Wednesday, December 26, 2007

christmas break

hey peoples... we are all fanally at our real homes for christmas!! this is the first time in five months. i left the ministry thursday night at eight and didnt get home till one in the morning on friday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Face of Christ

I haven't blogged for a while, and as much as I have wanted to, I have been selfish with the short time we have to spare. But now, as we sit occupying the tables of a McDonalds, I prepare this blog.

Last week, we were blessed to go to a homeless shelter. The lyrics of Chris Rice's "Face of Christ" was stuck in my head constantly during our time there. I want to share some of those words with you all:
___
"He shares a room outside with a dozen other guys
And the only roof he knows is that sometimes starry sky
A tattered sleeping bag on a concrete slab is his bed
And he's too cold to talk tonight, so I just sit with him instead and think….

How did I find myself in a better place
I can't look down on the frown on the other guy's face
'Cause when I stoop down low and look him square in the eye
I get a funny feelin; I just might be dealin
With the face of Christ

So you had no choice which day you would be born
Or the color of you skin, Or what planet you've been in
Would your mind be strong, Would your eyes be blue or brown
And if daddy would be rich, Or if mama stuck around at all

So if you find yourself in a better place
Don't look down on the frown on the other guy's face
You gotta stoop down low and look him square in the eye
And get a funny feelin; you just might be dealin
With the face of Christ"
___


Wow is that a good reminder. God has put us where we are (whether rich or poor, in any circumstance of life) so that we may bring glory to Him. It's sort of like something we talked about in our CTI prep-training, though slightly different context: It is like trying to jump to the moon (which can represent God for this example - without getting theologically critical). Say that the person next to me was born shorter than me, so when they try to jump to the moon, they can't jump very high at all. I could either stand there snickering in pride that I can jump higher…or realize…Even if I can jump higher, what is a couple feet compared to the distance to the moon.

God loves you, me, and the rest of the world just the same…unconditionally and perfectly. The more I understand that, the more I am just blown away with who God how indescribable He truly is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shopping Carts and Humble Hearts

How many shopping carts would it take to hold all of your earthly possessions?

On Thursday, November 15th we had the opportunity to play for Mel Trotter Ministries, a homeless shelter in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. We got there pretty early, so we decided to walk through a display called "A Walk in Their Shoes" - run by the ministry. The display took us on a walk through the different "stages" of a homeless person's life, including living out of a car, taking shelter in doorways, finding warmth near trash can fires or exhaust grates on buildings, and why so many homeless use shopping carts. At each different exhibit there were reflection questions to get us thinking about ministry to the homeless. Questions like, "How do you feel when you see a homeless person sleeping on a park bench?" or, "Do you think it's their fault that they are homeless?" and, at the exhibit describing the importance of a shopping cart to a homeless man or woman, one of the questions was, "How many shopping carts would it take to hold all of your earthly possessions?"

As we continued through the afternoon and evening at Mel Trotter, that question stuck in my brain. I have a pretty good idea of the answer because it was only three months ago that Brad and I packed up our whole apartment to head out to Minnesota. I thought about how much I have been given and how much I have been entrusted with, and I really thought about the way I'm using what I have. Am I using it to build up my "kingdom" or to build up God's?

Later that evening we played a concert for the women that are housed at the shelter. It was such a blessing to play for these women. They received our ministry with open hearts, many had tears in their eyes as we worshiped. During the Dare You to Move drama they cheered loudly every time Jesus defeated the demons. I had the opportunity to give my testimony, and as I was speaking I felt so much love radiating from their faces. We went there to minister to them, but they ended up being so much more of a blessing to us because of their love for the Lord, and their excitement about what He has done for them, even though they faced really hard circumstances. It was a really humbling experience. A line from our song Hallelujah says, "Whatever's in front of me, I'll choose to sing Hallelujah." These women were such an awesome example of that decision.

- Renee

Friday, November 09, 2007

Update and November Tour

Hello to all!

We have spent the last week and a half "debriefing" (it's a CTI buzz-word) our experience from Singapore, as well as learning 8 and a half new songs and gearing up for our November tour. Thanks to all of our Singaporean friends for a fantastic month of October!

We are preparing to head out to do some concerts in Illinois, Indiana, and (wait for it)... CANADA! We are going to cover a lot of ground, and have several long driving days. But we have at least one concert a day (minus Mondays) for the next 3 weeks! Please keep us in prayer as we utilize the many tools and experiences that we learned in Singapore, as well as the new music we have been handed. The Lord is faithful, and He will provide!

Thanks to everyone for prayers and for reading. See ya!

-Brad

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oops!

I accidentally loaded the wrong video...try this one...

To Our Singapore Brothers and Sisters...




Yes...this is our welcome home gift. Burrrr!!! We miss you all and I am sure missing the warm weather too.

God bless!

-Jessie

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HOME SAFE!

Just a quick note to let you all know that the team has made it home safe. We're doing debriefing with them today in Willmar. Tomorrow will be a much deserved day off!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Only one more day...

Hey everyone,


Well, it's our last full day in Singapore and we're all feeling a little sad as we think about saying goodbye to all of the new friends we've made over the past month. We still have two concerts to do this afternoon, then we are packing up the equipment and preparing to leave. (But not without a trip to the Singapore Night Safari!)


I remember from my trip to Honduras with CTI in 2003 that leaving was a lot harder than I expected, and I'm finding that the same is true here in Singapore. It's been a challenging month, adjusting to a new culture, stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things I've never done before, meeting tons of people everyday, and so on. But God has done awesome things both in us and through us this month, and it's sad to see that time come to an end. The time we've spent with the SYFC staff and volunteers has been such a blessing, and it's hard to say goodbye.


But we know that God has things in store for all of us - those returning to the States and those who are staying to minister in Singapore, and it will be exciting to see what He has planned. So we look forward to that.


Thank you so much for your prayers this month! Please continue to pray for us as we wrap things up here and prepare to travel home.


For 1421,


Renee


Ps. The rest of the team says hello. Jessie says that she's staying in Tokyo for awhile, then flying back to Singapore. :) (Don't worry Chris and the Milsteads, Brad will make sure she makes the flight back home.) Oh, and for those who know me... I still have my purse, but not my glasses.


Pps. Hey 1422! We miss you and can't wait to see you! Race you home...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just thought I would update you, while I'm taking a bit of a breather. We just got back from leading chapel at a secondary school from 6am to 1 pm.

The past couple days have been pretty indescribable. This past Friday and Saturday we had two GARAGE events. The car park of the YFC building was decked out in an American theme, tables were set up, stage, lights, and real life crowd was added to the night for an experience for all the youth that came out. It was going to be a chance for us to be able to share the gospel & describe our purpose for coming to Singapore; to share our passion for Christ.

The first night, Friday, went over so well! We had been traveling and touring with students during the past week going to various POLY, ITE,and secondary schools. The result of all our time spent with the students was overwhelming. We played a sold-out show, squishing students into the carpark for some good food, music, and great company.

Personally I came out of that night with a heavy heart and feeling a bit uneasy. By now I've come to LOVE the youth here...they are awesome! That night I just wanted to tell them about my passion. I wanted them to respond to Christ...and it broke my heart to think that they didn't understand the kind of life that they could be living right now.

This was a thought that I carried with me to the next morning. I was in tears, just thinking about all those Singapore youth desiring them to understand what a life with Christ could be like. Ever since coming to Singapore, my prayer has been to "break my heart for what breaks Yours and to show me how to love like You have loved me." (a line from one of my fav. songs) That morning after our staff meeting and prayer for the night to come, I couldn't stop the tears and the pain that I felt for them...I felt the pain Christ felt for the lost and it tore me up inside...

That night, the second GARAGE concert, was just as amazing. I sat at a table with a group of 4 girls and one guy. Later that night, after sharing my personal story, one of the girls, Amanda, asked me if I would show her how to get the kind of life we were talking about. Her mother was a Christian and her father was a Buddhist, but she had decided that she'd follow her father before that night. I got to lead her to Christ and teach her how to pray...wow :)


...a couple of ways that God schooled me that night...

1.Working in weakness: I'm the type of person that doesn't think before I speak, so I end up talking so much just to try to clarify my point. Half the time I never say what I want. But this time, ahhh...the words just came out. I talked bout my life story, about Christ, His love, forgiveness and mercy...and with time to spare! how cool...

2.Showing me He cared: Even though that morning I was overwhelmed with a desire for Christ to be known to the youth, I really didn't need a someone to make a commitment to make me feel better. That night was an answer to a prayer I never said. But it was what made my heart full & and thankful , because I have a love that gives more than I need.

3.Slamming my Skepticism: We did street evangelism the week before, handing out tracs, inviting people to fill out surveys, talk about their religion, and invited them to GARAGE. Back in North American...I would have laughed at the possibility of this bringing results. But the girl that I lead to Christ that night was one of the girls I had a 5 minute encounter with on that Singapore street. crazy!

4. The little things : I was supposed to be placed on another table, but was moved because Jessie swiped my table and started chatting to them first. So I was placed on her previous table, allowing me to be able to share my story.


Amanda said to me that night, that the thing that got her was the moment I talked about love. About how unconditional it was...she said it was too beautiful to pass up...

anyways...God's been too cool to describe...this is glimpse of what we, or I, am learning. Keep the prayers shooting up!


~ Michelle


Shout Outs:


Eliot: 31000 ba, ma and "yun", just wanted to let you know that i'm getting FAT and am still ALIVE. please pray for me as i'm getting fed WAY too much and WAY too well (some call that suffering for Jesus). on a serious note. shout outs to the Bomstads, the Drauses, Lauren, and of course to the awesome office staff esp. my therapist in Willmar! shouts to the spedies, rozzie, clau and grace. i miss you all. and of course to my lovely Bethel kids and Salties (if you guys are still there!). don't worry, i'll be back soon church!!! shouts to team 14:22 and keep up the good work in the BEST country in the whole wide world. ngo oi ALL OF YOU and miss YOU lots!!!! i think i miss my laptop and... skype... 31001!




Michelle: Mom, Dad, Julie, Tim, Dan, Hannah, Reuben, I'm alive & loving being in Singapore again! So much to experience...I tried turtle the other day, hmmmm good! Dave and Judy: prep some good Blonde jokes for me...I'm running out of the old ones, have fun in Hawaii! Ruthie:can't wait to talk your ear off :), Jimmy , thxs for the surprise visit b/f leaving, Ernest: Meredith is too cute!! & i miss Moe,ok....life is good :)14:22 : can't wait to catch up & missing you TONS! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More from Singapore

Hello friends and family!

Well, it's been over a week since our last post so we thought we'd give you an update of what we've been doing and what's coming up for 1421 in Singapore.

Last week we had several events with students from the 5 Singapore Poly's. During the week we went out in groups of 2 and met with the Christian students at their weekly prayer meetings to encourage them to share their faith with their friends. It is so neat to see the excitement of the students and to hear how they came to Christ. I have learned a lot about sharing the gospel by working alongside them at our evangelistic events.

Our first big event with the Poly students was an evening barbecue at the beach. Many Christian students came and invited their friends, and we ended up having a great turn out. We played some games, sang some songs, ate some food, and several of us had the opportunity to share the gospel with our groups. A few students said that they were interested in finding out more about Jesus, so please be praying for us and the SYFC as we follow up with these students at future events. And of course be praying for the students themselves, that God would continue to work in their hearts and bring them closer to Himself.

The next big event was our food tour! (Notice how our events tend to revolve around food... the YFC staff claims that eating is their favorite pastime!) This was a really fun evening. The seven of us "hid" in a clothing store in Chinatown, and students were given blurry pictures of us and they had to come find us in the store. We were each assigned to a group, and our group took us around several places in Chinatown and we got to sample various types of yummy food. I don't remember what any of them were called... except for carrot cake, which we renamed "radish omelet" because it's nothing like what we think of as carrot cake. During dinner (yes - we had a big dinner after we finished sampling all that food) we had another opportunity to share the gospel with the students that were with us. I got to "tag-team" with one of my new Singapore friends, and I was so impressed by her boldness in sharing her faith with a girl from her school.

On Saturday we had a breakfast with Chinese students that are studying in Singapore. (Again... food related! We are definitely not going hungry on this trip!) We had so much fun playing games with the students and getting to know them. We were able to perform a couple of songs for them, and many signed up to come to our upcoming events.

Another fun thing we did was film a short "MTV" (or music video) for one of our rep songs. We all got a chance to show off our melodramatic acting skills, and the finished product is quite nice! One of the student volunteers put it together - it was his first MTV and he did such a great job. Can't wait to show it to you when you get back. They will play the video behind us as we perform the song to help lead into our gospel presentation and our theme of "Alive."

Yesterday was our first official concert in Singapore. We played at one of the Poly's, which was a huge answer to prayer! The SYFC has been trying to get a group into the Poly's to perform for 5 years now, and this was the first time they've been given permission. We won't know whether or not it went over well with the students and teachers until next week, so please be praying for that. It did seem like we had a good response, though! We were there to publicize our "Garage" concerts coming up this weekend, and many people signed up to come from this school. We were not allowed to share the gospel or talk about our faith at this school, so we are praying that many will come to Garage so that we can share with them there.

Which brings me to today... today we played at a local Christian secondary school, which was a really cool experience. We played 3 times throughout the day for students on breaks between classes, and we got a chance to talk with them and hang out between sets.

Upcoming events:
*Evangelistic concert tomorrow (Friday morning) at a secondary school.
*Garage! Friday and Saturday night
*Church evangelistic event on Sunday
*Primary school chapel services on Monday
*Barbecue and Shopping Tour later in the month

I think that's it for now. It's taken me two days to write this update - hopefully it won't take you two days to read it.

Prayer requests:
*Besides a few very temporary and minor setbacks, we have all been healthy so far! No one has had to miss an event due to illness. Thanks for your prayers, please keep praying!
*We will be very busy for the next 2 weeks, so please pray for energy and endurance as we serve.
*Thank God for the awesome SYFC staff who are taking such good care of us, supporting us in every way they can, and teaching us so much in the process. We have been so blessed by them.
*Continue to pray for our boldness in sharing the gospel in small group or one-on-one situations. For most of us, it's so much easier to do from stage!
*And above all, that God would be glorified in every big or little thing that we do, and that lives would be changed.

Goodbye for now!

Renee

Ps. We miss you, 1422! We're praying for you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Singapore blogspot

Just a note to let you all know that you can see pictures and videos of the team in Singapore on a blog that SYFC keeps updated: www.carpenterstools.blogspot.com

We've made this link available in the link bar to the right.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How's it goin', la?

Hello from Singapore!

On behalf of the rest of the team, Jessie and I (Michelle) just thought we would blog to let you all know we are alive and thriving.

Life really has been amazing. We met up with the YFC staff and have been working in and around the ministry building for the past couple days. They have been so generous and excited to share their culture, to the extent that two of the outreach events they have planned for us are to have students take us on a shopping tour and a food tour around Singapore. This coming week we will be working with Polytechnical school students (level after highschool). We will be meeting with them, encouraging the Christians in their faith and helping them to witness to their friends.

A lot of the ministry that we will be doing is one-on-one and more personal/relationship based. Coming in, that wasn't what we expected, but it's becoming so clear how important that really is. We are working at just developing friendships with the youth here, which we love! Last week, we met and chilled with some of the ITE students (a hands-on school, college age). The whole afternoon we played board games, ate CANADIAN pizza (*yay!*), and were able to encourage & be encouraged by them.

The weather here is very warm. You never have to check the weather channel to decide what to wear. The past two days, there has been a lot of rain, which has cooled the temperature for a bit. The staff has been taking us around and letting us try all kinds of food.

We have also gained an entire new rep of songs! Including Good Charlotte, The Fray, The Corrs, Craig David, Howie Day, and....Highschool Musical! We are also learning new dance moves and a drama for our school programs. The past couple days we have been trying to nail down our new rep. The other day, we spent the morning attempting one of the new songs. Later that day, after spending "so much time" on it, the YFC staff asked if we would play it for some of the ITE students. We were honored that the SYFC thought we were ready to play it! We also performed our Chinese song, "Yeong Chee," as an encore, which they started cheering for after the first 3 notes and which Renee has learned to sing in perfect dialect. Praise God!

Though our feet are just getting wet, we are encouraged, challenged and eager for what is to come. Please continue to keep our ministry and time with the YFC in your prayers.

Specifically, please pray:
- servant hearts
- healthy bodies
- words to speak when we evangelize and tell our testimonies, that we wouldn't be afraid and that we would allow Christ to speak through us
- willing and receptive hearts to hear
- SYFC leadership that are currently on a retreat..to be refreshed and encouraged
- keep us humble and patient
- unity on and within our team


p.s. for those who know Roy...he's getting married to Eleane on Saturday!

To home friends and family: We are excited to share all the stories and pictures, Moms we are all alive,

To CTI family: hello office! we miss checking mail and your encouragement. Singapore food costs definately help lighten the budget, you're welcome Donna :)

check out our YFC blog for us....www.carpenterstools.blogspot.com

until next time,
Blessings and Love from the other side of the world!

Team 14:21 (Brad, Renee, Tim, Shawn, Eliot, Jessie, and Michelle)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Safe arrival in Singapore

Brad called this AM (Minnesota time- it was 10 pm Singapore time.) The team landed in Singapore late Wednesday night and connected with our YFC partners there.

They spent the day on Thursday setting up and working through their program for the YCF staff. Their upcoming ministry will involve lots of promotion for YFC outreaches, appearances at local churches to help connect them with YFC, and lots of interaction and "relational evangelism" with kids who are a regular part of YFC programming but don't necessarily know the Lord.

The team should rest well tonight in their Singaporean host homes! Singapore is 13 hours ahead of the US Central time zone, so they've got a bit of an adjustment to make convincing their bodies to go to bed before lunch!

-Chris, for 14:21

Monday, October 01, 2007

Off We Go!


Well, in 6 1/2 hours we begin the long trek to Singapore. We are not exactly sure if or when we will be able to throw a post out while we are over there, but if we can we will post an update on God's continued work in Singapore. Pray for us; that we go as servants of Jesus Christ to serve His people, whether that means washing clothes, cleaning toilets, or playing music...may we be humbled to become more like Jesus. Thank you all for your support and love. May God bless you all!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Team 14:21 (wronged) and Team 14:22 (thieves)

It started as an ordinary day....life was good in the little town of Wilmar...

Two teams...

...harshly torn apart, separated for two weeks...reunited under the same of name of community...

They looked upon each other with sheer delight & rejoiced at the beauty of their friendships

Until that cold, dreary Tuesday morning...

Rehearsal was progressing nicely. There was a strong camaraderie between the teams
...or so they thought.

It all changed when the lunch bell rang. They exchanged delightful comments during the course of their noontime meal...both basking in the beauty of the lunch meat, pretzels, and eliquent conversation.

A group of individuals vacated the building, leaving good memories with the people still inside....BUT thieft was fresh on their minds...In walking outside, the individuals began to covet after a particular motorized vehicle, kindly known as Luther.

(* Let the record show...that Luther was a very special motorized vehicle and so the group of coveting thieves were overcome with emotional bitterness at the cold reality that Luther would never be theirs. They struggled with the acceptance of reality and in a moment of weakness....allowed their bitterness and feelings of strong emotion take over)

Unbeknownst to the owners, their beloved Luther was taken right out of their grasp. They soon realized upon exiting the building, that they had been seriously and unforgivably wronged. Being the mature individuals that they were, they decided that anger would not be the path they would chose to tread, but instead, revenge, sweet revenge.

Nocholantly the scheming began. It was obvious to the wronged, that the thieves needed to be taught a lesson. No one, I mean, NO one, could steal a piece of their heart and get away with it.

As these poor distressed individuals arrived at their destination in a beat up, deterioriting, sadly pathetic, and floor stained motorized vehicle, they purposefully parked in a most inconvinient and remote area of the deserted parking lot.

Joy filled their hearts when they saw that Luther, although traumatized, was still alive and well! Knowing full well, the extent of the malicious behavior of the thieves, they decided, as a preacaution, and safe guard against further attack, to temporarily sacrifice the ability for Luther, to fulfill his man made duty. And so, wires were to be crossed. It was difficult to cause pain to a dearly loved motorized vehicle, but they knew, it was for the best.

With eager anticipation they ran through the doors of the religious building, happy that Luther was safe and their future looked bright. But then, they remembered, times of sweet fellowship, of kping, and playing apples to apples, and laptop parties at coffee houses and the pain that being seperated for two weeks had caused these two groups of people. So, being, the amazing and benevolent individuals they were, they decided, to...... green line!

So they treated the thieves with kindness, and love, and compassion and remembered above all, to never gloat about having the newest, biggest, and best, motorized vehicle ever.

Life lesson= Jesus.

Even though... I'm pretty sure the answer is squirrels!

We love you guys! Consider yourselves Pung yaued!

To all thieves and wronged,
Vanita and Michelle ( 2 out of 4 coolest homeschoolers in the Full Time program)

End of Tour...

A few more quick notes and pictures, so we can officially wrap up the training tour (blog-style!). After leaving Lakeview Christian, we finished our tour by playing in three services for Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, WI. It was so much fun playing in the church, because the people were so kind. It's much easier to do our jobs when the reception we get is positive, and this is definitely one of those occasions. The room we played in was beautiful, with a large stage and climbing wall! Unfortunately, we didn't get to scale the wall while we were there, but we still had lots of fun hanging out at Dinah and Rick's house. Below are some pictures of a bonfire we had.





Special thanks to Carey and his family for hosting our time at Mission Covenant. It was great, we'd love to come back!

After that, we headed back to Willmar. We arrived around 7:30 on Sunday evening, and dispersed from there. We spent Monday recharging, and dove back into training this morning (Tuesday). From here, we prep for Singapore, and we leave on Tuesday morning! Thank you all for your prayers and comments. Seeya!

-Brad

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wow am I glad team members are good with time/place details to be able to update happenings so well. Thanks guys! I am sitting here on the computer wishing I were back on the road. We had a day off today (Monday) after getting back to Willmar last night, and I am homesick for the road. It was the first day in over 2 weeks that we all weren't together as a team, and for me I was missing everything a lot. God has really fueled my passion for this ministry over these past two weeks, and I am so on fire to get to Singapore! Wowzers, that is only a week away!! YAY! As much as I miss the road though, it is nice to be back in Willmar again...actually able to unpack my mobile-home (suitcase). So tomorrow we kick off a fast-paced week of training to prepare for overseas. We've got quite a bit to do, so thank you all for your prayers and support. Well, I guess I ran out of things for now. God bless!

Jessie

More touring...

Last weekend we got a chance to hang out with the crew from Our Savior's Lutheran in Illinois. We had an opportunity to participate in two of their services on Sunday, and then we played for their youth service in the afternoon. It was neat getting to know some of the kids there (Hi Lyle!), and the youth group was kind enough to make dinner for us!

We were hosted by with Priscilla and Tony, and their three kids: Renee, Mateo, and CeCe. What a fun family! They shared their home with us for 4 days, and made sure we had everything we needed. It was so cool to meet them and hang out there, we didn't want to leave when we were done! Thanks to everyone at Our Savior's for making our stay fabulous! (Side note from Renee: It was so fun to stay with another Renee - and we found out that our middle names are the same, too. What are the chances?)




The Team with Tony & Priscilla Austin - our awesome hosts!


Renee Nicole Austin & Renee Nicole Marshall

Following the weekend, we visited Valley Christian School in Wisconsin. They set us up in their cafeteria and we played for two chapels - first for the high school/middle schoolers, and then for the elementary kids. It was so much fun to play for them and just to talk and play afterwards. Several of the kids signed up to possibly join a team later on! After the chapels, we had lunch and chilled with the kids. Several of them got hall passes (Michelle had never had a hall pass before) to visit with us, and we played outside with the elementary kids during recess. Thanks for having us, guys!




Michelle's first hall pass










We made our exit that afternoon, and headed northeast to Christ the King Lutheran, also in Wisconsin. We rolled in and set up in their sanctuary (a beautiful place with big glass doors in the back). This was definitely one of the bigger crowds that we have played for thus far, being close to 250 or 300. It was so much fun to be able to encourage them and lead worship with them, and even recruit a few young people! It's always great to meet people who are excited about the Lord's work. The following morning, they sent us off with a prayer.






Thursday was just a long driving day, as we had to cover 7 hours to get to Duluth, Minnesota. Chris, Renee, and I took shifts driving.

We arrived at Lakeview Christian School, and they showed us the chapel room where we would be playing. Since we couldn't setup in the evening, we went home with our hosts after that. Apparently, the previous full-timers had to sleep at the school, but this time several of the faculty decided to open their homes to us. Sorry previous FTers, but we got spoiled! Renee's and my hosts, Brooke and Jesse, took us out with Michelle and Jessie's host, Melissa, to have Chicago-style pizza at The Green Mill. It was so delicious - I'm kinda surprised at how infrequently we have pizza, so it's a real treat when we get to.

We played the High School chapel the next day, leading worship and singing with the students and staff that were there. The room was small enough that I didn't need to use the drum wall - and Jessie got to share her testimony with the students. My only regret about the time we spent there was that I didn't get to say goodbye to Brooke or the other staff members I met, since we were in a hurry. But it was a blast to play there. Thanks, Lakeview!

Well, that's all for now (I'm trying to do this in installments). See you guys later!

-Brad

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fun with Former Full-timers

Hey everyone! Time for a new update. I'll try to pick up where Brad left off. While we were ministering with Uwezo ministries we were staying with 06-07 team member Adam Falkenstein. We had an awesome time staying with him and found out that in addition to his musical talents, Adam is also quite an excellent chef!

After leaving Adam's on Wednesday, we set out for the home of Dan and Cathy Swenson in Wisconsin. Cathy is a former board member for CTI. We were sad that we only got to spend one night there because it was such a beautiful farm house - very peaceful and refreshing. We got to spend some time bonding as a team - playing ping pong, foosball and Apples to Apples, all of which we have been playing quite regularly on this tour! We're going to be pretty good by the end of the year.

On Friday we played a concert at the Rockford Rescue Mission in Illinois, which provides meals and ministry to the homeless. The men and women come in for a service before meals, and we had the opportunity to lead the service for the evening. It was awesome to see the dedication of the chaplains and the volunteers that work there, and we were really blessed to be part of their ministry. It was more of an evangelical focus so we were able to use the Creation drama to present the gospel.

Below are some pictures and a video from rehearsal for that show.







video


During our ministry in Rockford, we stayed with Josiah Sjostrom (another 06-07 team member!), and we had a great time hanging out and getting to know him and his family. We left on Saturday with lots of good memories from their home, and great little metal puzzles that keep us occupied for hours in the van! I'm still stumped by most of them. I think we have a video somewhere of us working on them; we'll have to post that sometime. Before we left the Sjostroms we got to add our signatures to the walls (and ceiling, in some cases) of their clubhouse, along with friends, family and both of last year's full-time teams. What an honor! :)








It was really neat that all of our hosts for this week have strong connections with CTI! Thanks so much to all of you - we really enjoyed the time we spent with you. That's all I have time for right now, but there's lots more to come, so keep checking!

-Renee

Friday, September 14, 2007

First few concerts...


Hello Everyone!

What a great start to our year these past few days have been. We had a wonderful time hanging out with our brothers and sisters from Memorial Lutheran in Afton. We had a youth concert on Saturday night and participated in their Rally Sunday Service as well. At the youth concert, Michelle gave her testimony and we got a chance to meet with Mallory Kroschel (CTI Summer Team 2002) and her family, also. On Sunday after church, we spent some time walking in the Afton State Park, courtesy of Liz Kroschel.







We were blessed by the church's response to our ministry and pray that the Lord will continue to work through our time there. We want to thank Jon Kroschel and Pastor Greg for all of their help last weekend! Thanks to everyone at Memorial Lutheran, it was great to hang out with you!


On Tuesday, we had a chance to minister with Uwezo ministries, visiting some inmates at St. Croix County Jail, and a family group as well. In the morning, we visited with the inmates and played an acoustic set - Renee and Eliot shared some encouragements with the inmates, and everyone at the event seemed to really enjoy the time! Diane (with Uwezo) described the time by saying that the spiritual darkness had been lifted during our time there. Andrea and Jacob (also with Uwezo) opened their home to us to give us a place to hang out in between events. We played some tennis, caught a movie, and played some games. I (Brad) especially enjoyed playing Playstation with my new friend, Alex!

In the evening, we had a concert for friends of Uwezo ministries, as well as some families of inmates. We shared a similar program for them as we had done in the morning, with Eliot sharing his testimony. We even had an encore, thanks to Andrea! They were very encouraging in their comments about the program, and we all left blessed by the event. Thanks to Uwezo ministries for a wonderful day!











Thank you guys for reading, hope you enjoy the pictures! This is Brad from 14:21, signing out. Peace.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Divine Intercepts Liturgy

I walk in the front doors, I see the beautiful decor, I stand in awe as the Spirit connects with mine, the service starts, we are the worship leaders today, discouragement starts to take hold of me, crowd participation is lacking, the people sit and stand as we ask, minimal movements, the service ends, it was a beautiful service, the words spoken were full of meaning, surely the Lord is with us this day, they called it rally day so we stay for ice cream, the expression of thanks in the simple form of words is all it took to sweep me away, through all our thought and planning the Divine was encountered in ways we could never dream, numbers dont mean everything, quality is important but even our mistakes turn into blessings, a touch, a smile, a word can revel the Divine through Liturgy, its something I cant quite grasp

Thursday, September 06, 2007

hey guys, we are all here " suffering for Jesus". today we got all of our shots that are required for going overseas. practicing all day after being stuck like a pin cushion really isnt all that its cracked up to be. we will catch up with you later!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

hey everybody, this is Tim. we have been working hard for this weekend. it's finally time for our first tour!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome the new crew!

Our 2007 - 2008 fulltime ministry season starts tonight as our next group of fulltimers arrives here in Willmar for training.

Members of 14:21 this year are:
  • Brad Marshall
  • Renee Marshall
  • Tim Boettcher
  • Jessie Millstead
  • Eliot To
  • Shawn Brubaker
  • Michelle Kikkert
Look for pictures and bios soon on CTImusic.org

Friday, May 18, 2007

Reflections...

As I sit in the now lovely&CLEAN team room at the ministry (today was cleaning day!) and begin this blog to you all, many thoughts and emotions flood my mind. Spring Tour has finished....it was oh so bittersweet. You see, this was our last tour as a team. We've been touring together for 9 months and to suddenly have that part of your life over...it's hard, scary, exciting, sad. God has blessed our team so incredibly. Throughout these months together we have loved being together, loved playing together, and for some strange reason, have not gotten sick of each other! Sure there have been times of disagreements and times of upset and hurt, but nothing major to ruin the unity and joy of our team. So now as we have reached the end of touring together, the time has come to say goodbye and to move onto the next things God has for each of us. Now it's time for us to split up and take on different roles for this coming summer...some leading summer teams, some being cooks, some being trainers, and some just being there doing whatever needs doing. But for now, let me share with you some highlights from spring tour.

This tour was interesting in that it was only 3 weeks long and we went down to Florida and back in those 3 weeks. So there was LOTS of driving! It was a special tour though since we all knew it was our last, we cherished every minute of it. One of our favourite parts of this tour was in Hawthorne, Florida. For 3 days our team helped out at a school camp of 10&11yr olds at Luther Springs Retreat. We were each assigned to a team and helped out in whatever way was needed. We provided the music for the morning and evening sessions and then during the day helped run the activities for the kids. It was such a fun time even though it was such a tiring time! Julie and I were in separate cabins each with 10 lil girls. Talk about fun times eh?! They were lovely girls :) We found that this age group is so significant. Our whole team was very adored and looked up to....probably because we were that 18-24 age and also we were 'the band'. So for us to have a positive impact on these kids was oh so important! I loved just being able to be there for them, hug them when they needed a hug, play with them, tease them, counsel them, encourage them...it was a special time. Another highlight for our team was in Blairsville, Georgia. The youth group here was in the middle of a 30hr famine and so we played music for them that morning and worshipped with them for 2hours. The rest of the day we were able to help them car wash and then hang out and play volleyball, basketball...etc. Awesome people.

Our last stop before heading back to Willmar was at our team leader Paulie's church in Jacksonville, Illinois. During our 4 days there Paulie's niece was born...it was so exciting and such a blessing for him to be there at that time! Paul's family and church blessed us all immensely and it was a wonderful way to end tour.

Right now we are now heavy into partnership drive and then in a couple of weeks summer team members will begin arriving!! We are so looking forward to the summer and all it involves. Thank you all so much for your continued prayer.

Until later...
Ruthie :-)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spring Tour

So, I'm not with the team, but I see they haven't posted on their blog since Winter tour. Well, rest assured... they did go out on the road for Spring tour. They will return to Willmar on Monday, and we'll ensure that they get an all-encompassing update out there for you all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rocky Mountain High...

The Rockies...the most beautiful drive ever, and the most annoying to do with a van and trailer. We traversed the entire state of Colorado yesterday and found ourselves in the wonderful town of Wellington, CO (hometown of Summer '06 team member, Carl Dernell). We have a show here tonight.

A big shout-out to the wonderful people of Grand Junction. We got see some amazing scenery as well as meeting some awesome people.

After driving through mountains for the last month and half it is nice to be back on flat ground. It's hard to believe that we only have a week of tour left. Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support for the last little bit! We appreciate them!

God Bless,
Paul

Friday, March 16, 2007

Home

This past week has been really amazing. Last week we were in Grass Valley at a camp. We were there for a couple of days and it was so much fun. We played one concert there and then were able to just hang out. Then last Friday I was at my home with my family for 4 days with the team. We arrived on Friday and just hung out with my family. And were able to just relax, which was nice. Saturday we played a youth concert at my church, that my entire family came to. Sunday morning we played an hour of worship for my church. It was so great being able to see people that I actually knew. :) Sunday afternoon we drove to Citrus Heights (about 45 minutes from my house) and played our second concert of the day. Monday was a day off and we spent it in lovely San Francisco. I'm sure you read a bit about our day off from Ruth's blog. It was a lot of fun to ride the ferry into the city and just walk around. And it was perfect weather.

Overall my time at home was really nice. I enjoyed seeing my family and a few friends. And it was fun showing my team around my area a bit. :) Well Tuesday morning we left for Bakersfield and stayed the night. Wednesday was another long driving day through the desert and after a long time in the van we arrived in Las Vegas, where we had an amazing youth concert. The youth group we played for were phenominal. They were so passionate about God and just showed it without shame. It was such a humbling concert. Thursday was a day off and we were able to sight see a bit in Las Vegas. We saw the water and lights show in front of the Bellagio, so that was cool. Today we drove a ways and arrived in Utah. So we will be staying the night here and then driving to Colorado tomorrow.

Winter tour has been difficult and yet so amazing. I have learned so much more about God and who I am in Him. I am just so thankful that God is so faithful and loving.

Well I hope everyone is doing well!!! Hi team 14:22!! Miss you guys! :)

God Bless!
Julie

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Joys of San Francisco

I have always had a disliking for seagulls and now I have a very good reason to be. Today was our first day off for a long while and so we spent it in lovely San Francisco. We took a 1/2 hour ferry ride and enjoyed having the refreshing sea breeze on our faces...until the wind blew my glasses off and they broke...:-/ Oh dear... After spending some time at Pier 39 we walked over and watched the sealions for a spell. And it was here that this infuriating disaster occured. I was leaning over the rail peacefully watching the sealions swim around and make their dreadful noise when suddenly I felt something wet and warm land on the top of my head. At first I thought it was a drop of water but then when I saw the stinky seagull above me, I realised it was something else. Luke and Julie lost it collapsing with laughter while I helplessly stood there with birdy stuff all in my hair. UNbelieveable. I then ranted for the next 20 minutes about the stupidness of seagulls and how much I disliked them etc etc. Ach, the joys of life!!

So apart from this terrible ordeal, we all had quite a lovely time in San Francisco. We went to Chinatown, had tapioca tea...fun times!

Tomorrow we will be going to Bakersfield and then Wednesday will be in Los Vegas. It's hard to believe that there is only 18 days left of this tour. I can't believe how fast these weeks have gone by. Soon we'll back back in Willmar for Spring Break and I'll be seeing my parents from Aussie land...hi mums and dad!

Thanks for your prayers dear friends.

-Ruthie :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It was a sad day...

Today was a sad day. We dropped Chris Reed, our manager, off at the airport. The van just feels empty now. Life seems meaningless. We can't go on. Just kidding!

It was really sad to see Chris go though. We had gotten used to the extra person in the van and watching him wipe out repeatedly on the skateboards was quite amusing. Chris joined us last Thursday night in Elk Grove, California. The following morning we played a chapel service at Elk Grove Lutheran HS and then that night we were back in Davis at Chinese Bible Church. From there we headed out to Gridley where we spent the weekend. Yesterday we were in Yuba City, California where we did two concerts: one in the morning at a school and one in the evening at a church.

Needless to say, we have been very busy! We have played so many concerts lately, it almost feels like we are overseas again.

We are heading off to Grass Valley this afternoon to spend some time with Christian Encounter Ministries.

A big shout-out to Gretchen, one of my teammates this past summer, who surprised us by showing up at Gridley.

Thanks for all of the prayers and support! Hi to team 14:22...hope things are good out east!

God Bless,
Paul

Monday, February 26, 2007

Decibles? Heck no. This amp is measured in PSI, my friend.

Oh, what a week! Where to begin but where we left off: Julie's Birthday at "Nast In The Box". After our jaunt to Ontario (the city, not the province) we headed up to Bakersfield to play for another school. I heard the girls had a good time there, but we guys were taken out to a wonderful restaurant and were treated like little kings by our hosts. On Thursday we played the chapel for the high school kids and got to crank it real loud. They were very kind to us. To me especially because my voice sounded like I'd put it through a cheese grater and they didn't jeer in the least. Thanks guys!

We left toot sweet for Escondido and played an acoustic chapel the next day for our fourth school of the week. Luke and I had a blast at our host home on Friday night. They put us in a "pool house" which was a miniature house in their back yard by their pool. We set up the recording equipment and got three more tracks done for the up-and-coming album. How exciting!

Saturday we found ourselves in Poway (northern San Diego) at Chinese Bible Church, doing a music workshop for their high school musicians. And who did we meet there but the easily flattered, oh so generous, black custom Fender Tele owner/borrower, CTI alum Jared Moody. Go figure. After an afternoon of boba eating/drinking/spitting and some amazing Pho (that's "ph" like "f" and "o" like "uh") thanks to Dave Yu, we parted ways for the next while.

CBC was a good time on Sunday morning and Ruth had a surprise visit from a friend's dad from Australia. I think that was the case anyway. Anyhow, we downed more boba (oh MN, how you lack such delicious things...) and enjoyed the service at Flood. If you don't know about Flood, it's the home church to Future of Forestry (formerly Something Like Silas) and my main church while I was living in San Diego. If you get a chance, check it out. Seriously.

Ooooh, and I almost forgot. Some of you may have seen those energy drinks in the gas stations. Goodness knows we see 'em every two hours on our trips across the States. Anyhow, some of them are nothing more than guarana-flavored soda with big bold letters on it. Some of them just taste bad and have a little more caffeine in them. One of them, Red Line, has a warning on it stating that you shouldn't consume it if you're under 18, have a history of heart problems, are pregnant, or one of a hundred other things. It promises the energy of a class of 2nd graders in six little ounces of thick liquid. Most of us would think to ourselves, "hmm..." and move on. No no no, one of our guys (who will remain nameless for shame's sake) paid the $4 for this little magic bottle and reaped the benefits...err...consequences. Apparently it actually DOES work. His heartrate BPM was around 1,000 during the church service and his nose itched for about eight hours. He got an hour and a half of sleep last night (blamed mostly on the earsplittingly loud snoring of yet another nameless band member) and was unsurprisingly surly this morning during the first two hours of our arduous eight hour drive from San Diego to Fresno. The moral of this story is: if you're unsure about the effects of a particular substance, make someone else try it first.

Have a good week everyone.

..nathan walker..

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

California!

Hi friends! Well today is our wonderful Julie's 19th birthday!! Happy birthday dear girl! It's been lovely celebrating with her today...first at lunch with Jack in the Box, then giving her a present of Doritos, Jeff Gordan trading cards, and a journal, then trying to light candles on her birthday cake with the wind blowing persistently, singing happy birthday with Paulie slipping and falling off the step, Willie saying 'happy birthday Julie' every minute...ya, it's fun times!!

So we are in California and it's so nice to be in some warm weather. Yeah, I know I love the snow and it was very exciting for me to be in some...BUT being in warmer weather reminds me of back home in Australia :) Right now we are in Ontario (I think!), just outside of LA. We've spent the last couple of days in San Diego and had a really awesome time playing in Nathan's old church and meeting some of his friends. You guys at Glory were amazing...thanks for being such a great crowd! Enjoy those cd's now!

This past week we also played at a detention centre in Eloy, Arizona. For some reason, playing in a prison is a very humbling experience for me. These are people who have probably reached the lowest point in their lives, but their love for God and the joy that they seem to have really encouraged and ministered to me! They loved our music and it was truly a joy to play for them and be a blessing to them.

Well dear friends, we are now into our 5th week of tour. Amazing...it's going so fast it seems! And next week our amazingly wonderful director Chris will be with us :) Yeah!! God has been faithful and I'm constantly amazed by his goodness to our team. Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers! Bless you!

-Ruth (or you can call me Marie...seriously, the last 4 times I've introduced myself to people they've thought I said Marie coz of my accent...now, how 'Ruth' can sound like 'Marie' is something I don't think I'll ever be able to understand!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hello from Phoenix!

Hello from Phoenix!

We are finally free of the cold weather, and it feels great. As I write, we have all the doors and windows open and are wearing short-sleeves.

This last week has been pretty busy. Let's recap a bit...


Tuesday morning we played at Denver Lutheran HS for a very receptive crowd. It was lots of fun. Then we played on Wednesday night at Englewood Correctional Facility. This was one of our most humbling and exciting concerts yet. The prisoners were great and some of them even prayed for us after the concert!

Friday we drove through some pretty rough conditions to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but once we arrived it was worth it. We stepped out of the van to 60 degree weather. We spent the weekend with Fellowship CRC and Chelwood CRC. A big shout-out to the Ragsdale family (Jenna, STM '05 alum) for letting us hang out during the Super Bowl. It was a sad day to see the Bears lose, but it was a great time hanging out with the Ragsdales.

Now we are in Phoenix, where the weather is even nicer! Thanks for your prayers and support.

Specific prayer requests:
  • Our upcoming opportunities to minister in prisons
  • Continued team unity
  • Strength for a busy week
God Bless and stay warm!

Paul

Monday, January 29, 2007

Snow, snow, snow...

Well everyone...our very own Ruthie got her wish and we have been dealing with lots and lots of snow since we started our Winter tour. We have spent most of the last week in the Denver area and have seen first-hand all of the winter weather that has been hitting this part of the country.

After leaving Lincoln, NE we made our way to Lakewood, CO. There we spent Wednesday and Thursday with the youth group at Bear Creek Church. The people there are awesome and we had so much fun playing for them.

Friday we led praise and worship at Denver Christian High School. We met some great people and had a great time praising the Lord.

Saturday we headed to Aurora, CO (also in the Denver area) and met up with the people at Open Heavens International Chapel. We spent Saturday night playing as part of a musical extravaganza, and then participated in the worship service on Sunday morning. After the worship service we packed our gear and quickly made our way to Evergreen, CO, which is nestled up in the Rocky Mountains. We played at the Lutheran Church of the Cross, and then headed off to our amazing host homes.

It's hard to believe that our first week of tour is already over! Thanks for all your prayers and support.

God Bless,
Paul

Colorado

Well we've been on tour now for a little more than a week. It has been awesome so far, and very interesting. Last Tuesday we drove from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver, Colorado. Wednesday we played a youth concert for a really fun group of Senior Highers at the Bear Creek Presbyterian youth group. It was an extremely fun concert. Thursday night we played for the Junior Highers at the same church and that too was a lot of fun. The kids were very energetic and helped us to just have a great time. Friday morning we played at a High School, and this past weekend we played at Destiny International Church and it was quite the experience. That church loves to worship. They blessed us so much and I enjoyed getting to be a part of their church for two days. Last night we played at Lutheran Church of the Cross and again just had a really fun concert. But more than just the music this past week has been full of meeting some really awesome people. I have been blessed so much by some amazing host homes. I'd just like to say thank you to the people who have hosted us over the past week, we appreciate it so much.

Personally I feel like God is really moving in my life right now. He is teaching me so much about trusting Him in difficult situations. This past week has been amazing but also difficult at the same time but God has been so faithful to give me the strength I need for each day. I am so thankful that God doesn't give up on me during my many times of weakness. What an awesome God we have :)

I hope you all are doing amazing. God Bless!!!

~ Julie

Monday, January 22, 2007

Here we go....

...one more time (yeah, you know the rest!)

Well here we are in Lincoln, Nebraska, 3 days into our winter tour. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to be back on the road again and travelling those many hours in good ol' Bessie :) Playing music, sharing testimonies and stories, doing dramas, staying with host families...this is what I love! It's been great being back with my wonderful team again-they are such a blessing. We love hanging out with each other and doing this ministry together!

Tomorrow we have a long drive to Denver, Colorado and than have a concert the next day. Please pray for safety on the roads and for Paulie as he drives! Thank you! You'll hear again from one of us soon... God bless!

-Ruth

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thinking of Bolivia...

I just finished reading some disturbing headlines from Bolivia. There are riots going on there and they are not looking good. Some people have already died and it doesn't look like the situation is getting much better. What's crazy for me is that I saw places in the pictures that I stood not more than a month ago. I can't believe that things have gotten so bad. Please pray for the YFC in Bolivia and also for the people of Bolivia.

In other news, we are leaving for Winter Tour in 2 days! Crazy huh?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We're Back!

Our time at home (or wherever we chose to spend our break) has come to a close and we are all reassembling in Willmar to kick off our new year together. We are excited about what God has in store for us this new year, and we are anxious to get back to the work that He has for us.

We have all been blessed with great friends and family, and as we say good-bye again, we know that the Lord will keep them in the palm of His Hand until we are reunited.

I would personally like to echo the sentiments of Pedro (National director of YFC Bolivia), by saying thank you to families and friends for letting your loved one go. We often underestimate the sacrifice made by those we love so that we can do the Lord's work, but you are all definitely our partners in the Gospel! So thanks for supporting us and letting us do the things that we know that the Lord has called us to!

God Bless and have a safe New Year!

Paul

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'm dreaming...

...of a white christmas...(where's the snow?!)

Hello everyone and happy new year! Well, here I am back in Willmar after a wonderful christmas break. Today the rest of the team members arrive and tomorrow will be spent at the ministry where we'll be doing partnership drive for the next 2 weeks. Christmas break was a great time of relaxation and catching up with friends here and back in Australia...not that I got to go home, but I was able to keep in touch with them more often (g'day friends)!!

This past week 7 of us from CTI (David, Melody, Beth, Carolyn, Josiah, and I) were at the Urbana conference which was held in St. Louis, Missouri. Oh, and of course there was Jimmy helping us out from Canada (eh?!)...and Eliot, Kim and heaps of other CTI alumni. They were such an awesome help and blessing to us! Thanks friends! We were at Urbana to recruit people for the coming summer/fulltime teams. I found this an amazing 5 days. 22,000 people attended Urbana and it was just awesome attending the sessions. The speakers were great and had challenging messages to share and the music...wow, very inspiring. Being able to worship with 22,000 other Christians was such an amazing experience for me. We welcomed in the new year singing and praising God together! It was a beautiful time!

Well, thank you all for your continued support and prayers. Without them we would not be half as effective in our ministry. What can I say except that God is good...His goodness and faithfulness and love is unchanging and steadfast, and for that I am thankful. We serve an amazing God! Friends, may you have a blessed 2007!

-Ruth