GEM Spring 2008
All of these letters clearly communicate what God is accomplishing through His servants in India, Tanzania, and Albania. May God bless you through these letters.
India: December 28, 2007
Dear Brother Bernie,
We had forty people attend our Christmas celebration at 4:00 AM and 11:00 AM in our GEM church. Abraham and Joshua preached. We were really excited about our GEM home and church which look very fine and attractive. Now I wish you to see them and praise God for the fulfillment of our dreams. Our GEM Pastor Joel is also doing good ministry. We are planning to give thirty sarees for women attending our church and white dresses for our orphanage.
We have raised the pillars on the GEM home with the remaining steel, chips, and sand in the second phase. It needs much less money to build the second floor compared to the first floor. We will slowly take it up whenever the Lord gives us funds as we need this for GEM office, guest house, Joshua’s stay, and more room for orphans which is also an immediate need. There are some needs still waiting for the first phase to be completed which includes children’s bathrooms, flooring, electrification and plastering of two outside walls of the church. After completing these things, we will move onto the second phase. Thank you for your persistence.
Bernie, the water sewage is arranged in the same way you suggested. The water purifying technician came and tested our water and advised us to fix purifying system, which would cost up to 300 dollars. This will give us a healthy water to drink so that everybody will be healthy and happy
With prayers, Joseph
Tanzania: January 1, 2008
Dear Debbie and Bernie,
Thanks a lot for your very open letter and the good news about your family. I appreciate it very much when people are honest and open and talk the truth. Everything is a secret; everywhere is confusion, lies, and suspicion. That’s why I don’t have more than five true friends here in Tanzania. So, I appreciate having you as friends.
The number of crimes is increasing. Also, the price for food doubled this year. Some people already talk openly about maybe having a civil war within the next five years.
Security and control is increasing. Many non-government organizations (N.G.O.’s) have to close down because of money misuse. It is getting more and more difficult to run an N.G.O. You get many questions and everything is constantly checked. They have not started yet “to clean” the churches, but it will come also. You can’t even trust the kids any more, everything is lie and cheating. Even helping the poor is not fun any more. Instead of getting a “Thank you” for your offered help they already expect the next help or they are trying to cheat you to get more out of you. Sometimes it is very frustrating. You don’t see any solutions or changes or improvement in the people and their behaviors.
Only very seldom can you collect the fruits of your work. For example, Ancilla, when I met her, she was thirteen years old. She was handicapped and needed operations on her legs. The father left the family and the mother had no job. She also wanted to go to secondary school, but there was no money. I found a sponsor for her. She got three operations, special shoes, and money for paying the school fees. She completed school, and I helped her to pursue being a nurse. Last month she finished her education and she came to me and said that she wants to help our sick orphans without taking money. So, she, herself being a half-orphan herself, decided after getting help from us for ten years, to help orphans now and to help them freely. For me a very, very nice experience!
Now I help her younger sisters to go to secondary school, and I helped her mother to start selling fish to get some little income. And you know what she said to me? “Now for the first time since years, I can afford to buy sugar, and drink my tea with sugar in the morning…”
You asked about my health. It all started with a normal bladder infection. Because of fake antibiotics the bacteria developed a resistance. They made a cystoscopy and destroyed some tissue by bad luck. So the bacteria went in again. Now I don’t have bacteria any more, but the wound is big, and heals only slowly. The only advantage: instead of running around and blaming people and trying to change bad situations, I have to stay at home and write letters and reports to get donations. I guess, otherwise they would have driven me out of Tanzania or killed me. So, I have to be quiet and learn patience. No, we didn’t get a car yet. It is too difficult because of taxes. Too expensive!
All the best to you, your family, Bernie for his job, and your folks. Peter
India: February 5, 2008
Dear Brother Bernie, Sister Debbie, and Brother Scott,
We are now helping five orphans, two widows, one gospel worker and one watchman helper who is of great help to us. We once again will send all the pictures soon.
Regarding the construction estimations, I now understand that they are beyond what we originally thought because the U.S. dollar value is going very low and the cost of construction materials is going very high. I hope you will understand the problem. Take good care of your health my brothers and sister; we also miss you so much. Things are fine with us here so far. We are planning to conduct gospel meetings for three days on the GEM campus mostly in April/May; please pray. We send our greetings to your families too. We love you all. Joseph
India: February 13, 2008
Dear Brother Bernie and Brother Scott,
In the next phase, we would prefer to build a school shed for starting our GEM preschool from June, 2008 and the second floor of GEM home to accommodate two staff families and a hall for the stay of the orphans in which case we will use the present children's hall as a dining hall for orphans. As you have mentioned before, we have to cry unto the Lord for His miracles. We are trying to raise some money locally to finish flooring, doors, and electrification for the church. We love you my brothers; we are praying for you all and your families.
With love, Joseph
Albania: January 2008
As we look over the years, we have much to be grateful for. It probably has been the most stressful financially than any other year, not only do we have more ministries and outreaches going on and needing finance to run, but the dollar has taken over a 20% drop in value, so for every dollar we receive, instead of 100 lek, we only get 80 lek. In addition, for the first time, Albania has been experiencing inflation. A loaf of bread that used to cost 60 lek is now 80 lek. So the budgets we set for the community projects and workers support last year ended up not being enough. By summer, Ian could see we were going to run out in early November, but God put it on the heart of certain individuals to help extra this year, and we have enough to end the year in the red. PTL!
We have seen a great impact from the Street Kids Project. A few of the boys are regularly in church on Sundays. Manjola, Irini, and Maria, who are in the Safe House are really doing well and are doing much better in school this year. Jori has just welcomed a new girl, named Delvina. She was living in squalor in a bunker with her father and has been sexually abused. Please pray for her.
- The Elderly Project has been serving more than thirty people, helping them survive the winter with wood in their stoves, a hot meal, and help around the house.
- Due to the fact that we have a physical therapist leaving, we are training two new nurses, Arta and Gerion. This therapy is really on the cutting edge in Albania and many people feel the results are miraculous. Children, who told us that they would never walk, are now walking. Stroke victims, who told us that they would be invalids, are now able to take care of themselves!
- Valter, Dashi, and Tori are learning to do the eye glasses; they all did very well in their training. Two Dutch opticians came out from Holland to train them in September, and they have all started doing the work on a part-time basis.
- The special education classes are also expanding. We enrolled several new students this year, with Qamili and Elena teaching.
- The work at the orphanage continues with both lessons and fun activities like cooking, sewing, and art with Keli.
- The clinic continues and has developed a very good name in the town. People are especially touched by the personal home visits that they do. It is a light to the community.
We see between 200-250 people attending regularly on a Sunday now. Over 300 were at the Christmas celebration! What thrills us more is that there are over thirteen Bible Study/Home Groups meeting during the week and over 60 percent of the church is in one of these groups. The church is two prayer groups, meetings for men, women, children, junior high, and youth. So, the church is pretty active. I think there are activities going on every day of the week, and with two ping pong tables and a foosball table, there are always young people around playing games or talking downstairs around the tables and chairs. The church has become a center of activity and a community. PTL!
It is hard to believe that we have been in Korca now for six years. It is amazing to see all that the Lord has done and all the people that He has gathered and enabled for ministry. There are regular works in six of the villages of Korca, all led and run by Albanians from the church. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day problems because when you work with people, you deal with problems. The more people you have, the more problems you have. The more you have to count on people, the more you can get let down, but when we think back to 1991 when we first came and there were only five men who could only meet in secret and now to look at the lovely church building filled with people and the hum of activities going through the week, see the lives that have been changed, it really warms the heart and is reassuring that we are where we should be, that Jesus is alive and active, and working all around us!
We pray that 2008 will bring new hope and joy for many in Korca, in Albania, for you…from the Prince of Peace…In His precious name.
Ian, Caralee, Ashlie, Issac and David Loring
India: February 2008
Dear Brothers Bernie and Scott & Sisters Debbie and Jill,
I thank God for you, a tiny team doing a great job for God’s kingdom. You are a great encouragement to us here in our ministry. I preach the gospel every early morning through our public system from the GEM campus. Joshua and Abraham conduct Sunday worship for children. More than 25 children attend. They and Sudha, Abraham’s wife, are also spending time with the same group every evening at our home. Sunday worships are a great encouragement to people. More than 25 people are attending regularly. A special service is conducted on Wednesdays to intercede for the sick and needy. We interceded for one, Mr. Bhaskar, for his promotion in his government job and he got it ultimately and he contributed 15 thousand rupees for our church work. God is great!
Last week we conducted a special training on Church Planting for 50 local evangelists and pastors. GEM Campus was filled with many servants of God on the 25th & 26th. We had all night prayers that night in a special way. We conducted a Free Medical Camp on the 27th through the voluntary services of a mission hospital. More than 90 poor patients were freely treated and given free medicines by expert doctors. People blessed GEM services.
We are planting some gourds on our fields now so that we will have sufficient vegetables during the summer. We have more than twelve chickens on our campus. This might remind Bernie of his boyhood days on the farm in South Dakota.
Please pray for the broadband connection here. The dial up connection here is eating hours and hours time with poor signals. We are trying for a better connection. Please pray for this. We are all praying for you.
With love and prayers….Joseph.
India: March 2008
Dear Brother Bernie and GEM Team,
Thank you for all your love, prayers, and support. Things are fine with us here. We are always doing some work with our constructions based on the need and the money available. The Church Planting training for 50 gospel workers continues on the 4th Monday of every month and the All Night Prayer meeting on the 25th of every month in our GEM Sanctuary. We are arranging a big three days Gospel campaign May 14-16 on the open ground of our campus, which is an expensive program. Kindly pray for these things.