Arriving to the Solomon Islands

Arriving to the Solomon Islands

SAMS Missionary Bridger Dean Baldwin shares the latest from his recent arrival to the Solomon Islands.

I’ve been in the Solomon Islands (locally: the Sols) for about a week now, it is good to be here.  Thanks for all your prayers!  I am beginning to settle in with Jonathan and Tess Hicks, and their five wonderful children.

Last Friday I was welcomed by staff, faculty and students to Trinity School for Theology and Ministry.  The welcome ceremony was quite humbling, wow, some time I will have to write about it!

Jon, Tess and I have had some great conversations together.  I am thankful for your prayers that we quickly bond as a team.  It seems like once in a while I will be able to head into town to send out  and check emails, etc.  In the mean time, to inform your prayers please remember me in the following areas:

  • That Jon, Tess and I continue to form a relationship of trust, mutual encouragement and good communication
  • For opportunities for me to learn Pidgin and engage int he students at Airahu
  • That I will wisely get into a healthy routine.

Thanks for all of your prayers, we are off to a great start here.  I hope to be sending another update in another week or two.  It turns out I can get online fairly regularly in Auki, a short bus ride from Airahu.  The connection is not the greatest, but it will suffice.  Hoping to take care of bills and essentials in my short time.  Thanks!

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Jack Melvin, SAMS Missionary in Honduras serves and cares for the people in his community. Recently he shared about a young girl and her opportunity to receive education.

After six months of searching, we have finally found a sign-language teacher for Angelita, who is 15 years old. Angelita is deaf and lives in the mountains, south of Tegucigalpa.  Recently I asked for prayers about her doctor visit. At that time, we thought that with a hearing-aid she might be able to hear again. Unfortunately, the tests showed that she cannot hear the sound frequencies used in speech.  Both the doctor and a missionary, who works with the deaf, advised us to have her learn sign-language. That way, she can communicate with others, become part of a community, and get an education or learn a trade.

Angelita’s brother joins along with some other neighbor friends. Lessons have become a community event!

Adding to our difficulties, the major two-lane highway to the Pacific Ocean, which is the only way to reach her community, has been under construction for this entire year.  One lane is entirely shut down, leaving only the other lane for north-south traffic. Accordingly, one has to wait an hour each way, before one can pass.   A trip, which one-way normally takes one hour, now can take as long as three hours.   The problem for Angelita is that all the resources, such as schools, the Association of Deaf Persons, teachers, are in Tegucigalpa. We could not allow  a teenage girl to travel that far alone under such conditions.

In spite of that, we finally found Doña Gaudelupe Villatoro, who lives close by. Although she has another job, she was willing to visit Angelita each Saturday and teach her sign language. She also teaches cosmetology, jewelry and sewing, all valuable skills to earn a living.  Angelita would have a bleak life without any help.  While the other kids are in school, she stays home to care for the toddlers and babies.  As such, she would not have much of a future. But with an education and some assistance, everything opens up for her.

Right now, Angelita is studying with her cousin Johana, 12 years old, who lives in the same house. That way, she can practice and talk to someone else outside the classroom.  They are already best of friends.

Please continue to pray for her and the whole family.

Learn more about Jack Melvin and his ministry in Honduras. 

Small Gifts Making a Big Difference

Small Gifts Making a Big Difference

The World Bank’s estimate is that 70% of Malagasy live on less than $1 a day. SAMS Missionaries have been called to serve the people of Madagascar.

The Malagasy community is all too easily forgotten by most of the world, but your generous monetary contributions have allowed churches to be built, families to be fed, children to go to school, and student evangelists to spread the Gospel.

You might believe that your donations are minuscule but be assured they are not. Recently, a local priest approached the Rev. Patsy McGregor and thanked her genuinely for a clerical collar she had given him years prior. She was astonished he was still able to remember the small gift that she had completely forgotten. He proceeded to tell her how the collar was damaged by an electrical fire that destroyed 300 homes in his village. His eyes were sad and Patsy could tell the importance of the collar to him. He was so grateful, and to him this was a great treasure to possess for his calling and a reminder of hope in his life.

This priest’s story is an example of how even a small and seemingly unimportant gift to us can change the trajectory of another human. Your Missionaries in Madagascar were only able to give to this local priest because of the sacrificial donations from people like you. Someone like you first gave the McGregors extra collars and subsequently they could give collars to those in need.

Today Jacky Lowe a SAMS candidate is preparing to serve in Madagascar alongside the McGregors. After serving as a short-term Bridger, the Lord has called her long-term there. She will be working in the Women’s Center in the Diocese of Toliara teaching skills like sewing and cooking in order to help women start their own businesses. Would you prayerfully consider supporting Jacky and this ministry? May the Lord bless you all and guide you as you continue to be a blessing to others. Thank you for changing people’s lives in Madagascar.

 

 

God calls us to mission. We are chosen. How we answer the call is the important part of the equation.

Jacky Lowe

SAMS Missionary to Madagascar

Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

Hope Among Turmoil: Mission in Madagascar

By Kevin & Rev. Donna Steckline – Christ Episcopal Church, Gilbertsville NY, Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

When we arrived in Madagascar and got off the plane, we immediately saw poverty, garbage strewn streets, blank faces and stares at each street corner.  We realized the reality of the starving world right in front of us, the same as if we were in Sudan, Haiti or any other third world country.

The same feelings well up inside me bringing me close to tears as in times past, asking the Lord, “How can I help these people?  What can I offer in order to help this mass of poverty and illness that is before me?”

Ladies stripping the leaves from a tree to cook and put over rice – commonly used for blood pressure issues.

We soon arrived in Toliara, the 5th largest city in the country but has limited industry, and the poverty is starkly apparent, even more than it was in the Capital.  Bp. Todd and Patsy started with 3 churches in 2006. They have established 80 churches in 10 years in a diocese that is the size of Florida. It takes 6 days to travel through the diocese.  Unfortunately, the ratio is only one priest for 10 churches and transportation is mostly by foot or bicycle.  The Diocese of Toliara has 1.5 million people who are “Food Insecure.”  This means they do not know where their next meal is coming from, which became very apparent when examining the children and the elderly in the medical clinics.

We traveled to five different locations for the clinics, serving the many people who came for care.  Many of the patients, both young and old had diseases that have progressed well past the available treatments.  Many needed diagnostics that just are not available in the local area and people cannot travel to the capital nor could they afford to, so they suffer.  We saw mothers with malnourished children with no social support systems to obtain food or formula for their babies, so they are fed a rice gruel that has minimal nutritional value.

Praying for patients before they see the doctor.

We witnessed children who were 1-2 years old, not yet walking with flaccid extremities and could hardly keep their head up to nurse due to malnutrition.

Despite this turmoil, there is a community of hope, set in the midst of deep darkness and despair, severe poverty and starvation.  It is a community which has been planted by Bp. Todd and Rev. Patsy McGregor as they planted this new diocese of Toliara. Today there is a cathedral and gathering place in the diocese. Malagasy have come to worship, learn skills to start their own business, and participate in training for evangelism. They are filled with the hope of Jesus Christ and they grow in their faith and come together as a community.

The Malagasy people, as a population are in the same situation across the diocese.  Their faith gives them hope for the future.  Perhaps God’s ultimate plan for us is a ministry of presence.  We walk alongside our brothers and sisters assuring them that their toil is remembered by us, we have not forgotten them; they remain on our hearts. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews11:1) so we remain hopeful.

Click here for original story and more about Madagascar.

Facing a Task Unfinished

Facing a Task Unfinished

In June, I attended the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) Provincial Assembly in Wheaton, IL along with several other SAMS missionaries and 1400 Anglicans!  While it made for some very long days, I have to say that I was so encouraged in so many ways.  The theme of “Mission on our Doorstep” addressed needs and opportunities both locally and globally.
That’s a lot of Anglicans!
I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I find the state of the world–and even the church–to be demoralizing.  There are so many people with so many real needs–addicted, broken (relationships/families), persecuted, refugees, hungry, poor, marginalized/outcast, forgotten, sick, dying, confused, foreigner…the list goes on.  Sometimes the needs are so overwhelming, the temptation is to throw up our hands and do nothing because will our small efforts really make a difference?

But what is so beautiful and ingenious about God’s design of His Church is that it is a Body, made of many members.  I was reminded of that and the strength that we have when we are surrounded by and connected to a body of believers under Christ’s lordship.  As I sat in on workshops and plenary sessions and met people at meals, I was so encouraged to see different ministries that are addressing these needs and making a difference.  So, maybe I can’t meet every need that exists, but I’m a part of a larger Body who is!

This takes some pressure off, but equally begs the questions, “What’s my role?”  Until Jesus returns, there will always be unfinished tasks and unmet needs.  May we seek Him to know how we can join what He is doing through the Church to meet these needs.  May we always share His heart to know Him and make Him known, for Him to be exalted in the nations and on the earth.

One of my favorite hymn remakes is Facing a Task Unfinished.