Military Ministry at The Lighthouse

Military Ministry at The Lighthouse
LEGO American Roadshow

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Azalea Garden Church Missions Conference

Once a year missionaries from around the world gather for our missions conference at Azalea Garden Church. It's an awesome experience talking and sharing stories. Every year our church foyer turns into an international convention hall display center with missionaries showing pictures of ministry projects and people with whom they minister.

Yvonne and I put up our display board as missionaries to the military right here in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.

The missionaries we support become almost like family members! In all of my years as a pastor I have never known so many missionaries personally. And every year Yvonne and I are privileged to host one of the missionary families in our home for the week they are here.

This year it was Carol and Rodney Friend who are on their way to be the directors of a Bible School in Kenya, Africa. What a good time we had with them! Thursday afternoon we took them sightseeing. We showed them the ships at Norfolk Naval Station, then to Fort Monroe to see the Casemate Museum where Jefferson Davis was imprisoned following the Civil War. And finally we drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and watched the sun set over the water as we drove.


Then Saturday night it was on to dinner at the Maye's house. That is a highlight of every missions conference!

Three of the ladies of our church with two of the missionaries. Tammy, Yvonne, Kelly, Suzie, and Gladys
This morning I had one of the missionary couples speak to us in my Sunday school class.

Then every year, the highlight of the week is our international missions banquet. Yvonne fixed a light lunch for the servicemen that came to the house today, knowing we were going to have a BIG dinner at the church.

Andrew, Tia, and Bethany (Yvonne's cousin) joined us at the banquet this year! It was a real blessing to share this time with them.

The food was GREAT! as usual. Yvonne made her German specialty: Saurbraten and Spetzle with Saurkraut, and home made rye bread!

This annual event is my favorite event of the whole church year!

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year's Eve 2016 at John and Yvonne's

Well, another year has come and gone; and it's new year's eve. Wow! Where has the time gone?

We were surprised by a call from Jessica asking if she could come by and join us Saturday evening. What a blessing! She had also been on deployment, and then was transferred to Florida. It was really nice to see her again. Josh, Liam, and Eric were here, as well as Crystal and Kezia.

After meeting the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on Friday, it was nice to have Austin back in our home! His mom and brother drove here from Texas to meet the ship, and joined us Saturday night for our activities. Austin is the one in the middle!

Yvonne fixed chicken wings, meat balls, a veggie tray, and potato chips for dinner. And then it was chocolate fondue fruit for dessert. Everyone loved the chocolate fondue!

The young lady on the right giving me the "Don't you dare take that picture look is K, a really good friend of Yvonne's. She was in town visiting her father and stayed with us.

 After dinner, our game for the evening was "Catch Phrase!" Sorry, I didn't get any pictures while we were playing the game. But this is what it looks like.

James and Bethany Lokey joined us after dinner. Bethany is Yvonne's cousin, who just a few weeks ago married a man from back home in Oklahoma, who joined the Navy and ended up getting stationed here! Yea!

And this is what it looks like while you're playing it - these next three pics are of Josh's family playing with us when they were here. But, you get the idea. Lots of fun, lots of laughs and giggles!

After the game we lit the candles on the Christmas tree one last time. While we watched the candles I talked about the Christmas story - how the shepherds saw the angels, and went to the manger in Bethlehem to see the baby. And how the wise men saw the star and followed it until they came to the house where the little child was in Nazareth. The shepherds didn't follow the star, and the wise men didn't go to the manger.

I shared the symbolism of the Christmas tree and how it represents eternal life that Jesus came to bring, and how the candles represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world. The point being that God the Father loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to bring salvation, and forgiveness of sin to us.

Then we got to talking about our eternal destiny according to the book of Revelation, being the New Jerusalem and not just 'heaven', which sparked an interesting discussion! We talked about the dimensions of the city, and what we would be doing there: ruling and reigning with Christ over the people living on the outside of the city, and bringing the love of Christ out to them, encouraging them to believe and come into the city.

When the candles burned down to a nub we finally extinguished them. Several people decided to call it a night, except Crystal, Josh, and Eric. Eric began playing the guitar and we sang some hymns while we waited for the ball to drop!

At midnight we all wished each other a Happy New Year and made a beeline for bed. It was a really great New Years Eve!