Saturday, September 5, 2009

Our Story

Many of you may already know our story, but we would like to share with you how God brought us together.

Both Kyle and Cherie were attending a young adult church in Merritt Island, FL. They knew of each other, but did not know each other. Just prior to Kyle spending 14 months overseas, in passing Kyle told Cherie, “You are a hard person to forget” and off he went. Fast forward:

April 2006

The smell of BBQ was lingering in the air at a welcome home party for Kyle. They found themselves on the front porch of his parent’s home discussing missions and current events and their perspective places in such things. Over the course of the next several weeks many more of these conversations took place much to their surprise. Low and behold, stars formed in their eyes and off they went to their separate powers that be to confer with them about the possibility of God’s plan for them. Bam. It was on. However…..

Three months into the blossoming love, they began to see God’s hand directing them apart. With heavy hearts they bid farewell to each other with no idea if they would ever be back together again. The Lord directed them to different parts of the world over the next 18 months. They grew in stature and wisdom drawing closer to God while being reminded to surrender everything to Him, even the person that they wanted to marry. Tears were shed and many prayers uttered at ridiculous hours of the night as they traveled through many different countries. No doubt- it was a time of extreme and necessary growth.

February 2008

As Cherie was preparing to lead a team to Haiti, and Kyle was returning from Africa, their paths crossed again. Awkward. It went a little something like this:

Kyle “How you getting to the airport?”

Cherie “Eh(in a timid voice), renting a car, someone paid for it”

Kyle “Ok, how you getting home?”

Cherie “Suppose I’ll rent another car”

Kyle “You want me to pick you guys up?”

Cherie “Nah”

Cherie’s point of view- I was terrified when I saw Kyle again when he returned from Africa. I still loved him deeply, no, probably deeply is not even the word. I had grown in love and appreciation that seems boundless in our time apart. When I first saw him again, I kicked myself because I knew that I was hopelessly devoted to him but I had no idea if we would ever be together. When he asked about the ride, I was so scared of hurting again that I said no. However, on the trip to Haiti, I felt the Lord leading me to accept the ride. I am so glad that I did:)

Kyle’s point of view- I was thinking to myself; why did I ask her that? This in turn brought on the flood of thoughts that had been going through my head for the last five months. In first John 1 it says “ Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” I knew that when we parted ways what seemed like so long ago, I had to give up the things that I thought I deserved (Cherie) and draw close to God. As I went through the process of laying down my rights and seeking the Lord for direction in my life, at what I believe to be His perfect timing thoughts of Cherie went through my head not at all unlike the old ELO Song. I sat on those thoughts and did nothing but pray, as the time for me to come back to the US came closer I prayed harder! I knew that the rubber would hit the road and sparks would fly. (mind you, there are good and bad sparks out there)

The Juicy Parts

On the 4 hour ride home from the airport, Cherie and Kyle found themselves lost in conversation again. Interestingly enough, it was missions and current events. The conversation was so good, in continued for a week. During this week, there were more tearful prayers, but in a good (warm cuddly feeling inside) way. At the end of the week, there was a showdown. At the sake of losing some of the passé, I will place the words in narrative format again.

Kyle (awkward pause) “Umm, I am shaking in my flip-flops and not because it’s cold out here”

Cherie “Well, I think you need to go first on this one”

Kyle “Dang it. Ok, here it is. I don’t want to “try again” cause trying leaves room for quitting. I want to start fresh. Let’s clear off the slate and start from the beginning”

Cherie “ Kyle, are you saying you want to be together again? (a sly smile spread across her face)

Kyle (employing his best “blue steel” look) “Yes.”

Cherie “ Ummm, yeah, are we sure that this is God’s will?” translation- I am so in love with you and my heart could completely deflate forever if this falls apart again.

Kyle “ I think this could be beautiful dollface”

Cherie “I just want you to know something Kyle. Every person I have met in the last two years has paled completely in comparison to you. I can’t imagine doing anything else other than this.”

Kyle’s Point of View After Cherie made that statement I felt the hammer fall in my heart. The judge was saying that’s it kid, this is what you are going to do and that was your confirmation. I was thinking, holy cow! I can’t believe she just said that, I think I got that warm fuzzy feeling again. But I was bouncing now and Cherie was laughing at me because I was so excited. It was kinda late so we wrapped up the conversation then. I walked away with that my mind has just been blown feeling but I had what I can now identify as peace in my heart.

So the rest is history. It has been a beautiful thing getting to know each other with a new perspective and a renewed passion for God.

November 28, 2008 (drum roll please……)

· pleasantly cool breeze swept across a beach in the Florida panhandle

· birthday celebrations abounded

· caving, canoeing, and a dude with a crazy idea

· a lone crane spectating off in the distance

· nervousness

· cluelessness

· one knee

· a few bold statements in the form of a question

· a look of bewildered surprise

· smiles and really excited giggles

· tight embraces

· tasty smooches

· a few pictures

· and then we were off to dinner with friends

THE END of this story is really only the beginning…..

Monday, May 5, 2008

Nine Hours Old

Nine hours old. That was how old the baby was. I looked up at the man who had dropped the child in my arms with an inquisitive stare. “The baby is hungry” was all he said. I gazed again at the child. It’s cheeks were bright red and it’s hair was sticky from just being born. “Has the mother feed the child at all” I asked the man. “She doesn’t want anything to do with the child” he said as he briskly walked away from me. There were already 4 children there I was responsible for and 43 in the orphanage. With supplies running low and my brain spinning, I realized that none of these thoughts even mattered. All I could think was how could someone not want this beautiful child. Yeah, I know that all babies aren’t always beautiful, especially not newborns. However, this child was gorgeous. He was dressed in all pink, but one quick look under the layers of towels he was delivered in revealed he was for sure a male. My eyes met his and I moved towards the formula I had on the shelf and made a bottle for this gift from God. Somewhere in the world there was a family who desperately wanted a baby, and here he was-safely in my arms till we could get him to his new home.

I looked around the room as the little eyes I was taking care of stared at me and the new baby. I asked out loud what we should call him but all the little eyes belonged to mouths too young to speak. I carried him around so they could all see his gorgeous face.

Each trip to Haiti comes with surprises. I don’t even bother planning because I know it will never really go the way I planned anyway. This particular trip was especially special for me. For those of you too far away to see the glow on my face, I want to let it be known that an amazing young man named Kyle and I are “courting”. He is also heavily and devotedly involved with missions and this was the first trip we were led together. Our parents are thrilled and so are we. Where his talents and gifting end, mine begin. It is a breathtaking thing- this partnership.

He worked during the day with his father doing things that I am never able to do when I come to Haiti like running new electric lines, fixing pumps that clear foul and parasite ridden water out of the village, and fixing our dear missionary friend’s vehicle. I took care of babies and the team. It was a hot, sweaty, and beautiful trip on all levels.

The baby was given the name Kennedy James. Quite austere. While we were there four more adoptions were finalized. Words can’t describe how grateful we are for that. Haiti, not surprisingly, was in the middle of a revolution right before we flew in. Rising food costs in the impoverished island only make it worse for the abandoned children. Then the government offices all closed due to violence, trapping the children in the system even longer. Every day that a child stays in Haiti can be perilous. This is still a country where 1 in 5 children die before the age of 5. But we got 4 more out and safely to their new safe, loving, and godly homes!

Haiti is only one of the many things that are happening in my life. Each subsequent trip I make reinforces what I already know-I need more medical training. I finished half of my EMT (Emergency Medical Technical) training in Africa last summer. When I came home from Africa I wanted training in computers as well as medical training. I was blessed with free computer courses and now I have a chance to finish the medical portion for half the price that it normally costs. I am going to be getting certified in June. The total cost is about $1200. It will be a great investment and I could sure use the help. If anyone feels led to help me with that, please just let me know. I am sure that this training is going to be used in every area of my life and ministry.

Also, as always, please keep me posted on your lives. We live in day and age where we can be in touch but never really in touch. Nothing brings me greater joy than interacting with the body of Christ. Please let me know what is going on in your life:) I am very interested. We can’t do what we do without each other’s love and support!

God Bless!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Following the Leader?

Haiti. How do I describe this place that has both equally repels me and attracts me at the same time. A small island by the world’s standards, but huge in the disproportionate amount of poverty and pain that reside there.

I just finish leading my first team to the Caribbean island. It was an amazing trip that took us through orphanages, through the ridiculously slow and corrupt government offices of Haiti, to gorgeous albeit litter filled oceans. I went with two objectives: to inspire the team members to have a heart for missions and to assist the orphanages in Haiti with their needs.

When I first arrived back in America, I knew one of my next trips would be back to Haiti. I have many relationships there that I love to commit time to in the form of work. Many times the missionaries that live there full time need help to get things done like paperwork, tech support, cleaning, and even laughter. So as I began to make preparations to go, I mentioned to several people the details of the trip. Surprisingly several people became convinced that they should be on the trip. And the team was born.

Having never led a trip in its entirety by myself- this proved to be a great exercise for me. The typical system for me is: land, look both direction, chose one and go. I am not sure if this is right or even good, it just is. I usually wing everything. Not so with other people- especially those who have never been out of the country before. It was wonderful, and I truly mean that, to practice being organized and prepared. It is a ridiculous exercise in such a chaotic country as Haiti, but it was a fun practice anyway.

One of the members of the team had never been on a plane before and it was an incredibly turbulent ride and as we landed we were greeted by the typically extremely hot air that floods the airplane as the hatch opened. Our luggage was missing and the people outside of the airport gates were reaching with outstretched arms and pleading eyes. And there we were, home and not home at the same time. Inside, each of us knew that this is what God created us for. Yet, our hearts cried out for relief for both the people and for ourselves.

Pulling up to the orphanage, we found children everywhere. The director told us there were 3 sick children. When I say sick, I mean sick. These children were in desperate need of surgery and now. As we dealt with the multitudes of beautiful children all around us, the main focus of our attention went to the babies whose lives hung between life and death. Our energies were focused on paperwork to get these kids out to other countries where they could get the surgeries they needed.

We also worked on getting data entered into computers for the missionaries. Keeping up to date on technology is an ongoing issue on developing countries and I am so grateful for the skills I have been accumulating for this task.

So that was the week. Long, hot, sweaty, beautiful, and fulfilling. They were long days where we collapsed on the makeshift beds at the end with a smile of fulfillment plastered across our faces.

When I asked the team what stood out to them the most about the trip, the answers were almost universal. They loved seeing lives changed, especially their own. I was reminded it is never really the easy things that we remember- it is the things we invest time, energy and sweat into.

So another trip is in my immediate future. I am going to be returning with some more willing folks to fix some mechanical items (this team had no electricians or mechanics on it) and I expect that it will change me. I am amazed that God has invested so much into this vessel. Daily I am struck by my own inadequacies but blown away by God’s willingness to use me anyway :)

Enough for now. God is good- excessively. I still have tons of plans for the future that are dreams that are way bigger than my heart can contain. I will let you know as they grow out of their “container”. Until then……..

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Year End Roundup!

This year-end report is one where I find myself fully boasting in the Lord’s ability to take a selfish and confused Cherie and turn her into a contributing member of the Kingdom. It has been quite the transformation (as anyone who knows me well can testify to) and one I rejoice daily for.

What an amazing year it has been! As many of you know, I spent half of the year in Africa. I worked there with the sub-Saharan tribes in Zambia as well as learning all kinds of amazing skills including mechanics, GPS navigation, welding, Bible studies, expedition planning and leading, and medical training. Afterwards I went to Zanzibar and worked with the beautiful Christian minority as well as the majority Muslim population. It was beautifully challenging and life changing. I found my heart knitted to the gorgeous people and culture of the eastern African coast.

I stopped by Australia on the way home to visit my brother and his beautiful wife and to meet my newest nephew, Joshua Daniel. It was such a blessing as someone donated the money to send me there and I arrived just in time to help with the delivery. Afterwards I went to Hawaii to visit my brothers who are stationed there. It has been several years since I had seen them so I was very excited when I realized again that someone else had provided the means to go! But one of my brothers had already been redeployed to Iraq. However, I was able to help out with homeless ministries in Hawaii and get involved with local churches. What a blessing!

After arriving home, I was confused as to why I was here. It seemed so much more “logical” to continue to travel. However, God always has tricks up His sleeve;) Shortly after arriving I realized that my father’s ministry needed some help and in the midst of doing that I began to see some of the next steps. I was offered free classes for computer repair and installation. Then came the classes in welding. Next was the network installation training. In addition to learning these amazing skills, I have an opportunity to get more medical training from one the best institutes for wilderness EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) work in the USA called SOLO School in New Hampshire. With the training I have from this summer I am only about 2 weeks away from having my USA certified EMT license that would enable me to work anywhere in the US. Needless to say, it is an exciting thing to be serving the Lord! The adventure never seems to end. All this info says nothing of the jobs and opportunities that the Lord has provided for the immediate future! I will keep you posted as I learn more about this plan unfolding!

As many of you know, when I first began to look to go to Africa I realized that there was about an $8000 price tag on it. I was sure that I was not going to be able to raise that kind of money but I was also sure that God had said to go. After everything was said and done, I had received over $20,000 and was able to send out 5 other missionaries, support several African church and school building projects, help support widow’s and orphan programs, as well as supporting self sustaining gardening projects! It was breathtaking. I felt like a funnel! Every project that is running in Africa now you have a part of! The work will continue and lives will be changed through it:)

When 2008 begins, I will be accepting a medical job as well as an IT job. I am leading a team to Haiti in the first part of February and then I am completing my EMT training in May. After that, I am looking into several jobs overseas that will be using my medical and IT skills. It goes without saying though that every bit of this is in the Lord’s hands and I am always looking to be moved in whatever direction He might have. I can’t thank you all enough for your support and LOVE through this life. Most of you are just flat out determined through the love of God to make a difference in this world and I am so glad to be a part of it! I believe that God is equipping his workers in new and exciting ways and I just work in dropped-jaw amazement as I see His magnificent plan. MAY THE ROAD AHEAD BE FILLED WITH THE JOY OF SERVICE AND LOVE!!!!

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Please keep in touch with me as it always makes me smile.

Friday, September 21, 2007

If I was farther away... I would be closer

Ok, so this was an adventure. I will go through my whole life and remember the days of travel in Africa. Not the six months I spent there- no, the travel:) I should have known the adventure that awaited me when I discovered that no one knew the bus schedules for anywhere. So I will save you the details but tell you that over five days I took 6 taxis, two long haul buses, five long plane rides, and a ferry. It was actually really amazing and I was able to talk with so many people along the way! You never know what the Lord has planned! Pretty cool seeds planted, I am sure.

But I left Africa. I feel a loss really. I miss it like I miss home. It is a great thing to be both happy where you are but to be ready to go somewhere else. I am not home yet though. Currently I am in the land down under (I got to pet a kangaroo, well really a wallabie:) where I am helping my brother and his beautiful wife get ready to have their first child. I figured I would go the LONG way home around the globe:)

But I wanted to tell you about the last few weeks in Zanzibar! How amazing! The last month and a half has been a collage of different ministries and services. Sometimes I would be able to do hut to hut evangelism in some of the remote villages on the island. I was working with a YWAM group from Tanzania and we were going through neighborhoods sharing and inviting people to a screening of the Jesus Film at night. If you’re not familiar with this movie from Campus Crusade, please look it up. What an amazing film that has shared the life of Jesus with people all over the world! We saw a huge response from people as they would bombard me with questions about Jesus. For many, this was the first time they had ever heard this wonderful Name!

Secondly, I worked on computer classes. I recognized the irony that I was working with computers in the middle of these remote regions but there was such a great need. So, ok, when I think of “missions” work- I imagine digging wells, building orphanages, speaking in churches:) but I think we all know that we need to be all things to all people so that some can be saved! So here I found myself in this place with pastors who couldn’t even write a basic letter. As a result they had to go into town and have someone else type it and being that the land is so opposed to Christians the info would often be used against the church. I won’t go into details about the dangers but believe me when I say it was dangerous. The church had been praying for three years for someone to be able to teach them this skill. Dang! So there I was running a month of computer classes teaching everything from basic to advanced computer skills. We even built some websites! God is amazing at dispatching His own where He needs us:)

I also was blessed to be really taken in by several families- both Muslim and Christian alike. I went to weddings, taught in schools, made clothes, cleaned houses and helped build houses, learned to make great food, and got to spend great time in prayer and Bible study! It was, well, these adjectives find me short at times- beautiful, amazing, brilliant, and wonderful! There were so many opportunities to share and demonstrate God’s love. Truth of the matter is I fell in love- I love this place and these people- but I find myself loving everywhere I go! This world is so beautiful.

Thanks again for all your help and prayers in getting me to this place to be able to help! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to see people’s lives change all over the world!