[April 20th, 2020] Global Mosaic Adjusts

We agree with this message displayed at a church near our home in Virginia. People of faith must draw strength from the reality that God is in control and that our circumstances are not the result of a non-existent concept called luck. We also know that understanding and accepting this belief is currently a tough sale to those whose lives have been turned upside down and are experiencing both small and tremendous losses
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I am hesitant to use the current explanation catchphrase, “welcome to the new normal.” It is not welcoming by any definition and we pray that it will soon become abnormal once again.

But for this update on Global Mosaic International we will share how this “new normal” is bringing modification and reshaping of the ministry.

Not because of “luck” but because of God’s providence, we found ourselves on this side of the world in the USA instead of Malaysia when the restrictive parameters of travel and face-to-face interaction came to all of us. Evelyn’s work and ministry before had been a combination of physical on-site teaching, counseling, and team development coupled with virtual on-line interactions.
She is now limited to being on-line. Instead of travels far and wide by car, plane, train, or bus she now has a five-meter walk from bed to desk. And sometimes she simply stays in bed since many of those with whom she interacts are in opposite time zones. If we sent you a picture of her work here and what it would be in Malaysia at this point – same scene. The only difference would be what you would see if you looked out the window. In Malaysia from the 36th floor, Kuala Lumpur downtown – 12 kilometres away. Here in Virginia at ground level, trees, and flowers – five meters.

An April teaching time in Northern Virginia has been postponed. Physical teaching scheduled in Uganda for May and August is postponed. Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School students have tougher challenges in substituting virtual digital learning for physical face to face. We are attempting to support them to maintain Internet access. They greatly appreciate using the donated smartphones for digital learning. Planned teaching events from June through July in Malaysia have been postponed until 2021

Evelyn is focusing on a continued development of digital web-based teaching for now. Volunteer instructors are taping sessions from their homes, primarily in Malaysia. Administrative details for three formats are in process of formation. School of Lay Counselling, Life Walk Institute, and Psycholedu. This is a learning experience for everyone. The blessing of having so many great people step forward, often out of their comfort zones, has been a great encouragement to Evelyn.

I can say what humble Evelyn cannot. She has been their inspiration and motivator.

Our return date to Malaysia is, of course, dependent on multiple factors. Much to Evelyn’s angst, there is a real possibility that it will not be until 2021.

I, along with Evelyn, deeply miss our friends and life in Malaysia. It has been Evelyn’s primary residence and community for almost 20 years. I know that so many people there have loved and cared for her. She is truly independent, but all of us know that she sometimes forgets that concept of self-care. I am hoping to step up to the task of being her wing-man.

You see below a very odd set of pictures from our kitchen. Probably the only time a picture of a microwave has been included in a ministry newsletter. Just to let you know that a little bit of Malaysia is always with us
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Thank you for sharing again in our life. We are humbled and honored.

Evelyn and Steve

[March 25, 2020] Global Mosaic Unknown

We have delayed sending out a new update until we had a better idea of our plans for the next months. Well, Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C have all gone up in smoke. Now we are, as is everyone else in the world, on Plan Unknown.
Our last update was on February 25 as we waited for the return of Paul and Kelli from ministry in Puerto Rico. Not sure who was happiest upon their return, the four kids or us. We then spent a few days with another son and his family in the Dallas area before returning to our home in Virginia on March 5. We relished making memories.

At that particular moment, we anticipated catching up with friends, visiting most of our other kids, spending a week in the mountains with friends and one of our granddaughters, Evelyn completing the online course with grades submitted, a couple of nights at the beach, medical appointments, hopefully unpacking some of the boxes from our hurried house move of last year, hanging pictures, and finishing up curriculum and teaching plans for Uganda and Malaysia.
Our intent was to travel to Uganda for a 2-week period in May and from there return to our home in Kuala Lumpur. Evelyn has extensive plans for June and July in Asia before returning to Uganda in August. Before we were able to jump into our planned schedule, the reality of a new normal for all of us arose to create detours and barriers.

I have mentioned before that the work of GMI never stops completely. Evelyn has continued to be in collaboration with individuals and teams in Uganda and Malaysia as they develop materials and resources for each location. I interrupt periodically to consult with her about where to hang a picture or whether to keep, toss, or display items unearthed from the boxes and to feed her.
Although the April and May Uganda trips were cancelled, Evelyn continues to support the leader as he endeavors to facilitate the courses we have already put online. With your earlier financial support, GMI is funding 3 individuals to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in counseling through distance education. We are currently funding their monthly office rent and Wi-Fi expenses. With Uganda ordering all schools closed, KCMCS also has to come up with a different way to deliver the courses. We may also have to give these 3 students subsidies to continue their studies as they will be out of jobs, since they are schoolteachers. Please pray with us on these decisions.

On a side note: My heart and compassion from 40 years of being an intensive care nurse surfaced. I really wanted to volunteer and rejoin my friends who are on the front lines of this battle. However, as I rationalized, my brain and common sense won out over my heart and compassion. We do live in a senior community and we are a senior couple. So, I will stay on the sidelines for the moment.

Our current plan: we are staying inside. Still too cold anyway for Evelyn. I returned our rental car because, really, nowhere to go. As in Malaysia I get around on my bicycle. Evelyn spends many hours each day at her desks supporting the work. I continue to unpack and distribute.

Evelyn bought a ticket to Kuala Lumpur for June 1, because as of now she is still scheduled to teach in East Malaysia for four weeks starting June 21. The ticket can be altered for free for one year.

We are providentially blessed with resources, a beautiful home, physical health, an abundance of friends we love and who love us from a distance, and the sweetness of time with each other.

Our prayer is that on the other side of this all-encompassing crisis we will be ever more cognizant of community and God’s care. With all the cancellations abounding, it is good to remember that:

Relaxation – not cancelled.
Reading – not cancelled.
Family – not cancelled.
Sunsets – not cancelled.
Music – not cancelled.
Singing – not cancelled.
Laughing – not cancelled.
Charity – not cancelled.
Hope – not cancelled.
Love – not cancelled.
Gratitude – not cancelled.
Prayer – not cancelled.

God is still and always will be in control. In Him, we put our trust and hope.

Our life of adventure and travel has now come to this: Wii bowling in a senior community

For those unfamiliar with Wii. It is an interactive device often found in senior facilities to encourage movement and exercise. You do actually make the motions of bowling with a hand- held device as seen in pic. Not exactly a 12 pound ball but some skill. I hope to beat Evelyn, which is also a positive vibe. 

[February 25th, 2020] Global Mosaic Caribbean

Global Mosaic International is supporting recovery work in Puerto Rico – well, sorta.

The island nation has been recovering for several years from extensive damage caused by natural disasters. Many areas are still without power, housing, schools, places of worship, economic support structure, and transportation network.

This is a return to the Caribbean for GMI. A decade ago, a team ministered in Jamaica.

Our current support for ministry construction work in Puerto Rico is from a distance but still vitally essential. Evelyn and I are back in Texas overseeing the development and care of four grandchildren while their parents, Paul (from the cave run) and Kelli are on-site in old San Juan.

Paul is an elder at Second Baptist Church here in La Grange, Texas. This congregation has sent multiple teams over the past several years to Puerto Rico. Paul had gone without Kelli before. It was providential timing for us to be able to handle things here in Texas so they could minister together.

We are receiving great reports from them. Painting and roof construction are the primary goals but because of rain, they have needed to adapt activity at various points.

They left at 6 AM on February 20 and will arrive back here at their house by 9 PM this Thursday, February 27. I assume you can imagine why I am so precise on times. Evelyn and I had nine children, but we were 35 years younger then.

I also know that Paul and Kelli will be reading this and feel how greatly we love them and want to see them soon.

Apparently, the team is staying in housing right on the beach. Paul assured me as they left that it really is a sacrificial ministry of service.

Thank you for sharing this short update of GMI work. We covet your prayers as always and especially over the next three days.

The picture below is of the much-loved and delightful grandchildren.

[February 17, 2020] Where and Why and What has GMI been doing?

Our last update was sent out on January 13. The GMI team had arrived back to Malaysia from Uganda. The prodigal bags had arrived the next day, none the worse for their adventure. Evelyn and I were anticipating and preparing for our journey to USA.

Many of you have sent messages such as this, “so glad you two have this break to relax, enjoy family, connect with friends, and just get settled into your new home.”

Always an optimist, I have eternal hope that some of these suggestions may become true.

The work of GMI never actually stops as I have shared in previous updates. (People new to our mailing list: you can access previous posts from the toolbar at top of this if you are viewing from your browser).

I will give a quick rundown of our time and activities both GMI-related and personal-life related.

The GMI team was in Uganda December 27 (my birthday) until January 10.

January 1, I ran a 10KM run in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

January 11, the young couple from Nepal, Lomas and Indu Shrestha, arrived to take the course Evelyn was teaching from her skills book which Lomas had translated into Nepalese. This gave him the opportunity to assess if the translation was on spot and to see how the material could be presented in Nepal.

Evelyn taught the skills course at AOIC over two weeks until January 24.

January 14, I abandoned Evelyn to fly to the USA.

January 18, Evelyn participated in the launching of the SLC (School of Lay Counseling) program in Cheras. An all-day teaching.

January 14-21, I was in Virginia, opening and preparing our new home for habitation with important tasks, like getting internet service. I purposefully made appointments for meals with friends to keep me awake during the day so I could get back on USA time instead of sleeping. I also fitted in an appointment with an orthopedic doc to evaluate shoulder pain. MRI showed there are things he could go in and repair, but I opted to just let it be. He said if I find myself back in Malaysia and things get worse, “just suck it up until you come back to the USA.” He is actually quite compassionate and has done several procedures on Evelyn.

January 21-25, a decades-long friend came to Kuala Lumpur for time with Evelyn. She was visiting her daughter in Singapore. She and Evelyn did the city sights and foods.

January 22-28 found me in Texas. I hung with four of our grandchildren and was alone with them for four days while their parents went on a together time.
Back in Kuala Lumpur Evelyn was having meetings, counseling, packing, grading, coordinating SLC materials, mentoring instructors for the program, communicating with Uganda people, beginning an online course through Regent, and perhaps eating and sleeping.

January 29, Evelyn left Kuala Lumpur and flew straight to Texas. We had time with both Texas sons and their families.I realize all the above looks like I was just having fun and Evelyn was focused on tasks. True as always. And to top off this discrepancy, our two Texas sons and I went for an Alpha Dog Weekend together. We ate well, did a 25 miles bike ride, and ran a 10 KM run together which started in a cave. Really unique.

Evelyn had only been in our changed residence for a few days before leaving for Asia nine months ago. She is often asking me where things are. I don’t know either. Still have boxes to unpack.

Plan A is to travel to Uganda the last days of April, teach for two weeks, and then fly from there to Malaysia. We have not yet bought the tickets. I would like to unpack all the boxes before we leave, meet with all the friends on our list, spend time with some of our scattered family, and sit together for a few moments.

February 5, Evelyn, our son Philip, our granddaughter Lydia, our great-granddaughter, Shiloh, and I flew together to Virginia from Texas. Our purpose was to have a five-generation photo with Evelyn’s mom, Iola Manoogian. It all came together in the beautiful picture you see here. Iola will be 99 years old in June and Shiloh is 6 months old.

The Prodigal Bags

We are sorry! We were looking at our phones and got in the wrong line.  
To be honest, not really sure how to take this.

The story of the  misplaced, delayed bags generated the most responses ever from our followers. You shared stories of lost bags, prayed for the bags, had sympathy, and apparently lost sleep because some of you were writing in the middle of your night. 

The six bags were left in Entebbe as we later surmised. Five came to our homes last night at midnight, The sixth, most confused one, came on the next day. One wheel was lost, but all the contents were intact. 

We had exasperation with the situation but also realize that considering how many millions of bags everyday go through the process of going from point A to point B we really are blessed by modern technology. A few of the munchkins slip away as ours did this time, but seem to find their way home.

As you can see in the picture the three returned to our house are apologetic. Their behavior over the next twelve hours will help me decide which two of these get to go to the USA with me. The third will be stuck in a closet here for five months.

Thanks and I am glad was able to share the good news with you.   

GMI Team Returns from Uganda

Somewhere between Entebbe, Uganda and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are six suitcases waiting to be found and rejoin their families.

Is it theologically correct to pray for objects to be obedient and to stay on the road to redemption?

Anyway, as I write this update, the five humans: Mei Leng, Lo, Becky, Robert, and Evelyn arrived exhausted but intact on Friday, January 10. They had left in 2019 and returned in 2020. A two-year project. Two weeks of intense ministry can feel like two years
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The time of teaching in Kigumba was well received as the core group of 21 students pursuing a degree or diploma in counseling continue to stay on task and make the sacrifices necessary to be successful.
Evelyn had written to one of our encouragers, “please pray for our stamina and energy as well as the Africans’ hearts and minds to be opened to what God wants to invest in them. Challenges abound. As the saying goes, ‘a hungry woman has no ears’ – abject poverty has a way of skewing reality.”

This is an investment into people’s lives. We had shared earlier about the outside perspective at this time, looking at this vision of a school. Currently a large amount of human and physical resources is being poured into a small number of people. On a balance sheet, not sustainable. This will be our continued challenge. Our goal is to step back as the Africans step forward. Pray for our sensitivity and realistic assessment of each next step.

But back to the suitcases. As people of faith we do not believe in such things as omens of doom. However, the little warnings kept arising. We could not check in on-line because of glitches (“systems error…systems error”), the three hour van ride to the airport became five hours because of traffic congestion, the airport electricity kept blinking off and on, computer systems went down, the flight was delayed 110 minutes waiting for the plane to arrive, reserved seats were arbitrarily changed, the wings didn’t look in great shape. Although very tired, the team are seasoned travelers, took it all in stride, making good use of the downtime.

Despite the above, the connection was made in Addis Ababa and the team arrived on time in Kuala Lumpur. The four Malaysian passport holders breezed through immigration. The USA/ foreign passport line person, Evelyn, took 90 minutes to clear immigration – which had its positive. The four were able to use that time waiting for her to find that none of the bags had made the flight. They took the time to fill out claim forms and directions for contact with expectant delivery to our homes.

Of course, we would hope the wayward bags find their way to us. If you believe in prayer for inanimate objects, please go ahead and offer. The contents are mostly personal clothes and student assignments!! Each team member had originally planned to do laundry right away. Instead, they could just fall in bed.

I will conclude this news with an update on current GMI projects that are overlapping over the next two weeks before Evelyn departs for the USA. She begins teaching tomorrow (Monday) a 10-day course on counseling skills. She’ll incorporate a manual which she wrote and published. A side story which we have shared before is that it is being translated into multiple languages for use in other countries. A side story to this side story is that the young man who did the Nepalese translation arrived last night from Kathmandu with his wife. They will participate to observe and learn from Evelyn’s presentation of the knowledge and skills. They will then multiply this impact by teaching the same material in Nepal.

On Saturday the 18th, the new diploma-level School of Lay Counseling (SLC) in Kuala Lumpur will start with its first course. Evelyn and a team of 14 MA graduates from AOIC (Malaysia) have been working long hours creating the courses. The team will be the core teachers in the classroom and will duplicate them online.

Did you follow all that?

I leave for the USA in three days. Evelyn leaves in 17 days. Never slack time for just sitting. As I journey back to Virginia, I want to give a shout out to some special people. The Sylvia family in Yorktown has been our house watcher, package receiver, go-to resource. Darlene High, GMI’s treasurer has handled our mail, GMI banking, and just been a super supporter of the ministry.

Thank you again for spending time with us. Will let you know how much fun the bags have had when we get opportunity to ask them.

I want to get this out and start packing for my journey. I am hoping the above delinquent suitcases will arrive for their journey to North America.  

Global Mosaic in Uganda and Malaysia

I realize that we recently sent out an email as our GMI team arrived and started teaching in Kigumba, Uganda. We have been sharing pictures and comments through our social media, but I am aware that many of you are not accessing these outlets. So, this message has two purposes.

Number one: Keep all of you up to date on the activity in Kigumba

Number two: Answer the question which I often get, “Steve, now that Evelyn and the team have gone, how do you fill your time?”

I will address these two items with both the seriousness needed and a touch of humor.

We always want to be transparent. To be honest, the team is exhausted. The days are long. The weather has been the hottest and driest of all the six times we have traveled to Kigumba. A relentless sun has been intense. Some of the team are dealing with health issues. 

There are administrative concerns and continued cultural impact of finding the best and most sustainable path for the Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School. Discouragement for both the team and the students could become an overwhelming reality. As leader, Evelyn has addressed this with the team; Robert, Becky, Lo, and Mei Leng. 

” There is absolutely no way I could have handled teaching this skills course here in Uganda without each of you and your God-given abilities. From the start of devotions, to role plays, to supervision, to servant leadership… I am convinced all is God-planned for these people for this season. Let’s not lose heart but hold faith that what we plant, the Holy Spirit will remind them and keep watering. I can’t thank you enough for coming along!” 

At about the same time as she was saying this I had sent the picture below of the morning glory plant on our balcony here in Malaysia.  Evelyn has been nurturing it but it was drying as she left and has not had blooms for several weeks. Yesterday I took this picture of rebirth with the comment , “Perhaps KCMCS will continue to bloom as well.”

As you receive this email, the team will be heading to bed for the eighth of twelve nights. I know they are feeling some relief as the time ends. But I am also confident they will be feeling sadness in leaving and already making commitments in their hearts to return and continue writing the story of Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School.

Number two: How do I spend my time.

I admit that I always have a sigh of relief when Evelyn heads out on another project. The last days and hours are always full of all it takes to put together each endeavor. I chose not to physically join the team for various reasons. I was not teaching a course, the team has strong and confident members, and I needed to fulfill obligations here in Kuala Lumpur.

They left on my birthday, December 27. And because the USA is 13-16 hours behind us I continued to receive birthday greetings from family and other important contacts like Williamsburg Ford ( where I purchased a truck in 2011 and no longer own), American Red Cross ( for donating blood which I can no longer do because of Africa travel), Regal Cinemas, Air Asia, Ethiopian Air, Advanced Vision ( my ophthalmologist), Panera Bread ( with coupon which will expire before I get back to the USA), and most importantly ( those who know me will attest) from Mountain Dew.

December 29 was our anniversary. So, I needed to receive the congrats for both of us.
I would have survived but also have had 8 meal invites. Keeping up our contacts here. 
Laundry volume has not changed. Evelyn does not sweat here so can reuse things. I change attire 3-4 times each day. And not for style reasons.
Ran a 10KM run in downtown Kuala Lumpur on January 1. Need to keep healthy to keep up with Evelyn.
Arranged for recycling pick up of discarded electronics from here at the house. Had the A/C units serviced.
Updated all the financial accounting for GMI.
Starting the packing for our time in USA.

I know that my list of activities seems quite mundane compared to Evelyn and the team. But as you can see, still important. I am the foot of the operation. Evelyn is the head. And that is Biblical about the body of believers. Each of us is important.

Thank you again for joining us on our adventure and standing beside us with prayer and caring.

Steve

GMI Team on Task in Kigumba, Uganda

The Global Mosaic Team left Kuala Lumpur on Friday, December 27 at 11:00 PM. They flew on Ethiopian Airlines through Singapore; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and then on to Entebbe, Uganda. They arrived at 10:30 AM, Saturday. Uganda is five hours behind Malaysia time and eight hours ahead of the east coast in the USA. The road trip from Entebbe to Kigumba was four hours. 

     The Plan A for this session at Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School is to offer a several day course on basic people helping skills. We never know how many students to expect. A few days before leaving it appeared only ten students had committed. The teaching team consists of five volunteers from here in Malaysia, including Evelyn. So the number of ten appeared to be very small in comparison. This is the factor which makes planning so difficult each time we journey to Kigumba. How many of whatever, either people or materials do we need? Our default answer is that we prepare, God will bring those He wants to attend and we are to be obedient.

     Jumping to the final number, twenty students were in the first session. So a good number. God is good. We have also learned that numbers can increase during the time but the firm protocol now is that no one can join the class after the first day.

     We have been using a primary school building for the teaching venue. It is about 800 meters from the hotel. So a daily walk back and forth for class, breaks, and lunch. 

     There will be a one day break from class on New Year’s day. Too many special activities and celebrations going on in the community. Bonfires of tires is one. 

     Thank you for keeping the teachers  and students in your heart. The return to Malaysia will be January 9. Below you will see a picture of the team, Robert and Becky, Evelyn, Lo, and Mei Leng. The natural beauty of the land is a daily reminder of the majesty of God’s creation. The students, as you can see are engaged. Mei Leng, assisted by Becky and Lo are demonstrating techniques in front of the high tech white board.

We are sending new pics through our Instagram.The link is  below. One dramatic picture is of a crash scene. Blessed that no one was injured. Now you need to look. Please add yourself as a follower. 

      An additional note: If you are just now receiving your first email from GMI  you can open this in your browser by clicking on that icon at top of email. You will then be able to go to archive of previous mailings to catch up with the story of GMI’s work. Thanks.  Steve

Year End Report December 17, 2019

A few weeks ago, we shared about our new home in Virginia and quick statistics about our family. Technically this time of year with Christmas approaching should be calm, leisurely, sweet, melodious, with gatherings around the table over a meal, sitting together in front of a fire, opening cards from friends and family, taking long afternoon naps, yada, yada, yada.
WRONG! Not here with Global Mosaic International. We are all about business. There is no down time. We have things to do, projects to develop, plans to be made, trips to be traveled, people to be taught.
I apologize for the above unconventional opening for a ministry update. However, I did want to paint a picture of how crazy and far-flung the ministry of Global Mosaic International continues to be each year. Humor is, as you know, a valuable coping mechanism. This is how I deal with being partnered with Evelyn Biles the founder of Global Mosaic and my wife of now 47 years. Humor kept me sane during forty years of working as a registered nurse in critical care. (Ah, to be back there again.)
But I digress. Now for the serious talk.
It is always difficult to really explain in a way to be understood what exactly Global Mosaic International does. Our vision and mission is found on the website. But still not quite a full picture. I think I will use several anacronyms to give a summary of the different directions and projects currently being pursued, developed, or sustained.
GMI – Global Mosaic International.
Founded in 2001, GMI is the umbrella for all the work and ministry. I can’t give exact numbers but since 2002 there have been over 50 projects in over 30 different countries, involving more than 500 volunteers. Evelyn Biles is Founder and President. We have the assistance of a treasurer and a board of directors. No employees. Funding is either by donations or self-supporting volunteers who join a team project. I, Steve Biles, now retired from nursing, am the administrative assistant, communications person, bookkeeper, cook, launderer (not of money), and a term I have been teaching our friends here in Asia, “GoFer.” GMI has been based in Kuala Lumpur for a variety of reasons. It is centrally located to where most of the ministry reaches in south and southeast Asia and now once again in Africa. Kuala Lumpur is a world city, comfortable weather for Evelyn, great travel connections, and for us now a great community of friends and support. We do travel to our home in Virginia for medical needs and for family. I will be open. We will probably remain primarily in Kuala Lumpur until the time comes when we need continuing medical interventions for some reason. Our US-based Medicare is our health insurance.
AOIC – Alpha Omega International College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In 2007, Evelyn was instrumental in setting up a bachelor and master’s level school of pastoral counseling studies and served as the dean for over five years. Her goal always was to turn this work over to a Malaysian and this occurred in 2013. Many of the volunteers for GMI projects are graduates from this school. She continues to teach courses at AOIC.
SLC – School of Lay Counseling, Cheras, Malaysia
This is a very new undertaking for GMI. Evelyn was asked to develop a curriculum of courses toward a diploma. She is working with the founders of SLC to provide content. The teachers are creating digital formats for each course as well. These will help to sustain SLC in the future and serve a second purpose of making them available to remote areas in which GMI already has or plans a presence.
LWI – Life Walk Institute, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Global Mosaic is partnering with a dynamic and passionate young man here in Malaysia who shares GMI’s dream and vision to create access to learning in remote locations around the world. He is assisting us in this endeavor to provide content and learning structure. LWI is part of a dual outreach as the platform it occupies is www.psycholedu.com, a subscription-based learning site.
KCMCS – Kigumba, Uganda
We have shared the story of this project with most of you already. Kigumba Christian Mosaic Counseling School is where Evelyn is headed on December 27 with four volunteers from here to facilitate and lead a credit course for the students pursuing diploma and bachelor credentials. We will share about this project specifically in our next update. In that update I will also include the history of KCMCS.
RU – Regent University
This is really the oldest arm of GMI. Evelyn obtained two degrees at this Virginia Beach, VA university. She went on to be an adjunct professor with RU and now has been teaching with them for eighteen years. Just as with AOIC, several of the early volunteers joining GMI trips were Evelyn’s students at RU.
SCB – Stephen Christian Biles
Back to humor. This is an ongoing project for Evelyn. SCB is a slow learner and stubborn at times. It has been a growing experience to work together. A blessing.
Thank you for working through such a long update. Please check our GMI Instagram and Facebook for pics and stories from the upcoming time in Uganda.

2019 Changes on the USA home front

PO Box 2395
Yorktown, VA 23692-5395
scbiles@gmail.com

                I am sitting at my desk in Kuala Lumpur on Thanksgiving Day. The year 2019 on a scale of 1-10 for assessing change and activity, I would say for Evelyn and me it was about a ……
                                                           68 !           
     Sorry for the shouting. I picked that number because for the months of November and December we are both 68 years old. In my humble and not-listened-to-opinion, we should now be sitting on our beautiful front porch at our home of 33 years in Yorktown, Virginia. 

     Point number one, Evelyn made me sell that house. She long ago severed all feelings and attachment to the house. I was still clinging to joy and love. However, like us, it was getting older. We were not actually sleeping there very much. So, I put my foot down gently. We would sell but I wanted to find a smaller place close by so I could still have access to the parks, trails, river, familiar grocery store, happy memories.

     It so happened that one mile away there is a senior over-55 condo development which had a unit for sale. We signed and purchased. Next step was to get our lovely, beautiful, unique house ready to sale. Needed some wallpaper stripped, fresh paint in several rooms, clearing of some clutter to make it look more appealing. This was all happening first days of March. We bought tickets for our planned time Uganda. From there, Evelyn would head back to Kuala Lumpur and I would return to Virginia hopefully to complete the sale of the house and move things to the new house.

That was plan A.

     What actually happened was that around 16 hours after putting up the sale sign, we got an offer. They wanted to take possession in about three weeks. Our son, Paul, from Texas with blessings from Kelli headed our way. Also, my best friend of 55 years, Jimmy, came from North Carolina. Within seven days we had packed up everything, given away or sold all that would not fit, and Evelyn was able to have seven nights of sleep in the new place before we left for Uganda. Although our physical address changed, our mailing address did not as we kept our PO Box.

     One more God thing was that the buyer is a contractor and did not want to have any repairs or decorating done. He took it as is. He also said to leave anything we did not want to move. Ping pong table, Foosball on third floor, some furniture, most of my tools and all yard equipment stayed. It was a win-win situation. I returned to Virginia alone from Uganda and used the time to unpack some boxes, but there are still several more to deal with. Some boxes came out of hiding places of over 25 years. Kind of silly isn’t it?

     I realize I am taking up much of this letter with just one traumatic event. For the stories of Evelyn’s work through Global Mosaic International please refer to the links below.

     But back to our new home at Villas of Yorktown. The rule is that you must be over 55. That is to keep out munchkins. They can visit but not live. Gives everyone an excuse to say, “Gosh, I’m sorry, they won’t let you stay more than a week.” Of the around 125 people in the development, probably only two are younger than us. I went to several community events and have met many of the great people. They all know me because I am the “new kid on the block.” However, not to be disrespectful, but when meeting people walking around, they all look the same – gray hair, older. I do keep track of the dogs’ names.

     In retrospect as the whole traumatic event eases into the past I think I am doing quite well. Formerly, whenever we were gone for long periods of time, we had to plan for the upkeep of the house. I had hired a young man in the neighborhood several years ago to maintain the yard. He was joined by his whole family whenever the fall leaves inundated the yard. Now, I have nothing to be concerned about. With the condo concept everything from the inside sheet rock out is maintained by the association. I sit in my living room and see guys riding by on mowers and then another coming by with a leaf blower. I get emails while here in Malaysia that new seed is going down, or green areas are being given nutrition, units are being power washed. Driveway cracks are being sealed.

     It really has been a smart move to have finally listened to Evelyn. (No snide comments please).

    Below is a picture of our magical new home. We are attached to three other units. There are 18 of these quad units in the development. Here in Kuala Lumpur people assumed when we say we moved into a condo that it was a high-rise.    

     Let me quickly sum up now. Evelyn goes to Uganda with a small team for two weeks December 27. Four days after she returns to Kuala Lumpur, Steve flies to Virginia on January 15 for one week and then on to Texas. Evelyn will fly directly to Texas from Malaysia on January 29. After our Texas time we will head to Virginia along with our other Texas son, granddaughter, and 5-month-old great-granddaughter. We will have a 5-generation gathering and photo op with Evelyn’s mom.

     The work of GMI (Evelyn) never really stops. But in early May Steve and Evelyn will travel again to Uganda for a two- week time and from there return to our home here in Kuala Lumpur. 

     It is impossible to fill you in with all the news of 2019 in this letter. It really was a grand and busy 68. We highly encourage you to peruse the GMI website, Instagram, or Facebook sites. Updates on new and continuing projects will also be shared with you soon.

     We miss keeping up with you and look forward to hearing about your stories of 2019.

     For those of you reading a Biles family annual letter for the first time an explanation. We used to have a second page of updates on the kids and now grand kids. Too much information.

Quick summary of numbers for our newer friends:
Nine children living in six different states and the District of Columbia; age range 36 to 46

23 grandchildren; age range 2 to 21  1 great-grandchild born August 14, 2019

1 strong prayer-warrior Mom;  ageless 98.5,  Iola Manoogian

Thank you for sharing life with us

Stephen C. Biles & Evelyn S. Biles   married 47 years on December 29,2019