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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blessings of 2008

Dear Praying Friends,

It is hard to believe that 2008 is over and 2009 is here! In many ways this past year as been very challenging for us, but we praise the Lord for the many blessings as well. Below are some of the highlights since our last letter. Please join us in praising the Lord for these blessings and praying for the requests.

Friend Day- On October 26, the one-year anniversary of the TRUTH Center, we had "Friend Day" at the Truth Baptist Church. We challenged our church people to bring relatives, friends, and neighbors. They did a great job inviting people and we had over 250 adults in attendance. One faithful lady brought 8 friends. The best part of the day was that 5 people received Christ as their Savior. Please pray for these new believers and also for us as we follow up the other visitors.

School Graduation- We also had a special day on Sunday December 5 for our kindergarten graduation. Many parents, family, and friends came for this special service. They were amazed to listen to their children sing songs to God, recite their Bible verses, and receive their certificates. We had a great first year for school ministry and in January we will be adding a nursery class and also first grade. Please pray for us as we need good teachers, more students, and also wisdom as we get the school registered with the government.
Youth Camp- In December we took a group of 19 to youth camp in the town of Babati. We rented a boarding school which was on break and met with two other Baptist churches. We had over 70 youth at camp that participated in games, quizzes, memory verses, discussion groups, and services. Praise the Lord for the 7 youth who made the decision to accept Christ. Pray for these young people to be dedicated to the Lord in the youth ministry of the church.
Picture: The youth leading a service after returning home from camp.

Missionary Team- We were so excited to receive Brad and Tricia Henderson as new missionaries on December 8th. The church surprised them with a church wide meal and gifts. They are getting adjusted to Tanzanian life and culture. They are putting the finishing touches on their home and getting ready to start language school in January. We are also excited to have Nate Wolf and family returning from furlough to join us in a few weeks. We also praise the Lord for a new missionary that will be joining our team in June of 2009. Rather than being "called" to Tanzania, he/she will be born into the team as Natalie is expecting again. Please pray for our family and ministry team as it grows and ministers together.

Picture: Brad received a welcome gift of a traditional Datooga "toga" and Tricia received material to have a traditional dress made.

Picture: The first photo of the new "missionary" that will be joining our team in June 2009

Family Christmas- We had a wonderful Christmas celebration together as a family and are looking forward to all that God has planned for us and the ministry here for the upcoming year. May God bless you this New Year and as you continue to partner with us through your prayers and support.

Picture: The kids enjoying their new trampoline!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One scrambled egg for 16 people!

Steve was able to go hunting recently and along with bringing home a car load of meat from shooting 2 Grants Gazelle and 2 Wildebeest, he also brought home an ostrich egg from a nest that was found. We scrambled the egg and it fed 16 people, as there were two missionary families traveling through Katesh.

Pray for this Land

Please pray for God's will concerning a piece of land next to the TRUTH Center that could be used for future ministry. With the future expansion of the Truth Learning Center we will need more land for other ministries to grow. We will need the local government's permission to use this land and then follow the process for getting it re-zoned for ministry use. We will be submitting our proposal to the local government very soon. Please pray if it is God's will for us to have this land that He will bring it to pass.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kweli Learning Centre (Truth Learning Center)

We opened our school in January 2008. The school year here in Tanzania runs from January to December--three months on, one month off. We currently have 27 children, and will be adding first grade in January, and a new grade each year to follow. Please pray that our school will glorify God in all that it does, that we will influence children and parents spiritually, and that we will have a good testimony in our community.
Enjoy these pictures! Some are of our field trip to a local farm, others are from a small program we did for the parents, and the rest are just fun days at school. Please pray for these precious children--we are so proud of how they have grown mentally, physically, and spiritually in the last 9 months!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Missions Conference June 2008

The Truth Baptist Church had its first missions conference in June 2008. God truly blessed and the following are some of the highlights: We started each morning with a prayer meeting and fellowship. God answered many of these requests during the missions conference.
Over 20 people went to the village of Basotu to do a spiritual survey of the area. After interviewing over 100 people and recording their answers, it was determined and we are burdened that a Bible-believing church is needed in this area. Please pray for this new area and ministry.

On the second day of the conference over 20 people went to the village of Garawja to dedicate a new water well and present the gospel. Over 200 people heard about the "everlasting water" of Jesus Christ.

Each evening we had services with singing, preaching, and a missions video. Our theme was "The Harvest is Great, but the Laborers are Few." God worked in many people's hearts about giving and going for the harvest of souls. Pray for a young man named Christopher who surrendered to the ministry during the missions conference. (He is pictured above wearing green, with our assistant pastor and missionaries.) Our two church missionaries, Daniel Lekunga and John Naftari, did an excellent job presenting their burdens and ministries. Our church people had them in their homes for meals, gave a love offering, and they were each given a goat in appreciation.
After the three day conference was over, we took our missionary John Naftari home to his ministry in Bariadi. We also took 3 Bible Institute students and assistant pastor Eliya. These young men did an excellent job sharing testimonies, witnessing, and teaching. We were able to help our missionary John start a new church plant under a tree in a nearby village. We thank the Lord for the 27 souls who accepted Christ during our time there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 2008

We had a blessed Easter weekend with 4 people accepting Christ as Savior and 5 baptized including this Datooga man. Please pray for the Wolfs as they leave for furlough at the end of June. They have done a great job their first term and will be missed. We look forward to them coming back next year.
On a recent trip out to the villages to observe some water projects that Lance Whyle (Natalie's father) is coordinating I was able to speak to about 50 people who had gathered and was also able to pass out gospel tracts. I was given a goat in appreciation. We plan to do more evangelism when hand pumps are installed in 4 different villages in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Steve often refers to 2007 as a "suicide year"--we started construction on the Truth Center just days after returning from the States, we hired a pastor part time, our church took on 2 Tanzanian missionaries to support, we started a school, we began several new ministries/outreaches at church, we had many guests including a group from our church in Ohio, and the list goes on. So needless to say, we were ready to get away from Katesh for a while!
The day after Easter, we left Katesh for 3 weeks. First we went to Moshi (at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro) for 5 days for a meeting with the other families in our mission. As always, it was a special time of fellowship and fun, along with encouraging messages by the men and sweet testimonies from the women.

After the meeting, we drove another 7 hours to Dar-es-Salaam, a city of several million people on the coast of Tanzania. We stayed with our dear friends, Dave and Bonnie Jones, and we enjoyed shopping and eating out at restaurants--two things we rarely get to do! We were also able to go to the American Embassy to get a new passport for Hannah.
From Dar, we took a 20 minute flight to the island of Zanzibar. This was by far the smallest plane that I (Natalie) have ever been on! I've never been on a plane where I could see out the front windshield, and where the pilot can talk to you over his shoulder. But it sure beat the horrific 3 hour boat ride! We spent one week at an amazing resort on the northeast side of the island. The only negative thing of our whole vacation was that it rained off and on for about 4 days--we weren't aware that this was monsoon season until we got there! But it really didn't keep us from having fun--we were wet anyway from swimming in the pool and ocean. Besides swimming, we played on the beach, took long walks, walked around historic "Stone Town" to do some shopping, took a small boat out to Prison Island to see the turtles, and just enjoyed spending time together as a family. It was so nice to have no distractions or specific things that we needed to accomplish. The kids enjoyed having our undivided attention, and we enjoyed giving it to them.
After Zanzibar, we spent a couple more days in Dar before driving back to Arusha to do our shopping and banking. On the way home, we stopped at Tarangire National Park for a short safari. Even though we live here, we never get tired of seeing the amazing wildlife that God has created. We had such a special time away, but there's no place like home!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Building People at the TRUTH Center

Building Families and Children through the Truth Learning Center.

As a child, I (Natalie) always looked forward to the beginning of a new school year. Meeting my teacher and my classmates, buying new supplies, anticipating all of the exciting things I would learn --these are some of my favorite memories. However, I never could have dreamed that I would find myself on this end of the school system--as a teacher and manager of the Truth Learning Center! God blessed all the months of preparation as we opened our school on January 7th. We now have 24 children, ranging in age from 3 to 7. I have 3 assistants, and the day goes by quickly as we have Bible class, English, Math, Social Studies, and several activity centers. Tears come to my eyes as I listen to the children quote their Bible verses in English, some of whom knew nothing about Jesus before coming to our school. Please pray that we are able to lead these children to Christ, as well as impact their homes for God's glory.

Each week we have a different theme for the school, such as "I am Special" or "I Can Be Healthy" or "Farmers Help Us." All of our activities and lessons, and even the Bible story for the week, reflect these themes. The children have learned so much, even difficult concepts, from recycling and conserving, to the food pyramid and oxygen. During activity center time, they rotate to different activity centers every 15 minutes to put together puzzles, make a craft, learn vocabulary words, or memorize a poem. Nearly everything we do at our school is a completely foreign concept here in Katesh, where at most preschools there are over 100 children crammed into a room with no chairs, no visuals, no hands-on learning. We are gaining a positive reputation in the community, and our hope and prayer is that it will draw people to the church.

Several people have asked how they can contribute to the needs for the school. I very much appreciate the offers, and have compiled a list of some specific things that we need. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the list.

Building Future Leaders

We are blessed to be working with a fellowship of independent Baptist missionaries and national pastors/missionaries here in Tanzania. Several times throughout the year we all get together for fellowship, teaching, and prayer. We were privileged in February to have this meeting at the TRUTH Center with Truth Baptist Church hosting the meeting. Our local church people did a great job preparing and serving meals to the missionaries and pastors.

Building the local church--It is one thing to lead people to Christ, and it is an entirely different thing to disciple them and bring them to maturity in Christ so that they can lead others to the Savior. We are thankful for the 7 Bible Institute students who are actively involved in our ministries on a weekly basis. We are preparing a series of teaching on spiritual gifts to help people identify how God can use them to serve in the local church. Please do pray for the members of our church, that they will truly know what it means to live in Christ.
TRUTH Center DVD--A new DVD documenting the construction and dedication of the Truth Center is now complete and available at no cost. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this DVD.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year 2008

TRUTH Baptist Church: The church continues to grow since moving to the TRUTH Center location. We have seen many new vistors and decisions for Christ recently. We open the TRUTH Center each weekend for games like volleyball, net-ball, soccer, and playground. We also have an indoor game room where the youth can enjoy board games, carpet ball, and other games. We use this game time for opportunities to witness to people who would not normally come. We have seen several start to attend our services and a few have trusted Christ as Savior as a result of this outreach time.

Youth Camp: In December we were able to take a group of youth to participate in youth camp with other independent Baptist churches. The campers enjoyed the games and fellowship with other youth, but most importantly made many spiritual decisions during the services. Many campers were able to memorize the entire Sermon on the Mount during camp.

New Missionary: The Truth Baptist Church was able to begin to support its second missionary in December. Daniel Lekunga, from the Maasai tribe, is living with and reaching his own people in the bush of Tanzania. It was an encouragement to our church people to see a fellow Tanzanian with a burden to reach his own people. Please pray for Daniel and his family as they minister and also for our church to have a vision for local missions.

Holiday Services: We had a busy December with special services on Christmas and New Years Eve. On Christmas we were able to have a baby dedication and fellowship with a church-wide meal afterwards. On New Years Eve we had a midnight service with 120 in attendance. 54 people stayed for an "overnighter" until the morning. We had a great time fellowshipping and playing games. It was a great way to end 2007 and start 2008.

Missionary Perk: One of the many "perks" of being a missionary in this part of Tanzania is being able to enjoy hunting. Because of being so busy this year I was only able to go hunting once. Nate Wolf and I, along with another missionary friend, enjoyed a day of hunting where we shot 4 gazelle and 1 wildebeast.