2016 December 19
Dear friends and family,
We are excited to share with you the latest of our activities.
Recently the Central African Union Mission (composed of five countries in West-Central Africa) asked us if we could print the Sabbath School Bible Study Guides for everybody. We have been desiring to set up a more capable printing operation, and we took this as an encouragement to move forward. Little did we know what we were getting into. Then, in one day, we received $17,000 USD in unsolicited donations for the printing operation! We took that as another encouragement that God wanted us to move forward.
A short list of equipment grew in length and price as we began calculating what was needed. Jonathan's parents and siblings helped immensely in the States to help with researching equipment and ordering. Jonathan's parents packed everything up on three pallets (including one crate pallet), carefully spray painting boxes to make the valuables less noticeable, and shipped it via air freight to Ndjamena. Many people were praying for the safety of the equipment as it arrived in one of the most corrupt countries on the planet.
Sure enough, when the security personnel saw the spray paint on the boxes, they literally ripped into almost everything they could rip into to get a peak at what was inside. They even somehow removed one side of the crate and tore into almost everything within reach. To our amazement, nothing seems to have been stolen!
As I was unable to travel to receive the shipment, I agreed on a shipping contract and sent a friend to Ndjamena with instructions to pick up the pallets at the airport with a 3-ton flatbed truck (specifying no pickup truck was to be used) and deliver it directly to us in Bere, on any day but Sabbath. Guess what? The shipment of fragile printers and other equipment was loaded and unloaded no fewer than four times by the time it arrived! It arrived in a pickup truck. On Sabbath morning. The crate was on its side and one of the printers was on its side. [see picture #1] The driver agreed to wait to unload until after sundown. Then, with a little muscle and a lot of brains, we were able to unload almost a ton of supplies and equipment. [see picture #2]
After seeing how they had tied the crates to the pickup truck and how the rope had cut deep into the boxes, we were sure that the printers would be crushed. One printer was even shipped on its side! Before unloading, we had a special prayer that God would perform a miracle and allow all the equipment to be functional. Once the pallets were safely on the ground, we started to open the most badly damaged ones. Not a single thing was broken, not even a plastic hinge where the rope was resting after it cut through multiple layers of thick cardboard. To our amazement, even the canning jars packed on top of the printer were unbroken. The rope had penetrated far into the box, but had cut the cardboard between the jars. [see picture #3] God's special protection angels had been busy.
Late that night, my brother-in-law Nathan and I set up the first equipment and tested it. The printer worked flawlessly! Praise the Lord. I left early the next morning to Ndjamena to meet with the Gospel Outreach Canada director and returned Friday. During that time, Nathan started printing on our first contract of quarterlies. We really appreciate the help of Nathan and his family during the short time they were here. [see picture #4]
Currently, we are continuing printing about 2500 quarterlies for the Union. We are about finished with the first quarter and have already printed over half of the 2500 quarterlies for second quarter. [see picture #5] We have spent a lot of time training our first workers. Progress has been slow, but each day more materials are produced! [see picture #6] I am happy for their help, and they are even coming early and staying late into the night to help us finish the job.
At one point our binding machine jammed. The man at the technical support number gave me the bad news: "This is a very unusual problem, and it will require us to replace the glue pot. I'll send you a repair procedure that fixes the problem about 5% of the time, but I'll go ahead and prepare the replacement part for shipping, as I'm sure you'll need it." Following the procedure, I discovered slight improvement. I repeated the procedure a second time. A little better. After the third and fourth time, the problem was resolved and the machine operated like new again! We again praise the Lord for this miracle. It is our only binding machine at this point, and if it had broken down, it would have been probably at least two weeks before we could have received the replacement part.
Now, we are almost finished with binding the first quarter. We just have the final trimming and hope to ship them to Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Tchad (where we live) before the end of this week. [see picture #7] Then maybe we can rest and enjoy a little vacation.
Please continue to pray for our printing operation. This first job is a big one and has challenged us in just about every way. But we believe that God desires to use this press to publish the good news of salvation broadly and rapidly to hasten His coming. And He is faithfully supplying our needs and protecting the equipment to His glory.
All of the equipment cost a lot of money, and we are thankful to each one of you who contributed time or money or prayers to this project and your continued support to the publishing work here in Africa. We are looking forward to future printing jobs such as other tracts and materials printed in the local languages (for example Steps to Christ in Nangjere).
And if you want to come and help us as a volunteer for a period of time, please contact us! We are looking for volunteers.
I'd better get back to checking on the progress of binding and cutting!
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon and Liliana Dietrich