Friday, May 30, 2008

Cathy goes to Africa . . . in Atlanta!

(photo removed by request)

Cathy's primary call to ministry is with Swahili-speaking refugees in the Clarkston area of Atlanta. People from war-torn countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Sudan and Somalia are being resettled in Atlanta by such agencies as World Relief. These people fled their homelands during periods of genocide. Many moved into refugee camps in Kenya and Tanzania. The woman in the photo (above) lived in refugee camps her whole life. These people learned to speak Swahili, the language Cathy grew up speaking as the daughter of missionaries to Kenya.The first time Cathy set foot in Clarkston, she couldn't quite believe she was still in America. This looked too much like home! God immediately laid a desire to help African refugees with language and life skills -- all with the ultimate goal of introducing them to Jesus Christ. What a blessing it has been to get to know the people in "the village," as we call it.
Cathy's dream was to go into home and form friendships with the people. By teaching English, literacy and adaptive living skills, she opens doors for God to touch hearts. Who could resist such beautiful people?

After-school Tutoring!

Residents at Huntington Ridge are 95% Hispanic. School is tough when English is your second language. We are blessed to have stepped into an after-school tutoring program that is already up and running! This year, tutoring has been offered on Tuesdays. Tim plans to increase the number of afternoons next fall.The owners and management at Huntington Ridge generously provided a large room, some storage closets and a bathroom for the after-school program. Kids spread their homework out on long tables and folding chairs. Volunteers arrive to help.

As soon as homework is complete, the children can go outside to play with various balls and other sports equipment. Tim added portable tennis nets and rackets to the fun!After everyone has finished their homework, Rudy Villasana or one of the other volunteers leads a short Bible study time. The kids vie to be allowed to say the final prayer. Sometimes several have the opportunity to pray.
Then it's time for snacks! The goodies go into coffee filters. What a great idea. Drinks are in small paper cups. Our biggest challenge here has been the field rat who has gnawed a big hole in the wall and sometimes helps himself to the candy and snack stores. Apparently, he has a preference for chocolate! So far this year, we've eluded him, though we know he's still getting in.
Our partners in the after-school ministry include Julie and her children Mark, Carrie and Emma. This family along with husband Ben lived at HR as missionaries for two years. Here you see Julie on the left planning the big end-of-school celebration with Tim and other volunteers.
Another former on-site missionary is Sherry who still comes back to help with tutoring. Only now she brings her precious son Wesley, who is always fun!We're so grateful to our partner, Perimeter Church, for supporting ministries at Huntington Ridge with volunteers, funding and prayer.

Moving to Atlanta

On April 28, 2008, our family -- Tim, Cathy, Andrei and Tessie Palmer -- drove through the entrance to Huntington Ridge apartment complex in Atlanta, Georgia. We are here as missionaries to immigrants and refugees. Yes, we count our beloved Border Collie as a partner in our work! Kids love Tessie, and she helps us build bridges.

On May 3, our furniture arrived. Dear friends in Missouri funded the transportation of our household through United Van Lines. What a blessing! The United team unloaded everything, and then we began the process of unpacking all those boxes. Even poor Tessie was exhausted!

The apartment had been in need of major renovation -- as you can see from this bathtub! A great team of college kids from Salado, Texas gave their spring break to scrub and paint our apartment. We are so grateful for this huge gift. The walls are now a beautiful shade of pale yellow, and all the cabinets and trim are white. Thanks for your service!

After we arrived, though, we still had a lot of interesting obstacles to overcome. Our supervisor, Tim Cummins (far left in the photo above), helped us so much. Tim runs Whirlwind Missions. Be sure to take a look at his website at to see the great work he's doing in Atlanta. Tim provided powerful pesticide to help tackle our cockroach problem. We also had several floods as we tried to set up our washing machine and get our dishwasher to work. Thank goodness for our friend, Bill Hickey, who works with Tim Cummins. He and the maintenance man, Jose, finally got the water under control. We still don't have a working oven, but other than that, things are functioning well.

Tim Cummins donated a camera, printer, and several other items to help our ministry in the technology realm. Bill Hickey and Tim's son Jesse helped us get all connected and wired up.

With the furniture in place and our appliances mostly working, we were ready to begin ministry!