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August 2018 Newsletter

A Month of Celebrations

What a month August is shaping up to be so far!

We kicked off the month with a graduation ceremony. 26 young men, of varying backgrounds, coming to the completion of their time in the program here at Suambu, hopefully with a solid foundation on which to stand while they face up to a life of independence. Some, we hope, will shortly be employed by a local security firm, although much care is being taken to vet the applicants so as to try and ensure that the young men we put forward are not only hardworking, but have a solid footing in Christ. The invited speaker was Pastor Issidore Aufa of the Living Waters Reformed Church in Kamkumung, and he spoke passionately about following the example set by God – following in His “leg marks” – and encouraging the young men to know that no matter what problems they faced, they can be content in any situation (Philippians 4:13 and context).

Graduations mean a bungkai, and a bungkai means food, and food means staying up late to prepare it all before the big day, and then a veritable feast before retiring to rest before the big day. At least, that was the plan, and all was going well up until the last bit, which got a bit fouled up by a turn in the weather, which brought all of the staff up and out of bed early on the big day to move everything from the planned setting, over to the church hall, so while it was a happy occasion, there were many bleary eyes during the ceremony, and not a few dragging feet come Monday morning.


Pastor Issidore preaching at the graduation ceremony.


Birthday #1

Next on the agenda, was celebrating the birthday of Jeremiah, who is not only a very talented musician, but an incredibly hard worker as the groundskeeper in the RM compound, as well as very, very, (very!!!) patient with all of the children as they interrupt his work, mess up his work, or (on the rare occasion) try to help with his work. Although I’m not convinced that they’re not in it just for wheelbarrow rides.

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Happy 23rd Uncle Jeremiah!

Standing Around

Not a birthday, but a milestone for the little one whose name should remind of the appropriate emotion when we see her growing and playing so perfectly well, after she caused us so much stress before she was born.

Time to lift everything up one shelf.

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Birthday #2

Next on the list, was Nikolas turning nine. Where those years went, nobody seems to know, but our oldest, not-quite-cheekiest, little man seems to really be growing into his skin now.

A building party was the order of the day, with a smashing effort on the cake by Cheree (if you can’t make it out, there’s a handsaw and a bunch of nails made of fondant, with the saw standing up in the cake). A “Lego Derby” which is 10 minutes to build the strongest car you can, followed by smashing them into each other to see which was the best built, had the excitement levels rising, while us oldies reminisced about doing the same while we were younger. This was followed by a building skills race; a tight competition to see who could drill a hole, measure and cut a set length, hammer a nail, and sink a screw in the shortest time. The dads may have gotten involved at some point, followed by the mums.

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Nik’s building themed cake, complete with sparkler number 9 as there were no candles to be found in the stores!

Birthday #3

Two days later, and Madison hit three years of age, which called for a joint celebration with Abby deJonge. Princesses was the theme for this day, so all things pretty, and jeweled, with tutus (which have lasted for another three days (and counting) after their party, as well as way too much pink.

Another killer cake, this time a joint effort by Cheree and Ruth, nail painting, and yet another bungkai by which point us senior citizens were all celebrated out.

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A Month of Stress

As you’re likely already aware, close to a month ago, Cheree spent a little time in hospital with a nasty infection. Since then, she has been on antibiotics the entire time, with tests booked for every fortnight and continuing until such time as the doctor gives the all clear, or tells us that surgery is inevitable.

For both of us, this is an added unknown, as we wait for more tests, and the constant presence of the worst case in our minds. However, even in this there is cause for praise, as the Doctor has told us that it is a little rare for antibiotics to be effective when the infection has reached the point it was at.

The antibiotics themselves are not so great. A better option than surgery, by far, but Cheree is having a hard time sleeping, which makes juggling school and being a mum pretty hard work some days.

Money Matters

On top of the stresses of health, and the busy-ness of all of those parties, my workload has jumped up a few notches, with Bob’s scheduled furlough kicking off around a month and a half ago. Some days I feel like I’m killing it, and then other days I get a jarring reminder that I’m a completely fallible human, prone to get things wrong every now and then. And in between those days, the frustration of having a very full, very busy day, of achieving absolutely nothing.

One thing I’ve had reinforced in my mind since coming here, is that you shouldn’t envy your boss. Chances are he’s dealing with a bucket load of issues you don’t even want to think about. As I’ve told a few people here ,”kisim namba, kisim hetpen” (get a position of authority, get headaches).

Are those grey hairs I see coming through?

And in between all the mundane – the cheque signing, the order approval, the payroll, and the long meetings – every now and then you get a curly one thrown at you. Like, how do you get rid of 5000+ chickens, all at once, in a way which doesn’t waste all of the money and effort which went into raising them?

But then comes the more serious problem, of trying to find ways to become a little (a lot!) more sustainable. As with any organisation, stewardship is a vital thing to keep a hold of, while balancing stewardship with fairness and compassion. A recent directive from above to tighten the strings, and cut away anything which we don’t need, has led to my head being filled with numbers, and a feeling of being out of my depth as I look at a bunch of figures and names which I need to make sense.

Where’d I put that razor?

Then on the “home” front, as in the place we called home, and may yet call home again, we heard from our own renter that he had bought himself a house. Great news for him, but an event which sees us having the same conversation as we were having while in Australia: are we going to have to sell, to try and make the best out of the situation we’ve found ourselves in? Maybe. At this point (and I choose my words here with intent), God only knows. Maybe renters will come. Or maybe they won’t.

Maybe I can just dye my hair instead of shaving my entire head…

And then on this “home” front, as in the place we call home for now, weighing up the current situation, it means putting an indefinite hold on some renovations/additions we would like to make to our house, which would include a school room for Cheree and the kids to use on an almost daily basis.

Maybe I’ll just embrace the grey hairs. I’ve heard it looks distinguished…


Thank you!

We were very touched by the rapid response and outpouring of generosity when we let people know that Cheree was in hospital. As I mentioned earlier, we’re not out of the woods yet, but we seem to be getting closer.

This also confirmed to us that people are supporting us, at a time when we were both beginning to wonder (a downside of leaving Facebook means that we don’t get so many comments or messages).

Again, thank you.


Prayer Points
 If you feel so moved, we’d appreciate prayer this month for:

  • Bob and Anne to recover from a hectic year, and for the final stages of their daughter’s pregnancy to go well.
  • Health for Cheree (and the rest of us, but especially her)
  • Wisdom for myself, combined with energy, to handle this workload
    • Restraint also, as it’s easy to throw oneself into work, but impossible to say you’re doing great things for God at the expense of your first mission.
  • Some friends of ours were attacked in a holdup, and are still (understandably) a little reluctant to head out onto the road again.
  • Answers for City Mission as we try to find our way into the future, including leadership structure.
  • Answers for ourselves as we consider our own financial situation.

We also give thanks to God for
  • Cheree not needing surgery as yet
  • Birthdays
  • Graduations
  • Placements being found for some of the young men, even though I had thought the situation hopeless
  • Staff who are here because they want to serve
  • Supporters
  • Our compound filling back up after being quiet for an extended time.

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