September 28, 2012

My dad retires today, and so my tenure as a judge's daughter comes to a close.  I am so proud of Dad, and his accomplishments through the years.  He is a man of integrity and has been passionate about his work and the young people of Chatham County.
Last December we took Carter and Grace to watch him in action, and we got to see him do what he's been doing for 32 years - listen to evidence, speak to the kids and caregivers involved, and make decisions that are hopefully in their best interest.  I love how along with his judgments, he dispensed advice and encouragement to the kids and their parents or grandparents. 

"Remember this one simple thing - keep your hands to yourself to school."
"Look at your mom.  She loves you, and you need to respect her."
"Honesty isn't the best policy.  It's the only policy." (Boy did I hear that one a lot over the years).

It's killing me that I can't be there for the retirement ceremony.  My mom, my two brothers and their families, Dad's brother and sister, they all will be there.  This is one of the really hard things about life overseas - missing out on family milestones.  I've missed the births and infancies of numerous nieces and nephews, weddings, graduations, birthday parties, and the funerals of my beloved grandmothers.  The funerals were probably the hardest to miss.  

I know Dad understands, but I really, really wish I could be there.  

I love the Vintage Beam picture from 1980 below - my dad, so uncharacteristically serious; my mom, so pretty and put together, as always; my grandparents; Jonathan sporting the Peter Pan color and knee socks; my older bro Ken, the lucky one who got to hold the Bible; and me, in the fluffy pink dress. 

Happy Retirement, Dad!  I love you!

September 23, 2012

Please Pray for Esther

A school with no teachers.

A clinic with no doctors or nurses. 

A library with no books.

These landmarks were on the tour of Mamit my friend Esther gave me last week.  As she and I walked around the village where she and her husband teach at a Bible school, David circled overhead in the plane, checking out two new pilots at the airstrip.  

Situated on a hill at 5,000 feet in the Swart Valley, Mamit is home to several hundred souls, scratching out a living as subsistence farmers.  There is a government-provided school and clinic, and teachers and doctors receive wages to work here, but they rarely make an appearance in this remote spot.  

And so, babies are dying of curable diseases and children are growing up illiterate.

While Wes teaches a group of Bible school students that attend the school from surrounding villages, Esther teaches the students’ children.  She currently has 50 kids, from babies up to older elementary age.  The older kids tote their bare-bottomed baby siblings along to Esther’s classes, where she teaches them the basics of reading, writing, and math.
She spoke of her frustration with starting over new with the kids each year, how they just haven’t been taught anything – discipline, letters, group play, Bible stories – it’s all new to these kids.

And yet, she sees breakthroughs.  She had one of her students demonstrate for me her ability to write.  The child beamed at me as she wrote in her Lani language, “my mother, my father.”

When I told Esther how much I admire her and Wes and their sacrificial lives lived in service of a remote people group, she told me, “It’s only through the Holy Spirit pouring out in his love in our hearts.”

Wes and Esther live a simple life, eating pretty much the same thing every day – porridge for breakfast, an ubi (sweet potato) and greens for lunch, and noodles for supper.  Lately, Esther said, the sweet potatoes have been scarce.

“I guess we need to pray, ‘and give us today our daily ubi,’” she joked.  But it’s no joke.  On the day we visited we brought seven trays of eggs, and Esther said she would start giving them out to sick people.  “The eggs really make a difference,” she said.

It would be easy to become discouraged looking at the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the people of Mamit, and knowing their problems are no doubt replicated over and over in villages all over the province.

And yet, what a joy it is to know that we – our family – with MAF is helping to support the ministry of Wes and Esther.  And while it seems like such a tiny scratch on the overwhelmingly needy surface of humanity, it is making a difference.

Just yesterday we heard that Esther has been sick with a bad cough and fever.  Having seen the inadequate medical facilities with my own eyes, I ask you to please join me in praying for my friend Esther, that she would quickly get over this illness and regain her strength, and that she and Wes would be encouraged in their work.