“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”
Hebrews 6: 17-19
Thank you seems the most logical place for me to start with this newsletter update. First and foremost, I am so thankful to the Lord for His steadfast love, faithfulness and mercy. It is such a privilege that He chooses to use us to proclaim His love and faithfulness. Secondly, we realize how important YOU, our prayer and financial team are to continuing in ministry. THANK YOU. You are loved, appreciated and such a crucial part of what we do!!!
We had a fruitful and wonderful time in Cameroon this summer, in fact one of the best times we have had in years. I am not saying we didn’t face our issues and have a few struggles along the way, but overall it was good. Often times we find our greatest victories are born out of struggles and difficulties.
NORTH AMERICAN TEAM
The first part of our journey involved taking a team of 20 American and Canadian teens and two assistant leaders to our beloved Cameroon. The projects we completed included; teaching classes for four days at the national Boot Camp, visiting two of the AIDS Orphans Rescue Units and washing, treating and placing shoes on the feet of 403 children, painting the doors, windows and outside of one of the Units and painting the goal posts at the base soccer field. We also did presentations in several churches, open air presentations and multiple puppet shows at the Units. We presented the Gospel each time and 65 accepted Christ as their Savior.
We had some adventurous travel experiences to say the least. Our trip to our second Unit located in Gom village is 100k from the base and normally takes eight hours to reach, but for us it was a journey of 13 hours. The first leg of the trip was a public bus to the village of Ndu which took four hours. In Ndu we had to switch from the 24 seater bus to bush taxis. Tom and our staff man Richard negotiated for over an hour with the drivers on a good price to take us down the mountain to the Unit. I was so not happy with the condition of the vehicles. You get a bit nervous when they need to push start them and need to take two extra men to push and the vehicle is in obvious disrepair. We finally settled on the price, loaded the vehicles which were packed and headed toward the Unit under clear skies. An hour into the trip the rains hit hard and the roads got really bad. We had to get out multiple times to walk and slip and slide down the hill while the drivers and the pushers got the vehicles unstuck. It was a white knuckle trip with lots of prayer. When we finally arrived at the Unit we were soaked to the skin, it was 10:30 PM, everything we owned was wet and we were muddy, tired and hungry. Tom and the team set up tents while my lady leader, Bella, and I made peanut butter sandwiches. It was a long night, but Tom and I felt the Lord must have something great in store for us. One of the vehicles did break down and we had to shuttle the team in on the last few miles. The next day the drivers had repaired the vehicle and so came to park at the Unit and stay with us for the five days. We gave them a tent to sleep in, which was quite the experience for them. I included them in our meals, they watched us and even went to church with us. The last night we were in the village our facilitators led one of the men to Christ. On our trip out he was so joyful and happy. The church service we participated in was packed and these people had never seen puppets or such a large group of white teens before. In fact the entire time we were in Gom, we were surrounded by curious onlookers. Tom and I were still hearing reports of how blessed the pastors and people were by our visit a month later. The teens themselves were a great group. They were young, but teachable and respectful. They enjoyed life and we had much laughter on our team. We had great times in God’s Word together and saw some genuine spiritual growth in many lives. We love you 2014 Cameroon Foot Washing Team!!
We took the team to the capital to fly home on August 4th and it was a tearful goodbye. I fell in love with Bella and the teens and it was hard to say “see you again someday”. I was also very sick and trying to hide my symptoms from the team until they left. Tom, Vitalis, Richard and I needed to make a side trip to Limbe to visit a national team on the way home. It was a long day for me physically, but because the 5th was my birthday we spent the night in a guesthouse alongside the beautiful black sand beaches for a treat. Upon arrival back at the base I was in the doctor’s office and was treated for malaria and a strong strep infection. I guess God wanted me to slow down for a bit. I was able to rest and recover in time for the national Debrief and was able to teach several classes. We love Debrief time where we can hear testimonies of the Lord’s goodness. We had 115 national teens and leaders go on four teams this year. Due to their combined evangelistic outreaches 2,994 accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour! The harvest field was surely plentiful this year!
I personally love hearing how God worked individually in their lives. Two testimonies stand out to me. One boy shared how he was having difficulty memorizing his verses and didn’t understand why we required something so hard. The boy did love to eat so the very wise leader, Caleb, one day put out 40 gatto (fried doughnuts) and said, “How long would these fill your stomach and sustain you?” The boy replied, like most young boys, “Two days.” He then took the 40 verses and said this spiritual food will last you for a life time. The boy really understood and tried very hard from that point on and in fact ended up being one of the top quizzers. One of the girls, Mary, sang a testimony that she was so in love with Jesus she did not want to go back to her old lifestyle. The things she used to do she no longer had the desire to do. These life changes are what encourage us so much.
At the end of Debrief we held the BMW graduation. We graduated three students and commissioned five. We held a four-day refresher with all our Rescue Unit facilitators after Debrief and had a great time of spiritual renewal, fellowship and classes to get everyone on the same page. We also spent time visiting the two other Units we didn’t take the U.S. team to. We spent a few days with the MSSM Sunday School Circuit, had what seemed like endless meetings—some bearing good news and some with difficulties to iron out, worked on six months worth of finances and did some needed physical projects around the base. The days were long, but fulfilling. Tom, who has the patience of Job, taught our two older staff boys—Tommy, 10 and Jesse, 8—how to saw and sand when we made 120 individual lap chalkboards for the Sunday schools to use. Those boys were thrilled that they helped Papa Tom. We both got in lots of Papa and Mama time with all five of the staff boys. Jireh is two and he was a riot, greeting us each morning and following us all around wanting to do everything we did. We love our staff and are so pleased with the job they do in handling the base when we are away. We studied the book of Luke while in Africa and the Lord truly refreshed our hearts and spirits.
We arrived back to Florida on September 6, but unfortunately did not arrive healthy. I arrived with a double ear infection and bronchitis and proceeded to share the bronchitis with Tom. Our first week back was a time of rest and lots of coughing. Tom jumped right back into several computer projects, plus helping to maintain the database and websites. Right now the plan for me is to continue handling the Leader Placement Department, remain the in-house Editor and do the accounting for both AOSC and MSSM. I will be turning the day-to-day running of MSSM over to others. I will have a few secretaries to help and look forward to helping others learn and take on responsibility. We have some gifted people here who will really be a blessing. I still may have my fingers in the pie so to speak and help with training both here and overseas. We are on a term break right now so I won’t be teaching in the Bible school till the new year. I know I need the time to get organized and give each of my responsibilities the attention they need to bring honor to the Lord.
We are so excited that our family is growing. Tom and Deena are expecting their second child March 17, 2015 and Daniel and Kelsey are expecting baby number one March 1, 2015. Pray with us that each of our precious daughters-in-love will have good pregnancies with the delivery of healthy children. WE are truly blessed!!! Tom and Deena have set the cute bar pretty high. Our little Elsie turned two on September 16 and is such a blessing. We love our time via Skype and she says “Hi Nana and Papa.” She is getting quite chatty and the newest topic is that she is going to visit the moon.
Kalah is enjoying her kindergarten class, although she has a few challenging boys this year. I do plan to go and spend a day with her soon. She is such a gifted teacher and great friend to us. We love her so much. Zachary is doing well. His diabetes is under control with the help of his pump. He is loving his job at an area grocery store and is so excited about seminary. He is getting A’s and B’s and is so content. Daniel and Kelsey are loving married life and doing great. A baby so soon was unexpected, but they are happy and moving forward. Of course, we don’t mind one bit having a grandchild so close.
We are not sure yet when and if we will have an opportunity to go north, either for deputation or time with our families. We need to coordinate office schedules along with working out our vehicle situation. We will make sure to let you all know when we head your way.
Again THANK YOU for your prayers and faithful giving. As you can see from the letter your prayers protect and direct us as we serve. You are all such a blessing!!
1. Safety and the Lord’s blessing on our time in Cameroon
2. Those who came to Christ this summer
3. The blessing of two more grandchildren
4. The time of refreshing we experienced while in Africa
1. Good health and wisdom for our responsibilities
2. Healthy pregnancies for Deena and Kelsey
3. That Kalah would have a good school year making an impact in these young lives
4. Zachary as he studies
5. Consistent financial support
Because HE Lives,
Tom and Linda Maher