Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Sunday Worship and Fesitval of Cultures

Sunday was a fabulous day. Jim, Joy, Elva-Jean, Leon, Jason and I were invited to speak at one of the Bible Fellowship Group classes. There were actually two classes that merged for the morning to hear us speak. It was great to be able to share about what is happening in Milton. Each couple took a line from our vision statement which is, “A growing family of friends giving ourselves away proclaiming the Kingdom of God.”. We then shared stories about what is happening in Milton in relation to the line we had. It was good to remember all the amazing things that have happened in our little church over the year. We were encouraged by the BFG classes and we invited them to come again for a mission trip. Jim even challenged them that we have never had a mission team in the winter and would love to host one!

After the BFG class we attended the 11:00 am worship service. Biltmore has a great choir, orchestra and praise band. Liam was again dancing up a storm! We heard some more testimonies from missionaries and there was a wonderful guest speaker who really challenged all of us in the room.

The afternoon was spent getting ready for the Festival of Cultures. We set up our booth with Canadian happy flags, beach balls and even Canadian windsocks! We had our button maker a set up and were ready to help kids or kids at heart make some cool Canadian buttons! We even had our super duper button maker expert Amber from Biltmore who did not get enough button making when she was in Milton in the summer! The festival itself was huge! I have no idea how many people attended but it seemed like a lot. They had live cultural entertainment, inflatables, and lots of different booths hosted by missionaries and ministries at the church and of course food! Our kids had a great time discovering all the things to see and do. Many people stopped by the booth with the crazy Canadians. They made buttons but they also signed up to receive our partner newsletter and took prayer cards to pray for our congregation. We had some great conversations.

We were very tired when evening rolled around and the festival was over but we were also sad to say goodbye to our Biltmore friends. Once our booth was packed up and the kids were rounded up it was time to depart. We can not thank Biltmore Baptist enough for the opportunity to come and learn, for the opportunities to talk to so many of you about Milton and for the way that y’all loved on us and our children while we were there. It was truly a special trip for our family. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Southern Food and Downtown Asheville

Jason has been looking forward to this day. Today is the day that he went out with some of the guys from Biltmore to a real southern restaurant for biscuits and gravy. He knew it was going to good from looking at the signs and the fact that they serve sweet tea for breakfast. Even though biscuits and gravy was only a side order Jason was so full he didn’t eat lunch. I on the other hand am not a big fan of this southern dish so I went out with some of the girls to a large garage sale in a very posh neighbourhood. What is one man’s trash is definitely another one’s treasure, as people were selling leather furniture, artwork, tractors, a vespa and many other items. I personally bought a large rainstick that was originally from ten thousand villages. Although it was not as fancy as some of the items being sold I thought it was a great deal. Mostly I had a great time with the girls who took me. It was great to get to know them and to be able to answer their questions about Canada. Maybe we will see some of them on the next mission trip from Biltmore. That would be great.

In the afternoon we made a trip into downtown Asheville. It was fabulous. The downtown core is very artsy with lots of studios, galleries and music clubs. They still have a Woolworths and we went into a general store.

For dinner the bible fellowship groups that Kendra and Trudy belong to came to Kendra and Paul’s house for a picnic. Originally this was planned for a local park but they are closed because of the gas shortage. The food and the company were all amazing. It was great to meet so many more people from Biltmore. We got to have our bonfire and it did not rain. Trinity finally got to get up close with the cows. It was so cute.

Tomorrow is a big day. Biltmore has three services and bible fellowship times in the morning. Pray that we will be able to make more connections tomorrow and that we will all speak well on behalf of the Sanctuary. We will be speaking at a bible fellowship group at 9:30 am and then attending the 11:00 worship service. After a quick lunch we will set up our booth for the global mission festival of cultures. Everything wraps up around 6pm. I am not sure if I will be able to get a connection to update the blog before we have to leave for home early the next day. I will defiantly try! If not I promise to update it once we have returned.

Friday, 26 September 2008

The Biltmore Estate

Today, Kendra had the day off. She has been working really hard as she is the event coordinator for Biltmore Baptist and there are a lot of events connected with the global missions celebration. We were excited to be able to spend the day with her. We went to Sonic for lunch and the kids loved that they bring the burgers out on roller skates.

Afterwards, she and Trudy took us to the Biltmore Estate. What a place! It was built in 1895 and is the largest private residence in North America. When it was built it had electricity and refrigeration. It really is something else! The kids were given a scavenger hunt to do while we toured the house. I think they found most things on it. The best line of the day came from Daniel when we were touring the servant quarters. “Hey, even these rooms are bigger than ours!” I personally liked the banquet hall with the pipe organ and the indoor bowling alley and swimming pool! It is hard to believe that it was built for a family of three people! We had so much fun thinking up uses for the house if we owned it. We could have a church, a music school, a café, our whole church family could live there and even have one whole wing left over for our friend Cheri! I was not allowed to take photos of the inside of the house but I did get some of the grounds and the outside.

After visiting the house, we went to see more of the immense grounds and the winery. The kids had a blast as they got to stomp grapes. I was the official photographer and therefore unable to participate but they told me it was cold and TJ said it was disgusting. There was a lot of laughter, funny faces and defiantly some good sports as Kendra and Elva Jean stomped grapes too. Moments to remember for sure!

We spent the evening with people from Biltmore trying to have a bonfire between the rain drops. We were not very successful! Oh well, there is always tomorrow night.
The other exciting news of the day is that we were able to find a gas station with gas and were able to fill up! Yeah God! So with a full tank of gas we are ready for tomorrow!

Meetings and The Concert

Our meetings yesterday at the church were great. We were able to meet with the couple of the children’s ministry staff Vicky and Bill. We learned so much about the programs and how they train their teachers at Biltmore and were able to tell them about the children that we serve in Milton. Pray that we will be able to continue to foster the relationships that we have started so that our children can get to know some of the kids in their programs. We also talked about family mission trips that they have run in the past and are excited about the possibilities!

Pastor Bill (head of grade 1-5 kid’s ministry) had actually met Liam the night before during the kid’s prayer time. He learned about Liam wanting to reach out to the kid’s that he meets in the hospital. Pastor Bill wanted to help Liam with that and he gave him about 200 Jesus prayer bears that Liam can give away. He told us Liam’s eyes were as big as saucers when he saw them all. They were all handmade and stuffed by children here at Biltmore. Liam is already trying to come up with ideas on how to meet more kids so he can give them away.

After a wonderful luncheon sponsored by the senior adults group here we met with Pastor Carl who is in charge of worship here. He has been at Biltmore for about 14 years and in the beginning they only had about 200 people attending. It was great to be able to talk to him about how he grew the worship ministry as the church grew. Please keep him and his family in your prayers as his father is very sick in the hospital, he and his wife have a five month old baby girl and four boys!

Last night we attended a concert at Biltmore featuring the award winning Christian group called Philips, Craig and Dean. It was a great night with amazing testimonies of missionaries from around the world. The music was great and the kids were certainly enjoying it. Liam was enjoying it enough for everyone! That kid loves to dance!

The gas shortage is still on and they have now closed the colleges, parks and more government offices until next week. People are parking their cars at the gas stations waiting for a tanker to come in. It is really crazy. We are still okay for gas. Pray that people are able to make it to the rest of the events at Biltmore and that the shortage begins to ease. It is a big stress for the people here.

Today is a day to spend with our host Kendra. We are excited and are heading off to the Biltmore Estate. We have heard that it is an amazing place.

Please pray that we will continue to be able to make contacts here and to be able to learn as much as possible in the time that we have.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Global Celebrations Kick-off

The Global Celebration kickoff was today but we did not have to be at the church until 2pm. We spent most of the morning outside on Kendra’s back porch, singing with Jason’s guitar, practicing the kid’s bible quizzing and watching the kids explore. They disappeared for a bit and we thought we should go and check on them. We found them down the lane hanging out with Paul’s parents at their house. Paul’s parents take care of Roscoe the guard beagle during the day while Kendra and Paul are at work. The kids were thrilled to find the dog and spent the rest of our morning following their friend Roscoe around and hanging out with him on the deck.

Just before two in the afternoon we headed off to find the church and to get registered. Biltmore Baptist Church is in a beautiful spot nestled in the mountains. We were over-whelmed at the sheer size of what they call their church campus. The kids are getting use to seeing lots of churches on every corner here in North Carolina, which is quite different from home but I am not sure they were prepared for Biltmore. Again we were welcomed and made to feel right at home. The kids were invited to participate in a children’s program. All of the kids except for TJ went to the new BBC Kids Hall. While Jason went with them I took Trinity to Praise Island which is for the younger children. Her eyes were as big as saucers as we rounded the corner and she caught sight of surfboards and the tropical murals. “Mommy,” she said. “This is church?” “Yes, sweetie, this is their church.” She was thrilled and went hand in hand with the caring volunteer. She loved it so much in fact that later on all through dinner she was asking to go back.

The next big event was the Kick-off Celebration. It was a time of worship, missionary testimonies and praise for what God is doing around the world. Jim and Joy were representing The Sanctuary Milton in the processional march. During the service Joy gave a testimony about our work in Milton. She spoke from her heart in front a huge amount of people and did an amazing job. We were all so proud of her. During the service, Biltmore also played a video about their mission trip to Canada. They had pictures of our block party, our Sanctuary signs and Trudy talked about the trip and challenged people in their congregation to join them next year. We have amazing friends here at Biltmore and God has touched their hearts and given them a passion for what He is doing in Milton. They are our community’s advocates here in North Carolina, telling others about our needs and praying for us faithfully. The Kick-Off ended with prayer time for both the children and for the adults. Jim, Joy, Leon, Elva-Jean, Jason and I met to pray with many of those that came up this summer. It was a very special time for me personally and has been my highlight so far. When we picked up the kids we were again encouraged as they said the children had all prayed for Liam’s brain tumor and his surgery on November 5th.

Today, Jason and I have meetings with the pastor of BBC’s children’s ministry and their worship pastor. We are excited about these meetings please pray that they are fruitful and that Jason and I will learn things that we will be able to bring home to Milton. Leon has a meeting with Pastor Bill who was on the mission team this summer. They will be talking about home groups. Please pray for the gas situation here. There is a severe gas shortage and some government offices are now closing on Friday and Monday as people can not get to work. Pray that this would not be a hindrance for people to come to the church for the rest of the events. Every Gas station that we passed today was out of Gas. Pray that the tankers would be able to arrive quickly and that this situation could be resolved. There are also some other events today and a concert tonight for the global celebration. They have an internet café at the church so I am able to connect to the blog and will try to keep posting about our activities.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Arriving in Asheville, North Carolina

We left Milton yesterday (in tandem with the Brown family) at 4:25 am with our timmies in hand and the kids still in their PJ’s. We had a great drive and arrived in Asheville, North Carolina just before 7pm. Thank-you for your prayers! (A special thank-you to Lorraine – You were right packing was a breeze!) We were then spoiled by our Biltmore Baptist friends Henry and Trudy who whipped us up a yummy dinner topped off by five or ten different kinds of desserts including ice cream called “Southern Hospitality”. Trudy also served pimento cheese, (which I am told is a southern dish) and I have got to get the recipe! It was so good. With our bellies full, Paul and Kendra (our host family) led us back to their place. They live in a wonderful house in the country and upon arrival we were greeted by their guard beagle Roscoe. She is so adorable! Kendra and Paul helped us settle in and once again blessed us with more southern hospitality. We had been up for quite some time so it did not take us long before we were off to bed!

This morning after a very restful night sleep I stepped out onto the back deck for my morning quiet time and took this photo of a horse grazing next door. The view from the house is incredible with the beautiful farms and mountains all around us. It did not take long for the house to begin to stir or for the kids to get excited about the horses outside. Everyone enjoyed the morning. Kendra had Tim Horton’s coffee ready for us to brew. Jason sat on the backyard deck with bible and coffee in hand to benefit from the sunshine. The kids all worked on their bible studies in big soft cushy couches. We also got to witness a colourful hot air balloon take off into the morning air as we sat on the front porch. It really was an amazing start to our day.

Jason has a couple meetings today and is going with Jim and Leon to Mars Hill College. He is hoping to get to see both some of our friends from the Invision team that we met this summer. The Biltmore Global Celebration starts tomorrow and we are looking forward to it. I will try to post every day if I can get a connection.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

An Update for Liam

It has been a while since we posted a formal update for Liam. It is not that we have forgotten but we have been waiting for an appointment at St. Joesph's in Hamilton for a special MRI. We are still waiting for that appointment but there has been some news on Liam's surgery date. McMaster is now in the process of booking the Operating Room and Liam's surgical team. They are looking at mid October now and the date will probably be the 15th, 17th, 22nd, or 24th. As soon as we have a firm date for either MRI or his surgery we will let everyone know. We are hoping to put together prayer support for each hour that Liam is in surgery and in the intensive care unit.

We continue to praise God for His hand of healing on Liam. Liam has not had a migraine since the second week in July. It has been a blessing to see him pain free and playing with his brother and sisters, playing basketball and goofing around with temporary tatoos so he can drive his mother crazy! (see photo) Thank-you for continuing to bring Liam before God in your prayers. You have no idea how grateful we are to have brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world standing with us. Our amazing God has also provided a way for us to travel next week to Asheville, North Carolina to a global missions celebrations at Biltmore Baptist church. Liam has been cleared by the doctors and is thrilled to be going with us to visit all his friends at Biltmore. Everyone is very excited especially since we did not think we would be able to participate. Finally, we have seen God's hand clearly on our family as we navigate this difficult time. In times where Liam has been worried about his tumor and his treatment, God has given both Jason and I words far wiser and more comforting than we would have been able to come up with on our own. Please pray that we will continue to look to God for all the answers that we need.

Moving forward, we would ask for continued prayer for Liam's health, pray that he would eat more of the "good" food that he needs to eat, for safe travel as we head to Asheville next Monday, for all of our kids as the time to Liam's surgery draws closer, for extra patience and wisdom for me as I home school all the children and for all the details of Liam's treatment to fall into place.

Liam would also like to ask that as you pray for him that you would pray for his new friend Jana-May that lives in Germany. At just four years old she is going through treatment for Leukemia. Please pray for her health, that she would not be afraid of the needles and that her energy would continue to return and that she would be able to play.

Friday, 12 September 2008

My Man, Our Life

Ten years ago today, I woke up to a delivery of beautiful roses from my sweetheart. It was a beautiful start to a wonderful journey of adventure and life. As our house began to bustle with the stirrings of a wedding day, I remember lying in my bed looking at my roses and musing about how Jason and I had arrived at this moment in our lives. It was the type of moment that I had today as I thought about our life over the past ten years.

Our wedding itself was beautiful, and surrounded by family and friends, I married my best friend making a commitment to grow with him in Christ's love. We sang together at our wedding, he wrote a song for our wedding, and an Irish piper piped us into the church. Mostly though I remember how handsome my husband looked in his tuxedo and the vows that we said to each other.

At that moment God brought together a family of two. We placed our marriage into His hands. Two years later God expanded our family and blessed us with Liam. He was so amazing and our world changed as we knew it. Liam was a constant source of wonder for us. Not long before Liam was two years old, God placed a burden on heart to add to our family. We spent a year with family and friends praying for two children that we did not know. We rested in the fact that God knew who they were and He would bring them to us. I wondered how we would find them, what they would be like and who was taking care of them in those times. Just after Liam turned three we found them. Daniel and Caroline came into our family through adoption and we have been forever changed by the experience and the blessings that God has given us through them. For a while we thought our family was complete until God made us parents again with the birth of second daughter Trinity Joy. She is truly a wonder and life a family has been quite a journey.

Through it all, the ups and downs, the twists and turns, Jason has been there to guide us in the path of God's calling for our lives. He has loved, supported and encouraged me in ways that only he can do. On this day our 10th anniversary, I can honestly say that he is still my best friend and the person I love to hang out with the most. The vows I said ten years ago are still the ones I say to you today.

I Kimberley, take thee Jason
To become one flesh under God
I vow to the Lord and I vow to you
To endeavor to be Christlike always
I will love you as Christ loved the church
I will forgive you as we have been forgiven
I will be faithful to you and to you alone
I will serve the Lord with you
I will weep with you in sorrow
Rejoice with you in blessings
For richer, for poorer
In sickness and in health
To love and to cherish
Until Christ calls us home
This is my solemn vow, before God.

Yep! He is still my man and after ten crazy years I still dig the way he plays guitar!

Happy 10th Anniversary honey. I love you.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Endings and New Adventures

Well, September is here. It is hard to believe that summer is officially over. With the end of summer came an end to another chapter in our life. Justine who has been living with us for over a year was placed back with her birth father. We have many special memories that we have shared together and she will always be in our hearts. We have watched Justine grow and flourish over her year with us and we trust that God will continue to protect her and draw her to Himself. As a mom, you always want to protect your kids and to be able to be there for them when they need you and when you can't your heart breaks. Although Justine was not officially our child, she was in my heart. No matter what, I feel blessed that the Lord gave her to us for the time that He did. Thank-you to all of our family and friends who loved her along with us. Please keep her in your prayers. It was tough for us all to say good bye when she left so we took some time this past week to get away to the McGibbon cottage.

What a week! It was beautiful and warm and we spent most of our time in our bathing suits on the beach. The kids had a great time. We started homeschooling all the kids this summer so they were excited to have the first official week of school off. Well almost off...Jason taught Daniel, Caroline and Liam each how to build a fire and gave them lessons in the canoe. Yes, another generation of pyromaniacs has been born. Apparently, this is a tradition from Jason's mom side of the family passed down from Great Uncle Joe to Uncle Brad to Jason and now to his children. Oh well, I will just focus on the fact that if they ever get lost in the bush they can keep themselves warm. Trinity enjoyed the canoeing lessons as she got to ride in the boat while they were practicing. I sat on the beach, laughed at the kids, cried a few times, prayed lots, watched beautiful sunrises and sunsets and started to think about the new adventures this fall will bring.

We are all excited about the adventure of home schooling. We got a great start this summer and we are looking forward to continuing this Monday. Even Trinity will be going to "mommy's school" as she calls it. Although I must admit she did ask if Caroline could be her teacher instead of me! I have been learning a lot especially about what my kids like to read (and not read) and some of their own perceived strengths and weaknesses. I love spending the time with them and even teaching math and french is not so bad! With Liam's appointments that are coming up and his surgery this will help us keep the family together during a time that has been stressful. So although we have had a rough time as of late we are looking forward to the future and the new adventures that are around the corner.

Our Pastor (Jim) delivered a message today which he entitled, "Joy in the Midst of Chaos". It was a great message that hit me right where I am. So as I look to the weeks ahead and the uncertainty that it brings I also look forward to discovering the joy that only Jesus can bring in circumstances like these.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down oat the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2