Hi Family and Prayer Partners: How are you all doing? We know it has been some time without a recent note from us. My husband has been working really hard to get a web page going and asked me to forward this to you all. It is just up, so there are still kinks to work out, but we thought you all would really enjoy all the photos. There are more photos there than we could ever put on letter or attach to an email. Some of them you all would have seen over the 6 years we have been in Botswana, but many will ones you have not seen. Enjoy! We love you all and are so grateful for your giving and your prayers. There is a prayer page on one of the links. May God bless you.
To all of our dear supporters we want to express our deep appreciation for all of the encouraging emails we received. It is amazing what words of encouragement spoken in love can do. It has been a great reminder to us. Just like the seasons of the year there are seasons to life. Sometimes those seasons can be extreme; extreme to the point where it takes everything within you to survive. We are thankful that when we as believers face these seasons that God’s grace, love, and love displayed through our brothers and sister in Christ are able to give us the strength and peace to stand and thrive. We love and appreciate each of you. We know many of you spoke to Father on our behalf as well as stood in the Gap and fought spiritual battles for us. We are here to report not only are we standing but we are moving forward; thanks to our Father and all of you. We also deeply appreciate those of you who have contributed extra in your support. It was greatly needed and greatly appreciated. We are still not where we should be in financial support but it has been amazing to look at our finances and wonder how are we making it. Then we remember who we serve and it all makes sense.
Busy time of Easter Conference, Missionary
training, Annual General meeting, Joining Hands
March to May we had back to back conferences. We had
our three and half day Easter conference for all our mission
churches in our region, Missionary training conference for
all WTAB missionaries, Annual General meeting for mission
organization, Joining Hands conference in which all
evangelical ministry organizations are invited to come. All of
these events were happening back to back for each one I,
Michael was asked or recruited to be the main speaker,
lecturer, or one of the main facilitators. In essence what this
meant is that I would be speaking or teaching around
twenty-two to twenty-five times. All of this was happening
during the plateau of our struggles here in Botswana. When
all of these requests came in, I was dead set on declining,
but then the Lord in His graciousness said to me “Michael,
this is not about you. Focus on me and not your so-called
problems. Commit your works to me and I will establish your
plan and sustain you”. Words of a loving Father. So, I
changed my attitude and got busy preparing. Of course
most of you know that if I get recruited I will try my best to
recruit my wife to lead worship or at least do special music.
Don’t worry she loves me. She has to because the Bible
says so. The amazing thing about all of this every event/
conference went great. It was extremely exhausting but
glorifying to our Father and healing to my and my wife’s
soul. It was the perfect medicine needed to refocus our
Fabulous 20th Wedding Anniversary
Needless to say even though all of those events helped us to regain our focus
they also left Heather and I utterly exhausted with a need to get away and rest
for a bit. The timing of this was perfect because once all of these events were
finished the next week was our 20th wedding anniversary. A perfect time and
reason for us to get away but in order for this to happen we needed a miracle
because our finances were low and we would need someone to watch our
kids. Ok, here is the “Da” the moment, the moment when God reminds us
even more who He is and what He is capable of doing. Towards the end of all
of these events some fellow missionaries suggested we go to Capetown for
our anniversary. We told them that we have wanted to do that since we have
been in Botswana for over six years and have never been as the cost has
always been a factor. This is when our Heavenly Father showed us why is
known as Provider. Even though he did not have to do it, He gave us a “rose”.
These missionary friends told us that if we could get to Capetown they could
arrange lodging and a vehicle for us because some of their family and
supporters live in Captetown. Once, they began to help us arrange things
even they were amazed at what would transpire. To make a long but fun story
short here is the gist of what came into being: We were able to get special
round trip flights to Capetown for both of us for a total of $398. Once we
arrived there the parents of those missionaries were waiting for us with a car
that was supplied by on of their supporters. We had a four nights free lodging
at a four star B&B on the beach in the resort town of Hermanus. Once there
we were able to spend a whole day with the owners who treated us to lunch
and dinner one night. We also were given four nights in a vacation home in
the town of Cape Agulhas. This is the most southern tip of Africa where the
Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. We had a wonderful time where we
connected with the neighbors that were locals there who treated us to dinner
one night. We also traveled to a small fishing village where we met a
wonderful local lady who lived in a small house right on the beach. It turned
out that she was a Christian and has aspirations of being a missionary. It was
such a wonderful time. We relaxed took walks on the beach, talked, and just
had time for each other.
Children Growing Up:
Once again in order for us to go on the trip we needed someone to take care of the children. Well we found some people in the most unexpected place. The people we found were our own children. They stayed home all by themselves the whole time. We did have missionaries
check in on them. Every report we received from the missionaries commented on how our children exceeded their expectations. They said they kept the house clean and even cooked dinner for several of them when they would come to check on them. The boys also took great care of their baby sister. They found rides into town when they needed to do shopping. The only thing that we got on them about is how they felt the need to eat steak for almost every meal; completely wiping out our supply of meat. We blame Judah mostly for this.
Regarding our children we are also at the point where we are seriously discussing a plans for our two older boys. We may be sending them back to the states as early as next year. The Lord has made some potential connections where we might be able to get Judah into a private
prep-school in Mississippi where Judah can pursue his football dream. This connection also said he would also help source out a place for Beracah to finish his last year of school. Right now Beracah is not sure what he wants to do. He seems to excel in history and he has a high
interest in military strategy. So, we are praying that whatever he decides that it is completely directed by the Lord.
What can we say we love our mission school students. They have
walked through numerous trials and tribulations. They have experienced
loss of siblings, and other close family members and numerous other
unspeakable tragedies. If there were ever reasons to give up and quit
they would have been justified in doing so. Their call has truly been
tested and they have risen out of the ashes. When you look at them
now you see smiles, laughter, love and passion. All of which has been
put into practice in ministry.
Our students also had the opportunity to go through a wonderful week
long course called Karios. It is an intensive missions course that goes 8
to 9 hours a day for six days. It was an intense course but everyone of
the students said that it was life changing. The main focus was seeing
how the Bible is all about missions from Genesis to Revelations as well
as studying missionaries of the past. They were challenged and
Vision for ministry men of peace and relationships:
We have trained them so when they go into the villages they need not
go in and try to start a church but to look for a man or woman (person of
the same gender) of peace that they can build relationships with and
disciple. This is their starting point; make disciples through relationship.
This is how the ministry will be founded and grow. We have also given
them some tools to use such as: through one-to-one discipleship books,
and how to take someone from “Creation to Christ”. Once again these
precious students have taken hold of this with passion. We have one
student that meets with one man every Sunday morning at 3am for
discipleship. These students also go into one of the worst parts of town
three times of week to disciple people with whom they have developed
relationships. Through these wonderful relationships they have earned
the privilege of being invited into homes to start home groups and
ministries in these homes. Just the other day a man that was discipled
by one of our students requested that some of the students come to his
house and he will gather the people that live around him to come and
be taught and discipled by the students. The harvest is truly ripe here.
We no longer call Africa a place of need but the place of great potential.
I, Michael have had the wonderful experience of having a
renewed passion in ministering in our local community and
leading our small precious fellowship of believers here in
Lobatse. With the help of the students we have had the privilege
of reaching some immigrants to Botswana in practical and
spiritual ways. We planned a nice meal for them at our fellowship
and after we all ate well an extemporaneous time of praise broke
out. There was dancing singing, rejoicing and laughter. I then
had the pleasure to share a brief message on true joy. It was
truly a joyous time. Since this time around 15 to 20 of these men
have been coming to our fellowship. These men are the invisible
people of Lobatse. Everyday the stand at the street corners
hoping to get some type of scrap work. Often they are passed by
and not even seen, but God has open our eyes and we have
been given the wonderful privilege of ministering to them. It truly
has been a joy.
God in His graciousness reminded us once again that
the basics are still the best way forward in ministry. Know Him to
love Him, Make Him known by loving others; so, they can know
Him and love Him and become His disciples. Which brings me to
the next point: It is all about discipleship. “Go and make disciples
of all nations”. We have been hammering all of our students and
missionaries to build relationships and through those
relationships we proclaim the Gospel & makes disciples (men
and women in love with God and with people). It has been a
beautiful sight to see. Doors are flying open in numerous areas
and with numerous people groups.
Things to pray about:
• On June 22nd a six year old boy in our church was hit by a car. The parents are faithful members of the fellowship. They are originally from Zimbabwe, so their family support is non-existent. As soon as this terrible incident happened the mother of the child called Heather. Heather and I rushed to the scene where we found the mom in utter distress. We took her to the local hospital where they worked on stabilizing him to be transferred to a hospital in the
capital city. The husband had been transferred to another town by his employer so, we called him to let him know what happened. It broke my heart to tell him this horrifying news. Once he arrived in Lobatse I took him to Gaborone (Our Capital). I was horrified to see that this hospital was no better than our local one. People were on gurneys in the waiting area. There was only one doctor on call and he did not even know the name of the respirator machine. He even admitted that there was only one doctor that knew how to use “these big machines” on children. He phone this doctor and we waited at least two and half hours for him to arrive. Long story short, this precious little boy is in intensive care with a head injury. He has two blood clots on the
brain that need to be surgically removed. They are not able to do this until the swelling goes down. He is improving a bit but we can’t really res until they are able to remove the clots because they are life threatening. Please, pray with us for God’s healing hand to touch the precious little boy and bring complete healing. His name is Tadiwa.
• Our finances for personal ministry and the mission ministry: Once again we seemed to make it month to month. We are falling a little behind but miraculously extra funds seem to come just in the nick of time. Also, most of the students we take in our school are taken in at the missions cost. Many of us missionaries chip in some occasional support as we receive for them as well. The difficult part is that once the finish their classroom studies they do a six month practical. When they are out on their practical we give them a stipend to live on. So, when the next group of course study students come we the mission are paying for them as well as those out in the field. We do try to have the students at least contribute something. A few do but it is not nearly
enough. We believe that God wants us to train them so we do. I guess the best way to pray is for the Lord’s ongoing provision and wisdom for us in selecting students to come to be trained.
• Children: Even though we have been here for over six years it is still a struggle for our kids. They are lonely and miss out on sporting activity and other things that kids their age do. They are also struggling with homeschooling. The novelty wore off about two years ago. It has been a stressful time for the kids and my wife. Please, pray for peace and God’s sovereign plan to be carried out in these issues.
Dear Friends and Family - well it has been way to long since we have had our "put your feet up and have a cup of tea" moment. These last few months have been full of good things and full of challenges. There is so much on my heart. My desire in these moments is to be real and vulnerable in our prayer requests, give you some insight on how to pray, and hopefully encourage you as well. It is true of any time, but particularly true of times likes these, that if you think of us and pray for us and the ministry God is doing here in Botswana,could you just send us a quick note of encouragement? We have felt pretty disconnected from people and we deeply appreciate your notes and prayers.
Our mission school is in full swing. We began mid-January. We don't have the 18 students that people said were coming - but numbers have never bothered us. Ever since we were inyouth ministry, our motto has been, "It is worth the ONE!" (What if I was the one?). Though it is true, we could not run the school with one student, having 7 is no disappointment to us. Among the students, are two Americans from one of our supporting churches in Arizona. What a blessing they are us. They add tremendously to this class of missionaries in training - and HAD to count the cost before they came here, unlike some of our more "local" students - who only come to realize the cost as they go to classes. Whew! Even though Michael and I have been involved in foreign missions ALL of our married years, and full time in foreign missions for 7 1/2 of our married years, we have never seen training like this. It is a privilege to be in this place and witness what God is going in the students. Now, you did not hear me say it is easy to witness what God is doing - but it is a privilege. When we REALLY surrender to God, and are in a safe place, - whoa - the stripping and breaking that must take place in ALL of us if we want to love the way Jesus does - is intense! Just the thought of that - seriously, makes me cry. I know I needed the stripping and breaking - ours just always came while we were in the middle of full-time ministry. :) When the students have wanted to give up - we've said, "Oh please, don't give up. God is doing things! It is hard - but He is doing things in you. You are in a safe place - where not only does God love you, but we love you!" ...oh, the times we have needed, and on occasions, experienced brothers and sisters saying that to us. Right now, I just have this mental flash of God's people that were there for us on different occasions when the road we were walking on was so difficult, and at times, unbearable. We so thank you!! You know who you are! We love you! Every one of us need people like that in our lives that will tell us the truth, comfort us when God is stretching us and stand with us. Please pray for our students. God has a heart for the nations!!!! When men and women of God catch that heart for the nations as well - they must be prayed for because the enemy does not like that. Thank you for your prayers. If I tell you their names - will you please pray for them by name? Sadi, Tshiamo, Mariska, Dikarabo, Zetro and Grace (our first couple coming together), Mac and Jory (our Americans).
Among the exciting things that have gone on, is that our baby girl started Reception (like our kindergarten) in Jan and lost her first tooth on Jan. 30. Wow! Poor girl! Because her brothers are so much older than her, she has not experienced that before - and did not know that you are SUPPOSED to lose your teeth! You can imagine the horror that brought. She was in her bedroom, changing her shirt as I requested, because I said it was too hot to wear a long-sleeved shirt. JUST that morning, her daddy was offering her a bite of his bagel and I noticed she turned her head to the side before she took her bite, and I said to myself, "now why did she do that?". So, as she was removing her shirt, she decided to help her pull it off, she would grab her sleeve with her teeth. Oops! All of a sudden we hear screaming and terror and "Mommy, mommy!" It was a terrible sound. We have found several scorpions around, so I honestly wondered if she was stung by a scorpion, it was so bad. She continues, "Mommy! Mommy!" I said, "Charissma - what is wrong, honey?! Why are you shouting and crying?" "My tooth! My tooth! My tooth came out!" I told her to show me her mouth and there was hardly any blood at all, which told me that tooth was more than ready to come out. So I said, "Charissma, sit on my lap, calm down and stop your crying so I can tell you why we are going to celebrate that your tooth came out." While in disbelief, she quickly calmed down, wondering why we would be happy about that.We began to explain to her that she is supposed to lose her teeth, as funny as that seems, so she can get her big girl teeth. Josiah helped by explaining to her the great phenomenon that would happen while she slept. And by the way, the inflation these days!! Daddy plays the "tooth fairy" - and I cannot believe what our children are given for their teeth! Our closest friends here, who are South Africans, explained to us that they tell their children that the tooth fairy is going to build a piano with their teeth. If the teeth are black, they are the black keys - if they are white, they are the white keys. See! Missionary kids get to grow up with SO MUCH CULTURE! :)
Another inevitable Walker happening is that our youngest son, Josiah, has turned 13! Now all of our sons are teenagers! That is crazy! In April, our first-born son, Beracah, turns 17.
Where is all the time going?! I find I ask myself that very often these days. Before you know it, another month passes by and you wonder where it went. All the more reason that we should spend our time wisely and make the most of every opportunity. Our life is about people. People take time. People take energy. We know that THE BEST, most effective way that we make a difference in God's Kingdom is to love His people and care for His people and train His people. It is hard sometimes and draining. I am a people person - I get energized by being with people. But I have found recently that I have felt peopled-out. (I know that there are more than a few of you that can identify with that). I am pouring my life into 3 women right now on an individual basis, not counting the women and teenage girls at church that come on Wednesday nights to house church. I don't feel obligated to do it - I love it. But you know, there are times, when you are in the middle of difficult things that it seems there is very little to give. There is NOTHING to give if we don't meet with our Master every day. We have nothing. God is doing things. God is growing us up. A few weeks back I taught the women on endurance and perseverance. We so often want God to deliver us FROM every trouble that comes our way. We cry and beg and plead with God. But the thing is, so often I really feel that God is saying, "Please Heather. See the big picture. I don't want to deliver you from that thing - I want to be your deliverer IN that thing. There is character for you in this struggle! Do you want to be robbed of the character that I long to build in your life as a result of this thing?" Man, God is so good, so beautiful, so capable of using those difficult things to build endurance, character and hope through our suffering.
A few weeks back I said to my husband, "Honey, right now - I feel like giving up on everything!". You know what? That was true. Homeschooling is another current challenge. While I used to get one migraine about every six months, I have had more than I can count since May. In ministry here, wanting desperately to be relevant in a culture that is not my own. I did FEEL like giving up on everything in that moment - but I never WANTED to give up. I felt like giving up - but I never WANTED to give up. I told a friend, "You know? I know that if I went to a doctor right now and told him how I was feeling, and then told him what my life has looked like this last year - he would say, 'ummm. Yes, Mrs. Walker, and you are asking me if you are stressed?'" Furlough was awesome - and necessary, but it is no 5 month vacation, contrary to some people's thinking. After changing locations every 3-4 days for five months and arriving back to our new home in Lobatse, Botswana in May, we immediately began house renovations and received with joy two mission teams (among one of which had five of my family members in it!). We finished renovations in October, only to realize later that God would ask us to move again and do more house renovations. So, maybe I have felt displaced?....All is well. We are finished with renovations and so thankful for God's provision through His people and for His wisdom. He knew that we were really preparing the perfect place to house mission students and He knew how He would provide for us. We are here to make an investment in the people of Botswana. Just because things are hard, doesn't mean we must quit. So - my brothers and sisters - be encouraged if you are going through a very difficult patch in your race right now. PLEASE DON'T QUIT THE RACE! We cannot WIN if we quit the race. We can only win if we run. See when we think of races - we think of one winner and the rest are losers - but that is not how it is in God's race. Run the race with perseverance and YOU WILL WIN. We can't win the battle if we don't fight. We will fight! Let's fight this fight together! Let's run this race together! I want to cross the line with you.
Maybe a few of you might say, "Now Heather, why did you have to tell us all that?". One of my sweet sisters, whom I love dearly, may say, "Man, Heather, that was downer - you should be more positive.". I am positively real. :) If we can't be honest with you all and yet count on you to intercede with us and for us - then truly, we have no one like that. We are so grateful for all of you! We know that the economy is bearing it's weight on many of you - and us. We know that a few of you are facing struggles that we could not imagine - losing a loved one, fighting situations or diseases that are out of your control. We are praying for you. We love you! Let run this race together! Let's look to Him together! We love you all - more than we can tell you on a page. Thank you so much for your prayers - just please pass a note to us when you shoot up a prayer!
...Hope your coffee or tea has not grown cold reading that long book. Thanks so much!!
Lotsa love. Runnin' this race to win,
Heather - Michael, Beracah, Judah, Josiah and Charissma
Note: to see any of these photos larger, just click on them. :)
From Heather: Dec 12-16:
This is our first ministry opportunity after we stepped foot in America. We went to one of our supporting churches, Church Arise in Decatur, MS. Our university friend, Tonette Kellet, was our connection there. Now we have many friends and are so blessed by being connected with these folks. This church is a picture of heaven, made up of Choctaw Native Americans, African Americans and Caucasians -HEAVEN! :) Our sweet, long-time friend had goodies waiting for us in our hotel room, American candy, drinks, chips - YUM!
Mississippi held so much fun for us - our young men got to go quad biking and hunting and Michael got to go fishing with Pastor Gabe. Oh yeah...and Mexican food!
And the highlight was meeting all our beautiful, new Choctaw friends. Jesus loves you...and so do the Walkers!!!