Lots of Traveling and Maddy’s Birthday

It feels as if six months has passed since returning from St. Kitts but it’s only been a few weeks!

The day after getting back to Montgomery our family, including Maddy, came down with a terrible stomach virus. Immediately after recouping from that we caught a cold and stayed sick the rest of our time at home. Unfortunately we couldn’t allow ourselves much downtime because we only had a few days to pack up our house, put our things in storage and leave Montgomery behind.

All three of us had a difficult time saying goodbye. Montgomery is our home and although we are incredibly sure of God’s calling on our lives, leaving still broke our hearts.

The day before Thanksgiving we drove to Texas to visit my (Mandi’s) family. We had a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving! On Sunday we were able to visit a church in Spring, Texas. It’s amazing how the Lord works and makes a big world seem so small sometimes… Sean met the pastor of this church at a conference in Chicago earlier this year and we had lunch with two members who are the parents of a good friend and local pastor in Montgomery! We will be visiting this church each time we are in Texas for sure!

The next weekend we drove to Dallas (about four hours away) and had lunch with friends I hadn’t seen in years! We got to meet each other’s children for the first time and eat delicious Mexican food too. After lunch were also able to visit and stay the night with two of our supporters who moved from Montgomery in 2009. On Sunday we attended their church and Sean was able to share about our ministry in St. Kitts with a Sunday School class!

And of course, we celebrated Maddy’s 3rd birthday while we were in Texas! She had a “Princess Ballerina Party” complete with her requested chocolate ballerina cake!

Maddy's Ballerina Cake

Maddy and Sean

Maddy Opening Presents

Maddy and Mandi

Maddy Eating Cake

On her birthday we took Maddy to Build-a-Bear (or as Maddy calls it “Hold-a-Bear”) at The Galleria in Houston. She got to wear her special ballerina outfit complete with a birthday tutu! After she made her ballerina bear, she rode a kiddy train and then ate at the Rainforest Cafe. We ordered the birthday volcano cake with a sparkler and the staff sang happy birthday to her! She had so much fun… she is STILL talking about her birthday a week later!

Maddy with her Build-a-Bear

Looking at her Volcano

We left Texas and headed for Spanish Fort, Alabama where we will be until we move to St. Kitts… although we still have more traveling to do in the meantime. We will be in Missouri at CEF Headquarters December 14th – 17th for meetings and cross cultural training. On December 20th we will be back in Montgomery for Maddy’s three year old check-up and to move the last few items from our house into storage. Sean and I will also see a few people and attend the Christian Youth in Action Christmas party with the Montgomery teens. Afterwards we will be back in Spanish Fort for Christmas and hopefully will leave for St. Kitts shortly after!

Whew!

Please pray for safety as we travel during the next few weeks and please continue praying for all of our support to come in. We only need about $450 dollars more in monthly support to buy our tickets!

We are looking forward to being in St. Kitts more and more everyday!

St. Kitts Trip Recap

We had a wonderful time in St. Kitts this November 2nd – 11th! Although we missed Maddy very much (she stayed back in the States) we were able to meet a lot people, see much of St. Kitts and Nevis and get familiar with the work of CEF. I’ll warn you though… this post is going to be long!

Child in Sandy Point

The Timeline

Wednesday:

We were up and traveling to the Pensacola airport early Wednesday morning… 4:30am to be exact! After connecting in Miami we landed in St. Kitts around 2pm in the afternoon. We were in awe of how beautiful the country is with it’s mountains and bright blue ocean! It was almost surreal to know we were finally there, standing in a place we had only read about for months!

On the way to the place we were staying we noticed a blending of the “old” and “new”. A cruise ship was in the port yet we dodged a herd of goats on the main road… something we had never seen in America!

Wednesday evening we attended a local women’s bible study at a church. Sean was able to share about us and we all participated in CEF’s World Day of Prayer! We got our first taste of island life in St. Kitts when the power went off! Investing in surge protectors is definitely on our “moving” list!

View from Brimstone Hill

Thursday:

We ate lunch with another American missionary family, the Graysons, who are in St. Kitts permanently as they minister to the people in many ways. Their daughter is only two days older than Maddy! We are really looking forward to building a strong friendship with this family!

Thursday evening we were able to attend the National Board meeting. We met all of the members and had an opportunity to socialize. The board has only been formed for a few months but they really “get it”. They have a strong desire to see all of the children reached and really see themselves as the leaders of CEF in St. Kitts and Nevis. We are truly excited about our partnership with them and we see great things happening because of their willingness to work!

Black Rocks

Friday:

We began the morning by house hunting… which is fun anywhere but is REALLY fun in another country! We found a great house that morning… it was huge, had a great view (but 80% of the country has a great view since it is an island afterall) and even had fruit trees… but… it was too far from town.

In the evening we attended a pastors and children’s leaders conference, with about 40 people! This was a time when Sean got to introduce himself to many of the churches we will be working with and answer their questions about CEF.

Brimstone Hill View2

Saturday:

Tour day!!! Nigel, the board chairman, picked us up before lunch and took us on a tour of St. Kitts! We went just about everywhere! The highlight for Sean was going to Brimstone Hill and for me (Mandi) it was stopping in Sandy Point for a barbecued chicken leg, johnny cake and Ting from a roadside grill. And I don’t mean restaurant… I mean a person who set up his grill on the side of the road! Delicious!

Saturday evening Nigel took us to a popular restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf and it was amazing! We will not be lacking in good food, that’s for sure!

Sean at Brimstone Hill

Sunday:

We attended the Saddlers Pentecostal Church where Sean was given about five minutes to introduce himself and CEF. The vice chairman for the national board is an elder at this church and his father-in-law is the pastor. We met a lot of people and had a great time. Afterwards we were invited to lunch at the pastor’s home and we really got to know the family. Plus, they fed us very well! 🙂

In the evening we got a call about a house and we decided to take a look at it right then. It was the best option so far and we really liked it! The house was in a quiet neighborhood and had almost everything we were looking for. It quickly went to the top of our list!

A Black Sand Beach

Monday:

Monday morning we packed our overnight bags and rode the ferry to Nevis. We sat in the front of the boat, in the sun, without sunscreen. Luckily we didn’t burn too bad but we learned to carry sunscreen with us at all times.

Nevis is smaller and calmer than St. Kitts. A board member from Nevis gave us a tour and we were struck with it’s beauty! There is a mountain in the middle of the island and tons of great beaches all around! We quickly decided that we would come to Nevis once every month or so to spend the day at the beach!

In the evening we attended another pastors and children’s leaders conference just like the one in St. Kitts. Sean was again able to share about us and CEF, and answer questions about how the churches can get involved. Afterwards, we stopped in for some Chinese food (in the Caribbean!) and slept in our air-conditioned guest room!

View of South Peninsula and Nevis

Tuesday:

After a good breakfast we packed our bags and headed to the government headquarters in Nevis. We met with the official in charge of the Youth and Social Development. The crime in both St. Kitts and Nevis is a major concern for everyone so the country is very open to Christian programs for children. He not only wants to work with us but he has given CEF access to every community center in Nevis to have Good News Clubs! Praise God!

After lunch we caught the ferry back to St. Kitts… this time we sat in the shade.

Tuesday evening we had dinner with the Johnsons, a young couple working at Ross University in St. Kitts. They have a son a little older than Maddy and they are from Alabama! It was great connecting with them and enjoying some grits and sweet tea!

Monkey in St. Kitts

Wednesday:

We met up with a local real estate agent who had a few houses to show us. All of the places we looked at were nice but we still weren’t sure. None of them beat the house we had seen on Sunday evening.

In the afternoon we met with two government officials in St. Kitts who are over youth programs and education. Both of them endorsed CEF and also gave us access to the schools! They also shared a great desire to see CEF in every single elementary school as quickly as possible! Praise God for open doors!

Church in Bassaterre

Thursday:

This was our free day and what else would we want to do but go to the beach?! The Graysons took us to Cockelshell Beach and it was wonderful! Not only did we get to hang out with them all day but the beach was really nice. The sand is golden brown and the water was the bluest blue I have ever seen! The water was too cloudy to snorkel that day but we will have plenty of opportunities over the next two years.

The beach had a great and inexpensive restaurant that served cheeseburgers! And we were seated in a booth with a University of Alabama flag hanging right by us… much to Sean’s “delight”. He is packing an Auburn flag to bring to the restaurant when we go back in January.

After soaking up some rays all day we stopped in at Rituals Coffee Shop just in time for a power outage! While we were waiting we met Kim Collins, a world famous track Olympian from St. Kitts!

KFC in St. Kitts

Friday:

We fit in one last real estate agent Friday morning and we were so glad we did! Every house she showed us was amazing! However, one in particular was perfect for us! In fact, we put in an offer (rental offer) that afternoon! As I type this we are negotiating the lease but it looks like we will be living there in just over a month! When we get there I will be sure to take pictures of it!

After lunch we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

We got there a little early and we were standing in line when we found out our flight was delayed almost two hours!

We both read… a lot… as we waited for our plane.

When it finally arrived and everyone was seated, the pilot announced that a passenger didn’t think she would make her connection in Miami (even though they assured her she would) and wanted off the plane. So they had to dig through all of the luggage that was already below the plane so she could get off… causing about half of the other passengers to indeed miss their connections.

Luckily we had a three hour layover so after going through passport control and customs we made it to our gate a few minutes before take off! We were the LAST ones to board our plane but we made it!

We arrived at Sean’s parents home around midnight, tired and suffering from travel whiplash.

Another View of Brimstone Hill

So there is the whole trip! We are very excited about working in St. Kitts and Nevis and we are ready to get back!

 

$10,500 Dollar Match!

We got an email last week from a couple who has decided to give a match to our one-time expenses for up to $10,500 dollars! Praise the Lord!

We currently need to raise $21,000 dollars in one-time gifts just to live in St. Kitts. It sounds like a lot… and it is… but if you consider everything you would need to move to another country you will see how quickly everything adds up.

Some of the money is needed to:

– Ship some of our things to St. Kitts (not everything will fit in our suitcases!)

– Travel to and from the country

– Buy a car

– Lots and lots of ministry expenses

And of course, everything in St. Kitts is double and sometimes triple the cost here in America! A car that costs $6,000 here will cost $12,000 there!

 

So please pray for people to give generously toward this match. We would love to have all of our one-time expenses taken care of as soon as possible. We still need to raise $2,200 dollars in monthly support but it would be wonderful to just focus on one thing.

We feel so blessed to have this opportunity. Support raising always seems to be one of the biggest confirmations to us about God’s call. Each time someone gives to our support it’s like God is saying to us, “I am providing for you because I want you there”.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We truly appreciate them! You can give toward the match or a recurring monthly gift by following the instructions here. Also, please Tweet, Facebook and pass this information on so we can get the full amount of matching funds!

Our Big Yard Sale

Two Saturdays ago we scratched one more thing off of our “getting ready to move to St. Kitts list”… we had a massive yard sale! Even though we will be living in a furnished rental we still wanted to downsize tremendously.

And we definitely did!

The night before our yard sale we stayed up sorting, pricing, sorting, pricing, sorting, pricing… you get the picture. Here are some views of our sun porch with everything on it.

Yard Sale

We were up way before the sun. The yard sale was advertised to go from 6am until noon but people started showing up at 5:15 as we were putting everything out! They even had flash lights with them!

We were able to sell about half of our stuff and made some much needed cash!

Yard Sale

Yard Sale

Yard Sale

Although we won’t be having more yard sales (we were exhausted!) we are still selling more of our stuff to friends and on craigslist.

It won’t be long before the rest of our possessions are put in storage…