Reading material anyone? This one will take a while.
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I have been putting off blogging for quite some time now due to lack of words to explain all that has happened with us since I last blogged in October.  I still have no idea where to begin, but I will give it a shot and try to keep things brief (barely possible for me).  The Lord has blessed us tremendously, but has also given us many challenges that we accept head on.

Since our last blog, we found out we were expecting another child due somewhere around the end of July, early August.  This was of course very welcomed and exciting for us, but also brought many questions as to how this would affect the vision we felt God had placed in our hearts.   I am now almost 29 weeks pregnant and the reality is setting in that I will be the mother of three small children very soon.  I have some fear about how I will be able to juggle and handle my days, but I rest in the knowledge that God will see me through.

Abree just turned 4! I really can’t believe how time has flown by.  Excuse the cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time.  She is turning into such a great, intelligent, intuitive, and caring little lady.  We are so proud of her and can’t wait to see her continue to blossom.

Maelah has also changed so much.  She is talking so well now and is always ready to entertain.  She will turn 2 in June.  Of course we are also so proud of her and who she is becoming.  We couldn’t feel more blessed than we do when we watch our little ones.

Andy and I will be married 6 years this June!  We have been through so much together and are so excited to continue on this journey God has placed us on as a team.  I am so blessed to have such a Godly man as a husband who excels in balancing work, home, and ministry so well.

My days are filled with mommy things, but I still enjoy music, gardening, home-making, and photography in between all the day to day tasks.

Andy’s job is going well, but He is very busy outside of work in many ways, which I will explain shortly.

So those are pretty much the basics, but I would like to get to the meat of what has gone on in our lives now…….

Shortly after our last blog while living in our little apartment, we found ourselves questioning and doubting that which we felt God had put on our hearts.  We knew we had taken the right steps so far, but didn’t know where to go from there.  We had felt a strong pulling to the Hispanic community along the border of Texas and Mexico, but didn’t want to rush into anything.  This would be a HUGE move and step of faith that we just didn’t have complete peace about yet.  One night after a long conversation with each other about where God was taking us, we found ourselves more discouraged than ever.  That night God gave Andy a dream.  The dream was very detailed, but left many questions.  One thing it did do for us was confirm that we were to be ministering to Hispanics and  it also reminded us of our original vision and passion.  This was encouraging.  So we continued to pray and wait, but it wasn’t long before God started opening doors and orchestrating things according to His plan for our lives in a way that only He could……

We weren’t sure where God was taking us next, but we did know and believe that we needed to be open to be used by God wherever we were.  So here we were in Rochelle, IL. While driving down town Rochelle one day Andy noticed a building that said Hand in Hand on it with a scripture verse painted on the front of the building.  It was also written in Spanish.  This intrigued Andy and he saw that they had community prayer times on Saturday mornings.  He attended one Saturday morning and found a small group of believers passionate for Christ and for helping further God’s kingdom in the Rochelle area.  The founder of Hand in Hand, Blanca, was excited and encouraged to see Andy there and asked that he would come back again.  Andy went there during the day and found out that Hand in Hand was a ministry that served the community through a food pantry.  They strongly supported the large local Hispanic community and offered many other services besides the food pantry.  This find was exciting for us because even if this was just a temporary stay, it seemed as though there was opportunity to help out there and it would help prepare Andy and I for our possible journey to Texas through the exposure of the Hispanic culture and the language.

In the mean time, Blanca had told her family about Andy’s visit and was looking forward to seeing him again.  It would be a few weeks before he went again.

Not too long after Andy had his dream his visit to Hand in Hand, I got an e-mail from an acquaintance of ours.  Come to find out, my brother’s step-sister Tayler and her husband Manfredo, who we had known through family events for a few years now, also resided in Rochelle.  Not only did they live in Rochelle, but they were also Christians and  in the same place in life that we were.  They had sold everything and were open to go where God would take them after graduation.  At the time, they were thinking they would be heading to El Salvador, where Manfredo is originally from.  Tayler majored in and speaks fluent Spanish, which is something Andy and I have longed to be able to do.  So here is the big surprise….We found out that Tayler’s husband Manfredo was Blanca’s son!!! Tayler and Manfredo were living with Blanca and Bob (Blanca’s husband) at the time and Blanca had told them about Andy.  Tayler began putting things together and realized it was us she was talking about.  What a crazy coincidence. 😛  God is good!

So we quickly became good friends with Tayler and Manfredo and began getting more involved at Hand in Hand; Well, Andy did anyway.  It would be weeks before I would get the courage up to go in and meet Blanca and the rest of the Hand in Hand volunteer staff.

Unfortunately there was a very sad event that also led us to where we are today.  Just weeks after being introduced to Hand in Hand and a couple of good visits with Bob and Blanca, Bob was hit by a car while walking across the road to check on another driver who he had gotten into a small fender bender with.  Bob did not make it through the night and went to be with his Lord and Savior, something he couldn’t wait to do.

Bob’s life was a living testimony of Christs love and passion and he left an incredible legacy behind.  The town of Rochelle was greatly impacted by him and Blanca and the ministry of Hand in Hand.  For his funeral, there were 18 pastors who wrote eulogies about him.  As we have remained an active part of Hand in Hand, we quite often see the effects he had on people.

Needless to say, this left a huge void in the ministry of Hand in Hand.  Blanca has bravely continued the ministry without him, knowing that is what Bob would have wanted and what she believes God has for her life.

Because of the circumstance and because Andy and I believe in what Hand in Hand is about, Andy couldn’t help but become just as passionate as Bob and Blanca were about  helping and ministering to the people here in Rochelle.

Through all the above mentioned events, God orchestrated wonderful relationships and partnerships that continue to grow stronger each day as we move forward partnering with Blanca at Hand in Hand.  God has truly guided each of our steps, though at times it was very hard to wait on Him.

There are many needs that need to be filled on a daily basis at the mission and Andy believes that God has us taking steps to become full time missionaries here in Rochelle. One thing Andy has been doing is lead a men’s Bible study every Tuesday night. Through the study he has seen God working in himself and the other men in awesome ways! Though we have asked the question many times, “Why us” as we know our shortcomings, we have been in awe at how God has equipped us mightily for individual circumstance that apart from God would never have been possible.  It is not us, but only God that is at work.  He just needs willing vessels.

We are currently praying about the next move and seeing whether or not God will allow Andy to leave his job and become full time at Hand in Hand.  Either way, we know for sure that for now we are exactly where God wants us to be and the vision He has given us for our family has much to do with Hand in Hand.

Another awesome divine orchestration was that we have moved from the tiny little apartment to a homey ranch that we love and it just so happens to be right next door to Blanca! God is great!

Tayler and Manfredo have since been called to be teachers and missionaries at a school in Suriname. They will leave at the end of this summer and we are going to miss them immensely.  This will leave Blanca without her husband or any close family near by so we pray that we can not only help and encourage her within the ministry but also outside of the ministry as friends/neighbors.

Andy has been given other opportunities to minister here in Rochelle outside of Hand in Hand, but until God provides the time for that, He will focus on juggling work, his growing family, and Hand in Hand.

This summer will bring many changes as we prepare for the arrival of our third child, but we trust God’s hand on our lives and we are excited to be a part of God’s work, big or small as we continue on this journey together as a family.

Thank you to those who will take the time to read this insanely long blog and any prayers are much appreciated.

With much love,

The Barkers

Comments

Reading material anyone? This one will take a while. — 2 Comments

  1. Loved the blog, brought tears to my eyes, gave me hope! Love you all!
    Aunt Vily

  2. great getting a taste of what god has been and is doing in your family’s life. the pictures of your home look beautiful and very homey.=)