New year, new beginnings...

As we stepped into this new year, we stepped out in faith. We trusted that the God who called us to carry His light to Bolivia, would provide our needs to get there. We felt it was time to leave our current job and begin completely focusing our attention on the work God has called us to do. So, the first week of this new year, we began deputation full time.  

When we prayed about the decision to step away from our current job, we prayed specifically that God would provide 30 meetings for 2018. He met our hopeful expectations just in time, and as December closed out, we scheduled several more meetings that put our meeting count right at 30! With January, February, and March almost completely booked, we knew it was time to step away from our workplace commitments and get on the road full time. 

January has been a month of wonderful meetings and so many answered prayers, we couldn't begin to count them! We have been in 6 different churches this past month and two of those were missions conferences. We have been showered with love and our needs have been met above our expectations! Our hearts are encouraged and looking forward to another month of meetings.

Earlier in the month, some troubling news from Bolivia had us concerned and prayerful. Bolivia's president had decided to pass a law that would seriously limit religious freedom and evangelism in the country. It was heartbreaking to hear that steps were being taken to shut out the light that is so desperately needed in this country. As it states in Proverbs, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord", and we trusted that He would work mightily in this situation. Due to heavy backlash concerning the new law, the President was pressured to take steps to revoke that portion of the legislation. Praise the Lord for His love and desire to see the Bolivian people come to know Him. We are so humbled that He wishes to use us to take His truth to them! 

We are beginning this new month with around 10% of our needed support and we're looking forward to our upcoming meetings.

 

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Our first month of deputation

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These past few months have been filled with many firsts for our family. We've been navigating the beginnings of missionary life and it has been filled with all sorts of new experiences! We've spent numerous hours designing our website, prayer cards, and our deputation video along with many other materials that help convey our call to Bolivia. We have called and emailed many churches looking for opportunities to share our burden. And finally, this past month, we have reached the really fun part where we can actually begin visiting and talking to others about what God is doing in our hearts! 

We had our first meeting on September 27, and have hit the ground running. Since then, we have been in about 10 more meetings! It has been so exciting to have the opportunity to share with God's people about the country we have grown to love and have such a burden for. To watch God work in hearts and give other church families a vision for the lost has been so encouraging! The love and generosity of the churches we have visited has been overwhelming and we are so humbled to be the recipients of such kindness! 

Our church's missions conference has been one highlight of this past month. We truly believe we have the best church family on the planet, but we are a little biased :) They encouraged us and spoiled us and our children with numerous gifts and kind words! They have continually uplifted us in prayer and helped with so many of our needs. We were thrilled that Jacob's ordination and commissioning service could take place at the same time as our missions conference. It was a wonderful way to begin deputation. 

We have managed to stay pretty close to home for the majority of our meetings, but we did make our first road trip a few weeks ago. We left on a beautiful Monday morning to head to Spartanburg, SC which about a 6 hour drive from our home. The trip went very smoothly, until the last half hour, when we ran into a nasty patch of storms. The rain became so heavy, that we pulled off the interstate until the worst of the storm passed over. We began to hear emergency warnings on the radio about a tornado, but we weren't familiar with the area and if we were in the warning radius. After a bit, the storm cleared and we continued on our way. When we arrived at the church we were visiting that night, we found out the tornado had hit just a mile from the church building! Thankfully the church was not damaged, but the power was out so the services had to be canceled for the evening. We were so thankful for God's protection...if we had been running just 30 minutes earlier, we would have been arriving during the tornado! Praise the Lord for our little ones that required that extra potty break :) 

The power returned the following day and we were able to have services which was a blessing! That night after service, we pulled out heading north to Dover, Delaware. We begin experiencing some car troubles, but needed to be in Delaware that next day, so we prayed that God would hold off any pending issues until we could have them addressed. We drove over 9 hours without another hint of an issue, and made it safely to Delaware. While at that conference, some men of the church graciously helped us find the problem with our car. They commented that they wouldn't have driven that car 15 minutes with the issue it was having, and if the belt that was loose would have come apart, our engine could have been ruined. We are still praising God for those faithful men and their willingness to serve Him by ministering to us in our time of need! 

Overall, it has been a wonderful month, full of fellowship with the people of God and encouragement from His Word. We have several more meetings before the end of the year and are looking forward to being on full time deputation starting in January! Your prayers have been evident this past month as God has protected and sustained us throughout several of the "bumps" we have experienced! Keep them coming.....they are much appreciated :) 

Our commissioning service

Our commissioning service

Jacob's Ordination Counsel....some of the most influential men in our lives!

Jacob's Ordination Counsel....some of the most influential men in our lives!

First Steps to Bolivia!

Photos from our first visit to Bolivia in 2010

Photos from our first visit to Bolivia in 2010

     We are finally taking the first steps on our road to Bolivia! For sometime, we have suspected that God had this plan in mind for our lives. We are so thankful for His faithfulness in getting us to this point. Throughout the past several years, He has shown Himself faithful as we have worked to complete Bible college. That itself seemed like an unmovable mountain at times! Between full time jobs, raising our two children, and serving in our home church, it seemed like schooling might never come to an end. Despite all these challenges, God faithfully supplied the time, finances, and resources to complete what we know He called us to do.

     We also watched as God opened doors and supplied finances for multiple visits to Bolivia, which helped knit our hearts with this country and its people. Seven years ago, God allowed us to spend three months on the field with our grandparents, who had served in Bolivia as missionaries for almost thirty years. It was such a precious time of fellowship as we witnessed their love for the Bolivian people, and the way that God had used them to share the Gospel.  There were many opportunities to serve in different capacities such as teaching, singing, ministering with the children, and even painting and decorating. During that time, God worked in our hearts and established His calling for us to work in missions. Knowing that we still had some learning and growing to do, we returned home with a focus to finish Bible college.

   During those years of Bible college, we attended Tidewater Baptist Church where we served in several different ministries. One ministry that God unexpectedly led us to, was working as the youth leaders. We have shared so many wonderful times with those young people and are truly grateful that God allowed us to be involved in that ministry! During that time, God orchestrated something quite amazing through the Mission Teen Program at our church. Together, with Pastor and his wife, we sent out emails to all of our church's missionaries to see who would be interested in having our Mission Teen Group come serve with them for a week during the summer. The only open door  was a missionary that our church supports in......can you guess where?....Bolivia! We had in no way intended that we would return to Bolivia that year, but God had a wonderful plan in mind. That trip was life changing in so many ways, and God used it to speak to several young people about a future in missions. He used this unexpected return to Bolivia to work in our hearts as well. Coming back from that trip, it was pretty clear that God wanted us to serve in Bolivia, but we were still uncertain of the timing.

    After returning from Bolivia with our youth group, we began to prayerfully consider an offer that we had received from a missionary we had met while on our trip.  They invited us to return for a survey trip, and even offered to escort us around the country. After a few months, God opened the door for us to accept their generous offer. It was during this survey trip that God concreted in our hearts where he would have us to begin working. He gave us clear guidance and a peace that we could now begin the process of deputation.

    God has led us to this point and has carried us every step of the way! We are so excited to continue this journey to the country that He has given us such a love for! We are just weeks away from having all the necessary items we need to start presenting our burden to local churches. Our hearts are anxious to begin this exciting new chapter, and we hope that you will all keep us in your prayers as we face so many changes over the coming months. 

Philippians 1:6  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

----- The McKinney's -----

  

Photo from our Survey Trip in April 2017

Photo from our Survey Trip in April 2017