What an awesome day God gave us Saturday at the ETN Expo! God blessed us with 865 attendees this year including participation from 11 churches in Jefferson, Hamblen, Grainger and Knox County.
While the boat rides, bank fishing, archery kayaking and horses were once again popular mainstays, the addition of a rockwall this year was a new activity and big hit with folks. I was specifically encouraged by the dad of a boy with a disability who when thanking me for hosting the event told me they tried to get their son to rock climb several years ago with no success but on Saturday he climbed the rockwall to the top making for a memorable day.
All in all it was a great outreach from the free hot dogs and snow cones to the sand cross craft and tie-dye t-shirt decorating and I hope you enjoy the above photo collage as a reminder of God’s goodness. Feel free to forward, post and share it, too!
This month’s Rays of Sonshine has really put some miles on the road since getting involved with Access-Life in 2013. In fact, while he lives in East Tennessee, He has spent almost as much time in TX and FL helping the ministry as in his home state’s backyard.
So how does he do all of this? By transporting our big trailer full of outreach equipment, docks, tents and supplies from TX to TN and then back to FL each year. That’s right he travels almost 2,000 miles annually helping get Access-Life things from one location to another.
The blessings don’t stop there though, as despite living in the 3rd quarter of life, he is one of the hardest workers we know across the ministry’s 3 state area. He actually, out lasted all our volunteers at set-up and tear-down during the recent Expo in North Texas, too. Of course, He shines brightest in the Volunteer state where he not only helps with the trailer transport, general set-up and tear-down and water and ice distribution but he also grades our gravel shore line and helps build our wooden boardwalk so each participant can have access to the boat rides, kayaking and fishing areas on site.
Whew, makes me tired talking about it so I’ll close by saying thank you to all our volunteers who do so much across TX, TN and FL and a special thanks to Jerry who travels across all three states to be this month’s Rays of Sonshine!
Our June “Rays of Sonshine” are a dynamic duo who live in Clovis, New Mexico. Anne Linville, who just happens to be Leanne’s mom, and her good friend, Pat Moody, whom we affectionately call the Queens of Clovis. Serving others is their motto and they do that on a regular basis in their neighborhood, church, community and here at Access-Life!
Even though neither of them live in an Expo area, Anne and Pat are always ready for a project and in turn, touch the lives of many in all the areas we serve. In fact we often get a call or text from one or the other asking us if we have a project for them to tackle. However, the main task they assist with on a regular basis is helping with signing, addressing, stuffing and mailing thank you letters after each Expo which we send to all participants, volunteers and exhibitors. As our Expos have grown over the years so have the numbers of letters and when we got to the point where we needed some help, God provided it through these energetic gals. As an added bonus, Pat is our official craft lady who assembles our Expo activity buttons and prayer magnets whenever we need them.
After serving behind the scenes for quite a few years they both had the opportunity to serve at the North Texas in 2016 as they traveled with the youth group from their church, Central Baptist, who came and served too. On Friday before the Expo they helped with prepping supply bins, name tags and anything else we needed done. On Expo day they served in the registration area assisting both volunteers and participants as they arrived. Anne says what she enjoyed most about serving at an Expo was “experiencing first-hand the happiness and enthusiasm of those volunteering that day, as well as seeing the joy of the participants.”
Having such close family and friends serving beside us even behind the scenes is such a blessing. It is also a joy to have people you have known for so long seeing the value in what God has called us to do and jumping in with both hands and feet to join in the ministry work. :)
Well, our 38th Expo is in the books and as usual for Texas in June it was a hot one. The heat did not stop folks from attending though as we hit our 3rd Expo area attendance high in a row with an official count of 1,039 people at the outreach on Saturday!
God did many more amazing things that day as we served 400 hot dogs and 800 hamburgers, gave more boat rides than ever in NTX and facilitated horseback rides for countless first timers. We even had an adaptive obstacle challenge course onsite for the first time ever. Most importantly the Gospel of our Lord Jesus was shared in word and deed in such a variety of ways as God presence clearly covered and fill the Expo bringing smiles of joy that only come from Him!
Above is a photo collage of smiles from the event but below is a link to the NTX page on our website where you can see more photos from this year’s outreach as well as past NTX Expos. :)
Beth Arsenault has been a Ray of Sonshine serving many in East TN for years and since coming to her first ETN Expo in 2015 has been a blessing for those connected with Access-Life, too. Her love for children with special needs is both deep and true as she has faithfully cared for many kids with a wide variety of disabilities in the area as a busy foster parent. As a result of this God given passion, it was only natural for her to jump in with both feet when discovering Access-Life and the local outreach opportunities.
In turn, she lead the East TN Outpost team that hosted our annual Jingle and Mingle Christmas party this past year, served as a hostess at our annual Crafting a Community Banquet in East TN this spring and is already thinking about painting nails again this year in the Prayer and Care booth at the East TN Expo in August. To say that Beth is an over-achiever is definitely an under-statement. :)
While Beth is living in the 4th quarter of life, she is determined to finish well as despite being a spouse to a person with a disability as well as a foster parent to children with special needs, she still wants God to use the gifts and talents that He has given her to serve and bless even more people living with disabilities through Access-Life. What an inspirational example for us all. In fact, it reminds me of verse 9 in Galatians 6 that encourages us towards this same goal: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
I hope you, like me are longing for the day when we will here our Saviors sweet voice say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I know Beth does which is one of the reason’s she is May’s Ray of Sonshine!
What a great time of blessing God gave us Saturday night at our 4th annual ETN Crafting a Community banquet!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the fun Expo challenge icebreaker game and the inspiring Sunshine Ambassadors dancing as well as the tasty food from chef Luke and the friendly fellowshipping all around.
We are especially excited that $9,315 was pledged and/or given at the event giving us just enough to surpass the $9,250 matching gift fund that was offered. Overall this means that $18,565 was raised through the banquet this year.
Please know Leanne and I are so appreciative of everyone who prayed, gave, invited guests, came out, shared, served and had a part in this fundraiser and hope you all with join us in thanking he Lord for all the good things He has done!
WHAT A GREAT DAY GOD GAVE US SATURDAY IN JACKSONVILLE! The weather was great, smiles abounded and God’s presence blessed us all. While our volunteer team was the thinest ever, the particpant turn out was the highest ever giving the area a new attendence record of 651 folks!
God was faithful as always giving us all that we needed to get the job done including our faithful veterans from Christ’s Church who provided, cooked and served 500 hamburgers and 400 hot dogs and served in a variety of areas, our co-laborers from Stirring Waters Ministry who provided two giant 10 person conoes and a new hoverball archery activity as well as some new friends from Creekside Christian Church, RPM Automotive and Oakleaf Christian Fellowship who helped with set-up and teardown along with many tasks in between.
We hope you enjoy the photo collage above and will join in thanking God for His blessings this year and His guidences as we move forward with the miistry efforts in Jacksonville.