Friday, January 30, 2009

India/Uganda Prayer Update 5

One part of our work in India is a day’s drive by car away from the central work.  We drove there on Wednesday.  Thursday we ministered in churches.  We visited five churches and had services in four of them.

Elden At the last service of the day, Pastor Craig Wentzel preached.  Following the service nine people were baptized.  Seven of them were adults and two were infants.  Pastor Elden Nelson questioned them carefully to make sure they were making a part with their old religion and trusting Christ alone.  It was especially touching to hear one woman say, “I was named after a Hindu god.  I want to have a new name.”  Following that most wanted new names to indicate that they we new creatures in Christ.

We drove back to our central work on Friday.  Bob W. Lee and Craig Wentzel went to the airport to return to the US. Friday evening Pastor Del Palmer spoke at a woman’s prayer meeting.

Saturday morning a local family invited us to their new home.  They wanted us to come and dedicate it.  The wife is a believer the man is a Hindu, but open to the Gospel.  Pastor Kevin Olson shared openly about building on the true foundation Jesus Christ.  In the afternoon we will travel about a half hour to conduct a worship service.

Sunday Pastor Elden Nelson will speak at a worship service in the village.

Prayer Requests

  • God would empower the ministry we perform
  • People would be open to the preaching of the Word
  • Safety for Bob W. Lee and Craig Wentzel as they return
  • Health as we minister
  • Bob W. Lee and his wife as they pray about missions following his study at AFLTS
  • That Satan and the forces of evil will be bound and not be able to hinder the work of the Kingdom in this area.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ukrainian Christmas

How are you doing in the new year 2009? We are sure that for you it feels like Christmas is long gone but for us it feels like we just recently got out of the “holiday season”. Most of January was still a holiday here. First it was Christmas (Jan.6-7), then the “Old New Year” on January 13 and after that the holiday of “Jesus’ Baptism” on January 19.

What we really like about Ukrainian Christmas is that during the Christmas season people greet each other with the first person saying “Khristos narodyvsya!" (Christ was born!) and the other person answering  "Slavimo Yoho!" (We Glorify Him!). Of course, this does not mean that everybody is a true Christ-follower here in Ukraine, many people say this out of tradition, but it is still refreshing to hear this reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, compared to just hearing  “Happy Holidays”. 

Lviv

Main square in Lviv on Christmas Day (January 7)

But not everything about Ukrainian Christmas is as Christ-honoring. Some Ukrainian Christmas traditions are plain pagan. For example these decorated sheaves of wheat, called “didukh”(meaning grandfather’s spirit). Lviv2 You will probably find different explanations of this tradition but most people will tell you that they set these up for protection – for the sheaf to “catch” evil spirits… and then they sometimes burn them at the end of the holiday season. You will see these sheaves everywhere—in people’s homes, in the stores, outside… They come in all shapes and sizes. In the picture below you see one big sheaf and many small sheaves. Under that, there is a big sign saying, “Glory to God in the highest”. What a strange mixture of Christianity and paganism!

Lviv3The last day of the holiday season is usually considered to be January 19 – the holiday of “Jesus’ Baptism”. On that day, you will see crowds of people gathered in front of churches with bottles and other containers waiting to get some of this special holy water to bring home. Most of the time there are huge crowds of people waiting so this picture is not very typical.

For more pictures (ministry, family and other) click here.

As for a quick ministry update. This month, we have started meeting with the youth on Thursdays (besides our regular Sunday meetings). Not everyone can come on Thursdays so we usually only have couple of students for this Thursday Bible Study. But we are very thankful for this opportunity because it seems like we are able to go much deeper with a smaller group.

We are also very thankful for our helper, Sashko, who now not only helps us with the language, but he also started coming to our meetings and is involved in the spiritual part of lesson preparations (he went to a different church last year).

Our baby also seems to be doing fine. Our doctor thinks it’s a girl and we are more and more excited for our daughter’s arrival in just about three months. It is almost hard to believe that we are already starting week 27. Ministry is keeping us really busy and time just seems to fly by.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your support.

Blessings,

Tomasz and Miriam

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

India/Uganda Prayer Update 4

Kevin Preaching Yesterday we went to the church in Potherlaka.  The service was to celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the church.  The whole village came to the church for a meal.  Not everyone came into the church for the worship service.  There were many there who had worn Bibles and the Sunday school had a special program.  Just as there were many encouraging things, we noticed many ways that they needed clear teaching in the Word.  Pray that a missionary could come and minister to them and live as an example before them.

Drunkenness is a real problem here.  Pray that they would turn to the Lord and that He would deliver them from this.

After the service in Potherlanka we returned and went to a one year memorial of a death.  The man had been distraught and committed suicide.  The family is still very upset about it.  Kevin Olson spoke at the service. 

Prayer Requests

  • Travel Safety as we travel to a different area of India
  • Deliverance from the vises that have bondage on these people
  • The Word would work powerfully in peoples hearts as we proclaim it tomorrow
  • Strength for tomorrow as we speak in 6-7 churches
  • The family who lost their son to suicide

Monday, January 26, 2009

India/Uganda Trip Update 3

India Republic Day

St Paul's SchoolMonday was India’s Republic Day.  This is the day they celebrate independence from England.  The children put on a special program at St. Paul’s Lutheran School.  We participated having a few words with the children and prayer.

Classes Explaining Future Vision and Goals

The sessions explaining the future vision and goals of AFLC World Missions we held in the chapel with a good number of the pastors and Bible women there.  The pastors from the Piler area were not in attendance because of distance and the fact that we would be visiting them on Thursday.  The sessions went as follows:

  • Del Palmer - Introduction and explanation of the vision
  • Craig Wentzel - Self-Sufficiency
  • Elden Nelson - Self Leadership
  • Del Palmer - Self Propagation/Reaching Unreached People Groups
  • Robert W. Lee - Preparing Missionaries from Childhood

Kevin Olson will present his two sessions next week.  They will be:

  • Prayer
  • Distance Education

Thank you for praying as we spoke.  We really sensed God’s Spirit working.

Tuesday

We will be ministering at the Potherlaka church.  This church was built and dedicated in 2002-2003  There will be an anniversary of the dedication.

Prayer Requests

  • God would speak through us as we minister at Potherlaka
  • We would have safety as we travel on Wednesday
  • God would protect us from insect bites, some of us are really bitten up

AFLBS Missions Conference

Missionary HeartTonight the AFLC annual missions conference at the Bible School began at 6:30 sharp. For years I've wanted to be able to attend this, never guessing that one day I would be living 1 minute away from the chapel. The mission conference is mostly attending by Bible School students, but it open to area churches as well. This is a treat indeed and I thought that some live blogging of the conference events would be fun.

To read more about the Missions Conference on Christie Ballman's Blog click here.  Check back for updates.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

India/Africa Trip Prayer Update 2

IMG00116We have been traveling  since Wednesday and have arrived in Chiralla today.  Everyone seemed to have plenty of energy.  After a photo op with the AFLC-India doctor, who found everyone to have good blood pressure, some moved on to more active sports.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  We saw the hand of God in our travels.  When we were in IMG00119Delhi, India it dawned on us that we were flying into Chennai on a domestic flight and Kevin Olson was flying in on an international flight.  That could mean that we were coming into different airports.  The ticket agent confirmed that as a fact.  We were able to have email communication with Kevin as he turned his computer on while he was in the airport in Dubai

Tomorrow we will begin ministry preaching at a local congregation.  Please pray for us as we proclaim the Gospel.  Monday we will

begin sharing the future vision and goals of AFLC World Missions.

Prayer Requests

  • That God would spiritually work among those to whom we minister
  • That the Lord would speak through us giving us the words
  • That we would remain healthy
  • That there would be an eager response to the AFLC goals for future ministry
  • That God would protect our families

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update from Dan Giles Jr.

STA - DG Greetings in the Name of our Creator and Saviour Jesus Christ.

After spending the late night and early hours with Abril and Cesar and immediate family at the hospital, one is very grateful for their blessings. Little Grace was born approximately at 11:30 pm and died shortly there after.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.  Amidst this horrible passing both parents are at peace and confident they will see their little girl in Heaven.  Please pray for Abril's mom, Claudia.  She is angry.
Pray.
In His Service,
Daniel A. Giles

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

India/Uganda Trip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Today a group from the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations is leaving for our mission fields in India and Uganda. The first leg of the trip will be to India. The group includes Elden Nelson, Del Palmer, Kevin Olson, Craig Wentzel and Mr. Bob Lee. Lyle Mattson will meet up with members of the group when they arrive in Uganda.

This trip has several goals.

  • To discuss our vision for future mission work
  • To emphasize distance education
  • To introduce the mission work in these countries to AFLC President Elden Nelson
  • To allow Mr. Bob Lee observe the work and pray about the possibility of a call to AFLC World Missions
  • To minister to the pastors and people in these countries

We will be sending out updates and ask that you would pray for us and the ministry we will be involved in during this time.

Prayer Requests

  • Safe Travel
  • Health
  • The power of God as we minister to people
  • Unity in the work in Uganda

Prayer Request from Dan & Marcela Giles

STA - DG Hello friends and family,

Please help us pray for our friends Abril and Cesar.  They are a young couple from our church here in Jerez.  She went to the hospital to deliver her baby girl, and right after the baby being born, Abril's baby died.  Pray for this family, they already have a two year old boy(David).      I can't tell you all the details because I don't know them yet, my husband(Danny) informed me few hours ago.  We will keep giving you updates about this situation so that you know how to pray for them.

Thanks for praying for Abril and Cesar.
In Him,
Dan & Marcela Giles

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paul Abel's January Prayer Letter

Paul Abels We had a great time celebrating with family and church friends.  Christmas was wonderful and the annual New Year celebration at the ARCA was lots of fun!

We are enjoying having our boys home – it seems so normal and right to have them with us, participating in our crazy life.  The house is happy with people coming and going all the time. Our nephew Alex and our godson Vinicius are enjoying spending a couple of weeks with us, too.  I love the laughter and the singing and the food!  The days are flying by too quickly!  Thank you to each one who has prayed for us during this special time.

I am writing now to ask you to pray for our Children’s Camp which starts on Monday. We hope to have about 70 campers and we have a staff of 20.  Some of the counselors arrive tomorrow and the rest come on Sunday to prepare for the arrival of the children on Monday.  I’m burning the midnight oil (after doorbells and telephones and chatter are stilled) trying to get things in order for a smooth week ahead. Please know that we love you and are thankful for your partnership with us. 

Happy in our service to the King of kings, Paul and Becky

camp girl

P.S.  I offered a camp scholarship to a 10-yr. old girl named Andressa who has been coming faithfully to church for several months now.  She was so thrilled to be invited. When I told her she needed to bring bedding and a towel she looked timidly at me and responded that she wouldn’t be able to because the family shares a bed and towel.  I told her I would take care of bedding for her and that she should remember to bring her toothbrush and clothes.  Then she responded that she didn’t have a toothbrush.  When I asked her if she didn’t brush her teeth, she told me that she shares a toothbrush with her sister.  So, I will give her a toothbrush, too.  Have you been thankful today for the little comforts of life?  Pray that Andressa will have a great week of camp.

Thursday, Jan. 15

Well, as you can see this e-mail never got sent.  We had a bad thunderstorm and our internet has not been working all week.  We are having a great week of camp with 63 campers.  20 children have made decisions to follow Jesus which is really special.    Tomorrow evening we will have the final program for the parents to present the cantata and highlights from the week.  Wish you could all come and be a part of it! 

Saturday we will whip the ARCA into shape for a celebration dinner for Daniel as he graduates from Medical school.  We are expecting about 110 people to spend the afternoon here at the ARCA.  We are so proud of him and thankful for the opportunity he will have to do his 3-yr. residency in orthopedics at the biggest hospital in Curitiba. 

Andrew flies back to the U.S. on Sunday and Matthew has one more week with us.  The weekend of the 23rd we will be in Campo Mourão for our Annual Conference.

Bye for now, Becky

Camp counselors

      Kid’s Camp counselors –  Fishers of Men

Cars

Flintstone cars that Paul designed for camp relays

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pray for the Safety of Schierkolks & Giles

05mexico-graf01-190 Todd Schierkolk reports violence and kidnapping toward people who have money or connections that could provide a ransom.  He stated that one man, Mr. Marquez, was kidnapped in Jerez about four blocks from their house.  Since then, the military has come into town and things have calmed down significantly but people are afraid the soldiers are going to leave and things will return to what they were.

You can read about the situation with Mr. Marquez in a New York Times article by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Danny & Marcela Giles

Giles Thank you so much for your financial and prayer support.

We hope that you are doing really well!!!  We have been very well, very happy and full of blessings.

Many great things happened to us on the Christmas season.  My parents Dan and Debbie Giles came to be with us for Christmas, they were here almost two weeks and we enjoyed every minute to the fullest.  I got to spend two days with my dad alone, we went to Silao, Guanajuato (approximately 6 hours from Jerez); that was very special to me.  Our girls also enjoyed having their grandparents here, it was great to be together and now we really miss them.

We went again to see Marcela's doctor and he said that the pregnancy is going really well, we expect our baby to be born the on May 31st.  We can't wait to meet our little boy.  Thank you for praying for my wife and the baby.

Today was a very special day for the youth of the church, we spent 12 hours together watching movies, playing games, eating pizza and candy; they really enjoyed it.  The youth group is growing slowly but surely; we know that the Lord is really working in their lives and we are very excited to be part of it.

Please pray for all of them, their names are:
Memo, Oscar, Omar, Paty, Hilda Lizeth, Jessica 1 , Isamar, Monse, Miriam, Jessica 2, Lizeth, Rachel and Megan.  Pray that our group will grow even more.

Pastor Richard Gunderson and his wife Clara came to Jerez for a few days.  They came to visit us and to talk to our church; we all gathered in our house, and were all very encouraged by their visit. It was very special for us to see them again since Pastor Gunderson was our teacher in MTI (third year for Bible School).

Thank you so very much for supporting our family.  We really appreciate you.

We have been very blessed by this Bible verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

In His Service,
Dan, Marcela, Ari, Andy, and Robert Giles

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy 2009 - Jesse Long

sipi ben and jesse Can you believe how fast the years pass?  For me, they seem to pass faster and faster all the time.  I guess it is all just part of the aging process…at least that is what my older friends tell me.

We had a great time over the holidays with Nate and Rhoda Jore and their kids in Jinja, Uganda.  As I said we would in my last email, we left Jinja on the 2nd and arrived back in Arusha around noon on the 3rd.  Unfortunately, after making it to Uganda in only 16 hours (which was record time for us), we were disappointed when the return trip was one of the longest we have experienced – 20 hours!  We were grateful, however, that we were able to travel fairly comfortably and arrive safely back in Tanzania.

Upon our return, we immediately got busy with various tasks in preparation for the beginning of this school year’s second semester.  These included renewing Ben’s motorcycle license and insurance, picking up various supplies not only for ourselves but for various students and the school, as well.  Also, before going to Uganda, Ben had arranged for some work to be done on his motorcycle.  It ended up needing to have the cylinder re-bored, the piston replaced, the front shocks serviced, and some other small things.  In any case, it was great to be able to pick that up as soon as we got back from Uganda and we trust his bike will now continue to serve him well.  We were also blessed during our time in Arusha to spend time with several of our Norwegian missionary friends and encourage each other in the various things we will each be facing in this New Year.

Again, as we had planned, we were able to finish up all our projects in Arusha by the 5th.  Then, on the 6th, we left Arusha around 9:30am and headed directly to our regional immigration office in the town of Babati where we arrived at noon.  As some of you may recall, when we went to renew our residency permits back in November, we were told that we were too early and needed to “return on the 5th or 6th of January” and our new permits would be granted.  As we expected, however, when we arrived on the 6th they tried to give us more grief and tell us that we were still too early and that if we would come back in another week or so, they would be happy to issue our new permits.  Thankfully, after some brief reasoning and petitioning for cooperation (and some fervent prayer), God changed their hearts and they issued us our new permits which are now valid until January 2011, should we decide to stay that long.  When things were all wrapped up there at 4:30pm we were back on the road and arrived back at our home-sweet-home here at Waama at 7pm.

The next day (the 7th) was basically spent getting our feet back on the ground and getting caught up with regards to how things were progressing here.  The plan that had been set when we left for Christmas break was that this first week of classes beginning on the 5th would be used by one of the pastors who still had some first semester material to cover with all the students.  As it turned out, even by the 7th, he still had not showed up.  As a result, the teachers agreed that we would jump right into our second-semester classes on the 8th and work him in at a later time.  That caught us slightly off-guard but thankfully we had been able to make sufficient preparations during our time in Uganda to teach for those first couple days and now it looks as though that pastor will teach those first semester classes this week (12th-16th).

So, pray for us as we are already into this second semester.  Of my four classes (English, 1 John, Isaiah 40-66, and Evangelism), Isaiah is definitely the most overwhelming.  Pray also with regards to our village ministry schedule for the New Year which still needs to be planned and will require much wisdom.  We also appreciate your prayers as we hope to help equip at least one team of Tanzanian evangelists in this New Year with solar-powered audio/video equipment so the Jesus Film ministry that we have been involved with over these past couple years can continue and be self-sustaining even when we are no longer here.

I have been having some problems recently uploading pictures to our blog (http://benandjesse.blogspot.com) but keep checking and hopefully we will soon have some new pictures on there from the recent holiday season.  In case I continue having problems, I included one picture with this email of Ben and I at ‘Sipi Falls’ where we were when we brought in the New Year in Uganda.  I hope the Christmas season was a blessing to each one of you and that the New Year ahead will find all of us drawing closer to our great God.  Thank you again for your love for me expressed in so many ways.

God bless you all!

In Christ,

Jesse Long

Mbulu, Tanzania

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paul Abel's January Newsletter

PA Newsletter Early one December morning I found myself reminiscing about my childhood summers at the Dahlin family cabin in WI. I would often get up before the others and head out in the cool of the morning with bucket in hand, looking forward to spending quiet moments in nature with God as I hunted for wild raspberries or blackberries. Several years ago someone gave me a cutting of a blackberry bush from Canada. We planted it along the fence line here in Brazil. The bushes have multiplied, and today they sometimes seem like a nuisance to those who don’t understand the beauty of berry-picking. Sweaty and full of scratches and mosquito bites I persevered in the task of filling my bucket, thinking of the reward of fresh jam and shortcake later in the day.

Missionary work is somewhat like berry-picking. It requires time and attention to find those who are ripe unto harvest. There are sacrifices involved and sometimes wounds are incurred in the process, but the joy of sharing Jesus with others and the hope of enjoying eternal rewards makes the task worth the effort. There are “berries” waiting to be picked by you and me. Let’s get out in the sun and work while there is time. Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work.”

To read the rest of Abel's newsletter click here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Youth Director Reduced to 3/4 Time

<KENOX S730  / Samsung S730>The AFLC Youth Board decided at their December meeting to reduce temporarily the Director of Youth Ministries from a full time position to a ¾ time position. While they regret the need to make this decision, this financial move will lead to long-term ministry stability and success. The Youth Board has considered this action i n the past but has avoided doing so by relying on savings, using generous one time gifts (including $11,000 in 2008) and at times making severe cuts in ministry investment. Further spending cuts would hinder ministry, and year to year dependence on one time gifts mask the actual need of the department, hindering long-term development.

In January 2008, the Youth Board called for prayer across the AFLC regarding this situation. In April 2008, the Board instituted the Gideon Plan, through which 300 giving units of $10 per month would cover this deficit. Congregations and individuals have responded generously to the Gideon Plan, but only 151 giving units have responded as of this writing.

“I am in full support of this step,” explained Rev. Jason Holt, Director of Youth Ministries.  “It may be difficult, but it is necessary for the longevity of this department pursuing Jesus’ call for making disciples.”

The only remaining option was a reduction of the Director’s position to ¾ time. This move will allow the Youth Board to balance the budget, fully funding the Director at ¾ time salary while adequately funding essential ministry.  The mission of AFLC Youth Ministries continues to be win the lost, build new believers, equip those believers for ministry, and multiply maturing disciples of Jesus in the AFLC.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

View Current Brazil Video

video

Ingrid Giles

Happy Epiphany!

STA - IGOur Christmas program at church went very well and a lot of people attended.  I don't know how many came, but there were more than a hundred children and more than fifty women.  (We know that because we gave away a hundred bags of candy and fifty quilts.)  This year for the first time we combined the program with a regular church service, and we had thought maybe not many people would come because of that.  Please pray that the Word of God which they heard that day will work in their hearts and lead them to a relationship with Him.

My parents were here for Christmas and just left yesterday in the early morning.  It was very nice to have them here.

Oscar has not found a house to rent yet and I don't know if he is still looking for one.  He spent a couple of weeks over Christmas with his mom in Guadalajara and I don't know if he intends to go back there or stay here (he is in Jerez right now).

Lois, a retired missionary who lives in Jerez, has a new neighbor who is a retired priest.  He recently told a Christian young man (the son of his landlord) that he has been preaching a lie all his life and that God cannot forgive him.  Of course the young man told him that God can forgive him and presented the  Gospel to him, but the priest was not ready to accept it.  Please pray for him!

Here is my prayer list:

Please (requests):

  • Pray for my continued health.
  • Ask God to continue to provide Dan and Marcela's financial needs and also mine. 
  • Please continue to pray for Claudia Gamboa and her kids, Nena and her kids, Abril and Cesar, and Oscar.
  • Pray that God would give me the words and phrases necessary to do the best possible job of translating this Sunday School material so that it will be clear to children from all over the Spanish-speaking world.  Also pray that God would use these lessons to speak to the children and teachers who use them.
  • Pray that I'd do a good job as Sunday School teacher.
  • Ask God to help me be diligent and spend my time wisely.  Also ask Him to help me live and do all that I do in a way that honors and glorifies Him.
  • Pray for the Bible Study with Claudia Perez.
  • Pray for the people who came to the church Christmas program.
  • Pray for Lois's neighbor, the priest.

Thank you (praise):

  • I have been healthy.
  • We had a very happy Christmas season with family, and my parents got to stay longer than we had expected.
  • The Lord brought many people to the church Christmas program.
  • God is continuing to provide our needs.
  • I get to live with Daniel, Marcela, Ari and Andi, and see them every day!

Sincerely,

Ingrid Giles

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

This Train is Still A-Rollin' - Kvales

It remains on our minds from our commissioning service - the charge put forth as Pastor Phil Haugen spoke, “Steve & Glenda, don’t give up.” 

Thank YOU  also for responding to the charge in commitment to prayer enabling us to press on.

Kvales TrainTHIS TRAIN IS STILL A-ROLLIN’ DOWN THOSE TRACKS!   Thank you for your prayers that have kept it going! 

We are happy to announce, dear prayer partners, that Steve is scheduled to begin his assignment with the computer missionary team at the headquarters of Wycliffe Bible Translators in Orlando, Florida, on the 19th of this month!  Even before we started planning the trip, two calls came in the same day and we already have two places to stay along the route down to Orlando.  God has gone before us and provided even before we asked!  We were also told that housing on the Wycliffe campus will be available beginning the 16th of January.  

Though we are 10-15% shy of the 100% needed for this full-time commitment, God seems to be giving the green light to GO now and trust Him for the remaining needs.  Steve resigned from his corporate job.  December 31st was his last day.  Seems very strange since we are rookies on the mission field; but learning to trust God MORE is a daily discipline for all of us, isn’t it?   Steve’s former employer might ask him to come assist some projects from time to time when we come back in March and this would help if supplemental income for the 10-15% is needed, but our desired focus is to be fully committed to serving the Lord with the Information Technology needs of Wycliffe, to support translation work, and spreading God’s Word to languages yet without it.  We grieve the loss of opportunity to get God’s Word in their hands as people are dying everyday and natural disasters happen.  There is a sense of urgency as all of us share in this effort using the gifts,  talents, or resources God has given us to work together.   Luke 1:78-79  “Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  As this peace is only in knowing Christ.

We are so excited to see God’s handiwork in calling people into specific tasks, providing the means, opening doors here in our own country to remote villages in other parts of the earth, and bringing missionaries and nationals of various countries together where God has drawn their hearts to begin the actual translation projects.  We are eager to help supply the technology that will support them in completing these translations. 

When we return to MN in March, we will begin another 45 day assignment here extended from the team in Orlando.  It will be more economical to live in MN than FL and still be able to be just as effective as a team member.  After those 45 days, we will conference over the design and effectiveness of this remote set-up and make any needed adjustments.  Steve will also meet with the team in Orlando as needed.  We are curious about what God IS going to do with the design of this assignment and we are excited and ready to be flexible as He shows us the details.  We will keep you posted!  We also desire to continue to share at churches where-ever God will open those doors for the challenge concerning missions.

Please join us in the following praise and prayer items.  Thanks again for recognizing with us the power of prayer and what God does as we submit the journey to Him for His will to be done as He calls each of us in various ways.   

PRAISES:  That the door is open to go now and move ahead with technical support.  That God has provided as we plan the trip.  Our health is good.  God raised up more individuals and another church to partner with us to bring us to this point of 85%.

PLEASE PRAY:  For God’s anointing as we step forth and focus as the enemy tries to distract.  For one more place to stay on the trip there, safe travels, good health, no vehicle troubles.  For those that will watch over our home in MN concerning any winter temperature issues.  For natural unity for Steve with the computer team, focus for Glenda on the kids with their education needs and a specific way she can serve within her means as she visits/learns about the many needs in each department at the Wycliffe headquarters.  And for God’s will, as churches have their annual meetings and individuals consider our mission, that the remaining support will be in place so we may serve long-term.

PRAISE/PRAYER COMBO:  J  Many people enjoy the chuckle concerning our missionary mobile that has faithfully gotten us where we need to go.  We chuckle with you and, yes, it is becoming a hurtin’ unit at over 200,000 miles now (and totaled once – but that is another testimony!).  It has been a great car with a big trunk for travels and presentations.  Well, God has put on someone’s heart to help us look for a van to continue our missionary travels with and on another couple’s heart to loan us a van for our trip to Orlando.  We need wisdom as we have never owned or shopped for a van and we are used to fixing our own old vehicles.  If we borrow the van it will offer more time in looking for a van to purchase as well, but we are praying whether to borrow it and looking into organizing the insurance that needs to be in place.  Prayer for traveling mercies are appreciated!

THANK YOU!  We love hearing from you and we also pray with you concerning the things on your heart.  Do let us know how you are when you can.

Our address for January/February will be:  Steve & Glenda Kvale, Wycliffe Bible Translators, P O Box 628200, Orlando, FL  32862-8200.  Packages go to a different address so contact us if that address is needed or if you’d like our apartment phone number.  But you may still use our cell number too and our email address remains the same.  Bless you! 

In Christ,

Steve & Glenda Kvale , AFLC Missionaries on loan to Wycliffe Bible Translators

Steven_Kvale@sil.org

Monday, January 05, 2009

Kevin Olson Travels to Uganda & India

Kevin Olson Rev. Kevin Olson is traveling in Uganda and India.  He will be developing distance education through Ambassador Institute.   Please be in prayer for Pastor Olson during this time.  His schedule is as follows:

  • Monday 1-5, Leave Minneapolis
  • Tuesday 1-6, Arrive in Uganda
  • Friday 1-23, Arrive in India
  • Saturday 2-7, Return to Minneapolis

Sunfish and Northerns

images This past week, between Christmas and New Years Day, I had the chance to do some ice fishing near Nisswa Minnesota. Most of the fish we catch are either sunfish which range in size from about 7 to 9 inches or northern pike which range from about 20 to 30 inches. Sunfish are fairly abundant and can keep us busy most of the day. Northern Pike come around less frequently and tend to scare the sunfish away because sunfish are a primary food source for northern pike. Northern pike are long and thin and can move through the water without much noticeable movement. The alert sunfish scatter before the northern is within striking distance. I have been able to observe this behavior for many years because the water is so clear I can see the fish from inside my fish house. Northern pike do not waste any energy chasing the alert fish. They seem to prey on those that have less regard for their presence.

This brings me to our scripture verse for today. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan’s tactics remind me of a northern pike with his roaming around looking for someone to devour. In the book of Job when the Lord asked Satan where he had come from he said, “From roaming the earth and going back and forth in it.”

I Peter reminds us to be self controlled and alert. Have you ever noticed when things in life are going well how easy it s to become complacent? We can be assured that Satan is not resting. We can also be assured that we, as Christians, have the power to overcome Satan’s attacks. Romans 8:38-39 reminds us of the following; “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present of the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

May God bless you this new year.

In His Name,

Tom Caouette

Tom Caouette is the Chairman of the World Missions Committee.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gundersons Traveling in Mexico

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Please pray for Rev. Dick Gunderson and  his wife Clara who are traveling in Mexico on behalf of the World Missions Department.  Pastor Gunderson is a member of the World Missions Committee as well as being the Assistant to the President of the AFLC.

The trip has several goals:

  • To promote the World Missions Department's future vision and goals
  • To develop a long range plan for future outreach and ministry in Mexico, as requested by the Annual Conference
  • To show our appreciation to Rev. Samuel Flores, President of the Central Mexican Lutheran Church for his many years of service.

This is the Gunderson's itinerary as you pray for them:

  • Jan. 2 - Leave for Mexico
  • Jan. 4 - Speaking at San Andres Congregation, Leon
  • Jan. 5 - Travel to Jerez - Encouragement and future planning with those serving there
  • Jan. 9 - Travel to Celaya
  • Jan. 11 - Speaking at Getsemani Congregation, Celaya
  • Jan. 12 - Travel to Puebla where Gundersons served as missionaries
  • Jan. 17 - Return

Friday, January 02, 2009

Justo Pillman's Newsletter

Justo's NewsletterOne of the unexpected highlights
since I arrived here in Ecuador
was a couple trips to the
jungle. The first trip I went by
mountain bike with a group of
youth from the church. It was
exhilarating to maneuver down
the rough mountain roads trying
to avoid rocks and mud. On
arrival to the jungle, we . . .

To read the entire newsletter click here.

Update from Jerez - Todd Schierkolk

Kids Club Youth Ministries

Danny Giles continues to meet with the youth group each Saturday and also invites any of the youth who want to just “hang out” and visit to come on Wednesday evenings as well.

Both of the Christmas parties for the two Kid’s Clubs went very well. Kids from the jr. youth group and two of the older youth put on a puppet skit in each place. We watched the movie “Red Boots for Christmas” and each of the kids who comes to the clubs received a Christmas package that contained school supplies, toothbrush and toothpaste and an Arch Book Bible story along with a small gift, see picture above.

Christmas Outreach Service

The Christmas outreach service went better than expected. This year we had it at our regular Sunday service so people who came could see what our services are like. I didn’t expect as many people this year because of that but we had just as many as before, though, this time there were no men that came.

Danny shared the message at the service, the Sunday school kids put on a Christmas drama, then all the kids from the two clubs and the Sunday school came up for a mini concert. Afterwards all the kids received a bag of peanuts, candy and an orange and the mothers that were present all received a quilt. We gave away about 70 quilts in all this year, 56 of which were given to ladies on Sunday. One mother asked us to begin picking her kids up for Sunday school as well.

Dan and Debbie Giles

We enjoyed having Dan and Debbie in church the last Sunday of December for both the English and Spanish services.  I (Todd) was out in El Tesorero for the Spanish service.

Prayer Requests/Praises:

  1. Continue to pray for Dan and Debbie as they are in Arizona to care for Dan’s dad.
  2. For the three extremely troubled marriages in our church. Praising God for one of the wives who seems to be making a turn for the better in her walk with the Lord.  Also pray for Dan Giles Sr. who may be getting in touch with one of the husbands. The husband wanted to get in touch with him. So that is a positive sign amid mostly negative circumstances as far as their marriage goes.
  3. For the newborn cousin of one of the youth group kids. She showed much improvement in her leg but finally they had to amputate her toes. She has had a hard time recovering from that surgery, though and the family is very concerned.
  4. Praise God for some very good activities during the month of December and a good Christmas outreach service.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ukrainian Christmas

Chmiel's Christmas We hope you all had a great Christmas and are doing well on this last day of the year! This was our second Christmas in Ukraine and we are still trying to figure out what exactly it means to celebrate Christmas “the Ukrainian way.”

We were ready to learn about new Christmas traditions, we were ready to try new meals for Christmas dinner, we were even prepared to accept the fact that Christmas might be celebrated on a different day (January 7 for many Christians in Ukraine). But what we were somehow not ready for is the fact that Christmas is just a CHURCH HOLIDAY. So the feel is completely different! Even though Lutherans in Ukraine do celebrate their Christmas in December as we do, the way they celebrate is very different. They celebrate by coming to church. That is it. So most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is spent in church, including that you are expected to take part in a simple Christmas dinner at church instead of having Christmas dinner at home with your family. So that is an adjustment for us. Especially this year, with our first baby on the way, we were eager to work on our own family Christmas traditions. But there was absolutely no time for that. So maybe in the future, we will have to move our family Christmas to some other day… We are not sure…

Ukraine

On the other hand, New Year’s is a big deal in Ukraine. That is when Ukrainians are with their families and close friends, they set up a “Christmas” tree (well, a New Year Tree) and many get gifts from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost). This holiday is unfortunately also celebrated with lots of alcohol drinking :(. But New Year’s (of course leaving out the real reason for celebrating Christmas) is much more the Ukrainian equivalent to Christmas in the United States or Europe than anything that happens on December 25th or January 7th. Our Pastor was even thinking about canceling Sunday church (28th) to give people more time to prepare their homes for New Year’s!!!

You can probably imagine that all this is confusing for us. But there are also some encouraging things happening here in Lviv. For example this past Sunday, Miriam had a good opportunity to share the basic salvation message with three of the Sunday School youngest girls. We usually work with the whole group together but this last Sunday Miriam took the youngest girls to a different room to read the Christmas story with them and to decorate some Christmas cookies :) When they were reading the Christmas story, two of the girls started talking about their religion class at school and what they are learning there. The two girls do not take this religion class together but it sounded like they had the same teacher (a priest) or at least they were using the same materials. They told Miriam that you can open your heart for Jesus by doing good things. And that if you do bad things, a “little devil” lives in your heart and that devil scares Jesus away so then Jesus cannot be in your heart. They also said that there is a Book where all the names of people going to Heaven are recorded. And you can have your name in that Book if you do more good things than bad things. People who are really bad will not make it to Heaven... So of course this opened the door to talk about what the Bible says about that. How we ALL are sinners and how we ALL deserve nothing but punishment. And how God/Jesus loved us so much that He took the punishment Himself. And how we are saved (by God’s grace) when we believe. The little girls were really interested in all this and listened very attentively. Now we are praying that God would take these sown seeds and make them grow in their hearts.

We have updated our gallery at (http://www.chmiels.com/gallery).

Have a blessed last day of this year!

Tomasz, Miriam and Baby