News Update November 2013

[Home] [Archived news updates and letters

November 7, 2013

Dear family, friends and supporters;

For the past six weeks we have been travelling and attending meetings both in Chad and in Turkey. In the following few paragraphs, we will try to paint a picture of these weeks with an aim to, if nothing else, remind you  that missionary work is a whole lot more than just preaching evangelistic sermons (though it is nothing at all without them).  Architecture, accounting, psychology, and ancient history all figure into our story. We trust you enjoy our abbreviated travel-log.

Your fellow servants in Chad,

Mark and Diane


We left the comforts of our cozy home in Chageen on the 23rd of September after spending 3½ wonderful months in the bush. As our new pilot Andrew Mumford lifted the Cessna 182 off our airstrip and banked over the fields to the north of the village, the plains stretching away to the horizon were still flooded as far as the eye could see.

We were bound for N’Djamena where Mark and 3 other missionary guys would be working with a team of engineers, architects, and enthusiastic college interns sent by Engineering Ministries International (EMI) to design a new building for our missionary support center in the capital.  During the ensuing week we designed a functional, cost effective facility with new office space, 4 new apartments, and a meeting hall. Sometime soon, you will be receiving a prospectus from us about the project - on the odd chance you might want to help us build it.

Counseling and Psychology…

After the EMI team left, we embarked on the trip we’ve been dreaming of all year – to Turkey. To back up a little, Diane has been our mission’s  “point man” (or woman, as the case may be) for something which mission executives have come to call “member care”. The basic idea is that too often  new  (and sometimes old) missionaries crash and burn for lack of someone to help and encourage them. The “member care” people are the eyes and ears of the mission to keep that from happening, and Diane presently fills that role in Chad. So when we heard about a two-week inter-mission seminar being held in Antalya, Turkey designed specifically to train people like Diane, we jumped at the chance. It turned out to be a very worthwhile trip. The only down side was that the hotel was something of a health spa, so our hopes of eating all the tasty-but-bad-for-you things we never get in Chad were dashed on a plate of raw cucumbers and 3-bean salad. 

Financial management…

Coincidentally,  Team decided Antalya was the perfect place and early October the perfect time to gather its financial people from around the globe to discuss such invigorating topics as health-insurance (read Obamacare) and the like. So for three days Mark had a seminar rather more suited to his modest talents as Chad field treasurer while Diane plumbed the depths of the human psyche. Fortunately for Mark, and much to Diane’s chagrin, his hotel on the other side of town was decidedly not a health spa.

Christian history…

When our two weeks of seminars were done, we boarded a bus and wound our way through the Turkish highlands to the ancient ruins of Ephesus. There we spent four days in a delightful bed-and-breakfast and toured the streets of early Christendom in Ephesus, Miletus, Pergamum, and other ancient cities. As we sat in the remains of the Byzantine church of St. Mary overlooking the ruins of Ephesus, Diane recited most of the epistle to that church.  It was a special moment. A final whirlwind tour of Istanbul capped our journey. Visiting the Hagia Sophia, built in 535 AD, was a bitter-sweet experience. The glories of ancient Christendom had all they could do to shine through 600 years of Islamic abuse.  Every stone cross in the monstrous edifice had the arms chiseled rudely off. We couldn’t help but be reminded of the inherent  offence of the cross.

Home again…

This past Thursday, the Cessna again banked hard over our airstrip and settled onto its bumpy surface. This time, the countryside was bone dry. It seemed as though we had been gone forever. And with our return, all the cares and concerns of life in the village flooded back over us like a tidal wave. Most notably, a dear friend who we had been helping sponsor through nursing school (the father, no less, of the little girl Koyom who died in June for lack of antibiotics, and whose story we wrote about in one of our updates) had been diagnosed with liver cancer and sent home to die. We found him lying on a mat under a grass lean-to, groaning in pain, as his wife fanned the flies away. What do you say?



Description: Description: Description: EMI-team.jpg

Principle architect of the EMI team Eugene Fagen showing us his latest creation. We hope to begin construction on the new facility later this year.

Description: Description: Description: Termessos.jpg

The ancient city of Termessos might well have been Tolkien’s inspiration Minas Tirith. Set at in the saddle  of a mountain, it was the only city in ancient Greece which Alexander was unable to conquer. It remains unexcavated to this day and walking around it makes one feel like Indiana Jones. It was finally destroyed, like almost all Greek cities in Turkey,  by a massive earthquake.

Description: Description: Description: Hagia-Sophia.jpg

This picture was taken from the rooftop restaurant of our hotel in Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia (behind us) was the world’s largest church for nearly a thousand years.

Description: Description: Description: Mosaics.jpg

Since 1923, the secular Turkish state has declared the Hagia Sophia to be neither mosque nor church, but is now a museum. To their credit, they are in the process of restoring some of the ancient Christian mosaics which the Muslims plastered over as a matter of course after their conquest in 1453. The ones we saw were made of millions of little pieces of colored glass and tile and were breathtakingly beautiful.


Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2010-2014 Vanderkooi's Ministry in Chad
Last modified: August 12, 2014