Tuesday, April 25, 2006

AMTM 2006

This last week we went to Tshipise, South Africa, for our Annual Missionary Training Meeting. As part of the meeting, a volunteer group from Oakland Heights Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, came to provide ministry and activities for our children and youth. This is Jody’s dad’s church. While we were in meetings all day, the volunteers did VBS material with the children and youth. We are so thankful for this team that gave of their time to invest in the lives of our children. The missionaries that grew up on the field are so thankful for groups like this because they remember when they were children the incredible times the volunteers provided for them. Part of our meeting time was worship and Bible study in the morning and some in the evening. Matt Roberson did an incredible joy leading worship with all age groups. Tom Roberson did an equally incredible job sharing with the Word and applying it through very transparent, personal application.
After the meeting, we and the volunteers drove to Pilanesburg National Park and spent the night. We all took part in a night game drive and some followed that up with a drive in the early morning as the sun was rising. At night, we saw the last half of a leopard walking into high grass. We were able to see his head look up a couple times. We also experienced a dominant bull elephant stare us down, take a charge at us, and then leave. The morning group got to see a male and female lion at about 25 feet in the grass. The pictures are incredible – unfortunately I was not a part of that morning drive. Matt, Josiah, Andy, and I spent the night in a safari tent. The temperature outside the tent was about 45 degrees and the temperature inside the tent was about 46 degrees – but that is a part of camping, I guess.
Jody’s parents came home with us for a couple of days while the rest of the team returned to Johannesburg to fly to Capetown for a couple of day. Matt flew back home.
(The pictures are Caleb in a Baobob Tree, a picture of the team at Pilanesburg, the boys and Matt in front of our tent, the children's program at AMTM and the elephant that wasn't to happy.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What a Day!!

(The Journey-girls that had my camera took these pictures. They thought they would be funny and give me a self portrait
- I think it's pretty funny - Their picture is on the World Wide Web.)
Saturday, April 15, 2006, did not start out as any regular Saturday. This was the day that I was to preach three times at the Baptist Union of South Africa’s annual Easter Conference in Tweelaagte, South Africa. I woke up at 5:00 am to get ready to leave at 5:45 am. I had two Journeyman (actually 2 college-graduate girls) that would be riding with me. We also had to pick up 2 other girls (daughters of a man that was already at the conference) on the way. We traveled about 2 and a half hours to get to the conference. What I haven’t told you is that the afternoon and all evening before Jody had been ‘tossing her cookies.’ So I was concerned about leaving her all day. To help her prepare for the day, I peeled and grated a potato for Andy to make hash browns for her. Andy has been making his own hash browns for the last couple of weeks. I also prepared the eggs to be scrambled in the morning. I showed Andy what to do to help his mother out. My usual routine is to make Jody and scrambled egg and a piece of toast before she gets out of bed. Then, in about an hour, I make her some hash browns – somewhere in between she will eat a bowl of Rice Krispies.
As we are traveling, I get a text message and then a phone call from Jody telling me that the electricity has gone out and she hasn’t eaten. I tell her to call the Beighle’s – other IMB missionaries 3 doors down – and ask them if their electricity is off. It was. So, Dale Beighle climbs into their attic to retrieve a propane stove and they come over and cook Jody’s breakfast. Jody takes about 3 bites and then quickly deposits that into the toilet. She had not been able to keep anything down. Jody then calls our mission’s medical department for advice. The short of it – go to the hospital.
As all this is happening, I am preaching my first of three scheduled sermons for the day. With about 7 minutes left in my first sermon, Jody tries to call me 4 times. I have my phone in my pocket on vibrate – so I knew something was up, and I knew I was almost finished, so I waited until I was able to sit down. By that time, Jody had text messaged me saying that she was on the way to the hospital. I let the people know of the situation and told them that I must leave. I make in back to Mmabatho by 1:00 p.m. I go to the hospital and she really isn’t any better. She was still nauseated and very uncomfortable. They were able to give her an injection for the nausea and she finally was able to sleep. When I came back at 6:00 p.m. she had already finished her supper and asked me to go get her a burger and fries. I did, she ate half of it and then went back to sleep. She felt good and told me to go home. A couple of hours previous, she said I was staying at the hospital all night with her. Through this time, the Beighles watched the boys and Bethany for us. They have become like grandparents to the b and B. I think that they enjoy it since they miss their grandchildren in the States. It will be a sad day when they retire next year after 32 years in Africa.
So, tomorrow is Easter and I will be going to the hospital in the morning to see when I can bring her home. Jody has saved an Easter dress for Bethany for about a year – it doesn’t look promising?! On Monday, we will leave for Johannesburg to pick up Jody’s dad, my mother-in-law, and the missions volunteer team. On Tuesday, we will travel 6 hours north to Tshipise to have our annual mission meeting. I would ask that you pray for Jody – that God would simply take her morning sickness away. We certainly don’t see the big picture, don’t know why this is happening. That would be our desire – if not, then wisdom to understand what God is trying to teach us.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April Update

From Dennis - Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Lord is so incredibly good to us – certainly beyond what we deserve. The love of God for us is never-changing and ever-constant. We have just completed our 2nd year of service as your International Mission Board missionaries. It has been a long and quick journey these last 24 months. We have lived in three different houses, two different countries and we look to move again in a year and a half. We had a baby girl in Gaborone, Botswana, tried to learn a new language, and have had three different dogs. We were told that, as missionaries, we needed to be flexible. I think we are doing pretty well.
This last month has kind of been routine in the things that I have been doing. I continue to teach at Mmabatho Baptist Church on Wednesday nights. This will continue for another two weeks. They have received that teaching extremely well. Unfortunately, the numbers are not what I would like, but I don’t think preachers are ever content with numbers. We always want more.
I have been meeting with Ben Poo. He is another pastor that I have been working with. This last month, he and his wife had another child. I did not know about it until someone else told me. In fact, I talked with him after the fact, and he still did not tell me. In this culture, pregnancy and birth are not talked about. One pastor’s wife was dropped off at the hospital by her husband and he went back home and went to sleep. I asked him when he was going to pick her up and he said when she called. Culture is a little bit different here.
It has been a month of hellos and good-byes. We said good-bye to a ‘Masters’ couple on our team. K.F. and Wanda Plemmons went home to Oklahoma at the beginning of the month. They were both at least 73 and were working with the children and youth teaching them about HIV/AIDS. They put together a team of nationals that continues their work. We also said hello to Hayley Crews and Lyndee Jo. They are with the Journeyman Program. They will be working with Andrew Murray in Taung (place of the Lion). They will be doing HIV (He is Victorious) teaching in the schools – life skills about sex and HIV/AIDS. This Andrew Murray is the great-grand nephew of the author Andrew Murray. It has been neat to get to know him and his wife, Ronel. They have a daughter and a son – Andrew Murray VI.
I would ask that you would pray for me on the next two Saturdays. I am teaching all day for Calvary Baptist Church. I will be leading them through Purpose Driven material. I started last March with them through this process. The following Saturday, I am preaching 3 times at the ‘Associational Rally’ in Tweelaagte – don’t even try to say it!!! I am preaching on the topic: “Restoring the Integrity of the Church.”

From Jody - Hello everyone! Well, I guess I want to tell you that the work in the village is continuing, and we continue to have more and more come to our meetings on Fridays. Last week, there were 10 adults, 12 youth and 20 children! I was trying to bake cookies every week to take for a treat, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue if the numbers keep growing like they are! God is so awesome!
I’m about 8 weeks along. The baby will be due around the 10th of November. This is obviously completely unexpected. I didn’t think I would have any more, but here we are again! Please pray for me. The “morning” sickness has come with a vengeance, and I am so tired of it already! I’ve also had to deal with some depression because I really wasn’t expecting to be pregnant. I’ve been to see some doctors already, and have been taking medicine for the nausea, but it doesn’t make it go away. It’s always there, just below the surface, and then hits with a crash at various times of the day. So, that’s my life, how’s yours? I just really want to be able to take care of my family, and my house, and I also want to keep going to the village to teach. I really need your prayers during this time. I’m so glad that my parents, my brother, and the people from OHBC will be here in a couple of weeks. I know it will be a great time, and I’m hoping to feel better when they arrive.
We love all of you very much, and thank you so much for your prayers over these last two years. We couldn’t have done it without you!