Friday, December 10, 2010

December 2010 Update

Seasons greetings from all of us to all of you.  I hope this update finds all of you well as we near the holiday season and look forward to gathering with our families and friends.

Family Update
During the week Lowell is helping with home schooling the kids and teaches music lessons every afternoon.  He has about 15 students per week.  On Sundays Lowell stays busy leading worship on Sunday mornings at a local church and playing guitar in the worship band at another church every Sunday evening.  Shay continues to concentrate on keeping meals on the table and upkeep of the house,  home educating our 4 children, and when she has time she loves to work on her art journal, read, or craft.  Our 3 boys Aidan (12), Liam (10), and Jude (9) all love to play music, build legos, skateboard, and have sleep overs with their friends - oh yeah, they love playing their Xbox too!  Olivia is 4 and goes to a homeschool pre-K class on Wednesdays.  She loves to play with kids in the neighborhood, sing, dance, and play pretend with her dolls.

A lot of our focus and energy the past 9 months has been on trying to sell our home- but, alas, it's still for sale and there are no hopes of any offers yet. However, even if it sold or leased within the next few weeks, we'd still need a place to live temporarily until all of our support money comes in.  So... we are not as stressed about it selling and realize it's been a blessing in disguise for us to still be in our home since Lowell teaches music lessons here in our front study/music room. We realize that if we had to move into a temporary living situation,  this would make teaching lessons a lot more difficult!  We are now turning more of our attention to raising the remainder of our support.

Financial Support Update
It has been just over 1 year ago that we sent out our initial mission support letter asking folks to consider what they could give to help make our vision to move to Bolivia as missionaries a reality.  We are officially past the half-way mark in our support with 62% of monthly pledges in.  We received many one-time financial gifts in the last year which has been wonderful.  This up front money has gone in our savings account and will help us with our initial move to Bolivia with things such as plane tickets, visas, etc.  So far we have had to use very little of our mission support money and hope to not have to use any more until we purchase plane tickets to leave.  We realize many of you who will read this update have already either given us a one-time gift or made a monthly pledge and we are so thankful for the sacrifice you are making toward our vision to serve in Bolivia.  Since WE STILL NEED 38% WORTH OF MONTHLY PLEDGES we are humbly asking the rest of you to pray and ask what amount you might be able to pledge monthly to get us closer to our goal. We want you to know that we are trying to plan on leaving in 6 mos. or sooner but this is contingent on selling our home and how close we are to our financial goal.  We can't leave until we have 100% of our monthly pledges given.  Our remaining need is $1700 in pledges per month to reach our goal.

Here is one way to think about how we can get to our goal:
136 people giving $12.50 per month = $1700
68 people giving $25 per month = $1700
34 people giving $50 per month = $1700
17 people giving $100 per month = $1700
8.5 people giving $200 per month = $1700
4.25 people giving $400 per month = $1700
*Reminder our total monthly goal is more than $1700 - this is just the remainder of what needs to be raised to meet our monthly goal.
If you decide to make a monthly pledge, feel free to begin giving now or defer your giving until we are on the field.  We will keep you informed of our progress by future newsletters.

How To Give
There are 3 ways you can contribute financially to us.
Mail check to:
The Ballews
3023 Manor Bay Court
League City, TX 77573
OR - Send money to our PayPal account: *Instructions:  Send to: then click on the tab that says PERSONAL then click GIFT.

PO BOX 487
MONUMENT, CO 80132-0487
*Note Accnt. #304 on check.
-Click on Monlthy Bank Draft Form below and mail in with a voided check:

  3: GIVE ONLINE - click on the link below to go to website to give.
*NOTE - once you get to the website please click the drop-down tab at the top "please select one" and select Ballew Lowell - #304

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us this past year.  We can't do this without your continued prayer support.  We look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible in the days to come!

In His Time & By His Grace,

The Ballews
Lowell, Shay, Aidan, Liam, Jude, and Olivia

Friday, November 12, 2010

Waiting Quietly

Shay and I, this past week, have been feeling some unrest with what we are to do.  We're sort of feeling like our reality of going to Bolivia is slowly fading.  We have felt stuck with not being able to do anything about our situation as we still wait on our home to sell.  The following quote from a book I've been reading called "Humility" by CJ Mahaney really encouraged me.  "Please don't misunderstand this. Waiting is not resignation; waiting is an active trust in God to provide fulfillment in His perfect timing, according to His ultimate purpose of glorifying His Son.

So we are actively waiting in trust of God to sell our home even in this slow housing market so we can be freed up to be able to GO.

Friday, October 29, 2010

September/October 2010 Update

"They will be reached only if someone from outside their culture is willing to sacrifice his or her own comfortable community to reach them with the Gospel of Christ. And to go and do so, that person needs believers at home who will stand behind him with prayers and finances."
                                                                                  K.P. Yohannan Revolution in World Missions

I begin with this quote from the latest book I've been reading because I want those of you who are "standing behind" us to know how immensely thankful and grateful we are for you. We can not do what God is calling us to do without your help. We remain here, in our "comfortable community", for now but are longing to be on the field, in Bolivia. For whatever reason(s), God has not allowed us to GO yet. Our home has now been on the market for over 7 months, with not one single offer. As you all well know, it is the worst housing/real estate market in many, many years (some have said 30 or more...). None of this is a surprise to God. He knew very well that this is what we would be facing. He has a divine purpose for us, still, during this seemingly hopeless season. He wants us to continue to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for the journey ahead. He wants us to continue to trust in Him and seek Him and know his mind. We are {trying} to live life as normal as possible as we wait. WAIT. God is simply telling us to wait. To be STILL and know that He is God. We must be patient, as this journey we are going to embark upon is not light. It is very,very heavy. We face many challenges that we can not even comprehend yet and God is whispering to us, "Wait. Prepare. Pray. Seek Me. " We will need much strength to go on this journey. It takes time to muster it up, and be ready. Really ready. God knows when our time is right. When it is a part of His perfect plan. We do not doubt {although we've struggled to keep that emotion at bay} that He called us. We KNOW that this is still something He wants us to do. We, in our limitless minds, think that our home is the only thing holding us back. But, if God is in ultimate control, then he is apparently holding us back and will send us at just the perfect moment and not a moment too soon.
  In the meantime, we continue to educate the kids at home and try to stay in continual learning mode. It has been a neat blessing to have Lowell home to help with the schooling. We are having some amazing family devotional moments each morning, struggling through math problems together, quizzing each other on Spanish vocabulary, reading about ancient history - Greece, Rome, India, China (which is immensely interesting to me!), making messes with crazy Science experiments, and reading the classics (we read The Hobbit in September and are currently reading Farmer Boy). The boys continue their love of LEGO building, playing music, and skateboarding. Olivia is soaking up every single moment of life and just started attending a homeschool "kindergarten" class for an hour 1/2 one day a week. We chose not to sign up for any activities this semester, assuming that we could "pack up and leave at any moment". This awkward season of waiting has been a little difficult on the kids, because of the uncertainty of things. We have already sold so many of their material possessions and sold our suburban. We are blessed to be able to borrow my Mom's car, but it is so small that our entire family can not fit! As we enter the holiday season, they are anticipating "decorating" for Christmas, and it was quite sad to tell them that all of our decorations had been sold or given away! We had every reason to believe last Spring that we would be in Bolivia by now, celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in a new culture, with many new traditions (and during the summer!).
  Lowell has been in full blown music lesson mode for the past two months. We prayed that God would send more students for him, and He certainly came through! He has about 20 students to whom he teaches guitar, bass, piano, and drum lessons each afternoon at our home. The Lord also provided an interim Worship Leader position at another church here in the Clear Lake area for him. He leads music for a contemporary service at a traditional Baptist church each Sunday morning, helps rehearse their student band, and plays lead electric in the worship band at a different church on Sunday evenings. These are all ways God has provided for us financially during this season of preparation and waiting! Amazingly, we have not had to touch the funds that we have been raising (and continue to raise) for living and doing ministry on the field in Bolivia! We continue to be humbled at all of the financial support we have received for our mission journey. We are very close to 100% of our financial goal! Our prayer is for God to raise up 10 more families/individuals to support us with a monthly gift of $100, or 5 at $100 and 10 at $50, or 20 at $50....well, you get the idea! We need $1,000 more of monthly commitments basically.

  Please continue to join us in prayer, Oh faithful friends, family, and fellow servants!

*For the remainder of our financial support to come in
*For our continued perseverance and preparation during this season of waiting
*For our home to sell or lease asap!
*That we would be united as a family and that our love and support for one another would not grow weak. To die to self daily, living in HIS spirit.
*For the vision that God has given us for the people of Bolivia to not die, but grow ever stronger in our hearts and minds!
Saying goodbye to the 'ole suburban :o(
We were the featured missionaries for a friend's son for his Awanas class!

Olivia and Daddy are "morning buddies"

Our "Roman Meal" we reenacted when studying ancient Roman history
Lowell got to play a gig at Ethos Place Live - a coffee house located inside a church

Celebrating Lowell's 36th birthday!

A nature walk with Dad - the boys in their element

Olivia at Zoo Boo at The Houston Zoo

The kiddos at the Pumpkin Patch!

The whole fam at the Pumpkin Patch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God is Faithful - July/August Update

Hola! We just wanted to touch base with all of you who are keeping up with our journey as we try to make it to Bolivia.  We apologize for it being so long since we last sent you an update.

HOME - For Sale OR Lease

We decided to list our home for lease in addition to it being for sale back at the beginning of July in hopes that we might find someone to lease sooner than buy. We have had some interest, but no contracts have materialized. We have had at least three open houses this summer and a few showings, but again, no success.  We have reduced the sell price of our home several times and are considering reducing the rent price as well to hopefully heighten interest in this difficult market. God is still in control and His timing is still perfect. He is never late in providing, but always right on time!

We have been praying for God to bring in the last $1000 of monthly support as we get close to leaving. We have had a couple of people join our monthly financial support team recently but need more.  We have been asking God to prompt those who have given us a verbal commitment to begin giving now.  We are trying hard not to use any of the money given thus far toward's our mission support but may need to in order to get through the next two months.  On that note Lowell has been praying for more music students (guitar, bass, drums) to help provide for our needs while we wait. He's also been able to lead worship for some local churches which has helped provide money to pay our bills and put food on the table for the past few weeks. Praise God for this provision! Click here to know how to give:

We continue to downsize and simplify our life by selling household items, musical equipment, and toys.  We recently put our 1998 GMC Suburban up for sale and have been looking for ways to cut back on our bills - cutting cable down to the bare minimum, cutting back cell phone service, living with AC on higher settings, keeping our blinds shut during the day, and not eating out just to name a few.  With all these changes we hope to decrease our current living expenses several hundred dollars a month.

-For Lowell to obtain more music students for the remainder of our time here.
-For the rest of our support to come in as we try to get to 100% of our goal.
-For our home to sale or lease
-For our Suburban to sell quickly
-For our continued preparation while we wait patiently (spiritually, emotionally, mentally)

-God's provision financially
-An offer to borrow a friend's minivan once we sell suburban
-Continued confirmation that we are in God's Will
-A fun, memory filled summer with lots of travel, swimming, and summer camps!
We swam so much the kids started to groan when we said we were going!
This car has served us well for 9+ years!
We were blessed to visit San Antonio with Lowell's parents while Aidan was at Jr. High Camp
Boys leaving for YMCA Camp Cullen
Boys coming home from YMCA Camp Cullen
The now 4 yr. old beauty 
Moody Gardens - Galveston with Shay's sister and her family
enjoying a week at the YMCA pool - League City
fun at Discovery Green Spray Park - downtown Houston
Jude's 9th bday cake!
the morning after Jude's sleepover
ice-skating at Moody Gardens - Galveston
Shay's 20 yr. high school reunion
Creek Kids' Camp

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer News #2

It's official. We will be here through at least mid-August now. So many of you have asked "So...when are y'all leaving?" and we have answered over and over "When our house sells!" I have to admit that it is a frustrating thing to know you are going, but to not know WHEN you are going!  Our house has been on the market now for two months and 3 weeks and not a single offer has come in as of yet. We know that God is in control and that His timing is perfect, as Lowell mentioned in our last update. I've known that there is obviously some good reason why God has not allowed it to sell just yet, although it has been a test of our faith waiting and wondering. Most of you know that summer is a time of fun in the sun, relaxing, swimming, bbq's, hanging out with friends, and most of all - CHURCH CAMP!! Several months ago, when the news of summer church camp was announced at church, we had to sadly tell the boys that they would not be able to go this year, assuming that we would be gone or at least very close to leaving for Bolivia. However, realizing that we would indeed be here for Jr. High camp made us re-think allowing our oldest, Aidan, to go.
This presented another issue, though. If Aidan was going to be allowed to go to camp, then we had to make the decision to stay long enough to allow Liam and Jude to go to Kids' Camp in August. Did we really want to do that? Well, the more we thought about it and talked it over, we came to realize that this may be one of the very good reasons God wants us to stick the summer out here at home. It is truly worth waiting and delaying our departure by a month or so for our boys to have one last opportunity to have the church camp experience with all of their friends.
On another positive note, I (Shay) will now be able to attend my 20 year (gasp!) high school reunion in July! And the last positive thing about being here through the summer, is that Jude and Olivia will be able to celebrate their birthdays with family and friends.
In spite of our decision to stay until August, WE STILL NEED OUR HOUSE TO SELL ASAP!!!!! We know our God is a big God and that He is faithful to meet all of our needs. Lowell was blessed to receive a "severance" pay when his time with CCCC ended (*sigh*), but that is swiftly running out since it has been nearly 3 months (Wow!). Our obvious hope would be that we would not have to start digging into the funds that we have raised to do ministry/missions in Bolivia. If our home sold by the end of June, this would put us in a good financial position - not having to pay another mortgage payment, for example, or bills related to our home. Please continue to pray that God will bring a buyer or someone to lease the house by the end of June. Pray for temporary "housing" for the weeks before departure if the house indeed does sell soon. Pray that we would have the "summer of our lives" so to speak, one that would hold fast in the memories of the kids and that they will be able to deepen their friendships with the lifelong friends they've had here in LC. Pray for their lives to be transformed at camp and that God would even use that time to prepare them for the journey ahead, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. We will also be taking one last little trip to San Antonio at the end of June to be part of a Bolivia Peace Corps Reunion that Lowell's Dad planned for his group he served with there in the 60's. It will be neat to hear the stories of their time together in Bolivia.
We are so very thankful for you - our family and friends who love and support us! We could not do this without  all of your prayers, financial gifts and encouragement!
With much anticipation, The Ballews

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Birthdays, Travels, & Water Days

Our eldest son Aidan just turned 12 on May 10th and managed to have 3 birthday cakes and celebrations. May has been a time for us to take a few trips to see family and friends as we near the end of our time here in the states for the next 2 years. As we wait on our home to sell we are spending time enjoying family visits and time with good friends.

We went to see Lowell's sister in New Orleans in early May which was a lot of fun for our kids since it was their first time to see the Crescent City/NAWLINS/The Big Easy/NOLA... so many ways to refer to this unique and beautiful city. We enjoyed time eating some good food, seeing many sights, including a ride on the Creole Queen Riverboat to see an old plantation.

After New Orleans we spent a couple of nights in some friends' beach house in Galveston. The water was slightly cold but we got plenty of sun and got to have an unexpected dinner with some long-time missionary friends of ours who had just returned from a trip to Africa who have a beautiful new home in Galveston.

Last week we did an 11 day trip that started in Shay's hometown of Brenham where we attended Maifest - German festival. This was a time to see all of Shay's siblings and their kids and enjoy a parade and an evening at the midway carnival. We celebrated Aidan's birthday the first time (a day early) here and celebrated Mother's Day as well.

Then on to Lowell's hometown of Frost where we saw his parents and 2 nieces - we spent 3 nights there. We celebrated Aidan's birthday for the 2nd time here (this is where the top pic was taken). The kids had fun going to the city park and playing and Lowell got to witness his mom being sworn in as the towns first female mayor.

We drove from Frost to Denton to stay with Shay's sister Traci and family. Denton is where Shay and Lowell met and went to college. We met some old dear friends at a park and shared a meal together and did some catching up.

Big D is just a half hour drive from Little D. Here we met some old friends for some good Texas Barbecue and did some much needed catching up. We got to share more in depth with these friends about our calling to go serve in Bolivia. This evening ended with some good frozen yogurt next to the famous Inwood Theater. We also got to take our boys and a friend to a concert music festival in Richardson to see their favorite band MUTEMATH one more time before we leave. This was a fun time together with me, Shay, and the boys!

We ended our trip seeing more friends in Mansfield. First, we stayed at our friends', Jeff & Kristy's, home with with their 3 lovely daughters. We got some great laughs and good food time with these longtime friends! We also got to enjoy a great home cooked TexMex meal with our longtime friend Melody and finally met her husband Steve and baby Jude.

This was a great time to see so many friends we have been very close to for many years and to share more 1 on 1 with them about our mission journey as well as just enjoy good company and fellowship together.

Last week we spent 4 days in the water at various events such as home school water day in Galveston, Pee Wee School water day, Aidan's birthday at the beach. Lowell is excited to get more opportunities to get rid of his "farmer's tan" lines and get more sun.

As we mentioned earlier we are in a season of waiting in faith for our home to sell which will then allow us to move to Bolivia to live. We appreciate all of you so much and are very grateful to call you friends. We appreciate your continued support and prayers for us as we follow where the Lord leads us.

The Ballews
(Lowell, Shay, Aidan, Liam, Jude, Olivia)

Friday, April 30, 2010

"when our house sells"

The biggest question we get is "when do you guys leave for Bolivia?" and our answer is "when our house sells". So we just want to let everyone know that we would appreciate you saying a prayer for our home to sell soon so we can move forward. We know God's timing is perfect and that we are in a unique season right now. We are enjoying a lot of quality time together as a family as Lowell is no longer employed at the church and is at home until we move. Other than continuing to teach a few guitar and drum lessons Lowell is spending as much time with the kids and Shay as possible. We have also been going on mini trips to see friends and family to say our goodbyes before we move (hopefully sometime this summer). We have our last scheduled trip to Brenham, Frost, Dallas/Mansfield/Denton area coming up May 6-14. This will be a time to see a lot of family and friends and we are looking forward to it! If you live near any of those areas and would like to try and see us let us know. Thanks again for keeping up with us - we covet your prayers and friendship!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benefit Concert Success!

We just want to give an update to everyone and say that the concert that Clear Creek Community Church (home church) gave us was a huge success! Our Sr. Pastor Bruce Wesley approached me about 2 months ago asking me what I thought of the church doing this for us and I said "YES - this would be a perfect send-off and fund raiser for our family!" And that's exactly what it was. It was a time for me to play music with some very talented musicians from CCCC who I've been able to do life with over the past 11 yrs. and provide a really fun concert close to 800 friends from CCCC who came to the show! The guys in the band were: Jamie Chambers (drums), Richard Denson (drums), Russ Hatcher (bass), John Boyle (guitar), Rob Brownfield (fiddle) And as well other music staff like Brad Loser (piano/keys/vocals), Keri Lilley (keys/vocals), Kevin Hester (vocals), Duane Theriot (vocals), and Daniel Vencil (guitars/vocals). And there were countless others who helped volunteer tons of hours in the tech arts - Lighting, Media, Video, Sound, Greeters, Ticket & Support Table hosts. I want to say a huge thanks to these guys for making this an incredible and memorable experience that was an amazing blessing to our family. One of the most memorable moments of the night was me having the opportunity to play music with my three sons, Aidan, Liam, and Jude! We rocked the stage with a mean blues riff with Liam on drums, Aidan on bass, and Jude on electric. It was a truly proud moment! The concert raised $18,000 for our family to help us in or support raising efforts to live and serve in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We have been given enough money thus far to almost have 1 yr. worth of salary. We will continue to trust God to provide ALL of our needs along the way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sell That House

Well we have just spent the day fixing a few broken doors and drawers and have also been cleaning and organizing the house like mad and are dog tired now. Tomorrow is open house and we have been praying for a buyer and hope tomorrow shows some results. Our main prayer request is that we could sell the home by the end of April. This would be ideal to help us save as much money as possible toward our support raising efforts.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January update

For those interested, I thought I'd post a quick update on our journey. We have been hard at work raising the necessary funds to move to Bolivia. It has been an interesting season for fundraising - during the holidays and now with the urgent needs at hand for the people of Haiti. In spite of these circumstances, God has been good and folks have been committing to support us. Many have committed to a monthly monetary amount and even more have sent in one time gifts to help us get to where we need to be to follow God's call. We are so very humbled and grateful by these gifts and commitments, considering the current economical state so many are in. We are now at approximately 36% of our financial goal - so we still are in need of much financial support before we can make hard plans to return to Bolivia. We are preparing to put our house on the market, hoping that the sell of it will allow us to save more and have less material responsibility as we prepare ourselves spiritually for the field. Obviously, if the house sells quickly, we will be looking for a place to live temporarily until we leave. This is a little nerve wracking, but again, just one other way we can put all of our hope and faith in the Lord to provide for us. Our goal is to be able to return to Bolivia by the summer - June or July preferably. In order for us to realize this goal, we will be meeting with individuals and hosting "Dessert and Coffee" meetings for groups to share more in depth about our journey, our needs, and our goals. We are praying for those folks who are able to commit to help us financially to be raised up between now and then. If you have received a letter from us or read our letter online, please continue to pray about whether or not God would have you help us. EVERY GIFT, NO MATTER WHAT AMOUNT, WILL HELP US GET TO BOLIVIA SOONER TO BEGIN CULTURE ADAPTATION, LANGUAGE LEARNING, AND MINISTRY!! We determined that we have contacted approximately 900 people, through letters, email, and facebook. My wonderful Mother-in-law who loves math, figured that if all 900 contacts could commit to giving us just $5.00 a month, we would be at or over our monthly goal!! Wow! So cool. And hey..if just 450 of those contacts could commit $10 a month, voila! Done!
We could even take it farther and say 225 of our contacts giving $20/month, or 112 giving $40/month. That is VERY doable! We are just so excited to see what God is going to do with this journey. He has already shown himself true and real. We are trying to remain faithful to a very clear calling on our lives, and He will remain faithful - no matter what. "For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies." Psalm 57:10

With much anticipation -