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Friday, June 29, 2007

A Busy June

It is hard to believe that 2007 is already half over, and that we've been back in Tanzania for nearly 4 months now! And the month of June has flown by for us as well, as we've been incredibly busy and blessed in our lives and ministry.

Revival Services/Youth Rally
The Wolfs came back just in time for our special revival meetings, which were held June 22-24. Five young men came from the Baptist church in Arusha to assist us with outreach, and we had a Tanzanian man named John come from the Mwanza area, where he serves as a missionary. After the morning services, we had a meal together, and then spent the afternoon canvassing the town, passing out tracts and invitations to the other activities. In the evenings, we met down at the TRUTH Center, where we played volleyball, big ball, and soccer. Following the games, there was special music and then a gospel message given by John, while the children were taken aside by the youth and taught a separate lesson. We praise the Lord that we were able to lead 15 people to a saving knowledge of Jesus, and this week we have been eagerly visiting them and following up on their decisions. Please pray that those who attended the revival services will become faithful members of our church family.

The TRUTH Center
This week the roofs are being built at the TRUTH Center. We know it won't be long and all of the buildings will be complete--isn't that exciting? Since we had the evening sessions of the rally at the TRUTH Center, we were able to get a picture of what it will be like when we are using that facility every day of the week, for God's glory--the future is bright! We praise the Lord that funds continue to come in for the furnishings, but please do pray about the remaining $10,000 that is needed to reach our goal.

The first week of June, we went to Kenya for 3 main reasons. First of all, to see the Wolfs (our partners here in Katesh) who had been in Nairobi for 2 months for the birth of their first child. We were so thrilled to meet little Hayden Nathaniel, who was born on May 15th. What a beautiful baby, and what content parents! Our second reason for going to Kenya was to have a little fun (fun for us is going out to restaurants, shopping malls, and playgrounds!), and we spent two days doing that. Our third reason was to visit the ministry of Jerry Daniels in Nanyuki. When we have shared our vision for Katesh and the Hanang District, many people have told us, "That sounds just like what the Daniels are doing in Kenya!" So for many years we have wanted to see their work first-hand, to get ideas and advice, and mainly just to be encouraged that this vision can, in fact, be accomplished. It was an incredibly profitable time, and we are so thankful that the Wolfs were able to go as well, so that as a team we could see what God has done in Nanyuki. Steve and Nate enjoyed talking to Jerry and the Kenyan pastor, and I (Natalie) spent two days at their preschool, trying to form a model in my mind of what our school should be like. While in Nanyuki, which is located on the Equator, we were also able to go on a safari, where our favorite animals were the chimpanzees and "Morani", a "tame" rhino.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!
On Monday, June 25th, we were thrilled to celebrate our son Caleb's 3rd birthday! He has been looking forward to his Spider-man birthday party for several months now, and was not disappointed. Our good friends, Rodney and Lynn Myers, along with their children, Shawn, Jamison, Moriah, and Cherith, drove an hour and a half from Babati to join us for this special day. The Wolfs were there as well, along with Heather's parents visiting from Michigan. Caleb is such a joy to our family, and we can't imagine our lives without him.

Did You Know?
Many times people ask what we do during the week. Sometimes we get so busy in our routine that we forget to mention the ministries that occur on a weekly basis. On Wednesday afternoons we visit those who have visited our church. On Wednesday evenings we have Bible study at church, which is a special and informal time when everyone sits in a circle and listens to teaching from God's Word, and then the floor is open for questions and discussion. On Thursdays we have a Bible club in the field behind our house. On Fridays we teach a Bible class at the secondary school. On Saturdays we have church cleaning in the morning, followed by a meeting to plan the service for the following day. Everyone who comes for church cleaning is given some sort of job in Sunday's service, whether it be welcoming guests, praying for the offering, or sweeping the floor before church. On any given Saturday, we also have discipleship classes, Bible school classes, or a ladies meeting. On Saturday afternoons, we teach another Bible club at the local government orphanage. On Sunday mornings, we have Sunday school at 9am for the children, and then the service at 10am for the adults. On Sunday afternoons at 4pm, we have a youth service where we play volleyball and other games, sing songs, and have a challenge from the Bible. There are so many more ministries that we would like to start once we have the facilities of the TRUTH Center at our disposal. Please begin now to pray with us that God would burden specific people in our church to oversee new ministries.

On a Personal Note...
Thankfully we are all healthy at the moment, for the most part. This time of year is very chilly and windy (in the low 50's) so we have colds and coughs from time to time (even in Africa!). Hannah and Caleb are doing well with homeschooling. We will try to finish Hannah's K-4 year by December 1st, and she and Caleb will attend the school that we will be starting at the TRUTH Center in January (although I will continue supplementing their studies at home). My father will be arriving on July 1st for 5 weeks to continue with his water projects. Please pray for good success in those efforts. All in all, we are so thankful for our life here in Tanzania, and for the ministry of which we are privileged to be a part. We so appreciate your prayers and correspondence. May God bless each of you in the place where He has you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Teaching All Things

Matthew 28:20 "Teaching them to observe all things." An important part of the Great Commission is not only to preach the gospel, but to teach and train believers in the faith. We praise the Lord for 6 souls recently saved, and also for the opportunity to teach and train believers thus fulfilling the second half of the Great Commission.

The Katesh church had its first two graduates of the Bible Institute. Eliya and Ester are a husband and wife team who have been actively involved and instrumental in the church. Eliya has served as assistant pastor and Ester is now scheduling all the children's ministries and is an excellent Sunday School teacher. This month 7 new students will start the Bible Institute program which requires them to be actively involved in the ministries of the church.
Recently we had an Evangelism seminar where 15 people learned about the importance of personal evangelism and also techniques to use while sharing their faith. Those who attended are using what they learned to share God's Word with lost family, friends, and neighbors.

The TRUTH Center construction continues and the walls for all the buildings are now complete. Excitement is growing in the church and community. Lord-willing, the roofs will be going up soon and the grand opening and dedication is still planned for late October. Please continue to pray for the $10,000 still needed for the furniture, supplies, and equipment for this ministry center.