Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cyclone Hits AFLC Work in India

We just received the report below from Luther Dasari the president of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations in India. Please be in prayer for our work in India.

Again our area has been affected by cyclone. This is a greater disaster than the previous one. Three days heavy rains and winds caused much disaster in Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts in which more of our congregations are established. Our congregations Lakshmipuram, Vadaruvu, Nagulapalem, Pothukatla, Komarnenivaripalem, Bapatla, Bodduluripadu, Etheru, Reddypalem, Bodapadu, Gollamudipadu, Pandrapadu, Govada, Amruthalur, Kotipalli and Zilllellamudi have been affected severely. You know all our members are daily labourers(they will get daily wages if there is work). They lost their crops totally. Now they do not have work in the fields. If there is no work they will not get food.
Pastor D. Devasahayam who is working at Etheru congregation has lost his house. His house was totally damaged and the church building tiled roof partially damaged. Some of the poor members in this congregation lost their huts. Communications and electricity have been broken down three days. Kindly remember us in your prayers.

The following article was taken from Reuters News Service on the internet.

HYDERABAD (Reuters) - Nine people were killed and more than 45,000 evacuated as heavy rainfall and cold winds battered Andhra Pradesh, officials said on Tuesday.

Cyclonic storm Ogni had hovered over the Bay of Bengal for two days before hitting the mainland between the towns of Ongole and Bapatla on Monday evening.

It has since weakened into a depression and is now moving in a north-northwesterly direction, according to the state cyclone warning centre in Visakhapatnam.

"Heavy rains and cold winds of 50 to 60 km per hour are likely to continue for another 24 hours," said the centre's director V.L. Prasada Rao.

The coastal town of Chirala, around 360 km southeast of Hyderabad, was the worst hit, with much of the town flooded.

"We have been living in darkness for over 48 hours without water and milk supplies" said K. Ramulu, a local weaver.

Waterlogging at several power substations plunged more than 2,000 villages into darkness.

"Seventy farmers working in shrimp farms near Chinnaganjam village in Prakasam district were evacuated by army boats after the fields were flooded by rainwater," said B. Udayalakshmi, the administrator of Prakasam district.

Disaster management officials at Hyderabad said that nearly 275 camps had been set up in Prakasam, Krishna and Guntur districts to accommodate those evacuated from their homes.

"Nearly 1,000 houses have collapsed and standing crops in over 12,000 hectares were destroyed," said a state government spokesman.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Greetings from Jesse in Tanzania

Greetings from Waama!! I wish I had time to write a personal note to each one of you with regards to all that has been happening. As anticipated, however, our opportunities to receive, much less write, emails have been very limited. We are very grateful for your prayers as we have made this transition to life here in Mbulu. It is amazing how the time goes by.

Since my last update, we have moved into our new house, received our teaching assignments, begun to get to know the students and faculty here, worked with the students to get the harvest in before the rainy season, participated in a local high school graduation, and showed the Jesus film and spoke at a village crusade. We are thankful for each opportunity.

One thing we have definitely been learning over the last several weeks is flexibility. As you may recall, we were anticipating that classes would begin in the second week of this month. As it turned out, many students were delayed in arriving here due to a late harvest, etc. and once they did begin to arrive, the first order of business was to get the school’s harvest in. This was a big learning experience for Ben and I as we participated with students and other teachers for several days doing with our hands what a combine would have accomplished in a matter of a couple hours. The positive result of this work, however, was the ample opportunity it provided for us to get to know the other people on this campus. We will teach our first official class period tonight.

On the days when we were not working with the harvest, Ben and I have been doing a lot of studying. Much of this has been Swahili but it has also included class preparation. We have been assigned to teach English, computer, and the book of Philippians. As you can imagine, computer and English don’t require nearly as much Swahili as the Philippians course. As a result, we have been putting a lot of time into studying this book and outlining our entire semester schedule including assignments, what we will be writing on the board, etc.

In the middle of this past week, Ben and I were invited to participate in a local high school graduation. It was a little awkward and even frustrating to show up and receive almost more attention than the graduates themselves, but they would have it no other way. It was not a Christian school but as we participated in this Baccalaureate-type service, it was very encouraging to see the number of Christian students present. Ben was able to share a very clear gospel message, as well. As a result of that interaction, we received an invitation to show the Jesus film in a local church this next weekend. Pray that many unsaved would be able to attend this event.

We had another very positive opportunity this past weekend. On Friday afternoon, we were invited by the Mbulu Diocese Evangelism director (Pastor Zak Malekwa) to participate in a crusade in a village about 30 kilometers from here. It all happened very fast and we ended up leaving within a couple hours of receiving the invitation. We took one set of video equipment (which we left with him for his regular use in the future) and showed the Jesus film to about 250 people that night. Saturday was a full day of sessions. Ben and I both participated. The primary theme of the day was prayer. On Sunday, we were both again asked to speak in the closing service. Being Reformation Sunday, Ben spoke on Ephesians 2:1-10 and “What is required for salvation.” I followed him speaking on the topic of dealing with trials in the Christian life.

Before leaving on Sunday evening, we had received several more invitations to visit other village churches, speak at an upcoming youth camp, etc. Pray that we have wisdom to know what opportunities to accept. It is amazing how fast a schedule can fill up.

For our first couple weeks here, we were very grateful for our relatively open schedule which allowed much needed study time. It appears as though those days are over. Continue to pray for our language abilities. Each of the opportunities we had to speak this past weekend, we were blessed with a translator; however, this will not always be the case.

Also, continue to pray for a vehicle. We have discussed several possibilities with a number of additional people here but still need wisdom with regards to what would be the best for us and the people we are serving. So far, we have been able to either accompany other people or rent the school’s Land Cruiser but these options are not always available and our transportation needs are only going to increase.

Attached is a picture of our house as well as one of me with some of the evangelists at this past weekend’s crusade. More pictures have been posted to our blog. Be sure to check them out at www.benandjesse.blogspot.com.

I hope that this update continues to be a blessing to you all. We pray for you often and do not take your thoughts and prayers for granted. Thanks so much to those of you who have taken the time to write. As always, feel free to write (or call) to ask any question you might have that I do not answer in these updates.

Until next time, God’s richest blessing to each one of you.

In Him,
Jesse Long

Friday, October 27, 2006

Update from Chmiels

This month we wanted to thank you VERY MUCH for keeping us in your prayers so faithfully. We see it daily how God is taking care of us in every little detail and how He is preparing us for the future ministry in Ukraine. We reached the 70% mark in our fundraising this month and we praise God for that. It is really encouraging to see so many brothers and sisters excited to be part of a ministry on the other side of the world. This week we marked all our regular supporters on a map (some smiley faces represent more than one person). It was fun to see all these different places where people care about people in Ukraine. And we know that if we were to mark all the places where people pray it would be even more!

Here is couple more things we would really appreciate your prayers for:
  • Better communication with the Ukrainian Lutheran church and especially the pastor in Lviv. Right now we have a very hard time getting hold of him and that makes our planning for the ministry in Lviv much more difficult.
  • God’s protection when we travel
  • God given opportunities to be an encouragement to those we meet when we travel
  • Miriam’s back problems
  • Our visa situation – we applied for a new US visa at the end of May. We have not gotten any reply yet. Because it got obvious that it is now beyond the normal processing time we started wondering. Today we learned that, probably in error, the file had been referred to a fraud section. The person helping us with this, said there is no legitimate reason for it to be there and she hopes to get it out of there soon so that the proper processing can continue. This error substantially delays the case but we still pray that our file will be processed in time for us to leave for Europe in February 2007.
  • You can also pray for strength for us during our last couple of deputation months. If you want to see our schedule, you can look at our calendar at http://www.chmiels.com/calendar.htm
Thank you so much! We hope you are having a good week. Keep in touch.

Tomasz and Miriam

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One Week to Go...

At this time next week we'll be on our way to Uganda. . .
We take off late Wednesday (November 1st) afternoon and after switching planes in Chicago and London, we will arrive Friday morning Uganda time (around midnight on Thursday night CST). We have talked about, prayed for, and prepared for this move for the last few years and it seems unreal to us that our departure day is so near. We are eager to go and join our brothers and sisters in Uganda, but we're not eager to say good-bye's here. We're thankful for all the time we've been able to spend these past few weeks with many friends and family members.

Pack man. . .
Packing is coming along great, thanks to Nate. He is the ultimate packer! All the boxes packed thus far have been put together like a puzzle, every centimeter of space used has been carefully planned and each piece weighs almost exactly 70 pounds (the maximum allowed weight). We are just about done and then we'll be able to relax a bit before take-off.

Almost there. . .
Our monthly pledged support is currently at 91%, which is very encouraging to us. Thank you to all of you that have committed to giving! Even though we do not yet have 100% of our support raised, we have been receiving above and beyond in one-time gifts each month. We praise God for His provision through all of those that have given.

Commissioning service...
We will be commissioned for missionary service this Sunday at our home congregation, Grace Free Lutheran, in Maple Grove, MN. The service is at 10:30am and there will be a potluck following. You're all invited to come!

Please pray for. . .
  • Our relationship with the Lord - teachable and quiet hearts, complete dependence on His strength, greater love for Him
  • Our relationship with each other - We have been told by several other missionaries to be alert in standing against Satan's attacks on our marriage, which is often one of his first tactics in destroying a couple's ministry and influence. We have felt the attacks already! Please pray for unity, selflessness and a servant spirit towards each other.
  • Our travel - that we'd be alert to opportunities that God may give us to share with others about Him, that the boys would sleep well and be content, that we'd be able to get a bassinette and carseat (given on a first-come, first-serve basis) for Judah on our overnight flights, and that all of our luggage would arrive with us
  • Our health - Nate just got over a cold, Rhoda is in the middle of one and the boys are currently healthy (Pray that they stay that way! Flying in an airplane with a cold can be pretty miserable.).
  • Our transition - for cultural sensitivity, for a closeness and unity with the leaders and churches we'll be joining, for quick acclimation to Ugandan culture, for wisdom and patience as we set up our home (it will be unfurnished)

We will email our next update from Uganda as soon as we're able to from an Internet cafe near our home.
Thank for your ongoing support and encouragment!

In Him,
Nate, Rhoda, Elijah & Judah

Who's on Your Road?

“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10: 33, 34

I was asked in mid September for a devotional for this month. I look at the calendar—October is already almost finished.

Time is an unforgiving taskmaster. We celebrate Christmas and no sooner get things cleaned up and put away then another Christmas season has arrived. We celebrate a child’s first birthday, turn around and that child is leaving for college or walking down the aisle for marriage or even holding a child of their own. We go to reunions and marvel at how everybody else has aged until we look in the bathroom mirror (Isn’t it amazing how motel bathroom mirrors make you look older than you are?). Time is unforgiving and unrelenting therefore, it is a precious commodity.

Now that I have a business of my own, this story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ really intrigues me. This Samaritan was headed somewhere –he had a schedule to keep and people to see. Maybe he had a secretary who told him that he had to be to Jerusalem by 8:00 or the whole deal would be lost. Maybe he had a boss who had told him that to be late one more time and he would be out on the street looking for a new job. Maybe he had a wife who told him if he were late one more time, there would be consequences to pay. Nobody knows where he was headed or why he was going all we do know is this: “…when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him…”. There was no hesitation, there were no feelings of self pity or remorse for an interrupted schedule—there was only compassion. I wish I could say that I was always ready to dump my schedule as easily as the Samaritan did that day. To be honest, there are days I pray with earnestness, ‘Lord, please don’t leave any wounded Jews in my path today—I simply don’t have time!’ These are the days when I have to remind myself of why Jesus gave us the lesson of the Good Samaritan—it was in response to the question, “And who is my neighbor?” May our Lord be our Lord even in our time schedules and may I learn what it means daily to “Love my neighbor as myself.”

World Missions Committee Member Lyle Mattson

Friday, October 13, 2006

At Home in Waama

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jesse and I as we transition from a language school setting to Waama Bible College and teaching. God has been very gracious to us and has taught us a lot, especially about Tanzanian culture. When we were still at language school, we were told that classes started on October 9. We made our plans accordingly and arrived on the 7th. We soon found out that when they said that "classes start on the 9th", they really meant "students are allowed to start arriving on the 9th and when we have enough students, then we'll start class." Students have been trickling in this week, yet it looks as if we will have too few students to start even this coming Monday. So we wait. It's also amusing that none of the teachers (including Jesse and I) know for sure what they are going to teach yet! So Jesse and I have had a very relaxing week with plenty of time to get settled into our new house, study and practice Swahili, and get to know many people including our new boss, other teachers, and many staff on campus. God has been very gracious in "breaking us in easy".

Our new house is very nice as you can see in the picture. It is made of concrete, with a concrete floor, and a tin roof. We each have our own bedroom, we have a nice-sized living/dining room, a small kitchen and a small bathroom. 2/3 of the house is ours, the back third is extra rooms for guests. The house is on the Waama campus about a 2 minute walk from the main academic building. None of the campus has electricity from the national grid, though Waama has a generator that they run for two hours every night. This also gives us running water for a couple hours so we can fill up a couple barrels with water to get us through the day. We also have a solar panel (which can be seen on the roof) that charges a battery which gives us light when the electricity is off. There is no Internet access at Waama and have to go to Mbulu, the nearest town about 5 miles away, to send and receive emails. Waama is over 6000 ft above sea level. So the temperature is beautiful, despite being so close to the equator. In fact the house has a fireplace in case it gets really cold! Both Jesse and I are very pleased with our housing situation. In fact, sometimes we think it is too nice! God is truly gracious.

Some things to praise God about...
  • we are finally here at Waama!
  • the new friends we have made and the many new friends we will make with the incoming students.
  • God's grace as He has given us an extra week to study Swahili, get to know people, and settle in.

Please pray for...
  • the new school year at Waama. Pray for the incoming students and their safe arrivals; the teachers as we divide up courses, teach in the classroom, and get to know the students outside of the classroom.
  • our Swahili language skills. They are improving, though still a long way from being fluent.
  • a vehicle. We still do not have any good leads. We need wisdom to know when we should buy and what vehicle to purchase.

We both so appreciate your prayers for us, we couldn't do it without you. Thank you for your partnership with me and Jesse. May the God of Grace richly bless you,


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Evangelism and Church Planting Deep in the Heart of Africa

Church planting and evangelism are alive and active in the countryside of Uganda. The picture at the left shows Rev. Balise Sospeter in a church he built next door to his home. Pastor Sospeter is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Uganda. He has a ministry of church planting. Pastor Sospeter enters a village and develops a relationship with the leaders. Then he starts to evangelized the people of the village. Rev. Sospeter then starts a church with the believers.

The church you see at the right was started on Christmas Day 2005. When we visited the church many people came from the village. One man stood and stated that before he came to the Lord the Bible was not important to him. He now is in adult Bible classes and wants to know all he can about God's Word. Rev. Sospeter says that he knows the importance of all his church members being in God's Word every day. This church that was started on Christmas now has a weekly attendance of 40-50 people.

Pray for the Jores as they travel to Uganda to join this exciting work.

Grace Lutheran to Commission Jores

Grace Free Lutheran Church in Maple Grove is planning to have a commissioning service for Nate and Rhoda Jore the Sunday before they leave for Uganda. The Jores are memebers of Grace Free and this will be a worship service sending them out as missionaries. The service will include special music by the Monseth men, Rhoda's family.

The service will be held at:

Grace Free Lutheran Church
15655 Basslake Road
Maple Grove, MN 55311

October 29, 2006
10:30 am

For more information call the church at 763-463-2300

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ben and Jesse Finish Language School

It is hard to believe, but Jesse and I have completed 6 weeks at language school already! We are far from fluent, but have an excellent foundation in Swahili grammar and look forward to continuing to learn in the future. We have left language school at Morogoro and are at Arusha.
We will be staying here in Arusha for a couple more days and then heading to Waama Bible School on Thursday or Friday, Lord willing. We will have a couple days to get settled in there and then we look forward to classes starting the following Monday! We still are not totally sure of the classes we will be teaching, but will let you know when we find out.

Please pray for us as we travel, get settled in, meet the students, start classes, and continue to learn Swahili. Thank you all so much for your prayers.

Ben and Jesse

Gene Enderlein Approved as STA

Former AFLC World Missions Director, Rev. Gene Enderlein has applied to travel to India and work as a short term missions assistant. The World Missions Committee approved him as a STA at their last meeting.

Pastor Enderlein will travel to India just after the first of the year and will stay in India for one to two months. He will be involved in teaching, preaching, visiting and encouraging the congregations. Pastor Enderlein has travel to India many times and looks forward to renewing longstanding friendships.

The Beginning of a Relationship

An agreement to begin a working partnership between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Uganda and AFLC World Missions was signed last Sunday, October 1, 2006. Rev. Del Palmer, AFLC World Missions Director traveled to Uganda to finalize the agreement and make preparations for the deployment of the first AFLC missionaries to Uganda.

The signing was monumental for the Ugandan Church and was celebrated with feasting and gratitudeto God.

The Jore's will move to Uganda the first of November.