Wes and Jean Bell write about Easter in Brazil. “Here in Brazil, Good Friday is considered a Catholic holiday and is not celebrated in many Protestant circles. Traditional Easter hymns are not sung unless there is strong missionary influence. Some churches are adopting the early morning breakfast, but not a sunrise service. The church we attend did a play along with choreography of two modern music pieces. Chocolate eggs are highly commercialized, but the general atmosphere does not seem nearly as festive as at New Year’s.”

Luanne Brooks, UB missionary serving with OMS in Haiti, sent this report, which is both heart-rending and heart-warming.

“Today I met a young girl named Ketteline. Ketteline is 16 years old and she is dying. Maybe within the next few days. She weighs 65 pounds and is the thinnest person I have ever seen. She had difficulty walking into the clinic, and her breathing is labored. We ran a very simple test that confirmed our worst fears: she is dying of AIDS.

“When Ketteline was just a small child, a horrible monster (my words, not hers) violated her. She is one of the countless s who are suffering the consequences of this hopeless disease. Her mother was devastated by the news. Ketteline sat quietly, numb I am sure. Not a tear from her eyes, though mine were running over so much I could hardly see. I told her Jesus loved her and is looking forward to taking her home with him. I walked with Ketteline and her mother to the chaplain as they expressed the wish to ask Jesus into their hearts. This is what it is all about, folks. The angels are rejoicing. They will soon welcome this earth angel into heaven.

“Please pray that God will send comfort to Ketteline. I pray that she will pass along peacefully into her Savior’s arms. She will never suffer again at the hands of a monster. Please pray for her mother as she has to be able to let her child go. This will not be easy for her. I have noticed the great sacrificial love these Hatian women have for their children. I know that she would take her place if she could. But very soon Ketteline will be in a safe place.”

Jana Hoobler sends these notes from Macau:

  • On Wednesday evening, a young man who’s been having Bible Study with our secretary, Michael, prayed to accept Christ as his Savior. I think he’s still unclear on some things, but it was a good first step for him. Pray that that Holy Spirit will continue to work in his heart as Michael does follow-up Bible studies with him.
  • We started an English class at a local primary school this week for 5th grade students. It meets after school. Pray that we’ll be a good testimony to these students.
  • Pray for special Easter services next weekend at Living Water, Living Word, and on Taipa. Pray that people will respond to the gospel message.

At the 15th anniversary. Sitting in front, l-r, are Jennifer Blandin (fulltime missionary), Byrdena Shuneman (short-term volunteer), Connie Sung (pastor of Living Word church), and Jana Hoobler (Macau Mission Director). Missionary Linda Neely is standing in back, third from the left.

At the 15th anniversary.

It has been 15 years since the work in Macau began. Jana Hoobler, director of the Macau English Language Program, writes about a special service to commemorate this landmark. “The 15th Anniversary Celebration went very well. Around 80 people attended. It was a good time of reflection on how God has worked and all the special memories our church members have gathered over the years.”

Jana also commented on the SARS epidemic, which has been centered in nearby Hong Kong. “So far there aren’t any official cases of SARS in Macau. Thank you to all of you who have expressed your concern for us. We’re all doing well. While many cases of the atypical pneumonia have occurred in Hong Kong, they don’t represent a very large percentage of the population. We’re being careful to wash our hands a lot!”

Missionaries Jana Hoobler (left) and Jen Blandin help volunteer missionary Byrdena Shuneman celebrate her 79th birthday.

Dan Wust, director of Arise & Shine Ministries in Honduras and an endorsed UB missionary, has been working on his Masters degree from the Huntington College Graduate School of Christian Ministries. He completed his work on March 28 and plans to graduate in May. He writes, “This training will greatly help me in my teaching role with the ministry.”

Two Honduran coworkers are also pursuing further training. “Both Tomas and Gerardo have enrolled at the Tegucigalpa Theological Seminary in their Pastoral Ministries program. They have been attending classes since March three nights a week and are working towards a two-year degree that is a preparatory program for those who do not have a high school degree and want to go on to study for their Bachelors degree. Both have expressed satisfaction in being able to study, but at the same time fear and trepidation because they, like most Honduran men, do not have a solid education background and are finding that the classes are hard and require a different kind of effort than what they expected.”

The Wust family will be in the States from June 6 through the end of July, and are available for speaking engagements.

Luanne Brooks and her cat have arrived in Haiti to begin serving with OMS International. Luanne is a UB missionary on loan to OMS. Luanne is from the Daytona UB church in Holly Hill, Fla. She starts language school in Cap Haitien on Monday, March 31.

Albert Beckley (right) was elected as the new General Superintendent of Sierra Leone National Conference. He replaces Rev. Joe Bob Amara, who served in that position through much of the 1990s. Rev. Beckley has been serving as Administrative Assistant for many years. He was elected during the national conference meeting in February. Six North Americans attended the February conference: Gary and Rhonda Dilley, Jason and Donna Hollopeter, and former Sierra Leone missionaries June Brown and Ruth Benner.

Melissa Hull has been one of our missionaries in Macau with the English Language Program. On Saturday, March 21, she was married to David Kline. The wedding was held at Banner of Christ UB in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Klines plan to go to Macau in the spring of 2004 to serve together as missionaries there.

The Canadian national conference is taking a major role in supporting the work in Haiti. A work team went there last fall. They have a website which tells a lot about Haiti and about that work team. You might find it quite interesting. It’s here.

Jana Hoobler sent these updates:

  • On Saturday, March 1, seven women from our ELP classes attended the new Bible Study we started. There was good discussion, and one of our Chinese church members also attended to help with answering their questions in Cantonese. On March 15, nine unsaved women came to our English Bible Study. Praise the Lord for this response…we’re loving it! Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts and help them understand the Bible as we study it together.
  • While I was on furlough, our ELP secretary took a different job, and a new one was hired. His name is Michael Chan. Michael really has a heart for ministry. Praise the Lord for a guy on our staff who can help to meet the spiritual needs of our male students. He’s holding a Bible Study with two men from the ELP on Wednesday nights.
  • Our rental contract for the Taipa Center expires in May. We have submitted a letter asking that the rent be lowered in our new contract, due to the poor economy. Pray that the property company will be favorable to our request! Also, the Education Department has asked that we make changes in our financial reports from last year to fit their bookkeeping system. Pray for Jen Blandin as she works on these changes so that these reports can be re-submitted by the end of March.
  • Continue to pray for God’s direction as we wade our way through more and more paperwork. We often get different instructions from different departments of the government, which makes it difficult to know what we really need to do to be legal. Pray for Annie, our association secretary, as she handles much of this work.