Getting Started

Last week Sean and I picked up a van-load of CEF materials, notebooks, documents, papers and pretty much everything Margaret had from last year. Margaret is a missionary from Guyana who came to St. Kitts last year to put the board together, do some teacher training and get basic ministry started. Her goal was to stay one year and then go onto another Caribbean island to do the same thing. (She is now in Antigua).

Sean has been going through her boxes to familiarize himself with all that took place last year. Margaret has left us a wonderful foundation to build on… more than we previously realized! This week Sean is calling all 39 of the TCE (Teaching Children Effectively) graduates from last year to introduce himself, discover how many Good News Clubs are taking place and figure out how to get more started.

Enjoying Local Food

When we picked up Margaret’s boxes from the house of our Board Secretary we were also generously given LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables from her family’s garden!

St. Kitts Produce

(Coconuts, Tomatoes, Chives, Broccoli, Lettuce, Sugar Apple, Custard Apple)

Breaking into the coconut takes some serious practice but Sean is getting the hang of it! We used a coconut and the sugar apple to make Caribbean popsicles.  We’ve also used the coconut milk instead of tap water to make our rice! Yum! At some point we are planning to get down to the market on a Saturday morning. We have been told there are fruits there we’ve never seen or heard about!

A Saturday of Fun in the Sun and Awana

Saturday we took over a beach with about four other families! There weren’t any cruise ships in that day so the beaches looked like ghost towns! Maddy had fun playing with her friends and we got to snorkel! Sean has been before but it was my first snorkeling experience! I am here to tell you they didn’t film Finding Nemo in Australia… it was definitely filmed off of South Friars beach in St. Kitts! I can see why people get hooked on snorkeling… it was amazing!

Buried in the Sand

(Maddy and two of her friends having fun getting buried in the sand)

Later in the day Sean helped out with the Awana program the Graysons and Joneses are running. (It’s the first Awana ever in St. Kitts!) While there, Sean got to meet three TCE graduates, make some connections with the church hosting the Awana program and talk about some potential 5 Day Clubs in the area this summer. He had a great time and he is looking forward to helping out with Awana as much as he is able.

Awana in St. Kitts

Coming Up

This Saturday we are visiting a Good News Club in Monkey Hill, St. Kitts! We are so excited to see ministry taking place here and we can’t wait to update you about it!

Thank you again for your prayers and support! We truly do appreciate you!

Settling In

Last week was our “settling in” week…

Bible Studies

I (Mandi) was able to get plugged into a ladies bible study hosted by Caribbean Christian Fellowship (CCF). This small church is made up of Ross students and their families, medical students and their families and other expatriates living in St. Kitts.

Sean started attending the men’s Bible study on Tuesday evening (another CCF function) and he is really enjoying it! On Wednesday evenings Sean is attending a local Kittian Bible study held at the Grayson’s home (missionaries from Indiana).

Our Van

On Friday we got our vehicle… a 1999 Honda Odyssey! It’s not the prettiest van in the world but it seems to run well and it has lots of room to transport CEF materials and visitors. It even has air conditioning! 🙂

Our 99 Honday Odyssey

The Port

Our belongings arrived at the port on time and we were told we could pick them up on Thursday. So Sean, Brandon Grayson and his brother-in-law Luke (he and his wife are here as missionaries as well) got a truck and headed to the port. However, there were three cruise ships in so they couldn’t get our stuff after all. Thankfully, on Friday, trip #2 was successful! We did end up having to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) on some of our things but praise the Lord, it was only about $200 dollars! By Saturday evening everything had been unpacked and our house finally looked like a home!

Maddy’s First Kittian Church Experience

On Sunday morning we attended the Cayon Church of God with our board chairman, Nigel Browne. We had a great time and were very encouraged by the pastor’s message. It took Maddy a good 15 minutes to warm up to the music though! She isn’t used to such loud and lively worship! She buried her face in her hands and clung tightly to us while we held her. But by the end of service she was clapping and trying to sing along with everyone!

 

This week Sean will be going back to the two Bible studies and we are planning to finally spend an afternoon at the beach! Everyone has been asking how we like the beach and we have to admit we haven’t been yet! We’ve been so busy settling in that there honestly hasn’t been any time for us to go.

On Friday and Saturday Sean will be attending a board retreat for the St. Kitts and Nevis CEF board members. They will be discussing a host of topics related to our goals for the next two years and more. Sean is very ready to start ministry work and after the retreat he and the board will have priorities, strategies and plans in place to get things rolling!

We can’t wait to see what God has in store for St. Kitts and Nevis… and for us as well!

Our First Week in St. Kitts

We have been in St. Kitts for a little more than a week but it feels like we left home ages ago!

What Living in St. Kitts Means So Far…

A constant breeze…

Keeping the windows open all day and night…

Power outages every few days…

Lizards, centipedes and monkeys…

Swimming in January…

Island time…

Paying more for just about everything…

Learning to relax…

Monday…

Last Monday we flew out of Miami around lunch time and had a great flight. It was Maddy’s first flight and we weren’t exactly sure how she would do. We loaded her up with toys, gave her a window seat and charged her DVD player. Turns out, she had a blast! She even took an hour long nap!

Before we left home we discovered there were some issues regarding customs. We purchased a one-way ticket and were told getting into the country without a return ticket was going to be hairy. We were expecting a mess when we arrived. However, when the guy handling our paperwork found out we were missionaries, he stamped our passports and let us through without any issues!

We were taken to our new home where we briefly met with our board chairman and vice chairman. We had a little time to settle in and then Brandon Grayson (he and his family are missionaries here from the US) took us to the grocery store to stock up on a few things. Afterwards, Maddy got to meet Audri, the Grayson’s daughter, who is the same age as Maddy and their first words to each other were, Maddy: “Audri is a ballerina!” Audri: “No. I’m Cinderella!” Maddy is very excited to be playing with another princess 😉

Tuesday…

On Tuesday Sean got our island cell phones hooked up and scheduled an appointment with The Cable (no really, that’s the name of the cable company!) to get our internet hooked up. Maddy and I had a chance to spend some time at the Grayson’s home so she and Audri could play together. They had a lot of fun with each other but they also bicker and fight like sisters. Let’s just say their friendship is good for each other… especially for Maddy!

Wednesday…

We took the day easy. In fact, I can’t remember ever leaving the house! We were all still very tired from traveling and Maddy started running a small fever.  It’s a good thing we stayed home because we had some special visitors! About seven monkeys decided to take over our yard most of the day! Maddy loved watching them play and eat (we did too). And the day wouldn’t be complete without the power going out for a couple of hours!

Thursday…

Sean went into town in the morning and got his international driver’s license and to apply for a post office box. Later on in the day we went back to the grocery store. I made my first meal plan since living in Montgomery and made taco nachos for dinner! We knew that groceries here are much more expensive than back home but we were still shocked at the final price! It’s definitely something we’ll have to get used to for sure!

Friday…

We got our internet!!!!!

Saturday…

During breakfast the power went out and we discovered that whenever the power comes back on it will take two more hours before the internet returns as well. We went swimming and had dinner with the Johnson’s who are from Alabama and work at Ross University here in St. Kitts. Their son is also Maddy’s age and they really enjoyed playing together! When we got to their house we noticed both of them and Sean were wearing Auburn shirts!

Sunday…

We attended Caribbean Christian Fellowship which is a new church mainly for the Ross students and other expatriates living in St. Kitts. The Johnsons and the Graysons are both very much involved with this church and we are looking forward to making lots of connections! (Next week we plan to attend a local church with our board chairman and of course we will be visiting lots of churches and making connections on the island). After church we went to the city center and took our prayer card pictures (which will be available soon). Sunday afternoon welcomed us with another power outage! It was only off for a few minutes but of course, the internet didn’t return for two more hours. In the evening I went to a ladies Bible study and the guys with children came over to our house with Sean and Maddy.

All in all, we are settling in very nicely. It truly is beginning to feel like home to us. We have found a vehicle and will likely be able to get it this week! The boxes we shipped from Mobile will be in Tuesday and we should be able to get them by the end of the week. As soon as we are able to unpack all of our things I’m sure it will really feel like home to us!

Please pray for us to get our vehicle this week… it would help out tremendously! Also, please pray that we will not have to pay a lot (or anything at all) to get our boxes from the port. The taxes can be fairly steep but other missionaries have been able to collect their things without paying anything. The extra money is definitely needed! And please pray for our support. We still need to be at 100% and will continue trying to raise our support from here in St. Kitts.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for us!! We are so thrilled to be here and we can’t wait to get to work!

** Here is our mailing address in case anyone wants to send us care packages full of goodies! How is that for a not-so-subtle hint?

Sean and Mandi Miller

PO Box 2357

Basseterre, St. Kitts

St. Kitts and Nevis

 

Christmas, New Year’s and Packing Galore

Our Holidays

This Christmas was very low key. We spent the holidays with Sean’s family because our home is now 2000 miles away! But it was nice to have everyone together before we leave.

Maddy was very “OCD” about opening her gifts! She had to get every speck of wrapping paper off before she would even look at what she was opening! She got a lot of goodies for St. Kitts… a swim suit, beach toys and a puddle jumper.

Opening Beach Toys

She is very much into princesses and ballerinas so she was ecstatic to open a ballerina sticker book and princess plates and cups. She is definitely all girl!

Opening a Ballerina Book

A princess table and chair set was one of her highlights… we are definitely bringing it to St. Kitts with us!

Sean and I got her a “big girl” princess bike and she was so excited she was at a loss for words (which is very unusual). She had problems learning how to pedal at first but she has it down now. Although steering is another story. Let’s just say it’s a good thing she has a quiet road to practice biking on by our house in St. Kitts. 🙂

Riding Her Princess Bike

New Year’s Eve is our anniversary so Sean and I partied the night away until a whopping eight o’clock in the evening! We ate at a nice restaurant in Fairhope that overlooks Mobile Bay and we had a wonderful evening. We even made it back home in time to see Auburn win the Chick-fil-a Bowl! It’s hard to believe we’ve been married four years!

Almost Ready for St. Kitts

This week we will be back in Montgomery for a few days to visit with a missions committee and to pack up what we are taking to St. Kitts. When we return from Montgomery we will have everything packed in boxes ready to be shipped. As soon as we get clearance we will buy our tickets, drive to Palm Beach Florida, ship our boxes to St. Kitts and head to Miami for our flight! We are praying earnestly to be in the country next week.

We already have the money to purchase our tickets to St. Kitts but we must be at 95% percent of our support to go. Before the holidays we were at 92% so it could be any day now. Our goal is to live as if we are three days away from leaving at all times.

A few days ago we made a trip to Sam’s Club to stock our house as much as possibleEverything is 2-3 times more expensive in St. Kitts than in America so we stocked up on non-perishable food, paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries and medicine. We knew that buying what we could in the States (and much of it in bulk) would save us so much money in the long run but it was a surreal experience! Sean has already packed most of our “loot” but we snagged a picture of it first.

Our Groceries for St. Kitts

We are so close to being in St. Kitts! There really isn’t much left to do. The national board has scheduled a retreat with Sean on January 15th so we are hoping and praying we will be there by then.

If you would like to pray for us here are a few specific requests we have:

1. For safety as we travel to and from Montgomery this week

2. To reach 95% of our support this week or at the beginning of next week

3. For our car to sell before we leave

The waiting period we have found ourselves in can become frustrating at times but we are trusting in God and His timing. We know that He is sovereign and has called us to go… hopefully we will be there soon!

 

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!