Cambodia

The past month has been a whirlwind. I had an incredible team to Cambodia and was able to have one of the newest members of the MANNA team, Chad Morton, join me on the trip. We picked up the team in Phnom Penh and showed them the killing fields where Pol Pot killed 25% of the Cambodian population in the 70’s. From there, we visited an orphanage to see the kids MANNA helps support, then travelled to Kampong Thom to setup for the week. We may or may too have eaten fried tarantulas along the way. You will be happy to know they tasted good.

What a week it was! We helped with a medical clinic, taught in a school, worked on English with teenagers, and had a graduation ceremony for the academy. And, that was just in the mornings. Each afternoon part of the team worked on painting a church while the remainder taught a Vacation Bible School, did crafts and loved on the kids. A lot of soccer may have been played. This project is so amazing. Over 15 years ago a 14 year old boy accepted Christ as his Savior in this feeding center. He grew up and was discipled. Then, years later he worked with the missionary during the week and went to school on the weekends. All the while he was begin trained. Today…he has a family and is pastoring 2 churches in Cambodia, including the one where he first learned about Christ!! I love seeing what happens when you invest in people for many years.

We finished the trip by visiting a feeding center in another village, then taking the team to visit Angkor Wat. Once we sent the team home, Chad and I worked with some missionary friends in Bangkok for several days before heading home ourselves. I had 2 whole days at home before I had to head to Guatemala. In fact, I am writing this update sitting in a home overlooking MANNA’s orphanage in Guatemala City waiting or the team to arrive. Thank you for your prayers and support. Here are some pictures from Cambodia and I look forward to seeing what the Lord does in Guatemala.

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.

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.

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.

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.”