Welcome to the Wonderful World of the Williams...

Team Williams lives so "...that you may be filled with the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:19

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ready for Home Again...

I have to apologize because recently I have been a plain awful blog updater. Since Nicaragua things have been crazy (in the good way) and haven't stopped. Well, now they are calming down, and I have quite a few updates to make.

We were home from Nicaragua barely a week doing laundry, organizing, and going to Dr. appointments when I left for San Diego and Adam left for Colorado. Adam plays on a club ultimate Frisbee team here in the ABQ. They are a really good team and very serious about their tournaments. We have already driven to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a tournament where we had a wonderful visit with my cousins Vanessa and DJ Clay and their fam!

Adam was gone for the weekend then had to put in a few days of work (being that we just took vacation in Nicaragua, his days of days were low) and then we met mid week in CA. We had a semi-family reunion. All my immediate family except poor Sarah (Sarah had to take nursing school finals) were there, including Stacy and Jose who rented a house right by the beach. All my immediate family stayed in the beach house! It is amazing my whole family can fit anywhere! We would spend our days at the pool or the beach and then at night a different person would cook. Different family members from San Diego (where we have a plethora) would come each afternoon/evening.

It was such a great time to see everyone and relax except I think we need another week to hang out individually with everybody! I hate cold water, but I loved the beach. My nephew Mathew and cousin Noah would say "Come, get crashed by the waves dude". I laughed at them until I joined them and surely did get crashed by the waves. I would get drug on the bottom of the ocean with my head in the sand. But it was absolutely a blast!

A huge highlight was just seeing all the "babies" as I call them. Some of them are babies, some of them haven't been babies for many years now, but they are all the "babies" to me. In the house we had my nephews Mathew and Jacob who are my brother's sons, Francesca T. my brother's little girl, and Olivia and Francesca who are my sister Stacy's kids. They were always together having a ball and usually quite a few CA cousins were with them. It reminded me of when I was a kid and all the Thanksgivings at our house. There was a whole big group of us cousins that just ran around and played all day everyday at the barn or in the pool...it is fun to see a younger group doing the same thing! Why can't we do that anymore? Why don't we wake up and jump in the pool and play games all day? Kids really are better at having fun!

After CA, Adam and I came home for about another week. It was catch up week for me. Again...I did a lot more laundry. I also had a few job interviews and spent a lot of time filing out applications. I also shopped at Trader Joes for the first time! I hear about it constantly and about how cheap and healthy it is so I went ahead and tried it! Well, my results found it to be a much better shopping experience. The only problem was even though it is much cheaper then a Whole Foods, I still spent much MORE than I do at Walmart. They had most everything I needed but not all, so then after shopping there I still had to go to Walmart and Smith's to get all the groceries. I have to say the food was good but it can't beat Walmart prices. We have decided to keep shopping at Walmart for our basics and then go to Trader Joes or Whole Foods for meat, bagels, and bread. Meat in general can gross me out. I think it is worth paying more for. Bagels....well, I just really love some good fresh bagels, and Adam was a huge fan of the fresh bread. Well, at least until I get my wheat cracker and can start making it from scratch...mmmm, that gets me hungry just thinking about it! More on that later!

Then this last Friday we got up to leave by car at 6 AM to drive to Dallas. Adam had another ultimate tournament. It was also a special trip because my best friend/cousin Danica Brown is back from India and is in Dallas! We stayed with my Aunt Elaine and Dani and I would hang out in the morning while Adam played and then go see him in the afternoon. His team did really well! They were undefeated the first day but lost their first game the second day. The team only had seven players, which is how many one needs to play, so they didn't have people trading in and out to put in fresh legs. I was quite amazed they did as well as they did. It was HOTT! I was sitting under the tent, drinking water, and thought I was going to faint. I hope this is just because I am pregnant. I have NEVER been that sensitive to heat my whole life and grew up in Houston....does it get hotter?

We all had a great time! Aunt Elaine was a champ and put up with all the stinky Frisbee boys coming back over to her house where they watched the Olympics and then went swimming. My time with Dani was so precious! I missed that girl more than words can describe and seeing her was just surreal. I also got to see two other very special people! My old roomy Ms. Sarah Leininger lives in Dallas so we met for some Chipotle. I love Chipotle. I had it twice while in Dallas because they don't have it here in ABQ, and I think it is some of my favorite food in the world! Sarah and I talked and talked and it felt so good to see her beautiful face! I also go to see Ms. Tiffany, a very close wrangler friend of mine. Our time was short as she had to get to the airport, but so special! I am so thankful for this weekend and this time I got to see such precious faces! It makes my heart happy and fills me with joy!

Yesterday Adam and I got back in the car and made the ten hour drive back home. I don't mind long car rides with Adam. We are able to talk and talk and play the question game until neither of us can think of any more questions. When we got home we just crashed. Both of us were exhausted! We are ready for some time at home with no travels for a bit. I am ready to start having people over for dinner again, really CLEAN this house, and catch up with sweet friends here. God is so good and we are making relationships. As much as I have loved our travels, I have missed people HERE in ABQ. That is such an answer to prayer that we have people to miss!

More on the job situation later....hugs and kisses!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Six Months and Counting...

Today is a very special day us.

Adam and I were married six months ago today!

I just can't believe we are already at out half anniversary!

I know many of you more "mature" married couples have been married for decades and are laughing at us celebrating our half anniversary.

I say why not celebrate the gift of marriage as often as possible?

I actually have to confess in this instance it was my Adam who reminded me on Monday "Em, our six month anniversary is Friday. Get excited!" I acted excited and tried to to not let it show that if he had not reminded me, I probably would have realized this...umm...maybe tomorrow. It is not that I don't think it is is incredibly important, I'm just not much of a counter. Recently we have been very busy so I was also slightly surprised August was already upon us!

Plus the last six months have just flown! It is hard to believe it has already been half a year. Immediately after getting married we moved to ABQ, went on our honeymoon (whoop!), began unpacking our first "home", Adam started a new job, found a new church, and just a few short months later, became the future parents of our "pumpkin" as we call the baby. It has been a little crazy but filled with such amazing experiences for us.

It is funny to think that six months ago today at this exact time I was in a hotel room with my girls doing makeup and hair and absolutely filled with excitement about that day! Okay, I was a little scared to death...but in the good kind of way. I was probably also blowing my nose. I came down with a terrible cold a few days before the wedding. It was just one of those things one doesn't plan and that is rather inconvenient, but later really just makes you laugh. After my makeup was done, I was told to try not to blow my nose for the rest of the day. Oh my....how difficult! Adam married me and loved me sick an all!!! Now, every time I get a cold I'm reminded of our wedding, and it makes me smile!

Being that this much has happened in the first six months, I can't wait until we have years under our belt and so many more stories to share! I can honestly say, I love marriage. I always tell my single friends, "I am so pro marriage!". Seriously, it has made me grow so much as a person and as a Christian. God made marriage to be beautiful, and it makes me so sad when I hear people (sometimes even Christians) speaking of marriage like it is a weight or an annoyance. I know I am still a newbie, and there are so many experiences ahead I have yet to experience, but what is more beautiful than having a man want to love you like Christ loves the church? Adam teaches me everyday about love. He does such a good job of loving me! I see him striving to love me everyday and in new ways. I don't know how I got this blessed to have the husband I do. I certainly don't deserve him one bit.

Our next anniversary update will be in six months and the pumpkin will be born! I know I'm only just starting to learn what God has to teach me about love. I'll update you the on what I have learned!

Happy Half Anniversary Adam! I love you and am excited about growing old with you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Missions in Nicaragua - 2008

Hey everyone! Well, let us apologize for how long it has taken me to get this post up…hopefully, after reading about our adventure, you’ll understand why I needed a little bit of time to digest it all!

The most difficult part about good story is deciding where to begin…so, here we go!

Before we left the country, we were able to spend about a day in Houston with Emily’s family. It was a good time for her to reconnect with them and it was a good chance for me to repack our stuff since we left ABQ in a quite a mad rush. Then, after a phone call or two back and forth with our team from Fredonia Hill, we went to sleep dreaming of all that God was going to do during this trip…and, the Bible doesn’t say that He’s capable of doing “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) for nothing. We had NO idea the ride for us that He had planned.

DAY ONE: Team Williams (Emily, Adam, and Baby Williams, aka li’l Pumpkin) woke up at the crack of dawn to make sure we could get on our 9am international flight…and, oddly enough, we met the rest of our team for the first time zigzagging through the security line! Since our compadres from Fredonia Hill Baptist Church (in Nacogdoches, TX) had to drive an ADDITIONAL 2 hours just to get to the airport, they were all understandably tired. It was an exciting time in the airport, however, since it was the first chance that Team Williams got to know the kiddos from Fredonia Hill…oh, and I do mean kiddos! Our team consisted of 5 kids from the Fred Hill youth group, their youth pastor (B.J.), the official “team mom” (Mindy), and George – guru of all things related to Operation GO: Nicaragua. In the mix of kids, you had your super goofy guy (Jeff), your super funny guy (Brian), the quiet-until-you-play-her-in-cards girl (Alli), the fun-to-mess-with-girl (Katie), and the fun-to-mess-with-girl’s-friend/sidekick (Emberlen). All of these kids were SO EXCITED about missions – that in and of itself was a Day One Blessing! All of them had done some kind of missions before, but the extent of international experience was border towns in Mexico. For some, in addition to this being the first time REALLY out of the country, it was their first time on an airplane. Despite some nerves, anxieties, and flat out fear, everyone boarded the plane and we had an uneventful flight down south.

Praise God…the flight went ok, no one got sick or scared and everyone seemed excited about the adventure set before us. Shoot…the TEN of us got off the plane, through customs, AND got all of our luggage in about a 15 minute span (now, if you’ve never flown overseas, you won’t truly appreciate that last sentence…but, WOW!). After that, we met up with Loren (the husband of the husband and wife team that lead Operation GO: Nicaragua), Callie and Stephen (2 of the 5 summer missionaries), and headed on our way to lunch. Well, even though Team Williams had remembered how crazy the driving was in Managua (I kinda misses those crazy driving days from last summer!), the kiddos from Fred Hill were an odd mix of scared and fascinated. Fifteen minutes or so into our adventure through the heart of downtown Managua, God decided to teach us all a lesson in spiritual warfare and the reality of being in the mission field…and it’s a lesson we will not soon forget.

For now, I don’t want to go into any specific details so that we can protect those who were directly involved and those who might be tangentially effected. While the specifics of the incident don’t necessarily matter (if you have our number, call us and we’ll tell you in person, we just don’t want to post it), what matters is the reality of what career missionaries deal with probably much more so than the rest of us…spiritual warfare. That day, God made the spiritual battle real, He put flesh on it, and He made it sting right at our very hearts. In this single attack, the Enemy was trying to destroy a powerful missions project in Nicaragua and damage other missions efforts in South American. How? He was attacking the missions FAMILY. You see, our dear friend Lydia (with whom I was summer missionary in Nicaragua last summer) was in Peru as a summer missionary and suffered through a terrible ordeal because Satan knows God is using her as a powerful force to spread the Gospel. Satan must have thought the same thing about what was happening in Nicaragua…but we, as believers, know that Christ has already defeated evil – once and for all – by His death, burial, and resurrection. Thank you Father for reminding those of us on the trip of your power, grace, mercy, and love. (NOTE: I have to take a moment to brag on my wife. Her natural, God-given gifts of compassion and comforting people who are hurting were perfectly suited to match the needs of the moment! It warmed my heart to see my beautiful bride use her talents to glorify God – and comfort a sister in need – in a crisis situation. I love you Emily!!!)

That afternoon, after the initial incident, our team ended up at the IMB’s Guest House. Everyone had been shaken by the events of the day – the youth were digesting their rude-welcome to foreign missions, the adults were trying to figure out how to explain things to the youth, and Team Williams was hurting for those involved. But, through this time of confusion, anxiety, uneasiness, and even fear, God worked a miracle. God began a work in all of our hearts that day to prepare us for what He had planned. Isn’t it amazing how His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

DAY TWO: The next day was a low-key day of rest, reflection, and team-building. Basically, in His infinite wisdom, God allowed all of us to more completely process the incident; help folks most affected by it to reflect on and deal with some other spiritual issues; and gave our small team a chance to spend some time getting to know each other better. We had some sweet time of fellowship…and though some of us were chomping at the bit to get out and start distributing the Gospel, God blessed this day to make us a more cohesive unit, ready to seek His plan and spread His glory. It was, for me, a HUGE blessing because I got to know see how missions-minded God has made the kiddos from Fred Hill. I also got to learn first-hand how to seek God in the face of immediate and potentially devastating circumstances. Spiritual warfare, when it puts on flesh, makes it absolutely clear that life is not about US and what WE can do, but rather life is about submitting to Him to see what HE will do.

DAY THREE: We woke up to a beautiful morning, and finally hit the road! We spent the day driving out to Las Communidades de Los Pimones – a set of small, rural, mountainside (and mountain-top) villages just northwest of Matagalpa and San Ramon (if you’re looking for it on a map, it’s in the north-central mountains of Nicaragua). Fourish hours, lots of bumps, a few bruises, and quite a bit of four-wheel driving later, we arrived at our home for the next few days. We settled in, set up our cots, made some dinner, enjoyed the sunset, and then spent an evening reflecting on a wonderful devotional led by Cody on spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6). The evening ended with all of us spending time with the Lord and listening to some praise and worship music – it was a great way to continue (for me at least) to let God work on our hearts in preparation for the next few days.

DAYS FOUR & FIVE: HALLELUJAH! We finally made it into the field, we were finally able to become the beautiful feet who spread the good news (Romans 10:15)! Now, typically what happens is that Loren and/or Karen will work with the US team leader and the local Nicaraguan pastor to split us (both the US team and local Nica believers) into small groups of 6-8 and tell us which group will distribute to which area of the community. Well, due to our previous incident and some other events out of our control, neither Loren nor Karen were able to come with us to Los Pimones! That left the summer missionaries (Cody – who is fluent in speak Spanish; Stephen – who is a work horse; and Hakim – who is the pirate) and me to run the show! Ha…God has such a sense of humor! We ended up splitting into 3 groups – Cody was the translator for one group; Emily was the translator for another group; and yes, YOURS TRULY was the translator for the last group! I know both Cody and Emily did a MUCH better job translating than I did, but God got the job done through me!

Even in just the hiking portion of our trip, God was able to reveal to some of our team just how much MORE we are able to do, even physically, when we stop trying to do it all on our own and we trust in His strength. On mission, when you really get to deny yourself and focus on Him, you see SO MANY BLESSINGS each and every day! Such blessings weren’t contained to just my group, folks in Emily’s group came back proclaiming how good God was to support them and help them finish after each hard day of hiking. (NOTE: I'm really proud of how far my wife and baby-mama hiked!!! After what I saw in Nicaragua, I think she's ready for Everest!)

And alas, after hiking the mountains of Los Pimones for two days…our ministry was completed! Even though we did not get to minister to the larger numbers of people that I am used to (my first trip here in Spring 2006 we handed out thousands of Gospels!), it was a blessing to continue to be faithful to the great commission to reach the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20). We were able to share the Jesus Film with about 200 people from Los Pimones – and at least one person got saved! Hallelujah! I know God is going to continue working in those communities through a strong church in nearby Matagalpa.

It truly is amazing how quickly God can meld our hearts with His when we serve Him! Even after only two days in Los Pimones, none of us wanted to leave! We grew attached to the wonderfully kind local believers that worked with us, the gracious homes we where we were able to share the Good News, and the absolute splendor of God’s creation! Here are just a few pictures that will hopefully begin to convey what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful locales in Nicaragua…

The rest of the trip was basically a day of recuperation and site-seeing. It was really good for Emily and I to spend some time with Loren and Karen…we really do miss them! We got to share with them about newlywed life and swap married-life stories and what not. For Emily and I, it was an extra special time of reconnecting with some folks who were indirectly involved in the creation of Team Williams! And, of course, they were both excited about their first missions grandbaby…man, EVERYONE’s going crazy for this kid!

The highlight of the trip, at least for me, was a very special ceremony that we (Loren, Karen, and the summer missionaries) put on for the high school students. In short, we had a sort of “Young Missionaries Commissioning Service.” While Loren read some scripture and began to talk about what it means to be on career missions and spread the Kingdom of God, the four summer missionaries and I each washed the feet of and prayed over one of the high school students. Loren explained to the students what it truly means when Paul says “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news” (Romans 10:15) and encouraged them with some stories from his own missions experience. It was a beautiful time of pray, fellowship, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move in all of our hearts. It is a moment in the mission field that will always be on my heart and a great set of memories that I will never forget.

So, what else can I say…we had a FANTASTIC trip. God is amazing and even though Emily and I had been on this trip before and “knew” what to expect, God still stretched and shaped us further than I ever could have imagined. We get to see spiritual warfare in its basest form…and we experienced God’s faithfulness in ways like never before. I am excited to see how much more my life changes as I learn to walk – and learn to lead our family to walk – in closer intimacy with our Lord and Savior.

And so, to Erle...Kathy...Saltamontes...BriON...Alli G...Bejota...Uncle George...Stephen/Billy/Cid...Dr. Cody...Hakim the Pirate...Poppa Loren...Mama Karen…
From Team Williams...Thanks for a great trip.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

See...what had happened was...

Hey Everybody!

Well, yes we are alive...yes we are doing fine...and yes there will be a blog post about our missions trip to Nicaragua coming soon! And by soon, I mean tonight...I have to wait until tonight so I can include pictures - which is a must!

Anyhow, the past two weeks have been really good for us. It has also been very busy, which is why there has been NO activity on our blog. That should change, though, as Emily and I begin to work back into a "normal" routine. Let's see...work is starting to pick up for me...we are close to finding some really neat job opportunities for Emily...and we are starting to make some real friends that actually want to hang out with us...and Baby (aka "Pumpkin") Williams is healthy and growing away!

Well, we miss everyone...and I promise to get the epic tale our trip to Nicaragua out sometime tonight.

After that, I'm off to Cali to meet up with my wife who is attending her family's reunion. Miss you guys!!!