Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Merry Christmas 2009
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Monday, November 23, 2009


We are in the season of waiting..waiting...waiting. Now that our support letter has gone out - by email, facebook, and mail, it is now just simply a waiting game to see how God is going to provide for us. There are still some letters we need to send out to folks out of town, but for the most part, we feel that the majority of the people in our lives know that we are deep in the throngs of trying to raise our financial support for Bolivia. It is all really a matter of serious prayer. God is ultimately the one who will work on people's hearts and move people to give, or make it possible for them to. We are also praying for His perfect timing. It is difficult to know how long it will take to raise the funds we need to make our move. It is difficult to know when to put the house on the market or to sell a lot more of our belongings. The future is certain, yet uncertain. For now, we will try to focus on living in the here and now, taking care of daily things, enjoying the holidays, educating the kids, and continue to share our story with folks who are interested and praying for God's provision! Raising financial support is one of those things that can REALLY grow your faith and strengthen your dependance on the Lord. It is out of our control, HE must work and move and provide. It is exciting, yet nerve-wracking! We know that He is good, He has called us, and that He will remain true to His promises. He is faithful. We must remain faithful and not fearful. We must not begin to doubt when it seems things are not going as WE plan or during the waiting period when Satan can do his nasty work on our minds. We are so thankful and grateful (during this season of Thanksgiving) for the people in our lives that have already committed to support us and that are praying for us. Please, as the Lord brings our family to mind, pray a simple prayer that He would provide financially for us to follow His calling, and that His timing would be perfect. Also, please continue to pray for us as we prepare -physically and spiritually - and that we would be empowered and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. May God bless you all this Thanksgiving. Take time to reflect on all of your many blessings!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Next Steps #2

I just realized that we more or less left you hanging after our post "Next Steps"! We have begun taking those steps - tiny as they may be. We have written an official support letter and posted it on our website, which is We are in the process of mailing out hard copies of those to many people as well. Mass emails have been sent. Facebook notifications have been posted. We are in the throngs of raising our financial support! It is exciting, and hard to remain patient as well. We are also making preparations to put our home on the market. You know...doing all of those fun little projects that you've been meaning to get around to but haven't bothered because they don't really effect your daily life. Well, now that other people are going to be considering your home to buy, you put forth tons of effort and money to get it just right. Just the way you'd like it to be while YOU are still living in it! Ha! The irony of it all. We will wait to officially list it until we feel God is guiding us to do so. We are hoping the timing will be perfect between raising the needed funds and the house selling. A matter of prayer, please. We don't want to be "homeless" before being able to leave for Bolivia! Please continue to pray for our spiritual, physical, and emotional preparedness as well. It seems each day is a roller coaster of emotions and feelings, always caught somewhere between "totally excited, thrilled, giddy and motivated" or "really stressed, overwhelmed, afraid, and doubtful". Thanks so much to those that are already supporting us, both financially and prayerfully. We love you and are indebted to you. God's Blessings -


Out of the mouths of "babes"

I know my boys are not exactly "babes" anymore, but I was reminded of this quote/verse this morning as I listened to them pray. We (try) to have a devotional every morning to start our day - I say "try" because sometimes we are scrambling to get out the door to a field trip or dance class and we don't get to it. Not every time, but sometimes I ask the boys to each say a prayer and then I close. I do not prompt them at all concerning what to pray about. I let them simply pray about whatever comes to their minds or what's in their hearts. I was very humbled and pleased this morning listening to them pray for our journey to become missionaries in Bolivia. I dare say I was even a bit convicted. I was reminded first of all, about how often and how fervent we should be praying for our journey, and also not to place low expectations upon our children. That may sound odd, because most parents tend to place very high expectations upon their kids. As far as spiritual things go, I feel that every time one of my boys does something or says something that seems overly spiritually mature for their age, I am shocked or surprised. This is a pleasant and joyful "problem" to have! They so impressed me with their sincere prayers this morning, that I really wasn't quite sure how to respond! It really helped confirm in me that God has given them a deep understanding of what we are doing and why. Kids are incredible beings, driving you crazy and misbehaving one moment, and the next impressing you with their knowledge or making you proud of their character choices. Guess God feels the same about us. It's just awesome to know that God was there with us, listening, heeding their requests, and he was pleased with them! He knows their hearts and their capacity to learn and grow. He has such mighty plans for each one of them - in Bolivia and beyond!!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Next Steps

We are in the process of determining what our next step in this long journey will be. We know that we must begin building our support team and raising our financial support, but the task seems daunting. Especially in light of the fact that we must continue living our normal daily lives (Lowell working and me schooling the kids, not to mention all other household duties), plus ready the house for sale. I (we) know without a doubt that Satan is going to be working on our minds and trying to place many a doubt in our hearts during this season. Please pray for our strength and that we would stand fast upon God's original calling and the promises of his Word. 
Romans 11:29 states "For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable."


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ballew Photo Album on Photobucket

Visit to see our Bolivia photos.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

(click on link above to view all our pics from Bolivia trip)

Wow! What a trip! It's great to be able to post a picture of El Cristo statue since this is the picture I used to start this blog a few months ago. It was great to get to show this to the family in person. Besides what better symbol for our trip than this image of Christ with his arms outstretched for the world - this is the reason we are doing all of this - all in Jesus' name and for his purposes!

We got back Tues. afternoon - plane touched down in Houston exactly on time at 1:12p.m. We got home around 3p.m. We were so blessed to be hosted by Edwin and Carmen Almanza while in Coch. Edwin carved out almost all of his time to be our personal tour guide. He used his car to drive us all over the city and on 3 trips outside the city to see very beautiful places like Lago Angostura where we all had fish for lunch and rode the zip line (even Livi!).

Most of our time in Cochabamba was spent seeing as much of the city and surrounding areas as possible. As well as having several meals with key church leaders and elders. I also met with a group called Red Musicos Artistas who is a group of musicians and worship leaders for local churches in the city who come together to write new songs and encourage each other. This was one of my best contacts that I am really excited about. Rodrigo Arteaga is the one with this vision and he and I had fun dreaming together of how I might be able to help with his vision. Here is there web site so you can see what they have been up to - I realize it's in spanish but you can still lear alot from pictures.

The entire trip was great from the guest house (hotel) we stayed in (which was a New Tribes Missionary Guest House facility). We are so so glad it worked out for us to stay there because we got to know another missionary family named the Hess Family very well who just returned from furlough - they had 4 kids who were all the same ages as our kids and they played a lot together the whole time. They were very helpful in encouraging us as well as giving us good tips about living in Cochabamba.

We want to tell all of you who have been supporting us through prayer and financial gifts that we would not have been able to have nearly as great of a trip without all of YOU that we were even able to go on this trip to begin with. THANK YOU!

You can see all of our recent photos at the link above this posting.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Made It

¡Hola de Cochabamba!

Just wanted to let everyone know after a 24 hr. commute, 3 flights later - we finally made it to Cochabamba! It's just as beautiful as I remember it! The kids are doing great - they are enjoying the guest house - which is more like a guest hotel with multiple rooms. There is another family with 4 kids here and their 3 youngest kids are playing great with our kids. They have a 2 girls and 2 boys.

Well I just wanted to give a quick update for anyone who hasn't already seen our Facebook updates and photos. So - I am posting a few photos for you.

God Bless,

Friday, August 7, 2009

Parting thoughts from Shay

My goal is to relax and enjoy the day tomorrow. Therefore..I am writing my parting thoughts this evening so that I am not constantly thinking about writing another post tomorrow. I had a very stressful day today, trying to cross off everything on the "to do" list and pack. I became quite irritable and snapped at the kids (and Lowell) a couple of times. Getting a family of 6 ready to travel to another country is no small task. I feel like I have done a fairly good job of slowly getting things ready over the last few weeks, so that I wouldn't get stressed! Well, I suppose even the best planners and "do-it-ahead-of-timers" have that last minute struggle of making sure absolutely everything is done and ready. Especially when you are also planning a birthday party for the night before you leave. Am I crazy? What was I thinking? Oh...right, it was our ONLY option. We'll be celebrating O's birthday tomorrow night at the pool with a ton of wonderful friends for a couple of hours. I am hoping that we can all relax and enjoy. As I was beginning the bedtime routine for O tonight, which included a bubble bath, I realized that what I needed was a hot bubble bath myself! I handed over the wet, slippery little gal to Lowell and took some time out for myself to breathe, relax, have a drink, and get re-charged a bit. It was the best thing I could of done. When we were saying goodnight to the boys later, we had a pow-wow in which we "regrouped" and reminded ourselves of exactly why it was that we were doing this, told them about what to expect as we travel, and unfortunately had to say some apologies (on my end). Lowell also led us in a great prayer which was so encouraging and refreshing. I think WE ARE READY!!! I will end by humbly asking all who take the time to read this to pray. Pray tonight as you go to sleep, that we would be fully prepared. Pray tomorrow that we can relax and enjoy the day and one another, and make FINAL preparations. Pray Sunday for safe travel, on-time flights, good weather, and that the kids would travel like champs. I ask that you would say a prayer for us each time you think of us throughout the next two weeks. Pray for health and safety, clarity and vision, divine appointments, language ability, Lowell as he shares with CIC, happy, flexible, and content kids, positive attitudes, and for FUN long-lasting memories to be made. We are hoping to come home with a clear vision and purpose, a timetable for moving there and being there, and with hearts full of confirmation and compassion for the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia. We love all of you dearly, and we will be anxious to share with you all about our time there! See you in two weeks!


Friday, July 31, 2009


Hi everyone - all you mighty prayer warriors out there! Jude's passport arrived yesterday, Thursday, July 30. I seriously did the happy dance all around the house and was yelling and screaming and praising God! O was looking like at me like I was crazy, and then she was putting her hand up in the air and saying "Thank You, Jesus"! Blessings to that govt. employee who understood our urgency and got right on it. We so appreciate all of the fervent (and even simple) prayers that went up for us on this specific issue. Just one road block to overcome. We leave in exactly one week and one day. I am slowly preparing - gathering up items needed for the trip, paying bills due while gone, making sure the kids have enough winter clothes that fit them to take, etc. I also have a bday party to plan and get through. O will be 3 on Monday and we are having a pool party the night before we leave. Crazy, huh! Oh, well. It was the only option and maybe it will help us be more relaxed.

Our continued request is that you pray for our preparedness, our safety in traveling, our health before and during the trip, and another possible road block - obtaining our visas. We have learned that the only option is to obtain them once we get there, in the airport in Santa Cruz. We will have a connecting flight to Coch, only an hour and 1/2 after landing, so our big prayer now is that the process would go smoothly and quickly and that they would have no problems issuing us the visas. Lowell and I will most likely have to communicate in Spanish to them, so please lift us up! That will be Monday morning, Aug. 10. We will try our best to post one more time before we leave, and it's possible we will be able to post from Bolivia once or twice.

I leave you with a scripture the Lord gave me a few days ago when I was thinking about and praying about Jude's passport:

"Yet he (we) did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." Romans 4:20-21


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Passport Scramble

Our youngest son Jude celebrated his 8th birthday this past Wed. and has been getting birthday cards in the mail every few days. Yesterday he went and got the mail and found a letter that was addressed to him. I had been outside working on our lawnmower and came in to find him opening this letter. When I got to him he said - "hmm this isn't a birthday card!..." Instead it was a letter addressed to him from the U.S. Passport Processing Office. This past Wed. we had just received 3 of our 4 kids passports and Jude's was the only one we didn't get. We just figured it was on its way... until we got the letter yesterday. The letter said that they needed a "long form birth certificate"... The one we sent them obviously wasn't sufficient even though it had an official seal and looked like all the other kids'. So after calling the passport office to clarify this I realized that I really was going to have to get another copy of his birth certificate... Ugh! With our trip being only 16 days away - who knew how long this might take! So... I called the number to the Texas Health Records Dept. and it sounded like my only "quickest" option might be to drive to Austin and stand in line to get a copy of this form. I was not very happy after learning this so I started to think of other options. Shay had told me she had filed for the kid's birth certificates through the local county health records office (which I was unaware - showing my naivety). So to make a long story longer... After talking on the phone to a very helpful lady at the county office she told me she would locate his birth certificate (which she did) and then she sent it (electronically) to an office that was located closer to where I live. So... by now it was about 3:30 and I headed to this office to pick up this form and thankfully it went smooth other than the rain/lightening storm and train I had to get around. After obtaining the form I had just enough time to drive back home and put the form in the mail and overnight it to Charleston SC where it can get back into the system for reprocessing. Whew! All this to recognize that if I had not see the mail when I did that I would've had to wait til Monday to do all of this (which would've been hard to do). Instead - I was able to miraculously get a jump on it and have the perfect amount of time in one day to get it all done smoothly! If Jude had not been nosing around in the mail looking for more b-day cards this would've delayed me seeing the mail - I'm sure. So a big thanks goes out to Jude for opening the mail.

This is where some of you come in:
Please pray for the rest of this process to go in a timely manner so that they will get that passport to us ASAP. The people at the passport agency said that if we want to increase our chances of getting it on time that we should expedite the processing by paying another $75 - which we will do of course! But they said it still would not guarantee we get it by the time we need it - which I don't understand. So... there again - your prayers are highly coveted.

Thanks for painstakingly bearing with me on this long post. If anything maybe this will help some of you if you ever get in this same situation some day.

Another step closer,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My two cents

Hey everyone! Just thought I'd let you all know that the boys shots went very well this morning! We were there for two hours - it is a lengthy process, but they did great. The nurse also HIGHLY recommended we all get typhoid fever shot as well. So, all three of the boys received 2 shots and now they have sore arms! O and I receive our shots in the morning (Wednesday, July 22), which happens to be J's birthday. We were given prescriptions for an anti-malaria pill as well, but not sure if it's absolutely necessary to use that??? Don't think it's a huge risk in Coch. I think I will be more cautious of the swine flu than anything. We love all of you guys and are so humbled by your support already! Look for information soon on our formal, official fundraising to begin!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Update 2 - We Have Tickets

Well I just wanted to inform everyone that thanks to numerous financial gifts from friends and family we have purchased plane tickets last week and the dates for our trip are Aug. 9 - 25th. Woo hoo - God is good and we feel so blessed at how soon this trip is coming together.

Prayer Requests:
-We need you to help us pray that our four kid's passports will come in soon. As of this Friday it will be 4 weeks since we sent off for them. They said it would take from 4-6 weeks but we are hoping no more than 4. Aug. 6th would put us at 6 weeks.
-Kids get yellow fever shots tomorrow morning early. They are not too excited about this (as you can imagine)...
-We still need to nail down our accommodations for our stay - need to wrap this up this week.
-There is currently a swine flu virus going on in Bolivia that we are asking you to pray will end so that it decreases our chances of coming in contact with it.

Thank you to all of you who are keeping up with our journey to Bolivia.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Update 1

A brief update... I first want to give thanks to God for moving people to give generously to help support our first trip as we explore the possibilities of moving to Bolivia to do mission work. As mentioned before in our initial blog post our first goal has been to try and raise money, have garage sells, etc. for our first trip to Bolivia which we hope to be in mid August. Thus far we've received several generous financial gifts to assist in defraying our travel expenses which has been overwhelmingly encouraging. We have enough money to go ahead and purchase tickets next week. Financial support is definitely a need but PRAYER is just as much a need and we covet your prayers in the days to come.

A few prayer requests:
-Passports process on time and will come in soon.
-Kids would be mentally prepared to get shots.
-Kids would be prepared physically & emotionally for the long flight down.
-Travel arrangements to be made - details of airfare purchase and lodging in Bolivia to go smooth.
-That God would bless and guide conversations we have with Bolivian church leaders and elders as we discover together a way we can partner with them in ministry.
-For God to begin to prepare our whole family for this experience.
-For us to be healthy upon leaving in a month. (Shay has a cold right now - pray it goes away soon)
-Finally - that we not forsake praying together often as a family and asking God to give us guidance and wisdom during this process.

Thanks for all your support and interest in our journey of obedience.

The Ballews

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Profound Calling

How do you typically respond when you hear God’s voice? I mean like really clearly. Crystal clear. When it’s obvious He is telling you to do something (or not)? Do you respond with immediate obedience? Do you think about it awhile and then respond? Do you ignore Him altogether and justify it by saying that God couldn’t possibly mean what you think you’re hearing? Or maybe you tell yourself it’s all a figment of your imagination and you’re crazy!! Well, the Bible tells us that Our Father does indeed speak to us and that He does indeed clearly call us to do certain things. It also says that we must obey - that we must respond to His Word and to His calling. At all costs - no matter what. Are we bold and brave enough to trust Him when He speaks clearly to us? Most of us, I believe, are not. Most of us are too fearful or comfortable to do what God is really telling us to do. We miss out on blessings because we won’t step out in faith. We give up the “great” for the “good”. Believe me, I know. I’ve done it many times. But, wow! Those times that I have trusted in God and taken that huge step of faith when I know that I know that I know He has called me to do something – what incredible blessings and growth I have received! If only we could have BIG faith and trust EVERY time. Imagine. Just imagine.

Imagine with me: A not-so-typical American family of 6. Mom, Dad, 3 boys, 1 girl. Texans - tried and true. Love the Lord, serve Him in ministry, and blessed with a big heart for missions and other cultures. God gives them a vision. God clearly speaks to them. He is calling them to something deeper, something amazing, something wild and adventurous!! He has put within them a passion for the people of South America. He has put within them a desire to live among those people, learn the language, the culture, and build relationships that will eventually lead to those people knowing Jesus. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR the calling that God has placed on their lives. They feel the stirring, the urgency to answer the call. They feel the great battle of choosing between stepping out in faith into the unknown and unfamiliar and challenging adventure or staying within the comfortable confines of their American suburban lifestyle. Whew! What a choice. Can you just imagine? By now some of you will have figured out that the family is us! A lot of you know our desire to do mission work and our history with missions. By now, many of you have already heard the incredible news of our “Great Adventure” – some of you may be in shock right now and might need to stop for a while and breathe! Yes, it is true. We are feeling called to the mission field on more of a long-term basis. We have a strong connection with Bolivia and feel this is where God is leading us. More specifically, Cochabamba – a city of about 600,000 on the western border of Bolivia, at the base of the Andes Mountains.

Obviously, this is HUGE for our family! This is not a decision that has been taken lightly or made hastily. It has been in the works for a while and we have prayed and saught the Lord’s will carefully. We have simply tried to be obedient and walk through each door that God has opened. If He closes a door, then we will seek out an open one. We are in the preliminary application process with a couple of mission agencies and are excited to see where that leads. One of the next BIG steps we need to take is to sell many of our belongings and eventually sell our home. This will be a long process, but it needs to begin now. We are planning to take an “exploratory” trip down to Cochabamba as a family sometime soon. This is going to be a costly trip, but an extremely necessary trip. It will be an important time to see how the kids react to the culture and language, learn about the city and its inhabitants, meet with some key church leaders and missionaries we have been in contact with, and possibly look for a place to live. After our exploratory trip, we will better know how to prepare, what to expect, and how to pray.

Meeting Edwin
Back in early April I was feeling a restlessness on what God would have me do to best serve him and just felt like he was calling me to a new work. The idea of foreign missions had already been on our minds months prior since returning from a mission trip to Ukraine last July but put on the back burner for a few months. The 2nd week of April I went by our mission's pastor Chad Clarkson's office to ask him about some friends of ours in the church who recently moved and I brought up to him that we were (again) feeling lead to pray about missions. Chad asked if we were still feeling lead to South America and I said "yes". Chad said "I'm meeting a guy for lunch tomorrow from Bolivia - you wanna go?" and I said "yes!" So that night I went home and told Shay about this and we thought this was very interesting. Now having Bolivia on our minds again, together we looked back at a website from a church in Cochabamba Bolivia that my dad had sent me to 6-8 mos. prior. From that website I made a contact with a guy from that church who is an American missionary there who founded the church 7 yrs. ago. His name is Graham Porter. One of the last pages we looked at was the staff page and there was Graham's picture who I had spoken to already and another Bolivian with his family who served as Assoc. Pastor. So the very next day was Wed. April 15th and I went to lunch with Chad and Nate Wirt - who was a friend from old CCCC days several years ago. Nate had actually set up this lunch meeting for us to meet Edwin. As soon as I walked into Nate's office I saw this Bolivian guy setting there who I immediately recognized and began to tell him that I recognized his face from his church website that I had just looked at the very night before!! This was an amazing time that I felt HAD to be from God. It was as if God had sent a beam of light of confirmation into the room as I was meeting Edwin. I couldn't wait to tell Shay so I immediately sent her a text message that said: GOD WANTS US TO GO TO BOLIVIA. She replied "when?" I began to tell her the events that had just transpired and she too was amazed. Just days before we had been praying again about missions and asking God to show us what we should do and then this happened! Below is the picture of Edwin that I saw on his church website. Church web address:

We feel like God might have us partner with the ministry of CIC in some way to help them reach the professionals of Cochabamba Bolivia. The church has a vision for using the arts to connect with people and have already seen many opportunities accomplish this. As we make our initial trip to Cochabamba we will better understand if this seems to be a fit for us and for the church there. We will be having more conversations about how we can contribute and serve with them in the days to come to further the reach of the gospel in this city and country.

How can you get involved to help us?

We would humbly ask that you begin to pray earnestly for us. As you can imagine, it is going to take an immense amount of time, energy, and patience to prepare ourselves and the kids for this major life change.
Pray for our financial provision, first of all. We will be living on total support once we get on the field, and will be doing more formal and official fund raising once we know more details from our first trip. However, we need financial help to get there initially for our exploratory trip which is expensive since all 6 of us will be going. Secondly, pray for our spiritual preparation. There are certain areas in which we desperately need the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Pray for God’s divine provision and for the hearts and minds of the kids to be readied and prepared for the journey we face. We are convinced that their lives will be changed for the better in incredible ways and their view of the world will expand immensely. We would love to chat personally with each of you if you have any questions or want to more of how we came to this place. One of the most important assets for us is going to be our support team. If you are receiving this, we already consider you a supporter of our family, therefore we want you to be part of our “team”! If you feel a leading to help us financially get down to Bolivia for an exploratory trip, then please contact us directly. Again, this will just help us defray some costs on our exploratory trip which we hope to make in August. Our trip will cost us roughly about $8000. Any financial gifts we would simply consider a love offering in support of our calling. Each of you means the world to us and this new chapter in the Ballew’s family story will be bitter sweet as we part one day.

By God's Grace,

Lowell & Shay Ballew
(Aidan, Liam, Jude, Olivia)

contact info:
3023 Manor Bay Ct.
League City, Tx, 77573