David and Melissa Kline are on their way to Macau. They sent this email to their supporters just before leaving on April 1.

“The last few weeks have been crazy for us. David has been busy finalizing business stuff and I have been hugging boxes for two months. In between all of our packing appointments, we have tried to fit in as much time with family and friends as possible. Now we can finally say that our packing has come to an END!

“We leave for Chicago in four hours and we take off at 8 pm Chicago time. By 11 pm Friday evening (US time), we will be standing in Macau!

“God has blessed us so much this year! Thanks for all your prayers. Thanks for all your financial support! Our support level is currently at 100%

“Please continue to pray for us and our ministry in Macau. Pray for our families as we leave today. Pray for our first few weeks in Macau as we are busy finding an apartment, dealing with Immigration, and meeting with old friends.”

Jennifer Blandin writes from Macau:

“With Chinese New Year falling at the end of January, that allowed us a chance to offer some different types of English classes. Right before Chinese New Year I taught an English and Craft class. To be honest, not much English was used, but the ladies came up with some nice-looking crafts. It was fun to see how creative each person could be!

“The beginning of February had Nellie Birdsall teaching a Kitchen English class. This was only a four-lesson class, which I got to sit in on and help. Students learned how to make some American food and the rest of us got to taste test what they made! Not too bad of deal, I must admit! The ladies enjoyed the cooking class so much, that they are currently setting up other times to learn how to make pizza (and other foods) and to teach us teachers how to make some Chinese food.

The Chinese New Year is one of my favorite Chinese holidays. It’s one holiday where families have time together and everyone is excited for the coming new year. This is the year of the Monkey. Due to the economy doing a bit better than the previous few years, more shops and restaurants closed for an extended holiday break, which was also nice to see people relaxing.

“Two things that always go with Chinese New Year are fireworks and firecrackers, especially when the clock strike midnight and the new year has officially arrived. Every year I think my heart must skip a few beats because of the loud bangs coming at various intervals and from every direction. While Macau has never experienced snow, for a few weeks over the Chinese New Year holiday, Macau is blanketed in red paper from the firecrackers that people have set off from their apartment balconies.

“The ELP’s regular term of English classes began on February 17. A huge praise is that attendance has increase some over the last term. Another praise is that more people seem open to discussing and learning about God.

“One woman who has been attending Sunday evening English Bible study has begun attending worship services at Living Water Church. She continues to want to learn more about God and the Bible, which is exciting to see! Pray that she will continue to seek God and accept Him!

“January saw the return (for the 6th time) of Russ and Nellie Birdsall! It has been fun having them back as volunteers. They’ll be here till May.”

Steve and Beverly Swartz have been missionaries with Wycliffe since 1975. They spent most of those years in Australia working on the translation of the Bible into the Warlpiri language, a task which was completed in 2001 with the publication of the Warlpiri Bible. Now, they have decided to move on to something else, and away from Wycliffe. Steve explains:

“Since the Warlpiri Bible dedication in October 2001, I have continued on in my administrative and consultative roles within the Branch, but in all honesty it has been more out of a sense of duty/obligation than of call, at least not such a call that saw us come into Wycliffe in the first place in 1975 and then to Australia and the Warlpiri people in 1978. Perhaps we missed God’s signal to move on to other things in late 2001, but regardless of that, Bev and I now feel that it is God’s time for us to move on from Wycliffe and into something new.

“What does this mean for us? Wycliffe Australia has graciously allowed me six months leave commencing December 1, 2003, and I have appreciated the time thus far to get some extra R&R. However, beyond that, it is our intention to take formal Leave of Absence (LOA) from Wycliffe at a time not yet determined, but which may be in March or April of 2004. We cannot be certain of the future, but our current intention is to eventually resign from Wycliffe. LOA leaves the door open for a return to full service within five years should Bev and I choose to do so. Once we move into LOA status, we are allowed to receive support donations for a further three months from the commencement of LOA.

“In addition to this, after a brief and intense job search, I found and accepted a position at Yirara College (the same place Bev has worked as a tutor) as Executive Secretary to the Principal, the Business Manager, and Assistant Principal. I commenced work on January 19 and am confident that the Lord has opened up this job for me and that I can both handle and thrive in it in the long term. At the time of writing this letter, I completed my first full week of work and thoroughly enjoyed the job and the people I work with.

“It is not at all easy to write these words to friends and family who have prayed for and supported us, who have struggled our struggles and dreamed our dreams, who have laughed and wept and rejoiced with us and the Warlpiri people for these last 25 years that we have lived and worked in Australia. We owe each and every one of you more thanks and credit than we can ever give or repay. We know for certain that anything we have accomplished for the Lord here in Australia has been your accomplishment as well, and we praise and thank God for you all.

“Bev and I stepped out in faith in 1978 when we first came to Australia, and we have tried to walk by faith since then. Now, once again, we step out in faith into something quite different and unknown. But we do so stepping out into the hands of a faithful God.”

Jana, director of the Macau Mission, sent the following on February 21.

  • Pastor Karis Vong from Living Water Church had a healthy baby girl this past week. Praise the Lord for this precious addition to our team. Pray for Lawrence and Karis as they adjust to parenthood.
  • Please pray for Pastor Connie Sung from Living Word Church. She was hospitalized recently with stress-related health problems. She is now back to serving in the church. Pray for wisdom as she considers how to adjust her ministry.
  • English Language classes began last week. Enrollment has increased some over last term, and there seems to be a more “upbeat” atmosphere. Praise the Lord for answering prayer in these areas.
  • Pray for Helen, Ronald, Miss Cheong, Grace, and Duong–all non-Christians who are attending English Bible Studies and seem to be sincerely seeking to understand God.

Gary Brooks reported on February 11, “Diane and I just returned from a visit to three UB churches in Costa Rica. Our group was led by Joe Leighton, youth minister of the UB church in Lancaster, Ohio. One of those who preached in Costa Rica was the senior pastor, Bill C. Pitts. We were all impressed by the dynamic worship services and the commitment of the brethren at the Fe Abundante UB Church who are working hard to construct a permanent place of worship.”

Jennifer Blandin’s maternal grandmother passed away on Tuesday, February 10. Pastor Ron Ramsey, Pastor of Main Street UB in Walbridge, Ohio, writes, “She was 92 and was a faithful believer since she was 10 years old.” Jennifer came back to the States for the funeral, which was held February 14.

Luanne Brooks, a UB missionary serving with OMS in Haiti, returned to the States on Saturday, February 21. On February 19, she had sent this email to her supporters.

“This is a very difficult letter for me to write, but here goes. I am coming back to the United States and I have no idea for how long. The situation here in Haiti is completely unstable. Our compound is now down to five missionaries. Please pray for Haiti. So many wonderful people here that are trapped and cannot ‘go home,’ because they are home.

“If you are supporting me financially, I ask that you do not stop. If there comes a time that I believe that I will not return to Haiti and that the Lord has released me, I will let you know immediately. As of this moment, I want to return and do the work the Lord has given to me to do. If you would like me to come and speak to a group, church or missions conference, please contact me right away. I would be glad to come and share.

“I am returning to Florida and will be staying with my parents for the time being. Today I was able to take my cat in for a health certificate so that I can bring him back into the States. I will be returning home on Saturday afternoon.”

Our couple in India (we can’t give their names online) report that a Pastors Conference was held February 16-19. Three guest speakers gave excellent teaching and encouraging messages to the pastors involved in church planting areas.

Thirty-five delegates attended this conference. All of them gave very encouraging feedback on the conference and said that they have been helped and uplifted.

Five of the tribal pastors were given Telugu study Bibles; that is all they could get, since the Bible is out of print. The first New Telugu Bible Commentary was to be released at the end of February. It will cost approximately $12 for each volume. The hope is to get a copy for each of the pastors.

Luanne Brooks is a United Brethren missionary serving with OMS International in Haiti. She sent this report on February 11.

Every time you blink the situation here in Haiti changes.

First of all I want you to know that I am safe and have not once felt I was in any danger. For the past several weeks, I have been staying with Pastor Richard Oliam in his home in a suburb of Port au Prince. We had heard of many demonstrations in and around the city, but they were always avoidable as this is a large city.

This past weekend I chose to visit some friends at the OMS Guesthouse, since Pastor Richard was going to be out of town. While I was at the guest house (Villa ORMISO), problems began to escalate all over Haiti. On Sunday and Monday, Pastor Richard was unable to return home due to road blocks, so I stayed at the Villa for two more days.

Yesterday we received word that the rebel forces had taken over the town of Limbe (where I support a small UB church) and that the government had blocked off Cap Haitian. Our compound is outside of Cap on the road to Limbe. Our missionaries are all safe–a large wall surrounds the compound–but there are lots of problems all around them. Yesterday I asked to return to Cap, but was told to remain in Port for the time being.

At the pastors house, I was rather isolated. He is on the other side of town from the Villa; I had very little communication there, and no internet available. We were concerned that if I needed to get to the Villa should problems arise, it might not be possible. So for the time being, I am at the Villa. I continue to study my kreole. I am not able to attend classes but have been talking to my teacher daily and receiving assignments.

My favorite hamburger joint in Cap Haitian is no longer there. It was burned down, along with a local radio station, two banks, and a church.

Gary Dilley, Director of Global Ministries, talked by phone to Luanne Brooks this afternoon (February 11). Because of the great degree of civil unrest in Haiti, Luanne Brooks is currently stuck in Port au Prince, where she has been doing language study. She is unable to get back to Cap Hatien, where she lives at the OMS compound. Please pray for her safety and for God’s peace. Luanne is in contact with OMS about what her next step will be, whether it means returning in some way to Cap Hatien or even returning to the States. She is staying at the OMS guesthouse in the capital. Luanne is a United Brethren missionary serving with OMS International.

Meanwhile, a United Brethren group from Canada has returned safely from Haiti, flying back to Canada on February 10. Bishop Brian Magnus of Canada called Gary Dilley on the morning of February 11 to report on the group’s journey. They went to Haiti on January 30 to do work in construction, medical, children’s, and medical ministries. The civil unrest escalated during their time in the country, though for most of the time they were isolated from it in an area south of Port Au Prince and were not fully aware of the political turmoil in other parts of the country.

On their return journey to the airport, they faced several delays, ran into roadblocks and barricades, and encountered a truck filled with armed men who expressed doubt about their ability to reach the airport. They spent some time at a Salvation Army compound, waiting for any sign of traffic coming out of Port Au Prince. Finally, when they saw buses coming from the city, they immediately left and were able to make their way to the airport.

Gary Dilley received an email this morning which said, I’m sure you will be hearing many accounts of how God blessed the team and caused plans to be altered for their protection. Joan Sider [from the Toronto UB church] said she was unaware of the extent of the political uprisings in Haiti during the past week until she arrived in Miami and read the newspapers.

The US Embassy in Haiti is closed until March, and for a couple months there has been a stern travel advisory out from the US State Department regarding Haiti.