Our household of ten is starting to get settled – thank you to those who sent words of encouragement!
Mid-September we traveled to Ontario, Canada to attend Reach Beyond Canada’s 50th anniversary celebration. The week was spent attending training sessions, getting to know our fellow Canadian missionaries who serve in various countries, and hearing about the future direction of the Canadian office. It was a great week. Although the office is relatively small, it’s interesting to note that we had missionaries representing every inhabited continent of the globe.
While in Canada we provided a report to Ontario Gleaners, the partner organization that provided the dehydrated food items for Pioneer Christian Hospital in Congo. I’m honoured to have been asked to return and speak at their annual fundraising dinner in the spring.
We are now back in Elkhart and it’s full steam ahead on work projects. I’m encouraged to hear that our colleagues at the Elkhart office have been able to assist ministry partners that have been affected by the recent natural disasters in the south by providing consultation and assistance to help radio stations get back on the air.
Thank you for your sacrifices and support so we can continue serving in missions.
The change of season at the end of August has always been a time of transition, new beginnings, and excitement: Starting a new grade, taking off to university… Getting married! This fall Tom and I will be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary with yet another new beginning.
After hosting dozens of family members, friends, interns, and yes, sometimes even strangers in our home over the past three years we are now embarking on a new adventure. On August 31st a family of six (a husband and wife, along with their four young children) will be joining us in our home for the next few months. The reasons for the move are many, but above all else we feel blessed that God has provided us a home and look forward to sharing it full-time with others. We don’t expect the transition to be easy, but we do feel that it is right. We would appreciate prayers for this merger of lives, especially during the initial transition period. Oh, and for some sort of calm. There will be six children age six and under living in the same house. I think this is going to be really great for my prayer life.
The Scatliff Homeschool Academy is back up and running. Jonathan is now in Grade 1 and Matthew begins Pre K this year. We are still very much enjoying homeschooling and the flexibility in schedule it provides; a lot of travel has been planned for the fall.
In September we will be attending Reach Beyond Canada’s 50th anniversary celebration hosted in Mississauga, Ontario. It will be a time of connecting with our missionary colleagues (coming in for the celebration from all over the world!), receiving training and counseling, and spending time with the team in our sending office.
At the office at home here in Elkhart, Tom continues his work on firmware for the new version of the SonSet® radio and has shifted some of his time again to Radio Lumiere, a Christian radio station in Port Au Prince, Haiti (the one he visited for a few weeks last winter). He is engineering wireless sensors for tracking ambient temperature and voltage coming in to the station from generator and city power supplies. One of the station’s computer servers is frequently crashing and he’s trying to determine the cause. Perhaps a pattern between ambient temperature, voltage, and server faults will emerge and point to a solution to this problem.
I (Candice) continue to be a consultant to the Nutrition HELP feeding program in Congo and have a number of speaking engagements booked throughout the fall. While we are in Ontario in September I will present a report on the feeding program in Congo to Ontario Christian Gleaners, the organization that provided the dehydrated produce for the program. I am also scheduled as a guest speaker at two women’s ministry group gatherings in November (something similar to the Ladies Rally I spoke at in Manitoba last spring). Although I can’t say public speaking is my favorite, I do appreciate the opportunity to share God’s story of what He has done in my life. This past August 9th, I celebrated my 11th anniversary as a sister in Christ.
We appreciate you and all you do to keep us in ministry. We hope you, too, are looking forward to some new beginnings this fall.
We made it home to Elkhart, Indiana late June and now July, too, is nearly behind us. Our time in Congo has given us a lot to think about and certainly challenges our day-to-day decisions. If you are willing, please pray for the Lord to make it clear how we are to advance in ministry in the years to come.
This past month has been filled with much activity. I (Candice) was part of a 10-person team from People’s Bible Church in Indiana to travel to Dominican Republic. We assisted a Kids Alive ministry site in the city of Santo Domingo during the first week of July. Kids Alive, the same organization I assisted in both Haiti and Peru, is establishing a new school for underprivileged kids in the Dominican and I was able to provide nutrition training to the school’s cooks as well as parents of prospective children. They are set to open the school this August.
Tom’s return to the office in Elkhart has been very welcomed. He helped host an Open House at SonSet Solutions, where we work on loan from Reach Beyond. The Open House was held on Saturday, July 22nd and introduced the ministry to hundreds of individuals from the surrounding community. The day included many hands-on stations featuring our technology that is used to advance the gospel worldwide.
Tom’s main focus at the office has now shifted to updating the firmware on the new version of the SonSet Radio. When he finishes this, five thousand radios will be ordered for our ministry partners located around the globe.
Seven weeks in Congo have come to an end. By the time you receive this we, Lord willing, will be boarding our first of three flights taking us back to Canada. I could give you lists of jobs completed, challenges endured, and parasites we’ve had to remove from our bodies… But all I want to tell you is that it was worth it. And I don’t think there’s a better way than to tell you about Emily.
Emily suffers from epilepsy. A few weeks ago she had a seizure and fell into her cooking fire. Her family rushed her to Pioneer Christian Hospital where surgeons did their best to save as much of her extremities as possible. Try as they did, the damaged sustained to her body resulted in losing most of her right arm and parts of her left. The family, now hours away from their village, employment, and home, were stressed at the thought of a long-term hospital stay. Staff and missionaries did all they could to assist the family, but Emily’s prognosis was not good. She wasn’t healing and was becoming more frail by the day. An infection would have been lethal. Then it was discovered that the money given to the family to provide food for Emily, which is only available in the most dire of situations, was being consumed in the form of alcohol by her daughter, her supposed care provider. Emily, now a burden to her family, was not being fed.
Emily is one of many patients in difficult situations at Pioneer Christian Hospital, where we have been serving these past seven weeks. The 60-bed facility serves some of the most vulnerable – refugees, indigenous people, and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and leprosy. The hospital, like many in the developing world, is strapped for resources and could not provide for the nutritional needs of patients. That was left to the patient’s care provider. For many though, like Emily, that system wasn’t conducive to healing. And without nourishment, healing is impossible.
In 2016, after a visit to PCH, God burdened me with the seemingly impossible task of creating a feeding program that would meet the nutritional needs of all inpatients. We prayed and begged God for provision.
We launched a funding campaign for such a feeding program, and the Lord provided! This trip to Congo was my return to implement the program by hiring and training staff, ironing out distribution logistics, and transferring these responsibilities to local staff. Operating on a strict budget and within limited space and skill, the hospital now meets the daily nutritional needs of all inpatients – a feat that was once seemingly impossible, now fulfilled by God!
When we arrived, Emily was already a patient at PCH in the post-surgery ward, under the difficult circumstances I described above. The feeding program started a few weeks into Emily’s hospital stay, and thanks to those hot nourishing meals, she is recovering! She is now healing well, in good spirits, and is gaining strength and independence by the day. Her story is only one of many that I have witnessed, and will be one of thousands during the years to come.
From the bottom of my heart (and Emily’s too!) thank you for your support of this program and sending us back to the Congo to implement it. You have made an incredible difference in the lives of so many people.
Bats live between the ceiling and the roof of our house, you can hear them scurry during the day and fly at night. The refrigerator only operates four hours a day (when the generator is on) and the national fuel shortage means there’s no replacement once our propane tank for the stove runs out. This week alone we’ve lost power every night, ran out of water twice, and internet connectivity is… Sketchy at best.
Welcome to the Congo!
Our family of four arrived in Africa at the beginning of May, after a wonderful week in Montreal connecting with supporters and friends. Since arriving in Impfondo, Congo we’ve come to appreciate rising early with the sun to get productive before the scorching heat of the day saps all energy and going to bed early (because that heat did indeed take our energy!). Our main purpose here is to help establish a feeding program for Pioneer Christian Hospital, a missionary hospital that serves refugees, indigenous groups, and the local population mainly afflicted with HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected diseases like leprosy. I traveled here a year ago to help support the hospital in combating rampant malnutrition in the area. As part of that trip, it became quite apparent that the hospital itself needed a program to help nourish its patients. A funding campaign was launched in late 2016 and funds were raised to provide such a program and now we are back here in Congo to implement it.
Our time here was off to a rocky start as multiple family members were sick for the first few weeks. Never again will I complain of having gastrointestinal illness run through the family when I actually have access to a washer and dryer! Hand washing and line-drying during the rainy season has its challenges, I tell you.
But alas, now most days we are fairly healthy and we’ve gotten down to work! After recruiting, training, and panning out some logistics, the feeding program has started -- Praise the Lord! We’ve hired two local ladies to prepare the food and although they were considerably nervous and a tad overwhelmed during our initial meetings, they’ve now completed their first three days and things have gone swimmingly. Today after work I took them to the market to purchase fabric. As a gift for encouragement we are having special aprons made for them as official uniforms. Both Feli and Marie cheered at the news. I thank God that the Nutrition HELP team’s dynamics has shifted from one of nervousness and distrust, to one of friendship and support.
In addition to the feeding program, my time has been spent working on a partnership to set up an organic garden here on the hospital grounds. Poverty, malnutrition, and disease (which are all interrelated) are rampant here in Impfondo. The goal of the garden is to not only produce food that will be used to feed patients, but also provide an example to the community of sustainable agriculture to increase food security and, when successful, increase socioeconomic status by selling excess at market.
Tom’s work, in contrast, has been more varied in nature. His engineering skills and willingness to help has led him to working with the electrical system, solar panels, and communication system (VHF radios) at the hospital; he’s helped out with auto mechanics, at the radio station, providing live translation of church services, and assisting staff members with their computers. His to-do list varies from adjusting wheelchairs to installing car parts.
The kids have adjusted fairly well. Unfortunately three-year-old Matthew has probably been sick at least half the time we’ve been here so far, but we are thankful our colleagues are nurses and doctors so we have many eyes on him. We’ve continued homeschooling during our time in Congo, but are trying to emphasize lessons in social studies, life skills, and applying biblical principles – things we are all learning, to be sure.
Thank you for your prayer and financial support. It is what sustains us! Without you, we simply couldn’t be here. May God bless you for that.
It’s time to test our Tetris skills again! Let’s see if we can fit everything we need for deputation in Montreal plus everything we need to serve for a few months in Africa into the back of the car. Read the list and let me know if I’ve missed anything!
Tomorrow morning we hit the road, Montreal bound! Lord willing we’ll arrive Saturday at the latest. If you’re in the Montreal area please come to a get together we are hosting at Lakeshore Church on Wednesday, April 26th at 7:00 pm. Along with coffee, tea, and treats we’ll provide an update on our ministries with a few hands-on stations and an overview of our upcoming trip to the Republic of Congo. We also have a few times open during the week to get together with you one-on-one. Please refer to the side bar below for details.
We depart for Congo (from Montreal, via Paris) on May 1st. We will be in the Republic of Congo for seven weeks serving at a rural hospital.
Okay, how do we look?
① Tom – Navigator extraordinaire, computer engineer, and Jack-of-all-trades. I’m so thankful he’s my partner through this crazy ride over the next few months! His French language skills will come in handy, not only in Montreal, but even more so in Congo. In Montreal he’ll present on our ministries and in Congo he will be testing SonSet Solutions field equipment, helping fix hospital equipment, and looking after the boys when I’m working with the hospital staff.
② Me (Candice) – The family’s Chief of Operations officer and community health consultant. I’ll be the one doling out raisin boxes in the car, arranging get togethers in Montreal, reading stories on the airplane, and implementing a feeding program for all inpatients at Pioneer Christian Hospital in Congo.
③ Jonathan (age 6) –Kindergarten graduate at the Scatliff Homeschool Academy. Jonathan is thrilled to be traveling with Monkey (a stuffed animal Tom or I usually take while traveling without the family), roadmaps, a world map, and a sketchbook (in case an invention comes to mind during the journey). He is very much looking forward to coming along on this trip, even if it does require long car and airplane rides and eating crocodile.
④ Matthew (age 3) – Relatively recently potty-trained Matthew will be testing his limits during the total 12 hour car ride to Montreal and 15 hour flight time to Congo. He loves all things dirt and has a vivid imagination, which makes playtime possible just about anywhere.
⑤ Box of support-raising material for Montreal – Brochures, SonSet Radios, prayer cards, and the like. We pray this material is informative to those interested in our ministries. Also in this box is Tom’s computer, laser pen, projector, and Prezi slideshow. Tom is our spokesperson at churches and comes prepared with his own gear to use if need be.
⑥ Coffee supplies – Stovetop espresso machine, milk frother, and many bags of ground espresso beans. Have caffeine. Will travel.
⑦ Clothes – Clothes for travel, clothes for presenting, clothes for get togethers, clothes for the layover in Paris, clothes for the Congo heat, clothes for the Congo rain, and clothes for formal church wear, multiplied by four. And shoes. My goodness, there seems to be an abundance of shoes.
⑧ Suitcase of personal items for the kids – Pillows, teddies, books, bath time duckies and the like to create a sense of home for the kids while we are away from home for the next few months. If you would, please pray that our children will transition well during this journey. We will be traveling through many different time zones, climates, and cultures. May they stay healthy and thrive in these new environments!
⑨ Carry-on suitcase for our trip to Africa – This contains all we absolutely need to arrive with us, including our malaria medication, flashlights, camera, and toy trains. Add to that for each of us: an extra pair of clothes, Yellow Fever vaccine card, insurance, work visa, and passport documentation.
⑩ Extras for Africa – Bag of over-the-counter meds, bug spray, bug nets (to sleep under), sunblock, Tupperware containers (to help keep the cockroaches out of our food supply), a fry pan, two-way radios, headlamps, flashlights, portable power bank, and lots of extra batteries. We’re headed to a very remote area with only solar power electricity… and lots of bugs!
Did we forget something? I sure hope not -- here we go!
Remember when you asked us to tell you if there was ever a special project or one-time need, to let you know? We've heard that from many of you, and this, right now, is that time. But more about that in a bit, because I want to let you know where we are going to be over the next little while, in case we may see you there!
At the beginning of April I (Candice) will be heading to Manitoba, Canada, for the weekend to speak at a women's conference in my hometown Dauphin, Manitoba. The conference will have about 90 in attendance and is titled "An Unlikely Missionary."; (I sure am!) I'm excited for the opportunity to share about my journey and some of the fun stories we've gathered along the way. Please pray that God will use me to inspire and encourage those in attendance.
Later in the month of April we will be visiting Montreal, Quebec, to provide an update to Lakeshore Evangelical Church and all of our amazing supporters and friends in the area. We are hosting a gathering at LEC on (what's looking like) the evening of Wednesday, April 26th to give an update on our ministries, but hope to get together with as many of you as possible as one-on-one or small gatherings to get updates on your lives! We are so very much looking forward to being together; it's been awhile! Please let me know if you'd like to get together while we are in town.
Then May brings us back to that time…
On May 1st our family of four will board some long-haul flights from Montreal and head to Impfondo, Republic of Congo. The prospective feeding program I have been working on since my time there in January 2016 is in the implementation stages. The funds have been raised and we've shipped supplies from Ontario Christian Gleaners earlier this month. It has now arrived in the Congo and is waiting to be used at the hospital. I will be returning to Pioneer Christian Hospital to help sort out logistics, train staff, and get the feeding program up and running. This process will, undoubtedly, take a while, so the family will be traveling with me and we will reside in Congo together until the work is done. Tom, a former rehabilitation engineer, will be an asset to the hospital on many levels. He will also be field-testing equipment for SonSet Solutions, and I nominate him Chief Cockroach Killer. Lord willing, we will be back in Elkhart, Indiana at the end of June.
This trip to the Republic of Congo is daunting on many levels. But a year ago I felt compelled to pursue a solution to the need for food for patients at Pioneer Christian Hospital. An inpatient died of starvation while I was there and this has burdened me to find a solution to this need. It was an impossible task –- providing food for all inpatients at this hospital that services the poor, weak, and sick; many patients are refugees and AIDS widows and orphans. But over the course of 2016 I witnessed miracles as the Lord provided for the feeding program. And here we are, a year later, and we are implementing the solution to "the impossible". Again, I am looking ahead at the work to be done and at the impossible of logistics and financial need for our family to travel to Impfondo and implement the feeding program, but again, I feel compelled to go. The hospital needs food for its patients and, in the words of Dr. Harvey, the medical director at the missionary hospital:
So we march forth in faith that feeding the hungry and caring for the sick is what we are called to do, even when it is at great financial cost and risk. We aren't called to be comfortable -- not in perceived safety nor financial security. So we've booked our tickets to Africa and are pleading with the Lord to supply for our needs. If you are willing to assist in completion of this feeding program by helping with our financial needs to go and implement it, we would be so grateful. All donations are tax deductible in both the USA and Canada. Please pray for our family, the feeding program, and, most importantly, the impact it will have at Christian Pioneer Hospital.
Waaay back in June 2014, we arrived in Elkhart, Indiana to begin our service as full time missionaries. My second day at work (I’m in the office each Wednesday afternoon) we had a payer send off for a shipping container heading to the Republic of Congo. The container held parts to create a 300-foot radio tower and other items requested by a missionary hospital in the Congo. A colleague of mine turned to me on our way back to our desks and said “You will always remember this day. Your first send off. The realization of how truly international our work here is!”
That wasn’t an overstatement.
Fast-forward 18 months. Three colleagues and myself were boarding a long haul flight, heading to the Republic of Congo to rendezvous with that container. Traveling with me were two senior missionaries, on their last mission trip, heading to the hospital to erect that 300-foot tower. That tower would boost the radio signal from the hospital’s Christian radio station by hundreds of miles. I was to assist the hospital with the overwhelming nutritional needs of the patients and community. And the fourth member of our team was to collect impact stories of the mission and gather photos and videos to depict the important work being done on the ground.
Our time in Congo was intense. In a nutshell, I ended up banging on doors and lobbying aid organizations to assist the hospital in feeding its patients. This may have included trying to pry information from a warehouse watchman, convincing a heavily armed guard to let me into the United Nations compound for a meeting that I didn’t actually have scheduled, and dropping in on the country director for the World Food Program (hello fellow Canadian!). These were probably some of the most important weeks of my life. It’s incredible what you can do when you march forward in faith, prayer, and conviction.
By the time I left Congo there was a feeding program in place for the refugees staying at the hospital and promises of nutritional support for undernourished pregnant women and children. These were really great steps for the 10-year old mission hospital that, until this point, had never prepared a meal for patients (see photo below - now it does!)
However, what about those who aren't refugees?
You see, the hospital, like many in the developing world, doesn’t have resources to feed its patients. That care is the responsibility of a family member. But for some members of society – like refugees, widows and those who are outcast because of their illness(such as leprosy, which is prevalent in this area) – this isn’t an option, and has dire consequences. When I was residing at the hospital for those few weeks last year, a man, who was admitted for tuberculosis actually died of starvation while receiving treatment at the hospital.
Unfortunately, due to mismanagement of resources and poor communication, it became apparent as 2016 progressed that the source of food for the refugee program was unreliable. And the risk of unreliability for such a vulnerable population is just simply too high.
In response to this, in September I partnered with Global Outreach Mission to launch a funding campaign to generate resources for food for the hospital. The task was ‘impossible’, needing to raise over $40,000 by year-end. But nothing is impossible for God. He did it. And by year-end!
In addition to the funds, we were able to partner with Ontario Gleaners, a Christian organization that gathers imperfect (yet still edible) produce from grocery stores and food manufacturers, plus donations from gardeners and farmers. They clean, dice, and dehydrate said food. It is packages into bags that, when reconstituted, serve 100 people a meal rich in micronutrients. Ontario Gleaners provides this food for free to missions in developing countries that are in need of it; all that is needed is the resources to ship it.
When Tom and I were in Ontario late November to renew our work visas for the USA, we had the honour of meeting with Ontario Gleaners and had a tour of their incredible facility. As a nutritionist who has seen so much malnutrition in the developing world, the barrels and barrels of dehydrated nutritious produce for those who need it in the developing world make my heart leap and soul sing! What a beautiful way to redeem ‘imperfect’ food and make it available for those who are less fortunate. I thank God for this organization!
And of course, because the world is so small, or because God is so amazing, the gentleman that gave us the tour is from my small home town of Dauphin, Manitoba. (The string of events that have happened over the past year are just so incredible!)
Using the funds generated by the funding campaign, we applied for and were approved for a shipment of two pallets of dehydrated produce for the hospital. These shipments are currently en route to the Republic of Congo for the hospital.
How great is our God!?!
Now, don't get me wrong. There is still much to be done. We need to purchase additional food in country, create a distribution system, train the cook, and assess the suitability and sustainability of the program. But, hey! These steps will be worked out in time. For now let's do a happy dance. And stay tuned regarding the next step in this amazing answer to prayer.