Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Time for Reflection and A Time for Looking Ahead

As 2012 comes to an end in just a few short days, it is a time of reflection for our family and ministry.  God has truly blessed us this year, but that is not to say that it has been an easy year.  Actually, it's been quite the opposite- much of that having to do with the adoption of our daughter.  It has been a year of growing, learning to trust, and having faith that God's plan and timing are perfect.

Ministry-wise things have been a little different too.  We said goodbye to our ministry partner and friend, Doug, in January as he left to go to Bible college in Kentucky.  So, the first couple of months of the year were spent adjusting to doing ministry as a couple and without his help. 

We continued to minister in the villages of Cockleburr and Chuichu on the Tohono O'odham reservation.  Our relationships have only gotten stronger in these 2 villages, and we can see that the seeds that we first planted almost 2 years ago have taken root.  We are trusting God for the harvest!

After going to Cockleburr every week for the past 2 years, the kids still get excited when we pull up for "church night" and still continue to shout "It's Eric and Brittany!!"  How it makes our hearts happy to know they are excited to hear about Jesus!  There is just something about that village and those kids that our hearts will forever love. 

We never know what to expect when we get there!

In the village of Chuichu, we were able to build a ramada this year (with the help of HBC mission team).  This serves as our "church building" and where we hold special services and VBS.  We love this village too and are trying to find a way to go there more consistently (weekly).  The kids are always awesome and we've had several parents come to events that we've done.  Not to mention, Miss CB is absolutely the greatest and has a desire to reach her own community! 


Not only did we get to continue our ministry to these villages, but we added another village- Kohatk.  We have formed a great relationship with a couple in this village, who have graciously opened up their home/yard to us anytime we want to do something.  The kids in this village are so well-behaved and polite.  They are always eager to listen to the Bible story and always ask when we are coming back.  We have also met several adults from the village.  Our goal for 2013 is to be able to do more ministry work/events in this village and to start a discipleship program for the men that are interested.


We also spent a great deal of time ministering with/to the church at First Pima in Sacaton.  There were several events that took place that we (Eric especially) helped the church work through.  We spent a lot of time with the youth.  Unfortunately, we had one of our youth commit suicide just a little over a month ago.  This is the first time we have ever had to deal with it being one of our "own".  It was a hard time for us.  He was only 14 years old, and he has 3 siblings that are also in the youth group as well.  Please continue to pray for the family and for us as we continue to minister to them.

 We were able to get a youth facility for the church (with the help of a mission team from FBC Fredonia).  We also helped with the children's ministry and tried to help develop a strong Sunday School program. 

youth facility before pic

youth facility pic after

We even had someone donate their time and material to make curtains for the inside of the facility. The youth love them!

We had our first "Spring Break" mission teams come out this year in March.  They were Flat Top Unity Baptist Church from Mississippi and Hardin Baptist Church from Kentucky.  They were both really awesome teams! Spring Break Kids Camp was a success and we plan to do it again in 2013!

In May, we welcomed our first summer interns- Mark and Jessi Davis.  They arrived just a couple of days before the beginning of our "Summer" mission teams.  Our summer was great and full!  We had mission teams from Simpson Baptist in Illinois, Christian Fellowship and First Missionary from Kentucky, Damascus Baptist from Georgia, and Fredonia Baptist from Kentucky.  We also took the youth girls to church camp in KY.  Our summer consisted of VBS, contruction projects, and other outreach events.  If you look back in previous posts, there is a slideshow of pictures that you can watch.

Also, if you haven't noticed, my blog updates have been really inconsistent this year. :)  One of the reasons for that is because we also became foster parents this year.  The foster children brought to our house are from the Gila River Reservation.  Our first foster children came to our house in March. We have had 6 total foster children (2 years old and younger) this year.  A couple of them only stayed for a couple of weeks, but the majority have stayed for several months.  The most we have had in our home at one time has been 3, making a total of 5 children all under the age of 7.  We have been so blessed!  Can you see why my lack of posting?  I am still trying to figure out how to be a stay-at-home mom and work at the same time :)

In November, we traveled to Congo to finally bring our daughter home.  It took us 2 1/2 years, but she is finally here and seems to be adjusting well!  We enjoyed our time there, and we still think of and pray for the people and children we met on daily basis.  Our hearts long to go back again one day!  We thank you for your prayers!  It was a hard journey (especially the last couple of months before travel when we found out that she was missing), but God is good and brought our family together at last.  We hope that each one of you that reads this blog will be able to meet her at some point and see what a joy she is!

First kisses

Loving her momma!

So beautiful!

As we reflect, we can see the hardships, but most importantly the blessings.  We have seen God's faithfulness, and we have seen His provision for us time and time again.  We are thankful for all things. 

Now is the time that we look ahead to the future and anticipate what 2013 will bring.  We are excited about the new year because we know that God is the one who holds it in His hands.  We know that He has been preparing us and our ministry for great things.  We know that He has given us big dreams- ones that only He can accomplish.  We know that some of you will be used by Him to accomplish some of these things, whether it be financially or by physically working on the field. We look forward to see how He chooses to bring Himself honor and praise and glory.

We want to say thank you to all of you who have supported us these past couple of years.  We hope you see that you are making an eternal impact in the lives of Native Americans here in AZ.  We pray that you continue to support us, whether financially or by prayer.  Please pray with us for more supporters (financial and/or prayer) to come along side us in the new year. Like I said, God has given us BIG dreams, and we just know that He is going to use His people to accomplish this project!!

Finally, because several people have asked, it is possible to make end of the year tax-deductible donations.  At this point, because Live Love Ministries is not a 501c3 yet, tax-deductible donations must be sent through the North American Mission Board.  We do receive 100% of the funds. 

There are 2 ways to do this:

1. Mail a check.  Simply make your check to NAMB and put Gibbs 9611 in the memo line of the check so they know it is intended for us.  Send to: NAMB, 4200 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022

2. Make your donation online.  Click this link:   There should be a spot asking you for the missionary's first and last name.  Simply type in Eric Gibbs.  It should then come up with Eric Gibbs, Sacaton, AZ.  Just click on his name.  It should take you to our page and you can click on the button that says "Give Now". 

We thank you so much for your financial support.  We are self-funded missionaries, meaning that all the support we raise not only supports our family, but all the ministry that we do.  We could not do what we do without those of you that choose to give to our ministry. 

Although your financial support is important, your prayers mean more than anything.  Thank you to those that pray for us by name on a daily basis.  We can tell when people are praying for us.  We thank you and love you!

Looking forward to what God has in store,

P.S.  Christmas in the Villages was a huge success!!  It will be my next post.  I still have to go through all the pictures first.  But please know, it was awesome.  Every child was "adopted" and received at least 3 presents each.  It was amazing!