November 4, 2012
Thank you for your continuing faithfulness in supporting this ministry. Our economy continues to struggle and many ministries are hobbled also. We are grateful when God provides for our friends and they are willing to share His goodness with us.
This has been a difficult month for me as I work through the pile of correspondence and bills that have accumulated during my wife’s long battle with cancer. Jinny went to heaven September 12, and the stresses of establishing new routines after 53 years of marriage have complicated daily attempts to recover control of the schedule. David and Dana Thacker have helped considerably as I have entertained a houseful of company and am relearning skills required to clean house, wash clothes, make beds and fix breakfast. My son, Colin Jr., in Tanzania and my daughter, Cathy, in San Diego County were unable to attend the funeral so our home Church of the Open Door in Glendora, California is hosting a memorial service December 18 so we can all be together. The funeral here was streamed live on the internet to enable friends and relatives around the world to join us in celebrating Jinny’s life. It remains available on our website, etmnc.org, and has been a blessing to many.
I had to cancel my discipleship training trip to Romania and the Ukraine in July due to Jinny’s illness and she made me promise to reschedule, so David and I leave October 25 and return November 14. That means receipting at month end will be delayed. We just received final translation copy last week of the training materials we will need, so I think we are prepared for ministry. My only concern now is whether I am in shape to handle the travel, unusual foods, unusual sleeping arrangements and 8-10 hour daily teaching schedules.
Dr. Caminata is safely back in Italy but is finding the adjustments and opposition to ministry very difficult. Many of the team building plans he has been working for months to develop appear to be coming apart. Please pray with us for patience and focus to hang tough. Many missionaries and pastors depend on his encouragement to keep going.
October is leaf month for us. Cars and motorcycles from all over come to the Smoky Mountains for the color season. The combination of leaves on the ground and even a light rain increases the chances of accidents and complicated travel schedules. Driving to and from airports can be stressful.
We are very encouraged that, even though we feel the negative impact of a poor economy, our opportunities to minister continue to expand. Please join us in praying for stamina and wisdom to be able to respond well to the needs of those who truly desire to beco1ne disciples.
God bless you doing your part to make it all work.
June 5, 2012
Thank you for your commitment to support this vital ministry. We are encouraged every month as we write these letters how many good and faithful friends God has put together on a team to make disciples of the nations. We have the daily excitement of watching people grow in their faith and learn to invest in the lives of others but, without our support team, that would be just a dream.
May is the usual “flowers and mothers” month so I’ll report on one at a time. The trilliums are gone now but they were spectacular last month and there are a few remaining in shady areas. Right now the mountain laurel have turned one of our coves into a wonderland of color. The out-of-control rhododendron try to outshine them but it’s hard to compete. We had a shock when I took Jinny into the emergency for attention to severe pain in her back only to discover that not only did she have a fracture of number one lumbar vertebra but her kidneys were in extreme failure. The doctors reacted immediately to save her life and she was transferred five times in five days by ambulance only to discover after dozens of tests that she has multiple myeloma. I was able to bring her home May 9, the same day our son and his wife arrived on their way to a mission assignment in Tanzania. The daily ten day grind of driving 2 hours each way to care for her and get home to carry on ministry assignments is finally over so now I can get caught up on work and sleep. Our lives and schedules are changed forever but our faith and determination to finish well remains strong. It is easier knowing we have a committed prayer support team for the road ahead.
Jim Caminata is having an effective ministry year but has been suffering health problems that the Italian health care system has been unable to address. He is coming to the U.S. for a short furlough and will spend a couple of days here the end of May before visiting his supporting churches and getting the medical attention he needs. We are excited about the ministry team God is putting together and look forward to helping Jim train the leaders.
David and Dana Thacker are also having a strong ministry year. Their passion for making disciples is having a great impact on both the students in their care and their parents. Their continuing ministry to young couples is now at the stage where their trainees are ready to train and equip others. Right now the missions trip they have been planning and training the team for is on hold but they continue to equip the team and pray for the mission assignment God has for them. Their faith and example are strong.
The ETM board meets here on June 4-5 which, with Jinny’s health restrictions and the new realities in our lives, has become a very important time for direction and decisions that must be made. We have a strong board of godly men who are unafraid of difficult decisions, and we look forward every year to the refreshing spirit they bring to encourage us all in the ministry. Thank you for standing with us in prayer that the impact of this effective ministry will grow in scope and in depth.
May 8, 2012
I have been unable to get out a letter so I am relying on this e-mail to get you up to date on Jinny's adventures.
Jinny left for Ramona, California, while the two men were here for study to care for Cathy's mother-in-law who has early Alzheimers. Before leaving she over-worked in her garden and had lower back pain. While in Ramona, she made 3 visits to a chiropractor to relieve the pain. After each session she would complain to me on the phone that she felt worse rather than better. I advised that she be patient with the process and trust the chiropractor who is a very good and caring man. She required wheelchair assistance for the plane ride back especially between flights in Houston. I picked her up in Knoxville the evening of April 23 in great pain. In spite of our ministry schedule, she was unable to do anything but rest all that week, April 24-29, so on Monday, the 30th I called her Dr. and took her to the emergency at Swain County Hospital in Bryson City for X-rays and CT Scan. They found a fracture of lumbar one and compression of 3 thoracic vertabrae but, more alarming, her kidneys were near total shut-down and she had what appeared to be an emobism on her lung. They immediately started an I-V and oxygen (her oxygen was below 80% and her anemia below 8) and it looked for several hours that we might lose her. Tuesday morning she was moved by ambulance to Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva where they had the equipment and expertise to follow up. By Wednesday, it had become clear that the doctors were nervous about her condition and their capablities so she was shipped again by ambulance to Mission Hospital in Asheville which is a two hour drive for me each way. Preliminary diagnosis was "Multiple Myeloma" which has now been confirmed. You can check it out on the Mayo Clinic website---they have a good description and general prognosis. Friends have been coming each evening to sit with her and give me a chance to come home to write month-end receipts, checks and letters and my usual accountability calls and counseling. She had 3 units of blood transfusion which improved her color considerably but they also discovered MRSA (sp) in her nose, probably from the many oxygen tubes in the hospitals and ambulances so she is in isolation, lock-down, in which everyone coming into the room has to wear gowns and gloves. Thursday, May 3, they took a bone marrow biopsy and full body skeletal X-ray but transferring her to a gurney and back to the bed was excruciatingly painful and she was being kept pretty dopey with morphine. Friday, they finally did the MRI and moved her again to a cancer ward in St. Joseph's Hospital which is a two hour drive away--- she was moved 5 times in 5 days but I doubt she will be moved again. The Dr.s planned to begin physio-therapy as soon as they could regulate the pain. She began chemo-therapy Saturday and today, she was able to walk, and is now able to get herself to the toilet. Her plasma count is supposed to be below 10% but is still above 95% so she remains a very sick lady. Colin and Becca are due to arrive here on Wednesday for two weeks before departing for Tanzania. I am still hoping she can be home before they come but it is looking doubtful right now.
Meanwhile, ministry goes on. Two guests arrived Thursday night and I came home to make beds and meals. I had an accountability meeting at 9:30 PM Thursday night and an accountability call from Italy at 11:30 PM. Friday morning I answered letters and e-mails before going back to the hospital. Glenn and Kim have been a great help by coming every evening to join me for supper and staying with Jinny until she wants to sleep so I can go home. Saturday I had to mow lawns before running back to Asheville. This morning I had to wash clothes. Thank you for praying with us for stamina and grateful hearts.
Fortunately, I have not yet booked the tickets for the Romania ministry trip but we will need wisdom to know what is best.
April 24, 2012
It is with a deep sense of grief and loss that I write this letter as a tribute to my late friend and colleague, Al Jaggi. Al has been an ETM board member since 2006. Al died of sudden cardiac arrest while helping a friend move his family on Friday afternoon, March 30, 2012. Al was the elder for outreach of Grace Community Church of Ramona, California. His memorial service was held on Saturday, April 7, which I was privileged to attend.
Al was an avocado farmer who inspired us all by bringing his "can do" farmer's work ethic to our shared commitment to make disciples of Jesus. He figured that if a man told you what he wanted and how he wanted it done, showed you how to do it and provided all the materials and supplies required to "git 'r done", it was up to you to figure out how to do it. When Al learned that His Father had made it clear how He planned to build His church through making disciples and had sent His Son to show us the how, where and when, and had sent His Holy Spirit to provide all the resources to make it happen, he said, "What are we doing standing here leaning on our shovels and talking about making disciples as though we didn't know what our job was or where to start?"
In 2007, I asked Al to accompany me on a ministry trip to Benin, West Africa. He said he would have to pray about that because he had never been further from home than Mexico. Less than an hour later, he said, "I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't have to pray about that. I know that's what God wants me to do. Count me in." We were nearly killed in a head-on collision when a driver coming the other way wandered across into our lane flipping our vehicle over 3 times. Never once did Al suggest that we shouldn't have gone.
Through Al's discipling ministry, a "band of brothers" discipleship study of about 20 men started and from that has developed a church plant in San Antonio, Mexico, a Spanish fellowship in Grace Church, and a church renewal project in Shelter Valley, CA. Please pray with us that these ministries will continue with vigor and imagination in his absence.
It is my prayer that this short tribute to my brother will inspire you to pick up a shovel and get to work. See Romans 13:11-12 for encouragement.
March 18, 2012
Thank you for your generosity for the work of this exciting ministry. We had a wonderful West coast ministry trip. We were away almost the entire month of February, drove over 5,500 miles, enjoyed fellowship with hundreds, especially family and long time friends, and have returned home tired and overweight but refreshed. We were concerned about driving all that way considering the recurring effects of my concussion, but all went well. A special thanks to all those who were praying us through this ambitious adventure.
One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to teach the church plant in Mexico via Skype. The excitement of the translator (Veronica) God has given us and the enthusiasm of the Mexican church members for the Word of God is infectious. The youth group from First Baptist under the direction of David Thacker is preparing to minister to the Mexican church in July. I’m sure the young people will experience the same infection. Some of the parents are concerned about the group’s safety, so we are asking all our friends to pray for favorable conditions for successful ministry and the victory of faith over fear.
Recent reports from our colleague, Pastor Gabriel Doko, in Benin, West Africa, are encouraging. The translation of the book, Acceptable Costs, is near completion and the “Appendices” in French are ready for proof-reading. These have to be completed before I can plan to return to complete the training, hopefully, some time next spring. I am eager to complete this special project.
Our colleague in Romania, Pastor Valentin Tent, is encouraged by the number of study groups he leads and has asked for me to accompany him to the Ukraine to introduce the Russian translation of the “Models” and to train pastor friends there, perhaps as early as June. Our colleague, Dr. Jim Caminata, is making plans to return to Armenia to teach the “Appendices” in the seminary in Yerevan. All of these depend on available funding for the international projects to complete translations and travel to train disciples. The older I get, the more committed I become to completing projects rather than starting new ones.
The World is going through a very unsettling period with struggling communities, churches and families. Our solution is to keep doing what Jesus commanded of His followers, “go and make disciples of every nation.” We’re engaged full throttle in this endeavor and are grateful to have colleagues in ministry Who are equally committed.
God bless you