Sunday, September 6, 2015

Update from Tyler, Texas (Three weeks on)

“Welcome to Texas y’all!”  That has been the general greeting over these first few days of arriving on campus of YWAM Tyler, Dayspring.  To clarify, YWAM has two campuses in this area, and we are living in a staff trailer at the one just to the west of the city and across the road from the local airport.  The main, much larger campus is at Twin Oaks Ranch about a 25 minute drive through county roads from us.  It works great for us and such a blessing they could make space for us here at Dayspring, as schools for both Busi and Thandi are right next door.

It was another fairly epic road trip we were able to enjoy on our way here, including stopping for two nights at the YWAM Colorado Springs base, where we got to meet up with a solid family who were in north Sudan for some time before they were kicked out with nearly all other Westerners by the government back in 2013.  My father and mother joined us up to this point (we initially met up with them in Idaho on the 2nd night, after we had gone ahead to spend the night and visit some friends in Portland), and we got to have some great time exploring the very unique Garden of the Gods park just down the road from the base, along with a great day in Yellowstone park before that.  The kids really bonded with both Grammie and Granddad in the time we got to be with them since arriving in late June.  On the day we parted ways they headed back to Bellingham via Salt Lake City, and we carried on to spend our final night of the trip in Amarillo, TX (home of the ‘free’ 72 oz steak, which I was tempted to go for but didn’t;).  Thank you for those who remembered to pray for our safety on this trip, as we were quite loaded down with luggage (all our belongings) and hit some pretty hectic weather along the way.  God really watched over both our cars.

Thank you also for those of you who set some time aside to lift up a prayer for our daughter Busi in this time of transition.  She did her thing on the testing day of the 13th, and we were told they are happy to accept her into the Kindergarten level, which they call “Reading” class here at Christian Heritage School.  Therefore, we have high hopes she will learn to read in this year, and are also told she will have some Spanish lessons!  It helps that we have teachers and neighboring families in the complex from Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Brasil (Portuguese is similar, and most of them also speak Spanish:).  And, of course, many South Koreans here for the school Thandi is doing as well as the School of the Bible that starts at the same time later this week.

I got to know some of the parents more this last Saturday during a required work day to help to get the school ready for classes to start on Monday.  It’s been a little while since I’ve had a full 9-5 manual work day under a hot sun, and it felt good!  (albeit a little sore:)…On Sunday night we headed to the sister YWAM campus at Twin Oak Ranch for the weekly Family Night, which is akin to what we knew as Base/Community Worship at our previous base.  We are looking forward to connecting with some more families that side, as well as getting Elisha into the Preschool there at least 2-3 mornings a week while I network/serve with the Strategic Frontiers staff and possibly work with a Brasilian brother in the base garden.

This past week has been getting a lot of logistical and accommodation things sorted, including checking if our car insurance covers our windshield that unfortunately cracked on the way over (even before the two hectic hailstorms we got caught in around Colorado Springs) and acquiring a used washing machine in good working condition.  Also hope to get some good family time in exploring what the area has to offer before Thandi hits the grind with the school on the 27th.

There are needs in Busi’s school, which is essentially taught by full-time missionaries, in the area of a Phys.Ed teacher (yes, I know Mom, Dad and Sis;) as well as Librarian (more time with booksJ).  It will be hard for me to get time for the PE position, as it is for the kid’s breaktimes in the mornings and I am already helping with maintenance on campus with an uncle from Brasil and a brother from Papua New Guinea, but there would be more flexibility in helping out with the library once I get trained on the system from the last volunteer.

PRAYER POINTS:
·         Being a blessing to our neighbors, including one boy whose mother teaches at the school, but is divorced from his father; he needs positive male role models, and we have already been kicking the soccer ball around in the evenings when it cools off
·         That I will be able to get involved with some ministries while Thandi attends school, and still be there for the kids in afternoons; possibly at least one morning a week for prison ministry with a Brasilian cowboy, as well as helping coach the school’s soccer team among maintenance duties…
·         Getting some additional vaccines required for Busi at the school with the local Dept. of Health this week (diff. requirements from South Africa, but want to take the opportunity to also fill in any vaccines Elisha may be missing)
·         Clarity and favor on our submission for beginning Thandi’s application to extend her visa; we are still not sure if it is best to go for the Green Card (as we have heard you  can’t be out of the US for longer than six months while being processed), or just apply to change status on Visa; pray for God to give us a specific official to guide us through the process
·         Praise God most things in our trailer home are working well, esp the A/C!
·         Thank God for health on the whole family, even as we adjust to this new climate (Texas heat and the ubiquitous fire ants!)

Thanks all for reading and keeping us in your prayers.  Let’s keep the conversation of building the Lord’s Kingdom going!


Much love,
The Whitlocks

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