27 December 2011

A Whirlwind Couple of Months

Post-Graduation Festivities
Time has flown since our last update. We packed many events into our last month of classes, and then we scrambled to get everything together to come back to the States.

School wound down after a great semester. Papers and tests, quizzes and assignments made for a truck load of grading at the end of the semester. Jenny and I were up late one night grading Hebrew exams. I was thankful for nabbing a wife from the Biblical Languages major at Northland! The students were well-rewarded for a semester full of tough work, good writing, and hard thinking.

Jenny, Sarah, Kevin, Jamin in Zimbabwe
Right after the semester ended, we fit in a quick trip to Livingstone to see Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We traveled by bus with the Shermans and had a great time enjoying the Zambian countryside. The Falls themselves had not built to their full strength, but they were still big and beautiful. The day we were there we also crossed briefly into the country of Zimbabwe, which shares the Falls with Zambia.

Leadership Conference proved a fitting end to a great year in Zambia. We were able to hear a well-known Zambian preacher from Lusaka, Conrad Mbewe. I taught a workshop related to evangelism and apologetics. The theme of the conference was "The Great Commission Is Our Command." It was exciting to see God working among Zambians to reach Africa and the world for the sake of Christ's name.

One of my primary responsibilities during the Leadership Conference was heading up the Admissions responsibilities for the college. The conference started on Monday, and interest began with a trickle of interviews. By the end of the week there seemed to be a torrent, and I was spending most of my time gathering information, conducting admissions interviews, and discussing questions and issues with college admin. I relished the opportunity to be involved in a process that will doubtless have a profound effect on the lives of these men and likely affect the next generation of believers in Zambia as well. Who knows what the next weeks of the Lord's direction will bring about? Pray for Kevin Sherman as he takes over these responsibilities and follows up with potential students. We desire God's will for these men; please pray that the Lord of the harvest would use us to send out laborers!

Jonas Investigates Christmas Legos
After Leadership conference, we had about 10 days to pack everything to get ready to go. God answered many of your prayers by smoothing out the process for us to get a few boxes and tubs of stuff to Kenya. The Huffstutlers, our missionary partners in Kenya, will be keeping the books and toys and household items for us while we prepare to return to Kenya next year. We're thankful to the Kenyan college students for their willingness to help in getting our belongings to the proper place.

We were grateful on our return trip for help from Rachel Johnson. She is a missionary who has been working at CABC alongside us in the capacity of administrative assistant. She generously scheduled her flights back to the States to coincide with our flights so that she could help with our kids. We were hugely grateful for the help! We stopped overnight in London where the Lord had provided a very nice hotel near the airport for a very affordable price. Other than what would be naturally expected of children making that kind of trip, everything proceeded agreeably. Praise the Lord for a safe and smooth journey!

Josiah Enjoys Christmas Dinner
Two days after arriving in Detroit, I had to be up early for a flight to the Southwest where waited the vehicle God has provided for our final leg of deputation. I drove the Chrysler Town & Country back up from El Paso, Texas, in time to be back in Michigan for the Sunday evening Christmas concert at Intercity Baptist. The vehicle has no major issues at all, and the mileage is quite low: What a blessing! This vehicle was a specific matter of prayer that we brought before the Lord as a family, and God provided! I am also grateful to the Lord for keeping me safe with the long hours on the road.

That Wednesday we left Michigan to spend Christmas and New Year's with Jenny's family. We had a great time of celebration on Christmas day, both at New Testament Baptist Church and with family. We miss our friends in Zambia, but we're also glad for a time to enjoy church and family here.

28 October 2011

Seamless in Lusaka

We are so thankful to the Lord for a very smooth and productive trip to Lusaka last week. Since Jamin was born, Jenny and I had been approaching this trip with apprehension. We knew it was entirely possible that we would get all the way to Lusaka, find the correct office, wait through the lines, and only then realize that some document we'd never been asked for before would be required. The six hour bus ride home with no progress to show for our time would not have been our happiest moment.
Enjoying Coffee with Jenny (and Jamin)
But God was working to iron everything out, and we're thankful. Though we got off to a late start last Friday, we were still able to get on the first bus out of town. The trip down to Lusaka was much quicker than I had anticipated, and we arrived in Lusaka well before 11:00am.
We didn't know exactly where to find the records office, and at first our taxi driver didn't know either, but he made a guess, drove for less than a minute from the bus station and dropped us off at precisely the right building.
Our time at the records office also proved surprisingly swift and efficient. We found the man in charge of birth certificates quickly. I think I saw him wait on one person before us, and one other party came to the office before we left. Jamin's Zambian birth certificate was in hand within an hour of our getting off the bus. We were shocked by the way doors were opening for us. God was answering your prayers!
The next day we continued to find a surprisingly easy path set before us. When we arrived for our 9:30 appointment, we were told that we were missing a couple items to apply for the US certificate of birth abroad and Jamin's passport. But there weren't any lines at the embassy, and they were very understanding when we told them that we were from out of town and needed to complete the applications all in one trip. A quick email or two and a trip to the print shop was all we needed to acquire what we needed. It was still before 1:00pm that day when we had finished everything possible for the trip!
Both afternoons and evenings Jenny and I were able to enjoy some much needed rest. We had coffee at a cafe in the mall, and enjoyed a delicious dinner at a Thai restaurant. I made a little bit of progress on grading a few papers.
Two couples made the trip possible and deserve huge thanks. The Shermans took care of Josiah and Jonas while we were away. Their task was especially Herculean because both were struggling with some unidentified stomach bug the entire time. The Clarks, our new friends and hosts while we were in Lusaka, were an enormous blessing and help. They gave us a number of rides, saving us taxi money, and provided for a number of our meals. They were true Christian examples of hospitality.
On Monday Jenny and I enjoyed our birthday among friends back home. The trip came at a busy time, so I had to jump right back into work, but I had been quite refreshed by the change of pace and progress on this passport project.
Almost there!
Twice recently I've been asked for a list of specific prayer requests. Here's how I replied:
  1. Pray for the students as they finish their year; all of the semester-end review has the ultimate purpose of helping them let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly.
  2. Pray that Jamin's passport will be completed within the next couple of weeks.
  3. Pray that we are able to find an affordable way to move our stuff from Zambia to Kenya without having to pay to get it over the Atlantic only to turn around and take it back again.
  4. Pray that our leads on a deputation vehicle materialize into something affordable, reliable, and workable for our newly enlarged traveling family.
Thanks so much for praying!

05 October 2011

Returning Home

Nile Baptism
 During our second week in Sudan, we were able to witness a baptism in the Nile River. Phillip, one of the students in our doctrines classes, had asked about baptism after one of the lessons on being born again. I wasn't sure initially what he thought about the relationship between baptism and the new birth. But several of us talked about the relationship between those two events, and it became apparent that Phillip is banking on Christ alone for his eternal joy. What a thrill to watch this believer display his identification with Christ publicly for all to see!
Heftalump: 11wks = 17lb 3oz
That week Kevin also became ill, probably with malaria. I was thankful that he had had the foresight to pack the malaria medication and that he was back to teaching his full share of hours within a couple of days.
At the customs office on our return to Zambia, the officer took my work permit and other documents, quickly scanned them, and then said something that surprised me, "Welcome home." I was taken aback at first, but what he said rings true with my affection for this place. We are so grateful to God for granting us yet another place on this earth to call home while we continue our pilgrimage toward Christ's kingdom, our final resting place and truest home!
After returning from Sudan, Kevin and I jumped right back into classes. I have been pretty busy catching up for the last week and a half, but life is slowly returning back to normal.
Next week Jenny, Jamin and I are hoping to get to Lusaka, Zambia's capital, to hurry along the documentation Jamin needs to leave the country. Please pray that we are able to make significant progress on this trip.

Thank you for mentioning us in your prayers!
Cell Billboard Celebrates Independence with New S. Sudan Flag

18 September 2011

Fwd: Greetings from South Sudan!

Note: I wrote the following update two Sundays ago while we were still in S. Sudan. We have returned safely to Zambia. Another update is forthcoming (JLP, 29-Sep).

God has been granting us a great time here. Our teaching responsibilities and a bit of tourism are keeping us pretty busy, so I only have time to share three memorable moments from my first week here.
Our first week we taught through the Apostolic Doctrines. We summarized the teachings of the apostles found in Acts and the Epistles outlining them according to the Grand Story of the entirety of the Scriptures: Creation, Fall, Christ, Redemption, and Kingdom. About 40 pastors have been sitting with us each day for roughly six hours of teaching. They have been very attentive! My first two memories are from the classroom:
(1) On Tuesday we spent nearly the entire day on the Fall and its effects. Starting in Genesis through most of the Old Testament, we traced the history of Israel and the world. We showed how sin and death had become masters over the human race. We pointed out that sin's mastery extended to every facet of our being, and we showed from the Scriptures how deep its control runs in each one of us (e.g., Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 8:5–8). Finally we came to mankind's lowest moment. The worst expression of this depravity is when we killed God's only Son. Up to this point the day had been depressing. Examining the Fall is not precisely fun; as one of Josiah's storybook Bibles says, "It was a very sad day." But the last 15 minutes of class were absolutely electrifying. Because in that lowest moment of human history, as we were executing God's Son, God was executing his plan. Because the Son became obedient even to death, the Father has highly exalted him. All authority in heaven and on earth is given to Jesus Christ after his resurrection. Through him, everyone who calls on his name will be saved. Through him sin and death will no longer be our masters. Now Christ is risen. Now Christ is the master! I doubt I will ever forget the palpable elation of the class at that moment.
(2) On Wednesday, we were discussing Christ. One of the points that we wanted to explain is why we must have a fully human mediator. Why did God have to take upon himself a perfect human nature? As we sought to answer that question, another question came from one of the students: "I have heard from some that Jesus was born from Joseph, but others say he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. I'm confused. Which is it?" What an opportunity and privilege we have had to teach the Scriptures where the need and thirst for God's Word is so desperate!

(3) My final memory is from this morning's church service. The man who had been working to plant the church here in Juba was sharing a testimony. This South Sudanese church-planter told us how while he was in exile in Uganda he first heard and believed the gospel and was trained to plant churches. As he reminisced he said, "Some time ago when we saw the white color we would run away. As children, we were afraid. When I was ten years old, we thought they would eat us. Now we do not run because the blood of Christ has made us one." Someday soon Christ will conquer the fear we have of each other, and that process has already begun for citizens of that coming kingdom. Soon we will all be joined as one happy throng around the throne of God rejoicing: "Worthy is the Lamb!" May that hope purify our hearts today!
Kevin and I are thankful to the Lord to have enjoyed safety, health, and stamina while we have been here.
Please continue to pray for us and our families as we seek Christ's fame in Africa.
Thank you for praying,

27 August 2011

Sickness and Continuing Preparations

Broken Cinderblocks = Makeshift Speedbumps
Just after my last update I became ill with giardiasis. The protozoa were most likely introduced to my system through some uncooked vegetables I had eaten at a local restaurant about two weeks before. Two things that I have come to appreciate about living here is access to medical personnel who can quickly diagnose diseases like this and access to inexpensive medication to treat them. I was back in classes the day after beginning the medicine, and I was feeling back to normal before a full week had passed. We are thankful to God for his provision and answer to prayer in this quick recovery.

The students in Research and Writing have narrowed down their topic choices and outlined their research paper plans for the rest of the semester. I am eager to read their work on some very intriguing topics. I am also excited about the progress we are making in Hebrew. Monday will be the first major vocabulary test, and I am confident that the average for the class will be quite high. It's encouraging to see the diligence and seriousness with which they have been taking this class. In Wisdom/Poetic Books we are going over the book of Ecclesiastes. As I look back at the roots for my own affinity for this OT book, I realize how much of that fondness rubbed off on me from my own teachers as they explored the book with me in seminary. What a privilege to have the opportunity to share that truth and excitement with others!

"Uncle" Kevin and the Kaunda Boys
In answer to your prayers, Jamin and Jenny have continued to stay healthy. Jamin surprised us last night with a full six hours of continuous sleep. We'll see how he does tonight, but we are grateful for this hopeful direction. Josiah and Jonas are also well. We have recently begun to concentrate more on Scripture memorization for Jonas, and he is already making some exciting progress. Pray that God would grant us wisdom in raising our children for his glory.

Kevin Sherman and I are continuing our preparations for our trip to South Sudan. Last Sunday we met for a bit with Phil Hunt, the school president, to work through logistics and pray. Please pray with us as we prepare that God would give us wisdom and energy to develop solid material to help these men. Our plan is to teach a foundational level doctrines course called "Apostolic Doctrines" during the first week. This class will trace the grand storyline of the Scripture from Creation through Fall, Christ and Redemption, to Kingdom and Consummation. The second week of classes we will be teaching Doctrines 1 concentrating on Theology proper, the Trinity, and Creation. Please pray for our safety and health as we venture out of our new comfort zone here. Pray that God would grant us an effective ministry among these pastors, most of whom have had little access to solid training.

Product Pillars at the Local Market
Last Tuesday I had my first opportunity to be a part of a life radio interview. Pastor Francis Kaunda and I discussed the meaning and motivation for prayer on CABR's Biblical Christianity. When we understand that our God is the God who answers prayer, when we know that we have confident access to his immense power, unsearchable wisdom, and indomitable goodness through his Son, when we know that we're really in trouble without him, prayer should become second nature to us. But there's always a battle in bringing our lives in line with the Scriptures.

Thank you for fighting that battle on our behalf, and continuing your consistent prayers for us!

10 August 2011

Being Five

Playin' with Jamin
 The Pittsleys are growing into a workable life schedule as we become accustomed to being a family of five. Many things are still the same. Josiah and Jonas do not have reason for much more than occasional acknowledgement of their new little brother. So they run around and play—as rascally as ever. However, their parents, especially Jenny, are adjusting again to having a very little one around. Our nights have me going to bed early, and Jenny staying up late. Then I get up early with the baby to let Jenny, in theory, get some rest. Usually, Jamin is getting a few hours of sleep in there somewhere. The schedule actually works really well for me because I usually need to be up early anyway to prepare for the morning's classes. Please pray for continued health for Jenny and baby.

Newborn Nation
Hebrew, Research/Writing, and Wisdom/Poetic Books are all proceeding well. I am grateful for the privilege to teach these men, giving them tools to understand God's written communication and to proclaim it to their generation.

Another privilege that God has granted is an opportunity to teach in the newborn nation of South Sudan. CABC has been conducting regular block classes in the country this year, and Kevin Sherman and I have volunteered for the next set of two courses coming back-to-back this September. I am elated about this chance to reach out in a land so thirsty for the gospel and to equip leaders there for the spread of Christ's fame. Please pray for Kevin and me as we study and prepare, squeezing in course development while we teach. Please pray too for a safe and productive journey this September.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!

29 July 2011

Welcoming Jamin

Directly after our last update my sending church pastor, David Doran, arrived for a block class on expository preaching. He seemed glad to be here, and we were so glad to have him. There were over 150 men who came ready to work hard on their own skills at interpreting and explaining the Word of God. I grabbed a number of opportunities to get to know our guests and understand their struggles and joys in ministry. Many expressed interest in returning for future classes, both in the block-class form and in the regular semester-length setup.

Those regular classes began last Thursday. I have an exciting line-up with OT Wisdom and Poetic books, Research and Writing, and, most exciting for me, Introduction to Hebrew! I prize the opportunity to help these men develop critical thinking skills and to equip them with tools for understanding the Word. Sarah Sherman will be teaching one of three days a week for Research and Writing. Her help during this busy time has been invaluable. I have also been sitting in on Kevin Sherman's Greek Exegesis of James class. The class is small, so I am looking forward to good discussion over this very practical letter. Pray for us as we work through a pretty busy schedule, especially with certain recent additions to our responsibilities.

One of those additions is that we will soon be starting a book study of Galatians with the CBU students. The Bible fellowship on campus at the local university will be inviting some of their friends to hear the gospel as we work through this eminent epistle. Pray that God would grant fruit for his glory.

Of course, the major addition to our schedule is Jamin Luther Pittsley! God granted Jenny strength through labor and a safe delivery at 8:40pm, on Tuesday, 19 July. Jamin was 9lbs 12oz and 20.5in. Praise the Lord for this answer to prayer and for such a precious gift and addition to our family!

As always, thank you for your faithful prayers!

09 July 2011

Everything Beautiful in Its Time

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…. He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Eccl 3:1, 11).

Over the last three weeks, I have attended a funeral and a wedding. I have seen weeping, and I have seen dancing for joy. I have lost a new friend (until we meet again at our Savior's side), and I have been reunited with two old friends.

The week after the break between semesters tragedy struck the CABC campus: one of our students suddenly passed away. At least, the passing of Banza Fanfan Ilunga would have to be viewed as a tragedy from a human perspective. But from a biblical perspective, we were able to take heart, knowing that our friend finished well the course God had set for him and fought the good fight until the end. He like the apostle Paul has been presented with "the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award…all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Tim 4:8).

This afternoon, God granted us a great joy in his providence. We were able to witness the wedding of a couple at Faith Baptist Riverside, where we attend church. The emphasis in the service on building the foundation of the family on Christ and the gospel was clear and helpful. It was a delight to share in their celebration.
Reception at Wedding
Kevin and Sarah Sherman arrived earlier this week and seem to be settling nicely. It's neat to have coworkers from our home church sharing in our labors to train the next generation of pastors here in Zambia for all of Africa. Kevin will be teaching two New Testament classes and a theology class.

Thank you for continuing to pray for the baby and Jenny. Both appear to be doing fine as we continue forward into the last week or two before the baby is due. Last week we checked out the hospital where we will be going if there are any complications at our clinic. We pray that we won't need it, but we are glad for the reassurance that God has provided through it.

Thank you also for praying for me about my surgery recovery. I have been excited to see how quickly I have continued to recover. At this point I can't see why I wouldn't say that I am now at 100%.

Please continue to keep the Kenya team in prayer. Curriculum choices have been taking up a substantial portion of the time we spend in email and Skype discussions. We have some very exciting plans and ideas that we are researching and developing. Please pray for wisdom in making choices that will shape the way we train men to carry on the deposit of truth that has been entrusted to us. We look forward to working ourselves out of a job as we equip Kenyans to train Kenyans to cherish, defend, and expound the truth and glory of the Lord Jesus among the nations.

We are so thankful for your prayers!

19 June 2011

Recovering and Preparing

Exams are finished and returned. Papers are graded. The break has begun. Just before the students left we had one last works-of-God chapel. It was exciting to see how God has been working among us and to pray for ministry struggles some of the men are working through. We serve a living, active God.

The Saturday before I left for South Africa, I was able to attend my first Bible study with the CBU students. We had some fruitful discussion relating to wisely apply the Scriptures to the issue of music. We shared some testimonies and prayer requests. I am looking forward to getting more involved here.

Early Monday afternoon I took off for my whirlwind trip to South Africa. I met my doctor Tuesday morning, and he was performing surgery on me by that afternoon. This was my first time ever having surgery, and I am glad it went well. The rest of Tuesday was pretty painful. I was so glad for the help of the Brunks and the Marshes who saw to my needs while I was there. Robert Marsh even brought me a double cheeseburger and fries from a nearby McDonald's while I was stuck in the hospital bed. Wednesday, I was able to get out of bed with help and slowly—really slowly—get ready to leave the hospital. By the end of that day, I was amazed at how quickly moving around just a bit had eased the pain and helped the recovery process.

The doctor said I would be up and around in 24–48 hours, and that I would be fully recovered after 3–4 weeks. I appear to be on track. I flew home on Thursday after the doctor's final approval.

Now I am trying to use the obligatory downtime to prepare for my classes. I am signed up to teach Research and Writing and OT Poetic books. I may also be introducing Hebrew to the curriculum here as a single-semester, beginner's elective. I hope also to make good progress during this break in scheduling meetings for next year. If you know of any church in the Southwest or in the Great Lakes Region that might like us to visit to present our ministry to Kenya, please feel free to send me info.

We are also preparing for a few arrivals over the next month. First, our friends, the Shermans, are arriving from the Detroit area. We have been looking forward to their arrival and help in the ministry here at CABC. Second, Pastor Doran, my sending church pastor, will be teaching the college's block course this summer. I am looking forward to seeing him and sitting in on some of his classes. Third, the new addition to our family is scheduled to arrive in about one month!

I'm so thankful for a successful surgery; please pray that I can recover quickly and fully. Please also mention the following as you come before the Lord Jesus:

  • Fruitful outreach at CBU, the local secular university
  • Fruitful ministry training at CABC, both for the block class and for next semester
  • Safe and healthy delivery of Baby #3
  • A schedule for next year full of divine appointments to get us into ministry in Kenya quickly
Thank you for your faithful prayers!

05 June 2011


The last couple of weeks have seen major progress on issues that we have been praying about since before we left for Zambia.

Around the middle of last month, we received great news regarding the tax situation in Kenya. My mission president (who is also my home church pastor, David Doran) approved of our team’s plan to continue missions in Kenya in accordance with current tax laws. A good deal of hard work and research went into finding options that would allow this plan to be feasible for us. This prayerfully considered solution will be costly, and budgets will need to be adjusted, but we know that God’s resources and zeal for his name among the nations go far beyond our imagination. Praise the Lord that the team was able to work out a solution, and pray that we are able to quickly raise the necessary support to live and work in Kenya.

Allowed to Work
Next we were finally able to acquire my work permit. Up until now we had been having difficulty getting all the proper documents for our stay here in Zambia. We had so many visitor visa renewals that a friend here was wondering if we would have enough passport pages to last the year! A number of fruitless trips to the immigration office had determined that the work permit was missing. But finally, in a huge answer to prayer on Tuesday, the official who is in charge of getting travel documents from the capital, Lusaka, to our regional political center, Ndola, was able to point out a previous oversight and uncovered our missing work permit. These documents are especially important considering that without all the proper documents we will not be able to get baby #3 out of the country when that time comes. Praise the Lord for progress, and please pray that further delays are minimized in that process.

Two Fridays ago some minor muscle discomfort I had been experiencing pushed me to consult a local doctor. He diagnosed a minor and common genetic muscle defect that was waiting, evidently until a particularly active time in my life, to become a problem. It is nothing serious, but I will need to go to South Africa to have the outpatient surgery done to prevent it from becoming serious. Please pray for a quick, safe trip and surgery.

The soreness has reduced some of my activity recently, but I was still very glad when I had the opportunity this morning to meet the university student who will be my contact for serving the students at Copperbelt University as the year rolls on. Saturday will be my first time to attend their Bible study meeting.

Jenny and the baby appear to be completely healthy. She is making preparations for the baby’s arrival, and Josiah and Jonas are looking forward to their new brother. If you would like to help out with a few items that we are having some friends bring our way, feel free to contact us directly. We can put you in touch with the right people. We appreciate your help.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us!

14 May 2011

Drying Up and Cooling Down

'Siah and the Millipede
As I mentioned two posts ago, I have been planning to begin to post more frequently now that life has settled down and become a bit better connected. I hope today will mark the start of that.

When we arrived here in Zambia we were in the middle of the rainy season. A typical day carried heat in the morning and early afternoon followed by late afternoon or nighttime rain. Now the days are cooling down and drying up. We have not seen rain for a couple of weeks now, and we probably won't see it again until October at the earliest. The other day Jenny and I were grinning at a radio announcement reminding listeners to dress warmly. It was around 80˚F/27˚C. We could get used to this!

Playing ball with Mark
Recently I began asking around for ways to get allergy medicine. Helen, an RN in our new network of missionary friends, told me simply to ask at the chemist/pharmacist. I felt kind of silly when it worked. I found both a Tavist and a Zyrtec counterpart at one of the chemists downtown. I should have tried that a month earlier when my nose decided it wanted to give Victoria Falls a run for its money. In any event, I am very happy to have a solution to that problem. Sometimes you just need that gentle nudge before you open your eyes and try the obvious solution.

This Wednesday the Apologetics students began delivering their papers in class. So far I have appreciated their commitment to the Scriptures and to using this class as an opportunity to hone their interaction with a sin-darkened world. These papers are also proving a great opportunity for me to be exposed to African Christian interaction with African non-Christian thinking. I have so much more to learn! Pray that God would grant us each discernment, fairness, and faithfulness to the Scriptures as we tackle these issues in African apologetics.
Laundry Day at CBU

I mentioned last post that I was going to begin working with our local church's campus ministry. So far we are following up on the visitors who came for CBU Sunday, 1-May. I believe there are also plans to do a regular on-campus Bible study. Pray that God would use that outreach to win disciples for Christ.

We are supremely thankful to God and our partners for our time here. We've never been happier.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers!

28 April 2011

Race to the End

Hanging Out with Uncle Phil and CorbanAs the students come off of their Easter Break, we begin our blitz to the finish line for the semester. It has been exciting to watch students excel at their classes through diligence and tenacity. In Apologetics we are beginning to compare various apologetic models and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each. In Major and Minor Prophets we have entered the theology portion of the class synthesizing the material from the prophets and highlighting passages that are particularly significant for the major branches of theology addressed in that portion of Scripture.

The month of April was a month of further adjustments to living in Africa. I caught my first case of malaria around the beginning of the month and was very thankful for a group of friends who were familiar enough with the symptoms to diagnose me and get a course of treatment into my hands. Within 36 hours I was feeling much better. Full recovery takes some time, I am told, but I am basically back to normal.

Our Flat (Pre-paint), Josiah, and Storm abrewin'
Another area of adjustment has been transportation. Upon arriving in Kitwe we began using taxis because they were very easy to find when we have needed them and because they are comparably cheap. Now we are becoming familiar enough with the way the city works to use public transport. Our new Zambian friends have been especially helpful in showing us the ropes on many points, and their advice here has been particularly handy. Understanding the basics of the system has opened up the city for us and made everything much more accessible.

Easy there, big fella.For example, we have been able to get Jenny in to a clinic in the center of town for the last two weeks in a row. As many of you now know we are expecting a baby in mid-July. On our first visit to the clinic, we were able to get an ultrasound. It appears we are going to have another boy! Jenny will continue to have regular visits while we prepare for our new addition. Pray for God's protection, a healthy pregnancy, and safe delivery.

A recent development has come in the way of ministry opportunities. The Zambian church we attend here, Faith Baptist Church, Riverside, has an outreach Sunday this week for the students of the local state university in Kitwe. I am hoping to be able to get involved weekly on campus to help the church reach out to this exciting mission field in their backyard. Pray that God would open doors of opportunity for ministry and grant boldness and wisdom as we seek to serve these students and share the gospel of Christ.

Thank you for your prayers!

27 March 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few weeks have been some of the busiest I can remember. Preparing my two classes takes up most of my time, and I absolutely love what I am doing!

Each day I am preparing lesson plans, data projector presentations, quizzes and assignments for the next class period. We are making good progress through the course schedule I outlined in January. It looks like we will finish our survey of the OT prophetical books just before the midterm break. From there the OT Prophets class will be surveying the theological themes from the books as a whole. The apologetics class will finish the course material outlining the principles of apologetics just after the break. Then each student will be applying the principles to a certain non-Christian segment of Zambian society: African traditional religions, cults, or world religions. I am excited about the level of understanding and progress the students are showing. God is working to equip his servants!

Jenny and the kids are all healthy and happy. Jonas is still a few months from 2 years old, but he has definitely learned the meaning of the word "no." It seems like it's usually either going into his ears or coming out of his mouth—another pagan who needs to be civilized :) Josiah is continuing to learn about his world. He is picking up a little Bemba (the predominant tribal language in this region of Zambia) and has made a friend or two his age in the immediate neighborhood.

Those of you who have been following my Twitter/Facebook posts know that I finally have Internet access in our home now. That access should allow me to post updates more frequently (both blog posts and status updates). I hope to be able to complete a full newsletter during midterm break in a few weeks.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

16 February 2011

It Begins

We are so glad to be settled in here in Zambia. My last post had us in London, from there we proceeded to Johannesburg then to Ndola, the closest airport to Kitwe, where we are spending the next year. That trip seemed to have one surprise after another, but we finally made it to Kitwe. Jenny and I are both thankful that we won't have to travel like that again for a long while!

Lori, Phil Hunt's wife, picked us up at the airport. She treated us to a delicious lasagna dinner with her family. Phil Hunt was in the US for Heart Conference, so we wouldn't get to meet him until the next week.

For our first few days in the country, the missionaries decided to house us with one of them so that we could have a chance to gather some life essentials before beginning life on our own here. Tori Barrett was gracious enough to host us for our first few days. She showed us some of the shops in town and introduced us to a few local customs. She also made a cake for Josiah's fifth birthday here, the first Pittsley birthday celebrated in Africa. We could not have imagined a more hospitable welcome.

On our second day here, I had the opportunity to meet the Beamans, missionaries who were moving to the other side of Zambia to plant a church. I was glad to have an opportunity to stretch my muscles and throw my back into helping them move. One good day of manual labor did wonders for my jet lag.

After a few days with Tori, we moved to the guest quarters at Faith Baptist Church in the Riverside area of Kitwe. We will be living here until sometime next week when we will get to our two-bedroom flat. That Sunday we attended services at that church and especially enjoyed the African singing that we had been looking forward to.

Our second week allowed me to spend my days mostly on campus at Central Africa Baptist College. I was able to meet a number of students, begin working on my class notes again, and catch up on email and reading that had piled up while we were traveling. During this week I was able to spend some time to get to know Nathan Washer, the academic dean and registrar at the school. I was encouraged by his drive to forward the mission of training men to accomplish the great commission here in Africa.

Jenny and Jonas had a few stomach problems during the course of this second week, but they seemed to have already cleared up. Mysteries about what normal life looks like here were beginning to be unravelled. For instance, I found a missionary here who was willing to experiment with some clippers and give me a haircut. It turned out well enough, and I'll be back again to give him in a couple of weeks to give him another whack at it, so to speak.

Last week Tony Fox came to present a block class entitled Hermeneutical Survey of the Old and New Testaments. The class was a good introduction to the entire Bible as viewed from the perspective of grammatical-historical-literary hermeneutics, and the pastors and students here loved it. I was able to sit in and enjoy parts of the class while I helped with grading and continued working on my classes for the coming semester.

At the end of the week, Tony Fox and the CABC faculty went to an in-service on a ranch near Nsobe, a town nearby. I was so grateful for the opportunity to get to know my fellow teachers, especially two Zambian nationals who are pursuing their master's degrees via distance programs in the US. Their heart for God and for godly Christian ministry reminds me again that God is raising up a people for his name among all the nations of the earth. This is not an American thing or a Western thing; God's vision for the nations knows no boundaries.

This week classes will begin. I will be teaching both OT Prophets and Apologetics starting Friday. Pray that my final preparations will go well and that in all the busyness, I will depend on Christ's strength to be magnified in my weakness.

22 January 2011

Safe and Sound in London

Our last update had us preparing to leave El Paso, TX. I believe this update will cover the most miles to date. On Christmas day, Jenny, Josiah and Jonas left El Paso by plane to go to Syracuse. Josiah and Jonas's first plane flights went quite well; only the last of three flights tried their endurance.

I spent Christmas day packing up our car and getting ready for the cross-country drive to Syracuse. The day after was my day of departure, and I made it as far as Amarillo, TX via Albuquerque, NM. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to the Southwest, where I grew up and where we've made so many new friends and welcomed Jonas to our family. God has been our shepherd and has lead us through green pastures in this American desert.

Our time in Syracuse went by all too quickly. Jen's parents and siblings were glad to reconnect with Josiah and get acquainted with Jonas. I had the opportunity to update New Testament Baptist and preach while we were there. We prized this chance to invest time with family and friends here before we took off for Africa.

Our flights for Zambia began in Michigan, and we seized the chance before we left to spend time with many of our friends in the Detroit and make some last minute preparations. I had a special opportunity to fill in to preach for seminary chapel while I was there. I was struck by how many people at InterCity Baptist Church and Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary who knew about the uncertainties in Kenya right now and told us that they were praying for God's direction and provision for our missions team and our family in particular. The fact that God had provided this opportunity to serve in Zambia before these issues came to a head was a particular point of praise among our friends there.

While we have been preparing for our trip for weeks now, we spent much of our time acquiring items we thought that we needed. Getting our luggage together and packed was something that we unfortunately saved for the last two days, and it was not enough time. We showed up at the airport about thirty minutes before our flight, and, with the massive amount of luggage we had to check, the airline could not let us board. In answer to many of our prayers, we were able to catch the next flight to Chicago in time to catch American Airlines last Chicago flight that day to London. The kids did a great job on the flights. We had a row of five seats for the four of us on the long flight, so the kids were able to lie down flat with their head or feet in our laps. That worked especially well for Jonas, and he slept most of that flight. Right now I am writing from a cafe in London across the courtyard from the hotel where British Air put us up during our two-day layover here. We're all a bit tired, and Jonas is feeling the effects of jet lag the worst, but we're so grateful for everyone who helped us get ready and for God's help in getting us here safely.

I'll update again once we have opportunity in Zambia. Thank you for your prayers.