Photos from Germany

Here are more photos from Kathy’s Germany choir trip. I’ll be putting captions and adding more. These are the ones from the newsletter. Be sure to drop by on occasion for more!


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The view from the window of the room I shared with four other ladies.

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Dan, our wizard sound technician. He was the first to enter our venues. We’d wait in the vans for his return to receive instructions as to what equipment to bring in. EVERY time he returned within fifteen minutes. And EVERY time in another fifteen minutes he was hooked up and ready for a sound check! This is the scenario at the Evangelical Free church.

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Translation of the Article in the German Newspaper

The following translation was done by fellow-choir member, Sim Hughes. Sim was fairly fluent in German and was so helpful to me in personally communicating with the people. He’d written out the gospel in German for me and helped me with phrases. I still keep that tattered piece of paper with me to practice in case I get to go this year. Here’s also a larger photo you can click on and zoom, if you’d like to take a stab at it yourself!


Christmas in the American Style

Calvary Choir from North Carolina performed, as a guest, in the Advent Concert at St. Anne’s Church.

Modern yet contemplative, was the appearance of the choir from America at St. Wendel St. Anne Church. They brought a piece of an American Christmas to the house of God.

St. Wendel.

A visitor at St. Anne’s Church experienced a special type of Advent Concert. The Calvary Choir Christmas singers, 29 in all, sang traditional and modern Christmas carols, which they usually sing in their own church. They gave their best.

“In the US one has a very different way of celebrating Christmas,” said pastor and concert organizer, Michael Landoll, of the event. “Now with you, the choir would like to enrich our German Christmas.”

Colorful outfits

The principal difference, which was spoken of, struck one right away as the singers entered the church. Usually choirs perform their Christmas concerts in solemn black clothes with one or the other colorful accent, whereas with the Calvary Choir, all were colorfully and cheerfully dressed. Each member wore another eye-catching color and set the stage, as if magically; so before the first note a bit American Christmas spirit was present in the Church of St. Anne. The musical opening of the concert did not detract from this atmosphere. With beaming faces the musicians sounded under the direction of their conductor, Tim Hathaway, a little Christmas medley of “Hark the herald angels sing” and “Joy to the world”. Equally joyful was “Go, tell it on the mountain” and the African Christmas song “Sing Noel”. The choir also varied the style as the singers included reflective music as well. These included “Praise the Lord” and also “How deep the father’s love for us”. Such variation required a steady change in assignments for some of the singers. For example, at times the entire choir sang together, at other times it supported a soloist’s performance and occasionally a small group performed in the foreground. The song “Hail favored one”, began as a duet and dialogue between Mary, the Archangel Gabriel, and ended as a trio with Joseph as a third voice.

Choir members added a meaningful touch to the concert by relating a song to events in their personal lives. So singer, Brian, told the audience about his search for God, which came to a critical point with the birth of his two daughters and how the song “When I think about the Lord” reminds him about it every time: I realized that if I were to honestly answer my children’s questions about God, than I had to find my faith.

St. Anne Church was for the 29 singers’ just one stop on their tour of Saarland and West Palatinate. A total of six churches and eight nursing homes gave the Calvary Choir its best Christmas repertoire experience before they, the Choir, headed back to North Carolina, where the travelers to Germany will again complete the rest of the 150 voice chorus.

2013 Summary (January-August)

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In lieu of our usual newsletter we are giving a summary of 2013 from January to the beginning of August. We know it is lengthy, but it has been quite a year. As you read, you will see what we mean. This post brings us to the night before we left for Guatemala. Due to the size and scope of our trip to Guatemala, as well as some extensive projects at JAARS, we felt it would be better to make that a separate post. So the next post will cover Guatemala and the remaining year.

We also invite you to view our Facebook Page. Click on the following link:  “Mike & Kathy Smith: This Week at JAARS”.  There we give brief “bites” of happenings here at JAARS. So here is 2013.

January: Mike begins the huge attempt to begin writing a “Standards of Best Practice” for Land Transportation. This involves a lot of data gathering. This will be ongoing throughout the year. He is also involved in a new Land Transportation brochure. We begin plans to go with our sending church, Cape Bible Chapel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on a missions trip to Guatemala in August.

February: A fourth Kodiak airplane arrived to JAARS to be made ready for service in Papua New Guinea. Mike is involved in training Intercultural Communications Class (ICC) participants in four-wheel drive, both driving and maintenance.

March: JAARS Day. Lots of great conversation takes place as Kathy is at the Information Table in the hangar. Mike is at the Land Transportation table or taking attendants on four-wheel drive rides. The blog post on our website on March 16 tells about a few of the conversations.

April: This month we completed “Family Rounds” and the Cape Bible Chapel Missions Conference. We  didn’t get to see everybody but managed to see most. 1900 road miles total—packed and unpacked at four places. Two days home and Mike headed to Florida for a one-week JAARS Aviation event.

“Family Rounds”

May: Kathy’s brother-in-law, Stan McCall collapsed suddenly on May 16 while at work and passed away one week later. He was 56 years old. Not only was he a dear relative but he was a strong believer and one of Mike’s closest friends. We are still feeling the void he left. He was especially close to our children as well.

We are thankful as we look back at April. We usually don’t travel to Missouri in April but looking back we see it was the perfect time as it would be the last time we would see Stan on this earth. During the April visit Stan was excited to share all the new deep truths of the Scriptures he was learning at a men’s Bible study he attended.

Our daughter, Karen, had major surgery the same day Stan collapsed. We simultaneously helped her through her first few days and made travel plans.

We traveled to Missouri for an extended time for the funeral and to support family. Karen was cleared by her surgeon to travel by flight and made it in time for the funeral. But the morning of the visitation she began to run a fever and had to go to the Emergency Room to be checked due to the recent surgery. Everything checked out fine and it was deemed to be a virus. (What a trying day that was!)

It was a sweet time with family as the funeral could not be performed until after Memorial Day. Stan’s children and Mike gave the eulogy and it was absolutely beautiful.

Mike, Katie, and Sean headed back home a couple of days after the funeral. Kathy stayed behind to go with Karen on a flight home a few days later. While booking the flight Kathy noted a sudden huge price increase on the day they wanted to leave. A better priced flight was found but it was two days after they wanted to return. Turns out, there was a good reason for the delay.

Snapped a quick picture before running downstairs

Snapped a quick picture before running downstairs

A bad storm was heading our direction in St. Louis. It was Friday night and we just enjoyed a nice dinner of barbecue. The weather was nice and I (Kathy) was sitting on the front porch enjoying it. Suddenly we heard the tornado alarms blaring. Karen and niece, Schendell, just left five minutes prior to make a short errand. We quickly called them and they headed back home.

We made quick for the basement and soon lost power. We lost cell phone service so had no idea what was going on. We just stayed put. We stayed down there until a neighbor came in and ran downstairs to see if we were alright. He told us the entire neighborhood was hit. And how right he was! With it being dark and not having any power, we all went to bed. The following link takes you to a video I took with my phone. It’s what we woke up to the next day.

Through God’s provision a friend brought over a generator on Saturday and taught Kathy and her sister, Chris, how to use it. The weekend was such a story of God’s provision and Kathy and Karen left on Sunday. Chris’ power was restored on Monday.

So May was quite a month for us. We still feel the deep pain as we miss Stan so much. Despite this huge loss, how blessed we were to find out Samaritan’s Purse was donating finances to buy 15 motorcycles to send to the Congo.

June: Another JAARS Day. We enjoyed meeting a group of Christian motorcyclists from Virginia, who donated enough money to buy a motorcycle for overseas.

We join the motorcycle group for dinner

We join the motorcycle group for dinner

At the end of the month we enjoyed a visit from Kathy’s sister, Chris. Accompanied by niece and grand-nieces, we were able to enjoy a wonderful time.

It was also a time of great comfort as we spent time together. We are all still going through the grieving the loss of Stan.

July: We make ready for the trip to Guatemala. Our financial support for the trip is complete! Mike has been in pretty high-gear mode. Here’s a list:

  • 1. Researching and compiling facts to write a “Best Practice Manual” for mechanics world-wide.
  • 2. Lots of phone and email consulting, as well as real repairs to help the Auto Shop when they need it.
  • 3. Written material for our brand new Land Transportation brochure, that is now hot off the press. (See below)
  • 4. Training ICC attendees in four-wheel drive driving and maintenance. (ICC attendees are new missionaries). They have arrived and are scheduling one-on-one time.

(Click on the photo for a larger view. Since this is a photo of the brochure it might be a bit blurry.)

Mike helped a young couple with five children, serving in Indonesia, go through all the hoops necessary to provide them a suburban for their furlough in the states. They found the suburban. He is working on a few repairs to it, as well as helping them get the title, paperwork, etc, so it will be ready. It has been a three-month process so far.


Here is a letter we received from the couple: “We are so thankful for Mike’s help! We think it will save us thousands of dollars while we are on furlough. We ended up paying $3500 for it. If we had to lease something, even from a Christian organization that helps missionaries, it was going to cost us at least $1000/month … for nine months! OUCH! We can hopefully sell it when we return to Indonesia.” 

We’re sure Mike can help with that sale as well. Incidentally, he repaired the gas gauge. 🙂

What a blessed ministry we have here. It’s rich in relationships, culture, and we get to hear all the stories of how the Lord is changing people and cultures through Bible translation.

August: It is now Friday night and we leave for Guatemala in the morning. Mike just told me he received a call from a mechanic in Papua New Guinea requesting he come and do some advanced training there. But for now, I just told him, “Goodnight, dear. We have a flight to catch in the morning. Let’s talk about it on the plane.” We appreciate prayers for safe travels and good health as well as the Lord’s blessing on our work there.

(Our next post will highlight Guatemala and the rest of the year.)

Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and support
Mike & Kathy
Speeding Bible Translation at JAARS

Guatemala, Here We Come!

Dear Friends,

This letter is a bit different than our usual update but we are excited to share with you an exciting opportunity before us. Our commissioning church–Cape Bible Chapel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri–is going on a missions trip to Guatemala in August. Through a series of communications and “one-thing-led-to-another”, it looks like our skills can be of great use on this trip. We are very excited to be a part of this team, comprised of both long-time friends and new friends.

Our goal is to spend one week there using our skills to help a wonderful ministry at the Rehobeth children’s orphanage in rural Parramos, Guatemala. Every ministry has a God story as to how it came about and this one is no different. Rather than go into detail here there is a website set up with more information. We invite you to take a look around. We depart on August 3rdand return August 10th 2013.
What specifically will we do? Mike will tackle repairs of a water pump station. Kathy will use her medical skills to fit people with eyeglasses. Anyone got any old prescription glasses laying around that you have no idea what to do with? WE CAN USE THEM.
They can be any type, as long as they are prescription. Using an oto-refractor, we will use them to match people with the prescription glasses. We hope to collect 300 pairs of glasses.
We are excited about this opportunity and hope you will consider your part in helping us.
There are several ways you can help us complete the goals of this trip.
  First, pray for effectiveness of ministry and health and safety in travels.
  Second, we need prescription eyeglasses. We would like to take a total of 300 pairs.
  Third, we need donations of anti-reflux medications (over the counter is fine), anti-inflammatory medications, and medications for respiratory problems.
  And fourth, we need to raise our financial support for the trip. At $1500 per person, we need a total of $3000 and we ask you to consider a one-time donation for this trip. If you choose to support us financially, we’d appreciate knowing your intentions as soon as possible or by mid-May so we can have everything ready for our departure date.
Important details:
  Please let us know if you will pray for us regularly. We will keep you posted of detailed prayer requests.
  If you have eyeglasses and medications mail them to the church address below in care of Joel Niekirk, Missions Committee Chairman. If you would, enclose a note stating you know us.
  If you would like to partner with us financially for this trip, the following is very important. DO NOT mail your donation to Wycliffe. All donations must be mailed to Cape Bible Chapel at the address below. You will need to include a note stating your donation is for Mike and Kathy Smith expenses for Guatemala. You will get a tax-deductible receipt.
We hope you will consider helping us meet the goals of this trip. As you can see, there are several ways you can help. We thank each of you for your continued partnership in the ministry at JAARS and consider it an honor to be an extension of you here, and now to use our skills in Guatemala.
Mike and Kathy
Address for Guatemala financial support:
Cape Bible Chapel:
2911 Kage Rd.
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
c/o Missions Committee Chairman: Joel Niekirk
Attach a separate note stating “for Mike and Kathy Smith trip to Guatemala”

JAARS Day March 2013, Includes Dedication of JAARS’ Fourth Kodiak Plane

Mike at the Land Transportation display. 

It was a beautiful, clear Saturday. Much prayer, preparation, and passion was complete as JAARS held its first JAARS Day of the year. Once again, we participated.

The day is filled with visitors with a variety of interests. Some come out of curiosity, some want something different to do on a beautiful Saturday. Some are just tagging along with a friend or there are church groups or youth groups. And then there are those who know deep in their heart God is calling them to serve in missions. It is here they can find direction and where their skills and talents can be used. It is inspiring to hear their stories and see their passion with God’s call on their lives.

Kathy and Patti Wilson are the regular team at the Information Table in the hangar. There are three Information Table’s on the campus. It seems people are always most curious about the planes so the one in the hangar stays very busy. 

The hangar is filled with numerous other displays—sign-ups for plane and helicopter rides, vernacular media presentations, Maritime services, a children’s section where games are played, volunteer services where people can connect their skills and begin their journey in missions. Information Technology (computers) have their display in our second large hangar called the “T-hangar”. This display is one of the largest as computer technology revolutionized Bible translation.

In the picture above can you see how to find the answers to all your questions about JAARS Day?

This is the fourth Kodiak airplane acquired by JAARS. Through generous donations and God’s miraculous provision JAARS acquired this one in January of this year. The Kodiak airplane was designed specifically for missions. This one will be flown to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for use there. PNG has more languages than any other country in the world. The PNG Center there is the largest in the world.

 The control panel of the Kodiak.
Open for a peek inside.
 Gathering the crowd for the dedication.
Director of Aviation, Mike Brooks, introduces John Williams, JAARS Chaplain, who leads prayer for the dedication.
  The public joins hands for prayer during the dedication.
Prayers are offered for protection of the aircraft, the missionaries it will transport, the people groups it will be used to reach, and the mechanics who will maintain it. Every aspect of its use was prayed for.

 A Cessna was also dedicated to serve Bible translation in Australia.

Here are highlights of a few conversations we had.
  • We met a lovely family with seven daughters. Their fifteen-year-old knows without a doubt she is called to missions, specifically to northern India. This JAARS Day was her birthday and her requested gift was for the family to attend and spend her entire birthday at JAARS. She made rounds to all the displays, investigating each one. Last we saw her, she had an armful of literature. Kathy had an extended conversation with her mother. What an inspirational young lady this is!
  • Brian is a father of two elementary age boys. He received Christ two years ago and immediately sensed he was called to ministry. In the light of many older and wiser Christians telling him to take things slowly, Brian shared this calling would not leave him. He could not “not” do it. Brian shared how he then was laid off from his fifteen-year job in computers. With time on his hands and a passion for ministry, he enrolled in seminary. It was humbling to see his profound knowledge and application of the Scriptures. Once again, he was armed with literature and information, seeking the Lord if he is called now to missions. His wife was not there but she shares his passion.
  • Two pilots shared how they were from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and came here specifically for JAARS Day. They’d heard of the ministry of JAARS and Wycliffe at their church and thought it was time for a visit. What a joy to meet them.

These are just a few snippets of the conversations that took place that day. It was a full day of inspiration, encouragement, and excitement. JAARS Day is held four times a year. A lot of prayer and planning goes into these. We are thankful to participate. The entire center is busy with other aspects as well. Four-wheel drive rides, boat rides, construction displays with small building projects for the public to do, solar computing, ethnic activities. The museums are open and there are several translation modules presented in the Townsend Building.

If you’re coming this way, why not check out the remaining JAARS Days for the year and make a detour to our Center? We’d love to see you!

Mike and Kathy

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