Friday, December 27, 2013

"We talk of the second coming, half the world has never heard of the first."- Oswald J. Smith

What a treat and wonderful Christmas present it was to spend a couple of days with the Leppanens, Sam, Saara, Nick, and Isaac.  Sam and Isaac (the youngest son) are both avid computer geeks and they and John had a great time together.  When Saara would send Sam to John’s room to get Isaac, she then had to go herself to pry Sam out of John’s room.  Sam had also just gotten himself the exact same computer that I had bought for Karen for Christmas, and Isaac (I think he’s around eleven or twelve years old) loves the same computer games that John does so they played together for hours giving Karen and I time to visit with the parents and with Nick.  Nick has graduated from high school and is applying to an art school in Finland (Finland pays for all college schooling) that is very selective but he is an excellent artist and a musician to boot, so Karen is helping put together his art portfolio.  He is teaching piano to the Archer children.  Karen and Nick found much in common with their love for art (Karen is a portrait artist, you know).  I loved learning more about them and their passion for mission.  Saara was born in Plymouth, England, but then moved to Belgium for a short while before moving to Finland and then later to Canada where they still have a house in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  She and Sam met at what I would call a church camp when they were still in their teens.  They are facing all of the obstacles new missionaries face but without the support of a large denomination or mission organization.  They raise their own funds and have found one church in Canada that does what it can for them.  Their house here is mostly solar but they have some electricity provided (when convenient) from a nearby factory which owns the land where their house is located.  They are upbeat and willing to tackle almost anything.  They have started a cafe as part of their mission and Sam even built a brick oven for baking pizza which they are introducing to their mission area.  We quite admire and respect them for their faith, determination, and willingness to learn and to make mistakes.  They are good medicine for us and we see in their early struggles many of the same problems and joys that we encountered ten years ago.  Their mission is about forty kilometers from us on a road that is usually challenging at best, but with our new(er) car, we should be able to visit more often, especially in the dry season.  They have no tv and we are happy to provide them with DVD’s and tv shows on flash sticks that they can watch on their computers.  Mission is ultimately about the quote above.  Either we sit on our hands and hope others expand the Kingdom or we roll up our sleeves and do what we can with what we have.  The Wiggins’, the Leppanen’s, and the Archer’s all do this and we are blessed to have each other nearby.  Much of missionary depression stems from the feeling that you are all alone in your efforts and we know that we are not alone but a part of a larger family of God at work here in this part of Tanzania.  On a different note, I am hearing the bleating of four goats that we bought today and will give away tomorrow.  We will ultimately give away fifteen pair of breeding goats to fifteen widows with young children whose fathers died of malaria.  The goats will not only keep the families alive but will provide income that will allow the children to attend school (since it isn’t free here).  A lot of bang for the bleat.  Should have pictures of the first goat give-away tomorrow.  
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