Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Holden!

Holden's beach birthday cake...couldn't find the birthday candles, so we settled for tea lites!
He got a watch for his birthday and now is constantly asking, "What time are we going to _________ ?"
The kids got up early enough to enjoy an early morning swim before church. They jumped in together.

Today is Holden's 7th birthday!! We had a great time celebrating as a family. We were so blessed to be together, enjoy each other's company, play, watch a NASCAR race, eat birthday cake, swim, and open presents. Holden, it is hard to believe you could be 7 years old already! Here is what we love about you:

H: Hilarious laugh (very contagious!)

O: Opens the door for mom

L: Loving and affectionate

D: Daring, willing to try anything

E: Ear to ear smile (now with teeth!)

N: Needs his back scratched often (physical touch is his love language)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A first date, VBS, and an Agape work day

We actually got the chance to go on a date! There was a screening of the movie "Fireproof" at a local church and we were invited! There were appetizers and popcorn and a chance to meet other ministry leaders in the area. We really enjoyed the movie starring Kirk Cameron aimed at helping marriages.

These are a few photos from the kids at VBS. I went on Friday to help serve snack and got to take some pictures and video of water day:

Gabriel playing baby pool kickball.

Apparently she has been watching me too closely. Every time her teacher turned around, she had wandered off to lay on her towel!!

Riley participates in a relay race.

Holden races too.

The kids gathered for singing'll have to ask them to sing "The cat came back" for you!

The Venice Fire Department came out to cool the kids off with a spray from the fire hose.

Playing in the water from the fire hose.

Saturday, the Agape crew put in another day at the hanger. A local group of 25+ volunteers came out to help with a deep clean of the offices and hanger including removing old insulation and replacing it, dusting, landscaping, painting, and scrubbing the hanger floor. It was hot, sweaty work, but an unbelievable amount was accomplished! We were so blessed as were all of Agape's missionaries! I didn't think to take pictures until it was all but over...

Bringing things back in after the cleaning was done.

Even the mower got cleaned!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The final hoop has been cleared!

I have finally gotten everything done and together for transferring my license over to Florida. I am still not planning to work at least until next fall, but if anyone gets sick, I still wanted to be able to call in a prescription for them, so this hoop had to be jumped. Actually there were several hoops, each one with it's own price and frustrations!! I ended up calling the Florida Board of Nursing FOUR times with questions, a license verification place once, Missouri Board of Nursing once, and the ANCC once just to clarify what I was supposed to do. Seems they are much more worried about verifying my RN license than the ARNP one (where is the logic there?!?!?), and I just couldn't accept that until someone told me that in person!! A notarized copy of my license was all they needed to verify me as a Nurse Practitioner...still mind boggling to me! I was not in any better mood after waiting 50 (yes, that is FIFTY) minutes to get fingerprinted at the Police Department. There were signs posted about going through security and leaving purses and personal belongings in your car, so I ran out like lightening after they were informed that I was waiting, for fear they would come get me while I was taking my things to my van. I sat and looked around and read the signs and tried not to overhear any phone conversations for a few minutes, then decided this was a good time to pray. So I talked to God about my lack of patience and how hard it is to wait, prayed for my friends, my old MOPS group, my unsaved friends and family members, my new and old churches, our government...and oh yeah, speaking of government, God could you remind them that I have been waiting patiently for over 30 minutes?!?. I finished up my prayer and was left with just staring at my own reflection in the one way mirror near me which got really boring and after about 10 more minutes I started feeling really annoyed. I raced back out to the van for my cell phone so I could at least let Paul know that I was not dead since he was expecting me at the Agape breakfast meeting at 9:15 and it was now past 9:30. We had not been on the phone 30 seconds when the corrections officer came out to do my fingerprints!!! Anyway, we went to the post office today to put all the paperwork in the mail (required 2 separate mailings to different offices at the Department of Health in Tallahassee...not finding the logic there either). I found this to be a huge load off my mind and thought it was blog worthy!
Addressing the second envelope.
The kind postal worker was completely sympathetic to my whining about the frustrating process and got a kick out of us taking pictures in the post office...I didn't even get his name (rude northerner), but I really appreciated his insight!

The kids are having a great week at another VBS and I am enjoying an entire morning to myself since they were all old enough to attend. Holden and Alayna go to Creative Camp while Gabe and Riley go to Sports Camp. I drop them off at 8:40 and Monday and Tuesday I treated myself to a long hard bike ride (as fast as I wanted to go and as far as I wanted!), then came home and jumped straight into the pool to cool off, laid by the pool listening to the quiet until I was too bored and had too many other things I wanted to do besides lay still! I think this is just a small taste of what is to come when they go to school! I am sure I will miss them when they are gone all day, but reality comes crashing back in at noon when I have to go get them (way before I start missing them!). Today I spent my free morning at the police department, but I have plans to take back my morning tomorrow!!

Here Holden is proudly displaying his artwork: a decorated tile and a votive holder, both with scripture. Here is Alayna's fish she painted. It is hard to appreciate the sparkle in the glitter she lavished on the fish...that's my girly girl!!!

And this is just a picture of everyone being goofy. Alayna was playing dress up (by herself...still missing Abby, Jaclyn, and Amanda!!), Gabe was getting his new boogie board ready for the ocean (plans for going to the beach today if Paul can get away early--he went in at 5am today), and Holden is wanting the other side of his votive photographed so all the words could be read to the scripture!

We pray you are all doing well and hope to hear from lots of you soon!! We covet your comments here at our blog and your e-mails and phone calls. In case you are wondering, our cell phone numbers haven't changed, so don't hesitate to give us a ring! We would love to know how we can be praying for you. Here are some specific requests from us:

Gabriel: Please pray that people will send money to Agape so they can continue to send supplies to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Riley: Please pray for the plane purchased by Agape that is being put together now in Atlanta.

Holden: Please pray for our visitors to get here safe when they come and please pray for the safety of the people that fly the plane for Agape. Please pray for safety of the people in Haiti and the other side of the world and for their health. God, please heal the people that are sick around the world, thank you for providing everything in the world, especially trees, beautiful flowers, fruits, and people.

Alayna: Please pray that I won't miss my friends so much. I love you! Please pray for Victoria on her trip to Florida! (Marcie: did you know about this???)

Paul and Travis: Wisdom in planning the next marriage conference in Iowa, provision for our travel, protection of our marriage. Wisdom in choosing ministries to be involved with here, that Jesus would be glorified by our service, not ourselves!

Thank you for choosing to travel this road beside us as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are honored by your presence with us and forever grateful for His provision through you to bring us here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Teeth and a new Prachar

One of the most exciting things that has happened to Holden since we got here (next to getting his very own letters in the mail!) is the appearance of his top teeth!! Most of you know that he got those 4 top teeth knocked out last year (March, 2007) when Paul and I were in Haiti on a mission trip. After healing up well, we were reassured that his big teeth were in there and not damaged, and that their eruption would probably be delayed due to the trauma. Well, as you can see, they have finally made their appearance! Holden has already eaten an ear of corn on the cob (Florida sweet corn can not even compare to Iowa's!!) and we are all getting used to his new look!

This has been a fun and busy week! We have put in lots of hours at Agape with Paul. That has been really fun for me, but the kids lose enthusiasm after a little while, but they were great troopers! Wednesday we went in for breakfast, then I sat down with 3 of the missionaries and helped them start a blog for their supporters. We stuffed envelopes for a major mailing and the boys did lots of odd jobs like cleaning windows (and did very well...I couldn't help but mentally add that to their list of chores at home as well!), bathrooms, sweeping the floor and even mopping. I hope they were more of a blessing than problem since we were there all day! Alayna made art work for people's desks...there was plenty to go around! We went back Saturday morning to help finish packing up some medications that were donated. Some were expired and when they were donated to Bangladesh originally, they were rejected because of that. Someone brought them in as is and we had to go through each box and remove and discard all the expired medicine and then repack the boxes, weigh and label them to be ready to go on the plane for the next flight. These were REALLY good medications and supplies and it would have almost been a crime to have to throw them all away, so we were so glad to be able to help get them to the island and into the hands of those who need them most.

Paul and Alayna glued the envelopes closed, Gabriel stuffed the envelopes.

Holden put on the stamps.

Riley helped fold.

We spent the rest of Saturday at the beach searching for shark's teeth and pretty shells for the kids' friends. We didn't find many, so Holden got to send the first ones off. He wrote his own note and taped in the shark's teeth. SO sweet to see him caring for his friends! Alayna gathered shells for her friends, but didn't find many really pretty ones, so we will gather more next time and then try to get some sent out. Paul found an article in a magazine about building sand castles, so we went armed with wooden spoons, 5 gallon bucket and cups this time. But we ended up at Venice beach where the sand is a lot heavier and has lots of shell fragments in it and was not ideal for castles and would not hold together well. We persisted and came up with a castle with an interior room! After we had finished (doesn't take too long in that sand!), we played around. A bird came and landed on the top tier of our castle smashing it! He must have thought we built him a landing pad! I tried to catch him in the act, but wasn't quick enough:

The topmost tower was a total loss...

Another wonderful thing happened in our family recently that I am so excited to share with you! Paul's brother had his first child (actually his wife Rubie had know what I mean!!) earlier this month!! I am so excited to introduce you to Chloe Marshae Prachar. She is sporting a onesie I found around here that I thought said it all (Paul's brother is 10 years older than him and has long wanted a family. His marriage to Rubie also brought him 3 step-sons, so they have 3 boys and a girl as well). We are so excited she is here and healthy and can't wait to meet her in person! Congratulations Martin and Rubie! Welcome sweet Chloe! We love you all!

I want to pass on a bit of wisdom I learned this morning at church. First of all, let me say that we are so blessed by this church, so blessed to find a church so quickly and one that teaches such great lessons just when we needed them! Anyway, what we learned this morning was the "Chocolate Milk Doctrine". You may have heard this, but we hadn't, what a great object lesson. Anyway, we are like a glass of white milk. Jesus is the chocolate. When we trust in Him for salvation, he sends His Holy Spirit (the chocolate) to live in us. But, if you just put in the chocolate and never do anything else, the chocolate doesn't change us and we don't look or act any different than anyone else who doesn't have the chocolate in them. BUT, when we submit our wills to the stirring of the spirit, striving to bring all things in our lives under His authority and into obedience to Him, we look like chocolate milk. BUT, if we decide again not to submit to the stirring of the Holy Spirit, we quickly become as white milk again, and we eventually become rotten and putrid white milk with chocolate in the bottom. This was tied into our lesson on Solomon today who obeyed God PERFECTLY in some areas, but did not submit other areas of his life (e.g his marriage) and obey God, therefore becoming putrid, rotten white milk with chocolate in the bottom. When we allow sin to be present in our lives without allowing the Holy Spirit to stir us into obedience, our minds become twisted, our hearts become hardened and we have a hard time agreeing with God that we are actually sinning, and we justify what we are doing. God wants us to OBEY him in everything, not just get some parts perfect. Listen when the Holy Spirit tries to stir you and may you be very rich dark chocolate milk!!! I know I want to be just that!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One month mark

Today marks the end of our first month here. Where has the month gone? I want to let you know how we are doing and share some insights we have learned.

How are the kids doing? They are mostly doing great. We have a few moments of "I don't know anyone and there's no school for months!" There were also moments of "This is so hard, all we do is work, work, work!" but these are resolving themselves as we have settled in and called a moratorium to painting until my sister and mom arrive! Paul has started taking one of the kids with him on the day the plane leaves. They get up super early, have breakfast together and arrive at Agape in time to see the plane take off and make sure everything is in order. Last night we even all went to the hanger to help load the plane. We finished quickly with 2 families doing the work! Anyway, whoever goes with Dad then hangs out until I come get him when we have coffee/breakfast fellowship. Holden took 2 naps on the floor of Paul's office last week, but Riley hung in there today helping out around the hanger as he was needed. You may be asking yourself why in the world these kids want to get up before the crack of dawn to go into work with their dad. The answer is the way they get to work...on the motorcycle!! They think that is the coolest thing to ride with him across town to work and they are willing to sacrifice sleep for it!They are loving the pool and beach. Paul has been wanting to get in on some beach action but we had rain all day Saturday. We ended up going for several hours on Sunday in spite of strong winds and clouds. We had a great time playing in the waves and making a sandcastle (see new video!). We discovered we do not have the right tools for a masterpiece, but made due with what we had. It was great to work together as a family. We inspired another father and son to build one near ours and we had a small competition (maybe in my mind only!!) that we Prachars easily won!!

Here we are just getting started on the Great Wall part and brainstorming details.

Here the moat is coming together with the bridge over it.

Carving steps up to the bridge

The finished project...just in time as the tide started rising and water came up and all the way through the moat. Probably wasn't long before it was all washed away! We couldn't bear to stay and watch the destruction, however the kids longed to smash it themselves!

We also took time to celebrate our one month mark by going to a (free!) movie at the theater in town (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and also got in line for free face and body painting! The kids thought it was great! We headed over to Agape to show Dad which was the first picture on this post.

This week has already seen God's work in providing for our "problems". Last week after the run to the island, the plane needed work and would most likely miss this week's route. On Friday, a man called and wanted to volunteer to take all the cargo for this week when he flew down to see a family member in the Dominican Republic!! That is why we loaded the plane on Monday night and it left Tuesday morning. Secondly, when we moved, we did not move our old stand mixer with us, instead actually were able to sell it at our garage sale (truly God's handiwork!!), and our hand mixer had quit months ago. I figured I would replace it after we moved. However, this has not been high on the priority list and we have borrowed our neighbors twice when we realized we were half way through a recipe that required a mixer. Yesterday, the neighbor brought over an extra mixer she had on hand because there was a great sale. I totally heard God say, "See Travis, I knew you were going to live across the street from her and I told her to buy that mixer because you would need it, and I want you to know that I even care about those little details!"

I want to leave you with an object lesson God has been teaching us this week that he fleshed out in front of my eyes. Everyone but me was in the pool. I just happened to go to the slider to look out at them and I could see Alayna floating on the innertube. She has been swimming since we got here and can swim all the way across the pool, so I wasn't alarmed that she was floating in the deep end. She was trying to get her hair out of her eyes and tipped her head back and leaned back to get the top of her head in the water and slipped off the innertube. No big deal, she was right by the side, but instead of swimming for the side, she kept trying to grab onto the innertube from the inside of it. Her hands kept slipping and she never could get hold of the innertube. I was opening the door to get someone's attention when Riley noticed her and jumped in and pushed the innertube away from her and pulled her to the side. Wow, how much like Alayna are we??? What are we clinging to (or trying to cling to) that in the end won't save us and only makes us miss true salvation?? How much do we need a Savior to jump into our situation and push away what we are clinging to and show us the way to true Salvation!!! I only had a little time to think on the object lesson God gave me before we got busy again, but in church on Sunday, the sermon was about forgiveness. The point especially driven home was walking in forgiveness and the necessity of it for salvation. FOR SALVATION!! Matthew 6:14-15 says: "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." If your sins are not covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven you do not receive don't receive forgiveness if you don't also freely offer it!! Are you clinging to unforgiveness like Alayna trying to cling to the innertube? I pray you will allow God to search your heart and show you what you are clinging to as I have this week!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Do-overs and a busy week

Yesterday was our day of do-overs. In spite of the heat (93 degrees and humid here), we set out on our original plans from last week for a bike ride/picnic/trip to the park. We found the park easily and it is very close to our neighborhood as well. It has a fitness trail where you run or walk the track and do the stations as you approach them including monkey bars, a spring bar and others. It looks like fun. I am finding it hard to get any exercise here. I sold my treadmill and we certainly don't have room for it anyway!! It is way too hot to run outside though the terrain is flat which is helpful for me. If I go for a bike ride, the kids want to come and they can't keep up if I am working hard enough to actually raise my heart rate. I even pull Alayna behind me and they can't keep up with me!! I am hoping they develop some endurance here soon!! But I digress...anyway, we also found the playground which was actually a series of several playgrounds each with different activities. The kids had a great time and we went back home after we ran out of water and were thirsty again...about 30 minutes!!

I tried to place the camera to take a picture of the kids riding on the trail...this was my first try...obviously I was holding the camera next to my head!!

Try again...a little better! This time I put it all the way behind my head. At least you can see the trail we ride on. It used to be a train track and as I understand it goes for miles! Its flat, which helps when pulling someone who can't help by pedalling!

There they are! Third time is a charm they say...or maybe it was actually the 4th or 5th...

If you look closely at her hands, you can see the indentations from her handlebars across her palms. She was white knuckling it the whole time!

Here we are enjoying a spinning seat at the park...Holden liked it at first, but after almost revisiting his lunch he decided he actually hated it!! I think this picture depicts our tans realistically. The last post made us look much browner...I should have put a disclaimer on it: "Warning, people in this picture are not as tan as they appear!"

Another spinning ride, this one you could walk on...after my swivel chair ride while painting last week, I thought is wiser to let the kids enjoy this one!!

Sunday we went to visit another church called The Bridge. They meet at the school about 5 minutes from our house. Walking in, it had a Grace feel with many young parents and kids. We loved the music and the message was very timely. The pastor is very young and spoke on prayer...something I needed to hear about. I heard the sermon at Grace on Sunday was on prayer as well...kooky! Anyway, they had a baptism (or bathtism as Alayna calls it) service planned for that evening at the beach and we decided we should go if we wanted to meet people. We had already met a few people in the morning. It was great to see the witness on the beach of the service. Lots of people were there and several came over to check out what we were doing. It was sort of hard to hear the pastor over the roar of the waves, but the message was proclaimed. Just as we finished a storm blew in and we got pounded with sideways rain! I was standing in the middle of the shelter house getting soaked! The men cooked undaunted in the rain and we had a great pot luck...I love a pot luck!! Best of all we met lots of people and felt very comfortable and welcomed. I will attend a ladies' Bible study tonight.

Baptism at the beach as the storm rolls in behind us.

A total of 8 people were baptized.

Monday I finished up my painting project in the kitchen and got caught up on the reading for the Bible study. Paul called just as we were cleaning up the painting mess to tell me there was a showing for the house, so the rest of the day was spent cleaning and organizing and trying to find homes for all the things I had been trying to ignore! Being a stay at home mom is so much work!! I don't know where the day goes, but before I know it Paul is home and its time for the dinner, bath bedtime routine!! I am thankful for the projects and the sense of accomplishment with completion.

Today we went to Agape again for coffee/breakfast/fellowship. It is nice to get to know the people Paul works with and talks about. They are a great group of people. I don't know that I can ever thank you, our supporters enough for what you have allowed him to do. I can't even remember when he last went to a job he loved. He is so excited about his job, even rising at 5 am on Wednesdays to see the plane off (not in his job description) and make sure there are no hitches. He has never been a morning person!! He says "I don't know where the time goes!". I know that is how it is when you are doing something you love. So, thank you again for giving him this chance.

Here are the kids with Paul at his desk...see he does work! I have tried to get him to take the camera to work one day to chronologize his day for for that!

Well, I should wrap this up. I keep thinking I am going to sit down and put real thought and devotion into these posts and have them filled with ways our lives parallel the Bible with verses offered as proof that serve as inspiration and encouragement to all who read it...instead I just spout off about what we do day in and day out because that is all I have time for. Maybe when the kids start school.....I hope no one holds me to that!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

An eventful day

Watching fireworks at the beach
You can just make out the fireworks like a hat on Holden's head...we were pretty far away!!

Happy Independence Day! We thought we would share some of the fun things we found to do on our first July 4th celebration here in Florida. We found Jungle Gardens in Sarasota (not too much unlike Reptile Gardens we visited last year in South Dakota) and the kids got in free with gifts for our country's soldiers. After gathering gifts and eating breakfast we headed out to spend the day with wildlife and gardens and playing. There were special things there for the kids to do such as the inflatable rock wall (seen in the slideshow), a bounce house, a watermelon eating contest (Gabe tied for first!), and a bike raffle, that weren't usually there, then all the reptiles and birds and a fun playground. We went to the reptile show and while we were watching, a racer snake slithered over mine and Riley's feet. I noticed something brushed my foot, but with Alayna on my lap, thought nothing of it until I noticed the snake along its merry way away from me!! I managed not to panic somehow! I think somehow he was more scared than I was as he desperately tried to get through the fence and away from all the people! We headed home to cool off and went to the beach for the fireworks. We stayed on the fringes and managed to find a spot minutes before it started and got out quickly when it was over. It was pretty amazing to hear the ocean instead of the explosions we usually hear!! The kids had a hard time paying attention to the fireworks though since we were so far away. At the CRPD helipad we had front row seats and could not even carry on a conversation due to the noise!!

Anyway, I pray you have had an enjoyable relaxing day thanking God and our troops for the freedoms we enjoy. Please check out our videos next to this post...(I have really gotten into posting things on here. Its amazing what you can do when you have the time!!) turn down the volume on the music to hear it. One video is of the watermelon eating contest Gabe won and the another one is the unbelievable neighbor we met today!! There is also one of us feeding the flamingos and our faces are blurry for some reason. Identity protection I guess!! I tried uploading it twice and it did it both times. Oh well, I will get this all figured out soon enough, then somthing newer and better will replace it!!

Our hearts ache at times like these when we are used to being surrounded by friends and family, but Jesus is our sustainer and we continue to look to Him for His perfect provision. We covet your e-mails and comments here at our blog...I should admit I am spying on you!! I can tell how many people have looked at the blog and from what I am waiting not so patiently to hear from know what we are up to but we are dying to know what you are up to!! A few of you have blogs and I check them once or twice daily, hungry for get those things updated!! I have the following people's blogs and am checking them: Deb Pitcher, Mandy Mallicoat, Rikki Kreger, Vicki Cupp (congrats for having the most up to date blog even with a newborn!), Sara McClintock (sorry Sara, your is actually really up to date as well, I was just not smart enough to figure out how to view current posts), Athena Grady, Lisa Metheny, JoDee Martin, and Missy Isbell. If you have a blog and I don't know about it, SEND ME YOUR SITE!!

We love you all and are blessed to know you and call you friends. We continue to pray for God's sustaining strength for those of you in Iowa helping with all the flooding clean up, we long to work alongside you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday Morning Flight

This morning I came in to see the pilots off for the Island. Pilots Tom and Mark were in at 5 am to have wheels off the ground at 6:20 am. I spent much of yesterday in the mail room sorting the missionaries mail (gained a new appreciation for postal workers) , getting to know their names, finding out who wants junk mail and who doesn't (most do not). Putting faces with each of them will be next. The latter part of this month I plan to go to Santo Domingo to assist in getting John Niesen planted in the Agape host home there. I hope to get to meet a number of missionaries during the trip.

Plans to expand south, east and west are always a discussion around here. It excites me (not much does that) to see the potential of the services that can be provided world wide to expand the gospel. This expansion needs more staff. We are in dire need of a plane mechanic, human resources director, IT personnel, and more. Please contact me if you have any interest in any of these positions at 941-488-0990, ext. 104, or on my mobile at 319-360-6692, the Agape web site is We know that God is working on a few of you, so when he calls you, please don't hang up. Answer and begin talking with Him. It's okay to fight through this with Him, however, be warned that He may dislocate your hip if you chose to wrestle with Him.

The plane represents only a small part of what we want to get accomplished, but it is undoubtedly a significant part of the ministry here at Agape. In speaking with Tom this morning before they flew off into the sunrise he mentioned that he sometimes asks himself "its hot, I'm tired, what am I doing?" But when he sees the faces of the missionaries when they arrive, he sees, "this is why." What a blessing for Mark and Tim to see those faces when they land, and what a blessing to the missionaries to know that we exist to serve them, and we have their best in mind. It's a beautiful thing to be a part of ministry in this way. Tom and Mark should return Thursday between 4 and 5 pm to Sarasota to go through customs and be home after that.

I cannot finish this short summary this morning without recognizing the family of believers who make it possible for us to be here. We love you and thank each one of you.

Talk to you soon.