It suddenly hit me this morning, “It is February already!” We have been so busy that the passage of time has been lost on me. It seems just a short time ago that we were getting ready for Christmas 2021. How did it get to be February 2023? Did I miss a year somewhere?
This newsletter will be mostly prayer requests. As a 1990s co-worker stated once at a critical moment in Nigeria, “The Lord must be getting ready to do something really significant through us. Otherwise, Satan would not be giving us so much trouble.”
None of our current problems are major. It is the sheer number of little annoyances that are making things difficult.
The permits that allow us to reside in Eswatini must be renewed every two years (until we reach the age of 70, at which time we will be able to get longer permits). That means that the permits issued to us in December of 2020 have now expired. We applied for renewal in October and have made several trips to Mbabane since. Each time we are told, “Come back next week. The board has not yet acted on your application.” This week, Vumile Magango decided to get involved. He is approaching the chief immigration officer through a mutual contact. Please pray that the matter can be settled soon. We are considering a couple of trips this year, but we should not cross the border until this matter is settled.
Here the news is mostly positive, but there is still plenty of reason to pray. The books shipped to East Africa in the middle of 2022 have, thankfully, reached their destinations in Uganda and Kenya. The church in Spartanburg, SC is currently preparing to send books for a school in Cameroon. Please pray for the speedy delivery of those books.
We still have not received the first shipment of the audio Bibles that we ordered several weeks ago. We expected those around Christmas. The brother who was going to get them did not travel as he had expected. But we have found another way to get them delivered and expect to have them in hand before the end of this month. Pray that they will indeed come this time, and that wisdom will be used in distributing them.
Chery is in great shape. I am in no immediate danger that I know of, but I have not been as well as normal. It takes a lot to get me down. I remember once, in Toledo, going to the doctor. He commented that he had not seen me in a while. I replied, “I think it has been seven years.” He looked at the chart and responded, “No. It has been ten.” Currently, I am considering seeking a doctor to help me with the nagging illness that has been slowing me down the last couple of months. But that is not easy. Medical care is much better in southern Africa than in west Africa, but it can be difficult to locate the right doctor. Since we cannot currently cross the border into the Republic of South Africa, our choices are somewhat limited. Please pray that we make the right decision.
Since we cannot currently travel, we have been unable to plan a trip to Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana that we had been considering. Yesterday, we had lunch with Bheki Mamba. We learned that he is going to the conference at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in April. He agreed that, if we cannot go, he will be glad to take some of our books and promote them among the brothers who are there. In some ways, that might be more effective than if we go in person. Be praying about that as well.
We end on a high note. The Timbutini church has needed a baptistry for years. In January, I approached a company that makes 5000 litre (1250 gallon) water tanks to see if they could make a baptistry for us. They ‘just happened’ to have a tank that had not turned out right. They were glad to cut it in half and turn it into a baptistry. We paid less than half what they charge for a tank. What would have been the top of the tank is now a removable cover that will allow us to keep the baptistry filled and ready for use. Sydney Mhango is working to get it installed, as we expect to baptise a new sister in the next few days.
African Textbook Ministry, Church of Christ, 5130 Flanders Road, Toledo, OH 43623