Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thoughts on concluding a very eventful year

2016 was the most eventful year of our marriage, perhaps even of our individuals lives.

How God is growing our family:

As 2016 began, our sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were stuck in the Philippines for an extra two weeks due to complications regarding Aldean's Green Card. Finally, they returned to Indiana and we announced our pregnancy. I had horrible 24/7 morning sickness for almost six weeks. January 18-21, we attended Champion Migration Strategy orientation at WGM headquarters – a training that would launch us into support-raising. That same week, I started my online studies towards a master’s degree in Applied Biblical Studies with Moody Bible Institute. That same week, Titus and I both got a terrible case of the flu, which last five days and seven days respectively. While January 18-21 was definitely our craziest week, all 52 weeks required a high level of balancing demanding responsibilities – marriage, parenting, support-raising, working, studies, taking care of our home, our walks with the Lord, etc.
On February 4th, Sophear turned two-years-old and on March 16th, she had surgery to close a hole in her heart. It was a very scary time for us, but we felt so supported! There were people all around the world praying for Sophear and for us! During the days and weeks leading up to and following Sophear’s surgery, we were reminded in a very real way two important truths: 1) God is a big God and 2) He loves our precious daughter, His precious daughter. I’m reminded of the lyrical line “I'm no longer a slave to fear, for I am a child of God!!” It is with confidence in this truth that I am able to go to Cambodia.

In July, we attended Family Camp – a traditional church camp-meeting for all ages. It was our last week as a family of three (Chamnab was born Tuesday after camp), and we shared some special times together as a family living in a small cabin and staying up too late. We also enjoyed the time away from technology and other distractions, which allowed us to reconnect in fellowship with those around us. God gave us many opportunities that week to advocate for the unreached in Cambodia and we’re grateful for how our support team grew that week!

On August 2nd, our son, Chamnab Harvey, was born. As I’m writing this, I CANNOT believe that our Baby Bear (affectionately called Chamnabby as dubbed by Sophear) is five-months-old. We were so busy and the months flew too quickly… and yet, he’s thriving! He’s rolling, he’s sitting unassisted for short periods, he’s laughing, he’s playing… but HOW is he five-months-old?! Over the weekend, I built a blanket fort for Sophear and put Chamnab in the fort (per her request). I sat a few feet away, listening, smiling, burning into my memory what I was seeing and hearing. Sophear was making silly noises and waving toys and Chamnab was laughing until he fell over. Things won’t always be easy in Cambodia, but they will always have each other! We wake up and go to bed thanking God for our fun and beautiful duo!
On October 29th, we celebrated 5 years of marriage. I’m so grateful to go through life TOGETHER. The last five years have been full of adventure! We’ve pursued dreams of a driver’s license, citizenship, educational pursuits, extensive travels, and raising support for our ministry in Cambodia.

How God is growing our support team:

In April, we became connected to a small community of Cambodian Christians in Columbus, Ohio. We have been able to visit both churches on three visits, including Cambodia’s most celebrated holiday – Khmer New Year. It was a real blessing and encouragement to connect with some Cambodian families and to feel so welcomed by them. Our time with this Cambodian-American Christian community grew even stronger our desire to take the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ to reach the unreached in Cambodia. We believe that God allowed us to cross paths with these people for a great purpose!

On May 1, we spoke at our first church, located in Coleman, Michigan. I believe we will always remember the first pastor who had enough faith in us to offer our first speaking invitation! Our first invitation came from a former classmate who sat in front of me in Homiletics my senior year in college (Fall 2010). While some relationships have fizzled in 2016, it has been a blessing (and fun!) to reconnect with old friends and classmates as well as to build new relationships! As we have traveled, we have met some wonderful people –people that we wish we could have spent more time chatting with and people that we hope are not just a one-time-meeting!

In June, we traveled by faith to a small church nine hours away in North Carolina. This was our first time visiting a place that we had never been, where we knew no one (and staying in the home of people we had just met). Along with taking Sophear, I was already well-advanced in my pregnancy. We questioned, ‘Is God calling us to go?’ and ‘Are we sacrificing too much at the expense of our children?’ God was good to bless our obedience to accept His call to North Carolina. Three families/individuals from the little NC church started supporting us and one of the families has been especially loving towards us, even advocating for us!

In September, we began a very busy travel schedule which took us to 18 speaking engagements in 18 weeks. Our travels took us to Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, and North Carolina. Raising support has not been easy; in fact, it has been very hard, but God has been good to us! Very good! As I wrote earlier, we have met many wonderful people and we have also been blessed with opportunities to reconnect with friends from our past! We consider it a privilege to be sent out to advocate for the Great Commission, to advocate for Cambodia’s unreached, and to finally return to Cambodia and commit our days, our mouths, and our hands to winning souls!

To those of you who have “followed” our journey and to those of you who have not forgotten us, although we’ve been away, THANK YOU. Thank you Lord for being us every day, on every mile, and at every podium! We faced some challenges in 2016, but God was with us every step and every decision! We trust that God will be faithful to walk beside us as we continue our support-raising and eventually move our family to Cambodia in 2017!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab