We have had an eventful couple of weeks since our last STEAM update went out.
You may recall that in the last STEAM update I mentioned that a couple of ladies on campus were seeking medical attention outside the country. On a happy note, Amy, who had gone to South Africa to seek treatment for a bulging disc, was in traction for a while and that didn’t work but she ended up having surgery and it was a success! It has greatly relieved her pain and she will rejoin her family this week after being away for almost 3 weeks.
On a not-so-happy note, this week we lost our doctor. Holli High, the wife of the doctor at the African Bible College Community Clinic, left to go back to the States to follow up on a suspicious mammogram she had here in Malawi. On Thursday morning we learned that she does have breast cancer and by Friday afternoon, James (the doc) and his two boys (Wesley, 7 and Chad, 10) were on their way home. Ashley, their almost 2-year-old, had traveled back to the U.S. with her mom. Please be in prayer for the High family as Holli is facing surgery and chemo therapy. Selfishly, we hate to lose them. Besides the medical expertise that James provided, they are a nice family and were going to be one of the families who was going to be staying in Africa through the North American Summer months (a lot of people will be gone over those months but our family is sticking around). Chad was in Will’s 4th grade class and is a real nice kid. There has been some good news of late from an x-ray and some bloodwork and it appears that the cancer has not spread to other parts of Holli’s body so that’s something for which we can be thankful..
Many of you may know that my mother passed away in 1979 from illness related to breast cancer. Ruby Bostrom, a neat older lady in our church in Colorado Springs, sent a message about 2 months ago in which she included the following:
Dan, your mother , Gladys, and I were very good friends and she taught SS in my dept. I was the supt. of Beginners for I think over 20 years. Those were the days that our attendance was "bulging" to some 30 plus children and 3 teachers plus Bev Lovelace as pianist and I led the singing. Dan, I think you were older and I had Amy in the dept. Later your mother came to help. It was common knowledge that her time on earth was limited---it was a morning service and cong. was singing "How Great Thou Art" and Warren and I were standing across the aisle from your mother and dad and we were singing the 4th verse and I looked over and when we came to the line that says "and take me home" your mother looked into your dad's eyes and smiled and that scene was indelibly printed in my memory box. To this day when I sing that verse, my heart brings that to mind. And I am not sure I ever shared that with you. Talk about "tugging my heart" that has. And then for you and Beth to meet and now are going to the mission field, my heart is with you in a very special way--a part of you is in my heart of hearts.
We arrived in Malawi on Sunday the 24th of January. On the following Sunday, the first time we attended church here in Malawi, we sang How Great Thou Art as part of the service. The church is International Bible Fellowship and it meets on the campus of the African Bible College. It’s awfully convenient to get to as it might be as close to our house as the Lantz house is to our church back home (some of you don’t know Merle & Diana Lantz but to give you an idea, if Jim, our 13 year old, were to leave our front door at a sprint, he could easily be sitting in a pew in less than 60 seconds and 30 seconds might not be out of the question).
I had shared previously that Elizabeth was going to be repeating sixth grade next year and that we were on a pretty intense schedule of extra tutoring (5 hours every two weeks with her teacher and 5 hours every week at home). This creates a pretty tight schedule when piled on top of Elizabeth’s other homework but we have been pounding it out and it’s mostly been me working with her on math and so that gives us some good father-daughter time (sometimes it’s better than others). On March 5 Elizabeth did some testing with a lady here who has some expertise and this past Friday, we got the word that Elizabeth is dyslexic. I knew her brain worked differently from mine (and a lot of people’s) and in some ways this can be very wonderful but in other ways it’s really challenging. However, with this knowledge, we should be able to move forward in a more productive way while trying to intentionally overcome some of the challenges that this dyslexia creates.
On March 3 our container arrived with our household goods. It took just over 11 weeks from the day in December when we loaded it until we received it. This was one of the fastest times people in these parts have seen for a container to get to ABC from the States. It is a blessing to have many of our things (for me, it’s especially good to have our bed back) but it has also created a level of additional work as we figure out how to get things set up and stuff. It is a blessing to have so much but there is an element of a curse in having so much as well. Before we left we purchased new appliances that are 220 volt rather than the standard 110 volt we use in the States. Most of the appliances seem to work well and that’s great. There has been some challenge finding the right part to hook up our new stove so it has been sitting in the middle of the floor in our kitchen while we continue to use the old stove that we’ve been borrowing.
In a strange way, but kind of on a related note, on the day we loaded the container in Colorado Springs, there was an accident involving another missionary who was shipping some stuff on our container and helping with the loading process. This person slipped and fell and broke a couple of fingers and at least one rib. The hand ended up requiring surgery and now this person is doing better (although still not back to normal). Anyway, this ended up producing several thousand dollars of medical bills and the person who fell had no medical insurance so I have accepted liability for paying the medical bills. The person has worked to try to receive grace on the bills with some success and we recently received word that one company that had billed a little more than $6000 has agreed to a 50% charity discount and so that company is now owed only about $3000. We are still waiting to hear about the other 4 bills.
It is an interesting experience raising support from others after so many years of having a regular salary which was guaranteed every two weeks (it all comes from God anyway and it wasn’t really guaranteed but it is easy to take that regular provision for granted). We are approaching the point that will mark one year since we began seriously pursuing the idea of coming to Malawi to serve as missionaries with ABC and God has graciously provided very adequately for our financial needs. On one hand, when considering the regular financial commitments that have been made, we are still well short of our full support level. Based on specific regular commitments, our support level currently stands at about 57%. However, through one time and periodic gifts besides the monthly/annual commitments, God continues to meet our needs very adequately and we were even able to purchase a vehicle soon after arriving and that has been a blessing. However, we don’t know exactly how the future finances will work out and I would ask for your prayer in relation to that. I have rolled the pension money I earned for my years of service at Compassion into an IRA where I can gain access to it if necessary. There are income taxes and a 10% penalty for accessing that money early so it’s less than an ideal proposition but it’s a blessing to have that as a fall-back option. I’m quite aware that most of the students who attend African Bible College (and certainly millions of Malawians across the country) would have no similar financial resources to fall back on.
Finally, there is a group of African Bible College students under the leadership of our friend, Kelly Dehnert, who are currently on a short tour of a few States in the U.S. where they are sharing their musical ability and showing some people in the States an example of some of the quality of students that make up those attending African Bible College. The group is called ‘Mingoli’ (which means ‘Beautiful Sound’ in Chichewa, the primary language spoken in Malawi). For each of the 6 students, this is their first time to visit a Western country and from the news we hear, overall they have handled a fairly grueling performance schedule and the culture shock of visiting the U.S. very well. Please be in prayer for the people involved in the tour and that God would use this visit by these remarkable students to touch the hearts of those who hear. For an example of what Mingoli sounds like, follow this link (http://africanbiblecolleges.org/mingoli/?email=) and choose the “Listen Now” option in the upper right corner of the web page that opens.
Our family has now been in Malawi for 7 weeks. Until yesterday, none of us had ventured more than 25 miles from our home since we first arrived at our house but yesterday we took a trip with Connie Dehnert and two of the Dehnert kids, Shea and Janelle, to Lake Malawi where we played in the warm water and enjoyed a time of recreation. Lake Malawi is the 10th largest lake in the world by surface area but the 4th largest in terms of water volume.
Finally, let me highlight some staff needs that ABC will have next year. If God has been calling you, or someone you know, into missions, please consider coming to serve with ABC in Malawi. Some key openings are the following:
o One or two doctors to serve in the Clinic.
o School teachers for the Christian Academy (where Beth will be teaching 2nd grade)
o Facilities/Maintenance – the young man who has been overseeing the maintenance on the campus is leaving in May. We could REALLY use someone with good maintenance skills.
· Our container arrived quickly and in good shape overall
· Amy who has been delivered from the pain that the bulging disc was causing her.
· High guys (the doctor and his sons) arrived home safely and that the initial indications are that the cancer has not spread.
· God’s provision for a discount on the medical bills for the person who was hurt on container-loading-day
· Mingoli in the United States – for continued safe travel and good health and that the performances would be God-glorifying and that some valuable cross cultural exchanges would occur.
· The High family as they work through treating Holli High’s cancer and adjusting back to life in the United States. The 2nd and 4th grade boys will rejoin their old school so they won’t be in a totally strange environment but changing schools in mid-March is less than optimal.
· Financial provision for the Trumble family. Both for the medical bills for the person who was hurt and for ongoing expenses. Pray also for this person’s continued recovery from the injuries.
· Elizabeth’s dyslexia and our response to it
· Beth as she takes on a greater and greater load of teaching her 2nd grade class in preparation for the time when the “main” teacher of the class departs for the U.S. to have the couple’s first baby and Beth has the leadership of the class all to herself.
· For me (Dan) that I would have wisdom to propose the right changes to the finance processes of the College and that I would add real value to the administrative side of things.
Thanks for your prayers and support!
Dan (for the Trumble family)
Our piano comes off of the container. This is the piano my mom used when she was young.
Mingoli, the musical group touring the States
Stephen in the sand at Lake Malawi (Will can be seen behind him).
For more pictures from our Lake excursion, follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=156251&id=650243390&l=362073530b