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!!