ReconnectingIn our our last update, we asked you to pray about the possibility of our family visiting Mibu over Christmas. We also asked prayer for the sale of our car to allow this to happen. Our car did not sell, but the Lord graciously provided through other means for us to make this epic trip. What joy to see our friends and families in Mibu again! How special and touching it was to see that they were as happy to see us again as we were to see them, and how it warmed our hearts to hear how so many of them had prayed for us and our return. Chris lost no time hiking here and there, meeting with friends, and showing the kids around to some of the local sights. Angie enjoyed reconnecting with her closest friends, one of whom lives quite close to where our houses are. The kids jumped right in, amazing us with their ease in which they embraced their surroundings and the people! Jael, in particular, enjoyed renewing her friendships with 2 of her friends, and even enjoyed a night of frog hunting with them! While some things have obviously changed of the course of years, the bond we now share with our brothers and sister in Christ made none of these changes really matter.
RefocusingWhile we were there, Chris was able to attend and also help participate in the teaching of I Timothy. New, but timely and much needed material for the maturing Mibu church. While we were there, the church found it necessary to practice some church discipline with a couple (not married) who were involved in adultery. It was very encouraging to see the church not only wield the scriptures appropriately regarding the guilty, but also rally behind and graciously support the victims (both parties involved are married). We were also reminded anew of how radically different the principles of scripture are from the culture of the Mibu people, as some aspects involved on the discipline side of things were hard for everyone to recognize as important and worth doing. Pray for them as they continue to grow in this area.
Also, while we were there, Chris was able to tackle a much needed job for Geoff Husa in the literacy program. The literacy program has been around now for about 8 years. In spite of the numerous classes, the ability to read and write comprehensively among the Mibu people is very limited. Part of the problem may be time--it takes time for something like literacy to become an inherent and intrinsic part of a culture. Part of it may be cultural--it's very difficult to correct someone for risk of shaming them. Part of it may be shortage of material to read--it takes time to build a library, and the Mibu missionary team has been short-handed these past couple of years. Regardless of the reason, the ability to accurately read a short passage and comprehend it is way below where we'd like it to be, especially for those who are literacy and Bible teachers. Results from the post-literacy evaluation system that Chris developed can now show these teachers where they are at, and serve as a benchmark to encourage them as they see themselves improve with practice over time. A successful literacy program is critical to accurately reading and understanding scripture for themselves.
AffirmationOur trip was not all highlights. We had a mix-up (Angie's fault) and NONE of our clothes that we had packed made it in with us, causing us to scrounge, beg and borrow from our teammates until they arrived about a week later. We dealt with a faulty hot water system by heating pots of water on the stove and hauling it up a flight of stairs to the 2nd story bathroom for bucket showers. Our fridge ended up being a glorified cooler that required the use of ice blocks frozen in our partners' freezer to keep all our food from turning. The last 2 weeks there was very little sun, so our laundry started taking on a strong mildew smell (indeed the entire house started to smell that way before we left). And, a back injury and nasty virus kept us incapacitated for longer than we'd like, limiting our time with our friends. And yet, even with all of that, we have come away with an overwhelming sense of affirmation that this is indeed the plan God has for us and our family. There was no awkwardness or reservations felt on our part. There are obvious needs that we see the Lord has qualified us to meet. And each time we meet with the Husas, we come away a little more awed at how much we seem to be on the same page after being on such different pages not that long ago. On every front we seem to see the Lord's blessing. This time of living "on location" with our future (even current) partners was so valuable on so many levels. We are so thankful we were able go.
And NOW....NOW, we focus on the rest of this term. It's likely that Chris may hike in to spend another couple weeks in Mibu sometime in the next month or two to further develop this post-literacy evaluation system, and to even make preliminary arrangements for work that needs to be done for housing our family on our return. There are two terms of school left to complete (and 2 online classes for Angie), a house full of goods to sort, sell or pack as well as clean, new co-workers to welcome and train, projects to finish, a car that still needs to sell, and relationships to maintain. There are plans to make, a speaking schedule for our time home to fill, presentations to prepare, and contacts to be made. Now we enter the last 6 months of our term on the field, and especially since it coincides with the end of the school year, the pace will slowly build to dizzying, even are there are more things to fit into the same hours in a day. Pray with us that we'd be wise stewards of our time and resources, and that we would finish this term strong. (OH, and please, if you'd like for us to come speak at your church, Sunday School class, small group, Bible study, or just even your family, you don't have to wait until we get State-side to make those arrangements!)
We thank God repeatedly for each of you...
Chris, Angie, Jael, Baruch and Titus Walker
Jael with a group of friends. They painted her face (though it's hard to see), so she would match them! They were celebrating a school meeting that was going on when we arrived in Mibu.
Baruch and Titus (Jael too) had hours of fun playing on the Merry-Go-Round that their grandpa built them years ago. Still runs smooth as the day it was installed in the ground there, and still provides great enjoyment for kids.
Chris reading I Timothy to the Mibu church.