Dear Praying friends,
The array of items on my desk is an accurate microcosm of missionary work. As expected, there are four bibles, an English dictionary, an Inuvialuit dictionary, an old school hand bombed address book, a hymn book and a book on revival by Ravenhill. There is the usual 21st century electronic wizardry; external hard drives, wireless router, chargers, cables and recharging batteries. My laptop, printer and an old school pair of drug store reading glasses occupy reserved spots on the desktop. (The real desktop, not the virtual one)
Along with the expected stuff there is a birthday card for mom needing a signature from her far away son, an exploded view of my truck’s transmission and the phone number of a parts guy in Yellowknife who said he’d call me back when the parts came in. Speaking of parts, the pullout writing surface of the desk has now become a shelf where the shifter and surrounding parts are sitting awaiting Jeff the afore mentioned parts guy to call.
I just properly stored a couple of shotgun shells that stood as paperweights, and there is a dry erase board with a multi colored “to do” list scrawled at a right angle to another list of things I need for Tuk. Odd scraps of paper with notes, phrases, reminders, phone numbers and late night thoughts lay here and there. Some extra printer paper and a cup full of pens, pencils and highlighters sit to my right as a reminder of a simpler time uncluttered with digital technology.
The hodgepodge desk is representative of a missionary’s life. Theology and devotion to Christ is certainly an obvious and large part of who a missionary is, but the normalcy ends there. We are mechanics, our own tech support and accountant. We are purchasing agents, medics, writers, sons and daughters. We teach, preach, parent, counsel, build, repair, fix and demolish. Our tools are bibles, hammers, rifles and wrenches. By the time a missionary reaches the field we are professional drivers, advanced telemarketers, and conference speakers. We dabble in audio visual production and become amateur historians of our field. Some are linguists, interpreters and translators of God’s precious Word. Missionaries must multitask.
This is my last newsletter until September. The short Arctic summer is extremely busy and it is a great help to slide the next newsletter one month. I appreciate your understanding. My summer work consists of ongoing duties in Inuvik, foundation repair in Tuk, paint my house and preach two weeks of Rock Crossing Bible Camp in Alaska. I am teaching four courses for Points North Baptist Mission and All Points Baptist Mission’s Advanced Missionary Training. I end the summer with a trip bringing my repaired boat back to the North from Manitoba for use in any aspect of ministry which puts us on the river.
Lois’ heath continues to stabilize and even improve. She can travel now with lesser difficulty and we humbly thank you for praying for her and we honor God for His healing touch. I have had a couple of skin cancer spots on my face dealt with and they have proven to be more embarrassing than dangerous. Angie is back from college for the summer and is an amazing lady. We are blessed by her walk with the Lord. Our other two kids are doing great in serving and preparing to serve.
The Tuk mission is going well. Our attendance is solid and we are building relationships with more and more people in Tuk. I continue to experience total liberty when preaching and I believe decisions are being made or at least pondered. I envision a day when we live in Tuk and we continue to move toward that end.
Your faithful monetary and prayer support is a source of continual blessing. Thank you very, very much. We do count on you and we know we can.
In His cold but easy yoke,
Steve, Lois and Angie Donley
Dear praying friends,
I suppose by the time this letter reaches you CHRISTmas will be over and the New Year will be upon us. The CHRISTmas season always holds great opportunity to reach people who are usually unapproachable concerning the things of the Lord. This year we have the opportunity to spend the CHRISTmas season in Tuktoyaktuk. We will be house sitting and will enjoy sharing Christ in the community by way of special services and hopefully some visits.
The 2040 window prayer initiative has already produced some results. Late October Bearing Precious Seed – Canada shipped a John and Romans to every household in the Northwest Territories! The staff emailed me in response to my last newsletter and was thrilled to be part of getting the truth to those NWT communities with little or no Gospel witness. Our efforts to evangelize the Western Arctic are always throttled by the exorbitant cost of travel. An adult return ticket to a fly in community such as Ulukhaktok (pop. 479) is $2,108.40. Paulatuk (pop. 341) demands $1,226.40 for return airfare and Sachs Harbour (pop. 135) a mere $1,526.00. Through the years Bro. Forney, myself and a few others have visited most of these communities and recently believers from our established ministries have delivered a witness in one form or another. But a consistent, faithful witness and church plant will most likely have to come from a God called local man. The 2040 window prayer initiative must include the prayer for laborers.
Lois traveled to Edmonton for an MRI to help diagnose her sensory input difficulties. A phone call from the Neurologist was good in that there were no tumors, cysts, blockages or evidence of stroke. We thank the Lord for this. She will meet with the Neurologist in January to see if there is anything else we can do to eliminate or at least lessen the debilitating results Lois experiences when she receives an overload of visual input or experiences something that taxes her inner ear when extra balance is needed. Travels on bumpy roads are a severe problem to Lois and we serve where bumpy roads, ice roads, and bumpy plane rides are a way of life. If this is the new normal for us, we will need much grace.
We have still not moved into the community of Tuk to live. I am waiting for the Lord to bring us there in His perfect timing. It seems no matter how long you have been a believer; waiting on the Lord is still a chore. Experience has taught me that waiting is still easier than undoing a bad choice. While we wait, I travel to Tuk each Sunday night and hold a worship service that is attended by around 20 people – give or take a few. The Lord has orchestrated some powerful services and I am absolutely positive the Lord is working. We shall reap if we faint not.
Thank you for the CHRISTmas offerings, gifts, correspondence and kindness. Our family is blessed and you are the vital part in His blessings being showered upon us. Your love for us is humbling and we thank God for such a faithful and engaged support family.
Steve and Lois Donley
The State of the Arctic
There is a tourism slogan that has been used in the Northwest Territories for a long time. It simply says, “Within reach, yet beyond belief”. This refers to the stunning natural beauty of the NWT and that it is possible to see and experience such a place. I have always thought this slogan fit perfectly into the spiritual side of things as well.
There are nine communities in the Arctic of the Northwest Territories of Canada. By “Arctic” I mean those communities that are physically above the imaginary line that runs at 66 degrees, 32 minutes North of the equator called the Arctic Circle. By Northwest Territories I mean exclusively that. Not the territory of Nunavut or the Yukon, and obviously not Alaska, USA.
The combined population of those nine arctic communities is 7134. For the past 20 years our focus has been on the three major communities in the extreme Northwest corner of the territory called the “Western Arctic.” Inuvik has a population of 3504, Tuktoyaktuk 935, and Aklavik has 655 people dwelling there. Those 5094 souls in the arctic of the NWT have had a gospel witness for decades. That leaves six communities and 2040 souls in the Arctic of the NWT that have had little or no gospel witness. In the same time span the western arctic has had the blessing of a consistent and clear gospel witness, the 2040 of the remaining six arctic communities in the NWT have not. They must be reached with the gospel. Is this not truly representative of “Within reach, yet beyond belief”?
So I want to start a prayer initiative. I’m going to call it the 2040 window prayer initiative. 2040 refers to the number of souls and window refers to the window of opportunity to reach those souls. At 52 years of age, the window of opportunity for me to reach those communities is almost closed. My mission director, Bro. Gary Forney is respectfully a bit older than me, so the window is a bit further closed for him. Larry Noland is focused on Aklavik and the other 13 missionaries of Points North Baptist Mission are dedicated to a ministry and people groups in other areas. The answer lies in those reading this letter. Some may surrender and go, and some may pray for the 2040 window. Some may give and some may promote Arctic Missions in their ministries. We truly are in a symbiotic relationship.
2040 window. Yep, I like it.
In lesser intense news, the meetings in Tuk have been good. Attendance is picking up since the weather has turned colder and I have experienced great liberty as I preach. Several visitors have been attending and the regulars have been faithful.
I was able to purchase a “new to me” snowmobile due to a generous love offering of a Canadian church and a specific offering from a small Ohio church. The Arctic Cat snowmobile was new to me but in actuality it was 99.3% brand new. The machine has 7 miles on it! Nonetheless was officially not new therefore the price was reflective of a used machine.
Lois is still adjusting and learning a “new normal” in dealing with her continued neurological difficulties. Angie attends Bible college in Florida and Steven and his family are living in Manitoba attending Bible college too. Becky is a mom of 3 now and is faithfully serving alongside her husband in Nunavut.
Thank you for your love and support both in prayer and finances. We are grateful God has allowed us to partner with you.
Steve and Lois Donley
February 7, 2012
February 2012 Newsletter
Dear Praying friends,
A bit over 100 days and we will begin our return to the Arctic. We have added three new supporting churches with two pending since we started furlough. We have reported to many of the churches that currently support us if they contacted me and asked for a meeting. Our travels have taken us recently to Texas, Florida and Ontario. I’m writing this from Buffalo, NY and will be in Western Ohio this coming Sunday. Meetings in Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida will keep us busy through March.
Please specifically pray that the meetings in Wisconsin and Michigan will result in new support. Also please pray that the work of reporting to supporting churches will result in God meeting our needs for the far North. I have scaled back our wish list to two items on a must have list. We need our truck’s 4X4, shift on the fly feature repaired and we need a snowmobile in Tuk.
While stopped waiting for traffic a driver in a minivan plowed into the back of our truck right before Christmas. The eventual repair actually improved the overall condition of the vehicle. As well, we had a $2700.00 engine repair in Texas that solved a serious and potentially dangerous problem for Arctic extremes. You may also remember the heater core issues of September 2011 that were resolved in Ontario. Barring new difficulties and addressing the remaining 4X4 concerns, our vehicle will be in better condition than it has been for years. (By the way, it is a 2002 model with 226,000+ kilometers on it)
To go to Tuktoyaktuk without a good, reliable snowmobile would be foolishness. I said in an earlier wish list that $6,000.00 would get a reliable used snowmobile. I stand by that figure, but I am actually asking the Lord to provide His choice for me. Less or more, whatever He wants. So could you pray the remaining meetings might bring provision for this need as well?
Angie is in College in Florida and Lois and I are bona fide empty nesters. Adjustment is part of life and some changes are welcome and some are not. We constantly find His grace is sufficient. Our camper is pretty empty without Ang, but we are happy she is preparing to serve the King someday. We prayed for the Lord to put each of our children on the front lines and that is exactly what He is doing. Becky is in Rankin Inlet, Steven is currently in Inuvik, and Angie has inquired about Islamic people groups. Our hearts yearn for our 3, soon to be 4 granddaughters. However, Lois and I agree we would have it no other way. Children in the centre of God’s will are more to be desired than fine gold.
The ministry in Inuvik is operating fine without us and we sorely miss the people there and are counting the days until we meet again. Under new leadership they will have to look elsewhere for pastoral guidance and direction, but they will always be the recipients of our love and prayers.
Our sending church is going through a pastoral change and we are in prayer it will all turn out well. I have tried to be pulpit supply as often as my schedule allows. Leadership transitions are rarely crisp and precise events. Difficulties rise and fall and change is inevitable. These changes should be smooth with the Holy Spirit, but experience has us taught us to keep our eyes open. I will keep you informed of pertinent victories or necessary changes.
Thank you for your prayer and support,
Steve & Lois