Sunday, September 14, 2014

Determination! Never Give Up on Your Goals and Dreams!

Just one, small, part of the huge Riverview Park
and Zoo playground in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

We are a joking family. We have to be. Having two children on the autism spectrum can be very challenging but that is for another post. Anyway, one of my favorite ways to joke, often accompanied with much rolling of eyes and moaning, is to refer to my children as different animals. Jacob has often been called "our little monkey". I don't know why. He has never been overly inclined to climbing or swinging from vines. I guess it's because he reminds us of a cute, cuddly, chimpanzee.

Recently, however, he did display some monkeyness (is that a word?) and some amazing and inspiring determination as well. After a fun day filled with animal watching and train riding at the wonderful Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, we decided to tackle their huge playground area. Riverview Park and Zoo is a small, free, zoo that is totally owned and operated by the town of Peterborough. It is really half park and half zoo. I guess that's why they named it the Riverview Park and Zoo. As well as the small zoo, they have many picnic areas throughout and the playground is amazing.

Sarah had gone back to the car to rest and enjoy some air conditioning since it was a very hot day. John Allen and I were running back and forth watching and exploring with Joshua and Jacob as well as enjoying some big kid stuff as well, when I noticed that Jacob was spending a lot of time in one particular area. He had found a set of monkey bars. You know, the kind that are horizontal from the ground and you have to swing from bar to bar to get across? He was determined that he was going to conquer the bars and cross over without falling.

What amazed me was his resolve. He was absolutely resolute. He was not going to leave those bars (pictured above, they are are the yellow ones toward the back on the right), until he did what he had never done before...crossed a set of monkey bars. I stood and watched, amazed at the unflinching look on his face as he fell, picked himself up, and tried again only to fall once more. Soon I was cheering him on and was followed closely by Joshua and John Allen. We didn't assist in any way. Jacob would have none of that. We just cheered and encouraged as he got closer and closer to the end before the inevitable fall. Sometimes he would stop to rest his aching hands, but only for a minute and then he was back in the fight.

There was a rope net that he was to grab hold of  at the end. Once, he got so far that his feet touched the net before he fell. Being the overprotective father that I can sometimes be, I cheered and told him that he had made it. Nope! That was not enough! He was going to totally reach the net and grab hold of it with both his hands and his feet. Finally, after about 45 minutes of trying, he accomplished his goal. He crossed all the way over, grabbed hold of the net with both hands and feet, and climbed down. He had conquered the monkey bars! After much cheering, high-fiving and hugging, a triumphant, albeit sweaty and tired, young eight year old boy marched off to tell mom of his accomplishment. My heart filled with pride.

The Tinks at Riverview Park and Zoo

That event made me think once again about how determined I am to reach my goals and to make my dreams come true. I have been thinking a lot about that the past couple of years. I realized that even though I was still enjoying ministry, I had gotten into the "missionaries and anyone that is in the ministry is poor and they are always supposed to be poor" mindset. I had forgotten how to dream. I had let my dreams go by the wayside and decided that I was never going to reach them so why even bother. Then, through an amazing series of events, I began to dream again. It hasn't been easy. I began to understand that in order to realize my dreams I had to work on myself and allow God to work on me and become a confident person again. Being a Christian worker is hard. You get beaten down and knocked around a lot. It is a lot like Jacob's situation above. When things knock you down and you lose your grip and fall, you just need to pick yourself back up and try again to reach your dreams and goals.

I've also had to think about what my dreams really were. We have had a lot of family discussion about this and some of the things that we have talked and dreamed about have already been accomplished. We have been very blessed to be able to go on an amazing ministry trip each of the past two years. You can read a little about what we did on our most recent trip by clicking here.

Dreaming for us is an interesting process. First and foremost, as Christians, we always want our dreams to be in line with what God wants for us. This has led to a lot of praying and soul searching. What does God really want for us? Although we have had a tremendous amount of fun so far on our ministry journey, are we allowed to think outside of the box?

John Allen and I have been inspired by two amazing families that have done some amazing things together. One family, the Vogels, took a year off and biked 9000 miles around the United States with their two young, twin, sons. Then, just a year or so later, they embarked on a three year 17,000 mile bike trip from northern Alaska to the southern tip of South America.

Another, the Kallin Family, just completed an over 2000 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with their eight year old son and nine year old daughter.

Although she, like the rest of us, loves the outdoors, Sarah isn't the bicycling, backpacking, kind. We have done a lot of "roughing it" in the past, but she would rather the "roughing it" be at a camp where she is working in the kitchen or teaching Bible. A dream of hers would be to travel around in a motor home or pulling a trailer and tour the United States and Canada to help at camps along the way.

I tend to have the same dream of traveling and camping in an RV, but I still dream of trying something big and adventurous with our family. But how do you include two autistic kids in that dream? How do you include the whole family in an adventure when some of them aren't quite as adventurous as the others? How do we involve ministry in the adventure? Is the adventure something that God really wants us to go on in the first place?

Those are questions that are still to be answered. I know that in the months to come there is going to be a lot of praying and discussing. I also know, though, that I am not going to give up on my dreams. Those dreams may change somewhat as time goes by, but I am going to keep on dreaming and setting goals.

What are your goals? Do you still have dreams? Do you think God wants us to accomplish our dreams? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's Camp Time!

Cedar Lake Camp Counselor Training -
Late 1980's or early 1990's

Well, at least it was camp time.

Summers are always exciting for us because that means it's time for our summer ministries and a little bit of a change of pace. I just realized today that since the age of 8 or 9 there have only been about four or five summers where I have not either gone to camp or worked at a camp in some way or another. Summer camp has always been a big part of my life.

Sarah and I met when I was the program director and she was a counselor at Cedar Lake Camp in Livingston, TN. We got married at camp; had our first child, John Allen at camp (well in the hospital in Livingston not right at camp); and lived and worked at the camp full time for a few years. Yes, that is me in the above picture during counselor training week in the early days.

Good News Mission Day Camp - 2014

Now, we run day camps of our own at Good News Mission and, for the last two summers, have had the great pleasure of traveling during the month of August and ministering at a two wonderful BCM International camps in upstate New York and Ontario, Canada.

Cortland Bible Club Camp
Cortland Bible Club Camp is in picturesque Pitcher, New York. Although we have known about the camp since we first joined our mission organization, BCM International in 1997, we only had the pleasure of first seeing it last summer in 2013. We met Dan and Jeanette Rhoda a few years ago at BCM's annual North American Missionary Conference.  The Rhodas had recently become the director's of the camp and had just joined BCM. John Allen and their son Tyler fast became friends. Last summer, John Allen felt God calling him to work at the camp, applied, and was accepted. When the camp needed a vesper's speaker for a week, they asked me to come and speak. They must have been desperate again this year because they invited us back. We love helping out at Cortland not only because of the scenery, but because of the wonderful staff and great kids that attend each summer. We can't wait until next summer!

Mill Stream Bible Camp
Way back in he early 1980's, when I was working at Disney World, one of my favorite pavilions at EPCOT was the Canadian Pavilion. Canada seemed like a wonderful and beautiful place to visit. When we first began dating and I took Sarah for the the first time, the Canadian Pavilion became one of her favorite stops as well. For years we dreamed of someday visiting Canada and were elated when a few years ago the directors, Larry and Cindy Chupa, invited us to teach Bible and help in the kitchen (Sarah not me) for a week at Mill Stream Bible Camp. It was everything that we had hoped for a more. Canada is a beautiful country and the people are equally as beautiful. We absolutely loved our week there and even stayed on afterward for a few days to do a little bit of "the tourist thing". We were very thrilled when we were asked back again this year and had another very special week. This time I helped Sarah teach Bible to the girls and she helped me as I taught Bible to the guys. We're looking forward to returning next summer.
We have been really blessed! We love working at camps.Thank you Lord for the many years that you have enabled us to serve you in the camping ministry. Lord willing, we are looking forward to many more years to come!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

I grew up to love the outdoors. I still remember camping with my family and I remember my dad choosing to take the scenic route when we traveled. There were times when our whole vacation was planned around the outdoors (as well as history, another one of my loves, but that is for another post). When I was young my dream was to either become a forest ranger or a zoo keeper. I was very blessed to have been to able to visit numerous zoos and aquariums by the time I graduated from high school. Still today I love the outdoors.

That is one of the reasons why Sarah and I really enjoy taking our kids to places that help them to appreciate the outdoors and nature. Of course our missionary work with Christian camps promotes appreciation of God's creation, but also, like my parents, we take our kids to zoos and aquariums whenever we can. In fact, my kids have seen a whopping twelve zoos (that I can think of right now) and three aquariums. Maybe in a future post I will attempt to list them all. It would be fun to find the websites and have the boys rate their favorites.

Just this past Saturday we had the great pleasure of visiting Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC. Once again the boys loved it as did their parents since it was free! Yes, all of the Smithsonian's facilities (at least the ones I've been to), including their museums and the National Zoo don't cost a thing.

John Allen said that he liked the monkeys and gorillas.

Joshua said that he enjoyed the snakes and the poison dart frogs.

Jacob's favorites were the lions and tigers.

Sarah and I enjoy all animals and really delight in watching our boys light up when discovering new things.

There are a couple of minor things that I must warn you about though.

First there is not a lot of parking for the zoo and the parking is a little pricey at $22 for the day. When doing some research, though, I found a really neat website called Parking Panda. Parking Panda is a site where you can actually reserve a parking place and not have to worry about finding a place in a crowded parking lot. We reserved a parking place about three blocks away from the zoo entrance and the price was just $21 - cheaper than actually parking at the zoo.

Second, the food at the zoo was rather expensive. Really, though, it was comparable to the prices of food at most zoos or similar attractions. The usual offers were typical fast food items but I will say that the food was very good and, you make up for it by not having to pay an entrance fee for the zoo.

Finally, the zoo is built on the side of a hill. The entrance we went in just happened to be at the top of the hill. We didn't notice that we were going down hill because there were so many animal exhibits and buildings to go into. However, once we were down we had to go back up! There were more animals and exhibits on another path going up, so there was a lot of stopping and looking, but we were still tuckered out by the time we made it back to the top. Thankfully our car was parked down the other side of the hill, so it was downhill after we left the zoo.

With that being said, I would highly recommend Smithsonian's National Zoo. Anything that the Smithsonian does is top notch and their zoo is no exception. This is one of the best zoos that we have been to and remember, we have been to a lot! As mentioned before, the price of the parking and the price of food is really not an issue when you think that you would spend that much just on entrance fees of most zoos.

I would also recommend using Parking Panda. Although our parking place was three blocks away, having a reserved space relieved the stress of hoping there would be a space available and driving around looking for one when you arrived. It was simple to go to their website, choose a lot and use a major credit card to reserve a space. Your confirmation is either emailed or downloaded once the reservation is made. Different parking lots do it different ways, but we parked in a hotel parking garage and all we had to do was show our confirmation download to the valet parking attendant when we were ready to leave and he opened the gate for us. It really was painless.

Click on the links above, explore and have fun. We sure did!

This post is part of the following great blog hop from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Please click on the banner to check out other great nature studies for your homeschool from other great Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers.

Nature Study for Your Homeschool

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Take a Deep Breath and Find Out What We do as Full Time Missionaries!

Most of you know that we are full time missionaries and mainly serve in a small town in Tennessee. What many of you don't know is what we do from day to day. Well, really, what we do day to day can change depending on the season. Our summers are much different than what we do during the school year. I will be writing about our summers soon, but first I wanted to share a newsletter with you all that was written late last spring. It's rather long, but I think that after you read it you will understand what I mean by our lives being crazy at times. Enjoy reading and please feel free to leave a comment.

Hello Precious Prayer and Financial Supporters,

While visiting with our pastor and Good News Mission committee member, Tim Buford, I was telling him about a recent day here at the mission. He sat there with an amazed look on his face and told me that I needed to write that down and send it to our prayer and financial supporters. He reminded me that so many people don't realize what goes on from day to day at the mission and that they needed to hear stories like this. So, here is a day in the life of Good News Mission.

The day began with me heading over to the mission building to
make coffee. I usually make the coffee over their because we have
frequent visitors and a cup of coffee is often a welcome drink while
we sit and talk. For those who may have never visited, our mission
building is attached to our home, but we have to walk outside to
enter it. Somewhat inconvenient but we are very happy for a
wonderful building like that to use.

As I entered the building I found that Joanne was already there with
the dishes washed and the kitchen area cleaned. Joanne and her
husband, Mike, have had a difficult time lately. They have attended
the mission for a few years and used to live here in the projects but
were asked to leave. Since then they, until recently, have been
basically homeless and jobless. Their four children are living in foster care until they can get on their feet, find suitable jobs, and find a
suitable home for the family to live. A precious volunteer, Judy
Moeller, has been helping us to guide them in finding jobs and a
better place to live so that their family can once again be together.
They had been using the mission as a home base and doing odd
jobs around the mission to make a little extra money in the
meantime. Since then, Joanne has found a job in a local factory. Mike does odd jobs for friends and relatives but is still looking for a permanent job. Unfortunately they only had enough money to turn the electricity on so for the time being they are using our restroom and shower. They are both hard workers but have made some unwise choices. Pray that they can
find a larger place for their family, better jobs or extra jobs, and
be able to meet all of the requirements for their family to be

It's a delicate balance between helping/encouraging and enabling.
We try to guide, advise and help the people that attend the mission
while they do the work. Pray that God will continue to give us and
our volunteers wisdom in how to help and advise the folks that
we work with.

Miss Glenda happened to see Mike and Joanne's truck so decided
to come up for a visit. Miss Glenda is the "Grandma" of the projects.
Until this past summer she would frequently get up at three in the
morning to sweep the sidewalks of the projects and collect cans to
make a little extra money. She tells a story of how a car pulled up
behind her one early morning while she was sweeping. It was the
city police. When asked what she was doing, she matter of factly
answered "I'm cleaning the sidewalks". When asked why she was
doing it at three in the morning she just shrugged her shoulders and
said "I reckon it's as good of time as any" and went back to
sweeping. The policemen politely told her to be careful and left her
to her job.

Last summer, however, Miss Glenda fell and broke her shoulder and
then, later, broke a vertebrae in her back. It's been a hard row to hoe,
but, after many months of bed rest she is back on her feet and once
again walking all over the place. She can't do as much as she would
like but she visits and encourages her neighbors and is still the
"Grandma" of the neighborhood.

Miss Glenda and I visited for a while and then, before she left, I filled
a bag with groceries from our food closet. Pray for Miss Glenda's
continued healing and pray for her food situation. Since she is
back on her feet her insurance decided that she is able to care
for herself and therefore doesn't need a home health nurse nor
needs to be on Meals on Wheels anymore.

Soon after Miss Glenda left I saw a face peering in through the
mission window and then heard a knock on the door. There stood a
young man in his twenties. He said that he was curious. He had
passed by our building several times and wondered what it was. I
explained that we had weekly Bible studies, a clothes closet, and a
food closet. When I mentioned a food closet his ears perked up.
"Food? Could I have a little food? I'm homeless and live the woods
outside of town." Back into the food closet I went. He said he had a
can opener, so I began looking for canned food that didn't need to be
cooked. I had put about five or six cans into the bag when he asked
me to stop. He explained that he still had a long ways to walk and
didn't want to be weighed down too much. Then he left and was
gone. Pray for that homeless boy. Pray that perhaps he will stop
by again so that we can minister to him more.

A few minutes later a heard the laughter of children outside. I looked
out the window and their were a group of children from the "Double
Deckers" going to visit a friend of their's who had recently moved to a
house two doors down from us. The "Double Deckers" are a group of
low income apartments about two blocks away from us. Until a few
years ago the people who lived their were very closed minded about
our ministry at Good News Mission. Whenever we would go to visit
or pass out flyers they would run into their homes and close and lock
their doors. Sarah and I continued to pray that the doors to their
hearts and the doors to their homes would open and about three
years ago God did just that. God opened the hearts of the parents to
allow about 20 of them to come to the day camps that we have
during the summer and from then on we have slowly began to
develop a relationship with the families. Recently, however, a few of
the families have been evicted but thankfully are moving to areas
close by. Pray that we can continue ministering to the families
that had to move. Pray that the new families that move in will be
open to our ministry.

A little later Lauri and her daughter Patricia stopped by for a visit.
Laurie has had a tough life but is doing her best to serve the Lord to
the best of her ability. She is widowed and lives with her mentally
and physically disabled daughter Patricia and with new husband. She and Harley recently married because Lauri wanted to do what was right in God's eyes. She also has two other daughters that we
know and that live locally. Laurie used to live in the projects and still
often attends the mission and visits Sarah for counseling and advice.
That particular day was a distressing day for her. Her daughter's
fiance had just been diagnosed with cancer. Three years ago her
other daughter's husband died of cancer and that memory was fresh
in her mind. We sat and talked for a while before Laurie left for home
to get ready for church that evening. Unfortunately her day was about
to get worse.

A few minutes after Laurie left we got a phone call. It was Laurie, in
tears, saying that one of her best friends had been flown by medical
helicopter to Nashville because her heart had stopped. Once again
Sarah counseled her over the phone. Once she was calmed down
she hung up to go to church. About an hour later, though, I got a call
from her daughter telling us that she was missing. She hadn't arrived
at church and she wasn't at home. She asked if she was at the
mission. Unfortunately she was not. I was about to drive to her home
to make sure she was okay when she pulled up in the mission
parking lot. She hadn't been missing at all! She just arrived late for
church so the folks who usually greeted her hadn't seen her. The
incident provided a little levity in Laurie's day. She came to talk more
about her friend so we piled in the car, went to McDonald's and
talked for an hour over a soft drink and fries. Pray for Laurie's
future son-in-law who has cancer. Pray for her friend who,
thankfully, is now back home. Pray for Lauri and Harley as they strive to live for the Lord.

You might think that would be the end of our day but while we were
at McDonalds we got a call from our oldest, John Allen, asking if
Danny could come in. Danny is a 21 year old boy whom we met
about two years ago. Interestingly enough, he as asperger's
syndrome (on the autism spectrum) just like Joshua our middle
child. Asperger's children often have difficulty understanding how to
act in social situations and Danny is a classic asperger's child. He
often doesn't understand why we do things and also doesn't always
understand why his mother, sister, and brother-in-law do the things
they do. Therefore, when telling us how things are going at home, he
doesn't always explain things accurately. We often don't know if what
he says is totally accurate or if he is just misunderstanding a
situation. However, we have been able to piece together enough
from friends and neighbors to know that things aren't always great in
his household. Danny has become great friends with John Allen and
is often at our home visiting and ends up staying for a meal. Pray
that God would give us patience as we often are dealing with not
two but three young people who are on the autism spectrum.
Pray that there will be open doors to minister to Danny's family
as well.

I honestly can't remember how much homeschooling or work around the house got done that day or, for that matter, any other day but, although those days are becoming the norm, somehow it is all getting done. Summer plans are also being made as well. Below you will find our summer schedule so far as well as a few other prayer requests on top of the ones listed above. As always, we covet your prayers for our family and our ministry at Good News Mission. Thank you, again, for being faithful friends and supporters.

In His Service,

The Tinkel's - Tim, Sarah, John Allen, Joshua, and Jacob

Additional Prayer Requests and Praises
- John Allen is once again planning on working at Cortland Bible Club Camp (a BCM camp) in upstate New York for a few weeks this summer. It has been a joy to see him grow and desire to serve the Lord in mission work. Please pray for traveling finances.
- We have been asked to come back and work at another BCM camp in Canada - Mill Stream Bible Camp - this August. Pray also for traveling finances as well as finances to travel and visit my sister in New Jersey the week afterward and then on to BCM's North American conference the week after that.
- Please praise the Lord with us that the problems that Joshua was having last summer all seem to have been taken care of with the change back to his old medicine. He had to switch medicine because there was a nationwide shortage of the medication that he had been taking. Thankfully that seems to be resolved and he was able to switch back. Pray that their will not be another shortage of the medication that he is on because there doesn't appear to be any other medication that works for him.
- I have been taking our dog, Jojo, for daily walks around the projects. It has opened many doors for me to stop and visit with some of the folks that are new to the projects or don't come to the mission regularly. Another local ministry who weekly picks up day old bread and distributes it to low income families has contacted us about distributing some of their extra bread to the folks in the projects. Almost weekly we have been able to pass out bread to folks in our neighborhood and to others that we know of that are needy. Pray for these walks as well and pray that the bread deliveries can continue. Pray with us as we are facing another busy but exciting summer.

Here is our schedule:
June and July - The local school has contacted us once again to see if
we would like to be part of their summer lunch program. This has been
a very valuable tool into getting to know the families with children who
live in our area.
June 16-20 Day Camp 1 at Good News Mission
July 7-11 Day Camp 2 at Good News Mission
July 13-17 We will be directing a VBS in our church, The Bridge
Community Church, where we will be transporting the kids from the
July 18 - Taking John Allen to Cortland Bible Club
Camp in upstate New York
July 20 - August 8 - John Allen at Cortland Bible Club
Camp. We plan on working there for a week as well but we are not sure
if it will be the week we take him up or the week we pick him up.
August 10-16 Mill Stream Bible Camp in Canada - Tim serving as Bible
Teacher, Sarah working in the kitchen, John Allen working in
maintenance, Joshua going to camp and Jacob hanging out.
August 17-23 Playing tourist and visiting my sister in New Jersey
August 24-29 BCM's North American Missionary Conference in

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's Been So Long Since I've Blogged, I'm Not Sure I Know How to Do It!

Last year we took a photo of all three boys at the great Peterborough Zoo in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada that we liked so much that Sarah and I both used it for our Facebook banner. Well, this year we went back to the zoo and recreated the photo. I'll try to post both pictures side by side soon.
We just got back from another great month long ministry trip working at camps in upstate New York, and Ontario, Canada, visiting my sister and nephew in New Jersey and attending the BCM 2014 North American Missionary Conference. It was a great way to end a fantastic summer.
As many of you know, this past year has been a challenging year with both Joshua and Sarah having some health problems, but also a wonderful year filled with ministry opportunities. I can honestly say that I have been more busy in the past nine months I have been in a long time. It's been a good busy!
Thanks be to God that Joshua and Sarah are doing much better so I thought it was time to crank up the old blog and begin writing again. There is a lot to catch you up on! I can't wait to start doing it. Be looking for a lot of posts in the days, weeks and months to come. It's going to be great!