From a distance…

It has been a different summer. We should have been in Southeast Asia for 2 months. My calendar keeps reminding me of that. Instead, we have spent it in Northwest Fort Worth. Not quite the same. But, the work still continues, just differently. The Lord has been faithful. While we were not there in person, through generous donors, we have been able to help in Asia.

One of our supporting churches even held a fundraising walk that we attended. They raised $10,000 for our work in Asia! The pastor shared with me that while it seems like a bad time to have a missionary come to their church, this actually was a huge help. It allowed their people to maintain a global focus in a time when it is easy to look inwardly and focus on our circumstances. It provided a boost to their church, and I have since had other churches schedule us to come and share. What an encouragement to our family, the churches, and the missionaries around the world!

Here are a couple of things that have happened:

The container actually made it out of customs and the supplies made it to the hospital! It took a lot of work and 42 days, but they released it and the impact will be immeasurable. In looking at the photos below, it is hard to believe you can get that much in one container.

Food distributions have been able to happen in Thailand where the missionaries and Christian business owners have been provided a platform to distribute food and share the Gospel. Every obstacle is an opportunity.

Due to flooding, one of our feeding centers in Mongolia has been damaged, but thanks to our donors, it is now being repaired and the kids are being cared for. Speaking of Mongolia, another supporting church knitted more blankets and shipped them to Mongolia. They will arrive in time for winter! Enjoy the pictures, and thank you for your continued support!

COVID, Cleburne, Cambodia

It is hard to believe all of those go together, but it has been an interesting 2 months. Most of you know from my last update, I got really sick in April. 104 fever, rolled into pneumonia, etc. I got tested for COVID and had a negative result. It turns out, it was a false negative. In the past month we had an antibody test performed, and it appears our entire family all have the antibody, which means we all had COVID. I was the lucky one with the most severe case. Go figure.

It took me a good 6 weeks to recover. But, I am finally back to normal, minus the 20 pounds I lost during the ordeal. Hopefully it stays lost. Ha! While we have not been able to travel during this time, the work has not stopped. We were able to help some of our partners in Thailand with food outreaches in their communities. We hate that we cannot be there right now, but are thankful we can still help in ways. The container of medical supplies has arrived in Cambodia. We are in the process of getting it through customs. Which is interesting in the COVID world.

Every obstacle is an opportunity. An exciting opportunity that has come out of this was an interview I was able to give recently. A pastor friend of mine has a podcast and he asked me a lot of questions about us and our mission work. You or others you know may have similar questions, so here is a link to the podcast. Feel free to share with anyone you know.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

Now that I have recovered, we had the opportunity to work with one of our supporting churches and fix up a family’s home in Cleburne, TX. They are both teachers and needed help tearing down a fort, dry wall repairs, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc. A group of us got together and helped fix up their house. Our girls loved it! Especially the demo work…maybe I should be worried. Again, while we wish we were in Asia right now, the Lord has given us opportunities to serve with some wonderful people in our backyard.

Thank you for your prayers and support. Here are some pictures.

Cambodia to Pneumonia

As I write this, I’m recovering from double pneumonia.  I guess my lungs wanted to keep each other company.  The month started as interesting as it is ending.  Before I delve into the medical journey, let me share the amazing things the Lord has done this month. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, doors are opening to serve others and share the Gospel!

For over a year, a doctor friend of mine and I have been working to send a container of medical equipment for a mission hospital in Cambodia that we work with. It works in conjunction with a MANNA orphanage and feeding centers. It has been a ton of work, full of excitement and disappointment, but well worth it! With the collaborative help of Christ Chapel Bible Church, Brother’s Brother Foundation and MANNA Worldwide, we were finally able to ship a 40 foot container of medical supplies and equipment to Cambodia this month!!

While, shipping a container of medical supplies is an exciting development, the Lord had more opportunities for us. Since we are stuck in Fort Worth, and not able to travel to Asia, doors opened for us to begin delivering food to families in need in our area.  We worked with one of our supporting churches in the area and were able to provide groceries to over 400 families!  So many open doors!

Then, the second half of the month started. In more ways than one.  I was supposed to be doing more food distributions and helping a church sheetrock a house for someone.  My plans changed slightly. Kayli and I started running a fever, mine went up to just over 104 degrees.  Not the most enjoyable experience, but you get some interesting dreams.  We had difficulty breathing, joint/muscle aches, cough, headaches, loss of taste, etc.  They tested us for COVID-19, it came back negative, which turned out to be a greater blessing than I knew.  Kayli got better, I did not.

Kim took me to an urgent care. They were willing to see me due to the negative COVID-19 test. Otherwise, my only option would have been the hospital.  They found a secondary infection of pneumonia was beginning in my right lung.  They gave me steroid and antibiotic shots and sent me home with oral meds. Over the next 48 hours, my right lung became completely covered and my left lung decided to join the party.  I’ve never had pneumonia grow that quickly, while on heavy meds.

The good news, my left lung is clearing up and I’m sure my right lung will follow soon thereafter.  It will be a slow recovery process. I have a hard time sitting still, but I’m learning patience and I can’t speed up the healing process.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  You may not always know what is happening, but your prayers are always on time! Here are some pictures from the month.

Philippines

I made it home from the Philippines.  My flight landed 3 hours before Kayli’s gymnastics competition, so I got to watch her compete before I went into my jet lag coma.  Ha!

We had a great trip.  We got to help school districts come and pick up books for their schools.  A church in North Texas was able to collect and ship over 60,000 books that were too old for the ISDs in our area.  One of the teachers stood on the pile of books and told everyone how this was life changing for her schools!  An obstacle for ISDs in our area became and opportunity for schools in the Philippines thanks to the forward thinking from a church in our area.

We were able to visit a feeding center and help feed the kids and love on them.  We also visited MANNA’s new orphanage and meet with the architect as renovations are underway.  We also were part of a very unique and first for MANNA.  We had conferences in Manila and Cebu with pastors in both areas.  We presented MANNA and the pastors of these churches are now committed to supporting MANNA and helping us start more projects around the world!  Very cool! Here are some pictures from the trip:

Israel, Jordan & Iraq

2019 ended with an extended trip to the Middle East.  It was a lot of firsts.  We got be a part of MANNA’s very first team to Israel.  It was a huge blessing to be able to tour the Holy Land and watch the Bible come to life. And, the best part, Kim got to join me this time!  I am really excited about MANNA leading more tours to Israel.  While we were there, a couple of us were able to meet with a church planter, who we may be able to start a MANNA project with. Very exciting!

After the team left for the States, 4 of us journey on to Jordan.  It was also an amazing blessing. We met with a ministry that is planting churches in Jordan and doing an amazing job of reaching the Muslims in Jordan.  In the process we had the opportunity to deliver Christmas shoe boxes with gifts to refugee families and Jordanian families.  We spent time at a children’s Christmas program and met with several pastors.  If you ever wonder what happens to the shoe box you send with Operation Christmas Child, we got to see it first-hand.  It was a humbling experience, and a great platform for us to share the Gospel.

To cap off the trip, we ventured on to Iraq. We were in the Kurdistan portion of Iraq, working with the Kurds.  They were extremely inviting.  We put together food baskets for families, took part in several church services, and got to interact with a large youth group they have started. It was a blessing to see all of these teenagers seeking the Lord and we got to share the Gospel with one young man for an extended period of time. We finished the trip meeting with a principal at a public school in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.  They welcomed us, showed us the school and we got to meet the kids.  We will be starting a feeding program for children at the school, and we helped upgrade their water tanks and drinking water piping.  Many, many open doors!

A Thankful Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful trip with a great team in November, the week of Thanksgiving.  It was full of new experiences and serving others. We helped feed children at several feeding centers throughout Guatemala.  While at one feeding center on the coast, a man came from the local conservation society with a bucket full of newly hatched sea turtles.  They are breeding them and have to release them into ocean the day they hatch.  He wanted to know if we would like to help him. Of course we did!  The children at our feeding center and our team got to release around 70 baby sea turtles into the Pacific Ocean that day.  As a bonus, the Guatemala City zoo was open for a special time at night, so we got to take all of the kids at the orphanage to visit the zoo at night. They loved it!

On another day we were able to help build a home for a family in a community near our feeding center and church in San Lucas, Guatemala.  We had the pleasure of meeting a new friend, Jeff, as he came to Guatemala just to help oversee the construction. We could not have done it without him!

Lastly, we had the privilege of hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner with the children at our orphanage.  Several years ago they asked if we could have a meal like they see in the movies. Everyone sitting down and passing the food like a family.  Humbling and heartbreaking.  Since then, we have had a great meal with them for Thanksgiving and brought presents for them to open.  It is an honor to serve and we are blessed beyond measure.

The Journey of Thanksgiving

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.  Today begins a month long journey.  I will fly to Guatemala and work with a team there for a week.  Next Wednesday morning my family will leave Fort Worth via a vehicle and head to New Mexico for Thanksgiving while I leave Guatemala City via a plane and try to catch them in Amarillo on the way.  Pray for flights and connections.

We will drive back from New Mexico the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  As soon as we get home, I will wash clothes, repack, and we head to Israel first thing Monday morning.  Once the team is finished in Israel, we will get them on the plane home and a couple of us will continue on to Jordan and Iraq where the Lord is opening some amazing doors.  We have so much to be thankful for and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.

I covet your prayers and look forward to keeping you updated along the way.

Japan – Youth Camps to Bullet Trains

We had a great team to Japan in August as we hosted a youth English camp.  We were able to take a homebuilding company that uses their company and profits to invest in the Kingdom and their employees.  They have invested in the camp in Japan and it was great to take them to work with the kids there and experience the impact of their generosity.

We started the trip by doing some work on a church in the Tokyo metro area with some great missionary friends who also organized the English camp. We replaced flooring, installed some trim, painted, cleaned, and did some gardening. But, the most amazing impact of the day happened after we left.  A girl had been watching us from across the street the entire day. Unbeknownst to us, the missionary and his family had talked to her on multiple occasions and she had even gone to a youth camp with the church.  After watching us work all day, she came over to the church and gave her life to Christ!  You never know who is watching and what impact your service is making.

The next day we went to church, and then headed to the campgrounds with the missionary and his family.  We prepared the camp for the kids to arrive.  We got to work with them on their English, play games with them and spend time in Bible studies and preaching.  We even played a giant game of Scrabble to help with English words, and they loved it!  The kids there are now able to speak Texan. LOL!  After the camp was over, we did some more work on the camp and then took the team back into Tokyo via the bullet train, and let them tour the city before they flew home.

Thailand – Water Wells to Refugees

After we sent our Mongolia team home, our family stopped in Cambodia for a day and I was able to preach in a church on Sunday.  As soon as church was out, we continued on to Bangkok and picked up our next team. We had so many things going on simultaneously with this next team it was hard to believe.  We worked in Southern Thailand for the first part of the trip.  Some team members taught the children at the project, others put on a medical clinic that saw 200 patients, others did construction work to install a fence, and we drilled a water well.

The water well was a great blessing to the project and the community. For several months each year the community runs out of water.  Now they will not!  The medical team was able to love on the kids and do check-ups and hand out much needed vitamins. Meanwhile, the teaching team was able to work with the kids all day and help take them home in the afternoons.  The rest of us got soaking wet as we installed fence posts in a downpour.  It wouldn’t stop raining, so we had to do the work in the rain, for days.  At the end of the week, all of us were able to go work at a Thai public school and share about our Thanksgiving Holiday and that allowed us to share the Gospel with the kids.

Once our time in Southern Thailand was finished, we flew back to Bangkok and got to work with missionaries there.  We were part of an English outreach on Saturday, then on Sunday we got to be a part of the church’s 25th Anniversary!  It was a great honor for us to be there and see what the Lord has done the past 25 years in Bangkok with this church.  The next morning, we went and visited the homes of Pakistani refugees and got to hear their stories and fellowship with them before flying home.

We tend to focus on what happens on a trip, but I need to share what happened a week after the trip too. The pastor of the church that came on the trip with us contacted me.  He was sharing that next Sunday with his congregation an overview of the trip. He shared the stories of the Pakistanis we met with. As the Lord would have it, a Pakistani woman happened to visit his church that Sunday, heard the stories from our trip, and got saved that morning in Tulsa, OK!  Amazing!  You never know how the Lord will use a trip, even after it is “complete.”

 

Ends of the Earth

We finished our most challenging trip of the summer from a transportation standpoint.  We had an amazing team join us in Mongolia.  The church that supports our feeding centers in the Gobi Desert knitted blankets for the children and were able to send them with this team.  We drove 8 hours into the desert and had an amazing time.  We were able to feed the kids, do a craft with them, hand them blankets and go to church with the community.  We even found ourselves in multiple volleyball matches with the villagers.

We then traveled back to Ulaanbaatar and were able to spend time at our orphanage and an anti-abortion clinic.  We then flew to up north and spent time with one of the missionaries we partner with in Hatgal.  We were able to go to church and see the ministry he has in that part of Mongolia.  I even got to run into some friends that graduated high school with my father and uncle.  You never know whom you will see on a mission trip.

There were a lot adventures on the trip.  As we drove through the Gobi, we stopped by a family that was herding goats.  We gave them a Mongolian Bible on an MP3 player and got to spend time with them.  We slept in yurts (they call them gers), and came in contact with camels, yaks, and reindeer.  In some places we had to take showers using a washcloth and a sink, in others we had no running water.  Our restroom was an outhouse sometimes and the desert in other times. Regardless, I can’t wait to go back to Mongolia again.