It’s a van raising!

  • Making turns at slow speeds causes creaking and clunking
  • Occasionally when it rains hard, water leaks into the passenger seat
  • The air conditioning doesn’t get as cold as it should due to an indiscernable leak
  • The left turn signal doesn’t return automatically
  • When you try to accelerate up a mountain highway it laughs at you
  • The keyless entry randomly stops working

At first, this started to sound like a list of everything Ryan goes through when he wakes up in the morning! But this is the summary of the repairs and issues that our family mini-van has. And it is not unexpected, it’s old! It sounds funny to look at an 11 year old vehicle as old and worn out, but that is the reality.

300,000K and still looks pretty good!
300,000KM and still looks pretty good!

A big part of that fact is how much we have depended on that van in the last 8 years. Since we wrote this last post, we added on a two month road trip from Texas to Alberta to British Columbia to Washington and back to Texas as well as regular miles around the city of Houston. That’s what family vehicles do! And ours has been amazing and we know that God’s favour has been with us. In spite of the almost 300,000 kms (190,000 miles) the van has only truly broken down once. And it was a dead battery in our parent’s driveway.

There have been some incidents though.
There have been some incidents though.

But now it is time to work to replace this van with another vehicle that we can use for eight or more years. And to do that, we need to fund raise. Or as we are calling it here, van-raising.

“Hold on a second. I can already see that you’re asking for money. Why don’t you go get a job and stop begging for hand outs?”

We get it, there are many people that look at the work that we do here in Texas as not a real job and how we get paid as begging. But you know what? We look at it as the most real job that we can do. We raise up Christians and teach them how to effectively make new disciples in areas of the world that have no churches and little knowledge of Jesus. As Christians, we see this as very important. This video explains more:

And as far as how we get paid? It’s not a hand out. We work. We pay taxes. In fact, we believe that when people partner with us in finances, they are making an investment in a business that will pay dividends into eternity. Any business needs financial investors to provide the capital to grow. Giving to missions is very similar to investing in a company that produces a product that you believe in.

All of that to say, we are asking individuals and churches to help us to reach our goal of purchasing a new (to us) family mini-van.

The goal: Purchase a mini-van with less than 60,000km (40,000 miles) and is 2-3 years (2-3 years) old

The budget: $20,000 (Canadian) or $17,000 (US)

  • The reason for the difference in amounts is that the equivalent vehicle in Houston or Alberta is actually the same price in USD or CAD. We are currently researching and praying on the decision of buying in Canada and importing into the USA, or spending a little more but not having the work and cost of traveling to Canada and dealing with customs
  • November 2016 UPDATE – We are now only $7,000 CAD away from completing the goal!
  • December 2016 UPDATE – Only about $3000 left to go!

The timeline: End of 2016. But we won’t start looking to purchase until we have the entire budget since we won’t finance.

How you can partner with us:

  1. Visit to join our partnership team. Both Canadians and Americans can use this link for a tax deductible gift.
  2. Contact us to let us know that your gift is to be used for the new van goal. We will then ensure that your gift is set aside for that purpose.
  3. Pray that others will join in this project
  4. Invite others to join in this project by sharing this page and having them contact us.

Like a barn raising, this is a project that gets done quickly when everyone works together!

The community comes together
The community comes together

The Ring That Wasn’t

This is one of my favourite pictures from our vacation this summer. It occurred on August 14th, which was our 15th anniversary.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m on one knee holding an open ring box.  And Michelle is laughing.  Which begs the question (and many of you who saw the picture asked it).

You can pretty much see my pain here.
You can pretty much see my pain here.

Why is she laughing so hard?

A long, long time ago I asked a pretty girl to marry me.  (Yes, the pretty girl was Michelle.)  I gave her the most expensive ring I could afford, which we found at a jewelry store that was going out of business.  70% off baby!  “The question” was asked up in the mountains beside a rather large waterfall and all I can remember thinking as I gave her the ring was “Ryan, don’t you dare drop this ring in that water.”  I guess I must have mumbled something about “marry me” in the conversation because she said “yes!”.  The one regret from that day I have is that I was so nervous about dropping the ring that I forgot to get down on one knee like many people expect you to.  I’ve said numerous times since then that I wish I hadn’t forgot that part, although Michelle says it wasn’t important. 

Later that summer we were married in another affordable ceremony.  Instead of getting another ring to go with her engagement one, we had two bands welded on either side of her engagement ring.  Again, it was what we could afford.  But it looked good and the key was that we were married!

Over the years that ring took a bit of a beating.  I’ll spare you the technical details, but it was a little worn out.  Finally, as we prepared to head to Mexico in 2008 we decided to put our wedding rings away and purchased some cheaper versions.  We didn’t want to take a chance of one of the rings getting busted or lost while we were gone.

And that was where our original wedding rings stayed.  In their respective store boxes not being worn any longer.  Michelle mentioned a few times over that time that she wished she could wear her ring again, but it would need to be repaired.  But we never got around to getting it fixed.

Fast forward now to the spring of this year.  Our 15th anniversary was coming up and I wanted to do something bigger than normal for her.  You know, like going to Fuddruckers instead of Wendy’s.  I asked Michelle what she would like and she answered, “get my ring fixed.  That’s all I want.”  So I told her I would make it happen.

This conversation happened right before we went into the busy season in our ministry.  I was working 80 hour weeks while she was working her new job.  Somehow in there we were also trying to be with the kids and get a little rest.  Michelle assumed that I had no time to get her ring repaired, and she was mostly right.  But in those two months I was able to carve out an afternoon with the kids and we secretly took her ring to a jeweler and got it repaired.  I swore the kids to secrecy as I told them my plan to give the ring to Michelle on our upcoming vacation at Universal Studios.  (note: 7 year olds aren’t good at keeping secrets)

It was an amazing plan.  I would secretly bring the ring with us to Orlando.  Then on our anniversary, I would quietly slip my original wedding ring on and bring hers to the park.  And in one gigantically romantic moment I would get down on one knee like I should have at our engagement and present her ring to her.  I AM THE GREATEST HUSBAND EVER!!!!

This couldn’t be more true.

On the morning of the big day, I went into the bathroom at the hotel because that is the only place someone can get a little privacy.  (am I right?)  I was able to quietly pull both ring boxes from my backpack and take them with me.  I opened the first box and took my ring out and put it on.  I then slid both boxes into the pockets of my cargo shorts.  I walked out of the bathroom certain I was going to be busted, but somehow was able to put the empty box back without getting caught.  Her ring was now in my pocket and the plan was in motion.

As we get to the park, the kids see the giant Universal Studios globe and say “can we get pictures in front of it?”  Of course!  This was all part of the plan.  I can’t say enough how proud I am of the devious nature of the two older kids.  (I am also a little worried.)  I take a couple pictures of the kids in front of the globe, and then give the older daughter my phone and say “now get one of me and Mom.”

We take a couple shots there and Michelle seems ready to go.  But I say, “hold on, there’s one more to do.”  She looks at me a little funny.

And then I get down on one knee.  She looks at me with a little more confusion.

I pull out the ring box and open it.  Presenting it like any good romantic man should.

The ring, on her hand, once we got back to the hotel. Sigh.
The ring, on her hand, once we got back to the hotel. Sigh.

And she bursts out laughing!  I cannot figure out why she’s laughing so hard.  This was easily the most amazing, romantic thing I have ever done!  I can only imagine what people walking by are thinking.

“Is the box supposed to be empty?” she asks.  “WHAT?!?”  I reply as I look into the empty ring box.  And I realize what happened.  Her ring is back in the hotel room.  I had put the wrong box away in my back pack.  Sigh.  It was so close to being the perfect gift and presentation.

But I guess I have something to aim towards for August 14th, 2029!