Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Goodbye Niassa...

Many of you know, we adopted an orphaned Serval cat for awhile. Her mother was killed and some men were selling her in a bag along with dead fish. A friend of ours rescued her from them and we took her to care for until we could find a home for her. We think she was about 5 or 6 weeks old when we got her. We had to teach her to drink out of a bottle and then she was only bottle fed for a few weeks until we started her on meat and weaned her off the bottle. She then ate the inside of a goat for a few weeks along with cottage cheese for calcium. Then we moved her to chicken and mince meat. Not a cheap cat to feed! She has been so much fun and plays with anything from the kids hair to strings hanging on the end of your clothes to toys and balls. The kids have loved her and she took to Traeger for some reason and would only sleep in bed with him, sometimes on his head. Although when she wanted she was very cuddly and affectionate, she could also be pretty tough sometimes, hissing and batting us with her paws, or even biting if she didn't like something. I think all of us have a few scars to remember Niassa by. After 2 months, we found a home for her and dropped her off just this week at Lugenda Wilderness Camp in the Niassa Reserve. On our way home from Tim's class in Mocimboa da Praia, we drove an extra 4 hours into the middle of NOWHERE and handed her over to capable hands. They let us stay there for the night and we enjoyed a few game drives and saw all her new neighbors, including elephants right in camp, Sable antelope, Kudu, a Civet cat, and even a lion. It was really a privilege to see more of the "wild side" of this country we live in. It was hard to say goodbye. Karis couldn't even look at her without sobbing, but we know this is the best place for her and hopefully someday, she will be able to be independent and truly free again. Here are some pictures of her...

Her first day with us. So tiny and sweet.

Feeding her the bottle, which was an adventure, because she violently attacked the bottle at feeding time.

 Play time, which was pretty much anytime, it wasn't nap time or feeding time.

Getting a little bit bigger.
Obi, our cat, was not fond of Niassa. This was the only time he ever allowed her within 10 feet from her and it only lasted long enough to snap a picture real quick.

School time was always a challenge with Niassa. She wanted to play with the books, pencils, and our feet the whole time.
Eventually, she would tire out and we could get some work done.

Her favorite sleeping spot, at Traeger's head.

Just taking a snooze with one eye open, just in case there is an opportunity for a little snack.

Climbing trees...

This is just a couple days before we dropped her off. She is beautiful. We hope to go visit her again, if she does well at Lugenda. We all want to see her when she is all grown up!

Goodbye Niassa!
I thought I would also put in some pictures of our trip to Mocimboa and Macomia. Tim's class in Mocimboa went really well. He had 8 students for the two weeks. They were all young and really caught on to things quickly. He enjoyed getting to know them all. The training he was taking part in is put together by some Kenyan missionaries. Their vision is to train locals to be missionaries to the unreached people groups right in their own country. Their hope is that these students, once trained, will then go out and live among the unreached and evangelize and plant churches themselves. It has been a privilege to be a part of the ministry there.
 This is a picture of the some of the roads we travelled. We preferred the dirt roads to the paved roads, as you can see. It was a rough trip and we ended up breaking both stabilizers on our car. Also, our exhaust system fell down and went through our diesel tank. Thankfully that happened right as we arrived at the Lugenda Wilderness Camp and they had a mechanic on sight that temporarily fixed it for us, so we could at least get home. So now, we are again having our car in for repairs. It seems never ending...
 Mocimboa is right on the Indian Ocean. It is beautiful from far, but really dirty in the city.

The beach in Mocimboa.
 Carrying the catch of the day into town to sell.
At Lugenda, they treated us to a game drive and they drove up this mountain. Mozimbique has many mountains that are pure rock, they are called inselbergs. They are really beautiful. We were quite surprised when our driver drove right up to one and continued straight up to the top. It was a beautiful spot for a snack and drink.

The kids enjoying snacks on top of the mountain, overlooking Niassa's new home, the Niassa Game Reserve.

These elephants frequent the camp. There are four males that they have named, as they are in camp so often. We were able to see them a couple times.

This is a big herd of Sable antelope we saw on our way out.

The tent we stayed in.
A big male Sable. They are just incredible to see in the wild.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making History...Yao Conference 2013

Through God’s faithfulness, grace and goodness, through the faithful prayers of many, through a year of planning and a team of faithful servants (thank you YWAM), through several gifts from the people and interested parties this past week we made history!!! The first ever conference for the Yawo church. It was a ton of work and a total team effort, but what a blessing and amazing week. Our God can move mountains and this week He moved a big one. On Monday over 150 Yawo believers from Mozambique converged on a small village, Chiconono. This area was perfect for the conference because it is said to be the actual birthplace of the Yawo. For three days we celebrated what God is doing among the Yawo.
Ninety-five percent or more of the Yawo are Muslim so it has been a slow process to sow and reap the fruit of Christ’s work. But slowly God has moved throughout many different villages and His word has begun to penetrate hearts and minds. Now small groups of believers have sprung up. These believers are few and far between and many times receive persecution and / or expulsion from their families (This is an ultimate low for a Yawo. Death would be preferred). Because the church is young and small, believers do not have a church or a group of believers to disciple, encourage and help them on their newfound path. In an effort to network, disciple, encourage and help the Yawo church this conference was created.
This was the largest Christian gathering among the Yawo in Mozambique ever so first let me just say that it was just a blessing to be a part of this and to see the people in unity dancing, singing, praising God, giving testimony and fellowshipping together. The Yawo love to sing and this week was no different. Many of the praises are original to each church since there is no established church tradition. I don’t think words can really describe what we witnessed only know that it brought tears to our eyes. We gathered. We sang. We danced (with a dirt floor it got pretty dusty J). We praised God. We taught songs. We learned songs. Pastor Amosi Phiri Asabiuya, a mature Yawo believer from Malawi and Pastor Mwanja Mangoni, a Yawo believer from Tanzania as well as a veteran missionary from South Africa came to speak about our identity in Christ. It was so special for the Yawo believers in Mozambique to see and hear a mature believer because the believers in Moz are almost all babies in their faith. It was amazing to see the people devouring with attention the seminars. We talked about marriage, funerals, parenting, initiation (called unyago) and traditional medicine. The last day we all walked down to the river and baptized 20 people!!! For us, though, there was one thing that stands out above all the rest, the testimonies. We heard personal testimonies from many about their decision to follow Yesu. Our pastor in the States always quotes a formula: pain + perseverance = joy. This is the story of many Yawos as they were told to leave their homes and to never come back. One man told of how his wife’s family told him that they didn’t want to hear about her even if she died, but yet she chose Yesu. We heard the testimony of one chief who has recently put his faith in Yesu, a big step for a leader amongst the Muslim Yawos. The people gave testimony of how their lives had changed. Parents have begun to disciple and teach their kids. Parents explained how many of them cannot read but that does not mean that they cannot teach their kids the Word of God, so to show everyone this reality many of their children stood up and quoted verses. (I think at that point I lost it.) The theme for the week was Identity in Christ and for the first time I understood its significance. Many times the Yawo have to decide if they will lose their familial and earthly identity to be identified with Christ. They will truly be blessed for their decisions. As they sang - Kwenda, Kwenda, Kwenda ni Yesu (Walk, walk, walk with Jesus).
Fred, a veteran missionary from South Africa, used to work in a small village amongst the Yawo. For over 10 years he faithfully persevered reaching out and loving the Yawo. He led some of the first believers to Yesu. He said this was the most encouraging event he has ever witnessed. He saw the Spirit’s fire working and moving. We really believe and are witnesses to the fact that God is moving among the Yawo. He is doing amazing things and the harvest is ready to be gathered.                                                                                        New Life In Christ!
Traeger and some kids playing soccer before the conference started.

The younger kids in the children's program.

The dishwashing area.

Our main meeting center.

We decided to sit out and have a little snack and almost instantly we are surrounded by kids who just watch us and we sit and talk.

The sessions beginning in the meeting center.

One of our main speakers, Pastor Mwanja, and a translator. He spoke in Yao and they translated to Portuguese.

My girls sitting in the meeting with us.

One of my good friends, Lucia. Tim and I have been doing marriage counseling with her and her husband Paulo. They have been attending YWAM's discipleship training school. They are now doing their practical work and were here serving everyone by doing the food prep and cooking.


 Every afternoon we played soccer. It was tournament, each different Yao church against each other.

 We had to bring our adopted serval cat, Niassa, with us. She didn't mind the tent at all and made herself right at home! She slept in Traeger's sleeping bag with him every night.

Waiting in line to get food. We ate shima or rice every meal with fish, goat, beans, or greens.

In the blue, is another one of our main speakers, Pastor Amos, from Malawi. He also is Yao, and spoke in Yao and they translated to Portuguese.
These are the showers for the conference. There are 4 different little rooms with a hose hanging down to shower with.

 Karis and Kallen participating in the children's program.

 The kitchen.

Another view of the kitchen, where they did all the cooking for 200 + people.

The chidren saying prayers during their teaching time.

Worship time - one of the true highlights for them and for us.
All of us ready to hear God's word.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Living in a cloud of dust...

Sometimes I wonder what "ministry" means here in Mozambique. Sometimes you feel like you are just an exhibit and people only listen to you or want to know you because of the white skin. Like the picture of Karis above. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by people (mostly kids). They don't really care about you or what you have to say, they just want to watch you or get a hand out of some sort. Then you have people like Emisio (see picture of his family with Tim's brother and family). Emisio came to us one day to ask if we would help him learn English and in return he would help us with our dogs. He is the local "vet". He works for the government and goes around giving vaccines and treating sick animals. Tim began meeting with him to help him with English and they have really grown into close friends. When he found out Tim's brother was visiting, he decided he wanted to have us all over to his house for dinner. He planned this for months and because their houses are so small, he built an entire outdoor dining area in order to house our big group (our family of 6 and Jeff's family of 5, plus their own family of 4). He had an incredible meal and really sacrificed a lot of time and money in order to welcome us into his home. He regularly brings us vegetable from his garden and even brought us a pig leg one day. It is a friendship of mutual giving and receiving and he and his family have been a huge blessing to us. We are not sure if Emisio is a Christian or not, but he has a catholic background and Tim and him have had many good conversations about God and what it means to be a Christian. We continue to pray for him and his family.

On another note, it is the dry season here, and the cool of winter is warming into spring, which quickly jumps into summer. We are beginning the worst time of the year here for me, dust, wind, and heat--not a good combination in my mind. We live continually in a cloud of dust. Dust that fills your nose, eyes and lungs to the point where you constantly feel like you have a cold. It also covers the table, the counters, and the floor. Everything, from trees to people are an orangy brown color. From this day until the first rains in November, I increasingly become more and more homesick. I love the fall in Michigan. It is my favorite time of year there. I love the colors, the coolness, the smells, football...Luckily here we stay really busy this time of year with ministry. Tim is, as I write this, making his way to Mechaneles, a village about 8 hours from here. He will be doing a marriage and family seminar there. I normally like to do the marriage seminars with him, but these far away village seminars are difficult. Besides the long drives, we have to stay in a tent and eat local food and use pit latrines and bathe in rivers or with buckets. It is very difficult with all the kids and almost impossible to do school, so I am staying back. Tim will then come home on Monday. Then next Thursday we will be heading to Malawi for some days of rest, and then some days of car repairs and doctors appointments. After we get back, it will be some crazy weeks of meetings and organizing for the Yao conference on the 16th of September. On the 12th, we are welcoming a family friend, who is interested in full time missions. She will helping out at the conference and here with homeschooling. Then the end of the month one of our supporting churches are sending a couple people to visit and see what we do here. They will be here from the 27th until the 30th. Then Oct. 1st, we leave for Mocimboa de Praia, where Tim will be teaching a 2 week class on Bible survey at a leadership training program, run by some Kenyan missionaries. I and the kids will probably stay with some colleagues in another village 2 hrs from where Tim will be. In November, Tim will be going to a personnel training workshop in Kenya for a week, which is a requirement for his new role as Administrator. Then the very next week, I am hosting a home school conference for all the homeschooling moms in the area. We have some ladies from England coming to run it for us. By that time, it should be raining regularly and everything goes back to being green and beautiful! We can enjoy the holidays with rain and thunderstorms, our favorite time of the year here.

Please keep our upcoming busy schedule in prayer. We need prayers for safety in travelling, wisdom in planning and organizing. Pray for the people involved, that God would soften their hearts and prepare them for the teaching and training. Also, pray for our perseverance through these busy and dreary days of the next couple months. Thanks for all your encouragement, love, and support!