NY SM Week 5!

Week 5 is in the books! My goal is to write a more in-depth post next week about the ways we saw God working this summer and what He did in our students’ lives, so let this just serve as a brief overview of our week, and not the final summation of the summer mission.

This week, we had our final staff meeting, had seminars for the students to attend (boundaries in relationships, transitioning out of college, and financial stewardship), walked the Brooklyn Bridge, took our group photo in Brooklyn, ate delicious pizza at Juliana’s in Brooklyn, went to campus for 4 days, had the last Bible study and discipleship appointments, ethnic dinner, had our staff banquet, and had our final celebration banquet with both staff and students. Which is actually going on right now, but due to a kid who got strep throat TODAY instead of waiting until project was over tomorrow, I am at home writing this post instead 🙁

Our goal for the entire project was not only for our students and staff to see God change, grow, and transform their own lives in significant ways, but that they would step out in faith to have good conversations and see what God was going to do on campus with other students through them. Our goal was that we would see 10 students place their faith in Jesus, and we are excited to say, we have ended our summer mission seeing 11 students place their faith in Jesus! Yay for answered prayers! We are so proud of our students and staff. I love seeing how far God brings them in having good spiritual conversations from the first week to the last….such growth! Here are the people who made decisions this week (minus Israel who didn’t feel comfortable getting his picture taken).

This girl below, was so sincere, and she prayed for like 3 minutes quietly to God (even with people constantly walking by in a busy area of campus) when she was asking Him to forgive her sins and begin a relationship with her.

Here is our complete project picture!

One of my very, very favorite parts of project (besides seeing God cause so much growth!) is that my kids get to regularly interact with staff and students who not only love the Lord, but who sincerely love on them. These pictures are just a few examples.

Here are a few pictures of our time eating at Juliana’s and taking pictures at the Brooklyn Bridge area.

Ed, thanks for being a great dad and husband even in the midst of a challenging, exhausting, and work-filled summer. You have served us well and this family wouldn’t function without you!

And this picture shows our amazing leadership team for the NYC Summer Mission. Meghan, Ellen, and Ed, thanks for making leading something this big and challenging and God-sized a great adventure and lots of fun. Thanks for your grace, truth, and hard work – we worked like dogs but had a blast in the process. I have loved no drama and lots of fun – it was a blessing from the Lord to work with ya’ll!

We spent some time of the weekend showing my cousin Makenzie around the city and visiting her “bucket list” places like Washington Square Park (where we saw an awesome performance by both some dancers and our kids 🙂 ), eating cookie dough at Do, and visiting Chinatown.

For our ethnic dinner this week, we had food delivered from a food truck called Makina Cafe. The really, really fun part is that Makina Cafe (specializing in Ethopian/Eritrean food) is owned and ran by my old college roommate (who was also in our wedding). I loved being able to give her business and taste her delicious food, but the ultimate best was being able to hug her sweet neck. So proud of you Eden!

The girls had their last day of school followed by a visit to the theaters to see “Incredibles 2”. They are going to miss their friends and teachers, but are excited for a more relaxed pace and time with us.

We had our nice staff dinner at a restaurant on the water in lower Manhattan overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Then, we headed to Chinatown to eat dessert at this place called Milk and Creme cereal bar, where you get ice cream mixed with cereal and toppings. Delicious! Little did we know, the night was going to get interesting. We had an incident on our train where a guy who were clearly impaired got in a couple of our staff guy’s faces and tried to fight them (at our stop, he got off the train and got back on while arguing with another guy so who knows what happened when they left our station)…having been here in the city for a while, it was a bit scary and I really thought the guy was going to attack them (which would have been crazy in a group with 4 guys and one of them having police training and one of the girls having a black belt in 3 forms of martial arts). Then, after dessert, we tried to get on a train but the station was filled with smoke, nasty smells, and nasty noises and we learned that a train was stuck on a track and there were no uptown trains going that way. We tried uber. We tried another train which went a few stops before getting stopped because there was an incident on the last train car and they needed to investigate. We tried uber again. And then, we finally ditched it all and took the Long Island Rail Road back to Queens. Talk about a crazy night and having issues getting home. I told Ed it had to be a full moon (which of course we can’t see in the city) and sure enough, I found out that it was.

Again, I would love to share more about what God has taught me this summer and what He has done in our staff and students’ lives, but thats a whole ‘nother post. Til next time!

SM Week 4

I cannot believe that we are almost done with 5 weeks of the NYC Summer Mission!  Week 4 felt more “normal”, whatever that means on summer mission 🙂 .

Our students and staff, knowing that days on campus are limited as we are nearing the end, decided that they wanted to challenge themselves to push hard and to trust God as they finish this race well. In order to do that, they have set a goal to initiate 25 spiritual conversations daily. It has been encouraging to see each group cheer on the others and to praise God that they have exceeded that goal EVERY SINGLE DAY! As a result of God opening up peoples’ eyes and hearts to the message of Jesus, 2 more students surrendered their lives to Jesus! Here are a picture of these two new sisters in Christ:

We are so proud of them and even in the midst of feeling burnt out and seeing the finish line on the horizon, they are continuing to trust God for big things here. At the beginning, we set a goal of seeing 10 people place their faith in Jesus this summer. With 3 days left on campus, will you pray God allows us to see that goal met as He changes their lives?

We also had other “normal” things this week – ethnic dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant, mens (pictures below) and womens (we totally dropped the ball on getting pictures) times where we talked about things that are specific to our own struggles (the women talked about surrendering every aspect of our life to Jesus), Bible study, staff meeting, church and serving time at the church in the kids classes’, extended time in the word and worship, family dinners at our apartments, and extended prayer and training times.

We are really enjoying our staff team this summer. Most of them (with the exception of Ellen who is from Boston) are from the South, which has been fun for us to talk about sweet tea, the ways of the South, and southern words, and feel understood 🙂  Saturday night, we went to something called The Night Market which is held behind the New York Hall of Science in Queens. The night market consists of all kind of ethnic food vendors (who change weekly!) who sell large portions for $5 so you can taste and savor food from all around the world. Every time, we try something new and every time, we LOVE everything we try. We were delighted to share this fun treasure of a place with our team (it only happens on Saturday nights during the summer). I had a delicious cocunut pancake with java palm sugar, Russian palmini and a Malaysian burger. After we all tried food, went back for more, went back for even more, oohed and aahed over all there was to offer, and enjoyed the cultural music, we walked over the the unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where the Worlds Fair was held. Notice it from Men in Black?

Ed is such a trooper – after being diagnosed with a sinus infection, he had to wake up the next morning and run a 10K. He had to do it to qualify to run the NYC half marathon next year, so he couldn’t just back out without their being consequences, and with him recently running a half-marathon, this wasn’t hard, BUT STILL!

I was so excited that the kids and I could finally come and cheer him on – they had a blast watching and cheering on the runners (and getting a few high-fives) and I loved seeing an Ugandan man win the race (I love, love, love watching them run with no heavy breathing like they only ran one block and their stride is amazing!).

The girls only have 2.5 days of school left – today we had class parties and yesterday, Emerson graduated kindergarten! Yes, it is weird that they graduate and then have 3.5 day so school left, but I don’t make the rules 🙁 Here are pictures of our “not-so-little” girl. She is so spirited and sassy and a girly-girl (notice her necklace, dress, lip gloss, and high heels) and she has done so well in school this year and has made tons of friends!

Tomorrow, we are having staff meeting, hosting practical seminars for the staff (I am excited to lead one on financial stewardship and best practices), and then walking the Brooklyn Bridge and eating delicious pizza near the Brooklyn waterfront. And, another fun thing happening this week, my cousin (who is way more like my niece) just graduated high school and is here with us for the week. She loves NYC and we love having her join in with us!

Prayer that we would finish strong, that our staff and students would consider moving back to NYC on a longer basis (as interns or staff), and that God would help us start preparing with our next season of MPD in SC and NC. Excited to finish this project well – God still has big things in store!

SM Week 3

Shew ya’ll! I am feeling the uptick in our normal schedule and pace this week from project. Add in sickness (colds) for 4-5 members of our family (including a sinus infection for Ed) and it has made for an eventful week.

However, God is doing some amazing things on campus and amongst our students and staff. We have had some hard moments of conflict resolution amongst students which is always faith stretching. We have spent an extended afternoon processing with the women what it means to truly surrender our lives to Christ and even process some areas in our life that we haven’t wanted to or known that we needed to let go. We have had 193 spiritual conversations and seen 6 students begin a relationship with Jesus! We have had some really crazy and awkward moments, both in just normal life and on campus interacting with students.

Here are some pictures from the week:

These first two are students who made a decision to place their faith in Jesus – Brenda and Winston. The following pictures after that are just students/staff on campus having spiritual conversations and goofing around.

Last Friday, we went to Coney Island – to the beach during the day with the staff and then to the amusement park with the students and staff. It was fun getting to just enjoy life together and the plus side of it being a week day? No lines and way less people!

Blake and Kinsley enjoyed the slower rides and rode this train 7+ times – I lost count after 5! Emerson, however, cried because she couldn’t do all the big roller coasters with her dad. So funny how the Lord makes kids so very different! One of my favorite parts about project is our kids getting to be around other students and staff who love Jesus and love on them. They have lived in a constant state of excitement since project began and ask everyday who is coming over that night. Jonathan, one of our staff guys, took turns running after Brynn for me and I turned around to see the two of them laughing at the people on the log fume. Such a sweet picture!

We had ethnic dinner at a Caribbean restaurant (curry chicken is where it is at!) and then had a super eventful trip home as Ed and I got separated, miscommunicated on what subway stop we were going to meet at, AND he had my phone in the stroller WITH HIM. Thankfully, two gracious people let me borrow their phones to talk to him to figure out where to meet up, but lets just say my habit of getting separated from my phone didn’t make my husband too happy.

One evening, we had a family dinner at our apartment (yummy tacos and ice cream with all the toppings!) and another evening, we went to see the Broadway musical “Come From Away”. It is about people who got rerouted and stuck in Canada after 9-11. It has no intermission and goes for 100 minutes straight but it was absolutely fabulous. It was probably one of my favorites I have seen and was so well done. The actors were amazing!

I got to attend our annual meeting at church last weekend and was so encouraged to hear about our church’s vision for the next year, all the ways people are experiencing growth, and challenged to see this slide and be reminded (though I am reminded daily!) of why the Lord has us in NYC…if each borough in NYC were its own city, this is how they would rank with other cities in the US. As the new members went around and shared where they were from, I was amazed to learn that only about 15% of them are from here – the rest were from Puerto Rico (lots from here and we are thinking they came here because of the hurricane), South Korea, Hong Kong, Colombia, etc.

We also got to have a baby shower to celebrate a couple in our church small group who are having their first girl. We love, love, love our small group – we are so grateful to God for gifting us with people to read the Word with, challenge each other, pray with each other, celebrate each other, teach each other, etc. The guy with Blake is named Fady and he was one of the first guys in our group and when Blake met him, he just latched on.

And this kid? This week, she is killing me with her climbing, mess-making, and getting into everything!!  We have a microwave on an island in our kitchen and we turned around one day and she had climbed from the stool to the window to the microwave and was STANDING on it!  Many days I have found her in the sink with the water on and this day, she wasn’t just playing with the water in the toilet (which happens more often than I want to admit), but she was full in the toilet! Emerson prayed tonight that God would give me another baby girl in my belly and I told her that if he did, I am pretty positive I wouldn’t make it. 🙂

We have two more weeks of project left. Please pray for perseverance for us as we balance the last full week of school and the activities that come with that (class parties, appreciation breakfasts, kindergarten graduation) with project happenings. Please pray that students and staff would continue to push in and initiate conversations with students as they finish out the home stretch. Please pray that God would continue to use us to impact this city!


SM Week 2

Summer Mission Week 2 is in the books!  This week our students and staff settled into a more regular routine with going to campus every day, prayer morning, training more, extended time to study the Bible, Bible study, discipleship times, etc. Emilee, one of our students that came on summer mission with us last summer, wrote this on her Facebook account about her first week:

“My first full week back in the city has been a whirlwind, but it has also been so sweet being back in NYC! I am so thankful that the Lord brought me back here to do ministry again this summer. We went to campus three days out of the week, and the conversations we have had have been so encouraging! Already this past week, we saw two people give their lives to Christ! Y’ALL the Lord is moving here in amazing ways, and I am so excited to see how He continues to work as we go into our first full week on campus!!”

For me, I am not on campus with the students every day, but between keeping up with the finances for the summer mission and the NYC campus teams, being at 3-4 summer mission things a week, and doing all our normal life things here like school and mom’s group (things here go through June because school doesn’t end until the end of June), we haven’t had a lot of down time. However, this past Friday night, Ellen, a sweet friend who is also on summer mission with us, babysit our kids for us to go out on a date and connect with some friends AND then Saturday, because we had the day off, she went with our family to Central Park Zoo. It was a nice break (minus the frantic phone call to Ed that resulted in WAY more work for the weekend that there might be bed bugs at the hotel the students and staff are staying at – thankfully, there isn’t!!) and we were glad to have some family down time.

Check out pictures from this week:

The kids at Central Park Zoo and some of our favorite animals (Kinsley LOVES the Red Panda and at first we couldn’t see him at all and THEN, he came up the branch right in front of us for just a few minutes before he disappeared again – it was one of the best moments of her life 🙂 ).

This are some pictures of our students/staff eating lunch and sharing the Gospel on campus (the one with the water fountains and the view of the city is at Queens College and the other is at Columbia University).

For a fun social time, we (minus the kids and I because it was a weekday when they had school), went to Central Park to play games and hang out and then headed to Top of the Rock to view the city from up high. I am amazed every time I see these views.

Tomorrow, we are headed to Coney Island with the students and staff to enjoy the beach and amusement park and then Sunday, they will head to church to serve and worship Jesus. Then, the week starts over! Crazy to think there are only a few weeks left! We saw one girl trust Christ today at Columbia University – pray that the Lord continues to move in students’ hearts and that he uses our students to impact lives in NYC!


Only The Beginning….

Today marks exactly one week since our students arrived in NYC for the summer. It has been a busy, busy week for our staff and students as they got oriented to the city and navigating around, went through lots of briefing from the history of NYC to how to spend time in the Word to how to share their faith, did a scavenger hunt around the city, spent two days on campus sharing getting into spiritual conversations, went to our first Ethnic dinner at an amazing restaurant in Chinatown, had our first family dinner at a local apartment, spent time getting to know each other, and so much more! Here are a few of the students and staff joining us this summer:

We have loved meeting them, hearing their stories, and watch how amazed they are with this city (and how tired from navigating it) and it is so fun to think that in 4 weeks, they will be radically different. As the staff were sharing about our week this morning, it was fun to hear the staff who paired up with students who were here last year (3 students came back this summer who were here last summer!) talk about how fearless and confident and faith-filled those students were as they went on campus for the first time this week. It is just such a reminder that ALL of our students will be like this by the end, Lord-willing.

And some fun, fun news! This week, our team went on different campuses like Columbia, NYU, and LaGuardia Community College on Wednesday and Thursday this week and both days, someone in our group saw a student place their faith in Jesus. The first day was a guy named Gabriel at LaGuardia Community College and the second was a girl named Joscelyn (pictured below) at LaGuardia Community College. Now, we will attempt to meet up with them regularly, helping them to grow in their new faith and get plugged into Christian community through a church.

Students spent time reading their Bible and journaling this morning and then we have a student social in Central Park and at Top of the Rock (seeing the city from way high up!) this afternoon. Then, they and the staff (who have been here 10 days now) get a much needed Saturday and Sunday morning off/free. Here are a few fun pictures of their time so far in the city – the first few are the scavenger hunt they did in the city.

5 people squeezed into the back of a taxi cab!

22 people squeezed into a small NYC apartment! Prayer walking around NYU!

Eating our first Ethnic dinner in Chinatown!

Our kids are loving that project has started – they feel like they have 21 new best friends to play with!

While it is hard to balance project responsibilities with the girls in school and real life continuing for us with church and friends, we are enjoying our staff team and students and are excited about what God is going to do this summer. Thanks for your prayers and support!