Thursday, November 10, 2011

our latest e-mail

We just sent this update to everyone on our e-mail list. If you'd like to be added, let us know.

Hello Everyone!!

I apologize for the delayed update about our 10-day vision trip in Nicaragua. I've been a little distracted by the amoeba growing inside of me. No worries, I'm on the mend!

It is difficult for me to condense our wide range of thoughts and emotions about Nicaragua, but I'll certainly try my best. Most importantly, the trip confirmed further our call to do ministry in Masaya.

We were completely in awe by the amount of poverty there. It was extremely different than other 3rd world countries we had visited before. Naturally, the amount of poverty also indicated deep needs that the people have.

During our ten days, our schedules were full of meetings, appointments, scoping out houses, locating supermarkets, visiting communities, beginning the residency process, and the list goes on. The Lord has also been faithful to make crucial relationships for us already. We've been working with a lawyer to establish the organization and our residency. The pastor of a 1,000-member church (pictured below) is excited for us to be there working along side the ministries they already have. And, there are several Nicaraguans that are interested in helping Students International in the work we are starting there. Such a blessing!

The next three pictures are from our time in the communities. Each home had a different trade. 

Making leather bags & drums.

Embroidering dresses.

Making shoes.

It was encouraging to meet with the pastor and realize how God is already moving in the town of Masaya. They have 100 cell groups, a Christian school, a clinic, a prison ministry, and are working with teenage drug-addicts. We are recognizing that the Lord's plans for this place are so much bigger than we originally imagined. It seems that He is expanding our vision for what ministry in Masaya will look like. We are grateful to be part of it! And grateful that each of you are part of it, too!

We are returning to the states in a little over a week. We're ready to be there, and visit with as many of you as possible! Mostly, we'll be back-and-forth between Indianapolis and Middlebury until January. We have several weeks of training in January, then we'll move to Nicaragua mid-February. Let us know what your schedules are like, so we can spend time with you!

Please pray for:
1. Housing - there are very few options near Masaya from what we've found
2. Teams - we are still praying for teams to sign up for short-term mission trips next summer
3. Fund-raising - we only have a little more to raise, but need to reach our goal before February
4. Wisdom - we desperately want to be following the Lord in all we do!

We love you guys! You can see more pictures on facebook.

Austin & Jill

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

News from Guatemala

I'm sitting in our room, here in Guatemala, wishing I could paint, draw, or write poetry, anything more creative than accounting. And I'm reminded of what I have seen in the past week....

Being in Antigua gives us a unique opportunity to see how our organization (Students International) is impacting lives in Guatemala. Last week, we took two days off from language school to visit the sites. We were simply blown away with the way people are using their strengths for the benefit of the Kingdom. Who knew that neutering farm animals could have a profound impact on a person's spiritual life? Well, it happens! In this poor town of El GorriĆ³n, where they have just received running water for the first time ever, people are extremely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The leader of the agriculture site with Students International has identified this need in the community, and in essence, has become the "town vet." He told us that this is what ministry is about... meeting both the tangible and intangible needs of people. Because they need his services for their animals, he has a platform, from which to share Christ. It was incredible to see this in action, especially considering my strengths are completely different. Of course, we also visited the sites that are more "up our ally," too. Obviously, we are gifted in other areas, and cannot wait to see how the Lord uses them. We left the sites feeling excited, inspired, and as if the Lord is expanding our vision for Nicaragua. Now, we're just ready to get there!

A few of my fave captured moments from our visit with SI-Guatemala.

Thankfully, only five more days until our Vision Trip to Nicaragua! We leave early Saturday morning, and we'll be staying a little over a week. Please pray for us if you think about it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thoughts of the day...

There is obvious value in preparing mentally for ministry. We are certainly called to worship the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul & strength. At the same time, I am taking comfort in the fact that God often shows up in our weakness. We're believing 1 Corinthians 2:1-5... that faith comes not through the wisdom of man, but the power of God. I am thankful that the Lord chooses to use us in spite of ourselves, and in spite of our brokenness.

And just for fun.... here is a picture of the town where we spent our anniversary. (That little town in the background. Our hotel was on the lake.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grace & Spanish Deficits

So, I'm realizing that God's grace & learning Spanish have a huge thing in common. The more I learn of each, the more I'm aware of my short-comings in each area. Still a long way to go... in grace and in language.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Earthquakes & Eruptions

Well, we've been in Guat for about three weeks now, and we've survived a volcanic eruption, four earthquakes with additional tremors, a landslide, and Spanish classes. The most intense of these--classes. You don't think of it before learning another language, but having a 5 year old's vocabulary can become very personal and very draining.... but I think we're quickly approaching age 6.

To be fair, these natural disasters sound a lot worse than they truly were. We even roasted marshmallows on an active volcano last weekend. And that hike kicked my butt.

We are loving this adventure that God has so kindly called us to! Until next time....

Sunday, September 11, 2011


So it's difficult enough for me to find the motivation to blog, and now..... all the choices are in Spanish! AHH! I mean, I'm learning, but c'mon!

We're safely in Guatemala for language school, and we just love Antigua. It is an adorable town with cobblestone streets, flowers everywhere, colorful markets and buildings, and we're surrounded by active volcanoes.

Now that we're here, there is such a sense of relief. Unpacking was extremely settling. No more living out of suitcases... at least for two more months.

Last week was Austin's birthday, today is the presidential elections, next week is Independence Day, and in a few days we'll be celebrating our housekeeper's birthday, too. Needless to say, we've been experiencing a lot of Guatemalan culture. We even stumbled upon our "dream job"...

A "moto cafe"... they are a full-service cafe with high-end coffee. lattes. pastries, etc. and they offer motorcycle tours throughout Guatemala and the surrounding countries. So when you're not ascending active volcanoes on your moto, you can exchange stories over coffee.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Pack.

Thanks to  JH Ranch, I am a champ at packing for a three-month adventure.  Language school, no problem.

But how in the world does a person pack for two-years though? Where do we even begin? What to take? What to leave? What to ship? What to store? What to sell? We haven't really started.... I'd rather be baking & shopping.

Here goes nothin'

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Winning the Lottery

I have so enjoyed spending the last few days & weekends with sweet friends who are the image of Proverbs 18:24.  (I would post a picture here, but some how we've neglected the picture taking the last several days).

Not to mention, I have won big time in the in-law lottery. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful family to marry into.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In His kindness, I believe that at times, God uses our emotions to speak to us. However, I'm being challenged not to live by emotions. See, I'm in this season of life that is easy to do and believe what I momentarily feel like. I'm learning, though, that God is Sovereign, my emotions are not. I am called to believe Truth regardless of how I feel. 

Just my few thoughts for the day... going to NYC this weekend. Perhaps I'll have more to say upon our return! :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10th

Well, two years ago today was my first date with Austin.

Last year, at this time, I was working at Starbucks & planning our wedding.

This year, May 10th was also a significant day for us.... we got our first donation for our ministry in Nicaragua! (Thanks Barkers!) We're excited to see what the Lord has in store for us in the years to come. He is already faithfully providing encouragement, wisdom, funds, and relationships.

If you're interested in giving, checks can be made to Students International  with "Hofsommer" in the memo line. If you're interested in giving via debit/credit card, you can download the form here.  Both checks & forms can be mailed to P.O. Box 2733 Visalia, CA 93279

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Big News

Well, Austin & I are back safely from our one week trip to the Dominican Republic. We're glad to be home, but didn't want to leave. Our time there confirmed our call to long-term missions.

We are officially going to Nicaragua to serve with Students International.

The week in the DR was my first time on a mission trip &  my first time in a 3rd world country. Austin was so glad to be back there and the radiance on his face never dimmed. He truly is created for missions. I got a small taste of what the social work site would/could look like, and I got a huge taste of investing in the students. This particular ministry does a great job of focusing on both the poor people in the community and the students who are visiting on short-term mission trips... It seems like a perfect fit for us.

A few of the baseball boys during devotions at the sports site with Austin.

Making casava with one of the women in the community.

Currently, Students International does not have a base in Nicaragua, but we will be on the seven-person team to launch it. We can tell that God is already at work in Nicaragua, and He is perfectly orchestrating a network of resources.  We have established a relationship with a local church, and we're excited to partner with them. A lot of the other details are unknown at this point, but it's clear that the Lord is simply inviting us to be a part of what He is already doing there.  We will be in Masaya, which is southeast of the capital city, Mangaua.

We are extremely aware of our need for support. Friends who believe in us, encourage us, pray for us. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I thrive on relationships and fellowship. Although we'll be away, we don't want the distance to cause a barrier... rather, we want our friends and family to know they're on the journey with us.

To be frank, we were given an idea for our budget, and I felt sick. It seems so overwhelming at this point. We have to trust that when God calls, He equips. We are praising Him for providing.We are certain that it will be a faith-builder.

It's exciting to see how the Lord has given each of us experiences that will be perfect preparation for long-term missions. As we continue this journey, I will do my best to continue updating everyone.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Catching Up

It doesn't seem possible that a year and half has passed since college graduation, but there has been so much life-change during this short time.

The day after graduation, I went on my first date with a handsome, godly man.

The next day, I went to Europe to tour seven countries in a little less than  a month with three of my dearest friends from JH Ranch (Arrington, Hannah, and Emily).

Very quickly after my return, I fell in love with that handsome, godly man, Austin. Everything about our relationship has been a picture of redemption, and we just knew it was right (perhaps I'll blog about it in more detail later). We got engaged in November of 2009 on Monument Circle.

And married October 2, 2010... which happens to be the same date I accepted Christ back in 2002. photo credit:  Cassidy Dawn

This is the part, where I really want to pick the story up. The Lord faithfully provided a job for Austin, so we moved into an apartment in Indianapolis after the wedding. A week after our honeymoon, Austin was laid-off. Business was bad, and he was the last one hired, so the first one to go. His initial response was relief. It wasn't until later that he thought "oh, crap!" Thankfully, once again, the  Lord provided a job... a temporary job, but a job nonetheless. As he was applying for more permanent positions, lots of doors seemed to be slamming in our faces. It just wasn't making sense that he was being turned down by so many companies that he was over-qualified for.... except that the Lord, was once again, at work in directing us. We were seeing tons of things we shouldn't do, but we weren't certain what we should do.

In the mean time, I had been thinking a lot about Austin's passion for Latin America. He spent a summer in the Dominican Republic serving with a ministry called Students International. I love seeing the way his face lights up when he talks about his time there, and it's always been obvious that we would love to go back. I was hesitant to mention how much the Dominican had been on my mind because I didn't want it to seem like the backup plan. One night, as we were listening to a sermon online, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace to just bring it up to Austin. We decided to pray about going overseas for missions.

We e-mailed the leadership in the DR, and just asked them to pray for us as we were praying about going. The next step for us was seeking godly wisdom. Austin & I talked with his parents the next weekend. Both of their responses were big confirmations! His dad said, "I want to urge you two to pursue it with fire! Austin, I've known you were made for missions since you were 10. I've never told you because you needed to hear it from God on your own." His mom said, "The Lord finally told you? It's about time." My mom, also, was not surprised.

As we have continued praying about what is next, we've sensed a peace from the Holy Spirit what we are called to serve with Students International. At this point, we aren't certain about where or when we will go. The most likely candidate is Nicaragua. We have finished our application, and we'll take a short-term trip in April. Please pray with us as we continue praying about what's next for us newly-weds.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coming soon...

Stay tuned... I'm about to rock this blog. (just be patient with me, please)