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Helping shape lives that will change the future.

What ingredients does it take to make an emotional milkshake?
Like any good recipe, the ingredients and the way those ingredients are prepared are what make a dish so good that you make it again and again. A milk shake requires only a few simple ingredients, and a powerful blender to blend it all up into its smooth, rich goodness!
The ingredients for our family’s emotional milkshake has been:

  • Braden’s graduation
  • Saying “see ya’ later” to our dorm boys, coworkers, and friends at RVA
  • Packing up our belongings to come back to the U.S. for about 5 months
  • Finishing our teaching responsibilities
  • Over 30 hours of traveling from Kenya to K.C.

Blend all the ingredients together in the powerful blender of only a few days, and what do you get? Something wonderful!  However, it’s funny because we find ourselves laughing and enjoying our time back here in the U.S. and then the next, feeling a huge empty sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs, knowing that in a few months we get back on the airplane leaving Braden at his college.  How can something as incredible as setting our son free feel so fulfilling yet so terrible at the same time?
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The first week of our home assignment has been a great blessing.
Quick Overview of our schedule:

  • Braden graduated and we boarded a plane on July 17, landing in KC about 30 hours after leaving RVA, and with every piece of our luggage
  • Road trip to Africa Inland Mission US headquarters in Atlanta and then wedding in North Carolina July 22-29
  • Braden’s graduation open house at Grandma and Grandpa Roach’s home on Sunday, August 3
  • Braden and parents have an orientation for International Students at John Brown University August 20
  • Preston, Landon, and Trevon begin school August 20 (you may notice that mom and dad will not be present for the first few days of school for the younger three, grandma and grandpa will help here)
  • Then life will begin to settle into the “Home Assignment” mode:
    • Connecting with current supporters and churches
    • Presenting our ministry to new friends and churches
    • Focusing on family

We so appreciate your prayers. Already we have been incredibly blessed, God has used so many to help us. One of our supporting churches, Abundant Life Baptist Church has graciously allowed us to live in their missionary residence. Not only does it save on finances, but it also is absolutely beautiful—more than we ever imagined! Our home church, Crossway Bible Church, has stocked the pantry for us with many of our favorite foods. A huge thanks to ALBC and Crossway for taking care of us!

Our address and phone numbers while we are in the US:
1417 SW. Mission Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO 64081
Bill’s cell: (816) 982-4955
Jennifer’s cell: (816) 982-4962

Egypt has recently elected a new president. South Sudan continues to have fighting in many parts of the new nation. The Central African Republic continues to have fighting to the extent that the presence of missionaries is almost nonexistent. We monitor the news to see what is happening in areas that the boys in our dorm have family and friends.

Food in front of a warm fire on a cold night in Kijabe is always welcomed by the dorm!

Food in front of a warm fire on a cold Kijabe night is always welcomed by the dorm!

In the past few weeks, we have been able to talk with parents about their ministries. Hearing their stories makes me look at them with respect and awe and rekindles the purpose for which God has called us to RVA. I would like to share some of these stories so you can join with us in praying for our dorm boys’ families and their ministries.

Colby asked us to pray for the decision his family must soon make. Their ministry in Uganda is coming to a close, and they are praying about where to relocate and begin new ministry. A few generations ago, a missionary family set roots in a region and then spent the rest of their lives with an unreached people group. The goal today is for missionaries to build a church of people who become self-sustaining, then move on to another location and start over. Colby’s parents have been praying about moving to either Lebanon, or Iraq. We began praying for this decision before the recent fighting in Iraq began.

Paul’s parents work in an area of South Sudan. Dad is the only doctor in an 80 mile radius, and mom is a nurse. Together they run a clinic that is so taxing their mission organization will allow them to stay no more than three months at a time before withdrawing to a home near RVA for a time of mental, emotional, and spiritual recovery before being immersed for another three months. Paul is the youngest of six boys who all grew up in Africa on the mission field. Paul’s dad has told us that one of the worst parts of his job is removing shrapnel from children.

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Game night in the dorm–with girls!

John’s parents also work in South Sudan. The region they are in is not as close to the fighting, but is very remote, not close to anything. They live in mud huts, have to walk a long distance for water. The only fruits and vegetables that are occasionally available have been brought in from Uganda and are too expensive for a missionary to afford. John’s dad is teaching Christian men to be pastors and has no medical training. There is no doctor within 100 miles, so all the people all expect the missionary to know how to help them with medical issues. He recently took a photo of a broken leg and sent it to a doctor friend who told him how to set it and splint it. His iPhone has become extremely valuable in looking up diagnoses or checking with friends, and using his own family medical kit to help the people in his village.

One dad is a brilliant engineer who grew up at RVA and even spent two years in our dorm as a student. Now he and his family are in a country in which it is very dangerous to be a Christian. His engineering skills have opened the door for him to enter a country that will not allow missionaries. God has opened the door for him to share the good news of Jesus!

Another family are Christians from Nigeria whom God has called to cross Africa to be missionaries in Mozambique. Emman has two brothers who attend RVA, and one who can’t wait to come in the near future.

In the past several weeks we have had opportunities to meet with numerous parents of the boys in our dorm. It has been very humbling to sit with these families and hear about their ministries. Often they say the words that totally shake me to the core. This message is repeated over and over by missionaries I talk with. What do they say that rattles my world? I wish you could sit in our living room and hear these words first hand.

Over and over I have heard from parents of our dorm boys, and sometimes even with tears in their eyes, “Thank you for investing in our son. We could not do our ministry without your help.

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Bible studies in our home

Please join with us in praying for these families, especially for Colby and his family as they seek God’s direction for their future ministry. One thing that makes this especially hard for Colby is that after four years at RVA, he will have to complete his junior and senior years at another school on a new continent. His dorm brothers are his best friends, and they will not be able to finish high school together.

God reminds us that this world is not our home, we are only passing through. We can easily get too comfortable and place our security in our surroundings. Our comfort and security must be in God.

I received a message from a friend just a few days ago asking if we have been affected by the bombs in Nairobi. While these bombings took place in an area we never frequent, we still take notice. There are numerous hard things about serving in a boarding school in Kenya. But serving God is worth it! Here is one way we see God’s hand at work through a recent conversation with a student.

In the past week I have had a student from my 9th grade Bible class come to me for help. He has grown up with missionary parents, and was taught from a young age what to believe about Jesus and the Bible. He has begun his personal search for truth. What if Islam is the truth? Could Buddhism or Atheism be truth? How do I know what to believe?

This is the journey every student must go through as he grows up; moving from “My parents’ belief” to “My belief”. Perhaps you remember going through this in your younger years. Each person has to make his faith his own. For every student who talks openly with us about this, there are probably ten more who are silent. Pray that God would give us wiZZ Hildebrand on top of worldsdom in what to say as we answer questions and direct students to find answers.

Living with 22 guys in a dorm is a real bonus for discipleship! The impact we are able to make goes all through the campus. Sometimes we don’t know just how much we have impacted until a student asks us to be a part of their baptism or some other celebration. Thank you Lord!

 

July 9, 2014 12:48 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

In chapter 26 of Matthew’s gospel, you see Jesus taking his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Their purpose was to pray. Jesus knew what was before Him, and therefore took his most faithful friends to intercede on His behalf. WOW, what a privilege. In verse 38, Jesus asks Peter, James and John to continue further with Him and He asks them to pray. The next verse then says, “and Jesus went FURTHER STILL.” That last verse has captured my heart and my attention for the past few weeks. What an amazing opportunity for the disciples to go with Jesus to the garden to pray, and then for Peter, James and John to be asked to go further with Jesus. But I love how it says that Jesus went further still.

Over a dozen students go "Further Still" as they follow the Lord by being baptized!

Over a dozen students go “Further Still” as they follow the Lord by being baptized!

I have been in discussion with Jesus about how He wants ME, to go “further still”. What does that look like? What do I need to let go of? Or maybe even harder, whom do I need to let go of to go further still? What fears or lies am I still clinging to that are keeping me outside the garden? I don’t know. But I’m listening, I’m praying, and I’m desiring to go “further still.” How about you? Are you content where you are?

These past few weeks have been tough.  Actually, these past few years have been tough. I want to try to explain what has been so difficult about these past few weeks and how I think I am realizing this is my new normal.

Have you ever heard of that phrase, “My new normal”? I stumbled upon a book by that title when we were getting ready to move to Africa. I remember having a conversation with one of my closest friends about what our new normal would be like when I moved to Kenya. So, I swallowed my tears, took a big breath, and did what a good missionary girl should do. I said goodbye to everything that seems and feels “right” and comfortable, and embraced my new normal. Right? Well, I’ve done okay for a while, but here is the difficulty, at RVA. Your new normal has the potential to change with every term. A new job, new staff, new students, new home…you just never know. There is this feeling of, “Aha, I think I’ve got this licked,” which can quickly change to “Nope, we need you to do this instead.” Ouch! Really?  You know how it feels when you get a band aid on and the throbbing feeling just goes away, and then you do something that causes the band aid to get ripped off again? It’s miserable.

One thing that has caused that feeling is that at the end of the school term we have said goodbye to two of our dorm guys whose families are going home for furlough for a year. Lord willing we will see them next year.  With graduation, you say goodbye to the seniors who will attend colleges all over the world. These are students you have really come to know and love. It is hard to say goodbye! Have I mentioned that?  Because this break is 7 weeks, many of the RVA staff have flown back to the U.S. and have left approximately 15 out of 100 families here. RVA is usually bustling with people with hardly a quiet moment. Right now the quiet is almost eerie! To top it off, today our family said goodbye to some of our closest friends. They are moving into a new ministry on another continent.  How do you work through all of this?

I know I am being quite dramatic, but this is how I feel.  Writing about it seems to help. These feelings have been rumbling around in my heart and needed out.  I am learning what it truly means to lean hard into Jesus. He is unmovable and unshakeable; my consistent stability in this continually morphing life I live.  During my morning run I was listening to Chuck Miller, a wonderful godly man whose ministry is to train people in spiritual leadership.  He was using an analogy of a pitcher, cup, saucer, and plate as a way of viewing how to do ministry. The pitcher represents God, the cup us, the saucer is the people we influence in our ministry and the plate represents the activities. In his analogy the pitcher (God) endlessly flows into the cup, then the cup overflows and fills the saucer, which then pours out onto the plate.  But so often in ministry, I go straight to the plate (the activity), bypassing the saucer. I am constantly trying to figure out new and cool ways to do things!

Chuck Miller’s teaching on this has really impacted me. He also mentions that we often do ministry out of a paper cup. Paper cups are easy to tear and puncture. So, instead of having the overflow from the pitcher pouring out of us, we are just a leak. God’s power is more of a trickle, rather than an out pour. This idea makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want that.  Yes, ministry at RVA is unique. It brings challenges on so many levels relationally, emotionally and spiritually, however, if I keep my focus on the pitcher (God) and continue to allow Him to overflow out of me into the saucer, the things I do are no longer the priority, but rather the people in my life. I believe that my new “normal” is recognizing that His overflow is pouring into a saucer made up of people that constantly come and go.

Dr. SuessI Corinthians 4:20: “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power!” Today, what are you “talking about?” What are you holding on to, that you just keep talking about and not allowing God’s power to live out in you? Me? I have been talking a lot about my kids, their struggles, and our difficulties. But today, I am praying and believing that God’s power will gush out of me and pour directly into His saucer.  Ephesians 3:16: “I pray that His glorious UNLIMITED resources will EMPOWER you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you STRONG!”

 

April 21, 2013 9:38 am
Published in: Uncategorized

9372415-red-carWhat do you do when your car breaks down in Africa?

  1. ask for help from one of the 25 Africans that have immediately gathered around your stalled car
  2. See if a local farmer can hook up and tow you with his donkey
  3. Load all your belongings on a bicycle (which is not an uncommon sight!)
  4. Have a nervous break down, cry, and pray (not necessarily in that order)

Having car trouble in America can be a stressful experience, but a simple phone call can have a tow truck hooking up within minutes. Africa is much different!

A couple days ago we drove 60 minutes to Nairobi for our family’s final shopping trip to stock up on groceries before the dorm boys return on Monday. Our 22-year-old car was running rough and getting worse. When we parked in Nairobi I tinkered with the carburetor but couldn’t find anything wrong. Before going any further, I must give you a little background about driving in Kenya.

People are everywhere. No matter what size road or highway, there will be pedestrians and bicycles on the road, crossing the road, pulling carts, or who knows what else they are doing in your driving lane. There will be carts pulled by donkeys or by men in your lane. There will even be cars and motorcycles driving on the shoulder in either direction! Yes, they could be coming right at you on the shoulder! Roads are almost never marked with lines of any kind, and vehicles pass anywhere they want.

It is hard enough to drive in broad daylight. At night, add to those many difficulties that some cars have no lights on, and most come at you with their bright lights on, blinding you. To make matters worse the night rain makes your windows muddy on the outside and foggy on the inside.  The grand finale is the night also brings drunken pedestrians stumbling in your lane wearing dark clothes. The driving conditions are so bad that our mission organization forbids driving at night without special permission. For a video of driving in Nairobi: https://vimeo.com/64490333

So with a couple hours of daylight remaining, we leave Nairobi for our one-hour drive back to RVA. The car continues to run worse until we get to a hill the car cannot climb. Because it is a four-wheel drive I drop it into low range, but eventually we get to a point where the car will go no further. I pull onto the shoulder and look for a place to roll backwards onto a side road. As I begin to roll back a truck pulls over in front of us to help. 30 minutes later this kind gentleman is pulling us to his farm nearby which has 24 hour security guards and is a safe place to leave our car overnight. A friend from RVA picks us up and we finally arrive safely home. A one-hour drive has turned into three hours, but we thank the Lord for the willingness of a Kenyan farmer to tow us to safety.

The next day our staff mechanic at RVA went to the farm, fixed our car and brought it back. Perhaps someday Kenya will have AAA, but until then, we are thankful for God’s provision and protection!

As a Bible teacher and department head I cannot leave campus very often, so Jennifer is the one who drives every week or two into Nairobi for supplies. Thank the Lord I was the one driving this time. It is our concern that our old car could break down when she is driving alone or with a couple other women. Dependable cars in Africa are not cheap; in fact the average cost is around $20,000 for a used and dependable vehicle.

Two years ago we purchased a 20-year-old 4×4 for $5000 because it was the least expensive well-maintained vehicle we could find, and it could seat 9. At that time we still didn’t know if we were going to remain at RVA beyond our first two-year commitment. It has served us well for those two years.

80% of our driving is on paved roads (trips to Nairobi), although the condition of the roads is sometimes so bad that gravel roads are actually better. The other 20% requires four-wheel drive. Much of our ministry to Kenyans outside of the campus of RVA is included in that 20% which requires the use of four-wheel drive.

We have the opportunity to purchase a Toyota station wagon with only 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) from another missionary family that is leaving our area. The price is $7,500. It has been well maintained and is in great shape. This small station wagon has seating for 10 people—legally (well, legal in Kenya)! We can do 80% of our driving with this station wagon, and keep the old 4×4 around for the 20%. This solution is much cheaper than upgrading our 4×4.

We have started a car fund, and have until July before the car is available. Giving a special one-time gift is easily done online by clicking “donate” on the right column of this blog. Be sure in the “Comments” section of the form to type the words “Car Fund”. If you prefer to send a check, be sure it is payable to Africa Inland Mission, and include a separate note that says, “For Bill and Jennifer Hildebrand car fund” (our name is not to appear on the check). The address to send a check is:

Africa Inland Mission

P.O. Box 3611

Peachtree, GA 30269

Thanks for all your prayers and support. I know that we just finished raising $2,500 in monthly commitments a few months ago so we could return to RVA, so I hesitate to mention another need so soon. But we are trusting God’s provision—where he calls he provides what is needed to be obedient to that call. God may put it on the hearts of some to help, and not on the hearts of others—we are trusting him.

In Christ’s love and blessings,

The Hildebrand Family

April 18, 2013 6:39 am
Published in: Uncategorized

In Mark 11, as Jesus set his face toward the cross and prepared to enter Jerusalem, he sent a couple disciplejesus on donkeys to fetch a donkey colt. In his omniscience, he told them where it was and that as they untied it someone would ask what they were doing. He then told them to give the answer “the Lord needs it”, and permission would be granted. A couple of things really catch my attention regarding this.

First, Jesus knows even the smallest details. There are things I face every day that I don’t understand. Things I cannot figure out. Things like why one of my sons is having episodes of breathing difficulty. His throat can constrict at any time of the day, with no regularity, with seemingly no triggers that we can figure out. A couple nights ago just before bed we took him to the hospital and everything checked out fine, the doctor could find nothing physically wrong. This is something that can stump us, but God knows even the smallest details.  The next night an episode that seemed to be the worst yet and sent us back to the hospital. We had mentioned the night before a medication being used to treat acne, but this night it was like God turned on a light. It seems this medication can cause the symptoms we were seeing. This is something that has stumped many of us for weeks, but God knows the smallest details. As Christians, we need to seek his wisdom. He knows even the smallest details.

Second, God may ask us to do things that just don’t make sense. Imagine if God sent you into a city, to a certain house, and told you to knock on the door and ask for the keys to their brand new convertible. What response would you expect? “Sure, go right ahead!” as they toss the keys to you. “It’s got a full tank. Just leave the car in the drive and the keys under the mat when you are finished.” The disciples could have felt like they were stealing this donkey colt, a thing of great value to its owner! They were not stealing it, in fact God had already prepared the heart of the owner for Jesus’ use of it.

What small detail am I facing that causes me to seek God’s wisdom? The small things really do matter. Is he asking me to do something seems to make no sense, something that seems to go against my own judgment? Father, help me to turn to you every day to seek your wisdom that I need as I continue to walk with you.

December 10, 2012 7:53 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

A week ago we visited Silver Dollar City. Visiting the amusement park with grandma and grandpa is one of our family’s beloved traditions. On our last visit, Trevon’s older brothers tried in vain to get him to ride a roller coaster. Weeks before this most recent visit, Trevon had some BIG talk about how big he is now, and this time he WILL ride a roller coaster.

The first day of Powdermill Station HouseDecember ended up being one of the warmest ever in Branson, and with temperatures in the 70’s, the roller coaster’s were open for business. Trevon couldn’t wait to try “Powder Keg”! The coaster consumed his thoughts, and he couldn’t stop talking about it (if you know him, you totally understand).

We decided to make his first ride a daddy-son event. After waiting almost an hour I began to wonder if Trevon’s mouth would slow down—he was SOOO excited! Finally we sat down in our seats, the attendants secured us, and we were off! After the first two drops I realized I couldn’t hear him, so I reached down and grabbed for his leg. He was still there! Then I realized he was too terrified to scream! When I told him it was ok to yell, he began squealing like a little piggy! Wikipedia says the duration of the ride is 2:53, but after waiting nearly an hour to ride, the fun felt like less than half that long. As we walked away from the coaster, Trevon’s talking intensified exponentially—not sure how that is possible! He ABSOLUTELY LOVED his first real roller coaster!

I too have loved great roller coasters, even though I was older than Trevon before working up the courage to try them. Now as I get older, I feel motion sickness if I ride more than once. On a previous visit I rode a roller coaster three times back to back because there was no waiting line, and almost threw up.

Life can be like a roller coaster, with its ups and downs. Sometimes life even throws in a loop-d-loop. Our last few weeks of support raising have felt like a roller coaster, and just when we think we are about to get off, it starts to go around again.

WildfireThis morning we received distressing news that hit us like an unexpected loop-d-loop. Just after arriving in the U.S. for home assignment we received news from a church that they would be supporting us for $250/month. We have recently found out this notification was sent to us by mistake, and financially they are not able to help at all—if they could, they would.

This changes our status. We were a little over $100 away from our monthly support minimum. As close as we are, we expected to receive the “Cleared to go” from Africa Inland Mission anyway. This news puts us at nearly $400/month below our goal. Please pray!

With just over two weeks until we are schedule to fly back to Kenya (our tickets are purchased!), we are claiming this promise:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)

One other verse Jennifer and I like is:

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)

November 8, 2012 11:05 am
Published in: Home Assignment

In our pursuit of 50-30-30 (50 new givers at $30 per month in 30 days, which ends on Thanksgiving), we have received nine new commitments–only 41 more to go! God is faithful, and we trust Him.

We have been very busy during home assignment. In October, Jennifer and I were part of a missions conference in California. A couple weeks later the boys had a couple days off school, so on their four day weekend we drove to Colorado to see friends. Estes Park received the first snow of the year while we were there and the boys went sledding for the first time in over two years.

Time is drawing near for us to head back to Africa so we are trying to spend more of our time with family and friends. This is why our deadline for reaching 50-30-30 is Thanksgiving, we know how busy our final month will be with visits and packing. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!

50 givers at $30/month in 30 days

Click on the image to view a response sheet you can help in order to help us reach 50-30-30 by Thanksgiving!

November 6, 2012 7:08 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Limbo. Definition–an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place. The early church used it to tell of a region between the borders of heaven and hell where the righteous went after death as they waited for entrance into heaven.

Our family right now feels like we are in limbo. In just a few short weeks we are returning to life in Africa. Ministry and school at RVA. This brings great visions of things we enjoyed and look forward to. In just a few short weeks we are leaving life in the U.S. This life also brings great visions of family, friends, traditions, and so many other things we have enjoyed.

Oh that time would continue to move along so we can make that jump from one world to the next!

Time will continue to drag on if we do not reach our goal of 50-30-30. That is 50 new givers at $30 per month in 30 days (by Thanksgiving which is only 16 days from today!). Our airline tickets are to leave on December 27, but Africa Inland Mission won’t let us go until we reach our goal. Knowing this makes our time of limbo even harder.

Thank you to our wonderful team of supporters who pray and/or give on a regular basis! Would you be our ambassadors and share our ministry with your friends?

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[d] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” –Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)

50 givers at $30/month in 30 days

P.S. Clicking on the above 50-30-30 is a link to download a WORD document. Simply download, save to your desktop, fill out and email back to us notifying us of a new 50-30-30 teammate at hildebrandrva@gmail.com