October 11, 2020
Dear family, friends, and supporters;
For 10 weeks internet service in Chad was cut by the government for political reasons, and we were by force of circumstances incommunicado with all of you. It was a welcome respite from all the depressing news of 2020 and we again got used to straining our ears to hear static-filled short-wave broadcasts from the BBC like in the old days. But our sense of isolation and disconnectedness grew after a few weeks. However, on Oct 1, some good-hearted (or desperate) soul in the government decided to turn the contraption back on again, so here we are. We hope you enjoy catching up with us as much as we have enjoyed trying once again to paint for you a picture of our lives here in Chad.
Your fellow servants, Mark and Diane
On a roll …
During these past months we have been as close as we have ever been to being on what one might reasonably call a “roll” with the translation of the Kwong Scriptures. In June and July we translated the book of Second Corinthians – widely regarded as the most difficult book of the New Testament to translate. When we had finished it, we made the final quality control checks on the book of Romans (which we had translated in 2019) with a consultant from Wycliffe. Following that, we translated the book of Galatians, and then Philemon. After that, we started on the book of Philippians and finished the first chapter before we were called to the capital to assume emergency administrative responsibilities.
Light at the end of the tunnel
As we began Philippians, we saw for the first time the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel for the New Testament. Finishing Philippians will leave just 2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, and Jude, which are all really short books at the end of the NT, as well as Matthew and Mark at the beginning, which are long, but relatively easy to translate. Of course we are working on some Old Testament books, too, but the New Testament is undeniably a significant milestone in its own right.
Summertime in North America is rainy season in Chad, and rainy season means mosquitoes, and mosquitos in Africa mean malaria. Malaria in infants and babies is brutal. It makes them vomit, causes diarrhea, and makes them stop nursing and eating. In a matter of days they are too emaciated to recover without the intervention of our clinic staff and Diane. This year Diane and her helpers have been able to bring over 50 kids back from the brink and put them on the path to recovery, as well as provide formula for two babies whose mothers died giving birth. We remain grateful for the many generous gifts which have enabled Diane to show these desperate mothers and their little ones mercy without worrying about the considerable cost involved.
Two steps forward, three steps back…
Our poor local church in Chageen! After many years of painfully slow progress in raising the funds for, and constructing a new church building, the roofless super-structure all washed away in a few minutes during a torrential downpour on September 1. A temporary grass shelter built a few weeks previously inside the main structure was positioned in such a way as to disgorge the water from its eves directly against the brick structure surrounding it. This undermined the clay mortar joining the bricks until the whole thing collapsed in a tangle of broken concrete and reinforcing rod. We are hoping to raise money to help them get back to where they were before the downpour. Information about contributing to Team is at the end of this letter. Be sure to make a clear designation of your intentions on you gift e.g. “Vanderkooi – Church reconstruction”.
A new generation of disciples…
Since the original conception of the Kwong school of pastoral training and discipleship, it has been our desire to train up not only professional pastors, but also capable lay people. This latter aspect of our vision has been consistently met by pushback from the ecclesiastical powers-that-be, but we have insisted on it, and now we are seeing more fruit from the laymen (no women yet) than from the aspiring professional guys. Each Monday and Thursday evening upwards of 15 men have been gathering to study the Kwong “Kingdom of God” discipleship and theology materials in which we have invested ourselves for more than 20 years. We are very encouraged.
Administrative duty in the capital
Our dear colleagues Rich and Anne Hoyt have been keeping the wheels of our guesthouse and administrative facility in the capital N’Djamena turning for many years. However, during these last weeks it became apparent that Anne needs medical care and rest which she cannot get in Chad, so they made the decision to return to the USA for a few months. Because of this, we and another couple, the Kroners, will be spending these coming months in the capital trying to fill the Hoyt’s shoes. We hope that by some creative juggling we can keep the malnourished kids program and Bible translation moving ahead in Chageen during our absence. The Bible school, radio station, and clinic have capable Chadian staff who keep working even when we are not there. ›
Mark and Diane Vanderkooi chageen.teamchad.org
serving with the Evangelical Alliance Mission www.team.org/give
Send checks to: PO Box 1683 Carol Stream, IL 60132-1683 800-343-3144
Our cell phone in Chad: 235-66-47-92-32