Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Just as a side note, I hadn't realized how frustrating windows movie maker could be.... And with the generator on only at night, I often sit up 'til about 1 trying to get it done. hee. nice thing is I won't have to worry about jet lag when I get back.
Mom- can you make sure bro got the cell phone paid.... I'm gonna' be bummed if I get to Boston and I'm without technology. I might go into withdrawal or something.
The guys took off for their first "bush trip" today. I'm dying to be along, but since I am the technical (computer) guy, and I have a full day of computer work to do, I'm sitting in the shade with a cold water while they are eating diesel fumes and dust. (Such is team work....) I have to make sure all of the reports are organized, colored, presentable.... we're off this continent in less than a week, and I can feel the American pressure coming back on. It's kinda' nice, actually.
Health is coming back up to speed. The meds worked great, except that I had the intestinal discomfort for a couple of days afterward. But I'm pretty much rocking again.
For so much of our trip I have just seen this as "passing out gospel tracts". But think about it. Many of these people have never heard. Some have heard but think He is just another god or spirit and proceed to mix him in with their animism (the local protestant and catholic churches are bad about that). So this educating is the first step in bringing this nation to Christ.
Pastor Paul is already working with some locals to begin training them for church planting. We just heard of some tribes in the North part of the country who are only accesible in the spring before the flooding. The rest of the year they are cut off from the rest of the country.... There are some real challenges ahead for future teams, but I'm pretty excited about where it's going to lead PREACH.
I'd ramble on, but I'll wait to bore you guys 'til I get home.
Thanks for all the prayers. I'm seeing them answered every day. Ms. Rowe - I'll let the boys know. It's a blast to have them to harass.
Love ya'll. I pray for the church every night.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I didn't really put together a blog update this week. I've been fighting a fever the last two days (Fun stuff in this African sun), and I spent a portion of last night doing the whole puking thing. Seems likely that I've picked up malaria. I went ahead and bought the meds and started my first dose today. All the side effects are pretty much what I have right now, so it seems win-win.... I could have been tested, but I was a little leery of getting stuck by a needle over here..... I could go in with a headache and come out with AIDS :P
We had a close call in the taxi the other day.... I won't bore you with the details, but it was pretty cool. You could almost see the guardian angels steering the truck away from us. Jonathon Quinn, the missionary who is getting ready to move over here was sitting just in front of me on the passenger side. As the truck careened towards our side I just sat there kinda' dumb-founded and thought 'guess we're going to be looking for a new missionary'. I did manage to climb into Isaiah's lap (sitting in the back next to me) so I woulda' come out all right. ;)
As it is, we currently have substitute angels for the remainder of our stay while the original ones heal up.
So you can pray for us. There are moments when you can really tell Satan is at work. We had some witch or something come into the middle of the Creole church service and try to cast some sort of spell -- chanting loudly over the preacher. Brother Paul is feeling pretty down today, (I'm pretty sure he's got the 'crud') so I imagine he and I will spend most of the afternoon lounging about the hotel and wishing the fans were on.
At the same time, we were able to get our container out of port in record time, over 5,000 students have been reached, we've found a nice place for J. Quinn, and gotten a lot more of the government legalities dealt with. God is very much at work for us.
We were in the bush the other day. It's amazing how quickly you can go from civilization to absolutely nothing. Rumor has it that we make a trek to schools in the interior before we leave. Hopefully the fever will be gone by then, I could really enjoy a trip like that.
Love you guys, as always.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Say a prayer for the elections here this Sunday. It’s weird to be in a country where their biggest hope is no bloodshed…. 33 political parties. Could be fascinating.
We had two teachers stop by last week and ask us to come speak at their school. Apparently someone had given them a gospel tract, and they wanted us to come speak to their students. So we loaded up a taka-taka and went with them.
We drove most of the way, and then walked through about a block or so of houses. Their classroom was in the back room of a mud-brick home. The floor was uneven dirt. No desks. Just those little plastic chairs you buy at Dollar General for your kids to play with, along with a small hand-made wooden bench and a couple of blocks of wood. A small blackboard hung from one wall. When you say they teach with nothing, well you are talking about nothing.
So we got to share the Gospel with these kids.
Their parents were 200 feet away celebrating the ‘Day of the Dead’ with the local witch doctor.
I’ll keep it short here, because I already took a moment to spell out the story for the PREACH webpage, but Allen Johnson led one of the local men to the Lord Tuesday night! Keep praying, guys! God’s at work!
I remember when I was about ten and we visited my grandparents church. A real Assemblies of God church, with drums and electric guitars. And I was standing there after church, decked out in my full Mennonite garb, bowl-cut hair and large 1980’s glasses. The preacher called me up to the stage and we chit-chatted for awhile. Before we left he wanted to hug me, and said a prayer. And then he said, “you know, son, one day I think I see you in India or something like that.”
That pastor went on to his heavenly reward not many years after. But the other night while I was sitting on the ground for our out-of-doors church service, with 40 nationals (most of them children) crowded around, I found myself looking up at heaven and grinning.
Who woulda’ thunk the man of God would be right?
I bet a bunch of you are wondering how the school ministry is going. This is the first Special Ops team (Gotta’ love the pun) to set foot in Guinea-Bissau, and we knew that nothing was going to be straight-forward. But let me share the fun:
- The prime minister has changed 3 times in the last 8 months. The minister of Education who set this whole thing up was ‘deposed’, but the new minister is quite excited to help us continue with our plans. However, we had to start nearly completely over in building ties, relationships, approvals, etc. PREACH has drawn up formal agreements this time, so hopefully there will be less bureaucracy in the future.
- The container arrived Sunday. But the crane to unload it is broken. Seems like maybe it has been for some time. There’s a second crane in the city. But, yeah, it’s broken too.
- We still need to secure vehicles to transport 35,000 pamphlets over 4-wheeler territory. They are to be had; we’re just waiting for the right ones at the right price.
- There are anywhere between 360,000 to 600,000 students in Guinea-Bissau. Both are figures from the Department of Education. But then they don’t have any working computers, so they really don’t have any records.
- We’ve been trying to find all of these schools. But the state department isn’t entirely sure where they are. And there are no street signs. We got access to good map of the city, but they needed to print us a copy…and, bummer, the printer is broken……
I hope you catch my sarcasm. I’m actually getting a kick out of it. You see, we came to do God’s work. And so not a one of those things that I just listed is a setback. “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matt 6:8.
We’re on God’s clock. It’ll happen when He moves. Not a second before. But the beauty of it is that step-by-step we get to see God’s confirming hand. And we are never in any question. And we never have a moment to forget our Source of Strength.
I just recited the nursery rhyme to Claudio (the PREACH member from Brazil) about ‘sleep tight’ and ‘bed bugs bite’. It’s real over here. I’ve either gotten bitten, or I’ve picked up some sort of infection on my right forearm. But it’s swelled up to dime-sized blister. I’m treating it as a fungus…figgered that was a worst-case scenario and am keeping an eye on it. Ah, the ‘jungle’ life.
Pastor Joe Davis from KY lent me a song by Dino where he takes “When Peace Like a River” and blends it into Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. Yep, Pretty sure I’m near heaven right now.
Keep praying. The devil is as real at home as he is here. Stay warm
Love you guys.
Friday, November 7, 2008
And with the prairies I am calling out Your Name!
The other teams have gone into town to finish some paperwork before the container lands. I stayed behind to finish typing the update we will send to Preach today. It’s a perfect morning to give my loved ones and prayer partners an update as well.
It’s fascinating how things that were once so enthralling, are rapidly becoming an accepted part of life. One goes to sleep about 10, and wakes up when the generator (and the fans) turn off. I’m getting used to the dirt and the smells, but it also helps that our hotel is out in the country and a couple hundred feet off the highway. Plus I think those prayers you guys keep sending up are paying off. I have one of the coolest, breeziest rooms in the building. Plus it gets cleaned first, which means the bucket of water is cleaner when they get to the room.
The roads are still as crazy. Potholes everywhere. Drivers swerve into oncoming traffic to miss them. Plus there are no shoulders and no stoplights, so traffic is always stopping in the right lane to let people off or pick up passengers.
A local official came by the other day and let us get a year-long visa for about $20 – which is $40 less than we paid for the 30-day visa -- so I’m clear to come back if God so wills.
I did have one morning where I felt a little queasy, and it didn’t help that we kept having to traipse through the market. One can only look at so many dead fish lying in the African heat before it gets to him. Thankfully, though, God’s grace has always been present and up-chucking has remained absent.
The people here are quite friendly. Our nightly meetings for the team have been increasing steadily as locals stop by to see why the blancos are singing. Last night I think we had 5 locals, and 2 of those have attended more than one meeting.
We moved our meeting to the front porch two nights ago. It’s cooler, and we help discourage the ‘hourly’ traffic that the hotel starts receiving about 8pm. It’s kind of cool. Adultery is common here. Many men have a wife they live with and one or two other households they maintain. An accepted way of living. One could truly call them ‘ignorant’. But when you’re holding church service on the front steps, they take their prostitutes elsewhere. Just shows that there is truly ‘a law written on the heart of man’. Oh, that God might reach that heart, both here and at home.
The focus of our nightly sermons has been on “When ye pray…When ye fast…When ye give…” It’s been very stirring in my life. By the time we get back, we will have had about 5 years worth of revival meetings crammed into one month.
The other night I was praying when I felt like singing “When Troubles Assail Us”. Couldn’t remember anything but the first line. So I sang it a few times until another phrase came, and then another, and pretty soon I was getting blessed with the whole first verse. Abel – a seminary student from Cape Verde – heard me singing and stopped by. In our broken English/Portuguese we talked about God’s greatness, and then sang “God is So Good” together in Portuguese. Talk about getting blessed. But who was it that came over and told Abel the gospel? Who funded his church? His seminary training? And here I am, rewarded by another’s labor and rejoicing with him under the beautiful stars.
A local kid named Brandon wrote me the other day. He speaks English and wants to be at our meetings, but his work keeps interfering.
Guinea-Bissau is surrounded by 4 Muslim countries, but is still open to the gospel. And the people are hungry. It’s a perfect place to launch a counter-attack. But it’s gonna’ have to be God’s counter-attack.
It’s nice to get to look heavenward and not worry about toiling and spinning for awhile.
Pray for you guys every night.
Talkin’ Daniel in the den of lions
Talkin’ Jonah in the belly of the whale
Talkin’ three Hebrew children standing in the furnace
But the fire didn’t burn them
And the lions didn’t bite
And the Lord reached down
And you can be sure, baby, everything turned out right.
You meet the Lord in the furnace long time before you meet Him in the sky
- Rich Mullins
Monday, November 3, 2008
Actually had a guy on the street ask me `faloo creole?´ for the first time today instead of ´faloo francais?´. Everyone here thinks we are French since so many French speaking people come from Senegal and N. Africa.
We are still waiting for the container to arrive, but we already have our work cut out for us The 360,000 students are just the start an open door for PREACH's work here. Brother Jonathon Quinn is looking for a place to move his family into within the next 2 months, so a lot of time is being spent on finding him a house (and probably remodeling slightly), getting the government paperwork done for the container storage (land was given to PREACH by Guinea Bissau but there is miles of red tape to go through), and figuring out a way to transport the 360k bibles and books to areas that require a 2.5 hr drive. I mean, if we had $360k in the bank, it would be no problem... but I'm starting to get tired of hearing the locals always talking about 'denario' (money). And it's mostly reasonable prices...just it takes money. The cool thing is that God has brought us this far And God will take uis to the end. He never takes us to the Red Sea just to watch us die...
The Government has asked PREACH to open a school for their teacher's continuing education. So that is part of the long-term goal. The people are very open. Last night we had 2 local women wander into our service when they heard our singing. They are so used to fearing the spirits....that they have very little concept of a good God that loves them and that they can serve.
But frankly, if you opened a church you'd probably have a thousand locals swarming it. There are several works here... The evangelicals were allowed to be here even before the war.. so there are several native-run churches. But there is only one tiny evangelistic (outreach, mission) effort that we have heard of, and it is nothing compared to the teeming swarm of Islam that is whooshing in. Right now we have the opportunity from the Government to put the Bible in Muslim Schools... Elections are next week: How long will this door stay open? May we work now, may God's church seize the need now, while there is yet light...
As the Taxi we are in drives away from our main interpreter:
Bro Joe: 'do any of you know how to get where we are going?'
Bro Joe: Any of you have a cell phone?
Bro Joe to driver: faloo ingles?
driver chatters in creole
Bro Joe: This could be interesting......
Thank you for your prayers. I have not been sick at all. I even got an air-conditioned ride from the air port to our hotel. That NEVER happens over here. The outlets in our room work. Our bathroom works. Some of the team members don't have those privileges. I'm pretty sure it's just 'cause I get more prayers than the rest.
And thanks to everyone who made it happen Be prepared to have to tie me back to the ground when I get home.