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

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