Visiting the Tarrant Family

How can you say thanks enough for the people who care, pastor, and shape your kids?

During Home Assignment we got the opportunity to visit the Tarrant family in El Paso, Texas. The Tarrants are Nazarene missionaries who serve in two very important roles. First, they serve with the Nazarene Border Initiative, helping resource and develop Nazarene churches on each side of America’s southern border. With the current climate that Nazarene’s and communities face on each side of the border, it is good to know that Nazarene’s are at work being a Christlike help and witness.

Second, they serve as directors of member care for Nazarene missionary kids around the world, with a special focus on helping high school age M.K.s transition successfully from the field to college. To us, they are like pastors to our children and a great blessing to our family. They have made a huge impact on our kids.

While on our way to speak in Albuquerque, New Mexico we got to stop by and visit the Tarrants. It was a great day of talking, sharing, and eating authentic Mexican food, as well as Andrew’s tremendous pancakes! Thanks Andrew, Hayley, Samuel, and Rees for your hospitality and for caring so much for our kids.

For more information about the Tarrant family, visit their website.

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Regional NCM Meetings

Last October, we experienced another unexpected blessing. We were asked if our Nazarenes in Timor-Leste would host an Asia Pacific Region meeting of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries leaders. The Super 8, as it is called, is a week-long event for field NCM leaders across the Region. During these meetings, the NCM leaders give reports, receive vital training, and participate in service projects in the host country.

Our leadership was excited to host this event for several reasons. First, as a developing country, Timor-Leste has many needs. Not many people are aware of those needs, and we were glad to expose our greater Nazarene family to challenges and needs that the Timorese face.

Second, the NCM as an organization sees its mission as equipping the local church for compassion rather than just respond to the immediate needs that fall under the category of “compassionate ministry.” Our pastors were excited about the possibility of our local churches and leaders being trained, developed, and equipped to respond in compassion in their local context.

I am excited to report that both our hopes were realized during this NCM event. First, different than usual, our pastors and key lay leaders were invited to be a part of the some of the meetings and training. The focus of the training was Child Holistic Development, specifically understanding the challenges and vulnerabilities that children face in the 21st century. Our leaders were challenged to think about the challenges and vulnerabilities that children in Timor-Leste face, and how they can respond to help shape families and communities that are healthy for children, environments that reduce these risks.

This was an emotional and eye-opening time for our Timorese Nazarenes as they shared tragic stories about how children are at risk in Timor, but also their hopes and dreams of how that reality can change.

Later in the week, we took the NCM team to the remote district of Atabae, where we have a church plant and the beginnings of a child holistic development ministry. Pastor Merlando and the church leaders were excited to receive the team, and it was a blessing to see the team interact with and minister to the children. The day was a blessing for all, I believe, and even a flat tire did not dampen our spirits. The NCM team worked together to change the tire, and were headed back to Dili soon after
We closed the week with a special time of communion and farewells, as our Timorese Nazarenes showered the NCM team with special “tais”, with patterns and colors picked out special for each person.

Thank you Super 8 for blessings us, and for (hopefully) allowing us the opportunity to bless you. Our hearts are full, and our understanding has been expanded. May God equip us to be compassionate Nazarenes in Timor-Leste, and show us practical ways to help the people, families, communities, and the country of Timor-Leste become healthy, holistically.

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Join Our Facebook Group

We are pleased to announce our Facebook group STDFSTPILGRIMS. It is quickly becoming one of our primary means of giving news, prayer requests, updates, reports, and sharing stories about what is happening in Timor-Leste.

We would love for you to join our growing Facebook community of over 100 members, if you have not already. It is a closed group due to some security considerations, but open at any time to those who request membership. You can find our group by searching in the Facebook search bar for “stdfstpilgrims” or by following this link.

We have other social accounts as well, such as Instagram and Twitter. Our website has been newly and simplified. Mastering social media and online communication is a growing point for us, and we would love your feedback on ways to improve. If you have suggestions on how we communicate more effectively, don’t hesitate to email or message us through social media.

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Off and Running!

Every missionary wants to make a difference in the country and culture where they minister. They want to “get their hands dirty” serving others. When missionaries enter a new country or culture, they can often feel listless as much of their early time is absorbed in learning a new language, culture, and rhythm of life. Imagine our surprise to “hit the ground running” almost as soon as we arrived.

On our second weekend in Timor-Leste, Joe helped Pastor Sam and Ully baptize 7 new believers at a local beach. Not long after that, Joe preached for the first time, and has preached a dozen times since. This list does not include teaching in our Ephesus leadership development program, two more baptism services (7 more baptized), performing a wedding (in the local language!), hosting Regional NCM Meetings, and multiple visits to our Nazarene churches in districts and villages several hours from the capital city of Dili, where we live.

One special highlight has been our daughter Hannah, who has volunteered to join the children’s ministry teacher rotation at our Dili Church of the Nazarene. She studies, plans, and practices hard, so that she can present lessons in the local language, lessons that include a puppet show and bible lesson.

What’s next? A full schedule of ministry activities and endeavors, including opening the Nazarene Course of Study program to train ministerial candidates.

Pray for our family as we, different than usual, immerse ourselves in ministry while also learning a new language and culture. God is on the move here! We are so thankful to be an active part of making Christlike disciples in Timor-Leste.

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We Have Arrived

After a great deal of prayer, traveling, hard work, and support from countless ministry partners, we are pleased to announce that the Young Family has officially arrived in Timor-Leste in June.

We were greeted at the airport by our Timorese Nazarene’s, who presented us with gifts of traditional fabric called “tais”. Tais hold great meaning for the Timorese. Like a family crest in Western cultures, each tais has a unique pattern, mix of colors, and text that represent family names and identity. In fact, tais are exchanged at wedding ceremonies as a symbol of the families of the bride and groom becoming united by marriage.

We were honored to receive tais from our Timorese Nazarene’s, but also honored by other heartfelt ways they welcomed our family. One example was when Pastor Ully, wife of Pastor Sam, surprised Jonathan with a birthday cake she had made for his 18th birthday.

It is not always easy to celebrate milestone birthdays overseas, away from extended family. This simple gesture was a wonderful way to make our son’s big day even more special. There are no cake mixes here, and cakes like this one are made from scratch. There was a lot of love baked into this special cake.
Pray for us, as we adjust to new life and ministry in Timor-Leste. While close (geographically) to other countries where we have served, different weather, culture, currency, and rhythm of life are just some examples of the adjustments we will have to make.

By the way, what can you do to help new members of your community feel welcome?

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