Hello praying friends and family!! Can you believe summer is OVER?! These past few months have felt like a constant stream of activity, and as we look back, we are again reminded of God’s grace in the details of our lives!
Our summer began here in Missouri with a month of Summer School for Brice. He did very well attending each morning and keeping up good progress with reading. He amazed his teachers with his math ability, which did not surprise us a bit 🙂 With Brice at school and Shad spending most days mowing acre upon acre of our Training Center campus, Braden and mom had lots of opportunities to grocery shop, clean house, cook, and talk together. While we did have a few “growing pains” at the beginning of the summer as we adjusted to being just the two of us, I am certain that we formed a closer bond and made lasting memories! Before we know it, the boys will be grown, and we are learning to cherish these days of busy, noisy, messy boyhood!!
July gave us an opportunity to travel to Michigan to see friends, family, and supporters there. Going into the trip, we were a bit unsure of how Shad would handle all the speaking, but we praise the Lord for providing Shad the words to express his heart in each place we visited!! Instead of sharing for 10 minutes at each church as we’d expected, Shad and I were able to share upwards of 45 minutes (thanks to the flexible and understanding hearts of the people and pastors where we presented!!)!! All in all, we were able to share in six different churches over a space of ten days– a record for our family! We were also able to connect with Shad’s parents, three siblings and their families, and several aunts and uncles during our trip, including celebrating two High School graduations for a niece and a nephew. We want to thank each of you who allowed us to speak from our hearts, to all who gave so generously, and to all who continue to pray so specifically and lovingly for our family. You truly are an integral part of what God is doing in and through our lives, and we are deeply blessed to know you!!
At the end of July, I was blessed to spend a week with my mom, two sisters, and two nieces in Branson, MO. We shopped, ate, swam, played, and thoroughly enjoyed our time together!! After the nine years we spent in Asia Pacific, only seeing family for just a brief time every three years, we have come to cherish and appreciate these times with our extended family even more!
August came quickly, and with it a new group of students began arriving at our Training Center! We praise God for the new class of forty five who are currently in their second week of the two year training course. We also welcomed back over twenty students who just began their second year of training. Our mentoring group, made up of three couples, two singles, and a married man from overseas will soon begin the “Simple Living” course, where the team moves out to the woods for ten days. As a part of this course, they will practice practical skills relating to life overseas, including scratch cooking, building and living in simple structures, using generators, and the like. The lessons they learn in teamwork are perhaps the most important as they learn to lean on each other and the Lord in the midst of unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations!!
You may remember an email at the beginning of August regarding a Sleep Study for Shad. We praise the Lord that he was able to sleep well during the study, and we just received word today that he does not have any major Apnea issues!! His breathing, nighttime movements, heart rate, and brain patterns are all within the normal range, which indicates that he is actually sleeping well at night. We are realizing that his issues may be more insomnia related, meaning that he is not always able to stay asleep through the night, and has a harder time falling back asleep upon awakening. We will meet again with the Sleep Doctor October 1st to discuss some options for helping Shad to deal with the insomnia and resulting exhaustion. The next day, October 2nd, will be Shad’s follow up with his Neurologist, where we hope to discuss the possible connection between Shad’s surgery and medication and his insomnia symptoms. We also hope to discuss the process of reducing Shad’s medication and maybe even begin the process! Thank you for praying for these appointments and for Shad’s continued healing!!
Braden and Brice began their second year in the Camdenton Public Schools on Tuesday, and we are so thankful for the smooth transitions they’ve made so far! Their teachers seem very kind, and they have both already connected with several kids in their respective classes. Please continue to pray for their adjustment and for wisdom for us as we parent them through the challenges of public school. Again, we have so much to praise the Lord for– a great school system rich with Christian teachers and students, socially well-adjusted boys (who take after their dad!!), good friends both on campus and at school, and a wonderful “introductory” year last year!!
And so, just like that, our summer is officially over!! We have enjoyed the return to routine, although, to be honest, we still feel the nagging twitch of unsettled-ness of ministry here. There are still transitions being made, and at times we feel discouraged that everything has not fallen perfectly (in our mind) into place, with roles clearly defined, fruit clearly visible, and satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment immediately sensed. BUT, we can say honestly that God is at work in our hearts, and he will continue to use us for His glory as we obey and walk with Him!! We are learning to be content in being faithful to each thing, however seemingly “small,” that God allows us to be a part of. Whether mowing grass, holding babies in class, running around with toddlers in childcare, hosting single students in our home for lunch once a month, helping our mentoring team measure plastic for their Simple Living structures, or asking how someone is doing and stopping to listen to what they have to say, we desire to be “all there” and to pour ourselves into each person and each task He puts before us. One of our co-workers shared this quote with the students today, and think it sums up quite well the challenge God has given us in this most current season:
“When Jesus is with someone, that person is the only person in the room. Jesus slows down and concentrates on one person at a time…This one person focus is how love works. Love incarnates by slowing down and focusing just on the beloved. We don’t love in general; we love one person at a time.” From A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
We have been so encouraged to see God open doors for us to connect with the students here, one at a time! One meal, one conversation, one word of encouragement at a time. We are learning the power of taking time for the ONE, trusting that the ONE is significant and important to God. Would you pray with us this semester and this year, that we would take time for one student, one couple, one family at a time, being willing to meet them where they are and encourage them by giving them our full attention? Thank you!!
We pray that you all are encouraged by what God is doing in your life and in your current season!! Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, your love, and your support for our family!! May God continue to grow us to be more like Him every day so that we can radiate His glory even more!!
All because of Him,
Shad, Sarah, Braden, and Brice Deal
Serving at the Ethnos360 Missionary Training Center in Roach, MO