Friday, 27 August 2021

 We are back again in video!

If you have 7 minutes, click for a visit with us

Friday, 8 May 2020

For All the Podcast Listeners... and even if you aren't

In case you missed it!

We have been recording "Quarantine Conversation" episodes of the Breakfast with the Boers podcast where we talk with some of our friends and colleagues.

The latest episode features Marijn and Noortje Goud, who are serving in Angola with Mission Aviation Fellowship as well. Their hearts for Jesus have led them to serve as pilot/mechanic, teacher to their kids, and working to take care of some of the deepest physical and spiritual needs in Lubango.

Click here, or check out the links on the RH side of this page to tune in!

Also, you may want to check out a couple of the flights Marijn has done during lockdown.
- Lockdown week 5, medical flight
Re-patriation flight, week 2

Marcel & Kelly

Friday, 13 March 2020

Tuberculosis, Toilet Paper, and Hope

"What a week!"

That statement could be agreed on between complete strangers without any context given. It truly has been; Schools, sporting events, and public events all canceled or postponed. Recommendations to avoid public events, not to buy too much toilet paper, and stock market updates take up all the headline spaces.

All that aside, I would still be sitting on this hospital couch, while my son Ethan sleeps in the bed beside me, writing this message saying, "What a week!"

Before getting into the events of this week, this all starts back in December when we went for routine medical check-ups due to our staying in Angola the last few years. Part of that appointment was to receive TB skin tests to check for tuberculosis. Upon receiving results of that test, Ethan's came back positive. After a series of other checks, tests, x-rays, etc. it was initially determined that it was "latent TB" which is a form of TB that is sleeping, for lack of a better description. We could carry on as normal, but would have to get Ethan on a form of treatment or risk the sleeping TB "waking up" much later on in life if he ever became immuno-compromised. In the meantime, he had ZERO symptoms--he was running around happy, healthy, and well.

After various clinic visits and a string of referrals until we got to the right person, Kelly took Ethan to see the infectious diseases doctor last week Friday (March 6). It was supposed to be an appointment to get a prescription and we would be on our way... or so we thought. It had been a couple months since the latest x-ray and the doctor wasn't satisfied, so another was done. Upon reviewing that, they found a suspicious spot on his lung and said they would have to admit Ethan as the latent TB was not latent, but potentially active. 

That brings us to "What a week!"

Over the past 9 days, Ethan has been in an isolation room at the hospital with myself, Kelly, Aunt Erie, or one of his Grandparents providing round the clock care for him...

***Before you jump to conclusions about the possibility of being infected, no, you don't have to worry if you or your child got infected while playing with him these last few months.*** 

... in a pretty special room. You can tell it is an isolation room by a few details: Double doors to enter. Reverse flow climate control so no airborne matter is spread through other parts of the hospital. Every nurse and doctor that enters goes to extreme caution with aprons gloves and masks. No "hospital sounds" in the background because we're too far away, which is a positive except that it took until day 5 before I realized there was a Ronald McDonald House setup for families to get away for a while, eat breakfast, have a coffee, or take a shower. An amazing, and much needed service. 

It's a strange feeling being in such good care, with such over the top safety measures in place, with a patient who is experiencing ZERO symptoms, and except the findings on an x-ray, is feeling completely normal.

Ethan has been incredible through the whole thing. Never once asking why he's here, or when he can go home, or where is Mommy? Kelly can come for brief visits ONLY due to the younger boys unable to be in contact with Ethan, and so she has to return to them, specifically our 6-week-old. The first night here involved various tests and a CT scan which set the tone for how he now looks at doctors and nurses, but thankfully those are behind us. He also knows that there's lots of chocolate milk and Paw Patrol if he's good. 

It certainly did my mind good getting out of here for a while. It's a strange thing when you read headlines about what's going on in the world from an isolation room. "Is it really that bad out there?" "Should I just stay in here?!?" Glad I wasn't quite getting to the point of thinking that seriously, but global pandemic stuff isn't fun to read about from here. This morning I was reading from Romans 8:18-30 which is a great encouragement in times like these. Often times our deepest concerns are with safety or good health. Is that really what we are to strive for? Where I am right now is possibly the safest place for any toilet-paper-hoarder out there who is afraid of catching a virus, and I think even that person would say an isolation room in a hospital is no place to desire. A friend once told me something profound enough that I wrote it down. He said "You are never immune to danger, but you are safe when you are in the center of God's will". I believe that living in tune with God's will for our lives is truly the best place to be, and it never was meant to be in isolation.    

Tomorrow it sounds like we will all be able to go home, Lord willing. A big thank you to family who has taken shifts so that I could go home for a few hours each day. To friends who have stopped by to visit with us and brighten Ethan's day. To all who have prayed for us during this time.  

What a hope we have then, that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.


Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Motherhood, Ministry, and Comparison

The following is a portion of the transcript from a talk I gave to Stoney Creek Baptist Church's women's bible study:

(After introducing myself and our ministry...)

What I really wanted to share was what God has been teaching me over the last four years (our first four years in the mission field). Surprisingly, that has been a difficult question to answer. Actually, I feel like there are a million answers, and the problem is just deciding on one. I’ve had since November to think about this talk and what I would say. Honestly, it took me until last week to decide on a topic. I’m calling that topic, “Motherhood, ministry and comparison”. It has come out of my struggle to determine, what does it mean to be an effective missionary or for that matter, and effective Christian? I’ve summed up what I want to talk about in one catch all statement:

If you want to measure what it means to be an effective Christian, stop comparing yourself to those around you and start submitting yourself to God.  

What do I mean by this and how does it apply to my life?  Well, I’m just going to be honest. I’ve struggled with comparison all my life. I hope I’m not alone in this—I think it’s quite a universal problem. In my case, I’ve known it since I was a child. It started with sibling comparison—I was the oldest of three girls. It was the constant striving to be the smartest of the girls, or the prettiest, or the most petty of things—the TALLEST. As if I had any say and ability to affect how tall I was! It then progressed into highschool and university—and I wasn’t popular there (thankfully). It was comparing myself to the class, comparing myself to models on magazines, or the popular girls in school. It was the persistent pursuit of success—success in school, success in work, success in relationships.  And it all hinged on comparison—so long as I was better than those around me, I felt happy and content. But if I felt that I wasn’t matching up, if I was inferior to those around me, then it was a nagging feeling of disappointment. I was a Christian—most certainly, but that didn’t mean I was always willing and happy to turn this all over to Christ and sink myself in to deep scriptural truths about my identity. It often led to poor decisions, and I was aware of this—but I wanted to rebalance the scales, so I could compare myself to those around me and say with certainty, “Yes! I’m doing okay because I’m doing better than these people in these areas.” 

Once I was out of school and into the real adult world, I thought all this might be over, but, wow, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the dragon of comparison to rear its head again—and with much more vigour and power—when I entered motherhood. Motherhood perhaps is the ultimate test of contentment, perseverance, patience, and humility. It’s all too easy in motherhood to play the comparison game: are my kids hitting their milestones, or better yet, hitting them early? Are they smarter than so and so’s kids? Or if not smarter, are they happier? Kinder? More photogenic? Better at going to bed or eating or faster at potty training? There’s an entire industry built up to compare your children to those around you. And what about yourself? Are you succeeding as a mom—hosting the best parties? Preparing the healthiest snacks? Keeping the house clean? Are you doing better than your parents financially? Is your house keeping up to the same standards as the rest of the neighbourhood? Are you playing enough with your kids? Spending enough time with your spouse? Praying enough, serving enough, contributing enough to society? 

Now, I thank God that I moved overseas, because I will tell you one saving grace in my life—very few, to none of you, will ever see my clean or unclean house. Few of you will ever sit to a meal with me to know if I’m a good cook or not. You all have no idea if my kids behave well in front of strangers in Angola or listen to me *the first time* I ask for something or if my kids fight more or less than the average kid. I actually feel guilty for how nice my house is in Angola, because *compared* to the houses of average Angolans, my house seems like a dream … even though it’s very simple by North American standards.  

But despite moving overseas, I do still struggle with comparison—and in an area that, as I wrote this, and as I say it, almost seems laughable, but maybe some of you will laugh and then completely agree with me. I struggle with comparison in something I’m going to call the “sainthood scale”. What do I mean by this? It’s that “works-righteousness scale” that many of us, inevitably and only sub-consciously, form to evaluate ourselves on how we are doing as a Christian (based on everybody around us, or at times, every other living person in history). In our faulty logic, we’ve got mediocre Christians down here, you know, your relative who only makes feeble attempts to make it to church a couple times of year but made a commitment to Christ years ago. We’ve got the rest of us, just based on our sin from that day and how many minutes we’ve prayed, floating somewhere in here. And then we’ve got pastors and missionaries and Christian leaders up here. And at the top … Jesus. 

So, as a missionary teacher, working in a one room school house in a third world country, you wouldn’t think that I would struggle with comparison. Doesn’t this put me at the top of this so called “sainthood scale”? The problem is there’s always a million ways for our pride and comparison to sneak in. For example, I’m surrounded by amazing colleagues in Angola who are doing incredible work for the kingdom of God. There are doctors who are literally working all hours of the day performing amazing surgeries, giving life to those who face near death. They work so hard that sometimes I feel guilty being around them because my job doesn’t demand as much as theirs. Then there are those doing discipleship in their neighborhoods, or with the poorest of the poor. These people are the real saints to me. I look at my work at the school, where I’m working with middle-class kids and most of the time just dealing with their behaviour problems. And I think, what value is my work in the light of eternity, compared to theirs? Am I even worthy of calling myself a missionary? Then we have colleagues who are doing evangelism amongst unreached people groups. They go out for days camping in the wilderness sharing the gospel through the use of translators with a tribal group that has no church amongst them. I should be happy for them, encouraging them because they are doing very difficult work with little recognition. But instead sometimes I find myself feeling jealous that their work fits into the exact definition of what it means to be a missionary, while my work sometimes feels so mundane. Some days I get to preach the gospel, some days I’m just hunting down the students to get their work done, or marking a million wrong answers on an evaluation and wondering, “Were you even listening to me when I explained this?”, or just trying to get my own son to cooperate and not throw a temper tantrum.

All of this is compounded by the fact that surrounding us in Angola is an endless amount of need. Sometimes the poverty can feel so suffocating. There are hundreds and thousands of people around us that lack basic infrastructure, or fighting preventable diseases, or whose children don’t even own a single toy. One could literally pour themselves out day and night and barely make a dent in the level of social injustice in the country. And this isn’t even discussing spiritual matters. While many Angolans are Christians, this doesn’t mean that all of them really know Christ. Just as there is in Canada, there is a heavy burden of religion—people calling themselves Christians simply because they go to church on Sunday, but deep down they haven’t heard or understood the gospel. Again, this is compounded by the fact that people are poor and under resourced, many people don’t own a Bible or have never read a Christian book to help them understand the Bible. If they can read it all. When I look around at my surroundings, I feel overwhelmed. Am I doing enough? How could I do enough? Should I just drop what I’m doing at the school, to do more meaningful work amongst the poorest people?

I want to blame my issues with comparison and pride on what is going on around me but I know that the actual problem is in my heart. The problem is pride. The problem is works righteousness. I’m trying to base my value as a Christian on how much I am doing for the kingdom and when I compare myself to those around me and the immense need around me, I’m not doing enough. I could be doing so much more. I could be doing so much more with more joy. Perhaps I’ve struck a chord with some of you as I’ve shared my own struggles with comparison and pride.  

So, what is the cure to this problem—no, this SIN—of comparison and pride?

Well, as I alluded to in the beginning, step one is to stop comparing yourself to others. When has comparison realistically ever got us anywhere? When has it made us feel happier, more content? When has it brought me to my knees in prayer or confession? When has it spurred me on to the right actions—to loving my enemies, offering my coat, turning my cheek? When has it turned me upward to God and outward to others instead of inward to myself?

Stopping the comparison game requires practical steps, like opening your Bible and reading about your true identity in Christ. Here’s a passage to get you going, one of my favourites, 2 Corinthians 2:16-17:

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Other practical steps that I have found useful include expressing more gratitude, whether in a journal, in your prayers, or in your words. It may mean changing the way you talk to yourself and others—battling back against those voices that say you are not enough or you are not worthy. Scripture tells us we are NOT enough, we are NOT worthy, save for the finished work of Christ on the cross. On the cross, he made us right with God, so that we don’t have to earn our salvation by anything we do or say or are. I love Ephesians 2:8-10.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are enough because of him. We don’t have to work to earn our salvation—we GET to work because of our salvation. It frees us up to do work out of joy and not out of obligation. And he DOES have good work planned for you—starting right where you are!

Changing our own self-talk is important, even changing the way we talk to others—not always talking about people, not always talking about ourselves or trying to invoke pity—changing the habits of our tongue can have a big effect on our internal satisfaction.

But the most important step is submitting to God. This is the biggest area that I have felt convicted to work on. Daily, saying in prayer, “Holy Spirit, come fill me for today, that I may be an effective Christian in all I do. God, please guide me today to follow your leading, and the prompting of your Spirit.”

When we are open to listening and following the prompting of the Spirit, when we are asking Him to make even our mundane tasks meaningful, when we are looking for the work of God around us—that is what matters. That is what makes our ministry or our lives meaningful. We could be doing all the work in the world to save lives, serve the poor, building wells, or preaching the gospel—but if we aren’t in tune to God and submitting ourselves to Him, we may be missing out.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

We're In Canada!!!

Happy New Year!!! What are the rules for how long you can say that for?
The December rush is over, and we're not just talking about Christmas. The end of our first 4 year contract meant multiple debriefs, medicals, and evaluations over the last 4 weeks; and now we get to settle into a bit more of a routine in London ON.
A big thank you to everyone who helped us with finding a place to stay, we found a place in London that is generously supplied by some new friends of ours who have opened up their home.
Some quick details on what we are doing for the next 3 months can be heard in the latest podcast episode linked below. Basically, if you want to hear from us, then we want to hear from you!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Rural medicine, medevacs, and more...

In early March, I (Marcel) had the opportunity to join a medical trip with Dr Tim Kubacki to the southeast province of Angola, Cuando Cubango.

These trips take place several times per year, where Dr Kubacki will travel via MAF to several small villages, performing rural medicine.

In an effort to describe as best as possible what goes on during these trips and explain what rural medicine / medevac flights / and some of the logistics behind a trip like this, I attempted to video document the four days as best I could in order to share the story of some of MAF Angola's most important work with you. You can also hear about it on the April 2 episode of "Breakfast with the Boers" podcast (find the link on the right side of this page).

"MAF Angola - Southeast Angola" on Youtube

 I hope you enjoy!

Friday, 19 October 2018

Three years here!

This last week, we celebrated three years in Angola! Can you believe it? Time flies ... and yet, looking back, they have been a busy, full three years!

Allow me to take a few minutes to reflect on the journey.

How has our ministry changed or grown over the last three years?

Two years ago, we were in a very different place emotionally and physically: exhausted by work, stressed out, overwhelmed, inexperienced. Marcel's health suffered because of his heavy learning curve and feelings of incompetence. There were big projects to be done--a Caravan engine overhaul, for one--and there were many small projects on the to-do list. We were surviving, but definitely not thriving. Yet, God was faithful--flights arrived safely, projects were completed, and even in the toughest moments, God would remind us of our calling here to Angola.

Incredibly, the amount of flying has steadily increased over the last three years--reflecting an overall growth in the MAF ministry. The number of flight hours reflects a growth in medical, church, and NGO flying to the far reaches of Angola. Yet, by God's grace, Marcel has not drowned in work. Since returning from our home assignment, things have gone much smoother. We've been much healthier in all realms, and much less stressed. God gave us rest, and it was just what we needed.

At the school, there have been several milestones to celebrate over the last three years. Our first graduate, Odon, finished his high school degree last year, and even attended the graduation ceremony in Nebraska. He is now studying business in Spain.

Over the summer, we were able to move into a new school building, which also allowed us to clean up, reorganize, and essentially have a "fresh start". While the last school year ended very well, this new school year started even better--we have four teachers for the year (Helena, myself, a German short-term teacher, Michelle, and a young Angolan, Crisio, who worked for us last year). We have 35 full-time or part-time students. Our internet has improved dramatically over the last three years. And most excitedly, we have had a gradual shift in the spiritual climate at the school--from anger and apathy towards God to much more interest in following God and seeing fruit in the lives of some of our "baby Christians" ... how awesome is that!

Thank you so much for your support through the ups and downs over the last three years! We are so ridiculously blessed, that's it's impossible to stay sad or mad with God when we consider how kind He has been to us in all the little and big ways!

Much love,
Marcel, Kelly, Ethan and Avro

P.S. We have started a podcast to help stay in touch through a different media--a podcast! We love to listen to podcasts, so we thought it would be a good idea! Go to iTunes and search, "Breakfast with the Boers"--we only have one episode so far, but there will be more on a monthly basis!

Then ... (2015, look how chubby, cute and bald Ethan is!)

... and now! (2018, at Tchincombe farm, my how we've grown and developed
bags under our eyes!)