Monday, November 21, 2011
Greetings from Uganda,
I am back form Madagascar with a mind full of what needs to be implemented to improved in Central Region's STer Program. The forum was great! We had Ster Coordinators form all of our Receiving Regions (the regions in Africa that get STers), ST Coordinators from our Mobilizing Regions (the office around the world that people go through to get on the field), and our current ST Program Director as well as our new ST Program Director.
It was a blessing to know who I will be working with. More then 50% of the Ster Coordinators are new.....turn over is high in this assignment. This is one reason I feel God calling me to this assignment for a while (more then 2 years). We all were encouraged to see how each region is growing and changing. As well as praying for each region. Many of us feel the role we are in is larger and unsure how to meet all the needs. While we were praying for each region I heard a theme. Everyone asked for prayer because they are new. Being new is hard. Not sure of all that needs to get done, how to get things done, and feeling like you are not doing a good job are some emotions related to being new.
I am right there with them! So, I ask you to join us in prayer. Prayer for us newbies, for the Lord's leading, and for each of the Ster missionaries the Lords puts in our path. Each of us are excited about the role God has lead each of us to but, we are also nervous. I covet your prayers and I know the others do as well.
A note or two about Madagascar:
Lovely country. It was a former French colony. Most people speak Malagasy and some French. There was a coo about three years ago and that is still the current government. The country is somewhat stable but many of the Malagasy people and all the missionaries are praying for a true democratic government. One that is truly voted in by the people.
The Malagasy love their rice! It is eaten with each meal...yes, that is three times day. There is still a strong French influence on the food, homes, and feel of the country. The people of Madagascar are more Indonesian then African. They come form immigrants of Indonesia and have lighter skin, long hair, and stronger Asian features.
I loved hearing the stories of how God is moving in the country from a few AIM missionaries that work on the island. Most are working in the capital city but they are praying for more people to join in what the Lord is doing in more rural areas. Please pray with us as we share in the dream of more and more Malagasy learn of Christ's love and our heavenly Father that created and loves them!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Hello dear friends, family, and supporters,
This year is quickly coming to an end…. can you believe it? I cannot. Looking back at what the Lord has done during this year is a testament to His goodness, love, and sovereignty!
Less then 12 months ago Fremont, California was home. Now, Kampala, Uganda is home. Within less then a full year God raised support for me to be on the field in Africa full time with AIM. It just speaks to how things move when it is in His timing and will.
It has been a wild ride for most of the year. Adjusting to a new home, language, culture, and way of life is no easy task. But, each step of the way I have seen His hand and faithfulness. There are many hard days but on the other side there are MANY good days too. I have learned that missionaries walk a fine line. One that borders fully trusting in the Lord and fully accepting the unknown daily. As I walk that line I also know that it is because of you all that I am here. God called me to come and serve but God has called you to partner in that. That is a blessing. Truly it is.
Many of you have been asking me how you can bless me during the Holiday Season. It is touching to know you all are thinking of me during this time. There are four ways you can bless me.
Opportunity One: Work funds
Workfunds are used by me for ministry related items. They cover things related to Short-Term trips for visiting the 80 to 100 STers in the Central Region through out the year. Also for hosting traveling missionaries and STers coming thought Kampala. This fund allows me to be reimbursed for these ministry type expenses. If you decide to donate to my workfunds it is a tax deduction through AIM. You can send a check to AIM’s US Office with a note that the funds are for my workfunds.
Opportunity Two: Personal Gift
A personal gift can be sent to AIM’s US Office for me. This can be used any way needed. A holiday spent off the field, extra money for home assignment, a backup battery for my apartment, a meal out every now and then. All of these things are desired but not always possible so any funds given as a personal gift would be a blessing. Please note that this opportunity is not a tax deduction. To give a personal gift, please make your check out to “AIM – Cassandra Luontela.”
Opportunity Three: Air Miles (for any and all airlines)
Flying to and from Africa is not cheap! Gifts of miles would be an enormous blessing. It will help me get to and frrm Africa for Home Assignment, trips to see family before my two year term is up, and help me travel around the US to see supporters. If the gift of miles is the way you would like to go please email me and we can coordinate using them.
Opportunity Four: Donations for my Car Fund
Through AIM I have started a fund to help raise funds for a car. Currently I am taking public around Uganda. That is not a issue unless I am traveling to see the numerous STers all over the country and region. Public can take double to triple the amount of time it would driving in a personal car. Because there are so many STers to visit it would be helpful and a blessing to drive myself there. If you would like to bless me this way you can mail funds to AIM’s US office. The check can be written out to AIM with a note of Cassandra Luontela’s Car Fund on it.
Whatever opportunity you chose I am grateful. It has been one wild ride this year but one I have been blessed to go on. Thank you for all your love and support. May you have a great Holiday Season. Much love in Christ.
Working for His Change in Africa,
AIM’s US Address:
Cassandra Luontela C/O
Africa Inland Mission
P.O. Box 3611
Peachtree City, GA 30269-7611
Saturday, November 5, 2011
It has been a while from my last update. Things are moving in Uganda…. moving along.
First of all I want to thank you for praying for Hamlet! He is doing much better. Still a little under the weather but loads better then what he was. He and Rhona spent 24hours at clinic because he was hooked up to an iv. The meds that help fight Malaria are best given through iv when it has gotten bad. Understand getting Malarai is like getting a cold out here. Yes, Malaria can be very serous if not treaded but it latterly is like getting a cold. People get it often. There are drugs to help prevent it but most Ugandans cannot afford them. So many use a net, if they can afford that, while they sleep as their number one way to prevent getting it. Thankful, Hamlet is doing much better. Rhona is still thinking of how she can try to prevent the both of them form getting in the future.
It is a joy to see Hamlet doing so well. If he was not he could not join Rhona and I on a road trip to Mbarara. The Shot-Term Coordinator form the US Office is here in Uganda and we all jumped in a car to come down and see some STers we having working in Mbarara! It is a blessing to see them in their places of ministry, visit them in their home, and meet with their team leader. Rhona is also from Mbarara so it has been good to see her home and where she grew up. We are still on our road trip and will head back to Kampala on Sunday. Please pray for safe travels back as well as good times meeting with all the AIM missionaries down here.
Mbarara is not the only trip I Stephanie, the US ST Coordinator, and I will be on while she is in Uganda. On Monday morning we will be off to Tororo to see seven STer girls working at orphanage. Yes, that’s right, seven girls! God is so good and brought more help to SMILE Africa through AIM. We are looking forward to seeing all of them. I will also be working out some housing issues while I am up there. Prayers for those meetings would be a blessing. I am praying all people involved know that God called them to Africa and it is not about being comfortable. It is very hard for some people to give up the things they see as a “need” while working in Africa. God has it all worked out….I am just trusting.
The last bit of news is….Madagascar! I am off to Madagascar on the 15th of this month. All the people that work in Short-Term with AIM will be attending our forum. This happens every two years. I am thrilled and blessed to be starting is assignment at this time and being able to attend. Really, it will be a great four days of meeting people I email daily, brainstorming, learning form each other, and seeing how we can improve the Short-Term Program. Please pray with me for everyone attending the forum. I also will be giving the Central Region update…prayers for that presentation!