February Newsletter 2019
Where is the Rembrandt? The family is in crisis and needs help!
Everywhere we go in the world, we see the same dilemma. There is a real breakdown of the traditional family unit. Families are being drawn further and further away from the beautiful design for which God has created families - to live with freedom from bondage to sin, life in Christ, to be a picture of Christ and the church - a walking Rembrandt, and to live life to the full! Redemption and transformation are the focus of the Lord and we want to share with others the news of His plan for abundant life!
If children aren't taught these truths when they are young, they will follow the ways of the world and end up with the natural consequences of pain and brokenness that will influence them all their lives. Jesus wants to give us peace and joy, which all people on the globe desire, even in the conflicts of life that we all encounter. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!" John 16:33
We are having opportunities to teach children in the public school, through the Alpha Course, about Jesus, the Bible, and the benefits of a life devoted to Him. Some of them have heard a bit before but it doesn't seem to interest them. We are working with children in Kids Club who often come from broken families, and some are experiencing trauma of different types, none of which they desire. Broken children from broken families. 70% of children are born to single mothers here in St. Lucia, just like Clayton County in South Atlanta where we lived for the last year in the States, some moms must work or prefer to "play" while grandma raises the babes. The positive is that grandma seems to be the only one reading the Bible! One question we asked this week: "Is the Bible relevant today?" The soft voices of students with a Caribbean accent, and the noise level of a crowded room make the discussion of these truths very difficult, but we continue to press on. Perhaps some students are really listening and grasping these truths, presented with a video and followed by questions and discussion. I (Jenny) wrote a handwritten note to each of my students, encouraging them with the Word of God addressing a need I saw in each of their lives. I pray that it will impact each one. Two students thanked me as they left the classroom, which was an encouragement. Pray that God will speak to each one as they ponder the questions we raise.
Kids Club continues to grow with almost 30 last Saturday. They often seem to be hungry when they arrive. Manessa introduced prayer, prayed, and we sang two songs and jumped around with the upbeat kids' songs. Then we divided up into age groups of little ones up to 6 with Mary Beverly (or Melissa), 7 -11 yr olds with me (or Manessa), then 13-15 yr olds with Merle (and Guy) going through the Alpha course and doing experiential learning activities. The elementary kids in my class were drawing pictures of their families and learning about God's plan for them, to be changed to the image of Jesus. There is always time for the kids to run around the yard and play, which they love, though we only have the torn up ball in the bottom left picture and a couple frisbees. They don't seem to mind, but they can still get into fights and calling each other mean names. Manessa does a lot of instruction as these kids often are not from Christian churched homes. Marylin made sandwiches and a cake and we celebrated March Birthdays. The boy in the red shirt in the center is suffering from sickle cell disease. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant. Josiah/Johnny is often in pain in his hips and knees and occasionally in the hospital, but I love that smile!
Merle has been Mr. Plumber around here, fixing the pressure pump, accessing the leak in this old house because of an apparent break in the line under the concrete slab, no water coming to the downstairs bathroom, only hot coming to the upstairs bathroom, and then repairing the problems. He also rearranges beds, moves heavy objects, does yard work and cuts the grass. He is great at dishes and mopping, as well! And keeps us smiling. Merle's phone was stolen Sunday afternoon from the beach. Big bummer. We are praying to get it back - which would definitely demonstrate that with God, nothing is impossible!
Jenny assists Salma at church in leading worship, hugs Manessa, and plays scrabble with Asaph and Ben, whom she is also teaching piano. Amora, Manessa's daughter, is also learning piano, and went for her first snorkeling adventure on Sunday afternoon! She saw a lion fish, lots of black, long spiny sea urchins, as well as a large assortment of fish! Forever getting kicked off-line can make writing a newsletter tedious. Hope you enjoy reading this!
Sean and Heather, missionaries with us in Sarajevo and our dear friends currently living in Atlanta, visited us here in St. Lucia! They played cards with Asaph and Amora, were able to see the beauty of St. Lucia, and meet some of the people with whom we are involved. They encouraged us so, and brought along some treasures of music books, coffee, Oxi-clean stick, a few items that aren't available here or are just too expensive, kitchen towels and washcloths, a sewing kit, an inexpensive clock, sewing supplies for Manessa, and many odds and ends that we requested. It was so great to snorkel and spend time with them! Thanks for listening, like pastors to missionaries. You encouraged us and cared for us!
Marylin made "bakes" for us all, kind of like non-sweet doughnut pockets, to insert scrambled eggs for brunch, or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar! A rare sweet treat!
Merle and I went to the Valentine Dance and Fund Raiser for the Preschool associated with the church we are attending. We danced two country western swings and Merle danced with lots of little girls! There were lots of mothers and little girls, all dressed up, and a few men and boys.
We joined neighbors and friends who cooked and sold, or bought chicken dinners to raise funds for Marylin's brother who had lost his job and needed some financial help. The music was quite loud, with giant speakers set up on the street of the crowded neighborhood. Above is Marylin's mother and her sweet kitchen, and the outdoor food line set up next door at a small store.
Merle celebrated his Birthday without snow, which he loved, with our dear friends Denise and Chee. They treated us to ice cream at the marina. They are always blessing us! And this month, Hannah turned a quarter of a century! We missed seeing her. Last year we drove to see her in upper Michigan after visiting a supporting church in upper Wisconsin. Burrrrr. But not as cold as this year has been for all you North Americans!
We are loving God's creativity! Thanks for loving God and us!