Monday, June 23, 2008

Update on the Sports Facility and Dedication Service

Lexington Presbyterian Church sent a team down to Mexico last March to work on the sports facility, funded by the Austin Whetsell Memorial Fund. The amount of work accompished that week was amazing and we are getting ready to travel to Mexico to dedicate the project to the memory of Austin and to the glory of God. If you would like to see reports from the team, head over to Bryan Butz's blog, Bryan made several entries while he was down there and posted many pictures as well.

Please be in prayer for the Whetsell family this coming week. The extended family along with some close family friends, travel to Zihuantanejo this Saturday and I will help officiate the dedication service next Tuesday (July 1), the anniversary of Austin's passing into glory.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Details Finalized for LPC Spring Break Missions Trip To Zihuatanejo

On Saturday, March 22, thirteen members of LPC and friends of Austin's will return to Zihuatanejo, Mexico on a short term missions trip with Lexington Presbyterian Church. The team plans to help our missionaries, Guillermo and Jennie Salinas, build a basketball court and sports field that will be dedicated later this year to the memory of Austin Whetsell.

The purpose of every short-term mission trip is to minister in ways that will have long-term impact for Christ. This trip will be no different. Earlier this year, with donations received by the Austin Whetsell Foundation, we purchased a piece of property in downtown Zihuatanejo for Nuevo Vida Iglesia (New Life Church.) It is our prayer that many in the community and
neighborhood surrounding Nuevo Vida Iglesia will come to Christ through the outreach opportunities this new activities center will afford our missionaries in Zihuatanejo.

Please pray specifically for the team as they plan their trip, for safety in their travels, and for productivity in their efforts (since thirty-six members of the Whetsell family are planning to return to Zihuatanejo on the July 1 anniversary of Austin's death for a dedication service.)
We have committed to cover the cost of the actual building expenses for this trip, which we estimate to be around $7,000. If you would like to make a contribution to help defray the cost of materials the team will need in making improvements to the property, you can follow the paypal link on this page, or mail your donation to:

Austin Whetsell Foundation
c/o Lexington Presbyterian Church
246 Barr Rd.
Lexington, SC 29072

Of course any contribution you choose to make is fully tax-deductible. Thank you in advance for your prayers and support.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Work in Zihuantanejo Continues

Over Spring Break, this March, Lexington Presbyterian Church will take a group of 20 people back to Zihuatanejo, Mexico to continue the missions work Austin started. The missions workers will make improvements to the piece of land purchased by the The Austin Whetsell Memorial Fund through the generous donations made by hundreds of friends and acquaintances. The church purchased the property to build an outdoor recreation area where Mexican kids can play baseball, basketball, volleyball and soccer. It is our hope and prayer that this activity center will be a means to reach kids and their parents for Christ through sports in this desperately poor rural city in southwestern Mexico. We have included some pictures in this post that show the before and after of the upgrades to the property since its purchase in October 2007 (for more pictures, go to the photo album for Zihuantanejo on the LPC website).

In March, we hope to continue the improvements by digging an enclosed water cistern which will provide the neighborhood with clean drinking water and then build permanent fixtures like lights and a basketball court. Once completed, the activity center will be dedicated in Austin's memory later in July. Thanks in advance for your prayers and support of this group.

Thank You from the Whetsell Family

It has been some time since the last entry on this blog but there will be some good activity here in the weeks and months coming up. First, the Whetsell family asked for this letter to be posted here (the letter is addressed to those at Lexington Presbyterian Church but applies to all those who prayed, sent cards and contributed to the Austin Whetsell Fund).

Dear Lexington Presbyterian Church Family:

The purpose of this letter is two-fold; first, to express our gratitude to you and second, to update you on the ministry that God has opened up for us in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

First, please know how blessed we are to count ourselves part of the Lexington Presbyterian Church family. There is simply nothing we can write to adequately express our deep feelings of gratitude for the kindness and compassion you have shown to our family since Austin passed away. It is literally impossible to quantify and properly thank you for all of the prayers you have prayed, the meals you have delivered, the words of comfort you have offered, the thoughtful tributes you have conveyed, and the kind expressions of sympathy you have provided to us.

We hope you will understand how our family has found healing in the unique and continuous ways so many of you have expressed your concern for us. While our healing has indeed been limited, we have felt God's tender love and embrace directly through you and your faithful kindness. As you continue to care for us and share your condolences, we are reminded of and comforted by the fact that many of you loved Austin also.

Secondly, through your generosity, and the generosity of friends and family across the country, more than $95,000 has been contributed to the Austin Whetsell Memorial Fund. We have decided to use this money to continue building on the work that Austin began during his short time in Mexico. We are thankful that God has formed a new and exciting relationship between our family and Guillermo and Jennie Salinas and their missions work in Mexico.

Earlier this month, we chose to use a large portion of these funds to purchase a piece of property in Zihuatanejo across the street from Nueva Vida Iglesia, the Salinas’ church that Lexington Presbyterian has been supporting for more than 12 years. Our plan now is to continue raising money to make the improvements necessary to build a multi-purpose recreational area there that will be dedicated in memory of Austin. (In the meantime, the church is happily using the property for overflow parking on Sundays.)

We deeply and sincerely appreciate your financial generosity, and we want you to know that each donation is viewed by us as a financial investment being made to further the work that Austin began during his trip to Mexico.

We believe it’s fair to say that everyone who knew Austin knew he was a fantastic young man. We find tremendous comfort in knowing he was a devoted child of God. We recall fondly his love for us and his siblings, his family and his friends. We are extremely proud that when he left this life, he was serving God and others. We have confidence that in his 15 years on earth, he built a legacy which will live forever. We find solace in knowing that in his death many he never met have come to Christ. We feel humbled that through the generosity of others his memory will impact many who otherwise may never hear the good news. And we anxiously await our reunion with him.

Before he left for Mexico, Austin wrote a few family members a letter which in part said, “Hopefully this (missions trip) will give me a sense of the Missions world and help me figure out whether this is my calling….Please join me in praying that we will be able to do our jobs well and bring knowledge of the saving grace of God’s kingdom to the people of Zihuatanejo.” Austin’s prayer was answered. As parents, we only wish we could have been there to hear Christ's words of welcome, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Once again, our entire family sincerely appreciates your kindness. We ask that now, the most difficult time yet, you continue to keep Taylor, Trace, Emma and us in your prayers, asking God to continue to give us the strength to walk by faith.

Walter & Kim Whetsell

Keep checking back for updates about how the fund is making a difference in Zihuantenajo and the upcoming missions project back to Mexico this Spring.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Message from Walter & Kim

Words simply cannot express our feelings of thankfulness and gratitude for the expressions of sympathy you have shown to our family since Austin's death. Austin was a fantastic young man. He was devoted to God. He loved his family. He left this life serving God and others. He built a legacy that will live forever. And in his death, he reached many he had never met—and who otherwise may have never heard the good news. As parents, we only wish we could have been there to hear the words of welcome, “well done, good and faithful servant.”Thank you for the prayers, words of comfort, kind expressions of sympathy, and thoughtful tributes you provided to us during this time of sorrow. Please know that our family finds healing in God's tender love and embrace and in knowing that so many people care so much for our family and loved Austin as much as we loved him.We are comforted by the words of Psalms 40…“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit...he set my feet on a rock...He put a new song in my mouth...Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”Our entire family deeply and sincerely appreciates your kindness. Your condolences will always be remembered with deepest gratitude. We only ask that in the difficult times ahead that you continue to keep Taylor, Trace, Emma and us in your prayers, and you join us in our prayer that God will give us the strength to live our faith.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Link to Audio File of the Austin Whetsell Funeral

We now have a link up to an audio file of Austin's funeral. Our apologies for taking so long to get this up and running. You can listen to it online or download it by right-clicking on it and choosing 'save target.'

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Copies and Audio Links to the Funeral Service

Some have been asking if we could post the funeral service on the web. We do have audio and video of the service and currently looking for a way to post that for folks. There are some complications due to copyright on the music played at the service (evidently you get one kind of license to play music and another kind of license to copy and post performances of that music... we have the former but not the latter). We are trying to work through those issues and get you access to at least the audio.

Please continue to lift up the Whetsell family in your prayers as well as the whole Mexico Team. Two team members who had originally scheduled to stay two weeks beyond the rest of the team are heading back this Thursday. They will continue working with Vida Nueva and head back to the States on July 28th. Remember them in prayer as well.