Monday, December 17, 2007

Life in Rapid City

We're here! We landed in Rapid City after a whirlwind week of visiting both Duke and Princeton Seminaries in North Carolina and New Jersey respectively, packing up our meager possessions, and hitting the road. In the matter of a week and a half we had logged nearly 3000 miles, but had seen cities, mountains, and everything in between. We even got to visit with some friends along the way as well, which made the journey even that much more fun.

Now, here we are, adjusting to a new life here in Rapid City, SD. Currently we are living with our friends, Brooke and Paul Kind, in their two bedroom, two bath apartment, which just happens to be about a 1 minute drive from Fountain Springs Community Church, where we are sharing a position as Assistant Pastors. It is a crazy adjustment going from each of us working a full-time ministry job to each of us only having to work half-time. In a lot of ways it's really nice. We have a lot of free time to just hang out, work on seminary applications, and enjoy the Black Hills for all they have to offer. We are looking forward to a few months of ministry, snowboarding, winter hiking, and exploring the areas near and far.

As for the church, we have had a great time getting to know people and experiencing life in a smaller church. It is very different doing ministry in a church of 250 than in a church of 2500, but it has been fun to experience the differences. I look forward to our seminary experience next fall, and know that this experience will be invaluable to understanding ministry in a whole different dimension than we've known it in the past.

In a lot of ways, it still feels like we're on vacation. I know as time goes on it will begin to sink in that we live here now and that this is home [for now]. I don't think this will be a bad thing...but I do think it will be hard at times. I definitely miss the friendships I had formed back in the Quad Cities, and am increasingly thankful to the welcoming smiles and open arms with which we've been received here at Fountain Springs. I do believe God has led us here, and He has been faithful to pave the way for the transition to be as smooth as possible. For this, I am thankful, and I look forward to all that He is going to do in us and through us here.

To all those in the Quad Cities, I say, "I miss you!! Come visit!" And if that's not possible, at the very least, leave a comment :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Life is Journey, not a Destination...

...and a journey implies change, movement, and hopefully, growth. Yes, we are transitioning. We've known for some time now that we want to go back to school to get our Masters', and we even knew that it might be in the fall of '08. What we didn't know is that the transition away from Heritage would end up being so early. The church wanted to know as early as possible if we were headed to school next fall so that they could begin searching now to fill our positions. A few months ago as we really began praying about this decision and soon after, we got a call from a good friend of ours out in Rapid City, SD. He mentioned that their Lead Pastor had just made the decision to move to Michigan and that he would be stepping up as Interim Lead Pastor for a few months while they dove into the process of finding a new Lead Pastor. At first, it was casually thrown out that maybe we could head out to Rapid City for a few months to work with him during the transition. We laughed and thought it would be fun. But soon after, we really began to feel like it might be an option and began praying about it more seriously.
Long story short, we will be heading to school next fall [school yet to be determined, although we are applying to quite a few], but we will be making a detour along the way. Mark and I will be heading out to Rapid City in a few weeks for a grand total of 5 months to work alongside Paul as Interim Associate Pastors at Fountain Springs Community Church, before hopefully hiking the PCT and heading to school in the fall.
Our feelings right now are, as expected, bittersweet. We are excited about getting to connect with and work alongside Paul and Brooke out in Rapid City, hike, and head to school, and yet, there are so many people here in the Quad Cities that will be so hard to say goodbye to. We have had a great 2.5 years here. We've learned a lot, grown a lot, and made some amazing friends along the way. There are so many great people here at Heritage.
Change is hard, and yet there's excitement in what the future holds. We know we will look back with joy, and yet we look forward with anticipation at what God has next for us.
Thanks to everyone at Heritage who has supported us, prayed for us, and made our time here great. We've loved seeing God work in your lives, and look forward to hearing updates on how that continues to happen. This blog will continue to be updated, so we're always only one click away!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mexico Update

First, I would like to say thanks to everyone who joined us through prayer. Our trip was amazing, and I know that so much of it was a result of the prayers that lifted us up from around the world. We couldn't have done it without you! Here are some pictures to highlight our time in Mexico. As a reminder, half of our team was TLC, the deliverance ministry of Heritage, and I don't have any pictures of their ministry, since the meetings are confidential. They worked tirelessly all week, though, and God used them tremendously in the lives of so many of the pastors over in Mexico.

Where to start? How about with the food! The food was amazing - we had 15 incredible ladies volunteer to cook our meals for us throughout the week [on rotation]. I never had to wonder if I would like the food. We at the majority of our meals at this long table in the fellowship hall at the Wesleyan church in Huichihuayan.

Mexican transportation. Normally we rode in a van and a suburban, but we were headed up to the top on a mountain on a not-so-good road, so we got to ride standing up in this truck for an hour as we wound slowly up the mountain [and then back down!]. The church we were going to, despite is more remote location, was our biggest night of ministry! There were about 3x's as many women and children at this church than at any other church we went to!

Our half of the team would split up by gender. The women worked with women and the men worked with children. While the guys were off playing with and teaching the children, we would read John 13:1-17 to the women, wash their feet and talk with them, then someone would share a little bit at the end.

The women in Mexico don't ever really get to feel special, or loved on, so it was so much fun to see their response to us washing their feet. They would giggle and seem very shy about the whole process. We would talk to them as best we could with the Spanish we knew, and by the end, you could just see the walls come down. They loved it!

We had a few hours between painting and our women's ministry, so we were taken to this natural spring in Huichihuayan. We sat on that rock for a long time debating on whether or not to go in, but finally made the leap together.

These were the kids at the church in La Pimienta. They were so much fun!

Our half of the team [L --> R]: Joe, Jess, Amy, Holly, Mike, Craig, Deb, Bri, Dustin, Arturo [down front]. Arturo is the District Superintendent over the Central Mexico district. He was with us throughout most of the trip and is a fantastic leader and all-around fun person.

Huichihuayan is a little town with mountains on either side of it. The view everyday was gorgeous.

We spent most of our mornings painting the inside [and a little bit of the outside] of this church in a town about 25 minutes from Huichi called Aquismon. It has been abandoned for a long time, and they just recently found a pastor, Jael, to take the church. It was in desperate need of some work.

Joe carrying our load of foot-washing tubs.

One of the many church's we went to for the women's/children's ministry. This is the church at the top of the mountain we went to via the back of the truck [see picture above].

Our lovely abode where 14 of us stayed with one bathroom :). It actually worked out quite well, surprisingly!

After our last day of painting in Huichi, we had an afternoon off and were taken to place called "Las Pozas de Edward James." Click here and here for more info on Las Pozas and Edward James. It's a truly fascinating place to see. If you ever get the chance to go there, do it. It's totally worth it!

More of "Las Pozas"

A handful of the wonderful ladies who did all of our cooking and served us so wonderfully.

We had one last afternoon off, and Ben [co-leader with me and former missionary to the area] took us to Pago-Pago, this place full of waterfalls and swimming holes.

A few of us climbed into the waterfall, and then continued on past it and up a few more. What's amazing about this place is that the farther back you go, the more and more waterfalls you find! It's just so incredible!

Our last couple days were spent in Valles, a larger city about an hour from Huichihuayan. Our team was split up and we stayed in homes. Holly, Amy, Bri, and I stayed with Jael [Khaki pants, striped shirt], who will be the pastor of the church we were painting. She is only 28! We really connected with these girls [Jael and her two sisters and another family member] and had a great time with them the last couple days.

Our last day was sunday, and several people preached in different churches, before we headed back to eat lunch and prepare to leave Monday morning. Here we are at about 3:00am Monday morning, waiting to go to the airport 2 hours away.
All in all it was an incredible trip. We washed nearly 300 women's feet, helped prepare a church for her congregation, ministered to countless little children, and had tons of fun in the process. our team got along incredibly well, and everyone had great attitudes the whole time [and if they didn't, they didn't share them with us!]. I couldn't have asked for a better trip or a better group of people to go with. We even had a couple on the team begin to sense a call to go back for a longer period of time. This trip was definitely a gift, and I'm excited to see how our church continues to partner with the churches in Mexico in the future [we send two teams a year]!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ciudad Valles, Mexico

One week from tomorrow I will be heading down to Mexico on a mission trip, and I am looking for a prayer team that will support us in prayer throughout the whole trip and even for a little while once we return. I would be honored if you would consider being a prayer partner for me and for my team. You can click on the letter to enlarge the photo and read the letter.

Muchas Gracias!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

La Pura Vida

Here's a picture recap of our time in Costa Rica/Nicaragua. The Costa Rican slogan is La Pura Vida [the pure life], and it's easy to see why - the country is filled with lush rolling hills and mountains, quaint towns and friendly people. It was a great experience!
Mark sitting in a park in San Jose, Costa Rica, the day after arrival.

A couple days after we got there, we did a little exploring in the hills around Cerro Chirripo, the highest point of CR. It was SUPER beautiful, and since we got up at 5am to catch a bus up there, it felt like we got to explore for a LONG time!
PS: this is a banana tree.

We walked this road for awhile and eventually ended up in Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. But the whole walk was this pretty. Really.

We eventually found this waterfall in Cloudbridge. One of many there.

Mark "rock climbing" on the wall of our hostel in San Gerardo de El General.

All the buildings in Granada, Nicaragua were painted sweet bold colors like this one.

The courtyard of The Bearded Monkey hostel in Granada. The center is open, but the sides have a roof. The doors across the way are the bathrooms. I'm taking the picture from the balcony by our room.

Here we are on the beach in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

We spent most of our time in Nicaragua with Josh and Kari Jackson, who just happened to be in Central America the same time as us. It was a blast to have friends to hang with for 4 days in the middle of our trip.

Mark and I went to see sea turtles lay their eggs...while we were waiting, we got to see a beautiful sunset.

Here's the turtle laying her eggs. They wouldn't let us take flash pictures of the turtles in the dark, so this is what we get to remember via picture :).

Back in CR for a few days before we left, we spent a day in Monteverde, CR doing a zip line canopy tour. We get to zip through the trees on these lines. Our trip had 11 lines...the longest being a half mile and over 400 ft. in the air!

Here's Mark waiting to get launched.

Outside the zip line place was a pretty cool hummingbird garden.
Does this scare anyone else? This is how the hot water happened in a lot of places in Costa Rica. I don't know about you, but I was always taught that electrical wires and water aren't a good combo...

Our last two days in CR were spent white water rafting. The first day we ran El Rio Pacuare, filled mostly with class 2-4 rapids. Half way through we got out of the raft and hiked up to this waterfall and pool we could swim in.

This is Mark sitting in the waterfall...if you look closely, you can see his arm and leg sticking out of the rushing water.

Day two we ran the Pascua section of El Rio Reventozon, pretty much a consistant class 4 and class 4+ rapid. When I asked the guides how to say "rafting" in spanish, they looked at me and said "rafting" [said with best spanish accent].
This is a picture of our guide and a couple others who paddled back into a big hole to see if they could flip. They did.

And alas, we are now back in the QC, where the tp goes in the toilet and the water is okay to drink [but not from the toilet]. :) It never feels like pictures can capture the fullness of what you experienced, but it at least can give you a taste of what it was like.

Until Next Time....

Oh...PS: check this out!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hola Amigos!

Hola from Monteverde, Costa Rica! Sorry I have been such a bum about updating. We went to Seattle to climb Rainier and then life was super hectic for a few months before we headed off again. Mark and I have been in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and will be returning home in a few days. We have gotten to hike around, see some cool cities, connect with Kari and Josh Jackson, some friends from college, ride a lot of buses, go boogie boarding in the ocean, read some good books, and do a zip line canopy tour. We hope to get in some white water rafting before heading home as well, if all goes according to plan.

One fun thing has been for me to get to use some of the 6.5 years of spanish that I took in school. It has been amazing how much I remember, and so frustrating at what I cant! All the more motivation to keep on trying. Lesson learned for next time: bring a spanish dictionary with. me ayuda mucho.

It has been a wild ride so far. While in Nicaragua, they shut the power off each week to conserve energy at certain times during the day. Our week just happened to be from 7-1030pm-ish ´{times are all "ish" around here...}, and so we pulled into Granada at 8pm in what looked like a blackout. It was pretty crazy. we just got to hang out by candlelight for a few hours each night. It was pretty fun...people would cheer when the lights came back on!

There are plenty more stories to tell, but I will wait until I can post come pictures to tell them. Look back in a week or so and there should be some up!

Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Here's a bit of a recap of the last couple weeks of our lives. We got to spend two incredible weeks out in the Washington/Oregon area, with our main goal being to summit Mt. Rainier with our good friend, Paul. We gave it a good go, but due to extremely high winds, we made the choice to turn around at 12,350 ft. at the top of what is called the Disappointment Cleaver [gives new meaning to the name a bit] :). Unfortunately we were a bit low on food and supplies, so we had to descend from Camp Muir, where we were staying around 10,000 ft, and didn't have time to go for a second attempt at the summit. So after a bit of deliberation, we decided on a day of sea kyaking in the San Juan Islands before parting ways with Paul. We had a blast and met some pretty cool people in the process.
Mark and I spent our second week hanging with our friends Aaron and Annie, and had the good fortune to summit not only Mt. Adams, which we attempted last year, but got turned away by weather, but also Mt. St. Helens. It was an amazing couple weeks that fits into this wierd dichotomy of being super physically straining, but also super exhilerating and refreshing at the same time. Below are some of the pics that sum up our trip and give you a visual of what it is we spent all our time doing. Enjoy!
The night before we left for vacation, Mark was ordained! I'm so proud of him and excited for how God will honor this commitment he's made to serving the church and building His Kingdom. Congrats honey!

A clear shot of Mt. Rainier: 14,410 ft. What a sweet looking mountain!

This was a random hotel we stumbled across in Elbe, WA near Mt. Rainier National Park. It's called the Hobo Inn and you stay in railroad cars made hotel rooms. This red one was ours.

Mark and Jess gearing up for the hike up to Camp Muir at 10,000 ft.

Mark and Jess hiking up in a snowy cloud. Luckily the route was wanded so we had some clear direction. We broke through the cloud deck at around 8,000 ft. which made visibility much easier and was a beautiful view.

Mark and Jess hanging in the public shelter at Camp Muir: 10,000 ft. We basically spread our sleeping bags out on some wooden platforms. It wasn't heated or anything, but was definitely nice to be out of the wind! Notice the sweet puffy jackets we're all wearing in these pics. We rented them for the few days we were on Rainier, and they were awesome! It was like wearing a sleeping bag!

Jess, Mark, Paul. Right behind Paul's head is where we went up and over: Cathedral Gap.

Jess and Paul sitting on the top of what's called the Disappointment Cleaver [DC]. This is around 12,350 ft. We sat here for a long time trying to decide whether or not we'd continue on. You obviously can't tell from the pic, but it was stinkin windy! We probably faced 50 mile an hour winds, which is why we decided to turn around. The wind was steady and bearable, but the gusts would drop you to your knees so that you wouldn't be blown over. They sometimes felt like they might even pick you up off your feet a little, which isn't cool when you're on an exposed ridge. When it picked up Paul's weighted backpack and sent it flying toward a cliff, we decided it was probably time to turn around. We found out later that no one summited that day due to high winds.

Paul headed down the DC.

Incredible Crevasses. Glad we didn't have to walk over/around those...we just got to walk by them and look at them. :)

Jess and Mark on Ingrahm Flats, just over Cathedral Gap from Camp Muir. Behind us is the Ingrahm Icefall. The rocks you see off to the right are part of the DC. Looks nice out, right? But it was still really windy. We lost a water bottle and two sleeping pads due to wind on the mountain that day.