Monday, March 28, 2011

Awana Cubbies

Recently Marisol and I had the opportunity to volunteer for one night in Awana Cubbies. It brought back memories of my years as an Awana worker at our church in Guam. The most exciting part of Awana to us as parents is watching our children hiding God's Word in their hearts. That will stay with them forever!

One Day, Separate Ways

Normally our family does everything together. However, two Saturdays ago one of Amelia's friends invited her to a princess birthday party, and Joel participated in the Awana Sparks-A-Rama. So we went our separate ways. For reasons of transportation, I accompanied Snow White to the birthday party. . .

. . .and Marisol took Joel to the Awana Games, where his team place third in their group. We are proud of our princess and our Sparky.

The Return of the Tooth Fairy

Amelia recently lost her first tooth. As always, she surprised us by not crying at all. She must have a high threshold for blood and pain. Now she second tooth is loose; we'll be in touch again soon!

Stars on Ice

Presenting the Missionary Retreat Fellowship Stars on Ice: the Farnsworth family. We had a great time skating two times courtesy of some skates that were donated to MRF. I was impressed with how well Joel and Amelia did for their first time ever! Who knows? Maybe there's a future Scott Hamilton or Dorothy Hamill among us!

Wet Pants

This photo needs a good explanation. When Joel and I were sledding one day, we stated that we wanted to go clear down to the stream. Well, mission accomplished well-done! We went into the stream and had wet pants to show for it. Brrrr!

Beauty and the Beast

On the night before my ordination exam we attended a performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Berks Christian School. Although some people seemed surprised that I was there, I knew that I didn't want to spend the night before my ordination cramming like a college student. We enjoyed the show very much, except the wolves who literally had Joel and Amelia jumping up out of their seats.

It was great fun to see Kate Lebo in the role of Belle. She had played Gretl in The Sound of Music when I played the priest in 2000 during my stint as the Spanish teacher at Berks Christian. She and the rest of the cast performed enthusiastically and beautifully, or should I say beastly!!!!

Pastor Ned

Thanks for praying for my ordination on March 12. The pastors pictured above with me (from left, Rick Knarr, Dave Klase, Bill Schuit, Larry Crabtree, Tony Perez, Wayne Rissmiller and George Hege) asked me questions to test my qualifications and calling to the gospel ministry and approved me. Their participation and the different roles that they have played in my life will always be in my heart.

Rick taught me how to play piano years ago and served as my youth choir director and youth director and continues to be a good friend. I grew up with Dave's sister at my home church, where he serves as the current pastor. Bill is the director of Liebenzell Mission USA (LMUSA). Larry is one of my earliest childhood friends, having been born the same year. We were nursery babies together, and we spent many times together at each others' houses. We also went through the Christian Service Program together, and I attended my first week at Haycock Mountain Brigade Camp with him back in the summer of 1974. The fact that he drove over 5 hours from southern Maryland to accompany me on this special day is an honor beyond words.

Tony coordinated all of the ordination activities as the pastor of Iglesia Bautista Betania, our sending church that sponsored the ordination. He tirelessly taught me many things about ministry; during my years at IBB (1991-2001, 2004-2006) I learned many invaluable lessons about perseverance in ministry, hard work, balancing family life, personal relationships, and other aspects of pastoral work. Literally he and his wife Jessica have been like brother and sister to me. Honestly I wouldn't be where I am today were it not for them.

Wayne Rissmiller is another friend from my boyhood days. We spent many summer days biking, swimming in the creek, and playing on the farm where he lived. His mother Mary Alice directed Motivated Moms, where Marisol studied English when we moved to the USA from Ecuador in 2004. George Hege served as the Global Missions Director of LMUSA when I joined the mission back in April 2001. He delivered the first letter to Marisol that I wrote after I met her during a one-week missions trip to Ecuador with First Presbyterian Church (Reading, PA) in February 1998. He and his wife Linda have always been faithful friends and supporters.

As you can see, I was among friends. That is not to say that they asked me easy questions; I wouldn't have wanted that. Part of this process was to learn what I don't know, and I learned that very quickly. First I shared my personal story of how I became a Christian and how God called me as a missionary. Then Marisol shared hers. I would have to say that she shared simply but eloquently. It was such a blessing to hear her share how God orchestrated the events of her life to make her His child. She shared small details that I hadn't heard before. In her sharing she answered some of the very questions that the council of pastors certainly would have asked her. Somehow I knew after she shared that everything was going to be all right: I would survive my ordination. God has blessed me by giving me Marisol as a wife. Never was that my evident to me than during my oral examination on March 12, 2011.

The exam lasted about three hours, and then the pastors met privately to discuss answers and to make recommendations. They called Marisol and me back to tell me that "I passed" and to read me their findings. Then we ate a delicious lunch prepared by the ladies of Iglesia Bautista Betania.

This was a hard day for me, a significant day not only for the process but also for the godly men who surrounded me. Their example goes before me, and I hope that I can follow God as they do. To God be the glory.

P.S. Although I now have the title of pastor, I tell everyone that they can call me Ned "for short"!!!!

I will post more about the ceremony and more pictures soon.

Spring Wonderland?

This past week, to inaugurate the first full week of spring, we received five inches of snow one day followed by three or so more inches by the end of the week. I hate to admit this because most people are sick and tired of the wintry precipitation, but our family was happy to have more snow. It's a matter of perspective: we didn't have it for four years in Guam and we surely won't have it in Ecuador either. I was secretly hoping for another snowfall, and God answered. But please don't tell anyone. You can see the following pictures from our final fling with spring, oops, I mean, WINTER!

Enjoying a final dose of snow!

Sledding in a spring wonderland!

Look at the proud snowman creators!

Now here's one enthusiastic sledder!

Amelia likes to practice her writing, even in the snow.

Joel and Amelia pose next to two of the snowpeople we made.

Some goldfinches enjoy the banquet at Marisol's homemade feeders.

A chickadee finds what she was looking for at our window feeder.

One morning dove takes a short break from eating birdseed.

Two doves find a "hiding" place in a nearby tree. Some of the other birds don't like to share.