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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deputation Update - December 2007

Dear Family & Friends,

Christmas seems to get more and more hectic each year, often for the wrong reasons. We wanted to take some time out to let everyone know what God is doing in South Africa at The Pines Christian Care Centre.

First, our lives are seem like a roller coaster, and we’re getting towed up the big hill right now. On the one hand, you’re wondering why you ever allowed yourself to be strapped in, and on the other you can’t wait to get to the top and enjoy the ride. It definitely seems that we currently have as much control over the speed of our lives as the riders would on a coaster. Of course, to take this analogy to its logical conclusion, all we can do is hold up our hands in the spirit of I Tim 2:8, and trust that The Architect knows what He is doing.

My last day at Wells Fargo is January 4, 2008. We hope to put our house on the market the next week. If anyone is looking for a ranch-style house in the Ankeny area, let us know☺. Several other things need to be done in January, including removal of 2 wisdom teeth for Louis, application for our residence VISA with the SA government, making shipping arrangements for our container, and several other things. Pray that things will go smoothly, and mostly that God will bless the sale of our house.

Just the other day, Amber sat down and calculated our exact support level. Currently, we are at 91.87% committed, meaning we would need approximately $400 per month in addition to what we already have. However, we are praising the Lord, as the last few months several donors have given above what they had actually committed, so we have been receiving just over 100% of our necessary support level. Again, thank you to all who have demonstrated their faithfulness to God in this area. We ask that you would send us a photo of yourself, so we can know you better, and so we can be reminded to lift you up on prayer as well. Our address is listed below, or you can email a digital picture to louisotool@gmail.com.

It appears February will primarily be spent packing and moving, as well as spending time with family and friends. Our weekends are filling up quickly. We booked our tickets, and we are scheduled to fly out on March 9th. Amber was able to contact a travel agent, who arranged a discount for our airline tickets. We were able to obtain them for a couple thousand dollars less than we had expected, and we give God the glory for how He has operated in our behalf so far.

Thank you all for your prayers, and again, feel free to contact us at any time. I have attached the latest update from The Pines, so you will have a better idea of what is going on there.

Loving Jesus,

Louis & Amber O'Tool
louisotool@gmail.com
PO Box 1083
Ankeny, IA 50021
515-371-8697

Monday, November 5, 2007

Deputation Update - November 5, 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

As you know from our last update, we are a Chicago Cubs family. Unfortunately, the season didn’t go quite as well as hoped, although there’s always next year. Speaking of next year, I am happy to report that we anticipate moving to South Africa on March 9, 2008.

To fill you in on the details, I’d better start at the beginning. We started the fund-raising process in February 2007. At the time, we set as our goal to be fully supported by the end of October 2007. We knew this was an aggressive goal, but as we looked at the tremendous needs in South Africa, we decided we would pray in faith that God would work toward that end.

At the beginning of October, we were about 55% of our necessary support level, with an $1800 per month still to be raised. We had several individuals/groups contact us with their intent to support us on a monthly basis, most notably within the last 2 weeks. Our support level now stands at about 85%, with approximately $600 per month yet to be raised.

We have decided to start making firm plans regarding our move. We received Meredith’s passport just this last week, and we are looking into all the details required, including shipping a container of our belongings, obtaining international health insurance, applying for a VISA, etc… We also have a house to sell, and we have kicked the final preparations for that into high gear; just this week I dropped to part time at Wells Fargo, and as it now stands, January 4th will be my last day. I wanted to mention that both Amber’s and my employers have been extremely helpful and cooperative to accommodate us.

While we still have a portion of our support to be raised, we are trusting the Lord that He will provide for that before March 9th rolls around. Our minds have been running about 120 mph since we made this decision, and we alternate from excited, to overwhelmed, to scared to death. We appreciate all the faithful prayer support and assistance that so many have provided to us.

We want to communicate especially to all those individuals and groups who have taken us on for monthly support how encouraging and challenging your faithfulness is to us. As Paul tells us, we are ambassasdors for Christ, bringing His message to Welkom, SA. In addition to that, we feel strongly that we are your ambassadors as well. You have invested in God’s work through us, and we take that responsibility seriously. We trust that through God’s blessing in our lives, He will cause fruit to abound to your accounts. We sincerely thank you.

Amber just recently found that we could get our tickets each for about $1000 less than we had anticipated, and we should be arriving in Johannesburg on March 10th, the same day a team from Point of Grace church is scheduled to arrive. We will jump right into ministry, as the day we arrive, another team will be in the area focusing directly on a church-planting outreach. We are excited to see what God has in store, and we will attempt to communicate it to you all in a timely fashion. And of course, as we settle in to life in Africa, the Cubs will be just beginning their 2008 curse-breaking championship run.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Deputation Update - October 3, 2007

Dear Family & Friends,

As I type this letter, the Chicago Cubs are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the 2nd inning, as the Cubs begin their 2007 march to the World Series Title. While I would love to share the good news of a Cubs win with you, there is much better news to share.

Just this last week they held a Vacation Bible School type outreach at The Pines. The Lord blessed in an awesome way, and we saw 8 children come to know Christ as their personal Savior, 7 from the orphanage, and 1 from the shanty-town down the road. What an encouragement! Please pray that these children would continue to grow in their spiritual walk, and that they would learn to faithfully love our Lord.

Another area of prayer pertains to our relationship with the local government authorities. Several weeks ago The Pines had applied for the license for an additional 6 children, bringing the total to 18. The government recently gave their approval, but we learned they have their own opinions regarding the exact role The Pines should fulfill. There are some that think the orphanage would better serve as a “House of Safety”, meaning in effect that they would like to use The Pines more as a foster home than a long term care facility. At this point, it has not been a problem, but we ask that you pray that those who are in positions to make these decisions would have wisdom. “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he desires.”

We just completed a very busy September, with meetings in Manning, Des Moines, Lakota, and Polk City. September 30th was our last meeting currently lined up, but we continue to work to set up additional opportunities to present our ministry. Thank you to all who have helped us make contacts and set up meetings so far. If you would like us to present in your church, or know a church or group that would be willing to have us, we’d love to hear from you.

Many of you know we had set our goal to be fully supported by October. October is now upon us, and we are currently at 57% of our necessary support level. We need to raise additional commitments of $1,720 per month to be at 100%. We would like to thank those who have committed to supporting the work already. It is truly a challenge to us when we see those who have taken such a tangible interest in our work, and it causes us to feel a great sense of accountability, knowing that you are investing in the Lord’s work, as we seek to serve Him. We are excited to see how He continues to direct and meet our needs in the coming months.

Attached to this letter you will find the latest update from Brian & Lois Niehoff, the missionaries currently serving at The Pines. As always, please feel free to forward this email to anyone who may be interested. If you would like to be removed from this list, or would like to have a different address used, please let us know.

Louis, Amber, & Meredith O'Tool
louisotool@gmail.com
PO Box 1083
Ankeny, IA 50021
515-371-8697

Friday, August 31, 2007

Deputation Update-August 31, 2007

Dear Friends & Family,
Greetings from Ankeny (hopefully soon that will change). I wanted to send a quick update of our last month and a half. I know our last update came out at the beginning of July, but hopefully you’ll be able to understand the delay better in a minute.

July 16-20th was a whirlwind for us, as we participated as the featured missions work for the Point of Grace Church VBS. I would leave for work at 6:30am, go straight to the church after work, and get home around 9:30pm. Needless to say, the week went by very quickly. The program at POG was amazing. They had over 600 different kids throughout the week, and averaged about 460 per night. The final # is a little fuzzy, and I may be wrong here, but I think there were a total of 50 professions of salvation. The Gospel message was clearly presented on a number of occasions and we praise the Lord for the fruit He gave.

We were able to share a little about our work in South Africa, and tell some of the stories of the challenges those children face. The kids (and I imagine some of the adults) raised over $6,000 for the ministry! We heard stories of children who would set up lemonade stands to raise money for the offering, kids who would dip into birthday & Christmas money and many other means, so that they could be a part of what God is doing in South Africa. Of course, we did hear there was a little miscommunication as to what the money would be used for. One little boy, after being asked what the money was going to do, was overheard saying “Duh, to buy Tools” (because we are the O’Tools). Another girl, when we were introduced in front of the group, raised her hand and asked “What is an O’Tool?” Apparently we need to do a better marketing job on the name.

The next weekend we were in Washington, IA and we had a wonderful time meeting new people, and seeing some that we haven’t seen in awhile. The following week was de-tasseling time in Carroll and was great fun, as you can imagine. On the 29th, we were able to meet with the Berean Fellowship in Carroll, and present our ministry. These are people that watched me grow up, so it is both exciting, embarrassing, and challenging to be in front of them all. The next Sunday, we were in Springfield, CO, presenting to Amber’s home church, so many of the same feelings were felt there. As intimidating as Deputation seemed from the outside, we are definitely seeing that there can be a lot of fun in it as well. It is such a joy to be able to travel and see so many old friends and make many new ones. The reception we have received in every church has been a blessing to us. Of course, since it’s not our work, but God’s, it takes so much of the pressure off us.

On August 10th, Brian & Lois Niehoff arrived home from South Africa for a quick 4 week trip. They have been going non-stop since they arrived, and we have been fortunate enough to tag along with them to several meetings. We were able to attend POG again one week, as well as our home church of Slater. It is a strange feeling to be somewhere so familiar, yet still feel like a visitor. We also had a meeting of our own in Adrian, MO. This is the second time we have visited that church, so I had to write a new sermon. Just kidding, actually, I already have two, but if we ever go there again, I’m in troubleJ.

We also had the opportunity to be on the Steve Deace Radio show on 1040 WHO. I grew up listening to every show on WHO, and never, ever thought I would be a guest at some point. I need to preface that by saying that Brian & Lois were the stars of the show, but I did get about 7 seconds of air time (on my third try. On the first two, my mic wasn’t on). I now have 14 minutes, 53 seconds of fame remaining. I guess I’ll have to try to get on the Jan Mickelson show.

We now have a brief lull in our schedule. Our next group of meetings start September 16th, when we’ll be at Calvary Baptist in Manning for the AM service, then Willow Creek Baptist in Des Moines for the PM service. On September 23rd we are in Lakota, IA for both the morning & evening services, and then on the 30th we will be at Lakeside Fellowship in Polk City, IA.

Inexplicably, for some reason we have not been able to line up any meeting beyond September 30th. When we started fundraising in February, we set October as our goal to be fully supported. It seems that after the end of September we have run into a brick wall, and couldn’t get more meetings lined up. We are praying that is because God knows we don’t need anymore. We are currently at about 50% support, but there are also some promising leads where people or churches have indicated a possible desire to commit to monthly support as well. We trust that God will provide in His time.

Thank you all for your continued prayer and support. We are greatly encouraged by the response we have received. Attached you will find the most recent update from The Pines Christian Care Center in Welkom, South Africa. This will give you a greater understanding of the needs there, and the ministry we will be entering soon. As always, feel free to contact us, as we love to share God’s work with anyone who will listen.

LOUIS, Amber, & Meredith O'TOOL
louisotool@gmail.com
PO Box 1083
Ankeny, IA 50021
515-371-8697

Friday, July 13, 2007

Deputation Update-July 12,2007

Dear Friends & Family,

I'm sure I am not the only one that feels this way, but it is hard to
believe the summer is almost halfway over. I can't be the only one
who had grand plans of all the things I wanted to accomplish.
Unfortunately, somehow projects always seem much simpler in my head.
Of course, in my head everything has to be pretty simple, all things
considered.

Our schedule has been quite full, and doesn't look like it will slow
down within the next few months. Our ministry at The Pines orphanage
in South Africa was the featured missions program at VBS for Slater
Baptist Church, and on July 16th we will begin our second VBS of the
summer, at Point of Grace Church in Waukee, IA. We also have 9
churches scheduled between now and the end of September.

When we had last sent out an update of our prefield ministry at the
beginning of May, we were at 15% monthly support committed. Since
then our committed support level has grown to about 45%. In addition
to the monthly support, we have had several generous one-time
donations, bringing our outfit and passage account to about $27,000.
Our outfit and passage goal is between $30,000 and $40,000, while our
monthly need is set at $4,000. Check our website, otoolsa.com, for
periodic updates. You can also get additional information from the
website of Ambassadors International Ministries Inc. That website is
myaimi.org.

Thank you to all who have given so generously. It has been a
tremendous encouragement to us to have so many support our ministry.
We are excited to see how God will provide the remainder of our needs,
as we continue to progress toward life in Africa.

As always, please feel free to forward this on to anyone who may be
interested. If you would like to be removed from this list, or have a
different email address used, please let us know. Feel free to
contact us at anytime (or any reasonable time☺).

Louis & Amber O'Tool
louisotool@gmail.com
PO Box 1083
Ankeny, IA 50021
515-371-8697

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Upcoming Schedule

June 24-28 Slater Baptist Church VBS
July 16-20 Point of Grace VBS
July 22nd Praire Flower Baptist Church, Washington IA (morning/afternoon)
July 29th tentatively scheduled at Berean Bible Fellowship, Carroll IA
Aug 5th First Baptist Church, Springfield CO (morning service)
Aug 12th Calvary Baptist Church, Adrian MO (morning service)
Sept 16th Calvary Baptist Church, Manning IA (morning service)
Sept 16th Willow Creek Baptist Church, West Des Moines IA (evening service)
Sept 23rd Community Bible Church, Lakota IA (morning/evening)
Sept 30th Lakeside Fellowship, Polk City IA (morning service)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Support Update

Once again God has proven Himself faithful. Currently we are just over 25% supported, and due to a large gift we recently received, we also have over 50% of our necessary outfit and passage funds. We have many meetings lined up through the end of September. We request prayer support that we will be able to balance a busy schedule, and that God would continue to bless as we look to honor Him in South Africa.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Support Level Update

Dear Friends,
I just wanted to give a quick update on our current support level. As you may know, our projected needs are set at $4,000.00 per month. Currently, we know of $510.00 per month committed, or 12.75%. We hope to be fully supported by October 2007. Please continue to pray for God's provision.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Welcome

Dear Friends,

Welcome to The Life & Times of the O'Tool Family. As we begin our
ministry we will attempt to send out regular updates so everyone can
be kept up to date as to what God is doing in our lives. Since this
is our initial list we are still missing some email addresses, so if
you know anyone who would be interested, please feel free to forward
this to them. I apologize to anyone who may be left off this letter
but may receive it later. If you would like to be added, or know of
someone who would, feel free to let us know.

We were officially accepted as missionaries with Ambassador's
International Ministries, Inc. in January 2007. We were able to hold
our first deputation meeting in Adrian, MO on February 10th. We had
an enjoyable time spending some time with Amber's former pastor and
his wife, along with getting to know some of the individuals within
the church. I attended my very first Valentine's banquet, ironically
as the speaker. The church was very gracious as we worked out the
kinks of our very first ministry and we were grateful for that.

Our schedule is filling fast, and we have several meetings lined up
between April and September. As many of you know, our goal is to be
fully supported by October 2007. Currently we are at 5% of the $4,000
needed, and we are confident that God will continue to provide in His
perfect time.

I am pleased to announce that our website is finally up and running,
although there are still adjustments and proofreading that must be
done. If you are interested, go to otoolsa.com.

The Pines ministry is currently going well, under the leadership of
Brian & Lois Niehoff. They now have 12 children (by last count).
Three of them just recently arrived through a contact in the city.
Their mother is severely ill and had been in the hospital for some
time. The children had been on their own and had been able to beg
food from neighbors, but when that was no longer available they came
to a lady who runs a Christian daycare for help. She referred them to
the Niehoffs, who were able to take them in on a short-term "emergency
care" basis. The youngest was taken to the hospital with severe
dehydration and malnutrition issues. She is two years old and weighs
13lbs. By comparison, our 18 month old Meredith weighs 25lbs. This
young girl is doing well with proper care, but obviously there will be
some ongoing issues.

Please continue to pray for the needs over there. Also, we covet your
prayers as we continue to seek God's will and pursue full time
ministry in Welkom.

In Christ,
Louis & Amber O'Tool