Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas dinner

Our church held a Christmas dinner last weekend.  It was so fun!  It started off with burgers then the night continued with Christmas carols.  We had the first appearance of the Yeppoon Wesleyan Methodist Church choir which was fantastic!  They led the church in carols then there were individuals or small groups who did special items.  The night ended with the Sister Act 2 rendition of "Joyful, Joyful!" All of the money raised on the night went towards our women's ministry.  There was also a cake auction which of course Sean decided to take part in!  What a great night!  

Sean's red velvet present cake

All of the cakes!  I know it's sideways...sorry about that.  Just turn your head a bit :)

Church Choir

Sean and Jess singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain"

Joyful, Joyful!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Caroling!

Studying the music in her sleep :)

 On Sunday night we went Christmas caroling around Yeppoon.  It was so fun.  Even Rylan joined the fun!  There were a group of singers and musicians as well as 2 groups of people that went house to house.  A lot of people came out of their houses to listen to the music.  We invited people to come to the church this coming Saturday for our Christmas dinner and carols night.  Below are some pictures from the night.  Soon I'll be posting about the Christmas dinner.  The worship team has a special song planned and hopefully I'll be able to get a video of it!  Have a Merry Christmas!   

The whole group

A few of our lovely singers

Our worship leader

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Worship Dinner

Rylan was decked out and ready to go!
 Saturday night the worship team at our church held a dinner.  It was SO fun! The night was filled with musical entertainment, games, a delicious 3-course dinner and a cake auction!  The members of the worship team made cakes in the shape of musical instruments.  They all looked amazing!  There were cakes in the shape of a guitar, piano, drums, tambourine, a music note, microphone and a sound board.  I had no idea our worship team was so talented in making cakes.  Sean was up for the challenge and made the piano cake.  Take a look down below to see it.  It was amazing.  Who knew Sean was such a talented cake maker???
The piano cake!  Way to go Sean!!

Rylan had a good time as well.  She wanted to stand on my legs and do a little dance. Half way through the night though she decided she was sleepy and passed out for the night.  All of the money raised on the night is going toward new equipment for the worship ministry.  The worship team will he holding another dinner for Christmas and Easter.  We are all looking forward to them! I wonder if they are going to make Christmas themed cakes...

Here are a few more pictures from the night.  It was tricky holding a baby and taking pictures...I'm not that talented yet!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Getting back into things

We have not been good about updating our blog lately.  Sorry!  Things are just a bit crazy around here these days!  Sean is enjoying getting back into the swing of things at work.  Youth has started back up for the last school term of the year.  Boy this year has flown by!  The first 2 weeks have gone really well!  To check out a video from our first week back click here.  Right now they are learning about dating and how to wait on God's timing.  Tonight we are splitting up between guys and girls.  The guys are heading to one of the youth leader's houses and they are going to be playing video games while the girls are having a girly night painting nails, baking and watching a movie.  I'm hoping that Rylan and I will be able to make it!  It's a bit tricky to tag along to things with a little one now.  I am really missing being a part of youth, but I am enjoying spending time with the girls one-on-one.

Well...I think that's about it for now.  Just thought we'd send a quick update :)  Tomorrow night the worship team is putting on a dinner concert.  I will make sure to take lots of pictures and blog about that soon!  Take care!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


With this new little addition to our lives, we are learning how to adjust.  Learning how to adjust to being a family of 3, less sleep, constant bottle washing, lots of laundry, new routine (or somewhat of a routine), new ministry everything!  Rylan has definitely changed our life around and we are loving it.  Sean was sitting on the couch having some good Rylan cuddles and he said, "I kinda like this whole being a dad thing." We are head over heels in love with our little one and each day as we learn what life is going to be like now, we love being parents even more.

What's life going to look like now?  We're not too sure...but we're figuring it out!  Before Rylan was born we hadn't actually talked to our Pastor about how my role was going to change.  Would I go on a few month maternity leave then come back?  Or would I just stay home with Rylan?  The tricky thing is, our visa expires in April and we are heading home.  I was able to hand over my responsibilities at work at the end of my pregnancy and it almost seems silly to go back to what I was doing to just have to hand it over again in a few months.  On Monday I went into the church and had a really good talk with our Pastor.  We decided that I am going to stay out of my leadership roles for Youth and XLR8 but I am willing to help if ever needed.  My goal right now is to focus on learning how to be a new mommy as well as pour into our youth on a one-on-one basis.  I've always preferred meeting with the girls in small groups or one-on-one and now I have an opportunity to do that more often!  Towards the end of my pregnancy, since we were busy and I was SO tired all the time, I didn't have much time or energy to meet with the kids outside of youth or bible study and I've really missed that.  So now I'm really looking forward to being able to spend time with them :)

I've also felt like God is putting on my heart to meet with the women in the community.  I love the way Rylan has opened the door for me to do this!  I am looking to join a mom's group and meet with other new mom's once a week.  Since we've been so busy with things going on at the church most nights, we haven't had much opportunity to be in the community and meet people who don't go to our church.  I want to be able to share Christ's love with these other new moms.  Will you please pray that God would open up doors for me to do so?

Most other things have stayed the same.  Sean is still involved in all of his same ministries and is doing great.  I still go to my Monday night Bible study and Sean gets some daddy-daughter time and we go to young adult Bible study on Tuesday.  We really appreciate all of your prayers up until now and we ask that you would continue to pray for us as we adjust to our new life with little Rylan.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Groups

One thing that Sean and I have enjoyed since we've been here is our young adult group.  We meet everyone Tuesday night for Bible study and then we will do things on weekends together sometimes.  In the beginning, we were meeting in one large group which was often between 12-15 people each week.  This term we decided to split into 2 smaller groups so we can have better conversations and to help people feel more open because there are not as many people.  We started studying the book Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and we're really enjoying it.  We're each challenged by the lessons each week. It's a great place to have fellowship with other believers our age.  

Our group is led by a couple, Matt and Gemma and they do a great job.  Recently, it was Matt's birthday so we decided a celebration was in order.  Sean found a delicious looking cake on the internet and we wanted an excuse to make it.  We decided Matt's birthday was the perfect time.  Below are some pictures of our group.  Sadly a few are missing for various reasons, but you can see some of them!!

Our group minus 3

Happy Birthday Matt!

Doesn't that look delicious?!  It was a layer of cookie dough, cheesecake and devil's food cake.
 We were all a bit too ambitious with our portion sizes and got sugar highs!!  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trivia Night

This weekend we held our 3rd annual Trivia Night Fundraiser.  This fundraiser helps raise money for Chaplaincy in the schools.  There is a Chaplain in each school and they are like counselors for the students.  From our understanding (we'll need an Australian to correct us), they aren't allowed to talk about God with the students unless the students bring it up.  They play a really important role in the lives of the students.  We just finished adding up all the money and the night raised a little over $1600!    

A trivia night is exactly what it sounds like!  A night where people come and play trivia!  The night starts off with delicious soups.  About 6-8 people from the church make very yummy soups.  Then after everyone has finished eating and everything settles down, we start the first round of trivia.  Everyone from the table works together to try to answer all the questions in 10 minutes.  There are 4 rounds total.  In between each round there are games for kids and other trivia that you can do to earn prizes.  Later on in the evening we have delicious desserts.  

We had about 100 people show up for the night and we had a great time!  Sean won a prize for winning the "google question."  For this one they give you a question that you have to look up on your phone or ipod, then you have to text the answer.  Sean was the speediest. There were lots of other prizes that were donated by local businesses.  It was a great night of fellowship and fun :)      

The whole gang

Our table won the table decorating contest!  

There was a silent auction

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What Next?

    So much has happened over the last year!  Can you believe that we've been living in Yeppoon for 14 months now?  We sure can't!  It's amazing because we feel so at home that it feels like we've been here forever, but it also feels like time has flown.  We have enjoyed every second of our time here and are looking forward to the next 9 months as well.  Things are starting to look a bit different as we make adjustments for the baby.  Although I (Sam) am still at work everyday and attending the children's and youth programs, I am slowly starting to hand off some of my responsibilities.  We can't believe that the baby will be here in about 5 weeks!  This pregnancy has really flown by quickly even though this last bit seems to be moving in slow motion.
    We really have no idea what these next 9 months are going to look like.  Our job now is to work ourselves out of a job...we've never had to do that before!  By the end of the year we'd like to have handed over most of our large responsibilities and be a mentor to those who are taking over.  It's difficult to not start thinking too far into the future.  A lot of people have asked us what we're doing after this and we can honestly say we have no idea!  It kinda feels like that's been the motto for our whole marriage!  We just kind of take it as it goes and go where God wants us to go.  So far it's worked out pretty well for us.  We've thought through a few options for after this but we don't feel like God is showing us one way or another.
    We are doing a study in our small group called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby.  We were both reminded this week that we need to be focused on what God's doing here and now and how we can be a part of it rather than looking too far into the future.  We have a precious little baby that will be joining us any time now and we have a church full of youth to minister to.  Please pray for us as we welcome Baby Schwarze into our family.  Also pray that God would help us to focus on the youth right now.  We want to continue to build strong relationships with them and serve them.  Pray that we would be focused on our tasks at hand here!  Thanks for all of your love, support and prayers over the last year :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012


A random fact about me (Sam) is that I LOVE the Olympics!  I have been anxiously awaiting July 27th when the Olympics would start!  I don't know if they have the same promotion in the US, but here if you go to McDonalds and buy a large value meal you get a free Olympic Coke glass.  Sean and I went right away and got our Olympic coke glasses and we've been enjoying drinking out of them while watching the Olympics...yes, we are a bit nerdy!  It's really strange to watch the Olympics in another country.  It just seems funny to see all of the Australian teams highlighted and talked about and we don't hear about all of the American athletes that we're used to.  It's to be expected of course, but I just never thought about it.  It's really exciting when we're able to watch a match between the US and Australia.  On Sunday morning I got to watch the women's beach volleyball match between the US and Australia.  It was so great!  

For XLR8 this term we decided to make our theme the Olympics! On the right you can see the signs that some of our leaders made to decorate the room for this term!  We have been talking to the kids about the passage in Hebrews that teaches about running the race of life.  In 1 Corinthians 9:25 (CEV) it says, "Athletes work hard to win a crown that won't last, but we do it for a crown that lasts forever."  We've been teaching the kids about running the race of life and persevering so we can spend eternity in heaven with God.  They have been doing an awesome job and are really excited about everything we've done!  Our first week we made Olympic torches and the second week we made a "crown of life."  In a few weeks we are having a guest speaker come who is a local surf teacher who is going to teach the kids about working hard and being dedicated.  He is a local chaplain so he is also going to share about his faith.  There is a man in Yeppoon that got to carry the Olympic torch for the 2000 Sydney games, so we are hoping to get him to come on the same day!  Below are some pictures from this term!  

The kids with their torches!

Working on their crowns

Monday, July 9, 2012

Youth Camp

We had an AWESOME week at camp!  Thank you so much for all of your prayers leading up to camp and during camp!  It was such a blessing to have the team here from Eastview Wesleyan in Gas City, Indiana.  Mark was our camp speaker and did a wonderful job.  He talked to us about Pharaoh in Exodus 8 when he chose to spend one more night with the frogs rather than getting rid of the frog plague.  He related it to how sometimes we get "comfortable" in our sins and choose to spend "one more night with the frogs" instead of working on the sin that is messing up our lives.  He then encouraged the kids by talking about how God can use them no matter how "small" they are.  The kids were very challenged and we saw some very positive  growth in our youth!  

The other 3 from the American team helped lead activities and small groups.  The kids LOVED having them here and we appreciate all of their help.  Sean did an awesome job leading the activities.  It has been really exciting to see Sean grow in his role as a leader and he is doing such a great job.  He lost his voice by the end of camp from talking so much!  

Please continue to pray for the youth and any commitments that were made at camp!  Below are a few pictures from camp!

This is a game called electricity.  The kids got to pour water on each other.  It was a great time!

Tug-o-war!  The rope was oiled up and there was a tarp in the middle that was covered in oil and water

The whole gang

Evening rally

Here is the wonderful team from America.  Mark, Phil, Becky and April!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I've been so excited about writing this blog post, but I have been waiting until the event was over so I could tell you ALL about it!  I've mentioned in a few previous blogs that I was helping plan a purity event for high school girls.  This is something that the Lord laid on my heart sometime last year.  I started planning but it seemed like it wouldn't work out.  I pushed it out of my mind at that point and was slightly relieved because I knew it'd be such a big undertaking.  A few months ago though, someone asked me about it and I felt like the Lord was telling me that I needed to do this.  I went back to planning and asked two friends who are passionate about purity if they'd like to help.  After many weeks of planning, the event is finally over.  We have been blown away by the way the Lord worked in the hearts of these young girls.  It was such a blessing to be a part of.  Over the past few days I've been reflecting over the joy of being obedient to what the Lord asks even when I feel so inadequate.  I know that we did not do this by our own strength, but with His help.  

I'd love to tell you a little bit about the event!  It was spread out over 3 days.  The first two nights were "seminars." The first night we talked about the lies that the world feeds us.  Girls often struggle with lies that say they're not pretty enough, they're not skinny enough, if only they were like ______then their life would be easier, if they aren't perfect and getting all A's then they're a failure and so on.  We talked about how if we believe these lies then we can't actually be the person that God created us to be.  We broke up into discussion groups and were completely amazed at the girls vulnerability and willingness to share what they struggled with.  We ended the night with the girls writing down the biggest lie that they believe and nailing them to the cross.  We told them that they no longer have to believe these because we know that the Bible is our source of Truth and tells us how we are created perfectly and for a purpose.  We shared that they don't have to live up to the way the world wants them to, but that they should look to the Bible to help them defeat these lies and live a life of freedom.   

Here is the cross that the girls nailed their lies to.  
 The second night we talked about what it means to be a woman and what a blessing that is.  We talked about male's roles and what our roles are.  Jakki, one of the other leaders, did a beautiful job of sharing her own story and what she discovered it meant to be a woman of God.  Then, we talked about what it means to be pure with our mind, heart and body.  Many of the girls had never been told what it means to pure and how we can practically live that out today.  We also had a discussion panel where the girls were allowed to ask any question they wanted.  The questions ranged from dating, what does it mean that God knows us and how can we live a life that honors God.  It was amazing to see the way the Lord was working in these girls hearts and to see the great questions they were asking.

The final night of the purity event was a dinner in the girl's honor.  We are so proud of the 13 girls who came to this event and expressed the desire to learn what it means to live a life of purity.  We wanted to serve them and show them how precious each one of them are!  All of the girls got dressed up and we had the meal catered.

All of the girls ready for dinner!
We asked women who were also passionate about purity to come along side the girls and support them.  The women served the girls dinner and two women shared their testimonies as well as encouraging words for the girls.
One woman encouraging the girls to live a life of purity even though it's difficult.
We then presented purity pledges to the girls.  We didn't want them to sign them right there because we didn't want the girls to feel pressured to do them.  The pledges were personalized to each girl.  We encouraged the girls to take them home and pray over them and then decide if they wanted to make a pledge to stay pure.  The women then surrounded the girls and prayed over them.  Some of the girls were left in tears because they felt so loved.

We finished off the night with dessert!  My baking buddy made this beautiful cake that was a heart wrapped in a bow to represent how special these girl's hearts and they shouldn't give them away to just anyone.   
How amazing is this cake?!
All of the girls that were a part of the event!
This is my wonderful friend Gemma who helped plan the event!  I definitely couldn't have done it without her help!!

What an amazing couple weeks.  If you are at all interested in doing something similar, I would highly recommend the book Culture Shock: Igniting an Integrity and Purity Revolution by Julie Hiramine.  We used this to form the outline of the event and then changed it a bit to fit our group of girls.  Thanks for all of your prayers for this even!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Things have been going so well at XLR8!  It seems like each week we're seeing new faces and the kids are loving it.  One XLR8 parent told me that his daughter didn't want to go to a fair that was in town because she would miss XLR8.  She had tears in her eyes because she was so sad that she would disappoint her dad.  It's encouraging to see how dedicated the kids are!  This term we are working through some of the parables that Jesus taught.  Below are a few pictures of what we've been up to.  

Working on a craft...we made a really big mess this day!

We learned about the parable of the Good Samaritan.  We had the kids put band-aids on a picture of a hurt person.  Some of them decided to decorate themselves as well!

One of their favorite games is a one where we have a race to see who can put together the Bible verse the quickest.    Each word is written on a notecard.  One by one the kids run down and grab a notecard.  Once them have them all, they have to assemble it in the correct order.  

Putting the notecards in order

Teaching the kiddos

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Few Things to Pray For

One of the cars had a dead bat on the front of it!  This brave girl picked it off!!
   Youth is in full swing and we have lots going on.  Currently we are busy planning fundraisers and getting ready for camp in July!  Last weekend we held a car wash/bake sale and raised $620!  The money that we raised will help reduce the cost of camp for the students.  It was a beautiful day to be outside and we were so excited about the number of people that came by.  Usually the car wash begins to wind down around noon, but cars kept rolling in!  We almost didn't have enough car washers.  But the kids did a great job and we praise God for the money that we raised!  June 2nd we are holding a dinner at the church.  Youth will be serving dinner, running games in between dinner courses and providing live entertainment.  Please pray for the dinner next weekend. Pray that a lot of people from the church would turn up for the event and that it would be a great night.  Also, pray for camp as we are planning!

Sean designed this for me.  I think he did such a great job!

Also, please keep praying for the purity event that I am planning.  Sean and I will be away next week, so this is my last week of planning before the event.  It is being held on June 7, 14, 16.  We will be talking to the girls about what it means to be pure with their mind, body and heart.  Please pray for wisdom for the leaders as we plan and that God would begin to prepare the hearts of the girls.  At the end of the event, we would like the girls to make a purity commitment and we are giving them rings.  The women's ministry is helping us with the event and they will come along side the girls on the final night when we are holding a special dinner in the girl's honor.  It is our goal to have at least 10 girls come to the event and we are up to 7 right now.  We would really appreciate your prayers!!  

Here are a few pictures from youth lately that I thought I'd share!

Ninja Sean playing jumbo soccer on the beach.
We had a game night at our house last weekend.  We love nights at our house because we feel like we get to spend more one-on-one time with the youth.  We had lots of different games going on at one time.


Uno (which they pronounce "you-no"...strange right???)