Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Our SIM director in Niger wrote:
"Helene Zoolkoski went to be with her Savior this morning at 3:15 am. She passed away at their home in Galmi. Helene had been diagnosed with metastatic melanoma over 16 months ago. Upon receiving this news it was Helene and Chris's desire to return to Galmi and continue to work as long as they could, knowing that Helene may live out the rest of her days here in the country where they had invested so much of their lives already.
"Last Wednesday Chris and Helene quietly celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. Though very weak Helene's thoughts were clear and she still had her pretty smile.
"One of Helene's favorite hymns is 'O Sacred Head, Now Wounded'. The last verse reads:
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.
"When Mikki and I had the privilege of seeing Helene last week, she repeated several times, 'God is good...all the time!' Despite her suffering, her love for the Lord Jesus remained strong and unshakable until the end." (Steve Schmidt)
John and Suzanne were on their way back to Niger when Helene was ushered into her Saviour's presence so they did not hear the news until they landed in Niger early Monday morning. Many, many missionaries from Niamey drove the 6-7 hour trip east to Galmi and John and Suzanne were able to join the convoy to Galmi. John said the funeral was beautifully simple and glorifying to God. I don't have any other details at this time. You can also look at my friend Cindy's blog for more details: http://www.xanga.com/malamacindy; Rachel's blog: http://lifeinniger.blogspot.com; or Steven's blog: http://inotice.blogspot.com.
Helene and I were kids together at boarding school back in the 60's, though I don't remember her very well from those days. Before Helene and Chris were married, and before John and I had kids, she and I taught together at Sahel Academy...it was the 2nd year of the school which is now 20 years old. I always appreciated Helene's honesty, her professionalism, and her no-nonsense approach to life. Even though we seldom got to see each other due to the distance between our stations, we always enjoyed chatting when we were together. She often helped me gain a fresh perspective on things I was struggling with. (This picture of Helene is from one of their prayer letters.)
Please pray for her husband Chris and their three children, Elisheva, Zeb, and Joel. Helene's mom has been with them since about the end of January.
Monday, July 23, 2007
It was a beautiful day for a picnic. Not too hot, not too cold. A brilliant blue sky and white fluffy clouds. No rain.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Before we left Niger, I was reading this book by Richard Foster: The Freedom of Simplicity. I hadn't finished it, but didn't want to bring it to the US and then have to carry it back to Niger. Books are too heavy to carry if I don't really need it! I need to see if I can find it in the library here so I can finish it.
Anyway, I would recommend this book. By Simplicity he means getting rid of things in your life that prevent you from concentrating on what is most important. He talks about getting rid of things that cause us to live beyond our means physically. He doesn't say that "things" are wrong or that you have to live austerely. He does say that simplicity looks different for everybody but how we all need to hold things loosely.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala describes how the Brooklyn Tabernacle grew from a handful of discouraged people to a huge, vibrant church. Jim Cymbala says people ask him all the time what the secret is to growing a big church. They want to copy his program and have a church like his. He says there is no secret. It has to be a work of the Spirit and the only advice he can give is to make prayer a priority. This was a timely reminder to me to keep praying and not give up when the church in Tera seems doomed to failure. God is still at work!
Saturday, July 07, 2007
It was a fantastic experience, even for inexperienced campers. It was definitely one of those never-to-be-forgotten experiences!
Monday, July 02, 2007
On the 20th Tim and Laurie and their 4 sons came over for Dad D's birthday. After supper he said he wanted us to sing at the piano. We all enjoyed that immensely. Here we have Jacob leading the singing and John playing the piano. Too bad you can't hear all Jacob's sound effects!
Mom D's 4 sisters and their husbands arrived in the evening of June 21. The next afternoon they came over. Dad D entertained us by showing us all his hats. We also had another hymn sing around the piano. This photo shows Uncle Willard, Aunt Lucille, and Aunt Bev singing. Let me digress a moment....Uncle Willard and Aunt Lucille have been to Niger! Uncle Willard set up our solar system for us back in our pre-electricity days!
The aunts and some of the cousins sang "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us". I think they had had that song at their wedding.
Here's a shot of Mom D and her four sisters in birth order from right to left: Jean, Muriel, Bev, Lucille, and Joyce. The other four all live in Tacoma, Washington....or near Tacoma, anyway.
Caleb designed a new DeValve family crest that was really cool. That was the family gift to Mom and Dad D and they also got polo shirts with the crest on it. In fact, we will all be getting these shirts. So, it was a really great party!