My love, my wife!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


A short time after our trip to Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda, we made a five day trip to Webuye, Kenya to attend a conference and visit an orphanage. We drove to Nairobi, flew to Elderet, and drove to Webuye (a long day). While in Kenya, we saw the devastation that was caused from the violence after the recent Presidential election. Many people were killed, hundreds of homes and businesses were burned and hundreds of people are still living in refuge camps. It is so sad to see how enthusiasm for an election can turn violent and affect a whole nation, which was seen as one of the most progressive in all of Africa. Many people who had been peaceful friends and neighbors woke up one day and faced each other as enemies. It makes us more aware, each day, of the need for Christ in the lives of people. It seems to have started much like some of the violence that has taken place at the Republican convention in the US. We need to continuously lift up our nation in prayer. There is no way that we can say that "this can never happen to us" unless we totally forget the influence that Satan has in this world. We saw some, extremely poor, areas in Kenya that are very similar to what we hear that Obama's brother lives in. We were privileged to be able to visit with orphans, their care takers, many pastors and a few bishops from several denominations. We have been blessed that God has put so many wonderful, Spirit filled, Christians in our lives. Every time we travel, we get a real opportunity to see how God wants to use all of us for HIS glory.

There will be a huge "Here's Life" staff conference in Arusha, beginning Oct. 6. Several board members will be here, as well as some other speakers and individuals from the US. All of the team leaders, associates and their wives will be here, from Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Malawi and Zambia, to attend the conference. It is the one time each year when the whole "Here's Life family" gets together and many have to travel for several days by bus, over bad roads. Please keep all of them, and the conference in your prayers. It will be great to reunite with friends from the US and East African countries. Some will stay in our home, so pray that we will be gracious hosts. We can hardly wait.

We want each of you to know that we could never face the hardships and feel the joys without you "standing in the gap" for us. Thanks for your prayers. it is great to be a part of the body of Christ.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Mwanza Medical Mission and Beyond!

(I took this from some of Pat’s notes, and letters, because she doesn’t feel comfortable writing on this blog. We were blessed to be a part of the teaching, in the different countries, and I was especially blessed when the women expressed their gratitude for the teaching that Pat did with them. God bless, John)

We have been here at our home in Arusha, Tanzania only 3 days from June 9th until July 17th. For two weeks we were in Mwanza Tanzania on a Medical mission trip. The mission was awesome, yet full of opposition from the enemy. We slept in tents for a week and then stayed in a lodge and went on a safari to see the animals. Then we went to a newplace and stayed in tents again for another week We had a group of Doctors from Alabama and a church group come todo the mission trip. The doctors and nurses saw many sick people every day and gave them medicine. John and I were in charge of going hut to hut to tell people about Jesus. We took 2 interpreters to help talk for us. Many people prayed and asked Jesus to come into their lives each day. Every night of the mission trip, seven Jesus Film Teams (From the Here's Live Africa Ministry) showed the film in different areas. At the end of the two weeks many people had seen the Jesus film and over 23,000 people prayed to receive Jesus. I have one funny story I must tell. When we were driving to Mwanza, for the Medical Mission, we drove 15 hours and we had to stop and pay to drive thru the Ngorongoro/Serengeti areas. While we were stopped at the guard station we watched a huge baboon climb onto a big truck, climb into the window and quickly jump back out of the window with a box in his hands. He started tearing open the box and began eating the eggs that were inside. Then other baboons came to join him. It was so funny because the driver of the truck finally saw what was going on and he ran over to the scene yelling and waving his arms and chasing the baboons away. We laughed so hard. That was a great memory to record. Sadly, our camera is not working properly. It shut down on our trip. It will take videos but no more still pictures. We prayed over it and felt blessed to at least have the videos. Being in Africa with no camera is a bummer! Well, just wanted to thank you for all your prayers. We felt them during our trips as we were well, safe, energized, and spirit-filled. That was all God's glory, for sure. Your prayers are powerful! Please don't stop praying. Love each other good for us. But so be it and to God be the glory! I thank God that Steve and SL encouraged us to lead the hut to hut ministry last year. We did that again this year. I was scared to death last year. That has truly touched my heart and brought conviction. Anyway, this yr., in Mwnaza, I was looking forward to hut to hut. We had such a blessed experience. I thank God, also, that He put me here to practice this because the Africans don't have a clue about our fears or inadequacies. They don't even know our language as we depend on an interpreter. These team-leaders and interpreters are so seasoned. We learn so much from them. Whenever we go to the office for the devotional time in the mornings, it blows my mind how they all take turns giving the devotional and teaching. They just flat preach, I'm telling you. It's amazing. Where do they learn how to do that? They just open up to a scripture passage and read it and then they just get after it. And their praise time and prayer is life changing.

Our 3 weeks of traveling to 3 other countries was challenging but very rewarding. Over the last several weeks, we have traveled to the countries of Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda to do conferences. Those are not as exciting as the mission trip but they are important because we planted new Jesus Film Teams in those areas. The conferences are for the pastors, of all denominations, in those areas and we shared information that will help them teach and disciple all the new Christians that receive Jesus after seeing the Jesus Films. It is to equip the area pastors to disciple these new Christians. It also teaches the pastors how important it is to work together and to bring down the division between the denominations. In Heaven we will all be one and not divided like we are here on earth. We teach them how we all have the same goal -- to teach Jesus to the lost. We also teach them how to witness in the town before a Jesus film showing. We showed the film the last night of each conference and many people came to Jesus. The pastors were so happy to be a part of helping the New Jesus Film Teams in their area.

We have flown many miles and driven many miles on very rough roads. We have stayed in many different hotels, lodges, and guest houses. Most of them had little or no hot water and the electricity was off much of the time. Many times I could not use my hairdryer so I had to sit in front of the fan. And sometimes we had to just use wipes, that we brought back from the U.S., when we wanted to bathe. In all of our travels we ate rice almost every meal, along with chicken most of the time. We ate Spanish omelets mornings for breakfast. So, the food was not too bad. Sometimes we really miss Mexican food the most. That's our favorite back home.

We finally got to meet Dick and Charlotte Day, who have been missionaries in Malawi for many years, and even visited one of the schools they work with. We got to show the "Jesus Film for Children" in a Government school for children of police personnel; sure is different from what we are allowed to do in the public schools in the US.

We are home and resting up but I am beginning to get antsy! I have to get busy! No problem finding things to do. We are talking about doing some teaching in some of the churches on evangelism and then at the end of a few days teaching we will go out, door to door, putting it into practice.

Tuesday, July 29th, was John's birthday, and Mary and Julius, from St. Paul’s church, invited us to their home for lunch. What beautiful people. We had a beautiful meal and then we walked over the 5 acres of their "family" property. AMAZING!!!! They live close to St. Paul’s church. The area is so beautiful and green. We walked a ways and Mary pointed out her cow to me. I told her she looked so nice and healthy. I asked her if she had a name. Mary said she never thought about giving her a name; so she asked me to give her one. I said okay, her name is now Daisy. She was tickled and so was her daughter (7). We turned and walked down a gorgeous lane with tall, tall trees down both sides. Then we turned off into a huge meadow. Wow, then we walked until we came to the side of the mt. looking down at the running river. We climbed down and took a video (our camera is on the blink now). Then we climbed up the side following a path that passed some wild raspberry bushes and we ate a few! John and I kept commenting on how that area looked like something in a movie. It looked like somewhere in the Amazon. Julius said sometimes you will see monkeys there. Anyway, the sun shinning down thru the foliage was breathtaking. We were blessed. But, even more than that, spending time with Mary and Julius and their 2 children (7 and 3) was so sweet. They prayed a precious prayer over John for his birthday. I feel so FULL! God is good! It is a glorious thing how God can use any of us to bless this ministry in spite of all our weaknesses and humanness. Mungu Awabariki!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mwanza, here we come: Medical Mission 2008

It seems as though things get busier and, sometimes, more frustrating as the days go by. However, there are so many ways that God blesses us each day that the frustrations seem very unimportant, even though the computer, electricity, water and other little things do put a damper on things at times. We still do not have our resident permit so we have to have a driver if we go in the vehicle. Please pray; they now say that they need certified copies of my university diplomas; that will probably take even more time and we leave on the medical mission next week and will have to leave the country after we get back if we do not have the resident permit. Maybe God has somewhere that he wants us to go, outside Tanzania. Travel outside the country is very expensive because of air fare and diesel is now over $7.00 per gallon.

The good news is, God is in control. We were blessed to be able to teach at the Here's Life Conference, for supervisors from Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi, a few weeks ago, a three day conference. There were many prayers for America, and Americans, during the conference. I have also had the opportunity to teach almost every Sunday since we have been here and will be back at St. Paul’s this Sunday. Pat has taught the children at two different churches and they love learning new songs, in English. We were also blessed, just yesterday, to be present when a new Bible study group was started; using the “proclaimer”, an audio Bible listening device that is in Swahili (and many other languages). This is wonderful in cultures where listening is more important than reading. We have been very busy for the last several days doing all-day shopping for the medical mission (June 8-20) in Mwanza (next to Lake Victoria). We will probably leave on Friday, June 6 for the 12-13 hour drive. There will be two American kitchens, at two different sites, and two African kitchens (about 150 total people working at the med. Mission). We will take a break on June 12-13 and then move to two more sites. It is always such a blessing to see people come to Christ and everyone is pumped up, Americans and Africans. We have also been able to spend some time with some of the film team leaders who have helped us do the shopping.

Pat is doing a good job of learning new Swahili and Maasai words. She will soon be able to interpret for me; she has such a good ear for music and sounds! She is my biggest blessing from God. Please keep her in your prayers, she has good days and bad days with her shoulder and neck and when it is bad she can’t play her guitar, which she would do every spare moment if she could. She loves to get alone with the Lord and praise Him and play for Him; I love to just listen to her.

We have been getting e-mails from all over the place and they bless us so very much. The prayer group that meets on a regular basis to pray for us is also a gift from God. In spite of the hardships, which are sometimes difficult to explain, and in spite of the longings for home and family, we know that we are here because God wants us here. HE is so Good. Bwana Asifiwe!


The Four Pillars of a Man's Heart: (1) "King", vision-to provide (2) "Warrior", strength-to protect (3) "Mentor", wisdom-to teach (4) "Friend", love-to connect

As I read the book “Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart” by Stu Weber, during the rainy season in Arusha, Tanzania (April, 2008), I found myself trying to put a name or a face on a “four-pillared” man in my life. Over the couple of days I spent reading about the “king”, “warrior”, “mentor” and “friend”, many examples stayed in my mind and made me try to think of some individual, in my life, who had exhibited qualities related to one, or more, of the “pillars” of a man’s heart. By the time I was about halfway through the book is realized that many of the situations or examples that had been discussed made me think about a certain individual that I met for the first time in the summer of 1985. It was on a trip to a small town in north Texas that I first heard “him” talk with enthusiasm about the “fightin’ jackrabbits”, which seemed, to me, to be an odd name for a school mascot. After a rather lengthy discussion about what my responsibilities would be at that school, if they decided to offer me a teaching position, I returned to my home, about three hours away. As my wife and I were contemplating the possibility of an offer, over the next few days, I got a call saying that the school was offering me a teaching position, with an extra conference period as a department head. I got another call saying that, while we were considering the position, I would be receiving a contract with the anticipation that I would sign and return it. I spent the next fifteen years teaching in that school, until I retired in Dec. 2000. During the years I spent under the authority of Charles Blanton, I learned many life lessons and I now have names for what I saw in his heart. Mr. Blanton was a servant leader. He seemed to go out of his way to protect those under his direction. He reminded everyone, in staff meetings, not to mess with the long-time secretary in his office. And, on one occasion, during a rather uncomfortable parent conference that I attended, he walked to his office door and told a parent to leave and not come back until he could change his language and attitude. He also told a furious parent, who came to school to fight a teacher, “you can go fight that teacher, after you defeat me first”. The parent left and never caused another problem. Another incident when the warrior ( the one who shields, defends, stands between, and guards) came out in him was when he spent half of the lunch time coaxing a very disturbed girl from a classroom, while she was throwing every thing she could get her hands on at him; it was the home-economics room and there were lots of things to throw. He successfully defused a potentially violent situation.

During one of our frequent discussions, Mr. Blanton related that during his son’s growing up years there were many questions about the Lord, church, etc., but his son knew that the question that never needed to be asked was, “Are we going to church today? As a father, his motto was “we are going to church and we are going to eat at the Jim Bowie Restaurant after church”. We laughed about that but it was just his way of saying, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Over the years, we developed a sort of kinship that allowed us to speak our hearts to each other. Early one Monday morning, Mr. Blanton seemed somewhat “out of sorts” and I told him, “boy, I would sure hate to be the first student that comes to your office today”. (I would never have said that to just any administrator) He turned, with a stern look, went to his office and shut the door. Later in the day, he thanked me for being honest enough to say what he needed to hear. I was honored when he asked me to assist him in handing out diplomas his last year as the “Principal of Bowie High School”. During that last graduation, before his retirement, every student handed him two, or more, fifty-cent pieces as they shook his hand and received their diploma. By the end of the ceremony, his pockets were full of coins and there was a pile of them on the table where the diplomas had been. Another, earlier, graduation experience showed much of his wisdom and character. A senior girl was distraught because her biological father, who had not been a part of her life in several years, was demanding that her diploma have “his” last name on it. He discussed the situation with me and then, with the wisdom of Solomon, had a diploma printed with the biological father’s last name and anther printed for her, with the last name of the “father” who had been the one in her life for many years.

There were certain unacceptable standards of behavior while Mr. Blanton was at the helm. One story is told of a young coach (married), who came to him admitting that he had an illicit relationship with a female student. The coach was supposedly told, “I’ll come over and help you pack so you can be out of this school immediately.”

After we were both retired, we would see each other at funerals, weddings, etc. and share our hearts about how we had worked together, as a team, and affected each others’ lives. Even though I didn’t know him during his football playing and coaching years, and might have missed some of his “mistakes” in life, I was privileged to have him as a leader, mentor and friend; and to see his warrior side on occasion.

Mr. Blanton and I met, in front of the bank, this spring, just before my wife and I returned to the mission field in East Africa. Once again, he expressed, with the heart of a “servant leader”, “warrior”, “mentor” and “friend”, his gratitude to me for coming to Bowie and for my working “with” him, not just “for” him. That conversation reminded me of the talks in the hall, just outside my room, while waiting for the buses to leave; how, sometimes, he could be seen putting trash, from the student parking lot, in the back of his pickup; and of our discussions about the right to use Biblical teaching, as literature, history, and as the basis for our government. He didn’t avoid the tough issues and stood for what was right in the sight of the Lord. He is a little slower now, with his two “new” knees, but is still active in his local church, in love with his wife of many, many years and is still a vital part of that north Texas community. I know it is possible to have a connection of spirits even when we are on opposite sides of the globe. Such is the heart of a man of God. “Mr. Blanton”, thank you for being a blessing to me and my family.
Mungu Akubariki brother! (God bless you)
John T.
PS. If there was any memory was not correct it was unintentional. I just wanted to share my feelings while I still have the opportunity; we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mid-April update.

Since the last blog, it has rained almost constantly. The shortcut to our house, from the pavement, is hardly passable, even by foot. Most of the roads in this area are horrible during the rainy season, not just rough like they are in the dry season. Actually, there is no good season for our roads. We have had many visitors in our home since we got here, what a blessing. We are still without internet and had no water all day Sat. (4-12-08), at least we had electricity. We have had passport pictures made to attach to the application for a resident permit so we can legally drive the vehicle, we surely do not want to do anything which would not be in submission to the authorities (1 Pet 2:13-15). It is quite a process so please keep us in your prayers. I taught on “Christian Submission” Sunday (4-13-08) at St. Helen’s in Arusha (their service starts at around 9:45), and then, after a hour into the bush, at St. Thomas’. It was a long day, but what a blessing, teaching God’s principles to two churches in the same day. The praise was great and the people were wonderful; and at St. Thomas they insisted that we eat with them. We had rice and a bit of “meat”. We finally got back home at 6:00 pm. (Thank you, Doug and Tani Vaughn, for the book “Liberated through Submission” by P.B. Wilson). God is so good and his ways are so far above our ways, He knows what to provide even before we know we need it. Stanley informed us on Monday that he had felt the need to preach on “Submission” at St. Thomas, because of some situations that had taken place there. Without us discussing the situation, God orchestrated the day the way He wanted it to go and I did the teaching without Stanley and I discussing it until after the fact. How cool is that! We both agreed that God was in control and that it turned out best since the teaching was done by an “outsider” from America.
The water is still off and on, no internet, and some electrical surges but it is beautiful this morning (4-14-08), it looks like the garden of Eden. Today we found out that it may take up to a month to get the paperwork approved for the resident visa. With no internet we, we have to go to town to use an internet cafĂ© and it would be nice to be able to drive our truck; please pray for favor with the immigration service and that our application is approved quickly. Also keep Elizabeth, who works at Stanley’s house, in your prayers. She has malaria again! Diesel is over $5.00 per gallon but the value of the dollar is holding steady here. Yesterday (4-15) we did get to read some of our e-mails at the office but didn’t send any because we did not want to take much of Neema’s time from her work. Today (4-16) we just stayed home, did some reading (I’m reading “Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart” and Pat is reading “Meaningless Words-Broken Covenants”, which I already read. Boy, these are straight from the Lord.

Friday, April 11, 2008

We made it back to Arusha!

(4-10-08) Today we got up at 5:45 and are having early coffee with Pascal and Lazaro. Pascal leaves for Dar Es Salom today, a long journey. We have had many visitors since we got back “home” in Arusha. We have had only two fairly long walks since we have been back and they were very tiring because we had not walked while in the U.S. and are now heavier than we were when we left here in January. The trip was very tiring this time, we even had a 12 hr layover in Frankfurt and had stops in Addis Ababa and Nairobi, but we are adjusting to the different weather, time and customs once again. There is no way that we can express the gratitude and praise we feel for so many of our “family” in the U.S. We have been blessed by much prayer and support. There are so many individuals to thank that it would take pages to list them all but we especially want to thank Pastor Ty, the leadership and our brothers and sisters at Crossroads Church in Decatur for their extreme generosity so we are able to have a vehicle during our work in East Africa. Our “new” vehicle is a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser (diesel – it is cheaper than gas over here). We also want to thank Pastor Joseph and our “family” at Nocona Hills Community Church for their support of the work being done in East Africa. Cindy, the connection you orchestrated is having eternal consequences, Bwana Asifiwe!

BF left for the U.S. on Tue. so we are, once again, the only wazungu here with Here’s Life. We are anxious to see what God has planned for us each day. While I am in the writing mode I want to recommend some books that I recently read that blessed, and challenged, me more than any I have read in years: The Shack, by William P. Young; Meaningless Words & Broken Covenants, by Tim Coody; and Liberated Through Submission; Gods Design for Freedom in All Relationships, by P.B. Wilson. Read them all the way through, even the difficult parts, and you will be blessed.

We are now in the rainy season in Tanzania so it is much different than our last “tour” but we are adjusting. The sky is a bit cloudy, at times, but the vegetation is almost unbelievable. Since there is no winter, the growing season is all year long; which means that all those “garden grown” foods are available all the time. God really blessed us Sunday (4-6-08) by allowing us to be part of the very first meeting of a new church body of Christ, in an area where the “Jesus Film” was recently shown. Several people helped paint the front of the building and paint a new name (it was previously a bar).

I don’t know when I will be able to put this on our “blog” because we have had no internet since we got here. Hopefully, we will be able to go somewhere, soon, to be able to send e-mail. Please remember that this is Africa and services, that we take for granted in the U.S., are not always available here. We have been here a week and have experienced a short power outage and many hours of no water, in addition to our internet problem.
Please keep us, Here’s Life, our family, the lost of all nations, and struggling Christians all over the world, in your prayers. May God richly bless each of you.
John and Pat

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Greetings from Alvord, TX, U.S.A.
We will leave for Tanzania on April 1st, so we would really appreciate your prayers for: (1) our safety on the long trip (2) our success in doing what God has for us in Africa, and (3) our friends, kids and grandkids that we will not see for 12-14 months. All three of those areas are real challenges that need lots of prayer coverage. We would not be able to do what God has put on our hearts without the prayers and support of many individuals in the United States, Mexico, and East Africa (and our church family at Crossroads, Decatur,TX, as well as our "new" church family at Nocona Hills Community Church, Nocona, TX, and our "life group", Bowie, TX). God is so good! We are so grateful that God has put so many wonderful Christians in our lives.

While in the U.S., we made a trip to Mexico and trips to Houston, TX, and Las Cruces, NM to visit family. We also had the opportunity to show a power-point presentation, about Here's Life and our time in East Africa, to a few groups while we were here. There are so many things flying around in our minds as we pack all the trunks and try to include things that are not available in Africa (which we take for granted in America) that we just pray that we don't leave out anything that is important. We are anxious to get back to local fresh fruits and vegetables all year long and to tell all our friends about our "trip to America". We know they will notice that we have gained weight and will tell me that I am fat; they speak the truth and don't mean it to be offensive, just honest. I will try to update everyone as soon as we get settled back in Arusha.