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Saturday, December 22, 2012

22 Months and 25 Years

Here's an update on the Hunter bunch:



Patrick turned 22 months on the 18th! It's hard to believe he'll be 2 so soon. His favorite things in the world revolve around BALLs: basketBALLs, basketBALL hoops, footBALLs, drawing basketBALLs and footBALLs, drawing basketBall hoops, playing BALLs with Mommy or Daddy, or imagining he's playing a BALL sport. It's amazing his continued love and focus on sport (he's been hooked on Basketball since June). His favorite food is pizza or anything with marinara sauce. He also is excellent at speaking and today said "Wow Mommy, the bubble landed on the bubble wand." He now sleeps in a big boy bed and loves sneaking into our room in the morning. He's also still potty training, which goes well until other things are more appealing then the Elmo potty. He's such a bundle of energy, joy, laughter, and imagination!

Jonathan turned 25 this month. He has now entered the realm of true adulthood since he can rent a car without an additional charge. This will be extremely useful for our trips in January. Jonathan's been working a ton at Starbucks, and he's loving the perks! In his spare time, he's trying to get outdoors as much as possible. He lead a couple of his co-workers on a rappelling trip and visited Mt. Yonah with friends. His favorite food is still pizza, and his favorite people are still Patrick and me.


Friday, December 7, 2012

You had me at PIE!!!

We recently started hosting Pie and Movie nights where we watch a short film entitled The Road Home. This is an amazing tool as it depicts Pico (the son of an Indian diplomat who spent his childhood in England and is then placed in a boarding school in India) as he struggles to make since of his unsorted identity. He runs away from the boarding school and hops in a cab to head back to England. Through his encounters with a funny Indian cab driver and a french woman who wishes to be Indian, Pico tries to make since of his Indian looks and British "insides." 

We follow up the 20 minute film with a discussion on TCKs and what it looks like to grow up somewhere other than your parent's passport country and one day plan to return to your parents' "home." We talk about culture, culture shock, re-entry, and the excellent advantage TCKs can have. It is really neat to watch people begin to understand half of the students we'll be ministering to in Costa Rica. 

Pray with us that these nights will not only show a deeper glimpse into our ministry, but that the Lord would use them to bring people to partner with His work with TCKs and English-Speaking Costa Ricans.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Never. Stop. Loving.

Surrounded by political tensions and division among Christians, I find that our main goal in life is unchanged: Love God, Love People. Whatever God is doing in your life and wherever he is leading, the individual circumstances do not change the driving force in the life of the Christian. If we aren't pouring our lives out for God and others, what are we doing? What are you doing in life that really matters? Francis Chan has said that “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” 

It is easy for me to get caught in a Christian bubble. Church becomes a social club and I can cease to interact with the world around me.

One of the principal reasons I've taken a job at Starbucks is that even while Maggie and I follow the leading of the Spirit to go to Costa Rica, we still have the ultimate call of the Christian to love people. My job allows me to love hurting people in a purposeful way that opens doors for talking about Jesus. And frankly, it's exhausting. In fact, when my JW coworker tried to evangelize to me the other day I felt a huge wash of relief because I could share Christ by answering her questions rather than thinking of my own to ask. Sharing Christ and loving others is draining and lonely

I'm convinced that this is why we really need church. If we were all out sharing Christ and making disciples, we would really need each other. Sadly, most of us just live in a way where we don't need each other in this way. We need each other for social reasons (who else doesn't swear?), and we pray for our sick relatives. Sure. We enjoy learning about the Bible, and the music sounds good. Sure. And if you've ever been to a good church potluck, those casseroles are to die for! But do we need eachother? I do. I'm worn--drained from pouring myself out for others, as well as in support raising for Costa Rica. I need to surround myself with other believers, not because I don't like the sound of swearing or because nobody else agrees with me, but because I can't do this alone. 

Thankfully I'm down to part time now, but I still love pouring into my fellow barristas. I hope and pray that you too are gentle and forthcoming about the joy and peace that Christ brings to your life. Something many lack.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pre-field Training

Yesterday we completed our ReachGlobal Pre-field Training! Our 8 week online training culminated in an 8 day classroom setting training. We covered everything from cross cultural communication to world view to culture shock. We had a great time catching up with RG staff from prior training as well as getting to know other new missionaries. This was our last ReachGlobal required training session. Afterwards we spent time with ReachGlobal's MK person. Four and a half hours of going through resources and hearing her insight on Third Culture Kids and MKs in particular was extremely encouraging for Maggie and I. It was very confirming for us that we are doing what the Lord is having us do. We have such a heart for working with students, especially globally nomadic ones!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fun Outdoors


Last week we got to take a day off and go have some fun outside! Here are a few pictures!





 That's right--sliding down a waterfall!


Miami Baby!





Photos taken by Jean-Marc Dinghin

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Big Dilemma

I recently had a conversation with a friend that brought to light one of the biggest dilemmas we're facing in preparation for Costa Rica: humanitarian aid vs. spiritual support

Honestly when you think about it, our ministry has got to be one of the most non-humanitarian fields to raise support:

- We're going to a second world country (not third) that is known for its beaches, tourism, and adventurous activities

-We're going to work with missionary kids. Yes, kids who's parents love the Lord, teach His Word, and are in full-time ministry.

-We're not specifically working with Costa Ricans-- though an increasing number of Costa Ricans attend the youth group because it's a great place to work on their English

-We're not going with the intention of training a Costa Rican to do the ministry-- we're working with mostly TCKs, who want someone who can relate to the cultural tension they face. (side note: we have an incredible Costa Rican adult who was part of the youth group and now does most all of the logistics for the group!)

- We're going to a "reached" country-- several missions agencies have pulled out their missionaries to go to lesser reached/unreached countries.

... So why on earth does this "ministry (if you can call it that in regards to the above statements)" necessary?

Besides the fact that we're being obedient to God's leading, this ministry is EXTREMELY NECESSARY in light of eternity. Though these students don't have material needs, they have spiritual ones. When they stand in the presence of God, the only thing that matters is Christ. Do they know Him as their Lord and Savior? 

For the students in Costa Rica, the International Youth Group is a place where they come to learn about Jesus Christ, study God's Word, and learn how to make other disciples of Christ.

With this being said, it is completely God who has enabled us to have 52% of our support raised. We're blessed to have partners who see the validity of our ministry, and we know that God will continue to have others join in helping students mature in Christ.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kayaking!!!!

On Labor Day weekend, Jonathan and I were finally able to celebrate our anniversaries-- yes that was supposed to be plural and with the emphasis on finally! Our first anniversary was celebrated in the hospital with a 2 day old, and our second anniversary had a dinosaur theme (Patrick's 1st B-day party)... so we finally set aside time to celebrate and do something fun together:

We took white water kayaking lessons!


It was such a blast to learn this new sport and to now be able to go out and do it ourselves. We spent one day learning how to roll (or I spent it trying to learn) and the second day we went out on the Tuckaseegee River in North Carolina. Our coach/guide, Roger Huff, did an excellent job. We learned so much and had a blast playing in the rapids. They were a fun 2 days!


Our 2 1/2 years of marriage have been the farthest thing from easy. We started our first 2 months of marriage living in Ecuador. Two months later, pregnancy hormones kicked in. Add moving 5 times, searching for jobs, and now potty training Patrick to add to the list, and you can see that happily ever after doesn't mean peace and serenity. We've clung to Him and to each other, and we can definitely say that God has been refining us and shaping us to be more like Christ. I'm so blessed to be married to a loving husband, a great Dada, and my fellow adventurer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quick Update

Everything has been going well here down South. Yesterday I had my first day at my new job: A barista at Starbucks! We don't receive any type of salary yet from the gifts you send, so the main purpose of getting a job is to be able to eat and to continue in our giving. It is also an excellent way to connect with lost people. So far I enjoy my co-workers and supervisors, and the work is fun. Tonight I'm helping with a ropes course at Perimeter church here in Duluth, and I'm pretty excited about that as well.

Patrick started potty training this week (some of you readers will be interested to know), and has an Elmo starting potty. As Elmo is one of Patrick's favorite things, he always gets super excited to go. 

At the end of this week Maggie and I will be celebrating our 1st and 2nd anniversaries. We were in the hospital for the first one, and the second one was squeezed out by Patrick's 1st birthday celebration, and our move out of our apartment.  So we're pretty excited to celebrate by taking white water kayak lessons! We decided that instead of nice gifts for our anniversary, we'd rather do fun things together, and this was at the top of the list! 

Be looking for pictures and our August update soon!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Worship

In accordance with the Deuteronomy 6 commands and exhortations to keep the Word on my mind at all times, I try and listen to a lot of sermons during the week, where a Bible passage is exegeted and applied. My favorites remain John Piper, Alistair Begg, and James MacDonald (although I'm going to start listening more to Tim Keller as well).

But I hadn't listened to a lot of worship music. Part of this is because of when doing my internship at a camp back in '09, worship music was played as background music during meals, and pretty much during any part of the day. I'm against this, as I've found that it became easy to "tune out", and inevitably even "zone out" even during church while people are worshiping God. What a tragedy!

Recently, however, decided that I needed new music with which to express my worship for God. I bought, and recommd the Passion 2012 White Flag album. It's reviving to worship with sing new songs. It's so important to keep the Word on our minds and in our hearts, and just as important continue to find new ways to ascribe worship to God! I strongly encourage you to try and do something along these lines sometime!


Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
(Psalm 96:1 ESV)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Loving God Through Transitions

Are you in transition of any sort? Is the Spirit leading you to a new place, in or out of a relationship, starting or leaving a job, starting of finishing school, having a child or losing a loved one? If you followed our blog over the last year and a half, you know that we are well versed in transition. To sum it up, it looks something like this:

12/09 Finish School
1/10 Jonathan to Ecuador for 6 wks
2/10 We got married
3/10 Back to Ecuador for Maggie's internship
5/10 Back to the US, start temporary jobs
6/10 Move to GA for a month, work on my father-in-laws campaign, Find out we're pregnant
7/10 Back to Ohio, start training for new job w. University
2/11 Patrick born, my grandmother has a stroke, my mom comes back to the US
3/11 Sense that God is leading us out, start application with the mission
5/11 Move out of duplex, not sure how long missions application will take--live with friends
8/11 Travel to Costa Rica--accepted as youth leaders by AMCA
9/11 Move into appartment, my grandmother moves into nursing home
10/11 accepted with Reach Global, begin support raising (how in the world do we do that?!?)
2/12 Move out of apartment, back in with friends. On the road 2 week/mo
6/12 spend a month in GA
7/12 Travel to Ohio and MI for the month
8/12 Move to GA
Currently: looking for part time work while raising support for the mission field.

As we sensed the Lord leading us to Costa Rica, we threw ourselves into going to Costa Rica with all that we had. It still is our goal, and we work at it to the best of our abilities. But something changed between then and now. In the midst of all of the support raising and traveling, we realized that this had become first goal and focus in life: we must get to Costa Rica! The Spirit has revealed, and the students need further discipling.

How, in all of our desire to follow God and pour our lives out for the Gospel we somehow forgot the essence of being a Christian. Love God with everything; and Love people.

Transitions are distracting because we find ourselves looking at where we're going, or where we came from. It's easy to mourn the past, or be excited about the future. And those are both right to do. Just don't let them cloud your sight of what it means to be a Christian. Your primary goal as a follower of Christ is to love our God, and love those around us. Wherever you are now. Not just where you are going, or where you came from.

May we be doers, and not only hearers.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An important 10 Seconds


I haven't watched much of the Olympics this year. But I was recently able to watch Track and Field's 100m race. The speed of these Olympians amazes me. What baffles me is that they spend 4+ years training for a race that only last 10 seconds. In a fraction of a minute, they either won gold or lost. They don't have a chance to do it again. All have to wait 4 more years to get the opportunity to prove themselves as worthy of the gold.


It made me think of this temporal life in light of eternity. I know Jonathan shared a video on the blog a while back about this, but I was reminded of this again. Olympians have one purpose, to win the gold, and they push themselves towards it. They spend hours at the gym and restrict their diets. As Christians, we have one purpose: to glorify God.

You either love Christ or you don't. You either glorify God with your life or you don't. It isn't just 4 years, it's a whole lifetime that we strive for just this one goal-- that God would be glorified. It isn't a 10 second race, it's an either you are or you are not. The best Olympian gets the gold, but all who believe in Christ get eternal life. With eternal life, the gold is not something you remember the glory of the moment; it is glory that you experience forever!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Surprise!

We recently went to visit Country Christian EFC in Scotts, Michigan. They warmly welcomed us to present in 2 services and gave us a great opportunity to share during their Sunday School hour a biographical history of missions and the 8 shifts in missions. It was wonderful in every way to see a church that understands their responsibility in missions and is genuinely excited about the ministry we're a part of in Costa Rica. Here is a really cool story from our trip:

During our presentation, we showed our short video that defines a Third Culture Kid (TCK): someone who grew up in a country other than their parent's passport country. TCKs fit into a neither/nor culture.... they are neither fully a part of their parent's culture nor the one in which they were raised. We do this so that people can identify with the importance of the youth group as being a place where TCKs feel like they belong. Belonging-- one barrier down, now we can work on the other struggles of teens.

After our presentation, one of the members of the congregation approached the pastor. "I finally know what I am!" She had grown up on the mission field many years ago (I don't know her exact age, but she was somewhere in her 60s or 70s). She had always felt like she didn't belong and always struggled with her identity. But now she knows; she's a Third Culture Kid. She's not alone in her feelings. She's not alone in her identity struggles. There are thounsands out there in every generation who can identify with her. What a blessing for her to know that she identifies fully with a culture!

This was a huge encouragement to us, and something we never would have thought to pray for. We never imagined that our ministry to TCKs, which we're eager to do in Costa Rica, would be a blessing in Scotts, Michigan to another TCK!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Horses & Trails

Some friends invited us out to ride horses this morning--how could I say no?! We were trail riding in Hueston Woods State Park!









 Matt (grey horse) was always ready to go.













Friday, July 6, 2012

We've Made Our Deadline. Should I Call It a Success?

It's hot.
Just putting that out there. The temp in the car read 103 today. But that's news to nobody.

Some of you have been praying that we would make a deadline the beginning of this month of 50% of our monthly support--we were accepted into the October conference with 47.5%, a lot of relief, and a some guilt on my part for worrying about it so much. Overall, I actually was relaxed about the whole thing, but there wasn't a total dependence on God. I prayed that He would hear us. I asked for His favor, I placed everything in His hands--but then I think in some way, I took it back right at the last minute.

Some of you will be thinking, 'now, don't be so hard on yourself, we're not all perfect!' Agreed. But we all know that there are different kinds of guilt. This wasn't me being hard on myself; it was one of those conviction-in-the-form-of-guilt moments. I know it was from the Holy Spirit. And I was actually really grateful for it. It was gentle. It was kind. It was convicting. It caused me to pray and confess my doubt. It's helping me draw closer to God.

I'm still trying to hash out my theology of prayer. I know it will be a lifelong lesson, but I'm trying to make some sense out of so many ways people prayed in the Bible in so many situations and the different responses God gives and the reasons he does or doesn't give. All I know is that I'm that I need to be praying more and more. Not out of duty, but out of desire. I just have to! It sustains me.

God's grace is so immeasurable. This is whole thing is just another way that he confirms to me that the Holy Spirit is working in me--I'm on the right track. I'm abiding, I'm growing, and I'm being pruned.

Oh the riches of the mercy of the grace of our God!








Friday, June 29, 2012

Youth Ministry Lessons in Church Planting

Last week we attended a conference in Minneapolis that focused on planting churches cross-culturally. Though this is is not what we'll be doing in Costa Rica, there were still several concepts that are applicable to our ministry to the students.

First off, the idea of multiplication. In church planting, there are 3 different kinds of churches. One is where a pastor stays at the church and is eventually replaced when he retires. The second kind is where the church plants another church. The third kind is where the church plants a church, and then the church plants another church that plants another church. See this diagram to get the idea...

For the youth group, the idea of multiplication is in discipleship. If we equip the students to disciple others, and then have the discipled student disciple another student and the discipler another; an unstoppable force is created where students are maturing in Christ!

The second application from the conference was the "3 Greats": The Great Mission (glorifying God); The Great Commandment (love God and love others); and The Great Commission (make disciples of all nations). While these were given in the context of the purpose of church, this is true for all believers. We were created to glorify God, love Him and others, and make disciples. This creates an outline for discipling.

The third application from the conference was in equipping. If you want the above diagram to happen, then it is extremely important that the green oval is ready to pour into the red and then later the yellow. For the youth group, this means that the students who are discipled need to learn how to disciple others instead of just being discipled. This is where the whole "give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish" comes into play. Obviously teaching a man to fish yield the best long term results! We not only need to equip, but we need to teach how to teach how to equip. We need to teach students how to study God's Word, so that they can dig into it without only gleaning from what parents, Jonathan, or I say. They can study God's Word for themselves and teach others to as well. 

Finally, the importance of prayer. Obviously this is important in youth ministry! It is essential that Jonathan, I, the parents, and those who are partners with us in ministry pray for the students. We must pray that they love God, want to glorify Him with their lives, love others, stay true to the Word, and desire to see their peers walk with Christ. We need to pray that they would mature in Christ.

Please, please, please be praying for the students!

The ideas in this post are from Craig Ott and Gene Wilson's book, Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pressure

I recently heard about the discovery of the largest diamond in the world. It was discovered by the inspector towards the front of the mine. The workers had walked past this 3016K diamond everyday!

Diamonds are made when pure carbon is put under extreme pressure. Diamonds aren't found in a form that you would want to wear on your finger or propose with. It takes a skilled cutter to get the diamond just right.

We'll I'm not here to teach you about diamond, but I am here to tell you about our happenings. We're under a great deal of pressure to have 50% of our monthly funds pledged by the end of the month. Achieving this goal would allow us to be in Costa Rica by the end of the year. Not reaching 50% means we wouldn't be able to be with the students until late next spring. We feel this pressure because we love the students, and we want to be with them ASAP. We also feel the pressure because our lives seem to be on hold as we wait for this next phase. We've seen to be in transition ever since we joined ReachGlobal back in October. 

I relayed this story because I know that somewhere in the pursuit of reaching our goal, we've walked across the biggest diamond hundred of times, hundreds of emails, and hundreds of phone calls. In the process of raising support the greatest gem is that we're constantly developing relationships with people who want to partner with us in ministry. We have a giant (maybe even 3016K) opportunity to invest in people, to love people, and to educate people about missions. It's just easy when the going back and forth of numbers and deadlines prevents you from seeing the biggest part of the purpose.

Please join me in prayer and partnership so that we can hopefully make this deadline, but also hold us accountable for learning from God in this process.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Playing In The Fountain


Chasing Bubbles

First Contact






At the end, he kept trying to bath himself with a clean wipe.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Return

On Monday I had the chance to speak at a camp that I first attended 20 summers ago (wow, I feel old)! I started out as a day camper, worked as a counselor, and eventually was over all the program directors. I dedicated every summer either learning the person and character of Jesus Christ or teaching others about Him. It was a blessing to be able to return to a place that holds so many memories.

I spoke on John 15:4-8 where Jesus gives the analogy of the vine and branches. I focused on verse 8: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (NASB). Three points stick out: we can glorify God; we glorify God by bearing much fruit; our fruit proves that we are His disciples. I was able to give a very clear gospel presentation with 1 John 4:13-14 which describes how we know we abide in Christ (what it takes to bear fruit): "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."


It had been a while since I last spoke in front of so many people (around 300) and had spent the time and energy focused on just one passage. I find it's really easy to read the Bible because it is so good and necessary for our lives, but I rarely take the time to study just one section and it's supporting verses that bring a fuller meaning of the text. This was a great reminder for the depth of God's Word! So I challenge you and myself... study God's Word, know it well; It's not just a good read, it's God's very Word to us!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Life has been pretty crazy around here recently. Final shifts at work, final meetings with Oxford friends, family, and partners, and our final night's sleep in our incredibly lovely bed for the next month.

Tomorrow morning we take off to Georgia in a final push to raise our support percentage to 50% by the end of the month. We'll drive down for a two week sprint of meetings and visits before flying up to Minneapolis for about a week. There we'll take a class given by ReachGlobal: Multiplying Churches Globally. We're reading the book for it now (as time permits, and other interests don't interfere), "Global Church Planting" by Gene Wilson. The first chapters were a little dull and filled with 'Christianese' (made up words and terms relevant to the select few who knew what was meant by them to begin with, because their usual definition is not usually what was originally meant anyways), and some of the scripture references were textbook eisegesis, both of which drives me crazy, but after the third chapter it's gotten better.

After our days of church planting training (which I really am looking forward to) we head back to Georgia for one more week. We'll return to Oxford for a week or two, and then it's back to Georgia to live full time. For the first time in almost 20 years, I will no longer be a legal resident of Ohio (no feelings either way; just an interesting fact). I'll be looking for part time work, and hoping to get involved in ministering to this hurting world in a tangible way as we continue to develop ministry partners for our soon to be new life in Costa Rica.

But I can't leave you tonight without the briefest of comments of what the Lord has me thinking on which is summed up in these two verses:

1 Peter 4:10-11: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus ChristTo him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


and 



Colossians 1:28-29: Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

ESV


Goodnight readers, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Girl's Weekend

We were bad at taking pictures... so sorry Pamela you missed out on the only one!
I just returned from a great weekend with my girlfriends from Samford. I attended Samford from 2005-2007, but I absolutely loved my time there because of my friends. In fact when I was applying to Moody, I stated that I did not want to go there because I loved where I was and what I was doing.

We visited my friend Pamela who lives outside of DC. We went to the National Zoo, George Town Cupcakes (which has a show on TLC), worked on our tans (ok, I connected my freckles), and spent most of the time catching up. So much has changed in my life over the past 5 years, yet I've still remained close to these girls. I'm not always the greatest at calling and catching up, but we've persevered. Though we haven't been geographically close in a while and definitely won't be when I move to Costa Rica, I know that these are relationships I want to maintain!

A big thanks to Jonathan for watching Patrick all weekend!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Honestly..



I've been really resonating with this. To be painstakingly honest, it's hard to think of spending time developing ministry partners as building into eternity. All I can do though is follow where the Lord's leading, and live as passionately and boldly as I can. I just feel like I need to do something. I'm not saying (and I don't think Francis is either) that we can't enjoy our time here on earth--take a vacation, or enjoy His creation. That's not what I'm saying at all. But to spend the majority of our time and money for that end?? To work hard to make sure that I'm comfortable in my latter years of this life, and relying mainly on a portion of money that I put away to meet my needs?.... I just really, really want to be using the time that is given to me in a way that requires faith, and in a way that clearly points to Christ! And I really want to hear those words: Well Done.

I'd love to read your comments and hear where you're at.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wisconsin

After spending a week in Chicago meeting up with old friends, watching Jonathan's sister graduate from Moody Bible Institute, and telling people about our ministry in Costa Rica, we headed up to Portage, WI.

A friend from Oxford moved up there to be the senior pastor of an EFCA church, and he invited us to speak about the ministry in Costa Rica. We gladly took him up on the offer to speak with his church and to see our good friends.

Little did we know that the weekend would turn out to be so exciting! Our friend ended up going into labor in the middle of the night and had a home birth that morning before we left for church. Welcome to the world  beautiful baby girl!


Since our friend couldn't preach, the church asked Jonathan to give a message. Thankfully, he had the notes from the message on Philippians 3 he gave at the youth's campout. All of this turned out to be a huge blessing because the congregation was able to see our love for Jesus and how He's directing us to the youth in Costa Rica. We were also able to connect with more families as a result of change of plan. God had much better plans than we would have expected!

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Chicago

We arrived safely in Chicago last night and are staying the first two nights with an old moody friend who I knew back in Ecuador. Today we're at our Moody Bible institute meeting with old professors and friends. Patrick is taking a nap right now in the commons propped back in his umbrella stroller :) Super excited about all of our meetings this week!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Loving Jesus

Been praying a lot about really loving Jesus. Not just loving who he is or what he's done for me, but really loving the person of Jesus Christ.

I find myself in a place of discontentment working on raising support. Like I should be doing more with my life. I don't think this stems from a desire to achieve goals or to prove myself to Him. But rather a genuine desire--a yearning--to really be more like Christ. A Christian. A "little Christ". To spend my time and life in a way worthy of the one who bought it. Because thats what I *want* to do. And I honestly question that much of the time spent making phone calls, writing emails, and just figuring out what to do next is how Christ would spend his time if he were here now. I say "much" because there have most definitely been times of speaking into friend's lives and being poured into be God, but they seem like a minority compared to the months logged under 'support raising'. I just want to live like I actually believe the Bible says and glorify God. Please pray for me.


In other news we are arriving at a crazy point in our lives: two weeks in the Chicago area and three in Georgia. A final push to reach the fifty percent support we need by July to be able to leave by the end of the year. Please pray for us in this too.

I'm glad to be alive, and really glad to be learning and growing. I pray that you would be too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happening

We had an interesting incident recently.

I was working a high ropes course out in 'back country' of our town (aka, in the woods behind the park). I was belaying students as they climbed up to the 40ft platform before zipping back down(...on a zipline). About a quarter of the way through the program, a Sheriff's helicopter flew by, low to the ground. Interesting. Normally the only choppers we see in this area are hospital choppers, medivacing severe patients to more sophisticated hospitals and ORs. By the time it circled around, now flying lower, I stated out loud, 'looks like there's a manhunt,' half joking. Everybody laughed. Sure enough the University's emergency text came through that police were hunting an armed gunman (redundant?) and cautioned noble citizens to stay away from that certain part of town, which was about 5 miles away from us. But the helicopter kept on circling the high course. It passed over once, twice, and a third time--now lower than I'd ever seen a chopper fly. So my boss called the University police and found out that we were fine where we were. and we could finish up the program. So we did.

Sorry, no 'moral of the story' or insightful spiritual lesson. Just an anticlimactic happening. :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

One Penny at a Time

Support raising seems to be a very slow process. You make calls, leave messages, and wait for people to call you back. You send out emails and facebook messages while planning trips, and then you have to wait. How long do you wait before you can call again? How many emails can you send a person asking to get together before you're a nag? It's a waiting game.

However, little by little our monthly pledged support keeps rising. It's really encouraging that we're now a quarter of the way there! Jonathan wrote in our last newsletter a way YOU can help us raise the funds to get to Costa Rica by simply searching the internet. Every time you look something up online, one penny gets contributed to our fund by Goodsearch.com. It doesn't sound like a lot, but we've effortlessly generated 50 cents ourselves in a couple of days. If we had more people, that 50 cents could turn into $20 a month and get us one step closer. If you follow these 4 steps, you'll be contributing to our ministry fund without only 10 minutes of effort. 

Step 1: Create a user account.
Go to goodsearch.com and click on the ‘register’ button in the upper right hand corner, or click here, to register. You can register with your google, facebook, yahoo, or twitter account, or just follow the simple instructions to register a new account!

Step 2: Search for our nonprofit account.
The name of our charity account is “EFCA Hunter 1546”. Indicate that this is the charity you wish to support. Note: if you do not indicate our nonprofit, the donations will not go to our ministry.


Step 3: Set Goodsearch as your default search engine.
Follow the instructions
here


Step 4: Search with Goodsearch, shop with Goodshop, and check into how you can have money donated from your dine-out experiences!

Here’s a sampling of different stores involved with Goodshop and the percentage of your purchase they’ll donate to the ministry:


Musician’s friend-3.5%
McAfee-12.5%
The North Face- 2.5-4.5%
Staples-2-5%
HP- 1-2%
Kmart- 2%
Amazon-1.5%
Avon-4.5%
Best Buy-0.5-3%
Bloomingdales-2%,
Crate%Barrel-2.5,
Dell-5%
Expedia-up to 5%
Gap-2.5%
Groupon-up to 5%,
Home Depot-1.5-2.5%
Apple Store-1.5%
iTunes/App Store/iBookstore-2.5%
J. Crew-3%
Lowes-2%
Lands End-3%
LL Bean-2%
Macy’s-1.5%
Microsoft 1.5-5%
Overstock.com- 4.5%
Pottery Barn-1.5%
Sears-2-2.5%
Target-1.5-3.5%
Walmart-0.5-2%
Walgreens-4%
Williams Sonoma-2%




Please feel free to email Jonathan at jonathan.hunter@efca.org with any questions!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An end to a season (literally)

Jonathan belaying a climber on our outdoor trip
For the past 4 semesters, Jonathan and I have managed Miami University's Youth Climbing Team (YCT). This is basically an after-school program where climbers, ranging from kindergarten to seniors in high school, come once a week to rock climb and learn new techniques. We've worked with over 50 different climbers over the past 2 years and have been impressed with their climbing ability... many of the climbers are better than the university students we also taught!

Today was my last day of coaching, and I must say that I am quite sad to be finished. It's one of those bitter sweet things. I'm sad to stop something I enjoyed so much, but I'm glad for it to be over because it means we're one step closer to going to Costa Rica (or really having more time to work to get there).

It wasn't until I had this job at the university that I realized how much I love teaching. I love the moment when students are able to reach a hold that they didn't think possible because we worked through the problem together. I love watching a kid get to the top of the wall, having so much fun that he forgets that he's afraid of heights. I love helping these climbers fall in love with my favorite sport.

As much as I love teaching rock climbing, I'm more excited about this approaching transition of being able to teach God's Word to students. It will have an eternal impact! Good bye Youth Climbing Team, I'll miss you dearly!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ball!

This is Patrick's new favorite word. Hands down. Any time he sees a ball, he exclaims with fresh delight in a high-pitched voice--"Ball! Ball! Ball!" We'll hand him the ball, and he'll toss it, and proceed to point--"Ball! Ball!" If possible, he is even more excited than before. He continues to get more and more excited as he plays with whatever ball he's got. He'll walk around holding the ball, going up to everyone in the room letting them know what he's got--"Ball!!"

But it doesn't stop there. Anything round is deserving of the exclamation: Ball!!! Whether it be a wheel, or a Frisbee, they're all balls. He'll stop whatever he's doing just to point and tell you that he sees a ball. Even if he's screaming and crying, balls get first priority. He'll stop, briefly compose himself--"Ball!"

But it doesn't even stop there. He'll spot a ball 50 yards away. It gets the same level of attention any other ball gets. Often, he'll point out the window--"Ball! Ball!"
"No, Patrick, that's a bird--a bird!" I'll say, talking about the birds sitting out on the grass.
"Ball! Ball!"
Sure enough, twenty feet beyond the birds lies a red ball. I wouldn't have even noticed it if he didn't point it out to me.
"You're right! Great job, there is a ball!"
"Ball! Ball!"

I wonder if Patrick is constantly on the lookout for ball, searching every horizon for one (One time he even looked into the sun and let us know that it was a ball). But I kind of think that they just stick out to him. They're just that obvious.

I learned something from my son. I wonder how ready and often I point and say,"God!" He is so at work in my life, sustaining my every breath. I wonder how many times I've said something like, "isn't it nice that it all worked out," or, "what a coincidence". When life is comfortable, I more often have to be shown--no, that is really God.

If all I see is God--if He is my default setting--life gets sweeter. Even in uncertain and painful times, I can point and say--"God." Holding onto what I know about Him, putting it in the forefront of everything I see or hear, everything is better. Not easy, but good. Because God is good. And faithful. And He's in control. Even when life is uncertain, God is here. And I belong to Him.

It's when I lose sight of God, and I stop thinking of who He really is that I get lazy, discouraged, and more vulnerable to sin. I pray that He becomes 'just that obvious' to me, as balls are to Patrick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Further Tales and Photos from Costa Rica: Campout

I wanted to tell everyone more about out time in Costa Rica--specifically about our time at La Cumbre with the Youth Group Campout.

On Saturday 3/31 we woke up early: Campout was today!! Students started arriving, and chaos promptly ensued. We loaded all the luggage into an oversized pickup, secured with a tarp, and without much hassle we were off to the IYG's bi-annual campout at the beautiful camp/retreat center, La Cumbre. We had around 80 campers and 10 adults!





We loaded in small buses and took off for camp! After a couple hours, we stopped for snacks at a local restaurant called "Chespirito's", a favorite stopping place for many headed to La Cumbre. Fifteen minutes down the road from Chespirito's, most of the kids got out of the buses. The long standing tradition is for them to hike the 7 km (about 4.3 mi) down the steep road, into the valley. At the bottom of the valley, La Cumbre sat serenely inviting the now-sore pilgrim to a hot most desired lunch. 



The four days flew by. In the evening we ate dinner, I taught the lesson I had prepared, and we were lead in worship by the student worship band. After this time we would play a night game.





After breakfast every morning, we had time set aside for devos. That was followed with small groups. We had 9 small groups. Student leaders lead some, and Maggie and other adult volunteers also lead small groups. This was a time for students to discuss and work through the lesson from the night before. Before going down to Costa Rica, I had prepared small group discussion guides for the leaders to use. These served as tool for small group leaders as everyone interacted with the materiel that was presented the night before in my lesson--often studying a parallel passage relating to what we had talked about.






Maggie and I had such an incredible time. We just loved getting to know more students, and building relationships with them. For us working with these kids is an indescribable privilege. We had a blast playing games, amazing deep discussions about what it means to really follow Christ, and a sense of fulfillment of purpose in being there. As God has designed and shaped Maggie and I through the years, it is stunningly obvious that He has been preparing us for this ministry. I do not pretend that this is the end of the road for us and He'll have us here 'till we die (those poor students!). But it is the next, even the now. 











The Lord was undeniably at work in students' hearts this week. I know that I didn't see a lot of what was really going on--small group leaders were able to see a lot more than I through discussions throughout the weekend. This past Saturday they had a time of sharing and testimonies from camp. Today, the director of AMCA wrote and told me that there are a lot of people still processing what the Spirit's been doing since camp, and that they were truly impacted by those four days. Thank you for your prayers. God is powerfully at work in these students.






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FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO KNOW MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TALKS....

I shared three talks Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.

I had been so burdened by the Spirit in preparing them. A lot of prayer and hard work went into them. I think God really showed up.

On Saturday we looked at Exodus 19 and 20. We looked at the holiness of God--how no sinful being can stand in the presence of holiness without experiencing fear. We talked about how we so often put God in a box--and then we burned the box (metaphorically speaking, of course)

On Sunday we looked at John 11. What is love? Jesus so loved Mary, Martha, and Lazerous, that when Lazerous fell ill, Jesus did not go to him. What is love? We sometimes look for love to be comfortable, focused on us. Money, comfort, friends, safety--but what is love? What does the Bible say love is? Pretty neat stuff.

On Monday we looked at Phil chapter 3. Paul says that he considered everything to be loss compared to the surpassing worth, the supreme excellency of knowing Christ. We have to value knowing Christ above all else; whatever it takes.

When I was preparing these lessons I was wondering, 'Are these too in depth? Is there too much Bible for them?' So many times I'm told and I see how shallow teachings are in youth groups. Play some games, sprinkle in some truths. But sprinkled truth doesn't change lives. The living and active word of God, and the Spirit of God living in us change lives.

I was nervous, but after seeing how the students responded to the WORD, and how the SPIRIT worked, I am so excited to continue teaching the WORD, and teaching them how to study it. It is so freeing to know that as I pour everything into teaching, preaching, and discipling, I am not responsible to change the students. It is Christ who works in them. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.