Thailand

I had the privilege of leading a great group to Thailand in August. It is so nice to be able to lead teams again around the world. People often ask me what we do on trips, and the answer is, it depends. We do a lot of different things. This team provided the unique opportunity to provide an English camp for the missionaries we work with in Bangkok. Furthermore, the Thai people love to talk with Americans because our accent is drastically different from the Australian and British accents most English speakers in southeast Asia possess. 

After the English camp was complete, we headed back to Bangkok and were able to attend several church services on Sunday. The team split and went to two different church plants in Bangkok on Sunday morning, and in the evening we came back together and attended a Pakistani service. It is so beautiful to see the different cultures coming together and singing. Our English team also enabled us to get into a Thai school and teach English to their students. It was neat to see the doors it opened for the missionaries to work with the school. The Principal was eager to work with us and we were grateful for the opportunity. 

We had another opportunity to go and deliver food to a community that is built around a city dump in Bangkok. We packaged over 400 meals and handed them out to the residents of the community. Sometimes you wonder how great of an impact you are having. To put it in perspective, the residents pay a rent that is equal to $9 per month to live around the dump. So, to receive a good meal is a large percentage of their monthly budget. We finished up by getting a lot of exercise and playing with the soccer team we help support in Bangkok. I am now gearing up for a team to Cambodia in October. Thank you for your prayers and continued support. I hope you enjoy the photos below.

2 Continents and a War

I want to apologize in advance. I meant to send an update part way through our trip. But, after traveling in and through 9 countries, 2 continents and working with 7 different missionaries, it just didn’t happen. So, here is what the past 6 weeks have looked like for our family. Kayli graduated from high school the end of May and we headed overseas.

Flights to Romania were extremely expensive, so we looked for options to fly to Europe for cheap, then catch another cheap flight to Bucharest. We have missionary friends in the Czech Republic and they were in need of supplies. We were able to bring those supplies, see their ministry, pray over their church, spend time with their family and save a ton on airfare in the process. It is a hard place to plant churches, but they are doing a great job and it was great to see them.

We then travelled to Romania. We were able to work with Ukrainian refugees and Romanian youth at several church services and events. SAS Shoes donated shoes that we were able to take and hand out to the people living at Father’s House. We also spent time working at our feeding centers and children’s home in southern Romania.

While in Romania, we were able to help take supplies into Ukraine with a group of Romanian churches. Thanks to generous donors and great ministry partners, we were able to take 40 tons of supplies to help churches in Ukraine. We traveled in 8 box trucks and transport vans, on a ferry across the Danube River, and into Ukraine. We unloaded the supplies and got to spend the day with the church and their members. We also had the privilege of helping take a widow woman out of Ukraine to safety in Romania to be reunited with her son. There are not enough words to express all that happened in one day in Ukraine. Please continue to pray for them and their country.

A missionary in Italy has been talking to MANNA about starting an outreach near Rome, so we stopped in Rome on our way to Vietnam to meet with them. We were able to see their church, hear their story, see their vision for reaching people in Italy, and pray with each other. Italy is another very hard place to plant churches. It was an unexpected opportunity to potentially work with a missionary in a new area. Not only was Rome beautiful, but it was amazing to see where Paul was and experience church in a city where so much Biblical history occurred.

From there, we headed to Vietnam. We love Vietnam and the missionaries we work with there. Our time there started in Hanoi. We worked with the young adults and invested in them through teaching and one-on-one discussions. The Lord is moving in a great way in these young believers and they had a real hunger to learn and engage with us. Afterward we traveled to Saigon and worked at several of our projects, a feeding center, and a school we are partnered with. I was able to speak at church, we helped with a VBS, and were part of baptisms of new believers. Working with the kids, pastors, missionaries, and leaders was a highlight of our trip.

We finally made it home on Monday night, July 4, washed our clothes and repacked on Tuesday, and drove to West Texas on Wednesday. Not the best of timing, but it is what is needful. Be praying. We made it home this week and are working through the jet lag as I am getting ready to head back to Thailand in less than 2 weeks to lead another team. Other than that, it’s been an uneventful couple of months. LOL

Back in Thailand!

I cannot describe the feeling of being back in Thailand. It was so good to see friends and serve there again. We started off in MaeSot with our school and children’s home. It was great to see the kids, go to church with them, play volleyball, and just spend time with them. We took food supplies to distribute to people in town and participated in a Bible study in a home.

Allie and Kevin both grew up in our project, graduated, became teachers at the same school, got married, and now have a son! I got to see their son for the first time on this trip. It is wonderful to see the life change that happens over the years. It has resulted because a church and individuals have continued to invest for nearly 2 decades now.

On the back end of the trip we got to see good friends in Bangkok and serve alongside of them. We helped pack 400 meals and distribute them in a community that is at a city dump. You realize how blessed we are and how easy it is to serve. We also had the privilege of visiting a new church plant, BenTai Baptist Church, with Shane and Kayti Salmon, along with the church and deaf ministry of Ricky and Tammy Salmon. It was over too soon, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to be in Thailand again.

Romania

I made it back from Romania, headed straight to Boston, and now I head to Thailand this week. We had an amazing trip to Romania. The Lord is doing so much there. We have a facility that has been listed by the Romanian government as an official refugee site for Ukrainians. It is now housing refugees from the war, and we were able to visit them, hear their stories, pray with them, and help them. It is so sad to see what is happening in their country and I cannot imagine how I would feel if that were happening here. But, during the darkest times, the light shines the brightest and many of the refugees are being introduced to the Gospel as a result of staying at our house in Romania. We were able to take school supplies that were donated by one of our churches and purchase supplies for the families there.

We then traveled to the northern part of Romania and worked in a Gypsy village. We have worked in these villages for 15 years, or more and seen several churches planted. We helped work with the kids, delivered clothing and food to 42 families in one village thanks to a generous donor, and visited a building we now own and are working to turn into a medical clinic. I often say, I’d rather have the Lord’s favor than almost anything. And His favor, He supplied! We were able to meet with a former member of parliament, the mayor of the town, and several other influential people. These connections have opened every door both in the community and in the government. It is simply amazing what the Lord is doing there!

Please continue to pray for the refugees and the work in Romania. I cannot wait to see all that the Lord does. Here are some pictures from our trip. Enjoy.

Africa and South America, an unlikely combination

The past two months have been fast and furious. I had the opportunity to help teams in Kenya and Colombia. I know, not exactly next to each other. We’ve also been in several Missions Conferences around the country. Here is a quick update on what the Lord did on these trips.

In Kenya we worked with over 1,500 kids between 4 different schools. MANNA has 3 primary schools and a secondary school (high school). It has been awesome to see how the Lord has been working in these schools. We were at one primary school and the principal told us a story about the first graders coming to school one day and asking the cooks to not prepare them any food for lunch. They were all fasting and praying for their parents that day! The kids decided this on their own. Most of the parents are Muslim and they have been praying for them to know Christ as their Savior. Amazing!

We also had the opportunity to meet some kids who grew up in our schools and are now in college. Churches have raised money to help these kids go to college and be used in great ways in their country. These stories only happen because of a long-term commitment to these kids. Not only did we work with these kids each day, but we also got our hands dirty (pun totally intended) building a mud structure in one of the villages.

After Kenya I was in Kansas City at a Missions Conference and went from there to Bogota, Colombia. Literally. I flew from Kansas City to DFW, Kim met me at the airport with a fresh change of clothes. I swapped out my luggage and ran back in the airport and got on the flight to Bogota. We had the opportunity to work with kids at our new tutoring center. There really isn’t any program for kids who fall behind in school, so this program is helping tutor kids. It helps some kids get ahead and create opportunities, while helping others who are behind to catch up. We have one child who is 10 years old and only in 1st grade. It is so sad to see, but I’m grateful for programs like this and churches that love kids and want to invest in their lives.

Colombia to COVID

It has been an interesting couple of months for our family. We were in Colombia in June and July helping get a new project started in Bogota. It was an amazing trip. We were working with the Hudgins family and Ali Alexander. We got to canvas the neighborhood handing out invitations. We put on what we called Discovery Week, which was a big Vacation Bible School for kids in the area. The kids learned the Bible each day, and we also had special activities for them. They learned Origami, some English, and had puppet shows. We were able to send the kids home with food as well.

These kids were then invited to attend the tutoring project MANNA is starting in Bogota. It is exciting to see the kids coming to the project. But, what is even more exciting is some of these kids and their parents have begun coming to church as a result!

We were able to celebrate the 4th of July in Colombia as well. July 20th is their independence day, so there were plenty of opportunities to buy fireworks. I had not realized how much time my daughters have spent overseas in the summers. They were so excited and told me it was the first time they had ever gotten to light fireworks on the 4th! I guess better late than never. Another treat that day was we were able to have an all American praise team at church that morning. Ali played the keyboard, Kristi played the guitar, I played the bass, Kayli played they violin and Kim and Reaghan sang while Scott ran the soundboard. It was an opportunity for the normal praise team to have a day off and just get to worship at church. It also helped stretch us as Kim and Reaghan don’t spend a ton of time singing in Spanish. LOL. But, they did great.

We made it home and got our girls ready to start another school year. It is hard to believe we have a Junior and a Senior this year. Where has the time gone?? Then, apparently Kim and I decided it had been too long since we had COVID the first time, so we got it again and both got pneumonia. It has been a long 3 weeks for us. We both ended up on oxygen, lots of breathing treatments and medicine. Had it not been for someone getting us an oxygen concentrator machine, we would have both ended up in the hospital. We had great doctors and a lot of great friends that brought us food and sent us supplies that has enabled us to recover at home. We are not back to 100%, but definitely on the mend. I had better recovery quickly because I head to Kenya, two weeks from today.

We appreciate your prayers and support and how you enable us to serve those around the world. Here are some pictures of Colombia for you.

On the road again…

The world is opening back up slowly. We have still been delivering food with the local food bank and helping MANNA with the construction of our new offices. However, I was able to go to Honduras last week. Next week we will be traveling to Colombia as a family to work with Scott and Kristi Hudgins, also MANNA Missionaries. We will be helping them with an outreach event and to kick off a new MANNA project focused on feeding and discipling kids in Bogota.

I recently made a video for kids about mission work. A church asked me to do it for Children’s Church during their Missions Conference. It is 30 minutes long so that it takes up the teaching time for their class. In the video I talk about what we do, interesting things about different countries we work in, like food and people, then I try to teach them to say hello in several languages. I also have a portion at the end of funny things we experience, like restrooms, etc. If you are a pastor or children’s worker, please feel free to use this video as you wish. If you or someone you know wants to learn about what we do and see where we go, feel free to share as well.

Here is the video: https://vimeo.com/user54900363

Hindsight is 2020

Thank you for your prayers and continued support. I wanted to give you an update on the past couple of months for our family. I pray you each had a great Christmas and 2021 is starting off well. With the help of some generous donors, we were able to send money to help with Christmas activities and gifts for kids in The Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. It is hard not being overseas, but thankfully we can still help and supply the need. We were also able to help with flooding in Cambodia and Mongolia thanks to your support.

MANNA has been using this time to invest in infrastructure. We are building our new offices on land that we have owned for years. Since I have not been able to travel overseas, I have spent my time helping construct the building. We’ve been doing framing, sheathing, dirt work, building a retaining wall, and even cutting down a massive pecan tree for a neighbor. I must say, working at the end of an 85 foot lift bucket can be a bit exciting. The Lord is helping me get over my dislike of heights I think! This is allowing MANNA to save a lot of money on construction costs and steward resources.

Kim and I, along with some good friends, have continued to work with a local food bank to help deliver food to families each month. It has been a blessing to us to get to see the impact the food has on these families and connect with them. Delivering turkeys to them for Christmas was a definite highlight in December. I have found in life to be faithful where the Lord has you. We long to be overseas, but until the doors open for us to travel, the Lord is using us here, both in our community, and through the building process.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Here are some pictures of our work.

From Hurricanes to Food Banks

It has been an unusual year, and the fall has apparently maintained the status quo. I should have been with teams in places like Mongolia, The Philippines, Cambodia and Panama. Instead, the Lord has had us serving more local. Here is what has been happening the past couple of months.

With the help from people in our community group at our home church, we have been able to deliver food from the local food bank to families in need in our area each month. This week we delivered in the cold and rain. Hunger doesn’t stop because of bad weather.

In September I joined a team that went to Louisiana and helped with disaster relief after the hurricane. The church we worked with had no roof or electricity, yet they continued to serve the community and share the Gospel in the midst of the destruction. I think I’ve spent more time running a chainsaw than I have sitting on an airplane this fall. That is not normal.

One of the school districts in our area was in need of protective supplies. In all, MANNA’s warehouse provided over 2,000 goggles and 6,500 gloves that we were able to deliver to the schools. God is good!

Lastly, I got to use some of my engineering background. Well, not really, I was the laborer, not the designer. I helped build a bridge at a camp for pediatric cancer patients. Thank you again for your prayers and support!

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!