Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year in CAR

One of my favorite scriptures for New Year's Day is "Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare…"  (Isaiah 42:9a).  What new things have happened in the Central African Republic (CAR) during the past year?  What does the new year hold?

In Baboua, where we live, one new thing that has come to pass in 2009 is that we are now connected to the rest of the world by cell phone.  We are no longer quite so isolated from the rest of the world.  Another new thing is the appearance of Chinese engineers who are building a highway from the Cameroonian border to Bouar, headquarters for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR.  This distance of some 85 miles now takes about four hours to traverse on the dusty, pot-holed, dirt road that serves as the main highway connecting the capital with the rest of the world.

During the past year, peace reigned throughout most of the CAR, though there were a few small disturbances in the far north and east of this Texas-sized country.  Pray for peace to continue in 2010, especially throughout the presidential election and legislative election scheduled later this year.  According to the United Nations, "CAR is now ranked 179 out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index." This is actually a slight improvement from 2008, but it indicates the severity of problems such as infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition, lack of education and medical care, lack of access to clean water, etc.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR has weathered a difficult year.  Nearly half of its funding comes from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  Mission giving was down in 2009, resulting in cutbacks first of 7%, then 10% to ELCA's grants to CAR.  Programs which have suffered include treatment for AIDS patients, clean water for villages, and education for seminary and Bible School students.  So far the church has been able to make some budget reductions without having to close any programs.  Yet, if the cuts continue, some difficult decisions will have to be made.  Your continued support of our work here and of Global Mission makes a big difference in this country which is so impoverished.

One bright spot has been the construction of the health clinic in Gallo, a town about thirty miles east of us.  Questions still remain as to how to fund the continued operation of this clinic, but it will open its doors in early 2010 to help improve the quality of health care in this part of CAR. 

We want to say "Thanks!" to all of you who have supported us financially and have prayed for us and for our work here in CAR during 2009.  Your help has made a difference.  We could not be here without you.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with you, serving Christ together in 2010.

Your missionaries to CAR,

Joe, Deborah, and Christa Troester

Joe and Deborah Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic.   Pastor Deborah teaches Greek and English at the Theological School in Baboua. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Their daughter, Christa, attends seventh grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.



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