Wednesday, September 25, 2013

training // another busy weekend wrap-up

Our weekend started like this:

Rain, rain, and lots of it. And LOTS of football too! The Hokies played Marshall and came out with a win after 3 overtimes. We were so excited and completely soaked and left re-energized in our Hokie Spirit!

We then went to church on Sunday and spent the rest of the day hurrying around to finish everything that had to be done that day. The hours went by so quickly and suddenly it was past time to go to bed so that we could catch a few hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 4AM to head to the airport. (And thanks to Jamey's dad for waking up that early with us to take us.)

That Monday morning we flew from Roanoke Airport to O'Hare in Chicago to Colorado Springs. Everything went off without a hitch while flying, thankfully, and Jamey got the experience of his first domestic flight. All of his many other flights he had taken were international!

Jamey very excited to be flying, apparently! 
We finally arrived through a shuttle van to the training center here at about 2:30PM, Colorado time. We unpacked, went through orientation, received our HUGE training manuals, and ate our first dinner with the 39 other adults and 16 kids that are here at training with us.

So far, we've already been able to completely understand the sense of community that forms here. For once, we are not the minority by being missionaries, but the norm. People here are going out all over the world, but we all have this common ground on which to form relationships because we are all moving to a new country & culture, all learning a new language (or more than one), our lives are all changing, and much is still to be determined for us, or revealed to us. We've already in just 2.5 days have had incredibly awesome and interesting conversations, and even have had the opportunity to share about our common feelings... and we haven't even met everyone yet! Not even close. :)

Our beautiful views at the MTI training center. 

It is incredibly beautiful here, both the people and the views. We began a bit overwhelmed, just because we had been working on getting everything in order right up to the last day before we came to training, but we are definitely already able to see God's blessings in us being here.

We'll have more of an update toward the end of the week, but we wanted to be sure to let everyone know that we made it safely and happily! We would also definitely appreciate your prayers that we would just be like sponges, able to absorb everything possible from everyone & everything (from the program to the staff's experiences to the fellow missionaries in training) that we can.

For now, we're spending the reminder of our evening hanging out with our dear friend Kenny, who was previously in Honduras at the same church we're heading to, since he is ALSO in Colorado currently attending the other program that MTI offers, which is a reentering the U.S. debriefing time. We were so blessed that this one week lined up that we would all be here together, and that he had the opportunity to come join us at our training center!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

highlight // weekend wrap-up

When we do a "highlight" post, we love to feature someone in our lives that is making a big impact on us, on our ministry, and so forth. Maybe even just someone that we think deserves a little spotlight. Well, with a weekend (plus Monday) so jam-packed with people, seriously wonderful people, this post needs to love on more than just one person this time.

Here's a little more about our extra BIG weekend!


On Saturday, we finally got to see something that we have been planning for months come to life! Jamey and I joined forces with his mom to throw a super special surprise party for his dad for his retirement. Now when Jamey's dad retired from the local school system, he at one point in his career held the title of each the P.E. teacher, the tennis coach, the much-celebrated varsity basketball coach, and the high school guidance counselor... all of which made just about everyone around know him by name. And he still holds many other various positions! Yet he tried to quietly & quickly retire on the Tuesday before our wedding last year, so that no one would make a big fuss about it. Yeah, right! Like we weren't gonna do that!

The invitation to the surprise party!

So in conjunction with his 60th birthday this year, we decided it was time to celebrate both occasions and throw one amazing surprise party. And the most amazing part is that it WAS a surprise and we got one over him! Anyone will tell you that getting something past Jimmy Smith while being right under his nose is one very difficult task!

The party was themed towards his varsity basketball coaching days, with everything decked out in Alleghany HS colors, and with all of the pictures, yearbooks, newspapers, and awards he had collected over the years all pulled back out for everyone to see. And of course, you can't forget yummy food and lots of cake!

First, Dad's surprise as he came in; Second, his cake with the phrase he coined for his team;
Third, one of his best friends rolling out a wheelchair for the "Old Man". 
Jamey and I put it a lot of work over the past few weeks to help his mom get everything ready: I designed the invitations, we both addressed them & got them out, we did lots of running errands and shopping trips, even a DIY project or two. Lots of staying up into the early morning to work on things after Dad was in the bed. But the biggest amount of work that Jamey and I put in before the party was our birthday present for his dad; we went through all of his old newspapers that he'd saved but never been able to really look through because they were stored away in a box downstairs and created scrapbooks for him of all of his games and seasons in order so that he can enjoy them, and so that they are safely kept for him now. Needless to say when Jamey presented his dad with the gift at the party, there were tears from the both of them!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to celebrate Coach Smith with us, and for helping us surprise him with a great night night full of memories and friends. We can definitely report back that he absolutely loved it and keeps talking about it!


And then if we hadn't had enough excitement for one weekend, it also just happened to work out that we were throwing another event on the next day! We hosted an Open House for our ministry team members and close friends to come and visit with us one more time. Since we will only have about a week at home between Colorado and Honduras, we have had to say all of our final goodbyes to everyone except our immediate families before leaving for Colorado. The Open House idea was great for that, so that we could bring everyone to one place and serve them so yummy food, too! 

We wanted to say a huge thank you to the 35+ people that came out on Sunday, and for those who couldn't make it that sent their thoughts & prayers. We felt very encouraged and rejuvenated afterward, and loved getting to see each of you again! We have SUCH an amazing group of people on our ministry and prayer team!

In case you missed it, here's a little peak of Sunday's Open House. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and an almost mountain Fall-like feeling, so we pulled together the lawn furniture to the front yard and hosted the party on the front porch. Aside from having an excuse to try out this adorable cheese and grapes sunflower, I also served a double batch of my family recipe for Yum Mexican Chicken Dip straight from the crockpot, and there wasn't a spoonful left to speak of at the end! 


On Monday, my best friend Caroline was sweet enough to spend her day off from work driving all the way from Lynchburg, VA to come see us in Covington ... and help us PACK! That's what I call a great friend!! Caroline spent the day catching up with me, then first helping me decide on what to pack for our training in Colorado (since the temperatures will most likely be between 35 and 75 degrees any day, it was a hard decision!), and second helping me inventory and pack up some of the piles of things that is already laid out to go to Honduras with us. And on top of that, we also found the time to try our hand at making homemade cheez-its (um, awesome) and make a yummy dinner of fajitas & homemade queso dip!

Homemade Cheez-Its! And only 4 ingredients :) 

Bonus... today, Tuesday, Sept. 17: 

Today is Jamey's dad's actual birthday, and he is currently enjoying his homemade cinnamon sugar covered pecans his coworkers made for him, and is about to enjoy a homemade crust chicken pot pie we're making for his dinner tonight! Can you tell we love food around here? :)

We also just ended our "sending" phone call with GCM, GCLA, and NLCF to discuss our final expectations and preparations... more on that later!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

personal // our first anniversary

We can now say that we have been married for a year!! And, secretly, we love being able to finally describe our marriage in terms of "years" instead of "months." :) (We also have now, over this year, come to the complete understanding that once you get married you speak in terms of "we" in every single sentence you say.) 

What an exciting year it has been for us! We immediately started off working full-time, travelling every weekend and meeting with people to share about our ministry any free minute we had. Since then, we've completed endless preparations for moving internationally, moved, ended our jobs, packed all of our belongings away in storage, studied for using a new language.... the list goes on and on! It has been a BUSY YEAR to say the least! And in the midst of all of this, we have also spent a year learning about marriage and learning even more about each other than we did before. We both would say, without a doubt, that marriage has been the most wonderful experience we've ever had, and that we would never trade being able to go through every. single. step. of this process together.

Though at this point August 4, 2012 feels like absolutely forever ago to us, it feels incredible to be able to look back on that day and that time in our relationship, and have our wedding day somehow mean even more now than it did then. Jamey loves to pick on me, that I grinned from ear to ear that day but did not shed a tear. He of course did, almost before I even came down the aisle, but I didn't. I wasn't really a crier then. But boy have a figured out what real-emotion-that-brings-you-to-both-happy-and-sad-and-every-emotion-in-between is over this past year! I have been known to let myself cry over all of those really real emotions now, and when we re-watched our wedding video and looked through our beautiful wedding photos, I cried a bucket full. You can imagine Jamey's response: "You cry now at the video and not on the actual day?!" :)

We were also very blessed to get to take a long weekend mini trip to celebrate our anniversary! First, we drove down at night to Gaitlinburg, TN, did a little grocery shopping, and got out early the next day! We spent the first part of the morning in Pigeon Forge at the Old Mill, and exploring through a LOT of gorgeous pottery made locally. (I personally just couldn't get enough of it, but for Jamey it all started to blend together!). We then took a drive through the Great Smoky Mountains, stopping for a precious little picnic by this incredible stream (see picture below), to look at the great views at the overlooks, and to do the hike up to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies. Unfortunately, it was beautiful and sunny the whole way up and then at the top it was incredibly foggy!! We could not see a THING! Just look at the picture of Jamey and I... can you see any beautiful mountain ranges or treetops? I don't think so! Hopefully one day we'll get to do it again to see the beauty. :) We spent that night exploring through Gaitlinburg, and then got up really early the next morning to make sure we fit in a little bit more adventure in Gaitlinburg before heading on.

That morning, we had an awesome time ziplining for the first time ever, and we were so glad that we got to go for the first time in the tree canopy of the Smokies in the cool early morning! We then drove through the 8 mile long local crafters and artisans loop in Gaitlinburg and stopped at several of the shops. Our favorite thing to do in any new place we're visiting is to find something that we really love that is unique to that place, and the local artisan loop was definitely that for us in Gaitlinburg! After visiting it, we had to bring home a jar of one of the many, many kinds of homemade jam we sampled!

About lunch time, we got on the road headed to Asheville, NC, and boy, was it one of the most beautiful drives! We equipped that beautiful drive with the Garth Brooks Ultimate Hits cds and it was perfect. First stop in Asheville was to check into our adorable little bed & breakfast that Jamey surprised me with. We then went to explore downtown Asheville and ended up finding what now stands as our new favorite restaurant EVER! We are not exaggerating even one little bit when we say that eating dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe was one of the best meals we've ever had! If you ever get the chance to go there in Asheville or even one of their other locations throughout the South, please do yourself a favor and do it. We're talking about amazing New South style cooking with the freshest farm ingredients. Allow us to tease you with the picture below of that ginormous fluffy biscuit with homemade blueberry preserves... I've never had a better biscuit. Never!

On our last day of the trip, we spent almost the whole day at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. We had heard a lot about the Biltmore, but we were hoping it lived up to all the hype. Well it did and more! We were absolutely blown away by every single detail of the gorgeous estate, and tried to see as much of it as we could while we were there, though you could easily spend multiple days exploring it all. Besides the estate, what we also found to be incredible is just how knowledgeable and enthusiastic every employee that we came across was, from the hosts inside right down to the clerk in the gift store; and trust me, we had a lot of questions! There is no doubt that we will be back someday... and hopefully some year at Christmas time!

Right after our day and dinner at the Biltmore Estate, we headed back into downtown Asheville to see a stage production of Steel Magnolias at one of the oldest community theatres in the nation. Having my degree in Theatre Arts, I was absolutely thrilled about this surprise from my dear husband! Since we've been too busy to see any plays over this year, Jamey took this opportunity to fill that desire he knows is in my heart! Thank you, honey!

Now on to the second exciting year of marriage... moving internationally & entering the mission field!

- Lesley 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

newsletter // august 2013

As always, please let us know if you'd like to join the list to have these emailed to you personally. 
If so, you can email Jamey at

(Click the photo to make it a readable size!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

photo // we've purchased our plane tickets!!

What we've been waiting to do for a very long time! We now have our official leave date and flights!! It's just around the corner!