earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — November 2012

Other Pilgrims Who Crossed the Atlantic

Nothing about Africa in November seems to suggest its time for Thanksgiving. It’s still hot and no one in town is playing Christmas songs. This means we have to work harder to make it feel like home. Holiday traditions become more significant. In that spirit, on Thanksgiving Day, we joined our team in the reading of a historical fiction account of three young Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth. As the story was read I couldn’t help but think of some similarities between us and the Pilgrims (there aren’t many):

  • Like the Pilgrims we have left the place of our upbringing to make our home in a foreign land.
  • The new environment forces us to acquire new skills to persevere as it did for them.
  • We could say that our pilgrimages were both prompted by religious motives: the preservation of the faith on one hand and the propagation of the faith on the other.
  • Like the Pilgrims, we have much to thank God for in this season: plenty of food, health, and the privileges of peace with God–to name just a few.

Unlike the Pilgrims, we were able to place a call to our families who couldn’t be with us for the holiday. It has been a blessed first Thanksgiving in Africa. We trust you are also mindful of God’s grace in this season as well.

November 23, 2012   2 Comments

Meeting on New Church Plants

In my last update I requested prayer for a couple churches in the early stages of planting new churches. The pastors met on Monday, October 29, to update one another regarding their intentions to begin work in the upcoming year. It is understood that once the process has been started, all the churches will be asked to help support the church planter.

Two church plants are being considered. The church here in Shadi has begun raising funds to start a work south-east of us near Usagara. Bible Institute students have been preaching more regularly so that the church can decide whom they will send. That decision and the specific choice of location is slated for early 2013.

The church in Nyakaliro is moving towards planting in the village of Bukokwa. They have in mind to send a Bible Institute student from there. Both locations are shown on the map below (click to enlarge).

Church Plant Map, November 2012

This marks a couple of milestones that might guide our prayers for these churches in the coming months.

  1. In both cases the churches have initiated the process without any prodding on our part. This is a great encouragement to us who are hoping that the churches would own their own church planting enterprise.
  2. This will be the first time that the fellowship of churches will be taking on two new plants at roughly the same time. No doubt that God will provide for the needs of these church planters before the new congregations become self-supporting, but I trust that the challenge will be good for all of us.

November 20, 2012   2 Comments

November 2012 Prayer Update

If adjustment to making your home in a foreign country is a marathon, we’re still within sight of the starting line. But we are aware that ground has been covered. In this race fatigue is the cumulative effect of stress from many little things–all the things that aren’t as convenient as it was in the States. By God’s grace, the course is being used for good in our lives.

We are now knee-deep in the language learning process–not that we have made a proportionate amount of progress, but we’ve been at it long enough to be too familiar with the awkward silences in most of our conversations with Tanzanians. At this stage it is easier to mark progress by communication blunders. I can now understand when a person is asking me how many wives I have. I can also now tell someone that I am NOT interested in buying their field.

We would be glad to have you join with us in praying about the following items.

Praises:
  1. A couple of the churches here have initiated discussions about planting new churches. They are in the early stages of evaluating finances, location, and choosing a church planter.
  2. We are grateful for the help and encouragement we are receiving from teammates and friends in the States. Your prayers and interest are a real boon to us.
Requests:
  1. We are praying that we would regard the challenges of adjustment as means by which God is doing good in our lives.
  2. The language learning process requires generous amounts of will power so that we can push beyond embarrassing mistakes. We are praying for daily strength and the right perspective about making fools out of ourselves for the sake of learning.
  3. We are eager for the timely arrival of our shipping container which is currently still in Detroit. On one hand, we wouldn’t want the delayed absence of the container to cause discontentment. On the other hand, our son will soon need the clothes that are coming to him in the container. There are a number of hoops we will need to jump through in order to get the container through customs and across a couple borders before it arrives here…maybe sometime in January. We are praying for its safe arrival and the wisdom to expedite the process.

November 8, 2012   1 Comment

Harvest Party

Last Saturday, we participated in the annual Harvest Party with the Mwanza evangelical expat community. The Howells started this tradition. Now Beth Roark is keeping it alive and our family was able to host the event. We enjoyed the fellowship with other Christians, ate good food, and had fun with the festivities.  Activities included dressing in costumes, apple bobbing, seed spitting, and watermelon carving (pumpkins are not readily available). Ian dressed up as Superbaby, Matt as  Superman, and I, of course, was Lois Lane. We had a great time connecting with other workers here in the Mwanza area.

November 2, 2012   No Comments