Voices from the Field Jeff & Sonya Kilmartin Get to know Jeff & Sonya

The Goodness of God

Published on November 15, 2023

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Dear Friends,

I love You, Lord, for Your mercy never fails me
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

When Jeff and I went to church one August Sunday in Alberta, we began to sing this. He asked me how I knew this one so well. (It’s not that new, but definitely new to us.) I told him it was because I had sung it almost every Sunday at every worship service I had been at since arriving in Canada!!

Some moments that I wake up, I have to think for a bit about where I actually am – different cities, homes, beds, time zones can get a bit disorienting at times. But most nights, when I lay my head down, I look back at the people we have met, the stories we have been able to share, the support and response of God’s people, and I am amazed at the privilege we have of being on mission, with the help of all you.

On arriving in Canada in August, Jeff was happy to be able to see three of his sisters, and a number of nieces and nephews, as well as connect with three of our BC churches.

Throughout August and early September, we visited some of our rural churches around Edmonton.

We also spent time with members of my family and were able to see our daughter, and we celebrated our anniversary and a BIG birthday of mine!

And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

Mid-September, we launched into a 20-day, whirlwind trip that took us to churches and individuals in Easton, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Toronto, Ontario; Gladwin, Michigan; and Sioux Fall, South Dakota, plus a five-day Missions Debrief and Renew in Colorado before ending up in Winnipeg in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. The most fun of this was that we have finally connected in person with churches and individuals that either one or both of us have never been to.

In addition to speaking in churches and small groups, we had meals with individuals and committees, dropped in on home groups, went fishing with folks, and attended Q&A lunches, cultural events, and even a high school football game!! We were hosted in people’s BNBs and homes with gracious hosts, and we were even treated to a night in a pretty swanky hotel! We took advantage of the few open days midweek to take in some classic sites (somewhat) along the way, like Gettysburg and Niagara Falls. And we definitely have eaten too much.

SO many airports, and SO many miles, but SO many blessings.

I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night
You are close like no other.

It is somewhat easy to list off the good things that are happening in our life, family, and ministry and to “sing of the goodness of God.” But there have been sorrows and trials this year as well, and as we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, we pray to know God more fully and to learn to trust our Father more, in spite of the things we don’t understand.

I’ve known You as a Father,
I’ve known You as a Friend
And I have lived
in the goodness of God.

Early October was full of connecting with many long-time Manitoba friends, and family time, including a vegan family feast. In keeping with our family’s love for games, we engaged in some old and new-to-us games – notably Pandemic and Poetry for Neanderthals (so hilarious!). I also, of course, had renovations to work on, so among other things, with the help of two of the boys, our tiny basement bedroom is just a bit bigger and has a legal egress window. (But may I never have to drywall that many corners in a small space again.)

In the last few weeks, Jeff and I parted briefly so that I could attend the Southern, Central, and Greater Edmonton Missions events (SAM, CAM, and GEM), while he did a few more visits in Whiteshell and Minitonas. However, winter has begun to overtake our plans at this point. I nearly got stranded in Calgary’s first snowstorm, and although Jeff boned up on his winter driving enough to make it back from Minitonas, he had to cancel his plans for a trip to North Dakota. Our deepest regrets to Bismarck and our supporters in North Dakota.

However, my short time with Elsie L. in Calgary was great, and SAM in Lethbridge was a hectic but joyful time of sharing. GEM at Northgate, especially the youth and the breakout sessions, was a privilege, and the quick trip to Olds for CAM was an important time of maintaining connections – and PTL, the roads were dry!

The bad news is that Elsie and I both were diagnosed with COVID at the tail end of those events, and so we are praying earnestly for the health and safety of a whole web of people that we were in contact with over the three GO team events.

All our hosts have been great, but I want to give a shout-out to my friends/hosts – Dori and Steve – who have had to put their life on hold while we all isolate together for a while. Normally I consider us to be fairly low-maintenance house guests, but this is absolutely not the case this time.

So, although Jeff has arrived in Alberta, we are staying in separate places for a few more days till I am not contagious so that he does not get sick just as we prepare for our last major jaunt to (warmer!) Northern California for three more church visits and a stop at the International Office.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the worship leaders so far who allowed me to experiment with them on some bilingual worship songs in their churches. I hope it blessed you as much as it blessed me!! This has allowed a few songs to stay cemented in my head in Ful*ulde, even while I am not using the language much here. And I hope it has given us a tiny taste of every tribe and tongue worshipping together in heaven.

As I have been mulling over the song this last few weeks, I reread Psalm 23:6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me” – and read in a few places that that verb radaph is probably better translated as “pursue.”

Your goodness is running after,
It’s running after me
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now—
I give You everything
’Cause Your goodness is running after,
It’s running after me

And I love a definition I read recently that goodness is God giving us what we don’t deserve, and mercy is Him not giving us what we do deserve. To me, this seems another way of describing GRACE.

I’m still meditating on this – whenever the song pops in to my head . . . which is often.

This whole home assignment so far has been a time of being blessed in ways we don’t deserve, and all of you have been a part of that.

We pray that you will continue to be instruments of the goodness and mercy of God, as we partner together to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth, as it is heaven.

Yonki am fuu a koolniiɗo
All my life You have been faithful
Yonki am fuu a woni booɗɗo
All my life you have been so, so good
Bee poofde am fuu mi wawi,
With every breath that I am able
Mi giman haa mboooɗeŋga Allah.
I will sing of the goodness of God

Jeff & Sonya Kilmartin