Thursday, December 11, 2014

And three months later....

Yes, 3 months later. I can't believe it. In 3 more months we will be back in Lichinga again. Our time has been so filled it is hard to know where to begin. It has been a good home assignment for us. It has been a little bittersweet as we think about how short our time home is this time and as we watch the kids thrive in this new environment and get to do so many things they miss out on while in Mozambique. They do get so many amazing experiences living in Africa and I really feel our simple way of living there to be a huge blessing. So in many ways, we have the best of both worlds, living the majority of our time with lots of family quiet time and a much slower pace of life and then getting to come home every 2 or 3 years and doing all sorts of fun, busy activities. But when you watch how much your kids are enjoying being involved in these activities and really making some great friends, it is hard as a parent to take that away from them. And yet when we watch how easily our kids can make friends and how quickly they adjust to new things, we realize all the benefits there are to this crazy lifestyle as well. It has also been a great home assignment for Tim and I to have some spiritual refreshment. We have loved being back at Blythefield and getting fed from the Word. I have been attending a ladies Bible study that has been so refreshing and challenging. Tim has been attending staff meetings at Blythefield and meeting with his guys small group. We have finished all of our speaking engagements and are now ready for some relaxed family time this Christmas and New Year. The kids are still enjoying school, but the novelty of it I think has worn off. They no longer jump out of bed in the morning to get up for school and actually enjoy the weekends instead of complaining about them. Traeger finished soccer. Kallen's dance class just ended and Karis is finishing up horse lessons. We have bought our plane tickets to go back to Mozambique on the 24th of February. Please be in prayer about all the packing, travelling, and transitions coming up for us.

Watch for our Christmas newsletter in the mail sometime the end of December. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be, please contact us through email or facebook.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Home Assignment...

Well we are home. Actually have been for about a month now. Time is already going by in a blur. It is amazing really how quickly you fall right back into the busy pace of the American lifestyle. I always think it will be a shock and seem so strange, after our very slow African pace of life. But always, it takes about a week and we are right back into it, like we have never been gone. The kids are in school, which they are loving. Kallen told me yesterday that "this school is even better than homeschool." Doesn't make me feel so good, but I think she may change her mind after a month or two of it:) They are involved in the kids program at church. Traeger is in soccer. Karis will be doing some horse riding. We have been attending sporting events of our nieces and nephews, accountability groups, Bible studies, volunteering in the kids classrooms, speaking at 7 churches, and visiting our many supporters, besides fitting in time with grandmas and grandpas and other relatives...the list could go on...In Moz, we are thrilled when we have an evening planned with an activity. Here we are thrilled when we have an evening alone with nothing planned. It is so fun to be involved in all these things that we aren't able to be involved in while in Mozambique. We find, though, that it is very hard to fit in the things that are really important, while trying to fit in all the things we have been missing. It is so easy to neglect your personal devotional time, our personal family time, and time together as a couple. Balance is always the key, but how to do this, is the challenge. Please pray that God will give us wisdom and discernment and the ability to keep our priorities straight. Our six months home we will be concentrating also on raising awareness for the Bible School we hope to open in Lichinga. We have a goal to raise $100,000 to help with the initial cost of buying the land, putting up a classroom block, bathroom block, fence, and guardhouse. Please pray we can communicate this need well, and that we would trust God to help us reach this goal.
For those of you who are interested our speaking/church schedule for the next few months is:
9/28: Faith Fellowship in Irons MI. We will be speaking in the morning service.
10/5: Northland Baptist Church, Grand Rapids MI. We will be speaking in the morning service
10/19: Rothbury Community Church, Rothbury MI. We will just be attending the morning service
10/22: Rothbury Community Church. We will be presenting during the missions conference in the evening.
10/24-26: Chinese Bible Church, Detroit MI. Tim will be the main speaker for their missions conference.
11/9: Calvary Church, Muskegon MI. We will be attending the morning service.
11/16: First Baptist Church, St. Johns, MI. We will be presenting in the evening service.
11/30: Blythefield Hills Baptist Church, Rockford, MI. Tim is preaching at both morning services.
All other Sundays, we will be attending Blythefield. Tim is also co-teaching an evening Sunday school class at Blythefield. He will be teaching the evenings of Sept. 14, Oct. 19, Nov.2, 23.
Photo: Spent a super fun day on Lake Jocasse with my sister and brother in law and nephews in North/South Carolina.

Photo: Good times for Traeger with Grant. T's first UM football game.

Kallen's 6th birthday. All she wanted to do is go to McDonalds and play in the playland. So easy to please after 3 years in Moz.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Some of my favorite things...

Although at times, life can be challenging here, there are many things that bring me so much joy. This past weekend I have been reflecting on them and just thought I would share a few of my favorite things here in Mozambique.

This is Luciana, my language helper. She is teaching me Swahili. She is unlike most of the Mozambicans here as she is from Tanzania and quite well educated. She is such a happy person and is always smiling and laughing. She pushes me like crazy and even writes out homework for me to do. I have really enjoyed getting to know her and spending time with her. She has brought me such insight and knowledge into the culture. I admire her determination, enthusiasm, and ability to work so hard and care for her family.

 My very good friend, Bronwyn, owns this property in Meponda on Lake Niassa or Lake Malawi. Bronwyn is one of my favorite things here. We met when I arrived here in Lichinga and although we have been quite good friends since the beginning, these past couple of years, our friendship has really grown. It is so nice to have someone who I can share with and trust she will speak truth to me and not judge me. I am so thankful for this friendship and the joy she brings to my life.

My other favorite thing is Meponda. This is a small village on the lake and it is so untouched and beautiful. There are very few people or fisherman on this lake. It is pure wilderness and one of the most beautiful places I have been.
I am so thankful for my husband and children and they are definitely my favorite people in Mozambique. However this one in particular brings me so much joy and WORK. Here is a picture of her with her head and face completely covered in Vaseline. I washed her hair about 5 times with dish soap and it still had the nice "slick" look to it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

How long is long enough?

Hong Kong Harbor
I am so pent up with frustration right now that I thought maybe if I blogged about it and looked at it from a different point of view, it would be more funny than frustrating. (also I apologize for the random pictures of Hong Kong inserted, but I cannot get them to move for the life of me)

Hong Kong Harbor
We took our car into a mechanic here in Lichinga back in January. We were about to leave and pick up my parents from Malawi and our car suddenly began leaking radiator fluid like crazy. We couldn't drive it that way, so we found a recommended mechanic here who we thought could do the job. Normally we do all our car work in Malawi, but we couldn't drive it there with that much fluid leaking. We borrowed a van from some colleagues here and left to pick them up. We thought we would allow the mechanic to work the whole 2 weeks while we were gone and get the radiator fixed. When we arrived back after the 2 weeks, the car wasn't done. Our colleagues allowed us to use their van for a few more weeks while my parents were here, so we gave him a couple more weeks to work on it. He found a few more things wrong with the car and was working on those, and after the few weeks, it still wasn't done. Well, I won't go on, but this is the story of the past 4 months as well. We still don't have our car back. He has told us tomorrow about 100 times, literally. Yesterday, he finally told Tim he could pick up the car. We went and picked it up and drove around a bit and found that the clutch wasn't working properly. We brought it back in and now once again we are at his mercy. To give the guy credit, he really does know his stuff, he is a very good mechanic, just not exactly timely. Things are so different here when it comes to service. In the States, the customer is always right, there is respect for the client as they are paying for the services. Here, it is the client's privilege to be serviced and there is no discounts for long waits, no food returns if there are bugs in it, no meals for free when they make a mistake and bring you the wrong thing(in fact you pay 2x, for the meal you didn't want and the one you do want). It is like we owe them something for providing this service even though the costs or fees may be outrageous. We pay for whatever service it is and if we are unhappy or unsatisfied it is our problem. I guess maybe a lot of this has to do with a lack of competition. The 4 or 5 restaurants in town aren't really in danger of losing cliental and the 2 or 3 mechanics in town aren't really in danger of losing cliental either. You really are at the mercy of the service providers here. We have tried complaining about our car and threatening to take it somewhere else. Well, that doesn't really work, because the car doesn't even run because there are so many parts out of it and where else are we really going to take it, to his brother down the street? I mean really, we can do nothing about it. We just wait and wait and try to just bug him so much, he wants us out of his life. In the meantime, on the bright side, Tim is getting tons of exercise walking or biking everywhere. We have amazing friends who are giving us rides and bringing us groceries. I was so thankful for our trip to Hong Kong. I felt so cooped up without a car and going crazy never leaving the house. We are sure there is a great lesson to be learned here and a plan in it all, but now as we are going into our 5th month without a car, it just feels like, hasn't it been long enough???

Thursday, May 8, 2014

George family creativity (and this is as good as it gets)...

I must say that the George family and me in particular is not known for it's creativity. I really struggle when it comes to creativity, but Mozambique does call for a little creativity and so I am slowly learning. After visiting a friend's house, where they had those horses on a stick. I have no idea what they are called, but they have a horse head and then a pole that the kids can pretend they are riding the horse...Well anyway, my kids LOVED them and wanted one so bad. Of course, I have no idea where one might get one of those around here, without stealing from the said friends. And since we are teaching the kids that stealing is a sin, we decided to make our own. And before you think that I am the creative one, the girls actually came up with the idea themselves, I only helped decorate them.  They have been a highlight of the past couple of weeks, but now they don't look quite so good. Jurnee has managed to pull off the ears and mane and smash the boxes, so they didn't last as long as we had hoped. At least we can always make another...

Now as far as creativity goes, we are thinking Jurnee got most of those genes. She sure is creative in the messes she makes and is never running out of ideas for new ones. She did eat a bunch of markers the other day, literally ate all the tops of the markers and swallowed them. Luckily we only have non toxic markers around here.

She sure was creative when she got into mommy's lotion and toothpaste. Even though you can't quite see it all, the bathroom was all painted beautifully with a mixture of lotion and toothpaste, including herself.
She also decided to try out her painting skills with a bottle of nail polish on the bathroom door behind her(she is hiding the majority of it) and the night stand and the floor.
I thought when we first started the recorder with Traeger and Karis, we made a huge mistake. I think I was about to claw my eyes out, when the squeaking finally ended. What Traeger and Karis might lack in musical talent, they make up for in hard work. They practiced 6 days a week on the recorder in order to preform their recital. We were so proud of them.

This was Karis' first time ever getting up in front of a bunch of people and performing. She had a couple other opportunities and was too scared to do it. She told me afterward that she almost started crying and her heart was beating really fast, but she was very glad she did it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Sunday in Mozambique...

We have decided this next year to travel around to some of the different churches in Lichinga. Tim would like to build relationships with the pastors and also "advertise" for the Bible school and "recruit" students. So this past Sunday we attended a Church called Igreja Bem Adventurada de Lichinga or the Well Adventured Church of Lichinga. Interesting name, I think. As we sat down and the service had not yet begun, I was thinking about how much I was dreading another church service. I kept thinking about how different church is here from in the States, especially with our home assignment coming up, it was on my mind. The no backed hard benches, which are uneven and if you move too much one direction or another will tip over(yes we've done that before). The 3-5 hour services, that you have sit on those hard benches for. The dirt floors that Jurnee loves to roll around on and every time something falls off the tippy benches, ends up in pile of dirt. The dirty foot prints all over me, as I pick up Jurnee. Kids running up and down the aisles playing tag (literally) because there is no children's programs. The screaming babies. The different languages and accents where you understand only half of what was being said and that is if you can concentrate or hear, which is rarely the case, between the babies, kids playing tag, and my own children complaining about being bored, hungry, or in Jurnee's case tired. So, as I am wallowing in self pity, the service begins only about 10 minutes late, I can hardly believe it. As the service began and continued, I realized how wrong I was. It was one of the best services I have been to here. The singing was incredible. The congregation was only about 35, but they sang and danced like they were 500. They were so full of joy. The guy who preached was from Beira, a city in the central part of Mozambique, and he gave one of the best sermons we've heard here. The kids behaved beautifully. Jurnee slept through half of the service. Everything was in Portuguese and I understood 90% of it. The only hiccup was half way through the sermon a one meter long Spitting Cobra entered the church. Someone yelled "cobra" and everyone ran in chaos. Of course in all the chaos the only one left standing near the snake, was Jurnee. Tim ran and grabbed her as the snake raised up his head, opened his hood, and hissed. Thankfully, people here are expert snake killers and after several large rocks were thrown at it to wound it enough for someone to go up to it, they crushed it's head(the entire rest of the service, Jurnee said these words over and over, "big", "snake", "rock", "throw it".) Anyway, besides that little interruption, by the end of the service, I was so thankful to be there and to have taken part in that service, to have seen the joy and peace in the people there. There really is something incredibly humbling about it. I was reminded how beautiful it is to worship in a different culture, where nothing is like you know it and yet it is, because you are all worshiping the same God.
This is a picture of the church and congregation. 
Tim praying with some people after the service.

The outside of the Church.
An Update on the Jurnee Saga....
I managed to capture of few more Jurnee moments.
She really enjoyed the hot fudge sauce, we had left too close to the edge of the counter.

She got into daddy's drawer with all his money and carried throughout the house. We have since then put it where she can't get it.

And she decided to try on some of my mascara. She just missed the eyes, thankfully:)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I have worn this word out lately....Every day there is some moment in it, related to Jurnee, that I just look at her and say seriously....I really think it must be a joke. I decided I am going to start taking pictures because you just can't explain how unbelievable it is. I have to chronicle it for others to experience as well, so just since Friday, when I came up with this idea, this is what has happened. Can one kid really get into that much trouble??? Let's see, last Friday, I here a faint scratching noise coming from the pantry, of course, I think rat! I creep down and peek around the corner hoping to catch it in action chewing or eating something and this is what I see...
She got into the 25kg bag of flour and decided to paint herself with it. Then while getting the bath ready to clean her up, this is how we found her before we could get her clothes off.

Then Saturday, it was the big bag of rice, which was all over the floor and stuck to the bottom of our feet for about 2 days until we could get it all swept up. Tim was home when it happened and I wasn't, so that one didn't get a photo. Sunday, we had a church service at a friend's house. Karis was sitting on the toilet, and I heard her yelling Jurnee was in the tub. I didn't think much of it, because I assumed it wasn't full of water. When I went in, there was old, dirty tub water in the tub and Jurnee was swimming with her clothes on(as you can probably tell, she LOVES water!). I didn't get a picture, because I didn't have a camera with me. Monday, while at school she got a hold of markers (this is a common experience) and this is what she looked like...
It is often an entire leg or foot, but usually not the face. And today, she wandered away for awhile while I was teaching Traeger and Karis, and she came back smelling absolutely wonderful. I didn't notice anything at first until I picked her up and almost dropped her, because she was so slippery. I realized she had covered herself in soap from head to toe. Her whole body was stuck with little chunks from the bar of soap. Back up in the bathroom, the floor was also covered with little chunks of soap and the sink and the wall, etc... Soap is one of her favorite things and I can't even tell you how many times she has eaten it as well.
This doesn't include the minor, daily occurances, such as playing in the mud and eating it(see below), dumping puzzles and toys and crayons all over, throwing the whole role of toilet paper into the toilet, playing and drinking the mopping water, coloring on the wall, floor, Kallen, etc. I will try to continue to chronicle this saga, and I am sure many of you have had similar experiences, but I am telling you, NONE of my other kids, were so consistently in this much trouble!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fun Times with Grandpa and Grandma...

We are so thankful that we were able to spend the past month with my mom and dad here. They also brought along another couple, who I have known since I was little, and they now attend Blythefield. Originally, we had planned to do a marriage conference in Lilongwe, Malawi, but last minute it was cancelled. We had already arranged for my parents and the other couple to fly into Lilongwe, so we went there to pick them up. We stayed a few days on Zomba Mountain and then we headed back to Mozambique. When we arrived at the border, they wouldn't let us through because the visas were dated for the 31st of January, because of our original plans for the conference, and it was only the 28th. We went back to Malawi and they wouldn't let us back into Malawi because we didn't have exit stamps from Mozambique. We explained that we never went back into Mozambique because they wouldn't let us, so we couldn't get exit stamps. We were stuck between borders in No Man's land. We told the guy that we would then be sleeping right there for the next three nights because we couldn't go into either country. Finally, after making us wait for an hour or so(he really just wanted us to pay a bribe), he cancelled our exit stamps from Malawi and let us back in. Now we had to figure out where to stay. Here it isn't that easy to stop at the first hotel you see and stay for a few days. The nearest place was a couple hours away and there are no fast food places to stop at. We hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning and it was now about 3:00 in the afternoon. We finally made it to a resort on Lake Malawi. It was very nice, a little pricey, but our options were very limited. We ended up enjoying two days there and the kids had so much fun. On the 31st we headed back to the border and as soon as we walked into the Mozambican side, they told us that a new requirement was made 2 days ago and we needed to have a paper stating that we are taking responsibility for these visitors and it needed to be stamped by immigration in Lichinga. Of course we didn't have these papers, so they told us to turn around and go back to Malawi. We explained that we could not have known about this new requirement since we were in Malawi 2 days ago and there is no way we can get a paper stamped by immigration in Lichinga, if they won't let us cross the border. Finally, after again making us wait awhile, they called the director of immigration in Lichinga, who said we could cross. We just needed to present our visitors to her at the immigration office as soon as we arrived in Lichinga. Finally, we entered Mozambique. For the next 2 weeks, we worked non stop on different projects around our house and the SIM guesthouse. We paved our driveway, broke out a wall between our living room and dining room, we painted 7 different rooms, sanded and stained a table we had built, replaced a toilet, and various other little things. We accomplished a lot thanks to the hard work of the Tilburts and my parents. The last week, we just tried to soak in all the moments left with grandma and grandpa and enjoyed a walk in the woods, a trip to the lake, market shopping, visiting
a village, and just playing games. Here are a BUNCH of pictures from the past month with them.

Our first stop in Lilongwe, for a bite to eat, after picking them up from the airport.

This is our view from the cottage on top of Zomba mountain. This cottage only cost about $50 per night for 10 of us. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bath, a full kitchen and living room and this is the veranda.
 Waterfalls in Zomba

Horseback riding on Zomba Mountain. 

Wading in the waterfalls in Zomba.

This guy was on our roof one morning making a lot of racket. Monkeys and baboons are everywhere in Zomba. They are even known to take things out of open windows or doors, so you have to watch your things closely.

The horse stables.

Karis riding Zara.

Kallen riding River Cat.

Traeger riding Montego.

Kallen and Jurnee feeding Wolf.

For Karis' birthday she got to ride for an hour with grandma over the dam and up into the woods.

Karis and Zara.
Kallen found a chameleon, one of our favorite creatures in Africa.
My good friend, Bronwyn, sitting directly in front, threw me a birthday party when we got home from Malawi.
 One of the ladies made me this amazing cake.
 Our first church service with the visitors and we had a huge group of kids come to help us celebrate children's day. There were about 50 of them and they all piled into our tiny little church.
Here we are all packed out.

After church, was a little dance party. They kicked up so much dust from the dancing, the picture is hazy.  

We celebrated a late Christmas with my parents. This was "Christmas Eve" and the kids are sleeping under the tree.

Waiting to open presents "Christmas Morning".
Jurnee did manage to open a few early.

One of the best things I brought out here was my Christmas tree. It looks so real, we feel at home.
 Karis 8 years old

Kallen, 5 years

Jurnee, 2 years

Traeger, 9 years

The whole gang. Tilburts, grandma and grandpa, and us.
Petting camels in Malawi (sorry this is a little out of order). These camels loved Jurnee.

She was a little shy of the many kisses the camels wanted to give her.

They also got to experience rainy season in Lichinga. It rained for almost 2 weeks straight.

The girls of course take advantage of the rain and take mud baths.

Jurnee LOVES mud!

Here are what some of our streets look like during rainy season.
Our first project knocking out a wall between our living room and dining room. This is the "before" picture.
The "after" picture. With a new coat of paint and all. It really opens it all up.
Our newly sanded and oiled table we had made here.

Working on my home school room. This is "before".

This is "after". I have doubled the size of my school room to fit all 4 kids. It was getting a bit cramped. This is one side of the room.

 This is the other side. This is the part that we have always done school in, but we opened up a doorway and added the other room.
This is from the outside of the school room. We added that little veranda on to keep out mud and water. This is the back of our house. We have to walk outside and around the house to get to it.
This was our biggest project--paving the drive. Here is the "before" picture.
The cement was all mixed by hand. Rock and Sand were brought in to mix with it and we had 6 guys working 7 days in a row all day from 6am to 3 or 4 pm to finish it.

 The first section finished.

Aragorn, our dog, decided to walk around in it, so we had to fix it and re-trowel the whole thing.
Working on getting the second section ready for cement.

The finished product. We still have a bunch of dirt and rock to move out on the side.
Jurnee turned 2 on February 2nd.

Karis turned 8 on February 15th.

Celebrating with Karis.

She had a sleep over with her good friend, Zoe. They slept in a tent on our porch, because of the rain.
Karis and Zoe.

Taking a walk by Lichinga dam and the woods.

This is an old Portuguese house that was built for the first president of Mozambique. It was never finished because he died. It would have been incredible. I tried to talk mom and dad into trying to buy the land and retiring here:)

Inside one of the rooms.

And here would be the master bedroom.

We saw tons of ladies that would walk all the way out to these woods, cut firewood and carry it back on their heads into town.

Enjoying the waterfalls of Meponda and Lake Malawi on the Mozambican side.

We took everyone out to Ngongoti to visit our guard Bonarmar's family.

These are Bonarmar's parents.
Dad talking with some kids.

Eating dinner on our veranda.

Wrestling with Papa.

Playing cards with papa.
Reading with Grandma.
Reading with Papa.

And every night we would end with a sunset like this off our back veranda!

We had such a great time and made so many great memories. Thank you Jon and Carolyn for coming and serving us and thank you mom and dad for all the many sacrifices you have made to invest in the ministry in Mozambique and our lives. We love you so much and can't thank God enough for you!