Hey everybody, thanks a lot for all the prayers, we really appreciate them! Just wanted to let everyone know that we finally got our home phone working. The number we will be using is 512-538-1888. We still have our cell phones with the 803 area codes so you can call us on those with no long distance charges for the time being. We can call you back from our home phone as we have unlimited local and long distance with the digital phone. If anyone wants to know how to get your home and family protected for about $1 per day let me (Joel) know. I have an amazing offer for ya (really I do). Hope that everything is well.
Well there is finally some good news to tell. Yesterday, on his birthday, Joel paid for some very costly repairs to his car only to find out it still isn't passing the Texas inspections standards so he has to take his car back tomorrow so that the guys he paid a lot of money to can fix whatever isn't fixed. They offered to provide Joel with a rental car while they fix his car. Anyway, onto the good news. Joel was offered a job today by Wal-Mart, but neither he or Laurie liked the offer very much as the pay is not really what they need, and the schedule is so crazy it seems like they let a toddler on massive quantities of energy drinks go wild with a pack of crayons on the time sheets. On top of that no one who was there during Joel's 2 interviews this morning could explain the benefits to him. Still, Joel and Laurie didn't feel like they had many options, and not much has been working out. It was a rough afternoon as Joel and Laurie tried to remind themselves and each other that God led them here and would provide for their needs. At about three in the afternoon Joel made a last minute phone call in response to an ad that he saw in Sunday's classified ads. He had to leave a message for the guy. At about 4:00 Joel received a call back from that guy who said that today was the last day that they were doing interviews and training started tomorrow. Joel got ready right away, and left for an interview. Joel was offered a position and he accepted it. That's right, Joel got a Job!!! Praise Jesus!!!! It isn't exactly what they wanted, as Joel will have to start out working in the evenings [2:30-9:00pm] and working on Saturdays as well. It isn't a great schedule, but it is at least the same every week, and if Joel does well he will be able to move to a day shift which will be better. Joel will be working in a call center for a company called Protect America Inc. as a sales rep. It will be a big challenge for Joel, but it has a guaranteed hourly base that is better than what Wal-mart was offering, plus commission and monthly bonus opportunities. Joel will be selling home security systems. If anybody need a quality home security system to protect your family and home, then let me know =) If anybody wants to know, Joel did have a good birthday, Laurie made him a delicious breakfast and in the afternoon took him to a movie that he has been wanting to see (Rocky Balboa). Laurie's parents took them out to dinner at a very nice restaurant where Joel got some great food! Joel finished off the night by playing some games with William Stewart which was very cool. We miss you all, thanx for reading this. I have to go as I have a long day of training tomorrow.
Well good morning everyone (unless it's not morning when you are reading this). Laurie and I met with our new pastor last night and had a very good time. Bo and Stacie have 3 daughters who are full of energy. We had a lovely time of fellowship (for any Baptists out there you know that means that we were eating) and learning about the area and the new church. We will be volunteering our time with Hill Country Bible Church of Hutto, which launches on Easter Sunday. Bo told us about the couple that will be leading the youth ministry at the launch, and we are going to try to meet them this Sunday to talk about things. Hutto is a small town, or it was. The last census of Hutto revealed a population of 1,250 people. That was in 2000. In less than 7 years the city has grown to over 17,000 people and there are plans to build around 25,000 homes in the near future. Hutto is growing very fast, and Bo estimates that around 75% of the Hutto population are unchurched. The Hutto church plant will be very well poised to reach a number of people who have little or no Christian influence, which is very exciting. We are excited to be a part of the launch team. Please pray that our church will be a light in Hutto, and will impact the whole town with the lafe changing reality of Jesus Christ. Last night we also met with our first small group. We had a great time, but whatever new small group we become a part of will have really big shoes to fill. We loved our home group at Riverbend, and it is hard to imagine finding another one that great. We met last night with the group that Bo and Stacie lead, and we had a good time. One of the main things we loved in our home group was that there were people in all stages of life. This small group has the same dynamic, and they were very welcoming. We will see if this is the small group the Lord has for us or if we should try others. Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to read this and keep up with all the crazy stuff going on with us. And most especially thanks for all your prayers. Please continue to pray especially for finances, as both our cars needed some expensive repairs to pass Texas inspection requirements, and we don't have any job leads yet. By the way you can leave comments and little messages for us if you want to by clicking the little comment link at the bottom of each post. We would love to hear from you!
It is Thursday January 18th and Joel and Laurie have an invitation to have dinner with our new pastor and his family (he will be the pastor of the Hutto church plant where Joel and Laurie will be volunteering). We are also going to meet with a small group for the first time, which is lead by the pastor, Bo, and his wife.
Well Joel's conference ended at about 3:30 pm on Sunday January 14. He left to come home at shortly there after. While on the way home Joel got a wonderful phone call from his dear friend Artie Brickle who wanted to make sure that Joel knew that the Bears had won their game. Joel and Artie had a great conversation as Joel was driving the tedious 19 hours home. Joel also got to talk to Zach who shot his first deer ever last week. Joel was very happy to have had the opportunity to talk to Zach and Artie. Joel decided to stop for the night at about 1:30 EST. However, when the lady wanted $55 so that Joel could sleep for 5 or 6 hours in a cheap room probably with a horrible continental breakfast the next morning he decided to keep driving. He decided that he would just save the money and drive through the night to get home and surprise Laurie who wasn't expecting him until the next evening. Joel should have known better than to try and drive 19 hours straight, but he thought it might be fun. Besides he had 4 XS energy drinks with him that helped him through the night. About 4 or 4:30 in the morning Joel got another surprise as the freezing rain started. Within a short time Joel's windshield wipers were starting to get completely covered in ice, as was everything else including the roads. This made for an interesting trip. The freezing rain continued, with no sign of letting up. It got really exciting when one smart fellow decided that since Joel was gaining on him that he would hit his brakes and see if he could make Joel hit him before he could change lanes. Joel managed to change lanes successfully in plenty of time to avoid hitting the smart man. The man was so thankful that Joel avoided hitting him, although he slammed his brakes for no apparent reason, that he communicated it by flashing his lights and honking his horn and telling Joel in sign language that he was number 1. Despite all these things Joel made it home safely at a little past 8:00 in the morning. Laurie was very surprised when she got out of the shower and saw Joel sitting on the bed waiting for her. The freezing rain and sleet/snow continued throughout Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Now things are starting to melt and people are back out and things are running again. Laurie's parents say that this has been the worst ice storm in the 16+ years that they have lived here. I guess God wanted to welcome us to Texas. Here are some picture we took when it started snowing.
Ain't she cute!
It's thicker than it looks!
So that's why they call them ice sickle lights.
This is how it started
Joel's feet get sweaty so Laurie made him go outside so that his feet won't stink so much.
Only one week after arriving in Texas, Joel left to drive to Greenville, South Carolina for a business conference. Joel is involved with a marketing business on the side to try and help generate some extra income so that someday when he is a youth pastor they won't have to worry about how to pay the bills so that Laurie can stay home when they have children (which is not yet in case some of you are wondering). Joel wanted to go back for the conference, and got a really good excuse to go when his brother and sister-in-law had their first baby (that's right Joel is an uncle!) on January 3rd. Ben, Stephane and Linnea live in Rock Hill which is about 2 hours from Greenville. Joel was able to spend some time with them on January 11th and 12th before his conference. Here are some pictures of the proud uncle.
Ain't she precious!? Just 9 days old.
I wish I could sleep like that.
Linnea and her uncle Joel talk about the upcoming Bears playoff game where they expect the Bears to advance to the NFC championship.
Joel had a fabulos weekend at the conference although he missed Laurie greatly and wished that she could have been with him. The weekend was simply amazing as Joel learned a lot about the business that he is now apart of. The best part was hearing many of the leaders share the love of Christ and how it motivates them to excell. On Sunday morning there was a worship service that everyone was invited to attend (there were around 11,000 people at the conference and most of them came to the Sunday morning worship service). The Main speaker for the weekend, Larry Winter, shared his testimony and a very powerful and clear presentation of the gospel. Hundreds of people commited their lives to Christ, including 3 members of the team that I am on. It was truly awesome! It was especially cool to see a video from Josh McDowell talking about how great the leaders in our business are. He works with one of the leaders in a ministry called Outreach America which shares Christ with kids through sports camps with top atheletes like Shaun Alexander (NFL MVP 2005). [Stay tuned for part 2]
Well, Joel and Laurie got a nice Texas welcome when the first week we were here someone tried to steal Joel's car while they were sleeping. Fortunately a good car alarm and a neighborhood watch frightened the would be thief away. I guess he didn't see the picture of Joel sellting in in Texas.
Joel hard at work while Laurie snaps pictures and eats bon bons.
Joel is settling right in with the neighbors in Texas.
Well, Joel and Laurie are settling into their REAL new house. The boxes are mostly put away and things are starting to look normal. This is a temporary situation as we're doing Laurie's parents a favor by living in the house until they sell it. We are making such a sacrifice. We are kidding of course, Laurie's parents have been a real blessing by providing this nice place for us to live while we are settling in here in Texas. It is especially nice since we don't have jobs yet and can't pay rent. The Lord provides. Please continue to pray as we look for jobs.
Hey everybody! Please be patient as we build our first blog to help keep all of our friends back in South Carolina updated on what's going on with us. We arrived in Texas and have been working like wildebeests (ha you thought I was going to say dogs didn't you =) ever since moving us into Laurie's parent's old house, and moving them into their new house. We will try to have some pictures and stuff posted soon, but we have to find where we packed the camera. :) We will post more stuff as we have time, but we wanted to just let you all know that we got here safely. We love and miss you all.
P.S. here are some pictures of our new house. Come and visit!
P.P.S Joel is now an Uncle for the first time and he is VERY excited about it! Linnea Marie Merritt was born on January 3rd at 9:58 pm. He is still waiting for pictures of her due to technical difficulties.
YEAH RIGHT WE WISH!! Ok maybe not, but you can still come visit.
We are a little family of three (plus two animals- Ranger, the dog we love, and Jinx, the destructive cat we tolerate because Ranger likes to play with her). We are busy adjusting to life as three rather than just two and thanking God for the blessing of a baby. We are praying for His wisdom and grace to raise little Caleb to know and love Him!