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All I want for Christmas are friends like these!

It is hard to articulate how our expectations have been exceeded this Christmas season by the love of our home church. Obviously, we know that our parents will buy us something that doesn’t fit and maybe a gift card to shop someplace, but when someone unexpected lavishes your family with gifts it is a truly delightful blessing.

This week both our friends and team members have blown us away by their generosity. For example, Erika’s ladies prayer group sent her a generous check and displayed their knowledge of my fancy for superior white-colored machinery by presenting me with a one-hundred dollar gift card to the Apple Store!

So many great gifts from various friends. Our favorite gift? I am glad you asked...

Our favorite gift was Someone being made sin for us.
Who? The One who knew no sin. 
Why? That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!

Merry Christmas!


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Our teaser trailer for the unprecedented introduction of the most incredible phenomenon ever to arrive on the internet. Coming January 2, 2009.


Getting it done...

This past weekend found us at Hunters Creek Baptist Church.

I noticed something as I walked around the church that really grabbed my attention. As I counted the number of missionaries they support I realized that there are more missionaries supported by this church than there are church members. To put this in perspective - I attend a missions-minded church where on a given Sunday 1,800 people will attend. We, however, would find it difficult to adequately support 1,800 missionaries.

To say the very least, I was thoroughly impressed by this display of their devotion to the gospel.

Hunters Creek will begin supporting us in January. I am glad we are part of their missions family.


When God is in it...

I am sure that any missionary who has traveled down deputation trail would mark the loathsome task of persuading pastors to schedule you to speak at their churches as one of the greatest nuisances known to man. Although most are extremely gracious and understanding, pastors are often apprehensive to hand out pulpit time. An impressive sales-pitch is often necessary before most will consider allowing you the privilege of a meeting, not to mention financial support. Consequently, we have been rather astonished over the past few weeks as several pastors have gone out of their way to contact us!

The first two pastors called to inform us that their churches would begin sending us financial support. Considering that close to a year had passed since we had visited either church, it was very unlikely that this would happen, making us all the more delighted to find that they were taking us on!

The third pastor had an even more surprising story. A member of his church had a burden for the people of Italy and was looking online for missionaries there. He came across our website and sent a link to the pastor. The pastor, liking what he saw, called and invited us to come and present our ministry to his congregation!

Through both the ups and downs of deputation God has faithfully shown us His ability to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Out of the ordinary events like these serve as little reminders to us that God is in control. We are simply vessels that He has chosen to use in order to accomplish His purposes. It is His glorious gospel that we desire to preach in Italy, and it is great to be reminded that only His providing hand will ever get us there.


Back with tales of adventure...

Car crashes... foreigners astray in nightmarish locations... buildings bursting into flames... Sound like tales of adventure? That is how our weekend went at Carleton Baptist Church.

Like every other time we are about to leave for a trip, we stop and pray as a family. This time, however, we are not sure that we prayed correctly.

Our destination was 183 Topaz Lane in Ottawa, Canada. As we neared the pastor's house, I called him and told him we would be there shortly. He disagreed! He told us there were two 183 Topaz Lanes in Ottawa and we were heading to the other. He told us he would call back in a minute with directions. As I anxiously awaited his call, I watched in horror as those little signal bars on my phone slowly disappeared... we had reached the boonies. We found a place I thought only existed in nightmares...a place with no cell signal.

When I finally got a signal an hour later the pastor kindly explained that we were hours away from his church. Interestingly Michael was the keynote speaker for their Christmas Banquet, which to our dismay was beginning shortly.

On we pressed...We ended up being late, but arriving in time for Michael to speak. He spoke of the characteristics of a great gift and how Christ’s gift on the cross embodies them all. He taught that we judge a great gift by the price paid, the person who gave it, the pleasure it brings, and its permanence.

On Sunday we kicked off with a bang... a bang right into the pastor’s daughter’s car! The collision resulted with many dented and broken things on the ground that were once attached to the cars. Nothing gets you more ready to preach in the morning than a fender-bender, so Michael was a little distracted - but the response was great!

Through the entire ordeal the pastor could not have been more gracious. He not once made us feel badly about getting lost, ruining the side of his daughter’s car, or catching his church on fire. Despite the adventure, the weekend really was delightful and we were able to reconnect with lots of friends.

(Just kidding about the fire, by the way.)


Una bambina?

Arianna or Mirabella (Mira for short) or Isabella?

Erika and I are having a hard time deciding which name we would like to name our new baby! Oh, did I mention Erika is pregnant? Well she is!

Knowing that God wants to bless us with another girl we have been trying to think of a name for (her). Does anyone care to cast their vote?

After you cast your vote by leaving a comment I have one more request. If you think of it, please pray for us. As excited as we are about Erika being with child, this blessing also provides new challenges on the deputation trail. Pray for the baby to be healthy, Erika to be stress free and her to have the strength required for the demands of deputation.

OK - so leave a comment with your vote - Arianna / Mirabella / or Isabella

If we choose the name you pick, you win a brand new ipod. OK, not really.