Departure…

Had someone been walking along the Saint John waterfront, they may have heard nothing at all, they might have heard a faint, far-off, yet indistinguishable sound, or then again they might have heard a 12 year-old boy, as his car crested the Harbour Bridge, yell from his open window…. “Goodbyyyyyyyyee Saint John!”

Those very words were shouted on Friday morning at roughly 8:40am as we drove out of the city where I was born, where our kids were all born and where Liz had made her home for the previous 19 years… the trip had begun. Weeks of saying goodbye had come to an end and we began the long road to Montreal.

Saying Goodbye

Below are some VIPs (very important people); some are from church, some are business connections or service providers and others have been friends for a long time.  It’s impossible to post pictures of each of you and in some cases, when we got together to say goodbye, we forgot to get a photo, but each of you are important to us. You are a gift from God to us. You have contributed to who we are.

saying goodbye

Final notes:

  • Departure: Friday we drove Saint John – Montreal, but today we leave Montreal for France.  It’s a big day and we are so excited.
  • Finances: Two days before our departure, we received a call from someone who made a $200/month PIM commitment for the first year of our stay. What an encouragement that is… bringing our total commitment to date up to 83% or just over $99,000 of the $120,000 required for a full 2-year stay.
  • Car: the car is now sold and a pastor friend of ours now has an awesome second car!
  • House: Incredible news… the night before our departure from Saint John we had an initial offer on our house. The negotiating process ran it’s course and as of yesterday morning, we have accepted an offer on it. THAT is IN-CREDIBLE timing. We thank the Lord for another open door!
  • Luggage: We ended up not being able to stuff everything into suitcases as we hoped to so we shipped 3 totes and 2 suitcases via Air Canada Cargo. There was a 110kg limit before you moved to another fee-structure and, without even trying, our total came to 109kg!  PHEW!  …again, the hand of the Lord.  As you can see… the car was FILLED with the remaining suitcases (and the picture was taken BEFORE the guitar went in!).

2015_01_luggage

Prayer Request

The next time I write to you, I will be writing from France… how exciting is that!?

Please pray that things go smoothly at customs upon our arrival in France. It will not be a problem to bring in any of the suitcases that traveled with us, but pray that there are no hiccups at cargo (no extra import fees, duty, etc.).

Thank you for your support, God bless you as you gather to worship Him today!!

Supporting MKs & AIMKids

Recently, while looking for something to do with how to be an encouragement to MKs (or in our case, AIMKids), I came across this information from the UPCI’s MK Ministries. It’s wonderful so I thought I’d share… Check out their website to get a whole bunch more information on ways to support & encourage MKs – they are a unique bunch of kids… far from home because of the call of God on their parents’ lives.

Below is a chart on how Ladies’ groups can help. It’s size has been reduced but you can click on the orange links below for full-sized versions of the pages customized for:

Thanks for being interested in MKs / AIMKids and seeking how to be a help and an encouragement to them! You can change a life through this interest!

MK Ministries, UPwithMKs, UPCI

 

 Moving Day

Finally… please keep us in your prayers –

  • Today is moving day… lots to do
  • Thursday… clean-up the empty house, oil change on the car & last supper with my mom (keep her in your prayers as well… it’ll be tough for gramma to have the grand-babies so far off!)
  • Friday we leave for Montreal… we’ll drive up and catch our flight to Paris on Sunday

But that’s getting into the weekend and Saturday I’ll give you a run-down on how today went…

2014 in Review + News

The New Year has arrived and with it, the natural tendency both to look back and reflect as well as to look ahead in anticipation. Let’s give you a quick recap as well as an update on preparations:

2014… the Blog

From a blogging perspective, the year was a good one according to the statistics monkeys at WordPress.com… the following numbers are from them:

  • Wordpress.com, WordPress Blog, Year in Review, 2014The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. AIMLong.ca was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014 so if the blog were a concert at the Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it! (That’s pretty cool!)
  • There were 301 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 109 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.
  • The busiest day of the year was January 18th with 479 views (the day we launched our Intro Video).
  • The Top-5 posts of the year were:
    #1Intro Video  (438 views)
    #2Got a Call? Feed it!  (332 views)
    #3#IAmGlobal  (179 views)
    #4Letter from my Pastor  (176 views)
    #5A Hallelujah Moment!  (158 views)

Thank you, WordPress… for being a great blogging platform!

2014… the Project

With the help of the Lord we…

banner setup

  • Raised commitments for over $96,000.00 toward our $120,000.00 goal.  This is what we will live on for the next two years, if the Lord tarries.
  • Received monthly commitments & one-time offerings from 0ver 100 churches, groups or individuals.
  • Traveled 20,000+ km throughout the States and Eastern Canada.
  • Presented our Vision in 38 church services in 22 cities.
  • Connected with other AIMers and Global Missions staff.
  • Have gotten to know and been encouraged by incredible pastors and individual supporters from across North America!

Fear & Answered Prayer

We constantly find that fear is “nipping at our heals” concerning the sale of our house. We find ourselves, on one hand, wanting to make contingency plans in case it doesn’t sell before our departure but on the other House for Sale, 1 Pugsley Avenue, Saint John, NBhand, we don’t want to lack (or appear to lack) faith that God is able to work the sale out (despite a poor real estate market and a less than ideal time of year).

That being said, there was a very favourable showing before Christmas (they have to get their house on the market) and there is a showing today. We have said for some time that we are praying for 2 very interested parties who will bid against each other in the hopes of moving the timeline forward sooner. This showing today, is an answer to prayer.

Prayer Alert: So….. Those of you reading this before 2pm Atlantic time, please pray for this viewing. Thanks!

Furniture… on the move!

We will be making our first trip “to the shed” today with some of the larger pieces of furniture that will spend the next two years “locked away”. This means that yesterday in particular…

  • a great number of boxes were filled
  • a long day was stretched late into the evening
  • Value Village will soon see several bags of books
  • the Church flea market will inherit a few boxes and last, (but not least)
  • the local landfill will see a good number of things that we’ve never had the guts to throw out sooner… can someone say…. P-U-R-G-E!!

Final mailoutAIM2Go, AIM UPCI, AIMLong

 The other thing that we managed to get done between Christmas and New Year’s, was to prepare and mail out our final packet before departure.

The mailing consists of two (2) printed copies of the Praying for our AIMKids infographic that you saw last week. Each of our partners willl receive one as well as other pastors across North America that we’ve had contact with at various points..

The Goal, if you recall was to (a) recruit prayer supporters for our kids and (b) provide pastors and Sunday School or youth personnel with a way to get kids connected to missions.

Here you can see Dominic & TImo hard at work helping me stuff the envelopes… they’re troopers!

 Coming up…

A few things on the horizon for this week:

  • January 7th: Watch out for our next AIMKids MIssionary Moment post, entitled 5 Changes (I think, as a rule, I’ll publish those Missionary Moment posts on Wednesday)
  • January 8th: Our last visit with the folks at Stephenson Tower. This will be tough as we’ve been visiting them for the past 6 years or so.
  • January 11th, at 6:30pm, there will be a send off service at Mission Point (130 Mark Drive, behind Downey Ford).

Thank you for your prayer support again this week!
You open doors for us!

Praying for our #AIMKids

Today I’m serving up another infographic for you. The last time you saw one was on October 18th and it detailed the Timeline of the Call.  In today’s post, we’re focusing on the kids and a tool I developed for Sunday School personnel and youth pastors who would like to adopt our kids as a “Prayer Project” during our time on AIM.

AIMLong.ca/Kids

We’ve launched a new Top-level page on this site:  AIMLong.ca/Kids

This new page will serve as a) a general introduction to our kids for those who don’t already know them and b) will have links to 10 AIMKids Missionary Moments: 5-min long, France-related object lessons that will help kids pray not only for our kids  but also for their own outreach potential.

Why?

…largely as a result of the following quote:

“In some churches you will raise support and in others you’ll raise supporters.”

I read that quotation in a book by Steve Shadrach, The God Ask, and so, our goal in developing this infographic is to not only garner prayer support for our kids but also to give leaders tools that can help them connect their kids & youth to missions.  If these young ones can feel a connection to missions from their youth, then there is a greater chance that they will be open to either giving or going themselves as they get older.

Feel free to download and print the graphic below. Use it in your Sunday School classes, Kids’ Prayer groups, Youth classes, etc., and connect kids to missions!

AIMLong.ca, France, Châtellerault, #AIMKids

 

 

 

 

5 Weeks & Counting!

I’ve stated that the goal of AIMLong.ca, during the time leading up to our departure, is to keep you up to date on the progress of preparations. So for now… here’s how the hive has been humming!

Day to day

House & Car: The house is still for sale and while there is no firm offer, there is someone who wants it but they will have to sell their own house first & it goes on the market in January. That can cause us some anxiety if we focus on it, but we try simply to stand still, and trust in God’s faithfulness.

We’ve bought a storage shed & have a place to put it. We’ll store some furniture and other items that don’t require heat.  Liz has been doing a lot of the packing and sorting but I started a couple of my bookshelves and did a large part of the garage some weeks ago. (There’s waaaayyyyy more yet to do!)

We’re thankful to already have a buyer for our car.

Work:  My replacement as Assistant to the Pastor at Mission Point is now onsite. Pentecostal Messenger, Atlantic District UPCIMark Robertson (originally of Hatfield Point but most recently of Miramichi) and I have been working very closely in an attempt to get 8 years worth of stuff out of my mind and into his (poor guy!). I can tell that he is going to do an incredible job and is a credit to the pastoral leadership that has trained him to-date.

Pentecostal Messenger: For those unaware, I’m editor for a 12-page printed publication that goes out to our churches in the region, with a readership of roughly 750.  While in France, others will look after logistical details, but I’ll still look after editing and layout of the content.  I’ll be putting together the better part of both the January and February issues prior to my departure.

Missionary Lynne Jewett

Missionary to Guatemala, Lynne Jewett, with our  #AIMKidsOn Monday we got to spend the afternoon with our friend and missionary to Guatemala, Lynne Jewett. What an inspiration!

She came for lunch and since she is synonymous with kids’ ministry, we wanted to chat with her about:
a) building a church through kids’ ministry &
b) doing all we can to set our own kids up to succeed on the mission field.

She had some GREAT advice!  Including preparing them for the effect that distance will have on their friendships… some will undoubtedly fade a bit over time, but the true ones will remain.  That’s straight-talk and she is bang on!  She also encouraged them to see themselves as missionaries…

Looking ahead

Departure: We’ve tentatively set our departure date as somewhere around January 25-27.
AC-Flight“Wait, what? …no specific date?” ….We’re going to fly stand-by, which means that, yes, we’ll save money on airfare but we’ll fly according to seat availability.  (If there are seats available, we’ll seat our seats on the plane, if not… we try again next flight). That may seem stressful to some, but it’s how we traveled the whole time Liz worked for the airline, so we’re used to it.

Final Mailout: We’re on the verge of doing our final mailout prior to departure. It’ll be an oversized postcard for Sunday School & Youth Staff, focusing on “adopting our kids as a “prayer project” and various way to pray for & connect with them / us. Look for the infographic in this Saturday’s post.

Thanks in advance!

It goes without saying that, with all of these things going on… we need your prayer. It all comes at a busy time of year and if I were to focus too much on it, I would be overwhelmed. We take one day at a time and rest in the assurance that, if the Lord tarries, we will be there in just over 5 weeks from now!

 

A Hallelujah Moment!

Well… it’s been quite a week!

Homefires

On Wednesday, a for sale sign went up on our front lawn.  After 17 years in the same neighbourhood, the same grocery store, the same traffic patterns & neighbours we are headed for change and put our house up for sale.

If you were to look at things from an economic point of view, it’s not a good time to put a house on the market, but we trust that as we do our utmost to get everything in place, God will do what is necessary to handle those things that we cannot control. We trust him!

It’s a great house (with tons of landscaping – shrubs & perennials!  I got rid of the menagerie of animals though!  🙂 ….you can take a look at the listing and photos of the house here.

Excitement

Email_Pref-Consul

Now though, we get to the best part of my week. I’d been somewhat apprehensive about the whole process of obtaining a Long Stay Visa for residency in France; not because it’s tough to get, but simply because everything had to be done by email & phone and they’re located in Montreal… the question of time constraints, getting an appointment, possibly having to make the 800 km trip more than once, etc. was a tiring prospect to me.

In an attempt to get the ball rolling, I emailed both the French Consulate in Montreal and the Regional Prefecture in France. Then they emailed back.

(I must admit, it was more than a bit exciting to receive an email from both the Consulate of France and the Prefecture within only a short time of one another!)

BUT…

Even more exciting than receiving the emails was that, after laying out our scenario – Liz is a European citizen and the kids as well – they indicated to me that in fact I don’t need a visa!!

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Hallelujah!

As the non-European spouse of a European citizen, I am able to bypass the visa process and go right to resident’s status by a very simple process. I simply arrive in France and make an appointment at the local Immigration office, present the necessary paperwork and it goes fairly quickly after that.

Email_Pref-Consul2

Folks… THAT is a MIRACLE!

…yet another indication that we are in the will of the Lord and that He has made provision for our every need.

Praise the Lord!

This weekend

IMG_5242After hosting the Atlantic District Kids Convention last night and today, we are excited to be heading to Fredericton tonight to hear from Bro. Lee Stoneking. He had a significant influence on my early time in Pentecost and so whenever I get a chance to sit under his ministry, I don’t pass it up.

I was at the altar praying one day and he asked me point blank if I’d ever been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of my sins.  When I responded that I hadn’t, he asked me, just as “point blank”… “Well, why not?”

When I responded that I feared that it would also be an admission that everything I’d done for God up to that point was wrong and without value, he immediately responded that that wasn’t so. I had simply been obedient to what I had been taught up to that point and now that he was showing me something new-to-me, how would I respond?

IMG_5244I’m so grateful for that conversation at the altar. It was both direct and balanced enough that I went home, looked up the 80+ verses that have a derivative of the word “baptize” in them and saw that with the exception of Matthew 28:19, every time we see people being baptized in the Book of Acts – it was either “In the name of Jesus” or “into Christ” etc.  …Either the apostles were accomplishing Mt. 28.19 when they baptized in Jesus’ name or they were completely disobedient to it; and if they were disobedient, then the foundation of our faith is severely eroded. There was no doubt in my mind that I needed to be baptized in Jesus’ name.   …and I was, on Dec. 14th, 1997.

Thank you Bro. Stoneking for being used by God as the tipping point!
Thank you for following our preparations and covering them in prayer. It makes all the difference!

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Timeline of The Call

Here is a look at the timeline detailing how God connected us to French-speaking Europe and eventually western France in particular… over time.
“He who began a good work is faithful to complete it!”
Philippians 1.6

 

Timeline (web)

 

 

What do you think?

Can you see the hand of the Lord at work, leading, guiding and preparing things in advance… leading us, over time, into the center of His will for our family?

If so, we are still in need of financial partners whose gifts will enable us to advance the Kingdom of Christ in the city of Châtellerault. Would you consider partnering with us?  Click here for a Partner Form and instructions on how to go about supporting our family.

Thank you for your prayers… by them, you too are par of #Revival_inFrance!

#$HealthCheck … ?

As you can imagine, there are many things that need to be considered when planning a move like that which we are planning in less than 4 months!  In the context of dealing with some of those preparations, we found ourselves sitting across from a personal banking representative yesterday and I had a thought.

The Background

photoFor readers who don’t know us personally, Liz and I married in 1997 and have spent our entire married life in the same neighbourhood. Our house has been paid off for a couple of years and we have only limited debt, however there are still other financial preparations that need to be done, over and above simply raising financial support. One of the big questions has been, “What about your house?  Will you rent it or sell?” So, yesterday we went to the bank to examine our options in that area as well as when it comes to managing things like life insurance payments, pre-existing RRSPs (the Canadian equivalent of the American 401K), etc.

Near the outset of the meeting, our banker indicated that she had a few questions to ask as part of a general Financial Health Check, the answers to which would help her make suggestions that would be the right fit for us. The questions were straightforward enough: Tolerance for risk? Desired time of retirement? Investment knowledge? and so on… which leads me to the thought.

Experts

As she went through a lot of information I found myself, at one point, thinking: “Lord, help me to process what I’m hearing.” and, alternatively, “Lord, help her to help us in the best possible way.”  It caused me to draw the following parallel:

When we’re at a cross-roads in the area of our physical health, we often rely more heavily on the Lord or are at least more conscious of our need for his help. We also consult someone with greater knowledge of the normal functioning of the body and who, where readjustment is needed, is best suited to advise on how that readjustment can happen.

Similarly, when it came time to understanding multiple financial tools available, how each works on its own and how they interact when used together, we had come to seek counsel from someone with more knowledge than we have. …and I found myself praying.

It occurred to me… how often to we prepare for “average, everyday meetings” by praying?  Oh I know that when pastors or missionaries are going for a new building or a land-purchase, they’ll request prayer, but this is just “managing our everyday finances”… no biggie, right?   Wrong.

The End of the Matter

photoOver and above our banker’s very valuable counsel and advice, everything we possess is from the Lord and our dependence is ultimately on him. I was glad that I could call on Him for help to wade through the options and trust that he is guiding both our banker and ourselves.

Got questions? Pray. God’s as interested in seeing us succeed in the everyday things as he is in the big decisions. As for us and our house… well, now we wade through the options and trust that the Lord’s hand will guide us. He’s never failed us yet and we don’t expect him to anytime soon.

Thanks for stopping by… let it feed your prayers for us!
God bless you today!

Fundraising & Miracles

Neat things have happened since I last updated you on fundraising specifics… so today’s post will address some of those things.

#1:  half-way there!!!

photoWe are THRILLED to tell you that with only 4 months left, we have topped the 50% commitment level.

Thank you,
Thank you,
THANK YOU!!

One-time donations:
One-time donations total $24,450.00 (40% of the total commitment). Most of these have already been received however a portion of that total is based on a commitment to give.

Monthly Partner Commitments:
Monthly commitments total $36,000.00 (the equivalent of thirty $50/month partners). This total assumes two things:

a) that confirmed donors maintain their giving for the full 2-years that we expect to be in France and
b) that those who have given us a verbal commitment, though the paperwork has not yet been received, will proceed with the giving.

Given that we only announced our appointment in January and began fundraising in March, we are thrilled that, in just over 6 months, God has opened up this level of support through youhis partners in missions.  Thank you!

#2: Every little bit counts

TypicEarlier this week I spoke at Northeast Christian College, in Fredericton NB and presented our burden for France. At the end of our time together, Rev. Mel Calhoun asked the students if anyone wanted to contribute to our support as a one-time donation. The students responded:

There was one donation of $100, one of $50 and one of $40. The rest were commitments of $5, $10, $15 and $20, yet when all was said and done, these students had committed $780.

Thank you @NCC4Ministry!

#3: Baggage bigger than Carry-On

What!? That exists?

In 17 years of married life (with the exception of Liz’s move to Canada from Belgium) we have never traveled with anything but carry-on sized luggage. Consequently, we didn’t own large suitcases. THAT would have to change in preparation for France… and it has; we got six brand new huge suitcases. The price should’ve been $700, but we got them virtually for free!!

How’d we do it?

  • We began sorting stuff that has accumulated in 17 years of married life and we prepared to sell anything that had value.
  • Yard Sale: $400 kijiji
  • Kijiji (Canadian equivalent of Craigslist):  $300
  • Bargain Hunting: My wife had been keeping her eye on some suitcases at a local store. She waited until she they came out with a “buy 1, get one 1/2-price” sale… so the total came to $590, but the sale of our stuff paid for it, so the suitcases really cost us nothing out of pocket.

The bad news…  more expenses are coming.
The good news… we still have lots more stuff to sell!

#4: Inspired Reading

GodAskKindleIn discussion with Bro. Poitras this past weekend at our missions conference, he mentioned the book “The God Ask: A fresh biblical approach to fund raising” by Steve Shadrach. It discusses the process of raising funds for either a missions trip of some kind or a church or para-church ministry or organization. I’m currently only about 30% through it… but it’s a wonderful read and if you’re considering any kind of short-term missions involvement for which you need to raise your own support… I highly recommend this book!!

$19.99 on Amazon or $9.99 for the ebook*
(prices are from Amazon.ca and could vary slightly in the USA)

#5: Postcard Results

Just an update to say that we have already seen results from our postcard mailout back in August.  Although I plan, in the next two weeks, to touching base with many of these pastors by telephone, one pastor in Georgia didn’t wait to hear from me by phone, but sent us both a one-time offering as well as a monthly partner commitment. God is blessing us beyond measure through ordinary people and pastors just like you!  Thank you for your support!

This Weekend

That’s pretty much it for this morning folks. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel to Upper Kent and St. Anne-de-Madawaska this weekend, both in north-western New Brunswick, to present our burden for and call to France.  Two great churches which we’ve never been to before.

God bless you today!

Outbound

Two things for you today:

  1. The first, related to our preparations and
  2. The second, related to you dear readers!
    (but don’t skip to the bottom of the page to read about you first!)

Outbound: Stamps and more stamps…

photo

Long-time followers will remember that in March, we mailed out 210 information packets to pastors around North America, introducing ourselves and asking for support. Well, this past Saturday I finished doing a second mailing.

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picstitchWhereas March’s mail-out contained a letter, bookmarks, a Partner Support form and a handwritten note, this one contained only a postcard, the front of which was customized with photos of our trip and the back of which gave a brief overview of our time there. While it will be a shorter read for the recipients, it still took me a couple of weeks to prepare because I included a short handwritten note on the back of each card as well.

Crazy? Perhaps… but do you enjoy getting a mail-out that’s strictly generic? Not me.

Even if a church or pastor is unable to support us financially at this time, the photos on the card make it another great prayer-prompt. Prayer is always in order!

Now… on to you dear readers!

Outbound: Going global

I was looking at the stats for this blog the other day (not always a good thing to do when you’re a new blogger… it can become easy to obsess) and I was pleasantly surprised at the traffic that has been coming through. The picture below shows the stats for the last thirty days.

statsmap_realWordPress is pretty cool that way… it’ll compile the blog stats in a way that’s very visually accessible (I’m pretty visual). I can view the last 7-days, 30-days, 3-months or “all time.”  Although there is some shuffle that occurs across those various views, one thing that is consistent are the top three sources of traffic:

Canada is the heaviest source of traffic,
The United States is the second heaviest source and
France sends the third greatest number of visitors

This breakdown is not surprising, all things considered.  If I were to show you the stats for views since the launch, one thing that would be quite different is the group of countries that follow the top three.

  • The numbers above show that Brazil, Guatemala, Italy, Portugal and Madagascar as the next five.
  • All-time stats however show Belgium, Brazil, Netherlands, Denmark and Guatemala as the next overall top-5 sources of traffic.

You’re all TOPs!

Regardless of placement on a list… we want to say a big “Thanks!” to each of you for continuing to visit the site and stay on top of our plans & preparations. Although I say “our” plans… we’re cognizant of the fact that we’re just living out the Lord’s plans.

Prayer Requests:

  1. Cards: As these latest cards fall into the hands of pastors across North America, please pray that many, who are not already supporters, would be favorable to helping us financially in some measure.
  2. Pre-Moving Sale: This Saturday, we’ll be having our first “Pre-Moving Sale.”  We’ve begun sifting through 17-years worth of accumulated things and will be putting them out for sale in a garage sale. It’s not only to raise a bit of money, but also (and perhaps more importantly), to reduce the amount of stuff we’ll need to store when we leave.

Would appreciate your prayers concerning both these things!

Thanks so much… See you Saturday!