May 01, 2006

Our April 2006 newsletter

April 2006
Dearest Friends and Family,

Hello everyone! We know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from us…if you’ll be patient with us, we’d like to share our hearts with y’all and all that our heavenly Father is doing in our lives lately. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea, relax and put your feet up! It is our heartfelt prayer that this email will encourage your hearts and bless your spirits! As you read, we hope that you will see GOD at work and be thrilled to be His child and our brothers and sisters!

Romans 11:33-36
“Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are His riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be His counselor? And who could ever give His so much that He would have to pay it back? For everything exists by His power and is intended for His glory. To Him be GLORY evermore. Amen.”

This letter comes to you after a very interesting and faith stretching 3 ½ months home! What an awesome journey God has had for our family! Many of you have been our friends for years, many of you have been our partners from our first day in missionary training, some of you have joined our support team recently, but ALL OF YOU have had a significant part in our lives whether you encouraged us with your smile, a note or a word…whether you prayed for us or supported us financially…or whether you gave us a hug and simply passed on a touch of God’s love! Each of you has played a part in our lives and in the work that God has done and is doing in our lives. Every time we think of you, we sigh with an unbelievable sense of overwhelming thankfulness to the Father. Our spirits are immediately filled with encouragement as we think of you dear ones and the blessing that y’all have been to our family! Your faithful outpouring of love to us doesn’t stop with us…but it continues on to our families and our friends as they watch and see how faithful God is to us and how He always provides for us in both big and small ways. We do pray that our lives would be a testimony of God’s love, grace and faithfulness to all those around us…would He receive all the glory and honor for the great and awesome God that He is!

We must admit that the past months have been a sort of refiner’s fire for Joel and me. From where we stand now, we can see a little more clearly than when we first came back from PNG. The road we’ve traveled recently has been rough, rocky and uncertain. The past circumstances that God allowed through His loving hands to bring us home rocked us to our core. It’s caused us to look and see God more clearly and who we are in Christ more clearly than ever before! We’ve returned once again to the truth that WHO we are is not WHAT we do. Let me say that again, we are NOT what we DO! Coming home and no longer being “Joel and Kari, the missionaries to PNG” was extremely difficult, heartbreaking and bewildering. It truly was a death to our dream. We’ve struggled with the questions…who are we now? and what are we supposed to do? We’ve struggled a lot with the WHYs…Why did God allow this? Why weren’t we “good” enough to stay there? Why did we get hurt? BUT we know that when we don’t have the answers, we can trust God with the questions! And today we can say with 1000% confidence that we, Joel and Kari, ARE children of God, beloved, accepted, forgiven, chosen, holy, called, blessed and the apple of His eye. That’s who we are!! WHAHOO!!! J Can we get any better than THAT?? If that ain’t cause for us to get up and shout then I don’t know what’s wrong! These circumstances have been such a test of our faith. Are we going to trust that God is good no matter what things look like or how we feel? Will we trust Him? Are we going to believe what we know is TRUE about God and about us? When we feel like things are “out of control” or that we’re a “failure” or that God “let me down” or people meant things for “harm”…are we going to go back to what we know is the Truth? So for 3 ½ months we’ve been numb, in a kind of “fog”. Have you ever been there? Have you ever wondered what in the world was going on? Have you ever not cared what happened? Have you ever been hurt and not wanted to forgive? Have you ever questioned God and His methods? That’s why I love Romans 11:33-36. I’m sure we’ve all been there, that’s life. But what do we do when we’re in that place? For this reason, we can’t thank you enough for your love and prayers…they have been used by God in an incredible way to bring us along through these difficult days and the days ahead of us! Recently I had the opportunity to attend a ladies retreat at our church. Tracy, our special speaker, spoke on many different topics but the one that stood out to me was the one on forgiveness. She played this song below during an exercise in forgiveness and it was a real blessing to me. I know that God used this time to move me past my hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness to a new place of hope and renewal! I hope it encourages your hearts as it did mine.

Lay It Down
“I’ve been looking ‘til my eyes are tired of looking/ Listening
‘til my ears are numb from listening/ Praying ‘til my knees are sore from
kneeling/ On the bedroom floor/ I know that You know that my heart is aching/
I’m running out of tears and my will is breaking/ I don’t think that I can
carry/ The burden of it anymore/ All of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid
plans/ Are slowly slipping through my folded hands/
Chorus: So I’m gonna lay
it down/ I’m gonna learn to trust You now/ What else can I do/ Everything I am
depends on You/ And if the sun don’t come back up/ I know Your love will be
enough/ I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go/ I’m gonna lay it down
been walking through this world like I’m barely living/ Buried in the doubt of
this hole I’ve been digging/ But You’re pulling me out and I’m finally
breathing/ In the open air/ This room may be dark but I’m finally seeing/
There’s a new ray of hope and now I’m believing/ That the past is the past and
future’s beginning to look brighter now/ ‘Cause all of my hopes and my dreams
and my best laid plans/ Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands.”
Jaci Velasquez, Beauty Has Grace.

In saying all of this, we just wanted to give you some background on our last few months and share candidly with y’all what has been going on in our hearts and minds throughout this time. The last email we wrote, we mentioned that it looked like we would be moving up to Durham, Ontario Canada and serving on staff at NTM Canada headquarters. For all intents and purposes that was the plan and we made the first steps necessary for that move. However, in March it became clear to us that Joel and I were not unified in heart and mind in this decision. We had a lot of pressure on us that we didn’t realize at the time this decision was made. We’ve spent a ton of time in prayer, the Word, meeting with our Pastor and missions committee, and discussing things with our families in this decision. It seemed very similar to the decision we made back in Madang about coming home. We are aware that it might not “look right” to people on the outside. But we have realized that at the end of the day…it’s between us and God. We must do what we sense He is giving us peace to do above all else. Deep in our flesh we’re “people pleasers”. We want the “approval” of others, to get that pat on the back saying well done! But you know what? We can’t live that way, we’ve got to be GOD pleasers and realize that that is all that matters in life. At one point or the other we’re going to disappoint people, let them down, or do something that others don’t agree with and that is OK if we’re ok with God.

In fellowship with our families, Pastor, sending church’s missions committee and Canadian Management Committee, Joel and I have made the decision to step out of New Tribes Mission for a season. We believe that this is the next step God would have our family take and He has given us 100% peace about it. Tribal people will be forever engraved on our hearts and seeing them reached with the Gospel is still our heartbeat and passion! That will never change and is not affected by this decision. We are looking at this change in plans as a “rest stop” along our journey. Right now we are seeing our need to step back, catch our breath, rest, regroup and see what God has next for us. In the months to come we will continue to seek God’s favor and direction in our personal ministry…perhaps down the road He may have us rejoin NTM or He might have us do something else. It is our desire to remain a part of missions in any way possible, whether it is supporting missionaries we know, sending packages, being prayer supporters, etc. The sky is the limit and we are realizing that God’s plan for us is bigger than anything we could ever hope for or imagine! God has blown our “little box” wide open of what we think He can do…our future stretches out before us in all directions and God is inviting us to come and enjoy!

It is so vital for us to clearly communicate to all of you, our dear supporters. We want to communicate in a perfectly clear way concerning our present circumstances. Right now, we are simply in the process of resigning from NTM. Our NTM account is still open in order to allow for the completion of the sale of our supplies and belongings that we’ve sold to various missionaries. We still need to have 3 crates of our belongings sent home this summer and the cost of shipping to the states will have to come out of whatever money is in our account there. Also, we still owe on the balance for our 4 airplane tickets home and the loan we took out for our house building supplies. But our NTM account may possibly be closed at the end of May. Any moneys received in our account from now til closing will be used to pay off our ministry debts. If you desire to continue your financial support of us until that time, that is fine; however please know that because we are resigning we are not expecting support from this point onward. Be assured that just because we are no longer in this particular “ministry”, the bond of friendship that we’ve built with y’all will always hold a special place in our hearts. We would love to keep you updated on what is going on with us and we’d love to keep in contact with y’all and hear what God is doing in your lives! As the Spirit brings us to your minds, please continue to pray for us. It feels like we’ve taken the road less traveled and less known. We’ve been involved with NTM for over 10 years and so to step away from it is to step away from all that is familiar to us. But we’re so pumped to see what God has next for us!

So we’ve stepped off into the wide unknown and we are trusting God to be faithful and catch us! And He has! Already we have seen His hand at work in our lives to confirm this decision and to encourage our hearts to press on in His strength alone! And what’s next then? Well, Joel is currently looking for a job. Not just any job but something that will fit his personality and be an avenue for him to continue to minister the life and love of Christ. We don’t know what that may be but we know that God has directed us so far and He will continue to do so. But would you pray for Joel? Pray that he would be sensitive to the Spirit and not run ahead of Him but to wait for the job that He has for Joel. He needs something that can provide for our family as well as help to pay off our debts. I as well am beginning to look for something I can do from home to earn some extra income. I’m not sure what that may be but if anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them! We’d also like to look for a second car so that when Joel is at work, I’ll have something to be able to drive the kids around and do errands, etc. We look to God to provide…not to some job or to any person, but to trust that GOD will continue to provide what we need and when we need it. My (Kari’s) parents have also been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to our hearts in these past months. They have graciously opened their house once again to us, welcoming us with open arms! We’ve found a place a rest and peace in their house and we are so thankful to them and to the Lord! Now, are y’all ready for some really AWESOME news?? Well, God has already provided a place for us to live and regroup as a family! We’ll have a house of our “own” to stay in locally and all we can say is that this was a work of God!! We praise Him for so quickly meeting the desire of our hearts! He truly is the God of the impossible!

Many of you might be wondering how our kids are doing. Well, they’re fantastic actually! God has truly covered them through our many transitions and travels. They are healthy and active and loving life and their family around them. Alex will be 5 in June and will be going to kindergarten (oh my heart!) in the fall and he is VERY excited about it!! He is our sweetheart and is so stinking smart we can’t keep up with his multitudes of questions! Alex’s favorite thing to do is still to play outside…climb trees, ride his bike, play soccer or throw the football, or whack things with sticks! Alex has begun to show such sensitivity to the things of the Lord, it thrills our hearts. He is the joy of our hearts and those around him! Chloe will be 3 in July and is the shadow of her brother in more ways than one! She is our entertainer, comedian and expert in facial expressions. She is a very determined little girl and we look forward to how God will use that in her future. Chloe is the sunshine of our day and the delight of our hearts! Pray for us as we teach our children about their Creator God and as we seek to raise both of them in a Godly way. They both “fight” over who gets to hold Abraham (their new cousin, a.k.a. “Babe-a-ham”). Both of them just love to shower Abe with kisses, hugs and love! Seeing him is the highlight of their day (and mine as well)!! What a privilege and blessing to be a part of his little life!

So I think that about says it all. Please forgive the length of this email…but it is our “last missionary update” and we had much to share! Our desire was to communicate our thoughts and feelings to y’all so that you can be sure of where we’re at right now! We realize that we have said A LOT in this letter and perhaps some of you may still have questions after reading it. That’s OK! Listen, we’re in the country (or closer to you than we were before anyways!) so jot us an email or give us a call…we’d be happy to explain more or answer any questions y’all might have (and we’d just plain love to hear from ya!) We love you guys more than you will ever know and on our knees we give thanks to God out of hearts overflowing with praise for the honor and blessing of having YOU in our lives!! THANK YOU is all we can say for your love, prayers, notes, packages, calls, hugs, support and care for our family! This is not the end of our story, so stay tuned!!

“Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

In Christ, who is our very LIFE…
Joel, Kari, Alex and Chloe Schmidt

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