With this letter we want to wish you a very HAPPY & BLESSED NEW YEAR! Our new year has gotten off to a good start even though we don’t enjoy the cold and snow that seems to always come with January. We were hit with a 15” snow storm on December 29 so still a lot of snow piles around from it.
We have some exciting things to share as this new year has kicked off. Last year we were able to revise our literacy teaching program and we just finished our first literacy class last week! Even though we have government grade schools in many of our Wana villages there are still a number of people, especially middle aged and older people, who cannot read or write. This first class was a group of middle-aged ladies who were being taught by trained Wana gals who are a part of our missionary team. During the literacy course last week one of the ladies pulled out a copy of her Wana New Testament and said, “I cannot read it yet but want to keep coming to the literacy class so that I will be able to read and understand it.” Our plans are to start literacy classes in 3 other villages in very near future (total of 4 villages), so will appreciate your prayers for our literacy team.
Of course for missionary teams to be able to access these remote locations it is important that we have airstrips and heli-pads. Our goal these past few months has been to open up two previous airstrips and construct a new one in another village – airstrips that are long enough to accommodate the larger Kodiak aircraft our mission uses. Last month a bull dozer had worked its way into the village of Paramba. In talking with the boss we were able to hire the dozer for 5 full days in which we were able to put in a 2,000 foot airstrip! Some recent rains revealed a soft spot or two so they are now working on fixing those spots in time to use the plane the second week of February when family/youth meetings are scheduled.
This month we also started a training program for our Wana churches which is “block teaching” that will be carried out in two separate tribal locations for a week in each village each month. Many of the subjects are subjects taught at our “Mission Training Center” which we felt would be beneficial to bring to our churches. Some of the subjects we will teach this year are: a mature church model, church and mission history, Bible lesson development, team work, family, and computer training. We will be bringing in missionary teachers from different places to help with this teaching. I personally will be involved in teaching Bible lesson development. We really appreciate your prayers for this as we desire to see new people trained for both serving the Lord in their own cultural context and cross culturally.
I am making plans to return to Asia Pacific on March 16. Besides doing some of the above block teaching we will also be holding a church wide Bible conference, and then making consultant visits to some other missionary teams. We always take some of our Wana leaders with us when we make consultant visits as we feel part of the discipleship process is to disciple them to be consultants to the many missionaries they have sent out. I will appreciate your prayers for the my personal needs as I am trusting the Lord for $2,000 for this this trip.
Both Jeanne and I want to take this opportunity to thank you so much for prayers for us and our ministry with the Wana Tribal people. As the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1, “I thank my God….for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”.
God Bless you,
Ed & Jeanne Casteel