promotion trip (where we are with our fundraising and an itinerary)
- Progress of the staff cottage construction
- Youth Outreach that starts October 10th.
Under the “Picture Update” tab above we share the last two week’s events in pictures. There are a lot of pictures of the Joy Bible Camp Reunion that was held September 27th. It was an awesome evening!
(Link: Picture Update)
Prayer requests list is updated under the “Prayer” tab above.
Have a great weekend! Thank you for your interest and support of us in our lives and ministry work.
(Prepare to be encouraged…)
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfoldAnd this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfoldingGod’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begunAnd this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
We’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfoldingWe were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginningOf this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfoldingJust watch and see (unfolding)
This is just the beginning of the beginning (unfolding)
If you read or listened to the lyrics of this song, you may have been moved or encouraged as you heard yet another song with a message of encouragement to help you as you fight your personal battles and struggle through life’s difficult circumstances. The song is indeed very encouraging, but if you stop at the self-centered message and not see the God-centered message of the song, we think you are missing the bigger theme of the song.
For us the focal point of the song is this:
God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun
Recently a young lady shared this song with us. She had come to us in her struggling with some trials and difficulties. As we sat and chatted with her, we attempted to be a blessing and encouragement to her, but instead she blessed us with this song and its message.
As we seek to further the Kingdom of God on this earth by ministering to the Bahamian people and those that come to serve the Bahamian people, we do face times of difficulty and discouragement, but God is faithful. He brings us encouragement and help when we need them and in ways we least expect it. We can rest assured that everything is working out for our good and God’s glory as we remain faithful to Him.
Blog Changes: “Picture Update” and “Follow & Email Sign-up” tabs
You may notice, there is no “picture update” in this post. That is because from this post forward, we will be posting pictures under the “Picture Update” tab at the top of our web page. Feel free to go to that page by clicking on the tab to see in pictures what has been going on with us. We have combined the follow us tab and the email sign-up tab.
“What’s New” and “Prayer”
We have updated the “Prayer” and the “What’s New” pages. We invite you to check them out by clicking on the tabs above.
We thank you so much for your continued support of us with your prayers, attention and financial giving.
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley