Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Month that was September...

A quick glance at the calendar says September is nearly gone. Brenda and I are really settled into life here at New Tribes Bible Institute. Life is very busy and exciting on campus with activities ranging from intramural sports to hog roasts, campfires and fellow shipping with faculty and students. Studying God's Word has been nothing short of absolutely awesome! The instructors are and have been amazing. For me I'm not sure what my expectations really were. All I know is it has exceeded them exponentially.
Homework keeps Brenda and me fairly busy, but we have had plenty of time to explore life outside the campus. New Tribes encourages us to attend a local church and get involved. Brenda and I are still searching for one we both agree on. So something to be prayerful for if you wouldn't mind!
September started with a Michigan Football game in Ann Arbor, about thirty-five minutes from Jackson with a good friend from Bluffton, Kerry McClroy. The weekend ended with a married dessert social on Labor Day orchestrated by my lovely wife. She did an amazing job and it really helped me gain five extra pounds, not to mention helped us start to gel with the people we will be spending the next two plus years with.  Some of these families could potentially complete the training with us at the same time.
The following weekend we traveled to the lake home of some dear friends, Doc and Fritzi Nodine in Hamilton, Indiana. They are the proud grandparents of a young boy named Jones. Because Doc and Fritzi are so fond of "Jonesy" they erected a swing set that our children found irresistible.


video
 
 

Here are the kids chilling by the lake at the beautiful Nodine home.


As if that wasn't enough, Doc topped the evening off spoiling us with an incredible boat ride around the lake to conclude a beautiful evening.


The kids found "Tootsie" the Nodine's blind schnauzer more entertaining than the ride at times.


The weekend of September fourteenth and fifteenth, New Tribes Bible Institute staff hosted a hog roast off campus at Somerset Lake, a small lake and recreation area south of the school about thirty minutes.
Once again our kids were in euphoria as New Tribes had an air filled castle meant for jumping inside when we arrived.
The food was great, the fellowship was great, and the activities were a blast for all of us. It was a great night, one that made you glad to be here in Michigan and associated with a great organization as New Tribes Mission.

 
Grady in the castle, the story of the evening and no doubt his highlight. He was soooo happy, jumping with his friends Samuel and Griffin!
 
 
Here is Grace. If you are what you eat then she hit it right on this evening, eating sweets!
 
 
This hot girl let me take a picture with her. This obviously was the highlight of my night!
 
The next weekend was the big trip back home to Bluffton for the Bluffton Street Fair. We crammed a lot in in forty-eight hours, but it was a blast! Just hours back in town at our awesome friends the Lockwood's (Kyle and Marci),
sister Brandy sniffed us out. After a nice supper at Corner Depot with the Lockwood's, the Rockwell's and Lockwood's picked up Brandy took to the streets of the great Street Fair. We found some familiar faces, caught up with old friends, and ate some great fried food.


Ben's Pretzels continue to be the bomb at the Street Fair!
(Left to Right, Brandy, Marci, Brenda)
 
 
Zum Sticks continue to be a Street Fair staple. Brenda and Brandy disappeared from site and returned with these beauts moments later!
 
 
As you can see, I will do almost anything for the Queen of my heart, even hold this poka-dot umbrella!
 
The next morning I woke up early and met a dear friend Joel Draper for breakfast. We caught up and had a decent chat. Joel is a Notre Dame fan, we trade shots regularly, but amazingly one of my best true friends in this world. They don't get much more real as far as friends go than Draper. I had to make time for him.
After breakfast with Joel I went to see my father Ted Rockwell. My dad has been unbelievable and supportive through this journey. My father has filled up my cup so many times in my life, but nothing has meant as much as receiving his blessing, love and support the day we went out for lunch in Ft. Wayne and I revealed the plan to go into the foreign mission field.
I remember not truly knowing what he might say or how he might react. I was concerned and fearful to tell him because what I was going to say would not be easy to swallow. Why would he be supportive? After all, I'm walking away from him to serve Christ and taking his grandchildren with me. Many fathers would not approve of such a radical move that sounds so reckless and pointless in this day and age. As the words left my mouth I expected the worst, but I can honestly say I knew my father loved me and the response, even if negative, would be soft, but there are no guarantees in this life. So my nerves ramped up. The moment for my father to land his rebuttal was now before me. The look from his eyes and the words that flowed from his mouth as he looked up at me were what most sons only dream to hear. To hear your dad say, "I'm proud of you Kent, and I love you with all my heart, I support what your doing." Those things only end up in Hollywood movies. My father has blessed me throughout my life and has supported me and loved me when I clearly and definitely didn't deserve it. In times of trouble I would call him, the voice on the other end of the phone always responded with these words. "I'll be right there."
Dad got a new Iphone recently and is still learning to use it. He will probably never read this post, but none the less I am so blessed to call this man my "dad." Dad was glad to see me, and we chatted for quite a while. He sent me home with a card for Brenda for her birthday and lots of things for his grandchildren like, kites, snow tubes, and kids movies. My father is amazing and I know how blessed I am to have him as my earthly father. Every Sunday afternoon he has called me to talk with me and make sure I'm alright as well as the kids. I will always be in debt to him for all he has done for me...Come to think of it, kind of like my Heavenly Father! Man, I love them both!!
At noon we met some other dear friends of ours for lunch. Jay and Dot Kipfer have been friends of mine for over fifteen years and Brenda's for more than ten years. This couple is incredible to us in so many ways. Jay stepped up and made me feel welcome at family events when I was hanging with the Drayers and Baumgartner's. Jay always stayed in contact with me and a friendship blossomed. With the Kipfers we play great games, chat, go to sporting events, etc. with them. This is another one of those friendships you keep a mandatory slot of time open when you visit. I know Brenda would say the same, I can't imagine going through life in general not knowing a couple like Jay and Dot. They stuck with us through some uncomfortable and trying times in our lives and marriage. Simply put, Jay and Dot are incredible people and hold a very dear spot in our hearts!
 
 
Dot and Brenda in the Kipfer's beautiful backyard.
 
 
Jay and I in the backyard of the Kipfer home.
 
Saturday evening we returned to the Street Fair one more time minus the Lockwoods, but up an Aschilman (Ryan) and two Girods (Ben and Tanya). We left all of our kids at home with an amazing and incredible young woman, Madison Tonner. Madison has watched Grady and Grace seemingly forever! She has always been one of Brenda and my favorites. So dependable, so trustworthy, very mature for her age with our children and difficult situations that arise. She is just beyond amazing, plainly put! The only way to illustrate what I am describing is by the following photo. We walked in the door, and this is on a normal typical night what we would witness upon enter our house, below...
 
 
Madison reading to the kids at Ryan and Brandy's new house. As a side note, If Brandy and Ryan had not just moved in the whole house would be spotless around the children because that's just how  Madison rolls!
 
On Sunday we attended Hope Missionary Church for the first time in over a month. It was great to see familiar faces and friends, but we were sad Pastor Gary was out of town. We were looking forward to a classic sermon from Pastor Gary, but Tony Chaney filled in very nicely. It was a great service!
Following church we went to visit Brenda's Father and Step-mother, Jack and Judy Girod's. We kicked it back, had wonderful conversations, ate pizza, and watched some football. Don't know what we'd do without Jack and Judy's support. They have been very encouraging and helpful too us through this whole walk. From trucking up our belongings, to feeding us pizza, they have been unreal, and we are so thankful for them! I know it's not what they want, to see another daughter and grandkids head overseas, but the fact they know God's at work in us seems to make the situation tolerable.
 
 
Grandpa Jack and Grandma Judy enjoying the grandkids.
 
 
After leaving Grandpa Jack and Grandma Judy's we made a special stop to see a new addition that occurred the last day in August on the thirty-first. My cousins Trent and Leah (Rockwell) Miller were blessed with their first child, a boy, Eli Jay. So glad we finally got to see him! He had more hair than I have ever seen on a baby in my life!
 
 
Here he is! The proud man holding him is his Grandpa Rockwell (Tim, my uncle). It has been a great couple of months for my Uncle Tim. He was married last month to his wife Debbie before we left Bluffton, and now this great gift from God is in his life, Eli!! So happy for my cousins and uncle, love them bunches! Nice to see some positive blessings happen to someone who has been so loving and giving too me and many others over so many years like my uncle has. Want to see someone who will give you the shirt off his back? Look at the man holding baby Eli in the above picture.
 
 
We returned to Jackson shortly after our visit with Eli Sunday afternoon. Life had started to get back to normal and then Grandpa and Grandma King made a visit on Tuesday afternoon, bringing with them generous gifts for us from their fruit trees and garden. They also brought tasty treats that we call "Snack Drawer!" Totally unexpected, but none the less very,very thankful. We then had another treat we are not accustomed too. Having the privilege to go out to eat! The reason for the occasion was my lovely wife's birthday! She chose to eat at the Olive Garden and we returned home with very full stomachs.
The kids played and ran around trying to impress Grandpa and Grandma with their amazing tricks. What they didn't know is Grandpa and Grandma just wanted to see them and hold them. Oh well, we were all there once and understand what it feels like to be an excited child with Grandma and Grandpa's full attention, right?!
 
 
That's a lot of energy you got a hold of Grandma! Gracie is just hangin' with Grandpa King. Gracie has always been my lil' cuddle bug. She has always snuggled with me. I can say without a doubt I wish I could capture those moments forever, because I see them fleeing before my eyes everyday now.
 
The next day, Wednesday the twenty-fifth was Brenda's official birthday! After classes were over one of our classmates offered to watch our children so we could go out together. It wasn't until we were alone in the car, we realized we could be dangerous. Ok, not necessarily dangerous, but silly none the less. I got a couple of pictures of our outing.
Our first stop was at the Parlour. It is an amazing ice cream parlor that has a uniqueness all it's own, like Ivanhoes back in Upland.
 
 
This was called a "Snickers Parfait." It was huge and we shared it. Before we got our ice cream we ordered some chili cheese fries. They too were amazing.
 
 
Without the kids, we got a little carried away and irresponsible at the Target. We had a missionary tell us, if you can't laugh at yourself and take people laughing at you, you'll never make it as a missionary because that's all you get on the field when you screw up in a culture. People laughing at you.


 
 
Only my wife could pull this off. She is the only one who can make a silly mask look hot and seductive when your supposed to look dorky. Happy thirty-first Baby! I love you!
 
 
Well, that's all for now. Now it's back to school. Love you and see you all soon, the Rockwells.

 
 
 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Firsts

When a family moves some place new there will always be a lot of firsts. After I started thinking about this post, it seemed that another "first" would pop up. So here is a list of "firsts" that we've encountered in the last 2 weeks (or will encounter by the end of this week).

1. Pizza Night - We ate in the cafeteria for the first time Friday. Pizza for the entire family for $7! It doesn't get much better than that.

2. Tests - Our first test is Friday. I thought if I did this post before I wouldn't be obligated to tell you how we did.:)

3. Food Cart - This is opened to all married student and staff at NTBI. The kitchen puts out all the leftovers from the last 3 days and we can take whatever we want from it. This is the menu I made up after picking up our food last week.


4. News - We received our first big Bluffton News. Kent's cousin, Leah and her husband Trent, had their baby 3 weeks early. He was 8lbs 5oz!! He must have the Rockwell blood. We can't wait to see him.

5. Papers - Kent wrote his first paper this week.


6. Grady's Hair - Grady did his hair for the first time. I'm glad it wasn't on a school day.


7. Dress-up - Grace wanted to dress up as a super hero and Grady wasn't even home. She didn't have it on long but she did want to put it on without her brother's prompting.


8. Iced Coffee- I've never made iced coffee before, but now I have. Yum!


9. Driving - I drove by myself. Grady looks too excited and Grace looks terrified! It went well. I've drove 2 times since!


10. Friends - This past Sunday was a first visit with friends from back home. Joe and Brenda came to see their son and daughter-in-law over the weekend. They live about 45 min from NTBI. They were kind enough to invite us over for lunch after church. The kids had a great time. Grace is the second from the left. Yes, she has boy swim trunks on with a boy swim shirt, but she was so cute. Our friend Brenda is in the back ground.


 11. Married Social - We had our first Married social with married students and staff. It was a blessing to be able to fellowship. I'm enjoying the new friendships we're building here.


12. Hair- After some inspiration from some ladies here, I decided it was time I braided Grace's hair. So after her bath tonight, I French braided Grace's hair. It looked really good, but now she's sleeping on it so it probably won't look as good in the morning. I know our babysitter from Bluffton, Madison, would be proud and my mom would be thankful it's out of her face. I have to admit it does look better braided than when it's all crazy.


12. Books - We've both completed our first book! And in only 7 days. Now if you know either of us very well that's very amazing. It was an excellent book. If you have time to read it, pick it up! You call get it free on your ipod or ipad. It's worth you time.


13. Lists- My sister Brandy is the best list maker in the world. Each of her lists are color coded and written in wonderful hand writing. Before coming to NTBI I thought lists were.... overrated. And now I'm here. I make lists all the time. Lists for what needs done. Lists for the grocery store. Lists for a blog post. List for food cart. So many lists. The funny thing, I don't always complete them or cross everything off. It's just that I forget so much that I have to write it all down.

So that's it. Our 2 week of firsts. I'm sure that more will come, as is typical with change. I'm thankful that the change has been slow. I'm also thankful that some things never change. That Street Fair comes to Bluffton every year.  Having sisters that love you. Having friends that care and invest in you. Having a God that always working on to make us more like him.