Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Merry Christmas!

“There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,


And nothing to compare with your works.


All the nations you made are on their way,


Ready to give honor to you, O Lord,


Ready to put your beauty on display,


Parading your greatness,


And the great things you do—


God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!”


(Psalm 86:8-10, The Message)




Merry Christmas dear friends!

We want to wish you all a blessed Christmas celebration with as much family as possible this year, and a 2019 filled with the purposes of our Lord to work in and through you!  We trust you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration a few weeks back and are now enjoying a fresh experience of advent counting down to our Lord’s first coming. 


We can’t believe it’s that time of the year again, a time to reflect on the year and what God has ahead for us.  Quite different from last Christmas where we were so involved with Christian Heritage School, its students and all its wonderful programs. 

We can’t help but look back at the beginning of our season here in Colorado Springs and be so grateful to God for all He has done in our family and the relationships we continue to build here.  We have been blessed by my parents to be able to once again fly in to Seattle for Christmas, and will be up in Bellingham from the 22nd to the 29th.  We hope to connect with some of you that are able!


Our good friend, Virmz (Filipino YWAMer based in SA), visited us and we took him to Garden of the Gods; zoom in and you can see Busi and Eli sitting in the “window” of one of the many fabulous rock structures

Refugee & Immigrant Focus
Starting on January 7th, I will be volunteering 1-2 days a week teaching English to new refugee arrivals in Colorado Springs in partnership with Lutheran Family Services, which is the only refugee settlement agency here.  Before they wrapped up for the Christmas break I was able to sit in on one class and meet some of the students, including one Congolese pastor I could speak some Swahili with, whose wife and daughters were in another tutor group.  The teacher mentioned how she had never seen his face light up so much.  I am excited as currently Congolese are now the highest number of refugees settling in Colorado Springs.  Even though the focus is on getting them self-sufficient in their English to be more self-sufficient in all other areas of life, I love the opportunity to be able to instill value and dignity in the culture they are bringing to America as well!  I have been asked to be a lead teacher by the head coordinator, so should be a good challenge!  I have submitted my fingerprints for background check, so all should be ready for me to jump in and serve in January.  Here is a little blip about it from the church: http://www.first-pres.org/media/articles/refugee-life-skillsesl-volunteer
I have also been asked to be the point person for organizing weekly pickup games with the large community of Afghan refugees here (they have been the largest number of refugees settling in CO Springs in years past) beginning afresh in January.  A few of us YWAMers partner with a local nonprofit that specifically focuses on helping Afghans assimilate into American society while not losing their cultural heritage called Bridges: https://bridgescolorado.org/.  They are wanting me to try for every Saturday morning at a centrally located park, though I am still trying to see what my coaching schedule will be like with the Rush Club team I will hopefully be taking over.  Please pray for better communication with the other coaches in that club!:)
This past quarter I have been attending every public meeting and gathering concerning refugees and immigrants in the city, which initially started with my helping one lady that wants to help immigrants better assimilate into American culture to get her business plan for a coffee shop going.  While that plan has had to be put on hold, the lady is very involved in the community and has been giving me info on all kinds of events.  This contact, along with another Egyptian brother (not Ibrahim I spoke of last time) who I go downtown to evangelize with, and those I meet at pick up soccer games, I have been getting a good picture of the diversity of this second largest city in Colorado.  I am just praying with my department that we can connect with some of the immigrants to see them grow more successful businesses and minister through that.




Busi and Eli getting free lessons with US Olympic Stake Team (yes, Busi is Seahawk crazy like her Grammy)

Massage Parlor Ministry
Thandi has been joining some of the ladies on campus who have recognized just how rampant local massage parlors are being used as fronts for trafficking girls from all around Asia.  The core of the ministry is intercessory prayer, more often than not staying in the parking lots in front of the shops and listening to what God is saying about the situation and girls and speaking out His will.  Those that usually go in to the shops are a few Chinese women from the local church and one of our fellow staff who speaks Mandarin after living there several years.  Here are some of Thandi’s impressions from the time thus far:
Now that we have found a good rhythm in homeschooling the kids, it is nice to be able to find ministries that I can activate my gifts in the spirit.  Each time I have been able to join the ladies going to the massage parlors I have seen God do amazing miracles, often sharing with us exactly what is on the hearts of the women in the parlors before our team goes in to see them.  That is how one of the Chinese ladies broke down and surrendered her life to the Lord on the spot!  I just love to be able to join with what Holy Spirit is doing in people’s hearts, to be willing and available to partner with Him.
I have also been reminded how powerful and important prayers are, and that the behind-the-scenes work is just as important, if not more.  I loved to hear how big of a revelation this Chinese woman had of our God.  It has been a privilege to partner with a local Chinese church with very passionate women longing to reach their own people, and making sure to follow up in discipleship with those that respond.
Homeschooling
It’s been such a joy and a privilege to be able to homeschool our kids and to see so much progress and growth that is taking place in their lives.  Elisha is now reading on his own!  It has been so amazing for Thandi to think that she actually taught her own son how to read with confidence.  I have been trying to get the Word in each morning before heading to the office, though admittedly sometimes we get a late start and have to jump right into their math lessons after a quick prayer.
We have also been blessed to get plugged into a new local church called Church For All Nations that is very international and has an amazing children’s program that is really helping to disciple our kids alongside the homeschooling.  The church also does very well in engaging newcomers into sharing their gifts to serve the church as God intends.  Thandi and I have attended two out of the three growth classes required to be able to join the serve team.  It was also a Jamaican-American couple from this church that invited us to their home for Thanksgiving (and, boy, was it good:) on our first Sunday visiting!
Siyabonga (Thank you all)!



Thank you again for all your prayers and ongoing financial support towards us.  We could not be fully pursuing what God has put on our hearts if it wasn’t for our partnership.  We are still receiving $1000-$1300/month, and have been challenged to see that come up to at least $2000/month to cover our living expenses as well as provide more freedom to take training/teaching trips when the opportunities arise. 
We realize Christmas is always a busy, wonderful time to be with family, but we would love to catch up with any of you in the Bellingham and Seattle area in the next few days if it proves possible.  Otherwise, we will be looking to set up a time to visit next year to connect and share more of our needs and vision.  We 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
For His glory among all nations,
Bryan, Thandi, Busi and Elisha

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!