Nov-Dec 2014 The African Report

Hello to everyone and a Blessing to you and your family today: PATIENCE AND PROGRESS The end of last year has now passed. Did we accomplish for the Lord all we wanted to get done? No, not all! What about our “resolutions” made on January 1st, 2014 – Did they become a reality in our lives throughout the year? Not all! Sometimes, we don’t have the patience with ourselves, and so, then, we don’t make the progress hoped for. With the New Year now here again , let us use common sense and be practical in making those resolutions. We have done that and will patiently wait for progress in the good Lord’s timing! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL I am writing this newsletter on the first of January, hoping to set a precedence for our activities for the rest of the year. We all hope and pray for a renewal with the new year here. Ann and I feel especially blessed to have survived 2014 and look forward to a much better year in 2015 – without too many health issues. We do know she must see the nu Nero-surgeon February 3rd, and discuss her back issues to see what options he offers. After that is behind us, we can think about a date for our return to the work in South Africa. EBOLA UPDATE Our friend and fellow-worker in Liberia, Brother George Tengbah, wrote me in late December that “Ebola is LEAVING our country!” That is good news for them and for all of us who have been so concerned about all the workers in West Africa! I taught in the preacher-training school that this dear brother has run for many years, but it was some years ago. I would like to go back someday to teach there again, but I knew it could not be this year because of the Ebola-problem, plus our own health concerns. George has kept in touch with this and told us about his brother and sister-in-law dying from the horrible effects of the Ebola. They were quarantined and George could not even see them. Now, he has inherited their children to raise, and has asked us for help. We have done this a couple of times. It is almost an unwritten law, and widely practiced in Africa, that a family member will step in to finish raising the kids of their close relative. I have no idea of their ages, or how many, of the brother’s family are left, but it does add to any family’s expenses when they have to care for other family members. If you’d like to assist us in helping George care for his additional family members because of the Ebola situation, let us know. This was something completely unplanned and unexpected. LOSS OF MY BEST FRIEND If you’ve ever lost a good friend, either through a misunderstanding or dispute, or by death, you must know how badly I feel now that my friend and colleague, Larry York, passed away on 8 December. Ann and I celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary on that date. We didn’t do anything spectacular that day, but we did want to be together. In fact, it was Larry who brought that about. We were scheduled to travel to Houston, TX for a meeting with some Memorial church leaders and missions committee for the Bible College (SABC) that evening at 5:30. Usually, Larry would be “up” to a trip, no matter where or when, but this time he said he didn’t think he would go with me. Even though Ann had not made any such trips with me this year since her stroke, she decided she could do it and wanted to be with me. We were a couple of hours out of Houston when I got a call from Larry. He said he was “a-fixing’ (as we say in Tennessee) to get on his riding mower to mulch the leaves in his yard, and he knew I’d call him in a little while, but with the lawn mower going, he would not hear my call. We chatted a little bit, mostly nonsense (as usual) and said our good-byes. About 6:00, just after we started the meeting in Houston, my cell phone rang. I started to ignore it, even turn it off, but I saw the Yorks’ phone number pop up and stepped outside the meeting room to answer it. It was Betty, who helps the Yorks care for Carol’s invalid sister, Polly, who suffers with MS. She said, “Jerry, You’ve got to come over right away – Carol needs you!” She didn’t know I was in Houston. Then, she told me they had gone out to search for Larry when he hadn’t come in to the house. They found him laying beside his riding mower, with his hand on the now-idle leaf blower. They couldn’t find a pulse. She had already called 911 and Carol was “out there in the yard with him now.” Their little dog had found him and was there beside Larry, licking his face. Later, Betty called back to say Larry, my good friend and traveling companion, had passed away, estimated by the 911 response team, around 5:30. At that point, I told the others in that Houston meeting, and of course, all were very sad about that. They knew him from many years of previous meetings and contact with him. He had been responsible for taking the SABC display to the Christian College lectureships on Memorial’s behalf when we were out of the country. When I was here, of course, we went together, like to he Freed-Hardeman Lectureships in February. I always tried to make that. Funeral and Visitation The York’s chose to have Larry’s funeral at the Highland Funeral home that Friday morning and he would be buried there in the cemetery beside his parents. They had the Family Gathering-Visitation at the West End church on Thursday night that week. We all knew there would be large crowds at both – and there were. Larry was known far and wide, in all segments of his life, and was an active community worker, serving on committees and helping with the local parades. All knew and loved him, though he was an eccentric in many ways. Preaching his funeral was one of the hardest I’ve ever done! It was very emotional. We called on several to tell of their memories of Larry – where and how they met him, or some significant encounter with him that impressed them. One man told that the very first Sunday he and his family visited the West End church, Larry was the first person to meet and welcome them. He then introduced them to many others and that is why they stayed at West End so many years. They now worship with a congregation closer to their home in Hardin Valley. Now, it will be my task to make contact with churches for speaking appointment – something I have not done in a long, long time! Last year, while I was in South Africa for the Lectureship, Larry made all my appointments for Nov and Dec, up through the end of January. After that, I will have to assume his job. Another task he performed was, when we went to visit a church, after the service, Larry mingled with the crowds, meeting as many folks as he could and handing them an envelope with our newsletter and other information about our work that Ann always prepares for us as hand-outs. He was good at doing that and usually remembered something about the people he talked to. He was like a politician, he “worked the crowds” and encouraged so many. Yes, we will all miss our friend, Larry York! “The Second-Chapter” Fred Bergh, Director of SABC introduced me at one point during the 2014 Lectureship and said that Ann and I were entering the “second-chapter” of our lives. I had not thought of our work in quite those terms, but it is in keeping with our plans during this “down” time for both of us. We have several study-guides and outlines underway, mostly those that I have taught at the Bible College. This year, we want to go through them one more time, complete them, and prepare them for printing and distribution. One new book we are writing is about our experiences in the mission field, from our viewpoint, and we will entitle it, “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” Also, I have been asked by SABC the teacher who is now teaching my class on the Gospel of John at SABC to complete my Gospel of John study-guide by April, and I plan to do that. At this time, I am teaching the book of Revelation at the West End church on Wednesday nights, so I’m developing a study outline called, “The Hope of Revelation”. These three books we plan to finish this year. If we have more time, of course, we will work on others. Last year, I printed my notes on “Biblical Archaeology” and gave them to the class I taught at SABC. This is an ongoing study as new artifacts and historical sites are discovered all the time. We will update that study-guide when needed. At this time, we don’t know when we will be able to rejoin our fellow-workers at the Bible College. This all depends upon Ann’s back surgery, when and how long the recovery time will be, etc. We are still hoping to see the specialist at Vanderbilt in Nashville, but I’m not sure that will happen. We will definitely keep you informed. So far, our supporters have been very understanding of our situation and have hung in there with us. We thank God for all who support us in the work and now give us the time to rest and properly heal both of us from our ailments. NEWS FROM THE FIELD The Southern Africa Bible College (SABC) is preparing to begin a new school year the end of January, even as I pen these words. We never know exactly how many students will return from last year, or how many new ones will enroll for the First-Year class until long after the first day of Orientation. Many may “sign-up” or enroll, but it’s who shows up that counts. Lack of support or family obligations may hinder them from actually coming. We almost always have 15-20 come for the first year. We hope to have a high enrollment this year and enough support to sustain them for the three years of schooling. It takes a lot of funding to pay the bills-- faculty and student bursaries, building maintenance, staff salaries and supplies, etc. Training God’s spokesmen is an awesome task, and expensive! ******** Until next time..... remember us and the Bible College in your prayers and with your support of the work in South Africa. In some way, we plan to be missionaries as long as possible. God Bless all of you this year! – Jerry & Ann Hogg