That's the sound of us exhaling. Sorry its been so long since we've posted - we're going to fall back on the "life's been crazy" excuse for this one.
Busy, busy, busy - but overall a great start to our autumn schedule. Every year since I've become a teacher, the transition from summer to fall has been quite an adjustment - everything starts! Summer is relaxing, slow-paced, and relatively not-busy and then suddenly, BAM!, autumn arrives, school starts, youth group starts, MOPS starts, Community Bible Study starts, Sunday school starts, accountability groups start, and life kicks into high gear!
This year was no different, except for a few key additions: Evelyn Mae and support raising. Life in the crazy season is just a tad crazier with 3 little ones, as Courtney is finding out first-hand. It was one thing when Evie slept non-stop in her first few months - its a whole new ballgame now. Its no exaggeration to say that I get the opportunity to go to work every day so I can relax. Pray for Courtney :) She's an awesome mommy and we are very blessed with three beautiful, healthy children. They bring so much joy and laughter into our home, and continually draw us closer to our Heavenly Father as we do our best to rely on Him for all that parenting entails.
Support raising has been fast and furious - and fruitful! God has again affirmed the call He's placed on our lives by proving that money is not an obstacle for Him. The body of Christ has responded in a way that's been encouraging, humbling, and a consistent cause for praise to our Lord. As I write this, our levels of support are at just over 80% for the outgoing funds and around 48% for the monthly pledges! Praise God! Its been just over two months since we really started spreading the word and the response has just been awesome.
We've had five "Munchies and Missions" nights (and have two more scheduled). Each event has seen a great turnout and been extremely encouraging to us as folks have listened to, prayed for, and committed themselves to partnering with us in the call God has placed on our hearts! Every time people show up I just can't even believe they would take time out of their busy schedules to spend a few hours with us, sharing in our story - the prayers that have been offered and the support we've felt has been overwhelming. Our cup overflows with true friends.
Thanks to the Knapp's, Crefeld's, James', Verrett's, Luckacs', and Pelka's for opening their homes and inviting us and others inside. The desserts have been awesome and the hospitality has been very warm :)
We've also been blessed to hear from two churches that have committed to support us in prayer and through their finances. Thank you to all the friends and family back at Alden Mennonite Church (the church I was born and raised in back in Western New York) - what an encouragement they have been and continue to be in our lives. Also, the church we call home, First Presbyterian in Beaver, PA, where the body of Christ has truly become family to us; they too have committed to partnering with us financially along with committing to be a true sending church. Even now, months before our departure, we've felt loved, supported and blessed by their partnership and prayers.
In addition, we've had the opportunity to speak with and visit several other church families including Beaver Valley Christian Fellowship (Beaver Falls, PA), Christ Community Church (Ashburn, VA), Orchard Park Wesleyan Church (Orchard Park, NY), and Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church (Aliquippa, PA); all of whom have prayed for us and encouraged us on our journey.
I would be completely remiss if I didn't also mention my youth group. First of all, let me say that the youth group of First Presbyterian Church is awesome - I've been priveleged to hang out with these teens and grow to know and love them over the past several years. They have recently been showing our family the true love of Christ by volunteering to watch our kids and any other young ones that show up to our "Munchies and Missions" events, free of charge!
Specifically, I'd like to give a shout out to Zach Verrett, Griffin Dalmaso, Jenny Schouppe, Hannah Arnold, Sammi Marlin, Maura O'Brien, Isabel Fronk, Sabrina Knapp, Jessica Burval, Leanne Burval, and Emma Verrett. Each of them have given up at least one evening, putting aside homework, hanging out with friends, or just relaxing so they could serve our family and, ultimately, play a part in the spread of the gospel across the globe! We've often said it'll take an army to get us over there, and these teens are officially part of that - thank you so much guys!
Anyways, just wanted to give a little update for those we haven't talked to in awhile. God is good and continues to provide - praise Him! Thank you to those that have been praying, to those that have given financial gifts, and to those that have committed to do both over the next several years. We praise and thank God for you and pray that each of you may grow in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!