A Country Has Been Chosen!

June 20th, 2003, at a Christian camp in North Carolina: that was the day I (Craig) made a choice that has shaped every other major decision in my life. I made a commitment to follow God’s leading and go to the mission field. Fast forward almost 12 years Sara and I are sitting in our little 12’x12’ bedroom in Missouri on a Skype call with men in Arizona, Canada, and 3 locations in Vermont A we make another choice, this time as a family. We are moving to Papua New Guinea to serve as tribal church planters!

Papua New Guinea

What that means is, Lord willing, we will be raising funds and moving to Papua New Guinea (also known as PNG) in a 1 – 1 1½ years. Once there, we will begin the process of learning an unwritten language to bring the Gospel where it has never been!

Hewa kids

PNG has over 860 different languages, hundreds of them still without the Gospel or the Bible! I spent 2 months in PNG in 2009 and saw first hand the need for God’s children to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard it. In fact, dozens of tribes in PNG are asking, right now, for missionaries to come to them, but there just aren’t enough missionaries to go. Will you pray about going?

cut off fingers

In some tribes in PNG, woman will cut their own fingers off to show the “spirits” how grieved they are at someone’s death lest those spirit get angry and hurt them. “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” Galatians 4:8

 

Answers to Prayer!

– In spite of being born a little premature and struggling his first month with us he is a happy, healthy 6 month old! He is gaining weight and doing all the things babies should be doing :)

– We’ve decided on a country! Thanks for praying!

– The linguistics training I (Craig) have been in is going great!  I have learned a lot about languages and identity in Christ!

 

Please Pray!

– We have a lot to get done in this last month of school. Pray for us to finish well.

– Ashea has lived almost her entire life here in Missouri (what a blessing! ) but starting this summer we will begin a lifestyle of moving several times a year for at least the next 3 years. Pray for stability as a family in a lifestyle with very little stability. We want to see both her and Solomon thrive, not just survive.

– For the Lord to begin increasing the monthly donations we are receiving. The Lord has used you to provide what we’ve needed during our time of training (thanks and praise the Lord!) but the support goal for PNG will be higher.

Love, Craig & Sara

The answer to the “linguistics problem” in the last  post! (don’t look if you want to figure it out!)

The Answer: You add the numbers together to get the last 2 numbers. Then you subtract the first number from the second to get the first digits in the answer!

The Answer: You add the numbers together to get the last 2 numbers in the solution. Then, you subtract the first number from the second to get the first digits in the solution!

(click HERE to go to a gallery of the pictures below)

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

The world of the 2 year old

Mini cover photo11 mice are running around our front lawn popping bubbles, eating cake and having a great time! Last weekend we celebrated Ashea’s 2nd birthday with a Minnie Mouse party. It has happened countless times; we’ve been at Wal-Mart or out walking and Ashea stops, points and says, “MINNIE!!!!” Even if it’s just a little Minnie Mouse sticker I can barely distinguish. She is in love with that mouse! Our little girl is growing up! We praise the Lord for a healthy, lovable, (mostly) obedient daughter.

I entered this semester of specialize linguistics expecting to sit in class 5 hours a day, do 4-5 hours of homework each night then come to class the next day having royally failed the homework and not understanding how to do it right even after the teacher tried to explain it to me. Thankfully, that has only happened a couple of times! Honestly I’m very pleased with how the semester is going. The work is challenging but generally not overwhelming.  God is also teaching me a lot about finding my value in being His son. Few things are as humbling as having one of those previously mentioned days when it’s my turn to explain my homework to the class on Powerpoint!

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Ready for your linguistic style homework? Your job is to figure out what the relationship is between the two numbers being added and the number to their right. Then describe it to someone else in a way that they understand. The kind of thinking you need to use to carry out this task is similar to the kind of thinking we are doing in the linguistics class, except on a bigger scale!

ling work

The lines, colors, circles and combinations thereof are showing relationships between the bits of information.

 

Please pray for us as we meet with our future teammates and our church elders this Monday evening via Skype and, Lord willing, make a final decision on which country we are going to plan to work in!

(click HERE to go to a gallery of the pictures below)

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

 

The Best Days of Our Lives

IMG_8617I’m standing at the counter cutting open a grapefruit while Sara is sitting on the couch giving Ashea what’s left of her apple. This made me chuckle as I remembered when we used to give Ashea our apple cores while driving around the country speaking at churches. She would suck those things bone dry!

 

In that moment, in the span of less than a second, my mind flashed ahead 20 years. We are sitting around a living room with Ashea and some of her friends visiting from college. We are telling them embarrassing stories about Ashea from when she was little, like eating our old apple cores! Her friends aren’t listening so much because of the stories themselves, but because it’s embarrassing Ashea and they just think that’s great. Sara and I aren’t so old yet that we don’t realize this why they are listening, but we keep on telling the stories, happy to share our dearest and sweetest memories with anyone who will listen. Ashea kinda rolls her eyes, looks and says, “Sheesh dad, do you have to tell all of them?” I look right in her eyes and say, “Ashea, you and everything about you are the most precious and dearest things we have on earth.” I say this with all the emotion of 49 years of life behind it. I hold on to those memories so strongly because they are all I have left of those days.

This split second thought passes as Sara stands up from the couch and walks back to the kitchen to keep cleaning. And there is Ashea, 2 years old, sucking on an apple core with the utmost focus. Then it occurs to me. We are living the best days of our lives right now. Thank you God for this precious gift, help me not wish it away in search of lesser things.

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Thank you for your prayers, friendship and support. I am well into the specialized linguistics training and am currently analyzing the national language of Ethiopia, my biggest assignment to date! Sara is enjoying being a stay at home mom this semester and both the kids are healthy and growing, praise the Lord!

Please pray for the Swensons and us as we plan to decide on a country to work in by April 1st, either Indonesia or Papua New Guinea (the countries are right next to each other). Please also pray for my (Craig) parents who experienced a house fire recently. They are safe but a lot of work to do now. (If you are reading this in email, click HERE to see the photo gallery full size)

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

A Deep Breath

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The map we navigated in our map & compass class.

Having just walked through the doorway of 2015 we are almost finished with our break between semesters.  This break has been a much-needed preparation time for our most challenging phase of training yet.

On Dec 19th our class officially graduated from the Missionary Training Center but a handful of us will be staying for an extra semester of specialized linguistics (More posts about this in the future).

During this break we enjoyed the opportunity to see both sets of parents, and they even came to us!

Since we stayed here in Missouri over the break we got to spend our first Christmas together as a family. It was a such a good time of starting our own family traditions and getting some rest.

Carl & Wendy

Craig’s parents came for graduation

This break has also been our opportunity to put away the various household volcano piles, reorganize our routines and preparing for the intense linguistics semester ahead of us. I (Sara) have been working on a daily routine for Ashea and Solomon while Craig gets paperwork, projects and his final paper for his M.Div degree and examination for ordination wrapped up. I am working on meal planning and maintaining the house while training the kiddos.

Potty training is a new thing, along with teaching Ashea to obey limitations without physical boundaries (we call it blanket time, it’s wonderful, feel free to ask us about it!) Praise the Lord, Solomon is sleeping through the night, so grateful for the Babywise book! Craig and I figuring out how to do some kind of once a once-a-week date night. The up-coming Semester will be tough on Craig’s “outdoorsmanship” since the linguistics program will require 8-10 hours of study and analyzing behind a desk per day. Craig has worked on running more during this break and plans to make time for it throughout this semester to keep himself from going crazy in class.

Thank you all for the love and support over these past months! The care package from the Gibsonburg “Gopher Buddies” and one from a family in our home church was the jumpstart to a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas Season! All the gifts that have been sent our way for Baby Solomon have been just what we have needed! Your love is felt and warmly accepted! Your Sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. Thank You!!

Praises:

Your prayers for us have been heard! Solomon is healthy and gaining weight steadily (He struggled during his first month).  He is about 9lbs 16oz and growing! He is also sleeping through the night.

We’ve had a productive and relaxing break.

Our parent’s safe arrival here and back at home.

Prayer Requests:

Craig to be ready for the linguistics course.

Sara leading Ashea and Solomon in the new routines, including potty training, while Daddy is in class and doing homework.

A dear friend in our home church, Lynette Cutting, passed away Sunday. Please pray for her family and the church. She is known by everyone for her great smile and encouraging attitude.

By April 1st the Swensons, our home church and us are going to decide between working in Indonesia or Papua New Guinea. Wisdom! This is big!

Since it’s been a while, here’s a bunch of pics :) (Click HERE in the e-mail to see the full photo gallery or on any picture if in the browser).

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

Solomon Hurricane Noyes, Our Baby Boy is Early!

 

Solomon Hurricane Noyes

Praise the Lord! We have been blessed with a healthy baby boy! 

Solomon!We are at the midwife for a regular checkup, three weeks before the due date. Sara said she had been feeling a little funny so we had the midwife check her. As the midwife leans back after checking Sara she has a look on her face that tells me something’s not right. After a pause she says, “Well, you are 6cm dilated. I guess none of us expected this, you probably won’t be going home today.”  After a moment of stunned silence Sara and I break out in big smiles, “The baby is coming today!!!”

 

In spite being 3 weeks early, born Nov 1st, the little guy was 7lbs 14oz and 21 1/4 inches long! Sara’s labor went very easily (already the ladies are saying, “easy for you to say!” but seriously, we were at Chick-Fil-A and sara was at 8cm and had virtually no pain yet!). The delivery also went very well, although Sara will tell you this part was not without pain.

We’ll post a lot more pictures in the future, and tell you the story of both the names ;) thanks for the prayers! God bless!

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

 

“Life without parole or risk getting the death Penalty?”

aloneWhat if you had to make that decision?

Last Wednesday I was sitting in jail talking to an inmate through the glass and he told me that his “cellie” (cell mate) was given one day to make “the hardest decision of his life;” a plea bargain of life without the possibility of parole or face the death penalty if they lose in court.

Just stop for a moment.

Picture yourself in that man’s shoes. You are in your late 20’s, you have 2 young daughters. You are sitting on a hard plastic chair when the door opens and in comes your court appointed defense lawyer. After quickly exchanging greetings he gets right to the point, “It doesn’t look good for you. I suggest you take the plea bargain; life without the possibility of parole. They are pushing for the death penalty and if this goes to court I don’t think we are going to win. You’ve got till tomorrow to decide.”

Are you picturing yourself in that situation? I’m thinking about never getting to touch Ashea again. I’m thinking of every time I see her through the glass she looks older and the acute realization that I’ve missed every moment in between is stinging my soul. What are you thinking about?

This is the life of a man behind bars. Guilty? Yes. Undeserving of grace? Definitely. Desperately in need of a savior? More than he’ll ever know.

After a moment of silence I said to that man’s cell mate, “The truth is, it’s the second biggest decision he’ll ever make.” And we talked about the universality of death, judgment and the free gift of salvation.

Think with me again. I was that man facing the death penalty. But infinite, glorious grace was given to me. Not just a pardon for my crimes but adoption, blessing and love poured into the deepest, darkness recesses of my heart. If you can, go hug kids, kiss your spouse and thank God for the grace in your life.

“What an amazing mystery that your grace has come to me…”

 

These last 2 months have been FULL of hands on classes here at the Missionary Training Center. We have a lot to tell you and will do so soon! Including a baby due in 26 days!

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)

Does Prayer Accomplish Anything?

 

Prayer?

Ever wondered if praying actually accomplishes anything? I hope to encourage you by showing you some of the many answers to prayer that we have seen since inviting people like yourself to pray with us. In our newsletter we share our prayer requests and here are some of the specific answers to prayer we have seen!

– “Safety, wisdom, flexibility, and finances for our trip to Cameroon Africa in 2012.” The trip went well, all the money came in and we felt ready to move forward in going into missions.

– “Wisdom and humility in stepping out of the youth ministry in our home church as we prepare to move to Ohio.” The ministry is still going on and is turned over to very capable hands.

– “Continued growth in our marriage.”  Sara and I are closer than ever.

– “Opportunities to speak in churches about the missions work.” I’ve been able to speak in over 30 churches in the last 2 years, many of them several times! This is a rare thing in America’s current church culture.

– “Future teammates for the mission field.” This has been our biggest prayer request and we’ve mentioned in every prayer letter.  Paul and Ellen Swenson are in the same training we are now! We are still praying about a third family. It’s likely that we won’t find that teammate until we get to the field.

Swensons

– “People and churches to commit to pray and give regularly.”  Many people have committed to praying regularly, over 40 are on our flash prayer team (ask me about it if you don’t know about it and would be interested), and we have the money we need to do the schooling!

– “Good health for Sara and baby and a safe delivery.” Both are healthy and well and a relatively smooth delivery!

– “Safety in traveling throughout the midwest.” We have traveled well over 15,000 miles with our little baby just on long trips, not including regular commutes. We are accident free and have a safe van to drive.

– “Fruitful ministry inSleepy Ashea Fremont, Ohio.”  We spent a year in Ohio before coming to the Missionary Training Center and we’re blessed to make many strong connections and speak into people’s lives (thank you Fremont folks for that opportunity!).

– “Good adjustment to having a kiddo.”  We can’t imagine not having her! We love her to pieces and are looking forward to #2 in November!

– “God to give wisdom to the Swensons as they consider joining us.” As I mentioned, they are on their way!

 

– “People to be influenced into missions.” Ben and Amber Baye are already in Papua New Guinea, the Swenson’s are on their way and another good friend of ours is getting things ready to start heading to the field.  Others have talked about missions and will hopefully start taking steps that way soon!

bayes

Ben and Amber Baye in language study in Papua New Guinea

– “Ashea to start sleeping through the night.”  It took 6 months, and now I appreciate a complete night’s sleep like I never have!

I hope you are as encouraged as I am by looking at how God has answered all these prayers over the years! Prayer is still a mystery to me at times, but this much I know, my papa God hears my prayers and knows what’s best! Thanks sooooo much to those who labor with us in faithfully praying. Prayer does accomplish things!

 

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” Corrie Ten Boom

“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray

“Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian.” Andrew Murray

“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”E.M. Bounds

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I John 5:14

 

Please continue to prayer for the Swensons at the Canadian Missionary Training Center and for their financial needs to be met.  Please also pray about what country to move to and work in. We hope to decide that in the next couple of months

(click HERE to see a summary of who we are and what we are doing)