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October, Part Two

Friday, November 20, 2009
On October 18 we had the privilege of meeting the good folks at Parham Free Methodist Church, and preaching there. Potlucks at Free Methodist churches are always delicious, and especially in farm country. We heard later that they decided to support us with a generous gift. Thanks, Parham, for your warmth and support. From there we travelled to Yarker for a joint evening service involving the nearby churches of Enterprise and Verona. The fellowship time afterwards was very enjoyable and, again, we were humbled by the supportiveness and generosity of God’s people.

It is so encouraging when others are excited for us when they hear of how God has been helping us and guiding us in so many ways, and also of plans for future ministry in Africa. So many people have expressed in various ways that they wish they could go, or are just happy for us that we are going. With many there is a sense of comradeship, because we know that we are all part of the same ministry. We know that they will be praying and giving while we are going. This really is a joint venture!

We left Yarker and got in late at Wesley Acres for the night. After a tired Monday filled with paperwork and administration, Minister’s Conference started on Tuesday. Blessings at Minister’s Conference included: reconnecting with friends and colleagues, stimulating, thought provoking, and encouraging sessions, I spoke with many pastors who want to have us come to their church to speak, and we passed along boxes and boxes of books to other pastors. It was hard to part with so many books, but feels good to bless others, and to be travelling lighter. We were blessed in return as many pastors made donations to the “Jesus Loves Malawi Fund.” We also had a new family photo taken at Wesley Acres. Glen Snider blessed us with his eye for a good shot, and a friendly chat as we strolled around to find just the right spot for a photo. We plan to update our prayer reminder bookmarks with the new photo.

No sooner did we arrive home from the conference than we headed out the door again to a friend’s house to do an evening presentation for a small group about plans for ministry in Malawi. They had missed our other presentations in Deep River, so this gave us a chance to tell the story once again in a warm and informal setting.

Just a few days later we were on the road again bright and early Sunday morning, heading for Kemptville and the North Grenville Community Church. The congregation there gave us a very warm welcome, as did our friends Pastor Dan and Ann Massey. After I spoke we were presented with a gift which left us deeply touched, humbly grateful, and newly encouraged. God had blessed the congregation with surplus funds, and they blessed us with a cheque right then and there. God has continually amazed us with the goodness and generosity of His people. Praise the Lord! And thank you, NGCC. After the service we were all treated to a cookout featuring one of the kid’s favourites: grilled hotdogs, accompanied by the fun of an open fire. Another chance to connect with some great people!

Back home, we had just one week to finish packing. And, wouldn’t you know it! Flu and cold season hit hard. We came out alright, thanks to God’s hand of protection. But people who had bought items of furniture couldn’t come and get them. And others, who were going to take our garage sale leftovers off our hands (for the free store in Pembroke) were so sick they couldn’t leave the house. Friends came to our rescue, however. They packed up the giveaways and carted them off, leaving us much more room to work, and even came back to help with the packing. Eventually others figured out a way to have friends pick up the furniture they had bought. Bookshelves and cabinets needed to be moved out. A desk needed to be disassembled. The fridge still needed to be sold. But it all came together in a beautiful way. Somehow, God worked things out so that all our larger items that we wanted to sell were sold and out of the house before moving day, which was Oct. 31st. And on that day we were once again blessed with a total of 13 friends who came together to help us move, while many other friends stopped by to say good-bye. A steady stream of boxes and what little is left of our furniture left the house for the truck, and Ken Franklin did a masterful job of orchestrating and organizing the 3D Tetris puzzle of loading our truck. By 1:00 the truck was nearly loaded. Only the cleaning and odds and ends needed to be finished up. But that took the rest of the day. Though we’d intended to leave mid-afternoon, we decided to stay the night. We were treated to Supper and Breakfast at the Merrills, and stayed with our good friend Nancy Schmeing for the night.

The drive to Charlemont was very long, but the kids enjoyed taking turns riding in the truck. The boys and I (Dean) had some great conversations. And Sarah enjoyed shouting “WEEEEE” every time we went down a hill. Daddy enjoyed playing along, too, mainly because it gave Sarah such joy. So we both had fun. Steffi was a real trooper driving all day by herself. She usually plays backup. But this time we were both at the wheel the entire day, until pulling into Charlemont over an hour late. Trucks move a little more slowly, and a soft tire had slowed us down, so we called ahead. But even at 8:15 there was a crew of 6 people waiting to help us unload.

When we got into the parsonage, another blessing was waiting for us. Not only had these wonderful people opened their vacant parsonage to us. But they had also worked hard at fixing it up before our arrival (we’re only going to be here 9 months, Lord willing), provided some furniture, AND, they stocked the pantry, the freezer, and the fridge with good food, and a bit of “cold cash” (gift cards stuck in the fridge). We have been made to feel very welcome here, and know that we have been blessed in many ways - especially with good friends.

October, Part One

Once again, it has been too long since we posted an update. But, thankfully, the whirlwind has lost a little bit of speed. October was a very full month. We packed a lot in - into the calendar, and the moving truck. In order to make our move to Malawi easier next year, we decided to get rid of as much furniture, books and other “stuff” as we could now, since we are not planning on storing all our belongings anyway. It made for a crazy October, but in between packing, sorting, running numerous garage sales and an ongoing furniture sale, wrapping up business, and giving stuff away, we also found a bit of time for goodbyes, and continued partnership building.

Early in October we were blessed by our friends in the Deep River Chinese Christian Fellowship. They held a wonderful goodbye party for us (complete with a fantastic Chinese meal), to which the whole local Chinese community was invited. Our hearts were deeply touched by the number of people who came. Many good friends expressed their appreciation for our support through the years of both the Chinese Bible Study and the larger Chinese community in Deep River. We shared a bit about our journey and why we feel God is calling us into missionary service in Malawi. And this very warm hearted group of people expressed their most sincere best wishes for the future, and gathered around us to pray for us. Thank you to our good friends in the Chinese Community in Deep River, for your generosity and ongoing friendship. We wish you all of God’s best in every way, and pray that God will use the Chinese Christian Fellowship to touch many more lives.

About a week later we enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving with our friends, the Merrill family in their beautiful timber frame home. We were thankful for such good friends, and a great Thanksgiving meal. And, our children had a chance to play with their friends, Quynne and Larkynne for an evening.

 We must have been crazy, but we wanted Christopher and Jonathan to have a goodbye party with their friends, too. So, more than a month late, we had a party that doubled as a goodbye party, and Christopher’s birthday party. It had a Narnia theme, and we showed “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on the big screen (thanks for the projector, Ken). The kids played a Narnia version of freeze tag, and Paulette Merrill made a Narnia cake. At the end, the children all received one of our prayer bookmarks as a reminder to pray for their friends. And instead of handing out party favours, Christopher decided that it would be more meaningful to purchase two goats for families in Malawi through International Child Care Ministries in their honour. The other children seemed to think that was pretty neat, too.