Thursday, August 06, 2015

Time is Running Out

Dear friends & family,

As we enter August we are starting the inevitable countdown to our return to Indonesia.  So many things we want to do - but time is short.  This summer has been precious to us as we visit, fellowship, and pray with so many.
A quick update:  All visas have been received!  Praise God!!  Thank you to everyone who has been praying faithfully for our family.  Each of us have a valid one year visa to return to Indonesia.  The horror stories we had been told will not be our story to tell and we are so glad.  The number of people who have asked and prayed has been overwhelming and sweet.  We cannot thank you all enough for your love, prayers, and support.
So what does this mean?  The most popular question that we have been asked all summer is, "When are you coming home?"  While we would love to give you each an answer, the truth is we do not yet know.  What we do know is that God has called us to Indonesia for this season and we will wait and see what He leads us to next.  All in His time.  Our options are varied; we are eligible for a year furlough after next year.  That furlough is not guaranteed and we are not placing all our eggs in that basket again!  We can stay, furlough, leave and come home, leave and go elsewhere, etc.  Praise God that missions is not just in one place - we can all be missionaries in our very own communities.  So knowing that there is work to do all over the world - we wait on Him and will stay or go where He leads.  We know that being in His will is where we want to be.  So we are sorry that we cannot give specifics - but God hasn't given them to us yet either!!!

As we start to look at returning, we have spoken about things we miss.  Funny how you always miss somewhere!  We thought we would share a few of those with you today!

1.  Traffic patterns.  Crazy, right?  But driving in America is so predictable and boring!  We kind of miss the dance of Indonesian traffic - motorbikes, cars, baso carts, becaks, beggars, random people-sized potholes...
2. RICE!  America just cannot get rice right.  We realize we have to learn why there is a difference so we can recreate Indonesian rice better when we do come back to America.
3.  Delivery.  In Indonesia we can call practically anywhere and have anything delivered.  Out of eggs?  Call the Ibu out front and her helper will run them out to me.  Only need 2 eggs?  No worries - they can bring two.
4.  Relationships.  Although we miss specific relationships back in Indonesia, we really miss the Indonesian idea of relationships.  Poor Americans just don't realize the blessings they are missing by not slowing down and enjoying the present.  A lesson we would never have learned until we spent time in Indonesia.
5.  Maddie - our sweet Golden Retriever - cannot wait to cuddle that girl.  We are so grateful that a dog-lovin' family has stayed in our home and loved on her this summer!
6.  Last but certainly not least, people.  We miss our students and their craziness.  We miss dear friends who share porch time with us.  In the last five years we have fallen in love - with a country, it's people, and dear friends and students.  Our hearts will never be the same and for that we are forever grateful.

Prayer requests?

Please pray for our travels to Miami as we help Tori settle in for college.  Pray as well for our hearts as we say see ya later.

Please pray for sweet goodbyes with family and patience as we finish our last weeks here in this very overcrowded house!

Please pray for safe flights and limited jet lag issues.  We get back and need to return immediately to work - we just don't have time for jet lag!!  :)

Thanks to you all.  Please keep in touch.  Our email is
If you would like to be added to our special newsletter and prayer email list - let us know by sending us an email to the above address.

Friday, July 10, 2015

America the Beautiful

Dear Friends and Family,

Since our last post our lives have been on "full speed ahead".  Finishing school for the year, packing for our trip, Singapore medical visits, a very long flight, hugs, tears, and non-stop movement - WE ARE HOME,  It has been such a blessing to sit with my mother and chat, play cards, hug my neice and nephews.  It has also been exhausting!
This week we are sitting at Seneca Hills Bible Camp and truly retreating.  God knew exactly what we needed.  We speak to the senior high campers once a day for an hour about missions and then hole up in our room for most of the rest of the time.  In this small retreat room Steve and I have been able to talk, laugh, and dream.  It seems as if it has been years.  Not that we do not do those things in Indonesia but there is such a difference to be home.  I had no idea how on edge I was there.  I feel as if I have finally been able to relax my shoulders fully for the first time in five years.  Steve has actually been sleeping.  It is surreal and quite a blessing.
Many have reached out to us and asked about our visa situation.  Sadly, there are still issues and hurdles to overcome.  We were offered a great job at another great international school but we turned it down.  We really do want to honor our commitment where we are at - but we are all still lacking a visa in hand.  I thought mine would have been sent to me by now but I am still waiting.  Time will surely tell and God is in control.
Until then - we wait.  I am so bad at that.  I want to plan and have things in order and I feel as if all that ability has been stripped away from me.  However, it is sweet to lean in and allow God to move.  Sweet, but not easy.

As we speak to the senior high campers we have been talking to them about their mission fields - where they work, go to school, live.  We all have a mission field.  Ours happens to be in Indonesia - but if God decides to move us on - well, we will be in a mission field in the next place as well.
For all of those asking about our plans, we are set to return to Indonesia on August 26th.  We have one year left on our contract and a big decision to make in December.  Do we stay or go?  That question may be answered for us if there are still visa issues.  After next year we are also eligible for furlough. Maybe we furlough and let Reba spend her senior year readjusting and being surrounded by family.  Tempting - she is on the fence.  She wants to be home but wants to be in Indonesia with her friends too.
So as we maneuver our family and our futures across the big mission field we would like to ask you to pray for us specifically in these areas:
1.  Visas.  We currently do not have one visa in hand.  We will need those to return!
2.  Rebekah - her heart is torn.  Pray that she is able to weigh all of those people and things on her mind and come along side Steve and I as we make future decisions.
3.  Victoria - college adjustment.  In mid-August we will take her to Miami.  Please pray for her adjustment to go smoothly!
4.  Finances - we are still in need of travel to get Tori to school.  Please pray those funds come in and provides for that need.

Thank you all for your prayers and love.  We are abundantly blessed.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

He always knows. Our prayer request.

Dear Friends & Family,

We are about 20 days away from getting on a plane and heading to America.  After five years it seems very surreal.
When we left to come to Indonesia we knew we would be heading home after five years.  We thought it would be for a years furlough.  That is what the benefit was at the time we were hired.  However, those benefits changed and now we have - after five years - 9 very short weeks to reconnect with family and friends - as well as renew and refresh.  We cannot tell you how five years living cross-culturally drains you.  There is certainly wisdom in a lot of mission organizations to require their people to furlough more often.  At the same time, we have been abundantly blessed here.  The student body that we serve makes everything completely worthwhile.  The smiles, prayers, and hugs with the students are the reason we are here.  God has provided us with "sons & daughters" of many colors, shapes, and sizes.  If today were to be the last day we served here - it would be with great satisfaction of how God has been able to use us over five years.  We could sit and tell you story after story of God's faithfulness and sovereignty. - As a matter of fact - let's get together this summer - we would LOVE to. :)
This brings us to the next chapter of our lives.  Due to the changing political climate in Indonesia, our work visas are in jeopardy.  We have known about this since March and were concerned.  We met with administration and there did not seem to be much concern on their part so we decided that we would join them in faith but also look at other open doors in order to be responsible to our family.    Since then we have moved at an un-eager rate of speed walking through those doors.  We have been in contact with other schools in our parent organization network but there has been little communication there.  So we were still and waited.  Last week - knowing we were down to two weeks of school left - we decided to place our information on the Mission Teach website. It was not long after that we started hearing from some great schools around the world.  The beautiful part of this has been talking with other believers who have a passion for evangelism and education.  It never ceases to amaze us that God's world is so big - but our world is so small at times.
Most recently we have been in discussions with another school who has been praying for a couple that could fill it's chaplain and counseling role.  They knew it was a long shot - because Steve and I are actually a rarity.  Now we are at the apex of decision-making.  We need to know where our children will attend school next year and where we will be serving.  We had initially set a soft deadline of May 25th - and now we see that as four days away - it is coming fast.
We would like to ask each of you to join us in prayer.  Our prayer is that God will make it evident where we are to be and how we are to serve next year.  If it is here - Wonderful!  We would love to see Reba graduate from here and for us to be able to love on these kids we have grown to know and love.  If it is elsewhere?  Well, God has not failed us yet.  We certainly feel that God's hand will provide for us regardless of where we are.
So as you pray - please remember us.  Ask Him to make our path clear.  Ask Him to squelch the what-if thoughts in our heads and simply let us hear from Him.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  We certainly have felt them over the years and are grateful that you still lift us up.

In His service,

Steve & Paula

Friday, April 10, 2015

Abundant Blessings

Shortly after booking tickets home to America, I announced the tickets were purchased to the family and we did a little jig.  It was video worthy but too spontaneous to capture.  The simple idea of home is overwhelming to us.
As we celebrate our homecoming in two months we praise God for the blessings over the past five years.  Most importantly, the lessons that my children have learned as we have negotiated the ups and downs of our time thus far in Indonesia are lasting lessons about who God is and His amazing love for each of us.  As Easter has come and gone it serves again as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice for each us.  We are humbled by the blessings in our lives here.  Humbled by the community - especially the students who have ingrained themselves into our hearts. Humbled by our home fellowship that God has planted here and the multitude of ways God speaks through our time together.  Humbled by the numerous ways we are able to serve.  The list goes on and on.
Our children have been blessed by their willingness to serve.  We are so grateful for the numerous people who helped give towards Victoria's month serving in Thailand last year.  She grew from that time and had moments with God that have impacted her life.  Then this past month Rebekah was blessed in an enormous way by an anonymous benefactor who paid in full for her missions trip to Italy.  What an amazing experience she was provided.  And we have been so blessed by people who have given to our fund to come home this summer.  We are at $2255.00 of our $5000.00 goal!  We have been blessed by family, friends of family, friends, friends of friends!  We have even received donations from people we do not yet know.
Life is not all about blessings - there are hard times and we have surely experienced those.  Regardless of the hardships, God has blessed us too much to complain - too much to dwell on the low times - too much to not continually sing his praises.

We praise you for who you are.  We praise you for your son and His sacrifice.  So often we focus on our own circle of needs and wants - but Father you continually provide above and beyond our expectations regardless of what we truly deserve.  The gifts you have given us over the past year are phenomenal, but Father the gift of your son is the only gift we truly need.  We pray that we are never far from that truth.  We pray that our family and friends have experienced your saving grace.  Continue to mold us and stretch us Father for your glory.  Lead us to where we should go - Direct us to where we should serve.  Help us to be your willing servants - help us to remain open handed and open minded.  Help us to serve others in a way that serves you. Father we are humbled by your unending, unconditional love.  We are in awe of who you are and that you want a personal relationship with us. May we not take that for granted and continue to chase you with all of our hearts and minds. Amen

Your giving is a blessing - whether through prayer or finances.  Thank you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ministry Highlight: The Freedom House

As we do our thing here, many are doing there thing all over Indonesia. There are so many fruitful ministries in small pockets. We thought it would be interesting to highlight one new ministry for you - please lift the Freedom House in your prayers!

The Freedom House has weighed on the hearts of several women in our community and has finally come to fruition - but that does not mean the road ahead is easy. Finding a house, fixing it up, preparing it is not the hard part - the hard part is walking through dark alleys and in the shadows of Bandung, Indonesia's underbelly and spreading the hope of God's love to those who feel unloved.

After many prayers and a few miracles along the way a house was found for those who need love - those who need hope. This house is now a place where exploited women and children can come and learn skills, learn English, learn of God's love, and learn how to break free from the shackles of prostitution. I urge you to check them out on Facebook and "like" their page.

Begin praying intentionally for their endeavor. I love seeing the gifts and talents of others weave together to form a beautiful tapestry of God working in those who need Him so desperately.

You can also check out their blog at:

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Welcome 2015

Happy New Year! Not only are we entering a new year but we are entering the year that is bringing us home! Yippee!
Your gifts to the kingdom work over the past five years have been such a blessing here. Our ministry here has been fruitful and we look forward to many more years.

Your support financially and through prayer have been multiplied over and over. The prayer support alone has been such an encouragement to us. Even those short messages through Facebook and email uplift us, encourage us, and spur us on in the work God has brought us to here. Without each of you it would be so difficult.

We look forward to a short homecoming, a chance to see home again. We cannot believe how quickly five years have gone by. It is because of supporters like each of you - through prayer and finances that gifted us with the flights to come here and serve. Our unending thank you to each of you. We are humbled and grateful for each of you.
After five years it is traveling time again. We once again are excited to see God move through our supporters in helping with this expense. Our goal is to raise $5000 to help us with the cost of travel.
That simply means that we need each one of our 50 best friends to give $100....ok, not realistic, right? I guess if each of our Facebook friends gave $25 we would meet our goal - but that is not realistic either. :D

Truthfully though, it only takes a little bit from everyone to easily meet that goal. Would you consider giving to our travel needs? Here is the gift that you will be giving towards:

1. Renewal. After five years in a different culture, we need a bit of renewal. We want to feel home under our feet and let that reenergize us to come back and continue our ministry here.

2. Worship. Man, we cannot tell you how much we miss corporate worship in our language with like people. We cannot wait to attend church and worship with you all.

3. Family. The moment we see our parents will probably be the most special moment that we simply cannot put into words. Steve was so blessed by his mother and step father's visit a year and a half ago. Paula craves to see her mom - five years is such a long time. Paula's mom has struggled with serious health problems and Paula just cannot wait to get that hug only a mom can give. Steve is looking forward to seeing his step mother as well. He has not seen her since his father died. He has not been home since his father died, home is different. He needs this time to make sense of it all. As well, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. We just need those hugs and conversations. The healing and renewing power of those will be miraculous.

4. Good byes. Ok, we are coming home to say goodbye? Sounds strange. The truth is we need the time to settle our oldest daughter into college and see that she is Ok before we return. Paula needs to see the room, the campus, the area that she will be in so her heart is eased. It was so difficult to not be able to do this with our oldest son. We recognize the need for it - for us and her. We have our children but for a moment - a fleeting moment - this transition time is important to us.

5. Friends. We cannot wait to trade stories and prayers with dear friends. It has been such a blessing to have them support us during our time in the field. It will be so joyous to laugh with them and celebrate life with them over this time. Another important piece to the puzzle that will make us whole for our return to the field.

Please prayerfully consider any small amount. We are not in need of the first amount we calculated many months ago. When we last spoke of returning, we thought we would be home for a year furlough. It is disappointing that the door for that was not opened to us. We recognize our need for it - so this summer trip becomes even more vitally important to our continued longevity in the field. It may be hard to understand but your giving to our trip home is actually your gift to us remaining in this ministry long term.

Thank you again to all who have supported us over the last five years. Your giving has been so vital to the work we are doing each day.

Please go here to give a tax deductible gift:
For the designation please choose: staff support
Then for the staff name or project number please enter: Steven Newell 00341

Thank you in advance for your giving. We pray God's blessing over each gift and prayer! We cannot wait to see you!