“Strong is His love for us; He is faithful forever.” Psalm 117:2
Dear family and friends,
This past mission year has been incredibly fruitful and life changing, from beginning a relationship, getting engaged, getting married, incredibly blessed missions and now expecting our first child. Who would have thought that we could fit all of that into one year…only the Lord! Since life has been so abundant, we felt the need to bring you up to speed on some of the ways the Lord is moving in our lives, and we wanted to invite you to be a part of God’s mission through prayer and/or financial support as a monthly donor. This year Life Teen is blessed to have a donor that will match every monthly contribution for second year missionaries and beyond! In order for the donation to be matched, we must have it by October 1st. We also ask you to email us prayer intentions ([email protected]) so we know how to pray for you! (We will still be able to receive donations after October 1st, but they will not be matched.)
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Life is not the same as we once knew it. After our Life Teen mission trip to Ghana in July 2010, it was obvious for Bridget and I that our lives were never going to be the same. It was there, serving the poorest of the poor in Africa, that we fell in love with each other’s missionary hearts. We knew that it was something big, something that we both had been praying about for many years; clarity in our vocations. We began our pursuit towards marriage upon returning and within three months I asked Bridget to be my missionary partner for life! Six weeks later Bridget moved to Covecrest from Louisiana, where she had been a missionary with Family Missions Company for nine years. We were engaged for six months when we got married on April 30th. Within the first month the Lord blessed us with new life. Our lil baby is due February 10th!
“HERE I AM LORD, SEND ME!”
In January Bridget and I led a Life Teen mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico with Family Missions Company. The group was made up of past Life Teen summer missionaries as well as a beautiful family of five from Louisiana. Our greatest blessing from this mission was witnessing this amazing family drawing closer to one another as they served Christ in the poor and loved Christ in one another. The last day we were there, Bridget and I led their family on a rancho visit where their oldest son shared his emotional testimony in front of his family and this small village. He shared how he had been struggling with using drugs and two weeks before the mission his parents caught him for the second time, disappointing his entire family including his two younger sisters that looked up to him. He later explained how he encountered the love and mercy of our God on this mission trip through the Mexican people. The Lord set his heart on fire to love and serve Him like it never had been before. He also publicly apologized to his family for letting them down. When he came back from Mexico he was so moved that he told his Christian school principle that he felt called to share his testimony with the entire school. After doing so, many of the students approached him and shared with him how they too had been struggling. In his new boldness he asked if he could pray over them right then and there. As the burning desire in his heart grew to serve the Lord, he felt called to serve with us on our Life Teen Ghana mission and is currently serving a year as a National Evangelization Team (NET) missionary.
Three weeks before our wedding, God blessed me with my third opportunity to be on mission in Haiti with Life Teen since the earthquake. Even though it was so close to our wedding date, through much prayer, Bridget felt like I was supposed to go. We took all of our first year missionaries to an orphanage operated by Moving With The Spirit (MWTS). The highlight of this mission was getting the opportunity to pour out our love on two little ones that our mission directors were in the process of adopting, as well as all the other orphans. We were hoping to bring them home with us, but unfortunately it was not God’s time for them to come home. However, two months later, in July, the year and a half waiting process came to an end when we all welcomed Olguin and David home at the airport!
One month after our wedding Bridget and I led a three week Life Teen mission back to the place we fell in love: Ghana, Africa! Besides being the first mission together as a married couple, the highlight of this mission definitely was our two day trip to Northern Ghana. Bridget and I went as representatives of Life Teen to visit some of the villages that were receiving water wells thanks to Life Teen’s global give-it-away Life Night, “Thirst For Change”. Teenagers from Life Teen parishes all over the world gave their spare change so that the people of Northern Ghana could have clean drinking water. The original goal was to build 4 wells, but they ended up raising enough to build 18 wells! The people were so grateful. When we asked how this was going to impact their community the most common response was, “water is life”. While in Ghana we were also able to build two mud huts for two families in need, put on three Life Nights at the local parish (at the last one there were over 200 youth) and share the gospel with many people around the village where we stayed.
CALCUTTAS IN OUR HOMES
Mother Teresa would always say that you don’t have to go to Calcutta to encounter the poor, there are people starving for love all around us, in our homes and in our neighborhoods. As Bridget and I continue to reach out to those in the town surrounding Covecrest, we see this reality more and more. In December we helped lead a local mission for 20 families that came up from Atlanta. We went and delivered gift baskets to home-bound elderly who we have built relationships with through delivering food on our meals on wheels route. We also conducted work projects and just spent time listening to our neighbors’ stories of their lives. As one family was conducting a home visit, one of the children overheard the elderly woman that they were visiting say that she was struggling for money. He quickly went out to the car and brought her a few quarters. The next day, as we were wrapping up one project, two children asked their parents to stop the car. They then got out and went up to the neighborhood child they had been playing with for the past two days. He was just in a T-shirt. One of the boys took off his coat and gave it to the child, and the other gave him his hat. It was also on this mission that Bridget and I discovered a large Hispanic population that was unable to get to Mass because they didn’t have transportation. This spurred us into a new ministry on Sundays, offering transportation to the Spanish Mass for those in need.
During summer camp we had over 2,000 high school and middle school teens come through Covecrest. During this time we again saw the poverty that exists in teens, as families become more and more unstable. Many young men and women suffering from the absence of father figures in their lives. I was blessed to be able to speak to all the men several weeks, on the need for men of God to rise up in our schools, our communities and our Church. Bridget ran the kitchen, cooking 3 meals a day for over 300 campers each week, and I led our college aged missionaries who served the camp in various roles from maintaining the grounds, to serving in the kitchen, to working behind a camera. The highlight for us was just walking with the college missionaries, hearing their struggles, praying and sharing our lives with them and challenging them to be missionary in the everyday.
Awhile back I was reflecting on the gospel for the day and the fact that “God is with us”, He has called us, and we have answered, giving Him our entire lives. We are so humbled to be a small part of His mission of redemption. If there was one thing that was reinforced this past 6 months it would be that this mission is URGENT. People are taking their lives because they lack hope, or purpose or have never heard the good news. That to me shouts the urgency of this message. We feel so blessed to be a part of this mission, and we pray that you will accept God’s invitation to join us on His mission through prayer and/or financial support.
All for Love,
Erik and Bridget Martin