2017 September 3
Dear friends and family,
Greetings again from the middle of Africa! We have a lot to share, so we'll break it up into several emails. This one will share about our publishing activities and plans. The next one will share more tidbits about life including sicknesses and a personal testimony from a newly converted young man.
As most of you know already, last year, the Lord laid it on our hearts to start a small printing operation in a remote village in southern Chad, Africa. The church officials for our Union or (region of five countries) wanted us to print the Sabbath School lessons. We had many questions. How would we find reliable and sufficient power to run sensitive equipment in the bush? Would a laser printer hold up in dusty conditions? Would the toner melt in storage because of the hot climate? Where would we get a sufficient quantity of paper of a sufficient quality at a reasonable price? We were told by one person that our goal was simply impossible for the time-frame we had to work with. But God knew the answers. With much prayer and research, our team moved forward with the purchase, shipment, and installation of the first equipment.
The printers arrived after bouncing on rugged roads in a pickup truck, and were functional because of God's miracle of protection. For printing a few tracts of this and a few tracts of that, we are well-equipped. We are operating most of the equipment from a 5 kilo-watt diesel generator. However, recently, the generator broke down for the second time while I was on a two-day trip to Ndjamena. A local mechanic came and replaced the second broken push-rod and the engine roared back to life and the printing continued before I returned! More recently, the generator broke down again. This time it refused to start.
The backup plan, an old generator several decades old, also refused to start. Because of a delay in receiving the digital files, we were in a big hurry to print the third quarter of Sabbath School lessons. The longer we take, the longer the members throughout four different countries have to wait for their lessons. And so we were printing from around 6am and continuing until 6pm.
But each time the generator breaks down, the work halts. As usual, I take my challenges to the Lord: "Lord, this is Your equipment. These studies are for Your church members. We am not making any profit yet on these lessons. You have worked miracles to get us this far and will not abandon Your work. Please teach me what to do." My friend and I look at this, we test that, no voltage here, yes voltage there, but why won't it start? Then I receive an irresistible idea: "Go get a hammer and whack it!" "That's too simple," I think, "we've already tried what's reasonable." But I am still learning to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. It's always a good idea. So I have my friend turn the key while I whack on and around the starter. The generator immediately roared back to life and we continued printing!
We experienced a similar situation with the printer, too. The printer was laying the toner on the page, but not heating it up. The letters on the page could simply be rubbed off. I went through the maintenance manual and tried the troubleshooting steps with my voltmeter, praying all the time. At the end, the printer was still malfunctioning. I prayed again, "God, this is Your printer. I'm just operating it for You. If you don't want it to work, You know better than me. I've done what I can, and the rest is up to You. Please teach me if there is something else I can do, but I'm going back home soon." And so, before leaving the case as hopeless, we decided to run one more test print. This time, the toner was mostly stuck to the page. Excitedly, I said, "Let's send one more!" This time, the page came out with the toner well fixed to the page. Obviously, I did not fix the printer; "it fixed itself." But no, it didn't fix itself. God fixed it. And He is teaching us and our team to rely on Him each and every day. We are laying plans to order a more reliable generator and to get another printer and more equipment so that we will have back-up systems. But in the meantime, we trust in Him to keep everything running.
"With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible."
We have finished printing the Bible lesson quarterlies for third and fourth quarters. That marks the end of our first contract to print 10,800 quarterlies for the year 2017! That is approximately 1.3 million book pages of Bible study material! May God be praised and His name honored, because this achievement was nothing short of a miracle. We pray that God blesses all of this material as it is distributed in four different countries. We also just printed and shipped an order of tithe envelopes, receipts, baptismal certificates, and member cards for the Chad Mission (the local church in this country).
Recently the book _Reponses de Dieu aux questions de l'homme_ (God's Answers to Man's Questions) was digitalized in French and translated into Nanjgere. Editing is recently finished on the French version, and this week we plan to print the first copies; we should begin printing copies in Nangjere soon when the last editing is finished. This book is used as a baptismal preparation guide and as a study guide for small groups before they are organized as churches. _Steps to Christ_ in Nangjere is finally ready for final edit before printing. We hope to publish this book before the end of the year. The book _Baptism_ that I authored is now translated from French to Nangjere and is being digitalized from note paper to the computer.
To accommodate our increased workload and expansion plans, we are currently adding a 15 foot extension to the container that is our current "publishing house." The walls are made of brick. This room will be the packing room for already completed books. (See attached photo).
We are hoping to have another pallet sent early this fall which may
include another printer, binder, and paper cutter, along with other
supplies. If you would like to support our printing work, here are some
$4000 - black-and-white printer
$5750 - hot-melt book binding machine
$2000 - professional paper-stack cutter
$ 15 - one ream of A3 paper (enough to print about 40 small books)
$ 30 - will print about 20 small 100-page books (on the Sabbath or on Baptism)
$ 10 - will print 250 tracts (8 page quarter page????)
$10,000-$15,000 - A 20-ft container of printing paper. This is a rough estimate based on multiple estimates from different paper factories around the world. Importing a container of paper significantly reduce our expenses and allow us to multiply pages of truth much more efficiently than before.
$12,000 - a reliable 15kva diesel generator
Stay tuned for the next email with several stories of God's protection, provision, and mercy!
Until next time, be faithful!
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon and Liliana Dietrich