5/19/2018: Little Front Porch School

Little Front Porch School

A small English school begins as a witness to neighborhood children.

It was a miracle, really, how I ended up back in Cambodia. I’d been here before for two years, teaching at the local Adventist school. When the time came for
me to return home, I really missed my students, but I didn’t know if or when I’d be able to go back to see them.

Back at home, I began the search for a job. It seemed to take forever, but just at the right time, God brought me to one that was the perfect fit for my situation. I
worked there for a year and then right when I was starting to think about possibly quitting my job and returning to Cambodia, the shop I was working at closed.

I asked God if this was the right time to go back to Cambodia. In ways, it seemed like it could be, but in other ways—such as a job offer the same day I lost
my original job—it seemed that I was supposed to stay at home. I decided that it appeared that God had opened a door wide for me to stay at home, so I chose to accept the new job and see where things went.

A couple of months after starting my new job, my boss mentioned that he thought it would be great for me to travel and work remotely during the slower months,
which would start in only a couple of months! A lightbulb went on in my head: This was my chance! I excitedly made preparations to return to Cambodia.

Meanwhile, my friend Seyha, who I’d known during my time at the school, was watching God’s leading. He’d recently gotten married and settled in a home just
outside of a village. He thought that he’d really like to start a small school with the neighborhood children, but he wasn’t sure that it was the right time—and besides, where would he find a teacher? He didn’t want to “steal” anyone from the Adventist school, but he knew he needed a teacher whose first language was English. He decided to wait and see what God would do.

As I prepared to come, I sent a quick email to the school director, inquiring whether there was space for me to stay and work, and possibly teach a little as well. To my chagrin, he responded that there was currently no housing available, and I’d probably need to find another place to work. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but after checking with a couple of my friends, I realized that my friend Seyha had a home and was always happy to host people. So I told him I was hoping to come, but wasn’t able to stay at the school. He very quickly invited me to stay at his place as long as I needed to!

When I arrived in Cambodia, it felt like home. But this time it is different—I get a better picture of village life, interact much more with the neighbors, spend time
with Seyha’s wife, and practice my language skills every day.

We began our little evening class with three little boys, and it quickly multiplied. Today we often have up to 40 children who gather on the porch to sing songs
and study English vocabulary! They sing and recite quite enthusiastically. Often after class, we hear them loudly singing “God is so Good” as they ride their bikes
home.

Friday evenings are special. We tell the children Bible stories in their own language and sing all of our favorite God-songs. Seyha began this tradition by introducing them to the concept of sundown being the end of one day and the beginning of a new one. He also asked them why there are rainbows,
where the sun came from, and why we all speak different languages. They weren’t sure, but they were quite curious to hear. Now we get to tell them Bible stories that explain these questions!

Our goal in spending time with our little students isn’t just to teach them English—that’s just a way to encourage them to come. Most of them already study all day at school in a stressful environment and come home to parents who don’t usually spend time with them. We want our front porch to be a safe and happy place where they can come and know they are loved, and learn about a God who cares about them. Seyha’s dream is to teach the older students to play ukulele and possibly other simple instruments.

This story of our little front porch school isn’t really about me—it’s more the story of my friend Seyha and his desire to follow God’s leading. But God saw
fit to allow me to join in for a few months, which is exciting. When I head home, there will be a vacant spot—but we know that God already has a plan in mind!


Author: Emily Heagy does layout and design for Mission Projects International, and lives in Walla Walla, Washington.

How You Can Help:

Pray for the children to catch a glimpse of Jesus and choose Him for themselves.

Sponsor a missionary teacher to come and work with Seyha.

Provide funds for student instruments (our first goal is 20 ukuleles).

Come and teach for a few months or longer.

Contact Emily at mindformission@gmail.com


4/21/2018: Bury My Heart

Bury My Heart

A young missionary looks back on her mission experiences.

In August 2011, as I stepped from the plane into the welcoming warmth of the Cambodian air, the Khmer people stepped into my heart. Before many days
had passed, I realized that I was here to stay – for as long as God wanted me. So when God sent me back to America, long before I was ready to leave, to recover from amoebic dysentery and dengue fever, I wrestled with my conflicting desires. I wanted to be willing to follow wherever He called, but my heart yearned for the souls I had left behind. Nine months later, when God called me back to Cambodia, I felt His gentle rebuke when I saw how He had provided
for my precious Cambodians in my absence. Slowly, I learned to surrender them to His care. After all, He loved them more than I ever could and I knew He would never forsake them.

And then God called me to the jungles of Thailand. My love for my Cambodians was so strong that the thought of leaving them again tore at my heart. I prayed that God would give me a love just as strong for my jungle students and their people. And He did.

Wherever I go, people ask me, “Do you miss it when you’re away?”

My answer is, “Yes, wherever I go, I miss the places where I’m not.”

Sometimes I think God sends us different places to prepare our hearts for our eternal home where we’ll never have to say good-bye to those we love and labor for.

I enjoy remembering the events of the past few years, and many times I find myself wishing I could return to those days. To the shrieking and laughter while we
clean up after a birthday celebration and start flinging leftover noodles at each other. To the round eyes of my students as we point out a moving star and tell
them about the airplane whisking travelers through the night sky to some distant land. To the exertion and camaraderie as we plow new channels in the bottom of the river so we can continue driving our boat in the dry season. Even to the water dripping down my neck as I hike alone through the jungle in
a late-night rainstorm when God literally unlocks the gate to my friends’ home so I would have a dry place to sleep.

Other times I wish I could forget. I regret the missed opportunities and the failure to overcome temptations or patiently bear trials. And then I wish I could go back and live them again, and make different choices. But all the wishing in the world will not give me back those missed opportunities. I am thankful that
God is gracious, that each day holds a new window of opportunity.

Every person we meet is influenced for eternity. Will we allow Jesus to live through us so that others can see His loveliness shining through all we do, or will
we allow self to control us, and mar their picture of Him? We can never know when a soul will make his or her final decision for eternity;
when the unexpected might come crashing down and close our window of opportunity forever, leaving us on the other side with only a memory.

I want to be able to look back and rejoice in God’s leading, with no regrets. I have learned that God’s work in me is His biggest priority. Then when self has died,
and He is everything to me, He can pour His love through me in an unbroken stream. What an amazing, faithful, loving God!


Author: Sarah Van Hee 
Sarah Van Hee is the head teacher and girls’ dean of Jason’s English Medical Missionary School (JEMMS) in Thailand.

How You Can Help:
Pray
for the work in Cambodia and the Buddhist students coming to learn English that they will learn to love the truth of God’s Word.

Give: The work needs more than money, it also needs missionaries who will make a commitment to stay and bring the word of God to starving souls.
Monetary donations can be sent to:
Jesus for Asia, Inc.
P.O. Box 1221
Collegedale, TN 37315
(Indicate Sarah Van Hee.)


10/31/2015: Life Given and Life Changed

Life Given and Life Changed

 

Story 1: Dare I Call Myself a Missionary?

Adventist Southeast Asia Project (ASAP) Ministries supports work in four countries that score among the top 30 nations that persecute Christians (World Watch List). In one of these countries it is illegal to own a Bible or to evangelize in any way. Listen to Missionary Tom’s* heart as he writes this true and painful experience:

One day, a woman with whom I had studied the Bible came to say goodbye to me.

“I’m leaving today.”

“I know,” I responded, emotion in my voice.

“There is a Bible in my backpack.”

I am quiet. What can I say to someone who is willing to share about God even if it might take her life? When my words come they are quiet, like I’m not supposed to say this. “You know what will happen to you if you are caught.”

Inside I say to myself, “I am the one who taught her about God. I am the one who encouraged her to trust in Him no matter what. Now I am the one who is afraid of what will happen to me if she is caught. How can I say that I’m a missionary?”

“I know,” she says.

Once again, I can’t find anything to say to her. Streams of tears falls down our cheeks. We begin to pray. My mind is confused. There is only one thing I know for sure at this moment. This may be the last time I ever see her. We both know, but we don’t talk about it.

“Please keep me in your prayers.”

I promise I will. And then she leaves.

Not very long had passed and word of her came to me. She had indeed been caught with her Bible. They persecuted her severely. What all they did, I do not know. I do know that they told her she would be released if she revealed who gave the Bible to her. Now she was the one who didn’t say anything. She suffered in silence until she paid with her life.

People call me a missionary. People called her an illegal resident. The police called her a traitor.

But I believe that she was the one worthy to be called a missionary.

 

Story 2: My Name is Abundance

A Cambodian lady turned the meatballs over and over on her little portable charcoal pit. She had done those movements so many times she could do it in her sleep. But her mind was not turning meatballs. Her mind was turning over and over her worries about her youngest son, Vibol.

Vibol.

Why had she named him Vibol? Every time someone said Vibol it felt like they were mocking her. Vibol means abundance. “Abundance, abundance,” she mused. “That’s what I had hoped he could have. Our lives are anything but abundance. My husband’s an alcoholic. I can hardly remember when he last had a job. And these meatballs, they make me just enough to buy some rice and keep us in our hut.”

She worried most about Vibol because he was the youngest of her two boys and the naughtiest. The neighbors said he was running around with a local gang. She hoped it was not true. All she knew was that she could never get him to do anything at home. He would not help her form the meatballs or roast them. He would not sweep the dirt floor or wash clothes. He was always running out the door to play games with his friends or maybe worse. “I guess with a dad like his I can hardly expect better. I just wish he could go to school. Maybe some day, if I can save enough.”

One day Vibol wandered by a small building with a tall sheet metal wall. He heard children laughing and playing inside. “That sounds fun,” he thought. “I wonder if I can go in?” He peeked through the door. All the children inside were wearing crisp red and white uniforms. That was different from what he had seen at the government schools. They were blue and white.

A guard asked him what he wanted. He pulled back, afraid. The guard smiled. He could tell Vibol was poor and not likely in school. “Would you like to go to school like these children?” Vibol was too surprised to answer. He finally nodded his head. The kind guard brought him to the head teacher. She told him about the school and the best part—that it was free. Then he saw the kids lining up for lunch. They got food, too. Before he knew it the teacher was walking him to his home to talk with his mother.

Taking turns eating lunch at Cambodia Feed and Read School.

Vibol’s mother was overjoyed when the teacher offered to register him for school. Was this really happening? A private school offering free education for her son? The next morning Vibol woke up early. He put on the uniform the teacher had given him. The shirt was so white! The red shorts fit him perfectly. He went off to the school, excited for his first day. Everything went well. The teachers spoke kindly to him. The games were lively and fun. Vibol hardly noticed that he was way behind in school for his age. Other kids were, too. Many of them had come from a similar background of poverty and hardship. They were eager to learn, just like him.

Vibol went day after day and learned more and more. The teachers did not just teach him to read, write, and calculate. They taught him from the Bible, too. He liked the stories. He liked Jesus.

It was not long before his mother noticed the difference. “Mom, can I help you roast the meatballs? You look tired Mom. Take a rest while I sweep up.” Even the neighbors noticed. Vibol was changing. He loves to hear stories about Jesus and the miracles He performed. Every Sabbath he is at the nearby church singing and participating in the lesson. Life is so much better now.

His mom thinks she chose the right name for her son after all. “He’s learning so much. We may not ever have lots of money, but we have lots of love.” Vibol! Abundance!

Vibol is one of about 100 students at the Cambodia Feed and Read school which ASAP Ministries sponsors in Phnom Penh City. You can sponsor a child for just $20 a month. Please join ASAP Ministries with your prayers for the persecuted and for our schools, and with your gifts to help them press forward in the face of great trials.

 

By Jeanette Yeboah-Amoako of Adventist Southeast Asia Projects. jeanette.yeboah@asapministries.org. www.asapministries.org. PO Box 84, Berrien Springs, MI 49103.

 

*pseudonym


11/08/2014: Hope and Hardships

Hope and Hardships

in India

 

Sanann Loyal School

Today I am happy to say we opened a new school in Madhya Pradesh. We have called the school “Sanaan Loyal School” in honor of my three daughters: Salome, Naomi, and Annie.

Sign going up at Sonann Loyal School.

We have had a difficult time recruiting teachers to come to this remote location. But when Das and I went up to Madhya Pradesh last week for the opening, we brought with us two teachers from Andhra. We had a lot of fun with them. It was like taking them to a different country, even though it was only a different state. They had never been on a 20 hour train ride, and kept asking, “When will we get there?” Then once we reached Jabalpur they thought we had arrived, only to be disappointed to find out we still had another 50 kilometers to go by bus. So they said, “That should take about an hour, right?” Wrong, I said, due to the road conditions it takes two hours. We bumped and bounced along the road to Tendukheda.

A carpenter at work on school benches.

When we finally arrived, it was late and there were no open hotels or restaurants. We managed to cook some rice which was the last rice meal they had for a number of days. It was so much fun to see them try to adjust to eating chapattis twice a day. They did the best they could to try to like it, but nothing could hide the expression of disappointment when the food was brought to them, and it wasn’t rice.

The heat, however, was intolerable. Every house is like an oven by evening. Our poor teachers tried sleeping on the roof of the room where they were staying, but the cement of the roof radiated heat like an oven. To sit with your feet on the cement felt like taking a hot foot bath. And sleeping on it? Impossible. They suffered a lot because of the heat. We have made arrangements so they can stay in the school for now, where it is a little bit cooler. But still we need a water cooler (swamp cooler) for them to survive properly.

Cutting the ribbon.

Going to church on Sabbath was a wonderful experience. It was like a pilgrimage. First we started from Tendukheda by bus to Jabalpur. That was a two hour, dusty, bumpy, hot ride. Once we arrived at the bus station in Jabalpur we went by local bus across the city, then an auto rickshaw for another several kilometers. After that we walked up a long hill and down some streets to the church. All of this in 110° F heat.

We opened the school with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday afternoon, attended by our friends and teachers from Tendukheda. We are excited because we expect many students to join in the next few weeks. We still have a lot of work to do—construction has to be finished, advertising done, books purchased—but by God’s grace it will happen.

 

Hell and Paradise

People are boarding in the train, India.

After opening the school in Madhya Pradesh, I, with Das’ guidance, began the journey by train to Mumbai where I would catch my flight to the United States. We had unconfirmed train tickets for sleeper class, which means we were put on the waiting list and we didn’t actually have seats. Neither did more than half of the rest of the people on the train, as we found out! We managed to squeeze our way onto the train when it arrived at the station, with three pieces of luggage, which we set in the crowded aisle. There was nowhere to sit except in the aisle with the luggage. It was 10:30 pm and I was very tired. Das pulled out a sheet he had brought for me, and after putting that on the floor I managed to find a way to lay down. It was a bit challenging to sleep, as the legs of the guy above me kept hitting my head. I couldn’t stretch out my legs because there was no space next to the person below me, and I had to be careful not to bump the person sleeping behind me. There were a couple of small spots of floor still visible, but these were reserved for people going to and from the bathroom during the night. I got stepped on occasionally, which was only made more unpleasant when I thought about where they just came from—the bathroom where the floor was covered with urine, and sometimes worse.

By morning I was sleeping nicely, but Das made me get up because people from the upper bunks were throwing their breakfast trash down on me. Reluctantly I got up. I was still so tired. I think I slept standing up for a while. Sometimes I would get a few inches of seat to put my backside on, and rest my head in my hands and catch a few more minutes of sleep, until I had to move for passersby or the rocking of the train got me off balance. When some people left the train, we got an upper bunk, where Das was able to sleep for a while, and I sat cross-legged and managed to catch some more sleep. Of course, it was burning hot up there. Even the fan felt like it was a hair dryer. I’m sure the temperature reached 115° F.

People’s tempers were not much cooler, and I admit, I struggled a bit with my own. I’d be standing in the aisle, trying not to bump the guy behind me, or the one beside me, or the lady in the seat next to me, trying to find a place to put my hand on the seat above me to keep my balance, and the guy who was sleeping on the seat above me would move his feet and knock my hand off. I would try for another seat to hold on, but there was nowhere to put my hand except for under someone, and that wasn’t an option. Consequently, I had to stand there and balance, but it is almost impossible to sleep like that. I don’t recommend it!

What made matters worse was there was a lady and her children who did have seats, and they wouldn’t share them with anyone. So one of the children would be on a bunk all by themselves, and everyone else crammed into the aisle, and no one was offered rest on the child’s seat, even for a few minutes.

“Dear God, please give me grace, the grace to stand a little longer, or to find some way to sit on my suitcase on the floor and get my knees out of the way enough to let someone pass in the aisle, or something!” Now I can understand something of the way the Jews felt being transported in railway cars, crammed together, during World War II. The major difference is that for the Jews, it was involuntary, but for me, it was voluntary, although I’m not sure why. Oh, and did I mention that the ride was 20 hours long?

After getting down off the train in Mumbai we headed to the airport. Once in the airport everything was different. Air Conditioning! Food! Water! Any time you wanted it! No one crowding or pushing you out of your seat! You have a seat you can call your own! And best of all, from the moment I got on the airplane: sleep, lovely sleep.

Now I’m safely in the United States and am still marveling at the cool fresh air, the green grass and trees, the fact that I don’t have to sweat, unless I want to. Quiet. Organized traffic. No blaring loudspeakers, horns, or temple prayers. Food of so many varieties. What do you do with it all? Then people ask me, “So, how was the flight?” I still haven’t figured out how to answer that question.

“Christ laid aside His glory and came to this earth to suffer for sinners. If we meet with hardships in our work, let us look to Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Then we shall not fail nor be discouraged. We shall endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” The Colporteur Evangelist, 84.

 

By Rebecca Pomianowski of India Mission Rebecca. Website: www.shelleysenner.wordpress.com. Email: rpomianowski@gmail.com.

 


06/21/2014: Before We Even Ask

Before We Even Ask

Thailand

 

You may have been wondering what has happened at Sunshine Orchard since we sent out an urgent appeal at the end of last year. We’ll explain what has happened since then and give an update on our ministry.

 

The Fine and the Foundation

As we shared in the appeal, our most urgent need was to meet the demands of the local Thai Forest Service leader to pay a very large “fine” in consequence for our ignorantly breaking several laws regarding land use. After we reviewed some online English translations of forest service laws in Thailand, we saw that we were truly in violation, and the consequences could be very serious, including several years of prison time, as well as large fines.

We sought the advice of several people who were familiar with legal issues here in Thailand, including some Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) staff and the police. ADRA also got input for us from an Garden State Ticket Help attorney. When we laid out the issues for which we could be penalized, we were surprised that each of our advisers concluded that the best course to take was to pay the fine. We were consistently advised that to insist that our case be taken to court would be taking a great risk and we could lose the entire school and spend years in prison and/or be deported.

We were told that the total of the fine plus other fees would come to nearly US $40,000. Shortly before we paid the fine, we received the good news through a third party that the forest service officer had reduced the fine by about $6,500. Praise God, people donated enough money to enable us to meet the deadline. After it was paid, we were assured that our violations were no longer held against us. We were also given instruction on what to do to avoid future violations.

Hannah teaching English.

As many of you know, this school was evacuated from Myanmar in 2009. It used to be the “Lay Klo Yaw” school. Once the children were safe on Thai soil, they were threatened with deportation by the Thai government. The United Nations insisted that they must go to the refugee camps, as Karen State was not considered safe due to the fighting. We were told that it was illegal to run a school and care for this many children outside of the refugee camps without legal status in Thailand, unless we were under a Thai foundation. Many of the children and youth had known this school as their only home; others came from extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect. All had been knitted together as a family and had found a safe haven, and most had come to know and love God. We felt a great burden to keep the school going and the children together. Again and again, we have faced the threat of losing the school and children, but time and time again God intervened. We were very thankful when a Christian foundation took us under their wing and helped us through many difficult situations during our first years here in Thailand.

Recently, however, we were surprised to receive a phone call from the husband of the head of that foundation, who notified us that the Lord had told his wife that we should be under her foundation for only a limited time, and that time was now up. She would soon contact the Thai government to inform them that we are no longer under her foundation. The husband urged us to move quickly to find another foundation to be under or else set up our own foundation. He initially told us that we would have perhaps up to a couple months to get someone to cover us. After that, he called us several more times, and kept moving the deadline closer. Finally, he told us that his wife would visit our local area very soon and would inform the local law enforcement. We were advised that we should either find a foundation to be under, or else be prepared to be shut down.

Medical transportation.

Since that last call, a local Thai Seventh-day Adventist, who is a mutual friend, contacted the woman. After their conversation he told us that the she is not rushing things quite as much as we had understood from her husband. How relieved we were! God can always choose to delay plans or to impress local government leaders to leave us alone for a while, but we are have not taken this matter lightly. We have been earnestly seeking God’s guidance to find an organization that can take us under their wing without desiring to direct the school in a way contrary to God’s principles.

Because of the unique nature of some aspects of our school, it is almost impossible to find another organization here in Thailand that shares our vision of true education and medical-missionary training. Therefore, we feel it is imperative that we establish our own foundation (or non-profit organization) for the long term. After consulting with others who are knowledgeable about setting up such organizations, we have been told that we will need around US $10,000 to $12,000, including legal processing fees and a sum that must be deposited in a special bank account to be held there for the life of the foundation.

But guess what? Although we did not foresee this financial need when we sent out our urgent request a few weeks ago, the donations that were sent in should be sufficient to cover most of this need as well. Thank the Lord! God is so good! He takes care of our needs, before we even ask.

 

Our Teachers

With the start of our third and last term came a few changes. Five new teachers joined us. Three of them came from Burma, one from Thailand, and the other from America. What a blessing they have been to us. Two of our staff mothers are now free to be with their children. Two of our male teachers now have a lighter teaching load and have more time to handle other responsibilities. Hannah, who is also one of the English teachers, has also been freed to help with various other needs. She misses her regular interaction with the students in those classes, but new teacher Sabrina has done a wonderful job of taking on that responsibility.

Sabrina Petersen with children.

In addition to Sabrina, we have also been blessed to have Caleb helping with projects around campus. These two came from America about a month ago and will be returning with our family at the end of this school year. This week we also have the privilege of having a couple from the L.I.G.H.T program in Germany. They have been teaching a massage class to our older students. What a blessing it has been to have them!

As a prayer request, I should mention that one of our Thai language teachers has a heart condition and is waiting for surgery. He is currently teaching, but we never know how long his strength will last. Please, pray that the Lord will open a way for him to get the needed surgery at the right time, and that he will have a good recovery.

Ywah soe ghay thoo! God bless you!

 

By Harvey, Brenda, Sharon, 
and Hannah Steck. Email: 
missions@thesteckfamily.com. Website: www.missions.thesteckfamily.com.


04/26/2014: From Sorrow to Singing

From Sorrow to Singing

In Tanzania

 

Dr. and Mrs. James Twing

When Jim and Ethel Twing returned to Africa, they were excited to be able to continue their ministry in a much more expanded way. Before leaving the United States, the Twings sold everything they could in order to purchase an airplane, a Cessna 172. Jim Twing, along with Bob Seamount of the Voice of Prophecy, and pilot Dale Tillay, flew from Portland, Oregon, in the United States, to Africa. Coming to a full stop within 100 yards of the Heri Hospital, on a newly constructed airstrip, the crew had difficulty getting out of the plane. They were immediately surrounded by a throng of people, some of whom had never seen an airplane.

Heri Hospital is located in one of the most remote mission posts operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although Kigoma, the nearest town to Heri Mission Hospital, is only 40 miles away, the rain-soaked road—not much more than a cow path—made the trip very difficult and time consuming. It usually took over two hours to make the trip. It was precisely these conditions that led Dr. Twing to purchase the airplane for use in his work. He was responsible for 30 dispensaries and clinics throughout northwest Tanzania, on roads in no better condition than the one to Kigoma. This was the work he wanted to do—forever. He enjoyed each day more than the day before. There was so much to do and so many people who needed physical and spiritual help.

Dr. Twing with his airplane.

One day Dr. Twing was scheduled to attend meetings in Morogoro. The trip would take two days and many flying hours from his home base.

“Come here, please, Mrs. Twing,” Charles Stafford, director of the Heri Mission Hospital School of Health, called out to Ethel as she dismissed the class she was teaching. “Pastor Jackson just came from Morogoro. He tells me Dr. Twing wasn’t present for the committee meetings!”

Since there was no telephone at the Heri Hospital and the radio was unusable on Sunday, Ethel was in a quandary. A few minutes later, Chuck Stafford knocked at her door. “What are you going to do? Don’t you want to go into Kigoma to use the telephone?” he questioned. Mrs. Twing hesitated, then said, “Yes, I’ll go. If there is nothing wrong, it will be a relief to know it. If there is something wrong, we should be able to do something.”

Chuck Stafford and Mrs. Twing went to the police station in Kigoma and told them about the situation. The officer on duty assured them he would do some checking. “It will be an hour before we know anything. Come back then,” he urged. They stayed with friends while waiting. Thirty minutes later the phone rang. The call was from the conference office in Morogoro. “She’s standing right here,” Mrs. Twing heard Stafford reply.

“Has this been confirmed?” he replied, after listening for a few minutes. Realizing the full impact of what he was saying, Mrs. Twing backed into the hall, leaned up against the wall, and waited until he had finished. In a few minutes her dream had turned into a nightmare—her husband of 30 years was gone—his plane had crashed, and burned. She was now alone.

Nurse Twing.

Undaunted, Ethel returned to America, studied nursing and returned to Heri Hospital.
Since her husband’s death, Ethel has served first as a nurse at Heri Hospital, then as a coordinator of pastor’s training and evangelism. Since 1972 with the support of friends all over the world, Ethel, affectionately known by her African family as Mama Twing, has educated more than 100 young people. She educated the present Tanzanian Union President and Ministerial Secretary.

The first step in the process by which a student received sponsorship involved an internship in Mama Twing’s home. There she was able to study their personal characteristics to determine if they would apply themselves in school with honesty and integrity. Then they would work selling books and literature in Africa and European countries to earn a portion of their tuition. She returned to America each summer and raised funds for their education.

Twing elementary school - 2006.

Twelve years ago, about the same time the Twing Memorial Elementary School (TMES) was started, the Ministry purchased 18 acres situated between two rivers. The plan was to develop a secondary school for the students graduating from the elementary school. But in November 2011, the Ministry almost lost the land. In Africa, if land is not used after a number of years, it can be confiscated without payment. A member of the Tanzanian Parliament and some leaders of the local villages were going to take over the land to build a bazaar. Pastor Musa Mitekaro was informed of the plan. He was told by the supporting village leaders that if he would start building the school immediately, they could stop the takeover. With help from a donor, construction began. After many providential occurrences, the land was saved. By March 2012, Musa had all the necessary permits and certificates to establish a secondary school. This is unheard of in Africa.

Twing secondary school.

The Twing Memorial Secondary School is still not ready to accept students. Before the school can be opened, the government inspectors want two duplex apartments for teachers, roads, a well, fencing, a library, a laboratory, an assembly hall, and completed furnishings. The cost will be close to $100,000. The secondary school is a pressing need. After immersing the elementary students in an Adventist Christian education, many of the students are not fully grounded in the Adventist truth. Without our own Adventist secondary school, students are sent to schools in Tanzania, often far away from their homes. Financial support to maintain the Twing Memorial Ministries is changing the lives of our pupils by giving them a chance for a better life on this earth and a promise of eternal life.

One of our students, Gambo, joined TMES when he was six years old. Gambo wished to learn how to read, write, and to speak English. In Africa, most parents do not send their children to school. They need their children at home to help with growing their food or caring for their animals. At times, it is the child who initiates school registration, and often without the parents’ approval. Gambo thanks God that he is able to study in the Twing Memorial Elementary School. He says, “Most of my friends, who were my age in my village, have died of malaria, or cholera, or malnutrition, but I am alive, and I thank God. My dream is to be a medical doctor that I may help children like me.” Gambo is in grade five and is a hard-working and determined boy. Now, he can read, write, and speak English.

In September 2013, the National Examination for standard seven was conducted. Seventy-three pupils from TMES attended. During the exam, there was more security than normal, including both police and ivigilators (people who watches examinations to prevent cheating). Last year, our school performed very well. This year the government increased the security, thinking that maybe the students were cheating. There are seven courses, which meant seven examinations. The police and invigilators were surprised to see that that, before every examination, the pupils sang and prayed. This is not common in schools here in Tanzania.

The police and invigilators concluded their report, saying, “The secret of high performance at TMES is prayer and singing, and they even prayed for us. They trust in God and that is why they always pass their national examinations.” The results came out in December 2013 and the TMES students scored high for their region, their state, and in the whole country.

Praise the Lord for souls won through the outstanding dedication of our teachers and the school chaplain.

 

By Dr. Larry Hawkins, Secretary/Treasurer for Twing Memorial Ministries. Website: www.grandmaafrica.com. Make your tax deductible donations to: Twing Memorial Ministries, PO Box 6, College Place, WA 99324.

 

 


03/22/2014: When It All Seems Worth It

When It All Seems Worth It

Bolivia

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9.

Often there are moments in this work when I wonder if I am not really just wasting my efforts. In vain the classes, in vain the personal counseling, in vain the sweat, the prayers, the long hours. There is nothing romantic about being a volunteer missionary teacher at a boarding school like this one. It is hard, often thankless work, and at times there seems to be little progress to speak of. In such moments, God’s promises like 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Galatians 6:9 comfort and reanimate my spirit.

And then, every so often God lets me see or hear a little something that gives me the motivation to keep pressing on. Like what Henri told Cornelio. Henri is a freshman this year, a clear-eyed country lad from a village about 12 kilometers distant.

Bolivia Industrial School.

“Teacher, this place is different!” he enthused after seeing God provide food for us yet again. “God actually answers prayer here. You can see it!”

Recently my wife and I woke up to the sound of her cell phone ringing in the night. I wasn’t sure how long I had been sleeping, or what time it was.

“You answer.” Lyli handed me the phone. I didn’t recognize the number.

“Hola?” Nothing but silence. “Hola?” I tried again. I couldn’t hear anything. Finally, I hung up. The wrong number? A bad connection? Maybe just a prank call? The hour read 12:32 am, way too early for these kinds of shenanigans. I handed the phone back to my wife and rolled over to go back to sleep. It seemed a matter of mere minutes when the phone rang again, but when I looked at the time it was five minutes after one. I answered again.

“Is teacher Ruan there?” a young female voice asked.

“Teacher Ruan?” Who on earth could be calling, I wondered. “Teacher Ruan hasn’t been here for almost two years. He is working at another mission project now. Is there something I can help you with? Who is this?”

“That doesn’t matter. Sorry to bother you.” There was a click and then the dial tone.

Puzzled, I asked my wife who it could be, but neither of us recognized the voice. I was too tired to spend much time thinking about it. I was quite sure whoever it was wouldn’t call back again. Wrong. A few minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Teacher Kody, don’t be angry.” I must have been still waking up, because I missed her next words: “I’m about to do something bad.” Fortunately, Lyli was listening, too.

“I wanted to talk to Teacher Ruan, but since he’s not there, can I talk to you?” I was almost wide-awake by now and her plea melted my heart.

“Of course, I am happy to listen,” I assured her.

“I remember everything about the internado [boarding school] from the four years I spent there. I remember everyone, all my friends and classmates, Damaris, Joel, and Alcides. I remember the teachers, Teacher Helen, Clint, Mindy, Ruan, Monica, Teacher Keila. So many things I learned there, I should have paid attention. Oh, how I wish I could be there again. Someday I will come visit!”

By this time, I had narrowed down who she was to a couple possibilities, but the voice was still elusive. I sensed I shouldn’t try to press her too much, so I simply assured her of the love and mercy of Jesus, that He still has plans for her, and to not give up to discouragement and temptation, for we have a mighty Redeemer. I could hear her crying softly. When I offered to have prayer with her, she accepted. I know God gave me the words.

“Thank you, Teacher Kody,” she said.

“It’s nothing. If there’s anything else we can do, please don’t hesitate to call.”

Based on everything she told us, my wife and I decided it must have been Albricia, a student who spent her four years here but never graduated because of problems she got into during her senior year. She left the school and continued down the same road until reality slapped her in the face. Like so many girls here, she is now a single mom, facing the daunting task of raising a child alone. We continue to pray for her.

A few weeks after vacation, two former students, Max and Juan Carlos, came to pay us a visit. Neither of them could stop smiling and they ended up staying for almost two weeks, helping out in the fields and orchards and even teaching a few classes. They both took me up on the opportunity to share with the kids for worship, and Max accepted the invitation to preach on Sabbath. Their message in a nutshell was, “Take advantage of your time here, learn all you can from your teachers, don’t think that life is better out there in the world. We’ve tried it, and we wish we would have listened.”

What Max and Juan Carlos said sounds similar to a few speeches I’ve made in class this year. The message resonates with me especially, as I reflect on how God must look at me. I honestly don’t know how He is so patient. When will I learn to take advantage of God’s daily instruction? When will I learn to render complete obedience and to take His Word for everything it offers?

“Oh Kody, Kody, Kody! Hear the Word of the Lord.” Jeremiah 22:29.* That verse packs an especially powerful punch for me as I meditate on the almost exasperated urgency in that three-fold appeal. It reminds me of those powerful messages in Revelation 14, messages that we can’t afford to spurn. Oh, that God will cure us, that we will not be among the willful deaf! That we may claim His promise to give us the ear of the learned! (Isaiah 50:4.)

*I have personalized the original verse, which says, “Oh earth, earth, earth.” So you can put your name in there, too! That’s God’s plea to all of us right now. That’s what the flying, shouting angels with their solemn warning in Revelation 14 are all about.

 

By Kody Kostenko at the Bolivia Industrial School. Website: www.boliviamission.blogspot.com. Email: triple.ko@gmail.com