Apr 15, 2011

The Princess Party, Part 8

Since we are mean parents, this year we actually asked people to donate to foreign missions instead of bringing Stella birthday gifts. (more on that later) A few people were generous enough to bring her surprises, though, and here is one of her favorites...
I wish I had been videoing when she opened this Pinkalicious outfit from the Millet's.  It was the best gift opening reaction EVER.  She even sang Broadway tunes.  She is soooo my child...
Of course, she had to show it off for the family...
She also got some bracelets, which were "just like Aunt 'laina's!"
When she opened this beautiful spring dress from Mawmaw Shirley she had to take off her costume and put it on immediately.  And we wonder why my laundry is never done...
She loved wearing the dress until she opened this Belle costume from Mawmaw and Pawpaw...
Eventually she found the chocolate covered strawberries that Mrs. Chung made for her...
Those may have been her favorite gift...
Check out her eyes.  She was getting a little worn out by this point of the day...
Mrs. Chung also made Stella these origami birds with missionary themed inspirational messages on them...

So, I promised that I would tell more about the cause that we collected donations for, and here goes. Some dear friends of ours, Brett and Danielle Thornton, are currently ministering in Okotoks, Canada. The following is the information about the Thornton's that we displayed at our party:

Since before Stella was born we have always been overwhelmed by the generosity that our friends and family members have shown towards her. We knew that one day we wanted to teach her to think of others by hosting a "giving party." We put lots of thought into finding a worthy cause that we would feel comfortable asking our loved ones to support with us, and we are excited to reveal our choice.

Brett and Danielle Thornton are missionaries serving at Big Rock Baptist Church in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. We first met Brett and Danielle when we were all students at Louisiana College in Pineville. As you can see in some of the pictures on display, we spent our younger days adventure racing and exploring the world together. Damon and Brett even hiked the Grand Canyon one fall. After college, Brett turned his energy to full-time ministry. I think his story is best told in his own words:

"My junior year at college, while involved with some ministries there and in different parts of Louisiana, God began to focus my mind and heart on ministry outside of the US.  Over the next year, I came into contact with some people who were doing ministry in Alberta or had family who were doing ministry in Alberta.  I also had an opportunity to go through Canada on the way to do ministry in Alaska.  Through all that the Lord directed me toward Canada.  Over the course of the following 5 years I waited for Him to open the door and then He did.  In the mean time I met Danielle.  We were friends for a few years and did ministry together before dating.  This ministry included some short-term trips to Alberta which introduced her to ministry here.  She served on a team in Alberta for 6 months before we were married.

"Our purpose here is to lead this young church (for all intents and purposes the present Big Rock Baptist has only been around for a few years) and help them move forward as individuals and as a church to being what God has called us to be in Christ.  This includes growing in some of the basic components of life as disciples of Christ and as a Church--Bible study, prayer, fellowship, ministry and participation in the church, evangelism, participation in missions abroad, worship, etc."

The Thornton's ministry in Canada is a cause we feel passionate about, because the congregation that they are serving sounds strikingly similar to the community that we are a part of here in LaPlace. Brett describes Okotoks as, "a city of about 23,000 people.  It is one of the fastest growing cities of its size in Canada.  This is due to its close proximity to the city of Calgary, a city of 1 million people which is also rapidly growing.  The growth of Calgary is due to the oil industry.  Okotoks is about a 10-mile drive from the city limits of Calgary.  It is a "bedroom community", most of those living here work in Calgary.  What is obvious from all this is that many of the folks in Okotoks are new to the city.  It is also a very young community, the average age being about 35.  Lots of young families.

"Those who are a part of Big Rock Baptist Church reflect this as we have primarily young couples with young kids (newborn-4years old).  We usually see about 50 people at our Sunday services.  These include a Bible study time, a worship service, and kids meetings that take place during part of the worship service.  We also have "small groups" which are adult meetings that take place in homes of members of the church.  There are currently 3 small groups meeting.  This summer we plan on doing a kids VBS, a community service ministry on Canada Day (July 1, kind of like our 4th of July), a youth week, and perhaps some block parties to reach out to families in different neighborhoods of the city.

"We also are ministering to a small rural community south of us called Cayley.  Right now we plan to begin a small group ministry there with some of our members who live there.  We are also planning on doing a kids' VBS there or maybe some "family nights" at the school gym there."

We spoke with the Thornton's over dinner several months back about our plans for Stella's party, and together we searched out a craft project that our children could complete today and send to Canada for use in their ministry. Whether you choose to support Brett and Danielle's ministry with a monetary donation today or not, please join us as prayer partners to lift up the Thornton's as they try to share with Canadians the greatest gift of all, salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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