We are here in Florida and we are well! Although we usually stick to one update a month, we wanted to give you all an early greeting, given the recent circumstances surrounding hurricane Irma. For those of you who don’t know, Samantha and I are based in Oviedo, FL, which is about 40 minutes outside the city of Orlando. In the weeks building up to Irma making landfall, we were continuing our usual work with Emmaus Ministries and also working with Canterbury Retreat Center (where our base is) in order to make it as storm-proof as possible. After continuing to watch the news and talking with friends and family, Samantha and I decided to play it safe and take one of our co-workers up on their offer to weather the storm with them and their family in Atlanta, GA. So, on Thursday (the 7th) we drove a grueling 14 hours (usually 8) to Atlanta and spent the weekend with some wonderful people. While we still ended up experiencing lots of rain, strong winds, and losing power in Georgia, we feel like we made the best choice and God really blessed us with an unlooked for mini-vacation through that trip!
We drove back to FL on Tuesday (the 12th) in order to assess the damages and help our community get back on its feat. Thankfully, our facilities suffered no extreme damage internally. Still, one of our buildings did receive some serious external damage, and all of the campus grounds were completely hidden under MANY downed trees and MUCH debris, including a tree right outside our bedroom window (Praise God it fell the other way!).
Now that we are back, we have gotten straight to work. The past two days since we’ve been back have been filled with a lot of hard work around the campus, trying to clean up our home here. One of the most incredible things that has come from this experience has been witnessing the faithful friendships and community around us. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, you might remember how we’ve talked about being very surprised and impacted by the amount of unity and depth in the local church relationships here. This week, it has shown! More than 60+ people, from multiple churches we’re engaged with, have taken the time out of their own troubles to come and work with us here at Canterbury and have made weeks of work vanish in hours!
As the director of Canterbury Retreat Center, Jon Davis, told me, “This is what Kingdom living looks like!” It has reminded us of this verse: 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” While this verse is actually referring to our earthly bodies vs. heavenly ones, I think the heart behind it is the same in our current situation. Many times, too much of our hope and identity are attached to things of this world and it can cause us to lose sight of what is most important. Having lost nothing but time and energy in this storm, I don’t speak for myself, but for those who left their own damaged homes and properties to come and labor in love for their neighbors. What a blessing!
This past week may have thrown some of our plans and schedules into the grinder, but looking forward, we are getting back into the rhythm of our work with Emmaus Ministries. These next weeks, Samantha and I will continue to work towards removing the damage Irma left in her wake, and also continuing our support raising efforts, with the goal of becoming fully funded, full-time, staff of Emmaus Ministries. Along with this, opportunities have recently opened up for us to be able to work more closely with the staff here at Canterbury Retreat Center and also with the staff at our local church, “Grace Oviedo,” which we are looking forward too! These are part of our efforts to get plugged in with the community here and form more of those “Kingdom-minded” relationships.
We are happy to be back in Florida and are still looking forward to sharing what new things are coming from Emmaus Ministries. Thank you all for your prayers!
-Samantha and I are still not at a sustainable income, we need more monthly supporters. If you, or perhaps someone you know, are interested in our goal of training individuals to know their Bible, in order to cultivate a Biblically literate church body, please get in touch with us! We would LOVE to talk more with you about our goals and mission! Or, to donate now, click here and follow the instructions.
-We recently heard a mystery grinding noise come from our truck and are taking it to the shop this week to get it checked out. Please pray for a miraculous fix, or at least a cheap one!
-Samantha and I are in need of some basic health check-ups (Dental care, new eye prescriptions, etc.) and we don’t have the funds for them with our current budget.
-We were very fortunate to escape most of the destructive force that Irma proved to be, but many of those in our community and churches were not so fortunate. Please continue to lift them up in prayer, and us, as we continue to do our best to help heal the hurts around us.
-Lastly, Sept. 14th is our 4th anniversary! Woo! We’re so thankful for the incredible journey this marriage has already been and we’re looking forward to much more! Please pray for us as couple, that we would continue to grow in our faith and relationship with each other.
-Jacob and Samantha McRae