Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas!

How time flies when you are busy! And yes, that was an excuse for why we have not updated our blog in so long, but it is the truth - these past few months have been very busy.

Thankfully we have just entered a break for Christmas, and we are looking forward to just being able to rest and relax and let our tired bodies recover! Here's what's been going on

The Home front: The kids are all growing really fast! And as you can see, we have been putting them to work. Ruthee has been learning how to make pancakes, and Vaylah coffee. Soon our dreams of sleeping in and waking up to a hot breakfast will be coming true! And even though someone in the house has been sick for about two months running, all four of them seem to be doing well. Last week in school we had our yearly Christmas program, for which Vaylah was one of the main performers and Ruthee also had a solo - we were such proud parents! Dayuma has had her ups and downs adjusting back again, but we can really see His hand holding her. And Abishai is the star of the show where ever we go! Between his sisters picking him up, and all of the ladies at school wanting to hold him, he hardly ever touches the ground! He probably will not figure out how to walk until he's five!

The School: Apparently contracts do not mean very much here. The school has found that out the hard way this year. The owners of the building we rent decided to renovate at the start of the year, despite direct stipulations in the contract stating they would not. As they gradually took more and more of our space, and began using products with more and more of an odious odor, it became clear we were not going to be able to keep using the building. Thankfully the school had a second campus; it was not, however, yet in use. It was scheduled to open in February. But there was no other way around it- so in the space of five days we had to move the entire school about 30 minutes away. It was not an easy task, but He was strengthing us and we were able to do it! There are naturally some problems that come with this, but we were able to maintain a functioning school, which is really quite an accomplishment (at least in our opinion).

Ministry: Steve's saturday class is going great. We are really beginning to see growth in some of the students. There are four guys imparticular who we are really impressed with. All four have expressed interest in on day returning to their hometowns as 'teachers'. In the next of weeks Steve will begin meeting with these four on a regular basis for more intense study and preparation. Please lift this up to the Father, both for protection and wisdom/guidance.

The youth group is also flourishing. It is only happening once a month at this point, but we are having about 25 kids turn out. Many of them are asking for it to be more frequent, but we feel so busy as it is that it is hard to envision us being able to do this. Please 'ask' for someone to come alongside who has a heart for this. It is such a great need and is bursting with potential - if there were some one able to step in and run with it I truly believe that it would take off.

We have also been priveleged to see the girls have exposure to ministry first hand. Just within the last week to two big girls have been able to go to a local girls home to hang out and decorate for Christmas, and also go to a foster village (a village where almost every house is taking care of a foster child) and pass out presents. It is so exciting to be able to watch them get involved in helping others, and seeing the Father touch their little hearts. Our hope is that they would gain as much exposure to this as possible, to the point that it is 'normal' and they see nothing unusual about it.

We dearly miss our friends and family at home and around the world! Merry Christmas to all

We are thankful for: improved language acquisition; growth in

Steve's students; good friendships that
we have developed.

Our requests are: Steve's 'leadership training class';

continued language help; wisdom in
training up our own children

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back in the swing

After spending and encouraging and eventful summer back in the States (many thanks to all helped us along the way), we returned to China in mid-August. After a rough few days of jetlag, we jumped right in preparing for the uncoming school year, which is off to a great start!

The school has doubled in size in the past year (from about 85 to about 170), so it is a little more hectic. Steve is teaching Math (seriously, I'm pretty smart), and Carissa teaches 3 science classes. Ruthee is in the 3rd grade (the pandas) and Vaylah is in the 1st (the chameleons). They both are doing very well and love it. Dayuma goes to school for 3 hours while mommy teaches, and Abishai goes to the nursery where he sleeps most of the time. All the kids are doing well, and Abishai is growing so fast. It's hard to believe he is six months already!

On the ministry front things are going well. Steve's saturday night class is his highlight of the week. There is a core group who come every week, and there is some real growth being seen. Continue to lift these young believers up, that they would hold fast to their faith.

The youth group (currently only once a month) also had a great start to the year, with about 25 young people coming out. We played a live action version of 'Clue', spread out over the school campus. this was followed with a simple gospel presentation. Keep this in your thoughts, that the Father would raise someone up to take this on as a full-time responsibility, or for Steve to have the strength to put more into it.

Later this month (in just a couple days in fact) we will be traveling to another province and visiting some friends. There is some full-time 'work' taking place there, and we are going there as a scouting trip, to see if this is a place that the Father would call us to in the future. we are really excited just having a few days off and getting to see some other areas in country. the province is home to the most ethnic minority groups (and most unreached people groups) in the entire country. We are excited to see what He is going to do!

We are thankful for:

A fantastic summer with family and friends

Safe travels back

Provision for all of our needs

Current good health

Are requests are:

Wisdom and protection

The saturday night class and youth group

Continued language acquisition

Our upcoming trip and discerning the call of the Father

Keep lifting us up!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Winding down and coming home for the summer!

As we head toward the month of June, the school year is rapidly coming to a close. Things have not, however, slowed down. Time seems to be whirling by, and it feels like we are busier than ever. The baby is doing great, growing like a champ,and giving us a run for our money at times. We still feel so blessed to finally have a son. Carissa has recovered nicely and is feeling good. The girls are all doing great - enjoying school, learning how to swim and really showing a lot of progress in their language acquisition.

This past month was also a month of firsts. We had our first visit from a family member (aunt Christi!), and while she was here we also took our first trip out of our province. We had an opportunity to visit one of the most famous scenic areas in China, a city called Yangshuo. We had a wonderfully relaxing time lazying on a raft down the Li river, exploring a cave with hotsprings, and bargaining at the local market. It was a blessing to be able to share this amazing and fun time as a family.

We also had a first in ministry related activities. This past friday we had our first 'youth activity'. We had 15 young people attend (more than I was anticipating). We were able to rent out a local gym and had a fun time just hanging out and playing with the kids. This was followed by a time of worship and then a short teaching. Please keep this new ministry lifted up, as it is so important to reach this young generation - the world is aggressively pursuing them and temptations are everywhere.

The saturday night foundations class is also going well. We have a steady group of around 15 who are coming week after week, and we are really beginning to see some growth. Please continue to keep this lifted up as well, both for the H.S. to be with Steve and for protection in general.

We have been blessed to be able to buy tickets to come home for the summer and show off the new baby. We will be flying into JFK on the 27th of June and will be in the philly area for about two weeks. Then we will travel down to South Carolina for two weeks, then back up to philly again until we fly back out on the 9th of August. We would love to see as many of you as possible, if any of those dates work, save us some time!

We are thankful for -

-A sweet visit with Steve's sister Christi

-Health of the new baby and mama

-New ministry opportunities

Our requests are-

-Continued wisdom from above

-Finishing the school year strong

-Getting all necessary documentation for the baby in order to leave on time

We greatly appreciate all of your 'thoughts' toward us - on our own strength we can do nothing,

Steve, Carissa, Ruthee, Vaylah, Dayuma and Abishai

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Abishai Stephen!

The Father granted our request! On March 27th, at 5:11 pm (local time), our son Abishai Stephen Reeves was born! He weighed 3.1 kgs and was 50 cm long (which is 6 pounds 8 ounces and 20 inches .....we think) We took his name from stories about King David and his mighty men. Abishai was one of David's nephews, but also a general in his army. He was a brave warrior and a loyal friend. We hope our Abishai will be the same. Ruthee, Vaylah, and Dayuma are delighted to have a "baby boy brother" and that is quickly becoming his nickname. Mom and baby are recovering at home together while the other wheels keep spinning.

Ministry is going well. There is a pretty consistent group coming out to the saturday 'class' at this point, and we are really beginning to see some growth. Please keep this lifted up to the Father as we move into this important holiday season. Starting last week steve began teaching through the last week of the sons life and coming up this week we will talk about and then take part in the special 'supper' for the first time as a group. This will culminate in two weeks with a special sunrise service at a local park where we will be combining with another group in the area and enjoying a special time of worship and reflection on the empty tomb! Please ask the father for wisdom and protection, as well as discernment in the way of caution for this event. There are also several other opportunities for ministry here that we are considering; we want to be used where He wants us, though.

We miss everyone greatly and covet all of your correspondence and 'thoughts' toward us!

We are thankful for:

-Our son! and that momma and baby are both doing well

-Fruit in the foundations class

-Friendships we have formed here

-Steve's sister coming very soon to visit!

Our requests are:

-Continued health of momma and baby

-For healing for Ruthee - she has had a long-term sinuous infection and it is effecting her hearing

-Discernment and protection in ministry

II Samuel 23:18 (That's what I'm talking about!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In Between Two New Years

We are only a month into the new year, but it has been an interesting one to say the least! On January 1st we decided to take the kids to the zoo for a fun family day, which quickly turned not so fun. While waiting in line to buy tickets, Carissa stepped away briefly to measure Vaylah's height - at which point her purse was promptly stolen (taken off the arm of the stroller, with Dayuma sitting in it! no id inside and only a little cash, but they did get the camera). This was followed shortly thereafter by one of the kids throwing up, and having to go home before they even got inside. The rest of the month has seemingly been on the same path. No, we haven't had anything else stolen, but the whole family has been pretty consistently sick. It just keeps going from one person to the next. We have had the continued feeling that there is much warfare taking place, not just with our family, but also in the city. But we have a good Father, and he has continued to strengthen us. Carissa is doing well baby-wise. She is 30 weeks now (she told me the other day we just started the 4th quarter - that's when you know you're truly becoming one flesh :) we are getting so excited to meet our new little guy! or girl! or guy! but seriously, we really don't care what we have, as long as it's a boy.

There are lot's of things happening here on other fronts. The Saturday night class is going great. It truly is the thing I look forward to the most. It is such a priveledge to help try and build a firm foundation with this group. Please keep lifting this to the father - for continued wisdom, fresh filling and protection.

School is going well. We have one more week until we get another break (two weeks for chinese new year) after which Carissa will not be returning to the classroom. We are really looking forward to a time of rest and refreshing.

In other big news, an offshoot ministry of the fellowship here has sprung to life recently in the form of Haven of Hope - an orphanage run and supported by brothers and sisters from the school and local fellowship. There are currently three children, all under age 3 and all special needs. Please lift these little ones up, as we know that they are precious in His sight. We look forward with anticipation in helping rescue some of the least of these.

Aside from being sick off and on, the girls are doing great. They are all really enjoying school, and are looking forward to the temperature warming up so they can use the roller blades they got for Christmas (yes, even dayuma!). and yes we did take pictures on christmas, but they were never taken off of said stolen camera, so enjoy these of them in some traditional chinese costumes! we miss everyone back home, and count on your continually lifting us up to the father!

Our requests are: language acquisition; healing for sick bodies; continued health for carissa and baby; for our family to continue to be drawn closer together and closer to our master.