Archive for the ‘preparations’ Category

The house is all ready to have visitors and to welcome our new addition to our family. We have been hard at work the last several weeks and there is still a long list of items we would like to complete but we are ready to receive visitors and have prepared a place for our new son. The slideshow is a tour of the new and improved house. We are traveling this week to Bogota to pick up our son and will be home for Christmas. What a blessing that will be. God moved some mountains in order for this to happen before Christmas. We got to skype with him twice last week and he is already calling us mom and dad and thinks his brother is really cute. We cannot post pictures of him until our adoption is final (more than likely sometime in January). We pray that you all have a blessed Christmas celebration with family and friends. We are missing ours, but know we will get to see them soon. Enjoy our story as it unfolds in the photos below.

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House #5 in Cali

Posted: December 2, 2014 in Life in Cali, preparations

As I promised, here is a blog about house #5 for us in Cali. Our move more challenging than the previous. We are not just moving a family of three, we are moving hotelcork that houses up to 24 people. That is a lot of bunk beds, mattresses, towels, sheets, pillow, curtains, storage, pots and pans.

This is the house God lead us to. It had been a really crazy search. This house is such a blessing in the fact that it is in a good neighborhood, right next to the one we lived in previously. It is half way between the church and where the future construction will take place in the future. It is less expensive. The owner is so easy going he will pretty much let us do anything in the house we need to make it work for the ministry. After talking to him for about 10 minutes face to face he handed us the keys, lowered the rent, and gave us two weeks free to start the needed repairs.

We lived with our friend Magda for 2 weeks going back and forth cleaning and doing the most urgent repairs. Once we got the living room painted we decided to move all of our things from storage to the finished living room as there were so many things we needed. After a few more days we moved in (Nov 30) and now are more able to work on the various projects of further repairs and painting in preparation for a pastoral couple from Brazil arriving this coming Saturday for an interview with Extreme for our next church plant.

So with that said, I am going to get back at it. This has been nice to sit in a breezy spot and get a break from the paint fumes. I will post again with the finished Cork house, hotel cork and ECC (Extreme Center Cali). Enjoy the photos.

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Transition

Posted: November 27, 2014 in Adoption, Life in Cali, Prayer Requests, preparations

Our family is in a state of transition right now. We had been approved to live month by month in the last house after our contract ended on Nov 15, with the agreement that we would have 30 days notice to move if they sold the house. If not, we said we could stay at least until Feb 2015. Perhaps that day or shortly after, the house sold. Because of some miscommunications, we received the official news our last day was Nov 17, leaving only three weeks to pack and move… to where, we didn’t know. (As you continue reading, to truly understand God’s working in our lives… try to look at it through the perspective of 2 people packing for 20 and having very specific restrictions on size, layout, and location of the future housing.) We started packing right away and lived in the state of boxes for the remainder of our time, taking everything from the four floors and moving it to the first to aide in loading the truck. In the midst of all the packing, we did some final searching for houses to make sure we had the best option possible for the ministry. We were approved to rent one, but had our reservations due to the price and their inflexibility to shorten the contract. So we continued the search. Days before the move we were still looking. We came to the point of asking our friends if we could move in with them for a bit to give us more time to make a decision. They had offered earlier but we didn’t think it would be needed at the time. Our friend’s husband left for Ecuador to work for a month a week before we had to move. His time away was delayed by several weeks. I believe this was all in God’s timing to work all for good in being here to help our friend with her two kiddos. Wellington is on cloud nine living with his two best friends. This has had a reversed effect on our relationship in that we are together all week so we try to do things independently over the weekends to give the kids some time apart.

The BIG project of the construction of the Extreme Center Cali (ECC) is still in progress. At one point we thought it would not happen but continued in our faith in what God has called us to. There was a change and we are moving forward with working on the plans with all those involved. We do not have a green light yet, but we are closer than we have been before.

The day before the moving truck arrived, we found a place. Vincent looked at it and then returned with me. We wanted to meet with the owner face to face to discuss some options and things we needed to do to make the place work for us and he couldn’t meet us until after loading the truck. We found a mini-warehouse to store our belongings for the time being. After talking with Luis Fernando face to face for a few minutes he was ready to hand over the keys, discount the rent, give us two weeks rent free, and a six-month contract without any co-signers (what Colombia does instead of credit checks and deposits). He felt bad he did not talk to us the day before so we could have moved there directly. However, it is all working out, the house is very dirty and needs a lot of work having been vacant for 1 to 2 years. We are working to get the kitchen done, clean the living room and clean one bathroom that is 100% functional before we move our items in. Our goal is to move our stuff in the weekend of Thanksgiving. In my next post I will share more about the house God has provided us.

Adoption update: We are in the final stretch. Making calculations with our agency and all those involved we think we may be in Bogota, Colombia for our week long integration with our son the week prior to or the week of Christmas. We may be in a hotel for Christmas but at least we will be together as a family. The adoption will more than likely not be completed and official until sometime in January. Our son’s preparation for adoption began just a few days ago and he is excited.

Upcoming items and prayer requests:

Nov 30 – move into our new temporary home (5th home in 3 1/2 years in Cali). Hoping the next one will be the final one where we will stay for our remaining time in Cali.

Dec 6 -9 – We are hosting a Pastoral couple from Brazil for an interview for the next church plant. Brian Tibbs, CEO of Extreme will be joining them here in Cali.

Dec 15 or 22 – Tentative week long integration with our son in Bogota. We need to renew Wellington’s passport while we are there as it expires Jan 2015.

Dec 28 – 30ish – Receiving visitors. On of our high school friends and his wife (from Colombia) will be visiting us for a few days. We are so looking forward to this reunion. It has been a long time.

Jan 19th-ish – Trip to Quito, Ecuador for leadership meetings. Pending adoption status. Pray that the adoption finalizes as we cannot take our new son out of the country until the adoption is complete. The wait for the judicial system can be lengthy and there are frequent strikes.

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Adding a Cork…… We are excited to share that news of an addition to our family through adoption. Vincent and I were unified in a call to adopt last June. It had been on Vincent’s mind for a while but he was patiently waiting for God to speak to me and confirm what God had for our family. We started doing research and discovered that the Colombian government had just stopped receiving applications for international adoptions the month prior. The one type of international adoption they still allowed was high priority adoptions. This was a list of priority adoptions, one was for children 8 years or older when adopting one child. We made trips to the government office in Cali and ran into brick wall after brick wall. When we were in Bogota to renew our visas we found the name of someone with experience with adoptions in Colombia. She is from Michigan and has adopted two children from Colombia. Through her, we were presented with a picture of our son. We signed a contract with an agency in Oct and found out in Jan that they were not re-accredited to work with Colombia.  We had to go back to square one, scouring the list of approved agencies to find one that had experience working with US citizen living overseas. We were blessed to find one full of passion and we started moving in the right direction. We had our home study and psychological evaluation the end of March with a few more skype sessions to complete the evaluation. Everything was in Spanish including a psychological test of 189 questions where you had to answer if you disagreed, somewhat disagreed, somewhat agreed or agreed with the statement. This was one of the more challenging parts for us with many sayings we had to ask clarification on. This week, the home study and evaluation should be complete and then we can move onto the next big step of asking the US government for approval to adopt from Colombia. We are hoping we will have their approval within 2 months.

Vincent’s dad was here for 3 weeks in March and April. This was his third visit to Colombia. Wellington was so excited for his arrival we made a countdown calendar for him. He also drew eight things he wanted to do with his Grandpa which included playing with his trains, going out for ice cream, going to the animal refuge, going to the pool….we got them all checked off and laminated it for Grandpa to take home for a souvenir. It was wonderful to see Wellington and his Grandpa bonding. Grandpa was gracious as I don’t think he ever won a game of match against his 4 year old grandson.  He helped us out in many ways preparing for our next church plant team coming May 29. Here is a list of some of the items he worked on:

  • Installed a 250 liter (60 gallon) reserve water tank. This will aid in toilet flushing and some showering when we have 16 – 20 people. We had a pastor on the last team jump in the shower after playing soccer and there was no water, not good. It really makes one aware of how thankful we are for the things we take for granted every day. When you turn the light switch on, there is light, turn the faucet on, there is water, turn the knob on the stove, there is gas. Remember in your prayers to thank God for ALL things.
  • Installed a curtain wall in the largest bedroom to allow the use of the master bathroom for more people.
  • Fixed stairway lights that were not working and rewired many non-working outlets.
  • Spent a few days helping the expansion of the San Judas Church. We have had many teams help out on this church over the years and it is exciting to see how it is coming along.

It is hard to show many pictures of our ministry work right now as much of it is where I am now, behind the computer. My work load as Admin Assistant has greatly increased as the CEO of Extreme is currently in the States mobilizing many of the positions we need filled as well as those for the upcoming church plant in Cordoba, Argentina. He is traveling almost every other weekend, speaking in churches, getting names of those called by God, meeting with them, following up with them through the application process, interviewing and deploying and I am the one assisting with the coordination of all of his travel, data entry and meetings. I do love it though, being able to assist him enabling him to do what he does best which is share the vision of Extreme.

Vincent has either been with me in the office doing all that he can to fill our house for the 8th annual International Master’s Plan Convention. He put together a package for Pastors, leaders, and laymen to come to the convention as a great rate and we take care of everything for them so they can concentrate on what God has for them during their time here. Our group last year from the Prairie Lakes District had such an incredible time and continue to be a group that is bonded through their time in Cali. The D.S for Prairie Lakes who was here with that group said, “Last year I was able to attend the Master’s Plan Conference in Cali with seven other leaders from our District. It was life changing for each of us. For me, being able to see the very real miracles and victories resulting from this kind of prayer focus is something I will never get over. The Tuesday morning prayer meeting was worth the whole trip for me. The conference itself also was amazing with the presence and power of God. My desire is to see as many of our Pastor and leaders, including lay leaders attend this event.” Below is the flyer Vincent put together for the convention. If you want to come, let us know or pass it on to someone you think would be interested click this linkhttp://extremecolombia.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/international-masters-plan-convention-sept-2014/. Aside from this work, he has been polishing up all the “to do” items we have to do before the next team arrives. We were in need of another family bunk bed so he converted one of the single ones. He has many other items on his list to work on before the group arrives the end of this month.

Vincent has been doing a wonderful job teaching at two different houses of prayers (cell groups). One in our home on Monday nights (I do a study for the kids, I need more!) and one on Wednesday afternoons for a few mom’s of Wellington’s classmates/friends. Please pray for these moms to take the next step and go to an encounter. It is a life changing experience. Also pray for Vincent’s disciples to take the next step in starting their own house of prayer. He currently has two of his disciples who have jumped with both feet in. I also have two mom’s that I have connected with going through challenging times. Pray for me to share God’s word to them giving them peace in their situations helping them to make the decision to choose Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He will never fail us.

As always, pictures to tell the story of our lives these last few months. The are miscellaneous and all over the board but hope they give you a window into our daily lives and activities.

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We arrived back to Cali, Colombia on Sept 11 after our whirlwind travels lasting 3 months  and we had a week to prepare for a 2 week (Sept 18 – Oct 1) short term team of 8 from the Prairie Lakes District.  It was a blessed time to be with pastors from our grass roots. They were renewed and revived during their time here in Cali and they are staying in tight contact supporting one another in their prayers. A week and a half after their departure we received another team on a Vision Tour consisting of 5 people who were with us from Oct 11 – 15. They were here to get an inside look at the work and vision of Extreme. With these two projects completed we are at 95 of our 300 goal.  Here are a few comments from their time here.

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Prairie Lake District Team

” I came here like ‘butter spread over too much bread.’ I am leaving having seen God, heard God and been renewed by God. Ready to have a deeper walk, a deeper prayer life and a deeper love for others. Love, deeply love, enough to share my Christ more fervently.” Pastor Dave Foshee (Prairie Lakes District Team)

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Vision Tour

“Participating in the vision tour has shown me that God works mightily through the obedience of extreme discipleship. WOW! Cali was nothing that I expected. Instead of a drug and violence ravaged city without God, I saw the mighty hand of God redeeming a people because of the fervent persistence and obedience of a few Christians. What an example for us!”   Kristine Himelick (Vision Tour)

Up and coming….we now have 29 days of preparation to receive the next church planting team who will be planting a church in Ibarra, Ecuador. They will be here from Nov 21 – Dec 19. This is a full team consisting of 14 adults and 3 children for 30 days. We will also have some others who will be coming through at the same time. We are in prayer that we will be in a new house by that time, but we need God to work and to soften the heart of the owner so we can leave our contract in good standing.

I (Alyson) will also be attending the Women’s Congress at the Cali House of Prayer on Nov 1 and 2. I am looking forward to how God will speak into my life during these two days.

Be sure to take a look at our new link at the top of our blog page titled CALENDAR OF EVENTS to keep up with what is happening in Cali. We welcome your prayers in support of what is happening here.

One of our next posts will focus on an exciting big step that God is leading us into, stay tuned!

 

 

Vincent prepped his group last night for the time we are going to be away in Peru and the US giving each of them the opportunity to lead the group in his absence. He shared about the fruits of the Spirit last night about how it is not just enough to receive them but how we have to put them into practice showing we truly understand them. Through practicing these fruits with those around us is how we become holy as He is Holy. Please pray for each of them to grow in their faith and leadership and for Vincent to return to new cell groups started by these disciples of Christ. From left to right: Alex, Gonzalo, Raul, Vincent, Jairo, Lizardo and Eduardo. We treated them to some good old American cooking with sloppy joes, corn on the cob, coleslaw and roasted potatoes topped off with chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

We are just 5 days away from departure to the “white city” of Arequipa, Peru to be used by God and help with the project Love Extreme taking place there in July.  See the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LoveExtreme2013?ref=ts&fref=ts

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A picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few thousand. We are too busy to write right now but wanted to share some pictures to share with you what we have been up to in preparing for the Ambato, Ecuador Training Team we have arriving tonight.

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We had been searching for a new location to live for several months as it has been difficult in the past finding housing for our short-term teams.  The original plan was to use the Cali district center but it is still in construction and currently there are no more funds to continue construction.  In the past we rented other apartments near our apartment to house our short-term volunteers. We didn’t have housing confirmed until just a few days prior to the arrival of our teams. If an owner wants to rent their home/apt they are not going to agree to a two-week rental when they could have someone to commit to a year, so our rental agreements were always last minute. Glory to God he always came through with what we needed not a moment too soon or a moment too late. This type of housing was wearing for the fact that we had to carry bunk beds, mattresses, fans, tables and chairs sometimes up to the 3rd floor of apartments and then remove it all the same day or day after the teams departed. We have found a better solution of renting a home where we would have sufficient space to house our short-termers. The name hotelcork seems to be following us wherever we are. We love sharing our gift of hospitality and now we will have the perfect opportunity to do so. Let me tell you the “wild ride” story of finding the house God had for us.

As I stated, we had been searching for a home near the church for the last few months. We looked through about 15 houses. We scanned the area of 10 blocks long and 8 blocks wide, zig-zagging through all the streets looking for rental signs and asking workers if the houses they were working on were for rent. Sometimes the workers would let us look through the house. Our wonderful co-worker, Sandra, would make the calls and appointments for us to see each of the homes for rent. Some were pristine and remodeled, others had been vacant for what seemed to be years and had freeloading cockroaches. We were so close to renting one of the homes. As foreigners the security companies had stricter rules for us. We would need someone to back us on the contract. With the church backing us, the Pastor backing the church- the security company still wanted one other signer to be behind the Pastor… someone not associated with the church. We were unable to find someone to do this. We praised God as we thought we had found the way around this by paying a deposit of 6 months. By the time everything was said and done, the security company wanted 10 months worth of rent for the deposit on a one-year contract. It wasn’t the answer. We found two other great homes but they were with the same security company, same problem; so we continued the search. The owner of the apartment we were in agreed to let us stay for another month past the end of our contract while we searched. Low and behold, we walked up to another great option for a house. In the process of having our paperwork reviewed for this house we learned that the apartment where we had been living had been sold and the owner wanted the house on the 27th of March. We were given one-week notice of this. We waited and waited for the approval on the house rental and finally it came but they requested one more document. Pastor needed to sign the document but he was starting some intense travel. Sandra patiently waited for him to arrive home from a scheduled flight at 5pm but due to delays arrived after 8pm… only to turn around and leave the next morning before 5am for Venezuela. We got the required doc signed but they still needed to draw up the official contract. He would be gone for one week and we needed to be out of the house in 2 days. We packed over the weekend ready to move our stuff out to who knows where, maybe a room in the church. We had asked for an extension of one week to get all the paperwork in order but the woman managing the apartment denied us. The day we were to move out, Sandra and Vincent stumbled upon a good friend of the new owner of the apartment. She put us in contact with the owner and we explained our situation. She was more than kind to let us stay through the week if we needed. Praise the Lord we had two more nights in our apartment with the living room and dining room stacked high with boxes with only our mattresses on the floor. Sandra received approval from the rental company to allow us to move in before the official contract was signed, but repairs had to be done in the house as well as a deep clean. This was all done by Wednesday afternoon (minus the deep clean). We finally moved all of our belongings and all the short term volunteer supplies including 4 bunk beds and 16 mattresses and 8 fans not to mention all the additional bowls, plates, cups, coffee makers/servers, coolers, linens, etc. I am amazed how much stuff we had stored in our little apartment. In putting this in God’s hands, He moved us into our new home 24 hours before my family arrived to visit us. He is so good.

So many of the things that happened during this transitional period were all been at the very last minute but God is always coming through for us. Thankfully we have learned to hand these things to Him so He can deal with them. I have been reflecting on the time when we had just arrived in Cali and we were searching for an apartment to rent, needed cell phones, and wanted a map to get our bearings. I was so impatient with God wanting everything to be done upon our arrival, but apparently He had some lessons for me to learn. Due to my lack of faith and misunderstanding of what it meant to “trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding,” I made it a stressful time for me, full of pain and frustration and occasional tears. We spent a lot of the time waiting on other people for things we would be able to do for ourselves in the US. This time around, during our housing transition I had so much peace it was unbelievable. And this time I think the situations were much worse in the eyes of the world. I am being reminded of how I was and how much I have changed by the grace of God, having complete faith in Him.

We had a young woman living with us who was studying Spanish. She had been with us for a month when we were in this moving process and she is much the immediacy kind of person that I must have looked like when I first arrived to Cali. I did the best I could to help her through all the transitions, the unknown answers to pertinent questions we all had, and the last minute changes that are inevitable living in South America. Watching her made me remember the pain and frustration I went through during our first months in Cali. I am so thankful I serve a God who is so loving and caring to help us through life transitions, the big thing is we have to hand it over to Him with complete trust and faith and not take it back to do it ourselves.

Vincent shared this verse during on of our small group meetings here in Cali and it has really stuck with me.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

  • Prayer Requests:
  • Upcoming team of 11 we are preparing for in June mostly from WV, one from MI and another from KS.
  • Finalization for a team in Aug.
  • Our schedule for our travels home in Aug/Sept 2012 for all speaking engagements to be confirmed by the end of this month.
  • Creativity in disciplining our almost 3 year old. It is hard to stay ahead of him.
  • Continued provisions for our financial needs. Praise His name for a the blessings from our partners we have already received.

Here are some pictures of our new home we are renting and of the wonderful time I had with my family visiting.

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When I posted the fact we had our Colombian Visas in hand, that was not the end to the process. We still had to visit the D.A.S. (Dept of Admin Security) office in Cali within 15 days of reentering the country in which we drove 45 min to this office only to make an appointment for the next day (they only make appointments in person, you cannot call to make an appointment). We received another list of letters and items we needed to present. We obtained the last of these requirements at 10pm that night and returned the next day to sit for over an hour. After the fingerprinting and more photos we were told to return in a month and a half for our visa cards. PRAISE THE LORD, this week officially marks the end of our visa process. After 6 long months, serveral trips out of the country, oddles of paperwork signed, stamped and certified by this office and that, fingerprints of every combination (both ink and electronic), we finally picked up our C.E (Cedula Extranjero). This card allows us to function like a resident in Colombia. We are now starting the process of being less dependent on the locals (to an extent). We are working to convert some bills for things like internet and cell phones that are in friends names into our own. They were gracious to help us when we arrived to secure those things which are essential to the operation of the Extreme Colombia project. It was an impossibility as foreigners without a visa to get any of this accomplished when we arrived. We are so thankful for God providing the support we have here in Cali.

We are gearing up for our next team arriving in 1 week. This is a very special team for us as Vincent’s dad is coming and we have our 3 attending from our home church in Missoula, MT and 2 from Victor, MT. We are excited at what God is orchestrating as far as events for this team. Some of them seem specially catered to the skills and abilities of this group. Why does this surprise me that God would organize such individualized events? I shouldn’t be surprised, this is what we have been praying for and the prayers are being answered. Praise His name. Please continue to pray for this team as many have been under some intense warefare. This only confirms that these are the ones He has chosen to come. We are anticipating marvelous things to happen while they are here.

Psalms 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.