Sunday, December 10, 2017

Autumn Update

Hello all,

Greetings from the Whitlock clan in sunny East Texas.  We trust you are well and carrying on daily with joy and hope from the Lord in the work He has called you to.

SCHOOL MINISTRY:

We are wrapping up the first quarter of the school year at Christian Heritage School, and Busi is really enjoying 2nd grade.  It is such a blessing she gets to have both a female and male teacher, both good friends of ours and from very different cultures.  One from the states and the other from Papua New Guinea, though both very committed to serving the Lord in all they do.

I, Bryan, have been carrying on as the main teacher for 4th grade this year, as Thandi stepped down to focus on homeschooling Elisha (which he has been loving once he accepted the more strict routine:).  The two boys in my class have been quite draining and challenging, as they are both borderline ADHD, but it has been a great learning experience and rewarding in so many ways already.  Always a blessing that we are able, and encouraged, to bring our faith into every subject we teach, helping the student see how the Lord is involved in all of life while giving them the tools to discover this on their own.  There are some pics from the beginning of the school year, including viewing the solar eclipse on the first day and hearing from some Albanian missionaries who have set up a similar school where hundreds of Muslim children attend after attending TFN (the school Thandi did) together years ago.  It was awesome to see Busi volunteer with enthusiasm to pray for the children in Albania to know the Lord!
Busi got her picture in the local paper after we attended a 9/11 Remembrance and Prayer for America event early in the morning:
She was actually disappointed she had forgotten her stars and red/white ribbons for her hair:)  It was quite neat to be a part of, as it apparently was the first event of its kind in Tyler area in which both public and private schools participated.

While I have taken a step back from coaching at CHS, I still help organize soccer training for the Junior High and High Schoolers after school one day a week, teach P.E. to all the elementary kids, and organize a basketball fellowship with older guys from the community every Tuesday night.  The latter has been very encouraging, as we may make sure to pray before playing and have seen a lot of anger and ego issues getting addressed with guidance from the Lord.  I also continue to build relationships with the Gambian student community every Friday I can make pick-up soccer games, and have been enjoying playing the Mexican League every weekend.  The last few photos are from a great time we had fishing, 4-wheeling and shooting rifles (not the kids:) with a guy I play striker with on the team.  He is real open with me, though it is very evident he is against organized religion and not sure about Jesus, but I continue to trust eternal fruit will come from this friendship.

CHURCH MINISTRY:

While Thandi volunteers with the younger kids on a rotation, I help teach the youth on Sundays when I am not signed up to help with video manager or soundboard during the service.  It has definitely been a challenge to engage a grade range of 6th-12th, but I have enjoyed teaching on topics such as Service and Identity as well as seeing them more readily participating and getting comfortable being themselves around each other.  We have been going through a pastoral change at Lifepoint (http://www.lifepointfc.com/), and it has been good to step in and help out while seeing others doing the same.
On Wednesday nights, I am continuing in leading the small group that is held at the church while the kids attend their classes, which they really enjoy.  We are continuing through the second half of Matthew and getting some great discussion and application points on how we can live out the Kingdom in all that we do.  I am also in the process of training up a co-leader who is intimidated by it all, but we are working through that it is ok to lead in a different way than I do.  As he says, "I could listen to you all night, but I'm not sure the others would feel the same about me."  Quite flattering I suppose, though I make sure to keep my talking to a minimum and get all to participate, and don't want him thinking you got to come up with teaching points for the whole hour to lead the discussion well.  It has been good discussing together what it looks like to ask Holy Spirit to lead.

NEIGHBORHOOD MINISTRY:

Lastly, God has begun answering our prayers for our neighborhood, as He has opened up many more seemingly random conversations for Thandi with all the Moms in our cul-de-sac and even up the street.  Two of them that are single moms have begun opening up with her about their struggles and clear search for fulfillment in their lives, one of them it seems even selling marijuana to other neighbors up the road.  I play basketball with one of my neighbors and have had a few conversations in broken Arabic with another from Jordan.  And, of course, the kids are the best missionaries on the block:) We believe God is up to something and will use us as a family to draw many to Himself and His fulfilling love.

Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support to us in many ways.  We always enjoy hearing what you are up to as well, and for those of you in Bham area, we are looking forward to being up there for Christmas again.

PLEASE PRAY FOR....
  • Thandi's health: she has been VERY low in energy the past few months and several friends think it may be her thyroid; waiting for some blood tests and see Doctor again on Wednesday
  • Being in tune with Holy Spirit even when tired at home, to be a blessing to our neighbors and a stepping stone for them to draw closer to Christ in understanding and action
  • Our Wednesday small group and training up future leaders in the church
  • Relationships with soccer friends, conversations that point to our need for our Creator who longs for relationship with us
  • Guidance for our remaining time stateside

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