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.

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.