earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Laurent on Leading Children to God

Prayers for Bad Guy Evangelism

Don’t you love how children begin to grab on to spiritual truths? While I was away on a recent trip to meet with the Tanzanian pastors, Laura and the kids prayed for me. Ian was particularly concerned that our meeting might be overrun with “bad guys.” In the event that “any bad guys come to you looking for their bad guy friends,” he prayed that I would tell them to “listen to the true God!” But for better or worse, no bad guys came to listen to the true God.

Later during the same trip Pastor Laurent and I talked about leading children to God. There at the small table in his mud brick house I had the privilege of benefiting from his wisdom. I can’t replicate for you the beauty of his Swahili or how remarkable this conversation was in juxtaposition to the humble confines of the setting, but I think his thoughts are too good not to pass on.

Ian Camping at Laurents

Ian Camping at Laurent’s

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August 13, 2017   No Comments

Visitation with Ian

Ian in town
Sometimes I get the privilege of putting on my missionary hat and my daddy hat at the same time (though neither hat actually comes off at any time, right?). Last Friday, Laura and Kyla went into town to join the fellowship of missionary ladies for their monthly Bible study. This typically leaves us guys at home to our own devices, except that Fridays have now become the day each week I go out to Usagara with Wiliam for visitation. This week we all went together.

Wiliam, Ian, and myself during an evangelistic visit in Usagara

Wiliam, Ian, and myself during an evangelistic visit in Usagara

We successfully made visits and shared the gospel in spite of a few “tummy” problems. Ian gets the chance to make new friends; and it’s good for all of us to be reminded that we are all people with multiple important hats to wear. Wiliam, who has a wife and a few boys of his own, has been making weekly trips to Usagara for this ministry. His family stays back in Shadi while he camps out his weekends an hour’s drive away from home. Despite our differences, we can all relate to the need to share the gospel and the desire to see family after a few days away.

November 23, 2015   2 Comments

Another New Arrival

The Gass Family

We are happy to announce that we are expecting a new addition to our family! Baby Gass is due to arrive the end of November. We are so thankful to God for answering our prayers! Please continue to join us in prayer:

  1. We plan for the delivery to take place in Nairobi, Kenya. This means that we will need to travel there in November or possibly October, either by plane or truck. Please pray for wisdom and safety in travel, as well as a safe and healthy delivery.
  2. A significant amount of paperwork goes into having a baby in a foreign country. Please pray that the required paperwork will go through smoothly after the baby’s birth.
  3. Please pray for a healthy pregnancy for both me and for the baby. Everything looks good so far.
  4. Please also pray for strength for me to continue to fulfill my responsibilities in our home and with language learning. I need God’s grace to daily love Ian, especially when I am tired and not feeling well.

Thank you!

May 30, 2014   3 Comments

Karen and Rachelle

Since January of this year, we’ve had two new members of our team here in Mwanza. Karen Streeter and Rachelle Miller joined us as volunteers for Tumaini Children’s Home. They have been a blessing to Beth Roark as they have relieved her of much of the less administrative work that goes into the day-to-day responsibilities of the ministry. Also, since the children began attending a private school, their level of education has improved and so has the amount of their homework load. Karen and Rachelle, along with Beth and Maiwe, help the children with their homework on weeknights. On the weekends these two ladies have developed classes to tutor the children in areas in which they need more practice.

Karen, Rachelle, and Ian

Ian with Karen (left) and Rachelle (right)

Rachelle and Karen have also been a wonderful blessing to our family. They have become good friends to me, and Ian loves them too! He gets very excited when “Kayen” or “Shelle” come over or volunteer to take him on a walk. This has been a great help to me as well. They have volunteered to watch Ian during my language lessons on Mondays and on Wednesdays when they are available. Their help has made it possible for me to concentrate on language during those times, rather than chasing after Ian while attempting to learn Swahili.

We are thankful Karen and Rachelle have joined us here, and I am happy to say that they have committed to minister to the children of Tumaini at least until the end of this calendar year!

May 27, 2014   No Comments

Ian is One!

Ian Holding our Hands

We are thankful for God’s blessings on our family as we celebrate our son’s first birthday (April 23). The Lord has shown himself strong and kind in giving us a wonderful gift in Ian. Our Little Guy loves living here. He has adjusted wonderfully to our new home. God has given Ian health and is helping him grow and develop. We are enjoying his “firsts” and loving being parents.

Ian is an adventurous explorer who loves trying new things. He is very friendly with children his age and is not as afraid of adults as he once was. He loves playing with Daddy, visiting his Eads friends, exploring outside, “reading” books, taking baths, “driving” the truck, and making messes! Thank you for your prayers for him.

April 24, 2013   4 Comments

Merry [Belated] Christmas

[Do to technical problems operator errors we are posting our Christmas letter a week late, but the sincerity is just the same.]

The Gass Family, Dec 21, 2012

The Gass Family, Dec 21, 2012

This past year has held great change for us as a family. We are so grateful to God for blessing us with Ian David in April. Another big change was moving to our new home, which we are glad to be settling into. We are grateful to be celebrating Christmas with other believers at church, with our teammates over a nice meal, and also as a family as we are able to enjoy some of our favorite holiday pastimes (like cheesecake coffeecake and hot chocolate). Although we miss our family back in the States, we can celebrate Christmas here in Africa, because Christ came to Earth for all peoples, in all lands.

We wish all of you a merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Matt, Laura, and Ian

January 1, 2013   3 Comments

December 2012 Prayer Update

We are quickly approaching the 3-month-mark since arriving in Tanzania. Life here is approaching a new normal for us. We are finding things that surprise us less often than when we arrived. Regarding our progress in the language, it is encouraging to see our conversations in Swahili getting a bit longer by every month.

On the home front, we are settling into a good situation with our help in the house.  It’s probably easy to read that as a rather inconsequential matter. In one sense it certainly is. After all, we actually now have someone to help doing things in the house–how difficult could life be! On the other hand, our dish washer in the States never asked for a raise. Nor have we ever hired someone who has asked for an advance to pay for his kid’s school expenses. This has been a learning experience to say the least. So we are counting the current situation a blessing that permits more time for language learning and other consequential matters.

Ian is adjusting to all the new faces that don’t look like mom and dad. When he’s not sleeping or eating he has been working on cutting some teeth and making himself mobile.

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

Praises:
  1. We were able to reach both sides of our family by phone and/or video call on Thanksgiving. This was not expected since technical problems have frustrated most of our attempts to make video calls to family and friends.
  2. Our progress in learning the language is slow but it’s actual progress, by the grace of God.
Requests:
  1. One thought that motivates us to learn Swahili well is that we must be able to communicate the Scriptures accurately and meaningfully in this language. Please pray with us that God will be preparing us to be effective communicators of his word.
  2. The church in Nyakaliro is one of the churches which aims to plant a new church beginning in the new year. At the same time, the church’s pastor, Elias, has been seriously considering moving closer to family. We should pray that Elias and the church would have wisdom to navigate these decisions.
  3. We are anticipating that our first holiday season in Africa will be a special time for remembering God’s grace. We are also praying that we would be satisfied with God’s will for us here and now, accepting that this will be different from what we have enjoyed in our past Christmas seasons.

December 6, 2012   No Comments

Retreat on the Kancamagus

Our family enjoyed a getaway this past weekend. Matt surprised me with a short trip to New Hampshire; he had booked a small cabin in Lincoln, NH in the White Mountains. We enjoyed the time as a family as we took time to be with each other.

Among the highlights of the trip was driving on the Kancamagus Highway from Lincoln to Conway, through the White Mountain National Forest. We stopped along the way to wade in the Swift River. Ian experienced his first feelings of river water and seemed to take in the whole experience. : ) We loved the chance to relax and thank God for his blessings.

Matt and I spent some time discussing our goals for the rest of our time in the U.S., as well as our goals for our first year in Tanzania. We also shared sweet time in prayer together. We are grateful for the opportunity to refocus and relax.

August 9, 2012   2 Comments

Last Trip West of Chicago

…before we depart for Africa. We were able to cram much family and ministry business into our recent trip through Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. On July 8 we joined Prior Lake Baptist Church in Prior Lake, MN, for their worship services. After being introduced in the morning service, we joined the children with whom we discussed life in Africa. There we resolved the error that tigers and triceratops are roaming wild in Africa and explained why children all over the world need to hear about Jesus Christ. Dan and Jana Eads have visited this church previously, so we reintroduced the work to them in the evening.

My dad, Ian, and I

We met with the leadership families of Grace Community Bible Church nearby in Lakeville before returning to Iowa that week. My youngest sister’s wedding was the following Saturday, July 14. This event provided opportunities to discuss our ministry with many members of my family–many of whom are unfamiliar with our approach to missions work. We pray that God would use such opportunities as a testimony of the faith. Of course, my extended family was also glad to meet our son and have the opportunity to see us before we leave for Africa.

Is this heaven? No, this is Iowa

Unfortunately, that will be the last we see of Iowa for quite a while. That Sunday, July 15, we met with First Baptist Church in West Bend, WI. Pastor and Mrs. Dunford have met with us for lunch a year ago and greeted us at a pastor’s conference since then, so we were eager to meet the church which is benefitting from their service. After such an emotionally draining trip, we were glad to find much affinity between us and this church.

July 19, 2012   No Comments

Ian David Gass

Our son was born on Monday morning just after 7am. He was 9 lbs 6 oz and 23 in long. Laura and Ian are both doing very well. Thank you for praying for us.

Since the next thing you will ask me for is some pictures, I’ve included them here:

April 24, 2012   7 Comments