Category Archives: trip

North Carolina and Florida

Part two of our November/December trip: North Carolina and Florida.

Driving through the Smoky Mountains is a sight to behold, especially since we rarely get to do it! Last year we drove through North Carolina, but it had been a number of years since we stayed in North Carolina, so it was amazing to be able to be there for a number of days again.

The mountains were “smoky” because of wild fires


and where we live, Walmart looks a lot less interesting and certainly isn’t back-dropped by mountains

We apparently didn’t get many good pictures in NC that featured people. So you can just use your imagination if you’d like.

It was good to go back to a church in Cherokee that we had sang at before. We saw some old friends and made some new ones! One night we got to go with the church to the house of a man Dad recorded last time we stayed here. This man is not well physically, and the group came to encourage him with a meal and singing, but he was an encouragement and challenge to us! His faith is so strong and he is joyful. All the believers we fellowshipped with in North Carolina were a blessing to us.

Dad got to record the testimonies of a couple of people for The Storyteller radio program.

We were staying at a Christian camp and enjoyed spending time there with some new friends. Among other things we had fun playing football in the rain and extreme spoons.

yes, quite extreme

result of playing football in the rain

A beautiful place, wonderful people, encouraging times…then it was time to pack up and head for Florida.

the camp at Cherokee

We were really looking forward to Florida…not because of the amazing winter weather (although we certainly enjoyed that!), but because we were going to participate in a prison outreach. God worked it out for us to be able to be a part of the Gospel Express prison crusade this year, and we were excited!

Every prison we’ve been to is different, each experience is different, but at each one we see things that are precious. This time was no exception. We saw tears flowing. Hands raised in worship. Men singing along to songs they may have never heard before. We sang “Away in a Manger” with them—a roomful of men who have probably known that song since childhood, now in prison, lifting their voices in song about the One who came to save them. When it was time for the message one night, an inmate moved the pulpit to the stage. At the Sunday morning service a group of inmates gathered in the back of the room before we started…they joined hands and prayed. We could also hear them singing in a back room and were told it was the worship team practicing. We would have loved for them to sing in the service but we were told there wasn’t enough time. Over the four-day prison crusade, we saw people coming forward, unashamed, to receive Christ. We saw Christians coming to “un-kink their water hose” in response to the message that was preached about our relationship with God. On Sunday morning we sang hymns with the inmates, like “Victory in Jesus”…and they are not afraid to sing. Our family is so blessed to be able to be a part of ministering in prisons.

The prison services took place in the afternoon, so in the evenings all the volunteers and singers regrouped for worship, testimonies, singing, fellowship, games, and a jam session (not all those happened in one night). Here’s a few pictures of some of it.

the Gospel Express choir

our friends the Bechtolds

we shared a few songs

On the last night of fellowship as we were about to leave, our van decided it was time to give us some technical difficulties. Thankfully, we were in the right place with lots of willing hands and bus mechanics! Whatever the problem was, it was soon solved and we were good to go.With this prison crusade one evangelist traveled with us for all the services. It was so good getting to know Phil and his wife who have a heart for seeing the lost inmates saved and the believing inmates challenged and encouraged in their walk with God.

sharing a meal with the Stutzmans

Thanks to everyone who took pictures for us/shared pictures with us that we used in this post! As we look back on our week in Florida, it all falls under the category of, “Wow! What an amazing time.”


And so we began our trek back to the north-land. Going from Florida to Minnesota in December means basically going from spring to winter. To add to that, when we left home it was beautifully warm autumn weather, but when we got home…let’s just say we had missed the first snow.

Running board-deep snow really isn’t a lot for us, but it is a lot when you have to plow through it uphill, without four-wheel drive, without snow tires, pulling a trailer. We took a running start and made it up the driveway to a good spot for unloading before we couldn’t go any farther.

time to shovel!

Thus ended our November/December trip. We were home for a few weeks before we hit the road again…next up is our January/February travels… including our first visit to Pickle Lake since the plane crash.

Thank you for praying for us!

Bless the LORD, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Psalm 103:22

Maryland and Tennessee

The purpose of our November/December trip was fourfold: to give an update to our ministry partner church in Maryland, be at our grandparents’ in Tennessee for Thanksgiving, record testimonies for the Storyteller and sing in North Carolina, and minister in the Florida prison system with an organization called Gospel Express.

So…Maryland. This is where Dad grew up and our whole family enjoys it when we can go there. There is so much history in this state…both American and Fraser! We always love driving around and hearing Daddy tell stories of growing up. “That’s the hill our soccer coach made us run up for drills.” (One time when we were there we all got out and tried it.)

by the Magothy River where Dad has childhood memories

While we were in Maryland we enjoyed fellowship with many friends who pray for and partner with us. In all of our travels one thing that blesses us time and time again is the family of God that we find wherever we go. We also got to enjoy something unique while we were there—that Sunday night, three or four local churches converged for a Thanksgiving worship service, praising God and sharing His Word together. It was a beautiful thing.

We went out for dinner with some dear friends of ours one night, where a couple of us helped ourselves to some East Coast fare (among other things)…

Since we had plenty time in Maryland, we decided to go to Fort McHenry. It was a first for all but Mom and Dad, and it was really amazing to be where the battle happened which inspired our National Anthem.

Mom holding a replica of one stripe, to scale, of the star-spangled banner

It was truly a treat to go to Fort McHenry. We are reminded of the sacrifices of so many, that others could be free.

and this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”

During our time in Maryland we stayed with a dear friends of Dad’s family while he was growing up.  Nana2 (as she is known to us) was such a wonderful hostess, encouraging us in the Lord and making us laugh at her stories. Her son – who was a friend of Dad –  is a state senator, so one night after a Lebanese dinner, he took us to the Capitol building in Annapolis. He’s taken us there before but that was a long time ago so it was fun to go back. Nobody was there except for us and the security guard who turned on some lights and opened up some rooms for us out of the goodness of his heart.

eating Lebanese

in the Annapolis Capitol

with a Senator!


And here’s a few more pictures from our time there…

the Magothy River

helping with a project – many hands make light work… and with Nana2 – lots of laughter

lots of ping-pong and round robin

so beautiful

After Maryland we were off to Tennessee for Thanksgiving at our grandparents’/aunt and uncle’s. Most of Dad’s siblings were there, and we found ourselves playing many games over the weekend, such as…

run down…

dutch blitz…


signs (and it was Grandpa’s b-day, hence the hat)…

…as well as football and spoons (which may or may not have had a very dramatic episode in which someone dove for a spoon and, having unknowingly knocked over their chair, in an attempt to quickly sit back down, had an abrupt meeting with the floor).

There were twenty-one people and six dogs. Nana, Grandpa, Uncle Joe, Aunt Kim and the cousins were so gracious to all of us. And as you can imagine, there was a lot of food for the Thanksgiving feast.

preparing for dinner

mucho food

all the seats were filled for the meal (this was taken near the end)

Hope, the Alaskan malamute,  found her way to Dad’s plate. Thankfully he was about done anyway.

and now she’s his friend

And this is only the first half of the trip. Pictures and details of the rest coming soon!

It is good to give thanks to the LORD.

Psalm 92:1


God opens a door

I’m excited to share about our October trip with you all.  Our friends in Spirit Lake, ND, invited to sing and share on the reservation again this Fall… and God opened an amazing door for us there this time.

On our way to Spirit Lake we stopped in Fargo for Mom to attend an education seminar, and the rest of us headed for the historic museum town of Bonanzaville. We figured it had been fifteen or sixteen years since we had been there, so this was the boys’ first time.

Bible and hymnal in Native languages

Bible and hymnal in Native languages

exploring old houses

exploring old houses



in the fire station

in the fire station

One of our memories from last time is the telephone room full of all sorts of old phones that are activated to call around the room. It was a highlight this time as well!img_2094_1img_2097_1

"Hi Abby!"

“Hi Abby! Can you hear me?”



wouldn't he make a good telephone operator?

wouldn’t he make a nice telephone operator?

Then it was off to Spirit Lake! Last year when we came Mom had to stay home, so we were very grateful that she could be here this year.

On Sunday, our first morning there, some of us sat in on the children’s Sunday school at Dakota Baptist Church. It was great to see so many kids there! There were probably at least twenty. Some of them we knew already, and of course, it didn’t take long to make more little friends. We played lots of tag. Dad gave the message that morning, and in the evening we did a concert. It is such a blessing to be able to be in ministry as a family!img_2241_1-2

The next evening we had a concert scheduled at the community college, where we were able to tell the story and show pictures of the airplane crash. We have found that this experience that God has given us, as scary as it was, has an eternal purpose.  God has enabled us to use it to encourage His people in their faith and to point to Him those who need a Savior… by saying, “Look at this. God is real. Jesus is real. You can call on Him.”

setting up in the auditorium

setting up in the auditorium

The next day we had an opportunity we will never forget. When our friends at Dakota Baptist had been planning and arranging our schedule, someone had the idea that maybe we could share in the public school there.  Well, God opened the door for us.  The music teacher, who is a brother in the Lord, arranged for our family to be the inspirational speakers that day.  This was our first time doing something like this in a public or tribal school.  It’s hard to describe all that was going on in our hearts.  We sang, talked about the airplane story, and shared the Good News. We did this for two assemblies, the first being K-4th grade, and the second was 5th-12th…so virtually the whole school heard Jesus’ words in John 3:16.  What He has done for us has been life-changing.  We were glad for the opportunity to sing and share about Him here.img_20161004_155048678-2

Mr. Gary, the music teacher

Mr. Gary, the music teacher

oh what fun

oh what fun

We had such a fun time! The little kids clapped along, or a least tried to, and the older kids tried to clap not along and get us off our rhythm. It was fun to interact with them before, during and after we sang.  About mid-way through the concert, we told the airplane story and showed pictures of the crash.  The response was interesting – especially with the older kids. There was a lot of talking going on while we were singing, kind of this hum of laughing and chit-chat, but when we got to the story and pictures they were so quiet. They listened as we told them Jesus is real and they can cry out to Him, that He cares about them.

Sara shares about the crash, with pictures on the screen

Sara shares about the crash, with pictures on the screen

We know that God was the one who made this possible. And we know that we may never have an opportunity like this again.  It was amazing.

such an opportunity

An amazing opportunity

It’s likely that many there had never heard the gospel before. So now the seeds have been planted.  Pray for God to give the increase.

Our time in Spirit Lake was encouraging.  We love the people there.  We are so grateful for everyone who pulled together to help make this trip happen, including the Young family, who provided helping hands, many meals and much fellowship!

Daniel and Jonathan and the Young kids

Daniel, Jonathan and the Young kids working on a puzzle

On our way home, just before we left the reservation, we stopped at a wild game preserve, where we saw an elk and a buffalo, and climbed to the scenic lookout.

the buffalo

the buffalo

at the scenic lookout

at the scenic lookout

Thank you for all your prayers. Stay tuned for our exciting November/December trip!

So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

1 Corinthians 3:7