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Cottam's Coo-ee Nov 2014

Thank you for continuing to pray for us though we have been silent for months. In recent mail two prayer warriors have written, “Hope you are both well as I haven’t heard of you for months either. I guess all settled and finding what God has for you where He has ‘planted’ you. Are you really happy there?” and “Write some about you and Bill SOON!” I shall try to share how the Lord has ordered our days over these past ten months. I fear this may become quite long, but I shall use headings to help you to skim if you wish.

 

So firstly, are we happy where God has planted us?

The answer is a resounding YES. We say to people that the Lord has really spoiled us rotten with our lovely house and garden. Bill has made a number of improvements to the house including a cupboard in the kitchen with four deep drawers and he has done LOTS of work in the garden. In the garden, he has pruned all the fruit and nut trees and fruit is coming along. We are picking lots of fruit from both the conventional mulberry tree and the weeping mulberry. I am also harvesting lots of silver-beet from one of my raised garden beds. We bought 5 six-weeks old pullets back in April and from them and the remaining 3 hens we were given by the previous owners we are getting at least 3, most often 4 and sometimes 6 or 7 eggs each day. We have rejoiced as we have been able to give gifts of eggs to many friends.

We have good neighbours who look after our house and chooks [hens] when we need to go away and we look after their place when needed also.

We are delighted with the church family the Lord has given us at Cessnock Congregational. The pastor is a true shepherd and a very faithful Bible teacher. The elder is also a true shepherd. The congregation ranges from people in their 70’s and 80’s down to babies. We have been made very welcome and feel very much at home.

Update on our new ministries

Crossroad Bible Institute Australia

We have been really enjoying working on the correspondence Bible lessons from prisoners. The staff at the Crossroad Bible Institute Office have been mostly sending us lessons from PNG prisons but we have also had some from the Solomon Islands and Fiji as well as Queensland, N.S.W. and Western Australia.

Now we have each been given a man from the prison in Lae to mentor as he works through Tier 2 of the courses. Bill is working with Samson who is 55 years old and I am helping Rae who has a 15 year sentence but I do not know his age yet.

Reaching out in our community

A couple of months ago, a door opened for Bill to use some of his practical skills to help a young couple who have both just recently reached their 21st birthdays and who, together with their baby boy, are making a new life after having broken free from substance abuse.

We were introduced to them by a Qantas pilot who volunteers with the Pipeline Youth Program here in the Hunter. Bill worked alongside the young man repairing the damage which he had done to walls and doors in bouts of anger. With Bill, he learned how to hang new doors and to patch holes in the walls with plaster of Paris. This young man wants to find work and would love to learn a trade, but because of his disadvantaged background he reads at only a fourth-grade level. Bill and his mentor have, however, found him to be quite bright. His Pipeline mentor is working with him on improving his reading skills.

Bill was ready to have him work alongside him doing renovations at our elder’s home so that he could gain more experience and confidence. We were very sad to learn that both these dear young folk have gone into deep depression in the last few weeks. The wife, who did pass 10th grade, was to have started a waitressing job at one of the vineyard restaurants around Cessnock this month. However, she will not be emotionally able to tackle that yet. Thankfully they have agreed to seek help through medication from a doctor and counselling by a psychologist or psychiatrist. It is no wonder they are having problems with all they have gone through. This young couple come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. Two little glimpses from the wife’s childhood will give you a feel for their backgrounds. From the age of 13 onwards she was required to make the evening meal for the family. When her parents returned from the hotel where they spent each afternoon drinking, they would expect the meal to be ready and they would punish her if it wasn’t exactly as they liked. She was also sexually abused during her childhood years.

Both of us have been reaching out to a man who lives close by. He is a marijuana addict, a heavy drinker and a compulsive gambler. He did agree to attend a course called “Christianity Explored” with us and was doing the homework each week. However, towards the end he was drunk when we went to collect him as usual to drive him to the home where the course was being held and he would not go. Sad to say, he still hasn't agreed to watch the last three sessions of the course with us at our place.

We still have a lot to do with him though, and with the lady he lives with. Please pray for them that the Holy Spirit will be able to break down the barriers and that they might come to trust Jesus as their Redeemer. The man has quite a bit of background through growing up in Catholicism.

SRE = School Religious Education

I, Lynette, am teaching three classes each week. Two are combined 3rd and 4th grade classes and the other is a combined 5th and 6th grade class. As I expected the children have very little background in Bible knowledge. Out of almost 80 students I get the impression that at most 5 of them have had anything to do with a Sunday School or church. I have given them lessons about creation, the entry of sin into the world, the worldwide flood, Abraham (in particular the miraculous birth of and then the offering of Isaac), some of Jesus miracles and then His death, burial and resurrection. Some of them seem to have taken quite a bit of the lessons in. I have been emphasizing the same foundational truths which we use in the Creation to Christ teaching in NTM. The children have become very dear to my heart. In the next lesson which is the last for this year I am going to give them each a copy of “What are Christmas and Easter all about?” published by GoodSeed Publishers. I would heartily recommend this little booklet to you as a gift for unsaved family and friends. You can buy it from http://au.goodseed.com/what-are-christmas-and-easter-all-about/

Our health

We had planned to fly to Arizona to visit Philip and Mindy and their family in mid-October. We did not however go. For some reason which has not yet been identified my high blood pressure, which has been successfully kept under control with medication for about ten years, became more elevated. A few weeks prior to this Bill had begun to experience clinical depression once again. In light of these two facts, Bill decided that it would not be wise for us to go at that time. We have thankfully been given a credit by the airline which we can use for a booking any time in the next 12 months from our original booking.

I have been coming and going to our family doctor for over a month now and have also seen a specialist cardiologist. Praise the Lord my blood pressure is now down where it should be , after the addition of two extra medications. Bill has had the dosage increased on his anti-depressant medication [still only a low dose] and after four weeks on the higher dosage he became noticeable more cheerful. He is now almost back to his normal self.

Our "three sons"

Why am I saying THREE sons? Of course we only raised two sons, Philip and David. However, there has been a man in our lives for the past 23 years who is like a son to us. Perhaps you could say he is a “courtesy nephew”. He calls us Papa and Mama but those names are also used for uncles and aunts in PNG cultures. He is Joel Kemaya. Bill discipled Joel back at the beginning of the 1990’s and then Joel co-taught with Bill at the Namaro Bible Church. Finally Joel took over the teaching when we moved into the FNBC advisory ministry.

Philip

Philip’s first-born, Austen, spent the first seven months of 2013 studying in Germany. He stayed with his aunt and uncle who were on home assignment in Germany from their missionary work in the Chad in North Africa. At that time Austen had finished one semester at the community college in Tucson, Arizona, studying towards his goal of working in the Diplomatic Corps. A counselor at the college told him that in order to make himself more attractive to the Diplomatic Corps he should master two extra languages out of four which the counselor listed. German was in one pair and the other pair is Arabic and Mandarin Chinese.

The classes at the German college were carried out on the immersion principle. He attended church with the family and that was all in German. He also joined a volleyball team and of course the boys all communicated in German. He gained mastery of the German language. Since then the family have found a German couple living not too far away from them in Arizona. So Austen has been able to spend time with them keeping up his fluency.

Adrian who will be 18 in January is also attending the community college. He plans on becoming a biomedical engineer.

Biomedical engineers design and manufacture implantable and external medical devices including orthopaedic, cardiovascular and other electronic and surgical equipment. These include artificial joints and limbs, dental devices, medical electronics and implantable devices, as well as tissue engineering and computer simulation such as MRI, x-ray and CT scans.

 

Lilly loves music and is doing very well playing the cello and the piano. She now composes music herself. During the long school vacation this year she was able to go to a music camp to develop her composing and performing skills.
David

Since March 2013, David has been studying part-time at the University of Newcastle for the degree of Bachelor of Oral Health which combines dental therapy, in which he already has a diploma, and dental hygiene. He has continued to drive buses for Sydney Transit in order to earn some income. He has done very well thus far and will find out the results of his final exams on December 5th. He and Rita will then be looking to the Lord for where David can work once again in the dental field.

Joel

Joel has been very faithful ministering as an elder and Bible teacher at the Namaro / Bena Bridge Bible Church for the past twenty years. He has taught “Creation to Christ” to many groups and then discipled them. He has trained many young men as Bible teachers and they have gone out to teach in other areas. He has also arranged and co-ordinated a number of training sessions for elders and Bible teachers to expand their skills and encourage them in their ministries.

He and his wife, Rose, also host many believers from other areas when they need to come to Goroka. A difficulty arises in providing clean water for drinking and cooking when the church is hosting conferences and Joel and Rose are hosting smaller groups. They have just one small water tank. When a conference is held the church usually has to buy water from town because the only other water source is the river which is not at all clean —- sometimes it carries typhoid.

A man from New Zealand was planning on drilling bores for water in various locations in the Highlands of PNG. He told Joel in early 2012 that he would drill a bore for free if the church can provide two 3,000 litre water tanks to store the water which will be pumped up from the bore.

Before we left PNG last year, Joel had priced the tanks at a hardware store in Goroka. They cost K7,000 each [$3,500]. A lot of money!

He has let us know since that they have been able to borrow some money in order to buy one of the tanks.

Possibly an even more urgent need is a new house for the family. Joel built a small house in an off-the-ground more European style just before he and Rose were married back in 1997. That has not been safe to live in for over two years now. He has been able to gather together some materials for a new house for the family but it is taking a very long time to save the funds needed for the new house which will still be very simple but big enough for the seven of them.

Would you pray that the Lord would provide the money for these need. Perhaps you would like to be part of the answer to these needs. If so, get in touch with us and I’ll let you know how gifts can be channeled to Joel for the project.

 

Lynnette — Joel and Rose’s elder daughter
Lynnette, who is as you might suspect named after me, finished grade 10 at a Junior High School this year. In January she will find out whether she has done well enough to be offered a place at a senior High School to do grades 11 and 12.


Thank you so much for continued interest in our lives and your faithful prayer support for the ministries the Lord has entrusted to us.

God bless you all,
Bill and Lynette


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