2017 Jingling and Mingling From Texas to Tennessee and Florida

Well, the Christmas season is upon us and whether or not there is snow in your local forecast, it’s still the most wonderful time of the year! Now, this exciting truth is not because of shopping sales and bonanzas or even beautiful trees and decorations. This time of year is so special because it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King. This is what brings the joy of Christmas to life and why we give gifts, put up lights, sing songs and carols and tend to smile everywhere we go. :)

The great joy from Christmas is also very contagious and so this year we at Access-Life wanted to spread a little “merry, merry, merry Christmas” to our ministry friends and volunteers through a new local Outpost activity called a Jingle and Mingle. Actually, the folks in our East Tennessee Outpost started doing these Christmas celebrations several years ago but this year we thought it would be nice to extend the party to North Texas and West Palm Beach, too.

As a result, through some great area leaders, we hosted three Jingle and Mingles recently that featured a seasonal ice breaker game with prizes, a holiday snowflake craft, festive food and Christmas carols with the nativity story. God brought out 108 attendees in North Texas, 75 people in West Palm Beach and 70 folks in East Tennessee to celebrate Jesus birthday and be refreshed by His presence this holiday season.

We were so thankful for these great turn outs and seeing people Jingling and Mingling for Jesus from TX to TN and FL and hope you enjoy the picture collage from all three areas below. :)

2017 Spring Fling in ETN

Leanne and I were so privileged to be in town for this year’s “Spring Fling” held by Shady Grove Methodist on Saturday. This was the 4th year they have hosted this Access-Life Outpost event and while the weather was cold and rainy outside, the warm presence of the Lord blessed all who attended inside.

It such a blessing seeing folks participate in the carefully thought out, planned and executed crafts like rock painting, leather work, foam cross  and prayer bead activities and of course the variety of games and snack activities including ice cream were popular with everyone. However the group singing time was definitely a highlight for me. It was particularly inspiring seeing the participants sing “Jesus Loves Me” as they learned the sign language motions to go along with the words.

All of these things may seem small and even mundane to many but to God they were important as they encouraged, blessed and fill the lives of those attending with the good and wholesome gifts that He longs to give us all. This fact was brought to my attention in a unique way as at the closing of the activities a mom who had brought her daughter came up to Leanne and I with tears of joy in her eyes saying what a God blessed experience they had in just two short hours there. Our exchange was capped off as her daughter spontaneously sang “Jesus Loves Me” while signing out the words she had just learned.

You know, so many time we are looking for the big, serious or cutting edge things in life to make us feel we are doing something important but make no mistake God shines brightest in the simplest and most basic moments of life. Hopefully, the pictures included here will be a reminder of this humbling truth and encourage each of us to look for God’s presence and working in the wholesome and holy blessings He gives each day.

Crafting a Community in ETN: 2017 Update

What a great time of blessing God gave us Saturday night at our 4th annual ETN Crafting a Community banquet!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the fun Expo challenge icebreaker game and the inspiring Sunshine Ambassadors dancing as well as the tasty food from chef Luke and the friendly fellowshipping all around.

We are especially excited that $9,315 was pledged and/or given at the event giving us just enough to surpass the $9,250 matching gift fund that was offered. Overall this means that $18,565 was raised through the banquet this year.

Please know Leanne and I are so appreciative of everyone who prayed, gave, invited guests, came out, shared, served and had a part in this fundraiser and hope you all with join us in thanking he Lord for all the good things He has done!

Big Wheel Deal Rolls into CFL

What a great Big Wheel Deal it was Saturday!

All three games were close with Live Oaks beating First Baptist Windermere 28-20 in Game 1, UCF topping the defending champions, the Ocoee Police 23-21 in Game 2 and Live Oaks winning it all 28-22 in the final game. There were lots of fans on hand to root on the teams and our free throw contestants, too.

We also, passed last year’s fundraising by quite a bit thanks to some very generous donors! In fact, to date $8,887.00 has been given and/or pledged giving us a great start on raising all that will be needed for the CFL Expo this fall.

From the players who gave it all on the court and free throw participants who to inspired us as the tried to beat the clock to the fans who cheered from the stands and the volunteers who served before, during and after the event, Leanne and I say THANK YOU!

Above is a photo collage for everyone to see and share and THANK YOU again as it is great seeing the good God does working through the hearts and minds of His people.

Belize Outreach Diary by Nanette Ryan

collage-2017-1-ale-blz-outAccess-Life Belize 2017, Day One (Tues.):

On our first full day in Belize, the day started out very wet. The team stayed at the Hearts of Christ mission and started organizing supplies and cleaning equipment that had been shipped. Korie and some of the guys went to buy lumber and materials for the first ramp that would be built. After lunch, the rain stopped and we all loaded up and headed to the work site.

Ciara and Wilson:

The ramp was for a family with several children, one of whom has Cerebral Palsy. Ciara is almost 10 years old and has a smile that lights up her face. We met her mom, Kimone, and her cousin Taylor and baby brother Will. Their house was up on stilts, so the ramp needed to be “double decker” with a landing in between. The building team had put together the larger pieces before we went to the site, so when we arrived they got to work building the framework and finishing out the ramp.

While the building team worked, others on the A-L team walked around the village neighborhood to hand out hygiene packs and candy to the children and families who were walking home from school. The activity attracted a lot of attention and one family came by asking for some kind of wheelchair for their son, Wilson, who was born with deformities in all four limbs.

Leanne and John had gone back to the Hearts of Christ mission to get a wheelchair for Ciara and at the last minute decided to put an extra mobility stroller in the van to see if Ciara could use it, too. When they got back to the job site, Wilson and his family were there and it was very evident that God had intended the mobility stroller to go to him. So, Ciara got her weelchair and Wilson got his stroller – double blessings!

Doug’s morning devotion had reminded us that God is with us and goes before us, so this was affirmation that God was at work and had gone before us to help us to be prepared for the families we met that day.

Access-Life Belize 2017, Day Two (Wed.):

The plan for the day was to build two ramps for families who live not too far from Roaring Creek Village. Our team was divided up to send some out to build and to leave others at Hearts of Christ to clean and sort and organize medical equipment and supplies.

Ms. Sonia:

The first ramp of the day was for Ms. Sonia, a woman who had one of her legs amputated below the knee last October. She had been staying with her sister during the recovery and was excited to be able to move back to her own house and to have a ramp built so that she could come and go more easily. She was surprised when we drove up, as she didn’t know what day we were coming. We also were able to give her a motorized wheelchair to help her to get around.

Several of Ms. Sonia’s siblings live nearby, so our team was also able to meet them and see about some of their needs. One brother, Roy, needed colostomy supplies, and one of the sisters, Matilda, has stage four cancer and was blessed to receive a scripture blanket and a wooded cross carved with the words, “Amazing Grace.” Our team was blessed by all of the interactions with Ms. Sonia and her family.

Ms. Laverne:

The second ramp was built for Ms. Laverne, a woman suffering from arthritis in her knees and arms. She needed a ramp to get out of her house and we also were able to give her a motorized wheelchair. Her daughters, Desiree and Haley and son, Leon, were thankful that we could help their mom. The family was also blessed to receive a Bible, scripture blanket and a wooden cross. When Ms Laverne commented she could not read the Bible do to her poor sight, her daughter excitedly offered to read to her capping off the day with a great reminder that God provides in big and small ways.

Jingling and Mingling in ETN and CFL

img_20161217_121053As it is the season for celebrating, our Access-Life Outposts in ETN and CFL recently each held Jingle and Mingle Christmas parties for individual and families with disabilities in their local communities.

img_1249The ETN activity was held on December 10th at the Jefferson City Christian Church and was attended by 50-60 participants and volunteers who shared a light lunch, made a few crafts and fellowshipped through the singing of Christmas carols. It was the 3rd year in a row for the Jingle and Mingle there and folks were definitely in the Christmas mood!

wgk_8694In CFL, while several Outpost Christmas activities have been held in the past, it was the first time an official Jingle and Mingle was held in the Sunshine state. In turn, this more intimate group gathered at the home of Doug and Leanne Goddard this this past Saturday, December 17th but similar to the ETN event, they made a snow flake craft, decorated cookies, shared a light lunch and sang carols. While only numbering about 30-40 attendees, these folks were just as festive and in fact, carried on the party for several hours. :)

img_1252All in all, it is such a privilege to see folks with disabilities active during this great season celebrating the birth of Jesus just like many other typical families and we hope this fact as well as the pictures included encourage you and bring you a special Christmas smile!

2nd Big Wheel Deal in JAX

What a great game Friday night! The BLUE team won this year 34-20 but the MVP came from the GREEN team so things balanced out. The free throw contestants including a group from Hope Haven (after they were welcomed into the concert next door for an hour) really displayed both determination and heart in the half-time competition, too.

From the many volunteers who helped in so many areas and the Christ’s Church staff who gracious hosted us to the players from Brooks REHAB, Christ’s Church, Raiford Road Church, etc. and the many free throw contestants, God graciously blessed all of us who attended. We really missed not having any cheerleaders this year and could have used a few more fans in the stands but the ICAN-GAROO and CFA Cow mascots added some great sideline fun as did ICAN-Woman, Jenette.

Also, RPM Automotive, CFA and Moon Pie were awesome sponsors providing great prizes for folks as well as some nutritious water and delicious food and assuming all the pledges are honored we’ll have raised $2,349 which is almost double what was brought in last year. PTL, as this was the purpose of the event and will help us reach more folks living with disabilities in JAX with the love and Gospel of Jesus at the Expo in April!

Leanne and I so appreciate the support so many of you all have provided through your prayers, giving, networking and service and hope you know that you are being the hands and feet of Jesus helping Him touch and change lives as only He can.

Hope you enjoy the photo collage!