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If you know me (Mindy), you know that I am textbook extrovert. I love people, am energized by people and thrive on being around people. I cannot remember a day where I have not been an extrovert. That is until a couple weeks ago. That day, I switched from being an extrovert to being an introvert, much like flipping the light switch from light to dark. It was foreign to me, and I could not understand my feelings and emotions. Yes, even we extroverts get days where we need some privacy, but on that day it was much more than that. It was beyond “I need to go in my house and shut the door to the world.” It was all that and, “I don’t want to see, talk to, or think about people.” I even found myself disliking people (not certain persons, only people in general). What made those feelings worse for me was the guilt I was experiencing for feeling so unloving. As much as I prayed that day for that feeling to go away and for my love and desire to be with people to return, it would not. As the day would pan out, God had lessons for me to learn that day.
As the day began, I found it very hard to get up and think about facing the mission team, staff and others at breakfast let alone serve them with a cheerful smile. Being greeted with “the freezer door was left open last night and everything is thawing” did not help my already troubled spirit as I entered the Camp kitchen just before breakfast, and as I worked through cooking all the meat that had partially thawed, I found myself growing more and more impatient and uncharitable to people. After the work was done, I walked home, relieved to enter my house and close the door behind me. But wait, we live on sight of the ministry which means our door is open to all. It wasn’t too long after I arrived home that someone on our staff came walking in our back door. This usually does not bother me, but all I wanted to do was scream, “Doesn’t anyone know how to knock around here?” I just smiled and pretended I was ok.
At lunch time, I had reached my limit, and began almost in tears to explain my foreign feelings to my husband, who immediately (unbeknown to me) took that as his opportunity to get me out of the house and off property that evening by saying, “I am taking you out to dinner tonight.” Almost immediately, the thought of getting away from people we know began to soften my heart, so I was able to plod through the afternoon. As we left for dinner and my excitement at finally having my husband to myself began to set in, I found myself relaxing a bit, but I still felt ornery and not wanting to see anyone I know. We had a wonderful quiet dinner and then drove out East to watch the sea reflect the rays of the setting sun behind us. Sitting on that bench with my sweethearts arm around me-just the two of us-I felt safe and at peace all the while realizing that only several miles away, a group of people I know and love were waiting for us to return. I did not want to return. In the end, I knew we must so I agreed to going back.
As we entered the Camp, we saw Aaron fixing the gate (again, poor guy), and my uncharitable thoughts towards people came back. Even as we pulled into our parking spot and started walking toward the house, my thoughts were of getting inside before someone saw us and decided to pay us a visit. As I hurriedly walked up to the porch (our car alarm was going off and Tim’s clicker was not working, so I was going in the house to get mine), I noticed through the dark screen around our porch that RJ was sitting in the corner by the door. I could also see Kevin. My immediate thought was, oh no, Zachary decided to have the young people over for the evening. I was about ready to whisper to him, “I was hoping to come home to some peace and quiet”, when all of a sudden, “Surprise, Happy 5oth Birthday!” erupted from a porch full of people. Just as the switch that morning went from extrovert to introvert, I immediately switched from introvert to extrovert again. The transformation was sudden and amazing to me. After a few tears (more out of feeling guilty for my uncharitable thoughts) and a speech of gratitude to everyone, my heart was gladdened and I once again enjoyed the presence of these dear people.
Why is this story so important? It is because of what I learned that day…I not only learned what a wicked sinner I am (I had some pretty uncharitable thoughts about people and circumstances), but I also learned what my introvert husband (and others who are like him) experiences when he is around people all the time. It gave me a sensitivity that I could never understand before. Above all, the experiences of that day showed me how God is in control and works things out for His glory and our good. Had I not wanted to be away from people, I would not have cried out to my husband at lunch; he would not have said and I willingly accepted, “I am taking you out to dinner tonight, away from this place and all the people.”; we would not have gotten away and allowed the other staff to bless me in the way they did with the surprise party; and in the end I would not have seen how God switched me miraculously from not wanting to see people to loving and embracing those dear people around me (which is exactly how I felt immediately after the “surprise” welcomed me onto our porch that night).
Please continue to pray for our bus situation. We were blessed by the addition of another very, very well used bus to our fleet of already well used buses. We were able to purchase it on the island, and although cosmetically a little rough, it does run. We could still use another nicer, more reliable bus. Buses not only transport the school children to the Centre during the school year to experience the adventures at Adventure Learning Centre and hear the Gospel presented, the buses are also heavily used to transport mission teams to and from the airport and to ministry sites around the island and to transport summer day camp children to off site outings and field trips.
As we mentioned in the June update, we had several volunteers come this summer to help out. They came at their own expense and worked under very hot/humid conditions to serve the Bahamian people and those here to serve the Bahamian people on mission trips. Thank you to all of you who came to help us serve the mission teams at Camp and the day camp children at the Centre this summer! We appreciate all you did and the time we had to spend with each of you.
Back to back to back groups and cabin construction has been the name of the game for us at the Camp this summer. We have had someone at the Camp every day (except 2 days) this summer since mid-May. A lot of ministry and a lot of progress on major construction has taken place. It has been a grueling schedule, but we have made it through by God’s grace and with the help from some very dedicated volunteers that came to help us out.
We will let the picture slide show tell the story. The local guys worked on the construction up until this past Monday. Now the rest can be completed by Tim and Aaron. It is coming right along.
We are already preparing and looking ahead to our next big construction projects at Camp: 2 new staff cottages. Cottage 2 (Pat and Janice Armstrong’s residence) and Cottage 3 (single female staff cottage) are currently located to the southeast of the dining hall. We have the permits in hand for the construction of Cottage 1 (single male staff cottage) and Cottage 4 (couple housing). Our maintenance guy, Denny, has already been working at clearing the sites for construction. We are hoping to use mission teams to help construct these cabins. Please pray for teams and materials to complete these two projects.
July Guest Groups and Visitors
Shekinah Family Ministries Summer Camp (June 29-July 1)
The last week of June into July was supposed to be a week long camp for a group of precious children from a local church, but the week long camp had to be changed to a 2 day camp because of financial hardship of the church. The joy of the children at this camp was touching to say the least, and because we got to be a part of the camp because we cooked for them, we were blessed to see the exuberance of the children. On departure day, the children were sad to have to go. Their loving leader, Samantha Evans, is such a patient kind lady and takes her job as leader of the children’s ministry at her church very seriously. It is a blessing to see this group and to serve them.
Mission Discovery 3 (July 1-July 10)
The second summer week for Mission Discovery (the third for the year) took place the first week of this month. The group that MD hosted was from Fort Worth Texas. It was a large group, and they served at 2 Haitian churches and both the girl’s school and the boy’s school. This was a mission team experienced church that did a great job teaching and discipling their young people. Of course we enjoyed the fellowship with the returning MD leaders as well.
Peace Church (July 10-16)
The Blitz Student Ministries of Peace Church from Wilson, NC has been coming to Nassau for mission trips for many years. Their leader, Brad Perry, is the youth and missions pastor of their church. He brings his wife and parents with him on the trip to chaperone, and of course we are always blessed and encouraged by these dear people. We enjoy partnerships with them in ministry and friendship. This year they worked with VBS at Pastor Bazile’s church (a Haitian church) and did work projects at Pastor Bazile’s house and around Camp. One of the tougher jobs they helped with was the trench digging to help Aaron bury a line leading to the bath house. What great servants they are!
E-team (July 16-23)
The E-team, comprised of members from 3 Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Pennsylvania and Maryland, came to help run the Music Camp at Kingdom Life Church (a Sovereign Grace Ministries Church here on New Providence which happens to also be our church). Because the team is from our sister churches, we feel a special connection with them. Zachary was able to spend the entire week as the 16th member of the team. We were excited that Zachary was able to serve alongside this awesome team. We got to spend one evening out with this team.
First Covenant Church Hamilton (FCCH) (July 16-23)
Another awesome team (our summer was full of these awesome teams) which happened to coincide with the E-team, was the team from First Covenant Church of Hamilton, Massachusetts and led by our very own Chelsea Kingston Erickson. Chelsea not only did a fantastic job of serving the community associated with Pastor Wilney Joseph’s church, Carmichael Evangelical Church, she sacrificed time home with her new husband (she was newly married in June) to lead the team to Nassau. She has a heart for the church here, and their group came alongside the church members and helped the church members operate a day camp/VBS in their community. It was such an awesome ministry that they did in that they partnered/came alongside an existing ministry to help equip the local ministry instead of taking over and running the show. Way to go FCCH! We got to spend an evening with these folks and enjoyed the fellowship and hearing from each of the team members through out the evening.
Methodist Churches of Caribbean and America Summer Camp (July 24-28)
This week we hosted another local group that ran a kids camp of their own on our property. The group consisted of 24 children ages 9-12 and 6 leaders. On one evening, a bus of 30+ teenagers aged 13-18 from the group’s church came to join the younger children for a camp fire. Camp was full of children’s laughter, bouncing basketballs on the basketball court, and the occasional stern reprimand of leaders trying to get the children to obey orders. We always love having children use this facility. After all, it is a camp, and Camp ministry is our passion.
Boy’s Brigade (July 29-August 1)
This weekend, we will be hosting a group of young boys from Abundant Life Bible Church. Our Ms. Ada (cook at the Centre) is one of the leaders of the Boy’s Brigade and brings the group here for an annual camp the first weekend in August (Monday is a holiday-Emancipation Day-so it is a 3 day weekend). We do not have pictures yet of course, but we will try to squeeze some in to next month’s blog.
Summer Day Camp has been the dominating scene at the Centre. The children have been treasure hunting here, there and everywhere. Most of all, they found the treasure of God’s Word in classes and daily interactions!
Happy Birthday to my wombmate, Melissa McDaniel, who lives in Summerville, SC! Wish we could be together for this milestone birthday. I love you, Twinnie!
Besides my 50th birthday which happens this Sunday, Tim and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary on Monday, August 1st. It is so hard to believe that it has been nearly 3 decades since we began doing life together. As we reflect back on the years and see how God has worked and moved in our lives, we are in wonder and amazement at what a great, awesome, providential God we have. Our union has not only brought about a great deal of sanctification in each of us, it has produced 4 great young men, 2 wonderful daughters-in-law, a soon-to-arrive granddaughter, an exciting life of ministry, and many joyful, treasured memories. We thank God for His blessings on our lives!
Celebrating our Passport Country’s Birthday
July 4th was a work day for us. We had a mission team here and decided to treat the team to a quick birthday celebration with decorations and traditional 4th of July picnic food. Paula Brown made a beautiful watermelon carving.
Enjoying Family and Friends
Zachary and I will be leaving for Minnesota on August 4th, and Tim will be joining us on August 23rd. We will all return to the island together on September 3rd in preparation for new staff orientation on September 5th (Zachary’s return to the States for good will come in October).
Please pray for Tim as he stays behind to hold the fort down and serve the one last mission team that is coming August 15-22. He has Aaron and Ms. Ada here with him, and Jullian Williams (a Toronto man who used to be program director at the Centre and that comes every year for several weeks) will be coming on the 17th to help serve the group for part of the week. Tim will be managing the team and staff alone.
Whew! You made it through another lengthy post. Saving these updates for once a month, though necessary because we don’t have time to do them any more often then that, makes for long posts. We really appreciate your support of us by keeping up to date on what is going on. Please contact us and let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you!
God bless, and have a great weekend!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:26 (ESV)
Long ago I learned the verses, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13, ESV) and “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19). For many Christians, these are go to verses in times of trial and struggles or when they have a list of things they want or think they need.
Recently I read a “Solid Joys” devotional (from Desiring God ministries) where author John Piper challenges the reader to understand that true contentment in all circumstances is possible in that God promises us the strength to do all things and will supply all our needs. When it is perceived that a need is not being met, a person can become covetous which is “loss of contentment in Christ so that we start to crave other things to satisfy the longings of our hearts.” We need to battle back against covetousness and rest contentedly in God’s grace.
There are those who, in their attempts to encourage us, would say, “God knows what you can handle and will give you nothing more than you can bear.” Did you know that that is not biblical? It sounds good, and I confess I heard it all my growing up years and believed it, but it is wrong. God will indeed give you or allow to be given to you that which is more than you can bear. The key is, He will give you nothing more than what you can bear while availing yourself to His all sufficient grace and strength. You cannot do it alone. He will give me a too-heavy-load, but with that load, he has given me the grace to bear it through His all sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As this post is going to press, we are in the midst of a very busy season. We have been serving groups since May 24th, and have had someone here at Camp to serve every day since then (and will have someone here everyday until August). Add to all the groups we are serving the maintenance issues (expected and unexpected), staff training/development, new cabin construction, leadership responsibilities, enduring the heat and humidity, and not having enough staff, one can easily see why we say we have a very heavy work load.
We love serving others, and we are so thankful God has allowed us to serve Him full time here. We love being able to pour into the lives of others and minister to the needs of Bahamians and those coming to serve Bahamians. We also are encouraged as we see the work God is doing in those we are serving, but reality is we are still frail humans suffering from exhaustion (not meant as a complaint, only a fact that needs prayer).
We are in need of constant refocusing and reminders that God is in control, He is the one that provides us with strength, He supplies all our needs, and His grace is sufficient for us in bearing the heavy load he has called us to bear. He is the source of our contentment. Please continue to pray for us as we keep going and doing what we are doing. Pray also that God sends the right people to help bear the load here. Pray that we are able to recognize Satan’s attempts to defeat, destroy and discourage so we do not succumb.
Ministry Update: ALC&C
It seems like only yesterday it was January and we were welcoming Chloe Eisermann (center) to the ALC&C family, but time flew by so quickly, and it was time to say good-bye to her earlier this month. Chloe came in January to volunteer a semester as a facilitator at the Centre. We appreciate the time she was here, the opportunities to impact the lives of Bahamian children, and the ministry she was able to accomplish. Thank you, Chloe for your service. May God bless you.
They may look beautiful and colorful on the outside, but inside and under the hood, the condition of the buses tells a different story. Vehicles break down and deteriorate no matter where you are in this world, but in this salty humid climate, things seem to rust and break down quicker. Recently we did some major repair work on two of our buses. The buses are old, but praise the Lord we were able to fix them. However, this last month spent fixing the aging buses reminded us of our need to start looking into securing buses to replace our aging fleet. We hope to soon start a capital campaign to add a bus (or two) and replace the train. Please be in prayer with us as we work to raise the necessary funds. Perhaps you, your church, your Sunday School class, your youth group, etc is looking for a worthy cause to raise money for. Did you know that the buses at ALC&C are used not only to bus children to the Centre to experience programming that brings “the wonders of God’s Creation together with the curiosity of kids”, but they also are used to transport the hundreds of foreign mission team members to the various ministry sights on the island where they are serving Bahamian people and where we are “exposing laborers to the harvest through short term mission.”? Please be in prayer for the current buses, those given the task to keep them running, and for God’s provision for new buses.
God has sent us some helpers this summer to help lighten our load a bit. We appreciate the many volunteers that use their own free time/vacation time, resources and energy to fly here and work alongside us as we serve the Bahamian people and those coming to serve the Bahamian people. Many of them came as a result of pleas from staff and from notices in our newsletters and update blogs. We appreciate them and their partnership with us.
Chris and Sheila Eisermann are not only Chloe’s parents, they are also good friends of our and part of our sending church in Wisconsin. They came in early June to help Chloe return to the States and to bless us, encourage us and help us with work projects around Camp. They painted and helped manage mission team work projects at the Camp.
Connor is Zachary’s cousin and came this summer to help out with odd jobs and to spend time with Zachary before he leaves the island this fall. He mostly helped support us by helping Zachary take care of odd jobs at our house (which freed us up to do Camp business) as well as run the snack shop for Ms. Janice, serve teams at meal times, help Aaron with clean up jobs, among other things. We have enjoyed having him here. He leaves July 5th.
Karissa Salm and Lauren Thomas
Our facilitator Micah (far right) was blessed to have a group of young people from her home church here earlier this month on a mission trip. A couple of Micah’s friends, Karissa and Lauren, stayed an extra week to encourage her and to help out around ALC&C. We enjoyed getting to know these young ladies and appreciated their help in various areas.
Debbie Tuthill and Nancy Barnes
Nancy Barnes (left) and Debbie Tuthill (right) came the first full week in June to cook for the mission team we were serving. These ladies have been here before and are greatly appreciated for all they do for us and the ministry. They are from the Armstrong’s church in Delhi, New York.
Jenni Morgan, Allison Morgan, Macy Oliver and Bekah McKee
These four ladies came from my (Mindy’s) cousin’s church in Rossville, Indiana. They have been wanting to come and serve for a long time, and when they heard we needed help in the kitchen this summer and with the horses at the Centre, they jumped on the chance to come and help out. They were a great help in the Camp kitchen, and Bekah was a great help with working with the horses at the Centre. The girls also got to volunteer at the Centre’s Day Camp a couple of days. Thank you ladies for all your hard work!
Kathryn and Kinsey Nguyen
(sorry, no picture)
One of the Calvary Christian Academy 8th grade mission team members from January of this year and her mother came last week to volunteer for the first week of Summer Day Camp. They were not only a huge help in serving the children, they enjoyed the experience. They said the week went way too fast for them and are looking forward to doing it again.
Nick and Lydia Liebe
Volunteer staff and help come and go all the time. Rarely do they return. But this weekend we had the privilege of welcoming again Nick Liebe and his wife, Lydia. Nick volunteered for six weeks at Summer Day Camp in 2013. We are thrilled to have him back and the two of them together. They will be with us for 3 weeks volunteering at Summer Day Camp.
Ministry Update: Camp
We wish we could say we are kidding, but we cannot. If you will recall in our last blog post (“It is Finished”), we mentioned a series of accidents that had happened on Marshall Road. One of the accidents involved someone hitting our fence and damaging the gate. In that instance, the car did not come into the camp and just drove off without taking ownership of the damage. Exactly four weeks to the day (almost to the hour), we were awakened at 1:00am on a Sunday morning to the sound of a car coming through our fence and hitting a tree/wooded area inside our property. The gentleman was not hurt, but we suffered significant damage to our fence and gate. You may recall, Aaron had already fixed the gate twice, and with this accident, he had yet another opportunity to fix the system. We appreciate Aaron and all he does.
Ok all you construction buffs, interested supporters, and prayer warriors who have been praying for this project, here is a slide show of the June accomplishments on the new cabin. Tim and Aaron have done a lot of work along side the team of workers employed by a local man, but we have also had a lot of help from mission teams. Enjoy viewing the progress!
Bedford Free Methodist, Bedford, Indiana
Bedford Free Methodist is Micah’s home church, and they came to minister to the children of the Children’s Emergency Hostel and to help at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. They were also here to encourage, Micah. Once particular job they got done was paint the trim in the dining hall yellow. They also did cleaning jobs and cement mixing and rock moving for the new cabin.
Grace CMA Church, Cleveland, OH
The junior high youth group along with parents (52 total) from Grace CMA church of Cleveland, OH were here the second week in June. They were a huge blessing to us and many ministries on the island. They served at Ranfurly Children’s Home, The Seahorse Institute and Bahamas Downs Syndrome. At the Camp and Centre they worked on cleaning and painting jobs, moved rock, helped with ground work around the new cabin and painted the snack shack, the dining hall and the picnic tables. They got a lot accomplished, and the Camp is more beautiful because of their diligence.
Carolyn and Cam Muir
Carolyn Muir and her husband Cam came on a reconnaissance trip to Nassau from Chicago area and stayed with us for a few days. Carolyn grew up in the same church circle as Tim, and the Muirs know a lot of the same people we know. Carolyn will be leading future mission teams here.
We were blessed by a return visit of a young man that came and stayed with us last month. He was back on the island for doctor appointments and brought his uncle with him. They were Camp guest for 4 days. I got to practice some nursing skills on him as he was injured recently while on his home island.
Orlando Football Team
The football team of a Christian school in the Orlando area were on the island again this year to conduct football camps with Bahamian children living near Abundant Life Bible Church. In the mornings they like to squeeze in manual labor work projects at island ministries. They served us again this year. Their being here coincided with the fence accident, so they were able to help us dig holes for the footings of the fence posts. They also helped move rock and dig around the new cabin.
Mission Discovery 2
Mission Discovery was back for week number 2 just last week. (Their first week was in February of this year). The teams from Pennsylvania and Kentucky were led by Rich Rhode and Nate Ryver, and Nate’s wife Cara was the worship leader. The teams served at Elizabeth Estates Children’s Home, All Saints, and a Haitian family’s home. The team members were blessed by their experiences and were glad to pour into the lives of the people they were serving. Week 3 of Mission Discovery with be the first week in July.
Final Youth Outreach Night For the Year
The final night of the 2015-16 Youth Outreach at Camp was on June 18th. We finished up the year discussing Fruit of the Spirit. We saw numbers go from 10-15 at the beginning of the year with numbers in the 30’s by the final night. We feel God blessing us and working in the lives of the young people in the South Beach area and communities surrounding South Beach.
Future Events: Clean Slate Living in September and Young Adult Weekend in October
Work has begun on two big events coming this fall. The first event is connecting a Hip Hop Ministry Team, Clean Slate Living, with youth venues here in the Bahamas and is scheduled to take place at the end of September. Last week we had a meeting with a local pastor, Pastor Q from Epic Church, that knows youth and young adults well and is very interested in the ministry of Clean Slate Living. The second event, Young Adult Weekend, is scheduled for the first full weekend in October. Please pray for both events, and pray as we endeavor to reach the youth of the Bahamas for Christ and direct them into godly living.
Ministry Update: Centre
End of the Programming Year
The 2015-16 programming year at the Centre ended strong earlier this month. Besides groups of children in all age groups coming through out the school year to experience the wonders of God’s Creation, this past school year we worked at getting EVERY 6th grade class in the Bahamas government school system on the island of New Providence to Adventure Learning Centre. We got very close to accomplishing that goal (only 2 schools did not make it). Praise the Lord! That means almost every Bahamian child leaving government primary schools on this island will enter junior high school next year having heard the Gospel!
Summer Day Camp
You may recall from our blog post in January, 2016: Dread or Delight?, this is a huge transition year for us.
In two months, our homeschool classroom will empty, and in a little over 6 months, Zachary will be returning to the United States to begin the next chapter of his life. As we contemplate Zachary’s departure and try to enjoy every day we have left with him, we can’t help but thank God for the blessing and opportunity we have had in getting to raise this awesome young man. God has done a miraculous job in molding and shaping him into a godly man, and we are so proud of him. More importantly, we thank God for his heart and desire to live a life that honors and glorifies his Creator.
We have planned to honor Zachary with a simple graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 21st here in the Bahamas. The invitation is open to everyone (please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org). We are looking forward to Grandma and Grandpa Mikels and Logan joining us to celebrate this time with us, and we would love it if you could join us. Let us know if you are interested. If you are not able to attend Zachary’s graduation (and that is probably >95% of you), we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for him.
Upon leaving Nassau in October, Zachary will be living with his grandparents in Indiana and will continue to take Liberty University Online courses. Please pray for him in this time of transition. Besides normal challenges faced by all new college students, he will be coming off a foreign missionfield, and as such, will need to find his first gainfully employed job, learn to drive, and adjust to American culture again.
Please pray for the following staff needs.
Camp: Summer cooks
The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun, and that includes working through busy Camp schedules with little staff and few days off. Three years ago we served mission teams all by ourselves. Of course then we went into it with a relatively light schedule compared to what our schedules are now and not fully understanding what lie ahead. We survived the busy, do-it-yourself schedule, but it was difficult. This year we face a year of serving teams with just us and our office manager (you may recall Bob and Judi left in January), but unlike 3 years ago, we have a busier schedule. We have teams here from May 24-August 1. Although we are not unduly anxious, we realize we need to be proactive and get the word out: we need help!
Primarily we are looking for people who can come and help us cook for the groups. This year we organized the kitchen, set up a system, and documented clearly what needs to be done for each meal, so almost anyone willing to learn, work hard and has some leadership and organization abilities can do the job. We could also use people who can come and be support staff (ie bus driving). If you have a desire to serve the Lord on a foreign missionfield (for a week, two weeks, a month, two weeks, etc), please let us know of your interest by email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). It is hot, hard work, but it is rewarding, and you get to meet a lot of great people and minister alongside other missionary staff.
Centre: Summer Day Camp Counselors, Program Facilitators
The ALCentre holds an annual Summer Day Camp for 5 to 12 year old children for 5 to 6 weeks in the summer. Activities include a required bible class, sports, dance, crafts, animals and science. We utilize our animal petting farm, nature centre, playground, nature trails, wetlands, and planetarium to share God’s love with campers and each other. The teacher/counselor to camper ratio is approximately one to five which provides a safe and intimate Christian environment in a super fun setting. If you (or someone you know) are over 18 and faithfully walking with the Lord and are interested in ministering to children and volunteering as a short-term missionary this summer by being a counselor at Day Camp, please contact us.
We are also looking for program facilitators. Program facilitators help run and maintain programming at the Centre through out the school year. If you (or someone you know) are over 18 and faithfully walking with the Lord and are interested in ministering alongside other missionaries and local staff for the next school year or indefinitely, please contact us.
Thank you and Good-bye!
Last week we as a staff said good-bye to 3 fellow laborers who have been here since December (Bob and Faye Browing) and January (Tobias Jaton) shouldering the burden of ministry work with us. We made commemorative video for them and if you would like to view them, here are the links:
Special thanks is also in order for Debbie Tuthill. She is friends with the Armstrongs and was here for 3 weeks to help us cook and to provide her artistic abilities to props for Easter Monday Funday. We could not have served the groups the way we did without her. She was a blessing.
Thank you Bob, Faye, Debbie and Tobias, for all the work you have done!
Please pray for the ALC&C reverse osmosis system. It has been broken down a good part of the last month. Tim has been doing what he can to try to diagnose and repair it. We have had some challenges getting repairmen to come and look at the system. In the meantime, we have had to order bottled water delivery. It is amazing how much we take things for granted.
Whirlwind. That is how we can describe the month of March. Besides normal day to day work needs around Camp, we had 5 different mission teams (3 at one time), one local group, and many visitors. We have also been helping where we can to get ready for ALC&C’s big fundraiser, Easter Monday Funday.
The new cabin permit is getting closer to being completed, but it is still not in hand yet. Please pray this gets done soon!
Aaron continues to amaze all of us with the work projects he is getting done. We have tried to chronicle most of them in pictures, but he does some projects without us knowing about them until after they are done. He is a huge blessing with his maintenance and cleaning abilities.
We continue to see increase in numbers for our Youth Night. God has brought us some great young people to impact for Him. Three boys in particular are challenging, but we continue to love them and encourage them. Mission teams, TKA and Woodlands (see below), worked with the outreach on 2 consecutive Friday nights, and it was a blessing to see the involvement and interaction between the Bahamian young people and their USA counterparts. We would like to promote more interaction between mission teams and our Friday night Youth Outreach.
Mission Teams, Local Groups and Visitors
At the end of February, Mission Discovery brought in a team from Las Vegas, Nevada. We enjoyed getting to serve this team with the leaders of MD. Usually MD comes in the summer. This February/March trip was a nice deviation from the norm.
Eighteen students from James Madison University’s Recreation Centre have been coming to Nassau for many years to serve the physical education department at Uriah McPhee Primary school. They arrived Friday afternoon after the Mission Discovery group left. We enjoyed hearing the stories these young people brought back to Camp each day.
The day after JMU arrived, we welcomed two more teams to the Camp (yes, we had 3 mission teams at Camp at one time.) Judson University is from the Chicago area and was led by our board member, Stacie Burtelson. The group served at Adventure Learning Centre (programs and work projects) and at All Saints Camp. They got a lot of painting done at the Centre. The front gate looks great!
The King’s Academy from Florence, SC is a group of mostly 8th graders who came and ministered at Abundant Life Bible Church, Children’s Emergency Hostel, BAPD, ALC&C, our Friday night Youth Outreach, and a Haitian Church. We spent a lot of time with this group facilitating team building, directing work projects, and guiding their days through their ministry sites. We really enjoyed getting to know the young people, and were blessed by them as they prayed around us one evening after we shared our testimony and how God brought us here to The Bahamas. We received some great comments and testimonies from the young people on this team after they returned home. We praise God that He allowed us a small part in impacting these kid’s lives.
This year we welcomed back the eleventh graders of Woodlands Church in Stevens Point, WI. The team was led by Pastor Heath Erickson and was here for a week. The group served at the Centre and Camp (led Youth Outreach on Friday, did work projects), All Saints Camp, and BAPD. Serving at BAPD, though brief was the highlight of the week for many in the group.
Good-Friday evening, we welcomed over 50 people from Rebirth Ministries to Camp for an evening/overnight retreat. We pray that God impacted the lives of the young ladies this ministry ministers to.
Visits from family and friends are so important for all our staff. This past couple weeks, many of us were blessed by visits from family: Lee and Jan Seeley (Tim’s parents), Debbie Tuthill (friend of the Armstrongs), Vance and Jan Armstrong (Janice’s brother), and the Godsey family (Micah’s family). Though painful to let go when it is time for them to leave, all of these visitors bring such blessing and encouragement!
Brief visits are also an encouragement to us. We believe God brings people into our lives at just the right time and for a specific purpose. We call them divine appointments. This weekend, a gentleman walked into our front gate and introduced himself as Wolfgang Ebener (he had taken a taxi downtown from the airport then a bus from downtown to here). He is here for only a day from Germany. He is visiting family in Florida and wanted to come back and revisit the ALC. We welcomed him in and had a great time fellowshipping with him, hearing his story and finding common friends and acquaintances (Theo Habel, Randy Grebe, Ditthardt family). Ricardo Stubbs was influenced 10+ years ago by Phil Barker and was on sight to speak at the Rebirth Ministries program at Camp. Phil Barker was here last week with Woodlands and is staying over. Betsy who was here on the island through a cruise yesterday had been on a mission trip 3 years ago (and has stayed in contact with us on Facebook). Susanna Flanders is friends with our good friend Cranston Knowles. Cranston brought her and the Miller family from Bill Rice Ranch here to see the ministry.
(Though not all inclusive, here is a little highlight of what is going on at the Centre. We often times are out of the loop at what goes on at the Centre, not because we are disinterested because we have our hands full at the Camp. If you want more on what is happening at the Centre, Jen has a great blog!)
Jen Rogers is the current program director. She has been doing a fantastic job at leading the facilitator staff through day to day programming at the Centre and after school Adventure Clubs. In Feburary, 1301 students from 27 schools came to Adventure Learning Centre. That means over 1300 Bahamian families were touched with the gospel in that month alone!
Easter Monday Funday (EMF) continues to dominate the Centre’s attention. EMF is one of our two Fundays for the year that is a fundraiser for the ministry as well as a gospel outreach. Please pray for God’s working on the event. Staff at the Centre will be getting some much needed down time this next week after the EMF. Pray for their rest time. The work here is often times long and hard, and they need to be refreshed.
The Centre is getting a facelift. As with everything else, over time landscaping becomes drab and run down. A revitalization of the landscape at the Centre has been taking place. Of course, it will take a few growing seasons to show its full benefit, but the time and effort we put into it now will make it all worth it in the end. Andrew Cartwright is donating his time to help with the plan and we are looking to local nurseries for donations of plants in exchange for recognition. Thank you, Andrew, for your time and expertise!
What started out as an assignment for school has now become an every week occurrence for Zachary. He has been volunteering his time to help in the office at the Centre every Thursday. He helps the office staff answer phones, and he does the weekly clean-up of the surveillance camera SD cards.
At the end of Feburary, we flew to Indiana so Tim could attend a charitable giving conference in Chicago. Zachary and I stayed with my parents and got some projects and shopping done. After the conference and a couple days visiting family, we flew to Cleveland, OH to meet with a mission team that is coming in June. We had a great time getting to reconnect with Pastor Ryan and Pastor Scott, meet their wives, the mission team members and Ryan’s former assistant Pam and her family, and share the ministry and Bahamas culture with the team.
This is Iva Hepburn and her son Alexander. We attend Kingdom Life Church together, and they are in our Care Group. She blessed me by coming and helping me clean my very dirty, neglected house. She has been in need of work, and I have been in need of deep cleaning my house. We hope to work together again.
Tim’s parents came for 10 days, and their presence was just as much an encouragement to the ALC&C staff as much as it was for us. Thanks Mom and Dad for the pizza, Chinese Food, and DQ cake! We appreciate all the help you gave us while you were here. We loved having you guys.
Thank you again to all of you who battled through another very long update. We appreciate you interest in our work and our lives.
May God be glorified!
Tim, Mindy and Zachary Seeley
So, it has finally arrived: 2016. My heart is screaming, “Let it not be so! I am not ready for the huge changes this year is going to bring. I am not ready to give up my role of full-time mom!” This sentiment will come as no surprise to those of you who know me well. I have always loved being a mom and have long since dreaded an empty nest (and empty classroom). But 2016 has arrived, and I must face it.
Now the question is, am I going to face it with dread or with delight?
As I come to terms with the potential pain that this year represents, God, in His divine, well thought out ways, has softened the blow this year is threatening to deliver by sending us great news (more on that later) and messages/reminders of who we are and why we are here on this earth as a way to helping me adjust my perspective.
This past Sunday, our pastor preached on I Corinthians 10:31, which interestingly enough happens to be the “Seeley Family Academy” theme verse. The verse in the ESV version says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” God called us to parent Andrew, Garrett, Logan and Zachary into adulthood for a season. All we did as parents was to be done to the glory of God. I wish we could say we did it perfectly, but we cannot. Nonetheless, as that season of day to day parenting comes to an end and we enter the next season of our lives, our call remains to “do all to the glory of God.” Who am I to dishonor God by maintaining a wrong perspective of this next season of our lives?
This past Wednesday, friend/ALC&C board member/pastor of Abundant Life Bible Church, Pastor Cranston Knowles was with us for ALC&C staff devotions. What he shared was a huge encouragement to all of us. I won’t take the time to share all he said here (I hope to focus on it next month), but as I listened to what he said, I could not help but think of my current situation as I adjust my perspective of this year. One of the points he said was, “Don’t doubt in the darkness what God has revealed in the light. Knowing God has called you here will be the anchor to ground you in tough days.” Three years ago this very weekend, God called us to the Bahamas and made our path here smooth (you may refer back to past blogs for testimony to this). God has used his call and smooth orchestration of us getting here as a source of encouragement. I can rest in the fact that we are where we need to be. No matter how much I long for the past or want to be with absent loved ones, I can rest in knowing I can be content where I am because I am where God has called me to be.
Does this mean I am not going to be sad when we take Zachary back to the States this fall or that I will never long to reach out and cuddle the little boys I see in photos or experience the messy, loud, crude, rambunctiousness of my 4 little boys in my house? I don’t think so. I am quite sure I will have my times of tears and sadness, but I know who walks beside me and sustains me. As much as my flesh wants me to face 2016 with dread, my perspective of eternity and theology of a loving, sovereign, providential God allows me to face 2016 with delight. So bring it on!
We thank God for the memories and for the years He gave us to raise these boys!
Welcome Aboard and Welcome Back
We would like to introduce three of our newest ALC&C staff: Garnet Hepburn (left) is our new animal and grounds caretaker at the Centre. Chloe Eisermann (center) is from Wisconsin and will be a facilitator at the Centre until June. Aaron Mills (right) is serving in Camp maintenance and housekeeping and helping IT needs across both campuses.
Bob and Faye Browning are back on the island for 3 more months. This is their eleventh year of coming and snow birding with us from Ontario, Canada.
Jen Rogers has been our curriculum writer and a facilitator at the Centre for the last 2 1/2 years. With Dilan Van Ryn’s departure in December, Jen has taken over the education and facilitator oversight portions of the program director position. Tika Penn, who has been a facilitator at the Centre for 4 years is now doing the events coordinator portion of the program director position. Please pray for these ladies as they minister in their new roles.
Future Mission Teams and Prospective Staff
In December, God gave us the opportunity to meet in Charleston, South Carolina with a mission team that is possibly looking to come back to Nassau for another mission trip this summer. The group led by Mamie Rand came for the first time this past June. We attended church with Mamie and her family on Sunday morning, and while at Seacoast Church, we were able to meet with the missions pastor. After church and lunch, we met with families interested in coming on the trip and shared a slide presentation of the ALC&C ministry and the Bahamas culture.
Also while in South Carolina, we were able to meet with the leader of The King’s Academy mission team that is coming in March. After our meeting with Betty Levinier to iron out scheduling details, we got to visit with friends, Peter, Patti and Parker Rau and tour Operation Mobilization’s offices.
While in North Carolina between Christmas and New Years, we met with the daughter of a fellow Bob Jones University student who is interested in working at the ALC’s summer day camp program this summer. Please pray for Grace Gillespie as she makes plans to come to Nassau to serve Bahamian children.
Calvary Chapel Academy 8th Grade Mission Trip
Since our return to Nassau on January 2nd, we have been busily preparing for and serving a group of students and their leaders from Calvary Chapel Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The school sends their 8th grade class on the Bahamas mission trip every year at this time. The first week we had about 95 students/leaders and the second week we had about 90 students/leaders. The team has a very evangelistic focus: Knowing God and Making Him Known. They served at orphanages, government schools, All Saints Camp, and Adventure Learning Centre. They also spent some time down town sharing the Gospel with tourists and Bahamians.
We are looking for a great year of out reach to the youth in the South Beach area. Meetings started again this week with about 12 young people coming. Last weekend the leaders met to do a walk about around the neighborhood to advertise the weekly meetings and discuss the schedule. Please pray for the meeting’s impact on the young people and for the staff as they work with the young people.
Well, nothing as changed since last month’s blog. We have been in contact with the architect that is working on fixing the problems that the Ministry of Works has flagged on the prints, but nothing has moved forward. So, we keep praying and asking the Lord to work in this. In a month, it will be a year since we started this process. Please pray it gets completed soon!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words; what is the value of a video? In this case, it is priceless. Why are we sharing it? Because we want everyone to see what a valuable tool the train is to the ministry work we do at the Centre. It is not just a “fun” event for the children, it is also an integral part of some of the programs. The problem though is the train is limping along. It needs to be replaced. We are looking at a $120,000 price tag for a train replacement (that is the cost of the train, duty, VAT, and shipping to the island). Please be in prayer that funding for the train comes in.
The “great news” we spoke of in the opening section is the timely announcement of a new addition to the Seeley family. Garrett and Abby told us with a clever Christmas present that they are expecting their first child in August. We are looking forward to our new roles of “Grammy and Grampy” and pray God blesses our son and daughter as they prepare for the baby’s arrival and raising our grandchild for the Lord.
While in South Carolina in December we were able to get a lot of supply shopping/packing done and spend Christmas with my sisters and their families. After Christmas we travelled to North Carolina to spend time with Tim’s family. We met some great-nieces and nephews and attended a nieces wedding on New Years Eve. Garrett and Abby and Logan and his girlfriend Alex were also in North Carolina, so we got to spend some time with them. Andrew and Katie did not come south this year. We will get to see them in February when they come to Nassau for a visit.
Praise the Lord for new staff, opportunities to serve, and blessings that come from ministering to the mission teams and those who come to the ALCentre
Winter/Spring guest group schedule at Camp and programming at the Centre: pray God prepares hearts and that the Gospel is proclaimed
That the new staff and staff filling new positions adjust to their new roles well
Installation of new board members and executive director
Missionary staff needs: cook, facilitators
Replacement of the train
Wisdom and discernment in our relationships with one another and as we serve the Bahamian people and those coming to serve the Bahamian people.
Thank you for taking the time to get caught up with what is happening here in The Bahamas at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp.
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
Knowing that the United States is celebrating Thanksgiving this week, our Bahamian friends have asked us, “Are you going back to the States to be with your boys for Thanksgiving?” The answer is, “No, we will not be leaving the island this Thanksgiving.” Does this make us sad, unthankful, or wish to skip the holiday all together? The answer again is no! Although we are a little sad about not being (physically) with our family, we realize going back to the States for holidays is not always possible.
We find comfort in staying focused on being here in The Bahamas where God has called us to be. We recognize our being here as an awesome opportunity from God to be a part of furthering His Kingdom on this earth. It is a joy for us to be here sharing the Gospel of Jesus and serving the Bahamian people and those who come from abroad to serve the Bahamian people.
We are thankful God has allowed us the opportunity to serve Him in a country that has (though sometimes unreliable) internet capabilities, in a time period when so many options for communication exist. We have the ability to talk and “visit” with our children whenever we want to via Facetime, Skype, email, Facebook, etc. Generations of missionaries previous did not have such luxuries.
So at this time of Thanksgiving, despite the fact we are over a thousand miles away from our loved ones, it is our heart’s posture of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for the privilege of serving Him here in this beautiful country that prevents and cures us of homesickness and loneliness.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you near and far!
If you read our blogs or follow us on Facebook, you know we lost our animal caretaker, Sean Wilson, to a car accident at the end of October (click here for link). The ALC&C joined the Wilson family for a memorial service for Sean on Thursday, November 12th and a double funeral for Sean and his mom two days later. Sean’s absence is deeply felt by all of us at ALC&C.
With Sean’s death, Bob and Judi Balson transferred from maintenance/housekeeping/cooking at Camp to taking care of animals and grounds at the Centre. They have done a fantastic job! They plan on leaving after the first of the year to go back to Wisconsin to take care of Bob’s mother who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. We’re sad to see them go, but we understand and support them in their decision.
With the end of the calendar year comes the end of the one year commitment Dilan and Laura made to serve with ALC&C. We are saddened that they too will be leaving, but we understand and support them in their decision. They have been such a blessing and encouragement to the ministry here.
The ALC&C is looking to fill a couple important positions. If you or someone you know has a burden to see the Gospel proclaimed to the children of the Bahamas or a burden for missions to be instilled into the hearts of people coming from abroad, then we have just the ministry for you! We are looking for help in the following areas:
Russ, Bethany and Sean Bahr were here with us in October for a family ministry trip. The Bahr family know Dilan and Laura Van Ryn from their church, Highland Community Church, in Wausau, Wisconsin. The Bahrs were able to follow programing at the Centre, visit Bahamas Association of the Physically Disabled, and tag along with Dilan to a youth outreach.
Tom & Nancy Barnes and Dave and Debbie Tuthill came to visit and help out from upstate New York. They have been here in the past and are friends of the Armstrong’s. They helped out with construction projects and making costumes for the Christmas Lights Drive-thru. They were a huge blessing to the Armstrongs and the ministry here.
Dave Stranks is from Charlie’s church in London Ontario Canada. He was suppose to come on the mission trip with West London Alliance Church in January, but was unable to do so. He helped put a roof on the storage containers at Camp and helped with various other projects.
The board met the last weekend in October. Besides meeting with the ALC&C leadership team, they met with potential board members. They are working to install new, quality board members and filling the executive director position. Please pray for new board members and a new executive director. After the meetings, the board joined the ALC&C staff at the Castle (Billy and Leah Slater’s house) for a picnic and time of fellowship.
Dilan Van Ryn’s parents, Todd and Shari Van Ryn, were here for a week. They and a few people from their church stayed with Billy and Leah Slater at the Castle. They served in various ministries on the island. Todd and Shari were part of the same Brethren church circle that Tim grew up in.
Cliff and Denise Young came for a long weekend at the beginning of November. Denise was here over the summer to help serve a mission team, but this was Cliff’s first time visiting us here on the island. Cliff and Denise are from the Atlanta area.
One of the biggest successful surprises I have ever seen: Charlie’s parents contacted us earlier this fall and asked us if they and Charlie’s boyfriend, Steve, could come to the island to surprise Charlie with a visit. Of course we thought it was a great idea. Charlie had no idea they were coming until they showed up on our porch while she was eating lunch with us. It was a great week for her, and it happened to be her birthday week as well!
Pastor Jack Robbins is from Oklahoma and came to make a connection with the ministry. He came to use on his way to Haiti, Dominican Republic, and St. Thomas islands.
Dave Bryant is a fellow Bahamas missionary. He and his wife Sue minister on Andros. We met Dave last Spring while we were at the immigration office. He saw Zachary’s t-shirt that had Scripture on it and started a conversation with us. We gave him our card and told him to look us up if he was ever back on the island. He has done just that. This is a relationship that has proven encouraging for both sides. We are amazed at how God works!
This week fellow Minneapolis residents and past Living Waters Bible Camp co-staff- Ken and MaryBeth Habel and their three children, Will, Jack and Abby-were on the island for a brief visit. They came via a cruise ship and wanted to see the ALC&C where both Ken and Mary Beth served many years ago.
First, you may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of “Giving Tuesday”? This year Giving Tuesday is December 1st. On that day (or any day really), we are asking people to consider how they might be able to donate towards replacing our train at the Centre. If you have ever been at the Centre during program days, you know how beloved the train is by the children of the Bahamas. If you have never seen the train in action, next Monday we will be posting a video on the ALC&C Facebook page. You may check it out there. The train has been well used for many, many years and needs to be replaced. Please pray for the $120,000 (train, shipping, duty) needed to replace the train.
The second thing we are promoting is a brief survey where we are asking for your input. For the month of November, we are entering all who take our survey into a drawing for a free ALC&C t-shirt. Could you take a few minutes and fill out the survey?
Romans 1:20 teaches that all creation points to a magnificent Creator…Recently we took a tour of the mangroves in the wetlands area behind the ALC. Sam showed us how they use the program to teach school children about the ecosystem and Jesus. The tour was research for a project we are working on. We plan on writing a booklet about the Centre programs, and then the booklet will be a promotional gift for those taking the time to fill out a survey for us. Stay tuned!
As you can tell, not much has happened since our last report. One of the biggest, most frustrating projects we are working on right now is getting the permit to build the new cabin. It is tied up at the engineer/architect’s office. We hope to have the final approved permit within the next couple of weeks. Because the cabin is not going to be done for our large group in January, we have had to make other arrangements to house everyone in the group, and it involves displacing our full time missionary staff. Please pray for all of us as we have to make adjustments.
Young Adult Weekend
October 9-11 we had a nice turn out for our second Young Adult Weekend. The theme was “Faith: Fact or Fiction?”, and our guest speaker was Jay Seegert from Creation Education Center in Milwaukee, WI. We had a great weekend and got a lot of positive feedback from attendees.
Friday Night Youth Outreach
On Friday nights, a core group of ALC&C staff and former Joy Bible Mission people lead our weekly Youth Outreach at the Camp. The numbers remain on average around 10-15 young people a night. Please pray as we start getting out more and advertising the event that God brings more young people our way to minister to.
Assisting COB Architecture Students
We are assisting the College of Bahamas architecture students with a class project. They are learning design techniques and skills and one of their projects is “designing a cottage” for us. It has been fun to work with these students as they learn architecture.
We have had several local groups use Camp this fall for their retreats. We love serving people and are so excited to share this serene, beautiful setting with residents of this island. After all we are here to serve the Bahamian people. We, as a para church ministry, come alongside the local churches and support them in the ministry work they do.
Of course school programs and after school Adventure Programs continue at the Centre, but much of the time is being spent on preparations for the annual Christmas Lights Drive-thru event. The event is one of our annual fundraisers, but more importantly it is a significant Gospel outreach. Please pray for the production, the final weeks of preparations, and for receptive hearts to the Gospel as it is presented.
Although the update is already quite lengthy, we cannot miss reporting on what God has done in response to our last blog post. In our last post (Link to “Eighty-five cents a day”) we shared our need for increased monthly support and made a request for people to consider becoming $25/month donators. We are happy to report that we received a very good response from that initiative. It is difficult to say how many new, consistent ministry partners we have acquired (it will take several months to see a pattern since we have only heard directly from a few people that they plan to give regularly), but giving is definitely up and we have received several encouraging emails from those wishing to join our team. Praise the Lord with us for His provision, and may God bless those who generously give!
There is so much more we could update you on, but as you can tell, this update is already quite lengthy. We will stop the update here for now.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how God is using all of us here at Adventure Learning Centre and Camp. We covet your prayers. We praise God for being so good to us (in the good times as well as the trials). We feel so blessed and encouraged as we continue laboring for him here in The Bahamas.
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!
The last couple months we have been reporting that support has been down. We came to the Bahamas almost 3 years ago knowing we were under funded but with faith that God would provide for our needs. He has faithfully supplied our needs through the generosity of others and through money from our personal savings. However, our savings has been depleted to a critical level, and now we need to evaluate our long-term financial picture and commitment to the ministry work here in The Bahamas.
One way missionaries raise support for their ministry work is to travel and present their ministries to prospective donors. The up side to doing the personal visits is getting to talk to people face to face. The down side is it costs a lot of money to travel, traveling is very tiring, and time spent away can negatively impact the ministry.
We have been praying about what to do to accomplish our goal (increase our monthly support level) while spending as little time, resources and energy as possible. After all, we are here to minister to the Bahamian people and those who come to serve the Bahamian people, and that is hard to accomplish effectively when we are away from the island.
In lieu of a support raising trip…
This year we are looking for 50 people who would be willing to pledge to support us financially with $25 per month. Why $25? First of all, $0.85 a day is not a lot of money for most people. It allows people who would normally think they cannot afford to contribute to a ministry to see how affordable it can be. 50 $25/month (or 25 $50/month or 13 $100/month) pledges would close the deficit we are experiencing.
So, if you have always wanted to support a ministry but never thought you could afford it, or you always thought missionaries only want “big” donations, here is your chance to get involved with our ministry with a donation for as little as $0.85/day! (Of course any size donation would be gratefully received.)
Watch how God works: For every $25 pledge we receive, we will be using a tool in the sidebar (haven’t worked through that yet) to record the progress so all can see how God is working! Please indicate in your correspondence with Shepherd’s Staff that your donation is for the “$0.85/day campaign” so we can track the progress to 50 new supporters.
Thank you in advance for prayerfully considering how God can use you to keep us on the missionfield fully funded!
As this is being published, Tim is in Pennsylvania attending a conference to learn more about the new software the ALC&C is using to help facilitate and track donations. He has called daily and said the conference has been very beneficial, but it is a lot of information to process. Please pray for Tim as he finishes up the conference tomorrow and returns to the island on Thursday.
ALC&C Board Meeting and Executive Director Position
In two weeks we will be welcoming the ALC&C board. They will be coming for a board meeting and time of encouragement to the staff. One of the big items of business remains finding a new Executive Director and installing new board members. Please pray for them as they meet to discuss ALC&C business and provide direction and leadership to this ministry and for these two very important initiatives.
In September we were finally able to meet in person a fellow missionary who up until August was stationed with his family in the Turks and Caicos Islands with Child Evangelism Fellowship. Tim “met” Sean Miller in an online class a couple years ago. He and his family are back in the states but are still working with CEF as the Caribbean Director. He was on the island, and we were able to show him around.
Tom Schafer returned to the island last week for a visit. It nice to get caught up with him and to hear his awesome laugh again. He is here to rest but has been able to help Tim Ryan at All Saints Camp this week.
Last week Mitch Stein from Florida was here to observe the ALC&C. He followed programming and had opportunity to visit with staff and hear their stories. We enjoyed getting to know Mitch.
New Website is in our Future
Meet Ben Hacker. Ben is a friend from our days at Living Waters Bible Camp. He is also an ALC&C connection in that he is the husband of Randy Grebe’s niece. Ben’s job is web development. We approached him a few weeks ago to assist us in taking ownership of our website (it is currently “owned” by Calvary Chapel) and helping us make our website more user friendly, mobile-ready, and navigateable. He has graciously offered to bless us with his services. Thank you, Ben, for all you are doing for us!
Tim was able to meet with the Operation Mobilization at a luncheon meeting on September 16th. There is talk of the OM ship coming here in a year or two.
We hosted CYLN (Christian Youth Leaders Network) at Camp on September 26th. We were also able to advertise Young Adult Weekend to the youth leaders.
Ministry Update: Camp
Can you believe we have had no guest groups since our last post? Even in the absence of groups, we have remained busy. We have many projects in the works…
It is out with the old to make way for the new. The old cabin came down and the area is getting prepped for construction of the new, larger cabin that will soon be built. Tim has been making a lot of calls and trying to get the approvals and permits finalized with the Ministry of Works. As with all construction projects we have worked on here, challenges abound. Part of the hang-up is the two new staff cottages are tied into the Cabin 3 building permit. Please pray the final approval is given soon. We hope to have the cabin constructed by December for the January mission teams of 95 people.
Weekly Youth Outreach
Our weekly Friday night Youth Outreach is in full swing. This year we are using a small groups format with the theme being Fruits of the Spirit. The young people are excited about the beginning of a new year, and we look forward to another year of opportunity to reach out to the young people in the Bahamas.
Young Adult Weekend
Young people 18-30 years old will be gathering at Camp this weekend to fellowship and hear how to strengthen their faith. We are looking forward to an fun, exciting, informative weekend. Please pray for logistics of the weekend and that God prepares hearts to receive the message.
Ministry Update: Centre
Programing has commenced at the Centre. Our three new facilitators had their first opportunity to fly solo last week. Please pray for a busy year of bringing the wonders of God’s creation together with the curiosity of kids. After school Adventure Clubs have resumed as well. Please pray for the staff and for the young people we minister to during the programming at the Centre and the clubs at the schools.
Seeley Family Update
Still no hurricanes. We have lived here for almost three years, and we have never had to experience a hurricane. In a state of urgency that closely resembles how people in northern states react to an impending blizzard, the people of the Bahamas treat hurricane warnings very seriously. Two recent storms, Erika and Joaquin, threatened to visit us here on New Providence, but neither one of them showed up. Now Joaquin did ravage southern Bahamas Islands and residents there are worthy of our prayers, but we are praising God that all we saw was very little rain, light breezes, and high rough waves on the seashore. Please pray we make it through the next couple of months without a major storm here.
In August, Zachary and Mindy were able to fly to South Carolina to take part in Mindy’s nephew’s Marine Bootcamp festivities. It was a great experience for them, and they enjoyed getting to be with family as well as connect with a former mission team member.
Enjoying time with ALC&C staff is one of the perks of living in community. Often we are able to share meals, celebrate birthdays, and get together for games and movie nights.
Meet Pastor Jeff Jackson. Jeff is the founder of Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators. He periodically connects with us via Skype to encourage us and see how we are doing. Last week we got to visit with him for a short time. Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for your care and concern for us in the field!
As we conclude this month’s update, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with each of you. We appreciate you taking the time to wade through this lengthy update. We know it is long, but so much is happening here in the Bahamas as we seek to serve God and further His kingdom.
Please pray for us as we seek to serve the Lord and to raise the necessary funds to continue the work God has called us to do here. Pray for $.85/day supporters!