It is hard to believe that three years ago today, we landed in Arequipa, Peru to begin our missionary journey with Extreme Nazarene Missions. We arrived after a whirlwind two-month experience of selling our belongings, giving away our vehicles, leaving our ministries in our home church, saying goodbye to our family, and beginning a work that we really didn’t understand.
We came knowing very little about Extreme as a whole, and we knew only a handful of people in the organization. Neither Anndee or I had visited South America; we certainly never had plans to live here long-term and serve as missionaries. Now, we don’t have plans to leave any time soon. the Lord has put in Anndee and I a deep passion for short-term missions. It is exciting to look ahead to the next 5+ years as Extreme expands into more countries in South America. Next year, we will enter into Argentina and Chile with church-planting teams. It is such an honor for Anndee and I to lead the short-term side of the ministry as we expand into different areas. Each country and city bring new challenges and needs.
We have encountered so many fantastic people in this process. We have met new people as we spoke in churches to share about Extreme and how they can partner with us in church-planting. We have met nine groups of short-term volunteers in two countries who have invested in us, encouraged us, and some have come alongside us as financial partners. We have met the church-planting missionaries who are the core of what we do with Extreme. These young heroes of the faith are such a blessing and do so much to challenge us to never settle with where we are; God always has something more. Finally, we have met the fantastic Extreme staff – from finance to mobilization, from well being to messaging. God has brought together a fantastic group of people, and more and more are coming to South America and working in North America as Extreme grows.
Thinking about who I was before this process brings to mind the many ways that I have grown as a leader, father, husband, son, and disciple of Christ. I have learned so much about prayer, spiritual warfare, emotional intelligence, cross-cultural communication, functioning with a family cross-culturally, the power and necessity of giving full attention, living in community, the power of listening, and the necessity of giving oneself grace and slack, and what it means to wait on the Lord. I have so much more to learn, and so many areas in which I need to grow, but wow, the amount I have grown in the last three years is amazing.
My girls have lived in three countries in these three years, making adjustments to new cities, schools, churches, living situations, and expectations. They have been amazing in this process. Anndee has grown so much in her leadership, in her ability to plugin to various parts of the ministry, to encourage and bless our 40/40 church-planting missionaries (especially the ladies), and learn so much about managing a household in another country. She has learned how to bake and cook at altitude, how to substitute ingredients for recipes, and be so flexible in what she expects of and for her family. Living cross-culturally means putting to death many of the things that a mother raised in the States hopes for and expects. Anndee has done a great job of holding onto the most important expectations and allowing the rest to be modified or removed all together.
We don’t have plans to leave Extreme or South America anytime soon. We hope to settle into a home in Quito in February of next year (after the team finishes here in Ambato) and live there for years. From there (where the operations center for Extreme is located) we will work to manage and support the short-term missions aspect of the ministry for all the countries in which we minister in South America. I am excited to sit down in three years and write about where this journey has taken us and what the Lord does in and through our family specifically and the ministry generally.
To everyone who has or is supporting us financially, praying for us, offering us words of encouragement, etc. thank you. Your coming alongside us has been invaluable. Know that you ongoing support allows us to be here and to continue this ministry to which the Lord has called us.