July 08, 2010

Madison is Safely Home

I got a call from Madison last night. She arrived back in the U.S. from India about 5:00 p.m. last night (Wednesday). Now she has a couple days of debriefing in Texas before flying home.

She sounded great and we had a wonderful conversation about her experiences. She said she feels great, remained healthy during her trip and feels well rested. She said there was a huge part of her that didn't want to leave India. She fell in love with the Indian people. Her team had an amazing ministry in India working in all sorts of different capacities. One of the highlights of the trip was a small school where Madison and her team worked with the young female students. I won't recount the whole story, but suffice it to say that she and I were both crying as she told me about her experiences.

I imagine you'll should start seeing Facebook posts and pictures after she arrives back in Iowa on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone for their love, prayers, encouragement, and financial support to make this trip possible for Madison.

Set off Fireworks! Taylor Turns 20!!

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This past weekend was spent at the lake with family as we gathered to celebrate Taylor's 20th birthday (wow, has it been that long?). Taylor and Clayton caravaned down with Wendy and me on Thursdays. My sister Jody, her son Sam, and her daughter, Emma, joined us on Friday.

Taylor's birthday is always a lot of fun. Being a 4th of July baby, people are always celebrating and there are always fireworks! On Friday night we got in the boat and anchored out in the bay where we could have an unobstructed view of Captain Ron's firework display. There were more fireworks on Sunday, but we opted to simply sit on the dock to watch them.

We spent much of the weekend relaxing, eating, and chatting. It was so nice to wake up each morning and sit out on grandpa and grandma's glider with Jody. We were usually up before everyone else and it's been far too long since we had the opportunity to have quiet brother-sister chats. For Wendy and me, this weekend was a small taste of why we've made such a huge investment of time, energy and resources in building the Playhouse. The family gathered around the dining room table, enjoyed a nice meal, and then we laughed, shared life, and broke out old family stories.

Trivial Pursuit on the Wii was also huge over the weekend with the guys beating the gals two games out of three. Guys rock. Just sayin'.

On Sunday morning we went to worship on the beach at Captain Ron's. There's usually about 10-15 people at worship on the beach, but for the 4th of July the church who usually leads worship on the beach brought their entire congregation. There were some 500 people worshiping and the service ended with people getting baptized and sharing testimonies. It was awesome. They even gave an open invitation to any who wanted to follow Christ and be baptized. One young man got up and waded down into the water in his jeans and polo shirt. We were all pretty pumped.


As for the Playhouse, work on the lower level continues. It has been mudded, taped and painted. This weekend we begin finishing work with installation of doors, trim, outlet and fixtures. You can begin to see actual living space emerging from the construction materials. At this point, we're a little weary of the work and can't wait to have it all finished. We're not far off.

July 01, 2010

Update from Madison's Trip Leaders in India

This was posted on the team's Facebook page, but I thought I'd repost it. There's a brief mention of Madison. Most of all, I am knocked out by her leader's description of their ministry experience:

Dear family and friends!

It's hard to believe how quickly the time is going by here in India. At the same time it feels as though we live a weeks worth of life in a day! I think that is because when all other obstacles and obligations are removed from our lives to the point that you have no other objective and responsibilities in day but to share the gospel you really do live exponentially. The identity of one day to the next typically fades away as you realize you wake up with one purpose. GO and share the greatest message on earth with another person...and do it over and over again.

Wow! I don't even know where to start and I can hardly type fast enough to get out the story of what happened last night! I was with the team Ebenezer ( mostly a C trip team with a few A trippers) and the students took a rather long ride to a Hindu village. To give you an idea of time here, it was a 40 mile journey that took almost 3 hours. The roads here are not as "developed" and a bit windy. No worries. We have VERY skilled drivers whom were privately hired for us. But you can only go so far. We often are traveling through busy villages and an encounter everything from cows to motorcycles along the way.

We have spent most of our time previously going to villages that were a bit closer where there was a church present in the village and we supported the ongoing outreach of the local missionary. Due to the large presence of Caucasian Americans , even the Hindu's would stop by our programs out of curiosity..but only about a handful.

The last few nights we have traveled far to Hindu villages where there has been no representation of Christianity and no church plants. This was the case last night. When we arrived to the village our first challenge was finding a spot to do ministry where the expected nightly cow crossing would not disrupt the VBS. After choosing a safe place next to a school. Our program began. There had to be nearly 250 people present.  A majority of very excited elementary aged kids who hung on every word and action our teenagers said. They were very eager to pose for pictures and marveled over pictures of themselves. They were eager to try and learn any song our missionaries wanted to teach them. Any game they wanted to play...we blasted Switchfoot and they eagerly joined silly dances with Kevin. It was as if the missionaries were rock stars. All though I do believe many of the children had never seen or touched a white person before as they scurried away when Megan first tried to shake their hands....bu Kevin's dancing definitely  broke down the walls.

Due to the growing size of the crowd we cut the program in half an presented a few song and games with the kids and then a testimony, brief testimony from Madison and the team leader Andres gave a powerful net.( gospel presentation)

Our translator priskilla took over from their encouraging the people to choose Christ. Soon many women over a dozen began weeping an wailing and crying out all at once with their hands extended in the air in surrender.. First one or two then many.. there was a gorup of older Hiindu  men ( the hardest to reach) who also began responding to the call of salvation. The unsual part is that the people were so caught up in crying out to the Lord it was hard to call them forward to respond...rather there was no need. The passionate heartfelt respnse to the gospel was written all over their faces as they literally cried out to
 the one true God. Priskilla our translator went throughout the crowd to see what was happening and if it was true that this Hindu village had really understood that all other Gods must be forsaken for the devotion to Jesus Christ only. And she said they did. The people were crying out " We want you God. We want you to save our village!..We only want you!"

Many people came forward afterward for healing. Priskilla then confirmed that there was no church in the village and we would need to introduce them to the pastor/missionary of the area to get them on the road to discipleship. The students prayed for the new believers and we quickly loaded the van with dozens of kids running behind us. ( This is the norm)*smiles*

Well it was a great time. I have never seen God do what he did in that village in all my trips. Ive never seen such a passionate response from a people. The power of God was so evident! The Gospel is life changing still. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Thank you for your prayers! We love you all. And I'm very blessed to know that man of you are reading our updates!

Blessings and Joy!
Candace and Kenny

June 27, 2010

Madison in India

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Thanks to all of those who've supported Madison with your contributions and your prayers. She is making her fourth mission trip with Global Expeditions, and is currently in India. Madison's team has been working with churches and orphanages and reports from their team leaders are very promising. The team has been having a great ministry there. This past week one of the teams was allowed to visit a neighborhood that was within the lowest caste (called "untouchables"). It was a rare opportunity to love the poor in that area.

Those of you on Facebook can follow the latest on the team's Facebook page:


Please continue to pray for her and the team. She returns home July 10th.

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June 15, 2010

Working at the Playhouse and Working on the Playhouse

Wendy and I have spent the last week and a half at the Playhouse. It's been a working trip in multiple ways. Blessed with working from a home office, Wendy and I can pick up and take our office with us. Thus, we've spent our weekdays on the couch (or deck, or dock), laptops open and working away. But, our evenings and weekends have been full of working on the Playhouse.

Wendy has been painting away. By the end of the week almost the entire upstairs will be painted with two coats. It's been so much fun to watch the stark white walls become a full palette of color. Along with the normal maintenance tasks, I've continued working on finishing the basement. Hanging drywall is the big task that has to be finished by the end of the coming weekend. It goes much slower when you're working alone. We've got a crew coming down this weekend to help and I'm looking forward to making much faster progress.

Unfortunately, this has left little time for playing. We've been out on the boat once, out on the waverunner once, and out to eat once. C'est la vie. There will be more time for playing when the works all done.

There's a life lesson there somewhere :-)

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June 09, 2010

Four Graduations

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Last week was a big week for Wendy's family. Four of her brothers celebrated graduation. One from high school, one from college, and two from the University of Iowa's dental school. Wendy and headed to Iowa City last Friday to watch Jesse and Josh become Dentists. It was great to see their years of hard work, study and sacrifice pay off. Way to go.

On Saturday Wendy, Taylor and Clayton, and Madison all headed to Boone for a family reception for all four of the graduating brothers. The family gathered for a meal together at noon and then had an open house through the afternoon.

It was a blast to watch Wendy and her six siblings together. Having everyone in one place is a rare occurrence and will likely become more so as everyone spreads out to other states and continents.

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May 31, 2010

Madison Graduates!

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It has been a holiday weekend of graduation festivities. On Friday night, Grandpa and Grandma drove down from Des Moines with Uncle Bud to gather for Madison's commencement. It was a beautiful, warm night. Taylor and Clayton joined us, along with Madison's boyfriend, Phil. Earlier that day, Madison had been voted by her class as having "the best hair" (I told her she can thank her mother's genes for that one). Maddy Kate was beaming as she crossed the stage and received her diploma.

On Saturday, we headed to Des Moines for our nephew, Solomon's, graduation party.

On Sunday afternoon, we held Madison's graduation party in the basement of Third Reformed Church. Wendy outdid herself making three cheesecakes, two chocolate cakes and a mess of ham sandwiches (that everyone raved about). Grandma Wanda brought gorgeous flowers from her garden to adorn the tables. We had a full house of family and friends from all over. Wendy's family ventured down from Boone. The whole Des Moines crew were present including Tim and his girlfriend Kumi. Madison was well celebrated.

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May 26, 2010

"I'm done!!!"

22771_1118094252653_1835919990_241087_2740015_n I got the text message on my phone at 12:53 p.m. yesterday: "I'm done!!!"

Madison finished her final high school class. She walks across the stage on Friday, and on Sunday afternoon we gather with family and friends to celebrate her accomplishment and this rite of passage.

Last night was a smaller celebration as Wendy, Taylor, Clayton and I took Madison out for dinner. It was fun to gather and sprinkle Madison with cards, gifts and encouragement. It's fun to watch her finish well and to have all of the fun that goes with graduation. I'm proud of her, and pleased to see all of her well-deserved excitement.

I've been reflecting on this moment for the past few weeks. I'm struck at how amazing both of the girls are in their own unique ways. It's hard to believe that the day has arrived that our youngest is through high school. Parenting changes at a million different stages in a child's development, but this one is a pretty major shift of life's tectonic plates. Letting go is, at once, satisfying and terrifying. You realize in a moment that your child is capable of acheiving anything they set their heart and mind to accomplish while being unbelievably clueless about how life really works. You think about all the things you may have forgotten to teach them, and all of the lessons they will have to learn on their own.

Her path now branches off from mine in a very real way. She will learn. She will grow. The good work God began in her will continue until it's completion. It's all part of the journey.

You go, Maddy Kate. You go.

May 25, 2010

5th Annual Summer Kick-Off

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After five years, it has become an annual "rite of seasonal passage." Late in May we head to the lake with our friends Kevin & Becky to spend a weekend relaxing and kicking off the summer. This past weekend was certainly one to remember. It was the first kick-off weekend spent in the new Playhouse, and the weather cooperated. It was a wonderful weekend.

While Wendy and I have made numerous trips to the lake already this year, they have not been relaxing. We've been finishing the lower level, dealing with construction issues, organizing, moving, and cleaning. With Kevin and Becky, we ignored the half-finished lower level and simply relaxed (props, however, to Kevin who helped me do a few light chores!).

Much of the weekend was spent on the deck under the umbrella, though we couldn't help enjoying the sun and getting out on the water. We had both waverunners going and enjoyed darting around the lake. On Saturday night, the waxing moon was more than half full and we took a slow, moonlight cruise around the lake in the boat. As usual, we brought way more food and drink than we could possibly consume, and still had to make our requisite stop at Captain Ron's for dinner.

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May 12, 2010

The Long Day

I got out of bed at 4:00 a.m. yesterday to be on the road for the airport. I'm in Salt Lake City this week working with a client. My 6:20 flight experience "mechanical delay" when one of the navigation computers decided that we were five miles away from where the plane sat. After long conversations with the mechanics, they decided to "reboot the plane." While talking to a mechanic on the ground, the pilot opened the cockpit window. It got stuck open. So, we had to deal with that as well. Almost two and a half hours later we were told that we'd just "go" and see if everything worked (not exactly what you want to hear as an airline passenger). While we were going through the safety briefing the video screens on the right side of the aircraft inexplicably shut down. So we had to reboot that and watch it over again (are you sensing a problem?).

By the way, Ryne Sandberg and the I-Cubs were on the plane, too. I was sitting at the gate and started to look around. "Hey, that's Ryne Sandberg!" "Hey, that's Michah Hoffpauir!" "Wait a minute. That's Sam Fuld!" I must admit, the die-hard Cubs fan in me, at some point, I wondered if THAT was the source of our bad luck. I don't believe in "the curse of the goat," but if I did I'd begin to wonder if it extended off the ball field and onto airplanes.

Fortunately, everything DID work and, after getting re-booked by United on the last flight of the evening, I was able to get on stand-by and arrived in Salt Lake City just two hours later than planned. As I sat in the lobby of the client waiting to start my work day, I realized that I'd already been traveling for 10 hours and now was starting my work day.

It felt good to get to my hotel and go to sleep.