Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coming 'Home'

Home...  Ask our kids where that is and you'll get several different answers: Washington, Texas, the ship, cabin 6315, Africa.  However, if you ask them where they're from it's a unanimous - "Washington".  However they have spent very little of the last seven years there.  Our decision was to budget for making it back 'home' every three years.  This coming summer is three years since the last time we were back together as a family.  To be blunt, we can't afford to financially.  Just as honestly, we can't afford not to emotionally.  We love our life here and continue to be blessed by our calling to be a part of the ministry of Mercy Ships on the Africa Mercy, and we need a break.  We would love to reconnect with family and friends, for our kids (especially Xavier) to experience 4th of July, and for Dara and I to recharge our batteries a bit.

We recognize that many who read this blog are already supporting us - thank you! - and that others are struggling themselves financially.  Also, some are unable to commit to a regular monthly support payment.  Perhaps, however, some would like to make a tax deductible end of year donation or would like to support a specific initiative. 

The biggest challenge is airfare.  We are several thousand dollars short.  If you are able to help out, please visit this website to give through Mercy Ships (tax deductible in the US).  Any amount helps!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Coming of Age

Last Sunday we held a brief ceremony for Elijah as he is now a young man.  We wanted to celebrate his coming of age with the community here on the Africa Mercy.  He came to the front with me (Peter) and was surrounded by several of the men in the community that already have significant influence in his life.  Below are the words that I read:

"Both in this community and in our family 13 is a coming of age year.  At 13 young men and women must follow the dress code, are expected to attend community meetings, and have greater liberties onboard.  Elijah turned 13 in June.  Dara and I are incredibly proud of him.  God has given him a wonderful gift pack and we look forward to seeing Eli continue to grow in those gifts, using them to help build the kingdom in a way that only he can.   

Though this brief ceremony is a bit late in coming, we wanted to take the opportunity to both recognize his move from childhood to being a young man and to ask you, as a community, to stand with him and with us as a family.  I want to publicly affirm him as a man and tell him that I know he has what it takes.  Ladies, I would like to ask you to hold him up in prayer and respect him as a man, allowing him space to grow and mature.  Men, I would like to ask you to pour into his life, sharing with him your wisdom and teaching him your skills.  Don't be shy in asking him to help you with a project or teach him a craft.  Elijah loves hands-on activities and I know that there are things that you are skilled at that I am not.  He needs to learn from you.  More than anything, he needs fellow adventurers on the journey, especially ones who know the trail better than he and can help him find his way.

As you can see, some of the men who are already directly a part of his life are standing with him.  I would like to ask a few of them to pray for Elijah, speaking life over him and his future, and I would like to ask you as a community to join them and continue to support and encourage Elijah on his journey."
Several men prayed over Elijah to close the ceremony.  It was short but poignant, and although Elijah wasn't particularly excited about standing up in front of the whole community, I believe he was deeply blessed by this in ways that he will not fully realize for years to come.

I would like to ask that those of you reading this also commit to praying for Elijah during this pivotal year, and for us a parents and as a family.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Yeah, again.

The gorge.  Again.  Yeah, we love it.  And it's cheap.  Elijah, Malachi, and I (Peter) have been working on shaving some time off of our hike.  Today we jogged half of it and shaved five minutes.  Dara and Xavier stayed down on the beach and played, where we met them at the end of the hike.

This was our sixth time to make the hike so we decided to go off the trail for a while.  We ended up with wet feet, dirty clothes (and bodies: see the picture of Elijah's leg below - that's not a tan), sore legs, and big smiles!  It was awesome to trek off the beaten path a bit.  I had forgotten how much I love trailblazing and exploring.  It wasn't easy going with tall grasses, dense thickets, and marshy areas.  So in other words, perfect.  There's also a strong possibility that a number of Lord of the Rings references were made, including: "Short cuts make for long delays":)

I'm very proud of the boys.  They've been troopers and are as committed to pushing hard and improving our time as I am.  I'm so thankful to the Lord for this beautiful place where we can enjoy the splendor of His creation while doing something that we all enjoy. 

There's a beautiful little stream that we followed for a bit.

The last leg before reaching the top is quite steep

That's not a tan.  His leg was all the same color after he jumped in the water.