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One Down, Nine To Go!

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) 

One year ago today it all officially began!

Boarding the plane in Charleston, SC for Nassau on January 16, 2013.

Boarding the plane in Charleston, SC for Nassau on January 16, 2013.

One year ago today (January 16),  with 11 suitcases and 5 backpacks in tow, we boarded a plane in Charleston, SC bound for what was destined to be one of the biggest adventures of our lifetime.  As we reflect back on that day and remember it as if it were yesterday, we recall the emotions we were experiencing:  sadness from the previous weeks of tearful good-byes to family and friends, relief that our worldly possessions were successfully disposed of (given away, stored at family’s homes in the states, or packed in the 20 foot shipping container en route to Nassau), and  excitement and wonderment from the anticipation of what was to come.  Blatantly absent was any feeling of reservation for what we were doing.  Not once did we feel a doubt that we were doing the right thing.  We testify to God’s faithfulness to us in that He paved our way en route to Nassau just as He continues to pave our way each and every day as we labor here.  Trust in a sovereign God who controls all aspects of our lives provides not only comfort but also the ability to trust that what is happening or will happen is for His glory and our ultimate good.

Lessons Learned

As we ponder our first year in ministry in The Bahamas, we can’t help but think about the many personal lessons we have learned.  There are so many, but we will share only some of them:

1–It is a myth that God will not give us more than we can bare.  In fact, there have been times when we thought we would buckle under the “load”.  God allows us to go through pretty hard times, but with those hard times, He always provides grace.  It is only through Him that we can bare the load.  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

2–When we arrived in January of 2013, we had ideas of what we wanted to accomplish and what we thought God would have us do while we are here.  In many ways, our first year looks nothing like we had envisioned it being.  God has used us in ways to do things we could never have imagined before we arrived.

3–We love ministering to people and building relationships.  Hospitality is our gift.

Rarely are we ever alone at our dinner table (and that is exactly how we like it).  This night we welcomed, Jen, Tika and Lagloria for dinner.  Tika had come to work with Logan on worship songs for the Young Adult Weekend.

Getting to share our table with others happens often, and it such a joy for us..

Everyone staying at camp:  along with our staff are Paul and Beth Hadley, Humphrey and Marilyn Duncanson,, Alfred and Maria Nakhla, Nate Kaiser, Randy and Kim and Annika Grebe, Roger and Grace Grebe, and Jon and Annemieke.

Guests that we served (and onsite staff) at camp for the 20th Anniversary Celebration in September.

4–How easy and quick it is to fall in love with the Bahamian people.

5–During hard times when we are tempted to doubt, God uses the smooth, paved road He gave us in getting here to show us His past faithfulness to us so we can be encouraged and strengthened to continue our journey.

6–In ministry work, blessings far outweigh the hardships.

7–Grieving the loss of something (not just death of loved ones, but losing comforts and normalcy of life, saying good-byes) is not necessarily sinful.

...saying a tearful good-bye (for Mindy anyway) to Andrew and Katie after a wonderful 2 weeks of off and on visits together...

When we said yes to God’s call for us to go to The Bahamas, we knew one of the hardest things we were going to have to face is saying good-bye to those we leave behind in the States.  Especially hard, is saying good-bye to our adult children who live in the US.

8–Good-byes and short term relationships are just a nature of the business.  Another reality that makes an eternity spent never saying good-bye that much sweeter.

9–Nothing is certain except that there is going to be uncertainty.  Flexibility and trust in our Sovereign God is necessary.

10–A 2 night get-away does wonders at refreshing and re-energizing one who lives in the same place they work. Along with this, vacations are necessary in preventing burn out, and “vacations” in the USA are anything but restful.  We need to learn to be more disciplined when we do try to vacation in the States.  (Truth of the matter is, we are never away from ministry work.  People and relationships are the center of our ministry, and they are forever with us.)

11–Driving, shopping, working on construction projects (navigating permits and codes) in the Bahamas are not only different than in the USA, they can be very frustrating experiences.

BEC finally showed up.  The electric upgrade is now complete.  Hallelujah!

This year we were able to get a lot of projects completed (electric up grade, construction of the meter house, completion of the girl staff cottage, completion of the bathhouse/laundry room), but not without a lot of leg work, research, multiple calls and follow-up calls.  Thank God for relationships with people in “high” places (ie Ministry of Works) who help us navigate these new waters.

12–Just when we thought we would never be able to find a church like our beloved church in Minnesota and our beloved church in Wisconsin,  God graciously guided and directed us to an equally good church here in The Bahamas.  God is good!

13–If God ever calls us away from The Bahamas, it will be every bit as painful as moving away from Minnesota and from Wisconsin.

The Saturday the JMU arrived at camp, we also welcomed a couple of friends from our sending church, Grace Church, Viroqua, Wisconsin.  Sheila Eisermann and Katie Aloisi were here to see us and to investigate future church mission trip opportunities.

Our first visitors from home…Sheila Eisermann and Kate Aloisi from our sending church in Viroqua, Wisconsin came for a week the first part of March.  It was an encouragement trip/mission team fact finding trip.  We loved having these ladies.

14–How important and encouraging it is to have people from back “home” come for a visit or at least contact us.  Although we are surrounded by people we love and enjoy being with, there is nothing like being with people from back home.  A simple email saying hi and that you are thinking about us goes a long way in alleviating homesickness.

So many more lessons…but there is not enough time and space.  We look forward to 2014 and what God has planned for us.  We serve an awesome God and feel so blessed to be a part of the Adventure Learning Centre and Camp ministry here in The Bahamas.

What a Difference a Year Makes

January 16, 2014 looks far different than January 16, 2013.  Today we are all settled in with a whole new perspective of what the Bahamas is and what the ministry work we are doing is.  Last January 16th we were the ones being welcomed to the island, but today we are the ones doing the welcoming to the island.  We have 98 young people and their leaders coming to Adventure Learning Camp from Florida.  This is the biggest group we have ever served at camp, and we are looking forward to being a part of this great endeavor.  Last January 16th we were tired from 3 months of planning, packing, sorting, discarding, traveling, support raising, etc.  Today we are tired from all the work it takes to get a camp that comfortably accommodates 72 people to a camp that accomodates 98 people.  How exciting it all is!

As We Look Ahead to our Second Year

As our first year was spent focusing on learning the island, culture and ALC ministry and making improvements to the camp facility, it is our heart for the second year to focus on building relationships with Bahamian people- individuals and local churches.

First Sunday morning at East Street Gospel Chapel with a couple of the pastors.

Relationships with Bahamian individuals, churches and groups is our focus for this second year.  God used our involvement with East Street Gospel Chapel’s Missions Conference this past September in many ways.  Brother Bradley King (back left) has been a great friend, and as an engineer at the Ministry of Works, he has helped us out a lot.

As we look ahead to a new year, we thought it would be the appropriate time to remind everyone of ways you can stay connected.  Like us on Facebook:  Like ‘The Seeley Family Serving in the Bahamas’ and receive more timely updates on our ministry work.  Follow us on our blog:  Have you opted to “follow” this blog?  You may do so by clicking “follow” above.  We would like to reach a milestone of 500 followers this year.  We are in the upper 300’s, so please consider following our blog, if you have not already done so.  Email:  Are you on our email list?  We periodically send out emails to give updates, alert people of blog entries, mention special prayer requests, and occasionally send out an email newsletter (most of our updates are done through the blog).  If you would like to receive emails from us, you may email us your request that you be added to our emailing list.  You may also send your request through this blog by clicking on the tab that says “newsletter sign-up” above.

How you can pray for us in our second year of ministry

That God would continue to grant us wisdom and discernment as we work, minister, share the gospel, and build relationships

That God would continue to provide comfort at times of loss (for information on this, please see the previous blog post)

That God would work mightily here at the Adventure Learning Centre and Camp and in the lives of all the staff and those we serve

That we remain focused on Jesus Christ

That God would open doors and give guidance as we seek to work with local groups/churches

“One Down, Nine To Go”

Many of you are probably scratching your head by now and trying to figure out what in the world we mean by, “One Down, Nine to go.”  Well, first of all, if you read through this article trying to figure it out, we accomplished our main objective.  The cryptic title drew you in and made you want to read more.   Now for the real meaning behind the title:  it is just another way of saying we have made it through our first year of ministry work in the Bahamas.  When asked how long we plan to stay in the Bahamas, we generally tell people we have committed to working at the ALC for 2 years.  Our ultimate goal (from our human perspective) is to train a Bahamian to take over the ministry within 10 years.  In all actuality, we have no idea how long God intends to keep us here and willingly submit to His guidance and direction.  We will be here until He tells us to go somewhere else.

Thank you for supporting us with your thoughts, love, prayers, and financial contributions during our first year of service at the Adventure Learning Camp in The Bahamas.  We appreciate you and look forward to continuing the work God has called us to do to further the kingdom of God!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Tim, Mindy, Logan and Zachary Seeley

Celebrating 20 Years of Adventure!

Randy and Kim Grebe in the early days of Adventure Learning Centre. Taken from the tower at the Centre.

Randy and Kim Grebe in the early days of Adventure Learning Centre. Taken from the tower at the Centre.

Where there is no vision the people will perish.

Proverbs 29:18

The adventure began in 1986, when missionaries Randy-affectionately known as “Uncle Randy” to the Bahamian students-and Kimberly Grebe had a vision for reaching out to students in the Bahamas. The Grebes envisioned an outdoor education centre that used the visible wonders of God’s creation to minister to students of the Bahamas.

At first, Randy and Kim took their hands-on programs to the schools and youth group outreaches.  In January 1991, after presentation and approval of the proposed programs and building plans to the Bahamian officials and Ministry of Education and a generous government approved land offer by Hesketh and Dawn Johnson of Crossroads Ministry, the ground breaking and construction of Adventure Learning Centre began at the site where the main section of the Centre is today. Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” was the guiding scripture during the building process.  The Centre was built by the financial donations and volunteer labor from generous supporters throughout the world.

On September 13, 1993, with the official endorsement of the Ministry of Education and a grand opening ceremony, Adventure Learning Centre began reaching thousands of children through field trips to the island’s only outdoor education program. The first group of students arrived on October 18, 1993, and by the end of the first school year, 7,700 students had visited the Centre.

Formerly Joy Bible Camp, Adventure Learning Camp was offered by Canadian missionaries Jack and Audrey Adams in late 1993 to Adventure Learning Centre board of directors.

Randy and Kim Grebe on the tower in February of this year when they were on the island chaperoning a mission team from the school in Florence, SC where their daughter attends school.

Randy and Kim Grebe on the tower in February of this year when they were on the island chaperoning a mission team from the school in Florence, SC where their daughter attends school.

On September 19-21, 2013,  Bahamian dignitaries, past and present staff, volunteers and board members, and friends of Adventure Learning Centre and Camp gathered to celebrate 20 years of “Bringing the Wonders of God’s Creation Together with the Curiosity of Kids” and “Exposing Laborers to the Harvest Through Short-term Missions” at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp.  The three days of events included a donor dinner at a Nassau restaurant on Thursday evening, a  celebration ceremony at the Centre on Friday, and a Family Funday on Saturday.  It was a wonderful time of celebration remembering and reminiscing about the past , thanking God for what He is allowing us to do now, and praying for wisdom as we look ahead to the future.

We now invite you to enjoy pictures from the days leading up to the big events and the big events themselves!

Preparation for the 20th Celebration at the Centre began last Spring with meetings for making the picture book and planning the 3 days of events.  During the 2 weeks leading up to the Celebration, work on the program and facility took much of our time.  Here the facilitators were working on the puppet show in the new puppet stage.

Preparation for the 20th Celebration at the Centre began last Spring with meetings for making the picture book and planning the 3 days of events. During the 2 weeks leading up to the Celebration, work on the program and facility took much of our time. Here the facilitators were working on the puppet show in the new puppet stage.

The puppets in action in the new puppet stage tree house.

The puppets in action in the new puppet stage tree house.

One of the projects was the erecting of the new sign at Adventure Learning Camp

One of the pre-celebration projects was the erecting of the new sign at the Camp…

...and the new sign at the Centre

…and the new sign at the Centre

While we did help with some of the preparation activities at the Centre, we also prepared for and hosted 14 people who had come from the States to attend the Celebration.   This is Jon and Annemieke Stassel.  Jon is Tim's cousin and was a huge part of the construction of the ALC.  They were at the ALC until 1996.  Jon and Annemieke arrived on Tuesday, September 17th.

While we did help with some of the preparation activities at the Centre, we also prepared for and hosted 14 people who had come from the States to attend the Celebration. This is Jon and Annemieke Stassel. They were the first of the out of town guests to arrive. Jon is Tim’s cousin and was a huge part of the construction of the ALC. They ministered at the ALC until 1996.

Another of the big projects was the cleaning and repairing of the structures around the Centre.  On Thursday, September 19th,  Tika, Marion and Jen continued the HUGE job of scrubbing fences with bleach.

Another of the big projects was the cleaning and repairing of the structures around the Centre. On Thursday, September 19th, Tika, Sam, Marion and Jen continued the HUGE job of scrubbing fences with bleach.

Zachary and RJ (Centre Office Manager, Eldora Carter's son) were also recruited to help get the Centre ready for the Celebration events.

Zachary and RJ (Centre Office Manager, Eldora Knowles’ son) were also recruited to help get the Centre ready for the Celebration events.

RJ and Zachary painting the wall around the flag pole.

RJ and Zachary painting the wall around the flag pole.

Moving chairs from the Media Centre to the pavilion for Friday's ceremony.

Moving chairs from the Media Centre to the pavilion for Friday’s ceremony.

Tom Schafer (our maintenance guy), Sean Wilson and our other 2 grounds keepers worked really hard around the Centre as well.

Tom Schafer (our maintenance guy), Sean Wilson and our other 2 grounds keepers worked really hard around the Centre as well.

One of my (Mindy) jobs was to make airport runs to pick up guests.  This is Humprhey and Marilyn Duncanson.  They are from Long Island, New York and were on the ALC board during its early days.  It was great meeting and hosting these dear people.

One of my (Mindy) jobs was to make airport runs to pick up guests. This is Humprhey and Marilyn Duncanson. They are from Long Island, New York and were on the ALC board during its early days. It was great meeting and hosting these dear people.

Thursday evening's donor reception took place at Luccianos in downtown Nassau.

Thursday evening’s donor reception took place at Luccianos in downtown Nassau.

Directors of the ALC&C:  Tim (Mindy) Seeley, Camp Director and Mark (Kim) Wallace Centre Director

Directors of the ALC&C
Tim- Camp Director
Mark (Kim) Wallace-Centre Director.

Mark's wife, Kim, did a fantastic job at decorating and putting together the decorations for the events.  She and Mark spent 100's of hours working on the events.

Mark’s wife, Kim, did a fantastic job at decorating and putting together the decorations for the events. She and Mark spent 100’s of hours working on the details of the events.

Our table at the donor reception.  Seated with us are Cranston Knowles (current board member), Mark Davis (past board member), as well as a 2 couples we had just met that evening.

Our table at the donor reception. Seated with us are Cranston Knowles (current board member), Mark Davis (past board member), as well as 2 couples we had just met that evening. Mark Wallace, Randy Grebe, Tim, Lee Burtelson (current board member), and Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald spoke at the reception.

Friday morning, after a time of prayer with the staff, we began putting the finishing touches on the Centre.  It had rained heavily on Thursday evening and a little on Friday morning.  Dirt had to be brought in to absorb some of the water.

Friday morning, after a time of prayer with the staff, we began putting the finishing touches on the Centre. It had rained heavily on Thursday evening and a little on Friday morning. Dirt had to be brought in to absorb some of the water.

Ms. Aida one of the many helpers getting the pavilion ready for the ceremony.

Ms. Aida one of the many helpers getting the pavilion ready for the ceremony.

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Kim Wallace (left) and Tika Penn helping with decoration.

Kim Wallace (left), pictured with Tika Penn, supervised the decoration of the Centre for the celebration ceremony. She put in a LOT of time and effort into every detail. Her brother also donated a lot of his time and materials for making the ALC look really nice.

Alfred Nahkla, Eric Nelson, Randy Grebe before the ceremony.

Alfred Nahkla, Eric Nelson, Randy Grebe before the ceremony.

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The ALC ready for the celebration!

The ALC ready for the celebration!

Guests started arriving and our job was to greet them and hand out the anniversary book.

Guests started arriving and our job was to greet them and hand out the anniversary book.

Ceremony opened in prayer by Pastor Cranston Knowles, one of our board members.

Ceremony opened in prayer by Pastor Cranston Knowles, one of our board members.

The ceremony began with the Bahamas national anthem.  Three schools were invited to send children to the ceremony.

The ceremony began with the Bahamas national anthem. Three schools were invited to send children to the ceremony.

After the national anthem, the ceremony began with a puppet show.  The puppets sand the Celebration song.

After the national anthem, the ceremony began with a puppet show. The puppets sang the Celebration song.

Following the puppet show, Mark Wallace addressed the crowd.  In the audience were several media outlets.  Minister of Education, Jerome Fitzgerald was in attendence.

Following the puppet show, Mark Wallace addressed the crowd. In the audience were several media outlets. Minister of Education, Jerome Fitzgerald was in attendance.

Some of our staff enjoying the ceremony from the back.

Some of our staff enjoying the ceremony from the back.

Part of the ceremony included dividing the audience into 3 groups and sending them to the three program areas to experience what the school children experience on a daily basis when they come to the Adventure Learning Centre.  The three areas were the wetlands via the train, the planetarium, and the petting farm/nature center.

Part of the ceremony included dividing the audience into 3 groups and sending them to the three program areas to experience what the school children experience on a daily basis when they come to the Adventure Learning Centre. The three areas were the wetlands via the train, the planetarium, and the petting farm/nature center.

Minister of Education, Jerome FItzgerald, addressed the audience.

Minister of Education, Jerome FItzgerald, addressed the audience. Randy Grebe and Chet Lowe also addressed the audience.

Minister FItzgerald with the children on the train.

Minister FItzgerald with the children on the train.

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The ALC staff family! Several of the staff were honored for their many years of service. We feel so honored getting to be a part of this group and getting to serve our Lord together with these awesome people.

The ALC staff family! Several of the staff were honored for their many years of service. We feel so honored getting to be a part of this group and getting to serve our Lord together with these awesome people.

Everyone staying at camp:  along with our staff are Paul and Beth Hadley, Humphrey and Marilyn Duncanson,, Alfred and Maria Nakhla, Nate Kaiser, Randy and Kim and Annika Grebe, Roger and Grace Grebe, and Jon and Annemieke.

Friday evening, after cleaning up from the ceremony and setting up for the Funday to be held on Saturday, some past facilitators hosted a meal at the camp for everyone. Everyone staying at camp: along with our staff are Paul and Beth Hadley, Humphrey and Marilyn Duncanson,, Alfred and Maria Nakhla, Nate Kaiser, Randy and Kim and Annika Grebe, Roger and Grace Grebe, and Jon and Annemieke.

Every morning while they staid at camp, the guests attending the celebration activities would join us at our house for breakfast.  Since we knew these people from back in Wisconsin/Minnesota/Illinois, it was so much fun visiting with them.

Every morning while they staid at camp, the guests attending the celebration activities would join us at our house for breakfast. Since we knew these people from back in Wisconsin/Minnesota/Illinois, it was so much fun visiting with them.

Breakfast at the Seeley's house.

Breakfast at the Seeley’s house.

Friday after the ceremony and Saturday morning, the staff set up for a Funday.  A Funday is a carnival of sorts that we use to help raise funds to operate the Centre.  Although we had a great time, the turn out was low due to many factors including the weather.  It was rainy much the day.

Friday after the ceremony and Saturday morning, the staff set up for a Funday. A Funday is a carnival of sorts that we use to help raise funds to operate the Centre. Although we had a great time, the turn out was low due to many factors including the weather. It was rainy much the day.

One of the Funday activities is a skit of sorts that coincides with the train ride.  This is where the gospel is presented to the guests.  Tika Penn was in charge of the skit this year, and she did a fantastic job!

One of the Funday activities is a skit of sorts that coincides with the train ride. This is where the gospel is presented to the guests. Tika Penn was in charge of the skit this year, and she did a fantastic job telling the story of Creation, man’s fall into sin, and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ! Way to go Tika!

Music provided by a DJ!

Music provided by a DJ!

Ms. Aida's awesome chicken wings were among the food items available.

Ms. Aida’s awesome chicken wings were among the food items available.

Our pastor's wife and daugther, Alexine and Abby Moss, were among the many volunteers that helped us man the activities of the Funday.

Our pastor’s wife and daugther, Alexine and Abby Moss, were among the many volunteers that helped us man the activities of the Funday.

Although the rain dampened things a bit, the 580 people that did come out for the Funday seemed to have a great time.

Although the rain dampened things a bit, the 580 people that did come out for the Funday seemed to have a great time.

Horse rides

Horse rides

Randy and Kim Grebe introduced us to this young man.  This young man laid one of the first blocks in the construction of the ALC back over 20 years ago.

Randy and Kim Grebe introduced us to this young man. This young man laid one of the first blocks in the construction of the ALC back over 20 years ago.

Playground and climbing wall

Playground and climbing wall

Train ride with drama presentaion

Train ride with drama presentation

We would like to publicly thank all the people that came out to help us celebrate and to help serve the community for the Funday.   We could not have done it without you!

We feel so honored that God has allowed us to be a part of this awesome ministry.  Although we have been here for only part of one year, we feel very attached to this ministry and the people it serves.  We love the Bahamian people, and we hope and pray, as Jesus tarries, that we will be able to serve Him here for many years to come.

Please pray for the ministry and for all of the ALC&C staff.  Most of all, please pray for the people we serve.  God has brought us all here to this ministry for one reason, and that is to serve and bring glory to HIm.  May Christ be glorified in deed!

**Stay tuned for the third and final post this weekend.  We will be doing a general update of what is going on at the centre and camp and what will be coming up in the next couple of weeks.  We told you we had a lot of ground to cover this week.  We hope you have enjoyed the journey!

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