Six Months!
May
02

Six Months!

Hello there, everyone! This is Branden. Typically Ernie is the voice of our blogs and newsletters…and she is quite the wordsmith, if I dare say so. But for this newsletter installment, we wanted to give you a glimpse into our lives as seen through my perspective! So grab a cup of your caffeinated drink of choice, relax, and enjoy as I craft for you a tale of intrigue and excitement that is otherwise known as “our life.”

We’ve been in Ireland for just over six months! It seems like a long time, and yet it has breezed by! Everyday life is beginning to have a sense of normalcy. Going to the grocery store no longer feels…different. Driving on the left side of the road has become more natural. The sights and sounds of the city are becoming less foreign. We have settled, more or less, into our routine.

The Children’s Ministry is beginning to hit its stride. We even have a name and logo, calling ourselves “The Lighthouse!” The curriculum that we mentioned in the last newsletter is taking shape. We almost have one quarter (13 weeks) of lesson plans done as we make our way through the book of Genesis. Tweaks and adjustments are being made on a weekly basis as we test out the curriculum practically. Next will come formatting the content and putting it into a cohesive layout that anyone can follow. There are several elements of the actual service that are still a work in progress, but we have been richly blessed and encouraged by the comments of many parents and kids. More than just verbal encouragement, we are seeing the church body buying into the ministry through their eagerness to volunteer and be involved.

Family life is going well! We’ve celebrated two birthdays (mine and Ethan’s) since the last newsletter. I got one year younger while Ethan became a year older! We have a tradition of giving the boys a “Birthday Week” celebration, doing activities that are tailored for their specific interests. Two of Ethan’s activities have been cliff climbing at the cliffs of Ballycotton and backyard camping. In addition to “Birthday Week” activities, the boys are developing an interest in local sports. The neighborhood kids have taken it upon themselves to teach Silas and Ethan rugby!  It has been interesting observing each of the boys as they grow into their own person, exhibiting characteristics similar to each other, yet vastly different. They are both becoming quite adventurous and confident in their own right.

Since the last newsletter we have officially launched our non-profit, Small World Big God! Ernie has been hard at work getting the logistics pulled together.  Running the house, teaching the boys, and taking care of all the admin tasks that are part of serving on the field here, she never ceases to amaze me with her tireless dedication and work ethic! Going forward, Small World Big God will be handling our support and ministry finances.  Though it’s still in its infancy, the organization’s purpose is not to solely handle ministry contributions. As it grows, we hope it will help to connect people and ministries and share the love of our great, big God!

PRAYER REQUESTS

Thank you for continuing to support us in prayer! It is encouraging to know that our family’s needs and the ministry work here is continually brought before the Lord in the prayers of saints around the world. Here are some specifics that you can be lifting up to the Lord right now:

  • Weekly kids’ services and curriculum – It is truly our heart’s desire to impart a love for God and His Word to kids under our care. We dedicate a great deal of time to the preparation of service and lesson planning. We want the kids (and their parents) to see Jesus in us and through us and to be a part of helping them grow in a personal relationship with Him.
  • Cork City – In addition to discipleship within the church, we want to reach the city we serve with the love of God. Pray that the Lord would show us how to effectively do so.
  • Health – Please pray that our everyday health will be at its peak so as to not take away from the work God has called us to.
  • Irish Driver’s License – We need to begin the process of getting full Irish driver’s licenses. This is not really a simple or quick process. We need to take a driver theory test, complete Essential Driver Training (12 – one hour lessons each), apply for a Learner’s Permit, and complete a driving test.

SUPPORT

Until recently, an organization called Shepherd’s Staff was handling much of our financial support. With the launch of Small World Big God, we are excited to transition the administration of donations to the

non-profit! This will mean that people can give more directly to the work here, which in turn allows us to use more of the funds given for our family and ministry needs.  As you pray, if you feel led to support the work in Ireland financially, please click on “Support Us” in the yellow navigation bar at the top of this page and follow the prompts for either one-time or monthly donations. All donations will still be tax deductible.

Thank you so much to all who partner with us, both in prayer and financially, as we serve the Lord and the people of Ireland! We couldn’t do what the Lord is calling us to without you! Thank you too, for letting me share what God is doing on the ground here with you. Please know that, though distance may separate us, you are part of the work here in Ireland!

In Him,

Branden

While We’re Here
Apr
07

While We’re Here

This sweet family came to visit us a couple weeks ago! While they were here, we got to have special meals (thanks for making dinners Erin!), visit new places, take them to a few of our favorite spots (like the beach!), and stay up super late laughing and talking and eating! We got to enjoy their kids and their company – it was honestly such a huge blessing and it felt like the hours just flew by!

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You know how, when you’re on vacation (or enjoying someone vacationing at your place :), you are just aware of how much time you have left? Time before you go home? And you want to relax, but you also plan your days, fill them up, make your stay worth it. After all, you’ve done what it takes to get there, and you’ll be leaving soon. You want to make the most of your time.

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James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

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My kids have been asking about eternity lately, and I’m always thankful for how Jesus teaches me through their inquisitiveness. Eternity is not so far away. And though we are called to live here today, it must be with a sober understanding that we are just passing through. When I stop to realign myself with that perspective, it makes the trials bearable. And it makes the days in front of us short. We don’t have much time. We are going home! What will we do while we’re here?

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The morning they left, I found our firstborn crying by himself. He’s our deep feeler and constant processor. He asked why they couldn’t stay longer? Why they had to go home so soon? We talked about how they needed to get back to things at home. They couldn’t stay. I know he felt like we did, those few days with this precious family, was like a little piece of home had come to us.

I’m thankful that one day, “home” will be with Jesus. We’ll be with Him and goodbyes will be a thing of the past. Until then, I want to steward well the hours before me. Making the most of the days while we’re here.

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Hope
Mar
10

Hope

We could hear the muffled voice of a woman speaking into a megaphone.  A large crowd was gathered on the pavement outside Brown Thomas department store, some holding posters and signs above their heads.  An occasional cheer erupted as the woman spoke with conviction.

“What’s going on Mom?” Silas asked.

“I don’t know.”

It was Monday, our family day.  We had made breakfast, gone to a playground, eaten lunch at our favorite place in town.  Now on foot, we’d finished up with a few errands in the city center and were walking back to the church where our car was parked.  As we approached, we could see a symbol on the signs we didn’t recognize.  There were garda in reflective jackets standing amongst the crowd.  In front of the woman with the megaphone, there were several others holding a long banner.  This was a protest to repeal the law banning abortion in Ireland.

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The area was wide, but we had to walk through the crowd to get to where we were going.

“What’s going on Mom?”

There was a sign that said, “Warning: Graphic Abortion Photos Ahead.”  The boys were holding my hands, one on each side as we walked.

“Mom, what’s happening?”  Their voices sounded concerned now.

“Don’t look at the pictures.”  Ethan buried has face in my sleeve and I wrapped my arm around Silas to cover his eyes.  We walked quickly, Branden right behind us.

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There was a woman arguing with a man on our right.  As we passed, he said, “But there was no baby here.”  “Yes, there was!” she was almost shouting.

I couldn’t help but look at one of the large banners.  They were labelled with the number of weeks of gestation.  A graphic image filled each one.  Parts and pieces and medical utensils.  Children.

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We got through the crowd and kept walking.

“But Mom, what’s happening?”

I felt my face get hot, my eyes blurry.  I was looking down and buried my face in the front of my jacket.

“Mom, why are you crying?” Silas asked.  “She’s crying,” he turned and said to Branden.

Branden stopped me.  “Are you okay?”  I couldn’t really answer.  He put his arm around me.

“Lord help us.  This is where you have us.  This is how You feel when You see our sin.”  He contained to pray for me, for our family, for this country and the people we are called to love and serve.

People continued to pass us, walking around our little family huddle, past the protesters and giant banners.  I sobbed into Branden’s coat, still holding each of our boys by the hand.

The next hour was spent answering questions about abortion, what it is and why people are talking about it, about God’s heart and this broken world.

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There have been a couple of really sobering experiences that have taken place this week, and we’ve found ourselves  overwhelmed, feeling almost helpless.  In this world where sin and its effects seem so inevitable, how do we stand?  How do we disciple and train up our children?  How do we advance the Kingdom?  How do we love those in front of us?  My heart echoes Branden’s prayer – Lord help us.  This is where you have us.  This is how You feel when You see our sin.

A friend of mine said recently, “Where there is prayer, there is hope.”

Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

He died in hope.  Rose in hope.  Believing and being joyful in anticipating that this broken world be brought back to Himself – broken and scarred, but reconciled.

So we pray, and bring our hearts to His own.  And we have hope.  Because the Lord’s love is greater, and if He allows us to be a part of this pursuit, this ministry of reconciliation, then He’ll give us the wisdom and grace to co-labor with Him in it – for our own children, and for those wandering all around us.

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Thank you for praying with us, for being a part of what God is doing here in Ireland.  It is still illegal to abort a child here, except under extreme circumstances.  Currently there is a lot of talking/protesting/media coverage, but we know this is a heart issue and pray for the Lord to draw this nation back to Himself.  Please continue to labor with us in prayer.

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