Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Paradoxical Life

Since we moved from our passport country a year and a half ago, our lives have been full of upheaval, stress, great joy, great sadness, unrest, and peace. As we prepared to move overseas, we were trained on all of the above and how all of these feelings are completely normal and that it's normal to feel them all at the same time some days.

We have said from the beginning that traveling here is the most dangerous thing we do. On Christmas Eve morning we witnessed, firsthand, just how true that statement is. We were heading home to Nakuru after sending my (Stephanie) parents back to the States after their two week visit with us. We were traveling along the main highway of East Africa in Nairobi at 80 kilometers per hour, which is roughly 50 mph, when all of a sudden we saw something flying through the air in front of us. Unbeknownst to us, a man had dashed across the highway, which is extremely common here, and the car in front of us hit him going full speed. I won't give you all of the details but, needless to say, that is an image that is hard to get out of your head. Unfortunately, our children were with us and witnessed this scene as well.  We told them to close their eyes as we passed. To all you medical people, I honestly do not know how you do what you do and face death on a regular have my deep admiration and appreciation for your commitment to provide medical care when it comes at such a deep cost!

This accident has unearthed some deep, hard, truths that I would much rather not face. Our lives here on earth are uncertain. Nothing is a for sure thing. I know these things but watching a life most likely taken in the blink of an eye really makes you stop and think: Did this man have a personal relationship with Christ? Oh how I pray he did! Have I made the most of the opportunities God has given me to show His love and share His life saving gospel? Did we make the right decision in moving our family overseas? Am I enough? Can I truly handle life here? The answer to some of these questions would be, “No.” I am not enough. There are days I can't handle life here and I know I've missed opportunities to share God with people. Thankfully I serve a big God that can handle my doubts and questions, my failures and frustrations. He chooses to use me in spite of my flaws and shortcomings. I will never be enough on my own and that is where my great, big, awesome, full of grace, and loving Heavenly Father comes in. He is faithful, oh so faithful! He can still use me even when I feel unusable.

So, our paradoxical life is full of just that; paradox after paradox. Joy coupled with pain, unrest with peace, love with frustration, life with death. There are days that these things seem to be too much to bear. But God is faithful to whisper to our downtrodden souls that it isn't up to us; all of the upheaval, stress, sadness, and unrest is in His hands. We can kneel at the foot of the cross and be renewed, uplifted, encouraged, find joy, and find rest at His feet. All He asks of us is obedience and surrender....and those two requests can be an hourly struggle on some days. But friends, He is entirely worth the pain and denying of one's very worth it!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.  2 Corinthians 1:3

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18
For we walk by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7


Monday, May 2, 2016

Farming God's Way

Traditional vs. Farming God's Way plot
Recently in April I was able to attend a training called, "Farming God's Way." It is a Biblical method of farming that has grown all across Africa into many countries. It especially targets helping the poorest farmers break the yoke of poverty. In Kenya, and all across Africa, farmers make up around 80% of the population. However, farmers here aren't respected for their profession as they are viewed as being at the bottom of the "ladder." They suffer from low self esteem and little hope that anything will ever change. Youth are abandoning farms and the rural area in droves to the bigger cities in hope of finding a better life. Now farmers are turning to relief agencies for handouts, and are becoming accustomed to a life of dependency. This "aid" while well-intentioned, leaves farmers with little motivation to work to try and change things.

I wanted to attend this training because for me, coming from a large scale farming background in Iowa, to the very small scale farming in Kenya, comes with a lot of challenges. How can I use my experience working with farmers who farm an average of 800 acres, help farmers who only have an average of 2 acres? This training proved to be just what I needed to be able to make that transition.

While the outlook on farming here in Kenya that I described in the first paragraph, might be a bit depressing, there is hope! This training helped me realize that before any improvement can be seen in farming, we need a Biblical mindset and focus in farming. I had to ask myself, have I put enough weight on this importance in agriculture? For anything to change, we have to first change the heart and mind of the farmer. This is done through Biblical based farming that glorifies God in every aspect of our farming. So often we rely on ourselves, technology, or the latest new hybrid to increase our profits, but what if all we really need to do, is model God in our farming - the first and master farmer. He has created a system in nature that can restore depleted soil, restore broken lives, and redeem people who are living under the weight of dependency. 

Teaching the boys of GCM the Farming God's Way method
Making the rope for accurate spacing 
Within a couple weeks after this training, I already have begun to see the positive affects. I was able to help a local ministry that I have been working with implement what I learned. In fact Pastor Mwai, the leader of God's Children Ministry (GCM), was able to attend the training with me. He is the director of this ministry to boys, brought off the streets of Nakuru from a life of drugs, out to a farm where they are discipled and trained up to become men of God. The farm is blessed with nearly 14 acres of land and we were able to start small and show them the practical methods that they can do. I believe this is just one example of what God will do through this teaching here in Kenya. I also hope this method will be a tool that I can use to help our AGC missionaries bring the Gospel into some of the most difficult places in Kenya. Stay tuned!
Adding God's Blanket (mulch)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Settling In

It’s hard to believe that the last time we posted was about waiting on God’s perfect timing to get us to Kenya. Now we have been in Kenya for six months… time flies! A lot has happened in the last six months as we adjust to living in a new culture and thousands of miles away from all that is familiar. There have been so many incredible days and there have been some incredibly hard days. Here is a recap of some of those times….

Leaving Iowa: It’s hard to put into words the joy, excitement, heartache, uncertainty, and sadness of leaving our family, friends, and all that we knew for an unknown place. We had never been to Africa, let alone Kenya, and our children had never left the US before, or flown on an airplane for that matter. We dealt with airsickness, the airline running out of food, pure exhaustion, and a real questioning of what in the world did we get ourselves into. But, in all of those moments where it felt like too much, and the longing of wanting to turn around and return to what was known, God was so faithful in giving us just enough strength to keep going. I wouldn’t say it was an overabundance of strength, but it was just the amount we needed to keep persevering. It was in those moments we truly felt His presence and knew we were on the right path.

Arriving in Kenya: I don’t really remember a lot of the first week here…..jet lag is not a friend of mine! :) But for the first three weeks we lived in Nakuru while we got our bearings. It was, and still can be at times, overwhelming learning how to even shop in a new culture and foreign land. Then you add four children that are overwhelmed, overstimulated, and tired and it gets pretty interesting. Again, we were able to see God’s grace and provision in action.

Language school: We next spent three months in language school studying Kiswahili. It was a hard, frustrating, and joy-filled experience. We absolutely loved our teachers and fellow students at Shade Language and Culture School and miss them all still to this day. We loved the large compound we lived on, and our children had so many friends. It was so nice to be able to let them roam and explore knowing they were within a fenced area. Andy and I, along with Aubrey, attended class five days a week. Our minds were continually stretched as we strived to learn a new language. Kiswahili is not an easy language, but I think that can be said for any language that is not your mother tongue. We are nowhere fluent, but we can understand a fair amount and speak some. We came not knowing any Kiswahili and I can now say that I enjoy listening to this beautiful language, even if I don’t understand everything that is being said. :)

Settling in: We are finally settled into our own home. I can’t tell you how wonderful this is! We moved into our place five months, almost to the day, of arriving in Kenya. We have a beautiful compound and live in one of the older neighborhoods of Nakuru. Andy is in the process of figuring out how he can best help with agriculture. We both really feel a burden for the AGC (Africa Gospel Church) missionaries and hope to be an encouragement to them and support them as best we can. They are on the frontline here and serving just as cross-culturally as we are. Please join us in praying for these amazing men and women of God that have a burden to see all of Kenya reached for Christ. 

What we have learned: That the God who called us to Kenya is faithful! There were times while we were still in the states that felt like we would never arrive, and now there are times that are very discouraging and we wonder what He has in store for our family. But we can confidently say that we serve a living, amazing, faithful, gracious, and awesome God! This is not about us and what we can accomplish, but about how He has chosen to use us. We truly want to bring Him glory in all that we do. We are His instruments and long to be used however He can use us best.

Thank you for joining us on this journey! We pray that you are encouraged as God uses the ordinary for His extraordinary purposes. May we continue to be His hands and feet, wherever He has us.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Waiting Room

I have never been fond of waiting rooms....especially when it comes to going to the doctor. Because of my health history with cancer, and other things, I have spent my fair share of time in these prison-like rooms, waiting for my name to be called. Sometimes it comes quickly, if I'm lucky, but many times in the past, it has often been after way too much time has passed. It is something that is out of my control, and it often leads to frustration. In those situations, I don't always respond with gratitude, or thankfulness naturally; but I have been learning more and more about how God likes to use these times in our lives for our growth.

As you know, we have been funded since March, and we are still waiting on my work permit to come through before we can leave. We never saw this coming, and we certainly weren't planning on still being here waiting this long. I have to admit, at times we do get frustrated and discouraged, but there have also been times of growth and gratitude for the time He has given us right now. 

Waiting can be a good teaches us dependence on God, and it often helps grow us spiritually. Our natural human response is to get frustrated, but God can turn that frustration into peace if we let Him. A verse that Stephanie has written down above our kitchen sink is, Philippians 4:11b, "for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Also in verse 12b, Paul again says, "I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation." So obviously contentment isn't a natural human response, but the key word there is, "learned." It can be learned! If you think of what Paul went through in his missionary life - beatings, prison, shipwrecks, and horrible persecution; he was still content and praising God! So how can I be impatient and frustrated, when what we are going through right now is so much less difficult than those things? Well, it may not be easy, but contentment with the situation you are facing can be practiced and learned. After all God is in control and His timing, His strength, His provision, His plan, and His grace are perfect, timely, and sufficient! 

Last week we had the opportunity to be a part of the Iowa Holiness Camp Meeting in Oskaloosa. We were the missionary speakers there last summer, and we all loved it so much that we decided to go back again this year since we had the time. One of the main takeaways from this great week of teaching, was growing more in understanding of the Holy Spirit. After all, why did Jesus tell His disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them before going out into the world with the gospel? Well in one great analogy, it would be like trying to push your car under your own strength to get to where you wanted to go. You need the power of the engine, if you want to get where you are going. That is the same with the Holy Spirit, it is the power that can sustain us, and we desperately need to be filled with it! Did you know that the Hebrew word for Holy Spirit, can be translated in 6 different ways in our English language? Here are the six ways: The Helper; The Counselor; The Comforter; The Teacher; The Encourager; and The Advocate. I don't know about you, but I need all six!

So what do the last two paragraphs have in common, you might ask? Well you may have been wondering after the former paragraph; how do I go about "learning" to be content in all situations? The latter paragraph I hope, should point you to the One who can do that! No matter what we are going through, whether it is uncertainty, frustration, loss, the unknown, or the next step to take in life, we have someone who is there to help us, counsel us, comfort us, teach us, encourage us, and advocate for us on our behalf, if we surrender our lives completely to Christ. It is only then, by emptying ourselves of ourselves, that the power of the Holy Spirit can fill us, and help us overcome!
Maybe you have been a Christ follower for years, but have never totally surrendered your life completely over to Christ? I know I was in this boat for the first several years of my walk with Christ. I wanted Christ, but I still wanted things my way, with my plans, my control, on my terms. I wanted the best of both worlds, but it wasn't until I completely surrendered my life to Christ that I started truly growing in my walk with Him. Galatians 2:20 puts it very simply: "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." If we truly want to call ourselves disciples of Christ and take up our cross and follow Him, let us make sure we have nailed ourselves to the cross first, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with power! 

As always let us know if you have any questions, or prayer requests. I hope you will be encouraged and uplifted as we have been, by what God has been revealing to us lately. We will be right here with you in the waiting room! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It has been too long since we last updated our blog! Obviously once we get to Kenya we will have more to blog about, but I do want to take the time to update you on our progress in the last 4 months. It has been truly amazing to see how God has provided in so many ways. He has been continually reminding us that He is in control and is faithful to us if we trust in Him. We have jumped nearly 30% in last few months and should now be over 80% of our support. We are still hoping to leave towards the end of March. Please join us in praying that the remaining portion of our support comes in by then!

Late September and Early October we completed a four week training program at Mission Training International in Palmer Lake, Colorado. They train missionaries from many different organizations going all over the world to many different places. We learned so much and made so many new friends. The kids had their own training program as well, and also made many new friends. I was amazed at how many young families God is calling into missions.

                                                   (Mission Training International)
                                                  (Our missionary family from MTI)

After the Colorado training it was nice to be home, helping my father out with harvest one last time. It was a bittersweet time for me, as I will dearly miss helping my Dad out on the farm. It will be a hard adjustment for him, too, as we have worked closely together for many years. Harvest has always been my favorite time of the year in Iowa. One way to be praying for us is to pray that God will provide help and strength for not only our family, but for the family that we are leaving behind as well.

(Harvest on the farm)

It was great to spend the month of December back at our home church, celebrating the Christmas season with those closest to us. The kids participated in our annual Christmas program, and we also visited Steph's family in Kansas City for a few days. It was nice to enjoy these Christmas traditions with our families, as next year will look very different!

Since the new year has begun, we have begun traveling and sharing again with churches and small groups pretty much every weekend. We made a quick trip to Texas to visit some family/supporters we don't get to see very often, and were able to share with a small group from their church. We loved Texas in January and even got to sneak in a trip to the Dallas zoo! After that we shared at a couple of local churches, and we now find ourselves out in the Michigan and Indiana area visiting family and gearing up for a week of orientation training at our headquarters in Marion, Indiana.

Until we leave for Kenya, our schedule has and will continue to be very busy. When we get back from our eastern trip, we have to start packing, getting immunizations, and saying more goodbyes as we prepare to leave. With all of this busyness though, we don't want to lose sight of what God has in store for us and what He lays on our hearts while we are still in the States. Busyness of any kind, whether it is good or bad, can still keep us from maintaining our relationship with Christ. Sometimes we just have to stop, "be still", and listen to what He wants to tell us. It reminds me of how He spoke to Elijah, not through all of the things he thought, but through the silence. Also whenever Jesus became overburdened by the crowds and busyness of his ministry, what did he do? He withdrew to lonely quiet places, and that was where he could talk directly to His father and hear His voice. I hope we can make time for the stillness that we need, amidst all the busyness that has to take place. I want to make this a challenge and priority for myself, and our family. I hope you will try it as well!

                                                         (The kids got their passports!)

Monday, September 8, 2014


As promised by Stephanie in our last post, I want to give an update on our placement change that took place earlier this year. Some of you may have heard of this in person, but I want to go into a bit more detail on exactly where we will be in Kenya and what we will be doing there.

As most of you know we had first thought that we would be placed out in rural Kenya working with the Maasai people. Due to some changes with bridges being washed out, and the desire of our field leadership to have us be closer to other WGM missionaries for our first term, they decided that this was not a good option for our first term. While this change left us in some uncertainty for a period of time, it was ultimately God's perfect timing that prevailed. Sometimes waiting on God isn't easy, since we often think we should get an answer when we think we need it.

After a couple of months of not really knowing where we would be, we got the answer that we were waiting for. Like God often works, it turns out that His plan is always better than ours! We got an email from our field leaders about a meeting they had had with the Africa Gospel Church leadership. They were talking with them about my background in agriculture and the burden that God had placed on our hearts. The AGC leaders then excitedly told them that just that morning they had met with their local missionaries and discussed their need for more help with agriculture. They told them they would pray about it and see how they could find help. Then later that day when they talked with our field directors, they realized how this was an answer to prayer. Our directors then asked them to write up a letter explaining what they envision us doing and how strategic this would be.

It was so rewarding and confirming to read this letter from the indigenous church, and see how everything they were praying about and envisioning matched perfectly with what God had placed on our hearts. Instead of working with just one people group I will have the opportunity to work with 8-10 different people groups within Kenya. I will be working more centrally in training and demonstration at the new Bethany Training Center outside of Nakuru, and then also traveling out to the different areas and people groups of Kenya to help with problems faced in each area. AGC sees agriculture as a stepping stone to bringing the gospel to the areas where they are trying to reach. Poverty caused by disease, raids, and climate change has left many dependent on relief and handouts, which is not sustainable. The local people, and even the AGC missionaries have found themselves in a helpless situation lacking expertise in this area. I hope to be able to provide a more sustainable way for the local missionaries to provide for their families so that they can do the work God has called them to do as well.

As you can imagine it was so neat to see how God aligned the needs and burdens of the local people with the burdens and calling that He has placed on our lives. Supporting the local church and local missionaries is sometimes an overlooked but very important role in missions. They often times have a better chance of reaching their own people for Christ because they face less barriers like language, culture, and preconceived opinions of white people. Also the fact that we will now be living close to the AGC Baby Center, which helps orphans, is awesome too! Stephanie has always had a great burden for orphans and hopes to be able to help out with that ministry as well.

In everything we will do in Kenya we want to come with the attitude of a servant. After all that is the model Christ has set before us with His time on earth. We aren't going to westernize people or impose our way of doing things as best. In fact the first 2 years I believe will be more of a learning experience for us than anything. I want to learn from them first, before I can help them, so that together we can accomplish the task that He has given us. This task is found on our prayer cards:

Acts 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Always Amazed

I know it's been some time since we've shared anything, the last two months have flown by. God has been providing so many sharing opportunities for us! It's hard to know where to begin in sharing all that He has been revealing and teaching us in the last few months.

May was an extremely busy month as far as speaking engagements go. There were so many encouraging times for our family as we were able to share what God has placed on our hearts. Each church and the Michiana Men With Vision group were so encouraging and welcoming. It has been such a privilege to share our journey with so many!

In June we attended our first camp as a missionary family, it was the Iowa Holiness Campmeeting in University Park, IA. I will admit that I was nervous going into this camp, I had no idea what to expect since this was our first campmeeting. All I can say is that it was an amazing time! I was blown away by the Sovereignty of God and how He knows what we need before we need it. He knew we would need this camp and the people that were there before we even had a clue. For Andy and I it was such an amazing week of spiritual refreshment and just being with so many amazing fellow believers. For our children, especially our oldest, Carson, it was a week of learning that HMA (Homeland Ministry Assignment) can be fun. Our entire family needed this week, and our God being who He is provided that for us. I am continually blown away at His care for each one of His children! He never ceases to amaze me and remind me of who He is and how much of a privilege it is to be able to serve Him!

Thank you to all that take the time to stay tuned into what God is doing in our family, it truly is a blessing and honor to be able to share with you! We would love to know what God has been teaching you or ways that we can be praying for you, please feel free to contact us with specific ways we can be sharing life with you.

Stay tuned for an update from Andy with more information on where we will officially be in Kenya and how God has been opening amazing doors.

                                              (some pictures of our time at IHA Camp)

                                            Shayla enjoying her time at IHA Camp

                                                        Carson hard at work coloring                                     

                                                Jackson showing off his coloring sheet                                   

                                        They brought horses in on the last day of camp for the kids
                                                   Aubrey wouldn't ride without Mom :)


Shayla also wanted Daddy to ride with her :)