” For to this end we toil and strive because we have our hope set on the living God, Who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” I Timothy 4:10
Thank you for your faithful prayers for us these past five months! We have been on quite the African Adventure! We do love our missionary life! We had times of both ups and downs, some creature adventures, witnessed beautiful sunrises and sunsets, had the joy of being with our national staff and enjoyed teaching and fellowshipping with our national Bible school students. We are grateful the Lord kept us healthy this trip and that we returned healthy. We are grateful for safety and protection over the many miles. We are grateful for wisdom and discernment to handle the issues we encountered. Tom challenged me, while reading a devotional on Romans 8, to memorize the entire chapter. I can say that it wasn’t as easy for me as in the past, but I did manage to memorize the entire 8th chapter of Romans. I found that focusing on Scripture gave me peace regardless of what was going on around me as well as kept me from being anxious. I need to make it a habit to memorize Scripture on a regular basis because I learned so much.
Our travels to Africa began with leading a group of teens to Ethiopia to build an orphanage. I need to admit it was a challenging month in many respects, but we saw the blessings of the Lord along the way. Our national missionary host was amazing and we fell in love with his gentle and kind spirit. I cried when saying goodbye to Chimdi. Each morning Tom, an assistant leader, and the team would walk 30 minutes to the work site. When we visited the project site, what met us was an empty field and many goats. The first project was to build an outhouse so we had facilities to use while on the work site. We were able to put in the foundations and build walls up several layers. An unusual first for us was to see all the building supplies delivered via donkey carts. It rained daily, however, the country was quite beautiful. Our sleeping compound was just around the corner from the orphanage so the team had daily interaction with the orphans which was a source of great joy. Their beautiful smiles at the end of a hard day’s work were very rewarding. I stayed in the compound with the two teens assigned to KP and usually the other assistant leader and we would work on meals and try to keep the monkeys out of the trash. The meals were prepared over charcoal or firewood and I found the teens to be quite gracious with what we prepared. We shared in churches each Sunday and the team was well received. While handing out Gospel coins on the walk to the work site, we were blessed to have one young man come to the site to tell us he had accepted Christ as a result of reading John 3:16 inscribed on the coin. He continued to show up for encouragement the remainder of our stay. What a wonderful blessing! The Lord bless you and keep you 2017 Ethiopia Team.
We felt as if our time in Cameroon went by too quickly. We were there two weeks and spent our time auditing finances, teaching classes and encouraging and praying with our national staff. Our staff Vitalis and Richard, along with their wives, have been so faithful throughout the year. We were blessed to add a new staff baby to our growing brood. Vitalis and Elizabeth are the proud parents of Nisi who was born September 23, 2017. I had not been to Cameroon since 2015, so the staff invited us to a special meal before we left. Oh, how we love Cameroon and its people! We would appreciate your prayers for Cameroon. The country is in conflict and as a result, our staff are facing difficult situations. The government has shut down all internet usage in the Northwest and Southwest provinces (all our work is in the Northwest), all schools are closed (including our BMW) and have been closed over a year and twice a week they close all the shops in town. It is unfortunate that all the orphans are out of school as well. At this point, all our staff are safe and work at the Rescue Units and on the MSSM circuit continues unhindered. Pray for peace in Cameroon.
We spent a month in Malawi to assist with the turnover of new country coordinators, which went well. We had some adventures with the area monkeys. One day I found one right in our room trying to steal the bananas. We had the opportunity to visit several Rescue Units and Matron Units. We took the time to visit the Rumphi base which is eight hours north. We had never visited this base and really enjoyed our time there. We met with the king of the Chitumbuka people and he told us how much he loved Teen Missions. He had found a small boy in the open market witnessing to a vendor, and he asked the boy where he had learned to preach so well. The boy, with boldness, said that he learned at Teen Missions and was so happy to preach about Jesus. The king was so impressed with the boy’s courage and ability. We both attended the wedding of Austin and Beatrice, two of our precious national staff. Austin helped Tom with the well drilling in the summer of 2016. It was a joy to experience a Malawian wedding. I had the opportunity to teach at the national Debrief and to facilitate classes at the refresher with all the Rescue Unit and MSSM staff. We really had a lot of fun at the refresher. Our national staff really love each other and giggle and talk together late into the night. ( we know this because our room was on the other side of the wall). We have some great people at our bases who love the Lord and are faithful staff members. Many have walked through difficult times. I was especially blessed by Steven, a staff member who recently had experienced the death of his second child in the last two years. Both children died after a few days of birth and the cause was due to the lack of proper care through the delivery. He was full of faith and encouragement for others despite the path he has walked. It blessed us and humbled us to walk alongside people like he and his wife.
This was our first trip to the country of Zambia, so now we have visited all the African bases. We had wonderful fellowship with our staff. The day after we arrived we attended a refresher with all the Rescue Unit and MSSM staff. There were over 50 staff and 30 children in for the refresher. It was cute to hear the children play a game of pretend Boot Camp. Africans in general sing beautifully, but the Zambians were amazing. I also had the privilege to teach a Bible class at our BMW. Interestingly, I was asked to teach on Romans 8, the chapter I had just memorized., funny how God works. I sure had fun. Tom trained several of our Zambian national staff on the use of the well-drilling machine. He had a great time of fellowship with those men. I was able to travel with another staff member to a Rescue Unit in Lufwanyama; it was a four-hour trip each way. We went to pick up maize. I was excited to see Teen Missions very first Rescue Unit. Our facilitator there is an orphan himself who was raised at the Unit, finished BMW school and now is the facilitator. You could see that he is well loved and a good facilitator. I also visited one of the Matron Units on that trip as well. We enjoyed our time in Zambia and hope to return one day.
Uganda was our last stop on the 2017 African Adventure, it was also very busy. We spent time auditing finances, teaching a new financial system, and praying with and encouraging our national staff. One of the fun little highlights for us was to take the national staff family out to lunch, something they never do. The kids, who are 9, 7 and 3, loved getting pizza and a coke. It was such a blessing to see them so excited. Tom drove all over the place, which is challenging since it’s on the opposite side of the road. We were unable to make the trip to the Rescue Units so we called the guys to come to us for meetings. We also met with our lawyer and finally have all of our incorporation papers completed. We felt like we could have spent more time there but we were happy to return home.
We are adjusting back to American culture and life. Believe it or not, it’s always more difficult coming back this side. Some adjustments are easy, like hot showers versus bucket baths, having power versus using solar flashlights, and not chasing monkeys and rats away from my food supply. I really missed my daughter Kalah. She picked us up from the airport and took two days off to spend with us when we returned. She is doing a great job as a teacher, and this year is the lead teacher for the kindergarten program at her school. Zachary is still working and attending seminary and all seems to be going well with him. Tom and Deena, Elsie and Jude are doing good in Michigan. Elsie turned five years old in September and it’s so difficult to believe that much time has already gone by. Both Tom and Deena have new job roles and are enjoying them. Daniel and Kelsey welcomed Aurora Bella Maher on May 24, 2017. She is beautiful and brother Link has adjusted well to his little sister. We so enjoy our time with our grandchildren. We are working in our respective offices and getting back into the swing of life and ministry here in Merritt Island.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU to those of you who support us in prayer and giving. We are blessed beyond what we would ever deserve. You are such a blessing and because of your partnership, we are able to continue.
1. Tom’s brother, David, has stage 4 brain cancer.
2. Pray for the continued health of Linda’s parents.
3. Pray for wisdom in our jobs and responsibilities.
1. Praise God for safety, health, and protection while in Africa.
2. Praise God for Aurora Bella.
3. Praise God for supporters who are faithful in prayer and giving.