Joe & Beth Batchelder: The Batchelder's decided to come back to the US for the birth of their baby girl.They had to wait to receive their new daughter's passport and full family negative Covid tests before being able to fly back to Kenya November 3. Joe was recently able to fly a medical evacuation for a man who was involved in a motorcycle accident and needed to be transported to a hospital. He has been doing a little bit of flying and a lot of administrative work in the AIM hangar. Beth has been busy homeschooling the boys and caring for their daughter. The boys are learning letters and doing craft projects while their sister is learning to scoot around and munch on bananas. The Batchelder's shared at their Christmas party with coworkers they heard about how the local people celebrated Christmas for the first time. With no history of the commercialism of Christmas they only were rejoicing over the birth of the Savior. It was a good reminder for all Christians to have that focus and remember the true meaning of Christmas! They are also celebrating with the AIM orgainzation the realization of many of their five year goals including reaching more people groups, starting new churches, equipping more native church leaders and missionaries.
Kurt & Christine Bekins: Christine's health has worsened again causing the Bekins family to return to the US for more testing and appointments. They have been blessed with instruments for the kids and a vehicle for transportation while they are here. The church in Koprivnica is meeting in person while using safe practices and the team is praying for the reopening of in-person services for the church plant in Bjelovar. They have found a space to rent for studies and services once they are able to resume! Kurt and his team continue their radio ministry where they send out pre-recorded messages on Sunday Morning's on the local station in their area. While the Bekins are away their partner, Daniel, will be hosting the stall at the local Market passing out free Bibles & Biblical Literature. They distributed 1700 Christmas tracts and had someone request a Bible the week before Christmas (Dec 18)! They ask us to pray for outreach opportunities through that community connection. They also ask us to pray that they can visit some of those connections by the end of January if restrictions in the country allow it.
Mike & Anna Cole: As of August 18 there were 1,200 reported cases of COVID-19 and 27 COVID related deaths in Togo. There is a ban on gatherings of over 15 people and borders are closed to limit spread of the disease. As a result of the border closures only seven short term staff were able to help through the Malaria season. The Hospital of Hope saw about 6,000 new patients on top of returning patients starting in March 2020. The airport opened to all travelers and they have changed the restriction from a mandatory 14 day quarantine to an immediate negative test result (processing about 48 hours). The Cole's and their coworkers are hoping this will allow for more short term staff to be allowed to come and help. They had not treated any COVID cases as of the end of October 2020. The village Bible studies & team meeting's have had to stop due to the gathering limit, but the Cole's are praying that the government will change those restrictions as soon as it is safe. The Cole's shared that Anna delivered Judah Cole Monday, November 16 and both are doing very well!
Dan & Kelly Cook: Kelly’s progression of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia has included an induction round of chemo with a 43 day hospital stay, a second consolidation round of chemo followed by a fever with a two week hospital stay, an intermission at home waiting for her blood levels to raise ending with a second round of consolidation chemo and another home waiting period. A persistent fever following the second round of chemo sent Kelly back to the hospital for a blood & platelet infusion. Kelly began her third round of chemo Aug 24 and a fourth round of chemo Oct 19. The Cook's move to Florida happened Nov 6. A biopsy Dec 11 found that Kelly's cancer is not responding to treatment and she is not in remission. Kelly did not qualify for the first treatment, but they are moving forward with a CAR-T trial where they remove her T-cells, adjust them, and inject them back into the body to help fight the cancer. Dan continues to monitor ministry in Brazil & Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning. Dan still needs to go back to Brazil to sell their home, vehicle, and other items before shipping the last of their needed possessions back to the states. They ask that we pray for God's right timing to complete this. If you would like to assist in paying for some of Kelly’s medical bills you can send donations to ABWE designated as Dan & Kelly Cook: Cook’s Medical Expense Account #0110381-015. The Cook's enjoyed their daughter's wedding January 4, 2021 with a beautiful day!
Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer's were happy to have made trips to Myanmar and Israel before the Coronavirus restricted overseas travel. Over the summer they celebrated becoming first time great grandparents with the birth of their great granddaughter in May and the 50th anniversary of their missionary ministry & their 55th wedding anniversary in June. They were able to celebrate Cheryl's 75th birthday with family. Cheryl helped with the script and editing of BI's new video (use this link to view:https://vimeo.com/472965021/95c263d4b3). She also was able to facilitate a small group Bible study in between the Michigan closures. Eric meets with a Men's Bible study on Zoom. Together they meet virtually with their church mission's committee.
Kelly & Sherri Fath: Following the resignation of their senior pastor, Kelly served on the Pastoral Search Team and they are narrowing down the potential pastoral candidates. Kelly has also helped by preaching. He was able to preach virtually four times this past December. The Fath's shared that their Regional Conference went very well and has led to connecting virtually with teammates in other ways. They have been part of a Thanksgiving praise and prayer time, Youth hangout (18MK's), Christmas Carol Singalong, and meetings with the Romania team (Dec 2&9) virtually. They had a holiday movie night, game night, and planning retreat all online with teammates during the last weeks of December 2020. CEEMed will move into two new regions including leadership structure changes and a potential partnership with church planters set to start in the first half of 2021. The Fath's also ask us to be praying for the Kosovo Leadership Academy as they search for two more necessary staff members. They are rejoicing that the Church Ministries Institute in the Ukraine received a large grant to complete the funding of their designated wing at Kyiv Theological Seminary.
Tim & Tami Geysbeek: The Geysbeeks celebrated one year of being back in Nigeria (July 13). Both Tim & Tami finished the first semester of school and enjoyed their Winter break. Tami's school restarted January 12 (virtually with a new mandate for delayed in-person till Jan 18) and Tim's college courses will begin January 18 (already planned virtual). Tim is planning a few more trips in January to do research for two books. He is still working on writing the founding history of SIM and the other is a history of the Irigwe people. The Geysbeeks can walk and access the school’s facilities within the compound, but continue to wear masks during the limited times they are out in public. They shared that they hope to come for a two month furlough this summer.
Caleb & Krystie Hague: Spain was hit hard, but schools were able to re-open and are even required for families to take advantage of. Groups in homes are encouraged to limit by six or less and masks are required whenever you leave home. Caleb has been helping to provide and edit video sermons from their church. They have been able to provide in-person services since Sunday, June 28. They continue to provide livestream links so others who cannot attend can view and as an outreach for church members to send to friends and family. Their church had a wall taken down so they could accomodate more people while practicing social distancing in-person. Caleb worked hard to put up a moveable wall and reorganize following the demolition. Krystie worked on a kid's program to share weekly videos and a virtual choir video to send out. They were able to provide an online Christmas program where individual families did readings or shared special music pieces or short skits. They ask us to pray as they prepare to lead worship at the annual Portugal/Spain missionary retreat/conference.
Angie Loper: She has been able to attend the HHBC Morning services when health allows and continued filling her time by connecting with friends & family on Facebook or in limited groups and cooking. She has been experiencing some pain in her back so asks us to be in prayer for her. Her visit to the pain clinic resulted in some added information, a new salve which should bring relief, and continued physical therapy to help as well.
Jeff & Deb Minniear: Jeff & Deb are continuing to reach out to their community in Bowie, MD through devotionals Jeff posts on their church Facebook page three times a week. They have continued hosting Good News Club at their house on Wednesday Nights including crafts and Bible stories. Jeff's Spiritual Discussion Group has continued to meet up to this point, but with their county having the highest counts in Maryland some men are beginning to stay home. The church plant they started has continued to meet in person on Sunday's though it is possible that a rise in Covid cases may change that. In the meantime their ministry partners Ian & Holly Minniear have been able to form some new relationships with their neighbors including a Pastor & wife that may be potential future ministry partners. Jeff was able to gift his second set of five violins for a school the music teacher they are connected with also teaches at. He is now working on three 15" violas for the Middle School music teacher to build their ministry to more families.
Phil & Abigail Perkins: The Perkin's share that they are in the final stages of national language and cultural training. They believe they have about 8 more months of training left including tutoring with language helpers, recordings, translation homework, and interacting socially with their learned vocabulary and customs. Phil was able to attend a church conference in Ethnos360's furthest work in their region (Nov 2020). He was grateful to get a peek into the ministry life that he and Abigail may one day be a part of. Following a quiet Christmas together Phil left with a team of five other coworkers for a four day survey trip. They were able to get a good understanding of what it takes to live in that remote area, connect with believers there and meet their native missionary partners. A big step for planning their future Bible translation and church planting ministry! They are hoping to take a short furlough this summer.
Andrea Pontier: Andrea was able to visit for about a month so that she could support her dad during his treatment. She asks us to pray for her and her coworkers in South Sudan as they continue to provide local small Bible studies to the Lopit people. She is working on facilitating Theological Education by Extension for two men. This Biblical course trains pastors where they are so they don't have to leave their communities for training. She asks us to pray for more coworkers in South Sudan to the Lopit people. They could use teammates who specialize in medical, sports, youth, and literacy ministry. Andrea has gone back to the field this past week. She has a home assignment in the US planned for the spring of 2021.
Ron & Donna Pontier: After much prayer and planning the Pontier's decided to return to the US for Ron's cancer treatment. They were able to find a specialist in Kansas near where some of their grown children are living. They flew back Sept 22 and had an appointment for a preliminary consultation Sept 23. Ron had an appointment with a surgeon at the Cancer Center of Kansas Sept 29. He had an MRI Oct 5 confirming the placement of the tumor and then had a chemo port placed. Ron's firtst PET scan showed that his cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and liver. He started chemo Oct 23 and was blessed to begin immuneotherapy Oct 27 paid for by the manufacturer! Ron's four rounds of chemo have gone very well and he has even been able to come off his pain medication. His weight has also improved by gaining some pounds. He will have a second PET scan Jan 11 and hear those results at an appointment Jan 13 to see how things are progressing with his treatment.
Andrew & Leah Postema: Romania is open to essential shopping trips and outside activity, but they are restricting gatherings of size. The Postema's shared that they had to cancel their regular camping season though they worked with some churches to provide day camps. The team was approved for a challenging permit for the PACT Romania Ministry Center and believe that the remaining permits needed for the Master Plan and Rezoning will continue to come through. Please pray that they will receive all 21! Before returning to the states the Postema family was able to visit the property a few times for personal camping trips and were even able to take a few families along with them the last time. The Postema's have returned to the states for a furlough. During their time in the US all three children will be working to get their driver's license. They are busy visiting their supporting churches and are excited that First Baptist Church of Lowell is supporting their project to equip the camp with necessary items. To see the list visit: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f084bada82ba6f85-romania.
Ken & Jinner Rudolph: Ken & Jinner were able to visit some of their supporting churches, share at a Christian Academy, and attend a youth event at a church in Indiana in September. Six young people got saved at the youth event! Ken taught some workshops over Zoom for an online Student Leadership Conference in late September sponsored by the Association of Christian Schools International with about 300 students taking part. The Rudolph's got the chance for Ken to speak at Lake Ann Camp's Exiled retreat in October. Eleven young people got saved! Though Ken & Jinner would love to be able to travel to Germany they were thankful that Ken was able to send prerecorded sermons for the remote English Camp hosted by Camp Ahorn in October. They ask us to pray for Camp Ahorn in Germany since it is struggling financially due to the cancellations of many group retreats. You can give to ABWE: German Camp Fund if you would like to contribute to their needs.
Jesse Thompson: Jesse shared that he was grateful for the opportunity to connect with his students in discussions surrounding the study of terrorism. He also was able to restart his language lessons and enjoy a very nice Christmas party for all the school staff. He was able to go on a hike with the other teachers on Christmas Eve and felt really connected to how the shepherds on the hillside must have felt on that first Christmas night. He asks us to pray for bonding with the new teaching staff that have joined the team. He is happy to share that their church plant leaders were able to meet for a vision meeting. He shared that the school will restart January 18 and he asks that we pray that the staff would all be prepared for it. Lastly, he asks us to pray for him to grow in compassion for others as he has felt God's leading through his study on the book of Jonah.
Marilyn VandenAkker: Marilyn has family that lives close by in Roanoke and is happy to meet them weekly for a dinner and to play some games. When the weather is nice she goes out for walks twice a day maintaining the practice of safe social distancing. She asks us to pray for Calvary Baptist Church and the VandenAkker's former partner Pastor Larque Vaye and his wife as they minister in Liberia where the Coronavirus has created major changes to daily life.