February 27, 2019
Dear family, friends, and supporters;
5 years ago when we last embarked on the homeward journey to the USA for a missionary furlough, Diane's mother hadn't even begun her battle with cancer and her dad was planting, tilling, spraying, harvesting, and selling vegetables at their roadside stand as if their life depended on it. Now, 5 years on, we are again making the same pilgrimage. This time the family homestead and vegetable stand are no more. But we will be accompanied by a precocious little four year-old girl - a new generation for a new season of our lives. In this letter, we would like to tell you about our plans and dreams for the next few months.
Your fellow servants, Mark and Diane
Shortly after noon on March 29, we will board Ethiopian Airlines for a 36 hour odyssey via Addis Ababa, Dublin, and Chicago which will end in Dayton, Ohio. Sylvie will be with us, which is not a decision we have taken lightly. There were and are strong reasons to both leave her with her father and siblings, as well as to take her with us to the USA. On the balance it seemed that she was at a pivotal stage in her emotional development such that accompanying us was probably the better thing. It was also the unanimous counsel of our Kwong friends. So we started the paperwork, knowing that it would be of such complexity that Providence would have a hundred opportunities to derail the idea should it be ill advised. In the end, every official document we needed was forthcoming with a minimum of difficulty - her Chadian passport, an American visa, and guardianship papers. We were particularly grateful to her uncle, who is a magistrate in the Chadian judiciary and who also happens to be the official, albeit mostly absentee, chief of Chageen. He was able to cut through the bureaucratic red tape with an efficiency we couldn't dream of for his little niece.
So now we are in the last weeks of preparing to leave our home for a country which, with the death of Diane's parents, will be even more alien to us than when we last made this pilgrimage. Because of the demands of the Bible school and because we are pretty sure it would be unhealthy for Sylvie to be gone from her father and siblings in Chad for too long, we will only be in the USA for about 3 months - from March 30 to July 6. That being the case, it will be difficult to see everyone we want to see. We want to begin even now by expressing our regrets. But please read on, because we have an idea.
Well, actually the idea is more properly classified as a dream. The first part of it is to purchase a home in Dekalb or Sycamore IL (which is Mark's home area, 50 miles west of Chicago). This will be a place we can call our own and will in some measure fill the void left by the loss of the Stocksdale homestead. This is a daunting undertaking, but we want to try to do this during these coming months. The second part of the dream, and the part by which it might be possible for us to see more of you more often in the not-too-distant future, is that we would like to take yearly trips to the USA of a month or two – instead of waiting almost 5 years as we did this time. Having our own home would make such trips practical in a way they presently are not. We are thinking that such a rhythm of life would be the most propitious for our teaching schedule at the Bible school as well as for the development of Sylvie. Of course as with any dream, we are holding it very lightly.›
Mark and Diane Vanderkooi chageen.teamchad.org
serving with the Evangelical Alliance Mission www.team.org/givenow
P.O. Box 1986 Grapevine, TX 76099-1986 800-343-3144
Our cell phone in Chad: 235-66-47-92-32