Dear New Life Friends,
We just sent another work team on their way back to Florida. Sandy and I started the New Life Center in 2000 and this was the 30th team that has come to minister with us. It was a very special team for us personally because they came from Aloma UMC, Winter Park, Florida. This was the church that Sandy and I were married in 29 years ago, AND also the church that sent us to Africa for the first time in 1982. Aloma has always been very active in missions, however as far as we know, they had not sent another team to Africa since 1982. Aloma played a very important role in the life of our family and our own spiritual growth down through the years. The special time with this team has made us feel like life has made a full circle. Another amazing point was that fellow missionaries, Ken & Lorraine Enright, who visited Aloma in the 1980’s, encouraged us to come visit them in Zaire those many years ago. As you know from our last “mission update”, Ken just passed over to glory last month. This team was present at Ken’s funeral celebration as well.
Ken’s funeral celebration was truly a special day. All five of their children were there and at least another 1000 from all over Africa. Ken had been one of my spiritual fathers for over 20 years. He taught me so much about life and missions. He was a true hero of our faith. I will hear his voice and laughter and remember his views and example on life forever. He will be missed by all, but what a joy heaven will be. Lorraine plans to stay right here for now and continue to minister. Please keep Lorraine and the family in prayer.
It truly was amazing what the Aloma team was able to accomplish while here. The members of this team were; Cathy & Rick Hatcher (team leaders), Mark & Ruthanne Jaeger, Kathy Byrd, Diane Matheney, and Libby Boyette. We are just hoping they come back at some point again. I’m sure if your church or group wanted to hear, in person, about their time here they would love to share with you. You can contact Cathy & Rick Hatcher (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information on that.
I’m going to cheat a bit on this “mission update” and use parts of some emails that Libby (a school teacher), wrote to Aloma while here. Her notes really summed up their experiences. It’s hard to add to perfection. I’m only going to attach a bunch of pictures and make them as small as I can hoping you can open them all. If not, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
Delbert & Sandy Groves
For pictures of the Aloma Teams visit please click HERE
I can’t believe this is our last full day with the Groves. We leave in the morning to go to Lusaka. On the way we’ll deliver 10 PETs, 2 of which are smaller because they’re for children. We’ll spend the night in Lusaka then drive another 6-7 hours down to Livingstone. We’ll be sleeping in a “tent hotel,” and will have opportunities to see big game animals like hippos, rhinos, giraffes and elephants. It’ll be an adventure! We fly out of Livingstone on Saturday.
This past Friday and Saturday we conducted Bible Camp at Chibuluma United Methodist Church, a more rural and impoverished area than the one we were in last weekend. We had about 120ish children in all. We did crafts and Bible stories and music with them and had an absolute blast. We also fell madly in love with the children again this weekend! We also had some very devoted, Spirit-filled adults to help us with interpreting and with the hands-on stuff. When I get back, I’ll try to email you some pictures of both the Chimwemwe and the Chibuluma Bible Camps.
Mark preached there yesterday and the church was packed. (We got to see our finished pews being used for the first time) Mark’s message was about surrendering ALL to God. It hit home with many of the people there. The pastor, Royd, is still attending seminary 2 months every year and has a few more years of schooling left. He thanked us again and again, but we told him it was we who were blessed and that we had been more than paid in full. The entire congregation sang to us in thanksgiving and prayed for us. They are so gracious; it was very humbling. Royd did ask us to convey their gratitude to all of you who’s prayers and financial gifts made it possible for the church to have pews and for their children to have Bible Camp. So from Pastor Royd and Chibuluma United Methodist Church, “Thank you for giving to the Lord!”
How beautiful it is to be with the body of Christ – all of us with the same Holy spirit alive inside. While we come from different earthly cultures, we are really members of the same culture if we choose to live in the Kingdom of God right here and now. We don’t have to wait until Jesus comes back to experience it. The team has experienced the oneness in Christ that the body is supposed to have, too. And Sandy and Delbert and their son, Nathan, have made us feel as close as any family could be. They send their thanks to you as well. Your giving and your prayers have truly blessed and refreshed them.
Although we’ve accomplished a great deal through the work we’ve done, (40 PETs, 20 church pews, 250 children at 2 Bible Camps, an organized shipping container, new work benches in the PET shop, brake jobs on the Groves’ vehicles) it hasn’t felt at all like work; we’ve had a lot of fun doing it and have been enormously blessed. This truly has not been hard. Pray and ask God if participating in a mission trip similar to this is what He wants for you. Trust and obey! There is such joy and freedom in that!
Thank you so much for continuing to pray for us and for The Groves’. Remember to daily lift up in prayer those serving as full time missionaries!
See you soon!
Our last official duty was to deliver PETs in a village near Lusaka while traveling down to the Livingstone area. The attached pictures are of 8 year old Marriot and his mother. (We believe that Marriot may have cerebral palsy.) He was anxious to begin using his PET and we are sure that in a week - or 2 at the most - he'll have gained enough upper body strength to move about on his own. His mother said that he wants very badly to be able to go to school. Having this PET provides him the freedom of mobility that will allow him to realize that dream. The PET is also a symbol to the recipients of God's love for them. They are no longer seen by themselves or the members of their community as cursed; they are loved by God! You were part of this! Your financial support and prayers made this possible. Won't it be wonderful to see what Marriot does with his life? Please keep him and his mother in your prayers.
Once in Livingstone Delbert took us to a game reserve and a national park where we saw elephants, zebras, hippos, cape buffalo, rhinos, giraffes and all kinds of deer/antelope. We also spent some time at Victoria Falls. This is one of the wonders of the world! You can feel it thundering in your chest and it's absolutely hypnotic - and wet! The animals and the falls were breathtaking! God's creations are so beautiful. It was clearly winter in Livingstone: Upper 30s at night (in a tent without heat) but by mid morning it was up into the low to mid 70s. It's good to be home, but I'm missing those 70s!