Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just another Day in Paradise!

Friends! I feel like we're moving in whirlwind fashion. Spring has come and there hasn't really been a dull moment yet! There are two changes to my schedule coming that I hope allow me to meet more people and build some quality relationships. This week I start volunteering at the Lighthouse Youth Center. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to serve the kids who are a part of this ongoing ministry. I'll volunteer twice a month for now, while I see how my schedule shakes out. I'm looking forward to building relationships and I'm praying for opportunities for discipleship among the guys who are there!
I've also accepted an offer to become a part time chaplain at one of the larger employers in the Oxford area. One of the factories has about 7 part-time chaplains and I've just been hired to join that team. This is a God-given opportunity that fits right in my wheelhouse as it related to gifting! I cannot wait to see how God uses this opportunity to build trust and  build relationships. I'm already praying for the people who work there that they might be open to hearing the gospel. I wasn't looking for this opportunity, but a friend of my asked me about it. There's still training to be done before I'm in the factory, but I'm pretty excited.
We're also about ready for our first outreach event! The May First Friday is the first time we'll represent the church publicly. We're setting up a booth. We're grateful for a family at Wrightsdale Baptist who has volunteered to watch our kids and for a family who has volunteered to help us with our booth!
On a positive note, last week someone shared with us that they want to join our first missional community. We're praying a  couple of more families will join us on the journey and we can start meeting in late May or June. our aim for missional communities is to study the Scripture together once a week, share a meal together once a week, serve Oxford once a month and do something fun once a month. We believe using these relational opportunities we'll be able to make disciples who make disciples and we'll be able to restore every area of life and culture in Oxford for God's glory and others' good!
We're so grateful for those of you who keep up with us and pray for us! Here are some ways you can pray:

  1. Pray that I keep everything as balanced as possible in my schedule.
  2. Pray for students as the Lighthouse and be open to conversation.
  3. Pray the same thing for employees of the factory.
  4. Pray for no rain for First Friday. The forecast isn't looking promising at all!
  5. Pray for other people to say yes to joining a missional community.
  6. We're praying that God might add a few partners to this work for 2018. We had some one time gifts that we're praying God is able to replace through additional partnerships. If you or your church might be interested in partnering with us, reach out to me!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's been a while...and I was too busy to take pictures!

Don't worry we're still alive! It's been a while since I've posted anything, but I'm trying to get back around to it. Since the last time I posted, I've been to Tennessee twice! I've preached both of my grandparent's Memorial Services. I've been to Georgia for a training and traveled to Carlisle, PA for another training. In the middle of all of that we've moved into Pennsylvania from Maryland and we've started Homeschooling Ellie. Toss in a couple of sick kids and we have the perfect storm! However, our dear friends Jamie and Angelica visited with us during all of this chaos. What an amazing time of refreshment to get to spend a few days with them at the beginning of March!

When I tell you we feel like we're moving a breakneck speed, we're not lying. It's been a wild ride. In all of that we've managed to make a couple of friends. Our kids are adjusting well. I know I've mentioned it a couple of times, but we're so grateful for Wrightsdale Baptist. Their love toward our family has been overwhelming. They've gone above and beyond to help our kiddos feel loved. Matthew loves Mrs. Jacque. He looks forward to Wednesdays and Sundays so he can hang out with her. The other kiddos love Mr. T and Mrs. Colleen. They've connected well with them and their kids.

Here's a couple of changes coming for us. First, we'll shift from being super detailed in our blog to sending a newsletter to those who want to make sure they don't miss anything. We'll still try to regularly blog, but we'll keep more details of ministry related things to the newsletter. I'd love for you to send me an email or shoot me a facebook message with your email address, so you don't miss out on anything.

Second, we're trying to plan a couple of mission trips with folks from TN this year and next! We're also very excited about folks who are planning to come up for a visit this Summer. It's going to be a busy time of year.

Later this week or early next week I hope to have the first newsletter out. Pray for us as we begin the process of running 100 mph for the foreseeable future. We're incredibly grateful for your prayers and partnership along the way! Thanks for loving us! Thanks for walking with us!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Kiddos

Hey! Thanks for checking in with us again! Hope your New Year is off to a good start! Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. I thought today would be a good opportunity to update you on the kiddos!
Isaac is doing very well! He's adjusting nicely! Most nights he sleeps well. He hates tummy time, but really enjoys playing with everyone in the family. He's growing up really quickly and really seems to enjoy laughing. He cries a fair amount too, but we try to enjoy the laughter! Here a some ways you can pray for Isaac:

  1. Pray that he continues to be healthy.
  2. Pray that he might sleep at regular times (for Jodi's sake).


Matthew is a hot mess! He is absolutely hilarious. He has such a funny sense of humor. He asks us about 3000 questions a day. He loves to play "With my little eyes, I spy..." He's also apparently quite strong willed because he seems to listen like a rock. He believes bedtime is straight from the Devil and is praying for the curse to be broken so he can stay up all night long. He also must believe his bed comes from the same source as he has aimed to distance himself from it considerably. Here are some ways to pray for Matthew:

  1. Pray that he would continue to exude joy to others around him.
  2. Pray that God would use his laughter to connect with other people!
  3. Pray that he would desire to try to obey his parents (This might be a prayer for us more than for him!)
Will was very excited to meet Batman!
Will is learning so much right now! He's growing by leaps and bounds. Jodi has been working with him and he seems to be soaking up most of what he's learning. He's learned some letters (W,I,L,A, B, C and D) and he's enjoyed all the activity that has gone with that. Both he and Matthew are going to a Music and Me class at the Library. Will is doing well. He says he's scared of the dark, but he's hanging in there. While he never used to like to be read to, most days he asks for many books to be read to him. Here are some ways you can pray for Will:
  1. Pray that he would continue to enjoy learning.
  2. Pray that he would continue to hear and understand the gospel as we teach him the Bible.
  3. Pray that God would help Will (and Matthew) make friends at the Music and Me class, that Jodi and I might get opportunities to build relationships with some other parents.


Ellie is a beautiful girl! I love her to the moon and back. Some days seem to be going really well for her! One day this week she told me ate lunch with 2 other girls. She says school is going OK. Her behavior at home seems to have taken an absolute nose-dive right off a cliff. She and I are having a difficult time communicating with one another about her behavior. I can't really think of a time where I've seen her struggle like this. We've asked for a meeting with her teacher, so we can get her take on things as well. 
  1. Pray that she would seek Jesus in her struggle. I've shared the gospel with her many times.
  2. Pray that God would help her make some friends. 
  3. Pray that she would be open to her parents helping her in this season.
  4. Pray that God would help her know that he hasn't abandoned or forgotten about her.
Had a pretty day, so we enjoyed the park!
Finally, Jodi and I have a favor to ask! If you've read this long, then you likely care for our kids. Would consider writing them letters? I think getting letters encouraging them and letting them know they are loved would make them feel special. They don't need gifts or anything, just a reminder from folks, whether in Tennessee or here in Pennsylvania/Maryland with us now, that they're loved and people around them are praying for them. If you would like to do that and need our address, feel free to message Jodi or me and we'll get it to you.

Thanks again for sharing this journey with us! 

Billy and Jodi

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the Levengood's! We trust that God has been gracious toward you and your family. Thanks for taking time to check in on us. We've had a really cool couple of weeks since I last posted. We had some neat conversations in town and we got to see two really cool families.
One of the things we're doing as we get settled in is trying to visit some local things as we get to know the area. What better way to visit local places than to go with people you really enjoy hanging out with! Just after Christmas we got to visit Herr's Snack Factory. We took the tour with our friends, the Hummel's, who were in the area visiting family! We had a ton of fun and really enjoyed getting to try potato chips hot off the the line where they were being made. They were a-maz-ing! It may have ruined potato chip eating for us. We're not sure if they could ever be any better than that!
Last Wednesday my sister Stephanie and her family drove up for a visit. They managed to keep it a secret from me. I sniffed out enough to know that something was going on, but I couldn't figure it out. Ellie knew the secret, but she wouldn't give it up either. It was very refreshing to see their faces when they pulled in. We really enjoyed getting to spend time with them and hang out with their kids. One of the things we did while they were here was a trip to the Amish Farmer's Market. We ate lunch and found some tasty treats to have. Next time we go, I'm going to get a milkshake and a pretzel. They looked amazing!
We continue to pray that God would open doors and help us meet people. While we were at the Farmer's Market, during a rather chaotic moment right after our kids had spilled their second drink on the floor and we were looking for even more napkins, one of the guys who was sitting around us said something to me, which led to us having a 15 minute long conversation. He's a Christian and coaches in a local high school. We were able to exchange numbers and plan to connect again soon!
As for how you can pray for us, here you go:

  1. Pray that God would help us meet people.
  2. Pray that God would give us favor among people in town, that we might be able to build trust quickly among people.
  3. Pray that we would clearly be able to see needs that exist in Oxford, so we might find avenues to serve.
  4. Pray for Jodi as she balances all she has going on with the kiddos.
Thanks again for all you do to pray and encourage us! We're grateful for your prayers, support and encouragement! Words cannot express our gratitude to be sharing this journey with you!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from Us!

Ellie loved that you could stand "inside" the Tree
As I write this it is Christmas Adam! Our family is very excited about Christmas. We're looking forward to reading the Christmas story (not watching it...I've never seen "A Christmas Story"...judge me if you must). It's been a whirlwind of a week for us. Ellie is finally out of school for Christmas break and we're excited about spending more time with her. As best we can remember, for the first time in our lives, we won't see either set of parents for Christmas, so we're pretty bummed about that, but we thank God for Facetime and Duo so we can video chat with family! But has been gracious and kind to give us each other to spend time with! I've spent more time with the kids and the kids have been forced to enjoy spending more time together too! Jodi has a decent schedule going for the boys through the morning each day, so she's having a few moments of potential sanity.

The kiddos enjoying a tree!
This week we went to Longwood Gardens with some new friends. We enjoyed seeing all of the trees lit up and the kids enjoyed the children's area. In the coming week we're going to Herr's Potato Chip Factory to tour it. A family from Tennessee with be around visiting some of their family so we're going to take a morning and do that tour with them. We're looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

It has been sweet in the last couple of days as we've prayed together. Will has been volunteering to pray. That's new for him. He usually says no when asked, but over the course of the last week or so he has prayed some pretty cool things. He has thanked God for his parents, which really blesses our hearts. He has also thanked God for his siblings, without be pressed to do so. Finally this week, he prayed and thanked God for moving us to Oxford! I know he's only 4, but I pray he knows and understands that we're aiming to follow the God he is praying to and that this God is leading and guiding his life, not just his parent's lives.

Ellie mostly had a good week, but we ended poorly. Thursday night she asked me to talk to Jodi again about homeschooling her. She has asked about that several times in the last month. She says she works hard on her school work when she's supposed to be doing that and she enjoys that part of school, but during free time she doesn't like school. She says people don't really care if she's there or not and no one pays attention to her. She told me she tried to talk to one person and he just told her to stop over and over again. She says at New Union everyone was my friend, here no one is her friend. She tells me people ask her every day if she's the new girl. She says she knows the answer to that question because she is the new girl. However, they ask her other questions that she doesn't know the answer to. I'm not sure what these questions are though, she hasn't ever told me. Jodi and I are trying to decide if we should schedule a meeting with her teacher after the break and get her teachers opinion on how things are going. I trust there must be some good things happening and she's probably doing fine in school, but it's no fun seeing her demeanor down so much when talking about school.

On a positive note though, she's home with us for a bit so we're looking forward to that. Together, we've got a birthday cake to make for Jesus, a Christmas Eve church service to go to, and Christmas morning, which includes gathering to worship with our friends at Wrightsdale! We're looking forward to catching up with friends and family over the holiday as we try to video chat with as many people as possible! If you want to connect, let us know and we'll schedule a time to talk with you too!

Here are a few ways to pray this week:

  1. Pray for our family to spend time celebrating Jesus this weekend!
  2. Pray that God would help us make friends as we know many people are lonely in these coming days and weeks. Perhaps God would allow us to care for some folks who are tired and weary.
  3. Pray for Ellie.
  4. Pray that Jodi and I would know how to encourage Ellie. Ask God to give us wisdom about the best way to ensure she's properly educated.
Thanks again for you all do to encourage and care for us! Many of you have sent Christmas cards...thanks for doing that. Some of you have sent gifts...thanks for doing that. We love you and we're grateful to be on this journey!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Conversations

It's time for another update from our world. You would probably think that since we moved in life has slowed down a little and we're bored to tears, but actually the opposite has happened. It has been a little bit of a surprise to us that we've been as busy as we are.
Last week I told you about our tree lighting experience in Oxford. This week we have had more normal tasks to do! I had to go find new car insurance, so I visited a couple of agents. Both were friendly and asked if we moved here because of work. I said, "Kind of...it's something like that." I shared with them, like I've shared with others, that we have moved to start a new church in Oxford. The second agent I talked with invited me to come to his networking group that he started so I could meet other people in the area! I'm very excited about that. I also, by way of connection through another pastor, had lunch with our State Representative this week. I got an opportunity to ask him a lot of questions about Oxford so I can try to learn the area as fast as possible, so we get a better sense of what the church needs to look like and how she can best serve the community.
So far, I've found a local coffee shop I like that I plan to spend more time at and Jodi found the library and took the boys to story time! We've been to Wal-Mart more times than we can count and we've found that lots of places know how to make good pizza!
All in all, most of the people we've met have been kind and friendly (except for our first cashier at the store). We continue to pray that God would help us make friends. We've gone to Wrightsdale Baptist Church the last couple of weeks and they have been very kind. Pastor Steve and Kathy have really made us feel very welcome! We are incredibly grateful for their friendship and encouragement along the way! Mrs. Kathy even made our family chocolate chip cookies on Sunday. We really enjoyed them and they made a feel even more at home here!
We're grateful for your friendship and encouragement on this journey. Thank you for supporting and praying for us. Here are a few ways you can pray for us in the next couple of weeks:

  1. Pray for Ellie. She's still having a rough time with the transition. She's cried this week because she misses her friends and Mrs. Alonso. She's written notes and drawn pictures, but she still misses her friends. She hasn't really spoken of any friends she has made yet, though she says she has made some friends at school. She's shared of not having anyone to play with a recess and she's asked us a couple of times why we had to move. Pray that God would encourage her heart and that we'd be sensitive toward her as she struggles.
  2. Pray for the boys. They're a train wreck most days! It's been very difficult to get them settled in a new routine. 
  3. Pray for Jodi. She's managing all of this very well, but it's a tall order with the new baby. Pray that she continues to find her hope in Jesus and that he gives her the grace she needs for each new day. Pray that God would help her find friends as she seeks to build relationships at the Library and other places she's trying to go!
  4. Pray for me! Pray that I balance everything well. Pray that God brings people into my life that would be open to the gospel. Pray that I'd boldly proclaim it. Pray that I can set up some meetings for after the first of the year with some people I'd like to meet around town.
Thanks again for all you do to love and encourage us! You're a great blessing and a gift to our family and we thank God for you!

Monday, December 5, 2016

We made it and Christmas in Oxford!

Well, we made it! We arrived last Wednesday after a day-long drive in the rain. We tried not to complain about that because we knew our friend James was driving our moving truck in the rain too. We kept checking the radar to see if we could guess where he (and Adam and Whitney who were driving with him) might be along the interstate to see if they might be out of the rain, but we supposed they were always getting rained on. James reported upon arrival that it didn't rain for about 30 minutes of his 16 hour drive. Words cannot describe how grateful we are for our friends who came to help us get all of our stuff here. We're also grateful for new friends from Philly who came to help us unload the truck too! The easy part is done! Though it seemed hard at the time.

Now it's time to unpack all of our things! There's so much left to do! We've got the living room, kitchen and the boy's rooms set up. We've still got plenty to do in Ellie's room, our room and some in the dining room. We took a break from unpacking on Saturday to put up the Christmas Tree. We're doing all we can to try to make it feel like home. It's really weird being 800 miles from nearly everything know, but we're doing well. The kids loved decorating the tree, even though it meant they had to stay up beyond their normal bedtime.

Oxford, PA Christmas Tree
We are working hard to get settled in here, so we're trying to be social as best we can in the chaos of our lives right now. On Friday night, we went to, "A County Christmas" in downtown Oxford. It's was the lighting of the tree and other fun things vendors provided. We really enjoyed it. We ate some Pizza Hut stuffed crust pepperoni pizza and walked through the downtown area. The lighting of the tree kind of made us think we were in a magical little town from a movie. There was hot chocolate, facepainting, bird feeder makers and a variety of stores and street vendors. We all got a little cold, even though it was probably 40 degrees because the wind was colder than we were used to.


Here are some ways you can pray for us this week:

  1. Pray for Ellie as she starts school today (Monday). She's nervous, but we think she'll do OK once she settles in.
  2. Pray for Jodi and I as we try to finish getting unpacked. Once we get unpacked our schedules should start working themselves into a rhythm, which will be good for all of us.
  3. Pray that we might make a friend before Christmas. 
  4. We still need to raise about $9,000 for the coming year. Please pray that God would provide the resources needed. We're praying for 8 people that might feel led to give $100/month over the next 12 months toward the work of planting the new church. If you'd like to do that (or if you might want to give $25 or $50/month) feel free to reach out to us or choose one of these 2 options to give a) www.encounterlifechurch.org/give and put PA Plant in the Notes/Memo section or you can mail a check to Encounter Life Church PO Box 375 Manchester, TN 37349. Include PA Plant in the memo of the check.
  5. Pray for opportunities to have gospel conversations.
  6. Finally, pray that God would help us find some people of peace who can help us learn more about Oxford so we can better figure out how God might call us to serve here.
Thanks for everything! We're grateful to be on this journey and we thank God he's allowed you to be a part of our lives!

Billy and Jodi