Living Extravagantly for God

Scripture Readings:   Psalm 42     Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

To view Jonathan’s Video, click on the photo of Jonathan below.

Little girl with bananas

Last week Pastor Jim introduced the FAITHFULsermon series about what it means to live as a faithful follower of Jesus. He spoke on the power and importance of our commitment to serve God and our church through prayer. During that service, we also had the opportunity to renew our commitment to Jesus Christ and our church by welcoming new members with the words,  “with you we renew our commitment to be loyal  to God and to Lake Deaton United Methodist Church and uphold it by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness.

These are powerful words…words of commitment to God and to a community of faith…words that remind us how we can quench that deep spiritual thirst and hunger we have for a relationship with God and with other people who will help us find joy, purpose and meaning in life. They are the words each of us profess when we decide to become a member of our NCUMC- Lake Deaton Campus or any Christian faith community. 

This week, we’ll be looking at what it means to be loyal to Christ and our church through our gifts (our time, talent and financial resources) and our service. Through the story about the extravagant gift from the widow in Mark’s Gospel, I’ll be focusing on what motivates us as followers to live out these vows and commitments. How can we live a servant life for Christ in a challenging world?  I’m really looking forward to the blessings God has for us in our worship together and I’m honored to be asked to share the good news this week! See you Sunday!


  1. What motivates you to want to live as a faithful follower of Jesus? Spend a few minutes thinking about people you have met that modeled for you what it means to be faithful.
  2. What challenges and/or obstacles get in your way each day when in your heart you want to be loyal to Christ? Are there ways you can better face these inevitable challenges; ways you can stay more God-centered each day. 
  3. What one goal would you set this week to be loyal to Christ and our Lake Deaton Church with your gifts and through your service?





You Are My Strong Tower!



The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

Even though this is a powerful passage and I truly believe it, sometimes this knowledge slips away from my consciousness. This concept came to actuality recently and will never be forgotten. (I hope!)

When arriving in Diengenga in June, the District Superintendent invited us to visit the new Worship Center that was created for a special week-long Revival last month. Jonathan and I followed the DS through the dense forest along a grassy path where the singing of birds provided the only audible sounds. There in an open area arose a round, one-step up area covered with bamboo branches to provide shade for those leading worship. So, so beautiful! Butterflies flittered everywhere, flinging from pink flower to yellow flower. We both felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and decided that this should become our destination during our early morning work-out jog. We loved it!

The Cataract Surgery Mission and all of the many preparations totally predominated our schedule. However, knowing that once the mission began, there would be no time for jogging, we decided to run one more time that morning. My body, especially my brain, was absolutely saturated with many stressors. Even though the music playing loudly through my ear buds from my phone inspired me, my focus was not totally on worship, which is always my objective.

And then we approached the Revival Center. And the song, through God’s perfect timing, provided an astounding message. “You are my strong tower!”  I felt God’s call to me to recognize this statement, to acknowledge it and to dedicate myself to this understanding. And so, I ran to the worship “building” and clung to the strong, heavy bamboo pole that supported the weight of the roof of this structure. And as I clung and prayed, I felt God’s presence. In fact, I experienced the weight of the stress falling from my shoulders and my body trembling with peace. Also there before me appeared the face of Jesus and I wept with joy. Yes, Lord! You ARE my strong tower and I need you! But in that very moment, I could feel my body drifting away! Floating further and further into the distance! Away from Jesus! Why? And then the message clarified…Yes, I believe that Jesus supports me and loves me and values me. But, I am allowing other aspects of my life, other tensions and anxieties to ‘drift’ me away from His presence.

As I walked, encircling the bamboo structure, listening to the birds and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, I apologized for my wrongdoing and I prayed and prayed that I would never allow myself to drift away again. To never separate myself from the Lord who strengthens me. Who inspires me. Who provides every breath I take…every…single…minute.

And then I felt such joy and energy and PEACE! Again, in God’s perfect timing, the next song that played from my phone was Toby Mac’s Burn for You. “I am revived again! I am alive again!” As I ran with arms pointed to heaven and tears of joy flowing, I knew that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. And it happened! The Cataract Surgery Mission unfolded in amazing ways, with miracle after miracle and I survived, although sometimes stressed, but with the strength to make it through, as well as, acknowledging who truly made it come to fruition.

As a result of such God Moments, the Revival Center became our destination during our regular morning workout where we could exercise, pray, meditate and connect to our Strong Tower! AMEN!!


In closing, for those of you who are joggers (or who just like contemporary music), I certainly recommend the album I found recently – Run and Worship. It’s a compilation of music from various Christian artists who continue to inspire me every…single…day.

Available on iTunes.

Run & Worship

Caring for God’s Children

DSCN9409What does it truly mean to ‘adopt’ someone? Is it just a legal contract or an obligation to give a child a new name? Our personal experience, having built our family through international adoption, gives us a very different perspective. From the day we signed the contract with La Casa de la Madre y El Nino in Bogota, Colombia, we knew that the baby that would become ours was truly OURS. And God worked in amazing ways! Another couple in the adoption process led us step by step through the legal and documentation steps and provided such reassurance and confidence that very soon we would become parents! In fact, the very day that we went to meet their baby John, just entering the US with his parents, we rejoiced with them and returned to our home in Maryland. Within a few hours, the phone rang and it was La Casa calling us to inform us that our baby had been born! Hallelujah! We knew that this baby was OUR baby and we were just days away from holding baby Matthew in our arms. After our long travel to Bogota with suitcases filled with diapers and baby formula, baby Matthew was placed in our arms and the 12 day old infant smiled at us. He was OURS!! Because he was having a little difficulty adjusting to a new infant formula and was not feeling 100%, the orphanage suggested they swap out Matthew for another baby who was healthier. Oh, my goodness, No! Matthew was indeed our son and there could be no substitution. We would care for him, provide food and lodging and even a good education. God had called us to become parents, we had no doubt. Now, Lord, give us direction to perform our duties with diligence and uprightness and love.

This next example postulates a very different example. But, the underlying premise remains consistent. God calls us, in our lives, to loving behavior, action, deeds, promises, achievements and accomplishments, all in His name. In Galatians 6:2, Jesus states, “Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” When a family in Congo has 5 or 12 children and an average monthly income of $40 and secondary (junior/senior high school) is not free, how can the children become educated?  Every family must pay tuition fees and, because of poverty, many children can only attend one semester and then miss several until the family has saved the money to pay the tuition.

The village of Diengenga was founded in 1946 as a mission station by United Methodist missionaries. A church, a school and a medical clinic were built at that time to nurture and care for the people there who live their lives for Christ! And your missionaries feel called to continue this mission and vision.

And so, a local church, supported by the  Congo Partnersh
ip has initiated a new project that we call “class adoption.” Rather than supporting one or two children in a developing country for a fee that includes administrative costs (like World Vision), the Partnership invites individuals or churches to join the project of adopting an entire class at the Mama Tola Secondary School in Diengenga.  The Partnership contributes one hundred percent of any donation to the Mama Tola School and those donations provide scholarships, as well as, funds to improve the facility, purchase classroom supplies and other needs. Another premise clearly embraced, eliminates the perception that some children in a village are loved and cared for, while others are excluded. And that becomes the sensitivity when single students receive funding for their care.

There are 2 primary focuses for this project: #1.  Relationships between a class and a local church can be established student to student. Recently a video was created for the local church supporting the project at the Mama Tola School. Each student introduced themselves and songs of praise and thanks portrayed the appreciation the students felt because a church in the United States cared for them. And then, the local church provided a similar video for the school as each student introduced themselves.

Focus #2 relates to Funds for the school. When a family approaches the director because they have sufficient money to pay tuition, but not the student uniform or school supplies, the director can apply funds from the project to allow that student to not miss a semester or even a year of school. Also, when the school needs fuel for the generator or repairs made to a building or classroom, funds can benefit and source this necessity.

These are the details related to expenses for a student:

Student Expenses


$25 per trimester or $75 per school year

Additional Expenses

Materials (pens, paper) $19

Uniform $15

Fabric for sewing class $21


          $95.60 per trimester

Total per School Year

For Boarding School Student $529.80

For Non-Boarding School Student $243

We will provide letters, photos and videos of the students receiving support so that you may be in prayer for them in their course of study and donors can send notes of encouragement and support. The blessings will flow abundantly!

If the Lord is nudging you to consider such a project, please contact us at:

Prayers are free! But powerful! So, please add the Mama Tola Secondary School to your prayer list.

Thanks and blessings!

Announce the Message of God’s good news…

Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” Mark 16:15

Wow, what a powerful statement Jesus made to the Disciples and one that is often difficult to live into! This scripture passage certainly inspires us when we return to the US especially to share the Good News about God’s amazing work in Congo. To be honest, because the Congo Partnership facilitates over 20 projects in Congo and has a huge annual budget, we pray that the hearts of many will be touched and they will feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to financially support the Partnership and our ministry.


As Henri Nouwen states in his book A Spirituality of Fundraising, “Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” And that’s exactly what we pray we are doing and we have learned over and over that, when someone becomes involved in our mission by donating sewing materials or Bibles or seeds for the farm, they are now engaged and interested and that fascination and appeal continues to grow and develop.

Community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Henri Nouwen Bread for the Journey


Over the past few months our hearts have been touched and warmed and encouraged by so many people and pastors and congregations that have welcomed us to share about God’s work in Congo. In Eastern PA, much love and blessings go to Bishop Peggy Johnson and her passion for the Congo Partnership and mission in general. Bishop Peggy and DS Dawn Taylor-Storm even invited us to share at the Clergy District and cabinet meetings! Wow! And then to the following churches: Mt. Hope, Gordon. Thank you for your generous hospitality!

Moving a bit south to the Peninsula-Delaware Conference (also piloted by Bishop Johnson), these churches so warmly welcomed us to speak and mingle with their congregations: Wesley – Dover, Janes, Centreville, Kent Island, St. Matthews by the Sea, Grace – Wilmington, and St. Mark’s – Wilmington. We are so grateful for the hospitality and friendship you shared with us.

Continuing south, we spent ten days in the Western North Carolina Conference which is also one of the partner Conferences of the Congo Partnership and recently were welcomed by Bishop Paul Leeland. The Bishop invited a large portion of the conference staff to a luncheon which included our presentation. What a special way for us to develop strong relationships! And then we presented at these churches: Village, Gilmore, Sharon and Gray’s Chapel. We also were blessed to visit Jack Miner at the Brooks-Howell Retirement home for missionaries in Ashville, NC. Jack and his wife, Renie spend many years working in the Congo as volunteers in mission.

An incredible experience of becoming friends with a church in Central Texas in 2015 has blossomed into a Covenant Relationship with First United Methodist Church of Hurst recently. This church opened its doors with radical hospitality for Congolese who migrated to the Hurst area (outside Forth Worth). So we were invited to participate in their annual Harvest Festival, a day devoted to fundraising for their extensive mission work around the world and numerous gatherings and presentations during our four day visit. We send special thanks to Rev. Clint Jones who made the effort to find us through Global Ministries so that his congregation could become more deeply involved in the culture and lifestyle and needs of the people of Congo.

Upon our return to Florida, we have been able to share with both Summerhill and Lake Deaton Campuses of the New Covenant U.M. Church. This congregation raised money last Lenten season for the Partnership to dig a new fresh water well in Wembo Nyama and is the place we call “home” whenever we are able to return to Florida.

We’ll end with another quote from Henri Nouwen:

In ministering to each other, each from the riches that he or she possesses, we work together for the full coming of God’s kingdom.

Love never ends.

(1 Corinthians 13:8)


The Congo Partnership Facebook Page:

The Congo Partnership Website:

Our blog:

“Do you hear what these children are saying?”

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Jesus. “Yes, I hear them,” replied Jesus.  “And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place a praise’?” Matthew 21:16,  The Message

 We never grow weary from hearing the giggles and laughter of children or seeing their shining smiles! We adore them and the favorite part of our day is time playing with them – here and in the US! When we danced with them recently they all started yelling “Jesu, Jesu” with fingers pointing to heaven. Wow! They teach us so much!

But what sometimes has troubled us is the perceived cultural deference to children, especially in the remote areas. Why don’t the parents run and play games and giggle with their children? Initially, we will confess that we were quick to judge those persons.

Being full-time missionaries has given us time to learn about the culture…to see and experience things from their perspective… to sometimes “walk in their shoes” to learn. So we began to ask questions like:

How would we, as a parent have time and energy to spend hours with a soccer ball or drawing in the sand with their children when they have walked many kilometers to the river to wash their clothes? Spent hours in the field planting, weeding and harvesting ALL food that their children will eat? Not simply opening a box of rice and throwing into a pot of water to cook, but growing the food, cutting it down in the field, drying it, separating the edible portion from the pod, going to the river or a well to obtain the water, hauling it back to their home and then begin the cooking process which, by the way, requires gathering of wood or wood coal for the fire to cook their food!

Wow! We are absolutely blown away by the hard trekking and labor endured by so many! By the time this is completed, the sky grows dark and, with no electricity, little or no time is left before preparing for bed. Are you getting the picture! J

One day Donna was playing in the middle of the dirt road with some children who had come by the Mission House to bring greetings. They were all laughing and giggling and having fun as they learned a little game. A Congolese woman walked by, slowed down to watch and then said, “Mama Donna, we need to learn from you. You love playing with the children!” I wanted to say, “I have time!” Even though we are very busy with the documentation and oversight of projects, etc. we have much more flexibility as we don’t have to grow our own food, trek to the river or wash our own clothes when in the villages! We have become so humbled by this experience.img_2673

It has made us think and pray much about Honor…we probably all enjoy that, right? As we think back on our lives, how many times have we, in our scurry of activities, failed to honor someone? Failed to thank our colleague for making fresh coffee? Failed to praise our children for putting their heap of toys back in the container? Failed to give our spouse a peck on the cheek for cooking a lovely meal? Our list would probably be quite long!

Luke 7:24 says: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” Just because we see parents leaving their tiny tots in the care of the older children, or not taking time to play with the children as they scamper in the yard, does not mean that they do not love their children, cherish their offspring and want to have hours and hours to be silly and giggle with them! What it means is that the parents must prioritize their time. Is play time more important than having food for their children to eat? Mmmmm…..No!

The children praise the Lord, despite their life’s condition! They still find joy in their little buddies and the toys they contrive from mangos and sticks and discarded bicycle wheels. They are blessed when mom or big sister takes time to fix their hair or the family gathers around the fire at the end of the day taking time to hear what has happened in each person’s life before they go to bed. These are all previous times without all the “stuff” the world wants to tell us is necessary to have joy. Our Congolese children teach us every day that joy comes in relationships…with Jesus….with one another…with the beauty of God’s world.vlcsnap-2016-09-09-15h50m04s999

Youngsters can be happy without being wealthy. Children who have a number of household chores such as fetching water, looking after siblings, taking animals to graze, gathering firewood, or helping to raise crops in the family’s fields may enjoy a happy childhood. A key factor in determining whether children have a good quality of life (and also a decent life expectancy, education and prospects) is the survival of their family unit.

 dsc00654Therefore, it’s very, very smart for parents in remote areas of Africa to concentrate on the survival of their family unit! So many of our projects seek to help parents find a better quality of life for themselves and their families:

  • Fresh water well where they don’t have to take 3 hours a day walking to the river and can provide their families with disease free water:
  • Farm where a new model for growing nutritional foods can help everyone learn how to do this for their families;
  • Sewing programs and computer labs and trade schools are all ways people’s lives are improved often also providing more time for family.

But there is so much work to be done and many have yet to benefit from these and other projects. So we are committed to keep on trying to help make these changes and, in the meantime, we will continue to find such delight in the children, enjoy their giggles, give them a ‘highlight of the day’ that is different for them and strengthens our relationships with the children and their families. That is the true meaning of mission work!

The Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. I Corinthians 12:27

 We are still in awe of the honor bestowed upon us recently when we were given Congolese names. And we are still learning, studying and even absorbing the reality!

Just a few months after we became missionaries in Congo, a local doctor asked Donna if she had been given a Congolese name. She was shocked by the question! And he explained, after she shared her answer, that this is very common and a Congolese tradition. And then, in July, the District Superintendent of the Lodja Nord District told us that a committee had been formed to determine this exact thing. We are going to have Congolese names! Wow!

As we wondered why it had taken over a year for this to occur, we began to truly think about and understand the process. How can they name us if they don’t know us well?  The designated names relate to personality and actions and behaviors, so it makes sense that it took time for the people in the Central Congo Episcopal Area to discern a name, a title, an appellation or nickname for us. We discovered it is really all about “belonging” and we see this in so many ways.

For example, when going to various villages we had noticed there weren’t huge crowds of people welcoming us each time we arrived any longer. In the past, many people would be waiting to welcome us and many brought us gifts of food as a sign of welcome and hospitality, a fabulous Congolese tradition. It isn’t that we weren’t welcomed now as the church and Partnership project leadership were always there along with lots of children!  We understood when a church leader proclaimed “you are no longer guests here. You are a part of our community. You are now Congolese.” This was a very special announcement to us and our hearts were touched deeply. We are now truly part of the Body of Christ in Congo.

At Annual Conference, on August 8, we were honored with our ‘official’ Congolese names! Jonathan is Elongosola and Donna is Mama Kana Yimba. In the opinion of the committee, these names ‘define’ who we are and how they see us. Elongosola, in Otetella, means ‘someone who can provide answers and solutions to problems.’ Mama Kana Yimba means ‘thinker’, a critical thinker, someone who plans, helps and inquires. So, when Donna visits the medical facilities and conducts meetings with the staff, she asks many questions. An example is “What are the priority needs of your community?” And everyone comes to Jonathan because they know he will help them think of ways to resolve their challenges and problems!

Donna’s reflection: How much importance should I place on my new name? Yes, I am honored and so blessed that a group of church leaders would take the time to pray and discern and determine a word that defines me. But I must not dwell on this! For what is truly more important? I believe that it is God’s definition of who I am. My favorite scripture passage is from Psalm 139,

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.”

 We’ve all been called names, right? How many of us had nicknames in high school that were degrading and accusatory and even demeaning? Mine was “rotunda” because I was chubby (in my friends’ opinions). And then we are sometimes honored with lovely monikers that are complimentary. Truly, how important are these? I’m sitting here listening to Matthew West’s song “Hello, My Name Is” where he states that the only name that is important is the one lavished upon us by God – Child of the one true KING!!! So, even when I’m complimented with a new name, I need to hold fast to that truth.child-of-the-one-true-king

Thank you, my Congolese friends and family for this amazing honor. Yes, I’m honored and blessed and, actually, quite blown away by this precious Congolese tradition. Thank you God! For I must constantly remind myself that the only name that’s important is the one bestowed upon me by God. Thank you, Lord!



“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

IMG_2057When we read anything about the word ‘patience’ we can’t help but remember that old story about the man who prayed, “Lord, please give me patience. And I need it NOW!!!”

What does it truly mean to be patient? In the July 27 devotional in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, she wrote: “Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven.” This truly assisted us in moving forward the exact day (July 27) when we faced so many frustrations. The police stopped us on our motorcycle two times within a few hours. We obviously “stick out” in this population of 99.9% indigenous Africans. And the “white people” are considered very rich. Therefore, the police stop us and require us to pay a “fine” even if we’ve done nothing wrong. It was very difficult to remain patient through these episodes! And as we read 2 Peter 3 in my Life Journal: First Steps program, up pops this phrase: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” God puts up with us and will lead us to His Kingdom despite our character and behavior flaws!

It has burdened our hearts that the medical centers have glucometers (to test blood sugar) but there is no availability of the test strips that must be used! And so, we asked someone in Kinshasa to ship some to us. Yea! The shipment arrived. Uh oh! The box is filled with glucometers, NOT the test strips. More frustration because literally people are dying due to the inability to test their blood sugar.

The farm truck has had issues with the fuel injection device. Therefore, we asked our driver in Kinshasa to purchase the appropriate parts and have them shipped to us. What happened? The shipping agency information was not clearly provided for us and therefore, we can’t find the shipment. Lord, please help me to be patient! Please relieve my frustration and annoyance!

Because we have preached several times on the passage in the Gospel of ­­­Mark 10:46 about the healing of Bartimeaus and his response to follow Jesus, we have to breathe and concentrate on giving and living thanks. And to not concentrate on the issues, the hindrances, and the annoyances, but on all the gifts and blessings the Lord has lavished on us. As Matthew West sings in his fabulous recording Hello, My Name Is: “What love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called His children.” YES! The blessings abound if we only take the time to concentrate and focus on them! During our pull-over by the police, a sweet young man walked over to the police, kindly and quietly removed the motorcycle from them and told the police to leave us alone. Wow! What a blessing! Because we had a box full of glucometers, we were able to gift one of the leaders of this village with one as he is pre-diabetic and very concerned about his blood sugar levels! Thank you, Lord!  And an American pediatrician who is serving in the area, purchased one of the glucometers from us because the hospital in which she is working had none. Awesome!

And so, why should we spend any moments in exasperation and aggravation when the Lord has blessed us in so, so many ways! What living in these tiny villages in Congo has brought us is perspective. A gift we often lose when surrounded by comfort and conveniences when back in the US.

Lusaka, Lord!

The Lord will work out His plans for my life…

IMG_1359The Lord will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalm 138.8

Our little granddaughter Karmina, who just turned 3 years old, has her own version of the ABC song. “A,B,C,D,E,F,G…W,X,Y,Z…Now I said my ABC’s. Next time won’t you sing with me?” (Skipping lots of letters!) As Karmina’s Nanny (grandmother), I immediately want to correct her! But instead, I try to ignore my ‘fix it’ mode and just enjoy her smiles and hand motions and even little hip wiggles while she sings. It’s HER version! It’s not necessarily correct, but it’s her way, perhaps the way God wants her to sing it! Why should I try to fix it?

So, what does this mean to us as Christians? Sometimes we mess up, right? Somedays just don’t turn out the way we had planned them. But, do we always have the need or even right to fix everything? Certainly not always, but most often we can fix it, especially with God’s direction and counsel.DSC_4667

Next question: What does this mean to us as missionaries?

The Cataract Surgery Mission scheduled for July, 2016 has been in the planning stages with an amazing amount of details and logistics for two years. But, just recently, the government in Democratic Republic of Congo changed the visa application process. And what used to take 5-10 days now could take 3 months! And many, many are being declined. How can we fix this, Lord? What can we do?

But God is clearly telling us that His timing will be perfect! And one day after the mission eventually takes place and we can look back in time, we will grasp and understand and even appreciate the delay.

And so, we appreciate your prayers as we discern the next steps, how to move forward and when the mission should take place. We are Believing…Trusting…Praying…

This little mantra that the Congolese taught us is what I want to chant all day long:

God is good! All the time! All the time! God is good! That is God’s nature! WOW!!!


He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
candlemass2     and he is the glory of your people Israel! Luke 2:32


Candlemas – Have you heard of that Christian festival? Well, we hadn’t until our son Matthew introduced it to us in an incredible way. As many of you know, Jonathan’s mother went to meet her Savior in February. Since we were in Congo at the time of her passing, we were unable to join the family at her gravesite for the consecration of her remains. However, Jonathan, Matthew and I spent a very sacred moment at Mom’s gravesite in the Barratt’s Chapel Cemetery just last week. And when Matthew saw the date of her death inscribed at the grave, he said, “Wow! She passed away on Candlemas!” Well, this was a new term for us!

With such a spiritually centered approach, Matthew provided the background for his joy in knowing that his precious grandmother had met her Savior on such a special day, February 2. Candlemas actually has several meaningful contexts.

  1. Jesus presentation at the temple 40 days after his birth.
  2. Mary’s purification after giving birth, which was a Jewish law at that time.
  3. Jesus is the light of the world.
  4. The mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
  5. In pre-Christian times, this day was known as the ‘Feast of Lights’ and celebrated the increase strength of the life-giving sun as winter gave way to spring.


And so, Mom Peaches passed on a very special day! And we believe that she is very likely bringing light to so many as she did here on earth. How many of you received a card in the mail from her that brightened your day? Didn’t we all feel such joy as she shared her beautiful musical gift by playing the piano during Communion at Epworth UMC?

We now recommend that February 2, Candlemas, become a very special day. In our family we will celebrate Mom’s joyful passing. Perhaps there is a loved one and/or friend, those who have been God’s light and love to you, that you can celebrate on this special day with us! Thank you God, for Mom Peaches who is bringing even more light to the Holy Firmament!

Miracles Still Happen!

Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey.

Just when our trust faltered and our annoyance and dissatisfaction grew, God provided!

Last week we hustled and packed and prepared for a very special day at the Mpasa Medical and Nutrition Center. We had planned to: 1). assist with feeding the hundreds of children who gather daily for their bowl of porridge, 2). show them a video with music and time for rejoicing, and 3). Donna would facilitate a refresher course in sterile technique for the staff. Finding transportation for the 1-1 ½ hour trip out to Mpasa from our apartment can be a real challenge. But we thought we had it all figured out! Well, the driver pulled up in this lovely mini-van and we piled in the bags of medical supplies for the training, a projector, speaker and movie screen, our cameras, bottled water…You get the picture, right? And so the driver immediately requested his payment. Wow! It was 150% more than we had agreed upon yesterday! He would not budge, so we climbed out and unloaded all of the stuff while our good friend Anthony called around to find a different driver.

Yea! Here comes a sweet and friendly driver with another lovely vehicle! With an agreeable price (although much higher than we would like it to be!)! So, we loaded up and headed out for our long journey, especially once we must leave the paved roads and navigate through huge ditches and puddles, as we rocked and rolled in the backseat. Arrived! The children were so excited to see us bring in the screen and projector because they love to see videos as they have no access to television or online movies, let alone a movie theater! Uh oh! Where’s the speaker? There was no way Donna could speak above the sound of the generator, needed to power up the projector, for her class. So, we showed the children the video of “Happy Feet” and they loved it! No sound, no special fun music! L And, it was clear that the session with the staff would have to be postponed.

Because the opportunities for interaction with the medical and nursing staff are valued by us all, Jonathan went shopping the next day and found a small speaker with a microphone that Donna could use later in the week. But it cost money! The lovely speaker that had “gone missing” was not cheap and was Donna’s Christmas present in 2015. We tried to not get hung up on the loss and the confusion about how the speaker had disappeared. But, it wasn’t easy! Here was our “theory”: The first driver had been annoyed with us because he had just lost a nice payment for a day’s work. And so, when he discovered that a lovely speaker had been left in his car, he decided that this was a nice bonus for him! Although our friends here tried to contact the driver or someone who knew him, there had been no progress.

The next day our journey back to Mpasa went super well and we experienced such joy between showing the Jesus Movie to the children and exchanging and information in Donna’s class. When asked if they wanted to watch Happy Feet again, the children immediately shouted, “Jesu, Jesu”!! They wanted to see the Jesus Movie, not some cute little animated video! Praise God! What a blessing to witness young children placing their Savior as their priority.

The end of the week presented a long meeting for Donna with the Health Board here in Central Congo. After the meeting, as she settled in her desk chair, Jonathan said, “Close your eyes”. What??? “Close your eyes, until I say open!” As Donna complied, Jonathan picked up the LOST speaker and placed it on the desk! Hallelujah!!!!! How did this happen? The driver had felt “called” to return the speaker to us and so he did. Wow! God was working big time! Thank you, Lord!

When I am down, and oh my soul, so weary

When troubles come and my heart burdened be

Then I am still and wait here in the silence

Until you come and sit awhile with me.


You raise me up so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas

I am strong when I am on your shoulders

You raise me up to more than I can be2016-02-19_11-42-24