Sunday, January 22, 2012

How God Worked In Mark and Debbie’s Lives to Direct Them Toward Being Marriage Facilitators for Dynamic Marriage

November 23, 2011

As we were getting ready to leave for our driving trip to Alaska, my brother Joel, and his wife Barb, told us about an eight-week marriage course they attended, called Dynamic Marriage. The purpose for their going to the course was in part, to strengthen their marriage, but mainly to encourage some other couples who they suspected needed encouragement. However, once the course began, they found their romance improving to such an extent that had they known what would happen, they would have attended just for themselves, gladly paying the $150 for the course! They knew we did not have eight weeks to go to the course, but felt so strongly about the course that they suggested we attend the facilitators training so we could lead the course for couples in Swaziland once we got back. Hearing those comments sparked our interest, but we still needed more convincing. They suggested we read two books which are used as text books, written by Willard F. Harley, Jr. called “His Needs, Her Needs” and “Love Busters”. Knowing we were going to spend long hours in the car, Debbie and I agreed to read them aloud and discuss each chapter as we drove. We finished one book on the way up and the other on the way back. As we read the books we were introduced to new information we had not known before and wondered why it had taken 32 years of marriage to gain this knowledge. We saw improvements to our romantic relationship just while reading the books.

After arriving back at Joel’s home a month and a half later, the question in our minds was: Should we attempt to take the training course? I had become convinced we should try, but Debbie was still a bit skeptical. I knew there were big hurdles to overcome. A few of them being: the place, the timing, renting a car and the cost of the course ($600). It all looked like a huge financial and time consuming mountain. Looking at our schedule and Dynamic Marriage’s schedule, we found the only places we could attend the training were in California and Texas; both places would require plane travel, car rental and lodging costs. While reading the books, one of the primary concepts was: If you’re both not enthusiastically convinced to do something, don’t do it, as the person who gets their way will actually lose in the marriage relationship; in other words: “You win the battle, but lose the war”. As I was moving boldly toward checking out the possibilities, Debbie asked me, “Do we have enthusiastic agreement?” The question stopped me in my tracks and made me realize I had another hurdle I hadn’t considered. You see, Debbie didn’t feel comfortable standing up in front of people to speak and lead. She didn’t mind if I could pursue finding out what role she could play, but until that question was answered, it was a ‘no go.’ Therefore, my first question when I called Family Dynamics Institute was, “What roles do the facilitators cover when giving the course?” The answer? One person leads and the other organizes. This fit us perfectly, because Debbie is a great organizer and the leading part could be left to me, something I was comfortable with. We now had enthusiastic agreement, if the other difficulties could be overcome, we could move ahead.

The next questions were the timing and place: Marty, my contact at Family Dynamics, suggested we consider a weekend in the middle of October in the Nashville area. Debbie glanced at the calendar. To our amazement that weekend had recently freed up, due to a pastor’s desire to reschedule us to another weekend. Also, Debbie wanted to go to a women’s conference during the same time frame, but it had fallen through. Looking at our travel plans, we discovered we were due to travel up through Nashville just a few days before the dates he was suggesting. This would only take a few days adjustment. But where would we stay? I quickly agreed I would call Marty back the next day after gathering more information.

One of our stops included a cousin of mine and her parents (my Uncle and Aunt) who were living with her and her family just south of Nashville. So I called her and briefed her on our plans and that we might be taking a training course near Nashville and how it might turn out that we would need a place to stay four nights instead of the one night she had already agreed to…did she know of a good place we could stay? She answered, “We have a big house and plenty of room. We would love to have you stay the whole time with us!” Wow, now we had a place to stay…but how far would we have to drive to attend the course? During rush hour it can take a long time to get across town. My next call to Marty was to pin down the exact location. “Where in the Nashville area was the course being held, because I have just located a place to stay in Murfreesboro?” Marty replied, “Well, you will be pleased to hear that the course is being held in Murfreesboro!” We couldn’t believe it. It was only six miles from her house to the church. We now had our car with us -- so no car rental, we had found a place to stay -- so no motel costs, and it just happened to fall in the exact town in which the course was being held. We immediately asked to join the course and paid for it through our credit card, agreeing between us that we were willingly cover the $600 ourselves from our personal funds.

The next day we received an email from a friend, Tom King, asking us to please visit him during our furlough. He owns a company which manufactured the antenna system for the TWR medium wave station in Sri Lanka where we were working in the 1990’s. The timing of our visit fit to take up one of the three days needed to get us to the course on time. We could overnight at their house. The second day could be filled seeing a high school classmate we had not seen for a number of years and the third we hoped could be taken up just relaxing by ourselves in a motel, giving us a break from our busy schedule. However, the third night turned into a problem. It was the peak fall season and everything was booked by people coming to see the fall colors. Debbie came up with a suggestion. Why not stay at Fairhaven, a beautiful retreat center for pastors and missionaries? I thought that sounded good, so she started to check the internet. She discovered Fairhaven only took booking for two nights, not one. Part of the problem was quickly solved by asking Tom if it would be okay to see him and his wife for lunch instead of staying overnight. “Perfect” he said, “that will be no problem.” However, another problem popped up when I called Fairhaven and was told they were fully booked. Disappointed but understanding their ministry, I said, “Before I hang up, I’d like to thank you for your wonderful work. We stayed at Fairhaven ten years ago and it was a very relaxing and enjoyable time in the middle of our furlough travels. I understand you work from a heart of love and service, sacrificing to help missionaries and pastors. I want you to know that it was appreciated by us. Thank you.” She responded, “Thank you very much for your kind remarks…just a minute. I notice a cancellation I didn’t see before.” Was this a coincidence? Our stay was not planned, yet God arranged a display of colors not often seen by us who are seldom in that part of the world! Our camera worked overtime! Our cost? $10.00 since a friend gave us money just a week before to do something like this.

In our travels, one of the required things to do is spend a few days at TWR’s head office in Cary, NC. One of the key persons we touch base with is the head of the Human Resource Department, Kris Carraway. During this interview she asked how things are going on the field and furlough. So naturally the subject of taking the facilitators training came up. I described our thinking and why we felt it would help TWR. She expressed interest, so I gave her the books to look over so she would have an idea of what we were doing. At the end of the interview Kris surprised us when she said, “I want to pay for the Dynamic Marriage Facilitators Training course.” “But I didn’t ask you to do this.” I responded. “I know,” she said, “but I have some funds for this type of training and I want to apply them to the course. So please let me pay for it.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Now, even the cost of the course was being provided for!

One last coincident happened after we arrived at my cousin’s home. They were wondering where the course is being held. When we told them the name of church, they said, “That’s the church we attend!”

With all these different details coming together; we think maybe God has some other things planned for the future. We enjoyed the training and look forward to being a part of the first course.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One Lone 'Tater

The following story was written by my Grandfather, after whom I was named. It is a remarkable story about how a half rotten potato had a part in influencing many, many people around the world. It shows our potential in life if we are willing to die to self and allow God to use us.

One Lone ‘Tater

By J. Mark Blosser

My son (John H. Blosser) and family, missionaries on furlough from India, had become comfortably situated in a small home that we had provided for them. Interested in their welfare, I dropped by one day to see how they were doing. They had just used up all of their meager supply of donated potatoes – all, that is, but one which had rolled off to a side unnoticed. Had it remained so, I would not be writing this story.

A few weeks later while John was looking for some other article, he just happened to see this last little potato. By this time, it was almost half rotten. His first impulse was to throw it away, but then he noticed that it had several live sprouts. Something must have stirred within his compassionate missionary heart which prompted him to take it out into the garden and plant it.

I became interested in this little potato in a real way when one day he took me out into the garden and showed me what he had done. It had already developed into a lovely plant. With one of his big contagious smiles he turned to me and said, “Now, dad, I would like for you to plant what I get from this and carry it on for four more years as a missionary project.”

I was astounded. That seemed like a big order, but after we joined in a hearty laugh, I replied, as I was prone to do, “OK, John, I think that would be fun.” I little thought what would be involved in carrying it on to completion.

His potato stalk continued to grow nicely and already I think it showed evidence of being destined for great things. During the summer months, we amused ourselves by mathematical calculations as we visualized truckloads of potatoes going to market four years hence. With such substantial returns John could extend the borders of his missionary work about which he had dreamed.

One day while in a poetical mood, I expressed his sentiments in a bit of verses. It was in part as follows:

A little potato lay lost and forgotten

In an attic ‘til it was almost half-rotten.

It looked for a time that its end was near

Until John in mercy just happened to appear.

He saw the potato all shriveled and stinking

Till its poor plight just set him to thinking:

“This poor lost potato all shrunken and blighted

Looks much like heathen, poor, lost, and benighted

This poor lost potato in its lost condition

Reminds me of sinners without Christ’s remission.”

Then all of a sudden as he rolled it about

He happened to notice it had started to sprout.

But on with the story-

Before returning to India, John dug his first crop and placed it in my care and keeping. Instead of one little half rotten potato there were now eight: All perfect; five large and three small ones. Realizing the responsibility of my trust they seemed like eight golden nuggets.

The following spring I planted those golden nuggets, making 25 hills. Needless to say, I gave them all the loving care possible, cultivating and spraying all summer long. And then my labor was rewarded with 249 potatoes, or about one and one fourth bushel. By simple arithmetic I figured that at this rate of increase (and, I thought, being very conservative) we should have at least 25 bushel at next harvest time. With these figures at hand, I sent the good news to John in India. He replied that he, with his native brothers, were following my progress with interest.

The next spring, I again made plans for planting. The potatoes had already out-grown my limited garden space, so I told the story to five farmer friends. They gladly consented to help me. My potato project had now become a cooperative venture. I gave each one their allotted share, feeling that I had placed them in good hands. We soon found that being missionary potatoes did not mean that they would be, in any way, immune to disease or exempt from devastations common to all potatoes. I am inclined to think that the worst culprit was the poor soil conditions not being suited or adapted to potato culture. It did appear, however, that my arithmetic had been in error, for the returns gathered at harvest time did not add up to what I had expected. We found, at this time, that we were in the possession of at least eleven bushel and with wiser heads, hoping that we could do better next year.

I learned that the old adage “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” also applied to potatoes. I placed them in storage to carry over for further planting. Here again I met with disappointment when in the spring I found that I now had a lot of wilted potatoes matted together with long sprouts. As potato seeds, they were in deplorably poor condition.

I determined, however, to continue the project as we had planned and use such as was at hand, including those sprouts. Perhaps it was the Scotch blood surging through my veins; I planted those sprouts also, alternating them with hills of regular potato seed. The results were most gratifying. You may believe it or not, but at digging time it was difficult to determine which had grown from sprouts. In this way I had increased the yield from my patch a great deal. It had been with reluctance and some apprehension that I had farmed out the rest of my seed much the same as the previous year, but, having put my hand to the wheel I could not turn back. The growing season was favorable in every respect but the harvest revealed that wiser heads had not as yet produced better potatoes. Instead we now had from several patches a lot of scabby unsightly potatoes. Then too, we suffered a real set-back in the loss of at least eleven bushel in a flooded area, causing rot. We had left 60 bushel for planting.

Should we again plant such potatoes? To do so would seem to have invited further disappointment. To some I would have given evidence of wisdom if I had written “finis” to my story at this time. But it was not in my heart to do so. There was just one year left to our planned project. Then too, there was already revolving in my mind certain plans and operations that I felt would bring ultimate success. The good spirit that must have protected that lone ‘tater in those first hectic days must have been hovering near to encourage me to continue.

Up to this time our potatoes, for the most part, had been produced under very ordinary farm conditions often in ground not suited for successful potato culture with little or no disease control measures. To continue we would need to use more scientific methods. It would first be necessary to find a proper storage. This was secured in the use of an abandoned hillside apple storage place. It would be further necessary to find a place where all of our potatoes could be planted in one field of suitable ground where disease control measures could be put into operation. But where to find such an ideal place – that was the question.

Like one of old, I started out one day not knowing where I was going. I was providentially directed to a good friend, a successful potato grower who proved himself a friend indeed. The Lord must have prepared his heart, for almost at once, upon hearing my story and predicament, he said that he thought he could help us. And, to my surprise he offered to give us the use of all his potato farming equipment, including enough really good ground for all of our needs. My gratitude was unbounded and I am not sure but I may have broken speed laws in returning home to report my good fortune. This, then, seemed to be the solution to all of our problems.

In due time the ground was fitted and the potatoes prepared for planting. When time for planting came it was a matter of only a few hours until they were all in the ground ready to grow. The rows of plants made their appearance in a surprisingly short time and the growing season was again favorable with the exception of a record-breaking heat wave. Soon it was a beautiful sight to behold: the potatoes growing in one plat of a little over two acres – one mat of luscious green dotted with white blossoms. I will confess that during the summer months I made numerous detours and leisurely drove past to view the beautiful field, reassuring myself that they were doing well. One day near the end of the season I parked my car along the road and walked through the field. I suddenly became curious to know what was going on under-ground. Were those nice potato stocks going to produce nice potatoes? So I stopped and very carefully dug several hills, and sure enough already there were a nest of nice clean “spuds”. If this was a fair sample I had nothing more to fear.

Harvest time was soon at hand, and with it the potato digging day arrived. With plenty of faithful help by my side, we followed the big two-row digger to the field. We were thrilled beyond description as it nosed its way through the ground. Like a bunch of excited school kids we followed along, both young and old, as best we could, watching the nice potatoes as they rolled to the top of the ground. There was little evidence of the potato scab which had been our worst enemy. Finally I stopped and gazed in amazement. Was it a miracle? It was difficult to believe that those beautiful potatoes were offspring of the parent stock we had planted in previous years. Certainly the scientific methods we had employed had paid good dividends.

We soon realized that we had encountered a back-breaking job picking up potatoes and, with some of the helpers, enthusiasm soon waned as they suddenly remembered that they had other work to do. But then, thanks to our beloved “shepherd of the flock” who had rushed home and sent out numerous telephone S.O.S. calls, enough new recruits soon arrived so that by sundown we had dug, bagged and transported them all to a storage place. Only then were we able to relax and review the results of our day's labor; tired, but happy.

And then we were agreeably surprised when we were met by a certain good lady, who led us to a lighted lawn table laden with refreshments. After a time of good fellowship – revived and feeling the blessing of the Lord – we returned home to tell of our day’s accomplishments.

About a week later we again met to grade and prepare the potatoes for market. With a very cooperative group of men I formed a “potato brigade”, keeping a continuous flow of potatoes over the grader and back into sacks – then over a scale, into 50 pound lots. The monotony of the work was broken by an occasional interruption for coffee or cokes, or for an occasional song such as “When We All Get to Heaven” or “Work for the Night Is Coming.” This continued for three evenings when at last with a glad “Hurrah” we saw the last potato roll down into the sack. They were now all ready for market. We found we had a little over 700 bags, 600 of which were first grade.

It seemed to us at this time that we had hurtled the last obstacle. It would be a simple matter to sell and dispose of them all. Our enthusiasm was of short duration through as the sorrowful news reached our ears that because of a bumper crop in other places the price was at a long-time low. We now found ourselves in the same boat with other potato growers. In fact, we were informed that some were plowing them under rather than place them on a glutted market. Wholesalers were buying only a limited quantity at reduced prices. Our potatoes were in bags and to hold them, which would involve additional labor and expense, was out of the picture. Truly, we were in another predicament.

We left them set for a number of weeks while various ways and mean were considered to sell them at a profit, none of which seemed to be the right answer. We spent some anxious days, but recovered as we were reminded that they were the Lord’s potatoes, and He would not let us fail at this point. We became aware of the fact that there were numerous potential customers – in the churches or otherwise – that could use them all if we could get them to buy. With a woman’s intuition, John’s mother suggested that we ask the churches to take orders and see what would happen. This was done and worked beautifully.

We had set the price at the average prevailing retail prices and promised to deliver at central places. Salesmen were appointed and others, self-appointed, took orders. All that was needed was to tell the story of the little potato and, presto, a sale was made.

This continued until to our consternation we found that we had more orders than potatoes. My dilemma at this time may be amusing to some – one day I was afraid that the potatoes would not sell; the next I realized that we did not have enough. If there would be a moral connected with this it would be: Do not be over-anxious or fearful when you are handling the Lord’s potatoes (or what have you). We should have had at least sixty more bags to fill orders.

By taking an average of the number of bags, we estimated that there were nearly a quarter of a million potatoes produced – all from that one little lone ‘tater. In its struggle for existence it had made a wonderful recovery.

The work, for which it was destined however, was only at its beginning. This fact was made known to us as John happily informed us that the success of our potato project was the deciding factor in starting the work of a mission in the big city of Calcutta.

The good it will do may yet be concealed—

In eternity someday it may be revealed.

The reward from one ‘lone ‘tater yet remains

To God be the glory for what it attains.

Written by: J. Mark Blosser

--father of John H. Blosser & grandfather of J. Mark Blosser

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 November News Letter

Celebrating 30 Years with TWR Dec 2nd

Trip to the US: We were walking down the jet way, lugging our carry-on bags and I was thinking to myself, “It’s about time to turn off my cell phone.” But before stepping through the door of the Boeing 777, I felt my phone vibrate. “Who could be calling me now?” To my surprise it was my son-in-law, Scott, sending me a text message saying, “Rhonda’s water has been broken and the baby will arrive within 24 hours.” After landing in Atlanta 16 hours later and waiting for our next plane to South Bend, the primary question in our minds was, “What’s going on in the hospital?” The answer came after we landed and I heard my brother shout, “Hey grandpa…welcome back! Xavier was born while you were in the air between Atlanta and South Bend. You may have been above the hospital at the exact moment!” That day we wasted no time in picking up the car a gracious supporter loaned us for the month. Fearing that I’d fall asleep at the wheel, we got some sleep and headed down to Bloomington the next day. Of course, Xavier is the cutest baby we have ever seen! During September we spent almost two weeks finding every chance we could, to feel that special 9lb 11oz bundle in our arms.
The remainder of the month was filled with family. Our son, Peter, came up from Texas for a week. We saw my older brother and his wife off to Cambodia, met Debbie’s brother and wife, who flew down from Alaska, visited Debbie’s mother (92), her sister and hubby (he has bone cancer), and my parents and other siblings. Dad is now 87 and must have almost every need attended to by someone else. I was touched by his statement just before we left for the airport to return to Swaziland. “Mark,” he said, “when you’re young, you wear diapers and when you are old you wear them again…but blessed be the name of the Lord who does all things well.” The nurses who care for him told me that he is a wonderful person who never complains and if all their patients were like him; their work would be a pleasure. “Dad, you led me to the Lord, you and Mom showed me how to live a God-pleasing life, and now you are showing me how to grow old and say with Paul…’I have fought the good fight and I have won the race.’” Mom spends about six hours a day with Dad. I couldn’t be more proud of my folks!

Near disaster with our play-out system: Early one morning, a week after returning from the US, I was informed by our maintenance man, Mbusi, that something was very wrong with the tower on top of our office building. This tower relays programs to our four transmitters, 35kms away. Alarmed, three of us met on the top floor and found that a guy point had rusted away under a concrete slab, where the problem was hidden from view. It was only hanging on by a thin piece of metal. The tower was leaning dangerously, and to our horror it affected all three guy wires on one side of the tower! If it let loose the tower would come crashing down and we’d be off the air for an undetermined amount of time, not to mention how it might hurt people below and damage property! We quickly strategized on what could be done to save the tower. To temporarily secure the tower, we decided to tie onto the maintenance pick-up truck for a solid anchor point. Once that was done, we breathed a sigh of relief. Over the next week, Mbusi secured the guy point with an ‘I’ beam in concrete to replace the hollow pipe. Mbusi was happy to get his maintenance truck back after the wires were transferred! Will you praise the Lord with us for allowing and helping us to save the tower?

New Couple Arrives: Shortage of qualified technical staff here in Swaziland has been a constant struggle since we arrived in 2000. On October 14th we were all prepared to head off to the airport to pick up Tobi and Britta Pfeiffer, a new German couple. Just minutes before heading to the airport we were stopped in our tracks by a disappointing call from Tobi. “Our connection was too short in Jo’burg and we missed the flight,” said Tobi. Fortunately, they were able to get a later flight that same day and most of our staff was able to be at the airport to enthusiastically welcome them. Since then our days have been filled with orientating them to TWR and Swaziland. They have been married just a year and it reminds us of our experience 30 years ago when we left for Guam six months after our marriage, bringing very little with us. They seem very excited about their future here. We’re also pleased to have them as next-door neighbors. Please pray as they settle into life and work here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 August News Letter

Tower Problem Repaired: Remember I shared with you about the rust holes in one of the legs of one of our towers? That problem has been repaired at very little cost and effort. It was something I thought would be a major job and would involve taking the tower down and being off the air with two antennas. Someone pointed me to a link on the internet where my friend, Jim Hulse (head of a company called “Towers for Jesus”) had come across a similar problem. He showed how he solved his problem by welding a bigger pipe around the damaged section of tower. We then contacted a tower engineer in South Africa, showed him pictures of our problem, pointed him to the website and asked him for his advice. He answered by saying the solution was acceptable, but gave some further pointers on how we could improve the patch. Armed with this knowledge, we hired an expert welder who came and did the job in four hours for less than $500!

Debbie’s surgery: But the biggest event for us was a week-long trip to Johannesburg which ended up being four weeks. Over the last few months Debbie has not been feeling the greatest. We could not figure out what was wrong and we kept thinking that she would come out of it and her health would level out. She seemed to have no appetite and was gradually losing weight. Finally, we insisted that our family doctor take a closer look and after an ultra sound, he informed us that it might be time for Debbie to shed a body part. A gynecologist confirmed that her fibroids were at a stage where it was advisable for her to have a hysterectomy. Scheduling was such that we could either have it done immediately, or wait two months. Although it involved a lot of changed plans, we decided it was best to proceed right away. This meant that she would need to recover in Johannesburg for a number of weeks, which clashed with our Global Human Resources meetings which had been planned to be held in Swaziland. The venue of the meetings was subsequently changed to Johannesburg. Debbie is feeling much better, her appetite has returned and she is gaining back some of the weight she lost. We are praising the Lord!

But the timing of Debbie’s surgery was even more amazing! Would you believe that it fell on our 30th wedding anniversary, June second? The hospital marketing department got wind of it and brought her a beautiful arrangement of flowers. The next day I visited the surgeon’s office, which is in the same building. The receptionist seemed interested in hearing about the flowers, to the point where I said I knew who might have been instrumental in making the arrangements. With a knowing smile she admitted to leaking the information. Indeed, it was a good PR move… I’m letting the whole world know!

Our Close Friends Leave Africa: Another advantage of having Debbie’s operation early was it allowed us to spend three weeks with our friends, Ray and Sandy Alary. Ray was instrumental in our coming to Africa when our time in Sri Lanka ended. Since then we have gone camping, hiked, played games and made ministry plans together. So our friendship grew quite close over the past nine years. Much to our disappointment, Ray accepted the position of President of TWR Canada and was leaving Southern Africa on the first of July. At that point they were in a temporary house, so we moved in with them and kept each other company. Since we were so close, I was asked to help with their farewell. I not only served as MC, but impersonated Ray in the skits. I told him he was going to be well roasted and roasted he was! It was a time we will never forget! To play the part I started the event as my normal self, but returned as Ray, with my hair cut like his (short!) and also cut off my beard. He has somewhat of a crooked nose, so I made mine the same with a piece of tape. I didn’t even tell Debbie my plans to cut my hair and beard, so she was totally surprised! I’m just glad she’s a good sport, or I might have found myself in the dog house.

Yes, our life in Africa isn’t boring!

Your friends in Swaziland!

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 May News Letter

We will be grandparents soon! When we were writing you last time we were dying to tell you the big news, but Rhonda and Scott were not ready to announce it to the world. But now the news is out and we even know it is going to be a boy! Can you tell that we are excited? The baby is due around the first of September. We are planning a trip to the US to see the little guy, leaving South Africa September 5th and returning October 2nd. We already have our tickets! Do you know of a vehicle we could borrow for a couple of weeks? If you do, please let us know. It would be a huge help!

When Rhonda was having a checkup they found that she had an ovarian cyst. The decision was made to have it removed before the baby started taking up too much space. The operation was on March 31st. We are thankful that Rhonda and the baby are doing well and the recovery time has been short. Rhonda even went back to work recently.

New Leadership for TWR Africa: We are very excited about two new leaders who have joined TWR Africa--Dr. Emmanuel Mbennah and Pastor Bobo Gomes Co. Dr. Mbennah, from Tanzania, will be the Africa International Director (filling the spot left by Rev. Stephen Boakye-Yiadom when he passed away suddenly in June 2007). Bobo, from Guinea-Bissau, will be in training to become a Regional Director. Soon after both of these men made their decision to join TWR, they were each involved in separate accidents.

Bobo was pushing a stalled car somewhere in West Africa when another vehicle passed them on the wrong side of the road and hit him. He was thrown into the air, breaking his leg and landing on his head. Medical care was not readily available, but they patched him up in Senegal. Once he was well enough to travel, he and his family flew to South Africa. Upon arriving, he was given a complete medical checkup. We were shocked to hear that the doctor discovered his neck was broken in two places! He could have dropped dead at any moment because of where the breaks were located, so he was quickly operated on. They also found his leg was not set properly and corrective surgery will be needed. It will be some time before they are able to do the surgery as his neck must heal first.

I will be driving Bobo and his family over from Jo’burg to Swaziland on April 28th, where he will be training for his new position. He fluently speaks all three major languages spoken in Africa (English, French and Portuguese) as well as his mother tongue. Please pray for Bobo and his family as they come through this very difficult time and adjust to Swaziland.

Dr. Mbennah’s accident involved his vehicle rolling over three times in East Africa! He and those with him only sustained minor cuts and bruises, for which we are very thankful! He will be officially installed as the Africa International Director for TWR on May 2nd in Johannesburg. Debbie and I, along with other staff members will be attending.

New TWR President to visit Swaziland: Our new president, Lauren Libby, will also be attending Dr. Mbennah’s induction service and then coming over to Swaziland to see the work here. We are very excited to get to know him. We’ll be having a staff braai (barbecue) and a dedication service for a studio while he is here.

A Tower Problem: Recently I was involved with a repair job on our antenna which is pointing toward Madagascar. As I was climbing the second tower, I was shocked to see a few rust holes in one leg of the tower, about 80 feet up. Upon further investigation we discovered that the drain hole at the bottom of the tower was blocked and water was accumulating in the hollow tower leg. This is of great concern to us as we know that the tower is at risk unless it can be repaired. Please pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to take the correct action. The tower is the middle of three towers which supports two log-periodic antennas.

Medium Wave Transmitter: This transmitter is still to arrive sometime this year. The HCJB Global team who are preparing it, continue to find things which need to be done before it can be shipped. We’re glad they are finding and fixing potential problems before it comes to Africa where it is harder to get parts and our expertise is not as great.

As you can see, a lot is happening. We appreciate your prayers.

Your friends in Swaziland!

2009 February News Letter

Christmas has come and gone and we are already ending the first month of 2009. My, how time flies! Debbie and I went to Jo’burg to celebrate Christmas with our friends and co-workers, Ray and Sandy Alary. A few years ago their nephew, Chad, came out to work with TWR on some short term tower projects. We were on the tower together when we installed the Benin tower. While Chad was here he met a young lady, fell in love and they decided to get married. We attended their wedding on the 20th of December and then stayed in the city until the day after Christmas. A number of the family came out from Canada for the wedding, so we had a good time with a lot of people around. This helped us, as we were not able to be with our family this Christmas.

Mark’s 40th High School Class Reunion: For some time now we had looked forward to attending my 40th class reunion in India. Our friends, Ray and Sandy, asked if they could come along, since they had never been to that part of the world. It was fun traveling together, visiting the Taj Mahal and some of the touristy places on the way to Woodstock School. This is where I attended boarding school for almost all of my grade school years. Ray and Sandy came to all the class gatherings as well. I thought they would be bored, but they seemed to be fascinated by all the stories and experiences we MK’s had to tell. It was an exciting time for all of us to reminisce. Debbie was reluctant to go because she usually gets sick. This time, however, we all stayed well and even had nothing stolen or lost! Of course, it is always fascinating to see my old stomping

grounds and try to get back some of the old feelings, smells and experiences I had when I was a young guy. Spinning tops were the in thing to do back then, so I stopped in at the shop which carried them. They still had two in the drawer, so I bought one and began to try an old trick of throwing the top down, pulling back on the string and catching the spinning top in the palm of my hand. It took a few tries, but I did it! Thanks to my classmate, Max, you can even see it on YouTube at the following link:

New Shortwave Transmitter: The new transmitter is now up and running. We have even begun a new broadcast to Ethiopia. Thanks for your support and prayers! Modifications on the building are still continuing though.

Medium Wave Transmitter: I’m pleased that the Medium Wave, Harris transmitter is again looking like it will come to Swaziland. Some of the questions we had concerning it were answered when Steve, our chief engineer, went to the States to attend a training course and interact with other engineers to learn all he could about it. HCJB Global recently told us they are making good progress with modifications we need. Pray that all the final details will come together and it will be shipped soon.

Farming God’s Way: The Farming God’s Way training went very well! We had over 50 attend, which was about the maximum number we could accommodate. The amazing thing was that we did not advertise the training. People just started calling and reserving a place! Part of the training was a practical session in which we planted a small plot of ground using the methods being taught. Now the corn is about seven feet tall and looks wonderful! It will be fun to see what the yield will calculate out to per hectare. A number of people who took the training are also coming back with good reports.

Sad News and Good News: Two couples who are our very close friends, Ray & Sandy Alary and Lee & Lonna Lowell will be leaving this region soon. This is quite discouraging to Debbie and me, as we depend on them in our work, as well as socially. Ray is becoming the new President of TWR Canada and Lee will be taking up a position at our Cary office. Please pray that the right people will be found to fill their shoes. On the happy side of things, a new Africa International Director has been found for our region to take the place of Rev. Stephen Boakye-Yiadom, who passed away suddenly in 2007. His name is Dr. Emmanuel Mbennah, from Tanzania. This is a huge answer to prayer! I will be meeting him this week, but he will not be taking up his position until April first. Please pray for these transitions.

Yes, each year is filled with transitions. My prayer is that God will lead all of us through life’s changes, but we will keep our trust and faith in Him…who never changes!

2008 November News Letter

Have you ever seen a lavender tree? We have them here in Africa and they are beautiful! In September, the Jacaranda trees begin to turn lavender and by October they are in full bloom; often with what almost looks like purple snow under them as the flowers fall to the ground. The rains also begin at this time of the year, turning the brown landscape into a lush green. It is beautiful!

Work Team from Sugar Grove Church: The work team my brother Joel organized has come and gone. Their two weeks seemed to fly by. I thought the ceiling job in the transmitter building would take up most of their time. But soon after arriving, Joel warned me that this team works hard and fast, so we’d better have some more jobs lined up for them. Sure enough, they finished the job in just four days! However, finding enough work for this “dream team” wasn’t a problem. We could have used them another few weeks. What they were able to do was just enough to cut down the huge mountain of work which we saw looming ahead. It all seems doable now. It is so neat to see the Lord supply the right people at the right time. Each night we enjoyed supper around our dinner table. A lot of laughter filled the air as we interacted with each other. Thanks, Sugar Grove Church, for sending these angels all the way to southern Africa to help us! What a blessing they were!

New Shortwave Transmitter Arrives: As I mentioned in our last letter, the new HC100 transmitter was on its way. Now it has arrived. I thought it would arrive after the team was due to leave on September 20th. However, the transmitter arrived early, giving the team two days to unload, position, bolt together, and add a new soffit above the existing transmitters, as well as start the soffit above the new one. Recently Larry McGuire and his wife Virginia, former Swaziland staff members, arrived from HCJB Global, Elkhart, Indiana. Larry will commission the transmitter and make sure all is well before returning to the US. The old Continental transmitter is running out of steam, so retiring it is something we are very much looking forward to. The savings on the electricity bill will be substantial and the radio signals will be stronger and reach further. Thanks to all who have given toward this project, it now looks like it will be a reality very soon. Last I heard the project was still about $70,000 short of the amount we need. So if you’d like to give, there’s still opportunity.

Medium Wave Transmitter: I’m pleased that the Harris Medium Wave transmitter is again looking like it will come to Swaziland. Some of the questions we had concerning it were answered when Steve, our chief engineer, went to the States to attend a training course and interact with other engineers to learn all he could about it.

Farming God’s Way: A number of months ago we began airing a program called ‘Farming God’s Way.’ It has been getting good response and generating excitement. This title seemed a bit strange to me when I first heard about it. You mean there is a godly way to farm? So, I attended a seminar to see what it is all about. I thought I’d learn a bit about farming in the process, as I was involved in agriculture when I worked in Bangladesh many years ago. But as I sat and listened, it became very evident that principles were being taught which involved much more than just farming. It was teaching a way of life which is dependent on our Lord and gives Him the glory for the increase. It involves biblical training, technology and management. The man teaching was a very prosperous Zimbabwean white farmer who had his farm taken away from him. He had to make a choice; to become bitter and angry or follow our Lord’s example and look for ways to bless those around him, even though some had hurt him deeply. He decided on the latter and dedicated his life to helping the poor. His realized he was doing farming all wrong and completely changed! This new method of farming has four principles. Do things on time, do all to an excellent standard, do not waste and do the work with joy, giving God the glory. These can be carried out by poor people and increase their harvest by 16 times and more when growing corn, their staple crop. I was so impressed with the training I asked him to come to Swaziland to train people here. This will take place the end of this week and may revolutionize farming in this part of Africa.

Recently we received word that due to changes in income of some of our long-time supporters and friends, our support income will be dropping about $350 a month. This is understandable and happens from time to time. But, at the same time, we want to let the rest of you know so if you feel led to help fill this gap, you can take the opportunity. We continue to be amazed how many of you continue to faithfully support us year after year. It is humbling to realize that you have faith in us to continue to carry on with the Lord’s work in this corner of the world. It is even more amazing to realize that as of December 2nd, this has been happening for 29 years! Thank you all for your faithfulness!

Stay tuned for our next letter in February.