Monday, October 22, 2018

Finally Settling in to the Springs...

Dear Faithful Friends,

It has been since July as we were heading out on a family road trip between renovations that we last updated you.  You understandably may be asking: What are Bryan and Thandi up to now?  We recognize the need to keep in better communication, and plan to as we get settled in here for this next equipping season.  We have already had the opportunity to meet with seasoned missionary families here and are gradually finding our place in the community to learn and serve.



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Busi and Eli loving Slide Rock State Park, Arizona, during our SW Road Trip in July

Right after a return from the family trip in which we got to spend some lovely (though very hot) time with my aunt and uncle in Palm Desert, we were full on with the 3-room renovations.  Among other things, we knocked back some of the walls and cut out a window in the kitchen, thus opening up the entryway and living space a lot more.  I was able to do all the work myself along with a couple friends who helped from time to time, thus saving a lot in labor and learning quite a bit along the way.  It was only the carpet installation we were required to buy and hire out from a particular company, easily the most costly part.  However, it looks great and we know it will serve many families long after we leave, so an investment we are happy to make.  Thank you for those who have given a little extra for these renovations.  It has definitely forced us to dig into our savings a bit, but we know God will continue to faithfully provide for us through faithful partners like you.


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Kiddos doing their part and loving to learn…

In early August the kids were able to join some MKs that have been living in Cairo on a debrief week.  During one of the exercises (pictured below), we were told Elisha quite confidently identified himself as being in the "Chaos" stage right now, moving between two communities...of course, he quite easily could have been drawn to the word as it explodes in the middle of a bridge:).  Busi identified herself as being in the “Resettling” stage, and has been gradually making new friends, though not as quickly as Elisha😊.  They really enjoyed the debrief week, and we saw its value in giving the kids greater expression for what they are feeling now and will definitely feel in the future as we continue to work across cultures.


Thandi has been loving having a kitchen again, including some used appliances in great condition we were able to purchase.  Most of her time has been dedicated to homeschooling the kids since we began August 20th.  I help most mornings before going to the office with teaching Bible and Math.  We are registered with a local homeschool co-op that has really great teachers, and the kids love going there on Tuesdays.  She juggles some of the subjects with another mother on base, whose three kids are doing the same program.  What a blessing (esp. for carpooling)!  The kids are doing well overall, though can be challenging for them to be focused while at home. We appreciate prayer for this transition, especially for Busi who so loved CHS.



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Teaching Penmanship and Phonograms with another family on base (w/some trim still needed in the backdrop:)

I am slowly finding my place in the BAM (Business as Mission) department here on base, and am taking on the role of point person for getting involved with immigrant communities in our city.  A lot of it is research right now, as well as meeting with one lady in the community who is trying to start a café in a part of the city with the greatest number of immigrants as a means to engage them in their various cultures and begin seeing greater integration among them, especially the women who largely stay at home and, thus, do not progress in their English.  I, with another colleague with more experience in business, am helping here formulate the business plan and applying for some citywide grants.


I, of course, continue to run into other immigrants in the area through showing up at pick-up soccer games, among them an Egyptian named Ibrahim who I have sparked a quick friendship with.  I dearly miss fellowshipping with my Gambian friends back in Texas.  Ibrahim comes from a Muslim family, though is not practicing himself.  It is a great opportunity every time I see him to hear more of his story, and plant seeds of the gospel that impacts everything we do here on earth in his heart.  Please join me in praying for him to come to personally know the King of kings.  Ibrahim also helps coach youth soccer teams with the same club organization I have registered the kids under and am currently volunteering with.  I stepped in to coach Eli’s team, and help Busi’s team when I am able.  The boys on Eli’s team are all first-time players, though has been enjoyable seeing them grow in their skill, confidence, and character even as I interact with the parents.  Both Busi and Eli are enjoying being able to play a team sport three days a week!  In relation, I am praying about an opportunity to take a paid coaching position with some older kids in the new year when it becomes available.
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Soccer Match Saturdays!

This past week we enjoyed a wonderful visit from Grammy.  The action shot of her on arrival day was taken by Busi, and we thought it captures so well the joy she is living in and spreads wherever she goes.  We were blessed by her and Dad purchasing a much needed sofa set for us, which you can see in the "Livingroom" pic.  We are so grateful for their amazing support and belief in us!  Grammy also had the chance to see a local resident browsing one of our base dumpsters...a wandering black bear that simply refused to get out!

Thank you again for your prayer covering over us as a family as we transition into this new location with new opportunities.  We seek to have balance and grow in all God is calling us to, and need prayers for discernment in that.  We are still needing to raise our monthly support, and would like to continue to make you aware of a new tax-deductible way to give through the base using our personal donor code.  This link takes you directly to our page:  https://www.ywamcos.org/support?code=677

We love to hear from you, and are inspired by many of you that we also receive updates from as you follow God’s leading in your lives.  We also welcome any questions/thoughts you may have for us at this time. 

God bless you to be a blessing!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Spring from Colorado Springs!

Greetings from YWAM Colorado Springs!


We came into the base running as the School of Business and Entrepreneurship had its welcome night the day after we arrived.  In the first week my business plan for a recycling center in South Sudan was one of the few selected to work on in groups as a Lean Startup, and so I had to give a 3-min PowerPoint pitch by that Friday.  Talk about jumping right in!  I also have classmates with plans like starting an eco-friendly resort in Papua New Guinea, a coffee shop and roastry in Tel Aviv, mobile hair salon in India, as well as a Stevia farm in Morocco.  Very cool businesses to take off and operate in such a way that they create gainful employment and model the ways of Jesus in all they do.  It is amazing and exciting to see all the possibilities for Kingdom partnership in stewarding the resources God has given us to create wealth, transform societies, and change worldviews.

We just finished the halfway point in the training, and it is steadily getting more challenging as we bring together all the details of a successful business plan.  I am really seeking God if BAM (Business as Mission) is what He is calling us to as a family, not wanting to limit what He can do through us simply because we don't have business backgrounds and it can be very intimidating!  I am more and more convinced impacting the business sphere in developing nations brings truly sustainable development, especially in many parts of Africa where there is great need to restore dignity of the people and expand job opportunities.


Prayer Points:
- Please keep us in prayer for our housing situation.  We are still not certain of our place in the line for staff housing on base, knowing there are a number of families on the waiting list for family rooms.  We are researching apartment complexes in the area as a backup after the school finishes, though really feel it is best for us to stay on base, living, being discipled and discipling others in community, and not getting too isolated as a family.  All in all, we trust the Lord will place us where we need to be for at least these next two years as we grow in Him as a family.

-Please also pray for clarity on the right school to locally register with for homeschooling the kids, beginning in August.  We are hoping to use a mix of curriculum from the local school and our own we have received from the TFN training in Texas.


Testimony:
In our second week here we had a pretty cool testimony happen.  One of the mornings I stepped out of the classroom to use the bathroom when I noticed a boy on a sofa crying and really struggling to breath.  I could see it was an asthma attack and he managed to tell me his mom was running to get the inhaler, but I could see he was really in bad shape.  So I just laid a hand on him and declared peace in Jesus’ Name, asking the Lord to calm him down and heal his condition completely.
Just a moment passed and his breathing totally relaxed, and he yelled in surprise, “I can breath!”  His mom was running from the other side of the hall and he was telling her, "It's ok, someone prayed for me and I'm fine now!"  She came running and was surprised and relieved to see him totally fine.  Her and her husband are doing the DTS here with three kids.  They both thanked me, though I reminded them it is all thanks to our Father who cares for us so much.


Thanks for Giving & Partnering with Us!
To follow-up on the previous info we had sent on a new way to give, our donor number is 677 on the YWAM Colorado Springs website (https://www.ywamcos.org/donate).  So those of you who prefer giving online, you just need to punch that in when prompted.  This is the same website we have used to help support Sudanese staff from time to time, so we know it is very reliable and receipts are given promptly.  A few of you have already given and we are so appreciative, helping us pay off this entrepreneurial course right away!  

Thank you again for partnering with us as we continue to seek alignment with God's purposes in the nations and get the equipping we need as a family.  Your prayers are felt and so appreciated!
For His glory among all nations...
B, T, B and E

Monday, May 7, 2018

Update on our move to Colorado

"...and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."  -- 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB)

Hello all,

A very late Happy Resurrection Day...He is risen indeed!  We are so sorry for not letting you know all at once our sudden change in plans from the initial plan of moving out by April 1st, Easter Sunday.  While the circumstances were not ideal for the change of plans (not having any housing available yet on the CO base campus, and some confusion with our lease agreement), we are very much grateful and see God's hand in having this extra month to wrap things up well here in East Texas.

Thus, the latest is we will be moving out and hitting the road May 1st and staying that night with friends in Amarillo, TX.  Then, the next day, we will hopefully arrive not too late at the CO Springs base, where student housing will be waiting for us.  I then promptly begin the first day of lectures for the School of Business and Entrepreneurship the next day, May 3rd.

Prayers/Praises:
Please PRAY that we will not need to pay further into the month of May, as our current lease now only ends May 9th but our landlord assures us he is doing what he can to see we only pay up to the 1st (this is because I didn't give our 60-day notice confirming our move until March 9th, a little clause I was admittedly ignorant about).

Please also PRAY for staff housing to open up for us after the 6-week intensive course is over, since then we will need to move out of student housing and begin the process of making a new home.  Lastly, PRAY for some quality one-on-one times with dear friends and neighbors, both those walking with the Lord as Lord of their life and those still seeking how to.  Pray especially that I get at least one more good time meeting with my Gambian friend, Shariffo, among the many others I regularly play soccer with and hear about their faith and challenges.

We do PRAISE God we are getting furniture and other large items sold bit by bit, so we can have some budget set aside for buying again when we need to in late June.  Busi is also very grateful she can now finish out most the school year with her friends and the teachers she loves.  As I had already made arrangements to hand over my classes to a new teacher that had felt God pushing her to step into the need, I have largely stepped away from school responsibilities (other than library and preparing for the school track meet) and am able to join my old roofing crew to earn some extra cash as well.


New Way to Partner with Us!
Having been accepted as staff, we are now able to receive online donations via the very organized YWAM Colorado Springs website...It's very easy to do, and everything, no matter how small, is tax-deductible: https://www.ywamcos.org/support
We do not get a donation code designated to us until our first donation comes in, so you can simply select "Don't know code" from the dropdown option, and then put in Bryan or Thandi Whitlock when "Staff Name" pops up.  Let me know if the Lord leads you to give and there is any confusion with the process.

Thank you all again for prayers in this new transition time for us as a family...we definitely feel them and see God's favor in the little things!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Hello dear friends,

We trust you had a restful Thanksgiving celebration and pray you are able to spend the upcoming Christmas holiday with loved ones.  We certainly are grateful that we are able once again to be with family in Washington over our break, flying in on the 18th and back out on January 3rd!
We hope to be able to connect with many of you in the Bellingham and Seattle area over this period, even though we know it is busy.  We are so blessed by your faithful partnership with us as a family and want to connect with as many of you as possible.  My mobility may be hampered a bit, as it looks I will be having to lug some crutches around after just badly spraining my ankle in our basketball fellowship this last Tuesday night, but still hoping to greet and hear from many of you.  Please do shoot us a text or reply here if you can meet up.

We are carrying on well here in East Texas, wrapping up the school quarter this week with a lot of fun activities for the students and spending a lot of time in prayer for safety and God's work in our lives, and that of our family members, over the upcoming break.  Thandi has been enjoying teaching a very inquisitive Elisha in some preschool activities at home.  Eli loves doing puzzles, though is growing in his understanding of phonograms to form words and numbers.  Thankfully, Thandi's blood results all came back as normal, though it definitely has us frustrated and seeking God as to what the cause of her consistent low energy and occasional stomach pains can be.  We are being more vigilant with diet, and that has been helping of late.  We really cherish your prayers in this, as it really affects her from day to day.  We are grateful we have a local small group we get prayer support from as well.

Thanksgiving break was a wonderful time of hosting family friends from South Korea, Puerto Rico and Kenya.  I also was asked to play in a tournament down in Houston with several of the Gambian students I try to keep in touch with, and it was a really great time of soccer as well as some spiritual conversation and exchange of understanding between our faith backgrounds.  You can see our team pic below.  Please join us in praying in particular for Shariffo, one who I have had a chance to follow up with since our car ride conversation, and whom I was able to share more with and give a book on the life of Jesus recently (hopefully will get into the Word itself next meeting).  We plan to continue to meet as our schedules allow, and discuss our different relationships with God, as he is a very earnest seeker of God from a muslim background.

Busi has been loving 2nd grade, though it is making her that much sadder that we won't be finishing out the school year into May.  We know we have not shared that far ahead in our updates, due to the fact that we were still praying for direction from God, but we are at peace now in applying for a training at the YWAM Colorado Springs base on Business as Mission this coming April.  Just as we have been blessed in our understanding of the educational process and its foundational role in discipling nations through our time here with YWAM Tyler, we are hoping to learn more of God's view on the business sphere, perhaps opening up possibilities of ourselves running a business with Kingdom principles in the future that will help grow our ministry and create on-the-job discipleship opportunities. The base has a homeschooling co-op we plan to be a part of, and we are planning to apply for staff after the course, as the entire base is focused on frontiers/least reached people groups.
We know we are called to Africa, but are still praying for God to make clear which nation. In the meantime, we are logging the time since Thandi got her green card (around this time last year) to be eligible to apply for US citizenship before we are commissioned back to Africa.  If any of you have thoughts/questions on our process, we'd love to hear from you.  We just want to be faithful to what God is telling us to do each step of the way.

PRAISE REPORTS:

- Praise God that earlier this month our entire school had a celebration around Joshua Craine, our high school student who has been battling brain cancer and all kinds of painful complications for over a year, being officially cancer-free...truly a miracle to see him come out of this and gaining strength again, and such an example of faith to us all!

- Thandi's energy levels not being quite so low, and everything clear on the medical side

- God's provision in enabling us to get affordable tickets to be with family/friends over Christmas; we don't take it for granted

PRAYER REQUESTS:

- Quick healing of my sprained ankle and that I will not need to be on crutches the entire break

- Continued process of handing over leadership of our small group to another couple, that Holy Spirit would facilitate our times together and bring the people that need to come

- God would provide the right teacher to take over my 4th grade class before March, so I can still be there for the transition and give us freedom for our preparations in moving (God's hand on the whole process of moving)

Merry Christmas and Blessed 2018 to all!