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Celebrating in Liwonde

Sunday, December 12, 2010
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Wow! What a Sunday! We travelled with our Superintendent to one of the churches north of Zomba. He wanted this area to welcome us as their new missionaries and had invited all the pastors and their churches from that area to come and meet us. We enjoyed getting to know them, and I had the honor of preaching. We were thankful that many people responded to the message on walking in God’s ways. But, to our surprise the service was far from over: This was also the first Sunday of the new
pastor there, so we joined the church in celebrating his installation. What an exciting time. But church was still not over yet! We continued by baptizing 14 infants & children, followed by several older children, two adults, and finally received about eight new members into the church! Needless to say, we thought at that point that church would be over, but they only had a brief intermission to set up for communion, which was followed by many short speeches. Around 4:30 pm church was dismissed and we were served “lunch” shortly after that, followed by a meeting with all the pastors. (Good thing pastors/missionaries only work on Sundays ;)
We were really proud of our kids. They were real troopers today, sitting through a loooong, hot service, without food, and without complaining!
Of course, it helped that Sarah had a little nap.

Revival at Kondeo

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Last weekend I (Dean) had the privilege of ministering in a village alongside a number of Malawian pastors, and missionary Ryan Willson, at an area wide revival meeting. Churches gathered from miles around to worship and pray and reach the lost. You should have seen them sing and dance and clap and praise the Lord, in spite of the heat!
On our way into the village we had a light rain, which turned the dirt road into a mud slick. The road was like a hump with a ditch on each side. Slowed by the vehicle in front of us, we lost our momentum, and slid into the ditch. We were helped out by some pedestrians, only to slide into the other ditch. Helped out a second time, we landed back in our original ditch, but at least we were pointed in the right direction.

At several of the meetings, including the Saturday evening showing of the film Mary Magdalene, many people came forward requesting prayer for various illnesses and family problems, and many people prayed to receive Christ. I prayed for one woman who had recently tested positive for HIV. Another woman asked for prayer regarding tensions with her brother, and a third requested prayer for her son, who has been stealing items from the home to sell. A boy told one of our pastors that he wanted to respond to Jesus, but something else inside him was telling him to leave. Many prayed for him, and a demon was cast out. At one point while we were praying for him he was writhing on the floor. But when the demon was gone he was happy and at peace. The power of Jesus sets people free, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Another lady had visited a witch doctor, which opened the door to an evil spirit. Through prayer, in the name of Jesus, she was delivered.

There were hundreds of children at the revival. Saturday, during the afternoon service we had an impromptu “children’s church.” (Sunday School and Children's Church are very rare here, even though the average age is very young). I told the story of Nicodemus, and shared my own testimony of conversion and surrender to Christ. I had seen the enthusiasm of these children as they sang praises to Jesus, and wanted to encourage them to surrender their whole life to Him. When I asked who wanted to ask Jesus to help them obey him all the time, all the hands went up. I encouraged them to be totally honest, and not to feel any pressure to do something they weren’t ready to do. But when Pastor Soko led them in prayer the entire group prayed along with him. It was beautiful to see, and I pray that Jesus will indeed help each and every one of them to follow Him with all their heart. I know that they will face many obstacles and be tested, as we all are. And I know that some of them may not have fully understood, or may not have been fully ready, or fully sincere. But I believe that the Holy Spirit was at work, and that Jesus heard their prayer. He will be faithful to continue to lead them and help them to grow in Him. After we had prayed, Pastor Soko said, “now we need to sing a song to tell everyone that we are born again.” And we had a parade up and down the main road through the village.

Sunday morning I was given the opportunity to preach, and spoke about truly knowing Jesus (not just knowing about him), walking in His ways, and trusting in Him alone for salvation. Again, many responded, and were led in prayer by one of our pastors, who closed the service. Even though there was no altar call at that service, one man was so convicted that he asked to speak with one of our pastors, who also brought Ryan Willson into the conversation. He confessed to having an adulterous affair, and that very morning his wife had left him. God’s timing continues to amaze me! Now that he has repented, he needs to end the adulterous
relationship, and seek to be reconciled to his wife. Please pray that his marriage can be restored, and that God will be glorified in his life.
After the service there was a special offering taken, which had been announced in advance, toward the building of a larger church. The host church has outgrown its current building. (In fact, our service that day was held outside). While praising the Lord African style the worshippers celebrated the joy of giving as they brought their gifts to a large basket near the front. I can honestly say I have never witnessed a more joyful collection. It was a splendid day. The memory is tarnished, however. We’ve since heard that the money was stolen before it got to
the bank. One of the harsher realities of Africa.
One final impression: It was an honour and a joy to work with a group of pastors who genuinely cared for one another and sacrificially worked together for the sake of Christ. Several of the pastors had to travel a great distance to be there, which was a significant sacrifice for them in terms of time, effort, and cost. But they are committed to each other, and to Christ, and the way they ministered together bore witness to that fact.

Greenhorn Glimpses of Malawi

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Greenhorn Glimpses of Malawi

A Quick Update

Friday, October 8, 2010
Dear Friends and Family,

Things are going well here in Africa. As I write this, Steffi has gone south to Blantyre with Jen Willson, Katie Bartlett, and Mrs. Zimbiri for the Southern Malawi Women's Conference. Ryan Willson and I are at home with the children. Please pray that God will meet with these women and speak into their hearts exactly what they need to hear from Him.

Please also pray for God's strength and anointing to be upon our missionaries. Jen Willson is recovering from a bout with Malaria. Katie Bartlett is doing well, but still healing after her accident in late August. And this is all very new for Steffi. Plus, all of them are missing their children. So they need God's sustaining power to carry them through.

Some of you may have heard that Sarah had malaria, in spite of sleeping under a mosquito net and taking preventive medication. She has been recovering well, but just came down with a cold which set her back a bit. She has been playing a lot yesterday and today, though, so that is a good sign. Please pray for good health for all of us. Our bodies are being exposed to many new microbes, and need to develop new immunities.

We hope to send out a newsletter sometime next week to give you a little update. Before then, however, we thought you might like to have our contact information.

We will be moving soon - likely sometime within the next two months. But we will still be able to receive mail at this address whenever we visit the Great Commission Bible School campus. And we'll update you with our new address when we know it.

Dean and Stephanie Babcock
Box 30532
Lilongwe 3, Malawi, Africa

May God bless you all, and thank you for praying!

With Love,

Dean, for all of us.

Hello from Africa!

Saturday, September 4, 2010
Dear Friends,

We made it safely to Africa on Tuesday, and are somewhat settled in. Most of our belongings arrived with very little damage. But two pieces of luggage didn’t arrive with us. One came later, but the other one hasn’t shown up yet. Please pray that it will also arrive. It has some very important items, including some of our homeschooling materials, and eight of the textbooks we brought with us for the course Dean will be teaching.

Things are a bit crazy here for our teammates because of missionary Katie Bartlett’s accident (Sat., Aug. 28). In case you hadn’t heard, Katie and her daughter Lydia were involved in a collision with a fuel tanker. Katie suffered a fractured pelvis and shattered patella (knee cap) which required surgery at a hospital four hours from here, and is recovering there. Lydia suffered some cuts and severe bruising from the shoulder strap and seat belt, but they probably saved her life. She is able to play cautiously now, and feeling better every day. We are praising God for protecting their lives. Please pray for a full and quick recovery, and for the stress levels of those most affected.

Students will arrive at Great Commission Bible School on Monday. Classes begin Tuesday morning, and run for four weeks. All of us would really appreciate you prayers for the Lord’s hand to be upon this time.

Our kids love it here. (So do we). They are having a great time playing with their new African and MK (missionary kid) friends. Last night they thanked God for these blessings.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support, and may God bless each of you!

With Love,

Dean and Steffi

Almost ready for takeoff!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Dear friends,

It's about time we let you know what has been happening in our lives this last month or so, but where to start? Our days have been filled with packing, sorting, giving away, storing and selling our stuff, finding the right kind of overseas insurance, as well as life insurance, finding the best deal on airline tickets, learning how to renew our Ontario Driver's License while overseas (they expire next year), exploring options in order to not lose OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance) while being gone from Canada, making sure that Steffi has a "right to return" as a Landed Immigrant to Canada, getting the remainder of our shots (69 needles for the whole family since Jan.), attending a two week course in Toronto on cross cultural ministry, getting all our paper work ready and notarised to apply for a work permit in Malawi, buying school supplies for our kids for the next two years, as well as Christmas and birthday presents for them (there isn't much available in Malawi), saying good-bye to friends and family, and much, much more. Can you tell we have been busy?
The good news is: we are leaving in less than a week! Our departure date is Monday, August 9, but before we arrive in Malawi we have an extended stopover with Steffi's family in Holland. We are really looking forward to our time there, and the chance to relax and get over jet lag in familiar surroundings before we hit the ground running in Malawi. The last week in Holland Dean will be preparing the course he will be teaching in Malawi. We will then depart from there on August 30 and arrive in Malawi on the 31st.
One big highlight for us this month was our commissioning service at Severn Bridge Camp. Leaders from our sending church, New Hope Free Methodist Church in Bracebridge, and their sister church, Ryde Centennial FMC (which has also supported us from the very beginning) gathered around us during the Sunday Service to commission us, pray for us, and send us out. They have been such an enormous encouragement to us throughout this journey.
On a personal note, we've had some great opportunities to spend time with family and say some goodbyes, (mutually consoling ourselves with the fact that two years will fly by). Over the July 1st weekend (right in the middle of the course) we drove up to Thornbury, where Dean's mother grew up, to celebrate his cousin's 25th wedding anniversary. Congratulations to Jayne and Dave Randall! These two wonderful people not only organized a great family reunion and Gospel concert (Dave sings with the Torchmen), they also offered many people an opportunity to support our mission to Malawi, and a very generous collection was taken on our behalf. We owe a deep debt of gratitude both to Jayne and Dave, and to the many who participated.
It is interesting how God sometimes brings things full circle. Forty five years ago Dean's mother went to a Hewgill family reunion to say goodbye to her sister, Alice (Hewgill) Hicks, who was leaving for Africa with her husband, Floyd, where they would serve as medical missionaries for many years. During that reunion Dean surprised the whole family by showing up early at the Meaford General Hospital maternity ward. Aunt Alice got to see Baby Dean before she left for Africa. Now, this Summer, we found ourselves at another Hewgill family reunion, and this time they were bidding us farewell as we prepare to leave for Africa. It was a wonderful privilege to see Dean's whole immediate family, and most of his extended family on the Hewgill side, and to watch Mom enjoy her family in spite of advanced Alzheimers. Thank you, Jayne and Dave, for sharing your special day with all of us!
And just last week, on the Babcock side, we had a lovely gathering which had the dual purpose of celebrating 62 years(!) of marriage with Dean's Uncle and Aunt, Gerald and Helen Babcock, and, of course, everyone wanted to give us their well wishes and say goodbye. There were some very touching moments as the family gathered around ourselves and Gerald and Helen to sing and pray. Despite the toll Alzheimer's has taken on Uncle Gerald, he could still sing from memory the old familiar hymns he has loved for so many years. And even when the "fog" has drifted in, his attention is right there with you when it's time to pray. What a blessing it is to know God in any stage of life! And what a blessing it was to share those moments with Uncle Gerald and Aunt Helen and their wonderful family.
We should also mention that our appointment was officially announced at the beginning of July. On the recommendation of the leadership of New Hope FMC, and with approval from the Board of Ministerial Education, Guidance, and Placement, Bishop Keith Elford has appointed Dean to the New Hope FMC as Associate Pastor, Missionary to Malawi. We thank God, and His servant leaders, for this important milestone on our journey to Malawi.
So much more has happened, but we shouldn't bore you will all the details. Suffice it to say that we have felt so supported and encouraged by all of you who have promised to pray for us, all the individuals and churches who have sponsored us, and by God, who has been faithful every step of the way.
Our prayer requests this time are that God would get us through a very, very busy week of final preparations for the move. Please also pray for safe travels, that all our luggage will arrive safely, and that we will have no trouble at immigration (with fifteen bags plus carry on - including 31 textbooks for the Bible School, homeschool books, and many necessary household items). Before arrival in Malawi, Dean will need to focus on preparing to teach Church History. Pray for wisdom in preparing to teach cross culturally in an unfamiliar setting, and for the student's understanding. Pray also for the development of good relationships with the nationals, good adjustments for the whole family, and wisdom for every circumstance of life and ministry in an unfamiliar culture.
Once again we want to thank each and every one of you for your interest in us, your prayers for us, and the many ways you have supported and encouraged us.

May God bless you all!

With Love,

Dean and Stephanie Babcock

Thanksgiving in June?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
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Today was a very special day for our family: we celebrated Thanksgiving. Yes, that's a little strange, but maybe not quite as strange as packing up your family and moving to Africa ;)

So, why are we celebrating?

Well, it could be because we still had a turkey in our freezer that needed to be eaten before we move. Or, it could also be because it will be hard to get all the thanksgiving fixings in Malawi. But if you want to know the real reason you will have to read our newsletter - just click on the "Fullscreen" link below.

2010 June Newsletter
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Dear Friends,

Our April Newsletter is up. Please click on Fullscreen to enlarge the text.

2010 April Newsletter

Global Impact Missions Conference - St. Pete, FL

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Twenty three hours of driving over 2 1/2 days brought us safely to Florida. But we were refreshed a bit on the way. Our children love swimming, and the Lord helped us find a hotel with both an indoor pool, and reasonable rates. So, after checkout in the morning we took time for a nice swim. The icing on the cake for Mom and Dad was the Jacuzzi, which felt so wonderful on travel weary bones and muscles. Tues. evening we arrived in time for a very warm welcome and a good Supper at the home of our long time friends and “adopted family,” Bruce and Karyl Kaufmann, and, of course, a good night’s sleep.

Coming back to Cornerstone Community Church in St. Petersburg, Florida has been a highlight for us. Steffi was very involved there when she first came to Florida. Later, during her seminary years, she did an internship there. And during Dean’s four years in Florida there was a lot of interaction with both teens and adults from Cornerstone through his involvement with various events and ministries. So Cornerstone feels like home.

The conference started early Wed. morning with Breakfast with the “Summer Club,” a ministry to seniors. Each of the missionaries had a chance to share briefly with this group with whom we would become much better acquainted throughout the conference. We have really come to appreciate the supportiveness of Christian seniors (in all of our churches) for the cause of Christ through missions. They are great people with hearts of gold and generous spirits. We also heard firsthand from Pastor Rex Bullock about his visit with missionaries Jack Munos and Katie Zook, who were pulled from the rubble of a building in Haiti and medivaced out, first to Guantanamo Bay, and then to Florida. They are recuperating well, and are both out of ICU now. But Jack lost his wife, Jeanne, in the earthquake, and two other short term missionaries, Merle West and Gene Dufour, were fatally trapped in the rubble, as well. The fact that Jack and Jeanne Munos were scheduled to be with us at the missions conference was an ever present and sober reminder of the tremendous toll this earthquake has taken, and frequent prayers went up for the missionaries and their families, our Haitian brothers and sisters, and their country.



Thursday’s main event was a “Heartside Chat” with the missionaries going to different homes and speaking to smaller groups. We enjoyed a good meal and great conversation with new friends at the Kaufmann home. Friday we were hosted at the church for a “Missionary Appreciation Luncheon,” and back again in the evening for a youth service. Saturday was a rather full day. Dean had the privilege of speaking to the Men’s Breakfast, and several of the men said they really appreciated what he shared, and were encouraged to pursue the dreams God has placed in their hearts. Also, a homeless man came in while we were having breakfast, enjoyed a meal, and stayed for the devotional. He asked for prayer to overcome alcoholism. Pray for J.D.

Later that morning and afternoon, each missionary or missionary couple were given time to share what God has been doing through their ministries, and in the evening we were treated to several songs by the choir from our Haitian church in Immokalee, FL. Then their choir director, who is a medical assistant, shared pictures and stories from his trip to Haiti shortly after the earthquake. He was an angel of mercy to several badly injured people. And the offering that evening went to help the Immokolee church with several projects in Haiti.

Sunday morning all of us participated in both services, and had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a much larger audience. Between services we answered “Questions you’ve always wanted to ask a missionary.” We also enjoyed an inspiring and challenging message from Dr. Art Brown, the director of Free Methodist World Missions in the U.S. Another highlight for us was when award winning puppeteer Pam Lorenzo brought her puppets out of retirement to do a very creative rendition of “Please Don’t Send Me to Africa.” Pam is always a creative genius. But what made it more special for us was that Steffi worked with Pam and her puppeteers 19 years ago. It was working with the puppets, Sunday School, and Bible Quizzing programs in St. Pete that inspired Steffi to take such a keen interest in working with children and teens in Christian education.



Throughout the conference we thoroughly enjoyed making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and sharing our mutual love for the Lord. We want to thank Cornerstone, its staff, and especially Pastor Lee Crist for organizing such a wonderful event.

Whitby

Saturday found us on the road to Florida by way of Whitby, ON, but not until we returned home to grab our “twinrix” serum. Having had the first inoculation against Hepatitis A and B, we needed to have the serum with us on our trip in order to have the second shot about three weeks after the first one. Twenty minutes down the road toward Whitby we realized that in our haste to get to the International Banquet on time (at which I was to speak) we had left the serum in the refrigerator! Talk about stress! We had to go back. After a quick call to let them know we’d be late, we were on the road once again. All’s well that ends well, however. We made good time, and the banquet was a little late getting started. We arrived in time to get in line for some very delicious food, and had the privilege of sharing our story with a group of very interested and gracious friends. That evening we enjoyed the very generous hospitality of our friends, Myron and Louise Cooper and their daughter Pam. Sunday morning I was greatly privileged to have the honour of preaching the final message in the annual Faith Promise Ministries series, during which the good people at the Whitby Free Methodist Church commit themselves to honour the Lord by supporting various ministries throughout the year. They prayerfully promise that as God supplies the ability they will give a certain amount over and above their regular giving to the missionaries and ministries which their church supports beyond itself. We were greatly honoured to be included among that group of ministries, and wish to thank the entire church, the Faith Promise Ministries Committee, and Grant Sigsworth, who did much to connect us to the committee and to the church. After a very enjoyable meal with the Sigsworths and Pastors Vic and Joan Stonehouse in their home, we started our trek to Florida to participate in the Global Impact Missions Conference at Cornerstone Community Church in St. Petersburg.



All of the churches we’ve visited were not only very welcoming, but also very generous, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their friendship, for their generosity, and for their prayers. It has been a great blessing to experience the bonds of love and fellowship that we have between brothers and sisters in Christ. And we thank the Lord for the help He has given me to preach, and for the ways that the Spirit has been moving in the hearts of His people.

Cub Cars and I.D. Cards

Back home at Charlemont we had a busy week ahead of us, getting ready to be away for a month. But Wednesday night was a special night on which Christopher and Jonathan finished their Cub Cars in preparation for the Annual Cub Car Rally. Since Jonathan isn’t quite old enough for Cubs, he couldn’t enter his car. And Christopher had to leave his car with his friend, Ben Plank, because we wouldn’t be able to attend the Rally. We heard later that Christopher’s car placed fourth out of 70 cars, and that Ben had a blast being his proxy. Thanks Ben!
The next day we had to drive to Windsor to pick up Steffi’s “Permanent Resident Card.” This was a bit harrowing, since we needed it to travel to Florida. Steffi had applied for her new card back in October, but the government is months behind on getting them issued. The MP’s office helped us out by asking the office in Nova Scotia rush it to Windsor. But, we needed to pick it up in person. The only catch was that the office is only open on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and Friday is the only day you can pick up your card, unless it is urgent. Well, with a major trip scheduled for Saturday, we felt it was urgent for us to go on Thursday. So, we drove all the way to Windsor to find a rather tense waiting room. People ahead of us were running into roadblocks. When it was Steffi’s turn the lady in the booth said, “This isn’t urgent, I can’t give it to you today.” Steffi explained that she had applied months ago and didn’t think it would become urgent, but that the matter was now urgent. That didn’t seem to matter. Apparently they really go by the book, and the rules said we had to come on Friday. But when Steffi said that the MP’s office had rushed it to Windsor, that changed everything. The lady said “let me check on it.” She discovered that even though the computer file was not marked urgent, the envelope said “urgent,” and she gave Steffi her new card with a smile. As for us, we “went on our way rejoicing” that yet another detail had fallen into place, and thankful for both the Lord’s help, and that of the MP’s office.

Shots!

On our way home from Smiths Falls we had an appointment at the Missionary Health Institute in Toronto for checkups and immunizations. So we enjoyed an overnight visit with our good friends, the Sullivans, in Bowmanville, and then continued to Toronto. We were very impressed with the staff at MHI, and their ministry to missionaries. They make it their business to be aware of the various health concerns and risks associated with travel to various parts of the world, and help missionaries be prepared both to go, and to come back. (Believe it or not, “re-entry” can sometimes be very difficult). Well, between the five of us, we received about 17 shots, plus they took blood samples from Mom and Dad. The shots weren’t very pleasant. The boys were very brave, but Sarah cried bitterly, and informed us that she was never going to the doctor again. To brighten the whole experience and distract the children from their sore arms, we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza and some fun. That was a big hit. We’ve been asked if we could go back to Chuck E. Cheese sometime, but no one seems eager to go back to the doctor. We’ll have to, though, as there are more shots required. The next day was one of the grumpiest days we’ve ever had at our house. Everyone was feeling tired and out of sorts from the shots. But, we all survived, and we’re praising God for good medical care and for immunizations that will protect us from potentially deadly diseases.

Back on the Trail Again

January has been a very full and exciting month in so many ways. We’ve been to some great churches, and connected with so many wonderful people. We wrote in the last post about kicking off the year at Zion. (It was really nice to only have a fifteen minute drive to church). Our next weekend took us to the wonderful people and city of Belleville. Pastor Rodney and Heather Peterson were great hosts, and our children really enjoyed their hospitality (it was obvious they like kids). We also were privileged to reconnect with friends from Wesley Acres, and met some wonderful new friends. Their heart for the Lord was inspiring and encouraging, and we enjoyed a good visit over lunch after the service. The highlight of the trip for the kids was our sledding trips at the hill by the bay in Belleville. They’ve been missing snow and sledding, and the way things are looking, it may have been our only chance this winter!


The next weekend found us travelling all the way to Smith’s Falls, Ontario. It felt odd to be within 2 ¾ hours of Deep River and not “drop in.” But with a major trip looming just one week away, we didn’t have the time. On Sat. night we enjoyed meeting some new friends at the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet the church organized to honour their volunteers. And that evening Children’s Pastor Emily Arbo gave our children a royal welcome with a basket full of toys, sticker books, and snacks, etc. Sunday morning we were blessed by the worship, and joined the congregation in heartfelt prayer for Haiti’s earthquake victims, and for Pastor Angel Valentin, who was in the hospital awaiting surgery for two stents. (He’s recovering nicely). Dean particularly enjoyed meeting people who are close friends of his Uncle Floyd and Aunt Alice Hicks, who lived in Smith’s Falls for many years and are fondly remembered for their friendship, Christian spirit, and untiring efforts to serve the Lord and their church. It was a pleasure to minister to such a friendly and responsive group of believers. And after preaching two services, it was our pleasure to enjoy Chinese Buffet with Associate Pastor Randy Williams and his wife Leah.

Zion Free Methodist Church

Thursday, January 7, 2010
We’ve had two wonderful connections with friends from the Zion congregation in the last two weeks. When service was cancelled at Charlemont on Dec. 27, we decided it would be a great opportunity to enjoy worshipping with the Zion FM congregation, which is only about 10 minutes north of where we are living. And, as we were scheduled to speak there on Jan. 3rd, we were privileged to be there two times in a row. It had been about 12 years since we had been there last, and was a good opportunity to reconnect with old acquaintances and Family Camp friends. We feel a special connection to Zion for a number of reasons. We have relatives who have been part of that congregation all their lives. My father (Dean writing) enjoyed connecting with other young people there when he was a young man. And my Uncle Gerald pastored there for many years, so my earliest memories of visiting cousins include trips to the parsonage at Zion. So it was a real honour and privilege to speak there, and our hearts were greatly warmed and encouraged by the generous offering they gave us.

December

December brought a welcome break from travel. Early in the month we went to Trinity Christian Centre in Dresden, which is just up the road. I had filled the pulpit there a couple times about 11 ½ years ago. So it was nice to reconnect with old acquaintances, and share part of our story with them.

Next we had planned to travel to Bracebridge for a Christmas banquet on Friday night, a small men’s gathering Saturday morning, and then preach at Ryde Centennial at Hausey’s Rapids on Sunday. But that part of Ontario got socked with over a metre of snow in the space of three days. So, between their really bad weather (the banquet was even postponed), road closures, and our feeling a bit under the weather, we reluctantly decided not to attempt the trip. Cheryl Cooper reminded us that we should laugh lots, because that’s what God does when He hears our plans!

But staying home for the weekend afforded us an opportunity to attend Charlemont and go Christmas carolling with the Charlemont folks after church. That was a real treat, singing for some of our elderly saints, including a cousin of Dean’s father in her 102nd year, who was on her deathbed. She has since passed on. What a privilege to be part of that, and to bring a bit of blessing and cheer into the lives of others!

The rest of December was filled mostly with writing heartfelt thank you notes, setting up a new database to keep in touch with all our supporters and friends (big job!), the race to get our Christmas Letter out, starting to learn the Chichewa language, and Christmas celebrations. We were privileged to enjoy the Christmas Eve service with the Trinity congregation in Dresden, after which we took a tour of Dresden’s Christmas lights, and then had a bit of Christmas at home.

Christmas morning brought a nasty surprise. Neither the church nor the parsonage had any water! We figured we’d be fine “camping” without water for awhile, and decided not to let it ruin our Christmas. But “Babcock Christmas” was scheduled for the next day at the church’s fellowship hall. So we reluctantly called Bill Cornish, who left his family Christmas to see if he could fix the water. Now, you need to understand that our water comes from a well that is up the road on the side of a field. The pump is in a small pump house out there, and the wind was driving a cold horizontal rain right through our clothes. After many attempts over three different visits, and the pump not keeping its prime, Bill decided that the help of an expert was in order. Babcock Christmas was moved to another location, Church was cancelled on the 27th due to lack of water, and our water was finally restored on the 28th. I told Bill that he deserved to be sainted. We also need to thank Dave Huey, who came over on Boxing Day to lend a hand, and on two other occasions. (For our American Friends, “Boxing Day” is the British and Canadian name of the official holiday on Dec. 26). We had a good laugh, though, joking that this was a “dry run” for Malawi, where we’ll need to get used to interruptions in water supply and power outages being a regular occurrence. (Nevertheless, we were very happy to have running water again!). And, just in case you’re wondering, the system needed a foot valve at the bottom of a pipe way down in the well, which is why the pump was losing its prime.

And Christmas was wonderful – both our own family Christmas, and Babcock Christmas with our relatives. We weren’t able to travel to see Dean’s parents for a number of reasons, but are hoping for a visit later this year.

As 2009 has drawn to a close, we want to thank everyone who has shared our journey in any way. You have helped to make 2009 an outstanding year in our lives!

November

Monday, January 4, 2010
Well, it has been way too long since we updated our blog. It seems that there’s always something going on. But that’s a good thing, too.

To catch up we need to go way back to November. It started, of course, with getting settled in our new home, which is more of a challenge than it might seem, because everything takes too long until you get things organized. A simple office task had to begin with finding the envelopes, or setting up the computer, etc. Not surprisingly, the kitchen was the first part of the house to get set up. And we were very blessed by the full pantry that was stocked for us by the good folks at Charlemont. A few convenient meals came in real handy.

We’ve had a bit of adjusting to do regarding surroundings and physical landscape, coming from Deep River, which is a community nestled in the trees, with a beautiful view of the Laurentian Mountains across the Ottawa River, to wide open fields in Southwestern Ontario. When Jonathan woke up on our first morning here he looked out the back window at a farmer’s field. His first words were, “This is a highly unusual backyard!” The boys thought we had moved to the prairies, and have missed having woods to make a fort in, and nearby neighbours. But they’ve enjoyed some activities with a local Cub Scouts group, where they’ve reconnected with some friends from Family Camp. And we’re all enjoying living closer to part of Dean’s family. And the wide open fields give us a beautiful view of the sunset.

Our first speaking engagement after moving south and west, was back east. Pine Grove Free Methodist Church at Seeley’s Bay (north of Kingston), was very welcoming and supportive. We’ve already heard from them that they plan to sponsor us as a church, which is very good news. It was also nice to finally meet the congregation (and some old acquaintances), after having enjoyed the friendship and leadership of Pastor Jack Bradley for so many years. On our way there we had the privilege of staying with our good friends, Sean, Susan, and Rebecca Sullivan (Michael was away at University). They recently moved from Deep River to Bowmanville. At a time of such transition, it was nice to enjoy the hospitality of old friends.

We’ve been continually amazed at how well God has taken care of us. One of our “needs” right now is Internet. We have a lot of correspondence that needs to happen right now, for everything from setting up speaking engagements to getting questions answered re: preparations for Malawi, what to bring, etc., plus blogging, and just staying in touch. So, imagine how blessed we felt when the Charlemont church told us we could use the church’s WiFi, which can also be accessed from the parsonage right next door. The church gave us the password, and Dean was even allowed to use Pastor Paul’s computer or the church’s laptop so that Steffi’s laptop is free for a myriad of other uses (it’s amazing what a homeschool mom can find on the internet!). Suffice it to say that this has been very helpful to us.

It was two weeks into November when we finally got to attend at Charlemont to personally say thank you to the whole congregation for welcoming us into their parsonage. And it was great to reconnect with people that we hadn’t seen for several years.

Once the moving dust settled, it was time to begin catching up on office work that had been neglected. Sending thank you notes that we’d been forced to set aside became top priority, along with filling the calendar with more speaking opportunities. We owe a big thank you to churches who have invited us to speak – some in the future, and some on short notice.
Two such churches were Vennachar and Mississippi. Less than three weeks after receiving their invitation, we found ourselves travelling to cottage country and enjoying the fellowship of these two delightful rural churches. Our whole family enjoyed seeing pine trees again, we all made many new friends, and felt very blessed by the generosity of God’s people. To cap off a wonderful weekend, the boys were very excited to see snow when we woke up on Monday morning. So, before pulling out of Vennachar, we took a little walk in the snow and collected some Christmas greens. And then, on our way home, we all enjoyed seeing the cute, weird, and wonderful collection of animals at the Peterborough Zoo. It was a nice way to end November.