Friday, December 23, 2011

Mozambique Christmas

This Christmas there is not one pine tree in sight, no snow (we're used to that), no Christmas lights, no wrapping paper, in fact we can't even get our hands on construction paper!!

But there is lots of joy and anticipation building inspite of all that might be 'missing' in our eyes. Today is Christmas Eve and we have the pleasure of hosting a party for 300 children at the orphanage tonight. Christmas Day after church everyone in the community is welcome to a feast at Iris. Many people will queue up for hours in the hot sun to get chicken, rice and coke. We are anticipating 5,000 people!!!

I just wanted to share with you a few of Josiah's 'hand- crafted' Mozambian toys this Christmas. He couldn't have been more excited if they came in a shiny box from from Toys- R- Us.
Josiah's push car constructed from bamboo, a drinking straw, discarded pen, scrap wire, and cut up flip- flops.

his sling- shot . . . watch out!

Any guesses what this is? A ball made from plastic bags and string

Annette's favorite toys are her bottle cap collection and like any toddler a good

Hope your Christmas celebration is beautiful and full of joy. God, Immanuel, is with us even (especially) in Mozambique- Alleluia!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Hero- Heidi Baker

Seven years ago Jason and I lay in our bed in La Mirada reading aloud “There is Always Enough” by Heidi Baker. As we read we wept. We were broken by the heart wrenching stories and descriptions of laid- down love in Mozambique. Since then it has been a dream of ours to understand more what that kind of love looks like. I was nervous coming to finally visit Heidi (and Rolland) at Iris Ministries, fearful that I would discover that she was not for real or that her stories were exaggerated or no longer happening. Now, after three months under Heidi's teaching, my heart is overflowing to have found that while she is very radical, she is also for real. Here's a bit of what I've observed. . .

Radical Worship- Jesus is truly Heidi's greatest delight. She loves to be in God's presence and draw others into the secret place. She never speaks without first worshiping Jesus (usually on her face). She said once a church told her, 'worship as long as you want before you go up to speak'. She took them literally, until finally at 11:30 pm they tapped her to go up and speak. (:

Radical Obedience- I heard Heidi say once, “If God told me to walk off a cliff I would. By the way, I do it all the time”. Her life and ministry are so infused with faith and obedience that she is not afraid to step out in faith. Heidi has been shot at, stoned, shipwrecked etc. She lives her life in a place where she is daily dependent on miracles just to survive. Heidi has inspired other missionaries to run into some of the darkest places in the world. Right now there are Iris teams in the red zones in Congo, child brothels in Thailand, and drug dens in Brazil. Inspired by Heidi, they go joyfully because they know who they are in Christ.

Radical Power- Love has to look like something and often it looks like bringing God's power from heaven to earth. Heidi displays God's power through signs that point others to Him. She has seen many blind eyes opened and consistently (I wouldn't be telling you this if it wasn't true) sees deaf people healed. Several times God has multiplied food in their ministry and they have seen the dead raised. This is so surprising to some of us in the West, but should it be? Jesus said, you will do greater things than I.

Radical Generosity- Although Iris was having a financially tight month in November God told Heidi to give all of the money from one of her conferences away to another ministry working to stop sex trafficking. Here is Mozambique she is challenging us to share the food we have in front of us with the poor because “we stay poor when we don't give”

Radical Love- Heidi has taught us to ask “what does love look like?” Because love has to look like something to people. It is fun to watch Heidi love on her “kids” at the children's home. When we were meeting in her office some boys climbed over the wall into her office because they knew they were welcome in “Mama Aidia's” house. As she met with our group she held kids on her lap, cuddled them and reminded them how precious they are. Every weekend she has a slumber party at her house with 10 kids from the home. I just love that practical, tenacious love in the midst of so much fame.

Radical Joy- The joy of the Lord is one of Heidi and Rolland's core value as they live out the verse “in all our troubles our joy knows no bounds.” They are very honest that they could never have endured this long without a river of life and joy flowing from their innermost being. I have learned from them that in His joy we are all the more capable of compassion for others, unfettered by our own sorrows.

Radical Peace- I have observed over the last few months that Heidi Baker has one of the most insane, demanding schedules of anyone I've ever met. She speaks around the world half her life, has 10,000 children “under” her care on a daily basis, pastors a church, has 3,000 foreigners a year to her mission base in Mozambique (including 2 missions schools), trains hundreds of local pastors, plants thousands of churches etc. . . Yet, she truly knows that it is not her, that she is a “tiny paint brush in his hand,” just a “little lady in the dirt”. One thing that most hit me when I've been around Heidi is the way she is 100% in the moment. When she talks to you or hugs you, you feel like she is all there, focusing entirely on you. At graduation she called all the kids from mission school up on the stage and hugged them and gave them gifts. Although there was a lot of chaos going on, she was so peaceful and calm. She looked Josiah straight in the eye and could tell he didn't want the wooden box she first offered him so she traded it for an African drum. Heidi's motto is “stop for the one”. If you are the one in front of her, you can fully feel that she has stopped for you.

I am not saying that Heidi Baker is perfect- of course she is not- but God has touched my life so much through getting to watch her's.

**Family News- In case you are wondering what we are up to these days Jason has been on an outreach in the Bush Bush Bush Bush for 7 days now and has 3 more to go. He is in a village, as his leader told me “3- 12 hours away.” Very specific. I have got a couple texts from him. He said they planted a church and are discipling 70 new believers. He also asked me to text him a cake recipe that he was going to cook over the fire today for a girl's birthday (: I love Jason. The kids and I are on base living with a lovely missionary named Danielle. The days have been slow, but we are trying to enjoy an unhurried pace and our final weeks in Mozambique (we fly out Dec 26). If you are reading this we miss you and love you ****

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hi friends!!! Are you getting in the holiday spirit? We are wondering how the tree in Festival Walk HK looks and thinking about you beautiful California people stringing up lights on your houses. It doesn't feel at all like Christmas here as the temperature and humidity are building up to a southern hemisphere summer. Sweet Jesus! But on the positive side you will be relieved to know that in Mozambique Christmas is not at all commercialized (:

It feels like we have been in Africa for- ev-ver. It has been three months and long enough to get over the cultural honeymoon. We still love the people, but among things that are getting really old food is at the top of the list. We made up a game called “Matapas Muscles” to get Josiah to eat his Matapas (a spinachy sauce with lots of gritty sand mixed in) Here he is flexing!

Baby Update
Remember the mama who lost six babies? Here she is with beautiful, CHUBBY Margartia!!! Isn't she the cutest, healthiest baby ever?! We made history in milk clinic this week with the arrival of triplets!! In a country where 1 in 10 babies die before the age of one, triplets can be a real challenge. The triplets were 6 weeks old and named Berta, Bertino, and Bertina. Berta and Bertino were doing quite well (around 2.5 kg each) but little Bertina was only 1.7 kilos (under 4 pounds) and the tinniest baby I have ever held. Just skin and bones, but so beautiful. Please pray LIFE over this little one is Jesus name!!

Chickens in the Ditch
A few weeks ago Jason was coming back to the base from town with some bread and snacks for our family. As he passed the ditch where men had been digging all day in the heat a worker ran up to him asking for a piece of bread because he was hungry. Thinking about hungry kids at home and the hassle of getting to town he said no. To make things more convicting, Heidi had just preached about seeing Jesus in those that are hungry, thirsty, unclothed, and in prison. He sheepishly said sorry and walked on but asked God for mercy. Immediately God said “Jason they are going to be there for a few more weeks, go back and bring food for all of them and give them what you would want.” Usually they eat around noon (rice and beans out of the shovel) so Jason brought 30 grilled chickens and french fries to the workers last Friday. He had tried to arrange this in advance with the foreman, but due to language barrier and logistics was unable to inform him. So, Jason felt a bit silly walking down the road with our stroller piled high with chickens for men who already had lunch. But when he arrived the men were still working because apparently there was no lunch that day. You can imagine their excitement to see Jason and the “frangos”.

While they ate Jason (with an interpreter) thanked the men for their work and shared about the good news of the gospel. About 50 men (several Muslims) listened eagerly and 15 prayed to receive Christ afterwards! He was praying for some sick men when the 'boss' told him it was time to stop because the cement was ready to be poured. But when he realized what Jason was doing he lost his haste and asked Jason if he could please pray for his neck as well! They thanked Jason for coming because evidently it was their last day on the job. The verse he used was John 6:35 “I am the bread of life, He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. Jesus' words, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” became very real that day to Jason in the revelation that God could use him and some chickens in a ditch!

This week is the last week of school. Tomorrow is commissioning and Thursday is graduation. There are some really incredible speakers here including Will Hart, David Wagner and Mel Tari

Quotes from class:

You can never win what you do not love

Failure is never final where there's a Father

What would you dare to ask God for if you knew you would not be denied?

People need to see a dimension of love they have never seen before

The way you do things is more important that what you do

Live from the inside out

God does not call the equipped, He equips the called

Do we think church is a place where we do things or a place where God does things?

Revival is not a church full of people, it is a person full of God

The way up is down

People without a future will always go back to their past

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible

What is the other side of your obedience?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Good Times in Nampula

We had such an incredible time in Nampula, with my second cousin Marijane and her family. It has been over a dozen years since I've seen Marijane, so we had a lot of catching up to do. It was fascinating to see their life and ministry in Mozambique. We were incredibly blessed by their hospitality, generosity and amazing cooking. The boys had a great time together and it was hard to say goodbye. I can't get over God's goodness to us to provide "family" to spend Thanksgiving with.

Jon and Marijane

Marijane, and 77 year old missionary teacher Peggy, and I with our Thanksgiving spread

Our pumpkin with pumpkin pie (in Africa!) God is so good!

Playing in the missionary compound

Watch out for crocodiles!
Family shot in beautiful Montes Nairucu

Ethan and Annette

*Side note- if you read our previous post on our bus ride to Nampula, who will rejoice with us that we are taking a private MAF flight back to Pemba. Whoot, whoot!

Over the river and through the woods. . .

We knew we were stepping into a big Thanksgiving adventure when we decided to squeeze Josiah and Annette onto a bus for an over-land Mozambique trip. As the bus pulled away from Pemba I felt a sense of excitement rise up in my chest. It was with gratitude that we rode into the African sunrise, cool breeze in our face, contented children in their seats and cute mud huts whizzing by.

But the refreshing breeze gradually gave way to stifling heat and our contented children began fidgeting and digging their elbows into each other. When we came to a village the driver would slow the bus to allow venders to brings mangos, cashews, and cokes up to our windows. This was nice, the first few times, but soon we began stopping at practically every village. The venders began offering an expanded selection that included large straw mats, brooms and slaughtered chickens. When the bus would stop more passengers would board and huge mats and chickens came in through the windows.

We had purchased three tickets, but as people piled on the bus it became quite obvious that there was no correlation between the number of seats on the bus and tickets sold. We realized it would be rude for Josiah to have his own seat, so he climbed on our lap. That is when the injustice began to rise up in me. We PAID for that tickets, we DESERVE that seat. Immediately something that Hedi Baker said in class came to mind, "you can choose to get angry or choose to go lower." At the time she said it I genuinely couldn't make an application, but now in this increasingly hot, crammed, smelly bus I had a chance to go lower still. I smiled, hugged Josiah tight and thanked Jesus for humbling himself.

The kids drifted into sweaty sleep, but awoke when the bus (and breeze) stopped. As we were pulling away from yet another stop Josiah proclaimed urgently, "I need to poopy". Dread. I quickly put a diaper on Josiah "just in case" he couldn't hold it. He couldn't. And at that moment we discovered that Josiah had caught the tummy bug going around our house. Diarrhea. Loads of it. Still staying calm I lay hm across the seat and change the diaper. That was like unleashing a bomb on the bus. Half the bus stood up and women began to give me looks of disgust. Just as we dealt with that diaper, it happened again, this time not in a diaper. Now the whole bus stood up and began yelling and discussing the situation while I used every wet wipe trying to clean up my son. Poop is smeared everywhere. Then the bus driver pulls over and man yells angrily, 'get your children off the bus".

Every eyes was on me and each face expressed their disgust. I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. I was afraid they were going to kick us off the bus and drive away. Jesus help!! I remembered another story Heidi told of a group of Mozambicans that were angry with her. She told how she fell on her knees and apologized over and over. I didn't fell like I owed them an apology. These things happen with kids. But God said "lower still".

Smattered in poop I walked down the isle shouting "desculpa, desculpa, desculpa" (sorry, sorry, sorry) as sincerely and loudly as I could. I looked eah person in the eye and as I did I saw their faces soften. When reaking Josiah and I finally made it off the bus (we were seated in the last row) and English speaking passenger on behalf of the bus said, "we forgive you". That really hit me. A woman dragged us to a river where she insisted Josiah and I stripped down and washed (lower still) and we changed into clean clothes. Alleluia!

We still had two hours left to go and it was still hard with new challenges (we were stopped by a police officer to check our documents.It was with supreme joy that we crawled off the bus eight hours later. We made it to Nampula with God's help. We smelled, were cranky, sweaty, hungry and tired- but we'd been given mercy. God is showing us that in loving people there is only one direction, lower still.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo update

Here are some of our latest happenings here-

Outreach in the Bush Bush

Remember how I asked you to pray for Jason's bush outreach? Well he ended up having some extra company because our whole family went!! Oh yes, we did. God really surprised me in the way he changed my heart from having no desire to go to the “bush bush” to burning with passion to get out there. Some friends on base offered to keep Josiah and Annette, but we really felt God called us as a family. Besides, they have toddlers and kids in the bush bush too, super cute I might add! (:

To help my thoughts be more coherent and minimize rambling I will summarize our outreach in bullet points

-We drove about three hours in the back of a covered truck on paved roads and dirt road which turned into deeply pot- holed dirt roads. The pastor told us to pray that no elephants would be blocking the road.
-We didn't see any elephants, but our truck did hit a pig in the road. We went back to the village to apologize to the owner who settled the matter by selling the pig to us for 3,500 metz ($100). So the next day for lunch we had roadkill, I mean pork
-At dusk we arrived at a Muslim village that had never before been visited by a team from Iris. Our Mozambican “brothers” (our team consisted of 20 Harvest Students and 20 Mozambican Bible School Students) asked the village people to lead us to the chief's house. The chief welcomed us graciously and permitted our team to camp in his yard under a massive mango tree.
-After setting up our tent in the dark I began getting Annette ready for bed (diaper, jammies, etc) as I glanced out the tent window my gaze was met with 40 black eyes just outside my tent, silently watching my every move. (: The rest of the weekend everything we did was curiously observed.
-Jason went to the evangelism meeting where we showed the Jesus film on a giant screen and the Gospel was shared. 40 people gave their lives to Jesus that night. Alleluia!
We managed to sleep in until 5 am. Upon crawling out of our tent we were greeted with a fleet of village kids ready to play. We taught them a few games including duck- duck- goose and mango toss. The children are quite shy, which made Josiah and Annette much more confident. Annette loved to shake hands, give hugs, and generally get really close into people's space. A few younger kids cried in terror at the sight of our white skin (:
-We ate rolls and tea for breakfast, but were mindful of the village people all around just watching us eat. Mozambicans usually only eat only one meal at the end of the day.
-After breakfast we ran a program for a couple hundred children that were rounded up from the village. We played games, sang songs (very energetically!) had a drama, passed out bread, and taught them about Jesus. Annette and Josiah hung out and danced along with the kids.
-I joined some mamas in their daily chores; getting water from the well, pounding maize with a tall stick and sifting the rocks out of the rice and beans. It is fun how the work is done in community.
-There was a meeting with the men who gave their lives to Jesus the night before, one of whom is the village chief!!! A man was chosen to pastor (God has previously given Jason some prophetic words that this man was to be the pastor) and will be coming to Pemba to attend Bible School in the spring. Next the chief donated land for a church to the built. Our team purchased bamboo and the construction was started that afternoon! And right in front of our eyes a church was planted in a remote village called Kule!!
-In the afternoon we went from hut- to- hut praying for the sick, sharing the gospel and inviting people to the evangelism event that evening. People in the village speak Mackua so our Portuguese is not useful. Everything must be translated through an interpreter which made communication a big challenge.
-That night there was a full moon and around midnight we heard drumming, singing and dancing outside our tent. This continued on until 4:30 am when I surrendered the notion of sleep and crawled out of my tent. There I saw a big crowd of women jubilantly dancing and singing. Our translator told me that the women have been celebrating all night a girl's rite of passage into womanhood. Apparently the girl started her period yesterday, according to Mozambican tradition they conducted a female circumcision (horrible). The girl was then left at home while all the woman danced around spreading the word to the village that the girl is now a woman. They focused their celebration in our yard because they wanted to be sure that the chief heard the news (pretty sure he did!) The worse part is this girl is now “open for business” sexually. Truly horrid.
-In the morning we gave away some clothes we had along. We asked Josiah if he wanted to give away his Ultraman t-shirt (his favorite). After some consideration he decided he wanted to. We put it on a little boy his size and they were best friends after that, playing until it as time to say farewell and load up onto the truck.
-We arrived back at base around noon to the very good news that the water was on (the well issues have been resolved) and the most deeply appreciated shower of my life.

It was an incredible cultural experience and really a blessing to get to participate together as a family. Heidi Baker has been teaching us the importance of going “low and slow” into a new culture, and who better to do that than a child?

I was so impressed to see the passion, organization and effectiveness with which the Mozambican pastors reached this village. They made sure to say farewell to all the new believers before we left, with the promise of sending a discipleship team to them in the next month. The new Christian's pleaded, “please don't forget about us”. From this experience we could understand how Iris Ministries has established over 10,000 churches across Mozambique. Currently at Pemba there are 300 pastors from across the country being trained and equipped to pastor in their local villages. A lot of the teaching involves breaking off syncrotism (a blend of traditional spirit- worship with Islam or Christianity) and teaching people to follow the one true Way. In the villages people go to the witch doctor to receive healing or place curses over people. When they see Spirit- filled pastors performing miracles and healings (on our trip one person was healed of a tumor on her eye and another person's sight was restored) they see a greater power out- poured and cannot deny the cross.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Week in Bullet Points

- Annette has insomnia induced by the Larium (malaria medicine) she is on. It has been progressively getting worse and resulting in very fitful sleep ): One night she was WIDE awake from 9pm- 2am (putting her more at risk of being bit by a nasty mosquito) so we had to make a change. The only other drug option is Malarone which is not available in Pemba and costs several hundred dollars. I spoke with a nurse on base who GAVE us 2 months worth of donated Malarone!! Better nights to come!! Thank you Lord for taking care of us!!

-Water became a huge issue this week. For the last month the water or electricity has been out periodically for up to a day at a time. No big deal. The water has now been out for seven days which is starting to feel like a big deal. We try to recycle our water at least three times, for example we will fill a small bucket, bath both the children, mop the floor with it, then use it to flush the toilet. This week all clothes washing was halted, we had to use pit toilets and water was restricted for drinking only. Appartenlty our water filter can filter pee- but we haven't been that desperate- yet (: The problem is actually effecting the whole Pemba region, but hopefully will be resolved soon. Access to clean drinking water is such a costly and consuming challenge for developing countries. It is a good experience to feel squeezed of what has always been a taken- for- granted abundant resource. My solution-drink Coke (: I am actually embarrassed at how much soda our kids have drunk here. But, hay it's Africa and it's like 120 degrees.

- One of our malnourished babies from Meize Milk Clinic died this Tuesday.

-God is showing me how important the joy of the Lord is. And He is giving me opportunities in which to practice being joyful (see above three bullet points)

- We went snorkeling last Saturday with a group of friends. Supposedly we were going to “swim with the dolphins” instead we swam with the (wait for it). . .. jellyfish!! Schools of hundreds and hundreds of jellyfish. It was the most creepy snorkeling ever. I didn't even want to put my mask in the water because all I saw were dozens of translucent, light- blue blobs swimming towards me. When they started stinging and brushing their blobby jelly against me I was done. But we had a great time and laughed tons. We still haven't seen any dolphins but have watched many whales just off shore. Magnificent!

- Me “Josiah why are you so dirty?”
Josiah “Ummm. . . .maybe from the dirt”

- My Mozambican friend Aisha (a cleaning lady on base) invited us to visit her home in the village. She told us it was a 30 minute walk, but we ended up walking through village alleys for an hour and half in the intense heat before arriving to her mud hut. I love walking through the village calling out greetings, “Salamat! Muhavo?” and observing everyone going about their daily life. We had a great visit and got to meet Aisha's family and neighbors. Tomorrow we are going back and she is preparing a Mozambican supper for us! Because Aisha only speaks Portuguese it is a great opportunity for us to practice and learn (fortunately the language is a lot like Spanish). She is such a beautiful, strong, warm- hearted woman.

-Jason is leaving on Thursday for a two night outreach in the “bush bush”. Please keep him in your prayers as he goes to share the love of Jesus to a remote tribe.

Sorry for no photos this week, the connection is too slow ):

I hope all of you blog- friends are doing well. We are feeling really out of touch with people and have only about 20 minutes a week on- line. So although we aren't doing a great job replying to emails, we do read them and cherish them. Please drop us a comment or email and let us know how you are doing. Also, if you have anything we can pray for please let us know. Several hours a day at school here are spent in prayer and intercession, so we would love to lift you up. We miss you all, love you all and look forward to seeing you face to face!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Crazy God Stuff and a Worm Story

The weeks are really starting to pick up speed now as we get into a routinue with school, ministry and hanging out with new friends. God has been teaching and showing us some really amazing things. Here is a glimpse of what is going on. . .

Josiah's Dream
It has been incredible to see Josiah's faith grow in our time here. This was certainly not our expectation in “dragging him along” but God loves to do more than we can ask or imagine. Annette fell down the other day when they were playing outside and I overheard him comforting her than touch her knee and pray, “pain be gone in Jesus name”. Last week he told us he had a dream where he went to heaven with Jesus. We asked him what he did and he answered that he went fishing with Jesus. He said they caught lots of fish and had two pieces of bread. Then they brought the fish and bread “down here” and gave them out to everybody. “To the black people, white people, everybody, there was lots of food for everybody”. It is amazing how easy it is for Josiah to have childlike faith, since he is a child! His dream was an encouraging reminder to us of God's abundant resources.

Quotes from Class

All fruitfulness flows out of intimacy with God.

How do we make God happy? By trusting him.

We are totally bankrupt apart from God.

The only way forward in the Christian life is lower still.

We are here to thrill God and if we miss that, we miss the point.

Life always comes from the Spirit.

There is no misery when you know who you are. You can run into dark places when full of joy.

Joy is not overrated.

Go low and slow.

If we lay down our lives for Jesus in service, but don't enjoy him, we have failed completely.

Out of reckless abandonment comes exhilarating joy.

Last Friday Jason asked God if he should go on the afternoon village outreach. He heard God say “yes”. Then he asked God, who should I look for? God told Jason “find a girl named Anita who is deaf and pray for her”. So Jason, with Annette in his backpack, headed into the village with a team from Harvest School. They began asking people in the village if they knew a deaf girl named Anita. Eventually some kids led them to a hut where a girl named Kanita lived. Kanita is eight years old and deaf. The team prayed for Kanita and God opened her ears!! A big smile spread across her face as they tested her hearing whispering the word “Jesush” and she repeated. The team ministered some more to the family and invited them to church.
Sunday morning we were greeted by a beaming Kanita and her sisters. She ran up to Jason, giving him a big hug and even bigger smile. All we could do was tell her over and over how much God loves her. We had an extra fun African dance party that morning and it was beautiful to watch Kanita dance to the music she could hear!! After church we celebrated with chicken and coke at the beach. Alleluia!
The crazy thing is this type of miracle is common here!! The last weekend outreach team saw two deaf people healed and cataracts fall off the eyes of nearly blind people. We cry out, “more Lord!”

Worm Story
Both of the kids have had some funky Africa skin rashes. This week Annette developed two zit- looking bumps that we thought were possibly spider bites. After five days they weren't improving and we had the doctor take a look. He told us they were worms that had crawled under her skin. He stuck a needle in and before our eyes pulled a worm out. The other bump wasn't “ripe” yet so we waited a few more days for the worm to come to the surface. When he opened this one up we were shocked at the size of the worm that poked up from the hole!! He said it was the biggest worm he had ever removed (don't go wild in your imagination it was probably ½ long, but still in my baby- ewww!) Here we are outside the clinic, you can see the red bump on her back where the worm was hiding. This is Africa baby!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meize Milk Clinic

On Fridays I drive out to a village outside of Pemba called Meize. Meize is my happy place. Every week 40 precious babies gather under the mango tree for a Milk Clinic run by Iris. The purpose of the clinic is to distribute formula to babies who cannot breast feed exclusively, because their mother has died or is HIV positive, or she does not have enough milk for whatever reason. Buying formula would be completely unaffordable and out of the question for these families. At the clinic we hang a scale from the mango tree and weigh the babies to chart their growth. Then Bridget (the missionary nurse) determines the formula and rice to be allocated to each baby.

One woman came to us last week with a two week old baby. The woman said she had no breast milk (she didn't) and the baby had lost 40% of its birth weight. Bridget asked the woman how many children she had. She told us that she had six babies, and had lost six babies. Each one of her babies had died. Six pregnancies, six labors, six funerals. It was the most amazing moment to watch the smile spread across her face as she was given a bottle and three tins of milk. Hope. Without the milk she would more than likely have had a seventh funeral that week.

This past week was really intense for me and I was flooded with a wave of nausea as we faced several emaciated babies covered in sores with blank, listless stares. My heart especially went out to the caregivers, fathers and sisters, who have just buried their wife/mother and now are fighting for the life of their baby. We have been talking in Mission School this week about what Good News means to the poor. Certainly to these families Good News can look like a tin of milk.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Day at Harvest Mission School

5:00- Sun- up! Outside our compound walls mamas are cooking or carrying water and children are laughing while we, inside, are desperately trying to convince Josiah and Annette that the day has not begun.

6:00- Jason or Christine go for a run on the beach with a friend (it is not safe to go out alone).

6:30- a bell rings and we go to collect our breakfast of rolls, to which we add bananas, peanut butter, coffee, vitamins and malaria tablets

7:00- dressed and out to play! The student compound has these amazing 2,000 year old trees which are perfect for swings.

8:00- Class starts! There are over 300 students in the mission school representing 25 countries. We are crammed in the student hut where we sit on ground. The morning usually has two worship sessions and two teaching sessions. The teaching ranges from understanding our identity in Christ to lessons in cross- cultural communication. Sometimes we have combined class in the church with the Mozambican Bible Students. Josiah and Annette come to class with us and we do our best to entertain them using crayons, sticks, bottlecaps, food, movies etc. We bring Annette's pack 'n play and she naps in the nearby prayer hut. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays Josiah gets to go to a special class for kids where he learns scripture, Bible stories, games, and how to hear God's voice.

1:00- Class is over. Lunch in the dinning hall is either rice and beans or beans and rice (: We like it, but I think you can tell from this picture it is getting a little old.

1:30- 5:30- In the afternoon we sometimes have meetings with our small group or language learning classes (Portuguese). On Wednesday Jason ministers in the Pemba prison. Friday afternoons Christine helps run a baby clinic in a nearby village. Two of our favorite activities are hanging out at the beach (just in front of our compound) or the village (just behind our compound). Isn't Mozambique beautiful and full of treasure!?!

6:00- Dinner in the dinning hall is usually rice with either fish, spinach or cabbage on top. On Tuesdays we have “family time” with our amazing house mates from Australia and the UK. This week we cooked chicken stew, yum!

7:00- Dirty, dirty kids bathed and snuggled under their mosquito nets to bed. There are optional evening sessions of prayer, worship, speakers or African dance parties (love it!!!) Other nights we hang out on the porch talking with people we've met here. There are 8 families and 18 kids, in fact the there are 4 three year old for Josiah to play with!!

9:00- Feels very late and we usually crash early but not without thanking God for the incredible privilege to be in Africa and to get to know Him better. I took this photo of a sunset here on the mission base (called Village of Joy). Isn't that horse majestic posing there?!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Iris Ministries you can learn more about them from their website. Heidi and Rolland have been missionaries for 32 years and have stood fearlessly in one of the world's poorest countries through civil war, floods and famine. They have seen massive revival sweep the nation including many miracles such as healing of the blind and deaf, food multiplication and the dead being raised (crazy). They have been teaching us that fruitfulness flows out of intimacy with God. The message of Iris is simple but powerful- love the one in front of you.

1. Ants. Our bed was completely invaded our first night by thousands of biting ants and we still have an ongoing battle with them.
2. Workmanship. Things here just break easily so it feels like we keep rebuilding. For a week there was a sewage leak outside our door and twice our bed has completely collapsed! This is Africa baby!
3. Prices. Western items, such as toilet paper, shampoo, peanut butter are so inflated. A package of toilet paper is $20, a liter of milk is $5 and you don't even want to know how much cheese costs.
4. Rambunctious Kids. The village kids are so precious, but quite aggressive. We have to careful because some of them will yank at our kid's limbs or grab their blonde hair. ):

1. House. We have one of the best houses on the compound with the fewest number of people and an incredible ocean breeze blowing into our room
2. Laundry Lady. The families have access to a beautiful laundry lady who twice a week hand washes all of our clothes, so I only have to wash Annette's diaper.
3. Infinite Babysitters. Jason and I could go out every night of the week (we don't) because so many people have offered to watch the kids. There are a lot of young, single girls at the school so that is amazing.
4. Health Care. I had to laugh when we got here because health care was one of my greatest fears and we probably have better health care here on the base then we will anywhere else this year. There are 25 doctors or nurses in the Mission School, including our housemate Mollie who is a doctor!! Someone is always on call and can respond quickly with loving care, prayer and medicine if necessary. The kids have both already had colds and eye- infections. Josiah vomited one night and Annette is raging a fever at the moment- please pray, doubtful that it is malaria. But, God has really given us a peace that we can trust Him and that he can take care of us. Alleluia!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

update pemba

We have been in Pemba now for nearly 2 weeks and are thriving. It was nice having already been in Africa for 3 weeks we felt like we could hit the ground running. The Iris base in Pemba is the headquarters for the ministry and is a beehive of activity. It is really amazing what goes on. They are constantly growing not just in the base but in northern Mozambique as well. For instance they just broke ground on a hospital on the 10th and are building a baby house for the 30+ children under 3 at the same time. Heidi and Rolland flew in taught a week of classes and are now spanning the globe again going to conferences in Norway. It has been amazing to hear from these guys speak about their perspective while going 100 mph!! Just in the last 10 days these events give testimony to ministry in Africa and continual revival.
1) One of Heidi's adopted sons accidentally hit a boy, escaped a mob trying to kill him, and was held in the police station. While in the station the other prisoners started rioting shouting that he is a murderer and should be in with them. While at first terrified, in the power of the Spirit he told the chief of police to let him in. The chief refused exclaiming that the mob would kill him. He responded with "Greater is He that is in me than the rouser of the mob." He proceeded to enter the jail, quieted the mob, preached the gospel, calling on them to repent. Within 30 minutes 40 prisoners gave their lives to the Lord. The rest of the night was spent in worship.
2) 18 year old was taken up into a vision of heaven for 3 hours
3) Rolland was at the verge of death after Christine and I had just seen him running on the beach.
4) A diamond fell in the midst of people while they worshiped.
5) Witchcraft was found in the vehicle of the base leaders vehicles.

The reality of the spiritual is very real both in the Kingdom of light and darkness.

The greatest experiences we've had though have been worshiping African style, hearing about living from a place of love, and ministering with and to other students.

Josiah and Annette have been doing great. Josiah is at home with the children, sticks and dirt. Annette goes with the flow and melts the hearts of visitors and Africans alike.

Christine will be going on weekly outreaches to a nearby village to help with the babies and mothers's breastfeeding. Jason will be going to the local prison and ministering every Wednesday.

When there is no class we have taken advantage of going to the beach and the village. We saw whales breaching just 400meters off shore!! Josiah likes to poke the jellyfish with his sticks and Annette enjoys clanging the shells together.

Christine will hopefully be able to upload photos soon.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Impressions

Once again I am squeezing in a couple minutes to blog from the Nelspruit Mall. There is so much to share and so many photos to post. here is just a smattering from the last two weeks
In flight from Hong Kong to Johannesburg

Krugar National Park

Making Friends at Michel's Children's Village. Every morning we run the "Toddler Time" and in the afternoon with help with the after school program. There are always kids to supervise, noses to wipe and hugs to be given. What could be better?! The picture of Jason playing soccer is at the Backdoor Church. Isn't that an amazing view?

Yesterday we went on a home visit to the local community called Backdoor. Iris Ministries has a preschool, Bible School and daily feeding program in the Backdoor. Jason and I were able to give a Bible teaching before the feeding time. After that we visited a family in the community that was going through a hard time. The wife Talitha was stabbed in the chest yesterday and nearly died. We got to pray for her and her three kids. Little baby Zoe was so precious but not feeling very well so we got to cuddle and pray for her as well. Zoe's mother has HIV and Zoe may as well. In Backdoor 1 out of 2 people are infected with HIV.

Our time here is going by very quickly. This upcoming Thursday we will take a bus across the border to Maputo, Mozambique where we will spend the night before flying to Pemba in the morning. Please pray for protection during this time of transition. God is certainly showing us that he is in control and worthy of our trust.