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!

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.