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Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from Palmer Lake, Colorado! We arrived here this past Monday, after finishing our work at Wiesenthal Baptist near Millet, Alberta. For our final Sunday there, our associate pastor, Victor Symons, organized a service of commissioning for us, and, while the elders laid on hands, led in prayer for us as we were blessed and sent out. It was a wonderful way to complete our time at the church, and we really feel the support of the church as we go forward now.
While we are presently homeless, it is not as though we lack places to go. We will be in Palmer Springs for the next three weeks (more on that in a moment), after which we’ll be at the NAB International Office for a few days before heading back to Alberta. There we have already enjoyed the farm hospitality of one of our church families and will most likely spend most of our time with Sonya’s brother and his family in Edmonton.
April was a whirlwind of wrapping up many commitments and packing up most of our possessions. During our time at WBC, we have lived in the parsonage, but since it needs renovations, we had to leave it at the end of last month. It was a great answer to prayer that we were able to successfully take care of most of our “stuff” from there – sending some of it on ahead to Cameroon (thanks to White Cross), giving it away, selling it, or storing it for future use. That process took place in a very short period of time, and we were so glad to have our sons John and Robert travel and give us a hand at crucial times, and for Cari being there as well.
We have come to Palmer Lake in order to attend a four-week training program at Mission Training Institute (thanks to Caryn Young at the IO, who managed to enroll us just under the wire). This is a program which trains missionaries from all over Canada and the US to go to virtually everywhere on the globe. (Off the top of my head I can think of folks here that are going to Guam, Vietnam, China, Ecuador, Germany, Russia, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ukraine, Costa Rica, and Bosnia!) So far, on this first weekend, Sonya managed to get away with a group of them for a day hike near Colorado Springs.
The training here concentrates on a couple of important areas for missionaries. The first is in language acquisition, where we learn how to be good learners of a language. Already I am seeing the benefits of the techniques we are learning and think they might be worth the price of admission all by themselves. (I can’t wait to try them when we reach Cameroon.) There is also a focus on one’s personal readiness to go out on the field – thinking about the things we will be leaving behind (KIDS!!) and how we will cope with those losses. The training is intense, and sometimes frustrating, but very beneficial overall, with excellent instructors and very good companions.
We are progressing on our spiritual and financial support-raising. It is gratifying and assuring to know that we have a goodly number of people on our prayer support team. Based on past experience, I know that this is going to be crucial to our success going ahead. We still have a way to go to raise the financial support needed to leave, but we are starting to feel like we have some momentum again.
This support-raising work will become our full-time jobs once we return home in early June, so we do covet your continued prayers for us in that work. Now that I am no longer working as a pastor, I will have the extra time needed to travel and meet with churches and folks in different places. Some of those meetings are already scheduled; others we need to still organize.
In our last prayer update, I reported the healing of a friend’s son who had been suffering from malaria and dengue fever and said it reminded me of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1.10–11, “On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” I am certain that this will be a continual refrain from us as we serve overseas, undergirded by the prayer support of folks back in Canada and the US (not to mention our friends around the world). No doubt this is the experience and the portion of all of God’s people, but I somehow feel it will be especially relevant in the circumstances in which we will often find ourselves.
Jeff and Sonya