Hey, everyone. We wrote this post a few days ago, but I’m only just now getting it up! We’ll have a follow-up to tell you about our last missions conference in just a little bit. For now, keep praying!
What a busy couple weeks it has been, but what a blessing! February 27th began our joint missions conference with First Baptist Church of West Seneca, NY and Hedstrom Baptist Church in Cheektowaga, NY. Also there were the Olsons, who are church planting in Toronto, Canada; the Zimmermans, who are on deputation headed to France; and Alex Wheeler, who is just finishing deputation to do Bible translation. Missions conferences are especially enjoyable, because we not only get to know and enjoy the fellowship of that church family, but we also get to hear about ministries in other parts of the world and get to know other ministers of the gospel.
We did have a great time with First Baptist. Each evening had a service, in which we were able to teach the kid’s ministries, present the ministry and Brandon to preach, or enjoy hearing from one of the other missionaries. The church has a Christian school, and throughout the day we had the opportunity to speak to different classes about missions and Brazil. The random questions children ask keep life entertaining! J On Saturday the men had a brunch at First Baptist and the ladies had a luncheon at Hedstrom, which were both very nice. Because most of the rest of the day was free, Brandon was able to help a couple move into the house they’d just bought. You never know what’ll happen on deputation!
That Sunday we were able to visit Hedstrom Baptist Church again and update them on the ministry and how deputation has been going since we were with them in 2011. We enjoyed getting to see the folks there again and it was encouraging to see how the ministry there has grown and to see the number of new faces from the last time we were there.
After the potluck lunch at Hedstrom on the 3rd, we hit the road for our next missions conference which had started that same day. We arrived at First Baptist Church of Hackensack, NJ (just outside NYC) in time to catch the 2nd half of the evening service and the dessert reception afterwards. Our time in Hackensack was also a huge encouragement. The pastor and his wife, Eric and Valerie Wohner, used to be church planting missionaries in NYC and Emily’s church growing up supported them. Her very first missions trip was to Queens to help the Wohners in the ministry, so this missions conference was especially neat in that way.
First Baptist of Hackensack also has a Christian school, so all of us missionaries had many opportunities to talk to the different grades and to speak in chapel. The different evenings we were able to present Brazil and also hear about the other ministries from the Rodriguezes, who are church planting in NYC; Dave Huizing, who works with Word of Life in that area; Twyla Pellegrino, who does CEF also in that area; and Norm MacKenzie, who is the director of New Life Island, a nearby camp.
One of our favorite things about both conferences was the amount of time they planned for all of us to get to know the folks from the churches. Every day we had lunch as a group either at the church or an area restaurant and each evening a family hosted us for dinner, so it gave lots of time for sweet fellowship. And if we didn’t gain ten pounds by the time the week was over, it certainly wasn’t their fault!!
First Baptist graciously let us stay in their mission house for a few days after the conference ended so that we could make a few contacts while we were in the NYC area. During that time we had the opportunity to have lunch with the pastor of First Baptist Church of NYC, visit Nate and Carol Watkins out on Staten Island, have dinner at a Brazilian restaurant in Queens with the Rodriguezes (delicious!! It made us wish even more that we were in Brazil already!), and revisit Calvary Baptist Church in Bay Shore and Bethel Baptist Church in Commack. It was a blessing to see the dear folks at those churches again.
That Sunday we learned a valuable lesson! On our way from NJ to Long Island, we got a flat tire. God is so good, though! Not only were we able to pull into a median area between an exit and the highway, but the day was warmish, the sun was shining, and our spare tire actually had air in it! What a blessing! And we even made it for the second half of Sunday School. Later that afternoon at the auto shop, the mechanic who looked at our tires said “These tires are five or six years old,” to which Brandon responded that they were one day shy of being two years old. That’s what deputation will do! So the lesson learned was that tires are supposed to be changed every five years or every 50,000 miles. That was 13,000 miles ago!
That following Monday we left Hackensack for Pennsylvania. Brandon attended a pastor’s conference, full of fellowship and preaching, and Emily spent those days with some of our good friends from Springville Baptist Church. The Ladies’ Missionary Fellowship at Springville changed the day they met so Emily could be there and they had a wonderful time rolling bandages, talking, and catching up.
Although the last couple weeks have been very busy, they have been encouraging, edifying, and challenging not only to the churches we’ve visited, but to us as well.