Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Time is moving on and yet again we are seeing how powerful and gracious our Lord is. 

We continue to be blessed by the number of students who are attending the ESL classes and the relationships that form though this. We have moved the classroom to the living room to accommodate the students better.  We are pleased to have over 30 children attending the Kid’s club now.  So our days are full with class preparation!  

We were deeply moved when one of our literacy students shared with us that since we taught them about numbers she now understands how to tell the time for the first time in her 40 years.  We have been emphasizing writing skills to our literacy students so they can understand the shape of letters better and, therefore, improve their reading skills.  Each week Orest prepares a Bible lesson as part of their class.  He is focusing on information that would be taught in catechism classes.

We are grateful for one of our English students who has been helping with Kids Club.  Initially, he saw Orest doing puppets and now he does the puppet show every class.  The young son of our translator has also decided to just jump in and start helping with puppets.  He actually skipped an event with the rest of the family so he could attend Kids Club.

Last week Grace took 2 people from the safe house to the SIM Danja hospital.  One of the children had an infection and A. went to see the psychologist.   A. continues to experience many troubles.  People from her past have been continuously sending curses and conflict into her life as was the case in her past prior to coming to the safe house.  Since the beginning of this year she has had 2 significant events.  Both events were preceded with a series of threatening text messages telling Esther and A. of the impending curse, even giving a specific time when A. would experience these events.  A.’s faith is still weak and her short life has been controlled by fear.  Consequently, she becomes vulnerable to the effects of the curses placed on her.

The first event resulted in paralysis from the waist down, and in the brief time she could not walk her legs became rigid and twisted.  Along with the physical symptoms there were many emotional and mental curses placed on her.  An old family acquaintance placed this one on her, he has successfully placed many curses on her family resulting in death and insanity. Every 5 months this jealous, hateful man would rituality place a curse on specific people in A.’s family causing profound grief to the family.  Pastor and Esther have prayed over her and all of them were lifted from the curses and even A.’s father, who had been suffering insanity and whose whereabouts were unknown, he also experienced healing from the prayers and returned home after a 10 year absence. 

Several weeks later a family member happened to pass by A.’s location and saw her.  She insisted that A. come with them to visit a sick family member.  Thankfully, she managed to quickly hand off her baby to another woman at the safe house before going with them.  During this event she was forced to drink a beverage that contained a curse.  A. was prompted by her bio-mother to run when the family was distracted by the person who was ill.  She managed to elude them and return to the safe house. This time they told us that the curse would transpire on Monday evening.  This time she became catatonic and she had to be examined to see if she was breathing.  Again, the power of prayer and a loving Heavenly Father lifted the curse and on the prompting of pastor, God sent the curse back to the sender.  That night A’s father-in -law died. 

Her estranged husband’s family are seeing the power of God and becoming scared.  It, however, hasn’t stopped the threats.  Last week Pastor and A. visited the police about all these matter and they were directed to UNICEF to seek assistance in this case to try to protect A. and her human rights.  The husband is now willing to divorce A. but continues to demand money that he is not entitled to by any law, he is trying to avoid the court system.  With UNICEF on the case we hope this matter will be settled shortly after the time of mourning for her father in law.  A. was forced into an unloving marriage as a young girl.  She was treated poorly as third wife and essentially was required to do the bidding of the first and second wife.  She has suffered greatly under this situation.  She longs to return to her education and become a teacher.

Please pray for A. and her grandmother, who are both believers.  Also pray for both her bio father and mother, along with the estranged husband’s family members, that they too would come to know Jesus as Lord.

We are seeing God transform lives in many different communities in Niger.  The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Is God calling you?

We are busy making preparations for our home assignment starting July 1st.  We will be spending 10+ days in Toronto upon arrival.  We are anxious to see family in Manitoba until the end of July.  July 30 to August 2nd we will be participating in the Waldheim Mission conference. Following that we will be in a variety of locations.  Grace’s mother has experienced some health challenges, particularly in the past year.  We look forward to visiting with many of you and catching up on news.  Already we have housing and the use of a vehicle while in Lloydminster.  We are particularly looking for a vehicle from July 13 to late August, if you have something available we would love to hear from you. This is for the Manitoba Saskatchewan area.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and support.

Orest and Grace

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dear Friends and Family,
We wish to begin by telling you the wonders of our God. He continues to astonish and amaze us in how He looks over every detail of our lives and needs.
I would like to start at the Hausa Christmas morning service.  The children’s skit was a keen reminder of the events of that first Christmas.  The children representing the Wise men and shepherds as they came to greet the new born baby surrounded “Mary” and the “baby Jesus”.  Then the “hosts” of heavenly angels crowded about and packed themselves in close to the central characters of the play.  It was so beautiful.  All these people longing to be close and pressing into the Messiah.  The scene gave me much to reflect upon.  How do I “press” into my Messiah?  Am I aware of the unseen angels sent by my Heavenly Father who protects and guides me daily?  Am I aware of the holy presence of God in my life?
Nothing answered these questions more clearly than the events on January 2nd.  We were travelling to Niamey for the annual SIM Spiritual life conference. Halfway through our journey our car came to a grinding halt on the road.  The drivers’ front tire was sitting askew under the car.  Initially it looked like a broken axle.  Very soon 5 men appeared from the village just off the road a few hundred metres, and they assisted us in moving the car off the road to a dirt side road.  Orest paid them for their assistance and then they proceeded to be our guardians for the remainder of the day.  They brought several mats from the village and placed them under a shade tree so that we and our 4 passengers could rest and wait for the mechanic to come.  One of the SIM team cars was behind us, so they stopped at the closest town, and arranged for a mechanic to come and make the necessary repairs.  Upon arrival he ascertained we needed a welder to make the required repairs.  We continued to wait and wait.  Orest inquired about the delay only to discover the welder had not left because he needed a guarantee of payment before he left for the work.  He was reassured he would get paid, but we still waited another hour for him to arrive.  Hence, it was dark when he started work.  He welded what looked like the frame back together, but not the axle as we at first expected.  At 8 pm we were able to restart our journey.  It is SIM policy to not drive in the country at night, but we did not have a choice.  There are no motels or hotels along the road.  The journey was challenging to say the very least.  We arrived in Niamey, at the guesthouse, at 1:30 in the morning.
But this is not the end of the story.  We had four passengers and we are grateful that another SIM vehicle was able to take them to Niamey.  As we waited for their arrival, we played Phase 10 under the tree while our guardians watched over us.  We longed to share the gospel with our new friends, but this is done here through long relationships not a chance meeting on the side of the road.  But what does God do.  He makes a way for His message to be delivered to these men.  The welder arrived in a bush taxi, carrying his gas tank and welding equipment.  This particular taxi kept all his windows and doors open and the radio blasting at full volume.  After a few songs were played the regularly scheduled Christian programing came on and the local pastor was talking about the events of Jesus’ birth and that Jesus is our Messiah.  The men of the village sat there and listened.  What a wonderful answer to prayer.  We indeed felt we had been surrounded by a host of unseen angels.  We were distressed having to drive at night but at no other time would this radio program have been delivered.  Our broken car was God’s instrument of good news to this unreached village.
Still it is not the end of the story.  This year at conference for the first time ever, 2 mechanics came from the U.S. to bless missionaries with servicing and checking of their vehicles.  We, of course, signed up for the service.  For your information we drive a 2003 Rav4 that was shipped to Africa, it originated from Massachusetts and we purchased it in 2014 when we arrived in country.   When the mechanics examined the work done road side, they were astonished we had made it to Niamey at all.  We were told that the sub-frame of the car was unsafe and needed to be replaced or we needed to purchase a new car. We went to a local mechanic, Tony, who came highly recommended to get the repairs done.  He sent his scouts looking in wrecking shops for a replacement part, but they found none.  The next day we received a call that a brand new replacement sub-frame had been found and that we needed to come and look at the new part.  When we arrived we saw the old one that had been removed.  It was clear that for the past 2.5 years God has protected us every mile of the way.  The rust from salted roads in Massachusetts, and old repairs from an accident prior to our ownership, had seriously compromised the safety of this vehicle.  In total the motor mount, bushings, and the sub-frame all needed to be replaced.  
We are grateful to be the receivers of such mercy, kindness, and protection from God.  Unseen angels were rejoicing with us.
We love one of our Facebook friends’ response, and I quote Len B: “So you’re telling us that there just “happened” to be a brand new sub-frame for a 14 year old vehicle just sitting in the middle of Africa to fit your vehicle?  Oh ya, you’re right.  That is so far out of the ball park it is nothing short of a miracle!”
Can you image our great Father sitting in stitches all these years waiting for this day to happen, since He arranged for said sub-frame to be delivered to Africa so long ago?
Oh my! Just tell me our God doesn’t plan our future, Wow, just Wow.”
Blessings to you.
Grace and Orest