News Update from Mark and Diane Vanderkooi
Dear Family and Friends,
Life goes on in Chageen - relentlessly, predictably, and
at this very hot time of year, rather miserably. Translation, kid's
ministry, radio production, women's ministry, clinic supervision,
pastoral discipleship - to write all of it would be to repeat what
we have already said a hundred times. Yes, our life, like yours, has a
certain sameness about it, even in Africa. Having said that, we find a
blessed tranquility in the sameness. Even the unchanging heat lends a
kind of continuo base line to life here. Here then, for your reading
pleasure, are just a few highlights of our life.
are just back from the better part of a week in the regional capital of
Moundou. Diane attended the National Evangelical Women’s
conference with 6 Kwong ladies, and Mark, the designated chauffeur,
found a little downtime from the normal Chageen village routine to take
care of online business and correspondence.
The language barrier being what it is, none of our ladies,
Diane included, got much out of the actual meetings. (The national
leadership are mostly from the large and influential Ngambay tribe,
which as a rule are quite partial towards the incomparable beauty of
their own language.) Even so, it was important for the ladies from
Chageen to rub shoulders with more motivated, sophisticated women from
the cities. We hope that by so doing, they will catch a vision for what
they can and should do as Christian women in our own little corner of
the African bush.
women still have a long way to go. They really are “bush babies”, to
use our colloquial term. Diane laughed and Mark groaned when, as we were
loading our truck for the trip, two of our six ladies showed up with a
toddler tied to her back. Once at the meetings, they, along with the 3
other women who thought bringing a toddler to a national women’s
conference was kosher, were banished to the back of the auditorium.
Notwithstanding the considerable obstacles, Diane longs to see these
women become thinkers and leaders in their churches.
Why did Jesus tell the leper “Go show yourself to the
priests?” What was big deal about Jesus touching the leper in the
first place? What was significant about Gabriel’s announcement to Mary
that her son would sit on David’s throne?
most of us who grew up in a church environment, we sort of know the
answers to these questions. But not even our Kwong pastors, much less
our laypeople, know enough about Old Testament theology or first century
Jewish life to make sense of these passages. As a result, they
frequently regard Scripture as some kind of esoteric DaVinci Code that
you aren't even supposed to understand. So, Mark just spent a
month writing 270 footnotes for our newly translated book of Luke to
explain these and hundreds of other facets of Luke which would otherwise
be incoherent to the Kwong, all in the grand (and perhaps vain) hope
that pastors and laypeople will actually use them, and that Luke will be
what it was meant to be – a coherent, historical record of things that
Mark, Joseph and François are making the final exegetical and stylistic
checks of Genesis. We have scheduled two weeks in May with the Wycliffe
translation consultant to do the final checks on the book prior to
Finally, a few
years ago, Diane threw a pineapple top on our compost pile, only to
discover some weeks later that it was growing. We transplanted the
volunteer to our garden where we regarded it as a rather attractive, but
non-functional ornamental curiosity. Well, after a few years of
making leaves, it finally made up its mind to produce a fruit – a
pineapple, not surprisingly.
That’s all for now.
Mark and Diane