Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Christmas List from the Women of Chad

“Old women need water close by”, said a tiny, wrinkled grandma in the village of Bedjaoumian, in Chad. “Four miles is a long walk to get water”, she added. Glenda sat on the ground with this grandma & listened
through two interpreters, as she talked about the village women walking to a contaminated river, to get water for their families. The village elders also explained, how they didn’t have the funds to line a hand dug well with cement rings. So, in desperation they dug a big hole, as deep as they could make it. However, the sides kept caving in, making it dangerous for those digging as well as for small children who might fall in & get hurt. They finally got discouraged & gave up. The women now take the “Long Walk” everyday to get the water they need.















Steve & Glenda traveled to Chad recently, to see the water needs of this country. Bill & Sonja Shaw, veteran missionaries were our hosts. These are friends we consider among our “missionary heroes” in Africa. The Shaws showed the Evans four of the 10 water projects, which are in extremely needy villages. Some of the villages were a 2 days drive from N’djamena, the capital.















Glenda enjoyed taking pictures through the dashboard of the Shaw’s STL vehicle. The reality of getting to these villages meant, driving through rivers, driving on footpaths where the grass was taller than the car, sleeping in a hut at a mission station & having no water for a shower at the end of each hot day. Most of the bathrooms along the journey, were “fully air-conditioned” behind any African bush, with curious eyes always watching!















Wherever we went, the village elders and pastors gathered around, under a tree, to discuss the water needs for their village. They also fed us boiled millet mush with fish stew, served on a large tray, for everyone to enjoy together. On the Sunday, after church, we visited 4 villages and were served the same 4 meals, all 4 times, in about 4 hours! Yes, we REALLY did eat the food from this large tray!!!

Every village that we visited, Glenda asked the women how they coped with limited water and how they would feel, if there was a clean water source in the village. A long journey was made to the village of Bitoye, the last village before the border for Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Chad. Pastor Abel greeted us & told us there were 5,000 people in his village with only 2 wells.

The women wait over 4 hours in line some days, to fill their containers at the well. There was lots of fighting among the women, to be the next in line.

Pastor Abel then shook he head and said, “My wife comes too late with my supper!” When Glenda asked Pastor Abel how his wife would like a well near the church, he gave a big smile & said, “She & the women will be so happy....YES, she will certainly dance!!”

On the Sunday, Steve preached on “Living Water” in the village of Beganbe.The shallow hand dug well in the village dries up every year during the dry season. For 6 months, the women have to walk over 5 miles to the contaminated river to get water. “We suffer much” they told Glenda, and they would be full of joy, to have a clean, deep well in the village. While Steve and Bill Shaw went to inspect the dry well, Glenda & Sonia Shaw enjoyed meeting the women after church.


In the village of She 2, we met Pastor David & his wife, by their village church. She didn’t say a word to us, but her eyes showed her grieving heart. One week earlier, they had buried their 7 year old young son, who died of a water related illness or malaria. The Shaws then told us, "Too many children in Chad never reach adulthood." We found the water situation in this village to be quite severe. The hand-dug well was full of contaminated mud & was making the people very sick. We will always remember seeing the pain on the pastor’s wife’s face. Her silent grief touched us deeply. We spent time praying for this family before we departed.















Now for the good news... The estimates for the wells in Chad have come in under $5,000 each. This is the best price we have found in Africa. Bill Shaw located a drilling company that uses incredibly simple technology for drilling wells. It does not require transporting a huge drilling rig, which normally causes the price of drilling wells to be expensive. A well was drilled recently, at the Chad Bible School’s new campus, using this technology. We found the local builders using the well water to mix the cement & make the bricks. The well will also provide water for the students & faculty, when it is officially opened in January 2009.

Traditionally, Christmas lists can have many items on them. For the women of Chad, clean water could be first on their list. Said one of the women, “We will come to the well with MUCH JOY, we will thank the Lord & the donors!”

God's gift of Jesus, is the real reason for this season. May our gifts this Christmas also have eternal value!



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Steve Got Hugged in Timbuktu

Recently, Steve traveled to Mali to view water projects near the ancient city of Timbuktu. The entrance point of Islam into all of West Africa, is Timbuktu. While sitting by a collapsed, hand dug well, surrounded by sand dunes, Steve was introduced to Mata. He is a Tuareg nomad that the local pastor has befriended. When Mata was told that Africa Oasis Project was interested in helping local believers in Jesus to find water solutions for his people, Mata threw his arms around Steve in a spontaneous gesture of gratitude.

Steve went to Mali at the invitation of David & Linda Arzouni, our long time heroes. Before we became missionaries, we remember being challenged by David's testimony of how God miraculously intercepted his life, making him a soul-winner to tough places in Africa. [Please click on the following link to view more about the Arzouni's & Timbuktu in particular: http://www.arzouni.com/index.php/newsletters/issues/the_church_is_alive_in_timbuktu1/ ] David makes a powerful statement in this link about bringing Living Water to the nomads in Timbuktu, where God told him: "Meet them at the Oasis. If they don't have one, give them one..."




Getting to Mata's village, turned out to be quite an adventure. A common sight on the roads was to see people & goats traveling on top of overloaded vehicles. For Steve, it involved an over night flight from Pretoria to Senegal, with 14 hours waiting in a hot, sweaty airport, before the flight to Bamako, the capital of Mali. The next day, David & Steve joined Rick Caswell, Mark Alexander & Pastor Isaac, along with 5 days of food & water, crowded into David's over-worked 4x4, for the 2 day journey to Timbuktu. Along the way, there were several major breakdowns, a pontoon river crossing with David's car on the Niger River & lodging at 1/2 star guesthouses, that featured crawling critters in Steve's bed.


All this, to see the need for water in Mata's area, where over 800 people are struggling to find water, after the collapse of their hand dug well. The people are having to walk many miles in the hot sandy desert, to find the water they need.

Mata's home was a dome shaped dwelling built upon the hot desert sand dunes. Before departing his area of Timbuktu, Mata wanted Steve to ride his camel. The camel protested vehemently, with agonizing shrieks, so the ride was quite short.



Steve came home with a far better understanding of the needs of the Muslim people of West Africa & a much deeper appreciation of our collegues called to live & work there. We are endeavoring to help find the $60,000 needed to drill 3 wells in Mali, where we desire to provide an Oasis for people in need. These will be deep water wells. One well will be for Mata's community. Our prayer is that soon Mata, as well as many, many others will have an abundant & clean water supply that will lead them to The Living Water at the Oasis in Timbuktu!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

SPECIAL WELL, SPECIAL PLACE & SPECIAL PEOPLE

Steve & Glenda recently witnessed a joyous celebration in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the midst of the country’s water crisis, a well has been drilled beside the church, Calvary Tabernacle. The people gathered to celebrate & we were invited to attend. “This is a special well,” says Steve. “Having it beside the church makes it an evangelism tool, for people to come for running and Living Water.


This is a special place, as we helped to build this church 26 years ago, when we 1st came to Zimbabwe as missionaries. The people receiving this water are some of our dearest friends in Africa. The funds to drill the well came from special people & churches in the USA.”

Reports came to us that Bulawayo was running out of water. City water was available one hour, every 7 days & was polluted. Missionary-Nurse Practitioner Brenda Strysko was caring for people suffering with cholera due to the bad water. Everyday, people continue to arrive at Jim & Brenda Strysko’s house, desperate for medicine, because there is none in the hospitals.







We found Mama Chimsoro, the pastor’s wife of Calvary Tabernacle storing precious water in an old steel drum we had left in Bulawayo many years ago. The drum still had Glenda’s Dad’s name on it. Vernon Pettenger had shipped it to Africa in 1967.


Seeing the grim situation & realizing generous offerings had come from individual donors & churches, we decided this well needed to be drilled. The challenge was that recent drillings had produced dry wells. So we asked churches in Zimbabwe & the USA to pray. Pastors Cliff & Carol Traub, from Modesto, California took a trip with us to Zimbabwe, to lay hands on the dry wells & pray for water to flow. By faith, the drilling started at Calvary Tabernacle & they hit water the first day of drilling. God had truly answered the prayers of many people!


There was lots of excitement & thanksgiving on the dedication day for the well. It was also the 1st time, BGMC Buddy Buckets, raised by the boys & girls in the USA were given out. Bright yellow smiley faces on bright buckets were everywhere. Glenda enjoyed handing out the buckets to the women. They danced & yodeled as they were given a bucket. The women were grateful, saying the buckets were a big & useful gift. They could wash clothes in the buckets & also store clean water, because there was a lid. Steve & Pastor Chimsoro prayed a dedication prayer that the well would be incredibly productive for many years to come.

Even the children enjoyed themselves. They wanted to pump the well & carry the buckets home, for their mothers. We were full of emotion & gratitude to the Lord, as we watched the celebrations around the special well, at a special church & seeing special friends being blessed. Another church & needy people have now been helped in Africa. And what a privilege we have to have special people in the USA helping us to do this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buddy Buckets & Children in the USA Provide Water In Africa


Can kids in the USA really make a difference in Africa? Can they do something, so that kids in Africa have clean water to drink? According to David & Mary Boyd, directors for BGMC, kids in the USA can help by raising funds for wells & they are doing it with lots of enthusiasm!

BGMC stands for “Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge”. It is the missions emphasis for children in the Assemblies of God. BGMC teaches kids at an early age to be generous about giving to needs around the world. You can learn more about BGMC at http://www.bgmc.ag.org/



Earlier this year we sat with David & Mary, discussing the huge need for water in Africa. They shared with us that BGMC wanted to help by raising funds for wells in Africa & also give buckets wherever a well is drilled. Then came the idea to create the character “Buddy Bucket” & to make smiling stickers to go on the buckets. The next time we saw the Boyds, they introduced us to the happy character of Buddy Bucket. We started dreaming of 1,ooo's of water buckets being given to people in Africa.



Buddy Bucket stickers are now coming to Africa. The first well raised by BGMC is being drilled in Togo at the SADA Bible School. The old well on the campus is shallow & has only polluted water. It is also an open well, making it extremely dangerous for the married student’s kids who run the risk of falling into it. Because of the funds from the Boys & Girls in the USA, these kids will now be safer as they play & they will be drinking safe, clean water.



As we travel in Africa, we take the Buddy Bucket stickers with us. Recently in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Christi Strysko helped us put stickers on the buckets. She is the daughter of Missionaries, Jim & Brenda Strysko. After many challenges in this desperate country, we are seeing wells drilled. Plans are now being made to dedicate these wells & give out the Buddy Buckets as an extra blessing to the people. Thank you to the boys & girls in the USA. You are definitely making a difference in Africa!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Plenty of Water at Zimbabwe Wedding!




It took us 11 long hours to get to the wedding in Zimbabwe, of Pastor Choice Nyathi, the District Supt. of many village churches. Included in the journey was a border crossing. Hundreds of people were bringing desperately needed food, fuel & water containers to family members. Their vehicles were over-packed. We were also in the crowd bringing supplies & food for the wedding.



The final 30 miles to the village of Tshoboyi, took 2 hours on rough & rocky roads, congested with donkey carts & women carrying water buckets. We knew we had arrived when we saw the ash-painted stones, leading us to the homestead of the groom. On the 2nd day of the wedding celebrations, Pastor Choice was bringing his bride home to his village.

The Africa Oasis Project has been drilling wells in the villages of Zimbabwe. Three months earlier, water came gushing out of the dry, dusty ground of Tshoboyi. This was just in time for Pastor Choice’s wedding.

Earlier, Steve & Zimbabwe missionary Jim Strysko, along with the local pastors, dedicated the well to the Lord. Now it was time to enjoy the water at the wedding celebration!




WATER was everywhere. It was being carried from the well to various places in the village. People were drinking freely from 50 gallon drums and colorful containers.




Steve preached out of the Song of Soloman, a salvation wedding message, "Two are Better than One" & how with Jesus this "3-fold cord" will strengthen any marriage into which He's invited. The bride & groom arrived smiling as crowds of people clapped & yodeled. Glenda was eager to join the enthusiastic dancing of the women.



Rice, beans & little meat was served at the wedding feast. The wedding party & honored guests also enjoyed the orange concentrate mixed with the well water, until the juice was finished.



The rest of the people were satisfied with just the water... there was plenty & they could drink as much as they wanted. YES, the water from the well at the wedding in Zimbabwe didn’t run out!!