Saturday evening we were invited to join our good friends, Seni and Mama Seni, for supper at their home. We have known these wonderful people for about 17 years and have spent a lot of time in their home. They usually try to have every team and visitor we have to their home one night for supper while they are here with us.
Seni and Tim have been close friends for all these years and have spent lots of time traveling and working together. Our daughters, Jenn and Sarah, love Seni and his family.
Saturday evening we arrived around 6:00pm and we ate supper about 7:30; we were waiting for other guests to arrive. The General Supt. of Zambia along with the Mission’s Board from the church finally arrived. Seni’s parents and Mama Seni’s parents live with them; there are no nursing homes in Tanzania and it is the custom for the elderly to live with their children. They are loved and treated with great respect. Seni’s father is 99 years old! Amazing, especially here in Tanzania.
We had a wonderful and abundant Tanzanian meal of fish, chicken, rice, potatoes, cabbage, greens, brown beans and gravy. At the end of the meal they were preparing to take Seni’s father to get ready for bed. He is very sharp mentally although he can no longer see. Before he left the table, he took each of us around the table by the hand one at a time and prayed a very specific blessing over each of us. As he prayed for me, he first gave thanks for God’s healing touch on my body and for bringing me safely back to them and then he prayed for God to bless me with good health in the years to come.
It was a precious example of the custom we see throughout the Bible of a father placing his hands upon his children and blessing each of them with a specific and individual blessing.
After almost two years, we have finally been able to return to Tanzania. Joyce’s health reached the point that we were given medical clearance to return after her bout with cancer.
We are busy trying to clean our house that has been sitting empty for almost a year. It is not only very dirty but in need of lots of repair including new paint inside and out. This is normal in the life of a missionary; going on furlough then returning and getting resettled before ministry can begin in earnest. Our vehicle has to be licensed, insured, new tires, inspections and cleaning.
I am thankful for my house worker, Jakrine, who is working with me each day as we go room by room cleaning.
Yesterday we attended our first Tanzanian A/G church service since our return; we decided to attend the church at the Mwanza Bible College. The people were so happy to see us and gave us a wonderful Tanzanian welcome with clapping and shouting. They have been praying for us since our departure and especially during Joyce’s cancer treatment.
The service was long and the music was great – just like we remember. The sermon was on “Obedience to God” – obedience brings God’s blessing. A timely reminder for all of us.
It is the first day of 2014 and 2013 is a closed book in which no changes can be made. In thinking about this past year the idea of mountains and valleys comes to mind.
We saw wonderful things happen and we had some great trials to our faith as well. It started out well; we finished our itineration much earlier than we had thought possible and were amazed at how God brought in our cash budget and our monthly support. It was, in fact, the easiest itineration we have had thus far in relation to raising funds.
We began to slide down the mountain at an alarming rate of speed in May just three days before we were to board the plane to return to Tanzania. Joyce had scheduled a last minute mammogram since it had been right at a year since her last one. What should have been a simple routine procedure quickly escalated to a rapid series of tests that ended in a call from the Doctor’s office telling us that Joyce had breast cancer.
We landed soundly in the valley wondering what had happened and with our heads spinning from the fast descent from the top of the mountain. Life seems to happen that way. Getting to the top of the mountain can be a slow tedious affair and the slide to the valley can catch you totally unawares and happen very quickly.
The rest of 2013 revolved around Doctor’s visits, surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, sickness and spiritual battles. Joyce had a double mastectomy in June and began chemotherapy in July. She finished her chemo in November and is getting her strength back and working through the final stages of shedding the various effects of the chemo treatments. At this point, she is cancer free so does not need any further treatments or medicines. She will need to have lab work done every three months for the next two years and every six months until her fifth year.
Spiritually, our family has worked through fear and doubt at various times although our faith has stayed strong for the most part. We have continuously felt God’s presence with us and have felt His peace. We have grown closer as a family and worked as a team. Tim, Jenn and Sarah proved to be excellent caregivers as Joyce went through chemotherapy and dealt with it’s effect on her body. We are stronger individually and as a family unit.
We have had challenges and victories in our extended families. We have been able to spend time with many of them and strengthened our bond with them. Sadly, we have lost one to death and others through broken relationships. Some are ill and we are concerned about them as we leave for our next four year term towards the end of this month.
We have visited many churches around the country and were able to get re-acquainted with old friends and make new friends who will partner with us in our work in Tanzania.
We have taken advantage of the many conveniences that are afforded to us here in America and have enjoyed them.
2013 has come and gone and we cannot make any changes. We have made mistakes and we have, we hope, been a blessing to some people. The one constant through the year has been our belief in the fact that God has never left us or forsaken us and that he loves us unconditionally. He has remained faithful to us.
This gives us hope and courage for the year 2014. We know that whether we are on the mountain, in the valley or somewhere in between, God will always be with us and he will never fail us.
Have a blessed New Year.
One of the projects that Tim did while in Tanzania this month was the installation of a water filtering system for the Mwanza Bible College. This was due to a donation of funds (to purchase buckets and hoses) and water filters by Missionary Gary Higgins.
Tim spent one morning together with all the students and staff to show them how simple the system was to put together, maintain and operate. Basically each system requires a bucket, some tubing and a small easily maintained filter system. Enough of these were placed around the school to provide all 120 students plus all the staff and faculty with clean, pure water. This will eliminate the problem of boiling enough water for this many people every day and will help alleviate the recurring problem of typhoid and cholera amongst the students from drinking contaminated water.
Not only was the entire school outfitted with the water filtering system, but each of the 120 students were given a small one-bucket system to take back to their homes. This will provide enough clean drinking water for their entire family and even some neighbors and friends.
There was much rejoicing around the school because they would have clean water; something we tend to take for granted.
I apologize for the lack of posts on our website these past three months, I am going to make an extreme effort to try posting at least once a week from this point on. Facebook has become the focus of our communications in recent weeks. It’s quick and easy to post a quick note to our readers there. Since my chemo started I have found I don’t have the energy to devote to keeping all of our media options current. However, we want to maintain our website since we view it as an important communication tool.
The last communication we posted was just prior to the beginning of my chemotherapy treatments following my double mastectomy for breast cancer in June. I began my chemotherapy in July and have completed 5 of my 8 scheduled treatments. Our family has felt God’s peace and presence throughout this entire process. Overall, I have handled the treatments well and have experienced a minimum of symptoms; I know this is due to the many prayers that have gone up for me around the world in churches and by individuals. We want to thank all of you for your faithful prayers; they have made a huge difference in this journey for us.
The main thing I battle with is being sleepy and tired much of the time; I tire easily even on the days that I feel well. I have a few other symptoms such as nausea and pain in my feet and legs; I have medicine to help with those problems. Some problems such as “chemo brain” – confusion in my speech and thought processes – will pass after chemo.
We want to thank all of you for your many prayers on our behalf. We love you and appreciate you.
*MY NEXT POST WILL BE TANZANIA UPDATES FROM TIM’S SEPTEMBER TRIP THERE! MANY EXCITING THINGS ARE HAPPENING SO STAY TUNED.
Tim & Joyce Jarvis
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12
Three weeks ago I had a bilateral mastectomy because they discovered that I had breast cancer. We went last week for our appointment with the Oncologist and he confirmed that there was no cancer in the breast tissue or lymph nodes. Praise the Lord! HOWEVER, the cancer I had was a Triple Negative cancer. This is the most aggressive kind of cancer you can have and is extremely fast growing. It can reappear anywhere in the body. In light of this information, I will begin Chemotherapy treatments on July 9.
The Doctor is concerned that I may not be able to tolerate the Chemo because my blood platelets are so low; they are roughly half of what they should be. They will be monitoring my blood platelet count during my chemo treatments.
At this point in time, my last treatment is scheduled for November 21; so we are on personal (medical) leave until the end of this year.
It grieves us that we will not be able to return to Tanzania this year especially since we were able to raise our funds so quickly this itineration. However, we feel God’s peace and presence with us and know that He is in control of all aspects of our lives. We trust Him to work out His perfect will. It was a miracle that they found the cancer three days before we boarded the plane to return to Tanzania. We know that He is walking with us through this situation.
We have received word that the Women’s Dorm at the Mwanza Bible College is almost finished; the floor tiles and the aluminum windows are all that remain.
Tim will be traveling to Tanzania for a month at the end of August to host a team that will be finishing the Church Planting School and do outreach ministry in the Kagera District.
We continue to monitor the Albino situation from here via our contacts and information from the group Under the Same Sun. Attacks against PWA (People with Albinism) have been on the increase in recent months but the United Nations has been monitoring the situation and has come out with several statements condemning the acts of violence against PWA and demanding that the Tanzanian government take steps to correct this atrocity.
We continue to hear encouraging reports that the Gospel is being spread throughout remote areas of the country. Many Districts in our region are in need of assistance with establishing churches and putting up permanent structures in villages across the region. We are attempting to raise funds for a container of 10 church roofs to be sent to the Mara region – a region that has been poorly evangelized and with few churches. However, the Holy Spirit is moving in that area and we are seeing small groups of believers being established in remote areas that have been resistant to the Gospel in the past.
Pray for the work in Tanzania. The National Church has a vision to see the Good News spread to every village and people group in Tanzania. There has been much prayer and fasting and the Holy Spirit is opening doors of opportunity across Tanzania that previously have been closed to the Church.
We have been given a supply of water filters to install at the Mwanza Bible School so that the students will have clean water to drink. This should cut down drastically on the water-born sicknesses at the school including the high frequency of Typhoid.
We will continue to keep you posted on Joyce’s health during her time of Chemo and also keep you posted on the events and ministry going on in Tanzania.
Thanks to each of you for your many prayers on our behalf; we have been overwhelmed with the numbers of cards, emails and other communications we have received since we learned of Joyce’s cancer at the end of May.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9
We realize that so much has transpired since we sent our last newsletter that it is difficult to know where to begin. Let us begin with praise to God for the great things HE has done:
1. We have finished our itinerary in record time for us; shortly over a year. Our monthly budget and cash budget are completely raised.
2. We have traveled thousands of miles in all kinds of weather without accidents or mishaps.
3. We met many new friends and ministry partners as well as visited with ministry partners that have faithfully supported us for many years.
4. We were able to visit with family and spend time with our two daughters.
5. We received many reports throughout the year from Tanzania that the work of the Lord is continuing and that God is pouring out His Spirit upon that land in new and exciting ways.
6. The new Women’s Dorm at the Mwanza Bible College is finished once the ceramic tiles are put down for the floor and the painting is finished. The women students are rejoicing! The Bible School is growing in enrollment and we are already in need of a new men’s dorm.
7. The Decade of Harvest for the Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) is progressing; there have been close to 4,000 new churches planted since the plan was implemented in 2009.
8. Church Planting schools are being built in each of the eight districts in our region of Tanzania.
9. Churches are being established in remote areas in our region and the light of the Gospel is coming to spiritually dark places for the first time.
10. We have resolved several health issues this year during our itineration and are believing God to finish the work He has started in our physical bodies.
Three days before we boarded the plane to return to Tanzania, Joyce received word that her mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy revealed that she has cancer in her right breast. Plane tickets have been canceled and suitcases partially unpacked for this unexpected delay. Joyce is scheduled for a double mastectomy on June 11. The double mastectomy is her choice as a preventative measure; she is at high risk for recurring breast cancer. We won’t know until a week or so after surgery whether Chemotherapy will be needed. The Doctor feels there is a fair chance it will be required depending on the pathology report from the lymph nodes which will be removed during surgery.
Tim, our daughters, Jennifer and Sarah, and I are standing strong in faith and trusting the Lord in this situation. We have a wonderful sense of His presence and peace. Our prayer is that we will walk worthy as children of God and that our words and actions will be a witness to those around us. In the times when we do have fear or doubts, we pray that we will be refilled with HIS peace.
Thank you for your prayers on our behalf; we have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and encouragement we have received in this situation.
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you (Lord) are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God”
We continue to be your hand extended to the lost people of Tanzania. We hope to return to Tanzania by the end of the summer if all goes well and God is willing.
As always, we want to take time to thank each one of you for your prayers and support; each of you are valuable to God’s Kingdom and to the work He is doing through us in Tanzania. We could not be in Tanzania and accomplish anything for God without your faithfulness to give and to pray. We know that God will pour out His blessings upon all who are involved in His work.