Dear Friends and Family,

It’s about time I catch up on what’s been happening. I trust each have had special time to celebrate our Saviour’s birth and the blessings of the past year. We have been quite busy and are very grateful for your faithful prayers and support. As usual here in Chad things don’t quite go as anticipated so let me begin.

First in October Kathryn had the privilege of teaching at CEFE which is a Christian teacher’s college run by the church. It was refreshing to teach those who were a fresh canvas and could be set on the right path from the beginning. There were some 20 student teachers that were very eager to learn. Even here much of their teaching is theoretical so they were thrilled at Kathryn’s practical methods course on foundational literacy she has developed. One of the teachers who was teaching in the morning then coming to class all afternoon was spending most of her earnings just on transit fare and was ready to drop out but after taking part in this practical course she was determined to finish out the year. She would go to class each day putting into practice what she had learned the day before.

Chemin Simple Switch-it
CEFE literacy training
CEFE Juliette – student teacher

After our annual conference we were to go once again into the Kanem area we had done some training last year, however due to changes in the schools’ organization this was not possible. However when one door is closed there is often another that opens. The coordinator for a number of schools in NDj who was instrumental in Kathryn teaching at CEFE jumped at the opening and invited her to present the literacy training to several of his schools. Not long after that we were invited by a local Christian NGO to train the teachers at their school in Bongor which is about 200km north of us. Kathryn broke this training into two parts and upon our second seminar it was encouraging to see that some of them were beginning to grasp the material. It is a huge leap for them to go from strictly rote-memorization to learning phonetic tools that enable the children to decode written language. Once they do however they are excited to see the progress the children make. One of the young students was with us for supper one night and wanted to show us what she had learned. She is in grade 3 and had not really been able to even grasp the sounds of the full alphabet yet. But that night Kathryn opened her reading text book to some of her beginner stories and little Leah was so thrilled with reading she kept jumping ahead and almost read through to the end. As she progressed through the book and read more difficult words it was so delightful to see her excitement at her successes as she announced I just read this big word over and over again. It is exciting to see how success changes the children’s whole outlook on school… and life really.

Bongor training
Bongor training

A couple of weeks ago we were in Bere where one of our missionaries had organized a training for some 11 schools in the district. We had 45 teachers, the largest literacy training we have done yet. Just to add to the challenge Kathryn lost her voice on the second day and Mary Stone had to vocalize her whispers for the whole day. It was quite the challenge but Kathryn pushed through and the teachers were engaged well and were eager to try the new methods in their classrooms. We plan to return in March to do the second half of the training. At the beginning of the school year we printed 100 manuals thinking that would be plenty given what we anticipated. On this last training we ran out and had to reprint another 30, sending 15 back to those who were eagerly waiting for them.

Béré teachers
Béré teacher

While I have focused on Kathryn’s newest ministry she has continued to do biblical trainings for the schools as well as tutor local children. This brings us to the present. We are now headed into one of Chad’s outlying areas which will take us approx. 1500km and 4 full days of travel. Kathryn will be doing a 3 day training there and I am supposed to install a solar system for a newly arrived missionary in the town. Unfortunately her solar equipment is stuck in customs along with the things I mentioned in our last letter that have come from the US via shipping container. The container has been block by customs for over 2 months now. Please pray it gets released early this coming week so I can take the equipment with us. If it does not get release there is still considerable work to be done on existing equipment for the missionaries working there.

By now you might be wondering what is the work has Paul been doing. 🙂 While I take Kathryn to these trainings, I am not simply chauffeur. I often assist in the training as well, sometimes helping explain things from a different perspective for clarity. Also most of the places we go there are maintenance repairs or installations that have been waiting to be done. While in N’Djamena I had purchased some new equipment for their electrical management system and was able to install it. In Béré there had been ongoing plumbing issues which I was able to help with. Vehicles also continually suffer from the roads out here and I have replaced bushings, shocks, brakes, U-joints on a number of vehicles. One missionary recently came in stating that her vehicle was making a new noise in spite of significant recent repairs by a local mechanic. I discovered they had installed the wrong U-joint. Another missionary was coming from N’Djamena and 60km out lost his brakes. His left rear brake cylinder had exploded so stuck a nail in the brake line and drove very carefully the next 400km here. We replaced it that evening as he had another 200km bush trip the next day.

Béré Plumbing
Busted Bushings
Busted Bushings
Electrical control board
N´Djamena electrical control board

Our missionary team has seen considerable challenges over the past few years and most recently some of our leadership has had to return to the homeland. Pray for those who have had to step up to this vital role. Also those managing our support centre in the capital. Please pray for new workers that would be willing to come and serve in this capacity, managing our guest facilities and office clerk.

Thank you again for your partnership with us in the work. Some 120 teachers have been trained in good literacy skills this year. Vehicles have been kept rolling for radio and bible training ministries. Children have a chance at a brighter future and teachers are learning how their work is also a ministry for the future generations. Pray for continued health as Kathryn continues to struggle daily no just with her allergies but with her new and ever changing food intolerances. Pray too for the release of the container, preferably early this week yet, above all in God’s good timing as he works for His glory and our good. The division in the church is not resolved and we need wisdom as we try to emulate Christ and share His grace. Safety is never taken for granted especially as we travel in some areas of insecurity. Pray too for good French language acquisition for Katelyn as she prepares to join us this September, Lord willing. Finally for the many things left to do before we return to Canada this summer for a brief time, during which we plan to see many of you.

May God keep, bless and use you for the Kingdom.
In His service, Paul & Kathryn

ps… the son of our faithful house help got married, what a delight to be able to part.

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