These archived editions of our newsletters since we married
in 1999 are
arranged with the oldest first and most recent last.
April 2000 - Diane writes on
finishing her thesis as a gift to the Neillim people with whom she worked in
her pre-Kwong days.
September 2000 - Mark and Diane
reflect on an idyllic life of service among the Kwong.
Christmas 2000 - Christmas
isn't a big deal in Kwongland, but such as it is, Mark tries to make a letter
out of it.
Annual reports 2000 - a,
brief, whimsical (and serious) description of our ministry. It was originally
prepared for the consumption of our fellow missionaries, but we thought some of
the rest of you might enjoy it.
January 2001 - Diane bemoans the
frivolous character of our Kwong church services and Mark makes an appeal for
laborers in the swamp.
April 2001 - Mark and Diane
share the joys and frustrations of taking the Word of God into the hinterlands
of the Kwong.
August 2001 - Mark pontificates on the cultural undercurrents of
our recent problems with the translation committee, while Diane shares the
challenges and joys of two of the first Kwong ladies to learn to read.
December 2001 - How do you teach sanctification without aiding
and abetting legalism? Mark did his level best to do just that for the Kwong.
The Duke and Duchess of Chageen take center stage as Diane tells the story of
some of our friends in the village.
May 2002 - Missionary work in Africa is full of
ironies. In this newsletter a pagan chief welcomes the gospel while a
Protestant pastor shows contempt for the discipleship classes we offer his parishioners.
Also, on the back page, we describe the work which awaits us in N'Djamena for
the coming 12 months while our regular administrator takes his furlough.
2002 - Living and working in Chad forces us as missionaries to come to grips
with the more unpleasant, but very Biblical realities of the Kingdom of God
which life in America conveniently obscures. In this issue, we consider one of
these realities - the remnant principle, or, if you prefer, the "blessed
are the meek" principle. On the back
page, we bring you up to date on some recent news - from N'Djamena and
May 2003 - Mark applied for the FM radio license on a
whim and hardly expected or cared if he got it. He did get it - in record time -
and now with a virtual monopoly of the Kwongland airwaves we are looking to
broaden the appeal we make to the Kwong for the Gospel. Meanwhile, back in
N'Djamena our year of administrative duty has been completely overshadowed by
the discovery of 5 years of embezzlement by a trusted employee.
2003 - We had a rough year in N'Djamena, but we didn't have to think very
hard to count many blessings from the time we spent there. In this month's
letter, we share some of the very positive outcomes of this experience.
December 2003- People who spend too much time meditating on
their legacy get themselves into trouble - usually of the megalomania sort. In
this letter, however, we dare to tread these treacherous shoals, in the hope
that by doing so, we will, as the sage put it, "number our days and gain a
heart of wisdom."
March 2004 - The real struggles of missionary life seldom
have anything to do with the heat, flies, and harassment that come with living
in a poor African country. The real struggles come from finding that the very
people to whom God has sent you are often little inclined to cooperate with you
or God in the missionary endeavor. In this letter, Diane shares the travails of
her ministry among Kwong women.
September 2004 - Being a missionary is a call to stepping
outside out customary roles, going beyond one's training, taking risks that are uncomfortable,
and being, in effect, all things to all men.. In this letter we share some
of the many roles we have been compelled to play, both on the field and at home.
2004 - After years of anticipation - and not a few
second thoughts as the true complexity of the project became apparent - it is finally "show time" for the construction of
the radio station at Chageen - and it will quite literally be a miracle when it
all comes together. As Mark and Diane return to Chad to build the station, they
share their hopes, and appeal for prayer.
2005 - We would have been happy with a purely functional radio
station. Instead, the Lord gave us a station which is aesthetically pleasing,
and which we never imagined could be built with as few complications as turned
out to be the case. In this letter we share our joy at the completion of FM 95.2
in Chageen, and the recruitment of a fine gentleman to run it.
2006 - We make our plans the best we can, we hope for the best, and
then God has a way of doing what is best in His councils. Such has been our
experience with FM 95.2 In this newsletter we first consider the new realities
of the radio station, and then Diane dusts off a three year-old newsletter to
take a walk through the village of Chageen.
July 2006 - As with so much of
life, be it in the USA or in Chad, the people we work and our relationships with
them do much to define the seasons of our lives. In this letter, we pay tribute to two Kwong men who have made life a lot
easier for us in recent months through their sterling character and
dedication to the work of ministry. Then, on the Flip Side we consider some of the unexpected - and pleasing -
knock-on effects of the radio station.
2006 Wealth brings responsibility, and as by far the wealthiest people in
Kwongland, we can hardly ignore the suffering around us. In this letter we look
at the conundrum we face when as much as anything, suffering is the result of
foolishness. Then on the Flip Side we discuss briefly our answer to the
conundrum, some unexpected fruits of the radio station, and the fact that our
translation project is on ice for the time being.
2007 There is a pathos and brutality about life
in Africa. In this letter we share a short vignette of a situation which struck
us close to home. On the Flip Side we share our vision for a Kwong church will
will endure for the generations to come and what such a vision entails for us
May 2007 Nothing
in Africa endures forever. The continent is littered with monuments to a
missionary or development worker's dream-gone-sour. Some day, the Voice of
Chageen will fall silent and become, as it were, a mute monument to the
Vanderkoois. On the occasion of the dedication of the radio station, Mark acknowledges
as much and challenges his hearers to head the words of the gospel while they
yet have it. On the Flip Side, we describe another dream-gone-sour which had, at
the time it was written, terrible ramifications for health care in
Where is a new generation of missionaries? We can't help but wonder. They say
that Gen-X and Y want to "do something with their life". In this
letter Mark and Diane observe that a life-time of missionary service has been
(at least for them) one of the most honorable, fulfilling, history-making
callings there is, even if it does come with a price. On the Flip Side, we
tell of the revival of the Chageen clinic ... and one of the horrifying hazards
of living in Chageen.
January 2008 Language
is one of the most beautiful and powerful things on the planet. Every langauge
has its strengths, and its weaknesses. Even the weaknesses of a language can do much to shed light and beauty on tired, overworked notions such as hope. In
this letter, we see just how such a thing can happen.
2008 - This special edition of our newsletter was a 16 page full-color
review of our ministry from November 2005 to April 2008. It is here downloadable
only in PDF format - 960kb.
2008 - Three of our colleagues were killed this summer in Chad - victims of
a speeding bus which crushed them in their car. In this letter, we contemplate
the theology it would take to make sense out of their apparently senseless
- One of the most common questions we are asked when we are at home is
"What is a typical day like?" In this letter, Diane describes just
such a day - typical, that is, in that nothing in the day was predictable.
May 2009 - News
- News Update
2009 - News Update
October 2009 -
Praying missionary prayers isn't easy sometimes. One feels like he or she is
saying the same thing over and over again. In this letter, we reflect on this in
the light of Jesus parable of the persistent widow.
2010 - News Update
2010 - We work with a tribe, but we also work with real people - each one of
whom has a different story to tell. In this letter, we tell the story of a man
and his father and of the Christ who called them both to himself. Then, on the
flip side, we tell a couple stories which show that translation isn't always the
straight forward thing you might think it to be.
2010 - Special prayer bulletin for trip to Mobou to install radio repeaters.
2010 - Update after trip to Mobou to install radio repeaters.
2010 - News Update
2010 - In an effort to commiserate with the hard lives the Kwong live, Diane
performed an experiment in Kwong agricultural economics. In this letter, she
presents the rather sobering results of what became known as "the peanut
December 2010 News Update
2010 News letter - Mark explains why something he never thought he would do
- be ordained as a minster - was a good idea at this point in our ministry among
May 2011 News Update -
Announcing departure for 7th term
2011 News Update - Arrival back in Chageen after furlough and vignettes of
life in Africa
August 2011 News
Update - Accounting, telephones and Translation
2011 Newsletter - In this newsletter, Mark observes the seismic shifts of
the last 30 years which have shaken the word of missions and argues that the
proverbial pendulum of missiological thought has swung to an unsustainable
extreme. On the Flip Side we introduce our translators, their extraordinary
talent, and yes, their foibles.
2011 News Update - Baptisms are an important part of any church's life. In
this letter, we recount the excitement of a baptismal service at which a swarm
of killer bees also showed up.
4, 2012 news update - Discipleship, translation, and ministry to
February 22, 2012
news update - Report of a trip to Mobou and recording ecclesiastical history
2012 news update - Kawalke and a Kwong church in N'Djamena
2012 news update - Translating Revelation, unneccessary deaths, and a great
October 2012 Newsletter -
Mark ponders the significance of the dark Providence entailed in preaching to
October 2012 News
Update - Diane records the book of Acts for radio, Mark writes copious
footnotes, and that wonderfully reliable crop the Kwong grow called
January 2013 News update -
In part 1 of our essay concerning our ministry to children, we rejoice in the
joyfull rucus under our office windows.
2013 News update - In part 2 of our essay concerning our ministry to
children, we despair of the way Satan has so twisted the Kwong idea of child
June 2013 News update -
"In the beginning was the Word..." The travails of translating
the Gospel of John. Also, Diane finds unexpected opportunity to exercise her
gifts of counselling among the Kwong.
2013 News update - The unncessary death of two precious souls underline a deeper
problem in Kwong society.
October 2013 Newsletter
- Why is Africa always so bad off? In this newsletter essay, we explore
some of the more profound reasons why.
2013 News update - A trip to Turkey where we we stretched our minds as well
as our legs is the subject of this update
December 2013 News update -
The death of our dear friend Capitaine, keeping the qaulity of our translation
up, and our annual conference are the subject of this update.
2014 News update - Evangelism campaigns in Chad get a bad rap by the
missionaries, but we found out that they accomplish a great deal of good.
February 2014 News update -
Our colleagues Ken and Beth need to leave the field for health reasons. That
means extra work for us and the rest of the field.
2014 News update - Farewell to Chageen and hello USA
2014 News update - A note while we are home on furlough
2014 - Preparing to return to Chad
2014 - Raising the last bit of money for the N'Djamena facility
2015 - Interns, ministry, and a new nameless baby
2015 - A new pastor and Sylvie gets a name
2015 - Death in Chageen
- Sylvie, translation, and haute cuisine in Chageen
2015 - The stories of 5 babies
2015 - Volume 3, Orphans, and grinding poverty
2015 - Essay "In search of a mission station"
2016 - Christmas in the USA, translation, and finding students for the Bible
2016 News update - Travelling through the hinterlands of Kwongland to
promote the Bible school
June 2016 News update - Working at the
August 2016 news update - Getting ready
for the Bible school, Kingdom and Communion
October 2016 news update - A report of
the malnoutrition program one year on
January 2017 news update - The seasons
of life in Union City
February 2017 news update and essay -
Finished the Bible school building and Essay:Missing the poor
April 2017 news update - Saying farewell
to Diane's dad and finalizing 1 Corinthians
June 2017 news update - saying farewell
to Diane's mother and welcoming the Grays
August 2017 news update - Opening the
Kwong Bible school, and a legacy of two books.
September 2017 - Essay on death in
January 2018 - The death of our