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Happy 2019 from beautiful eSwatini!

January Update 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 
Where has the time gone? We hope your holidays were a blessing and that you were able to spend time with family and friends.
 
Our December and January have whizzed by so quickly. At the same time, we have enjoyed and cherished each and every day and made memories that we treasure. So this month's update is loaded with pictures to try and give you a snapshot of our crazy and beautiful life here in eSwatini and elsewhere!
 
We finished up the month of December with two very special graduations! Then, bright and early Christmas morning, we spent time sharing the love of Christ by delivering 57 food parcels to family's in need. After that, we were invited by another ministry to join them for their Christmas Celebration and dinner. It truly was a blessing being with so many people, giving testimony to God's goodness over the last year!
 
December 28th we headed to Montenegro to see Mark, Kay, Jadon and Josie. We arrived December 29th in the morning and celebrated Josie's 1st birthday that afternoon. Mark and Kay are so wonderful, Josie's birthday was December 20th, but they waited until we could join them to celebrate!
 
Randy, Shelly and I had been planning a little something for Mark and Kay ......... Shelly made a SURPRISE visit to Montenegro so we could celebrate Christmas as a family! It was 6 wonderful days filled with fun, fellowship and so many wonderful memories. We may only see each other once a year, but when we are together we make the most of it!
 
Lastly, looking ahead to 2019 we want to share how the Lord has been leading us regarding ministry. We are so excited for this coming year and everything the Lord is going to do!
 
Thank you for taking the time to read our updates and keep up with what the Lord is doing in beautiful eSwatini. Thank you for your love and encouragement through notes and emails. Thank you for your prayer and financial support.  Finally, thank you for partnering with us to advance the Kingdom of God here in eSwatini.
Much love,
Karen and Randy

Disciples Making Disciples!

In December, we had two very special graduations. This first graduation needs a little introduction, so here it goes. In 2016 and 2017, we partnered with Pastor Chris Ndzimandze in his home area of Luyengo. In 2016 we ran ISOM certificate level courses, followed by ISOM diploma level courses in 2017. At the end of 2017, 15 of the pastors wanted to continue discipling and training in their individual churches. We gave them material to do just that.

We shared with them the 14 Lesson Discipleship Course that they could use to help their people grow spiritually. Four of the churches finished around the same time. We then came together as ONE, the body of Christ, and had a graduation together to celebrate what the Lord had done! We sang, we prayed, we shared testimonies of what the Lord had done. Each participant received a Discipleship Course Certificate and we concluded with cake and tea! The next step ....... to have those who completed the course take others through the same course.
Pictured above are the four Pastor's and their participants who faithfully completed the Discipleship Course.
Randy giving an encouraging word to the participants and their friends and family members.
The girl above in pink, said she saw such a change in her mother (in the white dress) after taking the course, that she also wanted to study ... so Randy gave her his Discipleship Course book.
Randy and Pastor Chris welcoming the participants, family members and people from the various churches that came to encourage and support those that completed the Discipleship Course.
I just love this picture! This was taken before our celebration began. This is Randy outside with Pastor Chris's daughter, Yenzile Ndzimandze who is only 5 years old.  Each time we would see her, she would tell us what she was learning at school and of course demonstrate it as well. So this day, she was telling Randy that she could spell her name, first and last. So Randy said, "Write it here in the dirt" and she did! She went and got a stick and very carefully wrote her first and last name perfectly in the dirt.  What you can't see in the picture, is me who is standing very far away. Right where they are standing are tiny little red fire ants ..... so myself and other ladies who had sandals on, had to run as far away from the ants as we could!!!!

ISOM Graduation in Motjane

This graduation was also very special for a couple of reasons. This year, we partnered with Pastor Lewis Chomba and ran an ISOM school at his church located in Motjane. There were 19 students who grew significantly in the Lord through careful study of the Word of God and by applying it to their lives on a daily basis. At the same time, Pastor Chomba finally completed his Doctor of Theology studies through a University in Togo. He decided to have a celebration to commemorate both his ISOM students graduation and the awarding of his PhD. As you can see in the pictures above, we had a big celebration with over 300 people. This community is like one big family. There were family members, local government officials, church members and other distinguished guests. It was a great time of celebrating the Lord and His goodness in our lives!
Pictured to the right is Randy, Dr. Themba Thwala and Dr. Lewis Chomba. During numerous conversations between Randy and Pastor Lewis, Randy mentioned that he too had completed his Masters of Theology and Doctor of Theology, through distance learning out of the United States.  So of course, Pastor Lewis wanted Randy to wear his graduation gown to the graduation. Since we live in Africa, Randy wasn't able to participate in the actual graduation procession, so we had to quickly have a gown made that was appropriate for the University in the US.  Just like that, the gown was finished!
19 ISOM graduates and 3 Doctors of Theology!
During the entire morning of festivities, this was my little friend that stuck close to my side. It could have been because I had water and sweeties, or maybe because I would pick him up and hold him on my lap to cuddle. Either way, we both enjoyed each other's company and the celebrations of the day!

Christmas Day - Food Distribution

Walking far and wide to deliver food!
Our dear friend, ISOM facilitator and ministry partner, Pastor Nelson Mayisela, made us aware of people in need in his community.  Bright and early Christmas morning, we gathered a team of people and spent time sharing the love of Christ by delivering 57 food parcels to families in need. The gospel was shared, people were prayed for and the Lord was glorified! What a wonderful Christmas gift ...... the gift of Salvation!

Christmas Day Dinner & Celebration

His life brought light to everyone! John 1:4
 
Later on Christmas morning, we were invited by some friends of ours to join them and their ministry for their Christmas Day dinner and Celebration. We had a wonderful time hearing testimonies from people about what the Lord had done in their lives in the last year. It was wonderful!
We sang Christmas songs, had a lovely meal together and visited with people we hadn't seen in years. It was a very blessed time!

Trip to Montenegro: Shelly Surprised Kay!

On December 28th we headed to Montenegro to spend time with Mark, Kay, Jadon & Josie. We celebrated Josie's 1st birthday. Kay had a party and invited friends and playmates, she even made a pinata! One of the highlights was Shelly coming through the front door and surprising her sister Kay! We celebrated Christmas, went skating and skiing, played games and ate a lot of food. Talked and laughed and cried when it was time to leave. We had 6 wonderful days together and treasured each moment and made many memories!
Randy and Jadon playing a game of memory, Jadon was so happy when Randy finally got a match!
The family playing the game sequence. I think we lost every game, but sure had fun!
Shelly, Mark and Kay went skiing in the snowy mountains of Montenegro!
Jadon ice skating for the very first time! He did really well, so did Mark and Kay!

Excited for 2019!

We are so excited for what the Lord is going to do in 2019!
 
This year we will be running five ISOM schools throughout eSwatini, three of them will be certificate level classes and two will be diploma level classes. One of the ISOM schools we will be partnering with Pastor Thabiso Nxumalo. We planted the first church with him in July 2017. After that, there were 4 more church plants over the course of one year. Pastor Thabiso would like his key leaders to receive ongoing training in the Word of God, and we are blessed to be able to partner with him.
 
Along with the ISOM schools, we will continue to plant churches as the Lord directs us. The tent has just gone through a complete "makeover".  Holes have been repaired, rips in the tent have been sewn up, the ropes have been replaced and the poles have been painted. It literally looks like a brand new tent!
 
Our first church plant will be starting this Monday, February 4, 2019. Please be praying for soft tender hearts to respond to the Gospel. We will be doing things a bit differently this year. We will hire a "sound technician" to travel with the sound equipment for each church plant. Over the years, we have found that everyone "knows how to run the sound equipment". But after replacing a few too many woofers and tweeters, we are having a qualified technician travel with the evangelist to properly run the sound system.
 
Finally, Randy has been given the opportunity to teach at the Assemblies of God, College of Theology here in eSwatini. Through relationship with a pastor we have known since 2006, he was aware that Randy had completed his doctorate in Theology, and was therefore qualified to teach at the college. Since our schedule is quite busy as it is, he will begin by teaching just one class to see how much of a work load it will be. Then we will reevaluate to see if he is able to add more classes throughout the year.

Prayer requests:

  • Please be praying that the Lord will bring the right students to the ISOM Bible classes. We start February 2 with the first class and are expecting quite a few students.
  • Pray for the church plants. That the people will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
  • Pray for the Pastors of the church plants, that the they are able to help these new believers grow in their relationship with the Lord.
  • Please pray for the evangelists, sound technician, and all those that help us with the church planting process.
  • Pray that the Lord gives us grace and favor with local community leaders, when we are obtaining permission for the future church plants.
  • Pray also for Randy and I, that we are able to do the work of the ministry and point people to Jesus in all we do. That we love them the way Jesus loves them, and that we are able to manage the variety of ministry opportunities to glorify to the Lord.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end!
Love,
Karen and Randy
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