Steps of Faith…
What do you do when your future plans are squashed and what seemed like the perfect pathway ahead gets blocked? This has been one of the big questions on our hearts for the past month!
Proverbs 3:5,6 says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.’
As we contemplated our options, following Julie’s clearance to travel and the amazing turnaround in her strength and energy levels, even though our employment options at Christ For The Nations in Dallas had recently changed, we still felt that God was leading us to continue our journey of faith and explore what might open up to us as we travel.
We have never been ones to sit back and allow disappointment to derail us! There is a whole world out there and we have lots of capacity to go and make a positive difference somewhere! With this in mind we move forward expectantly and full of faith!
Pressing on toward the goal…!
It is amazing when you choose to move forward positively past life’s trials, just how much your life seems to encourage and impact on others. We had a very busy end to April since leaving the retreat cottage in the Cotswolds on the 22nd. We went to stay with friends in Wellington for a few days where Mark celebrated his 51st Birthday on the 24th. We took this opportunity to catch up with a some great friends in the area who had been praying for us and encouraging us throughout this past few months and then we made a quick two day trip to Wales to visit family and to attend a friend’s funeral. We drove back to Wellington for a few days, sold our car, booked our flights to Dallas, packed our cases and caught a bus to London to fly to the US on the 28th.
Our first stop in the US was at Christ For The Nations, as we had left all our summer clothes and personal items there in our good friend, Connie McKenzie’s apartment, expecting to be back at the end of December. We had fun staying with Connie as she prepared to go to Asia on a missions outreach for 3 weeks. She is always such an inspiration to be around and we are so thankful for her encouragement and friendship!
It was tougher than we thought returning to CFNI Campus. Even though we had personally processed the disappointment of the job offers being withdrawn, the discouragement and sadness we saw in our friends on staff, the students on campus and friends in Dallas, was challenging to come to terms with.
Everyone was really pleased to see us and encouraged by how well Julie looks. We had a really busy first seven days trying to fit everyone in who wanted to get together with us. We enjoyed dinner at Rod & Celeste Groomer’s home and hearing all about their latest venture to serve the First Nation Native Americans. Apologies to all those we didn’t get to visit! Jalee & Martha Gill took us out to dinner and we were blessed to be able to catch up with their daughter, Courtney, who interned with us at our Church in England and who had returned briefly from the UK to attend her Granddad’s funeral.
We enjoyed interacting with and encouraging the Global Missions Major Students and had the opportunity to speak to more than a hundred of the 3rd year students at the final session of one of the classes we would have been teaching this semester. We were overwhelmed by their standing ovation as we were introduced.
We also spoke at the Children’s and Family Major Graduation Dinner and shared how Childrens’ and Family Outreach had played such a big part in our ministry since graduating from CFNI in 2004. We had fun sharing part of our journey and we ended with Julie leading an Action Song! This was a real test of her energy levels as she hadn’t done this for almost 12 months, but as usual she put maximum effort into it and enjoyed getting everyone involved.
It was exciting also to be part of the event to pray over and send out the 16 teams of staff and students who left on Mission Outreaches to other parts of the World this summer.
We were honoured to attend the CFNI Graduation Ceremony for all students completing their studies and this was a major reason for the timing of our visit.
Our time in Dallas was a great opportunity to spend time with Nina (our ‘Filipina Daughter’) and see her graduate, along with many of our other students who are now great friends too!
We were blessed to be part of the sending out service for our students and friends, Derek & Amber Crowe and their girls as they head off to serve the First Nation people of Hawaii in June. We got to help them pack their shipping container and be part of the preparation for their next exciting adventure!
We were thankful to have the opportunity to visit Trinity, our home church in Dallas, and enjoyed catching up with our Pastor Jim Hennesy over lunch. He is always such a great encouragement to us! We also met with several of our friends on staff at Trinity and were thrilled to hear all the exciting things that are happening at the church and in the local community. We seemed to fit a month’s worth of activity into our first week in Dallas and thankfully didn’t have time for jetlag! Thanks to everyone for your continued love and support!
Time with Friends and Future steps…
After spending a week in Dallas we flew to Colorado for 4 days to attend our friends, Rick & Joan’s, daughter’s wedding. They were CFNI students with us in 2003/04 and we had great fun catching up with them. The wedding was outdoors and we met some great people before and after the wedding ceremony. Rick & Joan took us on a trip into the mountains of Colorado and we stopped off at Andrew Wommack’s amazing Charis Bible College, over looking Pikes Peak on the way. After a day exploring Eleven Mile Canyon, in the wilds of Colorado, where we saw lots of wildlife and got to feed the wild chipmunks, we stopped off on the way home to visit Rick & Joan’s friends in their cabin in the mountains and we had a great evening eating and chatting around the campfire.
We flew back to Dallas midweek to speak at Trinity Church Missions Class and felt really encouraged by the people we met there. We have been Trinity Missionaries for the past 13 years and the church has recently started sending us monthly financial support.
At the end of our time in Dallas, we flew to Tampa, Florida. We were blessed to be loaned a 2001 Honda CRV for a month from Missionary Ministries and drove up the East Coast of Florida to Jacksonville. We stopped off briefly for a quick photograph at the lake view gazebo in the grounds of the hotel where we married in Orlando, Florida, 17 years ago! We could never have guessed how our lives would have turned out when we started out married life together in 1999 and are so thankful God joined us together for this journey!
We will spend at least the next month here in Jacksonville, Florida serving the missions sending ministry, Go To Nations. GTN arranged use of the vehicle for us and also use of an upstairs Garage Apartment with our hosts John & Carolyn Ellis, who built the apartment at their home and have been allowing visiting missionaries to use it for more than 25 years. It is a really comfortable one bedroom facility and we are grateful for being allowed use of it. We liaised with Go To Nations from September to December last year when we arranged for the Global Missions Students from Christ For The Nations to attend their Missions Field Schools in Thailand and Honduras.
GTN contacted us in April when they heard we were available and looking for an opportunity to serve somewhere. We had a Skype call in April with one of their Directors and we offered to volunteer at their Leadership Development Forum for Missionaries next month. We will be exploring possibilities for future ministry opportunities as we continue to seek the Lord’s guidance on our next steps, so watch this space! Thank you for sharing our journey!
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