Twenty-five-ish years ago, a couple finished their first year on the mission field in Singapore and moved to Fontannafreda, Italy. Now there is a thriving little church of Italians and Americans who bear witness to their faithfulness, as do their adult children. How God uses the faithful to touch so many lives – including ours!

Perhaps stories like this stand out to me because of their stark contrast to our own trail, where we’d ask you to join us in beseeching God for sufficient housing and cars. It seems it will truly take His hand at work as both are in short supply and high demand in the wake of Covid. Yet His abundance has spoiled us so many times… We do thank Him daily for a loaner car and a wonderful little two bedroom apartment on the mountainside as we wait and search.

As summer fades into autumn, we’d continue to ask also for clarity on purpose here and for what we can be praying for you. Just so you know, you can comment on any of our posts and it’s like replying to an email – it comes only to us.

Our neighbors just down the hill.

Fresh cheese and milk from the machines. Our milk is in the bottle in the center of the picture. Not pictured are the cows just to the right, hooked up to their milking machines.

Burnt birthday cake is not ideal. So Zoe and I scootered from our billeting (hotel) room to the commissary (grocery store) a second time to replace the one I’d mistakenly broiled during our first venture. Raindrops from the approaching thunderstorm had grown and the space between them had shrunk. Back “home” with damp shoulders, we dined on Japanese Ramen (Zoe’s favorite dinner) and cooked our second German chocolate cake as rain gave way to hail.

Iced, decorated with 12 trick candles (it took all three girls to extinguish them!) and sung over, we cut Cake #2 only to find its bottom still raw! One can never predict the nuances of each overseas move, not even after eleven of them in as many years. Daddy enjoyed the first cake. Us girls slurped down the second. Averaged together, they were perfect!

Earlier that day we’d returned to Aviano, Italy from the Dolomites, from admiring the beauty of God’s creation, vast, deep and scenic beyond words. Clearly He is able. Just as He also smoothed all the travel from Wyoming through NJ, NY and Amsterdam and on to Italy. Please join us in asking that He would quickly bring healing and clarity where necessary, and praising Him, too, for the immensity of His creativity, character and power. Let us know, too, how we might stand beside you before the throne.

First day of school under the protection of big sister Zoe in 7th grade. Matti began 5th and Gwen 2nd.

Just out of the picture to the right is the 3 Peaks, or Tre Cime or Drei Zinnen. Huge benefit to the Dolomites and the bulk of the Alps – barely as high elevation as we were in Wyoming, which makes for plenty of air for hiking! As you look at the picture, imagine the cow bells’ constant, peaceful clanging…

Not that we wanted to move again, but after the decision was made, God confirmed the decision by selling the house to the neighbors without it ever having to go on the market or be shown – what a blessing!

If all good things come from above then the new car was a gift as well. While much smaller than the truck that it takes the place of, it will be much more practical on the narrow Italian roads an hour northwest of Venice, which will be our new conduits of transport. In a roundabout way, God also provided new Yakima roof rack bars that fit the wider car and a bigger cargo carrier than we expected: the seller advertised and thought he sold an 18 cubic foot Skybox but when we packed it, we discovered it was not an 18 but rather the biggest one Yakima makes, a 21 – and we used all of it. He is good.

So we appreciate your prayers for safe travels from Wyoming through Chicago and NJ then on to Venice, as well as repaired relationships where they are needed after the rigors of the past year, past years and many moves. Please let us know how we might pray with you as well.

Zoe sailing solo – too calm a day for much speed, but she’s obviously comfortable on a boat!

The railroad tracks* continue, sometimes spread wide apart. Thank you for your prayers: on one side, the Holy Spirit has lead several families to move toward church attendance and others toward membership. We praise God for them even as we’d ask you to join us in praying that the truth of God’s Word and this situation would be manifest for those on the other railroad track who are struggling right now.

Back on the happy track, many folks in the church are stepping up to study and learn. “I haven’t studied this hard since college” has been heard from some who prep weekly for their sermon-based community groups. Also overheard: “My spouse and I are having such great discussions about this stuff!” And eight folks have stepped up to get weekend training on relational wisdom and conflict resolution to further equip our church and community.

At home, Zoe found her niche in the middle school swim team, bettering her times almost weekly while the rest of the Douglass girls supported the diving team by running the snack bar for home meets. Set it up and watch Matti go – she is a natural! Playing with water in a different form, we got to sneak in a few days at Park City to round out the downhill ski season.

As winter gives way to spring, the church’s Sinks & Swim Virtual Triathlon (Donna’s the director) happens this month. We’d love to have your prayer-cover – and participation! It’s a virtual event anyone can do in their hometown. If not you, maybe a couple friends?

We so appreciate your traveling these tracks with us. Please let us know how we might pray and praise with you as well!

*It’s been said that life is like railroad tracks: there are always great things going on alongside “opportunities for spiritual formation.”

The Popo Agie River (pronounced, popPOEjah) as it comes down from the Sinks through Lander, where we live.

Sometimes parents feel like chauffeurs, but Rich and I arm wrestled over Zoe’s cross country ski practices. Taking her thirty minutes to the local trails became one of those unexpected blessings because the driver was guaranteed at least an hour of solo skiing. For her part, Zoe placed fourth in the state competition in Casper, WY, where we all enjoyed the National Trails Museum commemorating the thousands of brave emigrants to the US West just before the Civil War.

Another weekend at the ski area found a group from church enjoying the trails, in some cases reconnecting and moving toward reconciliation. On the way back from the slopes another day we stopped by a special birthday party: the 90th of a young lady who was just baptized last November. What a joy!

As I type today, we’re returning from our first venture into winter camping, winding along a river through the Wind River Canyon, enjoying the views of the tunnels over the road and the train tracks on the far bank.. Yesterday, we skied two miles to a one-room cabin near Meeteetse, WY in the deepening dusk and today after skiing further up the canyon and roasting s’mores at 10am we slid back out, tired from the stove’s hourly feeding all night, but quite satisfied with the venture’s success.

Gifts of adventures like this are a bit like salve on the wounds that pockmark any sort of ministry (it is spiritual warfare after all!), but please pray with us that the relationships we develop in our various involvements would draw people toward Jesus. And please let us know how we can lift you up as you travel your road.

Wood River Cabin in Meeteetse, WY (How’s that for a town name?!)

Last year the kids skied so fast it scared us. This year they meander back and forth…like molasses! After Rich set Donna and Zoe free to feel the wind in their helmets on the steeps at Keystone, CO, he sat down to watch the younger two drift like lazy leaves along the slope. As their helmets slowly shrank into dots, the Spirit prompted Rich to look to the mountains, enjoy the view and pray. Frustration morphed into thanksgiving.

Back "home" in the evenings, the girls rushed to the pond for ice skating with all the energy of youth as we basked in our friends’ amazing hospitality. No moose sightings, unfortunately, but great dinners made by many hands.

Back home in Wyoming, Monday evenings in January saw a Zoom systematic theology class starting up with the church’s pastoral intern teaching. Thursday mornings now find some men meeting for an early Bible study. And navigating some intricate situations is serving to grow and solidify the elder team and church leadership so that we’ll be even better prepared for whatever comes around the next bend in the road. Thank you for praying for wisdom – God’s been generous.

We do ask continued prayer for discernment and guidance as we walk through the many, varied situations and relationships that comprise the Church and our local church, with all its ministries and community groups. Specifically, we ask that God guide two big projects that Donna’s working with: the resurrection of a once-popular triathlon in Lander as a service of the church to the community at large, and publishing a Bible study workbook as part of an educational ministry of sorts. We’d love your help with this, as God leads. Find our more here.

Let us know how we might walk with you along your journey as well! We’d love to know how we might sharpen the aim of our prayer arrows for you, as we know some of you also navigate complicated waters.

Working together at Beaver Creek Cross Country Ski Area. Enjoying winter!

In has been said that in God’s army only wounded soldiers can serve. One broken collar bone, one strained ankle, one broken rib struggling to heal and a torn labrum in one shoulder…I suppose we are eligible to serve. And there we were, cross country skiing. One child in the ski-stroller, one child holding on the stroller and one skiing on far ahead of us. And then we went up the run called Eternity Hill. Why am I surprised when people look at us funny? Nevertheless we are enjoying Wyoming.

But somehow I don’t think Brennan Manning meant only physically wounded soldiers could serve. And thankfully God has been generous in allowing us to witness His work and to serve ever so slightly in it this past month.

As another local pastor and his wife wrapped up their ministry here, God drew from some of our wounding experiences to comfort and encourage them as they moved on. Please pray with us both for their next steps, and that the amazing facility they are leaving might continue to be used as a ministry tool, with its rock climbing gym, café/recreation room, child care area and massive indoor play areas.

We’ve also been able to strengthen the bonds between us and three other local churches in effort to move the Church (the worldwide body of believers) here closer to the Kingdom. Please join us asking that the churches here might continue to come together to serve this community and those who visit, drawn perhaps by such craziness as a triathlon series we are beginning to plan, among other things.

Rich has also been invited to disciple the 11 FCA leaders here in WY, so we covet prayers for wisdom there as well as with the many discussions and counseling sessions that spring from several challenged marriages, a new young adults ministry and a new vision for moving forward in the new year. Speaking of moving forward, we are also praising God for two weddings, two new members joining our church family and three baptisms. God has been generous!

How may we support you by bowing before the throne together as 2021 begins? We wish you a wonderful New Year and look forward to seeing more of what God has in store.

Full moon skiing.

Such a conglomeration of cultures!!

we are getting closer…

I can get six-year-old Gwen to tread water for a whole minute: I start her counting and she happily counts as she paddles. Weird, I know, but perhaps you’ll extend me some grace for the numbers we’ve all been enjoying lately.

God raised up four people to be baptized, aged 8 (our Matti!) up to 89. Another four have already stepped forward asking to join them in two weeks. Shifting from spiritual to physical new life, four ladies in the church are carrying the next generation due to arrive in spring. Two weddings are on the docket, one couple in their 20’s and the other in their 70’s and beyond.

If those aren’t big enough numbers, all 20 folks in the Radical Mentorship program (RM, a year-long discipleship program) made it to our monthly meeting despite the COVID quarantines meandering through the congregation. And from our church of about 160, 25 folks attended a Saturday Share Your Faith evangelism training day with Rich, spread throughout the sanctuary, of course. Lastly, our girls helped pack 45 boxes of Thanksgiving dinner fixin’s that the church delivered to folks in need.

But clearly numbers don’t tell the whole story. A less calculable but no less adamant praise results from God moving folks to willingly give their Friday afternoons to preview the Sunday sermons and give suggestions for improvement. And from the many people who step up to serve in a variety of ways, helping another local church feed the needy, teaching our children, leading small groups and myriad little tasks that happen almost without notice. It is a true blessing to be where 80% of the people do the work! Clearly God is active here – and was long before we arrived.

Nevertheless, we covet your continued prayer for wisdom as we counsel many couples in marriage, disciple this amazing RM group and tread the narrow line between drawing people to fellowship while encouraging them to consider each other’s need for masks and other COVID measures. Let us know, too, how we might stand beside you before the Almighty, who was and is and is to come: to come and take us, His bride, into His wedding feast (Rich’s sermon last Sunday on Revelation 19 – who would have thought we were in the middle of a giant Jewish wedding?)

As we look forward to celebrating Jesus first coming, let us also reflect on the glorious coming that is to come!

Amazing skies, morning and evening (though the Wind River Mountains hide the sunsets).

A couple of Donna’s projects…

Our home doubled in size last weekend when two thirds of its residents departed for their own new home. The 11 Wilhelms took with them more appreciation than we were able to express for paving the way for our landing here in Lander. Our prayers go with them as they settle for the winter into their third temporary home this year before building their "real" home next spring.

As God responded to your prayers of last month, fun and fellowship during our initial retreat with the elders and their wives mixed with deep affirmation and encouragement of the team God has formed here. Building on that foundation, Slick / Rich is excited about the big-picture direction of the church’s ministry in general. Stepping in closer, we see that direction being borne out in intentional mentorship pairs cropping up around the church. We have been also able to connect with a number of couples involved in the year-long Radical Mentorship program, which we mentioned last month.

Thank you for joining us before the throne in support of all of this and ask that you’d continue, that God might work in the hearts and minds of those who are meeting to know and experience Him more deeply. We’d also appreciate if you’d lay the groundwork of prayer for some endeavors on the horizons, like unpacking (our stuff arrived yesterday) and a triathlon the church wants to host next summer.

In the spare moment behind all this, Donna’s study of the Bible continues to inch forward, both online and toward being in print. To learn more, consider joining her mailing list (you can unsubscribe at any time).

Please let us know how we can walk with spiritual journey together by agreeing with you in prayer. Surveying all we have to be thankful for, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving (a little early!).

A whirlwind trip to Yellowstone, including this yellow gorge.

Gwen got to ride a horse for her 6th birthday – one of the things she was looking forward to the most about Wyoming!

Let the settling in begin again! We had asked God for His superintendence over our travels and He answered with characteristic abundance: all our travels went completely smoothly, our twenty bags and boxes arrived intact and with us and even Hachi our dog proved to be a great traveler. If that weren’t enough, four drivers in black suits and white gloves whisked us across Tokyo in style, the airline’s club spoiled us with snacks and showers as we awaited our flight and the US customs agent just waived us through despite the banana we accidentally brought from the plane (oops!). Many humble thanks for God for all of that!

But as we approached Lander, WY, the spitballs* intensified. As Slick (now Rich again) passed through Nebraska in the U-Haul with our stuff from NJ, the trailer carrying the van got a flat. Then our house in SC flooded in the storm that passed through. In the next week that flood, combined with the tenants’ departure inspection brought to light a slew of issues, from minor cleaning to major roof and floor repairs.

On the flip side, Rich has found very fruitful work here at the foot of the Wind River Mountain Range. Conversations about the church and the Lord abound and ministry meetings have gone exceptionally well so far. Though we clearly are under the protection of the Monday morning ladies’ prayer team, we would very much appreciate your continued intersession for us to integrate and lead as God desires.

Specifically, we ask that our Elder’s Retreat help prepare our team for the challenges to come, that we might connect in a meaningful way with each of the men and women who have stepped into the year-long discipleship program called Radical Mentorship and for gobs of grace with each other as we figure out living and schooling here.

But always we wish to bring your wants and desires to the King – how can we pray for you too?

*Little annoyances sent by an enemy that show his displeasure. While not fun, they do confirm that someone doesn’t like our progress, and therefore, that we just might be pleasing the One that matters.

One last yaki niku meal before departure.


More pictures can be found on our FLICKR page, though I haven’t uploaded the latest yet.