I [Mary] just returned from an incredible trip with this team (above photo left to right, Jessie Kuniholm, Mary McDonald, Lina Godine and Jack McDonald IV) sharing Christ and giving goats in Uganda. Below is a testimony from vet student Lina:
“Up, up, up we climbed along a dirt path that had been carved into the mountainside by bare, calloused feet that daily trod the red dust. The rolling green hills perched atop each other and reached magnificently toward heaven. Our guides, Batwa children who had run down the mountain to greet us, eagerly led the way to their small village on top of the highest hill. The view was enchanting. Sunflowers, corn rows, and tea tree fields dotted the hillsides like patchwork. Banana leaves waved lazily in the wood-smoke scented breeze, as if to acknowledge our arrival. Next to the hill, densely wooded mountains heralded entrance into the Impenetrable Forest. Those mountains had once been home to the Batwa pygmy people. However, they were expelled from the forest in the late 1980s when it was made into a national park in order to preserve the endangered Mountain Gorillas. No longer able to live the nomadic life of their ancestors, the Batwa turned to agriculture, yet they received little aid and training from their new neighbors, who treated them as outcasts. Our reason for visiting this Batwa village was twofold: 1) to provide animal healthcare training and institute a revolving goat loan program and 2) to provide hope through the message of the Gospel.
We began the workshop by reading scripture to help frame our discussion about why and how we care for animals. Every animal belongs to the Lord (Psalm 50) and He has called us to care for His creation (Genesis 1), (to be a steward is to care diligently for something which is not your own). God Himself is our example of how to care for creation. He is a faithful and generous Creator, providing shelter, food, and water for the animals so that they are satisfied, not just meagerly sustained (Psalm 104). Following this, we began a discussion about goat nutrition. The Batwa joyfully scampered around their hilltop to collect samples of the local forage, and we reviewed which of these plants are nutritious and which are poisonous. A discussion of the importance of daily access to clean water left many villagers surprised that the addition of soap and salt to the goats’ water is unnecessary and potentially harmful. We continued the training on shelter and security, characteristics of sick and healthy goats, and goat reproduction. Yet the real meat of the conversations was not the valuable animal healthcare training, but the presentation of the Gospel after the morning workshop. After all, how can a person recognize the value of an animal and care for it appropriately until they have first recognized their own worth as a human being created by God, loved by God, and called by God to dwell with Him forever?
Our team was treated to a woodfire-cooked lunch consisting of goat (meat is a rare delicacy for many poor villagers), rice, beans, posho (water and finely ground maize cooked to the consistency of rubbery dough), and fresh avocados and bananas. Following the meal, Rev. Dr. Mary McDonald shared the Gospel with a people group much like the ones that Jesus spent time with—the outcasts, the mistreated, the neglected, the marginalized, the people with seemingly no hope, the spiritually lost and thirsty. Into that darkness Jesus shown, and He still shines today. What a true joy and privilege it was to share that Hope with a people group that longs to know that they are noticed and cared for and loved! A holy hush fell over the crowd as the Batwa listened to this Hope and intermittently confirmed its truth with head nods, smiles, and softening countenances. Although it is impossible to know people’s hearts it was exciting to see so many of the pygmies were eager to ask Christ into their lives.
As I listened to this presentation of the Gospel—a message that I have heard many, many times—I was reminded again of the profound power of its simple truths. Friends, let us daily remind ourselves of this joy and hope, and let the knowledge of its power in our lives never become mundane and fade away.”
Thank you for your prayers and support. If you would like to help us as we disciple vet students, minister to internationals, take seminary classes and work in Uganda we really need monthly supporters $25, $50.00 or $100.00 monthly. Would you consider giving?
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…
After spending a couple of weeks in Thailand this January I had the opportunity to stopover in Laos for a few days on my back to Pittsburgh. I was excited to see another ministry that is run by the Anglican Diocese of Singapore, our partners in Chiang Mai Thailand. I was also excited to visit a new country and culture.
My meeting with the workers there went well. I came away challenged and encouraged by what my brothers and sisters in Christ are doing in that amazing country, but I also came away with a story.
Years back, two missionaries traveled to a Hmong village in the northern part of Laos. When they arrived in the village they rented a house that, unbeknownst to them, was haunted. After a week they prepared to leave having seen no fruit from their visit. As they were getting set to leave, the local shaman came to them and told them that he needed to know their God, because their God must be the true God since the shaman had put the curse on the house and it hadn’t effected the missionaries one bit. The missionaries shared the gospel with the shaman, led him to Christ, and went on their way.
A while later the missionaries returned to find a vibrant Christian community, started by the shaman, and growing daily. And this was all built in their absence.
In a few days our Fellows will return from Thailand having lived and served in Chiang Mai and the mountains for close to two months. Early on into their time there, one of the Fellows expressed some doubt about how impactful the work that they were engaged in would be. They wanted to see results. Who doesn’t?
I want to see results! I want to have an impact. I want to build the church. When the worker in Laos shared the story of the haunted house with me it was during a conversation about impact. It is easy to loose sight of our job. Just like Peter, we need to understand just who is doing the work here!
It is Christ who builds the church. Peter’s job was to be a rock. Peter’s job was to be obedient. And that is my job. And that is your job. We are simply to be obedient to God’s call and let Him do the work of church building.
I had a front row seat in watching our Fellows answer their call to obedient rock-ness in Thailand. It wasn’t easy for them. Over the next few weeks we’ll send out another update with some stories from their time there. But my takeaway, my impact story, was one of encouragement. Take heart Church. Christ is at work. He is building His church. I for one am stoked to just get to be a rock!
In Twichell family news, we are probably about a month or so away from the arrival of the Twin-chells. Erika is feeling well and the kiddos are super excited for two babies at one time. We covet your prayers for the safe delivery of healthy babies!
Ok, so about the title; I suppose it is January’s news in February. But you’re getting the news in February, so it’s February’s news that happened in January. We good? Ok.
Things in this post: Chewie Update, hipster food photos, what Evan has been up to, family adventures. There are 25 photos in this post, so you don’t even have to exercise your brain very hard to get a sense of what we’re up to.
Chewie: The Saga Continues
Chewie is definitely lost forever. We can only hope that whatever airplane gremlin found it is enjoying it. I would recommend they wash it first. GOOD NEWS though! Naomi (Mimi), Missy’s mom and creator of Chewies 1.0, 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, has already completed Chewie 3.0! It was shipped to PA where our friend Curtis picked it up and took it to Haiti. Curtis is scheduled to visit us in Belize in a couple of weeks. Pray that the unrest in Haiti – nationwide protests seeking to oust the current president – will not keep Curtis away. Clearly you should pray for the people of Haiti as well.
Annabelle seems to cycle on and off between handling the transition here. This is normal and we’re finding ways for her to express frustration and anger in healthy ways. Please pray for all of us in this.
FAMILY FUN DAYS!!!
Part of taking care of Annabelle has meant we are being super intentional about taking our Saturdays as our day off and declaring them FAMILY FUN DAYS!!! Those are three exclamation points for those who are counting. One for each of us.
Enjoy the slideshow and be sure to read the captions.
We have been LOVING family trips on the motorcycle.
We found this little place in Bullet Tree Falls. Fantastic nachos and a knock-off frappucinno that was killer.
We love crossing ferries!
Xunantunich – The second tallest ruin in the country.
Xunantunich – Totally safe.
Monkey Falls – Missy found this incredible place online and we went explorig. HOLYCOW! It was like magic. A spring falls over a ledge just above this large pool. The spring water is warm, and the light is magic.
We met this family and they asked me to take their photos, too. It turned into a bit of a free portrait session. Not a bad way to serve on a day off. 🙂
Sunday in between services, Annabelle and rode to Bullet Tree Falls and went swimming. We met some local kids and had a great time talking.
This is a dog. He barked a lot.
What I’ve Been Doing
I’ve been playing way more music than I expected and I’m so happy about that. Before I arrived, Fr. David (a great musician) was handling all of the guitar playing and singing duties as well as the priestly duties. It was made more challenging by an elbow injury. He asked me to step in and I have. I have learned more music in the past month than I have in the past several years combined. I never lead worship, and most of you know I’m a songwriter who has spent much more time playing in public than in church. This has been stretching to me musically and growing me in a good way spiritually. I play a lot of Wendell Kimbrough. The liturgical music we use is from a wonderful artist, Judy Bailey. Her album is “Lift Up Your Hearts.” Check i t out.
I’ve also been asked to teach a group guitar class. My students are awesome! This is the first time I’ve taught a guitar class and I’m really enjoying it. Look at the photo below. Seriously. How cute can you get?!
Also below is a photo of our sister church, St. Hilda’s. We went to a baptism service there a few weeks ago. I’m not posting photos of the baptism, out of respect to the family, but I’ll share a photo of the church, with a wonderful girl in white dancing in the aisle. The photo above of Annabelle in the purple dress was taken in front of St. Hilda’s. Beautiful.
My family and I greet you all in the WONDERFUL name of JESUS CHRIST and are BELIEVING that God is doing a wonderful NEW THING in your life. Many people I know had a very difficult year. In many ways last year was quite literally a “storm year” for us. After serving for twenty years in Africa and later in Europe we were unable to secure visas to remain in Portugal. It was a difficult transition back to the United States with our two children but it has also been a blessing for so many reasons. Topping last years challenges was Hurricane Michael and all of its devastation for us and many others. However, this year God is definitely DOING A NEW THING in us and with our ministry TOGETHER! We are still recovering from the storm but we have seen God faithfully provide. We definitely serve a God who makes RIVERS flow out of DESERTS! He delights in making a WAY in the WILDERNESS!
The Lord has connected us to NEW PLACES and PARTNERSHIPS that are truly amazing. One of these new partners is the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS). SAMS missionary heritage is truly awe inspiring and for those of you who know how our ministry has been welcomed across all denominational lines you will know how truly satisfying this is for me to be part of this Anglican missionary society. One of the first invitations we received as a “Missionary Bridger” has been Santiago, Chile through missionary Chris Feuillade. God willing, this April my daughter, Charity, will join me in Chile where I will be working for nearly a month doing evangelism. This will culminate with the painting of a large wall mural. As a working artist many of my paintings have been transformed into various products such as prints or coffee cups but this will be the first time I have taken one of my paintings to such a large scale.
Creating A Huge Point Of Contact/ Wall Mural
Why would you want to take a wall in Santiago and transform it? For me I think of this large outdoor painting being like Paul’s prayer cloth (Acts 19:11-12) except much bigger. The Book of Acts records that the Apostle Paul sent them to people with sickness and oppression and they were cured. My highest intention would be for my art to become like that in God’s hands. Through God’s grace, art has the power to change the onlooker and transform the room or space it occupies. I have been humbled and thankful each time someone has reported how, through experiencing the art, they had a great sense of PEACE. This is why I covet your prayers for this art project. I not only have to believe God for the finances to operate in Chile (scaffolding, supplies, airline tickets etc.) but I have to believe HIM for the TRANSFORMING MESSAGE. You and I are just messengers. HE is the MESSAGE.
I am asking YOU to help us with this project. It is not often you have the opportunity to create a landmark or a public work that has the power to inspire and transform a corner of our world. Think of it… YOU with US by God’s grace have the potential to take a graffiti bombed wall and so clearly share the message that Jesus Christ wants to touch and bless the lives of the Chilean people!
TOGETHER we are bringing HOPE, JOY, SMILES, and MIRACLES, in the name of Jesus. Write US TODAY! Let us know how to be praying for you and please consider sending your BEST love GIFT to meet this project’s budget and for us to be able to continue this vital soul saving ministry.
This photo shows one of the points where fires have been burning during the weekend and now. This particular one is behind the rural Mapuche community where Bishop Abelino was born and raised. Fortunately, in this case, the fire has gone away from homes. But as we write, they are evacuating people from where Marita’s family lives and there the fires have reached to their nearest neighbor’s property. On Saturday night, Pedro spent most of the night helping protect the school where his father works and right now he and Joyanne have gone out to Marita’s family home to offer their help. In Malalche, houses have been burned, two people have died, and Pastor Antonio is worried. In Dollinco, they have no electricity, so they have no water, and that makes it difficult for Pastor José’s family, as their daughter, Adriana, is terminally ill with cancer. In our own church in Labranza, Sonia, one of the members, was worried yesterday that their wheat crop will be burned if they can’t get it harvested.
The sky is gray and smoky today in Temuco and a nearby hill is on fire.Please pray for us and especially our brothers and sisters in the rural churches whose livelihood depends on their crops, animals and wooded land.
Thank you for your prayers. We will keep you posted.
Russ and Heidi
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