Saturday, May 2, 2015

“The real beauty is in the heart. The real treasure is in heaven. The true salvation is in God. The real joy is in serving God with all your heart and sincerity.” — Innah Delos Angeles

Sometimes the news from here is a tad depressing, but we want everyone to know that we are happier than we have ever been in our lives.  In the last ten years, Karen, John, and I have worked as unpaid, volunteer missionaries spending almost all our own money and using funds from wonderful, generous people back in the U.S.  Along the way, our churches have grown from four with 200 members to 31 with over 5,000 members (I baptized over 500 personally).  We have trained pastors, lay pastors, and the wives of same (all bishops, pastors, and lay pastors are volunteers--none get paid).  We have taught over 38 sanitation and hygiene seminars in over twenty villages and here at the mission.  We have started one library here in Bunda and contributed to over twenty others.  We have distributed over 1,500 Swahili Bibles and the same number of pretreated mosquito nets.  We have provided thirty bicycles to our evangelists (one just yesterday) and have four pastors completing seminary training in Arusha.  We have produced and placed over 500 biosand filters providing clean, safe, cholera free water for over 15,000 people.  We have provided over 240,000 hot meals for orphans just over the last five years.  We have helped to start and train the teachers in the Montesorri method for nine preschools in our churches.  We have graduated over 60 new Christian secondary teachers.  And, of course, there has been much more, like sewing seminars, helping build a school in a village, putting in a deep-water well to provide water to three villages,  providing assistance for the many funerals that occur on a weekly basis here.  John is working on three different solar projects for villages and has built soccer fields near our churches.  Karen, John, and I have had malaria, typhoid, emergency surgeries and have a permanent IV hook-up hanging over our bed, yet we have never been more alive.  There are very hard-working pastors in the U.S. and other countries that are hampered by the institutional church, but they work hard, too.  It does not bother me that the Bishop of Arkansas makes $145,000 a year plus perks.  There are pastors in the poor state of Arkansas that would have to take a pay cut to become a bishop.  While I think this is unfortunate, I understand and still wish them successful, vital, and active ministries.  The church needs good, educated, and dedicated pastors, many of whom earn $30,000 and part-timers less than half of that.  But they, like we, are doing what God called us all to do to the best of our ability and most are very, very good.   Every pastor in Arkansas (and elsewhere) needs your prayers, your support, and your expressed gratitude.  Their jobs are actually harder than ours.  I get $700 a month in retirement from the UMC and am grateful for it.  It allows us to feed and educate orphans among other things.  Please never think we are bitter, for we are not.  We are happy to be among the servants of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He needs us here, but He needs you there just as much.  We will keep you in our prayers and ask that you keep us in ours.  We are working on two new projects, so I guess we can’t die yet and will just have to struggle on with our physical ailments which pale in comparison to so many in Nepal.  We ask God’s blessings on you, on all God’s ministers and bishops (I did serve under one very good one in New England), and on every one who serves the Lord, Jesus Christ in whatever way you are called to serve.  We wish you the same happiness that God has given us.  There is no greater joy.
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