Darrel and Gail Voth

Directors of Mobilization, Beautiful Feet Missionary Training and Sending, Choctaw, Oklahoma


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January update

Christmas in January

Christmas season was extra busy this year with Lily playing the part of Scrooge’s sister, Fan, in Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s production of A Christmas Carol. Noah also worked the show as a crew member, filling in on spotlights as needed. Darrel’s family was able to come down and spend a couple days here at Beautiful Feet. Our family lives simply in a small space, but we also have guestrooms, a large kitchen, dining hall and other community space available for us to host friends and family when they visit. We made a weekend trip to Kansas this month and enjoyed a holiday gathering with Gail’s family. Even though we live far from our family, we’re so lucky to be close enough to drive up for a visit.

A visit from friends

Another visit we’d been really looking forward to was from some friends who’ve moved to Cambodia. We try and talk regularly with them via FaceTime, but there’s just no substitute for being together in person. If you have a real interest in international orphan care, we’d love to introduce you to this couple along with some friends who in Liberia. We are so grateful to know and work with such amazing people.

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

One last thing to mention from January is that Gail has begun serving with the OKC Perspectives coordinating team as a grader. This class is a great on-ramp into missions thinking and involvement. It provides a solid foundation, a broad view and ways for anyone to begin to personally orient their lives toward the growing kingdom of God in all creation.

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Powerful sermon delivered by a sick 12-year-old girl

Lily came down ill this weekend so instead of our normal Sunday morning with a community of Jesus people, she and I stayed in and had breakfast together.

As we sat with our eggs, Lily brought up something to do with the typical kid prejudice about how boys are better than girls or girls are better than boys. I don’t even recall exactly how it started, because honestly, it didn’t seem all that significant at the time—just a childish conversation between a dad and his little girl. However, she soon moved on to related issues of race, sexual identity, religious identity and immigration. Now keep in mind, this was my 12-year-old daughter leading this conversation. I would interject a point or ask a question here and there, but she was my preacher this particular Sunday.

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She continued to talk about how people of privilege tend to protect their privilege instead of leveraging it to help the disadvantaged and oppressed. She totally nailed it. Then she observed how often it seems to come from Christ-ians. Ouch, but is she right?

And what did the Christ actually do but set aside His privilege, identify with the broken to live, proclaim and establish a new law of selfless, “reckless” love, forgiveness and healing!

This up-and-coming generation isn’t seeing identity in traditional labels, they are instead finding it in actions and attitudes. Isn’t that what Jesus said he looks at?

Will we have the courage to allow our labels to be secondary in order to identify with Jesus? This cost him a great deal. Pursuing the ideals of peace, love, forgiveness, healing, unity and the like isn’t something that can be driven by warm, fuzzy, brainless, spineless sentiment. It requires the courage and deeply-held conviction which come from intimate relationship with the Author of Life.

Oh Lord, make us worth of our calling!


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No shoes, no shirt, no service.

One of the regulars at Joe’s is a biker named Jimmy. He always wears a leather vest and no shirt. A long time ago, Jude asked him bluntly, “Hey, where’s your shirt?”

“I lost it.” Jimmy tells him.

He and Jude have conversations from time to time. It’s so great to see this Harley-riding, no-shirt-wearing, long-haired man take the time to sit down and talk with Jude who sees nothing more than a nice guy who’s willing to spend some time with him.

Every once in a while when Jimmy comes in, Jude will ask him, “Have you found your shirt yet?” It’s really hard to keep a straight face when listening to conversations about where his shirt could be.

Well, Jimmy came in the other day. Wearing a t-shirt. An actual shirt. Made of cotton. Jude sees him pull up on his Harley and excitedly exclaims, “Hey, Jimmy found his shirt!”

These little interactions aren’t themselves of any huge significance, and yet they are. Transformation happens while you do life together. It’s hard for me to have the patience and see the value in simple interactions. I tend to feel like we need to be doing something, talking about something “important.” But I’m often reminded that those who put in the time are the ones who have the opportunities and the impact.

Lord, teach me patience and the value of “idle” time!


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Everybody needed a break

Friday, it was time to just spend a little time enjoying being together. Gail and the kids are together a lot. Which means it’s not always very enjoyable… it was time to interrupt the regular busy-ness of life with something out of the ordinary.

And it doesn’t always have to be big or cost money (we’re going to have to get good at coming up with things to do together that don’t cost money!)

So we decided to make personal pizzas and ice cream sundaes. Everybody gets what they want, but we all do it together. And it was nice – a collective deep breath so we can keep going.

Noah's pizza

Noah’s being goofy, but he took his pizza-building seriously; it was all planned out and layered carefully.

Lily's pizza

Lily knows what she likes and she just does it. That’s how she rolls. Now, let’s eat already!

Jude's pizza

Jude thinks he knows how to do everything already and gets frustrated when things don’t turn out. Pizza is a pretty safe way to experiment. He tended to just tower everything in the center of the pie, because that’s what he knows. He started getting frustrated when everything wouldn’t fit, so I encouraged him to try spreading things out a little to see if that worked any better. He was pretty proud of what he made. And true to character, used all of the ingredients at hand!

So we sat in the living room with our pizzas and watched a documentary on India and then made ice cream sundaes before bed. 

It wasn’t anything big, but it was important.

A couple nights earlier, Noah facilitated a date night for Gail and I by taking care of things at home with Lily and Jude. He made dinner, cleaned up and made sure everyone was ready for bed when we got home. What a guy. Our son blesses us.

And even more: today, completely uncoordinated by us or our friends, everyone has something to do. Gail and some friends are out celebrating a coming adoption trip for a soon-to-be former orphan who will be come into his family soon. Noah had a friend pick him up to go play laser tag and a friend of Lily just called for no good reason to come to their house for dinner. My brother showed up today and removed a stump from behind my garage while I went out and bought supplies for our first work day in a couple weeks. And my parents just showed up and said hi. I’ve got plans later this evening with friends and I think I’ll take Jude out for dinner, just the two of us, so he knows he’s special too (because sometimes he forgets).

It’s easy to see the huge challenges all around us every day, but God is blessing us at every turn. Things aren’t easy, but God is good and these breaks and blessings will help sustain us as we travel this path God is blazing ahead of us.

Thanks.


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GAK

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Jude LOVES play dough. So yesterday, I decided to make him GAK, a homemade slime substance that gets solid when you press on it but then loses it’s shape as soon the pressure is removed. You can mold it, smack it, run trucks over it, let the slime run through your fingers. It even makes farting noises if you put it in a cup and press all the air out of it. This is fun stuff.

But as Jude played, he kept getting frustrated. He loved the new gift but he wanted to play with it the way he plays with play dough. He wanted to cut it, roll it and use cookie cutters with it. But GAK in all of it’s glory does not work like play dough. I would redirect him to play with GAK in the fun ways that GAK is but he kept wanting to go back to the familiar. When he would play with it within its properties, he had a fantastic time.

As I sat and watched him play, I felt like God was trying to tell me something. As we enter this new stage of life, things are going to be different. The old ways of doing things may not work in this new environment. Things may appear to lack form but if I just keep pressing into Him and allow Him to show me the new “properties” of this lifestyle, amazing things are ahead. – gail


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Oh My…

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Jude yelling from the bathroom, “Can someone turn the light on for me?” I get up, cross the room and turn on the light. Jude comes out of the bathroom two seconds later and I ask him, “What did you do in there that needed the light?” Jude responded serious as can be, “I needed to see how good I look.” Oh my. – gail

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Happy new year!

Admittedly, we’ve not been the greatest at sending out the traditional new-year letter, but too much is going on to not take a little time to reflect.

The biggest thing in all of our lives is a career change that’s going to require a move. It’s a big process that has been at the front of our minds. Darrel has been a graphic designer for 15 years and Gail has been a homeschool teacher for nine years. Even so, the transition into full-time mission work seems like a very natural progression, something we can look back over our lives together and see that God has been patiently guiding us into this position with Beautiful Feet in Oklahoma City. There is a lot that needs to happen yet before we can move, but God is loving, faithful and good. We hope to be down there early this spring, as soon as funding and house sale will allow.

That’s the big picture; but in the midst of that, everyday life keeps on moving…

Darrel‘s job at Bethel College in North Newton has been a blessing. The round-trip commute is about 55 miles closer/cheaper and 45 minutes shorter. It’s still a very big challenge to fundraise and try to be of some help to Beautiful Feet while working a busy full-time job and wanting to be an attentive husband and father. I was also blessed to be able to join some friends for a weekend at a Benedictine monastery for some peace and alone-time with Jesus, which was a much-needed reprieve.

Gail has been blessed this year to have had some more time with friends – getting together for coffee, making Christmas gifts, shopping, and even an impromptu trip to Kansas City for cheesecake! The challenge for her continues to be managing the household while homeschooling and helping with our fundraising and things for Beautiful Feet. Intimate, supportive friendships are extremely important for her at a time like this!.

Darrel and Gail

We’ve been eager to participate in various things for Beautiful Feet from speaking in churches, colleges and Perspectives classes, to serving in a community outreach in Oklahoma. It’s hard to have enough time for family, but we have fun together whenever we do!

Noah is part of the youth ministry at our church and has enjoyed the chance to go to summer camp plus a couple trips with the group. He loves his friends and experiencing new things with his peers. He’s a young man who’s trying to find his niche in life as he matures. Parenting a teenager is both sobering and fun, humbling and an honor.

Noah

Noah is so bright and witty, such a colorful guy to be around, whether you’re his parent or a friend. The “messy” photo is from Nomads, our annual missions event at Beautiful Feet. He’s also our Colorado-child. He was born in Denver and lived there with us until we moved to Kansas. The mountains get into your blood and he thoroughly enjoyed a trip that we took out there this fall.

Lily got an email account and loves writing to and reading messages from some good friends who have moved away. She is also enjoying her friends nearby, one is a neighbor and another we get to see every week. Another developing friendship is happening at Beautiful Feet, so even though she’s very sad about leaving Kansas, she’s excited about what Oklahoma holds for her.

Lily

Lily was blessed to have a wonderful piano teacher/friend this year; she’s into horses; and that isn’t a posed shot on the grass with the mini-golf club… she’s just naturally graceful and gorgeous. She was lying there and I just had to stop and take a photo. What a girl.

Jude seems to see the world from a social perspective. He’s learning about friendship, family, connecting and withdrawing, conversing… keeping all of us on our toes at all times. He has really enjoyed his friendships through Sunday school, family friends and with cousins.

Jude

Oh Jude… we are so privileged. He is an extremely social-driven little boy, and absolutely overflowing with perpetual energy. He really wears us down sometimes, but we all love him so much and couldn’t imagine our family without him. He’s funny, goofy, rowdy, expressive, helpful, loving and a speed-demon on his balance bike!

All of us have a similar mix of sadness at the prospect of leaving Newton and excitement as we look forward to full-time ministry with Beautiful Feet. We’re really ready to be there and to move out of this transition phase though! We go to Nomads there every year, and 2012 saw us down there a few more times for work, meetings and to help with a community Thanksgiving dinner in Valley Brook, Okla. – a community that is gradually being transformed by the power of God’s love from a place of material, social, spiritual and moral poverty into a community where you can find love, help, understanding, forgiveness, healing and family. Add to that the fact that our position has been vacant at Beautiful Feet for some time now, and we’re really feeling the urgency!

That’s a little glimpse into what’s been going on. Be on the lookout for more news from us in the new year – we are asking for and expecting great things from God this year and we’d love to share it with you as we go.

Have a wonderful new year!