|Serving Christ Wholeheartedly - December 2006|
Dear Friends and Family!
Greetings to you all. Writing a letter like this is always a good exercise as it keeps you informed on the comings and the goings in the Hammond family, but it also is such a wonderful reminder to us for the many things we have to be grateful for. As we begin shifting gears and trying to slow down towards the end of this year, we look back in thanksgiving, but also ahead in faith at the many opportunities the Lord has in store for us.
I’m certain that all parents will echo the sentiment that our children all grow up too quickly. When I get caught up in the busyness of a home schooling schedule, I have to frequently remind myself that this is only for a season and that soon it will pass. Our days run into weeks and months and it is good to reflect at this time of the year all that the Lord has brought to pass.
After my long illness last year, I am grateful to the Lord for His mercy in allowing complete healing to take place. I have fully recovered from my lengthy bout with hepatitis and am back to full strength. In June, I was wondering if I should take part in our annual Great Commission Course 9 hour hike up and over the full length of Table Mountain. So I had a full liver profile done and the results were totally normal. We are thankful indeed.
In January, Calvin joined our home school environment at home and this changed things around here radically. Calvin’s non-stop energy requires lots of creativity and output on my part. He has no end to his imagination, especially when it comes to conquering his garden. If he is not conquering land, attacking the enemy from the vantage point of the tree house or defending helpless women and children (friends or siblings), he is putting together makeshift lances, rifles with bayonets (mom’s butter knife) or even using music stands as weaponry. He always ensures that he is well equipped to handle any combat situation and when called to work ‘at school’ his reasons for not needing to do this at this precise moment are equally creative. Despite this, we have made it through most of grade one and he is eager to tackle grade two. His 7th birthday was celebrated by hiring a water slide in the back garden. Calvin was invited to participate in a Talent Identification program for gymnasts and he has thoroughly enjoyed this. This year he was invested into Cubs (Scouts) and proudly wears his uniform every Friday night.
Christopher has done well at school this year and looks forward to being in grade five in January of 2007. Christopher was also invested in Cubs earlier in the year and has been working on earning his achievement badges. He took up trampolining this year and in a very short time has accomplished forward and back flips and all manner of twists and turns on the trampoline. We celebrated his 11th birthday by watching the recently released movie ‘Cars’. With each Birthday we celebrate, we give thanks to the Lord for sparing Christopher’s life. His kidney function continues to be moderate and he copes well. Growth (or the lack thereof) is a continual battle, which becomes more and more evident the older he gets. I pray for wisdom here, that we would be able to, with good nutrition, help him grow as much as possible. Under the tutelage of our friend and co-worker Tim Keller, Christopher has become efficient in building computers from spare parts and can assemble one mostly by himself now. His fascination with cars and all moving parts associated with vehicles continues to grow and he has become adept at surfing the web for car sites he can order spare parts from. These selected essential items are ordered for the car ‘he owns’. He looks forward to having driving lessons with Granddad as soon as he is tall enough.
Daniela celebrated her 13th birthday this year with a big party. She had 15 friends for a sleepover at the local Girl Guides hall and between the mattress surfing and late night movies little sleep was had. Daniela looks forward to starting grade 8 in January of 2007. She was privileged this year to have several months of private art lessons, mainly in watercolours. This has unleashed her creativity and given her a new lease in the art department. She is creating her own cards from her paintings and is hoping to earn some pocket money this way. Our sewing classes have added new dimensions this year by learning many new skills on the sewing machine. The most recent project was making aprons, because in our kitchen, whoever has the apron on is queen and decides what is to be cooked or baked. Daniela has greatly increased her skills in the kitchen. Her talent for baking in particular has added many a delicacy to our enjoyment. This year was the fourth year the girls have participated in the cooking courses attended by home-schooled children. Daniela passed the Royal School of Music exams for piano in grade 4 and continues to work hard at this discipline. Ice-skating and Irish dancing occupy much of our spare time and progress has been made in both disciplines. Daniela won two bronze and one silver medal in ice-skating and passed skills 4. She won a gold medal in one of the Irish competitions as well. In September Daniela had the opportunity to travel to KwaSizabantu Mission Station in Natal with Peter. She enjoyed attending the Mission station School, singing in their choir and renewing old friendships.
Andrea decided to expedite her High School career this year and finished her grade 9 work early. She has fast-forwarded into her grade 10 year and is nearly finished with the first semester. She scored very well in her Iowa Standardized Achievement Tests and her favourite subject continues to be English. She is formally enrolled at Bob Jones University, which is a tough program and keeps us all on our toes. In May this year Andrea earned her Chiefs Challenge in Girl Guiding, which entitles her to become a Ranger. This officially ended her career in guiding. It was a landmark achievement and we were proud of her perseverance in this. Along with Daniela, Andrea passed the Royal School of Music Piano exams in grade four, nearly earning a distinction. Irish Dancing continues to be Andrea’s favourite sport, but she also keeps very fit by participating in self-defence kickboxing classes. Under the careful guidance of Granddad, Andrea is becoming a proficient driver. She hopes to be able to get her drivers licence in America next year.
All of our children attended the Great Commission Course again in June. This year Peter chose to get the participants of our training Course to assist at a local Mission Station. The duties included scrubbing of floors, painting walls, sanding wooden doors, helping to dig trenches and any other manual labour needed. Daily outreaches, ministry opportunities, radio interviews, soccer matches and mountain hikes added to the well-rounded mission course.
In January Peter launched The Reformation Society. This group meets once a week to learn more about our Christian Heritage and all the great Reformers. Andrea and Daniela attend this meeting weekly, and Andrea receives credit for taking the course (and the exams) as part of her education in History.
I am very grateful to the Lord for sending me help in our home schooling in the form of two very special tutors. One is our good friend Averil, who tutors Andrea and Daniela in maths and science. Averil and I co-op in our home school set up and I teach her young son Adam along with Calvin twice a week. Another great help has been the addition to our Frontline team of Ashley Hilde. Ashley was home schooled in America herself, using much of the same curriculum we are using here. She has taken on both Andrea and Daniela in English, Geography and History. Ashley’s style is fresh and invigorating and she is able to help the girls wade through the mountains of work by using good technique and a helpful approach so that all the material can be covered. This has been not only a great help and encouragement to me, but has enabled me to concentrate on the boys as well as on some writing projects for the local Christian ‘JOY!’ magazine.
My parents continue to be a great support in our family and ministry life. Despite Mom’s needed operation to insert a pacemaker and the setback this initiated, Mom is a constant encouragement for me in so many areas. Truly, the Lord has blessed us by allowing my parents to live so close to us and for us not only to be friends but co-workers.
One of the greatest treats for my Mom and myself was to visit family and friends in Austria this April. My Mom had not yet met her two greatgrand children, or her grandson-in-law. We were able to stay on my niece Lenora and family’s beautiful farm in Mondsee and many a trip down memory lane was taken. The hospitality, friendships, surroundings and fellowship were a rare treat. What a blessing this was for us to enjoy together. Peter and Dad held the fort here in Cape Town very ably, and we returned finding all things in order.
In August this year my sister Debbie from Austria visited us for three weeks. It was such a joy to have a well-seasoned and experienced teacher in our home for this time. Debbie was invaluable in giving me advice on all sorts of fronts. Her biggest input though was in the German department. She arrived armed with a program for each of the children, which was tailor made to suit their style, personality and ability. Her visit was one of God’s many blessings this year. I was also blessed by a visit from Jane Keirnes and friends in September and it was refreshing to share fond memories of our Tauernhof days in Austria as well as to make new friends from Arizona.
Christmas is my favourite holiday and is made even more special by being able to hear from all of you. Thank you, to our friends and supporters for your love, encouragement and support. Our family is blessed by special friends in Texas who keep us well supplied with coffee, chocolate chips and the Country Sampler magazine (to name a few). These monthly blessings help me to keep on keeping on, when the ministry seems lonely and when I feel like giving up. God uses all of you to encourage us in so many ways. Thank you, to our friends and family who are a vital part of this work and who help make it possible. May your Christmas be blessed as you celebrate the Reason for the season.
PETER’S PAGE - FOR REFORMATION AND THE GREAT COMMISSION
2006 has been a tremendous year of progress for our family and mission. On so many levels and fronts we have grown deeper in our devotion to the Lord, and more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission. God has abundantly blessed and multiplied the effectiveness of our ministries this year. I completed seven ministry trips this year, including to the Congo, Zambia, Switzerland, Kwa-Zulu, Nigeria and the USA. I also helped launch the new JOY! magazine, as a Contributing Editor. This full colour, 100 page magazine has already reached printruns of 30,000 copies each edition and is marketed on shelves throughout the country.
Along with my father-in-law, Rev. Bill Bathman, we launched a new church planting project: which has been blessed with souls saved and families strengthened. Livingstone Fellowship is rooted in the historic creeds of Church, inspired by the great Reformation doctrines, committed to fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ and dedicated to applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life.
Also in January 2006, we began weekly Reformation Society meetings. These Thursday evening studies include films and documentaries on various Reformers, Bible studies, presentations and discussions on the great Reformers and doctrines which changed the world forever. Many new ministries have flowed out of these Reformation Society evening meetings, including a dynamic CD ministry and the ReformationSA.org website. Most importantly, by God’s grace, I was able to complete The Greatest Century of Reformation book in time to be launched at a Ministers Conference near Zürich, and at the Geneva Bible Institute in Switzerland. The Greatest Century of Reformation book was also later launched at the Huguenot Museum in Franschhoek. Our CD and DVD ministry has expanded dramatically this year, and we are now offering MP3’s and CD-Roms on our leadership training programmes, including The Great Commission Course, Biblical Worldview Summit, Muslim Evangelism Workshop, The Reformation Society and for the William Carey Bible Institute.
My daughters, Andrea and Daniela, have fully participated in the Reformation Society Thursday night meetings, including writing the exams. The boys also participated in producing a Reformation Map project during our Biblical Worldview Summit. All of the children have helped with various outreaches during the year, with Daniela joining me for a ministry trip to Kwa-Zulu, and Calvin assisting me in several Evangelism Workshops. Andrea and Daniela also participated in most of the Great Commission Course, including hikes and outreaches and the work parties to nearby KwaSizabantu Mission to help with the painting of their expanding buildings. With ongoing threats we also added archery training to our children’s shooting and self defence classes.
When Daniela was turning 13 she invited many of her friends to a sleep over at the local Girl Guide Hall, which we hired out for the night. As we were getting them settled, I noticed some teenage boys on their skateboards hovering outside. I told Lenora that I was going to threaten them with severe bodily consequences if any of them dared step over the threshold onto the Girl Guide property. On my way out I was amazed to see Calvin walking towards me from those very boys. Calvin told me: “I’ve been talking to these boys. I told them the Ten Commandments, that they were lost and going to hell. I shared with them the Gospel presentation, and I think that some of them are ready to give their lives to the Lord. But I need your help. Can you come and pray with them please?”
I was stunned. I also felt severely rebuked of the Lord. I wasn’t thinking of their souls! In fact, I had no charitable thoughts at all at the time! Yet, Calvin, just 6 years old at the time, had taken the initiative and had challenged these teenagers with the Gospel. I went over and, sure enough, they were most receptive and in a teachable frame of mind. I counselled and discussed with them the implications of committing their lives to Christ, and had the joy of leading three of them to Christ in prayer that night.
Later, I told Calvin: “God really spoke to you tonight!
Calvin responded: “But, I didn’t hear Him!”
“But God did speak to you,” I told him. “Just as Samuel thought that Eli had called him in the tabernacle, so you need to remember what God’s voice sounded like, so that you can recognise it next time: ‘Speak Lord, for your servant listens.’ Calvin, none of the rest of us were thinking of these boys eternal destinies, but God spoke to you and you were the one who listened to what God’s Spirit was saying.”
My father-in-law later told me that Calvin came rushing over to him exclaiming: “Granddad, Granddad, God spoke to me tonight!” Calvin continues to be keen to share Scripture verses at church services and the Gospel to strangers.
Thank you so very much for your love, prayers, encouragement and support for our family and mission. May the Lord abundantly bless and reward you for your thoughtfulness and generosity.
May the Lord be your joy and strength
always in every prayer of mine making request
for you all with joy, For your fellowship in the