Jun 20, 2011

Jun 7, 2011

The many faces of Mozambique

Someone remarked this week how "God made so many different faces"! It was funny to hear it said out loud, as I had been noticing the very same thing.
Each one completely unique and special, right down to every freckle and dimple!

When you stop and think about how much God cares about us.
Psalms 139:14 I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. And my soul knows it well.
I often need to remind myself of this....we are wonderfully made and perfectly loved by Our Father in Heaven.
 Each one of us! Fearfully and wonderfully made in the imagine of His Son, Jesus.

Just a couple of the many faces that God wanted me to notice this week.... fearfully and wonderfully made faces!
Please continue to pray for all the faces of our friends here in Mozambique. As you pray ask God how you can help ....what is it that you can do to bless them?
Please visit the CRI website at :     http://www.childrensrelief.org/

Jun 1, 2011

Another baby goes to heaven....

When I was 13 my sister Maria died, she was only 10 years old.
I can still remember clearly asking God, why? why would you take the life of a sweet little girl?' She loved to sing and dance, and she loved people...she had a gentle spirit and was wise beyond her years.... why God?

Like many who have experienced death in such a personal way,  I spent many years trying to come to terms with death and dying. Of course, like everything in this world, I couldn't make sense of it without the help of the Holy Spirit.

I am so grateful that finally I am able to rest in the truth of what the Lord has been trying to get me to understand. This life, our time here on earth isn't the 'ultimate gift' that God has for us. Eternal life in Heaven with Him, Our Father and Creator is the 'ultimate gift'.

It's clear to me now that God needed me to do more than understand about out temporary lives here. He needed me to fully embrace the importance of our eternal life with Our Father in Heaven. So that the Holy Spirit within me could share the real truth of eternal life with those that are grieving.

I still do some crying, well actually I do a lot of crying, but that's okay. We're suppose to grieve, and share in each others sorrow. But with that we are called to share in the hope of eternal life. The hope that comes from a personal relationship with the Lord.

Last Saturday, a dear sweet women from our church in Centro Emissor experienced the loss of her child.  Just over a year old, he was the youngest boy in family of 4 older sisters.

You can read Kathy's blog for the rest of Fatima's story...http://dondodancer.blogspot.com/

On the third day following the funeral there is the Day of Consolation.  During the 3 days after the funeral the family is to do no work. Their needs are met by friends and neighbors. Women help with the laundry, prepare meals, wash the dishes and tend to the young children. This help will end today, Tuesday the day of Consolation.

 I picked up Zito our church plant leader and we headed to Fatima's home.
It was the typical scene as we arrived at Fatima's home. The women were all seated on mats and the men were sitting on small stools and benches separate from the women. 'Real' chairs, the best they have, were set out for Zito and I and Lou ( a visitor from Chicago).

I was asked to begin the ceremony with a prayer, and then Zito gave a message. He referenced Moses and the people of Israel, explaining how they were so busy trying to be satisfied with things of this world. He encouraged Fatima and her family to seek the things of Our Heavenly Father, to keep our eyes focused on Him. Repeating often that God is The Only Way, The Only Truth and The Life Eternal.

We then prayed again for the family, their home, and their health. We then shook each one's hand and offered words of comfort. Finally we were asked to lay hands on each one in the family and pray specifically for them. ( This part made me cry, it was very emotional) But also such a blessings to be allowed to pray on their behalf!

Ever since the funeral I had felt a profound need to pray. To pray for protection for Fatima's home, our church at Centro Emissor and specifically to pray for protection from the evil one. I prayed that God would guard their hearts and draw each one nearer to Himself as a result of their grieving.
God had continued to place the need to pray on my heart and so I was blessed to see the peace on Fatima's face when I prayed with her.
I was especially blessed as God allowed me to have the words in Portuguese to be able to speak to her heart. I told her that God loves her and will never leave her alone. I told her that day by day she will feel better as she keeps her eyes on God. That He loves her and that He is loving her child right now in Heaven.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Please pray for the people we know and love in Mozambique. We hear each day that someone's family member or neighbor or friend has died. May God continue to bless those who mourn and may they feel the comfort of the Lord.

May 29, 2011

Domingos and baby Antonio

This young man is "Domingos, who works at the farm". That's not actually his name of course, but that's how we differentiate one Domingos from the next. Or one Fernando from the next:)

So when we saw him last week with his new little baby, 5 month old Antonio, we were just thrilled!
You see last year, Domingos and his wife were expecting a baby and he couldn't have been more proud.
That was all he ever talked about when we'd go to the farm to pump our water.  Then when his wife was in her 6th or 7th month we got word that the baby had died. Domingos and his wife were of course crushed. I'm sure I was not alone when I asked God, why?

So you can imagine our excitement as we saw him ride by with little Antonio strapped to his back! I had to make him stop so we could get a photo! 
We were all smiling, but our smiles were nothing compared to the smile of a proud papa! 
You very rarely see men carrying or holding their little ones. I have never seen a man with his baby strapped to his back! This picture just blesses me and so I had to share....
So once again we thank Our Lord for His perfect plan for our lives!

May 26, 2011

Our Empregada's

These are our girls, Maria, and Rita...our cooks, laundry ladies, and all around house keepers. Rita takes care of our house and Maria manages the team house. They willingly do anything we ask them to do, and are always quick with a big smile and polite 'ta bom' (meaning it's good, or okay)
We really care a lot about them and are blessed that God has placed them in our lives.

They cook all our meals from scratch, no box mixes, or frozen bags of anything. They do things like our grandmother's used to. We are blessed to have stoves in our homes, but in their homes they cook over an open fire.They wash all of our clothes by hand and hang them out to dry. Then before the day is over they iron everything they've washed. This is to kill the small bugs that lay their eggs on our clothes.

Kathy and I bought them new uniforms again this year and they were so happy. When they came to work the next morning they were excited to show us how nice they looked. I just had to take a picture.
Please pray for our girls when you think of us. Life is hard here for them, but Our God is good all the time and we know His plan is perfect!

May 23, 2011

Bible stories...

The team currently visiting from the states was scheduled to teach the children during the Saturday afternoon kids program at church. 
This program was scheduled for 3pm. We had already had a full day, up and out early for a Green Door house dedication and then off to the port city for lunch.  
We had taken the team to Biques, a really cool place to sit and enjoy good food right on the Indian Ocean.  Can you see why I love my job so much?

Anyway, lunch took a little longer than usual and by the time we were finished it was time to head back to Dondo. A quick call to Marissa, the lady in charge of the kids program, to explain our whereabouts.
Now you have to keep in mind that Marissa, is a Brazilian Missionary. She is very sweet, and doing her best to learn English. After a rather questionable phone conversation, we felt assured that we had time to make one quick stop before we headed back to Dondo.

Now when we arrived at the church, unbeknownst to our visitors, the kids program had already finished.
The courtyard at the church was still full of children but they were not kids from our church. They were the street kids that hang out, outside the gates and watch the activities from a distance. These children are poor, dirty, hungry, and often orphans. 
Marissa had explained that the regular program was finished but we could tell our bible story to the children that were there. 
So with the help of our newest translator Caitano, the ladies told the story of Moses. When he was just a baby placed in the basket and sent down the river for safety. Afterwards, they taught the children a song.  Then the children showed us how to dance!

Who knows why God allows the things He does. I am just so grateful that I don't have to figure any of it out. I simply have to walk in faith and trust in God's plan.
These children were suppose to be exactly where they were, when they were. We were suppose to do exactly what God had planned for us to do this day.  God's plan is always perfect!

The best part of the story is when one little boy tried to give us a coin! We didn't understand what he was trying to say.  We thanked him and suggested he bring it to church on Sunday if he wanted to give his coin. Makes me think about the widow and her 2 mite.  Praise God!!!!

May 16, 2011

Our first taxi ride in Mozambique...

We have recognized some changes in Dondo since last year. One such change would be the presence of taxis. 
They are little three wheeled vehicles about as powerful as a golf cart, but they can get the job done.
So when we needed a lift to the baby dedication on Sunday afternoon, we called Ercilio, our National Team Leader, and he hooked us up.

Our driver Cuarta arrived right on time and off we went. Kathy and I along with Chelye our newest CRI staff member. 
There is exactly enough room for one driver in front and 3 average sized people in the back seat. So off we went...

Praise God for our ever improving Portuguese. It's so great to be able to initiate conversation and begin to build relationships with the Mozambicans we live amongst. 
We were enjoying our ride laughing and having a blast. Cuarta was quick with a smile and had a great laugh, but you could see he was also taking his job seriously.
It was at that moment when we noticed something was not right. So we pulled off the road and saw that the left rear tire was flat. 

Without missing a beat, Cuarta had his "official" taxi driver shirt off and the front seated lifted up. Tools in hand he began to loosen the bolts on the tire.
There we stood, enjoying the moment and taking pictures. 
I wondered how he was going to actually remove the flat and replace it with the good tire. Just then Cuarta stood up and looked around to see who he could flag down for help.
I jokingly said "I'll bet I can lift it up"...so I did, not quite enough to slip the tire off, but then Kathy jumped in and we lifted the taxi up!!! A couple of grandmothers from Iowa..who would have ever thought...
Even Cuarta was impressed! He said in Portuguese, "I thought I needed a man to help but you women can do the work".

This all took under 6 minutes and we were back on the road. Actually, we arrived at the baby dedication about 15 minutes early....and then waited another 2 hours for the celebration to actually begin!
Just another day of life in Mozambique! Thank you Jesus!

May 14, 2011

Nutrition Center....observations

I spent the last two mornings at the Tessa Grace Nutrition Center. This center officially opened last year as a result of the overwhelming need to help moms and their babies.
Most moms are malnourished, suffering the affects of HIV and can barely sustain themselves so providing sufficient milk for their babies is almost impossible.
The center provides supplemental formula for the babies and small amounts of food for the nursing moms.

As I returned to the center after these months away, I was struck by how little some things have changed.
There is still a long line of moms...waiting to be seen, each with a baby (or two) strapped to their backs. There are still older siblings assisting their moms. There are still babies suspended daily from a hand made "seat sling" attached to a scale. There are still dedicated and caring Mozambican workers at the center spending their days assisting those less fortunate.
There is still plenty of need!

I was also struck by the improvements I observed. The center operates 3 mornings each week seeing a total of 80-85 moms and their babies. This building completely renovated (through generous donations) is being utilized in a big way to impact lives as well as strengthening the community.
Each morning as the mothers arrive, they are first given some general instruction/education. This may include how to safely prepare the formula by boiling the water they use. Or how to adequately wash their hands and prevent the spread of infections.
Before anything else takes place there is prayer. The workers pray for the mothers and their babies, thanking God for His Son Jesus, thanking God for another day of life. And asking God to bless them and keep them safe this day.

There is now a large water tower  outside the building and close to the medical clinic. This tower will enable these two buildings to have running water...inside!
This is an amazing improvement and so very essential!

Over the past several months many people have been awakened and enlightened to the needs at the  nutrition center.
The Lord has truly blessed this ministry at the Ray of Light project.

The increased donations have allowed for more money to be spent each month on formula. (An added blessing, as the prices here give inflation an entirely new meaning!)

So we are all humbly praising God for His grace and bounty.  His word tells us to feed and care for the widows and the orphans, this is done each and every day here in Dondo, thanks to the generosity of all who give and pray for the Mozambicans we love.
Thank you all very much!!
May the God of the universe bless you for blessings others.

May 4, 2011

It's about time!

The title says 'it's about time', now that could be taken one of two ways. 
Either 'it's about time I'm back in Mozambique', or i't's about time I updated my blog'.... I'll let you decide.

As of right now, both are officially true!

The travel seems to go quicker each time I make the trip. Or should I say 'we' make the trip. Having a traveling companion is really a plus! This trip was uneventful ( Praise God!) all the flights were on time, the layovers were just long enough, and all our luggage made it!

Initially, we didn't have to pay for the extra bags, but as we were boarding the international flight at Dulles it was determined that we needed to pay. 
So we thank God for the generous donation we had received to cover this cost.
We were able to book the luggage through to Beira ( which is a really big deal!)
and it arrived when we did!

We were greeted by a few dear friends, fellow CRI staff and several of the nationals we love! It was such a good feeling to step off the plan and see their smiling faces. The sounds, sights and smells everything felt right.

At the same time, there are so many things to remember...the language, the greetings, driving on the left side of the road....

As we weaved our way down the streets my mind was flooded with memories, had we really been gone for 6 months? It feels as though we never left! 
We exchanged money with the help of Ercilio our national field leader, and then off to Shop Rite for a few groceries. 
The guys who watch out for us and keep an eye on our car were there, hugs all around then in to see what we could find at Shop Rite, one sad note, no popcorn! 

We finally arrived at our house #6 in Lusalite...such a good sight. 
As the van pulled up and came to a stop, we could hear a familiar sound of music! It was the handball team! They came out singing, playing guitars and drumming, all with big smiling faces!
Kathy has some great pics of this (my battery was dead) so check out her blog as well when you get a chance!

First the captain of the team stepped out and officially welcomed us back. Then one by one each young man came up and greeted us with their best English and a big hug! 
It was such a sweet welcome home!! We just pray that God will continue to bless these young men. As they are all striving to follow the Lord.

We were invited to the Johnson's (fellow CRI staff) for dinner, so we walked the 1/4 mile to their house. We didn't see any snakes, the monkeys must have all been asleep, but I did get a closer than I like look at a bat as we walked home. 

Now the work really begins and so we ask that you keep us in your prayers.
We need to get adjusted to the time and weather changes, as well as re acclimate to the culture, language.... I need to start unpacking,I will update again soon.

 God's grace and peace to you all.