Saturday, December 29, 2007

Off to get some learn'in

I (Gretchen) and my sister Laura are off tomorrow to Portland, OR to take some language acquisition tests through SIL (a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators). I am looking forward to the week for a number of reasons. * I will get a good idea of what Bible translation will look like
* I will see what skills I can bring to the table and what areas I could use more study in
* I will be getting somewhat of a break from my normal schedule of taking care of my home and family

I have never been a great fan of "school-ish" things so I ask for prayer that God would use this time to grow my mind for His glorious Name's sake! Please pray that I will have a learning spirit and that I will be able to think like a grown up for a whole week! I feel like I have been thinking like a baby/toddler for the last couple years and so my mind needs some tuning up! ;)

Please also pray for Houghton and the kids back in Montana. That they would get healthy (they are all battling being sick) and that God would also use this time to grow each of those relationships!

We are grateful to you!

Our small group visits


Small group meeting at Shawn and Candice Kelly's home


Grace Bible mens Bible Study

Small group meeting at Pat and Lori Linger's home

Small group meeting at Clyde and Kathy Leischner's home

Grace Bible Church ladies Bible Study

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What we have been up to lately...

This past month has been a time of refreshment as we have been in Miles City a majority of the time!  We have taken these two-ish months to connect with the great believers of our sending church, Grace Bible Church.  It has been awesome to finally sit down with these people and share in a small group context in order to better answer questions and explain our ministry in full.  We have been blessed by the interest and encouragement coming our way and are amazed to see God working through this community to impact a small group of islands across the world!  Praise God.  How humbling to be a part of this work!

Grace Bible Church home Bible study lead by Kenny Stabler


Grace Bible Church Women's Bible study led by Carol Rainey


Grace Bible Church home Bible study lead by Jeff Johnstone

Monday, November 19, 2007

Frontier School of the Bible missions conferance


Frontier School of the Bible (http://www.frontierbible.org/frontier/index.html) is in Lagrange, WY. Houghton and I graduated from this school in 2005 and this past October Houghton was able to share in a chapel service and was invited back for the missions conference November 12th thru the 16th. Laura joined him and they traveled the 7 hours to Lagrange.


Laura was able to encourage many single ladies as some are looking to the mission field and are feeling the pressure of singleness.


Houghton was able to encourage students as well and both Laura and Houghton found the week to be a great time of sharing their lives with these faithful, youthful, believers.


Beach, ND and Buffalo, MT

On Sunday the 4th, we had a short drive (only 2 1/2 hours) to Beach, ND to the Beach Evangelical Church. A year ago Houghton had the opportunity to fill the pulpit at this church as it searched for a pastor so we had a previous contact with the congregation. Laura was able to join us for this trip to present with us the work God is desiring us to do in Vanuatu.


We were able to talk with some tremendous people in Beach and also got a helpful contact with a gracious woman who has a lot of experience raising goats, which is an animal we are hoping to have while in Vanuatu to help with our dietary needs. Although we know NOTHING of goat farming, God has been so good to bring people to us to help us with this knowledge and better prepare us.

We left for Buffalo, MT on the 10th to meet up with the Osmundson family. Ryan and Jessica were classmates of Laura's while attending MWSB and they are involved in the Buffalo Community Church.


We shared Sunday morning for the congregation at Buffalo Community Church. We were joyously encouraged by those interested in what God was doing with our family as we look work across the world in the South Pacific.

The spacious town of Buffalo

Fort Benton, MT

Houghton along with Jesiah and Laura left for Fort Benton on Saturday the 27th. Gwen had been running some 103 temps and we figured it best for Gretchen and Gwen to stay home for this trip. So we missed out on meeting the gracious people in Fort Benton and also those students attending Montana Wilderness School of the Bible and also its faculty. Houghton and Jesiah thoroughly enjoyed their time out west and we are again so grateful to God's people who have proven to be such a blessing on our lives!

Sunday morning they were at the Fort Benton Community Church pastored by Joe Jordan. Joe and his wife Bev had been faculty at MWSB during the year Laura spent there.
Sunday night they presented for the MWSB chapel service held in Augusta, MT. They were able to build relationships with some great people during this brief trip.

Kevin and Pat, Rob, Ben and Josh with Jesiah (Jesiah LOVED playing with these terrific guys!)

Greg and Cheryl (from Fort Benton Church) with Bev Jordan

Gretchen holding the sick little Gwenny


Monday, October 29, 2007

A bonus - no charge

Jesiah had a good time singing with the Mickesh family ( check out our previous blog for more info on this family and our whole trip) . Here is some video footage of his fabulous dance moves. (Jesiah is on the far left in his red spiderman pajamas ~ of course!)

video

Gwen found her new love....the slide. She is part penguin I am convinced...check out her bravery...

video

And as always check out our website for prayer and praise items (under our Schedule tab ~ incase you were curious)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our MN trip

We hit the road rolling on Wednesday October 17th to head for the grand state of Minnesota. We took the drive in two days and arrived in Karlstad, MN on the 18th. We presented that night at Karlstad Baptist Church to a great group of believers that would normally have a Bible study that night. While there we stayed with the Dave Ingraham's family. Dave is the pastor at Karlstad Baptist. Jen Ingraham is one of the five daughters of Paul Olson, Houghtons pastor while he was getting his nursing degree. It was great for Jesiah and Gwen to have other kids to pal around with for a night!

The Ingraham Family
Karlstad Baptist Church, Karlstad MN

Friday we drove up to Deer River, MN to share a meal with Paul and Carol Olson, who formerly was the pastor in Fallon, MT while Houghton was in college. It was during the time that Houghton was under Pauls teaching that he grew spiritually and God used the Olson in a tremendous way to spur on that growth! So it was a great time to share with the Olson's what God is now doing in our lives and to catch up with them.
Paul and Carol Olson
While staying in Deer River we were graciously housed by Harley and Betty Steinbrenner. The Steinbrenners have retired in a home that they built on Jesse Lake. They were such a blessing to our family as we stayed for two nights. Harley used a bobcat and had cleared a number of trails outside their home through the woods for 4wheelers to go on. The Steinbrenners let us go out on their 4wheelers and enjoy the weather on Saturday.

Jesiah LOVED going 4wheeling! He was "steering" the whole time and he only got scared when dad got a little our of hand. ;) Gwenny was taking a nap while we were riding.Harely and Betty Steinbrenner

On Sunday morning we presented at Marcell Community Church. Paul Olson has been pastoring this church for the last 5 years since they moved to MN from MT and Harley Steinbrenner is a deacon while Betty Steinbrenner is on the missions committee. We had a great time with the Marcell congregation and were able to share a potluck with them after the service and we were able to chat more with some folks during that time which is always a blessing.


Steinbrenner home
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After spending time at the church in Marcell, we took off for the Mickesh family's home back in Deer River, MN. This tremendous family is currently looking at joining BMW as missionaries to Canada to the First Nations people or working in the states with First Nations groups in MN. They graciously opened their home to us for the night and we got to meet this fantastic family throughout the course of Sunday evening and Monday morning. Rick and Jamie have adopted six children as their own and it was a joy to spend time with their children interacting with ours!

That night before bed, our families sang some songs together which Jesiah thoroughly enjoyed and helped out with.

Me with their youngest Matthew

Jesiah dancing to a song while Rick and Mitchel hold the music

Brianna, Mariah, Emily, Gretchen with Matthew

Chatting with the Mickesh family


We then drove back to MT on Monday arriving on Tuesday after staying in Dickinson overnight to break up our trip for the kids a bit. God has been so gracious as we have been traveling. He has continually provided the money for our travel costs and we have not had to delve into our normal monthly income from our faithful supports for our driving costs since May! Thank you so much to you all who have given to us above and beyond what you have committed and thus helping us in a tremendous way with the expenses of "the road".

SOME ADDED NEWS:

We would also like to reiterate again how humbled we are at the team God has been building up as our support group here in the states! The work of a missionary is by far the most humbling work we have ever been involved with and we are amazed daily of Gods working in our lives and YOURS as He leads some to give financially and some prayerfully and others through encouraging us along our way.

Although we have already posted this on our website weeks ago, we also would like to announce that we will be expecting our third child in March this year and are thrilled to see God working through this as we hoped to have another baby before heading to Vanuatu. His timing is absolutely perfect and we praise God for this new life that is now growing and growing....

Please continue to check our website for our schedule and also for our added prayer requests and praises!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our September recap :)

Last month found us in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. We got to spend time with friends from school in every state which was a great encouragement to us and joy to catch up with them.

God has been raising up faithful worshipers throughout these states to join our team to reach the people of Vanuatu for Christ.

Here is a recap of our past four weeks. Please continue to check our website for our schedule and prayer requests.



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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Our current state...of mind that is...for now

We have been hanging out at "home" for the past two weeks. We have been able to start to make a dent in the paperwork that seems to build up when you are traveling a lot and not at home to do the regular "work".
It has also been a relaxing time for the kids too as they have been able to be on whatever sleeping schedule their bodies desire and also get caught up on some needed grandpa and grandma time!
We have thoroughly enjoyed seeing our family, friends, and supporters here in Miles City and the surrounding area and reconnecting with them. It amazes me that we were only gone for about a month and we are soon going to be gone for years! It just shows how awesome the Internet is and its "power" in keeping connected that way.
We are thrilled to be taking off again this next week. We will be heading to Colorado for some more training with our team. I am really looking forward to seeing them all again and being together. We love hanging out with each other and it amazes me that God has brought us all together as a team to reach Ni-Vans!

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel. We have a meeting on Saturday at a house in Denver and then on Sunday will head to our training. On the next Sunday we present in a church in Nebraska in the AM and in Wyoming in the PM. At the Bible School we attended in Lagrange WY on Monday and then again in Nebraska that Sunday to follow.

For a more detailed and complete schedule check out our website.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our Western Montana Trip

Ronan, Montana (South of Kalispel)

We got to Ronan on Friday the 10th of August to meet up with Aaron Skogen and his family which was our "contact" for the church in Pablo, MT just outside Ronan. We were taken care of in amazing ways by being fed marvelous food and also meeting tremendous people at our time in Pablo and also during the week we stayed in Ronan.

Houghton preached during the 2 morning services and also the adult sunday school class along with sharing about Vanuatu. That evening we had a time of desserts at the church for more question and answer time with the people who were interested in learning more about our ministry.

Gretchen is singing at the piano for the offertory



The kids playing in the nursery during the service

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Ronan
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Frenchtown, Montana (outside Missoula)

We left for Frenchtown from Ronan on the 17th to stay with our friend from Frontier School of the Bible, Josh McNeal who was our contact for the Frenchtown Community Church. We shared briefly in the morning service about our ministry and Gretchen was able to help lead the song time with Josh. The three of us shared in song during the offertory. That night we had invited people back for our presentation and we were also able to share with the Youth Group that night.




Houghton talking with people from Frenchtown Community Church

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Frenchtown

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Bozeman, MT

We got to visit lots of friends on our way through Bozeman. We stayed at Lindsey Wilkersons new appartment and got to hang out with her and also meet up with Josh and Lisa Lang. We also got to reconnect with Ryan Solberg, an old family friend of Laura and I's. We thouroughly enjoyed seeing these great friends again!

While there we also found out that some friends of ours Josh and Amy with thier four children, Hannah, Abigail, Naomi, and Ezekiel, had just moved to Bozeman and we got to enjoy a meal with them and reconnect. God totally worked out our meeting it was awesome.

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Bozeman
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Back and all trained up!

On Tuesday we pulled into our driveway from our trip to Atlanta Georgia. We had an awesome time of training to get us closer to Vanautu and also reconnecting with our teammates whom some of we havn't seen since last summer at Pre-field training.
While on the way to Georgia we stayed with Faltynski's as mentioned in our previous post and also with Fred and Betty Foulkes, aunt and uncle of Laura and I. They were incredibly gracioius and let us stay at thier home for over a week total. They also took us to the airport etc. so we could then fly to Atlanta.



We also got to spend time with our grandma as she too lives in Minnesota. This was a sweet blessing to us as we cannot be sure when we will be able to spend time with these people again after we leave for Vanuatu. While visiting with grandma she invited over some of the other ladies in her complex and we were able to share with these great prayer warriors what God is doing with us and how they can join in that work by praying!




Checking out the mall of America



Jesiah and Houghton at the play land in Mall of America





On the weekend inbetween our sessions we were able to go and visit Houghtons sister and brother in law who live outside of Atlanta. Bethany and Waiman. We also got to visit with thier gracious neighbors.

We went to Bible school in Wyoming with Will Vestal who has since gotten married to Kate and they are expecting thier first baby. They live in GA and we got to drive down to see them while we were in their neck of the woods.

Our full Team Vanuatu....isn't God amazing!!!! What a good lookin bunch huh?! :)



The Vanuatu Bush Team (those of us going to live, along with our families, in a tribe) In order of L to R - (top) Gretchen and Houghton Richards, Tania and Jim Kenner (bottom) Laura Thulesen, Amber and Brad JonesWe began classes on the 16th and had our last class on the 25th. Thank you all SO much for praying for us as we took this trip. We were able to see so many answers to prayer! The bedroom that we stayed in while at "school" was in my opinion the best room in the house! Gwen was able to sleep in a walk in closet which was perfect since she loves the dark and Jesiah had his own large bed that he didn't fall out of! We, as a team, were able to meet several times and therefore got a great start on our planning. The Kenner family was accepted by Biblical Ministries Worldwide and was officially invited into the Team to which they accepted. It was a blessed trip and we are indebted to those who prayed for us. Thank you again.



There is a lot in store for us as a family now that we are hitting the road full time to share with others around the country about Vanuatu. Please continue to be praying for us.



*We have experienced a lot of sickness (both Houghton and I and also the kids) because of the hectic schedule etc. that we are now living with. We ask that you keep our health in your prayers.



*The kids don't like driving....crazy huh?!... :) So be in prayer that they will become accustomed to their seats and not dread it. We are so prayerful that our family will not look at this precious time of connecting with people as something that is frustrating but to see it as it is...a true blessing.



*All of our Bush Team is still hoping to be leaving for Vanuatu in March. Pray that things continue to fall into place for this goal to become a reality and that God will continue to raise up supporters for not only us but also those on our team. We intend to all move over TOGETHER (other than the Kenners who will be about a year or so behind us) so if any members of our team are behind in support we will all be waiting until 100% is there so we can do everything together. We feel that this is what God would desire for us to do and are SO thrilled that He is working towards that goal.

On the way home we were welcomed into Ralph and Shari's home in Bismark which was such a blessing. We were then able to split the drive from MN to MT into two days.



Please check out our website to see our full schedule for the next few months and where we will be sharing.



A pic of us hanging out and taking a much enjoyed break in Georgia