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Illinois churches send people to help at SITAG

March 6, 2016
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Now that we’ve re-entered the blogosphere after a few months of absence, we are excited to post about our most recent wonderful visitors! At least one of them has posted a facebook album, or google group, or something, but I haven’t been able to get on facebook for about a month, so I don’t know where to access those. Anyway, some of this is old news to some of you.

Last year, we asked the missions pastor at our home church in Illinois a question: Did he know of anyone who could come here to run a program for all of the SITAG kids during our 2016 conference?

SITAG, our organization here in the Solomons, has a conference about every two years. These conferences are the only time when most SITAG families are in the same place at the same time. We all do everything we can to be in Honiara for Conference. Our family came in from the village to attend; several families planned their recent furloughs around conference and arrived in the Solomons just a few days before our conference began. We have a week full of worship times, updates from every SITAG team, and business meetings.

Between all of the SITAG families in the Solomons for our conference, there are eighteen children. Our SITAG kids are great, and we wanted them to have a great week while the adults were in our own meetings. The kids value having a program planned just for them. They also love spending the conference time with their other MK friends before the families disperse to different assignments. The kids range from Baby G’s age all the way up to teenagers. Providing a week’s worth of meaningful programs to eighteen (bright, energetic, inquisitive) kids was no easy task.

In response to our question last year, Bethany Baptist Church organized a group of five people to provide the children’s program! Other SITAG connections also resulted in an additional woman coming from New Mexico to help with the program for the younger kids. The team planned and pulled off a wonderful VBS-type program for all of the SITAG kids. The kids experienced a week full of games, crafts, songs, teaching, discussions, and focused attention. Some of the kids really connected with one adult or another, and they enjoyed having someone to talk with who isn’t in the same social circle as their parents.

The team blessed SITAG in countless other ways. Our family loved having them too! We felt lucky to have “our people” to fill us in on Peoria news and tell us stories about their own families. A few stayed in our apartment, and we shared most meals with all six. A few of them are really good cooks. And, to make my evenings easier, they usually washed all of the dishes while John and I got the boys ready for bed.

SITAG also loved having the same conference speaker return for his fourth consecutive SITAG conference! Scott and Carol Boerckel have walked through a lot with SITAG members over the past several years. Scott’s wisdom in sharing during the worship and preaching times helps us all; their care for us as individuals and as an organization is more helpful than they probably realize.

We joked that they were all so helpful and fun, they should stay longer. In my book, people who do all the dishes can stay as long as they want. (That goes for all of you.)
On their one free day after conference ended and before they were scheduled to leave, we all went sightseeing. We were glad that they got one day to see a bit more of the country after all their hard work. It was fun for our family because we don’t do touristy things unless we have visitors.

Our guests on the sight-seeing day, still smiling like they did most of the week!

On the day they were scheduled to leave, one team member greeted me at breakfast by saying, “Our flights are canceled.” Knowing him, I figured he was joking. Then I saw a printout of flight information right in front of him that had much handwriting added to it. Indeed, a tropical storm near Fiji had made Fiji Airways cancel all flights. (The storm became Tropical Storm Winston, a Category 5 cyclone that was one of the worst ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.)

They got their bonus days in Solomons, they got to attend our church here with us, and we got our bonus conversations with them. Much of their time was spent figuring out how and when to get back to the U.S. They ended up leaving three days later than planned and routing through Australia instead of Fiji.

Headed to church on their “bonus” Sunday morning. No seat belt laws here meant 12 of us in one vehicle.

A belated THANK YOU to everyone who helped make it possible for these eight godly people to travel all the way here, teach the SITAG kids, and encourage all of us in our faith in Christ. We are also very grateful to those stateside people who helped the team figure out how to return to the U.S. and to their commitments there as soon as possible.

And an enormous THANK YOU to the amazing people who traveled here to pour out their energy, love, and joy on our group. We are all thankful and better for it. We hope you are as well!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tammy Hodel permalink
    March 6, 2016 9:42 pm

    Wow!! What a blessing! Wish I could have been on that trip and been one of the favorite adults of your kiddos. 😉

  2. March 8, 2016 5:26 am

    So do I! Once you get passports for all your kids, come on over 🙂

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