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.

After a summer of rainy weekends, God blessed us with the first beautiful Saturday in months on Zoe’s 11th birthday. We kayaked and jet skied, ate the best ramen in town and ended with German chocolate birthday cake. Where did all those years go?!

But most of our spiritual focus has transitioned across the ocean to Lander, WY where God has raised up a handful of men and women to begin a 9-month discipleship program with us. Please pray that God would speak to each of us as we "spur one another on to love and good deeds."

We also thank God for tripling the number of youth coming to the church’s youth program. It seems that COVID set up both a willingness to meet electronically and a unique opportunity to listen to and encourage folks. And that, in turn, is drawing both adults and youth toward meeting together…

Which adds to our prayer fodder. Would you join us in asking for God’s wisdom to find the balance between building community and preventing the spread of COVID? They seem contradictory and yet we are confident God can make a way where there seems to be no way. Please help this church find Your way, Oh Lord!

Finally, the journey through the Bible that Donna just finished up with a group of ladies has been fleshed out into a Bible study workbook on the brink of publication. Please join us in asking God for guidance on the details of that venture. And let us know if you want to help us by writing a review (we’ll send more details, but you don’t have to read the whole thing, just a bit of it)!

Please let us know how we might join you in your petitions and praises as well. Thank you for walking this road alongside us!

Now THAT is ramen!

Time off from school turned into an opportunity for the girls to serve the community and to raise funds for Compassion International. Zoe and Matti began a biweekly Gazette for our neighbors and Zoe sewed eye-glasses or pencil bags. She’d prayed that God would help her sell them and in just one day at church, He raised over $50!

And as our time in Japan closes, we’ve been exploring even more: One rainy Saturday found us at Round 1, a three-floor indoor playground, arcade and sports park complete with restaurant and massage chairs for the adults. The girls loved the "bubbles" and the electric scooters best. Following that wonderful weekend was one that involved a canceled overnight at a beachfront resort and four new tires, but resulted in a much better and safer ride in our primary vehicle. As usual, we experienced God’s protection and provision far more during a challenged time. We even checked off our list the restaurant where little electric trains bring your order to your table – it was across the street from the auto repair shop. Who says God is not in the minute details of our lives?

Having moved a few times in the military, we recognize our departure’s approach. The relationships Slick’s been pouring into are coming to a close as those folks’ lives move on. The online journey through the Bible that Donna’s been leading is also ending. Meanwhile, Slick’s involvement in the Lander, WY church has been increasing and God’s been moving both men and women toward intentional discipleship with us using a program called Radical Mentorship.

Also, in preparation for Slick’s pastoring in Lander, we’ve also been able to close uneventfully on a home there (a huge praise in itself!). We’ve noticed in our travels that houses offer tremendous opportunities for blessing. In this case, closing months before we arrive not only simplifies our move, but also opened the door to providing housing for a family in temporary need of it…who are also fixing some minor issues with the house. Thank God for His working in the details – yet again!

As you join us in thanking God for all these things, and asking for His continued superintendence over this move, please let us know how we can be representing you also before the throne.

The coast of Kitayamazaki

Matti in one of the "bubbles" at Round 1 in Morioka.

In direct response to your prayers of last month, the spitballs ceased and blessings began. When Slick coordinated for the truck to be registered, he sent countless emails and phone calls but never seemed able to answer all their questions. Finally he thought he had the temporary registration on its way to Atlanta to meet up with the truck. When it arrived, however, it turns out they sent regular tags and a discounted full year of registration! Continuing in the auto vein, he took his car here in Japan to a shabby-looking body shop. But when they returned it to him, not only was the crack on his bumper expertly fixed, but the check engine light which had been plaguing us for months was off!

Meanwhile, on the home front, despite the cast on her arm, Matti found a way to bike with us when we drop Gwen off at her Japanese preschool: she squished onto Gwen’s old bike attached via Trail Gator to mine. Consequently, us four girls have enjoyed many cool spring mornings together on two wheels each, meandering along the streets’ wide shoulders. On the very first of those days, her first day back after two months off, Gwen bumped into a friend as we arrived and the two of them ran hand-in-hand, giggling up the school’s walkway. It warmed and comforted her mother’s heart.

If that weren’t enough, Slick has received the call to pastor a church in Wyoming! He’s been able to Zoom, FaceTime and Skype with many of the church folks to get know them from 14,000 miles away. He even “v-preached” (preaching via virtual means) the Sunday on which we had hoped to candidate. God is not only good, He is also a Wiz with technology!

While we are grateful to know the next step, we would love for you to join us in praising God for the clarity and direction He’s given and in asking Him to reveal to us the timing of the many details that still need to happen between now and our arrival in back in the States. Lots of moving parts and lots to consider.

And just as important, please let us know, too, how we can stand beside you before the King!

So now that we are moving, we’ve been looking at houses…

And seeing some sights. These are the Hotokegaura Cliffs on the Shimokita Penninsula, aka, "the Hatchet."

Spitballs again. Often, even predictably when we get into ministry, spitballs1 start to pelt us and threaten to get in the way. This time the air conditioning on both cars failed just as warmer weather hit, Slick’s car incurred some other damage…then Slick broke 5 ribs in a bike accident and Matti broke her arm rollerblading. As I drove home from the hospital yet again last night, the need for your prayers of protection swept over me.

So what ministry is inviting this spitball barrage? We’re not entirely sure, but Slick is on the brink of being called to pastor a church. God’s been paving the way to connect with people and groups in the church, to begin building relationships and encouraging them. Is this why God preserved him through a night at home with a partially collapsed lung before he shocked the folks at the ER with how well he was doing despite the internal damage?

Elsewhere in our world, Donna’s been appreciating the positive side of COVID-19: gals’ schedules have been clear enough for a group of them to go through the Bible with her. While it is hard to assess from afar the impact on their lives, we know they are in the Word and there is one who doesn’t like that. So would you join us in asking for God’s protection from further hail damage and continued opportunity to serve through this time?

Please let us know how we may have the honor of standing with you, too, before the throne of grace.

1Spitballs are annoying little things that steal our margins of time and energy.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to host a virtual triathlon as a fundraiser for the Misawa Sharks Youth Swim Team that Zoe and Matti swam on this past year. Gwen and Matti did the kids’ race and Zoe finished second in the shortest adult race! Great fun was had by all!