Go therefore and make disciples of all nations

Matthew 28:19

Ismael & Amy Cortez

Guayaquil, Ecuador
March 15, 2021
Hello friends,
Greetings from Guayaquil, Ecuador! We hope that you are doing well. It’s been a year since we first “locked down” here in Ecuador, with severe restrictions. We’re grateful those restrictions only lasted for a couple of months before things started to lighten up. We have been able to get back into regular rhythms of life, but now we have hooks for masks as well as keys by the front door. For some of our friends and family here, it has been a crushing and exhausting year. But even in adversity, we have so many things for which to praise God.
Our church community began regularly meeting in person again in October. What a celebration it was to be able to get together again! And besides everyone who had already been coming to church in our home before the pandemic, several more people have come to be part of our community. Among them are Angelica and Luciano, Ismael’s mom and dad. Friends, this is an answer to years of prayer! And they are actively involved–reading their Bible, memorizing scripture, applying it to their lives, and sharing openly what they’re discovering.
Our church has been able to go into downtown Guayaquil a couple of times to give out sandwiches. I thought it might be hard for people to go–there is still a lot of fear here when it comes to being out in public, and I thought there would be some hesitation. But everyone was not just willing, but excited to contribute and to go. The need for charity is even greater now, and the desire to give has increased.
We are experiencing a time of unity and joy as a community. One of the joyful things we celebrated together was Raul and Mariuxi’s wedding. They got married in our backyard in December. Ismael performed the wedding ceremony (his first!) and did a beautiful job. Eleonor was the ring bearer, and she did a beautiful job too. The patio was beautiful, the cake was beautiful, the couple was beautiful. The whole thing was beautiful!
We started doing preschool classes at home in October. Me with Eleonor, and Ismael’s cousin Katty with her son Kenji. Katty’s grandma and sister come too and cook lunch for all of us. We meet twice a week and do different activities to learn letters, counting, shapes, colors, patterns, and whatever else we can think of. And we do a lot of playing! We do one day all in Spanish and one day all in English. The kids both love school days! They both ask to “do school” on days we don’t meet. Katty and I are exhausted and have no idea what we’re doing, haha. (Help!) But we enjoy being together. My friendship with Katty has grown significantly since we started, and it’s been good for us as well as for Eleonor and Kenji. We’re about half-way through the alphabet and don’t really know what to do after that….so if anyone has any ideas, I’d love your input!
We have so much to be thankful for, even in hard times. We’re thankful for you, as we could not be here without your prayers and your support. Please keep praying for our church–for continued growth and unity. Please pray for those who are still out of a job since this pandemic began. Pray for Raul and Mariuxi and their marriage. Pray for Angelica and Luciano to grow in their faith. Pray for Ismael and me to have wisdom as we lead.
God bless you all very much.
With love,
Ismael, Amy, and Eleonor

Missionaries Joni & Nangsar Morse

Chiang Mai, Thailand
January 27, 2021
Dear CCV,
Thank you for checking in on us. All of us here are doing well under the circumstances. Thailand has experienced a second wave of the Coronavirus starting two months ago. There has been a spike in the number of infections in about ten provinces. They have determined that this latest outbreak is a new variant of the virus that spreads faster. It has been brought in by migrant workers from Myanmar who illegally cross the borders avoiding checkpoints.
As a result of this, the government has discouraged even in-country travel — closing down travel between some provinces, and within the districts of some provinces. This has affected us up here in the north as well. Chiang Mai province and Chiang Rai province have borders with Myanmar, and this is what is giving the authorities concern. The borders have few checkpoints, and most people are able to cross at will. Local authorities have imposed curfews, and have closed schools during February. However, they may reopen schools by the start of next month. Mid-March begins Thailand’s summer school break, so that will probably help the situation.
While we are not back to lockdowns — the country’s economy has been in a free-fall since the start of the pandemic last year. Businesses across the country are languishing and have had to let people go. Most people are getting by as best they can. Thailand has always relied on the tourist industry to bolster its economy. Now that the tourists can no longer come in, most of the hotels across the country have become shuttered.
The churches and villagers up in the highlands are faring much better. Due to the extensive development work, we have been able to carry out over the past years (establishing strong churches, improving their agriculture and horticulture, bringing clean water to villages through PVC pipes, building health clinics, schools, and student dormitories), the communities up in the hills are in much better shape.
People in the lower-income bracket in the cities are beginning to have to rely on government subsidies. The villagers in the mountains at least have enough food to eat. The Christians have been able to step up to help the neighbors who are in need. This is giving them an enormous opportunity to demonstrate God’s love during this difficult time. It is as if God had prepared them for such a time as this!
None of this would have been possible without the help of our supporting churches. Your faithful prayers and support over the years is what has helped to establish these believers who are now functioning as salt and light in their communities. We can now see how this ministry model will be a key component of God’s work as the cause of Christ continues in its advance beyond the borders of Thailand. By God’s grace and your partnership, the work here has truly become a sustainable work!
Joni & Nangsar

Follow Up #2
March 29, 2021
The news coming out of Burma becomes more unbearable by the day! All this has put us all into a slump over the past weeks. There is nothing that any of us can do except to pray for the people who are going through this horrific tragedy. Please continue lifting up Burma in your prayers. March 27th begins Passover — this date is also Armed Forces Day in Myanmar — the citizens of the country have now declared it to be Revolution Day.
The shocking news coming out of Burma is that over 100 people were shot dead yesterday by the military and the police — many of the victims are said to be children. The military dictatorship in Burma has been periodically shutting down the internet in the country for several weeks now. Information from inside the country is pretty sparse. However, we do know that over 400 civilians have already died at the hands of the military.
Pray that this insane wave of government brutality against its own people will come to a speedy end over this Passover.
Joni & Nangsar

Larry & Ginny Niemeyer

Harvest 21 Ministries: Nairobi, Kenya
January 31, 2021

1.  No church attendance since March (by law). Went through harsh lockdowns (dusk to dawn) and others that were less stringent – lockdowns
     from 9-10pm until 5-6am.
2.  Resorted to online services provided by Nairobi churches, especially Hope Church where we are now members. See Hope Church Lavington.
      We were able to continue ministry services. For example . . .
      a. Ginny joined others in editing Worth the Wait, a Youth for Christ manual she helped write 20 years ago. About 60 hours of zoom time with
      b. Larry wrote, published, and taught Leadership Alive: A Study of Ephesians to 45 men and women at Hope Church.
      c. The mission provided emergency financial support to Covid-affected, desperate members in two churches – rents, medical needs, food.
      d. Larry wrote Linked Up Leadership ALIVE in readiness for a 2021 follow-up to Leadership ALIVE.
We have not been sick except for bouts with common things.  One church reduced mission support because of smaller offerings. Still, our annual income was very similar to 2019. God provides.  We were unable to make a planned trip to the USA back in 2020. Were canceled three times.
The National Impact:
1.  Kenya has had a surprisingly low impact medically:
      a. 101,000 cases (.2% of the population); 83,821 people recovered (83%); 1,753 died (1.7% of the cases)
      b. It has been suggested that Kenyan treatment for 1m AIDS patients lowered the mortality and case numbers. Maybe high treatment for malaria throughout the country. Maybe genetics.
2.  The lock-downs closed churches, schools, hotels, bars, and stopped the tourism business cold.
      a. Churches are now open but must implement the safeguards – masks and distancing.
           - Crowds are limited to 25% of congregational size. Churches have doubled services.
           - Those older than 65 cannot attend.
           - Online services have increased but zoom meetings are waning in effect.
      b. Schools have reopened but with strict regulations.
           - Hundreds of privately owned schools went out of business
           - 10,000 girls became pregnant in 2020 and have been given special treatment in re-openings.
           - As many as ½ the children have not returned to school and have become part of family economic survival tactics – child labor.
3.  Other Impacts
      a. 1.7m people out of 18m employed were forced out of the labor market (9%).
      b. Those who lost jobs became creative and created their own low-income businesses. For example, we discipled a young couple in 2020. They are both chefs. They both lost their jobs. They started their
           own little take-out café. Then they both returned to steady jobs and let their café close.
      c. Many marriages were affected for those who lost jobs, income, and different expectations of education for their children.
      d. Suicide rates have increased by 58%.
Larry and Ginny