April update

hi

We’re back in the UK!

How were your Easter celebrations?

For us it seems right now in this time of our life we are doing a lot of waiting. God really seems to be teaching us to be patient and to wait for His timing. Life would always be “easier” if we did things our way but, with God it almost never works that way. So, it’s been awesome to see God provide for our wedding and a way back to England and if He’s willing school in September, even if we have to wait around a bit.

America was beautiful and we were kindly given a place to stay by the Whitler family in Modesto. The Whitler’s are the founders of YWAM Modesto and while we were with them we helped them move their home and when they needed us we helped host a DTS in Modesto. We spent a lot of time with Alexa’s family and friends. It was really good for them to be around us as a married couple as they didn’t know Joel very long before we got married.

Now that we are back in England we are again waiting. We want very much to not be idle in this and to be available for our friends and family here. We are very keen on volunteering our time at Joel’s home church, Woodley Baptist Church. So far Alexa will be helping in the church cafe on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Joel is now working in areas of local outreach and evangelism of the church, this includes making short video testimonies to encourage the church body. We are very excited because on May 5, 2011 we will have an interview at Oak Hill Bible College and will also be given a tour of the campus. This will help us to be more prepared while planning for school.

During June and July, while we are in America, we will be applying for a visa for Alexa so she can live in England. We will also be connecting with YWAM in Modesto again, and seeing how we can be available for the church there. Right now we feel like we are in limbo. We are so excited to go to school but its four months away and finances are well short of what we need. With that said we are very confident God is going to provide for us. We wanted to give you a short update on where we are right now and also say thank you for being patient in this time that even to us seems a bit confusing and all over the place. With God though, life can easily be very unpredictable. So, if you would pray for us we would love it. We need to fight through this time and not become lazy. We need to keep trusting God and have the confidence to follow him even if sometimes we have no idea where we are going.

We really appreciate you taking the time to read these updates and for standing with us in prayer. If there is any confusion or concerns with anything then please write to us or call us or have us over for a coffee, we are happy to chat.

May you know God’s goodness and mercy today and all the days of your life.

Joel & Alexa

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Visa situation

So now we are married. Two nations coming together.

where are we going to live?

we thought it would be easy to live in the same country.

 

England is our decision. We have prayerfully and thoughtfully made the decision to live in England for at least the next three years while we attend Oak Hill Bible College to study a Theology and World Missions degree. We are both really excited about this. It starts in September 2011. We can not wait!

Problem.

I have to leave America on the 12th May. We can’t afford to stay in Vancouver. Alexa can’t enter England on a spouse visa until she is 21, which is on 7th August this year.

After much consideration of all these facts we have decided that we will be flying to England, as visitors, on the 11th April. We will spend 2 months in England and then return to the USA on the 13th June. We have to return to the USA so Alexa can apply for a visa, so once back in the USA we will apply first for a new passport for Alexa ($110) and then for a visa to enter the UK as my wife ($1000), meaning she can stay in England for 27 months and then longer as needed.

 

We need your help.

Please be praying for us that we have grace with the border controls. We have decided to do it this way because this avoids breaking any immigration laws.

Please also consider supporting us finacially; for specific needs now or on a monthly basis to help us through schooling.

 

Thanks for reading.

Joel

Our First Update – Mar 2011

Hi there,

How are things? We are writing to you while spending time away in South Lake Tahoe, which is right on the boarder of California and Nevada. We had a nice blanket of snow fall last night, covering the whole area in about a foot of snow. That didn’t stop us venturing out to grab a late breakfast at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurant.

We just wanted to open to say a huge thank you for helping to make the wedding happen, your prayers and support were  really appreciated in that time. It was a beautiful day. Our wedding took place on a sunny March 12, 2011 at Alexa’s home church, New Hope Christian Fellowship. Preparation for this day was more than stressful. We had opinions from about ten different people on how everything should look and go that day. It was a fight to do things the way we wanted while still keeping good relationships with everyone involved with helping. By the time the day of the wedding rolled around things had fallen together perfectly. Our families pulled together and made it happen, and it was beautiful! Our knees were shaking and our hearts were racing. What we appreciate the most in all this is how obvious God made Himself to us. He brought us together, made us one and now we will live together forever bringing Him glory.  We raised over $3,000 from generous givers to help make the wedding (and honeymoon) happen. It was a great day that both of us would gladly experience again.

As we write this we are relaxing to Aaron Gillespie’s new album called Anthem Songs, it is a collection of worship songs mostly written by him but with a couple of ones you would recognise thrown in, I recommend it!

Anyways, to now be writing this update as married couple is an interesting experience but we will try to update you on what has been happening and what we are looking forward to. I, Joel, have been in America for over a month now and it has been a great time. I have enjoyed spending lots of time with my bride to be and now my wife. We have grown so much in a relationship with each other. It has also been a great time of rest for me and seeking God. I have spent a lot of time fasting and seeking God on what He is saying to me. Also just trying to dedicate myself more and more in prayer for others as recently there hasn’t been so much “hands on” ministry going on in my life. Coming before my Father and just asking Him for His hand to move in other people’s lives is a great honour. In all honesty I am eager to see where He calls Alexa and me to serve more “hands on”. However I have really been blessed in this time and the family that I have lived with have been so welcoming and have created a real home away from home. They are the leaders and founders of YWAM Modesto, they are wonderful Godly people that I have learnt a lot from just living with their family and seeing them “do life”.

For me, Alexa, life has been a bit all over the place since Joel arrived. Joel was sick most of the time he was here and it was a bit strange having him around all the time. Really, I had to get used to him not leaving. It was new and awesome. Planning our wedding had its difficulties. It consumed my mind most of the time but, I really tried to keep my relationships strong and I didn’t want to just focus on our wedding but on Joel and my relationship and what that is going to look like after we were married. It became real to me one day while we were going over “our” budget….I was literally thinking….I have to share everything with this man. I had to breathe deeply for a moment. I was ready to commit to him. During the planning of the wedding, I still did my normal work with YWAM Modesto. I became closer with the family Joel was living with and found peace and God in my relationship with them. They taught me a lot about how relationships work. They just made room for Joel and I to watch them interact every day. It was some good practical teaching and they probably didn’t even realize they were doing it.

So where are we heading?

The more we pray as a couple the more we realise that God has brought us together with similar passions and desires. Recently in praying we have felt that we both eagerly desire to go to Bible College and learn more about God and His word and also how to effectively work within the local Church context. We feel that this is our next step. This we feel was confirmed in a number of ways, the biggest that it is just what excites us both the most. Another big confirmation has been that we have seen no increase in financial support for going to Canada. On our current support we would not be able to live and serve in Vancouver, it just wouldn’t be possible. So, in short we will not be returning to Vancouver in the near future. We will most likely be returning to England for at least a few months while we continue to work out God’s direction on our lives. It has been a test of faith and has made us wonder if we heard God right about Vancouver, but we know that God is in control. We hope to return to England either in late April or early May. There are a few things we need to sort out first. While in England we will be praying and seeking God on where we are to go to college and how it is all going to work out financially as school is expensive!

We have been so blessed by you reading these updates and continuing to support us even when things our end are looking rather unclear. Please never hesitate to write if you have questions or feedback, we really value having a relationship with you.

Be blessed today,

Joel and Alexa

 

 

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Worship Drive

I was driving back from Alexa’s house last night feeling rather “exhausted” a feeling that is somewhat familiar to me these days.

I have been wondering why.

In discussion with a friend from Vancouver about being “burnt out” I came to realise that some of what he described I could relate to. This shocked me to think that I may be feeling some feelings of being burnt out. I quickly said to him that “I haven’t been in the game that long, how could I be burning out?”

I am still not sure that I am “burnt out” but it is obvious that there is something that is causing me to be exhausted and unmotivated a lot of the time.

I went through many changes when I moved to Vancouver as is obvious. Some of the changes I went through I am only starting to notice, the biggest one is that when I arrived and under the circumstances I was in I was forced into a more introverted person. This caused discomfort and restlessness. I am naturally more extroverted, not majorly like some people that may be coming to your mind now that are loud and the center of the party but I do enjoy to be around people, I get life from people and interaction. I am very much a verbal processor as well. I can rarely make decisions without talking them through with people, I drive myself crazy trying to make them by myself. When I arrived in Vancouver I was faced with not knowing anyone and not really having many people to interact with on a regular basis. I also didn’t have anyone there to verbally process ideas, even small things for example purchasing a mobile phone… This I didn’t realise was happening until only recently that I look back and see that I involuntary turned into an introverted person. I started to loose social skills which meant I became even less social. This makes me very uncomfortable.

Back to now, back to last night worshipping in the car on a wet drive home from my fiance’s home. I sang that song LOUD, and I felt something released, I felt something broken.

Planning a wedding does not exhaust me.
Not knowing what is next does.

Having little money does not exhaust me.
Fear that visa issues may separate me from my newly wed for a time does.

There is a lot on my mind. There has been a lot on my mind for a long time. For too long. I am feeling that now is the time that those things need to be dealt with. That I need to stop and rebuild.

 

This is me verbally processing. What comes next? God knows.

Joel is here!

I have arrived in Modesto! It is great to be here and be spending time with Alexa. The wedding is little over three weeks away and it is all very exciting!

Tomorrow we start premarital counselling with Chris and Aime Whitler who are the leaders of YWAM Modesto and also Chris will be who is marrying us on March 12th.

It already has been such a blessed time together as we can now plan together and just hang out being “us”. We have been donated a car for our time here which has been a real blessing, so we are able to get around independently. Also we have seen such generosity in people donating towards the wedding and honeymoon. It has been incredible to see and witness.

 

My parents arrive in two weeks, I can’t wait to see them.

 

Wow, this is really all happening.

 

God is good.

The ball is rolling

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God is good : ) That’s all I can say. Joel and I have been engaged for 22 days now! We decided to get married in March as a leap of faith. We both knew God wanted us to be married but, we didn’t know when. So, we went ahead with March….when we started out the planning of the wedding we had nothing money wise to contribute, which was a bit scary because we had no idea how we would pull it off in just a 7 weeks!! Well, God knew what He was doing! We didn’t have to understand…but He has provided for us sooooo much over the past couple of weeks with people who support us, finances,  and good attitudes (from the most part).
With every day that passes I get more and more excited for our wedding day and that we’ll build a life together. Wedding plans are falling into place nicely. Money has come in from friends and family which has been a huge blessing. Our honeymoon is what we are unsure about. We would like to spend three nights at a luxurious hotel, and then go off on our way either camping or some sort of road trip. We understand that if a honeymoon isn’t in the books then that’s OK but, we are trusting our Father to provide for us in this too. We are registered at a website called HoneyLuna.com where friends can donate to honeymoon expenses. It’s really neat. So if giving gifts towards our honeymoon is something you are wishing to do, the website would be the way to do it.
Planning has been fun. There are SO MANY details to think about. : ) Joel will be here on Monday, February 14, just in time to be my valentine. It will be very nice to have him around to be together again and to plan together…in all this, I feel so much closer to him. It has been cool to see how our minds work when they get together, it’s like a sneak peak of what our marriage will be like.

update follow up.

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hi again,

I felt that I needed to write a quick follow up to my last update letter. I wanted to apologise for laying out a “five year plan” to you. I understand that it was a lot of information to digest and that maybe it was too much. I wanted to make it clear that Alexa and I are completely open to whatever God has for us. The “five year plan” that I laid out is only a really rough guide, and in experience whenever I have tried to work it out that far in advance before it just doesnt happen… As you may know from my stories of how I ended up in Vancouver.

Alexa and I have decided that with marriage comes a completely new start, so we are going to sit down together with a completely white sheet of paper and just pray. And see where God wants us for the the immediate future. We both have a heart for studying the Word of God and going down that route and in working with churches. My heart has always and always will be to work as a “missions pastor” this has not changed, but how I will get there only God knows. So I’m sorry for trying to paint the whole picture when actually I have no idea.

I invite you to join us in prayer as we seek God for what He has for us, be that in Vancouver, England, India, China, etc… All places we both have a huge heart for.

Any feedback from you I would love to read.

Blessings, peace and grace always,

Joel