Tag Archives: family

Giving Thanks

We said we weren’t going to think about all our “lasts” leading up to leaving for Haiti.  The last time to eat here, the last time to see them, and it goes on and on.  I suppose we just wanted as natural of a transition to our new life in Haiti as possible.  Despite trying to avoid this, I found myself a couple days ago as we sat around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, thinking just that.  I allowed the thought to stay because I realized I wasn’t sad at all when I realized that this will be our last Thanksgiving with family for awhile, it actually made me smile.  I smiled because I felt so grateful for that moment.  I (Austin) have not spent Thanksgiving with my family for several years.  So being able to be in Oklahoma on Thanksgiving, with Martha, and surrounded by incredible people that we love, definitely made me smile.  That moment on Thanksgiving Day put an exclamation point on an encouraging couple weeks where we have been constantly reminded of God’s faithfulness.

Here are some highlights…

Successfully packing up/giving away/selling our stuff, cleaning our apartment, and saying goodbyes to Seattle friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completely our 2,600 miles cross country journey and arriving in Oklahoma in one piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing some incredible friends on our road trip

Learning that our monthly support has continued to increase in the month of November (closing in on 90%!)

Receiving Martha’s new passport safely in the mail

Having an awesome family in Oklahoma that would receive us with open arms and allow us to live with them

Arriving just in time for Thanksgiving, eating great food, enjoying family traditions, and being reunited with distant relatives and friends

A full house!

 

 

 

 

 

Wouldn’t be a family holiday without some friendly competition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God has been so good to us lately.  Of course there are always bumps along the way, but we have been reminded recently of how faithful God is despite our own shortcomings and the craziness of life.  How are you seeing God work in your life recently?  We would love to hear!

Faith of a farmer

I must say, it is nice to be home.  As you may know, Martha and I are fresh off a four week traveling adventure throughout the midwest.  We thoroughly enjoyed the time we had making new friends and re-connecting with old ones, but there is something comforting about being home.  As we have been settling in and doing lots of laundry, I have been doing some reflecting on our travels.  I won’t bore you with all of my thoughts, but I wanted to share something I learned while Martha and I were visiting her grandfather’s farm in southwestern Iowa.

I learned that farmers have a lot of faith.  Don’t worry, this was not the first time I had this realization, it just stuck for some reason on this trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fun being with Martha’s family as they told stories about farm life.  As a city kid, I find the farm a foreign but intriguing place.  The open spaces just scream adventure to me.  I heard that as a farmer you have to be diligent and hard working, but at the end of the day there are some things you can’t control.  How much rain and sun come at any given time is not up to you.  You are forced to focus on the work you can accomplish and give the rest to God.  What an awesome life lesson.

As our discussion about farm life continued, I couldn’t help but think of the farmers we’ve met in Haiti and the kind of faith they too must possess.  They also are hard working and diligent but in a similar way there are things in their life that cannot be controlled.  I mulled on this for a bit, and then thought about how honored I am to be a part of an organization that walks alongside farmers in Haiti.

As an organization we try to partner with farmers to achieve success in the areas they can control, while encouraging them along the way when they face challenges in areas of life they cannot control.  What does this look like?  In southwestern Haiti World Concern operates an agricultural training center where we teach area farmers about developing a quality seed and increasing yield.  At another community in the south, we helped rebuild a water canal which now provides steady irrigation to local farmers.  Our desire is to provide the resources and encouragement individuals and communities need to thrive, both physically and spiritually.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you may know, Martha and I have recently made the decision to quit our day jobs and focus on preparing for service in Haiti full time.  So this lesson of faith made me think about our brothers and sisters in Haiti but also about this season of life we find ourselves in.  There are certain things Martha and I can be doing now that will prepare us well for our time in Haiti.  However, there are some things that are simply out of our hands!  We have to trust that God is in control and that He will provide for all our needs.  Haiti is such a beautiful place with so much going for it.  We see lots of potential for growth and lasting change, and we can’t wait to return.

 

Colorado – Auction for Haiti

After a great week in Michigan, Martha and I flew to Colorado for my family reunion.  Although only a handful of my extended relatives live in Colorado, it has become a favorite gathering place for us.  We spent three days with nearly 60 relatives at YMCA of the Rockies near Estes Park.  Mountain biking, volleyball, and horseshoes made for a fun and active weekend.  The common theme throughout the weekend was remembering our family’s heritage.  It was awesome to hear stories of how God has guided our family through the generations.  Martha and I are certainly blessed to have wonderful family heritage on both sides of our families.

 

 

 

 

 

One highlight from the Snowbarger family reunion was the “Auction for Haiti!”  After hearing about our work in Haiti, the cousins who were responsible for planning this year’s reunion decided to include a charity auction in the weekend’s activities to benefit our ministry.  Through this support raising process God has surprised us in so many ways, and this act of generosity over the weekend is a perfect example.  There were dozens of items donated by family members and the auction was a tremendous success.  The money raised will go a long ways in allowing Martha and I to serve in Haiti for the next two years.  We are so grateful for everyone’s interest in our ministry and participation in the auction.  Martha and I are very encouraged to see how our family doesn’t just listen to the word but they do what it says.  Thank you to all of you for your partnership in bringing lasting hope and positive change to Haiti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The auction did not only support a great cause, it was also a lot of fun.  Someone called it “hilarious generosity.”  I like that.  What a wonderful way to celebrate our family’s heritage.  For those of you who were not with us this weekend, here’s a look at one of the talented auctioneers in action!

 

Transformation

Martha and I have spent the last week in beautiful Ludington Michigan.  Much of Martha’s family, including her parents, are in Ludington this summer so it was a good time to visit.  We have been talking a lot about Haiti and World Concern as well.  As we share with others about our work, we often talk about transformation.  According to dictionary.com, to transform is to “change in condition, nature, or character.”  By definition, transformation involves a change.  The reason we talk about transformation so much is because we believe in change!  We see opportunities in Haiti for lives to be changed and transformed.  We desire people and communities to move from a place of despair and stagnancy, to a place of hope and abundance.

This theme of transformation continues to follow us.  Martha and I were at Cornerstone Baptist church yesterday, here in Ludington.  We always enjoy coming to Michigan and reconnecting with friends at Cornerstone.  The service begins and we sing some fun songs, which were led by the kids.  Nothing like beginning Sunday morning by waving your arms and jumping around!  Then the Pastor gets on stage and begins talking about transformation, of all things.  He was explaining how God is all about transformation and desires to see us become a new creation.  How awesome!  We were encouraged to see how our friends here in Michigan are also working towards transforming their community.

Definitions are often boring and may use words that you’ve never heard of to define a word you’re trying to understand.  Why do they do that?  Anyway, as I was doing some research on the word transformation, I found a definition that I both understood and really liked.  I learned that transformation has a different definition in the context of theater.

Theater – a seemingly miraculous change in the appearance of scenery or actors in view of the audience.

How beautiful.  Something miraculous is certainly involved in transformation.  We know this in our own lives.  As we grow up and become adults and mature, we change.  With God’s help, we get rid of the things that once hindered us and embrace the person we have become.

This is also true for individuals and communities in Haiti.  A better life is possible.  An improved living situation or successful crop or growing business is a welcomed change and can put people on the path towards complete transformation.   Practically, World Concern is participating in transformation by:

  • Providing education to kids
  • Training and equipping farmers
  • Providing entrepreneurs with small loans to start a business
  • Supporting those with HIV/AIDS
  • Rebuilding communities following natural disasters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for joining us in working towards positive change in Haiti!

 

 

 

Iowa

Martha and I have just spent the last week in Diagonal, Iowa.  This was our first stop on our month long summer traveling adventure.  Martha’s mother grew up on a farm near the small town of Diagonal, and the family was gathering here for a reunion.  It was my first time in Iowa and my first time meeting many of Martha’s extended relatives.

Along with Martha’s parents and her brothers, we got to Iowa a few days before the reunion to spend time together.  We ate good food, played games, and enjoyed the open space that farm life gives you.  One highlight of the week was the 4th of July celebrations.  We went to two parades, ate kettle corn, watched our nieces compete in the pedal tractor pull, and ended the day with a firework show.

 

The reunion was on a hot and dry Saturday at the town’s community center.  Over 40 family members from across Iowa and beyond came together for food and good conversation.  Martha and I also had an opportunity to share about our work in Haiti.  We had pictures with us, so we enjoyed showing everyone what Haiti looks like and what World Concern does.

The week was a huge success!  As you can see, Martha was able to get more acquainted with her camera and snapped some good shots.  Now we are heading to Ludington, Michigan with Martha’s parents.  We’ll be sharing more about our travels as the month goes on.

Philippines & future ministry

Martha and I recently returned from the Philippines and wanted to share with you about our trip.  As many of you know, Martha’s parents serve as faculty members at Baptist Theological College (BTC) in Cebu City.  We had the opportunity to help lead a group of 16 Americans who came to work with and encourage students at BTC.  We spent the week painting on campus, practicing English with the students, serving in local ministries, and worshiping together.  This was a very rewarding experience for the team of Americans, the students, and us.  Another big reason for the trip to the Philippines was to simply spend time with Martha’s folks!  It was great to have some good family time in their home.  We got to spend a few days together on beautiful Bantayan Island enjoying creation, playing games, and resting.  We are thankful for old relationships rekindled and new friendships made during our three weeks in the Philippines.  It was refreshing for Martha to be ‘home’ and for me to see for the first time where she grew up.  We couldn’t help but wonder what similarities, if any, exist between the Philippines and our future home of Haiti.  The tropical weather perhaps?  We are eager to find out.

We came back to Seattle excited about what lies ahead for us with World Concern!  Thank you for your notes and emails following our first prayer letter in January.

The past couple weeks, the Country Directors and other personnel from World Concern’s international offices have been here in Seattle.  It was a great time of fellowship and collaboration for the organization’s leadership.  We had the opportunity to meet with Christon Domond the Haiti Country Director and Pierre Uwimana the Deputy Country Director.  It was a privilege to hear directly from them about the work going on in Haiti.   We were also encouraged to hear from Christon and Pierre about how our roles will help the Haiti team impact more lives in the years ahead.

In our roles, we will have the opportunity to work closely with the local staff and beneficiaries.  Specifically, I (Austin) will be assisting local staff in preparing project reports and grants.  Additionally, I will help collect and write stories from the field.  Martha naturally has a creative eye and will be using that to capture World Concern’s work in Haiti using photography and video.  We all recognize the power of a story.  Our work will produce powerful stories that will hopefully inspire people to act on behalf of the Haitian people.

Why are we going?  We are going because we are passionate about the people and we want to contribute to the life changing work already happening in Haiti!  This position fits our skills well and allows us to help the World Concern Haiti team meet their communication needs.  Martha and I have long agreed that serving internationally and within the development field was something that we wanted.  We feel humbled to have the opportunity to work alongside Haitian brothers and sisters and believe that hope and change can continue to be carried out there.

We feel 100% that the Lord has provided this opportunity for us at just the right time.  He has undoubtedly been preparing us for a mission like this and we believe we have been carefully and intentionally led in this direction.  The process with World Concern has been very smooth and affirming which is why we are confident that God is behind it.

Please pray for safety in travel for Christon and Pierre as they return to Haiti.  Following the earthquake in 2010, the World Concern Haiti team grew from around 85 staff to close to 160.  Therefore, the need for prayer is great!  Pray that they will receive all the strength, wisdom, and courage they need to lead the Haiti team well.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  There is no way we can, by ourselves, reach our goal of serving in Haiti for two years.  Please consider how God may be leading you to contribute to our ministry in Haiti.  We are eager to arrive in Haiti and join the team as they continue to transform lives.  We are grateful for your partnership and financial support.

Martha and I are available to talk with you and would truly enjoy it!  Feel free to contact us through email or phone.  We hope to talk to you soon.

Blessings,

Austin and Martha Snowbarger

A copy of World Concern’s disclosure statement is available by clicking here

Austin’s cell – 206.719.7031
austinsnowbarger@gmail.com
Martha’s cell – 206.707.1058
marthasnowbarger@gmail.com

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