Monday, August 5, 2013

Encouragement from summer projects

We shared some in our most recent monthly update, but as students return from summer projects, we've gotten to hear more stories of what the Lord did through them.  I was encouraged and I hope you will be too!

Brenda, who will be a junior at MSU this year shared that her summer project to East Asia had the opportunity to initiate over 350 spiritual conversations, to share the gospel 112 times and to see 30 students place their faith in Jesus!

Kelsey, also an MSU junior who went to Montevideo, Uruguay shared that her team initiated 623 conversations and were able to share the gospel 207 times.  From those conversations, they had 27 students give their lives to Christ. They also had the opportunity to work in an orphanage outside of Montevideo and show the children's version of the JesusFilm to the kids they worked with.

We've also heard encouraging things from Kyle and Kayla, two MSU students who were at North Myrtle Beach, SC on project this summer, Mariah, a Gustavus junior who went to Miami, Ellie, an MSU junior who was on project in inner city Chicago, and Josh, who was on an operations & technology project in Fort Collins, CO this summer.  Thank you for your prayers for these students. Please pray that students would bring the things they learned back to southern Minnesota this fall and challenge other students to take steps of faith as well.

As for us, our team starts meeting tomorrow to plan for the semester. We're excited about what's ahead even though we know it will be a busy fall for our family especially.  Our team is welcoming two new interns, Nikki and Ashlinn, and are grateful for how they will increase our capacity and provide a female presence on campuses like South Central College and Gustavus, where we only had men working last year. Please pray that we would come together as a team and that our planning would be Spirit-led.

We'll have stories soon about the beginning of the school year as well as our new baby - less than two weeks til due day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

summer fun!

In the past week, we were able to travel to Cedar Falls to see some of my family that was in town and to Alexandria to spend the 4th with Matt's family on the lake. Maggie got to meet a bunch of new people and have some new experiences, including her first boat ride!

Maggie learns new words everyday, but lately she's learned a few that have really brought smiles to our faces. The other day she came out holding her children's Bible and said 'Jesus!'  Obviously we read her a few stories about Jesus! She loves that Jesus started out as a baby.  Neat to think of how children can relate to Jesus because he started life much like they do.  She also learned to say 'Bible' and brings it to us regularly to hear more stories.

We're 6 weeks from the arrival of baby girl #2 and have most things in place though I still don't feel ready! Maggie's been practicing feeding her babies and tucking them in so I think she'll be a great helper!

Here are a few pics from our travels:

Family picnic at the park!

Exploring the 'Kid's Kingdom' near Cedar Falls.

In the 'USS Maggie' with Nana & Papa.
She also went for a few rides in a real boat ;)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

That your joy may be full

I (Kristin) have been spending some time reading and praying over John 15 lately. Just now as I was reading, the graciousness of Jesus' words in John 15:11 struck me anew:

"These things I have spoken to you, that MY joy may be in you, and that YOUR joy may be full."

He says these things to his disciples to encourage them as the cross looms before him....but he also says these things for our benefit because they're true for us as well....that our joy may be FULL...not lacking anything - no shadow of want or need.  What a gracious Savior we have!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Month of Travels

We started the month of May off by heading to Alexandria, MN for our annual regional staff conference, called 'MayDaze'.  We spent 3 days connecting with staff friends from around the region, hearing updates from the year, and learning from speaker Sharon Hersh. Maggie spent some quality time with her Nana and Papa across the lake and schedules worked out so we were able to see both of Matt's brothers and their wives! We hadn't been to Alexandria since Thanksgiving, so it was refreshing to spend a few days there...though we're hoping the lake won't be frozen on our next trip!

The week following MayDaze was finals week at MSU, so we spent some time connecting with students before they took off for their various summer pursuits. Then Maggie went south to hang out with Grandma & Grandpa in Iowa and I (Kristin) flew to Richmond, VA for a good friend's wedding. Amidst driving Maggie and I all over the place, Matt was able to host a college friend who currently lives in Sioux Falls.

Now that our family is all back together again, we've been able to enjoy some nice summer weather. Maggie is loving her bike trailer and asks to go for bike rides whenever she see it. :) Many of our international friends have left or are leaving soon for the summer and some are leaving for good. We were able to have seven of them over last night for dinner and lawn games to say our good-byes. It was truly a blessing that our lives were able to intersect with theirs for a year even though its hard to see them go, not knowing if we'll see them again. A few, however, will return in the fall and we're hopeful for how we can deepen those relationships.

We'll spend our summer preparing for the arrival of our new baby girl and building our team of ministry partners so our family is in a healthy place financially once she arrives and classes start up again in the fall.  We'll continue to keep you updated here!

Here are a few pictures of our recent activities....
Playing bubble with Grandpa in Cedar Falls!

Our family with some of our int'l friends at MSU's int'l festival in April. We'll miss them!

I joined staff with these girls in 2007 and we've done a lot of life together since then! From L-R, Kirstin directs the team in the Pittsburgh metro, Ginny & her husband are transitioning to a role overseeing ethnic ministries in the Mid-Atlantic, and Katherine just married Michael, an Aussie she met while on stint. It was fun to celebrate with her!

Ready for summer!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer projects!

We didn't have room in our monthly update for all the things we wanted to share about summer projects, so consider this a bonus :)

The school newspaper at Southwest Minnesota State actually wrote an article about 4 Cru students from there who are going on summer project.  Check it out here. Kind of neat how clear they were about the spiritual component.

Also, we wanted to share this picture from a recent conference called "Kingdom Called".  All students who are going overseas on summer projects, interning, or stinting (overseas internship) with Cru this summer attended.  I just love seeing the quantity of laborers preparing to go into the harvest!  Praise God for the faith of these college students from around the Upper Midwest!
(click image to enlarge)

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Reason for Hope

Our pastor was going to be out of town this past weekend for a retreat, so he asked Matt if he'd be willing to fill in for him and preach at all three services on Sunday. Matt took up the challenge and gave a talk on A Reason for Hope, looking at 1 Peter 1. With the events of the week, the sermon topic seemed well timed...neat that the Lord put that passage on Matt's heart during the prior week.This was Matt's first time preaching in a church and he looked like a natural! We were grateful he had the opportunity!

These are from a few weeks back, but Maggie had her first Easter egg hunt this year.  Here are some pictures!
Success! She found mini reeses' inside!

This was a dress my mom made for me as
 a little girl. It was perfect for Maggie ;)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jesus week!

The school year is winding down - less than a month left! But we're still seeking ways to share the Good News of Jesus with students around southern Minnesota. Last week at South Central College, in North Mankato, students organized 'Cru week' and had daily events to connect with students there.  This week at MSU, student leaders organized 'Jesus week' with the hope of sharing the gospel but also to give younger students an opportunity to learn how to share their faith with others.

Today, students are using an evangelistic tool that Cru developed called 'Soularium'. Soularium is a set of 50 pictures that students can choose from to describe their lives, how they view God, and their spiritual journey. We've found it to be a fun way to learn the story of whoever we're sharing with and a natural way to transition to spiritual conversation.  Two girls I work with, Nikki and Brenda, are leading the charge today as students use Soularium.

Please pray for our students as they step out in faith and pray that lives could be touched in eternal ways this week.  We're excited to see what the Holy Spirit might do in the hearts of students!
from our MSU CRU facebook page: Throughout the week we will be sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the campus of Minnesota State University! Tomorrow we will be interviewing students on their views of Jesus, so meet at Jazzman's at 2 pm if you want to be a part of that! Everyone's welcome! We will also have more details for the upcoming week at our weekly meeting at 9 pm on Tuesday!

Check out Cru's facebook page for more info during the week:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Big Break!

MSU is on Spring Break this week and we just sent a group of 24 students with one staff guy on our team (kiddos don't travel well on 24+ hour bus rides!) to Panama City Beach, FL to reach out to the spring break crowds. We love that so many students wanted to go, knowing that their main objective for the week is to share their faith on the beach with other students who desperately need to hear of the hope in Jesus that is lasting and satisfying.

Please pray for them to have boldness and discernment as they share. Also pray that the weather would be good for them to be out on the beach a lot....we heard this morning that it was raining :(

To learn more about Big Break, click here.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sunday at our place!

This past Sunday we enjoyed hosting another dinner at our place.  We had about 15 students at our place including many of our new international friends.  We spent the night sampling many great ethnic dishes.  We made apple pie!!

We enjoyed great food and conversation.  One topic providing fun discussion was concerning how many continents there are.  One Armenian friend said they believe there are only 5 continents (Europe and Asia are combined, as well as North and South America).  We also had debate as to whether or not Australia is a continent.  Of course there was more discussion with the Brasilians as to why Central America is considered part of North America instead of South America!

Of course I had to look up the definition of "continent" on Wikipedia to prove that of course there are seven continents and of course Australia is one of them! :)

Some of our int'l friends enjoying dinner!

Matt & Joel, a student leader with Bridges,
served up some American apple pie.

Kelsey, another Bridges leader, did
dish-washing duty after the cooking was done.

Ali, our Pakistani friend cooked up some delicious chicken curry!
Maggie also enjoyed sampling fare from
Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day (a little late)

We had a special relationship panel at our Cru meeting last week in honor of Valentine's day.  Matt and I were part of it, along with Katie Keisler, who recently joined staff with Cru High School and wrote a book in the past year called "22 & Single". We answered a few questions each to get things rolling and then took questions from the audience. It was fun to be able to share a bit of what Matt and I have learned through our relationship and to encourage students to seek godly relationships for themselves - or to trust God in the midst of not being in a relationship.  Students asked questions like:

How do I know this is the right person to date?
What if I'm in a relationship with someone who's in a different place than me spiritually?
How can I be content as a single person?
Is it idolatry to long to be in a relationship?
We keep failing in the area of purity, what can we do?
I'm a shy guy, how can I pursue a girl well?

and one of the last questions, I'm pretty sure was directed at Matt and I:
Any tips for long distance dating?

We had a few thoughts since most of our dating relationship was between Brazil and the U.S.!  Thanks for praying for us! Based off the responses we had from students afterward, I think it went well!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


As a native Minnesotan, Maggie has been trying to learn the language of the land lately. Her new word of this past week was 'uff-da'. I could also use that word to describe how I felt when I realized we hadn't updated our blog for two months!  Apparently the holidays and the beginning of a new semester through us into a bit of a tailspin.

I'll try to give a run down of what we've been up to and what's been going on in the ministry...and maybe I can find a new picture or two of Maggie to throw in too!

The week before Christmas, we found out that this August, Maggie will be a big sister! We're expecting baby #2 to make its grand appearance around August 17th. We're excited!  We'll find out the gender in about two far Maggie seems open either way as to having a baby brother vs a baby sister. ;)

I think Maggie helped equally with decorating and undecorating our Christmas tree on a daily basis...she had fun though! Before classes ended for the fall semester, we also had the chance to host a Christmas dinner for about 15 international students from at least 7 different countries! We shared the Christmas story and introduced them to the great American tradition of a 'white elephant' gift exchange.  It was a fun night!
Int'l students gathered for a Christmas dinner

After spending Christmas in Iowa, we headed to the Twin Cities for TCX, our annual Cru winter conference. We had around 35 students from the Mankato area attend, many of them for the first time!  As an 11 year TCX veteran, it was SO much fun to experience the conference anew through their experiences. I got to go along on the day of outreach where we go into the community and partner with local churches to give out 'boxes of love' filled with food and a New Testament. The students LOVED getting to engage with people in spiritual conversation as they delivered boxes. It was fun to see them step out of their comfort zones to start those conversations!
Heading to dinner with students on New Year's Eve

Shortly after unpacking and catching up on laundry from TCX, we repacked for a weekend leadership retreat just outside of Mankato. This was the first time we've had a solid team of student leaders, which allowed us to plan a retreat. It was a great time of prayer, worship, vision, and planning together. We feel so blessed by the students we get to work alongside!

Training for big sisterhood
Classes are now in full swing, and if you've noticed the pink and red all over the stores lately, then you know that Valentine's day is coming up next week. Matt and I are slated to be on a relationship panel at our weekly Cru meeting to share a bit about what a Christ-centered relationship can look like and to answer questions from students. Pray for us!

Guess that's us in a nutshell.  We'll try to be more consistent!