The Pelletiers: Teaching Theological Education in Africa & Beyond
The Pelletiers: Teaching Theological Education in Africa & Beyond
2019 has taken off at such a fast pace, we thought we'd fill you in on the monthly highlights in ministry and in our personal lives as well.
Teaching theological education in Africa has its many challenges, but these last few months, we've been reminded of the need for solid theological teaching and the necessity to train African pastors and leaders to be rooted in the truths of the gospel (see rest of this newsletter).
Exciting things are happening at SATS. SATS continues to grow in numbers and in financial stability. In fact, SATS has record number of graduates graduating this May. Out of the financial surplus from last year, we are able to increase our investment in scholarships. SATS also wants to target people who want to learn but lack time or money, so SATS is starting a drive to offer mobile-friendly short courses. The short courses will be affordable for most.
This is the year of curriculum development and Mat is involved in working to transform SATS courses from a text-based, download-upload style to a fully interactive, online, media-rich offerings. This year SATS will redevelop 10–15 courses to meet these goals, including making them more mobile friendly.
Also something exciting is that SATS has a growing number of African and female academics on team. We love having the diversity of Christianity represented on our faculty and staff.
Mat saved up his leave so that we could enjoy a visit with Kayle's parents and sister who came out for 2 weeks at Christmas. We enjoyed a safari in the bush where we got to see rhinos, explored the sites of Port Elizabeth, played some serious games of marbles and roasted a lamb on our homemade spit for Christmas! It was wonderful to have family for the holidays!
The new year began with a bang. Oliver joined us at home with homeschooling. He was very excited to be with his brothers and sisters and not have to be separated anymore at preschool by himself. Though he is very clever and grasps and retains concepts with ease, I've found the transition from three to four kids to be difficult to manage.
Also the family we do homeschooling with moved into a new suburb, changing things logistically for all of us. We didn't expect just how much this move would change our relationship with them so we all found ourselves in mourning at the start of the year in having to change the frequency with which we see them and adjust our expectations to how much we can now do together. Molly also changed ballet schools/teachers to be with her other friends. She's found this transition difficult, going from being at the top in her old ballet school to the bottom in her new ballet school. Plus she was disappointed that her friends in her grade were all selected to enter a ballet exam, but she wasn't.
The theme of February is connecting with friends from Zimbabwe! Kayle's friend fears flying so she asked Kayle to ride down with her to Cape Town for a doctor's appointment. While in Cape Town, we happened to run into Mat's former colleague, Lance Kuttner. Lance and Mat ran the IT department together at the Theological College in Zimbabwe. It was so wonderful to reconnect and to encourage one another. We also stayed one night with our close Zimbabwean friends who have since moved to Cape Town.
The theme of the month is car troubles. Over a year ago, we replaced the engine in our one and only vehicle. Then this year we had to replace the clutch and fly wheel (which was replaced with a faulty part and had to be redone a second time). We knew that this van, which has served us well over the last 5 years, was on its way out, but we were trying to preserve its life as long as possible as the car industry here is protected and very expensive.
Mat organized our annual church camp. Logistically to get 90+ people to a camp site three hours away with tents, camping gear and equipment is no small feat. But we had a great time as a church studying through the book of Philippians as well as developing relationships with people in church we don't get a chance to talk to on a Sunday. We had a great week as a family but on the way back, we came home loaded with sick kids and a van that decided it had enough. We blew a head gasket and had to be towed back home on a flat bed!
We bit the bullet and purchased a second hand Toyota as they have a very good reputation here in Africa for being long lasting. Upon picking up the vehicle and going through the long process of changing ownership, getting road worthy approval and insurance, Mat got the new plates put on the vehicle and then promptly/accidently backed it into a tree! Car troubles are the worst, but all is sorted now and we're so grateful for a reliable vehicle with low mileage!
The theme of this month has been sickness, sadness, and death. Firstly, Kayle had a few injuries this month. She tripped and pulled a ligament in her foot while running and burned her hand helping Molly make caramel popcorn for a marketday. But secondly, Molly's friend, Jaiden, lost her mother to cancer. Molly and I took Jaiden out for a milkshake and attended her mother's funeral. Colette was a beautiful Christian woman, but I was so saddened to attend a funeral at her home church that was so void of a gospel message or any explanation of eternal hope in Christ. I walked away disheartened that the pastor didn't share about how we too can have life in Jesus and see Colette again. It reminded me why we are teaching theological education here in Africa, training pastors to stand firm in the truths of the gospel and not to shy away from proclaiming its powerful truth.
Also for Good Friday, Kayle gave the message at our church. It was a heavy message to put together, as she told the story of Jesus's death from the perspective of Salome, a follower of Christ. But it turned out to be such a moving service. One woman told Kayle she's been attending the church for 60 years but has never gone to a Good Friday service that so moved her. You can view the sermon by clicking on this link:
Please be praying for:
SATS has an exciting webinar in July with Dr. Cynthia Westfall on "Exploring Paul and Gender." Please pray for sensitivity and wisdom as we lead discussion in this important arena.
Kayle's injuries to heal as she's hoping to run a half marathon in July.
For Kayle to play a motherly role in Jaiden's life.
Pray for finances for the new car. We are still needing finances to pay for this new vehicle.
Please pray for a group of our children's home kids that come each Sunday to kids church. They had a teacher in school that taught them falsehoods about Christianity, telling the kids that if they believe in Jesus, they can drink poison and live. The children's home director met with Mat and I as he was so disturbed. We have decided to do a special Bible study with these kids on the basics of the faith to talk about and correct some of the falsehoods they learned from this teacher. Please pray for our Friday night Bible studies with these precious kids!
Pray for Mat as he meets with a Hebrew and Cognitive Linguistics professor from Cape Town in June. Mat is considering doing a phD under him so please pray for guidance as they continue to meet together and collaborate ideas.