I know it has been way too long since I have done a family or ministry update, so I am going to do my best to cover it all in one shot!
2017 dawned for us with me (Beth) recovering from the flu and barely able to walk. Having the flu had caused muscle spasms that led to very painful sciatica. It would be well into February before I was walking decently and it was pretty miserable. I have never been down like that in my life, and being a rather independent person it was hard for me to deal with. In February we took a long planned trip to Washington D.C. All of our kids were studying American History that school year, so it was the perfect time. We had amazing weather there for February, in the 60’s and 70’s most days, and the lines were short. We really couldn’t have timed it better. Staying in a little row house within walking distance of the capital, we did a lot of walking to see all the sites. Although I was slower than everyone else, this helped to work out some of the tension in my muscles, but caused some extra strain on Brent’s back, which he has had problems with for many years.
Heading into March, Brent was trying to stay down and rest his back. Unfortunately that didn’t seem to help much. In fact, he progressively worsened, despite chiropractic treatments, and other basic care. Heading into April it got so bad he ended up in the ER. An MRI done in early April showed his disk in his lower back bulging to the point that his nerve was extremely pinched. Surgery was recommended and scheduled. Unfortunately none of these processes were quick, waiting for insurance approval and such. Beth has thought many times that the reason she went though the sciatic trouble early in the year was so she would be able to really empathize with Brent’s pain later. He had surgery in May and almost immediately had relief from the terrible pain. Brent’s parents were amazing in helping us through this by coming to TN, watching children, shuttling to doctor’s appointments, and harassing insurance companies. They made a very hard time a lot more manageable. I can’t thank them enough.
Hoping Brent was on the road to recovery, we went ahead with summer camp. J.P. from national office had agreed to be our program director, which was a really huge help. She did a GREAT job. Beth handled the planning, purchasing, and cooking of meals for the camp, while Brent was helping as much as he was able, while continuing to recover. Alex and Aidan both helped out in the kitchen and other areas. Abby and Andrew were both able to be overnight campers this year. We had an awesome increase in campers this year, with 53 campers attending. Many of these were new campers, and we heard from a lot of them that they would be back next year! There were 7 decisions for Christ during our three weeks of camp.
Unfortunately, during the last week of camp, Brent had a down turn, with the pain returning and quickly getting even worse than before. On an emergency trip to Nashville an MRI was done, showing the disk had reherniated. Surgery was scheduled to repeat the same procedure in a week. That was a miserable week, but we were glad it wasn’t any longer. We were also glad that God is not surprised by these things. When we had to leave in the middle of the last camp week our kids were all taken care of, a friend was available to cook the meals we had planned, and camp continued without us. God is good, even in our worst struggles. Brent’s parents returned, collected Aidan from Camp Ta-pa-win-go where he was enjoying his own camp week, and took care of things here while Brent had surgery. Recovery was a bit more difficult from surgery #2, but as of writing this Brent is doing MUCH better. He has gone through physical therapy, and while he has ups and downs and has to be careful and rest more than before, he is functioning now. There may be more struggles down the road, but we are taking each day as it comes.
July was mainly a month of recovery, and August was still a very careful month. In August we also started a new year of homeschool, with Alex starting 10th grade, Aidan 9th, Abby 7th, and Andrew 4th. It is still hard for me to believe how big they are all getting. Seriously big! Alex is a hair away from being as tall as his dad! Now it has become tough to sort their laundry as so many things are the same size! Aidan is now taking Pre-Calculus and often tries to explain things to me. I keep telling him it is hopeless, but he tries anyway. Abby remains our sensitive, sweet child, who loves crafts and arts, and currently, owls. Andrew plugs along as the youngest, making us all laugh daily.
September was time for National Conference, which we were all able to attend this year. Some friends of ours were able to care for the animals, allowing us all to be there. We loved seeing all our camp family, and it was a time of refreshment to be away from the daily life of camp. Returning from conference, we headed into the craziness of fall. I was painting and doing festivals most weekends in September and October, we had work week at camp to work on projects, and we had rental groups out here almost constantly. It is so good to see groups out on the camp property, and see children enjoying the grounds!
November still saw many rentals out here, as well as my family coming up for their annual Thanksgiving visit. During this time we were also able to purchase a new (to our family) car. This was so needed! Our Odyssey had taken us over 250K miles and held up, but many things were going and we knew it was time. We were able to replace her with a 2014 Honda Pilot, which we hope will stand up a little better to our rugged roads out here. We were thankful for disciplined saving and blessed to be able to purchase this car with no debt, and for that we are VERY thankful.
December saw our first Camp Ozone Christmas, with area families coming out to enjoy a hayride, crafts, cookies, hot cocoa, and lots of fun. We hope that will grow each year, becoming something that families in the area can look forward to. It is also a way for them to see the camp before sending their children here! In December we also lost our older dog Roscoe very suddenly, and then added to our family a new puppy, a Great Pyrenees, which will be a guardian dog to help keep our animals safe. She is such an adorable little fluff ball, and such a well behaved puppy! We celebrated our many December birthdays and Christmas, loving that time with family. Now we look to 2018 and all that it will bring!
Here’s how to help and pray for us:
- Follow us on Facebook for more regular updates. There is a CBM Camp Ozone Page and a Beth and Brent Woodard missionary page.
- We hope to get an e-mail update list running soon. We will send this same newsletter out by e-mail. If you got it, GREAT! If not, check your spam folder. You may need to put our e-mail on your approved senders list. If it isn’t there either, we may not have your e-mail. You can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get us that. Saving postage by getting info reliably to people by e-mail would be wonderful.
- Pray for our staff. Pray both for the health of our current staff, and for more to join us in this work. We desperately need more missionaries here, specifically to lead in programming and Release Time. We would love to be teaching in the schools, but with our current staff it is hard to pursue that. We know God has others out there, and we are praying for them to come!
- Give. We are looking for 75 people this year to support Camp Ozone. We need support for the camp in general so that we can keep the lights on and have resources to invite children and families to camp for special programs! Consider joining us in that at $12.50, $25, or $50 per month. We can also use a few more personal supporters. With some extra expenses and growing children, the board has approved a $200 monthly increase. Gotta love kids that need braces!
- For those who are our regular supporters…..If you have been giving at the same level for a long time, first of all, THANK YOU! EVERY gift is so appreciated and helps keep us focused on the ministry God has called us to. We do ask you to consider a small increase. We have been at the same support level for a long time, and our costs continue to go up. We would like to make a small increase in our support, and if each of you considers a 5% or 10% increase that would help us to meet our additional expenses.
- At this point the debt on the land has been paid down to $13,500! Praise the Lord! We would very much like to see that completely gone before the end of this year. If you feel led to help with that, simply put a note in the memo on your donation check to Camp Ozone.
- If any of you are interested in a “home mission” project, let us know and we would love to schedule a time to visit and serve along side us through the gifts and abilities God has given you! We now have 6 full RV sites on camp for extended stays.