Sep 30, 2009

Saying goodbye

Wow, the time has gone by so fast in just 19 days we ( Kathy and I) head back to the states. 
The last 5 and a half months have been so incredible and  wonderful and I am already planning and praying for my return.

I was scheduled to leave on Oct 29th, Kathy on the 24th, but plans change, often.
There is a presidential election taking place on Oct 28th, and the US Embassy has warned travelers to be avoid the country due to the potential safety risk. There have been multiple reports of violence etc. especially in Safala province, which is where Dondo is located.
We have not seen any violence but we have seen many political rallies and large crowds of people. 
Then there is the issue of our visas. They are due to be extended on the 19th and this process took 3+ weeks the last time. 
Not to mention that the last team scheduled to come in October has cancelled. So we made the decision to leave early as long as we could get a flight out. ( There were exactly 2 seat open on the 19th) just exactly what we needed on the exact day we needed it. Praise God!

So today as I went to the market and talked with my girls I was suddenly aware of how heartbroken I was feeling. I really don't want to leave at all. 
Kathy and I agreed, we'd love to jump on a plane, go home and love on our children and grandchildren.....and then jump on a plane and return to Mozambique! 
I wonder if we could raise sufficient support to fly back and forth every 4 months for a visit? :)

So we pray that we can finish strong. Finish well. Following the Lord's will each step of the way. Most importantly, we pray that we would leave every person stronger and happier for having known us. 

Sep 27, 2009

Baptist Women's Conference

Today was the last day of the Baptist Women's Conference. It was held in Beria this year, about a 45 minute drive from Dondo.
It started on Thursday afternoon and ran though Sunday ending with a church service.

There had to be 250+ ladies at this conference, and at least a third of them brought their youngest child with them.
Thursday they registered and settled in.
Each women had to bring their own bedding (a straw mat). They needed to bring a plate, spoon and cup. Also each women had to bring 2 Kg of rice, 1Kg of sugar and 1 liter of oil.
Some slept outside, others in an old building across the street from the church where the convention was held.

The ladies from Dondo have been planning and taking extra work to raise the money needed to attend. They all needed to buy capulanas. Once they decided on the design they each bought 2 capulanas, one for their headdress and one to wrap around their waist. 

This is a big event for the ladies of Dondo Baptist Church. They have been getting together with the church plants ( Centro Emissor, Mafarinha, Savane)  for many weeks to plan and practice their songs and dance routines. 

Each church has an opportunity to perform. It was so great! But when Dondo Baptist Church got up there, all the other churches paled in comparison! Our ladies were great!!! There had to be 60 women up there, all dancing in perfect unison, singing and worshiping and praising Our God! 

Each church that attended had their own design, unique to their church. They each had the opportunity to present, between bible study and devotions. 

Saturday as Kathy and I were preparing to leave we were asked to meet a couple of the ladies from Centro Emissor church.
Someone had observed that one of the babies and a 3 year old boy had paraphernalia from a witch doctor on their bodies. So they asked if Kathy and I would speak with them.

We know these ladies, we go to the same church, we felt the Lord encouraging us to speak truth and wisdom into their mother's lives.These young women told stories of family traditions, and beliefs and then went on to tell us the health problems their children have experienced. 

It was quite powerful and I thank God that His perfect plan allowed for us to be a part of that encounter. We shall continue to pray for them and encourage them to trust in the strength of our Lord. It was one more time where God had a perfect plan in place and we were a part of it. 

Today was fabulous, the last day. More dancing more singing, it was all just perfect! 
We stayed back to make sure everyone had a seat on the bus. If they ran out of room we were ready to transport. That's what we do best!

While we were waiting for the bus, we just hung out with our sisters from Centro Emissor. Learning their dance steps, what a blast! We are actually starting to get the steps down, but make no mistake we are NOT Mozambican and it's made quite clear when we dance beside our sisters.
Praise God that they love us and want to teach us. Praise God that they are blessed by our desire to learn and our multiple attempts to do things their way. Praise God that they know we love them, Praise God for the life He has given me and Praise God that we are here to show them Christ's love and help them walk in His way!

The bus finally came and almost everyone fit. We filled our truck with many belongings and all the people that would fit and headed home.

One last thing needed to be done. The ladies from Centro Emissor needed to get from Dondo Baptist Church home. So we called for Todd to help and the 3 of us transported our ladies home. 
They were singing, and literally dancing in the back of the truck as we made our way home. We drove through Centro Emissor horns honking, ladies singing, there was no doubt that they were home! All the children can running to the church to greet us.
Trucks unloaded, everyone exhausted, but still energy enough for a few more songs and dancing!! 
Finally, time to say good bye. We invited all the children who had gathered to watch our celebration to come into the circle we had formed. We then prayed, for the children, the ladies, the church...what a perfect way to end. Praising God!

Go to youtube and type in:  Baptist Women's Conference Beria Mozambique 

Sep 23, 2009

All of God's children

Today I was asked to drive another CRI staff member and two nationals out to a couple of church plants that Ray of Light sponsors. We drove far into the african bush.

We let at the crack of dawn, and traveled on the main road for about an hour, then made a right and drove and drove and drove. 
We started on a dirt road, then crossed over a bridge (and I use the term bridge cautiously) The road very quickly became a dirt path, barely wide enough for a car.

It is incredible to think about and try to comprehend, but the people I saw have even less than those I have spent the last 5 month with. Is it possible to be even poorer? Is it possible to have even less? 
Kids everywhere running and laughing and waving. Eyes bright with wonder and curiosity.
Just watching me drink from my water bottle seemed to fascinate them. 
The sandals on my feet, my sunglasses.
I wonder what they were thinking, as I was looking at them, wondering why?
Why? Why do I have and they have not? What part of God's plan is this? What am I suppose to do? Am I suppose to do anything? 

It was really a great and blessed day as the Lord most certainly was traveling with us. His hand of protection was evident on several occasions. Starting with a car that provided transport.

God is good and faithful and sees the needs of all His children. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to keep praying for all the people the Lord places in front of me.
Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to praise you and pray to you.

Sep 13, 2009

A wonderful weekend, and perfect Sunday, I love those!

The entire weekend has been great.  We woke to showers on Saturday morning, which ultimately changed some plans, but that is what we do here...change plans.
So we enjoyed an extra cup of coffee, talked, listened to the rain, read more than usual, prayed and started our day about 2 hours later than normal. 
In the morning we spent time with Zito and Ziara, encouraged and prayed with them and enjoyed their children!!
Then made a run to what we call Sam's Club. It's this big warehouse structure that has certain items (but not all the time, sound familiar?) that you can buy in bulk ( cases, etc.) for quite a good price.
We've named or should I say renamed quite a few of the shops around here. We have a Staples, and Walmart( it's actually a little Dollar store, they call them China shops here.) We have a Lowe's and Dunn Tire and there's Payless shoes. I'd have to take a picture of this place, I'm sure that my description would not come close to describing this place!

As we were driving back from Sam's club Kathy said something and asked if I was all set to give  the message tomorrow. I had completely forgotten about it, so my answer was  "no".
So I then spent some time preparing the message.  God was good and it all came together quickly, we even had time for a movie and some popcorn!

Sunday morning was just right, not too rushed, enjoyed our quiet time with God, coffee and granola/cashew biscotti's. They are actually suppose to be almond/oatmeal biscotti, but we use what we have on hand.  With coffee = perfect.

We picked up Zito,  Ziara and family and headed to Centro Emmisor for church. It is always so good to spend time there, it is truly 'our church'. We love the people of CE and they know that we do. We had a wonderful time of praise with singing and dancing, then I gave a message on God's faithfulness.
Pastor Jeronimo had come to our service this week and so he talked about the dream of building the new church. We have the land set and ready, we even have some of the materials ready to get started.
So Pastor was speaking and trying to encourage the church, reminding them that they are the ones who will build this church. They have to take up special collections, that they are the ones who will make this happen as they pray and wait patiently for the Lord's timing in all of it.

I love watching how the Lord has been preparing the people of CE, growing the church, it's even different from a few months ago. Kathy and I both can see the change since May, that can only be God!  

After church, it's home for a quick lunch and then the baby dedication of the week.

Almost every Sunday there is a baby dedication. It's when all the women of the church get together to celebrate the family's decision to have the baby dedicated to Jesus. The baby who was usually born 1-2 weeks prior, gets prayed over and blessed and then is taken out of the house and presented to the public. There are always tons of ladies there, and it's all about the singing and dancing!!
These dedications finish just in time to run home, put more DEET on and head out to Sunday evening worship. 

Pastor Jeronimo had a great message on being Born again, the old sin is dead, gone, and forgotten. We are new creatures. It was a great message and perfect for all the youths to hear.
The Sunday service is primarily attended by the youth, the music is a little more geared to their tastes, and the kids lead the worship so we have a blast.
So you can see where it has been a wonderful, perfect weekend, where we could see the hand of God at work.

Sep 9, 2009

Ladies Day at Centro Emmisor

Today the ladies form Centro Emmisor (CE)church hosted ladies from a church about 4hours away. This event has been planned and canceled no fewer than 4 times by my last count.
Each time it was cancelled we ( Kathy and I ) were thanking God because we always seemed to have a conflict on the day it was scheduled.

I think maybe our 'overbooking' is our number one dilemma. There is always something going on and our desire is to be a part of the events that mean so much in the lives of the Mozambicans.
That said, we need to prioritize, there are things we must do, at the same time we need to keep the commitments we make. Sometimes this can be difficult.

So today was finally the day. The ladies at CE had asked that Kathy and I each give a message. The ladies who were visiting would give a presentation as well.
Of course the event started with singing and dancing and more singing and more dancing. You could see that each one was enjoying the day.
Kathy spoke first and gave a message on the need to come to Jesus, quoting Isaiah 1:16-20 Come let us reason together. Stressing the need to be obedient to God and the blessing will flow. That He is faithful and simply wants all to come to know Him.
Next one of the visitors spoke and her message was almost the very same, the only difference was the bible references she used!!
Then we did some more singing and dancing, along with maybe 30-40 little ones who were interested in watching all the activity.

So now it's after 2:00 in the afternoon. We have been talking and singing and dancing since 11am. I thought surely they would break for lunch before I would need to speak. But this would not be the case.
As my flesh was thinking, great they're going to be tired and hungry and not really care about what I have prepared. This only added to my nerves.
Then I asked God to help me get through it, help me say the words you want them to hear, and of course He did!
Actually, as it turned out all three messages were right in line with one another. Kathy and I had not even talked about what we were going to share, but God knew!
He had all three messages using His scripture to encourage the women. It was just perfect.
That should not surprise any of us!
Today was a good day and like Kathy just said 'we feel full'. Amen

Sep 7, 2009

Cashew Boys

I just have to share this story about the cashew boys. 
These guys stand in the road by a police check point. We need to pass through this check point and these boys when we go to Centro Emmisor, the church plant I've mentioned before.

So these young boys, run up to the car holding their bags of freshly roasted cashews, each eager to have you purchase theirs! They recognize us and we have been trying to build relationships by asking their names and if they attend church, etc.

One guy, his name is Tomas has this great smile and I try to buy from him. When I first got to know his name and tried to remember his face, I would call out and ask for Tomas. Since then they all smile and run to the car claiming that their name is Tomas! It's really very funny!

They also know that we attend the church at Centro Emmisor and that is why we are there. So we explain to them that we will buy  their cashews after we attend church.

 This one day, as we were heading home, driving through the dozen or so cashew boys, we could not see Tomas anywhere.
Then from a distance, maybe 100 feet down the road we see a tall young man running towards us, pulling up his pants, grinning from ear to ear!!!
It was Tomas, and he was not about to let a sale go by.
We laughed almost all the way home, and said no one in America would believe this story.
Life in Mozambique... much of it is unbelievable, and wonderful, and all of it is true! 
Thank you God for the opportunity to experience it.

Sep 4, 2009


Prayer, we pray everyday, all the time. Sometimes my prayers seem to feel more meaningful than other times. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes, the time with God in prayer is just sweet, perfect in a supernatural sort of way.

That's how it was yesterday morning. Just a perfect, quiet, real moment with God before I was off and running for the day.
I have heard on more than one occasion, my friend Kathy pray 'Lord I ask that you go before me and behind and on both sides of me this day, and protect and guide me'.  Yesterday I found myself using those exact same words as I prayed for God's protection and guidance.

Later that morning while driving through Mafarinha, God did just that. He was before me, behind me and on both sides of me as He stopped the truck from hitting a small boy who ran into the road.

It was just for a moment, He was there. Right there! I felt Him. He stopped the truck and the boy all in a split second. It felt like I personally had no control of what was happening.

When it was over, the boy ran off, and tears started running down my face. I couldn't think or speak. All I kept thinking about was that prayer.  The words I had heard and then repeated that very morning.
Thank you Jesus for your faithful hand of protection.

Sep 3, 2009

Domingo and the water well

I went to the farm today to get water. We have  a well there and the water is safe for us to drink. 
Usually when you get there, Domingo, the young man that tends the farm, is not far behind.
 I'm not sure how he does it, but by the time you shut off the truck he is there and ready to unload the water jugs.
So I thought it was strange when I saw no sign of him.
I proceeded to rinse and then fill the water jugs. I kept thinking surely he will show up soon. After  about 35 minutes I had filled all ten water jugs and loaded them back onto the truck. No sign of Domingo today.

It wasn't until later in the day that I heard the news. Domingo and his wife were expecting a baby. But yesterday she gave birth prematurely and the baby died. My heart grieved for him and his wife.

I met his wife one day, as I was getting water. She was so sweet, young, beautiful and very pregnant. He was so proud of her. His face would light up whenever you inquired about her and the baby.
I would always encourage  Domingo to come to church. He would always smile and say  'sim talvez Domingo'. ( yes maybe Sunday)  But we never saw him. The day I met his wife I encouraged her to bring Domingo to church. She just smile and looked embarrassed as I tried to encourage her.

I have thought a lot about the times I have encouraged this young man to come to church, to hear about our God. Now he is dealing with this incredible loss, who is supporting them? Who can encourage them? How can they possibly deal with this loss without the help of our Heavenly Father?
How can anyone get through one single day without Him?
Each time the Lord has brought this young family to mind, I have prayed for them. I pray that as they grieve their loss, the Lord will use this event to draw them nearer to Him.

I'll set my gaze on God alone and trust in Him completely. With every breath pour out my soul and He will prove His mercy. Though life is but a fleeting breath, a sign to deep to measure. My King has crushed the curse of death and I am His forever.
 Psalm 62, by Aaron Keyes