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.
fellow servants in Chad,
left the comforts of our cozy home in Chageen on the 23rd of
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
architect of the EMI team Eugene Fagen showing us his latest creation.
We hope to begin construction on the new facility later this year.
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.
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.
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.