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