Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meeting Mr. Mark

In August of 2013 we were newly accepted candidates with MMS. We had interviewed a few months earlier and begun the intimidating support raising process…which means we hadn’t really done anything yet. We were stepping cautiously into the realm of a new level of dependency on God and His people. We lacked many things but excitement about aviation was not one of them! We were at the Smoketown Mission Aviation Festival (near Lancaster, PA) where Andy was volunteering with JAARS at their helicopter rides. He loaded people into the helicopter and made sure they were buckled tight. He got to meet every person that came for a ride that day.

One of those people was Imie Mark.

Now, the reason Smoketown is so special to us is that it is where we first learned about missionary aviation and where God revealed his calling on our lives to enter the mission field. It is the official beginning of our missionary journey. Although we know God had been preparing us for years, that was our A-HA moment.

Being back at Smoketown always make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Seriously. And hot…because it’s in August.

So, it was at the JAARS helicopter ride that Andy met Imie, along with his two kiddos. Imie was wearing an Air Force t-shirt and Andy struck up a conversation with him. They shared a mutual love of aviation and talked about their own aviation experiences. Imie was serving in the Air Force, working primarily on airline transport type aircraft but had always felt a pull toward missions. Their conversation turned towards missionary aviation and Imie said that he wondered if the Lord was calling his family to missionary aviation. He talked about some of his experiences, doubts, and uncertainty about timing with his military career and retirement. Andy and Imie tossed around ideas for transitioning from the military to missions. Imie asked Andy what he was doing volunteering JAARS…what brought Andy to Smoketown? Andy explained how we just joined MMS and that he hoped to be pilot/mechanic with JAARS.

While they waited for the remaining few minutes for the helicopter, it was quiet as they watched the aircraft activity and people chatted around them.

Andy, not quite sure he was within his rights, looked down at Imie from the helicopter loading area and said, “I really think the Lord is calling your family to missionary aviation.”

After the helicopter ride, Andy introduced Imie to Dwight Jarboe, CEO of MMS. We thought of Imie, prayed for him and his family, and prayed that God would be at work in their lives as He has worked in ours. Andy walked away and never saw Imie again.

Until Monday, June 22, 2015 when Imie was part of the MMS crew that helped us unload our moving truck.

It had been two years so it took a few minutes for Andy and Imie to recognize each other and put the pieces together but as we shared a meal a few weeks later it was a joy to remember that first conversation between them and see how far God had brought each of our families. Shortly before moving to Ohio, Andy came across Imie’s business card and thought about shooting him a quick email of encouragement. Time got away from us and Andy figured he could do it when we got settled into our new house. No need, however, as God brought Imie right to us!

Imie and Andy reunited (along with a photo bomb by Micah!)

Several months after Smoketown 2013, Imie left the Air Force and shortly thereafter he and his family were in Arizona at New Tribes Missions Aviation headquarters to begin their training for the mission field. A M A Z I N G. Truly amazing.

While we ate taco salads the other night, Imie shared how much of an impact Andy had on that hot August day in Smoketown. “I’m not calling you a prophet or anything, but when you said that to me…that was the moment. Everything changed that day.”

This isn’t to praise Andy. Imie wasn’t giving Andy credit. It is proof that God graciously opens our eyes to his plan and allows us to be part of his work.

What truly amazes us is how God used other people to draw us closer to his plans and now God is using us to do that for others. Our relationship with Imie reminds us of the people along our journey who have helped, shared, encouraged, and challenged us. It wasn’t always comfortable…just like it probably was uncomfortable for Imie when Andy spoke directly to him about God’s calling. We were uncomfortable when people told us to WAIT. Ugh, we hate waiting. We were uncomfortable when people told us to walk away from our stable, insurance providing jobs. We like stability. But God likes…or demands, rather…our obedience.  

These are Imie’s words about how God used his encounter with Andy:
”I’m so thankful for your faithfulness as a family to not just walk that path the Lord has placed before you but to encourage others to join you along the way. I’m here today thanks to Andy, his passion for mission aviation, his heart for the Lord’s work, and his sensitivity to the Spirit’s moving in others lives. ‘Thank you’ doesn’t seem like enough.”

Oh, “thank you” is more than enough. We deserve no thanks; all the glory goes to God for the work he has done in our lives and in Imie’s life! What a joy that we can serve God together!

Over the years there were several people who spoke clearly and directly to us about God’s call on our lives. We are grateful to Scott Musselman and Scott and Tippy Littlefield who spoke frankly with us about not only the hard decisions that we would have to make but also the unspeakable joy we experience when we are at the center of God’s will. To this day, we have an email (printed and taped to the fridge) from Scott Musselman that says, “Thinking about you…rest in Jesus for he knows our steps.” We’ve looked at it every day for nearly 4 years. I also looked at a card from Charity Judson that reminded me daily that just as God was with Joseph in captivity, so he is with us through our trials. And just as he worked good in Joseph’s life, so he will work good in our lives. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We are anxious for another year at Smoketown! This year we will be there as official representatives of MMS. Who knows who we’ll get to meet! 

Please join us if you are near Smoketown, PA (about 45 south of Harrisburg, in Lancaster County) on August 15-16. There is a kid’s area (complete with bounce houses, arts and crafts ((my fave! NOT)), scavenger hunt, animals, and snacks), plane and helicopter rides, food, and tents filled with info and activities from mission aviation organizations. The event is free but certain acitivities have a cost (such as aircraft rides and some kids rides).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Our First Ohio Update!

Sadly, it’s taken over a month to sit down and write an official update since we moved on June 21st. At the time, there wasn’t much to say other than – we moved! We slowly got our house set up (ahem…a few boxes linger) and found our way around the countryside and towns nearby. There is not a Target or Costco to be found but I think we will find our way in this strange new land!

::Support & MMS Update::
As of this morning (7/27/15) we are down to needing just $365/month. 

This is H U G E. 

Just two weeks ago it was $750 so God is truly supplying our needs! There are seven new families joining us as ministry partners and we praise God for how he raises up his people to make the work of missions happen! What a gift to be surrounded in spirit by folks who are trusting us to do God’s work. 

We have been sending emails that highlight different projects in the hangar at MMS so that you can see some more specific ways that MMS partners with mission aviation organizations. Those email features will be posted here on the blog soon, so you can check them out!

We will be part of the MMS crew coming to the Smoketown Mission Aviation Festival in Smoketown, PA on August 15-16. Come see us there! It is a really fun family day and a great, hands-on way to learn more about missionary aviation.

::Communications Update::
We are online infrequently because we don’t have internet at our house, other than a wireless hotspot. We will continue to communicate primarily through email so make sure you are getting our emails! They come through MailChimp from so if you don’t see them in your main inbox, check your promotions folder and drag us to your inbox! We will also be blogging more regularly. Facebook is super unreliable because it doesn’t show you all of our posts. An exciting post that I put up yesterday was only shown to 59 people :-( Boo facebook. 

Email us ::
Snail mail us :: 11699 Blue Ridge Rd, Newcomerstown, OH 43832
Call us :: (A)814.404.1203 / (T)814.404.9764

::Family Update::
Overall, we are adjusting well. The house we rent is truly a gift and we feel quite at home here. We have visited Fresno Bible Church for the past 3 weeks and have been blessed by sound biblical teaching and a rambunctious group of kiddos! Micah’s Sunday school class is full of 4yo boys! Last week, Jess Grote (a fellow MMS mom) hosted God’s Girl Glamour Day for the little girls. They got pampered with hairdos and painted nails! At each room they went to, they met a woman from the Bible who had a characteristic besides outward beauty that made her beautiful. The girls learned that God looks at the beauty on the inside. What a treat and such good lessons for the girls!

During our second week in OH, the kids attended Everest VBS. We have been hanging out with other MMS families over the past few weeks. On the 4th of July we camped out at the MMS hangar for a BBQ and fireworks. This week the kids are participating in a cooking camp at a local farmers market. Each day they prepare and eat some delicious food!  

Here are a few scenes from the past few weeks. Enjoy!

The pond near our yard...great for finding little creatures!

Digging our garden and finding critters!

Micah getting a tractor ride with Mr. Miller, our next-door-farmer

Grace's turn in the tractor

The newest renters at our house -- chirp chirp chirp!

Fun day at the Columbus Zoo

Monday, June 8, 2015


I've never liked corners. I hate the corners of pillow cases when I am trying to fold them. I have the round, elusive corners of fitted sheets. I am not a fan of being scared -- think walking around a corner and being scared. Or extremely loud cracks of thunder. I might be the only person on the planet that doesn't want a corner piece of cake.


And I definitely do not like the dusty, crusty corners in our house that need to be cleaned as we pack to move in a couple weeks. I am aware that we live in mild filth. For me, cleanliness of NOT next to godliness. Matching socks, twice weekly baths, and buffalo wings are next to godliness. Seriously, though, not the wings. If godliness is prayer and studying the Scriptures and trying to be like Christ, then being with my family and sleeping are as close to godliness as it get for me right now.

I was challenged on Wednesday evening in a lesson on prayer that even those of us with young kids (read: people for whom personal time is a rare, nebulous, highly prized thing) need to carve out time for prayer. In this particular class we read many passages where Jesus prayed with or for or on behalf of people. If Christ can make a prayer his final, dying words, perhaps I can find some time while I am LIVING to be more consistent in prayer.

Just for the record, I do pray. Often. For my sanity. And lots of other things, too! It's just that I don't have a specific time set aside where I enter prepared to focus and listen and speak. I pray on the fly for things that are urgent or for the random thoughts that pop into my head. We pray while we are doing support raising work. We pray with the kids when they are upset or anxious. I pray at small group or with someone having a hard time. I pray for those grieving.

So, I believe I was writing about cleaning and corners which somehow led to godliness and prayer. Makes perfect sense.

The thing about corners is that they can be dark, sharp, hidden and easy to avoid. Like the parts of our spiritual life we'd rather ignore.

My prayer life is a dusty corner I'd rather not deal with right now. I have a kid who wakes us between 6:00-6:30 in the morning. Right when I am entering REM sleep. EVERY. DAY.

Early morning doesn't seem like an option. But maybe it is.

Then the day begins. And both of my kids like to interact with us all day long. Weird. Wonderful. But I haven't figured out how to create/maintain/enforce solitude.

Our move is a transition ripe with possibility, though. New habits. New routines. New, new, new. I have some ideas for creating a space for solitude in my day. The challenge is doing that now, before we move. For the next two weeks I will venture into this dusty corner and see what the Lord will do. I make no promises. I'll keep doing my crazy-mom-life praying but I am seeking each day to pray on purpose. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Preparations continue!

This update is long overdue! Things are moving so fast and we barely have time to sit and write about it! We continue to feel peace in the midst of chaos and an increased focus on our life in missions. Our emotions are like pinball machines! One minute we are thinking about how to arrange the furniture in our new house and the next we are mourning our favorite people, places, and things here in Harrisburg. Our hope is secure in Christ, though, despite all the changes in this life! 

The kids finished school at the end of May! They both loved school this year! Here are some last day of school photos...


::God provided a place to live in Ohio::
We are renting a renovated farmhouse that is just perfect for us and more than we could have imagined from a rental house. We’ll be living out in the country with lots of green space and places to roam. 

::Move date::
June 20 is our pack-and-move day! It is fast approaching and packing is in full swing. We welcome volunteers to help load the moving truck. We are pretty organized with packing and staging our stuff so loading usually goes quickly. We’ve done this a few times in the past 12 years so we are getting pretty good!
Help load the moving truck :: Saturday, June 20 @ 8:15am

OC Baptist Church (MD)
:Support raising blitz::
We are amazed at how God is providing the support we need to begin serving at MMS. In recent weeks we've been to Ocean City Baptist Church (MD), Heidelberg UCC (near Philly), Pleasant Gap UMC, and we are headed to Kutztown BFC this Sunday. 

Ocean City Baptist Church and Pleasant Gap UMC are the churces we grew up attending. It was great to return to those places and share where the Lord is leading in our lives. Sort of like coming full circle. There were many familiar faces but also lots of new folks which reminds us that those are vibrant faith communities where people are hearing and responding to the gospel.

Unofficially, we need about $900 in monthly support to meet our goal. I say “unofficially” because just this weekend we visited friends and a church where several folks have committed to monthly support. We are also waiting for a few other folks to formalize their support by contacting MMS. 

GBFC yard sale!
We are making a lot of progress with our OUT-GOING expenses, too! So far, over $10,000 has been contributed or raised! We’ve received many donations from individuals towards these expenses, our church is contributing May and June’s benevolence offering, and we just had a yard sale at our church that raised over $700! Praise the Lord!

::Commissioning Service::
On Sunday May 31 our church, Grace Bible Fellowship Church, and our denomination, the Bible Fellowship Church, commissioned us as full-service missionaries. We were overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude to have such support and encouragement from our home church. We were also surprised by several out of towns friends! Many thanks to Rev. Josh Miller and Duane Moyer, president of the BFC Board of Missions, for leading the service. Many from our congregation contributed to the service and provided a wonderful reception afterwards. Thanks to all!!!

Hey! Harrisburg friends – We will happily take newspaper or boxes (in good condition) off your hands. Let us know and we’ll arrange to get them from you!