“The Spirit worked in the first Discovering Change seminars, as well as in the start of the ladies' mentoring group. Heart level work is progressing there and in counsellees! As counselling requests increase, may workers equipped for the harvest also increase, and all funding. Thank God that Love has entered into this evil regime and walks among and through us, to rescue us completely! Merry Christmas!”
We are wishing you a very Merry Christmas! here are a handful of updates from us:
1. In July, we saw God’s miraculous provision to explore the call He had long-given both of us to follow him to the MidEast/CentralAsia. On our vision trip, we met the teams and saw the land to which we feel called. It was a whirlwind of a time (that seems to be a motif in our life story!) and we are truly grateful for all that we learned. We returned home, and have been prayerfully considering the options. We believe that God is calling us there. Would you pray for us as we continue in this direction? Our particular people group has few workers. We plan to pursue language learning visa for the first years, but after that, we really hope to find some sustainable ways to help other Brazilian teams be established with a visa pathway, as well.
2. We are expecting a baby! First trimester has had S reconsidering her relationship with all food, but we are all in good health. We plan to deliver in Brazil, be here for the first 4-6 months of baby’s life, and have some months in NA before transitioning to our future field. Thankfully, this timeline coincides well with I's transition plan from leadership in Brazil. We anticipate this time will be full of all of the new things, as well as preparing for our move to come!
3. We had the privilege of hosting our org's international board of directors. They have been discerning whether or not to start sending Brazilians, and, by unanimous vote, they decided that they would! We are beyond delighted. As we look at the next decade of sending from Brazil, it is entirely possible that one of barriers will be not enough international sending orgs who are equipped to support workers. We are hopeful that many of the “old faithful agencies” with 100+ years of experience in international sending will become excellent at sending from the majority world.
4. We just got home from the Brazil’s national M conference in November. Because of the pandemic, it had been 5 years since the last one, and there were 1200+ in attendance! I was officially launching the new ministries. S was launching the sending org for the first time. This plan was made before we knew we were expecting; we are so thankful that we were protected from COVID!
5. Your prayers to equip our Brazilian team with English before we leave have been answered in a HUGE way. Not only have 6 Christian homes offered to host our 9 ministry workers, but the school Shay used to teach at in Toronto has offered free tuition. Our thankfulness brings us to tears. Now, we are just waiting for the visas to come. If you are in the Toronto area and would like to meet with our team while they are there in early 2023, please let us know.
"Margaret and I celebrated the birth of our son, Benjamin, on November 28th and I will be taking time to be with my family over the next few weeks." -- Nick
Today (Sunday, December 4) we are attending our outdoor church service. Today the new bishop will be ordained as the bishop for Tabora. Pastor yoshua Lusatu. He seems a very nice and competent person. Over 70 pastors, bishops as well as government officials and a few hundred AICT members from different parts of the country. This is the first service. There will be a break for lunch and at 3 pm we continue...a long day!
Skylark is also a Bridge to children and families.
While groups continue to congretate at the Skylark Retreat Centre for their important events, please remember that your support of our Christ-centred programming has an incredible impact on local Nicaraguan famillies.
When 4-year-old Darwin arrived at the Best Start in Christ pre-school program two years ago, he was non-verbal. He expressed himself primarily with signs and gestures. Darwin has mild autism and is raised in a home with parents who cannot hear.
Over daily time spent at 'school' with other children, and under the guidance of loving teachers Martha and Rachel, Darwin has made considerable progress in his language and social development. Originally unable to follow instructions and absorb the materials from the early-childhood curriculum, he now does so very well and with care. He expresses affection, talks about his day and enjoys singing. The change that has been witnessed is remarkable and we thank God.
Support the Skylark "Bridge"
More "here to there" stories of the difference that the Skylark Centre is making in the lives of individuals and churches in Nicaragua is possible because you believe in the work. Thank you to all who have already supported the bridge!
Today is Giving Tuesday.
The day presents an opportunity to provide a little something to a stranger after the rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Will you consider a child like Darwin in your giving?
The photo shows a man clutching his prized bag of bread and trying to make it out of the crowd in Beirut. I am still able to supply help to the orphanage village and my pastor friends' Syrian refugee camp by his church.
Some of the children that gather to read and colour four afternoons a week here in the complex where I live.
We use Bible story books as primers: just finished the Good Shepherd, and followed up with the shepherds surprise of angels and a hurry to the town of David to see this amazing infant, and Mary.
God is good. He knows how to reach young hearts. Many interesting questions
Warm greetings in Christ. I’ve been enjoying a busy life with my weekly English class, biweekly Lady Zoomers’ Fellowship and trying to help my brother David in various ways from a distance. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my brother David, and also visiting some of you when in Toronto in the first week or two of 2023. In my spare time, I squeeze in from time to time visits to a few dear elderly friends who don’t get out and don’t receive many visitors. On Sundays, I attend Côte-des-Neiges Presbyterian Church here in Montreal, but I do sometimes play hookey to visit churches I’ve come to know and love in my work through the years.
Many thanks to all who have been thinking of and praying for Feng Tian and his family. They continue to grapple with his being missing since Monday evening, October 17th, a little more than a month ago now. I have passed on to my English student Emily (the adoptive mother of Feng), the fact that I have received many beautiful messages of love and assurances of prayer for her family and for Feng’s return. Emily thanks you for your support.
Sadly, no clue to Feng’s whereabouts has surfaced. Here is a link to a few news reports, including two short videos. The first video of a vigil this past Monday in NDG is followed automatically (after a Campbell’s Soup ad) by an interview of Feng’s birth mother:
We continue to pray for Feng and his family. May the Lord reveal His love and saving grace to them all, and also miraculously lead Feng home. Another of my Chinese students and her friend, both believers, are planning to visit his family.
Doris Grierson, former secretary to Dr. Owen at Knox, was called to the Lord last night. Doris was faithful in prayer for Knox, its staff, and members over many years in long term care - reading the bulletin in a posture of prayer each week. Please pray for those who now grieve her passing, that they might receive the Spirit's comfort.
Good Morning! Today I had planned to get a small gas cooker as electricity is getting less each day. The cooker will go into the guest house once all is back to "normal ".... So much for my plans... received a call from Faraja's school. He is sick again so I went to pick him up. As I was at the school, pastor Ghitu called to say his child with sickle cell is in agony due to severe pain in both legs. So I picked to them up and took them to the hospital with us....Faraja has lost weight and has again severe stomach pains. They drink tap water at the school! So he probably has Amoeba again. .. Hope your day is less stressful!
Please pray for my work permit renewal. It expires on Thursday and I will not be able to renew it on time so my phone and Internet will get cut off. I will hope to borrow some Internet from a colleague occasionally. My documents were possibly submitted to immigration today on my behalf, but I don't expect to be able to pick up my new permit until at least next week. Also, today a colleague, Tina, left to go home for the holidays. I will miss her over the next 6 weeks. I'm thankful that she will return at least as she's a great encouragement to me.
Many thanks to all who have been praying for Feng Tian and for his family as they continue to grapple with his being missing since Monday, October 24th. I have passed on to his adoptive mother, Emily, my English and Bible student, the fact that I have received many beautiful messages of love for them and for Feng’s return. Emily thanks you for your support.
Today, Monday, will mark the third week of Feng’s disappearance; and, sadly, no news of his whereabouts has surfaced to this point. His family has engaged a detective, and his father is planning to come from China to join his family here in Montreal soon.
Here is a link to news reports. To see the video of an interview of Feng’s birth-mother, Sujing (Emily’s sister-in-law), click on the link below.
I am home again with lots of wonderful memories of my visits with many of you. Unfortunately, the time was too short to connect with everyone. Hopefully I can come again next year and for a longer time. I do thank the Lord that I was able to connect with many of you!!! Don drove me to a physiotherapist who was able to help me and teach me some better exercises and to any other place I needed or wanted to go. God is good!
The time in Holland was also very special. I never expected this, but my family had a special get-together for me, and everyone was there. They had a Sinterklaas party which is different from Santa Claus. It is a party of gift giving but the gifts are to be presented in original, funny ways and are to be accompanied by a poem which relates to the person receiving the gift. It usually takes place on December 5th. This time they had an early one just for me! When I entered my brother's new home there was the ugliest picture on his wall. I couldn't understand how anyone could put this on their walls! Then he told me how he and his wife had gone to this exposition which was fantastic, and they showed me the brochure which had more monstrosities in it, the prices were listed.
After we had an amazing lunch, I was to be presented with a very special gift.....Yes you guessed it...They took the painting of the wall and brought it to me. My niece was hiding her face behind the picture so I couldn't see how she was trying to control herself. Well, the short of it is that I was completely taken aback and felt terrible about having to accept this hideous thing. By the end they told me how they enjoyed themselves to be able to trick me. My niece had painted this picture which she had named "Kluuk-Kluuk". Her child has a cup, and she calls it her kluuk-kluuk. The painting has the cup in the center. She also had made the brochure with pictures and descriptions taken from the internet! (Google is amazing!)
Later they had Sinterklaas come and visit in full ornate. My brother had dressed up, wig, beard and all and Martine came as Peter. The whole family had participated in the making of the gifts and the poems. In each of the gifts was some money hidden. With this money I am to buy something special for myself. WOW!!! I felt quite overwhelmed! See pics at the end of the letter.
After some more special times with other family members, I went back home to Tanzania.
Everyone was so happy to have me back.
Little Daniel looked at me as if he tried to remember who I was...Then I sang our song which he remembered and came to me with outstretched arms. So lovely!
Some of you may know about the challenges we have regarding the rationing of electricity and water. It is a bit of a nuisance, to say the least. 24 hours no water at times...so we work again with buckets, you start preparing a meal...electricity is gone. On top of it, the connection for my gas burners has broken off and so far I have not been able to get a spare part...Sigh!
As of this week I am teaching at our Bible school again. I now teach 4 classes per week from 2.30 pm to 4 pm.
In the mornings I am babysitting little Daniel while Jacky is at school. from 10 am. She comes home around 2.30 or 3 pm. My worker Naomi happily takes care of our little rascal until Jacky gets home.
This week I was invited to visit some new neighbors. They are a young couple, newlyweds. As I sat down a strong smell of alcohol greeted me. We talked about different things, and they asked about my work. I told them a bit about the work I had done in the villages and the problems I encountered there. One of these problems is alcoholism which destroys families.
The young man said right away that he is addicted to alcohol and wanted my help to get him off the booze. There is no AA here so there is very little support. I gave him some advice and prayed with the couple. They belong to the R.C. church and I also asked them to discuss this problem with their church leader. Unfortunately, the R.C. church condones drinking and I am not expecting much help from them. Such a sad life ahead of them unless he gets real help.
A few days ago, Jacky told me that another neighbor, Makala, needs my help. He is a very nice man who has worked on our house and has become a friend together with his family. He worked very hard and never asked me for help. The day before yesterday he came to us with a huge swollen head. He had gone to a small clinic with his wife. The doctor said to him, "Oh you look just like another patient I had at one time. He died quickly!" (Sometimes I would want to kick someone!)
Makala was very discouraged. I took him to a good hospital in town where the doctor immediately understood what was wrong. He had an ultrasound done and it looks like he has lymphoma. He has a large tumor on one side of his head. But he also has metastases. He now has to go to the big hospital in Mwanza where they treat cancer. I tried to buy insurance for him but because he is already sick and has a referral, they won't take him. I do hope and pray to get support for him. Unfortunately, I cannot get support for this through AIM. It needs a special project approval. As I am retired this is not really an option. His wife has no education and tries to earn money by braiding hair which she does very well, but it gives little money. $0.60/- per client for at least one hour of work! They have 5 children of which the youngest, Ivan, is only four.
As Makala is too sick to work, he has run out of basic needs for his family and feels bad leaving his wife with all the responsibilities. For now, I am helping the family with their food. I also will help the family to go to Mwanza so Makala can hopefully get cancer treatment there. Thanks for praying for this family!!!
My kids are doing well. Mfaume had to find a better college. He did find one with a good reputation. He had failed again, together with almost all the other students! I did let him know that this is his final chance.. He told me he wants to succeed so I am hopeful that he will do well.
Ngassa is now going for a more hands-on technical course as the computer course was too difficult for him and he failed. I hope this will enable him to get work after he finishes.
Mahona is probably getting a scholarship going to the U.S for a study to get his PHD.
Margreth and her little Euphoria are doing great. She will soon start work again at the orphanage.
Christina is studying animal health and is getting all A's and B's. She has become a true delight to have home. (I used to feel a bit of relief after a holiday with her when she would return to boarding school) What a blessing to see this change!
Baraka is now doing his final States exam for Secondary school. He aims to finish well. He also has changed for the better! YEAH!!
Faraja was again in the hospital while I was away. He had a major worm infestation. Now he has finished his Form two. We won't know the results until some months from now. He has started to prepare for his third year already.
Jacky and Daniel are both doing well. Daniel is a true handful. Getting into everything! I am glad I was able to purchase some baby locks for cupboards in Canada. He is such a happy child, and he is a delight! Yes, he keeps me young! :)
The challenge remains here amongst the Islamic families. The plan is to have
a Thanksgiving dinner party with a halal turkey here at my place. It's uncertain
whether any of the immigrant people will come but the Hispanics will and the American 'natives', black and white. My 12 year old Somali reading student has requested an apple pie. If his mother comes with his seven siblings, there will be quite a crowd. Must get to work on making pie crust.
Today I took one of the men who worked on building my house to the hospital. He has become a friend and we have regular contact with him and his family. They live close by.
While I was away, he had visited, and his face had become swollen. It had started with an itch underneath his chin.... Sounds familiar?
Today he was diagnosed with lymphoma which has spread even his spleen has some small tumors. Tomorrow I’m taking him to get health insurance to help pay for the cancer treatment. His name is Makala. He is a Christian. He was given a referral to go to Bugando hospital in Mwanza. He has a wife and 3 kids.
I arrived in Entebbe around midnight on October 13th. Because my brother Ben, and the mission’s general secretary, and a short-term visitor were to fly in a few days later, I stayed near the airport for a few days. While I waited, I visited with Jillian (who used to attend Knox) and was working in Uganda. We first met over ten years ago when everyone assumed that we knew each other because we’re both Canadian. It has been lovely to continue our friendship by meeting up in both Ontario and Uganda over the years. It was great to have another member of my family come see where I work and meet some of my neighbours. I was happy to be able to pick them up at the airport and accompany them back up to Karamoja for a short visit. They have left now, but I was able to introduce them to Tata Lucia’s family and Pastor Emuron, who has been affiliated with the mission since before I moved here, show my brother around to the villages, and have him get to know the mission team better. It was a short visit, but encouraging. There are many similarities between Karamoja and the country of Haiti where my brother has been a missionary evangelist for the past 15 years.
I have been able to meet a couple of times with Melda (clinician) to see how the work of our community health team (CHT) has gone over the past six months. We will have an official meeting with the CHT at the end of this week to discuss the upcoming months of work. Please pray that I will do well at encouraging Melda to take ownership of leading the team and that we will be able to communicate well together. One of the companies that I have bought the most teaching materials from in Uganda has closed its doors. They made really clear and culturally relevant materials that helped the CHT to communicate on more than a dozen different topics. Please pray that I will be able to find a new company to acquire teaching materials from. We will also schedule a training day before the end of the year.
I have spoken with the DPC (District Police Chief) about the trial for Tata Lucia’s daughter, Takan. He knows that I have returned now to Nakaale and will let me know the trial date for the aggravated assault case where I will be called on to testify on the family’s behalf. I pray that man who attacked Takan will remain in prison and away from our neighbours for a long time. May God give wisdom to the district judges and all those in the Ugandan justice system for His glory.
I have been talking with Agnes about conducting more research. She has agreed to supervise my work again. For now, I have joined her in advising some of her students on their masters level research. I appreciate being part of a team of consultants from whom I can learn. Agnes is expecting me to write a research proposal before the end of the year, but I feel like there is a lot to do before I will be ready for submission. I am teaching myself a few research-gathering techniques in the meantime. One is called Outpatient Service Delivery PSP (Priority Setting Partnership) and the other is PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal). The objective of OSD PSP is to agree by consensus (of patients, caregivers, and clinicians) a prioritized list, for research, of uncertainties facing outpatient clinics (like our mission has). PRA aims to bring to the forefront the informal knowledge of rural people to plan and manage development programmes and research projects. I need lots of guidance to set the scope for my next research project.
Our team is reducing in size with one family and a single teammate leaving this week. Our doctor and nurse family is moving back to the States, while our preschool teacher just got engaged and is also moving stateside. We will miss their friendship and contributions to our ministry in Nakaale. Please pray for those of us remaining that we will be able to prioritize the work and be sustained in the service of our community.
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and partnership in my ministry efforts.
Eyai Akuj! God Himself is with us!