Wednesday, May 10, 2017

April Showers (Or the Beginning of Dry Season)

Recently I started reading through Revelation. It's the last book in my journey to read through the entire Bible. It MAY have taken a little more than a year lol. I'm not gonna lie, there were some books I was not excited to dive into (Leviticus? Numbers? Habakuk???). However, God has used each book in His precious word to speak to me in whatever season I have been walking through. I expected to learn a lot about Revelation, but not necessarily from Revelation. I had always viewed it as a way to understand what's coming, but maybe not what I'm dealing with now. But praise God for His LIVING word! It never fails to meet me where I am and speak life over me. 

April was not much different than March. Phone calls, reaching out, being told "next week", "next month", waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting on our visas, waiting on churches, waiting on materials, waiting on a start date at the prison. It can get a little maddening. One of those mornings where it felt like NOTHING was happening, I read Revelation 3, and verse 8 jumped off the page. Jesus is addressing seven churches and tells each one that He knows that what they do. Sometimes it's bad, sometimes it's good. In verse 8 He is praising the church of Philadelphia for serving Him well and He is declaring that they will have an open door to evangelize to the many people who traveled through the city. Because of all they had done, God was opening a door that NO ONE CAN CLOSE that allowed them to share the gospel! God reminded me that this is HIS ministry and that He is the one opening the door for it to happen. His timing is always better than our timing! 

I was reminded of the saying "April showers bring May Flowers." It's a saying that doesn't make sense everywhere in the world. Instead of the typical winter, spring, summer, and fall, the Caribbean experiences just two seasons: Wet (Fall/Winter) and Dry (Spring/Summer). So here, April isn;t typically very rainy. Well, we may be in the Caribbean, but our prayer is that all our April "showers" or work, and prayer, and waiting will become beautiful "flowers" of new ministry starting up in May and June. 

Next week Aaron and I have a meeting with the assistant superintendent of the prison to set a date to start! God willing, Aaron will be going twice a week to do a large group worship and lesson and then a 12-step small group with the men, and I will be going once a week to do a 12-step small group with the women! There are roughly 200 men and about 5 or 6 women, so Aaron may have a SLIGHTLY bigger job ahead of him ;) We have a church on board to start Celebrate Recovery! We just need to nail down a date to start meeting with potential volunteers.

In addition to CR, I'm getting the opportunity to do discipleship training with 3 other women from our church! Our pastor's wife is taking us through a study over the summer so that we can be equipped to start discipling young women in the fall! I miss small group leading/coaching and I'm excited to move into a similar role here :) 

Aaron has continued to go once a week to New Horizons Juvenile Center.
Aaron and Success Imoke

Our friend Success goes with Aaron to help lead the group at New Horizons. He has been such a blessing to Aaron, helping to bear the load of pouring into these teenagers. The young men and women are starting to open up more and more as Aaron and Success earn their trust. One of the guys asked how we know that Jesus is the son of God, another asked about insight into Revelations 12. These teens are not taking it easy on Aaron and Success, but I know Aaron is loving coming home and going back prepared to really answer their questions. This is a group of kids who have not been made to feel important, who have not been told of their worth. Who are dismissed and overlooked until they are in enough trouble to land at New Horizons, or enough of a hassle that their own parents send them there. It's wonderful to hear how they are learning that Aaron and Success (and ultimately God) love them, care for them, and will take each question seriously and treat it as worthwhile. 

We took a spontaneous family hike to Sofa Stone last month.

We spent some time at the top praying for this country that we love so much.

Aaron made me a real laundry line! Almost 60 feet of clothes hanging beauty! 

We had to say goodbye to students who were leaving the island :( 

I hate goodbyes, I cried a lot!

Our church has a Good Friday service on the beach every year! 

It was a beautiful time of worship and reflection on what Christ has done for us! We also took communion together as a church family.

Afterwards, our friend Grant decided that he wanted to get baptized before he and his wife, Kelsey, moved off the island!

It was a wonderful evening!

Easter was really neat in our new home!

We had a church egg hunt for the kids that come.

We found out that Easter in the Caribbean is not a family-get-together holiday. However we were missing our traditional family-filled Easter, so we had 4 families from church over for dinner and to celebrate with us! I managed not to take any pictures, but it was a blessing to have our island family around us.

The kids and I got to love on these two cuties while their parents shipped off some of their belongings to their new home.

Their mom, Carrie, quickly became one of my best friends and was a huge blessing to me on this rock. We miss you Mills family, so so much!!!

Aaron is guest co-hosting a radio show on Monday mornings this month called Personally Experiencing God! Look for it on Facebook live from 9:30-10am!

He is also coaching two additional basketball teams, the youth and junior teams, while the head coach is out of town.

And part of his role at our church includes filming and editing our church service to upload online! #techteam

Mia (my mom) came to visit! It will be her last time here for several months, so we tried to soak up all the fun and laughter we could.

Our friend Edikan was able to return to her home country of Nigeria this past week. It was bittersweet to say goodbye! We know it's a good step towards taking her medical boards, but we will miss her sweet presence at church and bible study and get togethers! 

We had Nigerian food to celebrate and say goodbye!

Most of our Nigerian church family! We love this group and learning more about their home culture!! They had me cracking up all night :)

So that's the last month-ish in our crazy little island lives. We have so much to look forward to in the coming weeks and seasons! We would love your prayers for our family as we do begin new ministries and go through (yet another) transition with our schedule and time management. We would love your prayers for our visas to get approved asap! Thank you for being on this journey with us.

We love you all!
The Comers

Monday, April 3, 2017

Island Time - March in St Kitts


  Waiting is hard.

  I feel like that could win some sort of understatement prize! I've been told that our generation in the USA is the least patient generation yet. We have access to so many things at the touch of a button! We can do things in seconds that used to take weeks or months. When we lived in the US, these convenient quick options did NOT mean that we got to have all kinds of extra free time. It simply meant that we could squeeze more in to our lives, and that felt like a cultural expectation. "Oh, you're not busy on that one night out of the week? Here are 5 different 'important' things for you to commit your time to." And let's be honest; having a full schedule, being asked to do MORE, being WANTED for a task or project or event, those things can make us FEEL important. So we keep up the pace no matter what.

  So, now we live on an island. An island we can drive around in about an hour. An island that is NOT on the US's time-driven schedule. A place where "later today" can mean in the next few days. Where "the end of next week" may mean exactly that, or it may mean by the end of the month. Rarely do we see people who seem rushed or in a hurry. And you know what? WE rarely feel rushed or in a hurry. We were told about the concept of "island time" and we read books about "hot climate cultures" and "event oriented vs time oriented cultures." We thought we would be prepared, but it felt like hitting the breaks while flying down the interstate. 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. 
Galatians 5:22-23a (emphasis added)

  Patience. Not my (Katelyn) favorite thing, and not something that comes naturally to me. My mom used to sing "Be patient, be patient, don't be in such a hurry!" when I was little. It's become church humor to warn against asking God for patience (He might just make you wait on something in order to learn it). Yet, without asking for patience at all, here we are anyway. We are having this fruit of the Holy Spirit being worked out and grown in our lives daily. We are waiting to hear back from pastors, waiting to receive materials, waiting to launch Celebrate Recovery, waiting on delivery men, on the food shipments to come in so we can grocery shop,  and on visits from family. 

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. 
Galatians 5:24-25

  It's not fun to recognize our impatience as sin, yet that's exactly what it is. Impatience is ingrained in us, not just because of the culture we grew up in or the technology we have available, but because we have a sinful nature. As Christ followers, we have nailed our sinful nature to HIS cross, but it's so easy to try and pull parts of it back down. So, we do have some fun news from this month! And we got to participate in some wonderful things, but we would love prayers as we continue to learn patience when things move slower than we would like :)

March Happenings
Aaron met with an official at Her Majesty's Prison to work out what time we have available to come and what materials we can bring in. God definitely went before Aaron and we were offered the exact amount of time and days we need, all our materials were okayed, and the prison is completing work on new classrooms that we can use when we start 12 step studies!!

As Addalyn has continued to attend Good News Club, Aaron got the chance to play "Saul before he was Paul" during one of the lessons. He was hilarious and the kids LOVED it!

We had a sweet kid ask for a ride home after club one day. Never would I ever pick up a kid I didn't know in the states, but here it's not an odd request!

My wonderful friend Edikan making us delicious Nigerian Food!

We had Jollof Rice and it was amazingly good. We have also had the privilege of having UK and Trinidadian food made for us by our sweet friend Cassie! St Kitts has a HUGE international population and we can't get enough of the cultures represented. The bible study I attend often as many as 6 different countries represented each week!

 Aaron is coaching a men's basketball team in Bird Rock. Many villages here have a team and there will be a huge tournament in a few weeks!

The Christian Veterinary Mission club at Ross University of Veterinary Medicine puts on a health and clothing drive with the University of Medicine and Health Sciences (both universities are located here in St Kitts). Our church was able to participate in sorting donations and helping participants to find what they needed!
The kids got to play while the rest of worked :)

We visited Beacon of Hope and Aaron shared our story and shared about CR. This is one of the churches that will be helping us launch Celebrate Recovery!

I was brave and let Aaron clean up my undercut. He got creative and added a cross lol but I think he did a pretty good job! (We miss you Olivia, and we miss getting legit hair cuts!!!)

The kids tried football! (Don't "correct" me, lol, it's what the entire rest of the world calls this sport!)
They did not actually enjoy it, but I'm proud of them for trying something new :)

We had an outdoor church service at the beach and these two precious women declared their relationship with God through baptism!

Our sweet friend Audri had a school talent show. Her class sang "Kindness is a Muscle" and they handed out "Kindness Rocks" (pun intended) that they painted. Audri did great and we all had fun getting to watch!

One evening last week the kids were itching to get out of the house. We drove up to the top of Timothy Hill which overlooks the peninsula. It's a popular tourist spot, but at 6:30pm it was all ours! 

The view on the other side is less photographed, but just as beautiful! Our house is way in the back of the photo tucked behind a hill :)
(We have really struggle with how to show the beauty here without making it seem like we are living a luxurious life in the Caribbean lol. The truth is, we do get to have some unique experiences because we live on an island! We see a different beauty here than the gorgeous Smokey Mountains, rolling green hills, and lakes that we were surrounded by in Knoxville. God's beauty is so evident in His creation all over the world! We hope that what you all see is just another way that God's creativity and majesty is on display here.)

  We have been in St Kitts for four months now! Four months of adjusting, learning, roller-coaster emotions, joy, pain, growth, and change. We want to thank you all for your interest, your support, and most of all your prayers! We need you prayers like we need water now that the heat has come back! 

  We love you all! Thanks for reading!

  The Comers