humble beginnings

Well, this post is a little late, but things have been a bit crazy around here. I, along with many of you, have been trying to kick this allergy attack for almost 2 weeks now. Isn’t it kind of frustrating how much allergies affect a person? I mean, if feels like it shouldn’t be a valid sickness, cuz it’s just allergies! But for real, I have had countless headaches, tiredness, and even loss of appetite and stomach pain due to these stupid allergies! Not to mention trouble breathing and hearing. Minor issues. :)

Anyway. This past weekend Ryan and I went on our second outing drawn from the Jar O’ Dates, and the clue was “Humble Beginnings”. Ryan recreated our first date, which was super fun to walk down memory lane together. Can you believe it’s been 4 years since that first date? For real. Actually, 4 years ago TOMORROW. Say what? Kinda fun how that worked out.

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Our first stop was to Main Street Theater. On our first date, we saw Willy Wonka, and this time we saw James and the Giant Peach. A little fact about me: I love plays, and I usually am more interested in plays that are adapted from children’s stories. If you’ve never read the books or watched the movies, both of these stories are kind of strange, but brilliant nonetheless. Both really great!

Then & now…

Date 1we were kind of… chubby, no?

After the play, we went to Sambuca and hung out there for a long while. They have a live band every weekend, which is super fun. On our first date they had a jazz band; this time was classic rock.

Date 2I’m really glad we’re not quite as awkward as we used to be… or chubby.

Ok, so I know you all are now wondering if we repeated our first date bet and if Ryan jumped into a lake again. I’m sorry to tell you that it didn’t happen, but our excuse is that the lake he jumped into the first time is no longer there, and there’s now an apartment complex in its place. Haha. Sorry, we apparently got more lame over the past 4 years. We opted to go eat ice cream at Amy’s Ice Creams. Even though I know you may be disappointed, I really feel like it was a better choice (also, if Ryan would have jumped into a lake again, this time he’d be coming home with me, all slimy and nasty… last time that was not the case). :)

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This weekend was so fun, and also full of gatherings with some crazy fun friends. This coming weekend we get to celebrate my sis-in-law’s birthday (which is tomorrow), and also Ryan’s aunt’s birthday! Kristin sadly is super sick right now, but we are hoping she gets better by Friday so we can party it up! To your health, sis. ;)

photoSpartan Beast – aka voluntary torture

I hope you get to go do something fun, and maybe crazy this weekend! Take a hike down memory lane and take a moment to thank God for where He has brought you! He is so good.

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NYC take two

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Last Wednesday I jumped on a plane with 21 other people from our church and headed to New York City! This was our 2nd mission trip to NYC as part of Mission 1:8, and it was a very full 4 days! The first time we went this past Fall, we were there for 8 days with a team half the size of this past one, and served alongside 4 different churches that our church is supporting. This time, we focused on one of those churches in particular who just launched their first official service this past Sunday, on Easter! It was a great time, and our team was so fun! Here’s a brief overview of what we got to be a part of while in NYC (I took a ridiculous amount of photos that can all be viewed here if you’re interested):

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Helping a church launch it’s first service means you have to let people know that the church is there. So, the morning of each day we headed to Brooklyn and passed out flyers to give everyone a heads up! So many of our team members got into some pretty cool conversations. It’s interesting because Easter Sunday fell on April 20 this year. On the flyer, it had the date 4/20 really big across the back. 4/20 also means something else (I’ll let you figure that out). Needless to say, we had some interest, and in turn, conversations with people who probably wouldn’t otherwise take the time to talk to us. God is sovereign, yes? :)
On Sunday, The Bridge Church had about 150 people in attendance! So awesome. Continue to pray for this church and the staff that are working so diligently in engaging their community every day!

 

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In the evening on the first day (just felt like I was quoting Genesis), our team went with a staff member from the MNYBA on a walking tour in China Town to pray over the human trafficking going on there. It’s crazy, once you know what to look for, to realize that there are people being treated like machinery and sold all around you. We know that Houston is a hub for trafficking (both sex trade and manual labor), so seeing this in another city definitely stirs up some heartache and deep prayer on behalf of those imprisoned in both cities. I encourage you to go on a tour, whatever city you’re in, and become aware if you are not already. If the merchandise you’re purchasing is ridiculously inexpensive, there’s a likelihood that the reason is because the employees aren’t getting paid (or the people who made the product didn’t get paid). Sex trafficking is a whole other story, which I could talk about forever. If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources:
Elijah Rising tours (Houston)
Porn Harms (why porn is a contributor to sex trafficking)
Free the Captives (organization in Houston that does lots of great informational conferences)
Texas Human Trafficking Fact Sheet

Definitely be praying for your city, and that Christ would redeem those imprisoned, whether it be to their own sin or the sins of others. We need Jesus more than we know!

 

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On the afternoons of the second and third days, our team went to Long Island City and partnered with another new church plant, New City Church. Our group split up, and half of us did residential and spiritual surveys, while the other half did trash clean up along the streets, and the next day we switched. On the first day of surveys I ended up with the spiritual surveys, and got all kinds of different responses. We did surveys last trip too, which focused more on personal experience with spirituality. This time, the surveys were focused more on how people perceived religion in their neighborhood (more for demographic’s sake), and it was sort of surprising how many we encountered that seemed to have never even thought about religion in relation to their neighborhood before. We ended up talking to one really interesting lady who had a some intriguing beliefs about who Christ is and how we “get to God”.

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The trash clean up was fun too, mostly because of our fun team. :) We wore these fabulous yellow vests which had the church’s name on the back, and ended up having some interest in the church simply because people were surprised the church would send people to pick up trash. We’re praying for New City Church and that many would come to know Christ because of their willingness to serve the community in the most practical and needed ways!

 

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Friday night, Good Friday, I got to attend Hillsong NYC Church with part of our team, and meet up with my Jersey family! The service was so good, and such a great break from a non-stop schedule to reflect on Christ’s work on the cross.

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After the service, we went to Sticky’s Finger Joint and had way too much food (some of us more than others for losing a bet). ;) So good to see the fam and enjoy great food and some good laughs, too!

 

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The fourth day (Saturday) part of our team got to go to Astoria and help Connection Church NYC with their Easter Egg Hunt, while the rest of the group was in Brooklyn. These guys are seriously one of the best churches in NYC. They know how to do community. If you are in Astoria, I encourage you to check it out!

 

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Sunday morning, our last day, we got to attend First Baptist Church NYC. Their pastor is an incredible preacher, and his message was one of the best Easter sermons I have ever heard. Pray for this church, as they are located right in the heart of Manhattan! Pray that they find ways to reach their community, and engage one of the busiest and largest cities in the US!

 

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This trip was a bit of a whirlwind, and those 4 days passed so quickly, I’m still trying to catch up! But it was filled with so much joy, and I’m encouraged by what the Lord is doing in New York. Each church we worked with is so faithful in obedience, and their hearts for the people around them encourages me to love the people around me, here in Houston. I hope that you are being used by Christ to accomplish His work and love everyone you come in contact with. He is good, and He is powerful to provide the strength necessary to do great things in our world! Let’s believe that.

Lastly, here’s a video with footage from our first trip last fall. Just an idea of how to pray for NYC as people seek – that they would find Christ!

where the grass is greener

We’re going to Ireland! Read our letter below for details on what that’s all about!

Note: I’ve also added this letter to a tab on the top of this page (far right) so that it doesn’t get lost among other posts.

Dear friends and family,

Ryan and I (Tiffany) have an incredible opportunity to travel to Ireland this summer for a 12-day mission trip through our church, Houston’s First Baptist Church. We are so excited about this trip, as it will be our first mission trip together as a married couple. We each have been on mission-focused trips individually, and Ryan was actually able to go to Ireland a few years ago through our church with a very small team to explore how our church can assist churches in Ireland. Since then, there have been a few trips back, and we are honored to be able to join the team in July!

We’ll be leaving on July 19 and returning July 30. While there, we’ll be hosting some fitness-centered outreaches, doing a lot of praying for the community, and assisting the pastor in Sligo with whatever he needs. As you may know, fitness is one of both Ryan’s and my greatest passions! I have the privilege of teaching fitness classes at our Fitness Center in our very church, and absolutely love inspiring others toward not only health, but also building up our bodies in godliness in order to serve Christ effectively. On this trip, we’ll be able to use the passions that make us come alive to spread the gospel and bring hope to people across the world.

We are asking that you partner with us as we move forward in faith, and commit to praying for us and our team in both our preparation of the trip, and our time in Ireland. We know that it is only by God’s grace that we know Him and that He calls us His own. Our desire is that many would come to know this same grace, and that the Lord would use us to draw people to Him. Would you join us in this prayer and plea for Ireland to know the one true God? Pray that we would be obedient to His work, and faithful servants as we follow Him. Pray also for the pastors in Ireland, that they would be strengthened and encouraged today and in the months to come. And pray that God would already begin to soften hearts and prepare the way for conversations that will take place while we are there.

Another way you can help us, if you are so led, is by giving financially. We don’t know the exact costs right now because a lot of it depends on airfare, but we have been told that this trip will cost around $3000 per person ($6000 total for Ryan and myself). Please take a moment to pray and consider contributing to this cost. We know that when the Lord calls us to share His good news, He calls all of us together. It has been such a blessing for Ryan and me to take part in the Lord’s work by praying for and giving to those He has called to His work. Now that He is calling us to go, we are asking that you would take part in praying for us, and if led, giving toward our trip.

If you would like to contribute, you can send your gift through the online form at HoustonsFirst.org/Missions under the “mission trips” column. Checks can be made out to Houston’s First Baptist Church – memo: Ryan/Tiffany Butterfras – Ireland (mail to “Missions Office – 7401 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024”).

During the trip, I plan on journaling my daily observations and experiences, and meditating on God’s work. Upon our return, I will joyfully post a report of the trip on this blog, as we will be ecstatic to share what God is doing and how He’s drawing people to Himself in Ireland. If you’d like to stay updated with what’s going on in our lives, and preparation for the trip, you can find us on this site!

We are so excited about this summer, and are amazed and humbled that the Lord would send us to show Himself to the people He loves so dearly. We move forward in faith and boldness, believing that Christ has equipped us with the tools and strength necessary to follow Him in obedience. Please let us know if you have any questions about this trip, or would like more details on anything. We will gladly provide information to the best of our ability!

Trusting in Him,
Ryan & Tiffany Butterfras

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“I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

Hosea 2:23