2011 - October

Dear friends,

I apologize for the long silence but these last two months have been really hard with most of my time being spent travelling between Ifgenia’s homestead at Onamambili and Oshakati hospital, which is 35 km from Ondangwa. Although it was hard to see her suffer I am thankful for the time I could spend with her. She always asked what we did in bible study and one night even dreamt she was with us during the bible study.

The Lord finally took her home last Saturday night. It has been a sad time for our churches here. Not only did Ifgenia pass away on Saturday, the 1st Oct but Petrus from Christ Church, Ondangwa passed away unexpectedly the day before at the age of 41. Through the years he has always done the confirmation classes for Christ Church.

Figure 1: Petrus Albino from Christ Church, Ondangwa

Petrus and Ifgenia’s funerals were my first experience of Ovambo funerals. They have a memorial service the day before the actual burial. On the day of the burial there is first a church service after which everyone goes to the homestead and only then on to the grave. Rev. Denys Nande and Rev. Ben Paulus did both funerals.

Figure 2: Ifgenia's funeral

I was asked to speak at both Ifgenia’s memorial service and at her funeral. It was a privilege to testify about God’s mighty work of salvation in her life, her commitment to the Lord and her faithful service in the church.

I first met Ifgenia in 2007 during the CfN outreach. She was the youth leader at St Peter’s, Onamambili. Every year since then she faithfully attended the CfN teaching sessions and also translated for the youth and children’s team.

Figure 3: Ifgenia, Feb, 2011

She has been my interpreter ever since I arrived last April as well as continuing as youth leader and Sunday school teacher at St Peter’s. She was also busy doing a Biblical leadership correspondence course through the Namibian Bible College. I was preparing her to take over as youth worker for CEN. Both the Sunday school and youth have stopped since Ifgenia became ill because so far no one at St Peter’s is willing to take over. Please pray that the Lord would raise up another leader to replace Ifgenia.

The prison bible study is progressing well. Some of the current students have been released and there are now five new prospective students who have joined the group. Not all are Ovambos; one is Xhosa speaking, one Swahili and another is a Hambakushu from Kavango. It is a privilege to have an input in their lives and I pray that they will put their studies to good use when they are released and continue to stand strong in the Lord and proclaim his gospel in their communities. The leader’s bible study is also going well even though the numbers have halved. I am thankful for Christofine, Rauna and Emilia who have remained committed. Meme Asnath, who is in her 70’s is struggling with high blood pressure and so does not always attend. They are all busy with friendship evangelism and this month we looked at how to explain repentance and conversion and lead someone to Christ. At the beginning of September St John’s went to visit St Luke’s and gave them money they had collected towards the church building. They also gave sacks of muhungu (millet) and beans, which St Luke’s will sell for funds.

Figure 4: Lukas handing over the money and sacks of muhungu and beans to St Luke's

Victoria, the lay worker at St Luke’s still needs about N$4000 to finish the building. She also still owes the builder N$8000. Hopefully we will be able to begin with bible study and Sunday school early next year. Please pray for Victoria. She has faithfully struggled to keep St Luke’s going in spite of not having a minister and the number of members dwindling due to the state of the old church building.

Figure 5: The new St Luke's

At the moment bible study and Sunday school at St John’s is sporadic. The elder ( Modestus), who does the preaching has gone to Windhoek for a few months. Please pray for St John’s members that they will remain committed in spite of being without a leader and minister.

Figure 6: St John's Sunday school.

At Christ Church’s Sunday school the numbers have dropped but the teachers, Emilia and Josephine are progressing well in spite of being so young. The eldest Emilia is 16 years old. Both are committed and faithfully come to the training sessions on Saturday mornings. I am truly thankful to the Lord for Rauna, my neighbour. She has stood by me and supported me throughout Ifgenia’s illness. She was also a committed friend to Ifgenia in spite of only knowing her for a short while. Thank you for all your prayers and support. Thank you also for all your encouragement and well wishes via e-mail and facebook during this difficult time.

Your sister in Christ, Tish