Nica – Here We Come!

IMG_2230Here is our team for the April ministry in Nicaragua.  They leave Tuesday, April 19th and return Wednesday, April 27th.  If you would like to pray for them by name, they are…

Left to Right:  Dr. Joseph (Joe) Falkner, Pastor Allen Mann, Katelynn (Kat) Petkoff, Richard Mann, and Rochelle Hansen.

I wish I could tell you the amazing amount of gifts and abilities that are represented in this small group.  I can’t wait to see how God uses each of those gifts He has given in order to bring the precious Nican people to Himself!

Thank you for your prayers thus far!  We have received all the money we needed for the water buckets for this trip.  (Any excess will be used for future water purchases.)  We are always so amazed at God’s provision, though by now we shouldn’t be.  Thank you to all who so generously gave to bring safe water to the communities!

Yes… Allen really did make it home…

When we last left Allen, he had just arrived in the Philippines…  And the blog left him there!

He came home and promptly got quite ill (beginnings of pneumonia) and just as he was getting better, I (Sheree) succumbed.

But we are feeling better now and we have lots to share with you.  We will be sending out a newsletter sometime next week, but for now here is a summary video of the Philippines trip, created by our own Joe Falkner!

Santa Fe Island, Philippines

The first days in pictures and excerpts from Allen’s journal….

Small Church Plant

“Our first outing was to a new church, planted by our friends in Cebu.  Pastor Cris and his brother are working with this church as well as another.”

Girls with Porridge

“We saw so many cute little faces, holding bowls, cups and spoons, awaiting a free meal of porridge. The kids were noisy as they made instruments out of their bowls and spoons, drumming up whatever showed their expression of anticipation for the meal. While they waited for the food, they also sang Bible songs and worked on a memory verse.”

Group of Kids in church

“At the second church plant, there were twice as many children as the first and they were all there with bowls and spoons, awaiting their free meal.  We sang some songs with them and then I was asked if I wanted to say anything to the children.  Of course I did, and I shared the message of God’s love and forgiveness with them and of God’s free gift of eternal life.  They seemed to be pretty well taught in the stories of the Bible, but I wanted to make certain they knew that God’s free gift is exactly that – Free!”  

The team is back in Cebu now and it is currently Sunday morning there.  Pastors Joe and Allen will be preaching at 2 different churches very soon.  Please continue to pray for their health and for clarity of the Good News.


Happy Birthday Jesus Party!

It started weeks ago; preparations for a community birthday party for Jesus at our home church. There were SO many people involved, each working tirelessly – and when it came down to the actual event, it went off without a hitch.


The beginning was slow, but by mid-morning, the craft area, carnival games, bounce house and snack station were all full!  We invited the group to take a break from the games and to come sit in the middle as I presented the message of the birthday of our Savior and the reason for the season. I shared a video clip of a time-warp and the kids had fun screaming with me as we sped through time to discover the reason why Jesus had to be born, die, and then rise again.



At the end of the program, we were blessed to know that three of our visitors had put their trust in Christ, one visitor asked for (and received) some spiritual help, and others asked about van rides to attend church each week!  What an amazing time!!

That party is over, but there is still time to join us tonight for our Christmas Eve Eve service (December 23rd), where we will once again participate in sharing the great news of Christ. Our youngest daughter, Rachel, will be cast in a role alongside Sheree, and I’ll be playing some instruments with a small musical ensemble as well as  giving the message of hope through Jesus Christ.  We would love to see you there!

Ponderosa Bible Church

1800 N. Beeline Highway

Payson, AZ 85541

Merry Christmas!  

We’d Love to Meet You Personally!

In the months of February and March, we will be visiting with some of our prayer partners at their local churches.  We’ll be in the Camp Verde area on February 8th at the Camp Verde Christian Church.  We’ll be in Tucson the end of February, and  on March 1st, we’ll be in Kearny at Fellowship Baptist Church.  If that’s in your neck-of-the-woods, please stop in for a visit and hear about our ministry!  If we happen to drive through your area en-route, let’s meet up and  fellowship together.  We’d be happy to share, in more detail, about all that God is doing around the world through CrossWay International.  Maybe we could meet for lunch?

Nathan Behind a Huge Pizza

Between church meetings and overseas travel, I am taking two Spanish courses, hoping to grasp the language quickly and be able to communicate clearly, on my own, in the Spanish language.  I am also continuing some biblical studies online at Grace School of Theology.

Plans are underway for my next trip to the Philippines.  I’ll be traveling in May with some of my friends from Ponderosa Bible Church.  Ed and Jan Miller and Pam Palmer will be teaching over 300 children as well as many of their parents!  And when they are not teaching the children, they will be moving through the community doing street evangelism.   I am very excited about this opportunity to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and to also train them in discipleship.  Pastor Joe Falkner and I will be traveling to another location during that week to minister to the men of the House Of Hope.

Shortly after the Philippine ministry, I’ll be heading back to Nicaragua for a Bible-based sports camp.  Our team will be teaching some sporting techniques to the local youth from many of the areas where we have previously shared the gospel.  With this opportunity we will also be teaching Bible lessons in the mornings and evenings, and discipling one-on-one.  This will be an excellent opportunity to really speak into the lives of at-risk youth, and share the gospel clearly and freely.

Prayer Requests:

–Travel safety as we move around the state of Arizona in our travel trailer.

–That I can grasp the Spanish language fully and speak it clearly on my own.

–Philippine ministry and funds to feed the 300+ children each day of the five we will be with them.

–Nicaragua Sports Camp – funds, workers, safety, spiritual success.

–Most importantly, that the gospel will go forth clearly, and that many would trust Christ for salvation!

No Words

Sometimes in life, the right words don’t come to you at the right time.  Though I have continually tried to post an update, the right words haven’t been there to share the sad news that Baby M met Jesus last week.  In fact, at his memorial service, all I could manage was mumbling unintelligible words to his very sweet mom.  But the right words came in the form of a song, played at his beautiful service.  Written by Jeremy Camp, these words from the song “He Knows” were healing to me…

“All the bitter weary ways
endless striving day by day
you barely have the strength to pray
in the valley low

how hard your fight has been
how deep the pain within
wounds that no one else has seen
hurts too much to show

all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees


Are you struggling today?  Sinking?  Jesus knows.  Really, truly, knows.  Today, I choose to lift my eyes to the One Who knows.

I Like Sugar!

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I like ice cream, but that’s because it’s cold sugar.  Basically, I like sugar.

On my recent flight to Kenya, I was served a few in-flight meals.  One of the packets that came with the pre-packaged utensils was simply labeled, “Sugar.”  I looked at the package and said (out loud), “Yum! Sugar!” (A quick interjection from Sheree as I edit this. Consistently, my husband has capitalized “sugar” and “ice cream” through this entire post. I can only infer that this is his subconscious mind emphasizing the blog title…)

During my flight from Zurich to Kenya, I noticed, over my right shoulder, an African woman reading a Bible.  Later, I noticed once again that she was still reading the Bible.  Still later, she was reading the Bible even more.  I also noticed that she only did two other things during the flight – eat the meal and sleep.  When she was awake, she was reading the Bible.  While others around me were watching the in-flight videos, she was reading the Bible.

This caused me to pause a moment.  I like sugar.  It’s sweet and I really enjoy it.  I have an “ice cream radar” and can tell you where most ice cream shops are located around the country.  But this woman really enjoyed the Bible.  To her it was sweet.  In fact, the Bible itself talks of the sweetness of God’s Word in Psalm 19:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with airline videos or other such entertainment to pass the time (depending on the content of course).  However, how much sweeter it is to spend that time reading the very words from God Almighty.  I think that our enemy has been effective in providing alternative sweeteners, things that are appealing but replace the true and real sweetness in this life.  This was a great reminder to me personally to keep my mind and heart focused on God and His sweetness.

Just a thought for you?  Where do you find your true “sweets?”  Are there things that are sugar substitutes for your attention? Things that cheapen the real?  The author of Hebrews said it like this in Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Read God’s Word my friends and enjoy the sweets!

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