June Update

June 2016

MarkJulieGTNWHQFollowing God’s Plan…

Wow! What a month we have had!
After spending the majority of the first four months of the year in recovery mode, we are so thankful for the opportunity to be able to travel and take steps towards our next ministry assignment. One thing we know for sure is that we were not designed to sit and do nothing! It was nice for a while and a very necessary part of Julie’s recovery, but now that she is healed and back to full strength, we felt it was time to move forward ‘at a sensible pace’! Our idea of ‘sensible’ may seem a little extreme to some with 4 flights in 2 weeks, but we assure those of you who have shown concern that we are being sensible and at least trying not to push our boundaries beyond what Julie is ablejeremiah_29-11-BibleBLK to cope with comfortably each day. God hasn’t finished with us and our best is yet to come! We are assured that God has good things in store for us both and whatever God has lined up for us, He has been working behind the scenes on our behalf, setting things up in advance to guarantee us an amazing future, where we fit perfectly!

Blessed to be a Blessing……  

So what have we been up to in Florida this past month? We are glad you asked!!
We flew to Florida in the middle of May from Dallas Texas to take an opportunity to volunteer at the World Headquarters of Go To Nations, a Missionary sending agency based in Jacksonville Florida.  IMG_7290One of our main activities during our time here has been to help with a 3 week Leadership Development Forum for 11 Missionary Families, who have travelled to Florida from other parts of the US, the Philippines, Thailand, Greece and Vietnam.
IMG_7158Our serving has consisted of various roles including cleaning and preparing the Ministry Centre ready for their arrival, shopping for supplies and welcome gifts, serving meals and refreshments, capturing the teaching sessions on video, sound and visual media, bringing the Go To Nations Global Missionary database up to date by helping transfer their information to a new system and anything else that needed our input. IMG_7286It’s not IMG_7289IMG_7212 (1)always easy to serve Missionaries as they are so used to being the ones who sacrifice so much to selflessly serve others! It has been an honor to be a blessing to these 11 families each day and volunteer alongside a great team of amazing people at the World Headquarters to give them a great experience. We have had the opportunity to sit on most of the Leadership Development Teaching sessions and have really enjoyed hearing the Heart of GTN from their Executive Team and getting to see first hand how Go To Nations operates Globally. GTN has been in operation for more than 30 years and currently supports more than 800 missionaries impacting over 93 countries throughout the world. blessed to be a blessingThe Missionaries they support are involved with so many wonderful projects such as Church Planting, setting up and supporting Orphanages, Feeding Programs, Community Health, Aid and Relief Projects to the Poor, Aquaponics Projects, working with Refugees, Bible Schools and they are in the forefront of the battle against Human Trafficking.
For the past 12 years of full time ministry, we have been intentional about investing ourselves in changing people’s lives and bringing hope to the communities we have served. It has been such a worthwhile use of our time to be a blessing to this great Missions organization during this 7-week visit to Jacksonville, as their vision, mission and values line up so well with the call of God on our lives. In fact it was Go To Nations Missionaries that we served on our first ever Missions Outreach to the Philippines to work with Street Children 13 years ago, when we were students at Christ For The Nations in 2003, even though we didn’t make this connection until recently! 

God Keeps On Blessing Us……

John and Carolyn EllisWe have been staying with a delightful couple, John & Carolyn Ellis, in an apartment above their garage which they built 25 years ago for use by visiting missionaries. They are now retired and in their late 70s and mid 80s and are a real blessing to so many people. We have enjoyed hearing about the many adventures they have had. They have visited 30 Countries and are still world travelers! They have loaned us their car for a few weeks to save us renting one and blessed us further by filling it up with fuel before handing us the keys.
lizardWe have quite a few 4-legged neighbors, Lizards of all sorts that climb the walls outside our apartment, that seem to greet us as we leave at 7.30am each morning for our drive to GTN HQ. They don’t stay around long when we appear but seeing their little legs scurry away is quite cute! Thankfully we haven’t had any inside yet as that might be a different story! Our hosts were telling us that there are Raccoons, Eagles, Osprey and all manner of other wildlife around our home! There are even Alligators in the small creek that runs past the end of the garden! We will stick to enjoying the lizards and leave their much larger cousins to swim undisturbed!

One great perk of being here in Florida near the P1010587 (1)coast is that we are only 20 minutes from the beach. We have taken the opportunity several times after a long day serving, to take a walk on the beach and paddle in the ocean as the sun is going down! There are miles of unspoiled coastline and this is a fun way to end a busy day and unwind, watching Pelicans flying by and diving into the waves to catch an evening snack! There are Turtles and Dolphins that swim quite close to the beach, but we haven’t seen any yet! 
Florida has had its weather challenges recently with tropical storms, amazing thunder and lightening storms, torrential rain, 90% humidity and temperatures around 38°C (100°F). Thank God for air-conditioning!
IMG_7073We drove 8 hours on our day off last Saturday from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg and back to swap our loan vehicles after the first month and Julie had to drive one of the vehicles for 100 miles in the rain that day. IMG_7278This was her first time driving in the US for 13 years, but she did well considering it was on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car!!!!
We still treat every day as a God given adventure and are thankful for the love and support of friends who have encouraged us and partnered with us financially and in prayer. We have always lived by the philosophy that you can’t out-give God and as we try to be a blessing to others, God makes sure we are blessed in the process too.

How You Can Support Us……

Pray for us! We are coming to a point in the next few weeks when we have to make some important decisions about our next steps! Please pray for wisdom and a clear direction for our future. 
Support us practically. We have opportunities to return to the US as Full Time Missionaries in August, to serve at Go To Nations World Headquarters Jacksonville, Florida (www.gotonations.org) or as Full Time Missionaries based at Trinity Church in Dallas, Texas. (www.trinitychurch.org)
To take either of these options, we will need to cover our living costs, accommodation and transport. Our forecasted budget shows that we need financial support of $3,500 (£2,500) each month. That is a $2,900 (£2,020) per month increase on our current $600 (£400) monthly income. The funds from selling our home are depleting rapidly as we have spent the past 12 months volunteering.
IMG_6551We would love you to partner with us in bringing hope and restoration to the lives of thousands of people worldwide by giving a regular financial gift, large or small as we continue to impact Nations and fulfill the Great Commission. 

A one off financial gift towards our travel costs, would be a huge blessing too! 
We fly back to the UK on 12th July for Julie to have her second consultant appointment in Bristol as a routine follow up on the 13th. We are also thrilled to be able to attend our daughter’s graduation ceremony in Wales on 14th, as she has recently passed her 3 year Bachelors Degree in Inclusive Education.
We will need use of a vehicle for a few weeks during our time in the UK, so car keyif you have a car we could use in the UK for all or part of this time, please let us know.