Honest Naptime Blog from this Twin Mom – What is ministry really?

Ahh…a moment to sit. I know all you other mamas can relate. I’ve had some thoughts swirling around in my head lately – so I thought I might as well put them on “paper.”

I’ve said “hi” and “bye” to many people these past several weeks as we have had mission teams from all over the US come to serve here at the Jamaica Deaf Village. They’ve been out hauling concrete, painting, fellowshipping with the deaf, hugging orphans, and singing to the elderly. They’ve been “DOING” stuff. I’ve had a few well-intentioned folks comment on how I’m not DOING ministry/missions anymore because of the twins (and when do I plan to start again?). I normally nod – totally understanding what they’re trying to say – and and put together some type of sentence about how, yeah, I’m not as involved now but still find time to interpret, do Hands in Praise, blah blah blah. And I feel just a little funny after those conversations are done and return to my diaper changing and bottle- feeding. Staying busy all day and yet for some reason feeling like I’m not DOING anything.

Then a couple weeks ago, one of the kindest men I know – a dad of 8 – out of the blue reminded me that my children are my ministry. And that it’s a noble and important calling. And he told me that I’m doing a great job. I felt the sting of tears and said “thank you.” I needed that reminder.

Yes, I miss teaching at the school. I miss the hugs from the students, getting excited about their progress, and chatting it up with my fellow teachers. I miss getting out of the house more often. I miss not being involved with the womens’ Bible studies that some of our teams lead. I (surprisingly) miss not being able to go to the hot and steamy airport to pick up teams.

I know that this baby stage is a season and that the time will come soon enough when I will have opportunities to be more involved again. So right now, I am treasuring every moment I have with Graham and Clara. They are growing so fast (almost 6 months already!), and these aren’t moments that I can come back to down the road. Today, I am remembering that they are my ministry. I am raising up God-followers, kingdom-seekers, and feet-washers. With his grace alone, no doubt. And I want to encourage all you other mamas out there with the same word I received– whether you are working or not – that your calling is noble and your ministry important.

Ministry (and missions) is not something that should be quantified by how much we’re “DOING.” It’s our day-in, day-out relationships with others and how we love them (Just look at how Jesus spent his time!). Drawing them closer to Christ through our words and actions. And that’s a pretty big deal. Whether they’re deaf or hearing, 6 months old or 60, Jamaican or American. So I am going to embrace this time of ministering to my little ones and pray that others are touched along the way!

Matthew 19:14

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

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Babies

If you haven’t heard or if you’re coming here to see what’s new with us, we had twins on January 26th and couldn’t be more thrilled! Their names are Clara and Graham and despite their low birth weight they were both able to come home with us after 4 days in the hospital. We are in the process of getting passports and visas for the kids and are hoping to land back in Jamaica around Easter. We are looking forward to being home and to continue our ministry in Jamaica.

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So, what have you been doing… Part 2

Hello again. In the last post I discussed what I have been up to since landing here in MI, and now I’d like to share with you the exciting things coming up, so that you can both help us and pray for us.

We have two babies coming… TWO. I’m guessing most of you know that already. Last night we finished up our last baby/parenting class and we are happy that we are done. It is such a blessing to be here in the states and to have access to all of these resources. We are within the last six weeks and everything is going well. We had a doctor’s appointment this past week and both babies are weighing the same and Krista isn’t showing any significant signs of preterm labor. We are so blessed and we are praying that the babies will make it until 38 weeks! That will give them the best chance of being born without complications and allow us to leave the hospital all together. On average, twins are born in the 35th week so we understand that there is a good possibility of having them early.

After the babies are born, we will have all of the obvious baby checkups. Besides all those, we have a lot of things we need to do in order for the babies to come back with us to Jamaica. We will need to get passports for both of them. This means we need to get pictures taken, apply, and pay for the passports. Once we receive the passports, we will need to schedule an appointment with the Jamaican Consulate and take the babies, their passports, and their visa applications to Chicago. They will then have a special entry visa stamped in each of their passports, which will allow them to enter Jamaica on a one-way ticket. A lot can be delayed during this process, but we are hoping to be able to bring the babies back to Jamaica with us after around two months – in time for a team coming in early April.

Other than baby stuff, we have a number of ministry things going on. I have been using this rare opportunity of being in the states for an extended amount of time to try and raise money for the Deaf Village. They are still working hard on our conference and retreat center at JDV. We have been working on it with teams, but we have also been working when teams aren’t there. Many of you have heard us talking about this over and over! We are getting close and we have received several large donations over the past 6 months – Praise God! We still have more to raise, and I am hopeful that the money can be raised and we can open that building this year. We will be speaking at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland, MI next week on the 28th and are hoping to get people there interested in supporting the village. I have also been sending information on the building to anyone who is interested or might know someone who is, and this is where you come in. If you want more information on the needs we have, please let me know. My phone number while here is 616-818-5712 and you can always email me at benbeukema@gmail.com. Please pray for this project and pray for us as we work to complete it.

We are also taking time to continue you to meet with both personal ministry partners and with JDV and work team partners. There are a number of groups in the West Michigan area and we have several future meetings lined up in the coming months. Personally, we are still hoping to raise some more funds in order to cover the adding financial needs of having two kids. We have been blessed over the last 3 years to not be in a large financial support hole and God has and is continuing to show up big time. Please join us in prayer as we seek more personal financial support and for clarity in knowing exactly what is needed.

Thank you for joining us on this journey and for your overwhelming support. We have never felt alone in this, and your time, money, and prayers are well spent. Hard to believe we will have been on the field for 3 years next month. If you need anything, more information, or prayer please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re in this together.

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So, what have you been doing?

Hello friends, family, and supporters! It’s been a long while since our last blog post, so we thought we’d take the chance to update you on how things are going stateside. We have been getting a lot of questions about what we are doing while we’re in the States. Well mostly me, Ben. J I think everyone knows what Krista is working on while she is here! So I’d love to share what has been going on and what is ahead and ask you to join us in prayer as we plan for the future.

For the first time in our three-year ministry we have some extended time in the states and have mixed emotions on being here for so long. First, we know that this is where we need to be. Obviously the birth of our first two kids is taking precedence over any other feeling we might have. That being said, we know that our ministry and heart are in Jamaica, and being gone for 4 months is tough. Time has already gone fast and we know that the remaining time here will go fast as well!

While we are here, a lot of our day-to-day activities are still centered around CCCD… when we’re not doing “baby” things. I am still managing the JDV’s books and still giving input while here. Andy, who is covering for me, is doing a great job, and it is so helpful that he knows what to do and is able to manage much of what is going on on-campus. Before I left Jamaica, I spent much of my final month making preparations for leaving. Things like lining up work, mapping out cash flow, and communicating all the little things I do takes a lot of time. You never realize how much you do until you have to write it all down and explain it! We may be gone, but exciting things are continuing to happen back in Jamaica.

While here, we have a great opportunity to connect with churches, groups, and individuals who support CCCD, the Deaf Village, and us personally. So far these meetings have been great. I have also met several potential future teams to plan trips and churches that have a desire to better support JDV and also us. Just this week, I met with a group to discuss a trip for January 2016. That sounds like a long time away but I guess it really isn’t! For those of you who read our newsletter, you might have seen that I was planning a trip to South Dakota. Last week I went on that trip and it was great. We (me along with CCCD’s president and vice president) met with several different ministry friends, and most importantly, we met with a group to discuss the best way we can all partner together to help CCCD grow. There are so many people who come on trips, and anytime we can work together and pool resources cool things happen.

Baby things… Like all first time parents we feel like we’re up to our eyeballs in different baby things. Rather than spreading out the buying and preparing for the babies’ arrival over time, we have had to do all of it in the past month. With the holidays coming up, we know that we will be really busy once the week of Christmas arrives. And my reaction, like all first time parents, is who knew it would take up so much time! That being said, we are about all ready. We have also been taking different baby/parenting classes and this week we will be finishing those up.

We should be posting another blog post later this week, so stay tuned for more on what is coming up and where we can use your prayers!

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Interns!

So, we have had a number of interns over the years and we asked if one of the interns from our home church in Knoxville would let us use some of her blog posts on our website. She recently posted a great reflection on her time here and we wanted to share it with you. You can see all of her posts throughout the summer at http://allokate.wordpress.com/

Home Sweet Home

I got home Saturday night after spending nine weeks at the Jamaica Deaf Village. God taught me A LOT. But one thing really stuck out to me.. On short term trips, the missionaries at JDV really stress relationships. They emphasize that no matter how much curb block you lay or how many walls you paint, relationships are still way more important.

Every team that came to JDV while I was there had its own unique personality and way of doing things. They were all a part of different churches and different denominations. I realized that there are many different ways to serve God and follow Him, and even many different ways to interpret the bible. So although some of the people I met did things much differently than I am used to, there are a few non-negotiables: God created everything, He sent Jesus to die for our sins, and Jesus rose again. God also called ALL of us to go, to serve. And He commands that we love others. God is so relational. I knew God loved me, and I knew that He valued His relationship with me, but I never realized how much God values our relationships with others. I can’t help but think that my Christ-glorifying friendships put a smile on His face.

On Sunday, I was still kind of processing everything that has happened over the past two months. I was sitting at Starbucks and I overheard the conversation at the table next to me. Two Christian men were arguing over the Bible. Picking it apart and debating over the littlest legalistic things. I just don’t think that’s what God wants of us. The Bible is a love letter, right? So if someone you loved sent you a love letter, would you disect it word by word? No, you’d accept it in its sincerest form and take it to heart. THAT’s what I think the Bible is. God works in our hearts and helps us to interpret it in the individual ways that He intended for each of us.

So with all the concrete work I did, all the teams I met, and all the conversations I had, God just really sweetly showed me how much HE cherishes ME. And how tickled He is by my relationships. Seems like a win-win to me; I gained some really awesome friendships, all while glorifying my Daddy.

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Remember when?

Yesterday was my and Ben’s 5th wedding anniversary! This year our anniversary fell on Jamaica’s Labour Day, so both of us had the day off and enjoyed a quiet day at home before going on a dinner date (there was only one restaurant open in town, so Chinese it was!).

All I can say is God is Good. Certain milestones and important events like this often leave me feeling nostalgic and sentimental…remembering days gone by and how God has brought us through it all.

Remember when…?

I’m sure it’s a phrase we have all said thousands of times. Remembering is something that we see often in scripture…remembering God’s faithfulness, remembering the pit he’s brought us from, and telling God to remember his promises (which of course he always does). Remembering doesn’t need to be saved only for New Year’s…

 

Remember the first time we met at that football game?

 

Remember having fires in our backyard in Bluff Lakes, and that little cat that always came to visit?

 

Remember those first mission trips to Jamaica in high school?

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Remember those awful car rides back home when we were long-distance, and how it felt like those four years would never end?

 

Remember when we were homeless and jobless when we first got married?

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And, goodness, we have had so many “remember when” milestones in our short two and a half years here. I can say with certainty that Ben and I are not the same people that we were when we landed here in January of 2012. And it boggles my mind to think of who we would be…who I would be without the experiences we have had here so far.

 

Remember that first night, our suitcases in the middle of the floor and two twin beds pushed together?

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Remember when Ben didn’t know any sign language yet?

 

Remember when Krista was asked to interpret on-the-spot for the first time ever? (I mean, if you can sign, you can interpret, right?) 😉

 

Remember that amazing final donation and when the roof went on the Conference and Retreat Centre?

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Remember when the deaf Jamaican culture was driving you up a wall…and how God softened your heart towards them (again)?

 

Remember when JDV’s bank account was out of money, but somehow we paid the bills?

 

Remember when you thought you were just going to be leading teams (ha-ha)?

 

Of course the list could go on and on. And HE has been faithful through it all. Looking back can somehow realign your perspective of the future. With Christ on our side, who have we to fear? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, no matter where you live, how old you are, what you have been through, or what doubts you are wrestling with. He has always been there and always will be.

I KNOW that we will have many more “remember when” moments to come…

 

Remember when God provided that final donation to finish the CRC?

 

Remember when God raised up that new deaf pastor?

 

Remember when that student at Knockpatrick came to know Christ?

 

Remember when he brought us through…again and again?

 

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

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Check out this amazing video from a recent work team here!

 

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Almost 2 months in already!

Can you believe that we are almost 2 months into 2014! It’s hard to believe. I thought this would be a great point to talk about some of the things that I am excited for this year.

Pastor Damian is back from a 6 month furlough and we are so happy to have him and his leadership back. I can’t wait to see how the deaf church around Jamaica will grow. He is working at scheduling some special events as well as some leadership training throughout the island. The deaf church needs to be at the center of what we do.

The longer we are here the more we see the need to provide more employment for the deaf here. This past year not only have I hired to young deaf men to work on the farm but I have started 3 of the workers here working a full 5 days a week for the first time. They have worked full weeks here and there but normally they only 4 days a week. My hope is that they will continue to work 5 days a week from here on out. God has blessed JDV to be able to afford these workers and as things continue to grow hopefully I can hire more deaf. We are hoping to hire 2 more deaf this coming year… or more.

Andy, the other missionary here, has been spending time with several of the deaf here as well as others in the community. He is hoping to build up leaders and disciple the deaf here so that they can be sent out and do the same to other deaf. This is something that has been missing in the ministry to deaf here.
One thing we starting doing the past fall is to continue working on projects around JDV when work teams aren’t here. By doing this things progressing faster than ever and I can’t wait to see all the projects we finish this year. My prayer still is to open our conference and retreat center by the end of the year. I have been getting more and more calls from people wanted to rent out JDV for camps and retreats and what an opportunity we will have once that building is finished.

WORK TEAMS! I have 9 work teams in 10 weeks right now. Work teams are tiring but I love seeing people coming and serve and I leave seeing teams push us forward. It should be a busy time but an exciting time as well.

These are some quick thoughts on this coming year. If you have spent anytime with us here you will soon find out that we love what we do here and we are excited for the future. God has a plan and we are just praying for wisdom as we lead here. If you’re not involved here PLEASE message us on how you can get involved. There are exciting things happening…

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A look back

I don’t know about you but I am already in 2014. As Krista and I have been wrapping up our time here before the holidays I realized how easy it is to jump forward and not even look back. I have been working on planning for a very busy Feb-April and haven’t thought twice about it.

So why look back? Why take the time to see what has already happened? If you can’t change anything what is the point? These answers became very clear in a matter of minutes in reflection when I realized that throughout this year more than anything I have been able to see God’s faithfulness through everything. Through the hard times, the stressful times, and the good times, God has been ever present. This is nothing new, of course, and I due to our ministry/calling I feel like I rely on faith more than I ever had before. To intentionally focus on His faithfulness in the past will bring encouragement for the future. It will bring excitement and peace.

This year was a very busy year for us. For those who follow what we do here at the Jamaica Deaf Village you know that this was very much a rebuilding year. Last year saw two different missionary families come to the village and Pastor Damian stepping down as the campus manager. The missionary who worked at JDV before us stepped away after nearly 4 years on ministry here. This year was the first year with all of these pieces in “place.” It was a year where we all were trying to figure out our roles and how we are going to do life day in and day out. On top of that we had the busiest team season that anyone can remember… 23 teams. That is almost half the year! God was faithful to pull us through it all. I have seen new people come and get excited about our ministry here. They can see God’s presence here and that’s exciting. Our prayer here has always been to do God’s will. It’s easy in leadership to try and do what you feel is right and, you may even be successful but you will lose something that only God can bring. Doesn’t God have a crazy way of providing… and multiply… to the nth degree everything we thought could be achieved? I have seen that this year. We hired 2 young boys who were recent graduates from CCCD’s Knockpatrick school. I wasn’t sure we had that funds to work our current employees full time through the fall nevertheless 2 more workers. God has provided, and through means only he can provide, everyone has been working. Our farm produce and cattle is up and we have had more local groups using our facilities for events in the last 3 months than our 2 years here. We are even thinking about hiring someone else after the new year.

In our personal ministry we had a drop of $300/mo support in a matter of weeks this summer… within 1 month of that time God provided the exact same amount in new sponsors without us even having to send the word out. I think we are suppose to be here. At least I think so.

All this being said, there were/are a number of things that have been tough. I won’t lie, this has probably been the most stressful year that I have ever had in my life. Ministry can be messy and when your work involves peoples lives nothing is black and white. The bible is very clear that God uses those times to grow and strengthen us. I rarely see this when these times of trials occur, but it’s so true, isn’t it.

James 1:12 – Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which [the Lord] has promised to those who love Him.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose

We will always make mistakes and people will disappoint us from time to time. All we can do is walk by faith.

These are all just thoughts put to words. I am not much of a writer but I hope through these few paragraphs you can see that God is working here and in our lives. If you are reading this, then you are a part of ministry too. You care about us and about the people here and we have felt your support throughout our time here. Next year is going to be a big year. I can just feel it. We are going to work in more people’s lives, provide more jobs, and see some incredible things. If the past is any indication about the future then we just need to be faithful and move forward.

 

We can’t have a post without a picture of some kind. So here is your cute picture of the day. We recently had a kitten born and for some reason it really likes the flower pot by our door.

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A Day in the Country

Yesterday was Jamaica’s National Heroes Day, a national holiday. It was also Simone’s birthday. She and her husband Sheldon invited Ben and me to join them for a day in the country at Sheldon’s family’s home. Unfortunately Ben couldn’t join us because we have a team at JDV. So, I drove us all there and took lots of pictures to share with him…and you!Image 7

Most people think of Jamaica and just think “beach.” But the country is just as gorgeous!Image 11Image 13

We pulled over to take a picture of Mandeville below us. Simone and Ashley loved the view.Image 12Image 10

When we got close, we parked the car and walked the rest of the way.

Image 9Their little cousin Raheed came running to meet us and helped lead us the rest of the way.

Image 5We immediately walked out to the farm. Sheldon wanted to show me all of the land. The house was surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables!Image 8Image 3They pointed out three family members’ graves on their property. ImageSo peaceful.Image 6Until this guy started snorting…Image 2We then proceeded to pick some lemons. I was so happy…the first lemons I’ve seen on the island! Sheldon’s sister Shameel made us fresh lemonade.Image 1Grandpa McKenzie returned from the farm and brought us all sugarcane. Image 14Gotta check whose piece is bigger!Image 15Simone and I sat on the porch and sipped our lemonade, ate our sugar cane, and talked. About this and about that. Like many Jamaican homes, the McKenzie’s home is a work in progress. Work and expansion happen bit by bit with money earned, not borrowed. And they do it with their own hands. This heap of sand signals that they’re not done yet! They’re hoping to add a second floor one day.Image 4Another cousin showed up and we all helped Raheed with his handwriting homework. Throughout the afternoon several family members who live in nearby houses stopped by. We sat and visited while Grandpa collected food from the farm for lunch.  I could smell fried chicken wafting onto the porch for a couple hours before everything was ready!Image 16But it was worth it! Pumpkin rice, fresh tomatoes, and delicious fried chicken. And that was just the beginning…Image 18Grandpa went out again and came back with more fresh fruits and veggies to send us home with. It took four of us to carry it all back to the car!Image 17The bounty I came home with.Image 19

What a great day in the country. No need for a watch… just friends, food, laughter, and God’s beautiful landscape. Happy National Heroes Day Jamaica! Back to school tomorrow. 🙂

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