Thank you very much for your prayers for our family in the last couple of weeks.  The Lord has taken great care of us.

Today was a rainy day.  The clouds were dark and a steady rain was falling.  When this happens we often see a decrease in attendance and today our numbers were definitely down.  We had about the same number for Sunday School, but the congregation for the morning service was noticeably smaller than usual.   

The rain also complicates the acoustics in our auditorium.  We have exposed metal roof sheets, and the harder the rain – the louder the noise.  I praise the Lord that we have Jill playing the piano during the song service, but when preaching time comes it is a battle to be heard.  The rain was mild and steady today so it was not as loud as it has been.  Since our congregation was smaller we just sat on one side of the auditorium and I preached on the floor (not the platform) and it worked out fine.

Today I preached on “Jesus, our Passover Lamb”.  In our Sunday School lessons we have been going through the book of Exodus. The last few weeks we have discussed the Passover, so it seemed appropriate to cover this necessary and significant topic.  In studying for this Sunday, the Lord blessed my heart so much as I prepared the sermon.

We are very understanding when our numbers are down because of the rain.  The majority of our people walk to church. Some walk a very long distance.  There are NO sidewalks to our church and the roads are narrow and twist and turn.  This means that those who attend have to walk on muddy, slippery paths and dodge the vehicles that turn potholes into fountains of muddy water.  Sure, some folks use the rain as an excuse to stay home, but that is human nature.  I think that a lot of church members in developed countries would stay home from church if they simply had to walk to church, not to mention walk in the rain and weather.

We had a baptism scheduled for today, but since our baptism tank is outside and the weather was bad we postponed until next week.  Please do pray for the young men who recently received Jesus as their Savior.

This week the awnings for the front and back doors of the church were finally finished. It is a blessing to have protection for the new rosewood doors of the church and to have a place to stand protected from the sun and the rain.

As I stood under our new awning at the front door of the church and watched our members arrive I watched a young man – recently graduated from grade 12 – give his umbrella to a young woman who was walking to the church.  She was covering her head and shoulders with a shawl and had walked quite a distance.  It warmed my heart to see his selfless generosity.  It is very rare to see a Zambian wear a raincoat, and umbrellas, although available, are not always used.  Maybe it is because they are so easily forgotten and left behind or stolen or maybe it is because they are low priority when finances are so tightly stretched.  I would say that only half of our church members who attended today brought an umbrella, the rest just got wet.

Jill is an important part of the Lord’s Work here in Zambia.  You do not hear a lot about her at times because she proof reads these letters and updates and prefers not to be the topic of discussion.  However, the work that the Lord is doing here in Zambia through our family would not be possible without her.  Not only does she plan the music service for the church but she also works with and counsels the ladies and takes care of all the banners and anything artistic in our church building and on the church grounds.  Jill also puts her teaching degree to good use.  Now that our children are finished homeschooling, Jill has shifted her focus to teaching English as a second language to some of the ladies in our church.  She also teaches some of the children and youth in our church how to read music and play the recorder.  Today we were blessed to hear a group of these young people play “Jesus Loves Me” on their recorders.  (Thank you to all of you who sent birthday greetings to Jill last week – although she has officially stopped having birthdays it was nice of you to remember her on a special day.)

Today at Calvary Baptist Church of Ndola we were blessed with an instrumental music special by some of the youths that Jill has been teaching to play the recorder. Learning to read music and play is a great skill and can help an individual in many ways. Jill loves children and works hard to try to give the youth of our church experiences that many children in Zambia never receive.

Our mango tree in the back of our yard is having a good year.  I am allergic and they are not on Allison’s low FODMAP diet, but Jill absolutely loves them.  I am happy for her, and I do enjoy the mango bread that she makes.  Our tree is giving us a bounty this year.  So much so that we took 3 large buckets to church with us today to give away and our tree is still full.  Allison and Jill are keeping a running count of the number of mangos harvested this year.  We are up to 206!

One of the two mango trees in our yard. This one was here when we moved in and is very old. The other one (not pictured) we planted and it has mangos that are also large but of a variety more common in South Africa. I am told that both are very delicious. The mangos on the counter represent just one picking, there will be many others.

Last week I had my first encounter with what we think was a kidney stone.  Not fun and this was just a minor case that lasted for only a few days.  I can tell you this – I am drinking much more water now.  Thank you for your prayers for our health.

Also, thank you for your prayers for Allison.  She told us that this last week was the best one that she has had in the past 3 months.  It pains us to think of our child in constant discomfort but we praise the Lord that prayer does work and we continue to pray for her complete healing if God wills it.  Please join with us in prayer for Allison.

Anna came down with a flu this week at college and had to be put in an isolation room.  Please pray for her quick recovery.

A lot of things have happened the last couple of weeks – vehicle problems, home maintenance problems, health issues and much more.  We appreciate your faithful prayers even when you do not know specifically how to pray for us.  There are trials that we face that are significant and troubling.  We struggle at times and our faith is tested.  Knowing that we simply serve at His convenience is a great comfort.  I must remind myself to be willing to be spent and used up for His glory and magnification.  I am happy to do so.

Thank you for your partnership in the work to which the Lord has called us.  Your faithfulness is a blessing and an encouragement.  Please pray that our personal walk with the Lord will continue to grow. 

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