A New Realization

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 3.27.22 PMOk, it is not a new realization, but it is a new reality for me.  We have had some good weather this past week.  The flowers are blooming, spring has finally sprung!

Laura always gets on my case for turning the AC on too early, but when I feel a little sticky, I do not do well.

74 degree weather is great right?  Well, here is the reality.  That is about the LOW of an average night right now where we will be living in Costa Rica.  When I could not sleep last night because I was soooo hot, I realized that this heat is nothing at all compared to what we will soon be experiencing.

All this to say, we are going to be so stinkin’ hot!  Pray for us!

THE NEXT FEW WEEKS:

Next week Laura and I will be participating in Praying Pelican Missions Spring Meetings. This is a time when all of the full-time and seasonal staff gather to get instructions, pray together, and plan for the summer mission trips.  Laura and I secretly attended these meetings last year, trying to dodge the camera to not be seen on social media until we were able to announce our big move.  One year later and now we are weeks away from flying!

Speaking of flying, April 26th, Laura and I will be flying from our meetings in Florida to Liberia, Costa Rica to begin setting up our new home.  A missionary in Belize gave us advice to get the house ready before the family moves down and I believe it will be very beneficial.  Our home is empty.  Empty, except for one bed frame.  We have a lot to cram into six days such as purchasing large items for the house (beds, refrigerator, stove, washer, furniture), along with setting up a P.O. Box, bank account, looking into purchasing our family vehicle, and a visit to our children’s new school.  Would you please pray that we can get everything accomplished in the little time that we have?

We all make the big move in a mere 61 days!  We are 82% funded in Monthly Support, and 4% funded toward the purchase of our family vehicle.

The Faithless have a Sold House!

How do you know when God is in something?  Miraculous things happen!

After 2 weeks of being on the market, and after about 27 showings, we have accepted an offer on our house in Delaware!  After some negotiations, we have ended with a closing date of June 10th (5 days before our expected departure).Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.57.19 AM

Even more miraculous than a quick sale is that it passed the inspections, and the buyers are not asking for any repairs.  We see God all over this! We will have the appraisal next week.

I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 2:13 that says, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”  Think about that, God cannot go against His own nature.  He is faithful.  It is who He is.  It would be like gravity deciding one day not to hold us down to earth.  It is impossible.  Gravity does it’s job.  In the same way, God cannot decide one day to not be faithful to His people.

Trust me when I say there are days when I feel faithless, when circumstances seem to be rising against me.  Remember when Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind?  Elisha was left alone for the first time.  I don’t know if it was a moment of frustration, fear, or testing, but in 2 Kings 2:14 Elisha cries out “where is the God of Elijah?” And how does God respond?  He responds in a powerful demonstration of His power by dividing the Jordan River so that Elisha could cross over.

So where is the God of Elijah?  He is here.  He is faithful.  He has not left us.  He has not abandoned us.  Even when we do not deserve it, He is still faithful to His people!

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  –Psalm 36:5

We are Not Superstars

It is true, we are not superstars.  I know, you’re probably surprised (sarcasm).  No one has asked us for our signatures or asked to take a selfie with us today, this week, or this month…

We have been busy sharing the vision of Praying Pelican Missions in Costa Rica, and sharing our heart for the pastors and local churches there.  We are thankful for the open doors in three different churches this month.  The common theme we hear is that people are so proud of us.  People are constantly saying, “Wow!  I could never do that” or “That is such a good thing to do.”  Left to the words of other people who label us as superstars, our egos would be through the roof.  Everyone’s kind words really do help us to know we are doing the right thing, and “words of affirmation” are huge to me personally.

Let me give you a glimpse into the my crazy mind.

As missionaries in the fundraising stage, we are working hard to be fully funded before we leave on June 15th.  What this means is that we are constantly thinking about how are going reach our goal of 100% in monthly funding.  Social media media is rocked by our fundraising pics and you might get tired of hearing what percentage we are at.  At this point in my life, it’s all consuming.

Not to mention the fears of moving a family of 7 to another country.  I previously posted about the real fears we face.  At times I think maybe God should have chosen another family.  You know, one that has it all together.  One where the family sits down at night to affirm each other before going to bed, where everyone says “please” and “thank you.”  A family where the dad has so much patience and grace that nothing upsets him, and he never raises his voice in anger.  A family like on the show “Full House” where every issue gets resolved in 30 minutes as the sappy music plays and the family wrapped up in a group hug. You know, a perfect family.  If you have ever been to our house, you know we are not that family.

We are just real people, with real struggles and real concerns.  We have insecurities and fears that seem to paralyze us at times.  So why are we missionaries?  Jesus.  We may not have it all together and are in no way superstars.  We are simply doing what we feel God has put in our hearts.

Who are the superstars?

Superstars, in my book, are the people who are doing what God has called them to do.  Superstars are the people who are being obedient to what God is telling them to do.  You can be a superstar mom, a superstar electrician, a superstar nursery worker, or a superstar nurse.

I think of my brother Eric who loves people with more love and patience than I ever have.  He is raising his children, providing for his family, and taking care of his neighbors just like Christ would.  Eric is a superstar.

And you are a superstar too.  Accept the grace of God to your life and follow His leading in your life!  That’s a superstar.

After throwing my own non-superstar pity party, I guess by my own definition, we are superstars.  We are a family that is so grateful for the grace of God in our lives.  We are thankful for the call He has placed on our lives.  We are excited to serve as superstars in Costa Rica, walking alongside local pastors who have great visions for their communities.

Well, it’s time to put on our capes.  Dust yours off today, put away the negative thoughts that you have accepted as truth and begin to fly.  God has instilled purpose in each of your lives, ask Him to reveal the purpose and then follow in obedience!

And by the way, we are 58% funded.  I just had to.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.04.10 AMHere is a picture of Pastor Milton’s church in Rio Cuarto.  They hold church on their back patio. They are superstars!

Dos Casas

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Last week I traveled with three other fellow Pelicans (that’s what we call PPM staff) throughout Costa Rica meeting with pastors.  Every night we stayed in a new location as we ventured over mountains, past waterfalls, over rivers and alongside the coast.  It was amazing to hear our partnering pastor’s hearts and vision for their communities, and then discussing how we can come alongside them to make the dream a reality. It is PPM’s heart to assist the local church under the leadership of the local pastor.  Our pastors are really excited about how God is using PPM to help reach out in their communities.  We are so privileged to be part of a ministry that has a huge vision!

One of the goals of last week was to also do some house hunting.  We should have made a video of the whole day as it felt like we were on House Hunters International.  We saw a couple different types of properties and after looking through the pictures and videos numerous times, we have settled on a house we are calling “Casa Verde” (Green House).  This house is about five minutes outside of Liberia in an area known as Carana.  The house is now secured and it waiting for us!  We feel so much peace about this decision, and it eases many anxious thoughts of what we need to pack to make it a home.  Thank you to those who were praying specifically for our new home!

After coming home from Costa Rica and maIMG_5248king the difficult housing decision, we were also frantically doing last minute clean-ups and fix-ups on our current home in Wilmington, Delaware.  Today the house had a photo shoot and will be listed very, very soon.  It was a surreal moment driving home and seeing the “For Sale” sign in our front yard.  Would you take a moment right now and pray that the house sells at the perfect time for the perfect price?  We know that God is in this!

So in a matter of a few days we have acquired a house in Costa Rica and listed a house in Delaware!

On the support raising side, we have added $325 in Monthly Support since January 1st.  We are only $125 away from the goal we set for the month.  We also reached a milestone, we are now 50% funded!  This helps us continue towards our departure date of June 15th!IMG_5234

Christmas Has Already Invaded Our Home!

As Thanksgiving break has now hit us, we are all at home and the kids are running around watching the first snow fall.  Our house is already decorated for Christmas.  Yes, we are that family.  (By the way this is Nate writing.)  Our family loves Christmas, especially Laura.  Usually I am the one putting on the brakes about decorating early, watching Christmas movies early, and listening to Christmas music early.  But this year is different.  Don’t get me wrong, I did still ask Laura to shut the blinds last Saturday so that our neighbors would not see the glow of Christmas lights beaming from inside our house.  And yes, my family will probably still call me “the Grinch” this year, but it’s ok.

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This year is different.  Our tree is up.  Christmas movies are all ready being recorded on our DVR.  Christmas music is being played.  We made our first batch of “buckeyes” last week (and they are all already devoured).  I even already put out the Christmas lights outside!

So why aren’t the brakes on for Christmas this year?  This is it.  Next year at this time we will be in Costa Rica for Thanksgiving.  We will be preparing for a return to the U.S. in December so the hustle and bustle of this time of year will be very different for us next year.  Next year’s Christmas will not be spent in our own “home.”  We will probably still decorate our Costa Rican home for Christmas, but more than likely we will not celebrate Christmas there.  Christmas will be spent at both of our parent’s homes (attn: Parents – please start building an addition now).

We are also preparing our home to be put on the market in January.  As we are hanging the lights we are spackling holes, spot painting, and becoming best friends with the magic eraser.

Next year things will be different.  We will be finding new ways to make Christmas memories.  Abbi already told me, “palm trees don’t have too many branches to decorate.”  I assured her that we could find a Christmas tree, as I already asked one of the PPM translators about this since this is huge for our family.

This is a bittersweet time.  As we are going through many “lasts” we are trying to keep it all in perspective.  Many amazing “firsts” will be happening soon enough.

PRAISE REPORT:  All though we still have not reached October’s goal for monthly support, we are praying for 4 churches that are meeting in the next few weeks to see if God moves upon their hearts to support us as their missionaries.  Will you pray along with us for this to happen?  

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  Give thanks, He is worthy of all our praise!

www.normanmissionaryadventures.org/donate

Facts and Faith

In response to the questions we are getting about our support-raising, here are the current facts:

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  • So far we have 27 Monthly Supports that have joined our team.
  • Our Monthly Supporters give gifts between $10-$300 a month.
  • We are currently 39% funded towards our goal.
  • To be on track, by the end of November we need to be 50% funded (this is an increase of $360 of new Monthly Supporters).
  • 7.5 months left until we move.  It’s coming fast!
  • We desperately need your PRAYER SUPPORT!  These next 7.5 months need to be soaked in prayer as there is so much to do and so many details to be sorted out.

There are the facts.  Here is the faith in action:

  • We are so blessed by each person who has given monthly and one-time gifts.  God is truly in this, and we see it with each new gift that comes in.  We know that many of our givers are giving in faith, thank you so much!
  • Each step we take seems to be another step of faith.  Each step also makes it more real that we are moving in less than 7.5 months.  Last week we secured a storage unit.  The purge is happening and we are hoping to list our home in January.  Last week Laura excitedly announced to me, “I can see the back of the attic now!”
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  • Craigslist has already helped us get rid of some items that we do not want to store.  We are also now pet-free!  The cat that we thought adopted us actually left, and a friend has already taken our guinea pigs (don’t remind Abbi though)!
  • Nate will be attending a Praying Pelican Missions week of meetings in December and then going to Costa Rica for a week in January.
  • We are moving forward in faith and are looking at a flying date of June 15th!

If you feel the Lord leading you to join our giving team, you can begin by clicking on the following link:  DONATE HERE

My Parents

I have had two great cheerleaders my entire life.  These two have encouraged me to follow after the Lord in all that I do.  They jump onboard with what I feel God is asking of me and help me through the process.  They ask the hard questions to make sure that I have thought through it all, while not expecting me to have all the answers at the same time.

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They are my parents.

I have been so blessed to have the parents that God gave me.  I have seen my parents work hard all of my life to provide for us, yet never compromising the call of God on their lives.  I have seen them face adversity and stand for truth even when it was not popular.

My parents are my heros.  They are amazing grandparents to all of our children.  They are generous, loving, and can make me laugh so easily.

One of my fondest memories of my dad was checking out our move to Haiti nine years ago.  We shared a tiny, dirty, and hot hotel room.  We talked about everything as we watched mangos fall from trees nearly hitting people all while we sipped cold Coca-Colas.  We would laugh at the ever growing sweat marks overtaking our t-shirts.  He has always been there for me.

I will always remember my mom throwing me down into the snow while trying to cut down our family Christmas tree (I was hiding from my brothers who were trying to throw snowballs at me).  But I will also remember all of those times she picked me up and held me.  She is a one-of-a-kind mother who always is ready to love on me.

We would not be taking this next adventure if they had not let me go so long ago.  I remember leaving my sophomore year of college to go pursue ministry in Atlanta.  I cried the entire 14 hour drive south.  I’m a mommy and daddy’s boy at heart.  They trusted the God inside of me, no matter how far it took me from them.

Now leaving with five of their grandchildren, I know it will be bittersweet for them.  We just had a great weekend with them in our home in Delaware.

Mom and Dad, hopefully I can be the kind of parents you have been to me!  I also hope that when it comes time for me to let go of my children, that I can surrender them to God’s will and purpose as you did with me.

[P.S. I have great in-laws too!]

A look into the mission…

Many people have been asking what exactly we will be doing with Praying Pelican Missions (PPM) while in Costa Rica.  PPM recently created a great video that will show you the heart of PPM in 3.5 minutes.  Will you take a few minutes to watch it?

As you can see from the video, we will not be building a complex or a PPM kingdom.  We are not interested in that.  Our interest lies in assisting the local church.  In Costa Rica, the local churches will be our office.  They will be the place that I (Nate) spend the majority of my time, networking with pastors and seeing how we can be of assistance to their church.

Will it be easy?  No.  We are not expecting it to be easy.

We are so glad that this mission is not about us.  It’s about building and expanding the Kingdom of God!

If you want to come serve in Costa Rica and see the heart of PPM in action, please don’t hesitate to call or email.  A trip of a lifetime for your group is waiting for you.  We can’t wait to see more genuine partnerships start between the church of the U.S. and Costa Rica.  Through the many trips that I have taken with our church, I know the Costa Rican church will be encouraged, and your group will go home different than they arrived.

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21

Things I Will Miss When I Am Not A Youth Pastor

There are many things that have been running through my mind as these last months begin to fly by.  Here are just a few things that I will miss when I am no longer a Youth Pastor:

1.  A 6th grader pulling me aside to ask for prayer as he is nervous about going to Middle School for the first time.

2.  Being not cool.  I have never professed to be cool.  Never.  But being a Youth Pastor gave me the opportunity to make fun of myself.

3.  Feeling young.  Being a Youth Pastor gave me the illusion that I was still young, and at the same time showed me how old I was becoming.

Western Night

Western Night @ the Warehouse

4.  Getting paid to have fun.  Yes, my job description entails going to Six Flags, attending sporting events, being on facebook, planning sick and disgusting games, beach trips, camps, pool parties, eating cheeseburgers, etc…

5.  I have learned the art of making fun of teenagers while still being funny, and still keeping teens as my friends.

6.  Text messages asking hard questions about the Bible.

7.  Having a snack bar 100 feet from my office.  Hopefully I can lose some weight in Costa Rica.

8.  Knowing exactly what I am going to wear on Sunday nights: jeans and a Warehouse t-shirt, my unofficial uniform.

9.  Laying on the floor at camp responding to God’s Word.

10.  Keeping up with the new social media app of the week.

11.  Watching teens grow in their faith year after year.

12.  Awkward side hugs.

13.  Preaching, teaching and guiding teens through the drama of life.

14.  Knowing what is ok to say and what is not.  Meanings of words change over time.  It is good to be aware of when this happens.

15.  Having a good reason for looking exhausted 24/7.

16.  Having an office where it is acceptable to have not only one, but two hammocks hanging from the rafters.

17.  Building relationships with teenagers and walking with them as they cross over into “young adulthood”.

18.  Welcoming teenagers into our home on a regular basis.

19.  Imparting my heart for missions into teenager’s lives as we served alongside each other on mission trips.

20.  SERVING THE BEST TEENAGERS IN THE WORLD!

Warehouse Crew

 

Stitches, Staples & Hard Drives

WCS School PicA lot has been going on since our last post.  Our children are now back in school!  We currently have a K, 2nd , 4th, and 12th grader.  School brings about good routines for us.  Everyone is doing great in their new grade.  Outside of the classroom we are staying busy with choir, running club, and soccer games.

Laura has been doing some simplifying of our home.  She has been reorganizing and purging in an attempt to make our transition a little smoother as we prepare to sell our home.

I, Nate, have kicked off my final year as the youth pastor at Immanuel Church.  I truly feel this will be our most influential year yet.  I just did my least favorite event, a 10 hour overnighter with 40 teenagers.  I have discovered that I am old, and staying up all night is no longer fun for me.  Ha.  Now that it is out of the way, I can focus on what we hope to impart to our teenagers.

Our fundraising is going well.  This has been a very Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 6.21.22 PMhumbling time of relying on other people to catch the vision that God has called us to.  We have been reaching out to families and churches that have the same heart as we do.  We have currently reached 24% of our monthly support goal.  We recently had to increase our monthly budget totalPiggy Bank to $3,500/month as we were given more info as to what costs actually are in Costa Rica.  If you feel the Lord leading you to give financially, you can do so here.  Reagan and Abbi have been saving up as well.  I stumbled upon their piggy bank and I was very impressed!

Did I tell you how God is already supplying miraculously…While I was in Costa Rica in August, we received word that we have received a 50% discount for the school our children will be attending in Costa Rica!  They said that they have only ever given that to one other family!  Praise God!

Many things are still up in the air, but God is opening doors by giving us contacts to help us.  Last week I was texting and talking with two Costa Ricans who have served as translators on previous trips.  They are eager to help us find housing!

With all this going on, we need more prayer support than ever!  Three weeks ago Darrell had to get eight stitches above his eye due to a soccer collision.  One week later, Reagan had to get a staple in her head after a bad dismount from her bunk bed.  Last week my hard drive on my mac died.  As we continue to set our sights on Costa Rica, we know that the enemy is not happy about this.  The enemy knows that God has a plan to reach a nation.  Your prayer support is critical, we cannot do this without you!

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