It’s a phrase heard often at this time of year. Usually it evokes thoughts of the newest toys or gadgets that have been advertised in preparation for the holiday. Sometimes it brings thoughts of fun times laughing and making memories with friends and family. This year for Jessica and I it brought different thoughts.
Last week our F5 team pulled off the largest event we’ve ever attempted, marrying the rock climbing gym and bakery, into an active, fun filled social event for a homeschool group. Confidence has soared and momentum is beginning to build. By faith we believe 2020 will be the year the F5 Center of Influence takes off! Continue reading God’s plan is always best.
Addictions are not all the same. But they are all hard to break. Thankfully we serve an all powerful God Who has died to set us free! Meet Ice. Continue reading Breakthroughs
Introducing Prudence Elizabeth Atwell. Born August 1 at 7:37 p.m. 7lbs on the dot and 20.5 inches long. We are so excited to have a girl as our final baby, though we would have been happy with a boy also, I mean really, who doesn’t like grey hair?
So I shared, almost 3 months ago now, how God opened the door for me to come back early and help my wife and family. It has been such a blessing. We were in serious need of some family time and also just some down time from the madness that has been our life for the last year since the Center opened. Last year we took off only 16 days and I think it was catching up with me. I was losing focus and connection with my wife and kids. This has been a refreshing time. There have definitely been struggles here and at one point we were even discussing not going back. You can hear more about that in the video below as Jessica shares for Faithcamp. The rest of the Faithcamp presentations can be viewed HERE. I have been struggling for over a week now to write this; a paragraph during nap time this day, a sentence or two before bed here, so please forgive the lack of flow and connected thoughts. We are still getting used to the whole ‘family of 5’ routine.
We had been struggling for a while to get people to come into the gym for more than a day pass. The main reason is because we were targeting current climbers instead of trying to bring new people in. The climbing community is mainly the more upper class people and coming to our location wasn’t convenient with the lack of vehicle parking spots (we have motorcycle spots) and now with the sky train being extended right in front of our place (which will be a blessing in 3-5 years) the construction is making traffic even worse. Well we discussed as a team how to mitigate that and decided to market more in our location. I have been telling them for a while to go to the university and hand out flyers but they are all too shy. We met a small compromise in doing some targeted Facebook advertising in a 1 mile radius of the Center. We now have had a good flow of local people, new to climbing, coming in and signing up for memberships instead of just buying day passes. Jun is our most outgoing and friendly team member and he has been spending a lot of time getting to know the new customers and learning about them. It will be exciting to see how God uses Jun to bridge those relationships to Him.
Our team, after getting through a big hurdle in the pressure of running things on their own, has continued to press forward and take up new ventures; making/selling soy milk, lots of new baked good recipes, cinnamon rolls in a loaf rather than a tin, as well as promoting throughout the nearby community. They also had a rather big challenge in the customer flow. We had been in a lull for a bit as rainy season had come, but almost the week I left the people started swarming in it seemed. There were a couple days where 16 people came, the most we had ever had before was 5. But I am grateful for the team we have as they were able to press through and do what needed to be done. We are looking forward to what high season will bring our way. The team has also been practicing their English in preparation for the foreign customers we will have as well. I mentioned a while back that we were selling food at a local international school a couple days a week, well the school year just began again this week and we had a good start. The idea to sell soy milk was to be trialed there and they sold all but 7 of the 40 bottles they made. It was a good start. We also heard from a friend who just landed a big contract with a distribution company for food products that has accounts with over 50 retailers. He is going to try and pitch some of our baked goods to them and see if we could get linked in with that. That would be a great account as the team would feel like they have a schedule and could get in a lot more baking experience. We also just had an international school contact us and are interested in incorporating climbing into their P.E. curriculum. They are starting with 8 students and want indoor training and then a guided outdoor trip for their final. This is a big contract for us and hopefully can open the door we have so long been pressing on to get into the school systems. Please pray for this and that we can make some good connections with these young students in pointing them to Christ.
As for us here, we have had a busy and relaxing time. At times its really hectic and at others it is relatively restful. Most of the hectic has passed now and we are in the recuperate and prepare for relaunch phase. We applied for Prudence’s passport on the 14th and today i checked the status and it was approved. They say we will receive it by Wednesday. Our lawyer was able to draft the documents for our visas, leaving Prudence’s passport info blank for us to fill in and hopefully will get it in the mail on Tuesday. Our Pakistani friends who are watching our house were also able to locate the boys’ birth certificates which I forgot (oops) and get them to the lawyer so everything will come together and we can get the visa process rolling and get back. The school contract I mentioned above begins Sept. 16th so I would like to be back for that. We are looking at the first week of September to return but it all depends on the passport situation and funding.
On the topic of funding we would like to request your prayers. Normally when we visit the U.S. we have lots of opportunities to share about the project at churches which usually results in enough donations to carry us through our trip. Well this year Faithcamp was our only speaking engagement As I reviewed our financial situation this week I was quite surprised. Usually we put all our expenses here on a credit card and then pay it off before we leave. Well this time as I checked I found we have a $1200 credit card bill for our expenses during the last 3 months here, our home rent in Bangkok of $500 due in less than a week, no return tickets home, and about $600 in the bank. I was starting to get worried and wondering what to do when I had a ‘memory’ on Facebook pop up that was a picture I will attach below. We can trust God. He has been faithful through the entire journey we have been on. We have never gone without what was needed. So often we are tempted to doubt and fear and, like Peter on the waves, we start to look at our situation and lose sight of the Lord who is right there calling us to come forward. There is no reason to fear because God’s perfect love casts out fear. But that is something very easily forgotten. Thankfully He gives us little reminders to jog our memory and revive our faith.
In regards to Faithcamp, we had a blessed time. It was amazing to see so many people come out. I believe there were close to 400 on Sabbath morning (based on the church capacity sign and the amount of people sitting downstairs in the overflow. What was even more amazing was the fact that so many of them stayed. When we left at around 7 the entire church was full. Also it was great to see so many young people. There was a group of about 30 kids to young adults that would go out and play in the grass during the break times and then all come back in and sit quietly listening to the presentations. No staring at phones, no fighting, all playing nicely and even the older kids including the little ones. So refreshing. We also had a few major blessings come from it as well. The first is a young man named Mathew that is on fire for the Lord and interested in serving Him in Japan. He just graduated high school and is currently at a missionary training program. Upon graduation in November he will be joining us to do a 6 month internship as his desire is to do city ministry for Japan. He is a climber and his father is an entrepreneur so hopefully it can be a mutual blessing. The second blessing is that a donor has agreed to pay the expenses for someone to come over and help serve with us in our home. With the 2 kids things were hectic enough but now adding a baby into the mix we are well over our head. We made an appeal for someone to join us to help Jessica at the house and received this offer. Now we are needing to find someone.
I know, seems silly to have waited so long to put out a letter with a call but we had been waiting on someone that we knew was a great fit as she had already served with us and were really hoping would come back and join us, but since the time is so short now and we haven’t heard from her we need to put out a general call. If you know of anyone (female) that has an interest in serving in the mission field in a home setting please let us know ASAP. Duties would include cooking, cleaning, watching boys (3 and 6), shopping, going on walks in our neighborhood and making friends with our Thai neighbors. It would not mean doing all of those things all the time. We would still perform duties as well but we are just needing some support as we transition. We are soon entering into climbing season and so I will be a bit busier. The call would be for a minimum of 6 months, the hardest stage with the baby, but could be longer if the person fit well and had an interest in staying on and serving in the same capacity or in the F5 ministry. You can contact us by email email@example.com or by Facebook. As mentioned above, the expenses would be covered and you would only have to provide funds for personal items or trips.
We want to thank each one of you that has made this project possible. We don’t write you individually as often as we would like to, or ever, but please know that you are not forgotten or overlooked. Please keep us in prayer that each of the many aspects can fall in place as He directs and we can transition smoothly. Oh, and we will have a new family picture as soon as we can get someone to take it for us 😉
In His service, by His grace,
Brian, Jessica, Asher, Joseph & Prudence Atwell
- For encouragement as we prepare to relaunch
- For all the passport and visa processing to go smoothly
- For a friends baby that was born early at just under 2 lbs. He is gaining strength but can always use more prayer.
- That we can find the right workers with a heart to serve the Lord (We need to add at least 1 more for the gym and 2-4 additional once the cafe opens)
- That God can help us with the business side of things. There are a few business people giving counsel and advice and helping in connecting with schools but we could always use prayer in this.
- For the resources we need, preferably through income sources, to cover our expenses. You can learn more at the end of this post
- For extra protection over our marriage and family as the enemy seeks to discourage and destroy Christ’s work
- For us to be more intentional in our witness for God’s glory
- God has impressed us that we need to open an official call for someone (or a family) to come and join our team to help with the business side of things. While I have managed a few businesses I have never started one and while I feel we have done a lot, by God’s grace, I think someone with a better mind for business could greatly improve upon what we have started and I could focus on managing and the ministry side of things. If you know someone with business experience please send them our way for an interview.
- For guidance for Josh and Chitlada (Directors of Jesus for Slum Kids project). They have many aspects of their project developing and also a new baby in the house so they could use an extra special outpouring of prayer. If you would like to find out more check out their website here http://jesus4slumkids.org/ or email the Project Director Joshua Bauder at Joshuabauder@hotmail.com. You can also view their project featured on the program MissionTREK here
There is a song by artist Laura Story called ‘Blessings’ that talks about the challenges we face in life and while often we view them as hurdles and hinderances to our spiritual growth, in reality they are often the medium God uses to facilitate growth. Well, last month we shared a few testimonies of what God has been doing here. It was a real encouragement as we struggled with the idea that we had been here 5 years already and hadn’t had any ‘real’ results. Well, this month we had a few more powerful blessings that came in the package of trial. Continue reading Blessings Through Raindrops
สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์ Happy Thai New Year. This is my favorite time of year in Bangkok because the city empties out and is like a ghost town. This is the holiday where everyone returns to their hometown to be with family. Since very few people are actually from Bangkok it results in there being only a couple spots in town where anyone is and they are a mix of local Thai, but mainly young westerners, looking for a wild party. All I have to do is avoid those spots (which are very far from me anyway) and I have this giant city to myself. While I normally really enjoy this time I am very much missing my family and wishing that we were together. This is the time of year we get to eat at our favorite falafel restaurant that is only 10 miles away but usually takes upward of 2 hours to get to. Right now we can get there in 15 minutes. But I am grateful that we have the technology we do so that we can at least stay connected via video calls. Continue reading 5 years; no fruit?
Is the perfect way to describe our progress. Both as a business and as Christians. Continue reading Growing little by little
…but God is carrying us through, with lots of help from His ‘team’. We have mentioned more than once the challenge of being in a foreign country, living in a giant city, surrounded by millions of people, yet feeling so alone. Well God used our latest challenge to show us just how false those feelings truly are. Continue reading The transition from F4 to F5 has been challenging…
Tis the season to be thankful and we have had so much to be thankful for lately. From helping young people pass high school Old Testament exams to leading a group of 11 up 300+ feet through an amazing cave in a hollowed out limestone mountain and our oldest son’s 5th birthday. It has been quite an adventure. We hope you enjoy the latest. Continue reading Powerful Thoughts
Brian updated everyone last month on the success of the F5 Challenge Center’s grand opening bouldering competition. The miracles God performed through the past year and a half of preparation are astounding to reminisce over. We are learning what a blessing it is to have memories to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness before entering the desert. Find out what I’m talking about.
Continue reading Desert Wanderings