It has been a while since I have sent out un update. Many things have happened in this past 4 weeks. The first few days after we arrived in Vermont it snowed 18 inches. It was a beautiful site to see! Many of you know how much I enjoy snow. The first 2 weeks straight it snowed at our house. We had over 35 people at our house to help us unload and get “settled” into our house. Many brought food and desserts! The overwhelming love and support were amazing from the people of both churches.
We have run into many snags along the way however. The day we moved in, mold was found in the master bedroom and master bath. What started out with what seemed to be a simple removal of old paneling and carpet, has become a complete gut and remodel. The walls were stripped to the studs (which turned out to be post and beam construction) and the many layers of floors being taken down to the original sub floor. After a few days of our good friend Tom Yonker (who helped us move from Michigan) and I worked on rebuilding walls. It was determined that I needed to get busy Evangelizing and recruits were called in. A man from the Coventry church has been doing most of the work since. He does an amazing job and we are excited to not be sleeping in our living room anymore! We don’t think we will be looking for a studio apartment very soon.
It took us two weeks to get trash removal service at our house. This may not seem like such a big deal but, the trash removal business is huge here. The only dump in the state is in Coventry, right down the road from the church building. So, there are many companies to compete. When we get UPS deliveries the packages come with maps printed out and our house highlighted so the delivery person can find it. We were finally able to get internet at our house (satellite) which that turned into a little bit of a trial also. The installer came out to hook us up and after about 30 minutes of looking around, which we thought he was installing the dish. He came to the door and told us he couldn’t install the dish, we had no ground for him to ground the equipment to. That was remedied and we now have internet. Oh, and we only have cell service if we stand in a certain position at the right time of day or keep it on speaker in one spot on our kitchen counter.
Christmas was a good time. Braiden was able to fly out and surprise Camden, Aubrey, Alex and Roxy. That is after I was able to find my way out of Montreal. Torri was trying her hardest to make everything just perfect for everyone over Christmas. Things just didn’t seem to go her way. She kept dropping things and a few things broke. On Christmas day our oven went out as she was cooking and the broiler turned on burning one of the things she was cooking. It did have a bright side, I didn’t like the dish that got burnt and I got to use my smoker to bake the rolls! Aubrey then dropped a brand-new gallon of milk and it broke all over the floor. By this point all we could do was laugh. God is so good.
Like I said, a whole new world. It hasn’t all been as bad as the first part of this update may seem. The people are overly friendly here and I have had many conversations that have led to the gospel message. Every little town has a general store that seems to be the gathering place for everyone in that area. Most of the general stores make subs and have the general necessities. Most of them beat Subway with their subs, but nothing beats Bricks in Alto. I didn’t realize I had so many “comforting” places I went to in Michigan. Hardware stores out here are gigantic and the mom and pop lumber yards are even bigger. We can’t just run down the road to a Home Depot, Menard’s or Lowe’s. Groceries are even more challenging. We came from the land of Aldi’s, Meijer, Wal-Mart, GFS, Costco and Sam’s club being within minutes. Here Wal-Mart is 25 minutes and Costco is an hour and 30 minutes, the other stores, well they don’t exist.
I have spent most of my time so far in the Coventry/Irasburg area. I continually still get lost though. I know, no big surprise to most of you. GPS and cell phones do not work really well here. It looks like it is time to bring back the atlas. I have spoke at both churches and had the opportunity to speak at the Coventry church on Christmas Eve. Coventry had 72 in attendance for the Christmas Service on the 23rd and almost 80 for the Christmas Eve service. I had the pleasure of sitting with a young man before service on the 23rd as he accepted the Lord. Please pray for him as we have already seen him struggle in his walk. The kids had a small get together with the teens of both churches and some of the adults at our house to ice skate. We had a really good turn out for that.
Pastor Ethan, Pastor Scott and myself have been meeting on a weekly basis to go over areas of concern. Many different issues have been talked about and we are formulating plans to move forward. A few things to be praying about is youth groups at both churches, prayer meeting format, hospitality and ministering to those who are members currently. The first few weeks being here I felt like I was getting anything done. As I look back, I am amazed at how God has worked here already. I have had the pleasure of meeting many people within the community already.
We thank you all for your continued prayer and financial support. God is active here in Vermont. I am anxiously awaiting to see what He is going to do next. In the words of a man that I love and miss dearly, “I am having a ball.”
In His Service,
Pastor Bryan, Torri, Camden, Aubrey, Alex and Roxy Maley