Finishing the Race!

Life has been super, super full!!  Between summer missions things, school ending and end of the year parties, and getting ready for our trip to SC and Colorado, we have been running 90 miles per minute. I would love to share some highlights in pictures from the week and then share two cool God stories that give you a small glimpse into how the Lord is moving here!

Emerson’s school hosted a Fathers Day fun time for the dads to come in, compete, and love on their kids. Emerson LOVED having her daddy come and she says she was worried he would get hurt as he was competing with the other dads in tug of way (he didn’t, by the way).

Just in the past week or so, we have eaten at two different ethnic places as a project (Caribbean and Mediterranean) and hosted a breakout time where students could get specific training in apologetics, culture and race, prayer, and financial stewardship. I got to lead the financial stewardship breakout and I LOVE getting to use how the Lord has gifted me to help the students learn how to better honor the Lord through their finances). We hosted another family night for the students at our house where we cooked for and hung out with them and we got to go on a fun date night just the TWO of us thanks to students sacrificially serving us by watching all our kids. We have stepped out in faith and saw the Lord use us to have many, many spiritual conversations (a cool story coming up next!) and we have spent lots of time praying for city and the campus. We went to see a broadway play “The Play That Goes Wrong” with the students and we spent yesterday evening after campus walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, eating good New York style pizza, and taking our group photo. Here are a few picture highlights:

The kids on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Photo op at the Broadway Play “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Students sharing the Gospel (including the picture on the bottom where one of our summer project students who just placed his faith in Christ turned around and shared Christ the next day with a student at Queens College who placed her faith in Jesus).

Two sorta quick fun stories of how the Lord is moving:

1 – Yesterday, a few students and staff decided to travel to LaGuardia Community College in Queens College. They prayed when they arrived for the conversations they would have and one of the girls in our group prayed that they would see someone place their faith in Jesus. Another of our girls prayed that the Lord would do more than that and they would see two people place their faith in Jesus. We were so excited at the end of the day to hear that two students DID INDEED place their faith in Jesus. Just one of many examples of the Lord honoring our prayers….to Him be the glory! Here are the two students that went from eternal separation to eternal life yesterday.

2 – A month or two ago, we heard that there was professor starting at St. John’s University in the fall who really wanted to be a part of helping us reach the campus. We planned to connect with her in August.

Then, I went to my moms group this past week and they said we had a new mom joining us who had just moved from Philly. After she arrived, we did introductions and shared about our summer plans. When I shared that we were missionaries with Cru and that we were going to a conference and to see ministry partners, this new mom shared how her life had been impacted in college by Cru, that she was going to be a professor at St. John’s in the fall, and that she really wanted to talk with me about helping us at St. Johns.

I left, called Ed to tell him about it, and once we put the pieces together, we realized that it was indeed the same person!  What are the odds that of the all the people all over NYC, she happens to show up at our moms group, hear about what we do, say she wants to join in, and start connecting with us? I got to have her over for a play date and I have to say, I think the Lord brought her to St. Johns for such a time as this (she was raised Catholic for 14 years and is very aware of the ins and outs of the Catholic church which will be super helpful at St. Johns)…so excited to see how the Lord uses it all!  So fun to see him connecting all the pieces and showing off!

Summer mission will end this week….which is very bittersweet. On one hand, we are exhausted and ready for a good break. On another, we will miss seeing God work on these campuses this summer and we will miss these students and staff who have become so near and dear to us. We have been studying 2 Timothy as a mission and this week, we studied about Paul sharing with the believers about how he has finished the race and remained faithful. Would you pray with us that we would finish this race of summer mission in NYC well?

Life and Mission Update

This post is going to be a smorgasbord of information – from answered prayers to an update on our summer mission to just a look at life in our family recently. So sit back, hang on, and enjoy the ride (or read!).

This week, we got the call we have been waiting for for months, literally.  EMERSON GOT A SPOT IN KINSLEY’S SCHOOL!!!  This is a HUGE deal and what we have been praying for for months. They had a few students who took spots in other schools to be in the Gifted and Talented program, which opened up a spot for Emerson. I have tried to figure out what the Lord may have been teaching me, other than to be patient, be okay with not being in control, and just to wait on Him (does this lesson ever stop?!?), but I honestly don’t know. This will be one of those things that I just don’t get, and I am okay with that. Our Muslim friends who ride the bus with Kinsley and are in the same boat as us (they didn’t get a spot for the younger sibling either) still don’t have a spot yet since they are further down the list, so not only do I feel compassion for them, I am so grateful that we now know and aren’t waiting like they are.

NYC Summer Mission has really begun to take off. Students and staff have been here for a few weeks and have started to get their grove and figure out things like doing laundry, navigating public transportation, getting a feel for their campuses, etc. It has been so neat to see how they have been taking huge steps of faith, some by initiating spiritual conversations, some by engaging with people not like them, and others by just being here. The first week on campus really rocked a lot of our students as they got questions that really challenged them and for many, it was the first time interacting with people who didn’t believe what they did. It caused them to really think, dig in the Bible, and figure out how they would answer it and what they believe. That is what this mission is all about – not just sharing the Gospel but causing these students to grow closer to the Lord as well! 

That being said, the Lord has allowed us to see fruit so far, which is very gracious of Him! As of just Monday, the Lord allowed us to have 135 spiritual conversations, 55 conversations where the Gospel is shared, and 3 decisions for Christ!  And its only halfway through the summer mission! Please pray the students keep taking steps of faith, keep initiating conversations, keep leaning on the Lord through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to have these conversations, keep engaging their doubts and turning to the Lord to answer their questions, and keep growing in their faith as well.

Even though I don’t get to go to campus everyday with the students because I have the kids, school pickups, etc, I have been able to be involved in the summer mission in lots of ways – staff meetings, women’s time, ethnic dinners, family dinners, social events, and much more. Enjoy these pictures of summer mission so far.

The guys at putt-putt on Pier 25 on their Men’s night. Why are they mean-mugging? No clue. The picture below is a group of our students and staff at Top of the Rock.

This is training we held for the students where they practiced how to use Solarium, a picture survey, to find out what people believe and to get into spiritual conversations with them.

A beautiful picture of One World Trade at night. Beautiful city!

The view of the city from Queens College.

A cross on campus at St. John’s University, a Catholic college.

Learning about and finding the way around St. John’s University via a map.

Ethnic dinner at an Indian restaurant in Manhattan.

Another beautiful view of the city.

Another ethnic dinner at an Ethopian restaurant in Manhattan. And yes, our kids ate that (barely).

Another ethnic dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in Manhattan (it was seriously the best Chinese food I have ever had).

One of the surveys we use on campus to enable us to get in spiritual conversations or get a students’ info to follow up with them.

A group of our girls on the beach at Coney Island.

Personally, life has been crazy busy being involved in project and juggling family/kid/school demands. BUT, we have been having a great time and the kids are loving all their time with “the college students”, as they call them. We also had a great time renting a car and driving down to Coney Island for the day last Saturday. We were going to be meeting the students at the amusement park that afternoon for a team social, but we decided to travel down early and get in some beach time. The water was cold, the beach was crowded, but that didn’t stop our kids from having a great time.

The kids enjoyed their time riding the rides at Coney Island, though I have to say, so far, only one of our kids REALLY enjoys it. It is funny how the Lord makes each kid so different. Kinsley is very afraid of heights, fast things, and doing anything that scares her. As you can imagine, Coney Island rides weren’t her thing (though she did try the Log Flume as her one big ride). Emerson, on the other hand, would have stayed another 3 hours riding rides. Ed is a huge dare devil and loves fast and high things, and Emerson would have ridden everything there with him if she could have. Blake is a little more like Kinsley, though time will tell if he learns to love them like Emerson.

As you can see, Emerson loved the rides with her dad!  Kinsley, on the other hand, is much more content with this speed of ride – a little train for toddlers (which was Blake’s favorite!). Bless her heart.

Oh yes, she did ride this all by herself. And two different big roller coasters with Ed. Tough I don’t hate roller coasters, she didn’t get this love from her momma.

One of my favorite parts about the summer in the city, so far? Getting to listen to concerts at the Forest Hills stadium behind our apartment without even paying and from the comfort of home! Last weekend, they had the Chainsmokers perform and they not only were LOUD and CLEAR from our apartment, they did fireworks the whole time. Last night, Jack Johnson performed and our students that came over for family night were floored that they got to listen to some of his music from our balcony. Is this real life?

Thanks for hanging in there through this long post. And thanks for your prayers for Kinsley and Emerson’s school situation, for our summer mission, for our family, and for Kinsley’s foot surgery vs orthopedics situation (no update there yet). We are so thankful for you!

5 Things I Am Loving

In the past, occasionally, I have posted about things I am loving at the moment.  It has been a while, and to be honest, after a few really rough days due to a hard baby and some major behavior issues from our 4 year old, I needed to write a post sharing how thankful I am. So, here goes – my list of my five favorite things right now.

1 – My Instant Pot.

So, if you know me, or even if you don’t, let me share one thing – I am pretty frugal. I am not one for indulging in the latest trends or the hottest items or the newest electronics. I have been hearing about this Instant Pot for quite a while and I kept thinking “But my Crockpot does the same thing” or “That’s one more appliance to take up space in my already small and overpacked kitchen” or “I don’t know any Instant Pot recipes I am dying to try.” So I held out and didn’t buy one. Then, after hearing from person after person after person after person (you get the picture) about how great it was and how it was their favorite appliance, I started looking for a good deal on one. When I found a good deal, I debated about it and then decided to take the plunge.

The verdict? Well, obviously I loved it since it made this post. I am just amazed at how it cooked pasta in 5 minutes. Or how it cooked my chicken in about 10. Or how it also sautes things but can also slow cook or make yogurt or boil eggs. Seriously, I don’t understand it but I can say I am loving it. Once I figure out how to convert things or get more confident using it, I can see it being an appliance I use daily. So, if you are thinking about taking the plunge, do it. And if you take 3 weeks to pull it out because you are intimidated, you aren’t the first person to do it because I did that same thing 🙂

2 – Halo Top Ice Cream

Again, I am super skeptical and late to try the newest things. I have had many friends rave about this ice cream that only had 300 calories in the whole pint. I thought “How good could something like that be?” Well, I am trying to eat healthy and get back in shape after baby #4 and let me just tell you, this stuff is pretty amazing. And I love that it comes in fun flavors instead of the plain vanilla or chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Yah for having something for the sweet tooth that won’t break the calorie bank.

3 – Ed Hetzel. Guys, let me just tell you, I married a keeper. We just had our 12th wedding anniversary and I can honestly say I am so grateful that the Lord partnered me with him in this crazy life. He has been working so hard and crazy hours lately with leading the project, and while I do miss having his company, I also miss having his help with the kids. I cannot imagine being a single parent of one child, much less 4. He is so very helpful at home and is all in when he is there. With 4 kids, when one of us is taken away or not there, it becomes crazy and somewhat unmanageable (at least with Brynn at the age she is at), but with both of us pitching in, and given how helpful he is, we actually enjoy being parents and get to really spend time with our kids…if that makes sense. So, Ed, thank you for all you mean to our family – we literally could not do it without you!

4 – Butterflies – Ok, this may seem random, but you know how as you age and get older, you learn to appreciate certain things more? We took the kids to the Butterfly Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and we had a blast watching all the butterflies and marveling at their colors and differences. It is so fun to see such beauty in one of God’s creations. I love the colors in butterflies, how they bring me such joy to see them, and that they are simple, quiet, but yet so beautiful. I also love watching them go from being a caterpillar to a butterfly and just seeing the beauty of nature up close.

Emerson particularly enjoyed it and wouldn’t leave until she caught one on her somewhere. After lots of patient (and not so patient) waiting, we caught one on my eye (it tickled so bad as it walked around and you aren’t supposed to shoo them off!), on her head, and on her hand. I could have stayed in here for a long time!

5 – This summer mission, we have been doing something on Wednesday nights called Family Nights. A few families who live in the city have a group of students and staff from the project over to their house for dinner. The idea is to give students an idea of what actually living in the city looks like AND to give them a chance to just sit on a couch or relax in a home versus the hotel or a restaurant. This is the group that joined us for the first week.

I have LOVED having these Family Nights. As a mom and having kids still in school, I don’t get to make it to everything summer mission related, but because of these nights, I get to know the students, interact with them in a small group, have fun doing things like playing games and eating good food together, and my kids get to interact with them too. I love every time my kids get a chance to be around college students who love Jesus. What a gem!!