Thursday, 31 October 2013

beware of what you cannot see

We laugh a little now...a VERY little, at the naïve thinking we had about certain aspects of the Bahamas.  One obvious misunderstanding we had was the critter/bug population on this island of "paradise."  Staying at Cedric and Alexine's home both times we visited (our senior pastor and wife), we never saw more than some bees and "no see-um's".  But if you've ever seen their house, you'll understand why.  Critters can't get in.  It's a 3-storey home, high off the ground, and has very little "bush" on the property.  They also, for the most part, keep their windows shut.  Well...after living here for 16 full months, we can honestly say we've seen the good, bad, and the ugly of the animal kingdom here. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I am used to spiders, smallish snakes, mice, ants, get the idea.  The first time I ever saw a cockroach was on vacation in Myrtle Beach when I was a teen.  Soon after moving in here, I began seeing little black specks in my drawers: silverware drawer, linen drawer, cookware drawer.  Under the kitchen sink there seemed to be some sort of party of little black specks.  Then one day, a few weeks after moving in, I saw my first roach running across the floor.  I screamed and asked Keith to kill it.  Who was that woman?  I laugh now.  How many cockroaches have I killed?  Several dozen, I am sure.  Big ones, little get the picture.  My worst experience was having one crawl on my neck in bed at night.  As you can imagine, I screamed, threw on the lights and beat the bed sheets 'til it ran out.  It is an ongoing battle.  Even with an exterminator, there is really no insurance we won't have them.  They live in the sewage drains and climb up the pipes, which is why we find them often in rooms with sinks and tubs...I can only imagine what they are tracking in!

Ok, moving on.  Let's talk about snakes.  The girls had seen several little brown racer snakes on the property, which look like this:
Photo: google images

I also had seen one while putting the laundry out to dry.   But nothing could prepare me for the one I literally stepped over without seeing one hot July day.  A Bahamas' Boa Constrictor, about 6 feet in length and 3 inches in diameter.  He was soaking in the sun on my hot little cement side porch, tucked up under the door's threshold.  I stepped right over him, saw a flash behind me and there to my wondering eyes, was a snake just like this:


 Photo: google images

What's really amazing though is that just inches above this snake was my ripped screen door... In other words, one little poke, and this guy could've been in my house.  But God kept him out.  We realize the reason this snake was hanging out on our property is that there are numerous rats living under our porch, beneath the rock-scape out front, and of course, in and around the trash cans outside our gate.  This boa was merely following his instincts to rid the yard of pests.  I just wish he weren't quite so big and intimidating.

Which brings me to my next critter: the rat.  They make 'em bigger here.  Early on, our adopted Bahamian dog, Kali, seemed to enjoy pinning and killing these pests, but lately she's lost interest.  And the thing about the Bahamian rats is they aren't all that shy.  We now have 7 screens in our house in which rats have chewed holes...meaning, they have been inside the house.  Yikes.  I have seen the rats that climb through the kitchen screens.  Usually it happens at night, when we're sitting in the living room,  I will hear a ruckus and see a tail as the rat slinks back out of the hole in the corner of the screen.  But one night, we witnessed a real escapade.  As we were sitting on the couch talking, I heard a commotion in the dining room and all of a sudden a rat, airborne, plopped down on the rug in our entryway.  This thing had jumped down from the windowsill in the dining room, and across 6 feet of room, no easy feat!  This brings new meaning to the word "cheeky" I would say!
And finally, the pest I most fear: the tarantula.  Yes, this is the one I have feared most throughout my life.  Tarantulas are what I picture when I think "Amazon rain forest." I honestly never thought I would see one that wasn't behind glass at a zoo or a pet store.  I was wrong.  Not only did Keith have one climb up his leg while working on the yard (which, though at the time he didn't realize what he was swatting at, he killed successfully), but about two months ago, I got to have one of my very own under my bed.  It was 11:30 at night.  Keith was asleep on the couch, and I tried to wake him, saying, "I'm going to bed."  As I went in, realizing I still had some laundry to fold, I noticed a black shadow under the headboard by the bedside table.  I thought it might be a sock I dropped.  I walked away for a minute to see if it would move.  It did.  And this time, it's silhouette was obvious...tarantula.  I froze.  I called on the Lord.  I calmly went out and told Keith.  He wondered how he'd ever catch it or kill it.  With bug spray and broom in hand, he went in.  I stayed out in the living room, praying and trying not to worry as I heard the whacking sounds.  Finally Keith emerged, laundry basket in hand.  "I killed it.  Do you want to see it?  It's about twice the size of the one that crawled up my leg!"  Keith said.  "No thanks," I said.  I didn't want the image haunting me. 
It was a few nights before I could sleep in my bed.  And every night since, I check that same spot as I enter the room.  I wish I could say that my heart is settled when the sun goes down and darkness settles in on our yard and house.  But I continue to live with a keen awareness that critters are alive and well, and most likely lurking around the next corner. I don't think I've slept through the night once since the tarantula and cockroach episodes.  But God has kept me.  Where once I couldn't kill my own roaches, now I can...if I'm fast enough!  A degree of bravery. Keith recently included our critter experiences in a sermon he preached.  Our church could not believe the number of things: bugs, snakes, tarantulas...we have dealt with.  Without exception, NOT ONE of them has had this number of things happen to them in their entire lives here in Nassau, let alone within the course of only 3 months, as we have.  Some of them still aren't convinced I had a boa on my porch!
So as you think of us here, "in paradise," remember that we live in a place that crawls with critters.  Remember to pray for us.  Pray for our peace of mind.  Pray for our protection.  Pray that we simply would not have critters invade our house and property.  God can do that!  He's the only one who can.  And so we rest in His power.  We might be afraid of what we cannot see, but the God we worship sees it all and is never caught off guard.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

a literal Genesis means a literal Savior

Two Sundays ago, Oct.13th, Kingdom Life had the privilege of hosting Jay Seegert, founder of Creation Education Center, and his wife Amy.  Jay spoke for a young adult weekend at the Adventure Learning Camp and was gracious enough to speak to our church Sunday morning as well.  While there was so much information it felt as if we were "drinking from a fire hose," (Jay's words), I sat marveling at the awesome power of God.  Jay has dedicated the last 27 years of his life to studying all he can about the creation of the world, the inerrancy of Scripture in direct correlation to Creation and cross-referencing the biblical account with archaeological and scientific discoveries.  It all began when he went away to a secular college and realized he needed to know WHY he believed what he believed about God and His Word.  According to statistics, 50-75% of young adults leave the faith they once professed by the time they leave college.  Jay said he had a professor who had anyone who believed in God and the Bible to raise their hands.  Jay did.  Then the professor said, "by the time you're done with MY class, that will change."   This is sobering, but common in our secular education system today.  Sadly, even many professing "Christian" education institutes are beginning to promote  this type of teaching. 

"The literal truth of Genesis is the only way the literal need for a Savior exists" Jay said.  The more I pondered the book of Genesis, in all it's "firsts" (first account of earth's existence, first man, first woman, first spoken words of God to humans, first sin, first judgment, first promise of redemption...) it struck me, really for the first time, how true Jay's statement is.  If Adam and Eve were not literally created and did not literally sin just as Genesis records it, then there would have been no need for a Savior.  Christians who talk about the possibility of a mix between Biblical creation and evolution are missing this.  There's so much more I want to say about this, but I will hold off.

We were able to spend lunchtime with Jay and his wife Amy, together with the Mosses, Seeleys, and Humes.  This was a nice getaway from our usual Sunday afternoon.
(at the Moss home)
Kristin, Antja Humes, Cedric and Alexine Moss, Mindy and Tim Seeley,
Amy and Jay Seegert, Keith, and David Humes

Keaton and Kendall, Debbie Johnson (the Moss's niece), Logan and Zach Seeley,
Kara, and Abby Moss

Friday, 11 October 2013

free to homeschool

In light of recent events making "Homeschool News" (aka...the German family who had their children removed from their home over the illegal choice by the parents to homeschool), I realize that I can be SO thankful to God that we are living in a country (The Bahamas) where the right to homeschool is protected by law.  Since we are not citizens of The Bahamas, I don't think our children would be permitted to attend the public school system (nor would we feel extremely safe doing so), and we definitely can't afford the private schools here (about $10,000 a year per child), so it was providential that we were already homeschooling when God brought the possibility of moving here to our attention. 

We have a Homeschooling Association that meets here several times a year.  Most meetings are for moms to give and receive support.  But a few Fridays ago, we had a "Back to School Bash" at a neighborhood park for all the kids.  I believe there were about 180 people in attendance that day.  It was HOT, but fun, seeing the kids engaged in many "field day" type games such as tug-of-war, balloon relay races, and three-legged races.  I helped out with the 10-13 year old group and we had plenty of laughs together.  This is the first event that our girls were able to go to and I think they were surprised at how many homeschooled students there were on this island!

Kendall, Abby, Kara, Keaton (right of picture)
I met some wonderful moms that day, most of whom are Christians.  Next Friday, Oct. 18, we will be opening up our pool for a homeschool hang-out day.  Here are some pictures showing you the fun we had at our field day.  ENJOY!
Kara in the pink pants...we're about to do the hula hoop game
Kristin making sure the circle remains unbroken
Abby Moss (far left) and Keaton in the teen group
About to do a relay...Kristin on the right
Relay in action...Tense!!

Monday, 7 October 2013

backtrack post

I was waiting to post about our youth group pool party night here at our home on Sept. 28th because my friend Mindy took pictures for me I wanted to include.  Now that her post is up on her own blog, I'm borrowing the shots she got of our fun evening.  Counter Culture is the name for our Youth Ministry at Kingdom Life, and this year has gotten off to an exceptional start.  We thank God for Clarence and Demetria Rolle who serve our teens week in and week out in this way.  They serve tirelessly in this role.  Not everyone chose to swim that night, but it seemed like a great night for fellowship.  Keith led a discussion called "What's on your ipod?" and it really opened up many lines of thought and discussion for how these young people are interacting with culture through the venue of music.  Many teens had good insight into what they classify as "bad" music, "amoral" music and "helpful" music.  We were blessed to see God at work in the hearts of this next generation, and we pray He continues to grow them spiritually as they enter adulthood.  As with many churches, the 20-something crowd often seem to leave church altogether after either graduating high school or college.  We pray that this new group of teens will not fall to that cycle, but will with God's help, be builders of the church in the years to come.
Logan led us in a short worship time
Our small, but great group of teens listening to Keith
Logan, Joshua, Zach, Schneider, and Clarence (our fearless leader!)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

a pleasant surprise

Yesterday afternoon Keith called from the office to say the Seeleys  had invited us over for dinner.  This brought a smile to my face.  If you recall earlier posts, we have introduced the Seeley family and talked about their work here as missionaries. You can find them here:

It was a good night of food and fellowship for us all.  Our friend Jen Rogers (whom we've also written of) and Marion, a missionary here from France joined us at the Seeleys as well.  In the midst of the many hurdles we've recently been facing, it was so helpful to be together with like-minded believers and talk about our challenges and our faith for being here.  The Seeleys arrived on 21/7 back in January and life here has been a whirlwind for them.  Trying to get a full-fledged camp ministry up to the bible camp standards they're used to back in Minnesota is a tiresome job.  Many demands seem to pull at them from all sides.   But although they would not choose this tropical location (like us, they prefer mountains, lakes, and places to hike!) they love the Bahamian people...and so they stay.  Hearing from them, as well as talking through our own challenges in living here helped us regain some perspective.

One of the things we evaluate from time to time is how effective our ministry is here.  Is it bearing fruit?  Are we doing things that reflect the culture?  How can Kingdom Life Church proclaim the gospel through music more effectively?  The Seeleys helpfully, yet simply explained that for them, our being at Kingdom Life was a draw for them to join the church.  Having a "multi-cultural" church with representation by two very different pastors helped them to feel comfortable in our church.  This was helpful to hear.  Since January, God has added three new families and one single to our church...all of whom are Caucasian American/Canadian.  Though we long to see God bring Bahamian people to build the church up, this is not how He has chosen to work right now.  Though many Bahamian visitors have come through the church doors, they do not come back week after week.  Why is this?  What can we do to change this?  We pray, asking for God's guidance.

We thank God for the ways He is working and we want to continually treasure the means of grace, such as biblical fellowship, which he provides in surprise moments like last night.  Our Father knows exactly what we need and when... He is trustworthy.
Left to Right: Logan, Keith, Kristin, Zach, Keaton, Kendall, Kara, Mindy, Tim
Front: Marion and Jen

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

prayers answered and requested

Can't believe today starts a new month...October!  It's been nearly a month since we last posted here.  So sorry for the long gap.  September was quite a month for us here on 21/7.  News about many things, both happy and not so happy seemed to be the theme for the month. 

Happy News:

  • Delta is beginning a non-stop flight, Nassau to Pittsburgh, beginning this December.  This is a DIRECT answer to prayer for us.  Since Kristin's mom is oxygen-dependent 24/7, she needs a quick and direct way to travel here due to the difficulties of travelling with oxygen on planes.  This option of a direct flight is the only possibility for her to ever visit us here!  We praise God for bringing this into being.

  • We have been praying for a way to cut expenses, and realized our home is the only thing we can cut back on.  However, knowing our lease was for 2 years, we figured we were locked in until this coming July.  BUT.....Our landlords want to move back into the home we are renting from them, provided they are able to break the lease of the home they themselves are in.   If we are able to find something cheaper in a safe locale, we could be looking at moving as early as January.  This will save us money, with the trade-off being we lose the "home away from home" we've had over the last 16 months. But the plus would be that we may be able to afford to turn on the a/c once in a while during the hot days and still save expenses.
Not So Happy News:

  • Funds need raised in order for the Buntings to remain here at Kingdom Life.  If you want to hear a detailed break-down of what Kingdom Life is trying to raise to fulfill our salary through June, listen here and go to the sermon from Sept. 22nd. 

  • Our van is grounded for now.  Transmission issues as well as old cooling system issues resurfacing are causing us to look at possibly selling it for what we can and looking for something very inexpensive for Keith to drive to and from work.  (He was pulling for a little scooter-type thing, but out of great love for his children and his wife, he's decided against it.)

  • Two days ago, Sunday the 29th, Kristin needed to go to the hospital here for an emergency endoscopy.  After sitting down to a meal we were hosting for the College students that attend Kingdom Life, Kristin began having swallowing issues.  This is something that's gone on for 22 years, but never to this extreme.  After 6 hours of trying other means to no avail, she was taken to the OR for the procedure.  Clearly it was the only solution, because when the doctor went into the esophagus he found all manner of food trapped in the path.  This will continue to be an ongoing issue due to the way her esophagus is unusually narrow and ribbed.  We praise God for helping us resolve this scary episode.  We thank him for the 2 doctors who attend Kingdom Life and their willingness to help us decide on what to do, as well as be an advocate for us once we entered the hospital.

We're SO glad you asked!!  Here's what we are praying for...please join us...
  1. For funds to come in to support us here.  Pray that whether it be from Kingdom Life, or anonymous donors somewhere, God will supply through his people, the means to keep us on mission here.  We have faith to continue and we would not want something as trivial as money to stand in the way of fulfilling what we believe God has brought us here to do.
  2. For a solution to our transportation needs.  Whether we try to fix the van or find a used vehicle, we will need God's help.  The size of the van was a true blessing here, where we do a lot of transporting people to and from church as well as transport visitors when they come!  If the van cannot be fixed, it is unlikely we will be able to replace it with another van.
  3. For our insurance company to make good on payment for Kristin's endoscopy.  In the midst of all the other financial challenges, this trip to the ER was expensive.  The funds to pay our deductible weren't even something we had in reserve, and we really need for the insurance to pay the rest.  The hospital was "out of network" for our Aetna International insurance.  But it is the only option we have here.  Pray that God will give our situation favor before the insurance company.
Well, hopefully this was not a "downer" post.  We want to keep our U.S. friends and family abreast of the situation here without focusing on only the challenges.  We know that if God truly wants us here, He will continue to make a way in the desert.  He is MORE than able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think.  All praise to Him.