Friday, June 10, 2011

June update... preparing for our Great Adventure

June 2011
As the school year has come to an end, the last 3 months have been very busy. Fortunately, in addition to finishing the Parenting class, the Perspectives class, teaching Sunday school, and helping with the youth group, we were able to take a week during Spring Break to be refreshed by traveling and visiting family. During these past months, one of the more challenging leaps of faith for us was for Steven to resign from the stable, secure, and soon to be tenured position and for us to place our trust in God’s calling.
We are in the final stages of preparing to head to El Camino Academy in Bogotá, Colombia. It never ceases to amaze us how confusing and tedious it is working with bureaucracies as we attempt to obtain work visas. We think bureaucracies exist to help us grow in our attention to detail and patience. We are at the point now where we are investigating plane tickets, shipping options, and sorting through what we take, what we store, and what we purge.
During the middle of June, Steve will be helping with New Covenant Bible’s weeklong youth group Summer Camp in Lake Geneva, WI. He will be discipling a group of high school boys by leading them in Bible study, group discussions, team games and other activities. While Steve is at camp, Marlayna will be with Elleazah, working on packing and preparing to move our belongings.
Our final preparation before heading south will be at a pre-field orientation training provided by the Association for Christian Schools International. The two week training is held in Houghton, New York. We will receive training in cultural sensitivity, dynamics of working in international Christian schools, and building ministry relationships, specifically with kids who are trying to navigate between their home culture and their community culture, such as missionary kids. After this training, we will tie up loose ends here in the States for a few days before we make our transition to Colombia.
This last month and a half seems like it will be a whirl- wind of preparations, which is both exciting and overwhelming.
Please join us by praying for us as we transition to the mission field in Bogotá, Colombia:
1.      Our Spanish training was neglected amongst all the other classes & ministries. Pray that we can pick back up this very important skill so we can connect more effectively with the local people. (1 Corinth 9:20-22)
2.      Pray that we can “stay the course” and complete all the procedural tasks so we can get to Colombia successfully and in a timely manner. (Prov 23:19; Heb 12:1)
3.      Pray that in this time of stress, we may caste our cares upon the Lord and love each other by being patient and encouraging one another. (1 Peter 5:7; 1 Corinth 13:4-5)
4.      Pray that we trust and rely on Christ as we continue building a support network. We are currently at 75% of our needed amount for the first year. (Psalm 119:116)
5.      Pray that we will quickly become acculturated to the new surroundings and develop new relationships with the other missionaries and local people.
We are in need of more people who are interested in partnering with us in this mission. We would like to have you consider furthering your partnership with us by having us share with your local church, small group, or close friends about what we believe God has called us to do. Please let us know if you are able to do this.

We are very thankful for your partnership and encouragement. God has truly blessed us through YOU! If there is anything we can do to encourage you or lift you up to the Lord, please let us know!

March update... preparing for the Great Adventure

March 2011
The winter season is coming to a close and we eagerly anticipate the next season of our lives. This past season, has brought about our first major transition of the year. We are parents to a healthy girl, Elleazah Grace. We praise God for her healthy arrival with a rather uncomplicated delivery. 
We have also started preparing to head to the mission field, to El Camino Academy in Bogotá, the capitol city of Colombia. As part of Steve’s preparation, he has been meeting with our pastor and other men of the church on a weekly basis memorizing scripture, praying together, and discussing passages and articles as it applies to areas of ministry. From this group, Steve was given the opportunity to recite some of Ephesians during an evening service. It was a unique blessing to be given that opportunity to minister to others in our church. During the spring semester, he is taking a missions class called Persectives on the World Christian Movement (for more info, visit  This class has been beneficial as he learns about the means God has used to establish and grow His Church throughout history and how we can participate in global missions and the advancement of God’s kingdom.
In preparation of advising a grade level at ECA, we have been youth group leaders at our church for our junior high and high school group.  We are also teaching the junior high Sunday school every other month, and we meet with a small group of junior highers each week. In Februrary, we and Elleazah enjoyed our 1st winter retreat with the youth group. The theme of the retreat was “All for God’s Glory”, which stimulated many deep conversations. In addition, we have been preparing for our transition to Bogotá by learning Spanish through the Rosetta Stone software. It has been a challenge committing the time to the program as much as we have wanted, but we have seen some fruit from our labor! Poco a poco estamos apriendiendo español!*
A current 5th grade teacher at ECA shares her experience as a grade-level advisor:
This past Friday I got the opportunity to go and serve alongside with my 5th grade class to their ministry. The ministry involves working with a church in a poorer neighborhood that offers a morning and afternoon children’s program that provides a meal and other various activities. The ministry shows the children genuine love, for most of them it is the only environment they’ll find this kind of attention.
As I sat at the back of the crowd, watching these 10 year olds share such a huge message that has been shared for thousands of years over millions of miles to billions of hearts, I caught a glimpse of the big picture: To witness these young students sharing with such passion and courage and with a huge future in front of them…reminded me of the great privilege I have to be teaching here at ECA. I’m serving and raising up what could be some of tomorrow’s ministry leaders, and from what I can tell, they’re already way ahead of some of us adults. To imagine what these kids will be like in 10 or 15 years, the lives they will affect; the change they could create.
Please join us by praying for us as we continue to prepare to head to the mission field in Bogota, Colombia:
1.      Please pray with Paul’s request in Ephesians 6:19-20 that as we share openly with friends, family, and co-workers about our intent to serve the Church in Bogotá, “words may be given [us] to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that [we] declare it fearlessly, as [we] should.”
2.      Pray that we will “be very careful how we live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” ~Ephesians 5:15-16. Specifically, pray for wisdom with the use of our time, as we balance work, evening classes (Perspectives class & a parenting class), learning Spanish, helping with our youth group, strengthening our marriage as we celebrate our 4th year, loving & caring for Elleazah, and building partnerships for our service at ECA.
3.      Pray that we will apply what we are learning in the parenting class and “not exasperate our child, but bring her up in the training and instruction of the Lord” ~Ephesians 6:4.
4.      Pray that we trust and rely on Christ as we continue building a support network. We are currently at 44% of our needed amount.
We are in need of more people who might be interested in partnering with us in this mission. We would like to have you consider furthering your partnership with us by having us share with your local church, small group, or close friends about what we believe God has called us to do. Please let us know if you are able to do this and partner with us in this great adventure.