This was Samuel’s second week back at school in El Paso, so we figured this would be a good time to reflect on our recent trip to Florida where we hosted Rendezvous Plus and spent good quality time with family and friends!

We have to start by saying a big, hearty “thank you!” THANK YOU so much for your prayers, support, cards, financial support, encouragement, texts, calls, Social Media encouragement, and more; ESPECIALLY before, during and after our Rendezvous Plus event! Thank you also to those of you who helped with the logistics of transportation, lodging and funding the event, and the transportation needs of so many MKs!

We had 28 participants in this year’s R+, aged 18-26, all of whom served with their families on the Mission Field with the Church of the Nazarene for some (or all) of their childhood. We normally call them MKs, which is short for Missionary Kids, but these wonderful young people are no kids; they are young women and men who have given so much already, and who have so much more to offer the World! We are so encouraged every time we get to interact with our MKs; we learn so much from our interactions with them, from their stories, and they are helping us grow in our abilities to support and walk along side them, as they make their transitions from being on the Mission Field with their families, to their adult life and faith.

Every Rendezvous Plus is very special, but this one seemed to be even moreso. It’s difficult to put into words the extraordinary way God stirred the hearts of these young people and spoke into their lives. This event is intentionally designed to build trust and provide teaching moments through every activity/initiative, group session, small group discussion, conversation during meals, free-time activities, and even late night games. It was very evident that Rendezvous Plus happened at just the right time for many of these MKs who are facing big life transitions, challenges and changes.

A few highlights from our roadtrip to Florida and back:

We drove 1,700 miles over 4 days, stopping in San Antonio, TX; New Orleans, LA; Tallahassee, FL and arriving in Orlando, FL on the 4th day. The boys did great…considering the amount of time they were required to be in their seats!

On the way to Florida, we visited the Alamo in San Antonio and took a pedicab tour of New Orleans French Quarter.

After Rendezvous Plus was finished, we played in Melbourne, Florida with our good friends, the Tooleys, and with Andrew’s brother Peter and his family (who came from Scotland to take care of our boys while we were at R+). We asked Joel Tooley if he would perform Rees’s Dedication on the beach while we were in Melbourne. It was perfect timing because Andrew’s brother Peter and sister-in-law Joanne are the boys godparents. This was a great example of how we are part of a larger, global church family. Thank you to everyone who was present at Rees’s Dedication for your investment, commitment and love!

On the drive home, we stopped in Biloxi Mississippi, where Samuel swam in the Gulf of Mexico.

We also visited an old Antebellum sugar cane plantation outside New Orleans which was built and farmed by Black Slaves. We used this opportunity to teach Samuel about the atrocity of slavery. It was moving seeing him try to comprehend how people could be owned by other people. On our final day on our trip home, we stopped in Waco, TX to eat at a restaurant called Magnolia Table. One of Samuel’s favourite TV shows is called “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. In one of their episodes, they remodelled this old diner in Waco and called it Magnolia Table. Samuel was giddy with excitement to see this place! It was pretty funny and cute.

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