A few things have certainly happened since our last newsletter. We closed out the school quarter with a bittersweet goodbye to our work-duty students: bitter because we will miss them and sweet because they are doing their outreaches all across the Continental US. This quarter was a good time for me to get my “feet wet” and understand a little bit what ministry can look like at the farm in the day-to- day—ministering to students as they process their lecture weeks and the things they are facing in their lives.
Heidi had her gallbladder surgery and there were no issues or complications. She is still recovering: mostly her energy levels are not back to normal. God has been so evident in this whole process. The surgeon who worked on her specializes in gallbladder removal and he is a traveling surgeon: so he is only here for this season. How amazing that Heidi happened to need this surgery while he happened to be here on the Big Island! Praise God!
Since our last newsletter we have gained two pending supporters as well, when things are confirmed I will update where we are in regards to covering the loss of our largest supporter. I took a break from support-raising during the holidays for my own sake and for the sake of others as well—so I will be starting up again in the coming weeks.
We had a wonderful time as a family over Christmas and New Year’s. We got a lot of time together and it was the first time our new apartment started to feel like a home—for Heidi and me, but also for the kids. Emett has been spending a lot of time running around with kids in the neighborhood and building relationships, but is also eager to get back to school and his friends there (I’m sure Heidi is ready for him to get back to school as well!) The baby is free-standing now, and we are enjoying her a lot as we are discovering her fun personality.
Much of what is happening this quarter has been fairly recently relayed to me, so forgive me if things change as the quarter goes along. The reality of COVID-19 means that things are constantly changing: schedules, numbers of students, etc. What I know currently is that we will have work-duty students again starting around the 18th, but this time from three sources: a UofN medical school (or track, not sure), the Fire and Fragrance Discipleship Training School (DTS), and the Awaken DTS. We will also be running tracks for both the DTS’s I just mentioned. For those of you who don’t know, the DTS is sort of a missionary boot camp that has about 14 weeks of lectures covering various topics—and then an outreach phase after those 14 weeks. When people have a “track” in the DTS, it basically means that there is a focus. You can have DTS’s with tracks like photography, sports, trekking, etc. The tracks are taught (just basics) during the lecture phase with the idea that those topics can be used to reach people with the Gospel: i.e. doing sports ministry, etc. We have a Science and Technology track (farm track) that teaches people some basics of what our department focuses on (food, water, energy, and health)— generally with a project in mind (i.e. installing water filtration systems in partnership with a YWAM campus in the field where they are doing their outreach). I will help with teaching in these tracks throughout the quarter.
On top of teaching in the tracks I will also be preparing for staffing a school in the following quarter: the School of Stewardship and Sustainability. Within the University of the Nations we have what are called “secondary schools” or schools that people can take after their DTS towards a degree, and this school is one of those. It focuses on those topics I mentioned before: food, water, energy, and health. It is currently looking like I will be taking over the running of this school after staffing this next one—which means I will have some control over what is taught, how the school is run, etc. While this prospect is a little intimidating, it is one of the primary reasons I think God has brought us here as a family—to help run and develop new and existing schools focused on these topics to support missionaries and help them to be better equipped to bring the gospel into certain contexts.
Outside of these primary tasks, I will continue to support-raise. Emett will continue the first grade. Greta and Yana will be jumping into a dance school along with being home-schooled by Heidi. We all will continue to settle in and try to make this place our home in the midst of a pandemic that makes that a little hard to do: not to mention all the political tension and other things going on in the US right now.