Monday, September 24, 2012

Part 1: Port Huron to Chicago

We just finished an intense game of Battleship that we found in the lounge area here at the TEAM campus, and so I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you what has been happening up to this point.

Yesterday after church, we could be found frantically finishing up our packing and trying to tidy up the house a little bit.  You know how it can imagine coming home after three long months away and not wanting to find nasty surprises.  Good thing I checked out my baking cupboard, where I had to throw out a bag of flour that was crawling with some nasty little bugs.


We made our way down south-with a stop in London on the way-and stayed over with friends of ours in Sarnia.  They live right near the border, so the plan was to drive across to Port Huron early in the morning so we could catch our train.  There were a few things that weighed on our minds: Would they pull us in to customs, or would we go through without a hitch? and Would our luggage be too big and heavy for the train?

Well, God worked everything out (why do we ever doubt?!)  We talked with the customs guard and were through the border in less than three minutes.  Once we got to the train station, we realized that their luggage stipulations were rather lax, just as long as we could fit it all on the top racks.

Our train left just a little bit after 6am, and some of the stops we made between there and Chicago included: Flint, Lansing, Battlecreek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, Niles, and New Buffalo (which was our favourite stop to drive through due to some expensive-looking, colourful, cottage-like homes).  The trip there was a bit uneventful until we were about an hour out of Chicago.  We were keeping an eye on the time, since we had to catch the Metra (similar to GO-bus) once there, and then meet with a lady from TEAM after that.  I started to get nervous again, wondering how we were going to contact her if we didn't make it.  Finally, I just gave it up to God, and tried to remind myself that we could just catch the one leaving an hour later.

As the train was pulling into Union Station, the conductor informed us that it was hour earlier than we thought! (Since we traveled west, we gained an hour)  Relieved to hear about the 'extra' time, we made our way over to the Metra station, and had enough time to catch our breath and smile at people who were giving us strange looks because of our luggage.

Jean from TEAM was waiting for us at the stop, and she drove us to the TEAM campus.  We're staying in a dormitory style building with full kitchen facilities, as well as a lounge with a piano, games/books, and some breakfast foodstuffs which the kind people of TEAM have provided.

Not only did we have a chance to meet some of the office staff we've been in contact with, but we have also been relaxing and resting up before our training begins tomorrow.  

During all of our travels and experiences today, I was reminded of how God has been working and running all things so smoothly.  That's not to say that Jake and I didn't have our ups and downs today through the minor stresses that accompany travel, but we're learning and growing.  

We're so grateful to God for providing ALL of the support we needed to fundraise.  And not only just that.  But even MORE!

We cannot express enough thankfulness to all of you for your prayers and your financial support.  We feel blessed to have been truly sent, and we're encouraged by our fellow believers in Christ.

We'll be keeping you all up to date as best as we can. 

Ashleigh and Jake

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Touch With Reality

We did the math and figured out that we spent about 20 hours in the car travelling to various places last week.  That is a lot of mileage.  Our poor car is feeling the effects!   It is very good to be back home.

Thanks for your prayers regarding the retreat last weekend.  We stayed at Galilean Bible Camp in Blind River, and Jake spoke four messages to our friend's youth group.  It was a riot, since neither of us have spent so much time with highschoolers in a long time.  I thought Jake's talks were great-they definitely challenged me!

We're leaving for Chicago in only 6 short days.  In the back of my mind there is a panic room happening, but I've mostly been focusing on what we have to do to make this trip happen.  

There is the packing of luggage, cleaning out our fridge, tidying our house, saying our farewells...

You get the idea.  

I just want to say that God has been completely wowing us time and again.  Here we are, at the cusp of this adventure, and we only need $1300 in order to meet our goal! Isn't that just amazing?!

Here are some FAQ regarding our support:

1. Can I still give support once you're on the field?

Yes, since we still need the remaining amount, we are able to receive that even after we've left Canada.

2. What is the best option for donating?

The best (and fastest) way to support this trip at this point is to call TEAM of Canada and donate with credit card.  The number is 1-800-295-4160.

3. Will I receive a receipt for income tax purposes?

Yes, as long as you have given TEAM of Canada your address either by cheque or over the phone you will receive a receipt for income tax purposes. 

We have also been asked many questions regarding our itinerary.  Here are some dates to make things clearer: (I have also added a quick reference page on the blog itself for easy access)

Sep. 24: Take the train from Port Huron, MI at 6AM and arrive in Chicago at 12PM
Sep. 25-28: Attend training/orientation with TEAM Serve in Wheaton, IL
Sep. 29: Fly out from Chicago at 1:30AM
Sep. 30: Arrive in Anapolis at 5PM

Dec. 27: Leave Anapolis
Dec. 28: Arrive in Chicago at 5:30AM
Dec. 29: Take the train back to Port Huron at 5PM

We're getting very excited, and we can't thank all of you enough for making this possibility a reality.  Praise God for His goodness. 

Ashleigh and Jake

Friday, September 14, 2012

Updates and Travel

Jake and I have been on the road and visiting some family for the past few days, so thanks for your patience regarding our lack of updates and such.  It's harder than you think to visit with absolutely everyone!

As it is, I'm writing this in the car on my smartphone while we head up to Sudbury for a youth retreat.

On Wednesday, we finally had all of paperwork in order so that we could finish our Brazilian visa applications in Toronto. As the officer was writing the pickup ticket for our passports, we noticed that he was writing the date of September 26, which is two days after we leave for Chicago!! With a pounding heart, I asked if he could change the date, quickly explaining our situation. Without even batting an eye, he looked at the calendar and said, "How does the 21st sound? "  We were so relieved, and in awe of our great God!

Thanks for praying for seems that the time is passing by so quickly. With everyday that passes we become more and more excited about this journey! Please keep praying with us regarding our support. We're still about $3100 short. Enjoy the pics below of various family and friends...not extensive by any means. Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Ashleigh and Jake

Monday, September 10, 2012

Two Weeks Today

We're finding out that, even though we've both traveled, planned trips, raised support for previous missions trips, we STILL have so much to learn.  

It's been a frustrating past couple of days, to be honest.  We have been receiving mixed messages regarding the visas and flights, which makes it all the more nerve-wracking when we remember that we have exactly two weeks to finish the details for this.  

I'm writing this earnestly pleading that you will pray with us.  We have a ton of little stuff left, but the flights and visas are HUGE things.  It's amazing that one rut in the road seems to erase the memories of God's goodness, and His past miracles.  We don't want to forget all that He's done for us so far.  

Here are some reminders of His grace:

1. On Friday, September 7, we made it to the half-way mark!  We only need $5,000 more!
2. Our return train tickets from Port Huron, MI to Chicago IL only cost $112.
3. We have been able to keep in touch with the team down in Brazil
4. We have wonderful friends, family, and mentors who care about us and pray for us
5. We have a home church that is supportive and loving
6. We've learned a lot about the mission application process
7. It's made our relationship stronger, as well as strengthened our relationship with those who've agreed to pray for us and support us
8. It's kept us humble

Thank you for your continued support for us. 

Please pray that God will place on people's hearts a desire to give financially, so that we can reach our goal of $8000 by Friday, September 14, and keep us in your prayers regarding the flights and visas.

Jake is speaking at a youth retreat this week-end, and he would appreciate your prayers as he prepares his messages amidst the stress of travel prep.


Ashleigh and Jake

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stay Tuned....

Flight details and total support numbers for this week coming your way in the very near future!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2 1/2 Weeks!!

In 19 days, Jake and I will be on a train bound for Chicago, where we'll begin four days of orientation.  

I gave you a teaser on Facebook, but we're both really excited about this, so I'll give the full story.  We're still at less than half of our support needed, but we're not worried, because we've had quite a few people tell us they would like to support us financially, AND our God is great, is He not?!

Many of you know that we were given a deadline from TEAM, and we had to have the total amount of support in by a certain date, or we would have to postpone the trip until January.  

If we can make it up to the half-way point (which is $5000) by this Friday, Jake and I are able to put the shortfall amount in what TEAM calls an 'escrow' account, to ensure that we're able to go this fall, rather than postponing until a later date.

That means we only need $1400 by Friday and we're able to go to Brazil this fall!!

We are still able to receive support after Friday, so don't worry if you've felt God leading you to give.  TEAM will reimburse whatever amount Jake and I personally will have had to place in our escrow account once we receive adequate funds after September 7.

However, we are praying that we won't be put into that situation, but that God will provide all of the funds we need by the end of this week.  This has been a time of learning, stretching, and trusting. 

I know that there are many who don't believe it's right for missionaries to raise support, and there are some people who merely support themselves and go, which is fine.

But this venture is not just about us.  It's about glorifying our Lord, spreading the Gospel, and how God wants to get His church involved in the lives of people who desire to serve Him in this kingdom work.  

So thank you for getting behind us, coming alongside us, and praying for and supporting us.  Jake and I have been so encouraged and overwhelmed by friends and family who call us on the phone, invite us over for dinner or coffee, just so that they can pray, asking God to do His good and perfect will.

The exciting part about prayer is that when we pray, God hears us.  Sometimes His answers aren't always what we want them to be, but sometimes they're even better than we could have dreamed.

Jake and I got the go-ahead from TEAM to book our tickets, so I was looking into travel from Canada to our orientation destination, Wheaton, IL (near Chicago).  Instead of taking a plane, which was going to cost anywhere from $400-900 for a return ticket, I found out that there is a train (the Amtrak) which goes from Port Huron (across the border from Sarnia, only a 2 hour drive from us here in Cambridge) to Chicago.  It's almost a 7 hour trip, but, get this:

A return ticket only costs $58 each!!

We were super encouraged by this.  Not only do we get to travel on a train (which I have never done before), but we get to travel for cheap!

Some things to keep in prayer:

  • pray that we can find a decently priced flight from Chicago to Brasilia
  • pray that, once we apply for our Brazilian visas, they will be processed quickly
  • pray that Jake and I will feel God's peace rather than succumbing to the irritability and stress that often comes with planning a trip like this
  • pray that God will be glorified and that our hearts will be blessed as we prepare to serve cross-culturally
  • pray that God will provide, not only the minimum amount, but the rest of our support by Friday, September 
We love you all and feel your prayers.  Thank you!

Ashleigh and Jake