Our Thanksgiving, Banquet and Last Good News Club

What a week!

For anyone who doesn’t yet know, we announced on Facebook last week that we are expecting Baby #2 due June 15th! We have been praying for another child for four years so we are beyond thrilled!

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Also, last week was our first ever island Thanksgiving! Last year we were home for Thanksgiving but this year we stayed. It wasn’t the same as being home with our families but it was still nice. Our church threw a big dinner so we had everything we normally would and we got to spend the evening with all of the friends we have made here in the last two years.

On Saturday we had the 2nd Annual CEF of St. Kitts & Nevis banquet! The evening turned out nicely and everyone had a great time. It’s so awesome to see all of the people in this nation who support and love the CEF ministry here. I am still in the trenches of first trimester nausea and wasn’t able to attend. But Sean said everything went great. Of course, here are some pictures from the evening.

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On Monday night we had our last Good News Club in Fig Tree. 🙁 We started this club in April 2012 and now we had to say goodbye. We will miss the kids so much! We had a Christmas party… we watched a movie about Jesus’ birth and then we made “Christmas trees”. We decorated upside down ice cream cones with green icing and then stuck candy on them as ornaments. All the kids loved it… from the little preschoolers to the teenagers!

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They were so proud of their trees!

This week is also the last week of school. Exams were last week so many of the kids are in class with nothing to do. So Sean has been showing the same Christmas movie we showed at Good News Club to classes in several schools.

And… Maddy’s birthday is Friday! How is she about to be 5?!

We started selling our stuff and our plan is to pack 1 box per day. Sean is out right now paying our last month of rent. We move out of our apartment in 28 days… and we leave St. Kitts in just five weeks… we’ll be in America in seven weeks.

The time is going by so quickly…

October Happenings (With a Bunch of Pictures!)

It’s been over a month since we last updated our blog! Sorry! We’ve had a lot of things going on in October.

Last TCE Class in St. Kitts

We finished up our very last TCE class here. It’s hard to believe! There were seven people who completed the class. Mr. Fitzgerald Semper, the National Director of Antigua, came to St. Kitts to help with our last class session.

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6DSC_0016Group shot!

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Good News Clubs

Our church partnership After-School Good News Clubs are in full swing! It’s so exciting to see churches reaching out to the local primary schools in their area! Sean has been to several of these clubs. It was awesome to find out the club at William Connor Primary has also included Wonder Time in their ministry. CEF distributes the Wonder Devotional Book, a daily quiet time devotional for kids. Every week these kids bring their books to club, divide into groups with a leader and talk about the devotions they completed in the past week. It’s a great opportunity for continued discipleship!

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3DSC_0029Wonder Time

4DSC_0028They broke up into groups to discuss the Wonder Devotional Book

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I (Mandi) Turned the Big “3-0”

We didn’t do a whole lot for my birthday but had our closest friends on the island over for dinner. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and let all of the kids play together while we hung out. Just the kind of party I like! We also got to watch the Texas A&M vs. Auburn game… which has made us a house divided ever since A&M joined the SEC. Unfortunately, the Aggies did not pull through for me and we lost… much to Sean’s delight. We are so thankful for the friends we have made here… it makes it that much harder to say goodbye in just two months!

Birthday

The CEF Caribbean Leadership Conference in Antigua

So this technically happened the first week of November. We left St. Kitts on November 2nd and flew an entire 10 minutes to the island of Antigua. The conference was awesome! Missionaries from just about every island in the Caribbean were there along with staff from America and Canada! It was such a blessing to spend the week with these people and to learn from them. Sean taught one of the main sessions about starting church partnership school-based Good News Clubs.

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I also had the opportunity to teach a break out session about using the internet to update supporters and partners with your ministry.

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Antigua is bigger than St. Kitts but the “look” is much the same. Although we will say, the nice parts of Antigua are VERY nice… Sean went to the grocery store and said it looked just like Publix back home! Talk about culture shock!

4DSC_0053View of Montserrat from the South side of Antigua

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We were able to honor the Assistant Regional Directors of the Caribbean who have served many years with CEF. They are a wonderful couple and a huge support to all of the missionaries who serve in the Caribbean.

conference1Steve and Kris Groome, Assistant Regional Directors of the Caribbean

Other Big News!

We have a couple of big things happening, one we can talk about now and something else that will have to wait a few more weeks… but…

Our tickets home have been purchased!!!

We will officially be leaving St. Kitts January 13th. We will fly to Turks and Caicos the same day and will be there for two weeks. On January 27th we will fly from Turks and Caicos back home to the good ole USA where we will be until July!

So our goals for November are to begin going through our stuff figuring out what to keep, what to sell or what to give away. We literally only have two more months until we leave. It is so bittersweet. We are excited to be no longer needed in St. Kitts but it’s hard to say goodbye to friends and our home for the last two years.

It will go by fast. In two weeks we have Thanksgiving (with our church), the second annual CEF of St. Kitts banquet on the 30th, Maddy’s birthday is December 6th, Mavis returns from her training, then Christmas, we must be out of our house by December 31st (we will stay at the office until we leave) and then we are gone.

Life always seems to move on doesn’t it?

Hello Fall

Fall is definitely in full swing! Over the last two weeks Sean has been in meeting after meeting with pastors, church volunteers and principals. It seems like everyday he has another meeting with someone. All of these meetings are happening because five Good News Clubs are starting this October in five different primary schools! ALL of these Good News Clubs are church partnerships!

TCE

The Fall TCE class (Teaching Children Effectively) began last week with eight people enrolled and one is a local pastor! The class is held on Friday night and Saturday mornings for the next six weeks. Last year we had it on Tuesday and Thursday nights which meant we literally had something going on every night of the week. So far, we are liking this schedule a lot better… and those taking the class prefer it too.

Fall TCE Class in St. KittsThe first TCE Class this Fall

Fig Tree Good News Club

We started our Good News Club in Fig Tree again. We had always met for club at 7pm which meant we wouldn’t get home until almost 10pm! It was hard on us, but especially hard on Maddy. Thankfully we moved the time up to four o’clock and actually got home last week before six! Before, the kids had already eaten dinner and finished their homework so there was no reason to start or be finished on time. But with them getting out of school at 3:30 we MUST be done by dinner time. The kids have just enough time to get home, change out of their uniforms and get to club… so they don’t get distracted. Plus, they aren’t nearly as tired!

Good News Club in Fig Tree St. KittsSnack time after Good News Club in Fig Tree

Local Boy Found Dead

We also have some very sad news. Over the weekend a 10 year old boy went missing and they found his body on Monday… on his birthday. He is from Tyrell Williams Primary school, an area where we’ve had 5 Day Clubs and the Grayson’s have their Awana Program. The boy was not involved in either ministry but his friends were. Grace Gospel Hall church (Mavis’ church) is adopting the school and will be starting their Good News Club there this month.  The situation is so sad and we are currently getting 800 Do You Wonder Why? booklets shipped to St. Kitts for the school. We had to pay for these books ourselves, but we were able to afford it because of the support we receive from you all. You can read the news report about it here… http://www.thestkittsnevisobserver.com/2013/10/04/child-abduction.html

 

Doctors Visits Galore

Other than working, we’ve had a time of “visiting the doctor” for all of us!

When Sean’s family was visiting a few weeks ago, I unfortunately lost my glasses. We looked everywhere for them and called the places I went and… nothing. After a couple of weeks we decided to try out the eye doctor here. The frames and lenses are EXPENSIVE so we decided to get contacts instead. We have been to the doctor now three times and I still don’t have it all situated. In fact, I still have at least two more appointments scheduled.

Sean went to the dentist for a cleaning and found out he has another cavity. While there he made an appointment for Maddy. It was her very first visit to the dentist! Our friends the DuValls live here in St. Kitts. Yuki teaches at the Ross Prep School and Michael is a dentist. Maddy loves their daughter Meg and they have been wonderful friends. So, Maddy wasn’t as nervous as she might have been because she knew Dr. Michael. She did a great job but she has a very tiny cavity and will be going back next week to get it filled. She will be getting a shot so we would appreciate your prayers for her. She will actually be getting her filling the day after Sean goes to get his cavity filled.

First Dentist VisitShe was only a little nervous…

Dr. DuVall looking at her teethShe calmly laid there letting Dr. Michael look at her teeth

Also, last week I made the mistake of eating some suspect hot sauce. I opened a new bottle at lunch and it was a little fizzy… but I ate it anyway. When I opened it at dinner time, it was like a volcano spewing out. We were then on botulism watch for a few days… lovely. I started getting sick to my stomach within 24 hours but fortunately that seemed to be it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t getting better so off to the doctor we went. The diagnosis? A parasite. Either Giardia or Cyclosporiasis. Both apparently are similar and not even worth testing to figure out which one it is. Usually you get these by drinking contaminated water but we’ve been careful not to do that. However, they put water in the hot sauce which wasn’t handled properly. I am taking three prescriptions but I should be fine by next week.

I guess October is reserved for doctor visits!

Between ministry and personal life, things are never boring around here…

The Most Embarrassing Thing I’ve Ever Done

There are so many wonderful things happening with CEF in St. Kitts and Nevis! The TCE class (Teaching Children Effectively) in Nevis is going great. And our first ever church partnership After-School Good News Club begins next Tuesday!

“Normal” life here is a roller coaster. Wonderful things are usually followed by not-so-wonderful things… and the hard times are usually followed by awesome times. We (as in the expatriates living here) have a saying, “OISK”… Only In St. Kitts.

For example, you are running late to an appointment and hit traffic… which isn’t normal on an island with 40,000 people… only to find out the reason for the back up is an abandoned tractor in the middle of the road… surely it broke down you think… but it’s just the driver’s lunch break (true story)… well that would be an OISK moment!

Unfortunately, this time… it’s my fault and St. Kitts had nothing to do with it.

On Saturday Sean traveled to Nevis for the TCE class and called around 4:30 to let me know he was heading back and I needed to pick him up at the port. So I got Maddy into the van, got in myself and proceeded to back out of the driveway only to drive into the wall in front of me.

Our driveway has a decent incline so I’m not sure if I put the van in reverse and didn’t hit the gas hard enough, rolling into the wall…. or if I put the van into drive thinking it was in reverse. Either way… it’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.

The van is fine… Maddy and I are fine… the wall is NOT fine. Apparently the top part of the wall was made with solid concrete but the middle section, where the van hit, was made with hollow cinder blocks filled with crumbly rocks and sand. So once one block crumbled… a chain reaction was set off and more than half the wall tumbled down the stairs below.

Here are some pictures…

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Thankfully we didn’t go over the edge…. and despite how awful it looks, the van really just has a few scratches. I don’t think I actually hit the wall as hard as it looks. Still… it is definitely embarrassing and I am learning a humility lesson for sure.

Although Sean says the wall can be replaced easily by himself and a couple other guys, we know our property manager will want it professionally done. So we will be getting an estimate in the next coming days. We have a property damage clause on our auto insurance so we are hoping this will be covered. Either way, it hopefully won’t be too expensive to replace.

Maddy told me not to drive into walls again… and I plan to park much differently from now on!

Life on the roller coaster is never dull!

Welcoming April

Things have been busy around here lately. Last week we had the privilege of spending time with the Willis Family from Heritage Baptist Church in Prattville! They were here on vacation, along with some of their daughter’s friends, and kindly made time to meet with us and help us in our ministry.

Sean took the girls to a school in Sandy Point and Tyrell Williams Primary where they shared the Gospel and loved on the kids in several classes. Their help was needed! Sean asked some of the kids if they knew what Easter is all about and they told him Easter meant flying kites. Flying kites is a tradition in St. Kitts on Easter weekend… people from all over the island get together to fly kites and have competitions. But it was sad that for these kids, flying kites was the reason we celebrate Easter.

Teaching at Sandy Point and Tyrell Williams Primary

Celebrating Easter

On Good Friday we had a service at the beach with our church Caribbean Christian Fellowship. It was such a blessing to see lots of people there and to worship the Lord surrounded by such a beautiful setting!

CCF Good Friday Service

Caribbean Christian Fellowship started a few years ago as a Bible Study for some of the expatriate vet students on the island and has grown into a small church. People from several schools now attend along with expatriates working in St. Kitts and even some locals. There are over 1000 students studying here and the vast majority of them are not Christian. Many of the students party and drink way too much every weekend. It’s not uncommon for the Christian students to be ostracized because of their beliefs. The original Bible Study was actually kicked off campus because they refused to compromise their beliefs. It seemed kind of strange for us to move away from America to get plugged into an American church! But we love our church family here in St. Kitts and want to do what we can to encourage the Christian students and help them reach out to their peers.

On Easter the service pretty much doubled! We are praying for many of these students… that God would work in their hearts and they will continue coming to church.

Mission Trip Team

The Graysons are hosting their first mission trip of the year and they are teaching a 5 Day Club with us! The team has Christian Youth in Action teens and Good News Club volunteers from Fort Wayne, Indiana! Sean has been helping with the driving and hanging out with the group. Their 5 Day Club is at Tyrell Williams Primary (the same school the Heritage Baptist girls taught at last week) and is going great! The school was actually on holiday Monday and Tuesday morning and we still had kids show up!

5 Day Club at Tyrell Williams Primary

The team has only a few more days left… they will be leaving on Monday. It’s been such a blessing to partner with them!

Weather

Summer is definitely coming… the breeze is slowing down and the temperature continues to rise. Before the last 7 days it had only rained three times since we came back in January. With it being so dry, we’ve had LOTS of fires. By March we already had 50% of the amount of fires from all of 2012! It’s really sad when driving around the island to see so much vegetation gone or brown. They don’t fight fires here like we do in America… they just kind of let them burn out on their own. In the last week we had three good soaking days. Hopefully the trend will continue! Some of the neighborhoods are having their water shut off every evening from the lack of rain.

In April

Maddy will be starting a local dance class on the 6th! The Nevis Teaching Children Effectively class starts next Saturday. Right now we only have two people signed up and we really need to have at least four. Sean will have to pay to ride the ferry there and back every Saturday for six weeks so we are praying for two more people to register. The Graysons are having another mission trip that we will help out with and we are continuing to work on getting two after school Good News Clubs started.

We are also praying that we can fix our van this month. In May we will host our first mission trip team and we really need new suspension and shocks before then.

Thank you everyone for keeping up with us, praying for and supporting the ministry in St. Kitts and Nevis!