Turks and Caicos Mission Trip by CEF of South Dakota!

March 13-21 we had the privilege of hosting our first TCI short-term ministry team! A team of four from Child Evangelism Fellowship in South Dakota flew down on their Spring Break to teach children the Gospel.

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View from the plane!

This team went to five public and private primary schools right here in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

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(L-R Kendra Baltzer, Hannah Cleveland, Savanah Gross, Shelby Reid)

They would teach in the morning assembly,

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Morning assembly at Oseta Jolly Primary School

Teach a short object lesson classroom by classroom,

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 Shelby and Savanah teaching at Precious Treasures—do you see Maddy?

Give away a CEF “Meet the King” booklet for kids to read with their parents,

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Then come back in the afternoon to teach an after-school “Party Club”!

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They taught the CEF lesson entitled “The Secret of the Watermelon”, therefore the kids (and us!) ate a lot of watermelon that week! The watermelon often seemingly multiplied in a “loaves and fishes” kind of way to be the exact amount needed per party club.

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They also taught a teacher training class at Harvest Bible Chapel here in Turks and Caicos!

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They worked really hard to teach children in the heat, but they also got to have a little bit of fun in Provo!

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south dakota trip

 

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Thankfully, other than a case of sun poisoning and also Mandi badly burning her hand (she quickly recovered), there were no major issues that happened…we really could see God protecting the team as they were here! Also, everything they did was with a long-term focus and with the right attitude. Mandi and I have a passion for effective short-term ministry teams. The team from CEF of South Dakota (and the teams we hosted in St. Kitts) was and has been the epitome of excellent short-term ministry teams.

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Children being counseled!

In all:

1,818 children were reached across five primary schools

Each of those 1,818 children received their very own “Meet the King” booklet.

370 children attended the after-school party clubs

12 of those 370 children were counseled as they made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ

8 teachers were trained

100+ primary school teachers were publicly thanked in each classroom and given a “What is the Gospel?” nice hardback book courtesy of “Packing Hope”, a theological resource ministry by The Gospel Coalition. They also received a copy of an “Impact” magazine by CEF.

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It was such a joy to recognize the teachers of the children at each school and give them gifts; they consistently were so surprised that we thought about them!

Additionally, we now have plenty of CEF “High Octane” club supplies on island now, laminated song visuals, and a plethora of other teaching resources they brought down! We are so thankful for the team coming and everyone who prayed and supported the team so that they could come and assist us in the new CEF ministry here.

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This trip will continue to (and has already!) yield much fruit for eternity from this Turks and Caicos mission trip!

Training Conference in Grand Turk

At the beginning of March we were finally able to make it to Grand Turk to teach a children’s ministry training conference! The conference had to be rescheduled twice so we were thrilled to see it come to fruition. And it was definitely worth the wait! We didn’t have a lot of people attend BUT five of the seven churches invited were represented by key leaders. Which is awesome!

Unfortunately I did a terrible job taking pictures of the conference. I got no pictures of Sean teaching and no pictures of the people attending. In my defense, when I wasn’t teaching, I was taking care of six year old and a baby!

The conference was Friday night and all day Saturday…

When we arrived at the church on Friday evening we were late, which turned out to be just fine because nobody showed up! Sean and I were very nervous… it didn’t exactly build confidence! Turns out there was a teacher’s appreciation event happening at the same time. So we just went back to our hotel room, restructured the conference schedule, PRAYED and went to bed. Thankfully Saturday was different! We both got to teach classes, our kids did wonderfully and the people who attended really seemed to get a lot out of it! We LOADED them up with resources… object lessons, songs, verse visuals, tracts… each church received a set of curriculum to last them an entire year! Resources are hard to come by so they were extremely appreciative!

After the conference we went on a tour of Grand Turk… my favorite part was seeing all of the wild horses and donkeys roaming the island! How cool is that?! Grand Turk is smaller than Providenciales, and has about 5,000 people living there. So it’s quiet, mostly unspoiled and has a much richer Caribbean culture than the more cosmopolitan “Provo” where we live.

On Sunday Sean preached at Salem Baptist Church… where the conference was held. He did a great job! I always like watching him preach! 😉 Since it was education week and youth Sunday, his sermon focused on the biblical reasons to reach out to children and he encouraged the congregation to make it a priority.

After church Pastor Chad (the pastor of Salem Baptist Church and our gracious host for the weekend) had us over for lunch with his family. We are so grateful to him, his family and his church for all of the ways they blessed us!

We were back at our home in Provo by dinner time! Here are pictures of the weekend… (and just a few of the conference, oops!)

Here is the view of Grand Turk from the plane!

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These are the only conference pictures…

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Our tour of Grand Turk!

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After Sean preached at church!

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Some pretty beach shots! 🙂

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Landing back in Provo!

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Thank you so much for your prayers about this conference! We are excited to see the fruit God will bear from it!

Trip To The States & School News

January went by so fast! Sean started his LAST semester of college… the end is in sight! He plans to start Seminary this Fall! Ministry wise, Sean was super busy… meeting with pastors, Good News Club teams and even teaching a training with our church here, Harvest Bible Chapel. We did have plans to teach a teacher training conference in Grand Turk with several churches but it was pushed off until February 20 – 21. But we are very excited to see what God will do with this conference NEXT weekend!

Two Weeks In The States

At the end of January we were able to spend some time in America! The four of us flew to Miami where we split up… Sean flew to Tampa and the girls and I flew to Pensacola. For two weeks Sean attended an IOT 2 (Instructor of Teachers Level 2) course in Bradenton, FL with several other workers from the Caribbean. He had a great time getting to know the missionaries better… and he said they were all (including him) freezing in the 50 degree weather! This course will ultimately give Sean the credentials to teach TCE 2 (Teaching Children Effectively Level 2) which is a college level class that focuses on how to teach saved children… a more discipleship focused teaching. This will be a great asset for training workers here in Turks and Caicos but also in other islands too. The Caribbean workers frequently visit other islands to help with the courses.

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IOT 2 Caribbean

Sean was also able to meet up with several of our friends! (The Leutholds, Lawrys, Ryan and Darrin). PLUS, Sean got to attend the Moody Radio event with Laura Story and Dr. Erwin Lutzer… he even got to sit on the second row, lucky man.

Moody Radio Event

Meeting with Friends

Meeting with Friends

The girls and I spent one week with Sean’s family in Spanish Fort, AL and then flew to Texas for a week with my family. We had a blast! Maddy got to do LOTS of stuff! We went to the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach where Maddy was picked from the crowd to participate in the dolphin show! She got to pet a dolphin named Lilly, make her do some tricks and even got to feed her a dead fish! She was awesome. The trainers said she was the best participant ever because afterwards she took a bow for the crowd! She told me that she was a celebrity now haha! We also went to the zoo in Gulf Breeze, FL and the Children’s Museum in Gulfport, MS. In Texas it was COLD, we spent most of the time relaxing but we did go to the mall one day and Maddy got her ears re-pierced. She was such a pro, I told her it was ok to cry but she wanted to be “brave” and she never shed a tear! She is so tough! We loved the chance to spend time with our families and for them to see Riley-Grace again. While we there she learned to crawl and has started trying to stand up! Slow down kid! And of course we made sure to eat at Chick-Fil-A, Pappasitos and shop a little at Target…

At The Zoo

At The Zoo

Children's Museum

Children's Museum

Ears Pierced

After two weeks apart, we met back up at the Miami airport and flew back home to Turks and Caicos. Once we got back into our home Riley-Grace was so giddy! While the rest of us aren’t quite completely settled here yet, it’s all Riley-Grace knows, so she was very happy to be back home!

Maddy Starts School at Precious Treasures!

As I type this Maddy is at school for her very first day of Kindergarten at Precious Treasures. She was very excited to go to school… she has been counting down the days for the last two weeks. In our last post, we said that our plan was for her to finish out the year homeschooling and start at Precious Treasures in the Fall for 1st grade. But when Sean spoke with the principal (who goes to our church here) she felt it was best for Maddy to start now. The Kindergarteners here are at a “higher level” than the typical American child… so while Maddy was where she needed to be for our standards in the States, she might not be here in TCI. By 1st grade they do not really teach children to read anymore, the kindergarten program is an intense “reading camp” to prepare for 1st grade. Since it so late in the year and we are leaving for a few weeks at the end of April (and consequently will not be able to finish the semester) Maddy will be going Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next two and a half months. This should ensure sure she is on par with the rest of her peers and help her adjust from homeschool to traditional school. Although she has been in Kindergarten all year, dropping her off this morning was so different! I wanted to cry but I held myself back… these kids really do grow up so fast. How is she old enough for this already?! We know this is the best decision for her and for our family as we serve here in TCI but we definitely appreciate your prayers.

1st Day at Precious Treasures

As far as tuition goes, the Lord has provided for the rest of this school year, the tuition for next school year though is $5000. You can read more about this in our previous post here.

Upcoming Events

We have the conference next weekend in Grand Turk! In March we are hosting a mission team from South Dakota, we have a few Good News Club trainings happening, Sean’s brother is coming for a visit and then at the end of April we head back to the States for a few weeks!

Our Island Christmas and Decision About School

We had our first Christmas here in Turks and Caicos! (our second in the Caribbean). We sure miss our family during the holidays BUT it’s nice to be in our own home Christmas morning and know the only place we “need” to go is to the beach! Which is exactly what we did!

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This was the first year that Maddy really wanted anything in particular. She is so used to not living in America that she really didn’t expect to get the toys she wanted. We had to order and ship them in from the States but we were so happy to see how excited she was when she opened her gifts!

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Riley-Grace even got a couple of toys… although one of them was purchased here and talks with a British accent!

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We were invited to eat dinner with another family from our church but one of their children became ill that morning. So we grilled hamburgers instead! All in all, it was a very relaxing Christmas!

Our New Year’s was fairly low-key as well. New Year’s Eve is Sean’s and my anniversary! We celebrated seven years! All of the nice restaurants were booked solid and a lot of our babysitting volunteers were off island so we are postponing our night out for a couple of weeks. But we did get a nice evening anyway. Maddy played at a friend’s house while we ate Asian takeout and watched football. Quality time! We did much of the same New Year’s day… we watched football and grilled out!

Our Decision About School

Homeschooling is going very well for us. Maddy LOVES it and begs me to teach her. I enjoy it too. She is learning so much! She is reading, her handwriting is getting better and I moved her up to a 1st grade math curriculum! We came to Turks and Caicos planning to homeschool, mostly for schedule reasons. We did NOT want our life to revolve around a school schedule. If we needed to travel anywhere, we wanted the freedom to do so. It’s just easier to homeschool for us as missionaries. For socialization we planned on putting her in extra curricular activities like dance and soccer. She would be with us at Good News Club, make friends at church and I would get us involved in a mom’s group. With all of that, we figured she would eventually have friends she could see on a regular basis.

Over the last several months we realized, those things just aren’t happening. Her dance class was too full so she wasn’t going to be part of it until January. Soccer was fun, but there is no socialization with it. She shows up for practice, does her drills, shows up for the games, plays and leaves. There is zero interaction with the other kids. Good News Club is the same. She has fun, but isn’t making friends. In fact most all of the extra curricular activities are this way. The mom groups are filled with younger children – because the ones Maddy’s age go to school. She is absolutely making friends at church but she only sees them on Sunday. Every now and then she gets to play with a friend outside of church, but not often… because they are in school.

You see, no one really homeschools here. We knew that going in, we just figured her other activities would give her plenty of opportunities to play and make friends. But that isn’t the case. Everyone sends their kids to school during the week and of course, they have other things going on Saturday and Sunday. Family life revolves around school. It’s been hard for us to really make friends too, because we are not part of the school culture. And it’s not been good for Maddy. She gets so bored. She can go the entire week without really talking to another kid other than her baby sister. She gets so excited when she finally DOES get to play with a friend that she gets too clingy or ends up getting in trouble. It’s just not healthy.

Sean and I have talked it through and prayed about it. We know that if our family is struggling, then it will affect our ministry. Although homeschooling made the most sense in the beginning, it’s no longer best for our family… or for our time here. So starting next school year (September this year) we will be putting Maddy in a private Christian school here in Provo.

The public schools are overcrowded and aren’t accepting non-Belongers like us because of it. There are a lot of private schools… and they are NOT cheap. We have looked at several schools and have decided to go with Precious Treasures International School. This school is not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive either. It has a good mixture of local students and expatriates. It is a Christian school, the principal goes to our church along with some of Maddy’s church friends! We have even taught at the morning assembly and it is right around the corner from our house!

Our current budget does not include school tuition. We need $5,000 to pay for her entire school year. We truly believe this is the right decision for our family and the right school for Maddy. We are asking you to pray about sending a special gift for her tuition. The payment is due in June and we are praying for God to provide all of it by then. Please, look at their website and consider giving. We would not normally ask for such a large amount of money if we didn’t feel it was vital to our ministry here. If you would like to send a donation for her education, you can find giving instructions on our donate page, but please designate your gift for her tuition in someway… “Maddy’s tuition”, “School Tuition”, “Private School”… so that we KNOW where to apply it.

For the Spring semester we will be continuing to homeschool because we have a lot of traveling to do and will be coming back to the States in April for several weeks. However, we are going to try gymnastics for Maddy and get her involved in an after-school tutoring program to make sure she is “on par” in her studies… specifically her handwriting. Plus, it will give her the chance to learn from someone other than me.

We are confident that it is the right move and that God is in this. Even though it was a hard decision for us to make, we feel it is truly the best decision for our family and ministry.

Thank you very much!

Thanksgiving and Maddy’s Birthday

It’s a busy time of year!

Ministry

Sean taught at a morning assembly at Enid Capron Primary School… to 597 children! He shared a 25 minute Bible lesson about faith and taught the kids a song. This school is excited about starting off the new year with a Good News Club!

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Sean also had the opportunity to speak in the Sunday morning service at Paradise Baptist. They will be the church adopting Enid Capron. Their Good News Club will meet on Friday afternoons and the club starts in January! Sean spoke to the congregation about CEF, Good News Clubs and the need for volunteers. We are so happy to see the second after-school Good News Club take place here in Turks and Caicos! We would appreciate your prayer as the church volunteers get their team together and trained.

Thanksgiving

We had the lowest key Thanksgiving of our lives this year. We tried to invite people over but it’s really hard during such a busy tourist season. In the end, we had Thanksgiving with just our family… although we did share our meal with both of our neighbors, which was greatly appreciated by them. At first we were kind of sad about being on our own, but it turned out kind of nice… we were grateful for a relaxing day together as a family.

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Maddy’s 6th Birthday!

Other big news is that we now have a six year old! We weren’t able to pull off a party for her but Maddy still had a fabulous Frozen-themed birthday!

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She woke up to this “Frozen” kitchen table as a surprise.

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We had a Snow Glow Elsa shipped from the States… she REALLY wanted this and has not stopped playing with it!

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Another gift she really wanted, sent from Grandma!

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Her Elsa birthday cake, made by one of the moms here in Provo. This was another surprise for her! She literally jumped up and down when she saw it!

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Maddy wanted to go to the beach for her birthday… the infant bath tub is a MUST for babies at the beach! Riley-Grace loved it!

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She is SO adorable!

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Sean buried Maddy in the sand!

Maddy also got all of her favorite foods for each meal: French toast with Nutella and Cool Whip for breakfast, Pizza for lunch and then out to Big Al’s for chicken tenders, waffle fries (aka Chick-Fil-A fries to Maddy) and a coke for dinner. All in all, she had a wonderful birthday! We have some amazing girls, we are so incredibly blessed as a family!