Monday, March 30, 2009

Ukraine - Chmiels

Here we are with our March update. It feels like it was yesterday when we started working with the youth here in Lviv and also found out that we were pregnant (September 2008). But all of a sudden our school year with the youth is almost over and our Baby Girl is getting ready to be born in just about a month! Time flies!

We praise God for both the good seven months of learning God's Word and building relationships with our youth and for an easy pregnancy that Miriam's had so far (except for needing a blood-thinning shot every day, Miriam has not really had any major pregnancy problems and for that we are really thankful!).

In our last email update we were telling you about some of the results of our Thursday Youth Bible Study meetings. We want to thank you for continuing to lift up our students in your prayers. As you probably remember, we have been going through the whole Bible looking at the big picture of God's plan of Redemption. This month we came to the events of Pentecost and we spent couple of weeks talking about the Holy Spirit and His work in the lives of us Christians. Even thought this is such an important topic, for some of our students, this was the very first time they heard that every Christian has the Holy Spirit (...if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9) and about the different roles of the Spirit in our lives (He teaches and reminds us - John 14:26, He convicts us concerning sin - John 16:8, He guides us, He speaks to us - John 16:13-15, He empowers us- Acts 1:8).

It was a joy to see some of the students really "getting it." Please join us in prayer that we all (both us and our students) would give more room to the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.

This past Sunday we talked about the "four pillars" of Christian church as we find them in Acts 2:42 - "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." We talked with the youth about how our group is or is not like the First Church in these four areas. You can pray with us that our youth group and our church here in Lviv would grow to be more and more the way God would like us to be.

TomaszHere is a picture from last Thursday… (review, working with a Bible timeline)

One of our students, Pavel, enjoying a little birthday celebration at our house. We offered to take him out for his birthday but he said he’d rather come to our house. So he got to enjoy some homemade cake and homemade strawberry shake and got to play chess with Tomasz.


For more recent pictures, you can go to our gallery ( and click on "Spring 2009".

We also thought you might again enjoy some short videos from our ministry:

- Typical Sunday Meeting:
- Talking about God's plan of Redemption:
- Thursday Bible Study Group - Review:
- Thursday Bible Study Group - a fun game at the end of our meeting:
- Thursday Bible Study Group - a "counting-fingers game":
For more videos, you can go to

As you know, in just 8 days we will be traveling to Poland for the delivery of our Baby Girl. For those who like pregnancy pictures, you can check out our baby page at :-)
Please pray for us as we travel to Poland. Pray for a safe delivery and for a quick process of getting all the needed documents and a passport for our girl so that we can return back to Ukraine soon.

You can also pray that, if that be God's will, that we would be able to find a car that would work well for both our family and our ministry. We have been looking since October 2008 but so far we have not found anything that would be both a good reliable car for the bad Ukrainian roads and also would fit within our price range.
Thank you so much for standing behind us! We appreciate you so very much!!!!!

Tomasz, Miriam and Baby Girl

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mission Festivals in North Dakota


Three churches in western North Dakota are having missions festivals this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  The churches are Dickinson, Taylor and Beulah.   Kevin Olson, Del Palmer, Dick Gunderson and Connely Dyrud will be the speakers.  Each pastor will speak at each church, rotating so that all churches will be able to have presentations at four services and Sunday school.

Yes, we knew you would ask about the picture.  Although it is a beautiful day there is still a large amount of snow in western North Dakota.  There are predictions of a blizzard for Sunday night.  The young one on the snow was Kevin Olson.  We all had to laugh when he was asked his age to see if he qualified for a senior meal when we had dinner.

Please pray for these meetings.  Pray that the Lord would work in the lives of individuals as they hear His Word.  Pray also that He would use this time to promote and encourage mission work around the world.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Update from Steve Kvale's

 “And let us run with endurance the race set before us,-  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NASB).

100_6668C_1“ Today's missionaries enter a world that is very different from the one that most missionaries knew even 30 years ago. The world now runs on information maintained by digital systems. Electronic communications, travel, media and the role of software in virtually everything you touch, from cars to watches to music to money, make IT the base for the global infrastructure. This is certainly true in the "developed" world, and is fast becoming the case in the developing world as well.”*

IT professionals can get a first-hand look at how they can use their skills to aid the work of Bible translation. Check IT Out* is a special two-day conference acquainting IT workers with opportunities in the mission field.

*Taken from The IT World of Wycliffe website at

*For more information on Check IT Out, follow this link:

Steve & Glenda Kvale - Prayer Notes – March 2009

Praise God with us for:

· Safety over these 6100 miles!  Whew! The family still getting along.  J  Unity.  Minimal health issues of fever, colds, and food poisoning we healed from.

· The time getting to know the missionaries in Orlando, Steve’s assignment in the computer department getting off the ground, and now working with them from MN.  Please praise & pray for the IT workers that attended Check IT Out this month as they consider giving their IT career to God in missions.

· God’s provision and teaching us more and more to trust Him as we experience and adjust to new situations and be at peace with the unknown so we can be flexible day by day.

· God’s protection, comfort & healing when both of Glenda’s parents suffered from falls while we were far away in Orlando.  Phones are a nice invention!

Pray with us that:

· The kids can reconnect well with friends, church, bible study/youth group, school activities and work. 

· Jason would listen to God’s voice and long even more deeply for His Word through the youth challenge weekend he goes to this wkend in Madison, SD.

· The equipment needs and technical set up here will provide well for efficient service for the computer support needs of Wycliffe in various ways. 

· Wisdom for Steve as he works with various people over internet, Skype, email, and phone – learning of the needs and bringing computer team members together where needs can be met.  These relationships are still very new and we pray God would deepen them and help each one of us to understand each others gifts better as we work together.  May God be glorified as we use computers for the network support of bible translation.  Please also pray that funds will not be lacking so that Steve may continue to be devoted full-time to this IT mission assignment.

· God would water seeds in the lives receptive to Him we were able to share with whether in churches, personal visits, or along our way traveling.

· The foot specialist has wisdom for Glenda’s mom and that Glenda’s dad be comfortable and have energy with bone cancer pain under control.

· God bless the time Glenda can be with her parents for the next three weeks, understand their needs, and enjoy time with them.

· God will grant us time at home and show us how we may get involved in ministry locally again.  We miss this but desire His will.

· God will also show us where we are called to share about missions as we continue to schedule churches, schools, etc. to share at this year.

What’s Next? – Serving full-time from our home to help meet the information needs that support the work of bible translation.  The phone system has been worked on so there is a line for use with Wycliffe and the internet speedy enough for the work uploading and downloading.  That has been a little challenge living out here in the boonies of SW MN.  J  Steve’s supervisor at Wycliffe will send other equipment needs and skype has been an amazing resource for meetings.  We are so thankful that we can serve from home considering the economic difference it makes after experiencing the cost of living in Orlando.  Here our housing cost is 50% less and groceries 25% less to say the least.  We took this trip as a family since we have been serving to reach this goal together as a family and it was good to be there to support Steve - having this initial time with the people there as well.  But if there are future needs for Steve to travel to Orlando, Dallas, or Waxhaw for meetings, he will likely travel alone unless there are training options for other family members too.  We are also considering being prepared for any international assignments Steve can be available for and the training conferences needed for this.  Thank you for your faithful prayers that enable us and equip us to do the work.  Prayer makes our work work.  God bless you!

Steve & Glenda Kvale,

AFLC Missionaries on loan to Wycliffe Bible Translators

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Darwin Jackson's Prayer Update

"Fall on your knees and grow there. There is no burden of the spirit but is lighter by kneeling under it. Prayer means not always talking to Him, but waiting before Him till the dust settles and the stream runs clear."   F. B. Meyer
P1010018 I have two more men for my Bible study at the Cross Roads Mission now. Pray for Lester, Luis and Lupillo. Lester is battling alcohol, Luis and Lupillo methamphetamine.
Alfonso and I had a busy day on Sunday with three different cells in Mascarenas besides our own in Buenos Aires. It is exciting when the believers don't think a neighbor or relative will be interested, only to find them joining in. This happened in two of the meetings. Pray for the households of Maria Jesus, Chui and Jesus. Our Buenos Aires church was full again, with several new people that we have visited in the neighborhood joining us. Edgar is now playing all songs with me with his guitar. Pray for more chairs.

We were able to visit the split family again (Manuel the Catholic/Juana the Jehovah's Witness), this time spending some time with Juana. It seems she's not as founded in this cult as we had feared. I believe that through our "waiting on Him" together, and persistence with the Word we might see the "stream run clear" so that the whole family might be saved.

Michelle had two court dates yesterday. She was pretty scared. Now she's depressed because of another year of house arrest and probation. Pray that our study of the Catechism together will cause her to settle down in Jesus and not run anymore.

Antonio is starting a Catechism study with another young man, Samuel. He has had a rough time with drugs and bad friends. Pray Jesus get a hold of his heart.

Darwin, Mary Ann and Gracie Jackson

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Darwin Jackson Update

"To be too busy with God's work to commune with God, to be busy with doing church work without taking time to talk to God about His work, is the highway to backsliding, and may people have walked therein to the hurt of their immortal souls." E. M. Bounds

Thank you all for your prayers for Doloris, her operation was a success it appears. We continue to pray for her recuperation. Alfonso has continued to be well, strong, and enthusiastic about the work God has called us to do. Pastor Antonio has been sick with the flu for the week, but is doing better now.

We have met now for a couple of times with a man named Manuel who is a catholic, and his wife is a Jehovah's witness. He is nominal in his faith, his wife is zealous. We have been encouraging him to let us show him how to defend his faith so that the family might be united in the one true faith. It seems to have struck a cord, because he continues to study with us. This last Sunday he wasn't home but we met with his oldest son (who studies with his mom). He confessed Jesus as Jehovah God, so we encouraged him to study with his dad and us. Pray for this door to continue open and fruitful.

We have a couple of more open doors in Mascarenas with new people on the far side of the village opposite the church. Our hope is to win souls and group them together in homes for discipleship and fellowship.

Michelle was caught with a cell phone (probation violation), and from it there's evidence that she's planing on running again. Pray that the as we talk with her she'd allow the Spirit of Jesus to make Himself real to her. Please pray for her.

It looks like little Nicole with be leaving to live with her grandmother on Monday, we'll miss her. Cezar is doing good, Gracie too. They are both in little league baseball now. Gracie is the only girl on her team. Too precious for words. (the pic is all the nogales little league teams - Gracie's team far left blue, Cesar's middle blue)Little league Nogales

I ask for prayers as well for deputation this summer in the midwest. With so much going on right now it's kind of hard to think about taking off for a month or so.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to talk to God about His work with us. Your fellow workers,

Darwin, Mary Ann, Gracie, Cesar, Michelle and little Nicole.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Greetings from Waama

Jesse Life always gets busy for us around the end of a semester and this semester is no different!  In fact, in addition to all the “normal activities” (i.e. getting students ready for finals, administering finals, tidying up the grounds before everyone goes on break, finishing work in the fields, etc.), we have also had several extra things on our plate.

First of all, two weekends ago we received 18 Norwegian guests here at the school for about 3 ½ days.  It was a group of students from a Bible College near Bergen.  They are spending a total of about 2 ½ weeks here in Tanzania and visiting a number of different ministries including Waama, a mission hospital, the mission work in the rift valley, etc.  Ben and I especially enjoyed interacting with them and introducing them to our lives here.  Receiving guests here, however, always means a lot of extra work…especially for the students who prepare the grounds for their arrival, cut extra firewood for the guests’ food and bath water, help cook the extra food, etc, etc.

This past weekend (March 20-22) was another special weekend here at the school as we had our weekend of spiritual meetings for this second semester.  Again, this is always a time the students look forward to but it also requires much work in preparation.  This is due to the fact that during those days of meetings, the normal periods reserved for “chores” are greatly reduced.  None of this extra work would have affected Ben or me so much except for the fact that I was the “teacher on duty” this past week and Ben was the week before.  This responsibility always provides good opportunities for extra interaction with the students but it also takes its toll as it requires getting up extra early to direct the morning chores, organizing the work in the afternoons, and dealing with any other issues that might come up – anything from making sure a sick student is cared for to rescheduling class periods.  I guess I could just say we are really looking forward to Easter break.

We have been extremely amazed at how quickly this semester has passed.  This is despite the fact that it has included the most weeks of teaching of any of the semesters.  The most sober thing is that the final semester for this school year (which begins on April 20th) will only have approximately half the number of teaching weeks that this second semester had.  This will be largely due to other work that will need to be done like bringing in the year’s corn harvest (which is currently still in the fields) not to mention all the preparations that go into graduation day (June 28th).

In any case, the next couple weeks are scheduled to go something like this for us:

  • March 23-25 – preparations for finals
  • March 26-28 – administering finals
  • March 30-April 4 – week of grounds-keeping and work in the fields
  • April 5 – closing the school for Easter break
  • April 6-7 – a couple days in Arusha
  • April 8-13 – R & R in Zanzibar J
  • April 14-17 – buying supplies and making other preparations for 3rd semester
  • April 18 – attending the wedding of a friend in Arusha
  • April 19 – return to Waama
  • April 20 – 3rd semester begins

We are not sure yet what classes we will be teaching in 3rd semester but that should hopefully be determined even later this week.  God has really blessed the classes we have already taught this year.  We are so thankful for this opportunity to shape our students’ world view and help build in them a strong foundation on the Word of God.

Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and support as we continue to serve here.  I was hoping to have a solid plan to share with you all with regards to our plans for the coming school year but that will have to wait until my next update.    Please just pray that as we consult not only with AFLC World Mission in the States but with the church leaders here, as well, that God would make His will clearly known.  God bless you all.  Have a blessed Easter season.

In Christ,

Jesse Long

Mbulu, Tanzania

Friday, March 20, 2009

Prayer Update - Paul Abel's

clip_image004            How thankful we are that the mercies of the Lord never cease and that your prayers on our behalf continue to bring us hope and encouragement as we labor in Brazil.  There probably is no need to comment on the fact that we have been extremely busy since 2009 began.  We are starting to feel our 50+ years as we struggle to keep up with the pace of life around here.  People, people everywhere all the time make life fun, but hectic.  We had the privilege of hosting Pastor Tom and Patricia and baby Hadassa for a couple of weeks when they first arrived in town to start work in the São Braz church. We are rejoicing in the wonderful start they have had in the congregation and the warm welcome they have received.  The congregation is thrilled to have them! The following week our seminary intern, Edival, arrived with his fiancée Karla and her mother to spend time with us and make some wedding plans for next year.  Karla is studying in Campo Mourão at the Bible School.  During this time we also welcomed Alisha Benton from the MTI program at the Bible School for her three-month internship in Brazil.  She has adjusted well and keeps busy trying to learn Portuguese, making friends, and helping Joanna at her Christian day school.  At the end of February John and Ruby arrived to bless us once again with their encouragement and words of wisdom.  They are planning three evangelism campaigns while in Brazil this year.


During January and February we also had about 10 kids here daily to work on outside jobs to make money for camp.  Paul would serve up breakfast for the whole group and have morning devotions with them before getting each one settled into a job for the day.  This method of giving camp scholarships helps the youth be responsible and value their camp experience.  Working with a bunch of adolescents has its own challenges, but we pray that our time and teaching and example will help them follow Jesus.  Youth camp in February was a great blessing!  Thanks to those of you who prayed. We had 150 youth gathered at the ARCA for the 5-day camp. This Saturday we will be having a camp reunion at one of our churches to share experiences, give testimonies, praise the Lord together and hear another challenging message from the Word concerning God’s plan to transform our lives.

clip_image010Many times we refer to the events and responsibilities we have as “giants.”  Paul often says we just need to kill one giant at a time.  So the most recent giant was the big event we hosted at the ARCA last weekend.  For months the ladies have been planning a national Free Lutheran Ladies Conference.  We were pleased to have 175 people for our special event.  The singing, teaching and fellowship were great and the women really enjoyed the time together.  Paul and a terrific group of volunteer men took over the kitchen to produce wonderful meals for the hungry ladies. Yara and I delivered the messages and each church had opportunity to share special presentations. The weather was perfect and we are still alive to tell the story!  Our next big “giant” is the Easter Passion Play which will be presented the three nights of Easter weekend.  There is still much to do to prepare for this event.

If any of you have the erroneous idea that missionaries just sit in the shade of a palm tree sipping lemonade, guess again!  In addition to all the big events, we are actively involved in the ministry of church-planting.  We have services four nights each week and Sunday mornings, plus visits and counseling, etc. In case any of you might be feeling sorry for us I just want you to know that we do take time for a getaway now and then.  We took an overnight trip to the beach after camp with John and Ruby and Alisha to enjoy the wonders of God’s creation.

clip_image012We try to find time once in awhile for our own family in the midst of all the other things.  We have the joy of speaking with our boys by phone regularly.  The girls are busy with their jobs, ministries and families.  Christina’s college graduation will be on March 27 and we will have a reception for her following the ceremony.  Joanna is thrilled to have 52 students in her school this year. The granddaughters enjoy going to school every day with Mommy.  

clip_image014Last time I wrote I mentioned a couple of prayer requests.   Agnaldo, the recovering alcoholic, has chosen to attend an Assembly of God church in town and he seems to be doing pretty well.  Also we rejoice in the successful surgery for Gabriel who is now at home recovering. clip_image016God has answered our prayers with a resounding “yes” in these situations and for this we give thanks and praise to our sovereign God. Marcia continues to struggle with some health problems but her testimony is strong and vibrant as she trusts in the Lord.  Her little girls eat lunch with us during the week while she is at work.  They have become favorite friends to Alisha and one of the girls had a birthday party with Alisha on March 10. Birthday parties are a big deal here and it seems like almost every week we are celebrating with someone.  Alisha enjoyed the special attention and celebration with her new Brazilian friends.      Now for a few prayer requests: Yara will be leaving on a mission trip to Paraguay this Saturday so we ask for prayer on her behalf that she might be a blessing there as she is here with us. Would you also remember Heidy in prayer?  She is our 15-year godchild who is going through treatment for depression. This weekend we ask for prayer as Paul will preach in the Vila Camargo church, and next week an evangelistic campaign will begin in their sister church in Borda do Campo.  The week following Easter we look forward to the arrival of our Mission Director Del Palmer and Pastor Jim and Linda Fugleberg from Fargo, ND.  Besides visiting several churches they will lead a seminar for pastors while in Brazil.  We need to raise money for the national pastors to take advantage of this opportunity for leadership development. If any WMF group, church or individual would like to contribute to this project, please send your gift to AFLC World Missions designated for Brazil National Leadership Conference.

            So, there you have it!  A little rundown on what has been happening in the life and times of Paul and Becky Abel.  We are grateful for the ways you support our ministry with your prayers and gifts.  Our purpose for the Brazilian Christians is the same purpose Paul shared with the Colossians in chapter 2, verses 2 and 3 – “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dan and Marcela Giles

We are doing real well.  We can't wait to meet our baby boy, Robert Emmanuel!!!  We are getting ready for his arrival in two months or less.  We went to the doctor the 2nd of March and he said that he is a big boy.  Very healthy and very active.  It is amazing how you can love somebody that much when you haven't even met them yet.

Danny Pray for the youth group, some of our members haven't been able to come in a long time for different reasons.  One of the girls (Paty) doesn't go to youth group since her Dad came back from the States and he doesn't let her go.  Jessica Martinez, hasn't come for 3 weeks.  We are grateful for the ones that come.  We have two sisters that come very regularly.  Pray for Oscar, he does come regularly but sometimes gets distracted with others things. Anyway, they all need your prayers.  Here are their names:

Omar -  Paty -  Jessica Ibañez - Oscar - Isamar -  Jessica - Martinez - Memo - Janet - Rocio - Abraham - Hilda - Lizeth -Lizeth - Rachel - Megan

They are all very special people, but most of them come from broken home, unhappy families, etc....  We really appreciate your prayers for these young people.

Just this morning Marcela started to have a Bible study for women here in our home.  Last week one the ladies asked Marcela when could we start the Bible studies again, so she said Wednesday at 10 A.M.   Bibi and Betty showed up this morning at 10:00 A.M.  They had a great Bible study.  The ladies were very interested and participative.  Please pray that they will keep coming and be interested in the Word of God.

We thank you so much for your prayer and financial support.  We wouldn't be able to be here if it wasn't for you.

In His Service,
Dan, Marcela, Ariadna, Andrea & Robert Giles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Border Crossings - Schierkolk

“He that prays and does not faint will come to recognize that to talk with God is more than to have all prayers granted . . . that it is the end of all prayer."

-George MacDonald

Border Crossings Dear friends,
Greetings from Mexico! We wanted to send along a few
pictures from Christmas time in the Kid’s Clubs. We gave almost 100 quilts away both in the clubs and at the outreach
Christmas service at church. They were greatly appreciated by both the kids and the moms. Several churches helped us out with gifts for the kids. We packed up shoebox-type gifts (in a plastic bag).  Each one had an Arch Book Bible story book, a small toy, school supplies, a toothbrush and toothpaste. We also experienced a “first” after Christmas. Normally the attendance at the clubs drops significantly after Christmas mostly because of pressure in the community, but this year it actually . . .

To read the entire newsletter click here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Greetings from Waama

sleeping quarters Greetings from Waama Bible School where the rains have picked up and it looks like the harvest this year will be good. Unfortunately the rain is very localized this year. Some places (as close as 20 minutes away) have received virtually no rain while other places have received plenty.
Thankfully Waama is one of those places that has received plenty.

Second semester is almost over already! Time is flying, no two ways about that. Our classes are going very well for the most part. My class on Isaiah has proved difficult, mostly due to the immensity and intensity of the subject matter. But even this class has picked up a lot in recent weeks. My remaining classes (Biblical History, 1-2 Thessalonians, and English) are going great and I really love the students. God is so good.

In other news here at Waama, the dean has been working on reorganizing the authority structure here at Waama. As it turns out, I was asked to be the "Academic Dean" and head up the Academic department. This sounds a lot more glamorous than it is. The department's first job has been to update which classes are offered for each year (as far as I know it hasn't been updated since the late 70's or early 80's!). Once this is standardized, we will then start working on writing a syllabus/requirements for each class and hopefully sometime we'll get around to compiling all of this into a school catalog. It is a daunting task, but Jesse and I are confident that, when completed, it will be a huge step forward for the school. Please pray for wisdom for all the decisions that need to be made - many of which will impact the school for many years to come.

**Electricity Update** I was hoping that I would have a little more to update on, but things are moving at an "African" pace. The power company had been complaining that we were taking too long to rewire the campus.
Immediately after Waama got enough money, they hired an electrician who succeeded in quickly rewiring the main academic building (classrooms, faculty offices, library, and chapel) and the cafeteria. Then we waited for the power company to hook the school up to national power. Turns out they couldn't hook us up until the main transformer came from Dar es Salaam (a 2-day journey from Waama). A couple weeks after we finished rewiring those two buildings, we received news that the transformer arrived in Mbulu (nearest city 5 miles away)! All we needed was for them to hook up the transformer and throw the switch and 2 buildings on campus would be on the national power grid! Everybody was excited about this huge step. Then the power company's truck broke down (they only have one truck, a flatbed which services the whole state). So we've been waiting for the past 3 weeks for the truck to get fixed. We're still waiting. So at present still no electricity, but we are hopeful that before March is over something will happen. We praise God that funds continue to come in to help cover the rewiring of the remaining buildings on campus (4 dormitories, 7 staff houses, the pump house, and various small buildings). Thanks to each of you who has shared in this project through your prayers and gifts.

Since my last update, Jesse and I have gone on 4 weekend Jesus Film trips and shown the Film 8 times to an estimated 1900 people! We were also able to teach 3 seminars and preach each weekend we were gone. It has been exhausting, but we really love this ministry. Each weekend we take a number of students with us. We enjoy ministering with our students and getting to know them in this way. Its such a blessing to see so many people get to see Jesus in their mother tongue. Our final Jesus Film showing for this semester is scheduled for Friday night.
Thank you for keeping this ministry in your prayers.

May God bless each of you this Lent and Easter season!

Mbulu, Tanzania

It's All in Your Point of View

The missions devotional this month was written by Dr. Lyle Mattson.  Dr. Mattson is a member of the World Missions Committee. 

snow -20, -30, -40, northwest winds, northeast winds, southwest winds, southeast winds, snow, more snow, and more more snow. We have had winter here in northwest Minnesota. When we were in Uganda in February, we attempted to convey what the conditions were back in Minnesota. (It was 70-90, green and sunny with intermittent rain in Jinja). After explaining our winter conditions, they would look at us incredulously with a total lack of understanding as to what we were attempting to communicate to them. The only question they could formulate in return was, “Why do you live there?” Over the years, I have, on occasion, pondered that very question. I could say, “It’s home,” but I was at home in Milbank, in Minneapolis, in Moorhead, and in Lake Park, and yet, every time I moved, I would leave a home behind to go to a new home. I could say, “I’m comfortable here,” yet there have been many days this winter when comfortable would not describe my conditions (especially those days when a hot bath was the only thing that encouraged my blood back into my fingertips!). I could say, “I have a job here.” In the present economic environment, that’s not a bad response, still, there have been opportunities to relocate over the years, yet we remain here. I could say, “I was called to serve here,” and while that would be Biblically correct and God has used me and my family to minister in this area, still, there has never been any dream or divine intervention in my life pointing me undeniably in this direction. So, the question remains: Why do we live here?

The closest thing that I have to an answer is simply this: I love 4 seasons! Call it what you will: romanticism or lunacy, but I love the change of seasons. I look out my window and everything right now is dead. It is early March, the temperature is hovering around the 0 mark and everything outside my window is dead. We took a walk today at noon and I didn’t see a single leaf or blade of grass—I saw some pine and spruce needles and occasional rabbit tracks. To live here in December, January, February, or March, you have to be prepared—you have to have food stores, because everything is dead. Then comes that day at the end of March or early in April, where the ground was dead and cold several days earlier, you see it—new blades of grass and new buds on trees—life where death had been. Within days, an impossible transformation takes place, the dull brown of the roadsides becomes vibrant green. The trees, grey and cold, become totally alive in themselves and alive with the birds and critters of summer. Creation has occurred all over again. Oh, I know there are scientific explanations for how this all occurs—I’ve seen them—but there is no logical explanation for why! Why a seed or root can sit in frozen ground and suddenly with the warmth of spring, burst into life. Every spring, we get to relive the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void…then God said…” I absolutely love seeing the transformation occur every year.

As Christians, we have the lavish enjoyment of the greatest of all springs. The explosion of life in the spring in northern Minnesota pales in comparison to the explosion of life in the heart of a newborn Christian. When coldness and death gives way to the budding of life eternal, we can’t really explain the how or the why—all we can explain is the who—Jesus! I love the 4 seasons, I really love the coming of spring, but more than this, I love the coming of Easter with its ever renewing message: “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said…Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.” Mt 28:5-7 NASB

So you who live with me in Minnesota, enjoy the spring—for the rest of you: eat your heart out. But wherever you may be, may the resurrection of Christ be as fresh as the new buds of spring.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Kvales in Silverhill, AL

Zion The Kvale family, AFLC missionaries on loan to Wycliffe Bible Translators, visited Zion on March 1 and discussed the status of Bible translation in the world and the role of the local church. Lenaya Kvale, Steve, Neliana, Glenda, and Jason (l to r) sat in the front rows!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Greetings from Uganda!

Elden on Nile Greetings from Uganda!  Thank you for praying for us!

It has been a while since we last wrote and we apologize for keeping you out of the loop.  We had encouraging visits from Kevin Olson (Ambassador Institute Director) for two weeks in January and Del Palmer (AFLC World Missions Director), Elden Nelson (AFLC President), and Lyle Mattson (AFLC World Missions Committee) for a week at the end of January.  Both visits were timely and fruitful as we move forward with our vision of providing Biblical training here in Uganda.

The immediate result of the visits was the beginning of the Ambassador Institute training program in Uganda!  Praise God!  This is what we came for and now it is a reality.  The plan is to meet one day per week and to study a series of Bible stories from Genesis to Jesus.  So, every Saturday I am going to the village of Naigobya, an hour and a half trip from Jinja, to train a group of ten young men who have been mentored by Pastor Sospeter in the ministry.  And every Monday I am going to Butagaya (45 minutes away by car) to train a group of 24 pastors and church leaders.  This class is an interdenominational fellowship from a relatively large geographical area that Chris has been working with and that welcomed me to come and teach them.  It is very exciting to see the students' eagerness to learn.  Every week the students are required to learn the new Bible story and to share it in their communities ten times during the week.  The Word of God is powerful and is already having an impact in the communities.  A few weeks ago two people came to salvation after two of our students shared with them. Yes!  The vision of the training is that the students would share the stories in their communities and that they would also train others to share the stories.  Uganda is a very oral culture and though the literacy rate is relatively high, stories are still the best means of communicating.

It is a great joy for me to see this training begin after such a long period of preparation.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  The vehicle continues to run well considering its age (1990) and the regular beating it receives on the village roads.  I have been teaching the stories in Lusoga which means some long hours of preparation with my language tutor, Roy.

Rhoda and the kids are doing well.  It has been a lot of fun to watch Hannah's personality emerge lately. She's pretty feisty.  She enjoys climbing up on the couch, pulling her brother's hair, going for walks, and eating beans.  Elijah and Judah enjoy having school with Mom 3 or 4 mornings a week.  Kalika, who is staying with us for 6 months, is a tremendous help to all of us. She frees us up to go out on dates each week, as well as to jump in and help wherever and whenever she's needed with the kids, housework, or errand running. We appreciate her so much.

We want you to know how much your prayer and financial support means to us. We realize that times are tight right now in the U.S. and we are humbled by the sacrifice you make to support the work here in Uganda. Our support remains high and we have not once dropped below our monthly support needs. Thank you!

Nate and family

(Check out our blog for recent pictures!

P.S. CORRECTION:  Last update we wrote that we will be in the US from July 2009 to December 2010.  We will actually be in the US for six months: July 2009 - JANUARY 2010.  Sorry for the confusion!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Life in Ukraine - Chmiels

Our February prayer update is a little late because there is a cold-bug going around Lviv and it has not missed the Chmiels household either… :( Please pray that it’s over soon as we have a busy week ahead of us. Not only ministry-wise as usual but we also promised to watch two little girls (3 and 1) for our fellow missionary friends, starting on Wednesday. The parents have to go to Poland to renew their Ukrainian visa. So please pray that we are healthy and full of energy by Wednesday, ready for these two little ladies :)

youthgroup In our last update, we told you about the Youth Bible Study we started on Thursday afternoons. We are really excited about this!!! Even after just two months we see big changes in some of the students who come to this Bible Study regularly. It almost feels like some kind of a breakthrough. Last year we had moments when we felt like some of the oldest teenage students were almost immune to what we were talking about at our Sunday meetings. It felt like they have been coming to church for so long that when it came to God’s things, they could not care less.

But something dramatically changed just recently and we praise God for this change!! For example, one of the older teenage boys in the past never responded to anything we talked about… When we gave them homework or Bible reading to do at home, he never did it… When we had worksheets with spiritual questions, he left it all blank… etc etc… But recently, he is like a different person! He is one of the most faithful students to come to the Thursday Bible Study meetings, he seems eager to learn and seems to be open to what we are learning from the Bible, he completes all the Bible reading assigned to be done at home and he just responds completely differently from how we used to know him. When we discuss our Bible lessons, he always tries to find answers in his Bible. The change is so obvious that  some of the other students even told him that he should be a pastor!!! It’s so amazing to watch God at work!!! Thank you so much for praying for these students.

Last week our Bible Studies were moved from the church to our home because the gas bill for the church was high (prices went up) so the pastor does not want to turn on the heat for just a small group on Thursdays. But we actually like it better in our home (we don’t have to finish at an exact time for someone to lock up the building after us etc…). So we count this also as a blessing and a step in the right direction!

If you’d like to see a short video of our group playing Skip-Bo after our Bible study, click here:

As we already said, we very much appreciate your prayers for these students – both for those who come only on Sundays (a group of about 10-14 students) and the ones who also come to our Thursday Bible Studies (about 4 students). This month you can pray specifically for a brother and a sister whose parents are in the process of getting a divorce. Unfortunately having divorced parents is very common in Ukraine but nevertheless it’s very sad and we pray for God’s mercy in this messed-up situation.

borschBesides working with youth, we have also had opportunities to build relationships and talk about Jesus with other people this month. For example a lady from our church, Tanya, came last week to show us how to make Ukrainian borsch (for those of you who like cooking, you can see a video here: This time of borsch-making was also a time of sharing and she said that if we started a Bible Study for adults, she would very much like to come. So that is another thing to think and pray about it. Maybe next school year…

We also have a new opportunity to meet weekly with a girl (young adult) who was confirmed in the German Lutheran church here in Lviv but who does not come to church any more. Right now we meet to help her with her English (she lost her job and knowing English might help her with finding a new one) but we hope that maybe she too might later be interested in a Bible Study.

So as you see, many new ministry opportunities are opening for us here in Lviv. And we are praying for wisdom and guidance to know which ones to pursue.

Even though we know it is going to be hard to leave now, we will have to leave for Poland in about a month to deliver our baby. After our Ukrainian hospital adventures last year and with Miriam’s blood disorder and blood thinning shots and everything else, we do not feel comfortable delivering our first baby here in Lviv. Krakow (Poland) is the closest “non-Ukrainian” big city where we can go to deliver our daughter plus that will probably also be the place where we will take her for check-ups and vaccinations in the future. So it seems to be a good choice. The only disadvantage is that we have to leave soon enough to prevent having our baby on the train :-) Right now we are planning to leave sometime around April 6th. We would love to come back to Ukraine really soon after our girl is born but we know that there will be paperwork that will need to be done before she can travel (she will need a passport) so we do not know how long that is going to take. Hopefully not too long.

eighth month  <-- starting eighth month of pregnancy

As you probably know, we do not have a car so we are planning to travel to Krakow by train. It will be quite the trip… Miriam in her ninth month of pregnancy… bringing all our stuff for living in Poland for about two months plus all the needed baby stuff (incl. a stroller etc.)! You can be praying for that too! We have been trying to get a car for about half a year now but it is very difficult to find one when we have to do the looking long-distance – as foreigners we are not allowed to own a car registered in Ukraine so we are trying to buy a car probably in the Czech Republic. So that’s another prayer request…

If you’d like to see more February pictures, you can go to our gallery at


Tomasz, Miriam and Baby Girl

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Update from Tanzania - Jesse Long

chai time Greetings once again from Tanzania!  As I write this, I am sitting in Arusha and Ben and I are enjoying a long-awaited weekend off.  In my last update, I mentioned that we had spent a weekend ministering in the region of Daudi.  Following that weekend, we had two more blessed weekends of village ministry – the first in the region of Kansay, and the second in the region of Haydom.  As many of you probably know, during each weekend of ministry we visit at least two and sometimes three different villages.  We generally show the Jesus Film in each village, teach a Saturday seminar and in the Sunday morning service at least one of us will preach, as well.  Each place is certainly unique and provides opportunities to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds.  One of our favorite aspects of these weekends, however, is that we generally travel with at least a couple of our students and, as a result, have the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level and let them take part in the ministry with us.

As an example, a couple weeks ago we were in a pretty far-out village with several of our students.  On Saturday, the schedule that had been set up by the local leaders had a break in it and I had the opportunity to talk with one of our students about the village he comes from.  He told me that due to the recent dry spell local witch doctors had been doing everything possible to get rain to come.  Finally, the village leader (who is not a Christian) called everyone in the village together for a day of prayer to see if “the Christian God” could do any better than their local gods.  Our student, Yoram, said everyone came out.  Pastors, evangelists, and even church choirs and singing groups came together to coordinate a huge day of village-wide prayer and praise.  That night the rain came…and he said it has continued since that time.  The most amazing part is that this rain has primarily been in their village and the villages immediately surrounding who were not involved in the prayer gathering are still suffering from a practical drought.  So that was an exciting testimony to hear!!

Of course, the interactions we have on these weekends are not always so encouraging.  For example, two weekends ago while the Jesus Film was running, we had the opportunity to visit with a couple of our accompanying students.  Coincidentally, before coming to spend this year at Waama, both of them had been working in an extremely poor, largely un-evangelized area far from their families.  The tragedy, as they related it to us, is that even though they have been called by the Tanzanian church to work in this difficult area and were promised that at least their daily needs would be met by the larger, national church, many of these evangelists have received no compensation at all for their work…some for as long as 4 years!  It is not that they are in it for the salary, they simply have needs like any of us and have families to support.  In fact, the power in their testimonies is that they have continued to work at their own expense.  At the same time, there comes a point when you have to confront the lack of faithfulness on the part of the leadership.  They apparently did this recently but were simply told by the leaders (who never miss a month’s salary and drive cars provided by the church) that their calling was simply to “self-sacrifice”.  And that is just what they continue to do.  Please pray for these village evangelists who are the true heart of the church here and receive little to nothing…at least not with regards to worldly compensation.  At the same time, I have no doubt these guys are the ones who will “shine as the stars of heaven forever and ever.”

So, I should probably quit here.  I just wanted to give you another picture of where we live and who we are working with.  Tomorrow (Monday), we make the 3 hour ride back to Mbulu for the month of work leading up to Easter break.  Please pray for our safe travel as well as for the classes to be taught in the coming weeks, the finals the students will be taking at the end of this semester, and the villages we will be visiting each weekend.  God bless you all for your love and prayers.

Until next time…God’s richest blessings to you all!


Jesse Long

Mbulu, Tanzania

PS – More pictures went up on the blog this weekend.   Check them out at