Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Here we come!

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the Word, to declare the mystery of Christ..." (Colossians 4:2-3a)

We are departing TOMORROW for Florida and will arrive in Haiti to begin language school on Thursday afternoon!  In case you were wondering, we will not be taking any of the above snow gear, though in a couple months, we may look at this picture again to remind ourselves of what extreme cold feels like as we experience the other extreme.

Erin and I are eager to launch into language learning and adjusting to the many changes of living in a different culture.  As we reflect on the journey that brought us to this point, we are overwhelmed with a wide range of emotions.  God is perfectly faithful and has carefully gone ahead of us to equip us and prepare us to thrive.  We would not be here without faithful friends and family that have sustained us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and loved us.  Erin and I will dearly miss you all, and look forward to sharing our lives and ministry in Haiti with you in the years ahead.  Please pray for our family as we adjust and transition to living in a different culture and learn a different language.  We added a new tab above called "Ministry Updates", which we hope to keep current with new pictures, video, and fun stories from our lives and ministry in Haiti.  Click on the link to check out a recent video and pictures from the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts!

A side note that we will soon be disconnecting our phone service.  You can connect with us on facebook at DaveandErin Simon, or through email at Dave - dsimon@maf.org or Erin - esimon@maf.org, or skype at: dave_callme_simon.  Keep posted as we learn about other ways to setup chat/texting ability once we get local cell service and explore our options with wifi.

May the Lord go ahead of you and draw you closer as you lift Him up in your hearts with friends and family during this special season!  To Him be all the glory!

Here are some recent family pictures we took:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

At training

We had a wonderful summer and enjoyed our time out in the Portland area over the last several months.  It was great to catch up with friends and family and we were able to meet several new people as well.  Our year of ministry partnership has been rewarding, tiring, a tremendous blessing and a wee bit difficult all rolled up together.  We enjoyed the ability to spend quality time with so many people.  It seems there is never quite enough time to see everyone we want to as much as we want to, but were blessed with many meaningful memories and sweet times with friends and family over the last several months.  After a year of on the go schedules and a van that is nearly always packed for something- we are happy to say we are settling in nicely in our next 'home' on this journey.  We arrived at MAF headquarters in Nampa,  Idaho about 2 weeks ago and will be here through October 22nd.  

An exciting event from this summer- Elsie was baptized.  She asked to be baptized at Gateway, our home church in WA, and Dave was able to baptize her.  It was a special day, Grandpa Paul, Grandma Lynn and Great Aunt Darcy were able to be there too.  We are proud to see Elsie desire to follow God and so enjoy watching here learn and grow in her relationship with our Lord.  

Dave is about half done with the mechanic portion of the training and just finished an inspection on one of the training airplanes.  They are now working on special projects.  It has been going really well and Dave is learning a lot from the experience of the instructors here.  They will start with the flying portion of training in early September.  He is enjoying being back in the shop and around planes and I know he is super excited to be flying again soon.      

As Dave is in class all week, the kids and I are getting into a routine here too.  Elsie is doing great with school, and Sammy joins us a few days each week too.  Isaiah kindly naps while I do school with the big kids.  

Isaiah mainly keeps us busy and laughing.  He loves singing, playing with Elsie and Sammy and is growing "so big" as you can see.  

The kids and I along with a couple other family here were able to tour the fire station close by - they were great with the kids and even let everyone take a turn with the fire hose.  Here is fireman Sammy.

Sammy also has some exciting news- he can now ride a two wheel bike!  He's pretty excited and before long should be able to keep up with Elsie.  

We are blessed to be going through training with the same families that we did our last classes here with, so both us and the kids are excited to be back here with our friends as we walk through this journey together.  It will be a sweet time of fellowship here as we all prepare to serve in different places around the world.  We thank you all for your prayers - we could not do this on our own and are grateful for each of you sharing with journey with us.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

From Strength to Strength

"Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." (Psalms 84:5-7)

We recently met with someone from our home church in Washington who shared how these verses in Psalm 84 resonate with him still as he reflects over how God led him through several trials in his life. It's always a joy to stand at the top of a mountain, or great triumph in life, and consider carefully each step that got us there.  As our friend pointed out, the word "to" in the phrase "strength to strength" is no small word.  God takes us down into the valleys and stretches us there before we rise to our next strength.  The valley can bring us to a breaking point and lead us to our knees, where we fully realize our need for God to see us through the journey.  Erin and I found this to be a good focus for us as we continue following the Lord's direction into a foreign mission field.  We know that the Lord is our ever-present help, and will keep us growing in strength through each phase of our pre-field journey as well as our day-to-day lives overseas.  Our prayer is to keep this focus, and remember that God is in the business of totally changing lives.  We know He will strengthen us to rest in His unwavering faithfulness, but we also pray for Him to use our lives to awaken others into following Him.

We rejoice in our current triumph as we reflect on how the Lord has led us over the past year in developing a team of prayer and financial ministry partners for His work in Haiti through MAF. Thank you so much for responding to the Lord's call to join us in our ministry!  We look forward to sharing each step with all of you and would not be in any place of strength without you.  We are excited to share this journey together and hope we can pray for and encourage one another as we find our strength growing together in the Lord.

Our recent time in the NW has been filled with activity and blessing.  We have visited with a lot of close friends and continue to find God leading new people into sharing in our ministry.  It has been a lot of fun to get back into the saddle of flying my Dad's small airplane around familiar places where I grew up.  We took a short family trip up to a small grass strip up in the mountains together.  The kids loved the flight, and we all enjoyed playing with the thousands upon thousands of frogs in the lake nearby!

The kids also had a fun opportunity to share a week at "Club W" at our home church here (similar to vacation bible school).  We were blessed to be the missionaries of focus for all the kids, and were amazed by how much the kids and their parents gifted us for our vehicle fund.  It was especially fun for us to see how well Sammy did throughout the week.  In the past, he has been very cautious to participate in children's church or Sunday school.  Sammy loved Club W, and it was very encouraging for us to see him establish some confidence and excitement for all the fun activities and see it in a new light!  Elsie also graduated Kindergarten and has begun first grade already!  Erin and I are very proud of her, and have seen a lot of development in her learning over the past year.  We chose to continue her schooling with a short break because we will have a bigger break as we begin language training in Haiti.  Sammy is beginning pre-school and is doing well so far.  Please pray for Erin and I as we lead them through this transition and continue their learning in our home.  It is a real joy to watch them learn and understand more of the world around them!

Our 4th of July was a bit of a cultural experience in downtown Portland to watch the fireworks from their newest bridge over the Willamette river.  The kids enjoyed riding the MAX lightrail to get downtown, and loved the fireworks (once they started).  Elsie has recently been learning our national anthem and got a lot of compliments after singing it to herself (loudly) on the way to the fireworks on the MAX.  We are so proud of both our big kids!

Isaiah is continuing to expand his vocabulary, and is getting bigger all the time.  His latest accomplishment has been sleeping a little more regularly through the night, which we pray will continue!  He is at a very fun and active age, and we are enjoying watching all the kids interact and grow in their relationships together as we make memories as a family.

The rest of our July is pretty full of meeting with churches and friends to share our ministry.  August 15th will mark the beginning of our maintenance and flight training over at MAF headquarters near Boise, ID.  That training will take us to the end of October, then we will be heading back to North Dakota to finish packing up our belongings and making final preparations for traveling to Haiti in December.

Erin and I hope you and your families are finding great opportunities to make memories of your own, and thank you again for sharing this exciting journey together!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Back in the NW and loving it!

We picked a good time to come back to the NW!  Our road trip was filled with adventure and great fellowship with friends and family.  Erin and I are so grateful for all your prayers for our family throughout our travels and hope you are enjoying your Spring as much as we are!

To give you an idea of the contrast we experienced during our drive out, here is a picture of what our view out of the hotel in Dickinson, ND at the end of April:

Driving was intense at times through construction zones and being in close proximity to semi trucks, but we soon found comfort as we gazed across the unfading beauty of eastern Montana.  As I mentioned in our recent May prayer letter, we shared a fun day of hiking up to the "M" on Mt. Sentinel in Missoula, MT.  There were eleven switchbacks and 1 3/4 miles of vertical incline to manage, but our little ones surprised us with their perseverance and determination to make it all the way to the top without asking to be carried...except for Isaiah, who fell asleep!

We also had a great visit with Erin's cousin who is a Pastor at a church in Spokane, WA.  The kids loved playing with the chicks and cows, and we really felt blessed with some extra time in fellowship with their wonderful family.  After sharing our weekend together, we headed to Palouse Falls, which is SW of Spokane on the way to the Columbia Gorge.  It was such a great feeling to open our windows to the 80 degrees that met us on the trail to the falls and throughout our drive through the Gorge!

We are staying at a house in the Columbia Gorge that is owned by another missionary family at our church in Washougal, WA.  We feel so blessed to have space for our family to breathe and establish a better day-to-day routine for our children.  Our hope is to spend this next month connecting in deeper relationships with our home church as we draw nearer to completing our ministry team.  We are so very grateful for your prayer and encouragement, and hope your adventures are blessed with the presence of our Great God who is faithful and near through all our ups and downs.

May you and yours be blessed with abundant life in Christ!
One Stylish driver

Wildflowers everywhere

Homemade pizzas...yum!

Another Tractor lover

Hay Bales!

Palouse falls, WA

View near our house in the Gorge on Columbia River

Nearby lake within walking distance

Hamilton mountain trail down the road

Our picnic spot on Hamilton Mt. trail

Pool/waterfall on the trail

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Eager to return

"The Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.  He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." (Psalms 98:2-3)

Where do I begin... Erin and I had an awesome time in Haiti and are so thankful for all your thoughts and prayers!  One of the surprising opportunities we had during the trip was to fly out to Jeremie on the west side of Haiti to visit one of MAF's ministry partners called Haiti Bible Mission.

MAF delivers HBM staff and short-term teams back and forth between Port-au-Prince and Jeremie throughout the year so they can avoid costly and dangerous travel by road and remain focused on the people they serve.  We were able to play with children at the school they staff, and visit one of their local church plants.  It was encouraging to hear how God is bearing fruit in their ministry and see the impact they are having in their community first-hand.  This is just one of the many partners who use MAF to extend the love of Jesus Christ throughout Haiti!

Jeremie is the most likely location for language training when we first arrive in Haiti, and this trip allowed us to make a lot of preparations for when we return with the children toward the end of the year.

Throughout the rest of our week, we were able to get a lot of questions answered regarding potential housing and school options, and how we can best prepare for our future ministry.  It was a real blessing to spend some preliminary time getting to know our other MAF staff families who are currently serving in Haiti and hear how the Lord is moving in their midst.  Erin and I are eager to return and join the rest of the team!  Here are some pictures of our future home:

We feel greatly encouraged by the Lord's steadfast provision and shepherding hand preparing us along the way.  Just before our trip, we received word that we have reached 100% of our outgoing need!  Our ongoing monthly need continues to steadily increase at 71%, and we trust that God will abundantly supply in the months ahead.  Thank you for all your generosity and prayerful support! A special thank you to all who helped watch over our wonderful children while we were away.