Jul
14

Mid-Summer Update

Hi Everyone!  This isn’t a proper update, but we wanted to share a bit about what’s been going on with us here in Cork and also what’s up ahead!

We finished school with the boys at the end of May.  We’re always excited for the break, but honestly, this summer has been exceptional!  Before we moved to Ireland, we really had no idea what the weather was going to be like.  We’d done a small bit of research, learning that the climate in Cork is quite mild.  But I don’t think we realized how much rain we’d get!  SO MUCH RAIN!!  For pretty much all of the year, the forecast shows rain to be possible or guaranteed.  All things here are weather dependent, and there are times where the sun may not come out for a week or more (something has keep this Emerald Isle green!)  In the winter, the days are short and the humidity makes them cold.  Nothing like a fire and a hot cup of tea!
In the summer, the days get quite long (which we love!) – like sun up by 4:30am and not down until around 11pm!  Cork would usually get a few days of real sunshine, but no one expects it to be consistent.  But, this summer has been amazing!  We’ve had days and days of real sun – what the boys and I call BEACH WEATHER! – for weeks now!  All of our Sabbaths have been spent discovering new beaches, exploring coves and caves – picnics made on blankets with views of the Atlantic!  The beach guys – it’s definitely my happy place!

The warm, dry weather has also allowed us to host a few events at the new house.  Praying into 2018, Branden and I both felt like the Lord was saying “OUTREACH!”  But what did that mean practically?  The culture here is all about relationships, which means time and hospitality (we’re learning!).  As we were getting settled into the new house after our furlough in March, we were praying about the summer – such a good opportunity to be with people!  We went to work making a list of possible things we could do at the house.  After all, we’d prayed that the Lord would provide a place where we could extend the ministry of the church, and the Lord came through big time!

So far we’ve done an outdoor movie night, which was a blast!  Nothing quite like turning the side of the house into a giant movie screen!  People came early and brought food, ate and hung out.  The kids had an impromptu dance party, and once the sun finally set at around 10:45pm, we covered the lawn with blankets to watch Shaun the Sheep!

We also got to host a big barbecue for Father’s Day.  Lots of people were able to come, and there was so much food!  We invited some neighbors and non-church friends, and it was cool to see some of them come out and enjoy the day with us.

Okay…what’s up next…

Calvary Aurora (our church in Colorado) is sending a missions team here to Cork – they actually arrive in just over a week!  Our church here doesn’t really host many teams, and there hasn’t been one since we moved here, so we are learning so much right now.  While the team is here, we’ll be doing a Holiday Bible Club (what we would call a Vacation Bible School in the States).  Praying about it, we felt like we were actually supposed to write our own – something else we’ve not done before!  The last month+ has been full of research, prayer, writing, and preparation.  So far we have about 50 kids signed up – praise God!  Most of the practical prep will be done once the team is on the ground, but we are plugging away getting the writing and logistics sorted before they arrive.

The Holiday Bible Club is an apologetics science theme – looking at creation and seeing the character, design, and heart of the Creator!  We’re so incredibly excited!  Where truth is twisted and lies are taught so casually, we hope to challenge in grace and knowledge, and to shine a light towards the heart of God – that kids would see that they, and the world around them, are made and with great intention and purpose, out of great love to a great end – relationship with their Creator!

There are a few other plans for the summer, including a back garden (or yard) campout at the end of August – gonna be fun! Branden and I are also hoping to get away for a couple days for our anniversary, and we’re planning to take a little road trip with the boys before school starts up again in September.  Praying the weather stays with us!

We would love if you would pray with us about these needs:

  • Branden and I, along with the boys, as we prepare for the team to come
  • The team as they finish making preparations and travel to Ireland
  • That their time here would be led by the Lord and very fruitful
  • Holiday Bible Club – final prep, for the kids that will come, and that Jesus would be seen in real ways!  Also that relationships would be formed and families and kids would come to know Christ!
  • For our church, Calvary Cork, which is ever changing and growing
  • For our family, that we would be faithful to the Lord and all He is calling us to here.  That the Lord would use us and accomplish all that He purposes, for effective ministry. 

The Holiday Bible Club’s theme verse is Colossians 1:16-17, which says:

“For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …all things have been created through Him and for Him …and in Him all things hold together.”

So grateful we serve a God who literally holds all things together, right now, out of love for us!  And humbled that we get to be not only recipients, but conduits of that love, participating in the Gospel!

Thank you all so much for reading and praying, and for all the practical ways you support our family and the ministry here.  Knowing that you are bringing the needs of our family and the body here before the Lord is such a great encouragement!  I am aware and so thankful, that the work here is much more than us – that many join in, and so many are blessed!  May the Lord richly bless you all!

In Him, Ernie

Dec
29

Part 6: We’re Going On A Furlough!

Okay guys, last part of the update!  If you’ve been following the whole way, THANKS SO MUCH!  If you haven’t caught the other parts, you can find them here:

Part 1: Happy Tuesday

Part 2: Wednesday

Part 3: A New House

Part 4: Shawn

Part 5: These Boys

………………………………………………

So, as I mentioned, we’re taking a FURLOUGH!!  This will be the first time we’ve left the island or visited the States since we arrived over fourteen months ago (16 by the time we go).

We head to Colorado on February 13th (yay!).  There aren’t a ton of details yet for our time there, but we’re planning on spending a week in Wyoming with Branden’s family, a week with my sisters (and new nephew and niece!) in Arizona, and another week out of state for a ministry conference.  We’re hoping to be in Colorado for the weekend of March 10th and won’t leave until the 27th.  It already feels like the time is too short!  And somehow also so long to be away from Cork.

We are hoping to catch up with lots of people, though we know there just won’t be enough time for all the one-on-ones we’re dreaming of!  We’re planning at least one event where we can see lots of faces and hug people and hopefully share a bit more of what we’ve gotten to be a part of over the last year+  And of course, we’re hoping to eat at the places we’ve been craving, go to places that don’t exist here, and stock up some stuff we’ve been missing!

The boys were asking the other day if we could just go to Target and walk around, not even shopping, just to visit!  They also wanted to somehow transport a slushy from Sonic back to Ireland.  So…not everything will be possible haha!  But we will definitely make the most of our time while we’re there!

If the Lord brings it to mind, would you please pray for the following needs?

  • Our house transition: packing, painting, moving, cleaning, unpacking, etc.
  • Preparations for our furlough – for us and the team of servants who will be doing children’s ministry while we’re away
  • Branden as he continues to prepare lesson plans and write curriculum
  • The boys and I with school, especially through all this transition
  • Shawn, and the other kids in the neighborhood – for seeds planted and the work God wants to continue in their hearts and families
  • The community we’ll be going to and the work God wants to do there

Also, as you pray, if you feel led to support the ministry in Cork financially, please click here or use the link at the top of this page entitled “Support Us.”  You can give a one-time gift or get set up to be a monthly supporter.  All donations are tax deductible and go through our nonprofit, Small World Big God, to support our family and the work God is doing here in Ireland.

Also, one small note, if you’re wanting a donation to count towards your 2017 taxes, please be sure to give before midnight Mountain Standard Time on December 31st.

Thank you all so much for reading and for being a part of what God is doing here in Ireland!  We are greatly humbled, deeply blessed, and continually encouraged by your faithfulness in prayer and practical support!  Following the Lord can sometimes be overwhelming, but I’m reminded that our safety, our peace is assured in fellowship – with the Shepherd Himself, and with the flock.  Thank you for being with us.

Here’s to the year ahead and all He has in store!  May we follow wherever He leads – the best is yet to come!

Dec
29

Part 2: Wednesday

This is Part 2 in a series of posts!  If you didn’t catch the first one, click on the link below and read that one first.  Things will make more sense then!

Part 1: Happy Tuesday!

…………………………………..

Wednesday morning, I called Silas into our room.

“I want you to sit with the verse and see what the Lord might say.”

Before moving out of our building and into the school, the church was having a last event, a worship night.  A few of the musicians, including myself, would get to lead some songs and we’d asked a few of the older kids to read verses and maybe bring a word to encouragement to the church.

Originally Silas had agreed to read a verse.  Then a few days before, he wanted to back out.

“We won’t make you if you really don’t want to read, but you have to give a real reason.  We don’t say we’ll do things and then just leave people hanging.  Why don’t you want to read now?”  After a minute or so, Silas said, “I just don’t feel like God has spoken to me in a while Mom.”

What an honest answer.  “You know what?  We all feel that way sometimes.”  He looked up.  “Have you been praying lately?  Sitting with the Word and listening?”

“Not really, I guess.”  Another honest answer.

We assured him again that if he really didn’t want to read, he didn’t have to.  But after some time, he came back and said he would do it.  The verse he’d been given was Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Wednesday morning I asked him to sit with his Bible and pray.  After about half an hour, he came back to me.

“Mom, I think God spoke to me.”  He was smiling a little.  “He said that He loves us.  And we don’t have to be scared, because He’s going to take care of us and go with us.”

“That’s great buddy!”

“And I think He means it for the church too.”

I smiled.  He had taken it for himself.  And God had given him an encouragement he could truly share, because it was for him first.

“Does that sound like God?” He was hopeful and little and it made me happy how honest he was.

“Yes, it does.”

…………………………………

The worship night went well and Silas did a great job.  Later that week, the church would finish the chaotic whirlwind of packing and moving.  That first weekend in the school went well.  There are new challenges, like setting up and tearing down everything, sharing spaces, but we are slowly figuring it out.

One morning later that week, we were starting the day with some personal Bible time.  The boys had the task of picking and reading a chapter of their choice, anywhere in the Bible, praying, and then writing it into their journals and drawing a picture.  Ethan picked Psalm 34, a chapter he’s never read before but somehow landed on.

“Do you want me to read it to you Mom?” he asked.

“Sure.”

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit…”

Ethan’s voice got weak as he read that line.  He finished the chapter.

“Are you okay Ethan?”

He left the room; I didn’t follow.

A few minutes later he returned.  “Is there a verse that stuck out to you?”

“This one,” he pointed to verse 18. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Branden walked into the room just then, and saw Ethan’s face.  “What’s wrong?”

“Ethan was reading through this Psalm, and said this verse stuck out to him,” I said, using my parenting tag team voice.  Ethan read the verse again.

“Are you heartbroken Ethan?” Branden asked him.

“A little,” he managed to get out and then began crying again.

“Me too buddy.”  Branden scooped him up and held him for a few seconds.  He said something encouraging that Ethan already knew but needed to hear, then told him a joke and wrestled with him until Ethan was laughing.  He always knows how to bring us out of it.

“Ethan, why don’t you write the verse into your journal, okay?”

“Okay Mom.”

I looked at Branden and smiled.  I’m thankful I get to do most things with him, and that the goodness we have is sourced in Jesus.  And I’m thankful for how God is meeting my kids, right where they are, in ways they are truly comforted in, through His Word.

When we moved the Ireland, the boys were definitely more “along for the ride.”  Of course we prayed as a family and talked a lot about leaving for the mission field, but in the end, they came because they had to, not because it was their choice.  Even though this is hard, I can see how they’ve grown over the last year.  They are seeking the Lord and opening His Word, finding Him in the unknown, and feeding on His faithfulness.  This is their story as much as it is ours.  Honestly as a mom, it’s humbling, and I’m grateful for these opportunities to grow in Jesus as a family.

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