July 2013 Update
Kurt & Barb Mathews (1990)
FOURTH OF JULY FUN
When you are in a foreign country that doesn't celebrate the same holidays as you are used to, it is sometimes hard to teach your children about those holidays and why we celebrate. In the past, our children have struggled with appreciating their American heritage. They love Ghana and have lived here most of their lives, so it's understandable. So, I was pleasantly surprised when, on the morning of the fourth, my kids got all dressed up in their red, white, and blue, ready to celebrate America's Independence. Sarah even painted fingernails, drew American flags and wrote "USA" on her siblings with marker and white-out.
Getting away for even a day gives great rejuvenation!
Our teammates, Jim and Carla Junge, had found a place about an hour away that is on the Volta River with swimming pools, a trampoline, ping-pong tables, fuse ball, volleyball, swings, little bicycles, and boats to ride. It was amazingly inexpensive for the day, so the whole team packed lunches and headed out for a day of fun and relaxation.
We praise the Lord for these special family days to get away and spend time just having fun and enjoying one another.
CELEBRATIONS OF LIFE
Sometimes God does things that we don't understand. When a loved one dies or is suffering in some way, it hurts us all. This morning we remembered a young man who was a humble servant of God and a great friend and encourager to all who knew him. Francis Kofi went home to be with the Lord while we were in the States, but we had his memorial service at Grace Baptist Church in Ho this morning. So, we are celebrating his new life in Heaven with God. We are not crying for him, but only for ourselves as we miss him so much. We were privileged to know him for several years while he lived his short time here on earth. He drove a taxi and did it in a God honoring way and we praise the Lord for his life.
While we were in Ho remembering Kofi and celebrating his new life, others were in Togo celebrating the life of another of our church leaders. Wilson Amevor used to drive between Ghana and Togo a lot for missionaries and guests. One day, five years ago, he was in a terrible accident. Amazingly, God spared his life. Today he was celebrating the life that God has given him, with more years to serve God.
Both of these men were church leaders. With one man, God chose to take him home. And with the other, God chose to leave him on the earth to keep serving. Through both lives, God gets the glory. "His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts." May God be praised!
Until next time,
Barb, for the Mathews
We finally settled on a house and the work has begun in earnest. Most of Kurt's time is spent either overseeing the work at the house or checking on the car to see what work is being done there. Sometimes it can be discouraging to have to spend so much time doing these things when that isn't our reason for being here at all. But God often gives us opportunities to share the gospel. For example, we went to see the first fitter (mechanic) where the car was while we were in the States. That fitter owes us money and we went to collect it (because he told us to come that day). While we were waiting for him to arrive at the shop, Kurt stood under the shade tree and shared the gospel with several of the men who were also sitting around for one reason or another. I also had an opportunity yesterday as I was going into town to buy paint. Dorcas and I were waiting for a taxi at the road side and one of our neighbors stopped to give us a ride into town. While riding with him, I discovered that he's the pastor of a local church called "Word Of Life Church" (not related to the Word of LIfe clubs we are familiar with in the States). I asked him what he believed about the gospel and what he teaches in his church. It was encouraging to hear that they also preach the truth of the gospel (salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ), but there were some differences in what they believe about the sign gifts. Anyway, there are many opportunities like that that come our way. I remember once when I was in college and I heard a missionary say that 80% of the missionary's time was spent just living life wherever he serves. The missionary takes every opportunity that he can to share about Christ - while standing in line, riding in a taxi, working on a house or car, etc. You can do that too, you know. :-) Share and show Christ by how you live each and every day.
Anyway, the house that we rented didn't have any ceilings, the floor wasn't finished, only one bathroom was finished and didn't work well, there were no windows installed, nothing at all in the kitchen, etc. So, slowly but surely, we have been making progress at getting these things done.
You can pray for us that we will continue to be godly examples in how we respond to others and how we work.
Have I told you all how much we love to have visitors? Well, we do, and each and every one of you are welcome to come and visit us whenever God makes it possible. Last Friday was a special time for us because we had a house full with 24 people to fellowship together. We made pizza and salad and yummy ice cream sandwiches to help with the fellowship because we all know that food and fellowship go hand-in-hand. Our special guests included some people from America, Togo, and Ghana.
We only got a picture with some of our guests. The visitors from America came to help with the dedication of the junior high block of Victoria Memorial Christian School and were staying with good friends of ours, Edem and Maggie Koku. The Togolese guests were friends of Vicki's and Ben's who came over for an ordination service of a family member. And then we had all of the missionaries to add to the mix. It was great fun!
This week we are looking forward to a very special guest who is coming to stay with us for about a month. It's kind of a surprise to some people here in Ghana, so I can't say who it is right now. But if you tune in next week, then I'll post a picture and tell you all about our special guest.
Until next week,
Barb, for the Mathews' clan
Growing a new generation of passionate Christ followers
OUR SURPRISE VISITOR
So, how many of you guessed who our surprise guest was? Yes, it is our oldest child, Hannah. She has been on her Bible translation internship trip to India, Thailand, and Myanmar and flew over to Ghana (on her way back to the US) to spend about a month with us. We were only telling a few select people here about her visit so that her friends could all be surprised. ONLY, this little sneak of a girl decided to FOOL US! Her flight was originally scheduled for Sunday, July 21. However, while Hannah was in India she came up with a sneaky plan to surprise us - SO, she wrote and told us that her flight was changed to Thursday, the 25th. (But really it wasn't.) We were all disappointed, but we are used to such changes happening, so we believed her and adjusted. The kids even made paper link chains to count down the days until she was to arrive. Hannah made her Ghanaian brother, Mawuli and her sister, Sarah her accomplices and Sarah did a great job keeping it to herself.
However, I should have guessed that something was up when Sarah's paper chain ended on that Sunday. Her excuse was that she ended it at the floor level and didn't want it dragging on the floor. I've always been gullible to a fault and I just took her word for it. (Sarah does other strange things like that regularly). :-)
Anyway, Sarah ended up with a bit of surprise herself because along the way, Hannah's flight from Myanmar got rerouted and delayed and she ended up arriving much later on Sunday night than originally planned. Mawuli met her at the airport and then they took local transport to Ho (about a three hour trip). They finally arrived around 1:00am. Hannah had called the Junges, our teammates who live near us, and asked if she could sleep at their house for the night in order to surprise us all in the morning. Mawuli, however, came and got Kurt to let him in to sleep at our house. He said nothing of Hannah being with him. He regularly shows up at our house at all hours, so we thought nothing of it. Kurt came back to bed and told me that Mawuli had arrived.
Early Monday morning Hannah walked over and snuck in to wake up her siblings. Kurt and I were talking in our room and didn't even see her. She surprised her sisters and we heard exclamations coming from their room. I just thought they had discovered that Mawuli was here. So, when Hannah came walking into our room, I was utterly confused! I was expecting to see Mawuli! I think my exact words were "What are YOU doing here? Kurt, I thought you said that Mawuli was here!" Kurt said to Hannah, "You big fat liar!". We know that these were our exact words because Hannah videoed all of our reactions and it has been played over and over since she got here.
So, we have been enjoying Hannah. Everyone is amazed that she still understands Ewe, our local language. She has given us all a report of her trip and we've enjoyed seeing all of her photos and videos. Below is a photo of Hannah (on the left) with another BI intern, Anne, who was with Hannah in India. I asked Hannah if she would be willing to give you all a short report of her trip and what she learned about Bible translation and how she might be a part of that in the future.
Hello all! Hannah here. As you know, I have just returned from a trip to Asia, with Bibles International. I was in India for three weeks, and in Myanmar for two, with a week in Thailand in between while we were getting visas for Myanmar. I got to see and participate in four different workshops while I was in Asia. During those workshops, I got to see the Bible translation process in several different stages. The first one was a new translator, who had just begun working on the Old Testament for his language. We were working in Exodus. The second workshop was a revision of a previously translated Bible, and we were working in Psalms. Since I am not trained to be a consultant, obviously there was only so much I could do. But the BI missionary consultant, who lives there in India, did her best to make sure we (myself and the other two interns on the trip with me) could participate.
In Myanmar, I got to see two different translations that were close to completing their New Testament. One of them actually hopes to be finished by February of 2014. I asked the man who is the translator for that language, and he said that he personally has been working on that translation for five years now; so it is very exciting to be so close to the finish line. He told us he was canceling all of his other responsibilities and appointments to concentrate just on finishing their New Testament. While we were there, he and two other men who were helping with the translation slept in the BI office. They were proofreading the New Testament, and they worked from seven in the morning until eleven at night so that they could finish before we had to leave.
I really loved being able to see the different steps of Bible translation, as BI does it. It was interesting, and it helped me to understand which parts of the process are more interesting to me and which are less interesting; which will be helpful for me as I continue my studies. I personally was interested in the linguistics part of what they do; but I didn't get to see much of that this trip. So what that means is that sometime in the future, I would like to go on another trip, and focus on the linguistics aspect of Bible translation. I hope to do that sometime after I have gotten a little more training, though. :)
Thank you to all of you who prayed for me, or supported me financially. I greatly appreciate it. May God bless you all!
(Oh - am I allowed to do this?)
Hannah, for the Mathews family (Hah!)
Growing a new generation of passionate Christ followers
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