Since yesterday’s post was all about fall, but we are now well into our winter retreat season, I figured I would move quickly on to a brief look at winter as well as some specific ways you can be praying for our family. 

We have had two weekends of winter retreats so far and are in the midst of the third. We will have 9 weekends of retreats total, with events for college aged young adults, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, junior high teens and senior high teens. Our first two retreats were a little low on, well, winter! They were not low on campers, however, so our creative programmers did what they do best – created fun! Sometimes in the winter that even involves hauling snow from around camp to the tubing hill, which in and of itself is not fun (although I’ve never personally been involved!), but it helps provide the fun of the tubing hill for campers even when snow is scarce. Thankfully, this past Thursday some snow arrived, so we have winter fun this weekend without hauling snow. Not quite all of the activities are open yet (the ice rinks are still getting set up and we couldn’t quite open cross-country skiing), but hopefully this snow will stay and create a base for more. 

In the midst of wishing for winter weather and running winter events, we are actively planning for summer. We are already receiving summer staff applications, which makes us very happy! Remember that new system I mentioned Jim setting up to handle volunteer applications? Those of us working with summer staff are all getting used to using it. Adjusting to new technology usually feels a bit awkward at first as we try to find the information we need to see. But we’re getting at it and starting to process applications and do interviews. Jim and I are again working with the group who will be high school graduates this year – the YAPS as we call them. As we learned the ropes last year, hopefully this year it won’t be all new things to us. It is even fun to see our YAPS from last year start to apply as counselors this year! 

Another big happening yet to come in early February is the opening of registration for summer camp, followed by the opening of registration for the STEP program a week later. At that point we will have a framework beginning to form of summer staff, summer campers excited to come, and high school volunteers being assigned to vital work roles. Summer memory verses have been chosen, songs for summer chapels are being chosen, handbooks are being designed. So even as we pray for more snow, we look ahead to summer. Somehow even a brief update about our winter work is also about summer!

As always, however, it must be a balance. We work, and we wait. We plan, and we trust. We do what we can with the parts we can work on today, and we trust the Lord with all the pieces we don’t yet know how to fit together. Looking ahead to summer, there are several fairly large unknown pieces. As we have had several Resident Missionary Staff leave recently, and we face more leaving in the coming months, it leaves us wondering how it will all work out and all the roles get filled. It tempts us to perhaps think of working harder, thinking harder how to come up with solutions and ideas. And while there is a place for working and thinking harder, we also are forced to recognize that it is not by our own doing, or striving, or working that any of this is possible. Our ministry here is possible because of Christ and what He has done for us. Our very salvation is possible not by our own doing, but by the work of Christ. So as we work through winter and plan for summer, we look to Christ to do what we cannot: bring volunteers, bring staff, and equip all of us for another summer of proclaiming His greatness and His glory.

Some specific ways you can be praying for Barakel and our family:

  • Perseverance and motivation in the work as we plan for summer with less staff
  • For summer staff as they are considering serving here and applying
  • For the open positions in the Resident Missionary Staff
  • Our support level – we are being asked to raise more support to compensate for inflation. It is a hard thing to ask when everyone feels the strain of the economy
  • Protection for Mary Emma – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually
  • Spiritual growth for Mary Emma even in the midst of a worldly city
  • Direction for Mary Emma for the next step, deciding whether to stay in New York next year (it is not an economical choice!), switch to the Dallas, TX location of the same school, or seek a different training opportunity
  • Direction for Grace and Soren as they decide whether to teach another year in South Carolina or seek the next thing.
  • Continued contentment for Lydia as she gets through sophomore year as the only kid at home. So far we are doing well and it is a sweet time with her.
  • Safety for Lydia (and us!) as she finished up driver’s ed in December and got her permit just last week!

Thank you for your support and for your prayers. 
Rachel, for the Bennetts