Our Thanks to God and to His Body
Heart to Heart

 

 Dear Families,      

Our deepest heartfelt thanks to God for blessing all of us with the best conference ever. Our God’s orchestration of people and events is truly awesome. From beginning to end, He so lovingly gives us more than we ever ask for to bring about His perfect plans. A beautiful, convenient facility; wonderful, godly speakers; and more homeschooling families than ever – God greatly blessed us!!     

Vendors were so grateful; the taping man begged to come back; speakers shared how different our conference was in that they so strongly felt God’s presence, our passion for homeschooling, our dedication to our families, and the joy of the Lord; and families continue to tell us how God used this conference to change their lives.     

Do you remember the year my appendix ruptured when I was 7½ months pregnant with Josiah? It ruptured on the very Friday night in June that I normally give my New Homeschoolers Seminar, but our omniscient, omnipotent Father had the conference date that year scheduled one month later in July, so I could have a month of recovery time before our conference. Bedridden pregnancies, a miscarriage at 5 months, Jon’s heart attack—God brings us through every conference tribulation.     

This past year we looked and looked for a new facility to house God’s outpouring of families. Jon and I kept praying, “God, You’re always so faithful. We know you have a plan. Please reveal it to us.” Vendors were calling with ideas; radio announcer Al Gross called with ideas; MetroVoice publisher Jim Day called with ideas. Everyone was looking, but God knew.     

March came. Two weeks before we left for Florida for Jon to dedicate his grandnieces to the Lord, God gave us a location. One day before we left, we had all our speakers’ workshops filled except for six slots.     

 I sat down and prayed, “God, this conference is yours. Who do You want to fill these slots?” Immediately the phone rang, and it was Walt Stumper asking if we would like Ken Ham to speak at our conference. Within hours, Ken Ham’s workshop schedule filled the exact openings we had left.     

Miraculously, I had gotten all six of our seven speakers in one day. Their confirmations, biographies, and workshop descriptions were all faxed in one day. And who says the earth wasn’t created in six days? With God all things are possible!     

Doug Phillips was the only speaker we did not get that day. The Lord had impressed upon us for Doug to feed His people, so immediately after receiving a location, we called to see if he was available. Doug is the most in-demand homeschool speaker, and we were asking him to speak just four months prior to the actual conference date. He accepted, but one of the first things he said to us after he arrived was that he couldn’t believe we could possibly get a conference like this together in such a short period of time. His staff puts on conferences, and he knows from experience that it takes a year of preparation. We then told him that it was truly God who always orchestrates and pulls our conferences together. Doug said it must be because they had an ironclad policy that he would not take any additional speaking requests this year, but he came anyway.     

Two weeks before this year’s conference, I found out that my mom had cancer and that someone had broken into our barn in the country (two hours away from St. Louis). Because they had eaten too much grain as a result of being able to get into the barn, our horses began foundering.     

At 1:30 in the morning a vet was telling me to put down one of our horses who was lying down in such misery I could barely stand to watch him. The vet said, “Hear those coyotes? This horse will have no defense. He’s really bad, and you should put him down.”     

I told the vet that I couldn’t make that decision, and I went off to cry. I cried out to our Lord, “What should I do, Lord? Jon’s not here to make this decision.”     

God told me to wait. I prayed through the night. The next day I was giving injections to five horses three times a day, mixing medicines to give orally, and putting salve on open sores caused from them laying on the ground. Jon was working overtime and could only give moral support by phone.     

For two weeks before the conference and four weeks since, I medicated and prayed. My horses’ very existence depended on my being there around the clock. I couldn’t leave, but God had already prepared the way.     

The unusual early onslaught of registration requests happened two months prior to the conference, so Heather and Jon (who were working 60-90 hours a week) did not have the usual last minute deluge of requests.     

Normally, I must get workers to cover each speakers’ table every hour of the conference. This year all our speakers brought their own help. We always transport our speakers everywhere. This year they all had their own transportation. Every year we must set up every table, chair, and table covering. This year the banquet center did it for us.     

God knew I wouldn’t be here the last two weeks. He knew Jon would be working 70-90 hour weeks. He knew our nieces were coming in from Florida to attend the conference. He knew I had a birthday party to plan two days later. God knew, and He took care of everything.     

He sent a very knowledgeable woman to us who took care of the horses until the vet came, who came back the next day and showed me how to give injections, and who was on call for all my questions. He had our nearest neighbors to check on us each evening to make sure we were okay because they knew I was somewhat afraid at night because of a crazy man who lived in the woods who had broken into our house several times.     

Shortly after our horses foundered, our neighbor died. At the funeral her kids told me how much I meant to their mother and that they loved me, too. When they found out about our horses, they called me each night to see how I was doing and to tell me they loved me. Homeschoolers from around the state called to say they were praying for us, our mother, and our horses.     

One day when I was in the barn, God let me know there was a copperhead at my feet. Another day while I was resting on a rock by the creek, I went to reach back, and God quickened my spirit to jump up. I did, and there was a large rattlesnake behind me. When Josiah was covered with yellow jackets and I helped him to get away from their nest, God protected us. Josiah was only stung ten times, and even though I had shorts on, I was only stung six times.     

When my van went dead, God sent a neighbor to start it. When I stopped our van on the way home from the country after midnight because of the tapping noises, God sent a family to see if they could help. The man discovered that I was completely out of oil, selected the oil, and put it in for us. He was a Christian man who had gone to our old church who was on his way home, which happened to be two hours away in the opposite direction.     

So at night when the kids and I went to give shots and my sweet, sweet gelding whinnied to me as he lay in such pain, I cried, but I knew I wasn’t alone.     

During the day between shots, I was on the phone all day taking care of conference details. With the capable, diligent, hard work of Teresa May and Rita Stull, the last two hectic weeks were cared for beautifully.     

Then, so I could be home the day before the conference to pack up all our decorations and boxes of materials and take care of last minute details, God supplied a nurse who had cared for her own foundered horse to take care of our horses the day before and the two days of the conference.       The body of Christ is a magnificent masterpiece. God is the Head who orchestrates by preparing the way, directing, and guiding. His people are the hands, the feet, the eyes, and the heart who work together to make God’s plans work. They work together for the good of the body of Christ and work to help the member who needs help. They encourage, build up, nurture each other, and fight off any invading enemy. The body of Christ is truly an awesome, miraculous gift from God.     

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and calls of encouragement and comforting words. And thanks to all of you for your help with the conference.     

First, our thanks to Dan and Teresa May and their family for doing so much for all of us. Dan and Teresa became CHEF’s treasurers in March and immediately made excellent improvements in the bookkeeping. Teresa also set up the Used Book Sale. She was in charge of the 12th grade graduation ceremony which was lovely and handled all of our conference registrations. Besides these tremendous responsibilities, she also helped with every facet of the conference and was literally our right arm throughout, all while she was pregnant with her ninth child. (Her baby was born the week of the conference.) Teresa is truly remarkable. We greatly admire her and appreciate all she does and all Dan does to serve us and other homeschoolers. A special thanks to their children too for the time we took from them. Teresa and I talked several times a day. Thanks, too, to Jessica May for taking all our calls and for helping at Bill Federer’s table.      O

ur thanks to Mike Stull for all he does for all of us designing our MetroVoice ads, conference brochures, CHEF brochures, and maps of the banquet center. He makes everything look so professional and beautiful. Our thanks to Rita Stull, too, for all the many calls she made, all the many details she took care of, the copies she made, and for taking care of so many responsibilities while I was out of town. Thanks, too, to Hannah Stull for helping set up and working at the tables.     

Our thanks to Brad and Debbie Winfield for taking care of all the many responsibilities involved in being in charge of the Exhibit Hall and all the vendors. It is an awesome task to meet the specialized needs and requests of each of the vendors. They have done a marvelous job, and we sincerely thank them. This is their last year of being in charge of the Exhibit Hall because they will be adopting two children next year to add to their eight other blessings.     

Our thanks to Harley and Beth Marshall for helping with the setup, registration, and breakdown and for always being there to help with anything we need. Harley and Beth will be in charge of our Exhibit Hall next year.     

Our thanks to Cathy Mullins for creating such professional looking name tags for our speakers and workers.     

Our thanks to Kathy Hamre for making calls for us, getting material for the registration table, getting copies made, putting together our Red Book, and for helping at our table.     

Our thanks to Doug Risch for having signs made, picking up decorations, introducing speakers, and taking care of a host of details.     

Our thanks to Chris and Justin Russavage for setting up and working at registration and our table.     

Our thanks to Kathy, Sarah, Rebekah, and Hannah Zes for placing information in our Stuff It Bags and for arranging our floral bouquets.     

Our thanks to Cindy Bleikamp, Tracy Brandt, Linda Carr, Karen Connors, Nancy Crawford, Lori Gilmore, Lucy Hannegan, Joye Hengst, Renee Jahnke, Joe Lipic, Claudia Lombard, Beverly McDonald, Elaine Oursler, Theresa Owens, and Margaret Renaud for working registration and our other table.     

Our thanks to Joshua Hillmann for playing the piano.     

Our thanks to Todd Jaeger for bringing his carts from Jaeger’s Greenhouse for the vendors and helping the vendors pack up their curriculum.      T

hanks also to everyone else who pitched in and helped when they saw a need and to those of you who also helped pack up all our stuff. We greatly appreciate each and every one of you who helped us make this our best conference yet.     

Our thanks to my mom for making meals for us during this hectic time and for all her prayers that keep us going. To our sister Su for getting candles and calculators for us and helping in so many ways. To our children who work so hard throughout the year to help our life run smoothly. And to Joye Hengst, the best personal secretary anyone could ever hope for, who keeps us on track, organized, and sane, taking care of multiple responsibilities every day. Without you and Joe who help us so very much, we would go crazy. Thank you.     

Our love to all of you,

      Jon and Candy