After months of planning, preparation, and prayer, we are finally Stateside and settled in to (temporary) life in Arizona! The first few weeks were spent catching up with family and adjusting to the nine-hour time difference (which proved particularly difficult for our boys, since they had to battle several bouts of colds on top of the jetlag). Skype and Face Time are a wonderful technology that have enabled us to see loved ones from afar, but nothing beats being in the same room as family! We are so grateful to be here…
It’s still surreal to think it’s been nearly two years since we moved across the Atlantic to South Africa, and yet, it feels so natural being here again. The past 20 months have been the longest Hunter has ever been overseas in a single stretch, so it’s particularly refreshing for him to be reunited with American friends and family, surrounded by familiar cultural norms.
Thank you to those of you who were able to come and hear me preach on Sunday night at First Baptist Church Tempe! It was incredibly encouraging to be given the opportunity, and having your support was an immense blessing!
We could not do what we do without you! Sunday was a beautiful and tangible reminder of how many people we have praying for us. It has given us a renewed sense of the calling God has placed upon our lives to be missionaries in South Africa.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Our little family of four will board the first of three airplanes tonight (the 23rd), and we will land in Phoenix on the 24th of October! We’ll be in the States until the 29th of December. We are so excited to visit Arizona for two months and share about the Ministry the LORD has allowed us to be a part of for the last 20 months in Africa.
If you’re able, please join us to hear Hunter share a message and report-back on our ministry:
November 24, 6PM
First Baptist Church of Tempe
4525 S McClintock Dr,
Tempe, AZ 85282
We'll keep you updated as more public meetings are arranged. We'd love to see you if you're in town! If you are interested in getting together with us or arranging a meeting with your church or small group, please e-mail me: Hunter.Combs89@gmail.com
Harriett Bathman: 1931 - 2019
My dearest Grandma went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, the 14th of September. It has been really hard to wrap our minds around the idea that she isn’t here anymore. She and my Granddad were a major influence for me in deciding to go into missions when I grew up - long before I met the man I'd marry who also wanted to be a missionary.
Hunter was quickly adopted into our family as if he were their own flesh and blood. They loved him dearly, and that meant the world to me! Their stories about their experience on the mission field will always be kept safe in our hearts. It's one of the things we'll miss the most about having them gone...
Flying Across the Continent
It was the evening of Saturday, June 15th, when I arrived at the airport in Maputo, Mozambique (the capitol). After a long day of travel, and wading through the bureaucracy of the customs and visa officials, I finally met up with Isak, our friend who is a missionary in Mozambique. This country is a strange fusion of Portuguese and African culture: I felt at times as if I were in South America with a hint of Africa thrown into the mix. It is a beautiful, lush country with friendly African people, who have a complex history of communism, Catholicism, and the Islamic slave trade.
And Just Like That, Summer Has Come to an End
March rains have wasted no time in making their mark on Cape Town. Our city has welcomed the sprinklings and downpours these past few weeks. After months of summer and continued water restrictions, thirsty gardens have been thoroughly quenched after consecutive hours of rain. The overcast sky and chilly south-easterly breeze make it easy to believe that winter is on its way. The warm embrace of summer is drawing to a close, just as the Northern Hemisphere is preparing for its warmest months. After so many years living in Phoenix, it’s strange to change our mindset on the reversed seasons here in the Southern part of the world.
It’s still surreal to us that we’ve been living in this beautiful city for a year now! We celebrated the first anniversary of our arrival (14 February, 2018) by going to the beach as a family and enjoying the last remnants of summer together. We keep forgetting just how close we live by the ocean and plan to make more frequent family trips there from now on.
Bellville South Outreach
We walked around a corrugated iron fence in order to reach the front door of the home. As we rounded the corner into the courtyard, the stench of dagga (marijuana) wafted through the air. A friendly tannie (Auntie) was standing with the front door open, looking across the courtyard to a group of eight guys and girls in their twenties. We instantly could identify where the strong aroma was coming from.
The soft-spoken tannie smiled and speaking Afrikaans welcomed Erik, Alieske, Marco, and me in to talk to the wayward youth sitting across her front yard. As we walked toward them, two guys were huddled over a hookah pipe, another guy was smoking a joint, and four girls were huddled around as if they had just been smoking some unknown substance. With every step we took, I could feel their carefree enjoyment crashing to a halt. They laughed sheepishly as we approached. A few of them tried to hide the blatant drug paraphernalia, but they could not hide the overwhelming smell of marijuana permeating the atmosphere of the outdoor sitting area.
I wanted to share with you about what the Lord is doing in the Nuba Mountains. As you know, this year a team from Frontline had the opportunity to visit the Nuban believers for two weeks. During that time, we were part of an outreach team that preached the Gospel and distributed many Bibles to schools in this remote 10/40 window area in North Africa.
We were able to successfully distribute 38,000 Bibles and just under 50,000 Story of Jesus picture books to 130 schools. This was a wonderful blessing to be a part of, but there are still many Christian leaders without any discipleship training resources.
You don’t have to be a ballerina to keep on your toes. We may live in a big city, but our life as missionaries has already proven this fact to be true.
Change of Plans
Shortly after we sent you our last family update, we made a pretty significant change regarding our mode of transportation to Back to the Bible Mission (BBM) in Barberton, South Africa. Rather than travel by air, we decided to travel by road as this would save us significantly in travel costs. This, naturally, affected our itinerary just a little since that involves driving nearly 4,000km (2,485mi) round trip. To give our American friends some perspective on how far that is, it’s the equivalent of driving from Phoenix, AZ, to New York City, NY! Another comparison would be driving from San Diego, CA, to Orlando, FL. That is literally across the U.S. from West Coast to East Coast!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Suffering, Sacrifice and Sanctions
It was surreal walking in places littered with fox holes and bomb shelters, knowing that a little over a year ago, bombs were being dropped on the very places I was travelling through. The thousands of children we shared the Gospel with in schools had endured aerial bombardments by the Sudanese government time and time again. Although horrific, it is commonplace for the Nuban people to have seen friends and family die in bombings and military attacks. By God’s grace and pressure from the US with a promise of sanctions being lifted, a ceasefire has been implemented in Darfur, Nuba and the Blue Nile. President Al-Bashir was not driven by compassion on the people he was killing, but by a financial raise in the country’s economy. This time of peace made our task of distributing Bibles to the Nuban schools possible.