Snow Fun with Billy

Happy Birthday Billy!! This guy is a trailblazer destined to do great things for Jesus! It's remarkable to see the path you have trodden so far and the great things God has already done. Can't wait to see the heights God takes you to in the years to come.

What better place to dream up the future than on the top of Bradost mountain hiking through the snow together. We've got some big plans for the coming months. We can't wait to let you in on what's out on the horizon.

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Springtime // Nowruz

The biggest day on the Kurdish calendar by a long shot is Nowruz. Marking the first day of Spring and the Persian New Year, Kurds head for the mountains to set ablaze the evening sky with bonfires.

Sarah & Lily with friends Anna & Judah

Sarah & Lily with friends Anna & Judah

Elliana exploring the wilderness of beautiful Kurdistan

Elliana exploring the wilderness of beautiful Kurdistan

Nowruz also marks the beginning of "picnic season" as the beautiful weather and the picturesque, green scenery make for the perfect picnics. As you can see from the photos below, we have had our fair share of picnicking fun already. 

A Kurdish Picnic Feast

A Kurdish Picnic Feast

Dancing for hours on end

Dancing for hours on end

Kurdish Kite

Kurdish Kite

Getting the steak tikka ready

Getting the steak tikka ready

Photos courtesy of Dalton Thomas.

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Aussie Picnic in Kurdistan

It's time for the T20 World Cup of Cricket and so we pulled out the kids cricket set and taught the Yazidi and Shabak refugee children how to play. It was a huge success, especially among the girls. With the mountains of Kurdistan as the backdrop and the lush spring grass finally here, it made for a magical day.

Choncho has his rugby game face on! This kid is hysterical. Meet him once on a visit to the #kawlokanvillage, or @therefugeinitiative refugee school, and you will never forget him.

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I think I've worn a suit three times since I've moved to Iraq. On this occasion we made a trip out to #KawlokanVillage to check on the progress of the 10 home expansion that we had just begun. 
The leader of the Yazidi camp was overseeing the work.... Basically, he sat on a chair and faithful observed the goings on. He is a sweet-spirited and gentle man. We can't communicate very well, mostly due to my poor Kurdish language, but we get on well. I like him a lot and I am so grateful that we are able to provide for those under his care. 

 

The great news is that work is almost complete at the new micro-camp expansion. Can't wait to see it and show you some photos of the new families getting their new homes. Thanks for all who helped make it possible.

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Suit Day at Kawlokan Camp

I think I've worn a suit three times since I've moved to Iraq. 

On this occasion we made a trip out to #KawlokanVillage to check on the progress of the 10 home expansion that we had just begun. 

The leader of the Yazidi camp was overseeing the work.... Basically, he sat on a chair and faithful observed the goings on. He is a sweet-spirited and gentle man. We can't communicate very well, mostly due to my poor Kurdish language, but we get on well. I like him a lot and I am so grateful that we are able to provide for those under his care. 
 

The great news is that work is almost complete at the new micro-camp expansion. Can't wait to see it and show you some photos of the new families getting their new homes. Thanks for all who helped make it possible.

Tim BuxtonComment
Winter Relief for Widows

Some of the often forget stories of the suffering that is taking place here in Northern Iraq are the many widowed and orphaned families of the brave Peshmerga soldiers. Last week we were humbled to provide much needed kerosene barrels to 91 war-widowed families, whose husbands. brothers and fathers died fighting ISIS to keep us and the entire world safe from their evil barbarism.

We all have so much to be thankful for because of their great sacrifice and some winter relief is the least that we can do. Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers. 

91 war-widow each received a barrel of kerosene

91 war-widow each received a barrel of kerosene

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Holiday in Australia

We had such an amazing time in Australia, spending the Christmas holidays with family and catching up with friends. It was such a much needed break and rest from what was a busy 2015 in Northern Iraq. 

Australia Day Parade 2016 - Buderim

Australia Day Parade 2016 - Buderim

Christmas Day 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Picnic by the Billabong

Picnic by the Billabong

It was also great sharing about the work at several churches and events up and down the East Coast. We are so blessed by the many people and churches that are supporting our family and getting behind the work we are doing through The Refuge Initiative.

Sharing at Newlife Uniting Church - Gold Coast

Sharing at Newlife Uniting Church - Gold Coast

Here are a few more fun photos of our trip Down Under. 

OutbackSpectacular
Summer Dayz

Summer Dayz

Lily and Laddie

Lily and Laddie

Cousins

Cousins

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Shingle is free, Now What?

After sitting down to talk with some of our Yazidi friends in our Rwandz refugee micro-camp I learnt a little more about what they are going through. Shingal may be free, but their homes are rubble and their future still very uncertain. 

I hope this short video helps you see things from their perspective. Watch the video below now. 

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Refugee Sunday Video

It's Refugee Sunday... and in this tragic crisis causing so much heartache throughout the Middle East, it's not all bad news.

Check out this short, compelling video of the work being done to build communities of hope in Iraq.

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Christmas & New Year in Oz

Christmas is definitely a favorite time of the year for the Buxton family. The tree is up and the kids are asking every day if it is Christmas yet. 

This year we will be waving goodbye to the snow-capped mountains of Kurdistan and heading to a hot Australia to be with Tim's family. We will be tagging on a few extra weeks and taking an extended break after what has been a huge first 18 months in Northern Iraq.

We will be sharing at churches in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. We can't wait to catch up with all our Aussie friends, so please shoot us an email at tim@flickerflame.org to find out where we will be during our visit.

Watch out Australia, here we come!!

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Fall in Love With Learning

The last three months at the community center has seen the incredible development of our school for refugees. We like to call it "The Love Does School", a place where the lives of these children can be healed and their future restored. We are so grateful for World Challenge and the ongoing partnership of Restore International. Together we have been able to introduce computer classes, Math lessons, and craft and sport activities in addition to the English course.

We have big dreams for next year, with hopes to increase the student hours from 6hours/week to 20hours/week. To do this we need to hire more teachers, expand our curriculum and purchase more resources. If you want to be part of educating refugee children visit www.therefugeinitiative.org to donate. 

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Winterization is Under Way

The mountains are covered in snow, the weather is in the 30's (single digits celsius) and we are tasked with making sure all the refugees and those in dire need are going to survive the bitter cold months of winter. This includes purchasing barrels of kerosene, distributing warm clothing and blankets, and making sure homes are insulated and warm. 

One of the most heart-warming gestures came from a grandma in New Zealand who knitted by hand 130 woolen hats for the refugee children. The joy on their faces as they picked out their unique beanie was priceless - Thank God for grandmas!!!

That being said, thanks to the generous support of friends all over the world we are off to a great start. If you would like to help us keep refugees, widows and orphans warm this winter than visit www.therefugeinitiative.org to make a donation. 

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Our Fall eNewsletter 2015

Once again, we want to thank every one who has supported us this year. Your love, prayers and encouragement has given us the ability and strength to serve here in Northern Iraq... we made it through another year only by the grace of God.

We hope you enjoy getting up to speed with all that we have been up to here in Northern Iraq in this, our Autumn edition of the flickerflame eNewsletter. (Click on Image below)

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Fall in Beautiful Kurdistan

As you can see Kurdistan has some of the most striking scenery that the world has to offer. We are so fortunate to live here and with every opportunity we do our best to enjoy God's magnificent creation. Our valley town is completely enclosed by imposing mountains, now covered with snow. There are beautiful gorges and remote villages to explore. One of our favorite things to do on our "Family Day" is take a long drive and enjoy a picnic with our Kurdish friends. 

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Tents to Homes Update

In October a masive storm ripped through our refugee camps, all but flattening the tents and causing widespread damage. Refugee families were forced to take shelter in a nearby soccer stadium and wait out the storm. We knew that we had to do something to build them stronger homes with winter just around the corner. 

How cool are the piggy bank homes (pictured above) built by the kids ministry of Mitchelton Presbyterian Church!!

How cool are the piggy bank homes (pictured above) built by the kids ministry of Mitchelton Presbyterian Church!!

We created the #tentstohomes campaign and within a few days churches from Australia & the UK and USA jumped on board and helped us get started on the urgent project to convert 70 Yazidi tents to concrete homes. 

Needless to say we have been overwhelmed by the support that we have received and on Thanksgiving Day (Nov 26) we completed the last concrete home at the Rwandz Expansion camp. A huge thanks goes out to The Legacy Collective for getting us across the finish line.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Soran

It goes without saying that we have so much to be thankful for. God continues to provide for our family and ministry here in every way. We have some wonderful friends here in Soran that we can do life with. But most of all, we are grateful for Jesus... the One who has rescued, loved us and who is the Hope of the world.

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Worldwide Visitors

We had one of the most epic season of teams this year with guests from Australia, Switzerland, Tennessee, Portland, New Zealand, Egypt, Colorado, Canada, Pennsylvania, London, Greece and Norway. We did the math and we have hosted almost 130 guests since January... thats a lot of meals and beds to be made. Let me just say that my wife is amazing!

The teams were wonderful; conducting medical clinics and maternity classes, painting buildings, installing kitchens, teaching music lessons, distributing aid, climbing mountains and generally causing mayhem all over Soran (good mayhem, of course). 

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Finding Paradise in Kurdistan

After a scrumptious picnic with dear friends we set off to discover one of the most beautiful hidden locations in all of Kurdistan. A stream, the greenest grass you have ever seen and trees wiry leaves turning golden brown. This is Fall in Kurdistan.

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Fall = Filming Documentaries

We hosted a few film-makers this fall that are shooting documentaries of the work that is being done amongst refugees and the work of the Gospel in the Middle East. One documentary by FAI Studies called "Sheep Among Wolves" was released on December 1st. You can check out the trailer below.

Ian Pratt (pictured below holding the Yazidi girl), is in the final stages of producing a short piece on The Refuge Initiative. We can't we to share that with you.. so stay tuned! Ian has a pretty cool Instagram account, check him out @ipratt.

I had a blast spending three days filming with my good friend Robi Sonderegger and his two film-makers from Switzerland. They are shooting a documentary about trauma rehabilitation amongst refugees called "Beyond Zero" and it's gonna be super! They even brought with them a cool drone to get some stunning ariel footage of the region, and wherever they launched it they sure did draw a crowd. 

Stay tuned and I'll let you know when these documentaries are released.

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