A Bundle of News
I know. It has been FAR too long since our last post, and I sincerely apologize. The last few months have been a flurry of activity! Read on for the full scoop and a special nugget of extra-exciting news tucked in somewhere along the way (wink, wink).
When last we shared, the team from Chi Alpha (SHSU, Huntsville, TX) was here in Camelford serving and ministering in our church and community. Their visit provided a boost of inspiration and enthusiasm for our leaders and young people. They provided ‘small group leader’ training for our teens, who are now tasked with building their own small groups as a way to evangelize peers in their every-day worlds. While the model will be a bit different here than it is in a large university setting, we are excited that these young people have been equipped with a powerful tool that, over time, could have a significant impact on this community.
With the summer holidays here beginning in late July, we have been able to slow down a little bit from the normal routine (the youth cafe and kids club are closed in the holidays), which has created capacity for loads of extra activities! Including, but not limited to...
BEACH REACH OUTINGS: On occasion when the weather is nice on a Sunday evening, we take the church to the beach! Over this summer, we’ve had two open air style meetings at two local beaches (which were well-crowded due to the lovely summer weather). Members of our own congregation help create a starter crowd, but we are often joined by others. Some will actively join in, others will just watch from the fringes, but the light of Jesus Christ is being shown and His message of life and hope being heard. Through a fantastic portable battery-powered PA speaker, Trev will play a few songs and lead us in a bit a worship and Pastor David will speak a brief story of faith, with others sharing in song and/or testimony in between.
CREATION FEST: This annual free Christian music festival actually happens just a few miles up the road from here and we’ve been privileged to be involved each year since our arrival. Again this year, our involvement was as part of L.E.D, an evangelistic band that does schools-based ministry work. They were blessed to be able to record new EP last Spring and the performance on the main stage at Creation Fest served as the album launch. “Flip the Switch” is a relevant, energetic CD-project designed to speak encouragement and hope right into the hearts of teens. Our dear friends Chris and Nikki Uglow do such amazing work through the band L.E.D and the underlying charity organization Oriel Ministries. It is our great privilege to partner with them in ministry as much as we are able.
SOUL SURVIVOR: Each summer, there is another large Christian festival (more like a camp/conference, really) in Somerset called Soul Survivor. It’s geared specifically to teens and sees nearly 10,000 youth and leaders gathered for 5 full days of Biblical teaching, worship and concerts, and loads of other things like a skate park, sports events, etc. The youth group from Souls Harbour goes each year, but this was our first time to go with them. The week involved ‘real’ camping (i.e., in a tent, with no electricity on site, porta-loos and porta-showers, etc.) and lots and lots of rain, but it was great fun nonetheless. And, most importantly, the teens had a great time and each grew in the Lord in some way over the course of the week. One of the most impactful moments for me was when we walked into the “big top” on the first night, just as the main meeting began. With nearly 10,000 Christians gathered under one giant tent, one of our co-chaperone’s eyes filled with tears because she had never seen so many Christians gathered together in one place, and she was so very overwhelmed and in absolute awe of it! It made me realize how much my Christian/American upbringing has, in many ways, caused me to take such things for granted. In many parts of the world, even in an advanced culture such as here, to have so many believers gathered to openly worship is rare; whereas we have churches just down the road from our home in Texas with that many people in attendance on any given Sunday.
SPLASH HOLIDAY CLUB: While our family wasn’t actively involved with planning/hosting this particular event (since we were busy with and/or recovering from the events mentioned above), I still want to keep you updated on the many amazing things going on at Souls Harbour. The holiday club is similar to what we’d call Vacation Bible School. Children ages 5-11 came for 3 hours a day for a full week. They learned songs, danced, did crafts, watched puppet shows and, most importantly, heard the simple and pure truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all of it. Then on the Sunday after, all the children and their parents were invited to a special family service at Souls Harbour to close out the week. Brooklyn attended and had such a wonderful time. On most days, we had about 50 kids from Camelford and several of the surrounding communities. Considering only a handful of those kids actually come to Souls Harbour regularly, this was an AMAZING outreach and we’re hoping that many of those children will return for Xbi, our weekly hour-long children’s club that starts back up on Friday nights in just a few weeks.
FAMILY NEWS And now, for those who’ve patiently read this far waiting and wondering about my little teaser at the top (assuming you haven’t heard it through the grapevine already)… yes, your suspicions are confirmed. We are expecting a BABY! Some of you will know what a tremendous answer to prayer this is after a miscarriage and years of trying for a second child had us discouraged and wondering if, perhaps, it simply wasn’t God’s plan for our family. However, with the first trimester behind us, things are off to a great start. We do appreciate your prayers that God will protect this child, that s/he will be strong, healthy and whole. The estimated due date is 26 February 2014 and, at this point, we expect to stay here in England for the delivery. We’ll keep you updated along the way and, again, greatly appreciate your prayers for the health and wholeness of our baby and the Lord’s provision (practically & financially) for this wonderful new addition. Thank you, God, for blessing us with the opportunity to love, nurture and train up another WORLD-CHANGER!
On that note, Brooklyn couldn’t be more excited about being a big sister. She has been faithfully praying for the better part of the last year for God to please “help mommy have another baby”. So, when we told her the big news this week, we did so by explaining that God had answered her prayer! She is already overflowing with all sorts of questions and can’t wait to be my special helper. One of the coolest things about all of this is that Brooklyn actually drew a picture in Sunday school well over a month ago that depicted our family and included me holding a baby. At the time, we knew I was pregnant, but no one else (including Brooklyn) knew! When we asked her about it at the time she said, “That’s the baby you’re going to have, Mummy!” WOW!!! So, it was really neat to pull this drawing back out and remind her. When she saw it again she said, “Yay!! I wasn’t lying… it was really true!!”
Brooklyn will soon be starting her second year of school in the ‘Year 1’ class on September 9th. She is such a joy… a walking bundle of energy, light and life. We tell her that her job every day is to ‘share her sparkles’ with the people around her… friends, teachers, etc. And Trev has helped her see that she is a real-life super-hero and her real-life super-power is her smile… it has the power to bless, encourage and cheer up others! And, boy, does she know how to use it!
With the start of the new school term, all of the usual church activities will soon resume as well… Friday night Youth Cafe and Kid’s Club, mid week meetings, etc.
Before I close this out, I should put in a positive plug for the British weather of late, as it so rarely gets good press. But really, this summer has been fantastic. Last year was one of the wettest on record and it was so disappointing to have so little sunshine and dry weather. In fact, we didn’t wear shorts a single time last summer nor did I even get to pull out my flip-flops. For a Texan, that’s a very tough summer. But this year has been great. Yes, we’ve had our rainy days and even some colder days, but overall we’ve had more sunshine and warm weather (mid 60‘s to low 70‘s) than I can remember since moving here. Thank you, Lord! I think He knew our sanity depended on it!
Once again, thank you all for your faithful support and encouragement as we continue ministry work here in England. Many have begun to inquire as to what we expect to do for the future and the truth is… we aren’t certain. Our 3-year visas expire next July and we are earnestly praying and seeking the Lord’s direction for our family and ministry. No matter which way He leads - staying in England or returning to the USA - either option will require extensive planning and several months of lead time (for visa renewal processing or relocating or whatever). As such, your prayers for us on this front are a great blessing, as we greatly hope to have His clear direction by the end of 2013.
Love, hugs and blessings to you all!
- Connie, Trevor, Brooklyn & Baby ‘Bun’ Smith (UK for Jesus)