Thank you for your thoughtful Christmas gift….

Well, after a flurry of traveling before Christmas, Jeff and I have celebrated a very quiet and fairly uneventful Christmas, and 2018 is fast approaching. We would like to thank all of you for your very thoughtful gifts to us.

What gift did you give us, you may ask? Well, while a few of you have sent us specific Christmas gifts in some way or another, the most valuable gift is your support so that we can be here. Jeff and I didn’t really exchange Christmas gifts, (although I did still do a stocking of goodies for each of us), mostly because there wasn’t really much that either of us felt we needed.  We are so grateful, after the long period of planning and support raising, just to be here, starting to do the work we have described to all of you.

There is one thing you CAN do for us, though. We are still not much closer to our 100% support than when we left, so we hope that some of you might make a new Year’s resolution to support us.  Or if you know someone interested in supporting missions in Africa, can you please direct them to our NAB website?   And if your church hasn’t finished their budget for 2018, perhaps you can put in a word for us.

I should tell you about a few cool physical things that we have received in the past few months. The first is all the boxes of books, household things and teaching materials that we sent via White Cross. I’ll probably write another specific blog about that, but we really did get our Christmas in November when the bulk of our things arrived from the CBC warehouse in Mutengane. Having familiar kitchen items, my sewing machine, Jeff’s books, a few more clothes…many of these things are positively luxuries after a few months without them.

Funny thing is there were two rather large items I debated sending via White cross, and decided against. One was a bread machine, and the other was my Yamaha electric piano. Decide both were rather ridiculous luxuries to ship,  that I didn’t’ really need, so didn’t send them.  About a month ago another missionary gave me one that she had been given and never used. (and I haven’t actually used it yet- which proves my point about its necessity)

I am also amazingly enjoying a Yamaha Clavinova, very similar to the one I sold and left behind.  I had borrowed a keyboard from the seminary, with the proviso that I had to buy my own power cord. While I don’t have much music with me (it’s mostly in the last boxes we sent with White Cross, which I hope arrives soon) it was enjoyable to play a bit. But I really miss the feel of an acoustic piano, or the weighted keys of my old electric one.  And presto! Cal Hohn emailed me to tell me they didn’t have room in their new place for the one that had been in their old house, and it came up my way with the next visitors to Ndu. It is SO much sturdier, and nicer to play, I am finding myself on it more…and my neighbor, who is a music teacher here at CBTS has asked if he can come practise some time on it too.  🙂


God is so good, and gave us the priceless gift of His Son which we have been celebrating this Christmas.  And His people are so generous- we are very grateful for all of your support.

Oh, and God gave us the gift of missing an extremely cold Edmonton Christmas!! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

It is time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

We have just returned from a twelve-day trip up north where we visited about six believing Fulbe communities, ranging in size from just a few families, to whole villages. Our purpose there was several-fold: we wanted to reacquaint ourselves with the people there, and them with us (or, in Sonya’s case, to introduce her for the first time); to inspect their living situation; to teach, encourage, and build up; to pray for the people; and to see what practical assistance could be rendered.IMG_8039

A typical day was one where we woke up in our grass-roofed hut, ate a hearty breakfast of rice with a cabbage sauce, and then began visiting in people’s compounds. We did this from 8 am until 2 pm, walking from one family unit to another; seeing how people lived; anointing the sick with oil and praying for them, sometimes giving money so people could go to the hospital; giving advice where that was needed. At the end of all that one day our friend Suleymanu had to remind us of Jesus’ words to cast our burdens upon him (Matthew 11.28-30), because it would be easy to be overwhelmed by it all. In fact, I will not share everything we heard here, for fear that you too might be overburdened.

The most touching thing came about the 7th or 8th day. When we went to leave one small community where we had found much need, several of the women climbed into our Helix, bearing flour and beans. They were taking them to a family whose head had been stricken with epilepsy, and were going to share what they had with them. I was reminded of Paul’s words: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Cor 8.2). Here is the Christmas spirit at work.IMG_8036

Some of the communities are doing very well. They have good, strong leaders who are working together to improve not just their faith but their people’s living situations. In other places the leadership is not as strong, and both faith and people struggle. In one place I spoke on “God’s Will for Communities,” simply listing many of the ways God’s people have organized themselves through the biblical story, plus giving them illustrations from what some other communities are doing. As Suleymanu says, in some places they do not need material assistance so much as practical instruction on how to live.

These Fulbe are a people in transition – from being cattle herders they are settling down as farmers, when they have never done that before. They are like cowboys of the Old West who are trying to bring their women and children into the new world. In some cases they have failed, and have fallen back into Islam, and all that goes with that. The stronger Christian leaders among them are seeking to see that does not happen to any more of them. It is difficult work, but they know what is at stake and are determined. They have tasted the heavenly gift, have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, and do not wish any to fall back (cf. Heb 6.4-5).

Part of our mission is to help them in this task. Seeing these folks once more, experiencing their gracious hospitality, talking with them in the dim light of their lanterns, reminded me of how worthwhile the mission is. Thanks so much for partnering with us in it. I will do my best to write more on this in the days to come.