Blog

Below you’ll find several stories, letters and updates about my “life. It’s exactly what the link claims it is: my blog. It’s mainly intended to keep people up to date about my ministry. The quarterly prayer letters will be posted here as well as any other additional updates or stories. Thanks for taking time to read.

June 2019 Newsletter

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The Seder meal we took part in on Good Friday

By the time you receive this letter, we will be in the US visiting family.  In 2017, just after we left Colorado, Elyse’s brother had his first child.  We haven’t had the opportunity to meet our new niece and wanted to take some time this year to celebrate and see our families. With the coming three-week break, life and work have been winding down a bit.  Ryan has been making small bug fixes to both the TWR Africa mobile applications and the new uploading application for online content.  Things need to run smoothly in our absence so its been a time for focusing on sorting out bugs and making sure everything is able to be handled by others in TWR.  Please pray that we have a restful time and that TWR will not need to contact Ryan for any software related issues.

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Easter egg hunting with friends

We celebrated Easter with our pastor and his family.  Easter in South Africa has a different vibe to it.  Here Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are public holidays.  The months of April and May include at least three other public holidays therefore many families take Easter weekend for vacation time. Easter services are usually not well attended, but most churches have a service on Good Friday.  This year our church held a Seder meal service to help us reflect on the significance of the cross. The Seder is a very family oriented service so it engaged both the adults and the kids.

Ary and Owen’s Corner

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Ary and Owen proud of their ability to match shapes

It seems that most of the past two months Aryanna and Owen have been sick.  It’s been mostly colds with coughing and sniffling, but we had two visits to the emergency room because Ary was struggling to breathe.  With the changing of the seasons and winter coming, we’ve been struggling to keep the kids healthy.  Please keep our health in your prayers.

Other than that, it’s been business as usual.  Elyse continues to do homeschooling four days a week with the kids.  Ary always enjoys the activities Elyse comes up with and usually jumps with excitement when asked “Do you want to do school?”  Owen is a big boy now that he turned two in March. He keeps gaining new vocabulary and loves to emulate his big sister.

Listener Story

Thank you TWR for giving me an opportunity to know the love of God upon my life. Through your programmes I learnt that there is no need for me to condemn myself that I am a sinner. Jesus Christ died on the cross for me. I used to think that my sins are too much that I may not be forgiven. But one day as I was listening one of your programmes I had a courage to forge ahead with my spiritual life. The thoughts I was hearing whispered in my mind that I am a sinner, stopped thru the advice I got from here. Thank you TWR I am no longer a slave of sin anymore.

– A Listener in South Africa

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The Persecuted Church in Nigeria

My dear friends,

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria need your prayers.

Church leaders in Nigeria report that 6,000 Christians, mostly women and children have been murdered since January. According to Open Door, which is a charity that provides aid to Christians who are persecuted for their faith, Islamic radicals who are allied with Boko Haram are “descending on the villages in the night or in the day and carry out cruel attacks against innocent people, including women and children.”

There has been an outcry to the government to stop the slaughter but so far they have done nothing. Appeals have been sent to the United Nations as well. Many people are fearing that Nigeria will become a county of genocide comparable to what happened in Rwanda in 1994.

My words can not fully convey the desperation of the situation in Nigeria but here are some stories that can help. https://www.hudson.org/research/14792-an-unrecognized-genocide-in-nigeria

How can we help our persecuted brothers and sisters?

Pray.

Pray for God’s protection over these people.

Pray that people would not fall away from Jesus because of fear.

Pray for the people carrying out the attacks that they would be stopped. Pray for God to convict their hearts. Pray that they would be saved. God did it for Saul. Why can’t he for Islamic radicalists?

TWR is building a powerful 200,000 watt transmitter that will be able to broadcast into all of Nigeria plus some of the surrounding countries like Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. We hope to have programs broadcasting by the end of 2019. There is hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray the people would hear the message of the gospel and believe. Pray that our programs would encourage the believers in Nigeria.

Do you want to do more? Give to the TWR Oasis Project or to Open Doors. You may not be able to go but you can support those who can.

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Cyclone Idai

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Many of you were hit with a cyclone bomb with wild blizzards and terrible flooding. We are sorry to hear of the destruction that the storm left in its wake especially for those of you in Nebraska. We have been encouraged by the stories we have heard about how people are pulling together to help each other. Please know you are in our prayers.

At about the same time, Africa was also hit with a terrible Category 3 cyclone. Cylcone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14th but it also affected the countries of Malawi and Zimbabwe with storms and flooding. South Africa even had some power outtages due to Idai. This storm came out of no where and no one was prepared for it. The official count so far is about 1000 dead but so many are missing that we may never know how many people died in the floods. Searches for missing people have been called off so they can care for the living.

Cylcone Idai destroyed about 100,000 homes, about 1 million acres of crops, and washed out many roads. People in the port town of Beira in Mozambique were clinging to rooftops and trees even a week after the storm hit. People are struggling to find food, clean water, and shelter. To make matters worse, cholera has spread among the crowded survivors. 1400 cases have popped up in the last week. Rescue workers and relief organizations have flocked in to help but there is so much need and not enough help.

TWR’s shortwave and AM broadcasts have not been disturbed as we broadcast from Swaziland. We are still sending out a message of hope to our listeners who desperately need to hear it in their time of despair. Pray that our listeners will hear the hope that is found in Jesus and will turn to him.

Some of our local ladies who are a part of our Women of Hope ministry have started a collection of blankets, clothing, non-perishable food, and money to send to other Women of Hope groups in Mozambique.

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March 2019 Newsletter

Taking a break after playing at our favorite playground

At the end of February, Ryan released the first version of the new uploading app for our partners to post content on TWR’s platforms including the TWR360 app.  This is a huge milestone for a project that has been a long time coming.  After we work out the bugs with this release we will begin to add new features that will help us get programs to listeners faster.

Early in February Ryan released new versions of our Apple and Android TWR Africa apps.  The developer of the Android version wanted to focus on other things so Ryan was given responsibility of both versions of the app.  Listeners to our Johannesburg station enjoy the app as an alternative way to listen to TWR Africa and to catch up on last week’s programs they were unable to catch live.

A family walk

Late last year, our Swaziland transmitter was turned slightly so that our programs could reach more of Somalia. One of the programs was an audio version of The Jesus Film. We received 500 listener responses from Somalia saying how blessed they were by the broadcast. Praise God for his Word reaching their hearts.

Ary and Owen’s Corner

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Ary and Owen leaving for their first day of school

The week after Christmas we spent some time at Mculu and Gogo’s (Grandpa and Grandma in Siswati) farm in Swaziland. Ary and Owen had so much fun chasing chickens, feeding pigs, and playing with their “cousin” Nina. We went sightseeing too. Gogo took us to the first church started in Swaziland. It is still there and going strong. We climbed a mountain. It was quite steep and Ary climbed up and down all by herself.

Now that the new school year has started, Elyse volunteers once a week at the school our church runs. She listens to kids read. We are just starting with three letter words right now but by the end of the year, the kids will be reading simple stories. While Elyse volunteers, Ary and Owen go to school. They love school and their teachers.

Listener Story

By the same grace I am free from captives. Yes, I am free now. I was in strong devil’s bonds. I could mess around with other girlfriends leaving my wife at home. I could pretend to be righteous before my church. I was a secret sinner. Not everyone could recognise it. I don’t really know how to say it. I gradually begun to realise that God was condemning my pretence. TWR, by God’s grace, has totally contributed to the change of my life with one of its programs – ‘100% Worship”. I have a story on what happened that day. It was during the hour of 100% Worship. I was singing the songs played during the program. I later realised a flow of water fell from my eyes. My whole body became weak. Then I realised that I was among the fellowship members praying in my house. God touched my heart through those songs.”
A listener in Malawi

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Shine as Lights in the World

What do we like to complain about most?

If you live in South Africa, the answer is load shedding. You can complain with everyone and anyone about load shedding and they will happily join in bashing the company who provides electricity to all of South Africa.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with load shedding, it is when the power company turns off your power for a couple hours during the day on a rotating schedule so that the system doesn’t crash. However, even though the company puts out a schedule for when the power outage will happen in your area, they do not follow the schedule that they put out. You never know when your power will go out and for how long it will last. Fortunately, it usually only lasts a couple of hours.

A week ago while I was reading my Bible, I came across Philippians 2:14 ” Do all things without grumbling or complaining” The Holy Spirit brought to my attention that when I speak to people, whether I know them or not, it is easier to complain about load shedding, the weather, the government ect. Yes, those things frustrate me. But instead of always dwelling on them and complaining how hard it makes my life, maybe I should be thankful that I do have electricity most of the time. I should be thankful that I can store a month’s worth of meat in my freezer because I have electricity. I can have a fan running in my kids’ rooms because I have electricity. I have the money to go out for dinner on those rare occasions when we don’t have power and I can’t cook a hot supper. I have a place to charge my phone so I can communicate with people especially my family across the world. I never think to thank God for electricity when it is always on but now that it turns on and off, I am more conscious of the blessing I have.

Instead of complaining, I choose to be thankful and satisfied with what I have. I am also starting to be prepared for when I don’t have it. The power going out in the morning is exciting to the kids now because it means we are taking a walk to the playground with a snack. I now make sure I have a meal on hand that can be made without cooking until we can get a portable gas stove. We have a lantern and candles if the power goes off at night. The power going out is also a blessing because it forces us to be creative and spend time together and with others around us.

Also speaking positively about these kinds of difficulites to others makes you different. You are not joining the crowd in complaining. It is just one of the ways you can ,”be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” which is Phillipains 2:15.

In a time when we celebrate the Light of the World coming to us. Let’s share some of that light. Let’s show people the joy in our lives in spite of troubles because we have Jesus in our lives. One small way to do that for me is not starting a conversation with complaints but with goodness and the blessing in the weather and load shedding.

Merry Christmas from the summer in South Africa. We love you all. I hope you experience the blessing of the season where we celebrate God’s greatest gift to us: Jesus.

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December 2018 Newsletter

Merry Christmas from South Africa where we are dreaming of a white sand Christmas.

Ryan is preparing to publish a version of the project he has been working on all year. Though the project has taken significantly longer than expected, there is still a lot of excitement within TWR. LinguaDMS is over 10 years old now and really needs some updating. This project is one of the first steps to modernize and simplify LinguaDMS. Other than that Ryan has been maintaining our TWR Africa mobile app and helping manage files and data within LinguaDMS. The year is almost done, but there are a lot of little things to be done before we relax a little during our summer break. Please keep Ryan and his various projects in your prayers as we wrap up 2018.

Since Elyse finished her writing for Hope for our Children, she has not done any other writing. She spends all her time with Ary and Owen. God also brought a family into our lives that Elyse helps out a lot. This family is a single mom with five kids, one of whom was born in September. Elyse and the other Mom have become good friends. She also has a little girl about Ary’s age. She and Ary have become best buds.

Thanksgiving dinner with our South African church

We had a Thanksgiving meal with our church. Elyse gave out some recipes on some of the more traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The food was fantastic. The company of 50 other people coming together to give thanks, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a lot made it a perfect evening.

Ary and Owen’s Corner

Fun at the playground

Ary is becoming more independent and some times strong willed. Her favorite things to do right now are reading, playing at the playground around the block, and singing nonsense songs no one but she can understand. She has developed a love for The Chronicles of Narnia because we listen to it in the car. Puddleglum is her favorite. Owen still is not talking but he will do animal sounds and repeats things we say. He is a real boy who loves jumping, climbing, playing with cars, and getting dirty. His favorite books are the big Jesus books that Grandma and Grandpa gave him. Elyse has been doing a sort of homeschool with the kids as they are eager to learn. Ary wants to learn to read.

Listener Story

I listened to TWR’s programme, The Way of Righteousness, and heard the preacher say we should love our enemies. My heart was full of hatred. Thanks again for this program. My heart has changed and I ask God to give me the strength to forgive others as his son has forgiven me….

A listener in West Africa

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Sand Stories

At the beginning of September, we took a much needed family trip to Swaziland. It is only a four hour drive to the border or six if you have two toddlers. I have crossed a couple of borders before so I thought I knew what I was in for. I was wrong. First surprise was we had to get out of our car on the South African side of the border. We had to go into a building, wait in a long slow moving line to get our passports stamped. The second surprise was we had to drive 300 feet to the Swaziland side of the border and do the same thing!

Once we were in Mbabane, we had a wonderful time. When you are in Swaziland, you can open up the window in the morning and hear nothing but the birds singing. Internet access is sketchy at best so we enjoyed several days of just being together as a family and having fun. We went to a game park where we could get out and walk. We saw lots of buck and zebra up close. We saw two crocodiles too but didn’t want to to come too close to them. I was quite proud of Ary. She walked 2 km without a complaint.

Chilling by the swimming pool

The braai master

Greetings to Miliwane Park by a buck

We also stopped to see some TWR friends. The kids and I finally got to visit the transmitter site where many of our programs are broadcast. Our friend who runs the transmitter site told us a fantastic story about the building at the site.

TWR did not have the money for all the materials to build the building at the transmitter site. Specifically they did not have enough money for the sand and transporting it to the site. They started praying to God that he would provide the funds. Later, Swaziland experienced a big and ferocious thunderstorm that lasted for three days. When the workers came to check for damage at the site, they discovered a vast amount of sand deposited in the stream next to the site. God provided the sand and the transportation to the site so the building could be built.

The sand you see below us is where the sand was deposited by God’s storm

The transmitter site today

We all have sand stories. Stories where God took a terrible storm in you life and provided for you. Stories where God answered your prayer but not in the way you expected. Since living over here in South Africa and joining TWR. I have learned to pray specifically and then expect God to show up and He does. God is faithful. Sometimes I just need to pay attention more to see what God is doing.

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September 2018 Newsletter

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Laura and Lauren enjoying some eats before they went back home

Well, intern season is over and while Ryan might not have two heads mounted on the wall, TWR Women of Hope does have a new app.  Our interns, Laura and Lauren, worked hard and managed to build a working app in less than two months.  The app still needs to go though a few approval channels before being released to the public, but the major work is done.

Laura and Lauren both jumped into TWR with a huge learning curve before them.  They set out determined to build what they needed.  With a little help and mentoring, they both grew as developers and did an impressive amount of work.  Ryan enjoyed getting a rare opportunity to work with other software developers.  It was satisfying to mentor other young developers and pass what he has learned over the years.

Aryanna and Owen hanging out after church

We also enjoyed getting to know Laura and Lauren on a personal level, having them over for dinner.  Aryanna adored them both and called them “the one with the hat” and “the one with the hair”.  We’ll miss having them around and we hope they’ll be able to return one day.

Elyse finished writing scripts for “Hope for our Children” in August. It was a challenging work for her. She enjoyed the struggle and even was challenged by what she was teaching about money. The program is now being translated into Zulu and produced so it can begin airing by the end of the year.

Ary and Owen’s Corner

Aryanna on the swings with friends at her birthday party

Ary turned 3 in June. We had a birthday party with Ary’s three best friends at a local playground. The kids had lots of fun playing on the equipment and eating Ary’s special request: Toy Story ice cream cake.  Ary has started to develop into a little girl instead of a toddler. When Ary is awake, she is talking. She loves to play with her stuffed animals in the bath tub calling it Grandpa’s boat. She loves to read and will sometimes read to us. She can even pick out letters and numbers on pages and signs. Her favorite place to visit is the Botanical Gardens so she can feed ducks and play in the dirt and trees.

Owen is an energetic toddler. He can be entertained by cars whether big or small or in a book. He notices every airplane that comes near our home. Owen would rather be outside than anything else. He will throw or kick a ball with you for hours on end. He is still not talking but communicates very well with his hands.

Listener Story

I am a faithful listener of your programs. Your topics have given me spiritual growth in term of Bible reading and the courage to go through hardships. I am starting to see the difference between the person I was in 2017 and the person I am today. I believe that God is going through your programs to revolutionize my Christian life. Thank you so much.
-A listener in Cote d’Ivoire

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Carry One Anothers’ Burdens

“Can my daughters and I sleep in your garage? We are being kicked out and have no place to go.” I was caught by surprise when my neighbor showed up and made such an interesting request. Our garage can barely fit a car inside it. It has one power outlet and one light. My answer, “definitely not! If you need a place to stay, you can stay in our home.”

We have become friends with our neighbor and her three girls over the past six months. The three girls are 9, 13, and 14. they moved in the day after we did. Ary and Owen had so much fun being adored by these girls. At first they would come over and knock on our door so they could play with Ary and Owen. As we got to know them, I noticed the girls were often home alone. Then I noticed that the oldest girl didn’t go to school. When I asked her about it, she said that they didn’t have enough money for school fees, a new uniform, and all her books and supplies. Once they had saved up enough she would be able to go. About once a month she would come to me excitedly about how she would be going to school next week but then next week would come she still wasn’t able to go. Then, when they started coming over after school, the girls would ask for food. They hadn’t eaten all day.

It turns out that this seemingly happy family was having hard financial times even though both parents are working. Also as is quite common lately, we discovered that the dad had a girlfriend and was not caring for his family as he ought to. So, when they were kicked out of their apartment, we took the three girls to temporarily live with us.

It was quite an adjustment going from two children to five especially with two teenagers. Thank God that he works us up to teenagers and doesn’t give the to us right off. Keeping up with everyone’s needs like food, clothes, and sleep were exhausting for me. Ary and Owen were now sharing a small room that had just enough room to put their beds and a dresser. We had to move most of Ary’s things from her closet to Owen’s closet to make room for the girls to have room to put their things in Ary’s closet. Ary and Owen did not like the idea at first of sleeping in the same room. Owen still wakes up in the night and so neither of them slept well. Ary also woke up Owen in the morning and at nap time quite frequently.

Our grocery bill jumped up quite a bit and cleaning became a bigger priority with more people living in our home. Ryan and I had to wake up earlier so we could get the girls off to school. We always made sure that they had something to eat before they left and made lunches for them. I think the hardest thing for me is that I had no down time ever. As soon as I got Ary and Owen down for a nap, the girls got home from school and wanted my attention.

As hectic as our lives became, I can’t imagine how the girls felt as their world became flipped upside down, living away from their mom and dad. I was glad that we could be there to provide a little stability in their lives while they finished up their last three weeks at school and more importantly, exams. Even in the chaos, I hope Ryan and I spoke into their lives. Many people were shocked that we even took these girls in, saying we were crazy. The girls were just aching for love and boundaries. We gave them that and they were great kids. We don’t have tv in our home so we ended up listening to music, talking, and playing board games a lot more. Plus we got them to study for their exams. I learned first hand about Black culture here in South Africa

We were able to take a lot of pressure off the girls’ mama. She was so overwhelmed and downtrodden that she had considered suicide. She said, she could never repay us for what we had done. She asked if we were really angels in disguise. I told her, “no, we are just people who are obeying God and helping our sister in Christ.”

We are told to carry each others burdens in Galatians 6:2. I was listening to a sermon about this passage when I was getting more frustrated with the situation we were in. The pastor said that the word burdens refers to trouble that the person got themselves into. So often I find I don’t want to help people because they got themselves into this trouble by their bad choices. They are just reaping the consequences of their decisions. God put this on my heart, “Did I leave you alone to reap the consequences of your sin? Did I leave you to spend eternity in hell?” It changed the way I look at helping people and bearing one anothers burdens.

After school was over, the mom and dad were able to take the girls home with them. I have not heard from them since. I have tried to communicate with them but there is no reply. Please pray for this family.

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June 2018 Newsletter

No one better than Mommy!

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. We are entering the hard cold months of June and July here. It is not just cold season but also intern season. We have two interns, Laura and Lauren, coming to South Africa at the beginning of June. Our “Women of Hope” ministry needs a mobile app for their prayer groups that the interns will be creating. As it happens Ryan knows the technology well, making him the best candidate for managing and mentoring both interns. This will be the first time Ryan has mentored other software developers. The last two months have been sprinkled with preparing for Laura and Lauren among other responsibilities. The project for revamping our uploading software for our online media archive has still been Ryan’s main focus. There should be an initial release ready to early users at the end of June.

It’s Never Too early to start drumming

Elyse has not returned to the office at TWR. We could not find a day care that suited our needs. So, Elyse got organized and writes during naptime. At the moment Elyse is writing a piece of the program, Hope for our Children. She is writing about financial responsibility. So many people in South Africa live in poverty. We want to instill biblical principles and easy action steps to help kids use the money they have well. So as they grow into adults, they have a better understanding about money. Elyse is writing on subjects like contentment with what you have, how to make a budget, working hard for what you get, and generosity and giving.

Ary and Owen

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Time to go where no child has gone before in our brand new spaceship!

Owen turned 1 in March. We had a family party with cake and presents. He now walks and climbs. Quite often Elyse finds him in high places such as the burglar bars on the window and on top of the table. He doesn’t speak but over the last few weeks, he has learned to communicate a few words such as “more”, “all done”, and “please” through sign language.

Ary has become more interested in doing puzzles and reading books. She asked if Elyse would teach her ABC’s. She also enjoys playing with the neighbourhood kids who come to our house almost daily to play. Our complex is bursting with kids from babies to teenagers. We have become friends with our neighbors right next door. We play with the kids but I think more importantly we listen to them. We listen to their problems and joys. They love to help Elyse cook. Some of the girls come and cry to Elyse. Elyse bakes cupcakes for birthdays and we all decorate. Ryan is a favorite for swinging people around and chasing them.

Listener Story

I am a homeless, inexperienced, young mother who gave birth on the streets. When my baby was a month old, he fell sick from a cold and I thought that he was going to die. I would like to thank TWR for the programme, Challenge of Africa, which had a topic about common cold in children. After listening to your programme, I am no more ignorant concerning my child. Thanks for educating us.

– A listener in the Ivory Coast

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