Joe & Beth Batchelder: Kenya has reinstated their covid lockdown as of March 26 including no in person dining or schooling, a nightly curfew, and gatherings limited to less than 15 people. Joe has continued to serve at the hangar connecting with missionaries to find out needs and then organizing the personnel and supplies to meet those needs. Recently he and some teammates spent five days in South Sudan fxing vehicles & solar panels and visiting five villages to support the missionaries working with the native people there. Beth continues to homeschool the boys and care for their daughter. The kids have really started to develop friendships with the neighborhood kids which is a major praise. Joe & Beth are enjoying the fellowship of their small group that meets through Zoom especially now that they are not able to meet for church in person. They are studying the book of Habakkuk and ask us to pray for their church elders as they lead the church in this time.
Kurt & Christine Bekins: Christine's health caused the Bekins family to return to the US so she could have testing and seek medical advice. At her latest appointment doctors have ordered an ultrasound to check a cyst. She may need to have surgery which may give some temporary help. There are other health issues that need to be addressed so the Bekin's ask us to pray for Christine's doctors as they prescribe care for her. Christine had an appointment Apr 14 to check up on her heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenal gland output. The Bekin's have been blessed with music 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, continues to host the stall at the local Market passing out free Bibles & Biblical Literature.
Mike & Anna Cole: 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 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 hope this allows for more short term staff 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 have safely arrived for their short visit and will be heading back to Togo early May 2021.
Dan Cook: Kelly Ann Cook went home to be with her Lord and Savior Saturday, February 27. A celebraton of life service took place at Magnify Church (Rockford, MI) Monday, April 12. The service was livestreamed and can still be viewed using this livestream link: magnifychurch.org/kelly-cook-funeral/. Dan was in town for the service. He continues to monitor ministry in Brazil & Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning.
Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer's were happy to have made trips to Myanmar and Israel before the Coronavirus restricted overseas travel. Last 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: Kelly & Sherri's church were able to call their new pastor despite them having to go through the candidating process all virtually. Kelly has been busy leading a lot of final meeitings and teaching a session in ABWE's Field Preparation Seminar for new missionaries. He and a teammate helped to launch a new partnership for an ABWE Central Asia team. Sherri has been involved in a virtual weekly ladies Bible study with some of their teammates. Though Covid restrictions remain in their area the schools were able to open in February so Emma & Luke are attending. The Fath's ask us to be praying as they remain in a support/advisory role for April and May 2021. Kelly was involved in a Leaders Meeting for the two new regions April 15 while Sherri took a coaching workshop April 13-16, and together they will facilitate two more monthly Youth Zoom Hangouts for MK's. They plan to move back to the US in June 2021 and take a furlough July - December 2021. They ask us to pray for them as they close out their current ministry roles, pack up to move, take time to reconnect with their supporting churches and search what ministry role the Lord would lead them to next.
Tim & Tami Geysbeek: Tami's school has resumed having in-person classes every day starting Monday, April 5. This is the first time that has happened since mid-March 2020. Tim made three single-day visits to Mianoa in February 2021 and one two-week trip to Zaria & Kaduna in March 2021 to do more research for his book collaboration on the history of the Irigwe people and SIM's ministry history with them. Tim & Tami ask us to be praying for their visit to the states during June & July 2021. They hope to have some routine doctors appointments, gather supplies for ministry, and visit friends & family.
Caleb & Krystie Hague: The start of 2021 in Spain has seen record breaking winter storms. Almost everything was closed due to weather for two weeks in January. This allowed the Hagues to serve families nearby through providing a place to shower or share a meal though having others over is still not encouraged due to Covid concerns. The kids are still in school and much of their activities are running though visiting other towns is discouraged to limit Covid spread. Caleb continues to serve at the church through preaching in-person and providing livestream links so others who cannot attend can view or share it with others as an outreach. Krystie worked on recording 8 songs with video for a virtual Women's Conference with the topic of "Rejoice" that was presented Feb 27. The conference was viewed by over 3,000 people! The Hague's and the church gave out Valentine gift bags including a book on the story of Ruth, treats, & a note from them. Quick Kids Update: Elijah is excelling at reading & soccer, Lydia loves musical instruments though concentrating on the violin for now, Chloe is getting quite adept at Spanish and loves anything active, Eden is growing quick and loves to get involved with her older siblings and their pursuits!
Daniel & Kristina Herceg: Daniel hosts a stall for their church plant at the local Market passing out free Bibles & Biblical Literature. He and his partners distributed 1700 Christmas tracts and gave 1 Bible right before Christmas 2020 (Dec 18). On New Year's Day Daniel was able to lead two young men to Christ! Since then he has passed out 1300 more tracts and given 7 more Bibles. Daniel has had opportunities to preach and lead Bible studies as well. He and Kristina were able to paint the walls of the new building for their church plant and are hoping that it will be ready for meetings very soon. During the week Daniel teaches Greek IV under the mentorship of another professor so that one day he can teach at the Theological Biblical Academy. Kristina is due for their first baby (a boy!) in May 2021 and has been having way too early dilation. She has been put on bed rest until the baby is safely delivered.
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 Thursday Nights including crafts and Bible stories. Jeff's Spiritual Discussion Group stopped meeting in October 2020, but he is praying with the return of the softball season that they will be able to restart. They also recently started discipling a neighbor woman on Tuesday's every other week. The church plant they started has continued to meet in person on Sunday's. Jeff was able to gift six violins and three of four violas for the Middle School music teacher. He may be working on repairing some cellos for the school as an added outreach. The Minniears were blessed to have this music ministry of making stringed instruments supported through special gifts by some of their supporting churches and individual donors.
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 4 more months of training left including tutoring with language helpers, recordings, translation homework, and interacting socially with their learned vocabulary and customs (Goal: September 2021). 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 at the end of 2020 so that she could support her dad during his initial treatments. 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 and a few teammates went on a two day walking trip to tour other villages where future missionary partners could serve ending in a town where she could pick up some necessary supplies. She was flown back to her village with her supplies a few days after arriving in town. She is praying that the missionary family that visited in early February will join them in ministry. The husband is a native to the people group they minister to and feels called to come back and share with his people after training in another country. This past weekend Andrea was held up at gun point when going on an errand. Her backpack containing some groceries and her phone was taken, but she is safe and plans to take greater care when having to travel going forward.
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. Since then he was advised to go through chemo treatments and immunotherapy. A PET scan Jan 11 revealed that he is clear of cancer, but his recent PET scan revealed a small "something" in the colorectal area. Ron's procedure revealed that there is still a little bit of tumor and doctors are recommending that he have it surgically removed since it doesn't show any other areas of concern. His chemo will not be renewed, but he will still receive immunotherapy every three weeks and they will do another scan in some time to recheck his progress. The Pontiers are praising God for safety in a car accident that they were recently in. Their van was totaled, but thanks to coverage by the offender's insurance they are having it repaired and have been gifted with another car.
Andrew & Leah Postema: Due to closures Spring/Summer 2020 in Romania 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 is now praying for the remaining permits needed for the PACT Romania Ministry Center Master Plan and Rezoning. Please pray that they will receive all 21! While in the US on furlough the Postema's were busy visiting their supporting churches. They have arrived back in Romania (Apr 19) and are finishing their mandatory two week quarantine while awaiting the arrival of the shipping container with all the donated supplies to help develop the camp property. It should arrive the second week of May 2021. They ask us to pray for Grace's new marriage, Rose as she completes her freshmen year at Moody Bible College, and the rest of the family as they get back into the swing of ministry in Romania.
Ken & Jinner Rudolph: Ken & Jinner spent weekends in January and most of February at Lake Ann Camp so Ken could speak at four Freezeout Youth Retreats. Ken experienced chest pains at the second retreat, but through testing doctors confirmed that all he needed was regular sleep and less caffeine. During the weeks Ken & Jinner were able to travel to five states where Ken preached a total of 70 times at churches. At the end of February Ken was able to speak at a Men's Retreat and two churches in California. The Rudolphs plan to visit seven more churches during the rest of March and April. They are also praying they can finally travel to Germany in May 2021. In the meantime 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 the camp's needs.
Jesse Thompson: Jesse shared that they are now full swing into their new semester following winter break. He has switched from teaching history to geography and is thoroughly enjoying it. One of his new lessons included him dressing up as a sea captain to tell about Columbus' voyage westward. The school had to say goodbye to one of the teachers in February who had to come back to the United States, but they were able to welcome two new teachers to the team. He asks to be in prayer for the remaining school year as there is a chance they may have to switch to virtual learning again. Jesse has restarted his Albanian language lessons and met a new friend in his neighborhood. The church plant he is a part of has started hosting some planning sessions that are going well. He is also hosting a Sunday night Bible study currently covering 1 Peter focused on the suffering that can happen in the world contrasted with the glory of Christ and His second coming which brings an abundance of hope and joy.
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 despite the many complications Coronavirus has brought to their ministry.