Sometimes it can be tough when things go wrong. Praise the Lord in this instance the repair wasn't big or expensive!
We have a big event coming up and need your prayers!
- Our big ministry kickoff event is a few days away!
- We need your prayers!
Our big ministry kickoff event is a few days away! We will be hosting about 15 pastors and ministry workers at our training. With the help of our partner ministries, The Grace Institute and Third Mil, the pastors will be learning how to use our theological training program. This is the first step in our efforts to bring "more training" to under-resourced pastors. Eventually, some of these pastors will be leading learning groups in their own communities helping us spread high quality theological training throughout Nicaragua.
We need your prayers! In order for this training to have any real succes it will have to be the work of the Lord. Please pray that the Lord would bless this training, bringing unity among the pastors and an excitement for learning more about Him.
But we also need personal prayer. This past week has been nothing short of awful. We've had car trouble, confusion with our agency, technology problems and I even received my first driving ticket! Anyone of these things would have meant a bad week. To have them all come together, so close to our kickoff makes me think there is a spiritual warfare dynamic at play. Please be praying for our family that God would bring peace in the storm!
The girl's school has started again, marking the end to a great summer!
- We had our first short term team!
- Our Spanish is progressing well and we are now official residents!
- God has answered our prayers!
- We have a new team member.
- The girls have Chikungunya
- Nicolette started pre-school.
We had our first short term team! Working together with our friends Steve and Angela Theriac, we were able to host a short term team from Crossway Church in Davie, Fl! We put on a pastor's conference (where I preached my first sermon in Spanish!), and two VBS programs. The team also went on home visits, provided counseling and built a relationship with the city of Nagarote. One of the most powerful parts of the trip was the counseling provided by Mike Swihart, a licensed counselor from the church. He taught two sessions and held personal and family counseling for church members for three days. We saw a lot of amazing breakthroughs! In one instance, a person was planning to commit suicide but decided to put it off upon hearing that a counselor was coming. We are pleased that the Lord worked in the person's life and this person was able to find hope and, by God's grace, is recovering from the pains of the past!
Our Spanish continues to improve! We are still planning on ending our full time Spanish classes a the end of September and continuing it part time from there. Both of us can see how our language is developing and how we are getting closer to where we need to be. Its a long road but we now functioning! The girls took Spanish classes over the summer which helped solidify and grow what they had learned during the school year last year. We are now residents of Nicaragua... well, most of us anyway. Because of an odd part in the process one off the girl's applications hasn't been approved yet, but we are expecting it to be finalized any day now!
God has answered our prayers! In July, we asked you to join us in a week of prayer, and we were blown away by all the people who signed up. We are pleased to report that God has already been at work answering your prayers. We asked for prayer for Bethany's teeth and eventual oral surgery. One of the teeth we thought was going to need surgery for is actually coming in normally!We still anticipate that she will need surgery for the other tooth, so please continue to pray!
We were also praying specifically for a second vehicle. We are pleased to announce that a supporting church prayed about the need and decided to be the answer to that prayer! We now have a new extended cab pickup truck! Its exactly what we need. It's large enough to fit our entire family, has four wheel drive which will allow it to take Tony to remote pastors, and has colorful LED lights on the wind shield wiper nozzle (which is more fun than function!).
Please join in in praising God, who doesn't sit idly by when his people come to him in prayer!
We have a new team member! Bethany Alms has been approved by MTW and has started the process to come to Nicaragua and lead an English training. She'll be working in Los Rios; the community where our other teammates, Robbie and Murray Lathrop have their beautiful farm. You can learn more about Bethany at her website here. Please pray for her as she walks through the process of raising support and receiving training.
The girls have Chikungunya. Abigail, Hannah and Bethany were recently diagnosed with Chikungunya. It is a virus that is an epidemic here in Nicaragua. They missed about a week of school with high fevers, some joint pain and rashes. They had pretty mild symptoms and are doing better now. They have spent a full week back at school. Thanks for all the prayers, messages and concern for our girls. Continue to pray that the other 3 of us don't get the virus. If you wold like to read more about the virus check out this website, http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/. The virus is now in the US including Florida.
Nicolette started pre-school. Our 4th daughter is the first to head to pre-school. For 2 or 3 mornings a week, Nicolette will be enjoying her friends at a small, local Nicaraguan school. She had a great first week that ended on Friday with a birthday party.
Please continue to pray:
- Our continued growth in Spanish.
- The girl's new school year.
- Please pray that our car repairs would be effective and that we wouldn't need any new repairs.
- For our continued safety and good health as we continue our transition.
- That God would bring us Nicaraguan partners in our work.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16b-18 ESV)
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, (2 Thessalonians 3:1 ESV)
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 ESV)
Historically, during times of pressing importance, Christians have come together to fast and pray in order to petition God to move on their behalf. That is what we are asking you to do this week. We believe that the work of training pastors and planting churches cannot be done without God’s active involvement.
This next year is going to mark the transition from preparation for ministry to the actual start of our ministry! We are asking for prayer grouped in three spheres of our life: our family life, our ministry life and our everyday life (those miscellaneous aspects of our lives that are nonetheless important). We have an exciting time ahead of us and are glad to have you praying with us as we ask the Lord to guide, provide, and bless our ministry!
A. FAMILY LIFE
 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,  The LORD bless you and keep you;  the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27 ESV)
Focus Item: The girl’s transition
Background: The girls have had a great transition to Nicaragua but it isn’t over yet. They love their school, their new pets and their friends. August marks the beginning of their new school year and, this will be the first time they have to manage a full school year attending a traditional school. Some of their friends won’t be returning to the school, and some will be leaving Nicaragua. This will be their first taste of transitioning friends here in Nicaragua.
Prayer: Please pray for endurance for the girls and that their transition will continue to go well.
Focus Item: Bethany’s Surgery
Background: Bethany fell when she was younger and hurt her teeth. She has actually been wearing a bridge for several years. This year she will have the bridge removed and need a surgery to help bring down here permanent teeth that were damaged. We need to coordinate care starting with a dentist here and our dentist in Winter Haven. Amber and Bethany will probably make a special trip back to Winter Haven in order to have the surgery.
Prayer: Please pray that we will find a great dentist here in Managua who will be able to coordinate with our dentist at home. Pray that the damage to her permanent teeth would be minimal and that the surgery will go well.
Focus Item: General Family Welfare
Background: Living in a third world country can be tough. It comes with increased health concerns as your body adjusts and you have to deal with things you wouldn’t in the developed world. Additionally, the unique stress can put a lot of pressure on marriages, parent-child relationships, and inter-child relationships.
Prayer: Please pray for wisdom and patience. Pray that we would maintain good health and learn how to deal with added stress. Pray that this new life would bring our family closer together.
B. MINISTRY LIFE
 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4 ESV)
Focus item: July Pastor’s conference in Nagarote
Background: This is our first official ministry event AND the first time Tony will be preaching in Spanish! We are have joined with Crossway Church from Davie, Florida to be a part of this event. We hope that this will be a strategic event that will help us build relationships for our future work.
Prayer: That the conference will be a success in serving the pastors and that it will be a building block for our ministry.
Focus Item: Language school
Background: Our full-time language school should be wrapping up in September!
Prayer: Pray that we will continue to grow in our ability to speak and understand Spanish and that we will be prepared for our ministry launch!
Focus Item: “More Training” launch in November!!
Background: After more than 3 years of training, planning, prayer and hard work our official ministry launch will take place this November when a group of us will gather at Pinas De Paz, the ministry center of our MTW teammates, Robbie and Murray Lathrop, and hold a facilitator training. The first arm of our ministry is “More Training” in which pastors will receive high quality theological education in learning groups. We will be coaching and overseeing the facilitators of these groups. Our hope is to start with at least five groups of 3-4 pastors each.
Prayer: Pray that the Lord would bring the right guys to this training who will be partners with us in ministry and excited to facilitate the learning groups.
C. EVERYDAY LIFE
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20 ESV)
Focus Item: Ministry financial support.
Background: Even though we have reached our support pledge goals, we still need the support to come in. We also need new people to continue to join as life changes for our supporters and they either cycle off our support team or lower their level of support.
Prayer: Please pray that God would continue to supply our needs and that we would rest in confidence knowing that he is in control and able to provide.
Focus Item: Our Car
Background: As we mentioned in our last newsletter our car has gone through many repairs in a short period of time. On the one hand, these types of repairs are normal for older cars and 3rd world cars. On the other hand, all these repairs have occurred in an abnormally short window of time. This has limited our mobility and cost us a lot of money. Also, in this next year, we would like a second vehicle so that Amber would have one while Tony is out doing ministry and so that we can get around when the other is in the shop.
Prayer: Please pray for a season (an extended season) of time when our car wouldn’t need any new repairs and that the Lord would provide us with a second vehicle in this coming year.
Focus Item: Friendships
Background: This really comes in two forms. We would like the Lord to help us maintain our friendships with all of our wonderful friends in the United States even though we are in Nicaragua! We also would like the Lord to help us make new friendships in Nicaragua and deepen the ones we already have.
Prayer: Please pray for special bonds of friendships that can withstand the distance with our friends in the United States and pray that the Lord would help us develop strong friendships in Nicaragua.
Summer is About to Begin!
The girl's school year is wrapping up and summer is about to begin!!
- The girls have done well in school and summer vacation starts this week!
- Our Spanish is progressing well and we are getting closer to gaining residency.
- One of our biggest challenges has been our car.
- Our Team Elswick week of prayer will be starting soon
- Our first pastor training and short term training will be in early July!
We've made it to the end of the school year! There are some things that you experience differently when your kids go to school then when you home school. The end of the school year is one of those things. The girls have done a great job adjusting to attending school, have received good grades and made many friends. For us, we are filled with joy that we get a summer break from spelling tests! In all though, Nicaragua Christian Academy has been a great help in our girls transitions.
We aren't fluent yet (of course) but we are able to see how our Spanish is improving. In fact, it has improved a lot! We can actually communicate! When we first arrived it was about the closest I've come to being deaf, mute and illiterate because we couldn't talk to anybody, we couldn't understand what anybody else was saying, and we couldn't read road signs or anything else! It was really disorienting. Now, after 3 months of language school we can have some conversations and pick up what's happening around us! Well... until we go to immigration - then all bets are off! Tony especially has had to spend a lot of time there lately both getting visa renewals and putting in our application for residency. It took four trips before we got our first renewal! Speaking to the immigration officers can be difficult because they are behind glass but with the help of our lawyer things are moving along. Our application for residency has been accepted and is now being reviewed. Please pray that our Spanish continues to grow and that our residency applications are approved!
Our car situation has been challenging! You come to the field knowing things are going to be hard and different but you don't really know which things will be hard. I've (Tony) been able to find good coffee creamer and Oreo cookies which has been great. We are finding skills to manage life in the heat with no AC. Those were some of the things I thought were going to be the toughest. But probably our biggest challenge has been our car (I mean when you buy a 1992 you expect quality... wait... what?) and the frequency with which it's been in and out of the shop. Much of this is just related to the fact that the car is old and needed a lot of maintenance and we are grateful for God providing the financial means to pay for these repairs! However, having a reliable vehicle is really important here in Nicaragua so please pray that these repairs would be effective and that we would have a break in the repairs!
Team Elswick's annual week of prayer is happening in a few weeks! Last year, we had over 30 people join us in fasting and over 60 that prayed with us! We'll be sending out more information, including a prayer guide, next week but please consider joining us by choosing a day to fast and pray with us.
Our first pastoral training is just a few weeks away! Crossway Church is coming in early July to put on a pastor's conference in Nagarote, The subject will be "Understanding the Mission of God." Please start praying for this conference to have an impact on the pastor's and churches attending.
Please continue to pray:
- Our continued growth in Spanish.
- Our residency application.
- Please pray that our car repairs would be effective and that we would get a break in them.
- The pastor's conference in July.
- Our continued safety and good health as we continue our transition.
The time really seems to have flown by! Our time has been fun, exciting, scary and sad.
- We have settled in, the girls are thriving in school and we have started language school
- Bethany had an accident, resulting in a concussion but has, thankfully, fully recovered
- We have added a new dog... twice!
We have had a lot of fun moving into our house! We moved out of our home in Florida at the end of June so having our own place again has been great! Its also been a blast making new friends and exploring Managua. This is especially true for the girls, who were able to meet a lot of girls their ages in our neighborhood!
School is exciting for the girls and they have been doing well! Abigail even got to go to a sleep away camp after we had only been in the country for 3 days! Their transition has been especially smooth considering that they have been homeschooled their whole lives. Us, adults, are back in school, as well, studying Spanish. Our teacher comes to our home each day and we take our lessens in turns.
We faced a big scare with Bethany. She was playing on a hammock swing, fell off and got a huge bump on her head. Have you ever seen those old cartoons where a character gets hit in the head and a ridiculously large red bump pops out of their head? That's what it looked like! We took her to the emergency room and it turns out she had a concussion! It was mild and she made a quick recovery but it was certainly a scary time for us!
In the past three weeks we've had 2 dogs. You can obtain a dog here one of three ways: 1) know someone with puppies 2) buy an expensive puppy from a pet store 3) buy a dog from the side of the road. Buying one from the road has biggest risk because they aren't vaccinated and many puppies don't make it. We didn't know anyone with puppies, so we decided to save money and buy a dog from the side of the road. Jacklyn was a cute German Shepherd - Rottweiler mix and would have made a great watch dog... if it wasn't for distemper. Unfortunately, after two weeks the little puppy died. The girls were very upset but fortunately a couple of days later a friend gave us the lead on a new puppy - and so Jack joined our family!
After a month in Nicaragua we are doing well! Even though there have been some hiccups, the Lord has seen us through and the girls are thriving. In the upcoming month we are looking forward to welcoming our first guests, when Amber's mom and brother come to visit. Abigail is excited that we are going to be getting a kitten soon as well!
Please continue to pray:
- For our health and safety.
- That Jack Dog (as Nicky calls it) will make it.
- That our Spanish learning will go well.
The day we have been working for is finally here!
We have purchased our tickets and will be leaving (on a jetplane…) at the beginning of February!!! This has been an exciting and busy time for our family as we've been saying goodbye to Tony’s family before heading up to Winter Haven for our final two weeks.
Three important things to note:
- If you have pledged monthly support but have been waiting until we have made it to the field, now’s the time to start giving.
- We still need to raise $575 in monthly support. Please consider joining our support team or increasing you level of support. All you have to do is hit the Give Online Now button below or reply to this email.
- Please remember to pray for our transition, especially as we say goodbye to family and friends!
Thank you all for being a part of the journey with us! We have felt and been encouraged by all your prayers!
We have hit 83% of our monthly needs! Amber and I are so thankful for everyone who has joined our support team! Its been exciting to see new monthly supporters come on board and some existing supporters increase their pledges. We can't wait to get to the field and start the work that we are all sacrificing for! There are seven churches that will be making support decisions soon. Please pray that those churches would join our support team. Also, please pray for more families to join us in monthly giving.
Our family is in and out of our home base so often now that we've stopped thinking in terms of road trips and have just embraced our life as pseudo-Gypsies... all we need is the covered wagon and tambourines!
Please pray for safe travels!
MTW Area Retreat:
Every four years all of MTW's missionaries to Latin America and Africa get together for a week of training and networking. This year it was held in the Dominican Republic. One of the highlights of this trip was the children's program hosted by the Global Family and Youth Ministry of MTW. The girls were feeling down from all the travel but the area retreat allowed them to have a lot of fun with other missionary kids. It was special to see how they connected and made friends. Of course, Amber and Tony made friends too!
Please pray that we would have endurance with joy as we continue to live uprooted lives.
Tony got the chance to preach at Gospel Fellowship a couple of weeks ago. You can hear the sermon here- titled "Growing in our Christian Hate." Gospel Fellowship is one of our partner churches. We are really excited about what God is doing with them in Boynton Beach! Amber will be going with their short-term team to Nicaragua December 11th-17th.
Please pray for fruitful ministry and safety.
Leadership in an Interconnected World
Tony was invited to attend a leadership training in Atlanta called "Leadership in an Interconnected World." It was a great time of learning about the way missions is transforming and how need to adapt to meet those changes. One of the main themes emphasized was the need to work collaboratively with other missionaries, local churches, and national partners. Of course, Christian unity is something that brings God joy and helps be a visible example of the gospel.
Please pray for our future and current partners that we would have unity in our work.
Towards the early part of last year, I heard people on the radio talking about Jen Hatmacker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. The radio hosts had taken up the challenge and were sharing how difficult it was for them to live for a month on one week’s worth of clothes. I have never read the book myself or taken the challenge for the sake of the challenge, but thanks to our support raising efforts, I have accomplished the feat about 3 times this year… with plenty of trips left ahead!
When I heard them on the radio, I rolled my eyes because I figured they were just being babies. But when it came time to spend over a month in Belgium for a mandatory MTW training, my opinion changed. There are only so many suitcases you can take with you when you have a large family and we only had enough space in our bags for a week’s worth of clothes each. I didn’t think it could be done and figured that I would be dirty most of the time. Of course, it all worked out and I was clean enough or at least as dirty as everyone else! There have been two times since then when we have gone on month long support raising road trips with only a week’s worth of clothes and I can say it gets easier each time.
The nice thing is that support raising causes you come face to face with certain sins, pride, envy, and, of course, materialism. I never thought I was materialistic until I was forced to get rid of things and go without. I realized how silly it was that my heart was so captured by things like clothes… I mean, I’m a dude! I’m sure materialism is completely dead in my heart but God is gracious in all the process. As he prepares us to move to the field I am sure we will have to work on some more sin issues. But, for now, growing in my ability to fight materialism is one of the things I love about support raising!
MTW has a big event that brings much of the world together every 4 years, kind of like the Olympics except without the sports, or the medals, or the whole T.V. thing. I’m talking, of course, about MTW’s Area Retreat. This year it combined MTW missionaries from Central and South America with those serving in Africa and it just happened a little over a week ago. It’s a weeklong event complete with morning and evening worship services, updates from missionaries, break-out sessions and the opportunity to connect with missionaries you haven’t met before.
By far, the highlight for me was getting to know and learn from other missionaries. One of the missionaries I got to spend some time with was Andy Warren, who I first met at another MTW training in February. He and his wife, Bev, have been missionaries for over 30 years and have been in Ethiopia since 1996. They have devoted their lives to easing the suffering of AIDS patients both in this life and sharing the hope of salvation for the next. Among other things, they shared with us about what it takes to last 30 years as a missionary.
One of the most helpful conversations I had with Andy was about partnering with nationals. It’s easy for missionaries to do all the work themselves, especially since navigating different cultural dynamics can be so confusing and frustrating. Andy, though, stressed the importance of collaboration and shared helpful tips and principles on how to build trust with a multi-national team. The nuts and bolts of our work is different but when I grow up, I want to be just like Andy! You can find out more about his work here!