One of the ministry highlights of this past year was taking some of our Lviv youth to a weeklong retreat in the Czech Republic. We organized this retreat together with a congregation from
Oldrichovice (Czech). We are really excited to see what that week did for our students. It is such joy to see them reading their Bibles a lot more, to watch their lives changing and to sense a new desire to not only receive but also to give and serve.
Friday, December 25, 2009
One of the ministry highlights of this past year was taking some of our Lviv youth to a weeklong retreat in the Czech Republic. We organized this retreat together with a congregation from
Thursday, December 24, 2009
January is a time for intensive two week training courses both here at the Association Free Lutheran Seminary as well as in Chirala, India. The training in India will include: Doctrine of the Means of Grace by Dr. Francis Monseth, Discipleship by Pastor Mark Antal and Congregational Life by myself, Pastor Kevin Olson.
The style of the training in India is different than at AFLTS because the culture, the language and the education of the people is different. A classroom in the U.S. typically includes desks, books, class notes, and a teacher. In India, the training comed.s from an oral tradition in which the lesson is learned by repetition and memory. Books are not readily available in Telugu and so the training style must be varied. Instead of straight lecture, the students will be engaged in a story most often from the Bible that they will learn and apply to the topic of the class. The oral method of training engages the mind in the study of the text, it is more quickly retained because it is a story, and it involves the emotions that go along with the feelings of the people in the story. It can be a challenge to change teaching styles from one culture to another, but it is also a great privilege to be a part of taking God’s Word half way around the world.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I hope that this letter finds you well in this Christmas season and that you are able to enjoy time with family and friends remembering the real reason for the season!
Well the Lord has been faithful to Nate and myself in our visa situation and has provided, in his timing, our visas! We hope to leave the first part of the year, depending on the visa shipment, flight availability, and time line for the Abel families. We’ll be sure to keep you all posted as we begin to move forward relatively quickly with the process of going to Brazil! Thank you all for your continued prayers and we join you in giving thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord in this Christmas Season!
Jon Nelson and Nathan Olson
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light
of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)
Aracely was anxious to talk to us after we returned from our deputation to the USA. They had recently moved into a different rented house near where we have our
Tuesday Kid’s Club. One of the first weeks we were back she waited to tell us some news after the club while her little son finished up his classes. She was in the middle of explaining how they had been seeing images in the house, hearing noises and seeing things moving when all of a sudden her son, Pepe, ran up and exclaimed, “We have an evil spirit in our house!”
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ.” (Col. 4:3)
We want to thank all of you who have hosted us and fed us and prayed with us and entertained our kids. You have refreshed and blessed us. We are wrapping up our time in the U.S. and getting very excited to return to our home in Uganda in January. At this point we plan to stay for a 2 1/2 year term before we return to the U.S. again.
Click here to open and read Jore’s Christmas greeting.
Monday, December 21, 2009
God arrived on earth in his time in the form of man to save us from our sins. It was a premarked time, it was the right time. Time is abstract; it’s a form of measurement for the human race. We are coming to the end of the first decade in the 21st century, I believe reflection is due.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The first Christmas I spent in Brazil was actually 30 years ago in 1980 when Paul and I were a part of a missionary Gospel team called “Winds of Peace.” That first Brazilian Christmas was special with all the excitement of discovering a new culture and trying to fit into the world of my
husband’s family. Now that world is “my world,” too. It no longer seems strange to celebrate Christmas in the hot climate with a scraggly Christmas tree and far from my own birth family.
I just got home from visiting a friend in the hospital. He was in a serious accident and his arm has required surgeries and skin graphs. This verse from Isaiah made me think of his arm. It’s not pleasant to
think about, but what is more vulnerable than an arm with no skin? Like Isaiah says, this is similar to what the Lord did at Christmas. He sent Jesus as a weak, vulnerable baby; He made bare His holy arm. It’s hard to imagine the omnipotent God susceptible to infection, germs, pain, etc, but that’s what He did.
Friday, December 18, 2009
We are thankful for the life we have in Jesus, the Son of God – the reason for the season!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
Wow! It is hard to believe how fast the past month has gone and even more amazing to realize that another year is already coming to an end!! I trust this finds you all enjoying a blessed Christmas season and looking forward to a blessed 2010.
I again have many blessings to report as God has truly had His hand on the past month. As you know, I had the opportunity to make a business trip to Dubai just a few weeks ago for my previous employer, LEKTRO, Inc. I am happy to report that all my travels went extremely smoothly (truly noteworthy on this continent), it was a successful trip, and, as always, I was so encouraged to be able to work again with Eric. In addition to all this, however, I am so thankful that things back here at Waama also went well in my absence. This included not only the special course for my third-year students to help them be more effective in witnessing to Muslims but also a weekend of Spiritual Meetings held for the staff and students here on campus.
After my return, I had just a few short weeks of teaching left in the semester and now we are in the process of bringing things to a close before Christmas break. This will include planting the rest of the school’s fields (as soon as we get another good rain) and then administering final exams for the semester. We have this week and next to wrap these things up; then, according to the schedule, the school will be closed and the students will head for home on the 19th.
This Christmas season is a little different for Ben and me. For Ben, this is because things continue to move forward in his relationship with a certain young lady back in the States. In fact, he left yesterday on his way to spend Christmas and New Years with her, her family, and his own family. For me, I was trying to decide what would be the best way to spend the Christmas season when the opportunity came up to do another business trip for LEKTRO, Inc. For some, making a business trip during Christmas break might sound less than appealing but I was excited to have something productive to do with my time and it even worked out for me to have some days of sightseeing in Cairo, Egypt from December 23rd-29th even though the work is only for a couple days preceding that in the country of Bahrain. God is so good!!
As we reach the end of another year, it also seems we are getting closer to the end of Ben and my time here at Waama. We continue to covet your prayers not only for us but also for the school and the leaders of the church in this region. We have days where it seems progress is being made but there are certainly days when it seems this school will never be able to stand on its own two feet. Pray that God would strengthen those leaders who are being faithful and raise up more to stand with them. Satan certainly doesn’t want people to be taught the Word of God with faithfulness. Pray also for Ben and I, not only as we serve here day by day but also as we seek God’s will for our individual futures. Thank you so much for your partnership with us.
Wishing you all God’s richest blessings now and in the New Year ahead.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Greetings this beautiful Christmas season!
Click here fore our recent newsletter. Our family notes are below, but first here is a missions highlight we ask you to pray with us about:
Audio and Video Scriptures in Asia (Public) – 11/30/09
“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me’” (John 11:41-42, NLT).
Teams working with several languages in a region of Asia are preparing Scripture portions for distribution in audio and video formats. This way God’s Word can be available to people who may never have a chance to read it.
- Audio portions are being broadcast by radio in one language already. Pray for many people to listen and understand.
- In the recording phase of another project, a producer is struggling to find willing actors. Ask God to lead the producer to the right people for all of the roles.
- One team would like to record some Psalms in short clips suitable for sending via mobile phones. Pray for a producer to lead this project and for good contacts with local musicians.
As the year comes to a close we pray you are recognizing the many evidences of God’s faithfulness in your life over these past twelve months. There are so many things that happen in our lives each day that are full of God’s fingerprints.
The first chapter of Colossians is a blessing to read and be reminded afresh of the privilege and miracle it is to have God’s Word. God so personally cares about us and gives us the Word of truth, where we learn of the hope laid up for us in heaven. As we respond to these things in our hearts, God’s truth bears fruit in us and we understand the grace of God in truth. This passage points how important it is that prayer have a prominent place in our daily living, so that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. May we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects. He gives us strength, steadfastness, patience, and joy. Thanks be to our Heavenly Father who delivers us from the kingdom of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, Jesus, in whom we have forgiveness of sins.
The birth of Christ is a gift of God’s faithfulness promised to us and fulfilled so that we might know true peace in Him. May you have a comforting, blessed, and joyous Christmas and New Year in the Spirit.
Recent fingerprints of God in our lives: (Please continue to pray for these items along with health and safe travel, especially).
- We miss Glenda’s father deeply, but we experience the truth of “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NASB).
- God goes before us as we face unknowns about where we will be from month to month, but we are able to serve in our assignment with Wycliffe uninterrupted no matter where we are. It’s been exciting and such a blessing to use our gifts for His glory anywhere.
- Jason is now healing well from a severe finger injury that was infected.
- As we face needs, God graciously provides in unexpected ways.
Thank you, partners who continue faithfully and prayerfully helping us to reach the Bibleless people. We appreciate so much, too, you new partners who recently joined us in this effort. We have been just under 100% of our quota, but are trusting God in all circumstances.
Serving Him with you in His Great Love,
Steve & Glenda Kvale Family
IT and Administrative Support Missionaries, Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA
The temperature slowly going down. It is 20 degrees centigrade (68 degrees fahrenheit) at nights. The people feel it is pretty cold, yes, because they experience 48 degrees centigrade (118 degrees fahrenheit) in the summer time. Praise God the AFLC has provided blankets and food for the poor and the flood effected areas.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."
Now many of us know the rest of this story about how the Lord created a way for the people of Israel to walk through the Red Sea on dry land and the sea crashed behind them on the Egyptians. What a miracle that was! What I want to focus on however is the people’s attitudes before this miracle took place. Can you imagine gaining freedom, only to have the person who gave you freedom change their mind and want to kill you? And then to make it worse the Lord led you to this place to be between a sea and an army! It’d be hard to think that the Lord wanted you to have freedom or wanted you to live. The Lord had other plans however; not only did he want the people of Israel to realize that He would be there for Him but He wanted all of the Egyptians to know that He was Lord.
These moments in life where you feel as though God has left you to die, where you wonder if He still cares, where you wonder if you’ve followed the path that He has laid before you have been affectionately termed as “Red Sea Moments.” Often times we begin to wonder what God has in store, what it is that He’s doing, or even if He remembers us at all, but I would want to encourage you that the Lord is faithful and knows your plights. He doesn’t ignore us and He doesn’t let us suffer without a reason. He is an all knowing, all powerful God and knows what He’s doing at all times. We may not be able to understand what the Lord is doing at the time but have faith that a miracle will happen, that your Red Sea will be parted.
So by this point you’re probably wondering what this has to do what Nate and myself are going through. Well, in these past couple of months we’ve been able to look at Scripture, continue praying and seeking guidance, and more than ever we’ve felt that we’re supposed to go. The Lord has laid it on our hearts to go and serve Him and that’s exactly what we plan to do. Yes, it is close to three months past the time we were scheduled to go but how can we not praise God? Do we know better than the Lord when we should be going? Both Nate and I have faith that the Lord is in control and we will continue to wait on Him.
We want to thank those of you who have remembered us in your prayers, the prayers have strengthened us as the Lord continues to give us strength and hope in Him. We would ask for continued prayers as our visa applications continue to be looked over and that we would be approved to go in the Lord’s timing.
We would also ask for prayer as Nate’s family has begun the moving process and are continuing to figure out other details. Praise God Nate was able to be here to help his family as the make this adjustment! I have gone back home to Kalispell, MT and plan on staying here until we hear positive words on our visas. I will be working temporary jobs around the area as well as getting involved with some ministries that my home church has established in the community.
The Lord has a plan and we continue to praise Him for that. We look forward to going to Brazil, knowing in full confidence that the Lord is working in His own time. God bless your day and please remember that in your own Red Sea moments God is always in control.
Jon Nelson and Nate Olson
Greetings from Tanzania where the rains have come early, most of the crops have been planted, and a general attitude of optimism has taken hold. As many of you know, last year was a year of drought across most of Tanzania. The region right around Waama was spared this drought and we actually had a very good harvest, but many of our students were not so fortunate. We are all very thankful that the rains have come, even early, and have been in great abundance. We serve a good God!
We are already almost done with the first semester here at Waama! It is amazing how fast time is flying. Classes are going really well despite a very heavy work load. I'm teaching 8 credits of new material this semester (plus 3 credits of old) and have had to prepare all this material from scratch. God has been gracious and I feel like the students are learning a lot. I have been able to write all my notes in Swahili so future teachers won't also have to start from scratch. A couple weeks ago we received our last student (I think!), bringing the total to 52. Capacity is 72 but we are trusting that God will provide for the financial needs of the school despite the low attendance. Finals are in two weeks then all the students will return home for a two-week Christmas break before returning in early January for the start of second semester.
Jesse and I decided not to try to do any Jesus Film ministry this semester. This is mainly due to our heavy class load, but Jesse also had a 1.5 week trip to Dubai in the middle of the semester which also disrupted our plans. So in the end we decided that we would just wait and start this ministry 2nd semester.
Jesse and I "celebrated" Thanksgiving last week... by making coffee cake and strawberry cheesecake (from a package we brought from the States)!
Not much of a celebration, but our cook was at home taking care of her husband who had been vomiting blood and was in the hospital. We are thankful that he is back home now and doing better. We are also thankful for so many things! We are very thankful for each of you who keep Jesse and I in your prayers! We are also very thankful for electricity here on campus - it has totally transformed the school. Everybody is so much more productive and the school's energy bill is a fraction of what it used to be (buying diesel for the generator was extremely costly!).
In a week and a half I will be boarding a plane bound for the US! I will be spending almost a month in the States spending time with Adela, her family, friends, and my whole family! This will be the first time in over 5 years that my whole family will be together! I'm greatly looking forward to being back "home" for Christmas and New Year's. In early January I'll be returning to Tanzania to finish out the school year.
Praise God for...
- rain! This is such a huge blessing and will help alleviate the suffering from last year's drought.
- getting us through 1st semester. It has been a ton of work, but both Jesse and I feel like it has gone very well. 2nd and 3rd semesters won't have such a heavy work load.
- God's protection - for us, for our cook's husband, and for all the students and teachers.
Please pray for...
- a strong finish to 1st semester and a good start to 2nd semester.
- Christmas Break. For me as I travel back to the States. For Jesse as he's not sure yet what he's going to do. For the students as they head home, visit their families, and plant their fields.
- the future. It appears that this will be our last year at Waama, but neither of Jesse or I have any clear direction for next year.
Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry. May God bless you,
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
We hope you had a time of thanksgiving to God as you gathered this past week for a holiday. The habit of giving thanks should be a normal reaction throughout our days. God is so wonderful and has given us so much and has forgiven us all of our sins and daily intercedes for us as He prepares a blessed eternity for those who choose to trust Him. Yet, too often our day to day attitudes are filled with grumbling and complaining. There really is no excuse for attitudes like that! God has given us the gift of thanksgiving for our own good. He knows that having an attitude of gratitude changes our perspective and makes our life better. Above all, God deserves our thanksgiving and praise and devotion. Life in the real world, in the here and now, is not easy. We face great difficulties in the challenges of missionary life in Brazil. We realize that the suffering many people are facing today is far greater than our own. But, one thing is certain – God’s will for His people is to give thanks in all things. Today I give thanks for our family and friends, for our churches and for our supporters, for health and food and daily provisions, for the trials and challenges we face, for the nearness of God, for His Word which is true and sure, for salvation and forgiveness and HOPE and a million other things. Thank you, Lord, for your indescribable blessings in our lives and for your perfect plan worked out in the midst of suffering and trials. If you haven’t thanked God yet today, take a minute to honor Him with your thanksgiving.
We are driving home (6-hour trip) after spending four days in Campo Mourão for the graduation ceremonies at the Bible School and seminary. I was invited once again to direct the choir and help with the music and organization of the event. The students are very appreciative, and we always sense that the investment of time and money and concern is well worth our efforts. We pray that the Lord will use each one in a special way as they follow His call on their lives. Paul was involved in several meetings during these days with pastors and leaders of our denomination. Both of us spent hours counseling various individuals and praying with them. There are needy people all around us who need encouragement, exhortation and prayer. Paul will be preaching at our church in Campo Largo tonight and I will be helping the children lead the service, so we trust the Lord to bring us safely home to continue ministry on the home front.
Since I last wrote, we had a blessed Missionary Conference at the ARCA with about 60 participants. Each one chose a workshop – Personal Evangelism, Social Outreach, Child Evangelism, or Impact Evangelism using art, music and drama. After the days of training we had a practical outreach on the last day to help the participants actually evangelize. Besides the time of challenge and teaching, God used this event to bring revival through repentance and confession of sin and a renewed awareness of His plan for our lives. One of the positive results of the retreat was the commitment of a great group of young adults to help plan our next big event for youth – Carnaval camp in February. We have already had one planning meeting where the theme and division of responsibilities were defined. This event seems to start off the year with renewed commitment on the part of youth to seek the Lord and live for Him.
A fun visit from a group of Canadian boys filled two weeks in November with lots of activity and projects. Matt and Kyle Hagen are members of a Free Lutheran church in Canada. Their two friends Bentley and Garett, joined them for an adventure in Brazil. They helped us with several projects including a landscaping project in our yard, building gates for the fences around the pasture, painting the Sunday School rooms and fixing the roof at the church in Campo Largo. Of course, we took some time for fun in the sun, too. Joe Long also dropped in for a day or two while the boys were with us.
We are in the busy time of year now preparing for Christmas. Choir practices and Sunday School programs are on the top of my mind. I need to get the house decorated and get things ready for my dear boys who will be here again to celebrate Christmas this year (what a blessing!). Our churches have their annual meetings at this time of the year and important decisions are made. Our Saturday afternoon Bible club in going well but ends up being another commitment of time and energy and planning each week. Leadership courses twice a month have also been good. The dedication of the new church in Borda do Campo was another big event this month. Life marches on and we keep looking to Jesus to renew our energies and teach us how to be His people in every situation.
Please continue to pray for us as we preach and teach and interact with people. We know the Truth and the Truth has set us free. We seek to bring that Truth to those who continue bound in the chains of sin. We ask for special prayer support for our friend Yara as she works through past traumas in hopes of emotional and spiritual wholeness. Pray for spiritual protection and victory in the name of Jesus.
May the Lord bind our hearts together in love even when distance and busy schedules seem to keep us apart. Have a wonderful December!
Love and thanks, Paul and Becky
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Advent greetings from Ukraine! Last time we wrote from a youth camp that we (together with a congregation in Czech) organized for our Lviv youth. Thank you so much to all of you who were praying for us during that time. We are really excited to see what that week did for our students. They took some huge steps toward spiritual maturity at the camp. It’s such joy for us to see them reading their Bibles a lot more and to watch their lives changing. We are so proud of the Oldrichovice youth group for how they embraced our students, how naturally and lovingly they shared their faith and how many of them are faithful (even now after the camp) to stay in touch and encourage our students in their faith. One of the Czech guys is, for example, really trying to send daily cell phone text messages with Bible verses. He still has yet to figure out a good way how to do it with the Cyrillic alphabet but we really appreciate him wanting to do this for our students.
Here we are with the Oldrichovice leadership team, already after the camp, planning our future working together. God willing, we will again organize something together next year, probably in August 2010. This time we are planning to have some of the Oldrichovice youth come to Lviv. Please pray for God’s guidance in all this.
As we told you in our last email, there was a quarantine order issued in Lviv at the end of October. It was finally cancelled last week so we are back in Lviv now! This is what Lviv looked like couple weeks ago.
Because of the quarantine we had couple unplanned weeks in the Czech Republic. One of the blessings was that Tomasz was able to take part in a youth ministry conference in Ostrava (Czech). The theme of the conference was “Holy Spirit.” The teaching was done by Dave Patty, a missionary who has been ministering to young people and youth leaders in the Czech Republic for the last 16 years. When we are in Ukraine we do not have very much opportunity to be part of things that would be spiritually encouraging to us so we were thankful for this opportunity. It was also inspiring for us to see a missionary who has been doing a lot of what we are trying to do in Ukraine. Sometimes we feel ineffective as missionaries, we spend a lot of time on things that people from that country would not have to do, it takes us a lot of time to prepare our teaching in a language that is not our own and even with diligent preparation we still make many grammar mistakes when teaching our youth. So, besides other things, it was really encouraging to see how powerfully God is using Dave in the ministry He called him to do. Even when you do not get all the word endings and cases and tenses right, God can still use you to do big things in the lives of those that you work with. :)
We also used the time in Czech to visit some youth ministries to learn from what other churches do. The picture below was taken at an outreach Sunday night club that the Oldrichovice church organizes for the neighborhood unchurched youth. As you see, Hannah does not have trouble making new friends :)
We also got to spend some time with Pastor Stanislav Pietak, who now serves as Bishop for the Silesian Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic. We are always encouraged by His love for the Lord and his commitment to serve Him no matter what the costs.
One special occasion was being in Czech to help Tomasz’s parents celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. Because Tomasz has not lived in Czech since 1999, it was very special for his parents to have all their sons and their families with them to celebrate their big day. Tomasz’s grandma (holding Hannah) too was able to be there which was also a reason for celebration because she just recently miraculously survived a severe illness and surgery when the doctors gave close to zero chance for recovery. Praise God for being the ultimate doctor!
On November 18, Hannah celebrated her “half-birthday”. This picture was taken at exactly 5:45pm (time when she was born 6 months earlier) :)
One of the hardest things about being missionaries is to feel like we are robbing the grandparents of being able to watch their grandchildren grow. For Miriam’s parents, Hannah is the only grandchild and they definitely wish we could live a little closer. So they enjoyed being with Hannah on her “half-birthday”. In the picture, Grandpa Tomas is giving Hannah a little “half-birthday” present.
But our greatest achievement while being gone from Ukraine was obtaining new Ukrainian visa at the Ukrainian consulate in Krakow! What a hassle!!!!!! Weeks of gathering information and documents preceded the moment when we were finally holding our passports with the one-year religious work visa. Thanks be to God for again helping us through this process. Now we have to take the next step and try to register again. We would again appreciate your prayers.
Thank you so much for standing behind us!
Have a blessed Advent Season,
Tomasz, Miriam and Hannah Chmiel