Tere Eestist! (Hello from Estonia!)
This past year was hard for Lívia as she adjusted to teaching in a new school in a new community, but praise God it has gone well and her relationships with co-workers as well as the kids are developing nicely. Some time ago we asked prayer for a very troubled 6th grader. Your prayers are working! Lívia has been able to build a relationship of trust with him to the point where a shift in his attitude is seen, despite the fact that he still claims to hate school. As a teacher, she is limited in how she can present the Gospel, but her testimony comes through very clearly! Keep praying!
One of Lívia’s goals for the year ahead is to put Bible studies that she has lead into a written form that can be distributed. There is a very great lack of Bible study material in Estonian and Lívia’s approach is exactly the very practical approach that is needed to help people develop their relationship with God. Finding the time and energy, however, is a major challenge, so prayers are appreciated.
For me, the last months have been about handovers. Mostly planned and prepared for in a way that will take God’s work in new directions and allow me to focus on the Seminary and Bible school.
Handover #1: Estonian foreign mission work has a new leader. Kaire (who graduated from the Seminary in June and has been on several of our mission teams) officially replaced me this spring taking the seat I had on the Estonian Evangelical Alliance’s board as mission committee leader. This handover took more time than I expected, but I trust that God’s timing is best and I see that Kaire has the skills and energy to take this work forward.
Handover #2: The Bible school for indigenous people groups in Russia is relaunched with a new leader. For security reasons I won’t be giving details, but I can say that a new group of 22 students started recently. I am so happy to see the creative teaching approaches that are moving a step beyond what I did in the past, making the teaching method more relevant to their culture. That is what handovers should do! I feel like a parent watching my child beat my own record! I am so happy! I wish I could tell you all about it.
Handover #3: The Seminary has a new leader, Külli Tõniste. Külli was my student when I first came to Estonia. She went on to do a master’s and a PhD in New Testament and with her American husband Doug has been back in Estonia teaching with us for 3 years. On August 1 she will officially become our Rector (president). I was her teacher, her boss, and now she will become my boss. Honestly, I am really looking forward to it! We have had lots of conversations about the direction the Seminary needs to go, and I really believe that God can use her to take the Seminary to new heights. Most importantly: she understands the importance of prayer and keeping God central to what we are doing.
Handover #4: We have a new head of the church in Estonia: Robert Tcherenkov. Unlike the others, Robert has never been my student, but he was my partner for the last two years leading the Estonian Bible School program. Working together helped me to get to know him better and to see the heart that he has for God. I really believe he is the right man for the job and although he is facing a huge challenge, I am looking forward to seeing what God will do.
As you can see, there are a lot of changes and we really believe that all these new leaders can bring a new start to the church in Estonia. Please keep praying for God’s guidance, strength and protection. Estonia is not an easy place to serve God and your prayers are an essential part of what we are doing.
Have a great summer!
-Livia & Mark Nelson
-I recently returned to Haiti for two months after a one-year absence. My heart overflowed the first couple weeks of reunions! My former students at Cowman International School stopped for a hug and a kiss at every possible chance; how I missed those little rascals! I taught fifth grade for the last three weeks of school and organized the school’s annual Fun in the Sun Day. It was a blast! I believe the highlight was our “Teacher Target” station, where students got to hurl soaked sponges at our brave teachers. However, stress from the field’s difficult land situation and political tensions in the community quickly stole our focus as we begged God to guide us through the turmoil. Many of our last smiles for our students were painful as our hearts cried for our family, our campus, and the community of Vaudrieul. As chaotic and heart-wrenching as it was, I believe it was a time of strengthening for the OMS family on the Haiti field. In every discussion, I witnessed pure hearts cry that these difficult times would further the Gospel in the community, that this situation would exalt Jesus; and while we didn’t understand, I saw so much willingness to suffer for Christ and His kingdom. As a young woman just beginning her missionary journey, it was so encouraging to see how the years our long-termers have invested in and sincerely cared for the Haitian people produced a huge spiritual blessing in a very dark time. It manifested itself as a whole community of faithful believers interceding in prayer! It was a hug and a kiss from the cleaning ladies to encourage me to “kenbe fem” (stay strong). It was singing praises with the kitchen ladies while we washed the dishes and tried not to cry. It was watching an Almighty God provide a solution when every possible solution had been rejected and exhausted. Upon my return, I have been asked if I had a fun trip. It makes me chuckle! I don’t know if being stretched spiritually, emotionally, in my giftings, and every other area of my life to an extent that one begins to feel broken can be classified as fun, but it resulted in incredible joy that made this trip my most meaningful yet. And as I led my most frustrating and difficult student to the Lord on the last day of summer school, I realized that every single moment is and was worth it.
On a personal note Julie and I have left Haiti temporarily to adopt our nephew, Jacob. We are currently in Canada going through the adoption process and hope to be back in Haiti for the start of the next semester at Emmaus.
Emmaus Biblical Seminary continues to advance. On May 11, 19 men and women graduated, equipped to serve the Kingdom in Hai-ti. We have also started construction on a new classroom and office building in order to accommodate our growing class sizes and faculty. Also, this semester Emmaus started a new master’s in education program in the hope of training and influencing the future and current educational leaders in Haiti for Christ. But the biggest advancement, the biggest news of this semester was that the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association granted EBS accreditation. Emmaus is the first school to be granted accreditation by CETA in either Haiti or the Dominican Republic. This is a massive achievement which Emmaus has been working toward for over a decade. Accreditation means that a degree from Emmaus is the equal of any post-secondary degree in the world. We praise God and give Him the glory for the blessings that he has poured out upon us so that we can serve Him more effectively.
Bethesda Medical Centre’s physio department also continues to advance. The beautiful new building was opened at the start of January and Altidor, a local physio technician, started working with Julie the first day that they were opened. They have been work-ing hard ever since. Altidor is learning quickly and since Julie left the clinic in March she has been doing an excellent job on her own.
Dr. Rodney Baptiste had a very successful fund raising trip to Western Canada in February raising more than $80,000 for the clinic. That is almost enough to supply them with medicine for a whole year! Bethesda is very thankful to God for His provision!
-Bill and Julie Edler