Joe & Beth Batchelder: Coronavirus hit mid-March in Kenya (just over 100 cases as of April 2), curfew 7 pm – 5 am for all non-essential workers. After much prayer, counsel, discussion, and painstaking deliberation the Batchelder's decided to come back to the US for the birth of their baby girl. They didn't do this lightly. They made the decision on Sunday, April 19 after the US embassy scheduled a repatriation flight for US citizens still in Kenya. They left their home in Nairobi on Wednesday around lunch and arrived at Joe’s parents’ house in Sparta, MI about 35 hours later. They were under a 14 day self-quarantine in Michigan. They are extremely thankful for God’s providence and grace through that difficult decision and for the way He carried their family along through the day and a half of travel. They are happy to announce the birth of their daughter this past Father's Day and ask us to pray for AIM Air during this time of limited flying (less than a quarter of normal flights) and general uncertainty (possible ministry restructuring)! They also ask that they we pray for the ablility to return to help in Africa as God wills including the passport process for their new daughter.
Kurt & Christine Bekins: Kurt shared that they were no longer restricted to their homes (end of April), the cities (beginning of May), or the counties (May 11). A second wave of the virus hit Croatia though stricter measures haven't been set back in place (July 29) . The church in Koprivnica held it's last in-person service March 15. Kurt and his team are considering the start of a radio ministry and monthly in-person meetings to start their new church plant. Christine finished another year of home schooling and has found a Croatian language tutor for her to learn from. The Bekins reported that they are able to enjoy the park and pass tracts in the area villages while still practicing social distancing, but still wear masks when entering enclosed spaces. Kurt played in a soccer tournament June 30. The Bekins are continuing to meet weekly with a family for Bible study and hope to see hearts changed. They were able to support their ministry partner: Daniel as he got married June 27! Kurt was best man and Christine sang. Daniel & Kristina are now official members of IGO, an international mission agency. They will continue to partner with the Bekins in Bjelovar. The team's plans for camp and and concerts for the summer had to be cancelled and they are waiting on any large event plans until COVID-19 restrictions are able to lessen.
Mike & Anna Cole: The Cole family is grateful to have been able to take a short vacation to Cape Town right before the Coronavirus started forcing changes in their region. They did have to leave early in order to get back home before borders were closed for travel though they were delayed and had to go through more safety check points before arriving in Mango. As of April 18 there was only one reported case of COVID-19 in Mango, but the leaders have set a curfew in place to encourage the limit of social gatherings. Though the Hospital of Hope has setup a special isolation ward in case of COVID-19 patients they have still not had to treat any yet (June 16). Borders are beginning to open so the hospital is seeing more patients despite not being able to receive new short-term staff due to travel limitations. The village Bible study the Cole's help to lead has had to stop meeting for safety measures. They are hoping to move forward with building a structure to protect from weather once they are able to meet again in person. The Cole's are also happy to announce that they are pregnant with baby number 2 due in the late fall!
Dan & Kelly Cook: Kelly’s progression of treatment for acute myeloid leukemia has been 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 recently 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. She has recently been advised to consider the stem cell transplant since her levels have dropped and there is concern her marrow production is being affected by the chemo. Her brother has been approved as a stem cell match and is home due to covid restrictions so please pray about God's direction in this decision. Kelly will be meeting with the transplant doctor in Grand Rapids August 3 and is contacting other doctors to consider all the options. She would like to avoid this procedure if possible, but wants God's will. Dan had to cancel his trip planned for late March through mid-April. He continues to monitor ministry in Nicaragua with their team through video calls, email, and strategic planning. The Cook’s need assistance to pay Kelly’s medical bills amounting to $13,000. Donations can be sent to ABWE designated as Dan & Kelly Cook: Cook’s Medical Expense Account #0110381-015.
Eric & Cheryl Elmer: The Elmer’s had two of their grandsons living with them following Liberty University's evacuation of its campus. The young men have since moved on to stay with other family and begun work for the summer. The Elmer's still meet with Bibles International staff and connect with family via Zoom. They were happy to have made trips to Myanmar and Israel before the Coronavirus restricted overseas travel.They are celebrating becoming first time great grandparents with the birth of their great granddaughter last May, the 50th anniversary of their missionary ministry, and their 55th wedding anniversary this month (June)!
Kelly & Sherri Fath: Kelly & Sherri are in the US for a short time to meet with other ABWE directors, spend time with family, and connect with a few of their supporting churches. They have a photo session scheduled so they can update their email header and prayer cards to better reflect their growing family. They are celebrating the addition of 6 new long-term teammates that will serve in their ministry region! As a member of the board for the Ukraine Church's Ministries Institute, Kelly assists with fund raising for CMI's dedicated wing on the campus of Kyiv Theological Seminary and 2020-21 Budget. The pastor and wife of the Fath's church in Bratislava have determined that God is leading them to transition back to their home country of South Africa and hope to move at the end of 2020. Kelly was asked to serve on the Pastoral Search Team and participated remotely in the initial meeting this past week (July 27). The Fath's ask that we pray for planning and wisdom regarding their team CEEMed Regional Conference scheduled for October 17-22. They expect to make a final decision by early September on whether or not they can meet in person. Finally, they ask for us to pray for their trip back to Europe later this month (Aug).
Tim & Tami Geysbeek: The Geysbeeks are celebrating one year of being back in Nigeria (July13)! Tami's school will be opening August 5, but has yet to determine whether it will be in-person or online. Tim will start teaching "Church History II" for Jos Theological Seminary August 12 online. The Geysbeeks shared that their region's lockdowns have ended as economy needs are greater. They have opened interstate travel and some domestic flights have resumed though international flights have yet to be reinstated. 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. Tim is thankful to have been able to make his trip to Bida to continue research on the founding fathers of SIM before the Coronavirus changed those opportunities. He continues to write about the founding of the SIM ministry and is happy to have one of his sons using the summer to create some maps to include in the book. The Geysbeek's also shared that they have recently lost a co-worker and friend Dan Paternoster. They ask us to be in prayer for Dan's wife, Nancy, and family.
Caleb & Krystie Hague: Spain has been hit hard, but the Hague family is doing well despite facing a stay at home order similar to the US. Spain stayed in Phase 0, but they are allowing families to travel in a car together.They can have one parent take up to three kids on a walk up to an hour within a kilometer of the house. The Hagues are starting to be able to meet outside with their neighbors and interact while practicing social distancing. The kids have been busy finishing the school year remotely, swimming in the pool that just opened, and playing with friends on a limited basis. Caleb has been helping to provide and edit video sermons from their church. This past Sunday (June 28) was their first in-person service though they continued to provide the livestream since church families are still being impacted by the coronavirus. The Hague's shared that one of their teammates will be returning for a furlough and another retired though they will live close by and stay somewhat involved. With two colleagues taking steps back in ministry the Hague's will be taking on more responsibility so they ask that we pray for wisdom. This past week they had a wall taken down in their church building so they can accomodate more people while practicing social distancing. They will be installing some mobile walls so the room is multifunctional. They ask that we pray for the funds to come in to finish this renovation and for their VBS virtual plans to come together for August/September.
Angie Loper: She is following the stay-at-home order in Michigan and filling her time by completing puzzles, connecting with friends & family on Facebook, and cooking.
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 taught their Good News Club on Zoom through May 2020 with a record high of 6 students more than when teaching in person! This was the children's Bible club that they started at Pointer Ridge Elementary School as an after school program. Now they are planning an in-person VBS for August 2020 after receiving positive feedback from parents. Jeff hosted several Spiritual Discussion Groups May - July with men he has played on a softball team with. The men wanted to start meeting in person so they have plans for later this week (August 2). Jeff has continued to play on the softball team through short tournaments. The church plant they have started has continued to meet though they coninue to post recorded sermons. Jeff is using his added free time to build gift violins for the elementary school's string program. The Minniears are praying these violins lead to a relationship with the music teacher, students, and their families. He has made five so far and is working on another set of five for another school the music teacher also teaches at.
Phil & Abigail Perkins: Perkins are getting close to their third set of language evaluations covering oral & written language comprehension as well as cultural understanding July 24-25, 27, & 29! They have been doing a lot of training with their "Practice Teaching Group" where they are teaching through Genesis emphasizing God's intentional planning even at the start of the world. They have moved in to their new rental home, but want us to pray for friends of theirs in a neighboring village. Many of them lost their homes to a terrible fire. If you would like to help financially, you can either send a check to the Ethnos360 home office, for NTM Asia Pacific (Indonesia) NADR/HUMANITARIAN AID FUND, using the description "Longhouse Fire." Or, you can call the finance office with a credit card at 1-888-547-2460. They do celebrate the growth of their son Jonny who has started taking steps!
Andrea Pontier: There are now 4 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in South Sudan though there are likely more since testing is limited. Andrea's teammate Marlene is recovering from a back injury in a guesthouse in Kenya. South Sudan’s borders are locked down, but village life remains largely the same. Andrea was treated for a very bad skin & lymph infection with an antibiotic, but though the infection was cleared a fever began that lasted on and off for over two weeks. After her fever left completely, she traveled to the nearest hospital with a teammate. They received masks and volunteered the use of their vehicle to the hospital in case of a need. The hospital has since connected with Andrea’s team to let them know if a case pops up near them, they can call and a staff member from the hospital will come out to them. Andrea and Marlene are preparing to move to the village of Ohilang (40 minute walk from current village & 20 minute walk from airstrip) and are happy to have Ron oversee the building of their new home. She is grateful to celebrate the 2nd year anniversary of her arriving in South Sudan!
Ron & Donna Pontier: Pontier’s were helping their daughter’s team to build an extension to their air strip and a new home when the Coronavirus caused South Sudan to close their borders as well as Kenya and Uganda. They are forced to remain longer than planned (original departure March 30) but are thankful to have enough food and supplies to sustain them. They were able to assist Andrea who faced a bad infection followed by a fever and rejoice that they can be near by as she recovers and regains her strength. They were thankful for the two special supply flights that came and are grateful that a third supply flight (May 1) was able to come after many cancellations. This flight was approved since it also carried necessary medical supplies to the villages. They meet with their small ministry team twice a week and host Andrea overnight occasionally. Recently Donna was able to reconnect with her ladies small group in Entebbe over the internet. They are studying the Fruits of the Spirit and have formed prayer partners as well.
Andrew & Leah Postema: 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. The family will also be preparing Rose to join Grace at Moody Bible College in the fall. 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 are working with the churches to provide some day camps. They were 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! The Postema family has been able to visit the property a few times for personal camping trips and were able to take a few families along with them the last time.
Ken & Jinner Rudolph: Ken & Jinner were able to visit some supporting churches and speak at three Lake Ann winter retreats before COVID-19 changed all their plans. They have had to cancel a few planned trips, but are grateful to have an opportunity to have their first sabbatical from ministry in 43 years! Ken has begun writing a book about his life and what God has taught him that he plans to finish over the summer. He recorded sermons that will be posted over the summer at Lake Ann Camp last week despite being diagnosised with shingles! Ken has been able to speak to two Youth Groups via Zoom meetings and has another one planned for June 2020. He is looking forward to speaking during the newly announced reopened Lake Ann Camp Summer Season!
Jesse Thompson: This week Jesse shared that in the past month Kosovo has eliminated all enforced restrictions though they are still seeing case numbers of Covid-19. Jesse and the rest of the teacher team for the Kosovo Leadership Academy finished their last learning week of school June 12, but they are already working on lesson plans for the fall. He has temporarily moved within the staff quarters to live next to another teacher's family that has agreed to coach him in the Albinian language over the summer break. He also meets with one of the school's security guards in the evenings to learn more of the language over tea. He continues to dwell on the truths of 1 Peter in his personal study. He and some of the staff have started building a 9-square frame for the students to use next school year. The church that Jesse attends is planning to move into a new building and asks us to pray for God's provision in this process. He will be enjoying a beach vacation in Albania with some of the teaching staff in a few weeks!
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. 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 as they minister in Liberia where the Coronavirus has created major changes to daily life. Marilyn shared this week (July 1) that Pastor Vaye's wife and the wife of the Rogma Ministry director are both ill and medical help is difficult so she asks that we pray for their healing.