From: PFC Tyson Bieker (Marine Corp) - May 2008
How are you? I am doing pretty good right now. I am in Camp Pendelton, California. I am stationed out here for now. We've been moving at a pretty fast pace. We don't slow down and all during our training. We hike anywhere between 12 and 20 miles every Friday with our full combat load on. Our main packs weigh 120 pound, and since I am a SAW gunner, I carry a 20 pound machine gun, too.
We are gearing up to go to Bridge Port for mountain training. That is about 9 hours away from here. We are also going to be doing helo missions involving helicopters. We will be jumping out, fast roping, repelling, and doing static lines on the helicopters. Then we will be going down to Hawthorne, Nevada, for more of the same thing. We will come back for about a month, and then head out to 29 Palms for Operation Mojave Viper in the Mojave Desert. We will be there for a little over a month. We will be sharpening our skills in urban combat and patrolling techniques.
We will get some leave in December for Christmas, and then it is off to the big "sand box" in the middle east (Iraq) for a 7-9 month tour. We could be getting deployed to Afghanistan, but probably not.
I go through about 2 gallons of water a day out here, not because it is hot or dry, but because we are always moving and sweating. Out here in California, it is actually really cool in the morning, even in late May. It is a really comfortable climate. I don't get to enjoy it much because of my job. I do enjoy some of the scenery on the hikes though. We will go up some of these tall mountains, and you can see for miles out into the ocean. I can also see Catalina Island that is about 30 miles off the coast. We go to that island sometimes for training. It is pretty fun.
I am sending you guys some pictures for the newsletter, and I will try to send some box tops and such as much as I can. Tell Mr. & Mrs. Snavely I said hi.
PFC Tyson Bieker
From: Devin Mulpas -- November 2006
Jeff & Devin Mulpas, Perry, Kansas
Click here for a downloadable version of Devin's story.
Hi, my name is Devin, and I lived at Alpha for 15 years. I was born in Georgia , and lived most of my first 3 years in Tennessee . I come from a worldly, and sometimes abusive, family. I came to live at Alpha when I was 3 years old, with my twin brother Darrell, and older brother, Patrick.
As hard as it is to believe, I actually remember that day. It is the first memory I can recall. It was a long drive, and we stopped at McDonalds to eat. I remember walking up the sidewalk, carrying my happy meal. We went in the front door, into the living room, and there were a lot of kids in there sitting on couches, the fire place hearth, and the floor. They were smiling, and they were waiting to meet us. Some were my age, and some were older. I remember being confused, and not understanding why we were left.
It was several years later that I finally knew the reasons, and understood. Our abusive father had abandoned us, and our mother was in prison for fraud. Our grandmother, who we call Nonnie, had been taking care of us. She made the decision to get us away from our family, knowing that being raised in such an environment would be harmful to us. She made a decision, and we traveled several hours away to Kansas , and Alpha Christian Children's Home. To this day Nonnie apologizes to me for that decision. And every time I tell her that there is nothing to apologize for. Alpha was by far the best decision she ever made on our behalf.
Alpha provided a place of security and love, something that all children need. All children should feel safe in their own homes with their families, but unfortunately that is not always the case. My parents at Alpha, Jack and Anne Snavely, (Mom and Dad to me) took us into their home, and raised us up in Christ, all the while loving us as their own children. I never realized how rare of a love that they displayed to us really is until I was out on my own, and was able to observe other mixed and broken homes. As a Minister's wife I see them often; they are all around us. I asked one mom who was having problems with her 12 year old step daughter, “Do you love her?” She looked back at me and said with some hesitation, “I don't think that I do.” Every person, no matter how young or old, desires one thing above all others. We need to know that someone loves us; we need to know that someone cares. And in that moment I was struck with a question I had never really considered before . . . What if they had not loved me? And I knew that I had been blessed.
We were in Tennessee visiting family. We were young teens, and in that stage where people ask you what you want to do with your life. My brother, Darrell, answered our mother's question with the words, “I want to do something that changes the world.” His answer was met with such phrases as, “that's impossible” and “nothing you could ever do is going to change the world.”
Mom and Dad [Snavely] never told us that we couldn't accomplish what we set out to do. Kids came to Alpha who would hit their heads on their school desks in frustration. They had been told their whole lives that they “can't”; that they were stupid . . . and they believed it. “I can't” is a common phrase to hear. I've seen my mom [Anne Snavely] take those kids, set them beside her, and show them, “Yes you can, and I will help.” Mom and Dad set us up for success by encouraging us to finish what we started, educating us, and letting us dream big. When we would say, “I think I want to . . .” they always answered with positive encouragement.
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Biblical Literature from Ozark Christian College in 2002. A few weeks later I married the man of my dreams whom I met in my very first class, on my very first day of college. A week later we started our first and current church ministry in Nashville , Ohio . My husband, Jeff, is the associate minister in our church, and I work as the church administrative assistant. Together we have dedicated our lives to ministry and serving God in whatever manner He desires from us. Our decision was influenced through the examples of both of our families, and together we are working to “change the world.” I thank God that He gave me family that could be such an example to me. They did change the world. They broke a cycle. They showed love, and they changed my life. My world was changed.
Mom told me once that she and Dad were not special. That all they did was follow God's leading and desire to do His will. However, the more I experience life I realize that that very quality is what made them special. And I pray that my life can be as fruitful, and that I can be used of God in such a manner. God gave each of us a job to do, but few take up the cross. Oh, that it were a commonality of the Christian faith, that outsiders could say, “That's nothing special. Christians ALWAYS live their lives with such devotion to God's will.”
From: Bob & Jane Wiles about William Stanely -- 2006
Hi Jack & Anne,
Was so nice to see you yesterday & you will never know how it thrilled William. You will always be special to him & all of us for all you did for him when he needed it most. Just wanted to thank you & tell you what it meant to all of us. [In April 2006 the Snavelys attended William's deployment ceremony in Topeka, Kansas, as he was deployed to serve in Iraq for a year with the Army as a Chaplain's Assistant after some training in the states is completed.]
God bless you.
Jane & Bob Wiles
Patrick Thomason -- Christmas 2005
Patrick Thomason brought his family to visit last year (2005) and introduced newborn Courtney to the family. Rachel, Patrick's wife, held their 2 year old grinning son, Corbin, as they sat for a photo. Patrick is a Sheriff's deputy for the Jasper County Sheriff's Department in Missouri. Patrick and Rachel now have three children. He graduated from Alpha's school in 1996. They are a wonderful family!
I was baptized when I was young. I did not know the full meaning, and I did not understand it well. I did not live as a Christian would. I moved to Alpha when I was 16. It was an attempt to show me that Jesus still loves me. The attempt was successful. I learned more about Jesus and the way to gain wisdom, than most people will learn in a lifetime, in 10 months. I learned very much from the Christian education. I also learned very much from Mrs. Snavely, Mr. Snavely, Sam Lyles, Barbara Lyles, Will Lenker, and Morgan Lenker. I honestly will say that they are the reason I rededicated my life to Jesus. I know it is going to be hard, but as Matthew 19:26 says…with God all things are possible. Thank you Mrs. Snavely for everything, and God bless you.
From: Bob & Jane Wiles (grandparents of William)
Dear Anne & Jack
Hope you had a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.
I wanted to thank you again for all the help you have given William. Words cannot express my feelings, but I thank God every night in my prayers for all you have done. He [William] is working in Casey's Pizza place here in Chanute. He has worked anywhere from 11 to 13 hours a day. [William's parents] are having their Christmas today so he plans to follow his folks home and spend a couple of days….
…Just wanted to write you a note and thank you both for all you have done for William for the last 3 ½ years. I think back to how he was when he came to Alpha and how he is now—and it is a miracle. I appreciate all the love and understanding and help you all gave him.
Jane & Bob Wiles