End of the year report……why is it early?
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we want to say how thankful we are for all the support and prayers we continue to receive from so many of you. Each month we pray over our donor list and give thanks to God through prayer and tithe on the support we receive. I feel towards you like Paul did towards the Philippians, proud to see God working in you and through you, completing the work he began in you.
From last year to now…
While we had learned a lot in Montana, God was not done breaking me yet. As many of you know we spent a year looking for and seeking funds so we could participate in the mission before us. Last year feeling broke emotionally and financially, I went to work where I could participate in ministry and provide some funds for my family. I went to work at Chateau Élan, a golf and winery resort, as a part time conference services and banquet waiter.
It was funny as I looked at the verse “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” I was now officially a “waiter”, waiting on God, serving God, making the least amount of money in my adult life. However, I got to work with 11 interns in my department from all over the world. It was a joyous time in which I spent as much time in ministry away from work as I spent at work. I got to share with them the stories of the Bible and share the Gospel during meals and outings, sometimes just enjoying a 6 hour cup of coffee at their apartment. Then I was given the opportunity to go to work again with my old company for a period of 10 weeks as a driver. I was able to earn enough money that when combined with our monthly support would be able to go to Odessa for 6 months. I learned how to be the worker and not be the boss and learned even more how to submit to others. This time period was key in how I was to show up in Odessa. Mission priority #1 is to first submit to and support the local native Pastor.
The next to last day of my commitment there I found all the money I had earned; had been lost to cover an old debt we thought had been retired. Plane tickets had been bought for Jacob and I, but no tickets had been bought for the girls at this time. Our home church had planned a going away service for us as we were planning on leaving. I went before the congregation and told them I was grateful for their support and all that I had learned over the past two years. I shared with them that I would do it all over again if I had the chance and encouraged others to do as I had. There were tears of sadness yet relief as we stepped back into the crowd. That very day we received all the money we had lost. A week later we received a gift “covering” the kid’s school. We were now sure; we could survive a year in country.
Upon arriving in Odessa we have had our successes and struggles. Some of the struggles led us to the point where we were cave dwellers. We did not go out and interact with others. The children did not want to learn the language and suffered from withdrawal from America. We routinely turned down ministry opportunities because I was attempting to be budget conscious. We could survive for a year at this level but was that the only reason we came here? I let loose my grasp on the funds and let the children participate in activities and they began to venture outside engage the culture and. You would think we would be seen as the rich Americans but we saw we appeared in need. Rather than us blessing the congregation they began to bless us. Once school began, the children and ministry blossomed. Hopefully you read our last message about doing what mattered. Our expenses for school tuition were misinterpreted by me and it the cost is double what we expected. We also found Emily lacking in interaction with other children and felt we had to enroll her in local Kindergarten.
The final situation? We will not make it through June at our current level of support. We want to be able to call a place “home” as our family has moved four times in two years. We love the work we do here. While life here is not always easy and fun, it is good to see the fruit of your work and investment. It is wonderful for the children to see us live out our faith. Here are some of the things we have been involved in since our arrival.
*Supporting the local Pastor and encouraging him to lead the church without foreign involvement
*Demonstrating and leading Children’s Ministry
*Encouraging the native church to survive and thrive without a missionary presence.
*Women’s individual ministry , as there are many single women and few single men in the church working with the women to hold true and not compromising themselves in order to obtain a man.
*Young mothers encouragement as the local church has three mothers with newborns reaching out and encouraging them to continue to walk with God and wisely deciphering between culture and Godly behavior.
*Encouraging the local church to reach men. English Evangelism Camps where young women outnumber the men almost 3 to 1 we have maintained relationships with five young men and continue to pour into them and encourage them to become men of God.
*Strike Ball Ministry – entering Platoon and Squad sized infantry battles brandishing weapons similar to air soft rifles and using those times to disciple and teach Godly lessons about being a man of God.
*Gun Range ministry – going in to the local gun range and teaching how the word of God is like firing a weapon. It is only effective if used properly.
*Encouraged the church to give back through Orphan Programs making a physical and spiritual investment with some of Odessa’s 5,200 orphans.
* Mormon outreach – reaching out to the Mormon missionaries in Odessa showing a love they are not used too.
*Participate and demonstrate and Biblical restoration and church discipline.
What do we hope to do in the future?
We hope to continue these actions and ministries. We hope to learn the Russian language so we can reach out to the rough men of Odessa. We hope that our children enjoy being able to call a place home and not worry about whether or not all their belongings can fit into a 50lb duffle bag that can go on the plane. We hope to leave the church Свет мира (Light to the World) independent of US support and personnel. I hope to utilize my past and knowledge of “rough” places to reach the orphan graduates who are between the ages 13 and 18 hitting the stress with no education no job and no hope. Of these 10% commit suicide, 60% of the males are incarcerated and 40-50% of the females enter into prostitution. Maybe God might use me to build leaders out of the church and out from them that inspire hope to these lost and desperate souls. There is great work to be done here in this city. Will we be the ones to do it?
We leave that in your hands.
We hope to stay and continue the work God has began at least until June 2015.
If you are willing to help us in this mission please let us know. Our plan is to make a decision to continue in our work or go to a secular job somewhere in the US based upon our finances January 2nd.
Current levels $2800 per month in contributions
Cash on hand $4800
Monthly expenses $3900
Tuition needed By Feb 1 $3000
Needs = eleven (11)people to help
We need $1100 more per month (eleven contributors at $100 per month), to last six months we need minimum $4800
Please pray for Gods provision for us to stay. If we had to leave Odessa we would arrive jobless, homeless, and nothing but suitcases to restart a life in the States. Either way we need Gods hand to in this situation.