Kate & Iri

Iri’s final weeks

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It’s already June and the official start of winter. It started here in Gisborne some days ago and most probably where you are too. Hope it’s not a sign of a harsh winter ahead. Iri is going to get a shock when he lands back in New Zealand but the jackets and jerseys which had been stored in the container for ten years are now all freshly washed and hanging in the wardrobe waiting. The process of unpacking the container and turning an empty house into our home has been a good project for me and there aren’t many sleeps to go now!

Iri is busily tying up the ends to his time in Kondoa, setting up the final exam timetable, paying final visits to villages he loves, and having visitors come to see him there before he says his final goodbyes and leaves for the last time. He’s trying to get away without farewells but I don’t think that will happen! On a recent return trip to one village he found that the local Christians had made such a wonderful effort to build their own church that we sought funding for the last of the timber from faithful Auckland supporters who were able to help complete the building. The local congregation had hand made the bricks and built the church themselves, saved and purchased the iron sheets and transported them three at a time by bicycle from Kondoa town – a trip of three hours by car so probably all day on a bike.

Sacks of maize have been purchased to be sent home with village pastors, boxes of Bibles bought and distributed, the vehicle serviced and repainted and a household inventory made of goods to be kept by the Akesters.

Would you join with us to cover everything with prayer for Iri and the Akesters including

safe travel safe storage of the household goods and vehicle safe transport, distribution and storage of maize supplies safe sharing of emotions at the time of leaving and arriving

We love and honour you for sharing this special time with us. May the Lord bless you abundantly.

Rain, Drought and Dudus

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There’s only four months to go until Iri is back from Kondoa.

While we were Skyping recently he complained that the rain was so, so heavy that he could hardly hear me. Unfortunately that rain was isolated and too late as most of the crops have already died before reaching maturity. Iri says that the drought conditions are serious which means a poor harvest ahead and hungry people in the coming months. The maize which the Bible School had purchased earlier and held in store have been attacked by ‘dudus’ (insects) during the holidays, so in an effort to save it from total destruction by these bugs, the sacks were taken quickly to the grinding machine once the problem was discovered. Sadly less than half of the maize was able to be rescued. Please pray for the food situation in the Kondoa region.

Another prayer point is for permanent staff at the Bible School. Not many teachers want to live and work three and a half hours north of the capital, Dodoma, in an area where few share our beliefs. Iri is making do with three teachers who come from the Diocese of Central Tanganyika for a week at a time and teach block courses, returning the next month to pick up where they left off. Not the ideal learning situation but it was through the support of the new Bishop of DCT, Dr Dickson Chilongani, that this assistance was made possible. His predecessor, Bishop Mdimi, was most supportive of the Diocese of Kondoa so it is indeed a blessing to think that this support will continue.

The School reopened mid- February and new students were welcomed although they had come without fees or food. That they felt called to come and study and go out to serve the Lord is blessing enough. Some come with a shirt and a pair of trousers, shoes but no socks, a bucket and if possible, a Bible.

Iri in Ethiopia

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The Faith2Share Leadership Consultation in Addis Ababa was a blessing in many ways.

Being the only Maori New Zealander that many of the people had ever seen, Iri got to tell them about NZCMS and the work the Lord is doing in our beautiful land. He spoke to Christian leaders from fifteen nations about the origins of NZCMS and the spreading of the gospel in New Zealand.

Chief topics at the conference were leadership, the responsibility to train local people to replace overseas workers, discipleship, and interactions with other cultures that have successful outcomes. A key theme was that we all serve the one God wherever we are and whatever our culture or background may be.

Besides meeting many international leaders, Iri had the opportunity to renew friendships with those we knew when we served in Gambella, Ethiopia. He met up with Bishop Grant and his wife, Doctor Wendy, who now work in Gambella – they looked quite worn out. Please pray for them as there are now more than 200 000 Southern Sudanese in the region – many expect the churches to look after this growing group.

People in the photo: Mark Oxbrow from the UK Faith2Share team, Co-ordinator and Bishop Joseph Mutungi with whom Iri lead the Sunday morning worship.

Update from Iri and Kate

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News and prayer update from the Matos:

NZCMS Mission Partner Iri Mato will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Faith2Share Leadership Consultation this week. Iri leaves Kondoa on Friday 3 October and returns on Friday 10 October, so there is a lot of travel involved. Please pray for safe travel and good connections.

A Kenyan, Dr Peter Okaalet will be the keynote speaker. The conference will be a focal point for 65-70 visitors plus many local church leaders. It will be an opportunity for Iri to meet with overseas CMS representatives and to renew friendships with Ethiopian Christian friends from the days when he and Kate served in Gambella, Ethiopia on the border of Southern Sudan. During the consultation Iri will be sharing in leading worship.

Please join us in praying for Iri as he travels and connects with members of our global CMS family.

Serving God from Opposite Sides of the Globe

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Iri and Kate Mato are both working for the Diocese of Kondoa, Tanzania. However, for this season Kate is based in New Zealand while Iri has returned to Africa – Kate is working from their daughter’s home because of troublesome blood clots which prevent her from flying. 

I often wonder why the Lord has stationed me back in New Zealand with Iri in Kondoa. I think it must be so that I can help our children with their little ones – this is indeed a blessing. Not being in Kondoa does, however, make working for the Bishop as Communications Director more difficult and I’m forever giving Iri messages for the office there.

Iri’s news is that the students have returned from placement a little wiser, having had their eyes opened to the real work of village Pastors. They have shared with children’s, youth and adult ministry, walked many kilometers evangelising, prayed with the sick and some have walked long distances to fetch water. Students are currently in Study Week with exam week to follow and are then on holiday for three weeks. Iri had hoped to come home during that break but Bishop has asked him to stay on as there are many visitors coming to the diocese. We’re hoping he can come home for three weeks maybe in July. It would be good for him and, for me!

The Bible School now has 20 students in their second year of theological studies. Iri and his team are working hard to develop students’ skills and knowledge and it was to this end that a former Msalato student, Daudi Chilemu, worked at the Bible School for two weeks of his parish holidays. He was a great encouragement to the students to whom he taught African Traditional Religion in a block course along with evening classes in English. Daudi was one of Kate’s first students at Msalato at a time when the extent of his English was, ‘ My name is Daudi. I comes from Vikonje.’ Now, he is completely fluent and hopes to continue his studies at St John’s University. We recall a time when Daudi and his wife used to sit under the trees breaking stones at $40 a truckload in order to feed and house their family. There are many stories of our students who have had difficult lives but now feel called by the Lord to serve him and help to extend his Kingdom.  These servants who come to study leaving families behind must find it difficult and your prayers would bring them comfort and blessings.