4 Apr – Church under the mango trees..
3 Apr – Nathalie and Arnaud’s wedding, a family photo after the ceremony.
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter! I enjoyed celebrating with my church family, a Sunday service that included joyful singing, outreach into our community and then lunch together under the mango trees. March/April is also a popular time for weddings with a number seemingly planned for Easter Saturday. This included our accountant Nathalie who married her fiancé Arnaud. There are still COVID-19 related restrictions on large gatherings, but in reality, less and less policing of related measures. One of our biggest frustrations is that land borders are still closed, restricting some of our team members from moving freely between Benin and Togo.
26 Mar – An example of the election posters that are now displayed throughout Parakou.
9 Mar – Our official handover ceremony, praying for the Phillips family as Lee is appointed Area Director.
Farewells and Transitions
It was special to welcome the Phillips family back to Benin in January and the sound of their kids playing, shouts of ‘Auntie Sil’ and more community about has restored some much needed balance. However, their return also signalled the start of another transition, with Clara handing over to Lee as our new Area Director on 9 March. We held an official ceremony which also doubled as a public opportunity to thank Clara who has filled this far-from-easy role since 2008. Her reflections looking back over the past decade have been a good reminder of some of the progress that has been made. It’s easy to loose sight of the bigger picture when so much of our time is spent in the day-to-day details. As a team we also enjoyed a day at the TWR lake in honour of Clara. For one last time she suited up for the traditional kids vs adults water fight, which somehow always ends up targeting the current director! Clara has kindly extended her stay until mid-April to help with the start of our current reporting period, but she then officially retires and returns to Canada.
3 Mar – A reprint of three literacy primers in Boo.
9 Mar – SIM Benin Togo Council members after another meeting.
Translation and Literacy Ministry
Late last year, we had an unexpected email from SIM Canada asking whether we could make use of a large gift towards our translation and literacy ministry. We knew they had approached a donor on our behalf, but a number of months had passed with no further news. The timing was an encouragement, especially since we had been asking people to specifically pray for funds to print the Monkolé Bible. It also allows us to support a wide range of literature development and literacy work this year. As just a taster, over the last couple of months we have been able to help reprint the Fulani New Testament (a final print run of 1000 copies before the complete Bible is published in 2024), support the training of literacy teachers in Lokpa and Yom, reprint literacy primers in Boo, Monkolé and Sola and print Bible study material for the UEEB women to use in small groups. We have also employed a trainee to help with some administration and learn about creating simple electronic children’s books to encourage reading in local languages. Much of the printed literature is subsidised to reduce costs and encourage use, but some sales will return to the project to help with future printing or literature development. We are praying that people will engage with the literature and training in order to encourage education and literacy, but also to grow in their love and understanding of God’s Word. In further good news, the Monkolé Bible is now at the printers in South Korea with 2000 copies tentatively scheduled to arrive in Benin later this year.
5 Mar – Presenting our finances at a meeting for all our radio coordinators.
31 Mar – Leo, our new pet deer, making friends with Lily and (sadly) discovering like the others that my mint is rather tasty.
Out & About
It is getting towards the end of our hot season in Benin, though we have seen some early rain, at least enough to wash the dust off the mangos and encourage them to ripen :). The nights have been hot (often over 30°C inside) and I’ve been frustrated by an electricity fault that has been regularly tripping the circuit breaker to my house. Unfortunately the breaker lives in another locked building, so it’s not so easy to restore in the middle of the night. We currently suspect a section of underground cable, but it has taken some time (and creative temporary wiring) to get to this point.
Presidential elections are being held in Benin on Sunday 11 April. Please pray for a fair and peaceful process and for humble, servant-hearted leaders. Not everyone is happy with recent constitutional reforms. The incumbent president, Patrice Talon is seeking a second 5 year term.
Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support.
PRAISE & PRAYER
Give thanks for generous donors who have allowed us to support further literacy training and literature development this year. Pray that people will engage with the various materials and grow in their love and understanding of God’s word.
Pray for fair and peaceful presidential elections in Benin on 11 April. Pray that the government (either new or ongoing) will seek to improve the wellbeing of all, protect religious liberty and care for the vulnerable.
Give thanks for three families (one short term, two long term) who are preparing to join our Benin Togo team. The first has just booked flights for July! Two are still raising prayer and financial support. Pray for this need, we would love to see them all this year.
We continue to work on evaluating and renewing our radio ministry. Pray for ongoing wisdom as there are lots of moving parts (production, broadcasting, multiple languages and stations) and we need to reduce costs. We are also looking for a new studio technician, pray that we can find the right person.