September 30, 2018 our family was to be out of our Indy apartment and in a storage unit in Illinois and a few days later we were. We were extremely exhausted from finishing our jobs, packing with toddlers, and the emotions of leaving. We were definitely done!
Karen had hurt her knee so going up and down the flight of steps into our Oakbrook apartment was painful, but we pushed on and even drove several trips to Illinois, some even there and back in the same day. You get to know the construction workers, McD's servers, and the different exits really well that way.
On October 1, 2018 Karen received a Facebook message from a man named Larry. She didn’t open it as she was busy and didn't recognize the name. A couple days later, at our most exhausted point, Karen opened the message from this man we have never heard of from somewhere in Oklahoma.
WOW, THANK YOU GOD for knowing what we need when we need it! That one message from Larry was another confirmation that we were following God's call. He talked about mission trips and even spoke of people we knew we would meet in Cucuta. God is GOOD.
FAST FORWARD to last week where we had the privilege to meet Larry and his wonderful wife Ruthann when they brought a mission team to Cucuta to work with our church, First Baptist Church of Cucuta. They worked a long hard week doing evangelism, and we were able to enjoy being with them a few times that week.
Saturday, after little sleep, they held a children's party at FBC and it was a great outreach. We brought the boys who were thrilled to build a Salvation jump rope that shared the Gospel through the different colored beads you use to build it. Kevin was able to share with Benjamin as he asked different questions about who Jesus was and what He did on Earth. They also were excited to see Goldfish crackers for the first time since we had left. On Sunday, they lead children's Sunday School and church, and so much more throughout the service. Because they used translators, Karen was able to enjoy the service in English along with the rest of the church.
We had the pleasure of having the team of 12 over for dinner, dessert, prayer, and Kevin was able to share what we have been involved in the last 4 months. The team was focused on evangelism in the Cucuta area, sharing their faith with those around them. Normally, Larry would take a team to Venezuela to minister, but because of the crisis they decided to come here. So, it was a great chance to share what was going on around them, and why they were seeing so many people on the street, especially Venezuelans. Kevin and I were thrilled to use our apartment to welcome the team, and it became a great time of abundant sharing...because there were 12 people on their team plus the pastor, his wife, and their daughter. Earlier in the day, as Kevin ordered empanadas and yucca to share, he added a few extra to the order. Shortly after, the pastor called and said, "Are you ok with 20? We have a couple of translators..." Of course, the more, the merrier! As the team left their hotel, another call, "Kevin, are you ok with 25? Are you sure?" Of course, Come on! And when they arrived 15 minutes later, they still had one more! It was wonderful, and with the Lord's blessing, everyone ate and shared about the week. The night ended with us taking the team to the top of the apartment building for a 360-degree view of the city and Venezuelan mountainside. We prayed over each other and worshiped together, enjoying the breeze and the twinkling lights of the city. After a long day, we sent the team home with a local dessert made up of tres leches cake, flan, and candied fruit. It was too sweet, so you know Kevin had his favorite blend of coffee ready to share.
It was a GREAT time and Karen was able to do what she loves, serving and hosting, which she learned from seeing her mother and father do this with family, friends, and church members.
Larry and Ruthann were able to bring electric blankets to donate to the shelter in Berlin. That was a huge blessing because, well we clearly cannot purchase those in Cucuta where it is 90 degrees year-round. The blankets are truly lifesavers because in just the short few weeks since Kevin opened the Berlin shelter, there have been at least 5 major cases of hypothermia including 2 that required rushing people down the mountain for emergency care. When we passed through there on our trip, Kevin talked to a young man who didn't even have a pair of shoes. They had been lost somewhere along the way, and he was in his shorts and just a t-shirt. A lot of things that we take for granted every day or have plenty of, are the biggest blessing here. It's incredible that there are small things that positively change someone's life.
To end the week, Karen took the team to the shelter in La Don Juana. All were blessed and were a blessing. The team brought their extra toiletries, backpacks, and clothes to hand out. If you have ever been on a mission trip, you know you want to give everything you have and take nothing home. Karen again played hostess since Kevin was traveling that day and has worked there before. She introduced the team to our friends, Jose Luis and Viviana, who started the shelter. They shared with the team their story, and what they are seeing.
From passing out bread along the route to the Gospel being shared by the bus driver, it was AWESOME.
A sweet young man named Bailey felt led to give his shoes off his feet. Karen first asked him, "do you have another pair at the hotel? You are getting on an airplane today!" He said he did so Karen set it up with a translator and we met inside with a man wearing flip flops. Bailey gave his shoes to the man, and they fit him perfectly! Karen explained that this one pair of shoes may be traded for rides, food, or clothing. His shoes may actually end up being worn by many different men traveling but at least one of them will know that God is with them. Bailey prayed over the man and what a great end to our time at the shelter.
Missions at a young age had such an impact on Karen that she was overly joyed to be able to take the team to the shelter.
SERVING + SHARING IN JESUS' NAME