"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 2013 Newsletter

"My prayer is that you will also see CHRIST high and lifted up, glorified, sovereign, and GOOD as you have walked this journey with us. Your prayers that Chris would be healed completely for wholeness and fullness of life have been answered."
- Michelle Gennaro, on the passing of her husband

"Lumelang" from Lesotho!
The picture above was taken from our front porch last week. This is the view from the Growing Nations base here in Maphutseng. A number of our AIM team members work in this agricultural ministry and we are spending a couple of weeks at a guest house here before settling down. This is a great time to update all of you on our past month in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
A Sad Time of Rejoicing
In some ways, we have arrived in Lesotho during a very difficult time. In our last letter we wrote asking prayer for our team leader Chris, who was in critical condition in the hospital. One week after arriving in Lesotho, we received word that Chris had been ushered into heaven amidst the songs and prayers of his family and our teammates. The following week we attended a memorial service for him in South Africa. Several Basotho to whom Chris had ministered also attended and shared testimony of the impact Chris and his family had made in their village.
The service was the type that only a fellow Christian could understand. There was certainly the sadness of people who have lost a loved one and children who will grow up without their father, but it was tempered, even overruled, by the understanding that Chris is now whole - fully and perfectly healthy - and in the presence of the Lord he served with his whole life. Even though I never met Chris personally, I feel greatly impacted by the example of a fellow Christian who was willing to take his wife and six children to an unknown country, entrusting his and their health and protection to God. The testimony of Michelle and the family has also been something that only Christians can grasp - a peace that passes understanding. Michelle wrote an email sharing her heart on Chris's passing that has now been read in many countries and at least two languages. It is clear that the Lord's name will be magnified in Chris's death as much as in his life.
Our Family...
...meanwhile, spent our first three weeks in Lesotho living with a local pastor and his family at their home in Quthing. This was a time designed to give us a first-hand look at how the Basotho people live. Ntate Ramonotsi is the pastor of a Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) and speaks English well enough to help us get started in learning Sesotho. Our time was certainly difficult for it was very different than the way we're used to living. Our meals were very basic, but tasty. We typically ate "papa," a thick corn meal paste, with some type of chicken or sausage or potatoes and a red sauce poured over the top. Kyle had four companions to play with and that was also a challenge at times. He quickly tired of being touched, carried, grabbed, and knocked around, but he's learning to play well and stand up for himself when needed.

Our Home Stay...
...also stretched us in ways we haven't been stretched since being in Mexico. We had no bathroom in the house and would have to walk to the outhouse when needed. There was also no hot water, so we would boil water on the stove each night and take baths sitting in a small bucket. Laundry was all done by hand and left to dry on the line outside. We spent several afternoons walking to nearby villages, visiting an orphanage, climbing the mountains behind the house, and visiting with local people. Kyle also loved being surrounded by animals all the time! He is just like his mama in that way.

At the beginning of this month...
...we celebrated our sweet son's second birthday! This time was especially bittersweet as we reflected on how quickly he's grown and how fun his little personality has become, while having no family around to celebrate this special day for him. He was quite happy with his new Cars lunch box and water bottle as well as all the balloons to play with around the house. Being away from our families is probably the hardest thing about being a missionary. Thankfully, we should be able to see a couple of family members here in a few months when little Ellee is born!

We Pray for You All...
...and would love to know how we may pray specifically. If you have any special needs in your life that we may lift up before the Lord, please write us at the email address below and we will pray for your needs as a family. God bless you all and thank you for your investment in us. Please pray for us in our language learning and understanding.

- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
jastclair@aimint.net

Saturday, March 9, 2013

January 2013 Newsletter

"What is it about our worldview that does not value anything and does not think about tomorrow? How do we produce true discipleship and bring the Bible to bear on life?"
- Duncan Olumbe"
January 2013Jambo" from Kenya!
By the grace of God, we made it. What a privilege it is to write this update from the continent the Lord has brought us to serve! For nearly a month now, we have been in Machakos, Kenya going through our Africa Based Orientation (ABO) from AIM. It is a time devoted to training and adjustment to life in Africa. We have learned much and realized how much more we have to learn!
Our Time of Training
The past three weeks have been a challenge. Each day, we held a morning devotion session before spending about 6 hours in lecture and discussion on different aspects of African ministry and culture. This time was split up by lunch and tea breaks (thank God for chai!). Our topics of discussion included African culture and values, development work, security training, children's matters, HIV/AIDS and health, spiritual warfare, Islam, ethnomusicology, and cross-cultural communication. The food we were served seemed also designed to quickly adapt us to African meals - little variety, staple items (rice, noodles, or a cornmeal called "ugali"), simple meats, a few vegetables. Though hard for us all, the food was particularly unkind to Abby with her pregnancy tastes. The setting of our training was Scott Christian University, where we were able to interact with students from all across Africa and begin to observe church ministry in this context.
An African Worldview
Maybe the most fascinating and mind-boggling aspect of our training was a study of the African worldview. Our instructor was a Kenyan pastor who has studied in the UK and led orientation courses for missionaries of several different organizations. Every session raised more questions in our minds and provided answers we would have spent years trying to understand. The gap between our western mindset and theirs is truly immense, not to mention the Christian/pagan differential! The challenges presented in this training made us (and every other missionary we asked) feel very inadequate to the task. The work that must be done to produce true disciples will be something that only God could do through us. We are now more than ever reliant upon Him!Our Family...
...has been adjusting well to our new life here in Africa. There are certainly challenges we are facing in this culture. The length of church services and the lack of children's ministry or nursery makes it hard for Kyle to sit through Sundays. We try to bring coloring books, cars, toy animals, or the iPod to keep him occupied. But these things only keep him for a time, because the other children often take them away. Possessions here are seen largely as communal and meant to be shared. Personal space is not recognized at all and Kyle eventually gets tired of being crowded, carried, and touched. The food, as mentioned, is hard on Abby and has messed up Kyle's stomach a few times. I (Jonathan) had an especially hard time leaving the other missionaries at the end of ABO. But all in all, I feel we are adapting well. Our spirits are high and we were surprised at the ability we've had to keep in contact with our families back home during this time. The internet is unreliable here and very slow, but most days at Scott we've been able to post on Facebook and use Skype to contact home. We've been encouraged by all of you who have followed us on Facebook and kept up with our journey here. We are happy to be able to share it!

Our Plans...
...have been changing quite often concerning our next few months, because our team leader, Chris, has had some significant health problems in the past weeks. Please pray for his strength and recovery and for his wife and six children as they hope to see him well again soon. Doctors are still unsure about exactly what has happened. Our plans, then are to move to Lesotho on February 11th, where we will immediately do a 3-week village stay with a Basuto family, a pastor who lives in Maphutseng, to immerse us in the language and culture we will be learning. After that time, we will live in Maseru, the capital city, until Baby Ellee is born. Abby plans to deliver at a hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa, possibly. Sometime around late June we would then move east to Mokhotlong and settle down to minister there for the next few years.

Thank You All...
...for the sacrifices you've made to get us here. We realize more and more what an amazing team of support the Lord has put together for us. You encourage us by your words and your prayers. We love you and pray for you individually. Now it's on to South Africa!
- Jonathan, Abby & Kyle St.Clair
jastclair@aimint.net

December 2012 Newsletter

December 2012
Schedule:
Jan. 8 - Peachtree City, GA (sendoff)
Jan.10 - Fly to Kenya (3-week orientation)
~ Feb.1 - Move to Maseru, Lesotho (6 months of language/culture acquisition)
~ Aug.1 - Move to Mokhotlong, Lesotho (3 year T.E.E. assignment)
2016 - Return to USA (8 month home assignment to visit our churches, families, and supporters)

We are thrilled...
...to update you all on the exciting events which have taken place over the past two months! When we wrote our last update letter, we were awaiting several hundred dollars in monthly support as well as about $17,000 in outgoing expenses. As of today we have over 100% of our outgoing expenses and we are only short $115 in monthly support. We have been cleared by AIM to leave for Africa on January 10th.... a mere 38 days away!
It has been very humbling...
...to watch the Lord use so many of our friends and family to provide for our needs. We appreciate the sacrifices so many have made for the sake of spreading the Gospel in Lesotho. Literally thousands of dollars were given over the course of about two weeks in mid October which sent us from wondering where the funds were going to come from to celebrating the miraculous way the Lord had provided! It has been such a confirmation that this is exactly what our Lord wants us doing and that this is the time for us to go..
One Busy Month
This month promises to be an extremely busy one as we prepare to leave after the New Year. We are busy packing up the apartment and are scheduled to move out this weekend. Jonathan has two more weeks of his semester with Liberty online and he is covered up writing three research papers this week. We will be staying with my parents' during the time we are in Aiken this month, which won't be very often. On December 14th we leave for Illinois for a week. We will return to Aiken for about a week before turning around and heading to enjoy some family time with the St.Clairs in late December/early January. When we return from that, we'll only have a couple days before heading to AIM headquarters and flying out!
On January 8...
...we will drive to Peachtree City, Georgia, where we will spend all day in preparation sessions on Wednesday. Thursday, Africa Inland Mission is hosting a farewell luncheon and from there we will depart for the airport. Upon arrival in Kenya we will spend a few nights in a guest house trying to get over jet-lag before heading to our three week orientation in Machakos (about an hour south of Nairobi). After orientation we'll be on our way to Lesotho! As I type this I can barely believe that this is really happening. We are so excited!
While things are so busy and exciting...
...we covet your prayers as we prepare to leave our beloved friends and family. It is very difficult to think of leaving them all, especially as Kyle is still growing and changing so rapidly. I find myself fighting tears in even the little things like parting with many of his baby items as well as some of the toys he enjoys but we can't take with us. I am still very ill with “morning sickness” that lasts all day every day. There is so much to be done and I am finding it difficult to muster the energy to do it all. I know God is in control and I trust Him for strength and endurance. We appreciate your prayers for us as we walk through these busy and difficult days.
Our family prayer cards...
...are in and we'll be mailing them out shortly. If we don't have a mailing address for you and you would like one of our cards, please send us a quick email and we'll be sure to get one into your hands. We have enjoyed the opportunities in these past months to share our ministry plans with all of you and now anticipate keeping you informed of what the Lord is doing in Africa. Remember that you can follow us more closely through our blog sites and by "friending" us on Facebook.
Thank you all for your support! We look forward to updating everyone next from Africa!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & "Baby Saint"
(803) 645-0822
jastclair@aimint.net

stclairsinmissions.blogspot.com;
jonathandstclair.blogspot.com;
abbymtstclair.blogspot.com

October 2012 Newsletter

"The Great Commission is to make disciples. There are a lot of missionaries who do good. There are not many who make disciples." - Pastor Martin Lemus, Iglesia Bautista Cristo Te Ama, Cancún, México
October 2012
Going and Growing...
...is a good way to describe our exciting and eventful past couple of months! We have seen God's people responding to our support needs and are asking Him for provision for our remaining finances.
The Lord provided for us...
...the opportunity to return to Mexico, where we lived in 2010. We have wanted to go back ever since Kyle was born and the Lord began to direct us towards Africa. The believers there had encouraged us so much in our desire to follow God's calling on our lives, we wanted to be able to share with them all that God is doing now! We were able to spend two nights on the hotel zone for a small family vacation before we went to stay with our friends. During our week we visited a small village called Victoria where we used to minister every week. Jonathan was given the opportunity to sing Steve Green's “Yo Iré” (“I Will Go”) in the evening service at our church as well as to share our Africa ministry plans at the men's Monday night Bible study. We spent many meals visiting with our friends and enjoying speaking Spanish again.
A Time of Encouragement
One of the most encouraging times in our trip was a conversation Abby and I had with Pastor Martin and his wife. In discussing the needs on the mission field today, Pastor encouraged us with his missional vision for his church in reaching their own people and even what role they could play in reaching Hispanics in the U.S. He is a godly, mature leader whom God will use greatly. He is the type of leader that I hope to help train up in Africa. The men's Bible study was also very encouraging as several of the church deacons and others expressed their appreciation for our ministry in Mexico and blessings on our plans for Africa. We pray for the Lord to bless this church and hope to keep contact with them in future ministry.
We have been busy...

... getting things together for leaving in January. This month we've been getting physical examinations, vaccines, blood tests, and prescriptions. Soon we'll begin sorting clothes, packing suitcases, and preparing to move. Each month we are praying that our support will be raised in time. Our monthly support is now around 88%, with a few more pending commitments, and our outgoing expenses are at 54%. We are now mainly in need of one-time donations to provide the big, upfront costs of moving to Lesotho.
Four days ago...
...while Abby was running errands, I got Kyle up from his nap and found him wearing a baby shirt that said "Big Brother"! I called Abby and learned that we are expecting our next child! Kyle has been such a blessing to us that we can't imagine how much joy will be brought by another little one. God is so good to us. With the new family member our monthly budget has been raised slightly, but it remains almost 90% pledged. In fact we need only $574 per month more to meet our budget. Our plan to leave in January remains the same. We know that the Lord is in control of our lives and circumstances; it was His desire to bring us this new child at this stage of our lives. We know He will care for both Abby and the baby as we leave for our new home in another land.
Please be praying...
...for the following needs in our lives:
Health for Abby and the new baby
Provision for the last of our support needs
Diligence during my seminary classes
Wisdom as we prepare to move overseas
Emotional strength for leaving home

Thank you for your involvement...
...in our lives. We are constantly reminded of our need of each other and are grateful for all of you who follow us, pray for us, and give to support our ministry. We want to be involved in each of your lives. Please contact us at the information below if we may minister to you in any way. We have just ordered our family prayer cards and will send those out shortly upon arrival. You may also follow us more closely and informally on Facebook and through our blog sites. May the Lord bless and keep you all!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & "Baby Saint"
(803) 645-0822

jastclair@aimint.net
stclairsinmissions.blogspot.com; jonathandstclair.blogspot.com; abbymtstclair.blogspot.com