Here just now we do not have much in the way of activity apart from the normal meetings. This is the summer holidays, so camps are the order of the day for the young people. The Oran young people had their camp from 1st-8th January and from what we have heard it seemed to be a good camp: there were no problems with any campers, and the speaker, an Argentine missionary, was very practical in his teaching, and this seemed to go down well with the young people. There were some professions of faith and others were challenged about their walk with the Lord. Other camps have taken place during January, and yet others are being held presently (February) and also in March. Camps are great times of fellowship, and great times of learning daily from His Word.
Later in January one of the lads saved last year at camp and baptised at Easter was keen to witness to his old companions who are still into drugs and alcohol. A group of the young people organised an open-air meeting in the area where this lad lives. They got benches for the people to sit under a tree and quite a nice group gathered to listen, including those who had been his companions before he was saved. He gave his testimony, after which another lad preached the gospel and did very well. There was no trouble with his old friends. They sat quietly and listened to all that our fellow had to say. While the meeting was in progress I went round the area with tracts, and when the meeting finished, the young people went into the audience and spoke personally to those who had gathered to listen. Most of our young people have now returned to their places of study at different universities. We miss them, but those who are left are still keen to let others know the way of salvation.
On the last Saturday of January we had our first baptism of the year, two girls (one from my class last year) and three lads. All but one are in their teens, the other is a bit older. There should have been three girls, but the third is at present in hospital awaiting an operation.
Schools re-open in March for another year, so our Sunday school work starts up again for another year as well. We usually begin two weeks after the normal schools are organised. Last year I [Irene] had two classes, one in the morning with girls 12-14 years in the central Sunday School and another in a town roughly 17 kilometres from Oran with girls a bit younger, although some were over 15 years. I imagine I will have the same classes again this year, but with a slight difference in the central Sunday School. My older girls have moved up to the Bible class, so I will be receiving probably the 11 years old and upwards till they reach Bible class age. Dick still has his Bible class for any over 15 years old. He still has his turn with the preaching, but has to read everything now. The arterio sclerosis is under control with medication, but there is nothing else that can be done apart from that. He had a triple by-pass 18 years ago and has had three stents inserted in other arteries but there does not seem to be any other hope of more stents. He does very little walking or lifting, but apart from being slow he gets around the city by car.
This year the hall where the assembly meets is celebrating 50 years since it was built by a Canadian missionary. We are trying to give the place a face lift, as after 50 years it is badly in need of repair. Wood is being put round the walls, and we are getting new benches made, and of course the place will be painted inside and out. God willing we plan a conference to celebrate in August, so hopefully things will be finished by then. Jim Burnett has been invited for the weekend of meetings, and hopefully another American missionary will be able to come as well. He was once working in the assembly here, so it would be nice if he could be with us. He returns from his furlough in the States in the middle of August, so whether he will come at the end of August we do not know yet. The assembly is older than 50 years; it was probably 70 or 80 years ago when the first Christians met in a house, then in a wooden hall before the existing hall was built.