My dear friends, I write this with a genuine sincerity thinking of many of you, praying for your health and well-being. I pray that through these last several months, you have been grounded on the hope set before us in the redeeming work of Jesus.
It seems as though there have been some words that have become commonplace within our lives this last year. Words like "Social-distancing," "Masks," and "COVID". I have figured that the kids in our schools have learned at least one thing this year. It is what a 6ft distance looks like. There have been many times in our team planning meetings for camp and church that one of us has said how "Over Covid" we are. It has been an incredible challenge to plan for this summer, trying to be mindful and respectful of the communities around us while pressing on to make the most of the time and resources God has given us.
There has not been any shortage of things to do. Aside from being able to plan events, classes, studies, people are still hurting. There is all the buzz of addressing health and economic issues, and yet there are still so many other problems that are not even being discussed. Six out of the last seven funerals I have officiated were deaths brought about by sorosis. The rise in suicides and overdoses has been at a devastating rate this last year, and I fear it will worsen.
As thinking about this, another word that has become more commonplace this last year has been on my mind. I don't believe there has been a meeting or post-meeting conversation amongst our team or even within our community meetings that I have not used or heard the word "Perception". It seems that some people have a greater desire for the perception of health rather than health itself.
I am being taught that I tend to see the things I want to see rather than things my Father wants me to see. God has been stirring in me to see something different than what my eyes are looking for. In Isaiah, God says; "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"
There is a sort of comfort in being able to see certain things in place and have the perception that we are in control. That sort of comfort is solely based upon temporal things. The moment those things are not in place, we began to panic.
I do not want to fall victim to wanting the perception of health without genuine health. I genuinely desire to see what God is doing in all of the things around us locally and in our nation, and abroad. I challenge you to see what God is doing around you and praise Him in it. He is doing things that make the wise men and women of the earth look foolish. He is bringing opportunities for the church to do some things that do not make sense to the world around us. I invite you to jump in and be a part of what he is doing. Do you perceive it?
I am so very excited that we will have summer camp this year. We have been doing a lot of things to get ready for it. I know our groups that make it possible for us are gearing up and making plans to be out with us soon. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of baptizing three children in our church. One of them being our own Noah. Of course,
it encouraged me as well as reminded me of why we put so much effort into summer camp and all of the other children's programs throughout the year. I can see God raising up a new generation of leaders around us.
As camp is nearing, there is always a lot of resources we go through. With the COVID restrictions, there will be even more consumables used this year. Please let us know if there is something you would like to help with. We go through 4800 bottles of water, 2400 granola bars, and roughly $10,000.00 in fuel just during the summer, not to mention all the toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies.
God is giving some great vision and movement for the wellness clinic. I believe there is too much going on with it right now for me to be able to share in this one letter. There have been some curveballs thrown at us that have made us step back for a moment and make sure we are moving in the direction of the Lord rather than just doing something cause we see it needs to be done. We have plans to make some needed changes to the building before opening it for use. We are currently looking at the fall of this year before we can use it as intended. God is so good. He has been so patient with me, especially through this whole endeavor, for that, I am so grateful. If any of you are wondering, I am not a dentist or an optometrist, so learning what we need equipment and tool-wise has been a challenge. I am so grateful for the professionals God has brought around us as we learn.
There is some much-needed equipment and supplies required to get started. I ask you to pray that God provides in such a way that gives Him all the glory and confirms His orders for the ministry here. Hudson Taylor once said (summarized) "Whatever God orders, He pays for" We absolutely trust this statement to be true and have seen the faithfulness of God through every vision He has given us. I have felt He has given some pretty tall orders, and yet, He has never left us without the resources needed to fill it.
In other news... (It is all big news)
In January the Lord led us to do a church plant in Manderson. Manderson is about 25 miles SW from the camp property. Already we have seen God moving in this place and it has been so exciting to watch the details of it unfold.
God has blessed us with a new camp van. If you have helped us out here in any way, you know that this is a huge blessing.
We were also provided with a new 12 passenger van for our use. (It is owned by NAMB but given for our use)
We have been able to start back all of our mid-week services. It has been a great way to reconnect with families before summer arrives. We have had a lot of fun with AWANA (Kids night), Sugmanitu club (Middle school boys club), Roots (Teen nights), and Wednesday night bible studies at both Sharps and Manderson locations.
Our in-person attendance has been steadily growing back to a more normal gathering.
We have been able to start back our dialysis patient food ministry.
I am so very grateful for each of you. Many of you continue to find ways to encourage and bless Amanda and me.
We are praying for your health, your harvest and, your hope.
Learning to serve the Lord in all we do,
(Above) Noah and Leah with some spring calves.
(Right) The new camp Van.
(Below) Baptism Sunday a few weeks ago.