February 2019: Thirty Years

Thirty Years
February 26 is a day that stirs up lots of memories for us.  We were married on that day in 1982.  Then on our seventh anniversary in 1989 we boarded an airplane to fly to Liberia for the first time, the two of us plus 4-year-old Danny and one-year-old Joey.  That’s 30 years ago today.

Had we known all the hard parts of what the next thirty years would hold for us, I’m not sure we would have boarded that airplane.  It was tough from the very start.  One enduring memory from our 1989 departure is Danny’s comment as our plane pushed back from the gate in Minneapolis, “I’m going to pretend that I don’t have grandparents.”  Separation from family and friends never got easier. Continue reading


January 2019: Burkina Faso


Thanks for praying for my visit earlier this month to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, on the edge of the Sahara Desert in West Africa.  By virtue of in-depth interviews with forty people, the team was able to come away with a thorough understanding of the multiple issues and concerns facing SIM Burkina Faso, its medical centers and other ministries, and the local church.

Now our next step over the next couple of weeks (working remotely from our home countries) will be to develop some clear and helpful recommendations for them as they chart a course into a future that may look quite different from their past.  Please pray for the Lord’s guidance as we process all that we’ve learned.

(If you didn’t receive our email prayer letter in December, you can read more about the situation in Burkina Faso here, about halfway through the update. )

DeckerUpdate December 2018

Praise the Lord, O my soul!
With all that is within me, praise his holy name!
For as the skies are high above the earth,
so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers. (Psalm 103: 1, 11 NET)

Dear friends and family,
Greetings to you from rainy Charlotte. We are grateful for your friendship and for your prayerful support as we come to the close of 2018. Continue reading

Liberia: December 2018




It was a surprising privilege for me to visit Liberia during the first weeks of December. God blessed me on this trip with amazing connections, reunions with longtime friends, favorite Liberian foods, and beautiful sunsets along the Atlantic ocean. The training times with many different divisions of SIM/ELWA ministry staff gave me opportunity to present new materials,  and to learn from them about cultural factors impacting the protection of children in Liberia. Please continue to pray with me for these friends and colleagues as they continue to honor God in their ministries, that the light of Christ will shine through all the ministries of SIM and ELWA in Liberia.

DeckerUpdate November 2018

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)

Dear friends,

We do thank God each time we think of you, with joy because of your friendship and partnership in the gospel. We pray for you, and hope that you pray for us, that the One who began a good work in each of us will faithfully complete it in our lives.

During these cold and rainy Autumn days (record-breaking rainfall!) we continue in our daily work. Dave has given a fuller picture of his ministry here, appropriately including a sports analogy! And more about Mary’s ministry is written here.

Occasionally we are surprised by unexpected opportunities, and we ask for your prayers as Mary has been invited to come to Liberia for a couple of weeks in the first part of December, to work with the SIM Liberia team in the development of their Child Safety program. Continue reading

September 2018

46421748_191688611712367_7015070689870741504_nWe often write of my travels for SIM’s ministry purposes, but most of my working days are spent at the SIM USA office here in Charlotte.  That’s maybe not quite as glamorous as getting stamps in my passport, but I’d like to share a bit of what fills up those days.  While much of it really is behind-the-scenes financial nuts and bolts, I do spend more than half my time working directly with our SIM USA missionaries, both face-to-face and by email or phone.

My go-to analogy when presenting SIM finances to a room full of new missionary appointees has to do with baseball, and specifically with umpires.  When you drive home from a baseball game and the conversation in the car is all about the umpires, is this because those umpires had a good game, or is it because they’ve had a bad game?  No doubt you’ve experienced this, and you know exactly what I’m talking about! Continue reading

August 2018

August included a vacation! We took a road trip that included a stop at one of my favorite places, Animal Adventure Park, where I got to meet up with some special friends and enjoy many beautiful animals, including April the Giraffe and her son Tajiri!

Our next stop was at Jacob and Katies, and we enjoyed our time with them sightseeing in their current location!

We are so thankful for times of rest and refreshment, with friends, family and beautiful bits of God’s amazing creation to enjoy!

DeckerUpdate August 2018

Cotopaxi volcano Quito

August 2018

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dispersed the crowds. And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already far from land, was taking a beating from the waves because the wind was against it. As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out with fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.” So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:22-33‬ ‭NET‬‬

Greetings from sunny and stormy August! So far this summer we’ve had over 50 days of 90° plus weather, with plenty of thunderstorms mixed in! It feels a bit intense. Continue reading

July 2018


mockingbird parent feeding the baby



Child Safety presentation for new SIM workers

July included time to appreciate God’s creation in the back yard, training sessions with new SIM workers, and a special weekend with young adults who have been part of our community for most of their lives, and much of ours! We love being “Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary”,  cooking and eating and laughing together, playing games, and thinking together about the important things in life.

June 2018

In June, we took some time for a Minnesota/Wisconsin vacation. Although we’ve lived overseas many years, and in North Carolina for quite a while, we still feel at home in Minnesota, and love our times there. (Although it is never long enough, and there are so many people we’d like to be able to spend more time with!)

One of our favorite things about overseas life has been the community we’ve worked with, and some of our favorite community “kids” are grown up now– we’ve had so much fun celebrating with them at weddings, and meeting the newest babies!

May 2018


This cathedral, the Duomo di Milano, may be the most iconic landmark in Milan.

Dave shared some beautiful and iconic sights from Italy, while participating in SIM’s leader development program.


Lake Como


The mountain view in Torre Pellice, the little village near the France border where they had their meetings.


And, while closer to home, we appreciated the beauty of God’s creation and the privilege of enjoying some special times with our favorite grandchildren! We feel so blessed to be near them in this season of life.

April 2018

April included travels for ministry conferences for both Dave and me.

At the annual Child Safety and Protection Network conference, I had the opportunity to brainstorm with others who work with member care topics related to child safety. Although the Child Safety Advocacy team at SIM USA is separate from the Member Care team, I’ve been involved in member care during many of our years with SIM, and it was interesting to think through some of the ways the two areas work together as well as well as the ways they have differing responsibilities.


Dave shared this picture from Dallas, while participating in the Christian Leadership Alliance conference, where “leaders engage in shared learning experiences that offer Christ-centered focus, biblical principles, proven best practices, emerging trends and practical applications.”

During the times we were not traveling, we appreciated the sights of Spring, a visit from precious friends, and a visit to the Columbia Zoo with our favorite grandchildren!

March 2018


March included some special times. A trip to Charleston to (belatedly) celebrate our anniversary was one.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Uptown Charlotte with a couple of our favorite people was another!

And it’s always special when my mom comes to visit. We had some fun outings, including a day-trip to Greenville for lunch, to visit the Zoo, and see some wonderful spring flowers! And of course,  a Charlotte highlight is always coffee at Amelies!


We are thankful for God’s good gifts of these special times of beauty, fun and family!