Of Weeds, Soil, and Waiting

IMG_1276

Nate and Henry marvel at the California Redwoods

Most Tuesday mornings you can find us at our community farm, Ballfield Farm.  Henry finds a friend and Annie sleeps in the stroller while I attempt to rid the outfield of thistle and weed and Nate moves large amounts of soil or wood chips or compost in a wheelbarrow. We are joined with a slew of folks who have come together to give what they can to make this patch of earth bear all kinds of harvest. But the harvest we anticipate this year is a result of hard, back-breaking labor of folks, many of whom we don’t know, who saw potential in the fallow ground of an overgrown baseball field.

As dirt gets into my fingernails and I fight to make a patch of soil hospitable for seed, I am reminded of our brothers and sisters who are also planting and waiting for harvest. These past two weeks, our family was encouraged by visiting churches throughout Texas and California, most of which are in their early stages of growth as church plants. We heard a repeated and faithful refrain from several rectors, saying “We don’t expect to see the flourishing of the our work now. Perhaps are children will.” We were amazed by this faithful, sacrificial vision while laboring in at times hostile soil. Friends, your brothers and sisters in San Antonio, Austin, Plano, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Modesto are witnessing God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for them to be encouraged in the Spirit that unites us to each other.

Similarly, we press on to root Agape Year in the Kingdom for the life of the world. While there are times the soil looks dormant to our eye, God is at work! We have accepted our first applicant. Praise God! We are growing in our own support! Praise God! These sprouts of growth remind us of God’s ever-growing, ever-living work while we rest in His faithfulness.

We continue to trust God for a few more participants for this Fall. Please pray that the Lord of the Harvest will bring those He has called to pioneer Agape Year with us.   We’ve seen God surprises us with His provision for our family while still trusting Him to call senders to come around us in this call. Is He asking you to join in this particular field? Consider giving a monthly donation of $40.

S’more Summer Sundays!
Would you join us this summer for fire, s’mores, and prayer for mission?
We’ll gather the fourth Sunday of the month in June, July, and August at our home, 2623 Linwood. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, or musical instrument if you like. We’re excited to see you!
Mark your calendars for June 25, July 23, and August 27.

Love,
The Twichells

IMG_1621

Flying with 2 children is no joke!

Advertisements

On The Road /On The Run

IMG_0492

A few weeks ago we packed the Subaru to the gills and pointed our rusty, I mean TRUSTY, steed south to the warm embrace of The Diocese of South Carolina. We had a number of appointments set up with youth leaders, rectors, and missions minded folks around Charleston, and enjoyed our time there immensely. Except for the fire ants. Lesson learned: don’t place a sandaled foot or bare hand within their reach. Lesson number two: Camp St. Christopher is a beautiful place and the people there are amazing hosts. We made some great new friends/contacts, were prayed for and ministered to in needed ways, and left encouraged and buoyed in our call to launch Agape Year. Now we are prepping for May recruiting trips that will see us in Texas and California. Being on the road with a 3 year old and a 5 month old has its challenges, and a side-of-the-road temper tantrum has a way of stretching my patience.

There are times in my life when I really need an Ebenezer, a reminder of God’s faithfulness. As Erika and I dive headlong into starting Agape Year, building a program, recruiting students, and raising our financial support there a times of great doubt that we are on the right track. But God has given me an incredible reminder of His faithfulness: my health.

Most of you know that I have Crohn’s Disease, and many of you know how debilitating it has been at various times over the past 20 years. And a few of you have seen me hospitalized or bed-bound for months on end. But just a few. Most people don’t know my story of healing (its a miracle and I’d love to talk to you about it!) so when I talk about running a half marathon, the miracle of that is lost on them.

By the grace of God I’ll run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 7th. We are raising donations here with all of the money going to Erika and my financial support. Getting up early to train on Pittsburgh’s city streets, or running in the dark on unfamiliar South Carolina roads, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness with every step. Thanks for coming along side of Erika and me on the road and on the run!

Advertisements

Using Your Talents

Using Your Talents

In the parable of the talents (Matt 24:14-30), each servant is given a certain number of talents, or currency. Some used those talents to increase the number, and one hid it away, not producing anything. When we think about the resources, gifts, and talents God gives us today, how are we using them to produce fruit and bring about the Kingdom?

April Sylvester is a SAMS missionary serving in Zambia through a Gap Year Program. She disciples and ministers to students. Recently, she gathered materials to make a couch. She was able to get some free pallets, which she sanded and varnished. Then bought some foam to create the cushions. Her neighbors and students were happy to help.  One of her students reacted to her project:

“You know we learn a lot from you, April,” said her student.

“How is that?” she asked.

“Well, for one, we see you working over there on your couch. It shows us that we don’t have to wait for other people or money to do things. We can do it ourselves.”

April’s student is right. We don’t need to wait for others or money, but we can use what God has given us in order to create something good.

April’s finished couch.

Instead of hiding it away for herself, April shares her skills, knowledge, and talents with others.  April teaches yoga and swimming to the students that she disciples. By using her skills that are instilled in her by God, she is able to connect with her students and share the love of Christ.

What gifts has God given you and how are you using them to further his kingdom?

 

April Sylvester is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training.

We see you working over there on your couch. It shows us that we don’t have to wait for other people or money to do things. We can do it ourselves.

Of Disappointment vs Encouragement


We were sitting in Lucy and David’s apartment in Falls Church, VA for a little under a half an hour before Lucy begun to share with us their profound story of trusting our faithful God. During their time in Kenya, David and Lucy had seen the unexpected ways God provided for their family and their ministry. They had worked with the local church to provide leadership and discipleship training to local youth. Whether that provision be finances, participants, or a specific need, God had been present in their lives and provision.  Lucy repeated over and over again, “God does not disappoint”.

God does not disappoint (think Romans 5:1-5). Nate and I wrestled with that promise most of the way home. We’d cut our trip short due to an impending snow storm (getting snowed in away from home with Henry and Annie didn’t seem like the best idea for everyone’s well being) and were struggling to not feel discouraged. God does not disappoint. At times, we’d rather have the promise “God blesses your plans” or “God won’t let you fail” or “God will make all your dreams come true”, or at the very least “God will help your toddler sleep in the car”. But instead, God comes to us in the cruciform body of Jesus Christ and proclaims He does not disappoint. He gives us grace for today. And, will extend that same grace tomorrow, but asks us to trust Him today. It is hard to abide in that place of trust, but it is indeed the safest place to rest.


We know that all of our striving and preparation will not amount to anything without God’s provision. We need Him to move in a mighty way. Can you join us in praying and fasting for students and provision? The members of our oversight board, some of our supporters, and the missions committee of our sending church have committed to fast and pray for us on March 28th. Can you fast a meal, or spend your coffee time in prayer? Our greatest needs are for students and financial support. We have so many of the components of Agape Year in place. We don’t have students. Can you pray with us?
Thanks!
Erika, Nate, Henry, and Anne

Advertisements

The Twichells and Agape Year

We are pleased to introduce to you Nate and Erika Twichell, new SAMS-USA Missionaries and the directors for the Anglican Global Missions Partners (AGMP) Agape Year program, a gap year program for recent high school graduates. Learn more about them:

From Nate:

God doesn’t always take the most direct route. The past three years have proven this fact to our family. Shortly after meeting, we both shared our desire to partner with God’s mission in reaching every tribe, nation, and tongue. We hoped God would lead us to do this together, but we weren’t sure what it would look like. We’re two different people with different gifts. How could God use us together to do infinitely more than we could ask for or imagine? God took an interesting route in bringing us to this next step we’d like to share with you. Through seminary, unemployment, a gnarly job search, rewarding work found, God led the way. It was hard at times to trust He had us in His good hands. And, then His hand led us even further along, further into that vision He gave us early on and has been our heart’s prayer.

From Erika:

For both Nate and me, Agape Year has been a great teacher for hopeful anticipation. Five years ago, Nate and I met on St. Nicholas Day and shared a call to mission. One year ago, we accepted the call to start and direct Agape Year from the Anglican Global Mission Partners. Often we stand in wonder of how God has heard our prayers. Often we are caught in dismay, knowing it is only through His grace we are sustained. His grace has kept us while we are developing partners and the program and living our daily life of full-time work and child rearing. This year we’ve seen God bring His vision into greater formation and anticipate seeing it more fully fleshed out this year. So, we enter this season undergirded with grace and walking in faith.

In faith, we are accepting applications for Fall of 2017 to be our first cohort. Please pass along this application to 18-21 year olds you think God may be leading to participate.

Nate will be leaving his job at Trader Joe’s so we can give our full attention to this program. We currently have 45% of monthly support raised, but are still in need of $3000 per month in support. Would you join us? Would you help us connect to others who God may be calling to be a part of Agape Year? Praise be to God, He has provided what we need for our start up costs. We stand amazed.

Original content by Nate and Erika Twichell. Follow their blog posts here

How you can get involved:

Prayer! Tons of peace and wisdom as we seek to bring Agape Year to reality

Financial support! We’re in need of $3000 of monthly support to continue to be sustainable as full-time directors of Agape Year

Participants! We’ll be in the D.C. area mid March and South Carolina early April with the hopes of recruiting both participants and supporting churches. We’d love to meet up with you or appreciate any connections you think would be helpful!

Nate and Erkia Twichell

SAMS Missionaries and Agape Year Directors

A Sweating Missionary in the Mud of Life

A Sweating Missionary in the Mud of Life

By April Sylvester

Kazangula is a small town (if it can be called that) on the watery border of Zambia and Botswana. A group of us had taken the long, hot journey for a 3 day mission trip. Within a few minutes, our group of four came across two women building a mud house. We were greeted with kind but slightly skeptical smiles and mud-caked hands.

My friend Emmanuel moved towards their house. He looked at the pile of mud they were mixing for the wall, saw that their two yellow water containers were empty, and with less than a word he picked them up and walked away.  As I watched him walk into the distance, the yellow containers [were] getting smaller and smaller.  After about 10 minutes he was coming back down to us, sweat beading on his forehead in the midday sun, water sloshing on his jeans from the containers.

In that moment, I realized that THAT is the kind of missionary I want to be. I want to be a sweating missionary.  How many times do we come across someone who is not concerned with words but is willing to get down into the mud of life with us? It means being able to really see people and their needs, which, yes, does take a certain level of cultural competency that I am still working on. But maybe I can bumble, sweat, learn and love my way towards that goal.

April is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training. Her home church is Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

In that moment, I realized that THAT is the kind of missionary I want to be. I want to be a sweating missionary

April Sylvester

SAMS Missionary to Zambia