Future Plans

FUTURE PLANS

We have been thankful for many blessings and some great meetings over the past 11 months. I wanted to briefly outline our future plans for the rest of this year leading into 2019 all the way up to our departure for the Philippines.

Mid-August 2018 Through Mid-January 2019

We will begin our trek out West with a meeting in Western PA on Sunday, August 19. From there we will spend time with family in Michigan followed by two Sundays presenting our ministry in Wisconsin. From Wisconsin we will visit with family around Kansas City, Missouri before heading to Sarah’s family in Rocky Ford, Colorado. In the middle of September we will venture even further West with meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah, Elko, Nevada, and Bend Oregon. While in Oregon we look forward to spending time with my sister and her husband who live in Portland.

Once we make it back to Sarah’s home town (Rocky Ford, CO) in mid-October, we will have meetings in the surrounding area throughout the rest of the year.

Sometime in early- to mid-January we will begin our journey back East.

Mid-January 2019 Through February 2019

We hope to have most of our support in place by the end of the year (we are presently bumping up against 70%). During the frigid months of January and February, I intend to take some time off traveling in order to prepare materials for the courses I will be teaching when we launch the seminary. In the first semester I get to teach Hermeneutics (Interpretation of Scripture) and Greek Grammar 1. During this time I will also continue coordinating the teaching schedule with adjunct faculty as we fill out the seminary program. Things on that front are already falling into place, and we are close to having the first semester already filled.

March 2019 Through May 2019

In the final months before our departure, we will try to visit a few new churches, and potentially a couple of our supporting churches. During these months I will continue working on course materials, as well as making sure we have the proper paperwork in place for our Visas.

May 2019 Through June 2019

In May 2019 we leave for the Philippines with plans to launch Haven of Grace Seminary in June 2019.

As I have noted before, we are planning on returning to the States every April and May (while the seminary is in summer recess) to visit our supporting churches and raise any additional support needed.

Thank you once more for your support and encouragement. We are looking forward to being in the Philippines this time next year training Filipino nationals for Gospel ministry!

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Thanks to God for You

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to preach in the mid-week service at our home church. The text we considered came from 1 Thessalonians 1:2 where Paul offers thanks to God for the Thessalonian Church. As you read the rest of his letter to them, you can tell that Paul is genuinely grateful for this band of persecuted, yet faithful believers. We took time on Wednesday to note that Paul could not say the same of every congregation he wrote to. In fact, the occasion for many of his letters (like Galatians or 1 Corinthians) brought out a tone of frustration more than appreciation.

This past weekend, we had the chance to be with Grace Baptist Church (Highland Falls, NY). This is a ministry for which we can truly offer thanks to God. It is amazing how quickly you can feel at home in certain places with fellow believers.img_3495From the very start, Pastor Steve and Debbie Snavely, made us feel welcomed.img_3570We enjoyed meals with them, and they even took us out on Saturday to visit nearby West Point.img_3509The Warner sisters are buried in the back corner of the West Point Cemetery. It was encouraging to hear of their witness to the soldiers, and the impact they left in the words to the beloved song, “Jesus Loves Me.”img_3524img_3506On Sunday, we enjoyed the opportunity to interact with this passionate group of believers. It was a privilege to open the Word of God to them and share the ministry God has called our family to at Haven of Grace Seminary.

In the afternoon, Pastor Steve gave us a tour of the nearby Fort Montgomery Fire Department (where he volunteers). The kids had a blast checking out the fire trucks and trying on the equipment.img_3551img_3550img_3540img_3546The Fire Department at Fort Montgomery has a piece of steel from the Twin Towers, along with a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9-11. It is important to remember the sacrifice of so many firefighters to who gave their lives to help save others on that dreadful day.img_3531Pastor Steve and Miss Debbie (as the kids called her), along with their church are folks we can truly give thanks to God for! We thank God upon every remembrance of them.

New Partners – Truth Bible Church

We are excited to announce that Truth Bible Church (Alloway, NJ) voted last night to welcome us into their Missions Family. This ministry has already been such a wonderful blessing to our family. We have loved the time together with them, especially with Pastor Dave and Dawn Field, and their children (all 5 of whom are right around the ages of our 5 children).

Even before taking us on for support last night, Truth Bible has already been a blessing to the ministry at Haven of Grace Camp and Seminary. The children during this summer’s Vacation Bible School, Operation Arctic, took up an offering throughout the week and raised close to $700 to help with projects at the Camp and Seminary. We are so very thankful to partner with this like-minded group of believers as we help equip and train national pastors in the Philippines.

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Two New Partners – Twin City Bible & Finch Hill Baptist

TWO NEW PARTNERS – TWIN CITY BIBLE & FINCH HILL BAPTIST

Over the last 24 hours, I learned from two churches that their congregations voted to take us on for monthly support.

We are so thankful for the ministry of Twin City Bible Church (Nitro, WV) and our friendship with Pastor Scott and LeAnn Bandy. We are glad to now be a part of their Missionary Family. Pastor Scott and LeAnn have a missionary’s heart having served the Lord in Ireland before coming to minister at Twin City.IMG_2543I learned that Finch Hill Baptist Church (Carbondale, PA) also voted this past Sunday to bring us into their Missions Family. We had a wonderful time with Pastor Joe and Leslie LaCava and the church family at Finch Hill.IMG_2604What excites me the most is the passion these churches have for the Gospel, and for the work of spreading the Gospel, not just in their own hometowns, but across the globe.

With this new support we now stand at 65% of our monthly need!

Random Reflections

RANDOM REFLECTIONS

The past month has been a unique and joyful period of our lives. This post is more of a series of random reflections on what we are learning as a family, and the blessings we have received.

First and foremost, the addition of Noemi Grace to our family has brought an immeasurable amount of joy, not only to Sarah and me, but to our children as well. I cannot imagine another baby sister that is so adored. The children are enraptured with Noemi. In fact, they love having a baby around so much they keep asking if we can have another one… maybe two!

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Of course, in caring for a little one, sleep is a bit more difficult to come by. Sarah is trying to find rest throughout the day, and has been doing very well in her recovery. Thankfully, for a 3 week old baby, Noemi sleeps very well. She is sleeping 5 to 5½+ hours through the night, and I have a hunch she would sleep even longer if we allowed her to. At this stage, Sarah still needs to feed her on a more regular schedule. We are looking forward to the 4 week mark when we can start letting her sleep even longer. Thankfully, all of our children began sleeping through the night by 10 weeks, with the average being closer to 6 weeks. This, for us, is the first “big” milestone. It would be great if Noemi reaches this mark next week.

Since I generally do not have to wake up early during the week, I have been doing my best to get up and change Noemi after Sarah feeds her either late in the evening or early in the morning. I confess, I never did this with any of the other children. (Yes, I realize that does not win me any “Father of the Year Awards”). This provides a great reminder, though, of the sacrifices Sarah has made over the years in caring for our children. She has spent countless early morning hours feeding, changing, and caring for our little ones.

We have been on an extended break since the end of April. I have not preached for 5 Sundays in a row. This is the longest stretch I have gone without preaching over the last 15 years. Although I missed a couple of Sundays right after Noemi’s birth, it has been refreshing to be in church services to simply sing praises to God, and listen to His Word proclaimed. I am reminded of how vital the ministry of a good local church is for believers. I am grateful for those within the Body of Christ who are ministering to me and my family.

On the topic of ministering to our family, an unexpected blessing came through two “table showers” for Noemi (one from Lighthouse Baptist Church and the other from Bensalem Baptist Church). We received so many generous gift cards that have helped as we purchase supplies for the baby. It would be hard to express how encouraging and helpful these gifts have been.

This coming Sunday will be our first time back out on the road. We are traveling to the Western part of Pennsylvania and look forward to being at First Baptist Church (Grove City, PA). This will also be the first time we stay in our RV for a trip. Following the services on Sunday, we are heading back to Millville, PA (where I pastored), and we will spend a few days at Knoebles Amusement Park where we will park our RV at their Campground site. Knoebles, in my view, is the best family amusement park in the world—by far! Our kids are really looking forward to this mini-vacation. The following Sunday (Father’s Day), we will have the privilege to be back at Emmanuel Baptist (Millville, PA). It will be wonderful to reconnect with good friends.

We are grateful for the blessings God has richly bestowed upon us. We are not worthy of the least of His favor, but because of Jesus, He gives us everything we need… and so much more!

Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love

BROTHERLY (AND SISTERLY) LOVE

Yesterday was a “big day.” It was the day our children first got to meet their new baby sister, Noemi… and what a joyful meeting it was. The picture below pretty well sums it up.img_2846While visiting mommy and Noemi, each of the big brothers and sisters took their turns holding the baby. This was a special and proud moment for them.img_2816img_2820img_2824img_2835Everyone has been eagerly anticipating this little one’s arrival, and Noemi has been officially welcomed into our family with open arms. Now, I am naive enough to think our children will never bicker or fight, but these momentary frustrations do not negate deep and abiding love they have for one another. We are grateful to God for allowing this love to exist and flourish.

Interestingly, when God speaks of the love Christians should have for one another, he uses the love of siblings as the pattern. Hebrews 13:1 offers a simple encouragement: “Let brotherly love continue.” As you may be aware, the words, “Brotherly love” come from a single Greek word, “Philadelphia.” This term joins the Greek word for “love” and “brother.” The love that believers are meant to express to one another is patterned after the love that a family (specifically siblings) have for one another.

I know the deep sense of connection, and love siblings have. I am very thankful for both my brother and sister. Siblings are supposed to stick together, support one another, and encourage each other. We are called to live out the same commitment to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

My brother, John, and his wife Ruth were able to stop by last night as well and visit the baby.

img_2863img_2860And, of course, Grandmom was able to be there to see and hold her newest Grandchild. We have been richly blessed!img_2840

Introducing…

INTRODUCING…

We are thrilled to introduce Noemi Grace Valiante. She was born on 5/13 at 7:25pm weighing 6.49lbs and measuring 19″ long.img_2812Sarah is doing great, and we are thankful for God’s protection and strength during the delivery.img_2791Noemi is already a sweet little girl. She has been eating great and giving mommy and daddy some good rest in between feedings. The other children are eagerly looking forward to meeting their new little sister today. img_2803