Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! We hope and trust you all experienced the Lord’s blessings throughout the Christmas season; it really is a special time of the year.
I think each of us remembers being in grade school and thinking, “I’ll never be old enough to drive”— time seemed to stand still. Now it seems as if the table has turned and years pass by in moments. There have been many changes, blessings and challenges in the last 10 years for us. Personally we saw Daniel marry and we gained another precious daughter-in-law; we welcomed the arrival of five grandchildren who have become a great source of joy and finally discovered that I had a gluten allergy which has been life-changing as I have learned to eat differently. We have seen parents, siblings, co-workers, supporters and dear friends move on to heaven. In ministry we led nine teams, travelled to all eight African bases plus Rwanda, Ethiopia, Honduras, Ecuador, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, China and had the opportunity to minister to hundreds. The relationships we have established with our national coordinators and staff have been an incredible blessing. Our “word” of the year list for the past ten years has been: door, faith endurance, steadfast, anchor, refuge, serve, hope, assurance and calm. Each of those words helped us focus on the power of the Word of God in our lives and ministry, and in our reliance on God for everything we need. It’s been so encouraging to see how God has directed us and met us along the way. Our chosen “word” for 2020 is PATH. “The heart of man plans his way BUT (emphasis mine) the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) All too often we make our plans and then just try to execute the plans, not really realizing that sometimes there is too much concern for, “What I want instead of what God wants” at the heart of it all. The wonderful thing about being in a relationship with Jesus is that He takes those feeble offerings, corrects us in the selfish thinking and then redeems it to His glory. I am utterly amazed as I look back on four decades of ministry and can say, YOU GOD have truly directed and guided my steps. Some of those steps brought surprises, some pain but in the long run, they were good and accomplished a purpose in our lives.
There are a few major milestones for us in 2020. We will celebrate 40 years of marriage this year. So hard to believe that once upon a time a crazy, outgoing redhead married a shy nerdy guy, and it has turned into an epic love story that has spanned four decades! THANK YOU GOD! I will turn 60 this year. As the reality slowly hits that I have lived six decades, I can only stand in amazement that God chooses to use me and can only cry out, “Oh God may you find me faithful”.
On November 9th Tom and I headed north for a much-needed deputation and vacation trip. Our first stop was in Waxhaw, NC to spend time with dear friends, Rich and Esther Collingridge and Mike and Jodi Bunn. We initially met the Collingridges’ in Cameroon and they were very instrumental in helping establish our base and work there. Rich and Esther are now retired, after years on the mission field, and live with their daughter and son-in-law (The Bunns) who serve with JAARS. We had a wonderful time touring the JAARS facility, fellowshipping with each other and even participating in a morning of prayer with veteran missionaries who have had great impact in proclaiming the Gospel. Our next stop was Pennsylvania, where we visited and gave updates to four supporting churches and shared meals and fellowship with supporters, friends and family. We stayed with my mother—it was difficult to walk through that front door and realize that for the first time in my life, daddy would not be there, however, we had a great time with mom. Tom helped with several maintenance issues around her house and mom and I tackled sorting out the room she dubs, “her office”. We shared tears, laughter and wonderful memories. We were blessed to have time with several of my siblings as well. The next stop was an overnight in Ohio on the way to Tommy’s in Michigan. We had the blessing of being hosted by the Walden family. Their oldest son, Josiah, was on our Malawi team in 2018. This year all three children are on TMI teams! We met the entire family, including grandma, grandpa and aunts. Josiah’s mom and aunts are former team members from the 90s. It is so encouraging to see how the next generation of TMIers are sending their children on summer trips! Tom was in his glory when he had the opportunity to help roast coffee in the family garage. Thank you Walden family! On the way out of town we met with other friends and had a wonderful time of encouragement and fellowship. The last stop before returning to Florida was to be with Tommy, Deena, Elise and Jude for Thanksgiving. We spent Thanksgiving day with Deena’s family and it was a blessing to renew our friendship with her parents and brother. We have five days of precious memories of shopping, watching movies, playing trains and dolls, reading books, sharing knock knock jokes and playing hide and seek with the kids. Tom and Tommy enjoy talking geek when they are together and I love watching their love and respect for each other. Tommy took us on a tour of downtown Detroit and we had fun exploring used bookstores and coffee shops.
We had two weeks of off during the Christmas season. The office was closed and we shared the responsibility of security on the property. We took many long walks on our property, put together jigsaw puzzles and did some needed yard work. Kalah hosted the Christmas cookie baking at her house and Link, Aurora and Daisy were our helpers (toddlers and sprinkles is quite the adventure). Sunday, the 22nd, we met Tom’s sister Diane, her husband and three daughters, his brother Jim, his son and fiancee, along with Kalah and Zach at an area restaurant. It is a rare blessing to be together and the cousins had not seen each other in years. We had a blast and talked and laughed for hours. We took turns hosting the meals during the holidays. Kalah hosted Christmas Eve with us and Zach. We had fun playing table games before heading to the Christmas Eve service at church. I hosted both Christmas day with the four of us and then dinner with Daniel’s family on the 26th. We had fun watching the kids open their gifts and also celebrated Daisy’s first birthday. Kalah and I shared an overnight and girls day. A friend gave us Disney tickets and we did a day at Epcot together. Tom and I also had Link and Aurora for an overnight with Papa and Nana. We played at the park, the house and just had too much fun loving on our precious grandchildren. Uncle Zach joins in the games of hide and seek and GI Joes which the kids love.
Tom has a massive undertaking in his lap this year. He is working with a company to streamline and rebuild our database and make it interactive with our website—tons of data and code to go through. We would both covet your prayers for him during this time and for the training of the staff once it is finished. I am so proud of Tom. He uses his gifts and abilities to help others. I am working in Personnel with our volunteers, teaching in our Bible school and writing. We currently have eight winter volunteers who are such a joy and blessing to be around. I will have a unique opportunity this spring. Teen Missions is partnering with an organization called Teach Them Diligently (TTD) which is a homeschool convention group. We have been asked to run a teen and children’s program to accommodate the youth while their parents attend the convention. We are doing seven venues and I will be at six of the seven working in the teen program. Our theme for the teen program is, A Generation of Change. What a privilege to work with hundreds of teens and inspire them to make a difference for Christ. I would appreciate your prayers for safe travel, good health and that I would be a godly witness.
We will share our summer plans with you in the Spring Newsletter.
We are so grateful for our faithful supporters. What a blessing you are to us! THANK YOU for partnering with us to reach others with the Gospel. You are loved! Thank you to everyone that sent Christmas cards and family updates. We love hearing from you. We were also so blessed by those who chose to give year-end gifts. THANK YOU.
Because He lives,
Tom and Linda Maher
- Safety on our trip to visit family and supporters
- Good health
- The blessing of family
- God’s faithful provision through faithful supporters and prayer partners.
- Continued good health and strength.
- Pray for Tom as he coordinates the database and website changes.
- Pray for me as I travel and minister to teens across the country at the TTD conferences.
- Pray for the continued good health of my mom, Eleanor.
- Pray for good recruitment for the 2020 summer missions trips.
- Pray we will continue to serve the Lord with perseverance, grace and thankfulness.
Tom & Linda MaherSuggested Donation: $50.00 – subscription plan available