Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Philippians 4:6 instructs us:
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
Your prayers are such a comfort to us. In our 'anxious' moments we find strength in the knowledge that so many folks actually set aside time to intercede on our behalf. Thank You!
We've had a busy few days. We've been able to see some good high school football. Jeff's brother is on the coaching staff at Petal High School so we've been rootin' for the Petal Panthers the past two weekends. A great benefit of being the family of the coach is that Jackson and Jeff have 'All-Access' the the locker room and the sidelines. Jackson has had a blast seeing the real world of Mississippi high school football. Also, Haylee's high school (and Liesa's high school) is Brandon High School and we played our huge rival, Pearl High School, this past weekend. We arrived 90 minutes before kick-off to find the stadium already full. Fortunately we found some seats and yelled our best 'EAT DIRT PEARL!' cheers.
We are living in the missionary home of Crossgates Baptist Church here in Brandon, MS. Crossgates has been so good to us! The home is incredible and we are enjoying being just down the street from Liesa's parents and their pool! :-) Our dog 'Amazon' is living at Liesa's parents and seems to be adjusting well, too! We are really loving the people at Crossgates. Pastor David is a very effective communicator and the worship is kickin'. The pastor called for a 21-day Fast about 18 days ago so Liesa and Jeff are looking forward to a return to food that is bad for you in a few days. Haylee and Jackson are enjoying being in the youth group and are making some good friends.
Last week we were a part of meetings in Birmingham with the leadership from our America's Affinity. As you may know, the IMB has launched an effort to encourage Southern Baptist Churches to EMBRACE the remaining people groups of the world where no one is attempting to plant churches. This is a huge task and we are excited about what God is going to do in the America's. If your church is looking to plant churches in Central or South America, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
The students finally arrived at Mississippi College last weekend. Jeff and Liesa had a great time helping with move-in for the freshmen girls. We loved meeting the new students and their families...especially those moving in the 1st and 2nd floor! We tried showing some love to the 5th floor folks, too. The MC campus is alive with students and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to help. We are excited about working with international students, also. MC has over 300 international students with most coming from Asia.
We're busy this week with work at MC and the kids and all of their activities. Jackson is loving 7th grade football. Of course, nobody has tackled him yet so that may change. Haylee is always the perfect student and is continuing her guitar lessons. We are headed to Oxford this weekend to see our first football game on campus at Ole Miss in 4 years. We are so, so ready. EAT DIRT BYU!
Thank you for your friendship and your partnership with us as we enjoy a few months in the USA. Please join us in praying:
- For Haylee and Jackson as they continue to adjust to new schools and new friends and a culture that is very different from what they've had the past 4 years.
- For Jeff and Liesa and the work at Mississippi College. Pray for 'divine appointments' with students so that we can be used by the Father to advance His agenda.
- Traveling. Liesa and Jeff will be traveling to Atlanta next week for an 'Embrace Event' where churches will hear about world-wide opportunities among peoples that need to hear the Gospel in a way they can understand. We're also a part of the Mississippi Missionary Parent Retreat in September. Liesa and Haylee are helping lead a retreat for girls at Camp Garawaya in a couple of weeks. Jeff is traveling to Hillcrest Baptist in New Albany, MS to speak to the youth group.
- Future. Pray that the Father would continue to clearly mark a path for us to follow.
Blessings to all! If you're in the Jackson, MS area please let us know!
Jeff, Liesa, Haylee and Jackson
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
We've had a great week here in central Mississippi!
Haylee and Jackson have had a good week of school. We're discovering that the Fetzer school in Peru has prepared them well for school here in Mississippi. Haylee and Jackson are both doing very well with their classes are are adjusting well. Haylee is taking guitar lessons from a teacher at a local college here and Jackson is enjoying playing middle school football.
Jeff and Liesa are ready for the students to arrive at Mississippi College so we can get to work. We've had a good time this week getting to know other faculty and staff and planning some of the events for the upcoming semester. Student arrive this weekend so we'll be helping with move-in on Saturday. We're excited about the 300+ international students who will be a part of the student body this fall. It will be a unique opportunity to touch the world from Mississippi.
Next week we head to Birmingham for a few days with some of our America's Affinity Leadership Team as we prepare for some great things happening in the future in The Americas. We look forward to good meetings and spending time with great friends. Please pray for these meetings as we seek to share the Gospel with the Unengaged Unreached People Groups of the Americas.
Jeff, Liesa, Haylee, and Jackson
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Greetings to all from sunny and hot Mississippi!
We are enjoying our time here in the USA tremendously. This past week was a good one as Haylee and Jackson started school here. Both have had a good week and report that school is not as bad as they thought it would be. Thank you for praying for them as they once again adjust to another life.
A fun part of being in the USA is re-connecting with former students. Our orthodontist here, Dr. Rich Simpson and his wife Amie, are former students. We have run into former students here, there, and everywhere we go. We had Kelsey McKeithen over for dinner this week. We used to counsel teenage boys as Kelsey broke their hearts as she was growing up. Now, she's a nurse in the pediatric ICU. The church we attend has two of our former students on staff. Seeing how God has answered our prayers over the years is a real BIG blessing.
This past weekend we were in Oxford, MS for DiscipleNow at First Baptist Church. Haylee and Jackson loved being a part of the weekend and Liesa and Jeff enjoyed spending time with some very dear friends. Jeff was able to take in some of an Ole Miss Football practice. Liesa went to a movie with some of her friends. And, we were able to attend church at our 'home base', First Baptist Oxford. A perfect weekend!
We're gearing up for the arrival of students at Mississippi College this week. Liesa and Jeff are serving as Missionaries In Residence at MC this Fall. We're excited about the opportunity to minister to students and faculty/staff at MC. Things will be busy and we like it that way.
This weekend, we'll be joining the leadership from our America's Affinity to continue to work out plans for the EMBRACE emphasis of the International Mission Board. We'll be traveling to Birmingham, AL and we're praying this meeting will be led by the Lord to bring many more into His Kingdom. Please pray as we travel and for the leadership of the America's Affinity. These folks have a huge task and are incredible servants. We are thankful to be able to support their work.
If you're in our part of Mississippi, please give us a visit!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
It has been an interesting adjustment to be back in the USA with plenty of time to observe our surroundings. Jeff has been 'tweeting' interesting experiences over the past few weeks. Many of you have asked for a comprehensive list. Here ya go:
- Culture shock sign #22: Liesa says I was talking to the lady at the grocery store in Spanish. I blame it on the chinese food.
- Culture shock sign #21: Grocery store has refrigerated pet food. Speechless. #U.people.r.crazy.
- Culture shock #20: Just set up my Papa John's On-Line account. I can even add extra peppers if I want.
- Culture shock sign #19: U now rent movies from vending machines..not a store. Cool.
- Culture shock sign #18: @ Brandon High this a.m.: "Honey where U movin' from?" Me: "Peru." Lady: "Lord, I hope u ben talkin' 2 somebody."
- Culture shock sign #17: At Walmart. Found a tattoo removal kit. That's gotta hurt.
- Culture shock sign #16: Pulled up at the gas station today. Waited on someone to pump the gas. Not gonna happen. :-(
- Culture shock sign #15: Been in the USA for over a week. I haven't come upon a speed bump yet. Nice.
- Culture shock sign #14: Mailboxes. Person comes and leaves something 4 you in front of your house in unlocked metal box by the street. WOW.
- Culture shock sign #13: Walked in Smithsonian toilet after D.C. thunderstorm & found folks stripped down under the blow dryers. Bumfuzzled.
- Culture shock sign #12: Should Free Refills really be this exciting?
- Culture shock sign #11: Driving. These North Americans don't get in a hurry. Out of my way!
- Culture shock sign #10: Am I weird 4 missing thunder and rain and humidity?
- Culture shock sign #9: Guilt-free toilet paper flushing! Yeah! #notrashcanbesidethetoilet
- Culture shock sign #8: Standing in line. Nobody trying 2 cut. Sweet!
- Culture shock sign #7: I am giving dirty looks 2 cashiers who give me wrinkled/torn money.
- Culture shock sign #6: Parked the truck on the street last night. The truck still has all the mirrors this morning! Praise the Lord!
- Culture shock sign #5: Is 9:15 am REALLY the time for Sunday School or should we show up about 10?
- Culture shock sign #4: I think Cherry Coke Zero would make Cuy (Guinea Pig) go down so much easier.
- Culture shock sign #3: In awe walking around Wal-mart. I felt a strange kinship with the Hispanic couple walking down the shampoo aisle.
- Culture shock sign #2: Just spent a lot of time and money at Wal-mart. How can there be only 4 check out lines open on a Saturday night?
- Culture shock sign #1: In Hotlanta waiting for a plane ride to Mississippi. Lots of white people here.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Haylee started High School and Jackson started 7th Grade today!
Please join us in praying for Jackson and Haylee as they once again adjust to new schools and new friends. As children of missionaries, they did not choose their lot. They have accompanied their parents as we answered God's call. They have been forced into situations that most children never face. They face problems many of us never consider. However, they have handled all of this so well. That is due, in large part, to the many of you who pray for them.
Here are some specific prayer requests that you can use as you pray:
- Pray for our family to stay strong spiritually. Pray for Jeff and Liesa to be aware of the spiritual needs of our children.
- Pray that Haylee and Jackson would establish their own spiritual lives. Pray for them to continually be aware of their need for a personal walk with God-- to really know Him, not just learn about Him.
- Pray that Haylee and Jackson would be filled with the Holy Spirit each day. Pray that He would guide their thoughts and decisions.
- Pray that Haylee and Jackson would have a hunger for God's Word and a love for His church.
- Pray that Jackson and Haylee would have thankful hearts for all of their blessings.
- Pray that Jackson and Haylee would be able to handle the temptations and influences that they will encounter each day.
- Pray for victory over feelings of loneliness that children of missionaries often experience. Pray that godly adult mentors would invest in them and be able to discuss their problems, fears, doubts, and confusion.
- Pray for Haylee and Jackson's education. Pray that they would learn well and excel in school.
Thank you for your investment in our family. We are so grateful for you.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
While Jeff and Haylee have been at camp and Africa, Liesa and Jackson have had fun playing in the sun and spending time with friends and family. One thing Jackson has missed most about being in the States is riding his bike. We are living in the neighborhood where I grew up and Jackson has been enjoying his freedom to explore the neighborhood on his bike. Two of his best friends from Oxford, Evan Moore and Joshua Morgan, came to town and he took them riding around the neighborhood. If you are in the Jackson, MS area we expect you to come see us! He also had a chance to go bike riding in Oxford one afternoon with Austin Carter. Many hours have also been spent swimming with the cousins.
Another highlight was a middle school trip Jackson and I took with First Baptist Oxford to Stone Mountain, GA. Did I just say middle school? He is officially a seventh grader. We had a great time going to the Coca Cola Museum, The Varsity Drive-In Restaurant, and Stone Mountain Park. There is a ropes course at Stone Mountain that is pretty cool. The highest point is 36 feet. Jackson started the course with Liesa (who is afraid of heights), but quickly moved on ahead and continued on the course leaving her behind. He was the second one to finish. He was kind enough, however, to return for a second climb and help his mother finish the course. We also climbed a rock wall and yes Liesa made it to the top. Liesa taught several of the kids on the trip in pre-school choir and several moms on the trip taught with her. What fun to hang out with these awesome friends.
Many people have asked me if I (Liesa) miss Peru. My response is the same as it was when we went we left the States and people asked the same question. Obviously, we miss our favorite activities and foods when we leave a place where we live for a time. Peru is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. But the thing I always miss the most is the people that you build relationships with. I have come to understand the importance of investing in the lives of those God puts in our path for however long that time is. The hardest part of leaving Costa Rica and Peru was saying good bye to friends not knowing when you’ll see each other again. The best part of returning to the States is seeing special friends that you haven’t seen in a while. This past month has been that kind of month. Connecting with those special friends and family that are so dear to my heart. I look forward to connecting with more of you during our time here in the States.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Thank you so much to those of you who pray on our behalf. We are blessed to have a huge group of prayer amigos who not only love us but are so faithful in their prayer support. Thank you.
As most of you know, we're on stateside assignment here in Mississippi. Stateside assignment is a time of reconnecting and renewal that Southern Baptists provide their missionaries who are employed through the International Mission Board. We have enjoyed our time 'off the international mission field' very much. I think we were much more spiritually drained and in need of some relief than we realized. It's not that missionary work is any more difficult than any other ministry assignment. But, when you combine a God-sized task, done in a different culture, with some serious opposition by the Enemy, things can wear you down. If we had not had the support of a tremendous team and friends while serving in South America, we're not sure if we could have survived as happy campers.
This week I (Jeff) have been studying the words of Christ in Matthew 11, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you find rest for your souls."
Yielding to a yoke of any kind is not in our nature, is it? However, everyone who has breath has yielded to a 'yoke' of some kind. The 'yoke' of sin comes in a variety of weights: materialism, legalism, individualism. But, the yoke of Jesus is 'easy and the burden is light.' When the Enemy tries to convince you that the yoke of Jesus is too heavy or too restrictive take a look at the yoke you are currently yielded to. How's that workin' for ya? Are the things you are pursuing in your life eternal? Is your life 'abundant'? (John 10:10) If I am not careful I discretely slip out of Jesus' yoke and replace it with the yoke of independence and self-management. Do you do that?
When I have tried to obey Jesus without first depending on Him through faith, I have found that His yoke just will not fit. I call it the 'BIG HEAD' problem. You've heard the comment, 'He's got the big head.' Obviously it means that someone thinks they're more important than they really are. They think they know it all. If I think I know it all, have it all together, can do life on my own, then that is not faith in Jesus. That is faith in me. Idolatry. Worshiping my abilities. Recipe for disaster. The yoke of Jesus comes off much easier than it goes on.
Missionaries are prone to slipping out of Jesus' yoke. Everybody is telling us how great we are. Everybody is telling us we're their heroes. Everybody is putting their stamp of approval on our lives. It's almost as if I'm an athlete playing for an SEC Football School except the score is not broadcast every Saturday night on Sportscenter. I have more Romans 7:15 days than Matthew 25:34 days. The reason is because Jesus doesn't clamp his yoke around my neck tightly. It's my choice to follow Him.
Our Savior is a Teacher, not a taskmaster. The Enemy wants me to believe that God is a taskmaster and that God wants to see how much of a burden I can bear. However, Jesus is my burden bearer. He's my freedom giver. The yoke of Jesus is a life-giving promise. Only He is sufficient. I am most free when I am most submitted to Him.