Posts in Missionaries
John McCall - January 2019 Update

Dear friends,

Several months ago, a friend who is one of the program secretaries at the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan national office asked me if I would be willing to visit his daughter's elementary school before Christmas to share the Christmas story with the students there. Even though only four percent of Taiwanese are Christian, it is a very tolerant culture here toward all religions. So, I was not surprised that the school was willing to have me come.

This pastor and his wife, who is also a pastor, have four children, which is double the norm for families in Taiwan. Their eldest is a first grader at this school and the youngest is just a year old.

On a brilliantly clear and comfortable December day, I took a city bus down the mountain from the seminary where I live, and my friend picked me up to take me to the school. We were greeted by the dean of students and then by the principal.

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Todd and Maria Luke - January 2019 Update

Gary is from Memphis and was scheduled to have both knees replaced on December 19. Last summer, he and a coworker (Greg) joined a cistern-building mission team that consisted mostly of folks from another church. Neither Gary nor Greg had been to Xpujil before, nor had anyone else from their church.

A couple months later, Gary sent me an email. He touted an affordable, easy to use, long-lasting water filter that attaches easily to a bucket. The Sawyer PointONE filter pores are so small (0.1 micron absolute) that no bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E.Coli, Cholera, and Typhoid can get through. It has been used for years throughout the world in places with living conditions similar to the Xpujil region. To hammer home the filter’s effectiveness, Gary sent me a video. In it, he poured pond water into a bucket equipped with the filter, and then drank the water that flowed from it.

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Michael and Rachel Weller - January 2019 Update

Dear friends and supporters,

Yes, it’s been too long! We've been to the States and back, maybe a couple times since we wrote last. We were there briefly a year ago for the wedding of our son, Thomas, and to meet our newest grandson (Brian's third). And then we were there in the summer for about three months for Interpretation Assignment.

Politically, a lot has happened in Ethiopia in the past two years. The good news is that a new Prime Minister was appointed in March. Dr. Abiy Ahmed is a committed Christian, having learned the faith through the witness of his mother, a member of our partner church, EECMY. His father is a Muslim. Dr. Abiy is the first Oromo Prime Minister, though the Oromo are the largest single ethnic group in Ethiopia. Most importantly, Dr. Abiy is a man of peace and unity. He spent his first months visiting each region and pointing out how each ethnic group in the country is a part of Ethiopia. He asked people to forgive each other and to work towards building peace.

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Bob and Kristi Rice - Update

“The playground is transformed,” said Honorable Rebecca Joshua, government Minister of Roads and Bridges, “adorned with flowers and the presence of many dignitaries.”

It was true – the outdoor basketball stadium in Juba did not look like the same place where we had watched basketball practice the night before. The bold colors of the women’s dresses reflected in the bright sun highlighted an atmosphere of celebration. Families of the graduates brought buckets of home-made sweets from home that they passed out to everyone around them. Government ministers arrived with their security detail, and television cameras were poised to broadcast the event. But it was clear throughout the program that the ‘stars’ of the show were the 15 graduates of Nile Theological College (NTC) proudly receiving their diplomas.

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Daniel and Elizabeth Turk - December 2018 Update

Being a Witness for Christ in the Fight Against AIDS

How would you celebrate your 50th anniversary? One of the ways the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) celebrated its 50th anniversary this year was by promoting free HIV testing at all of its commemorative events. FJKM President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi was tested publicly during the weeklong celebration in Toamasina in August, see photo above. This year’s theme was “Do not be ashamed to be a witness for Christ.”

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José Carlos Pezini - December 2018 Update

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the Church. Another year is ending and as we look back, we can see how God was gracious to us and blessed us greatly. I know this happened because of the faithfulness of the beloved brothers and sisters who have been praying for us. We want to thank you all for your loyalty. Odete and I are so grateful for you and the care that you have demonstrated towards us.

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Bob and Kristi Rice Update

Celebrating Peace in South Sudan

Wednesday, October 31 was a big celebration in Juba of the recent peace agreement in South Sudan. Several African presidents came, along with leaders of opposition parties in South Sudan. As the city of Juba was busy preparing for the celebration by painting curbs, picking up trash, and sending truckloads of soldiers to beef up security, we were not sure what to expect. Leaders who had been at war were going to be in the same location. We were advised to stay home and lay low rather than join the crowds at Freedom Field.

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Keith Vandegrift and Lana Bell - November 2018 Update

Greetings friends,

On October 15th our home assignment came to an end. We are in Antigua, Guatemala for two months of language learning and study. Following that, our plan is to go directly to Cuba when we have a visa in place.

In August I made contact with some friends in Cuba and said in so many words, “It’s now or never.” To our surprise, a pastor friend got back to us quickly with a plan. That’s right: a real, logical, doable plan to obtain a visa to live and work in Cuba. We’ll believe it when we see it, of course, but this is the best shot we’ve had so far of getting permission and a visa, so we are encouraged.

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Daniel and Elizabeth Turk - October 2018 Update

Dear friends,

We arrived safely in Madagascar on August 14. It is good to be back in our home, even though we miss family! Dan spent the next day at the national quarantine greenhouse with his colleagues potting up the over 500 trees we brought in our luggage. We then drove 10 hours to Toamasina on the east coast to participate in the celebration of FJKM’s 50th anniversary and the 200th anniversary of the first missionaries’ arrival in Madagascar.

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Todd and Maria Luke

“If you are willing to give up your life to God, he’ll give it back. Not the way you expect it, but as something greater.” Below please find one tiny snapshot of what happens when a bunch of regular folks like you and me take a step of faith that looks to be so foolish.

Fifty-one Cisterns Built in Six Villages in 2018
Fifty-one cisterns were way beyond our expectations this year, but the Lord graciously worked through those mentioned above. Several supporters play important roles in this clean water story without stepping foot in Mexico, while other contributors never leave there.

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John McCall - September 2018 Update

Dear friends,

I got off the train after a four-hour ride along the Pacific Ocean and was met by a pastor from the Bunun Presbytery, an aboriginal presbytery on Taiwan’s east coast. I was on my way to lead the fourth pastors’ retreat in three weeks. We arranged these retreats a year ago, and it has been my joy, since returning to Taiwan, to meet so many of my former students and other pastors who are serving churches throughout Taiwan.

The Bunun tribal pastor (Bunun means “person” and is the name of one of the sixteen tribes among Taiwan’s indigenous people) greeted me and drove to a nearby restaurant where we met four other pastors for lunch. We then left the small town of Yu Li and went up steep mountain roads to the farming hut of one of the church elders.

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Dustin and Sherri Ellington - September 2018 Update

Dear friends and supporters,

Sherri and I have served eight years in Zambia, a country that is officially over 95% Christian yet where 100 years ago there were hardly any Christians at all. Most of this growth has happened in the last 50 or so years.

The church here is dealing with second and third generation issues. On one hand, there’s been amazing numerical success, there are churches and Christian institutions everywhere, and even the constitution declares Zambia to be a Christian nation. But on the other hand, when everyone is supposed to be Christian and righteous and when prestige and power belong to those who control Christian institutions, there’s a challenge to stay supple before God and one another for the sake of ongoing deeper conversion.

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Frank Dimmock - August 2018

Dear friends, 

Greetings in the name of our wonderful savior, Jesus Christ!

In June I was back in Gambella, western Ethiopia, helping to facilitate two trainings in trauma healing with South Sudanese refugees. One of the pleasures of my work is being able to return to places I have been, to renew friendships and to encourage and share life with those living in the camps. I enjoy being in Gambella, seeing changes there and meeting many inspiring people. In the first training we used the newly developed audio trauma healing lessons that had been recorded in the Nuer language by a Sudanese American congregation in Tennessee. Over 80% of the more than 400,000 refugees are women and children. And many of them are unable to read the printed trauma healing material. Now they can listen to the lessons, share their own stories, and discuss with the trained facilitators in small groups.

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Stu and Annie Ross - August 2018 Update

Dear friends,

On Friday, August 3 we dedicated our second Linda’s Library at Ngecha’s Girls’ High School. This school is located in a poor area 50 kms (32 miles) north of Kikuyu. There are 280 girls attending Ngecha Girls’ High School.

In addition to the girls, many other people attended the dedication ceremony: the Moderator of the Presbytery as well as three other ministers, the Director of Education from the PCEA Head Office, several chiefs and sub-chiefs of the area, a representative of the local Member of Parliament, a representative from the Minister of Education, and many other dignitaries. In many ways it resembled a church dedication with choirs, dancing and speeches. 

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Daniel and Elizabeth Turk - August 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from the Unites States! Our time home this summer has been full and rewarding. In May we had the joy of attending our son Robert’s graduation from college. Having time for reflection and renewal at PC(USA)’s Mission Co-worker Sharing Conference in June was another highlight of the summer, and of course visiting family. It has been especially wonderful to have time with Frances, who just finished her freshman year in college, and Robert before he starts a nine-month Fellows Program with First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.

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Don and Martha Wehmeyer - July 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Yucatán. Martha and I were traveling during much of May. We had a wonderful first-time trip to Israel. Our tour took us to see many sites that are mentioned in the Scriptures, and we learned a great deal. We really liked the Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, and of course Jerusalem. What surprised us most was just how small the country really is. We had heard that before we left, but now we know for ourselves that it is really small. Would we go back? In a heartbeat. We were blessed to have been able to go and will savor many memories.

After Israel we went to our retreat with The Antioch Partners, which is held every three years. Mission folks from around the world gathered about an hour north of Budapest. It was great to see friends and hear the great things God is doing in so many places around the world. This time, however, it seems odd to be two of the “seniors” in the crowd. I remember not so long ago looking at the white-haired missionaries and admiring that they were still serving in their older years. Well now we have the white hair and we still enjoying serving in God’s great task of shepherding in the Kingdom of God.

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Greetings from the New Wilmington Missions Conference

Greetings from the New Wilmington Missions Conference in Pennsylvania

The theme of the conference this year is, “Love your neighbor.” It has been a busy three days with inspiring presentations on the mission work with refugees and neighbors in many countries. I have participated in the South Sudan mission network meeting, The Outreach Foundation display at the mission fair, and daily teaching of high school groups. It has been a privilege to be here and meet and make friends.

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John McCall - Update

Dear friends,

I am seeing a lot of the United States in the first half of 2018. I am traveling to fifteen states and twenty-seven churches to share the good news of what the Holy Spirit is doing in Taiwan. It has been wonderful to see many of you, and I regret that I have been unable to visit all of you. Last spring in one of my mission letters, I said that I would be coming to the U.S. on interpretation assignment this year, and my schedule filled up quickly.

I have seen some discouragement in the U.S. and in the church, but I have also seen that people are hungry for good news. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other churches have a rare opportunity in a world of opioid addiction, global tensions, and overall fear of the future to share the abundant life that Christ offers to each person on this globe. It has been a joy to see folks here connect with Christians in Asia as they hear how God is changing lives and changing communities.

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