Wednesday, December 31, 2014

“In our end is our beginning.” — Hymn of Promise

On this last day of 2014, we look back on what we have accomplished or helped to accomplish.  We have had two three-day teaching seminars here on using Montessori methods in our seven preschools in our churches (the Bunda church preschool meets here in our schoolroom).  We have had a three-day vocational seminar on sewing for widows from our churches.  We have produced and placed sixty biosand water filters in our area and sent a couple to Dar Es Salaam and Dodoma.  We trained two groups to build filters, sold them molds, and they are now producing biosand filters like ours in the Congo and for the Masaai people on the Kenya/Tanzania border.  John raised the money and put a deep-water hand pump into an abandoned well that now serves three villages.  In addition, John built a soccer field complete with goals and netting next door to the Methodist Church here in Bunda.  We have hosted missionaries and mission work groups from Canada, Finland, Australia, and Great Britain.  We have hosted church meetings for the circuits and for our merger with the Tanzania Methodist Church.  We still have scholaship students in the Bunda Teachers College thanks to Cornerstone UMC in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  We have hosted an SIL (Bible translators) group for two weeks as they dubbed the “Jesus” film into a local language here.  We have given out mosquito nets and medical instruments to local hospitals and clinics.  We have seven pastors attending seminary in Arusha paid for by the Methodist Church of Korea (I just pay their bus fare there and back).  We still feed almost a hundred orphans a day and continue with our English class for young children every day here (we feed them, too).  We are introducing orange sweet potatoes to the local farmers as the white ones they grow here have no nutritional value at all.  John has been working on solar projects, one of which is to put twenty computers in up to thirty villages with no electricity—the power coming from the sun.  Karen took a six-week trip back to the States to visit family and grandchildren.  John took a one-week trip to San Francisco to spend his birthday and his big brother’s birthdays together.  We all three got new passports and finally received the residence permits we had applied for in December of 2013, so we are all good until Karen’s needs renewing in August of 2015.  We had two long time workers leave us and replaced them with two excellent workers.  Karen and I celebrated our 49th anniversary in Arusha at Pete O’Neal’s place.  We all survived bouts of malaria (John has never had malaria, but he got typhus), and I have had surgeries for prostate cancer and malignant skin cancer.  We managed to rewire our entire house and put glass in the windows for the first time in nine years.  We have two new dogs, Benjy (German Shepherd) was born here last February, we got a Tibetan Terrier (Sissie) from Norwegian missionaries who were returning home, and she promptly became the queen of the house.  The four big dogs work and play outside only, but Sissie is either in Karen’s lap, on her stool, or sleeping beside her bed—she loves Karen.  We had meetings, helped start preschools and churches, trained pastors and evangelists, distributed Swahili Bibles, preached, taught, and generally behaved the way missionaries do while answering the call of God to mission work.  Our health and finances have been up and down, but we have always moved forward and never failed to do what was needed.  We do what we can, with the gifts we have, where we are, in obedience to our call.  We can do no other and are very happy.  We had lots of help from loving, caring people and churches in the U.S. and from the One Book Foundation.  This doesn’t cover everything, of course, because we also gave away thirty goats to widows, ten of them thanks to the grandchildren of my cousin, Charles Lyons and his wife Adrienne who also provided new shoes to all the orphans here at our mission and helped pay for other mission work as well with generous donations.  It has been a good year, painful at times, both physically and emotionally, but no one is immune to that sort of thing, and we continue on, as the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  May you and yours have the blessings of God during 2015 and don’t forget to share those blessings.
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