APRIL 28, 2015
* We have just over one month until Gretchen & the kid head to the States and just under two months until Marc leaves. Please pray for us to have realistic expectations of our time in the States, and to have a fruitful time of connecting with family, friends and supporters.
* Pray for God's Tribe, our church, as we focus on evangelism and specifically reaching out the the University of Dar which is near the mall we meet in.
* We have three visitors coming from Western Michigan Christian to stay and share life with us from May 15 - May 23. Pray for our time together.
* Please pray for HOPAC as we are still in need of several new teachers for the 2015-2016 school year: http://www.hopac.net/opportunities-at-hopac/current-opportunities/
* We are thankful that we have all remained relatively healthy recently and that Gretchen's ear infection is starting to clear up!
* We are thankful for the opportunity to apply for a grant through Christian Reformed World Missions. We hope to hear soon - this would help us make up the short-fall in our current budget. We can always use prayers for the financial aspects of life and ministry here.
MARCH 1, 2015
* Praising God for Cascade Fellowship CRC and their partnership as a supporting church! We are anxious to visit this summer and connect with them!
* Praising God for two new monthly supporters since our last prayer letter!
* Praising God for a new preschool that opened up at a local church, where Hope is now attending 3 days a week! She is loving school and often prays for her classmates by name.
* Pray for Marc as he continues to meet with students who are dealing with some deep brokenness and pain. Pray that he has wisdom when they speak and that they will be open to the love and healing power of Jesus.
* Pray for me (Gretchen) as I lead three different worship teams (Middle school, High school and Church). Many of the team members have a lot more ability than I do, quite honestly, so they are limited by my lack of skill at times! Pray that we all have grace and patience for one another and will have humble hearts as we lead others in worship.
* Pray for us to finish out the next three months strong - we are anxious to get back to the US and visit with family and friends!
*As always, pray for us to trust God for our needs. Read our FINANCIAL UPDATE to see our current needs and also our praises in regards to fundraising!
DECEMBER 22, 2014
* Pray for our family during the holidays as it's hard to be away from family, friends and traditions. We are so thankful for our strong community here to celebrate with.
* Please pray for our fundraising efforts. As our prayer letter states, we want to remain here in Tanzania for at least another 2 years, but much of that is dependant on our fundraising efforts. Read through this blog post for more information on how your giving goes beyond just our familiy: http://thedriesengafamily.blogspot.com/2014/12/giving-tuesday-thank-you.html
* A group of 10 students and two teachers is coming to visit from Grand Rapids Christian High! They arrive on January 7. Please pray for the this group and for all they will see and experience here!
* Pray that we will be refreshed duirng this school break and ready to jump into term 2 on January 5th!
* Pray for our church, God's Tribe as one our of main leadership families has followed God's call to Nairobi, Kenya. It will certainly be a transition as this family did so much for our church!
THANK YOU FOR PRAYING, FRIENDS!!!
November 5, 2014
* Our family has been off & on sick for about 7 weeks. It started with Hope breaking her arm. Shortly after, both of the girls got worms. Yes, disgusting, but a reality here. Then I had a horrible sore throat for days. Then I got a double ear infection. Then all of the kids got the stomach flu. Then I got a fever/flu for a few days. Then Marc got the stomach flu. And the three kids and I have been coughing and dealing with sore throats for weeks on top of the other stuff. Please, would you pray for our whole family to become healthy again!?!
* I'm heading on a women's retreat next week Wednesday - Saturday. Please pray that this would be a beneficial time of connecting with the Lord and other women who know the joys but also stresses of living in East Africa.
* We are in need of additional supporters. Coming up in the new year, we will need to pay our next 6 months of rent, our self-employement taxes and our plane tickets home for next summer (Lord willing). Please pray for us to continue to trust God for his provision through our supporters and churches. He has been so faithful, but it's hard not to get overwhelmed at the amount needed yet.
* I'm dealing with homesickness a bit. Part of it is feeling a little bit of a lack of purpose here and part of it is that I just love fall and doing life with friends and family back in Grand Rapids.
* We are having a group from Grand Rapids Christian High School come visit in January. Please pray for their preparations and ours as well. We are looking forward to hosting them!
August 7, 2014
* Marc and I leave on Sunday afternoon for Kigali, Rwanda. We will be there through Thursday as Marc will be attending a training for the new Bible curriculum that HOPAC is adopting this year. Please pray for a great time of training and connecting at Kigali International Christian School. Also, please, please pray for our kids who will be staying in Dar with friends. Especially pray that Geneva will sleep through the night and behave for our friends who are generosly watching them.
* Pray for our church, God's Tribe, as we are continuing our search for a larger location to meet our needs. Also, pray for wisdom in decision making as we begin small groups in the next few months.
* Please pray for many new students and a few new teachers joining HOPAC this year. Pray especially for the new math teacher, who was just recently approved by the Ministry of Education to come and is still in the process of joining a mission and support raising. She won't be here for the start of school, but we're praying she'll be able to join us soon!
* Continue to pray for our language/culture learning!
* PRAISE for the support we received as we moved and set up our home. We are so incredibly grateful for your outpouring of love and giving! Now, you're all welcome to come for a visit!
May 28, 2014
* Pray for Gretchen, who has a bacterial infection on her arm. She's on her second round of anti-biotics, plus a topical cream. It's been resistent to things so far and is very itchy!
* We received a grant through Christian Reformed World Missions!! This is HUGE news for us! What a blessing to have that additional support come through.
* With this grant, we can cover 5 out of the 6 months of rent that we have to pay in a few weeks. Our landlord has already agreed to only take 6 months instead of the full year of rent, but we still need to raise additional money to cover rent and the household items we are purchasing from other missionaries who are leaving. In additional to our normal budget, we need to raise about $2500 additional by July 1st.
* Marc has 4 weeks left of the school year - please pray for him and the students, many of who are taking their IGCSE exams.
* We will be moving in about 6 weeks. Please pray for us as we leave our little neighbor friends and transition to our new home.
* Many of our missionary friends are going "home" for a few weeks - months this summer. It's hard not to get a bit envious and miss home more. Pray for us to be content. We plan to use our summer weeks leading Bible studies and studying Swahili. Pray for our summer plans!
March 14, 2014
* Pray for wisdom for us as we choose a house to live in starting in July.
* Marc left this morning for a 6 day, 5 night missions trip with 17 high school students and one other teacher. They are doing construction for an orphange in Dodoma, Tanzania. Pray for their safety, effective work and ministry, and for the team to get along! Pray for the Lord to work in the lives of the students and the lives of those they are there to serve. Pray for me this week, too, as I'm home with the kids.
* We have seen a major decrease in giving over the last two months. In fact, this month our 'income' was only 1/4 of what we have budgeted for. It's tight, folks, and not sustainable for us to be here long term, which we hope to be. Please join us in praying for an increase in giving and for us to know if there are new churches or individuals we can contact. It's a daunting thing, to ask for support and to live on others generosity, but it is essential to us being here!
December 5, 2013
* Please pray for our friend, Sara Jane. She is currently in Kenya for work and has malaria.
* Pray for our neighbor, Jenifer. She has three children who we interact with daily. She is struggling to find work.
* Pray for Gretchen as she begins taking over the worship leading responsibilities at church. Our worship leader and his family are heading back to Canada for 6ish months to have their 3rd baby! You can pray for them, too!
* Pray for Marc to have wisdom as he navigates conversations with students about some complex issues of faith & following Christ when their families are not Christian.
* Pray for us as we have entered the holiday season and are missing family.
* Pray for Gretchen to not live in fear. Too many close-calls while driving and some vivid dreams regarding safety of the children within our home have caused anxiety.
September 9, 2013
* Our new church launched as an official church yesterday! The gospel was preached, there were tons of visitors and 3 people gave their lives to Christ! What a celebration and a thrilling thing to be a part of! We are so grateful for this church and for God's leading. We are now praying about how to get involved there.
* Please pray for us as we decide how to spend our time outside of school and home. This week, we are particularly praying about if we will join Young Life here. We want to be connected, but are not sure if we'll be leaders or some how be in the background supporting the ministry. Please pray for God's direction and our obedience.
* Friends of ours (who have also just come to Dar) had their water pump stolen, a car window broken & some car parts stolen last week. We are praising God with them that the people did not attempt to get in the house or cause them harm, but it's certaily unsettling knowing that we are a bit more targeted for this type of theft and that it can happen right outside your window while you sleep. Please pray for them and for all of us to be safe, to not live in fear, and to be wise in regards to our safety.
* My cousin is coming to visit!!!!! We are so thrilled that we have a visitor coming in the beginning of October! We are looking forward to her experiencing life in Dar and seeing the ways that God is at work here in the city.
August 13, 2013
* We have been here almost a month already! We are grateful for this time to settle, learn our way around, get the kids adjusted and start to get into a routine before school starts.
* We are taking 3 days of Swahili lessons with another couple this week Wednesday, Thursday & Friday. Please pray for us to be focused, for good memory & retention and for progress in our study.
* We are looking for a church home - we've been to two churches so far and have a few more to visit. We're trying to figure out if there is a local church in Swahili we can attend periodically, too.
* We need to raise quite a bit more financially in order to make ends meet each month. $2,700/month, actually. Feeling very grateful for those who have contributed and hopeful that we'll be able to raise the rest, but we need help!
*We are in crunch time. Just a few days over 1 month before we are supposed to leave, and we have about $40,000 to go. Please pray for our efforts, for monthly supporters, for generosity, for new prospects, for church partners - pray, pray, pray!
* Our house is starting to feel empty. As we sell things and start packing, it's becoming more obvious to the kids that a big change is indeed coming. Pray for them through all of this. It's hard for me not to feel guilty about all the friends & family I know they will miss when we move.
* I might be insane. I'm going to Colorado with the youth group June 22 - 30. Please pray for my last week with my students, and especially for Marc as he's home with the kids & a monster to-do list!
* Pray for the transition at Plymouth Heights. We have our new youth pastor, Megan, and she is WONDERFUL! I feel so blessed that we can overlap for a few weeks before I leave. Pray for her to feel welcome, for the students to embrace her and for our 'handoff' to be smooth.
* Pray for our marriage and family. There are so many details to take care of, so many conversations to be had and lots of possible stressors (did I mention raising 40k in 33 days? Yeah, that's a possible stressor). Please pray for our unity and communication.
* Marc leaves tomorrow evening to head to Chicago, and then flies out Friday morning to Tanzania! Please pray that his travels go well, that he is able to meet with other staff & administrators, get his bearings around Dar and HOPAC in general, and continue to feel God's peace as we anticiate our move. You can pray for me, too, as I'll be home with the 3 kids (and Jun) for almost 12 days alone!
* Pray for the current Bible teacher/Chaplain and his wife (Gil and Amy) and 3 children as they transition out of HOPAC (been there 10 years) and head to the states for a year.
* Please pray for a few churches to support us. Individual donors are AMAZING, but we also need a few churches to back us and have not one besides Plymouth at this point.
* Continue to pray for Plymoth Heights as they have begun to accept applications for my replacement.
* Praise God for the donations we have received already - what a humbling experience!
* Praise God that Hope has PHASED OUT of speech therapy! An answer to prayer! We were wondering what to do if she was still in need of services when we moved, now we don't have to wonder!
* We are finishing up our New Years letter that will get sent out to almost 200 people hopefully by the end of the week. The letters will have information about how to support us through prayer and finances. We will be asking for monthly supporters through this letter. Please pray for this huge mailing! It's daunting/uncomfortable/hard to ask our friends and family for money.
* We have an offer from a current HOPAC family to stay in their house for 1 year while they come back to the states (they plan to move back after 1 year). They would leave their furnishings in the home. This would mean we wouldn't have to house shop and furnish a house right when we get there. We would only be able to be there a year, however, so we would certainly move the following summer. Please pray for wisdom for us as we make that decision.
* Please pray for us to have other ideas of how to go about raising our support. The craft show was great, but we would need about 75 more of those to equal the amount needed!
* PRAISE for an amazing turn out at our Craft & Vendor show! It was so affirming to have such a fantastic day!
* We officially have our 'code' through World Missions, which means we are in full fundraising mode. Please pray for us to have wisdom about how to raise the funds needed, who to approach, etc. We will be looking for several churches to support us - pray for churches to be open to us and our work and want to help us get there! Pray for us not to get overwhelmed or anxious, but to trust in the Lord's provision.
* Please pray for our Craft & Vendor show on Saturday! I've been having dreams about things that could go wrong & make it very unsuccessful. Pray for a HUGE turn out & that it is a blessing to the crafters/vendors that participate, as well as a good first fundraiser for us.
* Pray for our kids as Christmas this year will be a little different - trying not to collect too many 'things' that we'll have to either sell or leave behind & trying to be practical. Good lessons but not always easily learned.
* Pray for our church as they begin conversations about my position and what the needs of the church are and how to best meet those needs.
* Please pray for the next few weeks as we have quite a bit to get in process before baby girl arrives. We need to meet with CRWM and get a better handle on our potential budget and fundrasing goals and get paperwork in for our Visa's, etc.
* Pray for us as we anticipate becoming a family of 5!
* Pray for lots of crafters/vendors to want to participate in our fundraising Christmas show on December 1st, and for a successful turnout of guests who come!