Pray with Mark and Chris 
as they prepare to go to South Sudan 

 













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We are home after a year!

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Immediate Prayer Alert

South Sudan is in crisis!  War has broken out, with many killed or injured.  Thousands have left their homes for the bush, UN camps, or to attempt to leave the country.  Travel on roads is unsafe.

On top of that, an emergency food shortage has developed as a result of looting of markets, the inability to bring in food from neighboring countries due to road conditions, raiding of UN food storage buildings, and 300%+ inflation.

Please pray for peace, security, and provision for the people of South Sudan and the Harvesters family.

Catching Up!

We have returned for a "home leave" after our 1st year in South Sudan.  The last 6 months of our year were very busy.  Our responsibilities grew during that time as a result of: 1.) other missionaries and campus leaders going on leave; 2.) necessity as a result of some adversity experienced on the campus; 3.) Chris and I both growing in our ministry positionWhat do Missionaries do on "Home Leave"?

Connect with Family






Refresh and Renew



Fulfill Responsibilities with Harvesters

Budgets, communications, meetings, sharing, writing, reaching out to supporters, keep connection with both Harvesters' orphange campuses, etc.

Prepare, in All Ways, to Return

Chris and I are both in our 60's now.  Doctors appointments have consumed considerable time for both of us.  Each of our annual physicals went great!  I received a clean bill of health at my cancer check-up.  Chris is continuing to work on back and neck issues.  Prescription refills for a year is always a challenge.  This year, we also spent considerable time resolving an unexpected need to change health insurance plans.

Spiritually, the worship and preaching at CrossWay really have fed us.  I didn't appreciate how much we needed it until we came back to church.  Life groups, attended as we can, also nurture our spiritual health.  Fellowship with friends has also brightened our stay.

Finally, replenishing our supplies to take back to South Sudan has also been vital.  With Chris's dietary restrictions, some of her food supplies are depleted.  I am out of garlic sausage!  Shoes, clothes, gifts for kids, etc. are also material needs we work to fill as we prepare to return.

This is also our first time on "home leave".  We have gone through a process since we left the orphanage - a process that has included utter exhaustion, relishing and drinking in the family and activities we missed, and then developing anticipation about returning.  And, of course, we will need to prepare to leave our families - especially grandchildren - and others, again.

Prayer Requests

Peace and provision for the wonderful people of South Sudan, and our Harvesters family of missionaries, staff, and orphans at the Terekeka and Yei campuses.

For the resolution of food shortages in South Sudan

For the people of South Sudan to forgive.

For Chris's back and neck issues to be resolved.

For both of us to remain surrendered to God's will in our lives.  We are His slaves.

 

LESSONS LEARNED IN THE LAST SEVEN MONTHS!

Posted on February 5, 2016 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)





 

 

FEET

We cannot tell you that we have become more like Jesus by washing one another’s feet. But, what we can tell you is that in this area of the world, there is a real need to scrub your feet at the end of our hot and dusty days.

 

Lesson 1: Don’t go to bed with dirty feet!


FOOD

When we begin to grumble about our limited food choices, we are reminded of the Israelites wandering in the desert eating manna provided from heaven. “The rabble with them began to crave food, and again the Americans started wailing and said, “If only we had meat and berries to eat! We remember the steak, broccoli, fresh fish, strawberries, blueberries and salad. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but these rice and beans."


Lesson 2: We remind ourselves to be grateful to God daily for we are well fed. The people in our community often go hungry as some may eat only one meal per day or less.


FEAR

Nine days into our stay gunshots rang outside close to our room! I scurried to hide under the bed while Mark closed the windows and grabbed me to lead me into the bathroom, which was where we would remain for the next 1.5 hours. As we sat on the floor of the bathroom, we listened for more information, we prayed and we waited. We heard a knock at the door, which we initially ignored because we were uncertain. We heard another knock at the door along with a familiar voice telling us it was okay to come out. Still uncertain, we opened to find that all was now well. An armed robber held our friends, Don and Kristie along with their children in their house at gunpoint. Money was stolen and no one was seriously injured. However, it was a frightening event that took an emotional toll.


While travelling by vehicle, we were stopped by unofficial road tolls along the route. It required our driver to pay the bandits off. While it is a bit unsettling, the toll takers are looking for a bit of quick cash. After all, it is easy to ignore someone who is begging rather than those who block your path.


Lesson 3: Safety in a war torn country where poverty prevails can be unpredictable!


FUN

Fun is easy to come by when you have 160 kids in your yard!





Funny Tales

Lona who treats the kids owies and illnesses told Mark that when Mark returned from the states her son, Moses who is two years old stated, “My daddy’s back!”


Eve who is also two years old called Chris “Mark”. Maybe there is something to that Bible verse that states that “the two shall become one.”


Steven who is eleven years of age has been very busy studying on our porch daily. As Chris was speaking with him about his future, he stated that he would like to one-day come to America. He then stated, “I’ll know where you live.”


Many weekday mornings, we take a walk down our main road.  On our way, we greet our neighbors.  The children usually ask, "Kwaja, how are you? We respond, "I am fine, how are you?"  They respond, "I am fine, how are you?"  


Lesson 4: Fun can be exhausting with 160 kids!


LAST BITS!

Understanding cultural differences can be challenging.  Here is an illustration on time from a book called East Meets West by Lan Yiu.





Our Current Work on The Campus

We are busy gearing up for school, which starts on Monday. Chris is handing out and keeping record of the books, pens, pencils, sharpeners and rubbers (erasers) given to 100+ children. Mark and the Headmaster have hired a couple of new teachers. Mark and Dada are working on scheduling. We are insuring that the classroom locks and keys match and changing the locks that have lost their key. Teachers will begin this week to coordinate the beginning of the school year. The kids will clean the classrooms and playground areas when they arrive on Monday. Mark is also filling in for Operations while Mr. Mourice and Don are in the states. It is going to be a very busy time. Chris will begin teaching some struggling learners. Mark will also continue to work with Little Debbie when possible. We will each begin a youth discipleship group soon.


PRAYER

We thank you for all of your support and prayers! While we enjoy our ministry here in Yei, it remains challenging to live and work in a foreign culture and in a world where many of our neighbors are suffering due to poverty caused by unrelenting war.

Pray For:

Peace in South Sudan. For South Sudan’s leaders to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ!

For our continued strength and perseverance.  

For our trust in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the perfecter and finisher of our faith.

For our fearless sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we meet on our journey.

For our eyes to be open to the needs of others and for our willingness to meet those needs.


We pray often for our friends and family back home!  We love to hear from you! We miss you!  

Blessings,

Mark & Chris 


"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. " John 1:5




Seven Months In South Sudan!

Posted on February 4, 2016 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

LESSONS LEARNED IN SEVEN MONTH IN YEI, SOUTH SUDAN!

FEET

We cannot tell you that we have become more like Jesus by washing one another’s feet. But, what we can tell you is that in this area of the world, there is a real need to scrub your feet at the end of our hot and dusty days.

Lesson 1: Don’t go to bed with dirty feet!




FOOD

When we begin to grumble about our limited food choices, we are reminded of the Israelites wandering in the desert eating manna provided from heaven. “The rabble with them began to crave food, and again the Americans started wailing and said, “If only we had meat and berries to eat! We remember the steak, broccoli, fresh fish, strawberries, blueberries and salad. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but these rice and beans. “

Lesson 2: We remind ourselves to be grateful to God daily for we are well fed. The people in our community often go hungry as some may eat only one meal per day or less.


FEAR

Nine days into our stay gunshots rang outside close to our room!  Chris scurried to hide under the bed while Mark closed the windows and grabbed her to lead her into the bathroom which was where we would remain for the next 1.5 hours. As we sat on the floor of the bathroom, we listened for more information, we prayed and we waited. We heard a knock at the door which we initially ignored because we were uncertain. We heard another knock at the door along with a familiar voice telling us it was okay to come out. Still uncertain, we opened to find that all was now well. Our friends, Don and Kristie along with their children were held in their house at gunpoint by an armed robber. Money was stolen and no one was seriously injured. However, it was a frightening event that took an emotional toll.


While travelling by vehicle, we were stopped by unofficial road tolls along the route. It required our driver to pay the bandits off. While it is a bit unsettling, the toll takers are looking for a bit of quick cash. After all, it is easy to ignore someone who is begging rather than those who block your path.

Lesson 3: Safety in a war torn country where poverty prevails can be unpredictable!


FUN

Fun is easy to come by when you have 160 kids in your yard! Funny Tales Mark was told by Lona who treats the kids owies and illnesses that when Mark returned from the states her son, Moses who is two years old stated, “My daddy’s back!” Eve who is also two years old called Chris “Mark”. Maybe there is something to that Bible verse that states that “the two shall become one.” Steven who is eleven years of age has been very busy studying on our porch daily. As Chris was speaking with him about his future, he stated that he would like to one day come to America. He then stated, “I’ll know where you live.”

Lesson 4: Fun can be exhausting with 160 kids!


LAST BITS

We are busy gearing up for school which starts on Monday. Chris is handing out and keeping record of the books, pens, pencils, sharpeners and rubbers (erasers) given to 100+ children. Mark and Dada, The Headmaster have hired a couple of new teachers. Mark and Dada are working on scheduling. We are insuring that the classroom locks and keys match and changing the locks that have lost their key. Teachers will begin this week to coordinate the beginning of the school year. The kids will clean the classrooms and playground areas when they arrive on Monday. Mark is also filling in for Operations while Mr. Mourice and Don are in the states. It is going to be a very busy time. Chris will begin teaching some struggling learners. Mark will also continue to work with Little Debbie when possible. We will each begin a youth discipleship group soon.


PRAYER

We thank you for all of your support and prayers! While we enjoy our ministry here in Yei, it remains challenging to live and work in a foreign culture and in a world where many of our neighbors are suffering due to poverty caused by unrelenting war.

Pray For:

Peace in South Sudan. For South Sudan’s leaders to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Strength and perseverance to see us through.

For trust in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the perfecter and finisher of our faith.

For our fearless sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we meet on our journey.

For our eyes to be open to the needs of others and our willingness to meet those needs.


Thank you family and friends,

Mark & Chris

Four Months - Praise God!

Posted on October 17, 2015 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Settling In


We are settling into a routine here, as much of a routine as you can when you are part of a team that is raising and descipling 160 children. Children come each morning to get their book bags. During the day, we teach. Chris also counsels with some students, including into the late-afternoon and early evening. Administration of the school is another part of Mark's ministry. After school, students visit our house with various issues or school supply needs. We also get a chance to seek out kids and do what we affectionately call "walkabouts". The "Holy Wild" in South Sudan - This is NOT the jungle!


We have been reading a series of books by author Mark Buchanan, after initially reading his book "Your God is Too Safe" as recommended by the Lead Pastor at CrossWay Church, Jason Esposito. These books have really challenged us to leave the safe borderland of accommodating our faith in Jesus Christ into our existing life. The "holy wild" is where we abandon our safe lives and surrender to the will and calling of our Father God, "Borderland" and the "holy wild" exist in Slinger, Wisconsin and they exist in Yei, South Sudan. In all regions of the world, our God can be "too safe". In South Sudan, with a couple of missionary friends, we are supporting each other to BE CHANGED in every way, every day, as we answer the call to be more Christ-like.


The Holy Wild is the place of holy habits." 'He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' (Micah 6:8.) God asks us to be like Him - doing justly, loving mercy. And He asks us to be with Him - walking humbly. That is the shape of life in the holy wild."


Visit of Our Friends from CrossWay!


What a blessing! Amazing! Bearing gifts for what seemed like EVERY missionary, Dr. Doug Smith and Janet Smith arrived in late September for a short visit. We have missed them so much; their ministry to all was timely and rejuvenating. Amazing! Supplies were brought for the hospital, the school, the orphanage, the orphanage clinic, and the missionaries. Amazing! Doug and Janet, under the coordination of Kristie Butram, ran a health assessment clinic for each of the orphans here! A first! Amazing!


Kenya


We are required to go "on holiday" at least once every 3 months. Living on a compound with 160 children, teams of missionaries, and orphanage staff - living in community - can be stressful. After a little over 3 months, we were ready and looking forward to exploring Africa more. Our first holiday was to Kenya. What a wonderful adventure! We had meat, fish and eggs! We rode in a matatu for 7 hours to get to a safari camp. We went on a safari.


We visited college students sponsored by Harvesters who are attending school in Kenya. We took them each out to eat, and shopping - like Grandpa and Grandma would. We topped it off with a treat - ice cream! These young men are just a fraction of the 20+ students Harvesters sponsors for advanced education beyond Primary School. Spending this time with them was inspirational. They are mature, very thankful, and face unique challenges after living in the orphanage for most of their lives. They asked us to continue to lift them up in prayer. James and Aaron attend Kenya Evangelical Methodist University in Meru, and are studying to be Clinical Officers (similar to Physicians Assistants). Emmanuel is studying Electrical Engineering at Kenya International University Projects


We have made progress on 3 projects facilitate our ministry here on the orphanage grounds in South Sudan. First, as we shared earlier, the move to a house with a screened-in porch has provided us an area for teaching and reading with kids, as well as having them do art and listen to music videos. Just today (Saturday), Mark read bible stories to 8-10 kids on the porch for an hour as a steady downpour beat on the tin roof. The porch also serves as the center for "Packer Nation - Yei, South Sudan"! With encouragement from our Operations Director, a wonderful friend Donald Buttram, we have taken a small room in the back of the house and turned it into a room for Chris to use as she sees some of the orphans in a small group or 1-1 setting. It is great. We have worked in partnership with Harvesters and CrossWay Church on a long-range plan to upgrade the Primary School (preschool - 8th Grade). Bringing electricity, lights, security, Internet access, projectors, etc. restoring buildings and facilities, AND training teachers is part of a 3-4 year plan of implementation as Harvesters seeks to have the #1 school in South Sudan. Did You Know? CrossWay Church of Germantown is our "sending agency" and supports us with prayer and financially in our ministry. Thank you.


A "rubber" here is an eraser for work done in pencil. Has made for some interesting conversations when students come to our door after dark to get needed school supplies!

Riding a matatu across the country of Kenya (about 7 hours) is not, DEFINITELY NOT for a pair of 60 year olds from the US! "Google" it to get the full picture.

A blackboard eraser is a "duster". The 2nd largest slum in the world is in Nairobi, Kenya. We saw it. We saw a lot of poverty throughout Kenya, though Nairobi has modern malls similar to those in the US.

A "plaster" is a band-aid.

The period at the end of a sentence is called a full stop.  

When kids come to our door, we ask them, "whose there?"  The answer, "Me".  

As part of being a missionary with Harvesters, we are required to get off the orphanage grounds for at least 10 days, every 3 months. We are also required to come home once a year to de-brief and re-connect with family. In talking with missionaries outside of Harvesters, we have learned that these types of requirements are different from agency-to-agency.


Praise and Prayer Requests

If you see any or all of these 6 wonderful grandkids, please give them a big hug. Tell them Grandma Chris and Papa Mark miss them VERY MUCH! Oh ya, you can say "Hey" to any of our 6 children as well, if you happen to see them! Praise God for the team from CrossWay that gathers periodically to lift up in prayer the needs of all of the missionaries serving Harvesters in South Sudan. What a tremendous blessing it is to know others are specifically praying for you! Thank you all for your prayers.

Pray for the wonderful people of South Sudan. As the economy continues to spiral down and the civil war surges despite a peace agreement, the people suffer. Pray for provision and safety for them, and peace for the nation.

Pray for all of the missionaries here. Pray that the particular challenges each of us face will bring us to surrender them to God, and rejoice. Rejoice! Also, pray we will each have the humility of Philippians 2.

Pray for safety in South Sudan. Safety for all. A hedge of protection for the orphans, staff and missionaries in Terekeka and South Sudan.

Pray for unnamed orphans here at the Yei orphanage and their health issues. Pray for God's hands of healing upon each of them. Pray for wisdom for Chris and Mark as we fulfill the various day-to-day responsibilities of our ministries.

Pray for a good result from Mark's cancer blood test, which will be done here in Africa in November. Results will be sent to his doctor in Wisconsin.

Pray for missionary nurse Lydia Blaubach, from our hometown church in Germantown, Wisconsin. Lydia has joined us TODAY for at least the next 6 months. We are delighted! This is her 2nd placement here, as she was here for 4.5 months in 2013, and the hospital is very thankful to have her back again.

Pray for the 20+ students from the orphanage that Harvesters supports in schools in 3 different countries.  Pray for provision for them to continue their studies, provision of finances and other support. Pray for their success academically. Pray for God to guide them as they live "in the world" but are not "of the world". Pray for their safety, and their courage.


Much love,  

Mark and Chris

Two Months and Counting!

Posted on August 22, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (1)


."What?  We have been here over 2 months?"

Sometimes, it feels like we arrived yesterday.  We are learning, growing, still making relationships, learning the language, still learning names - yes, still finding our way.  We make language mistakes - especially Mark on our daily walk - and we just smile and laugh with the South Sudanese.

Sometimes, it feels like we have been here a long time.  This has grown to be our home, a 2nd home, and we love it here.  We are having SO much fun.  We have developed relationships with kids and adults - they are our friends, our loved ones, and bring tears to our eyes.  We have moved to a new quarters, had an armed robbery on the grounds, dealt with the insecurity and the "emotional roller coaster" a civil war creates.  At the open produce market the other day, Chris spontaneously asked, "Ita indu shikumariki?  Ma com?"  (Do you have this particular kind of greens?  How much?)  She totally nailed it!


So, what's up?




1. Language Lessons

Kejia and Helen continue to give us lessons in Juba Arabic.  Frankly, we are amazed at the progress we have made and the fact that 2 people "approaching" middle age can learn a language.  "Anna bi ruwa fi suk Yamsabeat."' (I am going to the market on Saturday.)


2. Our "Regular Day"

6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Private, individual devotion time.

7:00 a.m. to 7:45 We walk outside the compound.

7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. Breakfast, get ready to teach, handout book bags to 30 1st and 2nd-graders.

8:15 a.m. School for teacher praise and devotions.

8:45 a.m. School assembly for praise, devotions and worship.

9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Teach, language lessons, school readiness with 2 preschoolers.  Lunch at noon.

3:40 p.m. 1st and 2nd graders return book bags.  Handout exercise books, pens, pencils,

5:00 p.m. Supper

9:00 p.m. Exhausted - bedtime - praising God for so many blessings that day.

Chris - counseling, house care, making book bags, supervision rounds of orphanage grounds,  etc.

Mark - meetings at school, orphanage leadership team meetings, supervision rounds of orphanage grounds, etc.

Weekends: prayer meeting on Saturday.  Church service on Saturday.


3. "Firsts"

Washing dishes in the shower.

3 days straight of cold showers.

Mark grows a beard and Mr. Mourice encourages him to shave it off by having Madam Josephine provide him with shaving cream and a razor!

Chris cuts Mark's hair.

Chris cooked in a solar oven we brought over here from the states.

Chris under "compound arrest", while we wait for her Passport to be returned after she lost it.

Mark does all the shopping during this time.

Living in a 1-room apartment.  

Cat eating smaller animals off of our window screen at night.

Rat killed in the dining hall. 

A rat stoned to death at the airport by one of the immigration officials. 

Armed robbery next door.

Shots fired outside our apartment.

Mark and Chris spent 1.5 hours on the bathroom floor during this ordeal.

Chris gave blood.

Phones with multiple SIM cards.

Chris tried to kill a fat spider on the floor.  As she did, little baby spiders scurried out in all directions!

"You need to be white on your skin but a black man inside." - teacher to Mark.

"I need to go in the shower so I can wash my dishes." - Chris.

"Good morning, teacher. I love you." - orphan to Chris.

A 12-year old orphan boy walked up to Mark, put his hands on both sides of Mark's face, turned his head down, and kissed his forehead.  Then, the boy walked about 10 steps away, came back and did it again!  All without saying a word, but a big smile on his face.


5. Scrabble

Many nights are spent playing Scrabble, either Chris and Mark alone at their home or with a group.  Tonight, we have a 7-person Srabble tournament.  Take no prisoners!


6. "How Safe is Your God"

Our Pastor Jason Esposito recommended this book, written by Mark Buchanan.  It has been inspirational, and Mark and the Operations Director are having a book study on it.  Chris, a voracious reader, has read it and working through another of his books "Spiritual Rhythm".  She also purchased another Buchanan book, "The Holy Wild", that we will also read.


7. Praise and Prayer Requests

- Pray for wisdom for Chris as she builds her counseling practice here.

- Pray for wisdom for Mark as he leads the school on the orphanage grounds.

- Pray for peace for South Sudan.  Pray for a hedge of protection, and provision, for the people of South Sudan as well as for the Harvesters family in Yei, where we are, and in Terekeka, location of Harvesters'other South Sudan orphanage.

- Pray for Lance and Kim Klepp, leaders and founders of the Terekeka orphanage.

- Pray that we both remain surrendered to God's will for our lives, seeking to glorify Him, with the humility of Philippians 2.


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


Thank you for your love and support,

Mark & Chris

We Have Arrived in South Sudan!

Posted on June 28, 2015 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (1)

We are very thankful that we have arrived in South Sudan and are settling in to our new home!  Praise God from whom all good things come!  All of our bags arrived with us, which does not always happen because the flight from Entebbe, Uganda is often full and the plane is small.  We count our blessings! Other than flight delays, our travels were without incident.  


"A Funny Thing Happened on Our Way to South Sudan!"

However, as Murphy's law states, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  Chris lost her passport somewhere between Entebbe and Yei.  John, who is the customs official here in Yei, was not happy.  While there was some discussion of Chris staying in the airport until the passport could be produced, thankfully that did not happen.  John graciously accepted the paper copy but restricted Chris to stay on Harvesters campus until the passport was found and a visa issued.  Chris apologized for the mishap and we were on our way.  Chris was now under house arrest which humored Mark.  A few phone calls were made and the passport was found on The Eagle Air Flight.  They would bring it with them on the next flight.  However, the next flight came and the passport was forgotten.  It came on the following flight. The visa was purchased and, after about 10 days, Chris is now free to roam outside of the Harvester's campus. 


"Ita ques?"  "Anna ques."  

We have begun learning Juba Arabic with a wonderful woman named Kajiah.  Her teaching method is similar to the method we learned in our training last year in Colorado.  We are practicing basic phrases with local people.   Helen,  a college student who we have come to know over our over the years helps us with our language drills.


We have also instituted a regular walking routine in the morning.  We older adults need to stay fit!  We are adjusting to the culture, climate and food. As we settle in, we are getting plenty of rest.  Our home is taking shape and we will begin work after a period of adjustment.  We are enjoying getting to know the new missionaries families here and catching up with everyone else!  We have begun to establish relationships with school staff as well as re-connect with old friends from previous short-term missions trips here. We are laying the groundwork for us to collaborate with all in the school and counseling areas.



Life on the Yei Campus at the Orphanage in South Sudan

Best of all, the kids are a joy! They had a special "Welcome Back" for us, and the outpouring from them has been wonderful.  Just today, Chris and Mark were reading with orphans during some of the kids' down time.. 

At one point, a 2nd grade boy looked up and asked Mark, "You have been here over 2 weeks. You are leaving on Saturday?" 

" No." Mark smiled.

"Next Saturday, after 3 weeks?" he inquired.

"No", Mark responded, "We are staying for 2 years.  We will leave when you are in 4th grade."




We were told in our training:


Missionaries over-estimate what they can do in one year, and under-estimate what they can do in 10 years.

We will keep this in mind.  Truly, it is God using us for His plan.  We have surrendered our lives to him, we are living outside of our comfort zones, we are happy, and giving God all the praise and glory.  He is a great and wonderful God.

Prayer requests:  

Pray that the adjustment goes well for us and our families back home!

Pray for God's will in our lives!  

Pray for peace in South Sudan!  Pray that Holy Spirit will change hearts and minds!  






Preparing Again - Praising God!

Posted on March 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together will all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”

- Ephesians 3: 16-18

We continue to praise God as, over the past few months, we have dealt with Mark’s cancer treatments and recovery. After daily radiation treatment and hormone treatment, the oncology doctors have released us to continue our purpose in God’s plan in South Sudan. 

 

Therefore, God willing, we are set to assume our 2-year commitment at Harvesters’ Orphanage in Yei, South Sudan on June 18th. In less than 3 months! Recently, we were able to Skype with some of the orphans while the CrossWay-Germantown team was there. Oh, it pulled our hearts so!

 

Prayer requests:

- For peace in South Sudan. Specifically, for God to take a hold of those in power of the warring parties, and cause them to act out of God’s love and peace.

- For safety and provision for the people of South Sudan, and our Harvesters Family.

- For continued faithfulness of us and the Harvesters team to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

- For continued health for both of us.

- For both of us to continue to surrender to God’s will for our lives.


 

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

- Micah 6:8


 

When you come to Harvesters in South Sudan, you will hear this refrain in church, at school, and in daily devotions:

Leader: “God is good?”

Orphans: “All the time!”

Leader: “All the time?”

Orphans: “God is good!”


 

Amen!

Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes.

Mark and Chris

www.whomshallisend.com

 

Mark & Chris January Update!

Posted on January 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Mark is over half-way through his 28 days of Radiation!  While he becomes more fatigued, God's grace shines through!  We feel blessed every day by our amazing God!  Read on to hear how things have gone for us over the last couple of months.  


Blessing #1 God Provides Rest


When Mark was first diagnosed, we spent the first week figuring out with the doctors which treatment was best.   We chose radiation and hormone therapy as it made sense based on the numbers and expected outcomes.  Prior to the beginning of radiation, we spent time in Door County reading, praying, walking, eating, playing scrabble and just plain relaxing.  We also visited with our good friends, Ned and Mary Anderson! This is when we realized how exhausted we were just planning and preparing to go to South Sudan.  The rest was welcome and we thanked Our Lord for it!  


Blessing #2 God Provides Strength

A couple of weeks later, Mark began hormone therapy and then, in a few more weeks, radiation began.  Both have been challenging, but, manageable.  Mark has had plenty of energy thus far to enjoy the many blessings God would continue to bring!


Blessing #3 God Provides New Friends in Jesus Christ


We enjoyed getting to know Pitter and Renato, two Brazilian MSOE students who joined us for Thanksgiving along with Chris's sister, Maggie and brother-in-law, Frans!  We had a great time getting to know these delightful Christian college students!  


Blessing #4 God Provides Love of Family & Friends

God's grace abounds as friends & family bring so much joy, love and encouragement!  We spent time with our dear friends Dave and Rose Klepp as Dave worked to install some new appliances we ordered.  We enjoyed Christmas Eve with Chris's children at her daughter's home and Christmas day with dear friends, Doug & Janet Smith.  On Christmas Eve, we imagined what it would be like to be in South Sudan on Christmas morning.  We thought about how joyful  it would be to watch the kids as they walked across the compound all dressed up on their way to church where they would celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. This was our Christmas paradox!  We loved being here with our children and grandchildren and yet, we felt sad that we would not share Christmas with the Yei Orphans and missionaries.  


Blessing #5 God Provides Grandkids & Sleep Overs



We planned an overnight Christmas Party with all six of the grandkids!  We opened games and gifts and played!  The boys spent the night in tents in the living room and the girls in the spare bedroom.  As sleep over parties go, they kept us up until 1:30 - 2:00 AM talking, laughing and pranking one another!  What fun!


Blessing #6 God Provides A Sense of Humor

Our Christmas Video

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Mark spent time in treatment, as well as cooking and clearing the mantle of the Christmas decorations on the day Chris returned to work.  Mark used to play in basketball tournaments with his brothers and sons.  The trophies from these Gus Macker tournaments somehow landed on the mantle!  


Blessing #7 God Provides Treatment that is Progressing as Expected

Mark's treatment is progressing as expected and at this point, he is experiencing fatigue, some dizziness and hot flashes!  We praise God that there have been no other side effects thus far!  


Blessing #8 Time To Prepare 

As a result of our delay, we have been given the gift of time.  We have had more time to study God's Word, pray and ask for guidance. We have had more time to spend with our children, grandchildren and friends.  All of this time has been very precious to us!  


Blessing #9 God Provides Encouragement

When first diagnosed with prostate cancer, our family, friends and fellow missionaries were also affected and, we have received lots of support and encouragement.  Some were a bit shocked by the news and began to wonder about the cause for our delay.  Some thought that Satan could be to blame.  Others thought maybe it is a test from God.  Still others that we live in a fallen world and as fallen beings, we will experience illness and suffering.  Lots of questions went through our minds as well!  God's Word has much to say on this topic!  One of the most interesting responses came from Denise Burrows who is a friend and missionary pastor who serves at Yei Orphanage in South Sudan! 


"We are thankful that you are receiving good care and have the support of your family and church near by. I wonder what God is going to show you in the coming months...so often He uses these times to reveal facets of His character that we have not had the time to see."  Denise Burrows


So far, God has shown us that he is truly a loving God who provides and sustains us through difficult times through the love and kindness of friends and family!  His Holy Word and Holy Spirit guides our very step if we let HIm!  "For in Him we live and move and have our being..."  Acts 17:28  We continue to trust that God has a perfect plan and perfect timing!  


Blessing #10 God Provides Peace For The Journey

During this time, we have drawn closer to each other and closer to God!  "Be anxious for nothing.  But, in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving present your petitions to God.  And, the peace of God that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 4:6-8  We are experiencing that peace as we rest in Him! 


Blessing #11 God Provides Opportunites to Serve

God continues to provide opportunites to for us to serve and share the love of Jesus with others.  


Blessing #12 God Provides Prayer Warriors 

We thank God for all of the prayers that your are sending on our behalf!  Thank you!  Prayer Requests!  Continue to pray for Mark's complete healing!  Pray that the Lord we will continue to lift us up and direct our path.  Pray that we will continue in His Peace wherever He leads us.  Pray for peace and provision for the people of South Sudan who are suffering due to ongoing conflict.

  

God willing, we will be in South Sudan this summer!


God Bless You,

Mark & Chris


 

 

 




God's Timing!

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Dear Friends and Family,

After much anticipation, preparation and goodbyes, we were due to leave for South Sudan on October 23rd.  Last week Mark had a biopsy on his prostate which resulted in a cancer diagnosis.  Today we have a consultation with Mark's doctor to go over the results and develop a treatment plan. While this is a very treatable cancer, the doctor indicated that based on the results, Mark should not delay treatment.  As a result, we are postponing our trip to South Sudan.  While we and those who support us are sad and disappointed, we trust in God's timing and will rely on him to pull us through this time.  We will keep you informed.  Thank you in advance for all of your many prayers!  We trust in  OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!  

Blessings,

Mark & Chris


Continuing to Prepare!

Posted on August 16, 2014 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (1)

       

Grandchildren Baker and Olivia Metz at Caleb and Keegan's Wedding!  

We can't believe it is the end of August!  So much has happened in such a short time.  We completed our MTI training at the end of July.  It was very fruitful and we thank God for all of the great new friendships.  The last two weeks we learned about conflict styles, cultural influences and communication styles.  We explored the meaning of the Sabbath, issues of grief and loss and engaged in various role plays including a hostage simulation.  So much to be thankful for as we move forward and yet many sad feelings as well due to losses we are experiencing along the way. The MTI trainers called this a paradox or a pair of ducks (yeah ducks and yuck ducks).  

 

We left a few days early due to the need to be home early to ready ourselves for the sale of our home.  We sold both the house and the cottage prior to leaving for our training.  We closed on the cottage while there.  We closed on the house upon our return.  We also purchased a condoand moved in the day prior to the closings.  All praise to our Lord, Jesus Christ! We will especially miss our cottage where many fond memories of family and friends were made! 


We are now settling into our new condo.  Family came to stay with us for Caleb (Mark's son) and Keegan's wedding this weekend.  We had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends!  The wedding was beautiful and we could not be happier for both of them.  We said our good byes to them as they will be leaving for Florida. Sadly, we will not see them again prior to our leaving for Africa.  


Our tickets are purchased for South Sudan thanks to the hard work of Rose Klepp!  Unfortunately, South Sudan is still in turmoil.  However, the Yei area and Orphanage remain calm.  Please continue to pray as the country continues to struggle and there are many displaced people who are suffering.   


We continue to thank you and ask for your prayers and support as we begin to say goodbye to our family and friends!  "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."  Proverbs 19:21.  God willing, we will leave for South Sudan on October 23rd.  God Is Good All The Time!  


God Bless you,

 

Mark and Chris




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