Of bomb cyclones, dengue fever, and God’s providence

Of bomb cyclones, dengue fever, and God’s providence


“The low temperature on the East coast will be colder than the high temperature on Mars this weekend,” Nate shared while driving with our fellows to run some errands before our departure to Thailand the next day.

We’d finished the first portion of Agape Year, engaging with local ministries and churches in Pittsburgh and been preparing for our time overseas with the Anglican Church in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We’d gone through thoughtful and meaningful prep and prayer with New Wineskins. We’d had a great time delving into cross cultural and ministry training with SAMS. Our bags were packs. Visas acquired. We were ready.

And, then 5,000 flights were cancelled out of JFK airport due to a weather phenomenon called a “bomb cyclone”. Nate spent most of the day before our departure on the phone trying to get us rebooked on a different flight. We had success in rebooking our flights through our travel agency and while our travel time increased by 20 hours (yikes when travelling with small children), we were grateful to not be stranded at the airport.

After an early morning departure from Pittsburgh, we made it to JFK airport and settled in at our gate for our connection to China and then onto Chiang Mai. When the airline representative appeared at our gate, we went to check in. As she looked at our passports, she informed us we wouldn’t be able to fly today. Shocked, I asked why and what could be done. Because of being re-booked with two layovers within China, we needed Chinese visas, something we did not have and did not anticipate. “Go talk to the ticketing desk outside of the departure gates” she said.

We grabbed our belongings, our sleeping toddler, and booked it to the airlines desk. We were met by a sea of chaos of travellers who’s flights had been cancelled. It was a mess. As we approached the ticket counter, there was woman standing on it, shouting “Everyone needs to be in a line. This line for rebooking. That line for questions.” We definitely had a question. As we explained our situation, puzzlement filled the attendants face. She conversed with her superior and co workers. More confusion at our predicament. After much conversation, the airline said it was a rebooking error by our travel agency and they can do nothing for us. Our hearts sank. We would not be leaving JFK today. Then, Nate’s phone dinged with a message from our missionary hosts. Gerry had been hospitalized with dengue fever.

We returned to our fellows to share the situation. “Text your prayer team. We need prayer,” we instructed. Caleb and Lucas jumped on it and we had most of the Eastern Seaboard praying for Agape Year and the team at St. Andrew’s in Thailand.

We set up camp near the chapel rooms in JFK. There was a sea of stranded passengers from around the world sleeping on the floor, aimlessly walking airport aisles, and bombarding the two restaurants available in the Terminal.

At one point, after about 8 hours of being on hold with our travel agency, we saw a mission team move in for the night close by. They too had had their travel plans disrupted by the weather. They gathered to pray. As they prayed, an airline representative came to tell them they had rebooked them on a flight and now had tickets. Shouts of “Praise the Lord!!” and “God is good!!” filled the stale airport air. And, they eagerly rushed towards us offering the blankets they’d been given by their airline and asking to pray with us and those passengers camped out around us. We were grateful for the blankets (and the prayers), but struggled to see how God was answering our pleas we’d been uttering all day. The airport was chilly, the floors were hard, and we didn’t know how it was all going to turn out.

And, then trickles of God’s presence showed up.

  1. At the last minute, Lucas had packed a power strip. Plugged into one of the only outlets in our area, it provided a ‘watering hole’ for international travellers whose phones’ batteries needed to be charged. We swapped stories with people from Columbia, India, Taiwan, Israel, Nevada, France, etc. Our hearts were filled with compassion for each person’s unique story and God’s love for them.
  2. My brother in law offered to come pick us up (a 7 hour drive from Pittsburgh), but didn’t have a vehicle that could carry us.
  3. Then, our friends offered their 15 passenger van to him, no questions asked. He showed up the next morning with a boat load of snacks and beverages.
  4. After a ton of discouraging conversations and time on hold, at 2 AM Nate talked to Christy from our travel agency who was able to ensure us that we would be able to rebooked or refunded due to the error they had made.
  5. We arrived back to Pittsburgh and had our church family drop off meals and groceries within hours. Chili and cornbread have never tasted so good J.
  6. After a few days, we were able to rebook flights thanks to the assistance of our sending agency.
  7. We grew in our affection and connection to our missionary hosts, the Gan family, as we prayed for Gerry’s healing. He was released from the hospital a few days before our second departure.
  8. We received this encouraging text from a parent of a fellow: “Don and I are thankful for you, Nate, and Agape Year. The boys are seeing godly character in action. They are learning how to honor God in disappointment and how to work through problems in a healthy way. I know things are so different from what you had hoped and planner for. Trust God in this. Lean not on your own understanding. We continue to give thanks for you and pray for all of you as the Lord works this out.” – Mary Collings

In the face of opposition and disappointment, God showed His agape love for us. He answered prayer. He was present. As we follow Christ and ask our lives to offered as living sacrifices, the path is full of what we perceive as disruptions. We were on our way to serve God overseas to share His love with the Thai, but turned out God wanted us to trust Him along the way and see His extravagant love for us.


Oh, and we made it to Thailand. But that’s another story.

World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday is February 4th, but your church can observe it any Sunday. How is God calling you and your church to get involved in this year’s World Mission Sunday?
SAMS is a part of Anglican Global Mission Partners. AGMP unites the needs in the mission field with people in the pews. Many from AGMP have joined together to provide you and your church with several resources for World Mission Sunday. Explore these various resources below:


Ways to Pray

Pray for your SAMS Missionaries with this Prayer Calendar, and signup for the SAMS Newsletter to receive monthly prayers to your email inbox.

Prayer Litany

Use this AGMP Litany to lead your parish in praying for world mission.

Ways to Give

Consider taking up a special offering during World Mission Sunday to support a SAMS Missionary or another SAMS Fund. Click here to support.


Discover even more resources on the New Wineskins World Mission Sunday page.

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