Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings! We trust all is well with you and ours and things have settled down after the holidays.

On a personal note much has happened. Harve and I are still about the same, but the girls have all made huge changes. Rachel- as most of you know- was married October 25, 2008, to Ronal Ulloa in Honduras. They are living in Honduras is a really cute apartment, waiting to hear what God has in mind for their future. She was just home for a quick visit to renew her visa and have her name changed here. Kendy is engaged to be married to Evans Oduwei and has opened a new business which he runs. They have just rented an apartment in the North Bronx and Evans has moved in there. Susan – just returned from her trip to Central America with her brother Eric – and also moved into her new apartment in Harlem on New Year’s Day.

We have a new granddaughter, Holly Faith Morse, born to Jonathan and Heidi. We were able to meet her when we were home. She is our 18th!! We finally have some good news on our tax exempt status. We received our 501C3 after several years of waiting. We aren’t sure why the hold up, but everything is in God’s timing. Everything was retroactive back to when we became incorporated, but it is still great to have that in our hands.

As I had mentioned in our last update in October, we have rented a building. When we did so we weren’t really sure what its purpose would be. We still aren’t sure but things are developing quickly, almost on their own. We have named the building “StreetLight Christian Center”-( thanks Dick Erbaugh- I remembered that name you had suggested years ago for street ministry.) On Wednesday nights we have StreetLight Kids under the age of 12 and on Fridays- StreetLight Teens- over 12. However, it seems all of the kids come both nights. This has been an interesting challenge to say the least. We are located on one of the hottest blocks in the area. Three times last summer the police had to set up towers for observation. Something that I have only seen one other place in the city. Out of 24 kids we had the first night only 4 of them had ever been in a church. There are also little gangs that have formed in allegiance to their block. We have 176 group and the Weeks group. All of these kids are under the age of 14. However, they definitely don’t like each other. Some of the kids we had worked with at Fellowship Chapel have come on Wednesday night. They are upset at the behavior of the other kids and can’t understand why we allow them to come. They have forgotten that a little over a year ago they acted the same way. Harve actually had to shut down the ministry on the last Wednesday before Christmas because it was so unruly. The old kids were upset because it wasn’t their fault and they weren’t acting badly-this time. Then they walked out the door and yelled curses at the other kids for causing problems. Harve had to gather them together and have a lesson right there on the street corner.

You know, unfortunately, this reminds me of most of us who call ourselves Christians. We have forgotten where we came from. We have forgotten that it is only by God’s grace that we are where we are today. Instead of embracing those that are living in sin and showing the love of Christ, we choose to judge them. We also can be indignant when someone less than savory invades our comfortable world of Christendom. Who do they think they are coming in with divorce, alcohol problems, homosexuality, lust or whatever problems? If we do try to relate, we want them to be like us- when in actuality we really aren’t “all that” ourselves. Jesus just loved people where they were and His love transformed them- not into what suited the world- but what God had intended for them to be. We have also learned how to behave in church, but when we walk out the door, don’t look much different from the world.

Back to the update. I just finished a six weeks GEMS +- a women’s mentoring problem based on Titus 2, similar to Apples of Gold for those of you who are familiar with that. The GEMS + is from Proverbs 31- a good women is hard to find and worth more than precious gems. It stands for Growing, Encouraging, Mentoring and Serving. We had 12 women participate and are sad that it came to an end. This study included mentors from 3 different churches and participants both churched and unchurched. We will be starting another round soon.

Harve is preparing to start a men’s mentoring program also based on Titus 2 which will include weight lifting rather than cooking. So the next time you see him he will be looking all buff.

For the new year we have classes beginning in ESL- English as a second language, Spanish classes for us gringos that can’t communicate with our neighbors or even our new son-in-law. We are having scrapbooking classes at the request of our GEMS+ ladies. We are adding to our kids programs- poetry and art. We have a young couple that are dynamic and will be coming twice a month to teach the kids spoken word and graffiti style art.

Just before the holidays, we were approached by the people that live in the building the center is in to offer us their encouragement and support. They also requested that we begin an after school program. We are moving in that direction, as the Lord leads, but have no idea when that will actually begin.

God has laid many other things on our hearts, and as he opens the doors we will walk through them. It is so exciting to commit this to God and let Him form and provide for this ministry.

We have 10 teams booked for the summer already, with two teams coming in the spring. We still have a couple openings if anyone is interested in visiting the Big Apple and the Boogie down Bronx.

We recently had a team come from Ohio that blessed us immensely. It included our nephew and our great niece and many of their friends from 3 different states. It was awesome to watch them transform throughout the weekend from fear and apprehension to love and excitement and then to sadness when they had to leave.

Leo- the young man from the Bronx serving with the STEP team, is doing fine- other than some illness. We appreciate your prayers and financial support for him. He is still short on his support, so pray that God will provide.

We want to thank all of you for your prayers, letters, cards, emails, visits and financial support. It is awesome to see the Body of Christ connecting all over the world, transforming lives and glorifying the Lord. May God continue to bless all of you as you have blessed us.

In His Service, Robyn Bowman