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Posted on August 31, 2017 by
For those of you who don’t receive our monthly newsletter we wanted to share it with you…
New Year, BIG Changes
(Please Read to the End!)
Over the past five years, dozens of you have naturally asked us how long we will be in Jamaica. And our answer has always been the same: We’re here until we feel God leading us somewhere else, be that tomorrow or twenty years from now. God’s call for us to come and serve with CCCD in 2012 was extremely clear, and we just prayed that his next call on our lives would be the same…
Over the past several months, God’s plan for our future has become increasingly clear, as Ben was approached with a request to consider taking over the position of CCCD’s Vice President stateside, with the intention of moving toward higher leadership in the future. (The current VP, Chris Briggs, will be moving with his family to Jamaica this fall, which will leave a vacancy in the States.) In this position Ben’s responsibility and oversight within the ministry would greatly increase and expand to include US operations, fundraising for the ministry, US-Jamaica relations, and vision casting, to name a few. It would also entail moving our family back to the States to be most effective in this role. After much prayerful thought and consideration, including affirmation from key leaders within the ministry, we have made the decision to move forward, trusting God’s calling in our lives and will for the ministry of CCCD.
What does this mean?? Ben and I aim to be very purposeful with our transition from JDV back stateside. We still intend to be stateside for the birth of baby B (a boy!), from roughly April – August. We will then return to JDV as a family of five for a few months in order to close out our time here and transition management to the new missionaries. We anticipate that we will be permanently moving back to Zeeland, MI in November. At that point, Ben will begin his VP position full-time and I (Krista) will continue to serve as CCCD’s Education Committee Chairperson, Short-Term Missions Coordinator, and assist in the local office as needed.
Depending on your relationship with us, you may be feeling grieved by the fact that you won’t be seeing us as often, or rejoicing that we will be living nearby. We are right there with you. This was not a cut-and-dry decision and is one that is filled with mixed emotions. It is incredibly difficult to prepare for leaving this place and these people that have become our home and family over the last five years. “How exciting!!” you may respond to us – and yes – but sometimes no. Please keep us in your prayers this year as we face this big transition, not to mention welcoming a new family member in June. We look forward to the fact that our positions will have us traveling down to the island often throughout each year, which will give us much needed time face-to-face with the staff and students we are ministering to.
Please know that this change in positions does not in any way change our vision or effectiveness in reaching the Deaf of Jamaica. If anything, these new roles will allow us to use our unique skills and gifts most effectively and to reach all four CCCD campuses. WE STILL NEED YOU. Don’t click “unsubscribe,” stop praying, or (unless the Lord leads you) withdraw your support because we have a different address. We will STILL be faith-based missionaries and STILL require your financial support for our income. We will continue to send out monthly newsletters when we have landed stateside and look forward to being able to connect with our supporters in-person more regularly.
Well, I suppose that’s enough for one day! Hang on – 2017 is going to be a wild ride! And we are so grateful to know that each of you is out there praying for us and cheering us on as we seek to follow God’s will for our lives. Please feel free to send us any questions! Next month we will give you some more updates on what is new at JDV so far this year!
By His Grace,
Ben, Krista, Graham, Clara, & Baby B
P.S. OH, and if you haven’t already, stop by www.cccdjamaica.org to see the amazing NEW website!
Posted on February 6, 2017 by
We know we have we haven’t been the best about updating this website on a regular basis. If you haven’t subscribed to our newsletter you’re going to want to. We send updates out every month and you can sign up by clicking the “newsletter” tab to the left. Of course we also update our social media accounts quite frequently as well.
As we enter into this holiday season we are reminded how blessed we truly are. We have been in Jamaica for nearly 5 years and through it all God has provided for us with both financial and emotional support. Looking back we can so how God has orchestrated so much. You have been a part of that! And you have meant so much to us whether you know it or not. We are so excited to see what God has for the future.
Here are a couple of recent pictures of the kids and for those of you who don’t know, we are expecting our 3 child. Due on June 1. This means we will be spending some extended time in the states once more. We are in the process of looking for housing from April-July/August. If you have any connections in the West Michigan area and might know of a place for us to stay affordably, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Posted on November 24, 2016 by
I’m sitting here traveling who knows how many feet up in the air thinking about home. It’s pitch black outside and all I can see is the flashing light on the wings of the plane. It’s past 11 at home, so hopefully my babies and their dad are fast asleep.
Over the years so many people have asked us if we feel at home here in Jamaica. From very early on our answer has been a certain and truthful “yes.” We adapted pretty quickly to the island life and integrated into CCCD and JDV as family. “Yes.” It’s our home.
So…why do we sometimes find ourselves talking about going “home” when we go back to the States for Christmas or a furlough? And then coming back “home” when we leave? Well, it’s no secret that home is not a sure and fast concept…like they say, “home is where the heart is.” But don’t so many of us have our hearts in multiple places and with multiple people around the world? So how do we find our way home when deep in our gut we just feel homesick? uneasy? alone? burdened?…you fill in the blank.
I was recently listening to this throwback song and for some reason found myself just playing it over and over…it just resonated so deeply with me.
Your heart will always be my home
no matter where I go
no matter what may come
This is it. The key to finding home. His heart. We always feel most at home with those we love, don’t we? – So just imagine his deep love for us – for the world – like a warm blanket he wants to wrap around all of us and pull us close, to home. God wants to be at home with us. He wants to be home for us. Make a home in us. Dwell in us, having us respond to his presence. To reside in his will. Then, wouldn’t we always be at home? It’s a peace like no other. No matter where you are geographically.
It doesn’t matter what type of home you live in – Pinterest worthy or not – or if your dwelling could only classify as a tent, with no address at all. Jesus will make home for you. In you.
He calls us his bride. Like a bride being carried over the threshold, he wants to bring us home. To him. Forever and for always. Not to become a roommate-like situation like so many marriages become today. But a place so completely safe and secure under the blanket of his unconditional love and acceptance that we never doubt where to go home to.
As I feel the plane beginning to descend and see tiny lights appearing on houses and buildings below, I know I can’t explain the longing I have for everyone to experience this peace I have deep in my soul of being at home with my Prince.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Posted on July 9, 2016 by
If you have ever lived overseas for an extended period of time, you know what I mean when I say this: It changes you. Looking back four and a half years ago, I am amazed at what a different person I am today. Any change is hard, especially when you are in the midst of being stretched and challenged in uncomfortable ways. God has been so gracious, and I am thankful for every little thing I have learned along the way and for who I am today.
So, what has Jamaica and missions work taught me?
- You can live with less than you think. Ben and I moved down here with two suitcases and one carry-on each. Of course we have had more brought down over the years, but we have tons that is still in storage. Honestly? I hardly ever think about or miss any of it.
- Less noise and media = deeper self awareness. Living in the States, it is so easy to become immune to the noise (visual and otherwise) all around you. Being distanced from all of the news reports, political campaigns, and commercial ads has changed me. It is easier to tune into yourself and into God’s voice without all of the competing others.
- Directly linked to the last lesson: Beauty is not an image. I would’ve said that I knew this before, but something about being distanced from the Victoria’s Secret adds and Sport’s Illustrated covers makes you realize how much you’ve actually been brainwashed. In a culture that uses the word “fat” as a compliment, my personal sense of body image and what I truly see as beautiful has become much more healthy.
- I have come to expect and accept last-minute requests (without freaking out first!). This was a hard one! As someone who loves to be prepared, I found myself totally out of my comfort zone many times in the first year or two we lived here. You need an interpreter and I’ve never interpreted before? Need me to lead a half-hour chapel lesson with no prep? Go drive you where and do what? Having grown up in a culture that worships time, schedules, and planners, developing the quality of flexibility and spontaneity was a tough but very worthwhile pill to swallow!
- Became more accepting of my own failures and non-perfection. Because living overseas, you are bound to make cultural faux pas and language errors on a frequent basis!
- I’m more willing to take risks and challenges out of my comfort zone. After a while, you realize that you’ll survive it, and probably learn something in the process! And it’s ok to look ridiculous because…
- I learned to laugh more at myself. And to allow others to laugh at me (which happens a lot). Life is too short to take yourself seriously all the time! We do our best, and there is grace for the rest. Amen?
- How to be more open and direct with others (and also accepting others being direct with me!). This rubbed off on me a bit from working with Jamaicans and working with the Deaf, where bluntness comes with the territory. Sometimes beating around the bush just doesn’t help anybody!
- I learned to slow down and value people more than accomplishing. In a culture where you must say “good morning” and greet those you pass by (even when entering a waiting room), I realized how much we Americans are self-focused (or phone-focused) and time-focused. Slow down, look someone in the eye, and really ask how they are doing!
- I now understand firsthand that other cultures do many things “better” than Americans (several which are touched on above). We may not openly admit it, but many Americans believe that our culture and country is “superior” to others. This is totally false. A humble and teachable heart is key to overseas missions.
- I value friendship and community more. I’m not sure if the cliché “distance makes the heart grow fonder” is really true, but living without the friends and support groups that you’re used to makes you realize how precious they really are.
- How to truly lean on God. Of course I am still learning. But when you are lacking your normal sources of friendship, encouragement, and community, sometimes all that is left is God. And He is more than enough.
- To take care of myself (and my marriage). Living where we work, working where we serve, serving where we live…yeah…it gets complicated and BUSY! Boundaries are crucial and self-care is not optional. I wise man once told Ben and me that we are tools, and dull tools are ineffective. Keeping yourself sharp spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally is a must.
- I have learned how to be a learner, and not just of academics. Of people. Of culture. Of self. Of God and how he works in our lives.
- There is still so much more to learn, and I need much more sanctification than I am able to realize.
If you ever have the opportunity to live overseas or to do missions, take the chance. Live the adventure and gain a broader picture of how God works in the world. You won’t regret it. God will use you in amazing ways. And I guarantee you won’t remain the same, but in an awesome, I-can’t-imagine-who-I-would’ve-been-if-I-never-did-this sort of way.
Posted on May 11, 2016 by
This past weekend we had an opportunity to use our conference and retreat center in a different way. We have been slowly using the building to host both work teams and smaller local camps/retreats and that has been great… but what else can we do?? Veronica, our amazing cook, caters events as side a business. We had been talking for the last couple years about not only hosting groups but what it look like to use our kitchen to cater to outside events. Well, this weekend we were about to provide our catering services for a funeral. It was the first time we had done something like this. We cooked and delivered 330 meals and were able to employ 8 people for the day including two boys from the Knockpatrick school who were in need of on-the-job experience for a certification. Events like this will help us become self-sufficient, create jobs, and help us continue our work. Check out some pictures from the event.
Posted on April 25, 2016 by
I’m not sure when exactly I started to feel inspired by the normally annoying birds in the bush outside my window in the morning. But I wrote my high school graduation speech about it – how I used to be so bothered by the shrill tweets of those birds – I mean, why in the world did they need to start singing before the sun even rose!? Everyone is supposed to be sleeping! But then it hit me – they were just singing out of hope and anticipation, knowing the sun would be rising any minute. I wanted a hope like that. Faith in things unseen.
I’m pretty sure I forgot about the birds for several years. Then one day I started noticing them on my morning commute to work at the Tennessee School for the Deaf, all lined up in rows on the power lines. Every day. I like to think that they were facing East, waiting to watch the sun rise (but let’s be honest, my internal compass isn’t that good). As most beginning teachers would tell you, those first years are brutal. As a 23 year-old, I just wasn’t prepared for how to handle the middle school attitudes I was faced with everyday…the only thing I could think of when a student said “you’re not my mother” was “thank goodness for that!” I began to look forward to seeing those birds on the lines every morning. So at peace. Just still and waiting. It was my daily reminder that God is good and that he will keep showing up for me every day, even when I feel in over my head (or especially when).
Now during my daily walks with Graham and Clara around JDV, I keep a lookout for those songbirds perched on a pole or power line. And I thank God that he still keeps showing up for me during this challenging season of life.
He wants to show up for everyone this Easter. For you. Some days are stormy, some nights bitter cold, and some mornings it’s hard to even see the sun rise amidst the thick, grey fog. But he’s there, with new mercies ready and waiting. He’s not on that cross anymore. He’s not in the tomb anymore. He’s alive! And he wants you to let him live in and through you today. Let’s put our hope in the goodness of his promises, knowing that we have an eternity of new mornings to welcome his love in our lives.
Posted on March 26, 2016 by
I can’t take it anymore.
Do Not Fear…Love Your Enemies…Go to the Nations…key elements of our Faith in Jesus Christ. Why then cowering over compassion? Self-preservation and blatant racism over self-giving and bold evangelism?
I never write about political issues and HATE being involved in political debates (so no nasty comments, please :). But isn’t this a heart issue – a spiritual issue – as much as a political one? I have no answers, just a heart aching to see the church be what it claims to be. We say every life matters. We scream from rooftops when we see what Planned Parenthood does to babies (with good reason!). What about the born babies, children, and parents just looking for shelter, fighting for another chance at life, who still have a chance to hear of eternal life through Christ? Don’t their lives matter as well? Or are they simply disposable?
I was reading about the Good Samaritan in Luke this week, tempted to skim over it. We’ve all read it dozens of times, right? Go ahead and read it – and don’t skim. Then pray. Christ says to “go and do likewise.” Go and Do. That good man saw a need and gave his own time, physical energy, and money to help a hurting enemy. Wow, I don’t know about you, but I think this requires some deep reflection.
…God, forgive my selfishness. Forgive my greediness. Erase my fears with your perfect love…
Let us choose love over fear. Hearts of compassion that burn to see the nations brought to Christ. We are, after all, his ambassadors, yes? And let’s begin in our own backyards. Whether that be in the US, Jamaica, Paris, or Syria. It doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to look far to see a person in need of a hug, a smile, or a drink of water.
Let’s not be like the man in the front of this picture, the one who thinks he is righteous – but is sorely mistaken.
“The way we fight terrorism is to refuse to be terrified.” Thank you Ann Voskamp. So many thoughts that have been swirling in my head written much more poetically than I could put down.
Posted on November 21, 2015 by
Our home church, Faith Promise, came a few weeks ago and shot some footage for us to make a promotional video for the ministry. Last week I spent some time putting it together and here is that video:
It will likely be going out on social media shortly as well.
Posted on October 12, 2015 by
Last year when I was pregnant, a mommy friend reassured me that taking care of these twins would be a lot of work. 😉 We were sitting around their dinner table with their two now-toddlers as she reminisced about the sweet but difficult first year. Her youngest had colic, and she said as hard as it was being up with her daughter at night, those were the times she had some of the most intimate conversations with her Daddy.
I have found this to be true, though thankfully we are not up with the babies too much at night now. A few nights ago, however, little miss Clara Jane was simply overtired from her lack of naps the day before and would not fall back asleep after her mid-night feeding. After many unsuccessful attempts to help her fall back asleep, I finally picked her up, offered another bottle, and just rocked, shushed, and rocked and rocked and rocked…let her squirm, and just rocked her some more.
I quietly got back into bed, not sure how much time had passed.
“Did she finish the bottle?” Ben mumbled.
“No…but I just rocked her…until she was breathing hard.”
Thankfully she didn’t wake back up until the sun rose.
I laid in bed wondering how many times I’ve been like Clara – struggling against God, fighting his comforting arms, not letting myself find rest in his love and promises. Being more like Martha than Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Probably too many times to count.
But like an ever-loving father, this is what God wants for us. To lean against him hard and trust that he will hold us up. To have the faith to let go, let down our guard, to settle into him until we are breathing hard and listening to his heart. Whether like a babe we are tired, hungry, thirsty, or just restless – he knows just what we need and will lead us to the place of peace.
The question is will we – will I – make the time and space for this to happen?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Posted on August 31, 2015 by