Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hunger Initiative 2010

One year ago this month a friend of mine wrote an email to me here in Mozambique to ask if I would be interested in working on a project together to deliver a million meals to our Ray of Light project here in Dondo. Now, let me ask you my friends, "What do you think was my answer?" Of course I jumped up in down inside and very calmly responded by stating, "Well, I believe that would be a tremendous blessing to our project here." From that moment on hundreds of emails, personal visits to the Wooddale church, and encouraging our friends and loved ones here in Mozambique that there will be relief come the rainy season.

The anticipation and excitement of this project coming to fruition has been quite a journey with God. It took slightly over 4,000 volunteers to pack the food and a total of 9 months for the first container to arrive. But I have to tell you that just like our God always does, it arrived just in time! The transporting company ran into problems with the World Cup Soccer games but it was divinely scheduled to come into the hands of the recipients just when it was supposed to. I love how God works in this way. We get all up in arms with ourselves and our schedules and what should happen and when it should happen and all along God has His plan. And of course my friends it is perfect. It is perfect in time and with whom shall receive the blessing.

The very first distribution was for the poorest of poor with AIDS in Project Life and then we delivered boxes to two poor church plants in the bush, Savane and Centro Emissor. Centro Emissor being the church that Val and I attend! Woooo Hooooo! We have scheduled deliveries for our 12 other church plants and other groups such as the Association of the Blind, YWAM, the pre-school and our private school here ElShaddi and many more opportunities to bless the poor with food. But here is the real deal, this was the first of 4 containers coming with 285,000 meals so really we are getting.... ta da.... drum roll please......
1,140,000 meals!

It was such a blast being able to give food to our beloved church family at Centro Emissor. We started with a message on the faithfulness of God and then had a meal for each person. Now keep in mind that every person who will be gifted this food has their name on a pre-determined list developed by the leader of the project or church. We gave a short teaching on how to prepare the bags of rice and how to make it stretch to last. It was so sweet to watch each person, adult and child listen very closely to all of the instructions. This made me wonder, "what are they thinking? How are they perceiving this food? Did this come just in time because the money had run out? Were they relieved that they could pay their rent this month because of the gift? Did they believe our teaching of the nutrition in the packets and how this could help their bodies become stronger?" Only God really knows.

Living life here is a wonderful journey of love. Jesus taught us to love God first and to love others next. His word tells us also that the poor will always be with us and that we are commanded to take care of the poor, the widows and the orphans. Thank You Wooddale church for your love being like the love of Jesus in helping the poor, the orphan and the widows. We have them all here everywhere. I encounter each of these everyday in my inner circle of friends. Thank You Wooddale for your time and commitment to make this happen all in the name and love of our King and Savior Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I finally met Superman. You know, the guy that runs to the nearest phone booth, turns into the masked man and flies to rescue the city and fight for justice.

Superman works for us at CRI, and he is a Mozambican. He is every employer’s dream of a worker and every parent’s dream of a son. His name is Ercylio and he just turned 23 last Tuesday.

I remember the first time I met Ercylio in 2006, he was a tall, lanky kid that played sports and didn’t shower before coming to church. He was looking for a relationship with one of the young ladies in our church and was finding that church was something that he would have to attend to see his girlfriend. This turned out to be a wonderful change of life for him. He found a personal relationship with Jesus, a new purpose in life and has become a man of integrity and a leader of this community.

Just a few short 5 years, he has completed high school and is in his first year of university. In 2009 we had a doctor visit from America and could see the potential in this young man and chose to sponsor a scholarship to the University. This is a dream for many young men in Mozambique, but others will never experience because of the poverty here.

Why Ercylio is so special to me is that he sees his own journey in life as a blessing and wants the same hope for other young men. He currently is coaching a Handball Team of young men. This team has so much more going for them than just playing handball. Ercylio mentors them in how to live for Jesus by being the example. He prays with them before and after each game. He spends time with each of them to speak into their lives about how to be a man. Many of these young men do not have fathers in their homes. He gives part of his own salary to them when there are needs like paying for a month of school. He has been found to buy clothes for some and provides drinks and sometimes cookies on different occasions. He just loves them like Jesus.

There are now 22 young boys on the team and more want to be in his inner circle. They all love who Ercylio is and want to be mentored by him because they see someone they can trust.

Ercylio’s dream is to be able to start a sponsorship program for his team to take classes at Young Africa a Vo-Tec school down the road from here. He wants for them to have computer classes so they can start a computer business of repairing and teaching others how to use computers. Interesting isn’t it? To own a computer here is only for the very privileged or even being able to use one is not common. In America 2nd graders are now learning how to use computers and in many homes children much younger are playing games.

Ercylio has placed himself behind others, which has put him in front. He no longer has a girlfriend but his love is helping other young men become the best that they can be.

Another interesting and amazing thing about this young man Superman, is he has been asked to play Handball in the African Olympics in 2011. I didn’t know how really good he was at this game. He never boasts about his abilities because it wouldn’t be a good example to others. There are only two men in Mozambique that have been asked to be on this team. The other blessing is that he already knows the other handball player and they play well together. So in June and July of 2011 we will have to do our work without Ercylio here in Mozambique but we will be praying for his success on the Olympic Team. This is such an honor for us all here at CRI to have this fine young man working for us.

I can’t explain all of the things he does for us at CRI to make our jobs easier on a daily basis. He is our voice here and I am privileged to have this season in life with this young man.

Matthew 25:20, 21 “The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Waiting your turn

The Wooddale team has arrived for their annual Mozambique short-term mission trip. This is the 4th year that I have been able to be around when the team has arrived and done their work of serving the poorest of the poor in Mozambique.

The day after each team arrives we take a day that we call, "Cultural Learning Day" and Val and I drive the team around to each of the project sites to meet all of our workers and to experience the vision of Pastor Jeronimo coming to fruition. First we go to ElShaddi and see the progress of the school building and 3 large classrooms of exuberant children coming to total attention as we walk into the classroom ready to greet us. Once they have said their good morning in Portuguese, they go on to sing a song or two just to capture our hearts just a tiny bit more. There is a library now and it's supply of books are growing each year. The first time I came to visit in 2006, the main building was only 3 rows high in the building process and now, WOW, it is completed and we are ready to move on to the next building. The plan is that eventually with donors and enough funds we will build a campus with classrooms for grades K-12, a kitchen, a sanctuary and a cafeteria. So we continue to pray for all this to come in our near future here.

After a short visit across the road to the teaching farm our next stop is the Ray of Light pre-school in Mafarhinia. The smile on these children can not be compared to the children of the village or the children in public schools. There is just a significant difference between the privileged to be educated and light and dark when Jesus is taught in school. One day the children learned that they should pray before they eat and the next day a parent came to the school to say that evening as they began to eat the meal of rice the child began crying and crying. No one could figure out what the problem was. So they stopped eating their meal and calmed the child to have him speak. He told them that they needed to pray before eating, he proceeded to lead the prayer for the meal and they continued on. This family now prays before meals thanking God for their food. In the two pictures can you tell which picture is of a student of our private Christian School ElShaddi?

In this same area but across the street is our pre-school kitchen where a hot bowl of porridge is prepared each day. The Mafarhinia church, the newly remodeled Tessa Grace Nutrition center and our medical clinic that was started by a woman from my church at Maranatha Bible in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A picture of Robin Perry hangs on the wall to commemorate her work in Mozambique. A strong woman remembered by those who live in the area of the clinic and by those who loved her for her love for the children.

As I stood in the clinic waiting for the team to take their Mozambican led tour, I took a seat and watched the people waiting for their turn to be seen. In the waiting room, on one side of the room sits 45 spaces made up of a combination of chairs and benches. And on the other side where I sat, there are 10 benches. The clinic each month sees between 2,000 and 2,500 people by one nurse and two days a week for 4 hours a doctor comes in for those who need a higher level of medical attention. The left side of the room was full. Each time a person walks out of the examining room, they see the pharmacists and receive the medication for a minimal costs. Then the next person would get up and go to wait on a bench in the hallway by the nurses office for their turn. As each seat emptied, everyone would move over one seat at a time to find their place in order to see the nurse. Some days you can wait almost the entire day and not see a nurse or a doctor because time runs out. So you have to come back the next day. I sat there watching as each person moved to the next seat and wondered, "What are the thoughts going through their minds right now?" They have to move 45 times to get to the first seat. No one budges and those who are too sick to sit in the seat lay on the veranda outside while a family member takes a seat to keep their place.

All of the medications are donated by Americans. Sometimes we have enough for the month and sometimes we run out. There is never enough money to deal with all that we have to do here. Antibiotics, milk for babies, vitamins, gloves, nutritional supplements, tylenol and the list goes on. We need it all each month to serve just a few of the many who are sick and dying.

There is more to the project tour and someday I will share about that too but for today I just wanted to tell you about waiting here in Africa to see a nurse at our medical clinic. One dream of one lady that serves many.

Are you waiting for something? Are you in a hurry today? Slow down, take a moment, think and pray for our friends here in Mozambique.

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother." Deuteronomy 15:7

Obedience.... Kathy (BigMamma)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Class Flight?

I have always wanted to fly first class to know just what it is why people pay all those extra dollars for comfort. Well, I didn't get to fly first class with all of the frills but what I did get blessed with was a whole section of empty seats! I had a full row to lay down and lift my feet for the long flight between Atlanta and Joberg. This is the part of my work in Africa that starts out with a long difficult flight and 3 days to get there. But, I am always blessed. Blessed to know that where I am going is just where I am supposed to be at this time of year.

The first part of July I was surprised with a middle of the night call from my kids saying, "Mom! Grandma is really sick and you need to come home!" After two days of phone calls between the hospital and a very short conversation with Dad telling me,"honey just hurry home!" I began the process of going home. This is not an easy or quick task but again, God is in everything. I was home in 3 days.

Every hour after that first hour of hearing about Mom being sick, I was in prayer about God allowing me to see her again and to hear her voice. I prayed each hour of each day until I walked into her hospital room. What I walked into was a figure laying on the bed before me. Tubes going in and out of her body all over the place and her face not recognizable. I remember seeing a friend of mine die and she looking this same way. My first thought was, "Thank You God for letting me see her alive."

I took her hand and whispered to her, "Mom, I'm home." She opened her eyes and a tear rolled down her cheek. Was this going to be the end? Did I come home to walk with Dad and my siblings through the process of her death and funeral? What God had planned of course was something even more than what I could have hoped for or imagined because what I saw was not good. Many times we let our eyes judge what the truth is and what is going to happen. But God........

Each moment after taking her hand in mine was a miracle. The doctors were amazed at her recovery. The nurses made comments on how quickly she was coming around and how determined she was to get well. I know this recovery had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the God that I serve. My family and I watched the grace and mercy of our Lord fall upon Mom as she recovered, entered rehab and then return home with a walker in a month's time. Now she's preparing to strengthen her body enough to go one last trip to Arizona for the winter. We all are rejoicing at an extension to her life.

This blog is not so much about Mom and her recovery but more about my God. My God who is bigger than any problem we have, my God who can do all things, my God who has a plan for it all and who is in control of it all. My God who has more grace and mercy for each one of us than what we can muster up with all of our might. I am so blessed to serve this God. When people ask me what I am doing, I just can't keep inside of me the burning way down deep in my soul about the love I have for this God I adore and glorify. He has been good to me, in the good and in the bad times He has been with me each breath of the journey and season. He has had His hand in it all. I am blessed beyond belief. Even when I don't recognize what He is doing, I know that it was God that has designed this beautiful life for me and for you.

He is always always always right on time, in His time to make all things perfect and for His glory. We may not understand it now and maybe never, but we are His and he will never forsake us or leave us.

To conclude I would suggest that you too look for a First Class Flight. But this first class flight would be your journey through life with Jesus being your pilot. Doesn't this sound corny? Well, maybe it is but you get the point. Your life will be a first class life when you allow Jesus to be the guide. As I said, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Life has it's trials and it is not always easy and sometimes there are seasons of down right difficulty. But the good news is you don't have to go through that season alone. If you haven't already, accept Jesus as your Savior.

Hey, Maranatha is a great church and they would love to have you step inside of the walls of their worship center. Get loved on by some really great folks and hear the word of God spoken in truth and with a challenge.

If you have questions or concerns about your life or those you love let me know. I want to pray for you. I have time ya know?
Blessings to you all. May God multiply your blessings as you follow Him with courage and confidence to do His work.

obedience, Big Mamma

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This week I had the, should I call it an opportunity (?) to drive THE most dangerous road in the world. The road between Dondo and Maputo was at one time considered to be the most dangerous road in the world because of the bombs that were planted during the civil war here in Mozambique. By the looks of the road, the bombs left sink holes in a stretch of about 50 miles. Oh my goodness, we were thrown from side to side in the car trying to avoid the holes and then when we hit them, what a trip! No wonder the tires and cars do not last a long time around here.

A fun thing to do along the way is to stop and buy produce from the villages that have small plots of land to farm. When you slow down people rush to the side of the car to sell their goods. Tomatoes, tangerines, cukes, lettuce, onions, green beans, pinneapple, carrots and a bunch more. We end up buying more than we need always because we are captured by the smiles on their faces and can't resist buying from them. I love how God each day puts people before us. I love how He speaks to me about caring for others and loving my neighbor.

Do you know your neighbor? Do you love your neighbor?

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. -
Leviticus 19:18

Watch the video.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TY5Ifu0AII

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th.. a Day to Remember

June 29th 2010

I like to quote Pastor Jeronimo now and then when it seem appropriate. Today he said, "Every man or woman's dream is to own his own house." This became a reality today for a woman by the name of Domingas.

Domingas is a sweet soul. She is the quiet type in your church that does all of behind the scenes work. She never complains about what she is asked to do, and many times she will go ahead of you and get things done without you asking. She takes crying children and holds them until they have been comforted or she will take a baby from the arms of a young mother so she can dance and sing for worship or at celebrations. Domingas is a gem a one of a kind.

But Domingas has a part of her life that not many know about. Her husband was abusive and divorced her several years ago leaving her with 6 children. He did allow her to rent the home she was living in because she had no where else to go. And while she lived there he would come and taunt her when he was drunk yelling at her to "get out! This is my house!" Life has not always been easy for Domingas but you wouldn't know it. She is always the first to start a song of praise to God for His goodness. She walked in faith that one day things would change.

A few months ago during the rainy season half of the house she was living in literally melted to the ground. The house had to be evacuated, and this left she and her children homeless. I don't know where she has been living since that time, until today.

Word got back to the states to Val and I that her home was destroyed and she was homeless. It is hard to for me to imagine living in a mud house to begin with but now, without a home? Domingas has always had a special place in my heart. I love her character, I love who she is. I put the word out and along with Domingas we prayed for an answer.

I let people know she was needing assistance. I told her story to others. I spoke the truth about the situation. And as only God would have it. The Holy Spirit spoke to a family to help her. God spoke and they obeyed. Isn't this what God asks of us? To obey Him? When we obey He is glorified.

A mud house costs $900. A small price to pay for someone to have a safe place, a dream come true, a refuge from life and a place to glorify the Lord for His goodness.

Please consider obedience at all costs. You will never be the same.

If you love Me, keep My commandments —John 14:15

Thursday, June 24, 2010

He Gives and He Takes Away

Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Blessed be His Name.

Last weekend we were privileged to attend and participate in the baby dedication of one of our dear workers, Maria. If you have followed my blogs in the past, my description of a baby dedication is a time full of singing and dancing, gift giving, a short message to the mother's and then for food and drink. A typical food and drink would be a fried doughnut like bread in a
criss-cross fashion and a drink called "Maheou."

I remember the first time I was offered Maheou at the first dedication I attended. I asked one of the other Brazilian missionaries if this was safe to drink. She just made this awful face and said, "God knows. He will protect us." I was thinking, "well, am I going to die here from drinking this stuff?" It smelled really really bad, and if you know me personally you know I can't smell anything unless it is really really bad! So when it came for my drink to be poured, at that time I only knew a couple of words and thankfully one of them was, "pouco pouco" which means a little bit. So I drank a teeny tiny bit and was able to not offend the mother and her family for not refusing. That was 4 years ago. Today at any given baby dedication you can now find, Orange or Strawberry Fanta, thank you Lord!

Maria's dedication had even more of an endearment for Val and I. Maria asked us to name the baby! Val and I wrestled for a couple of minutes and then Maria said, "she must have the name of a woman from the bible." Well, that made it easier and almost unanimously we said, "Esther" It is pronounced so beautifully here. (Essteir) I love the language here, I pray I can one day speak it fluently.

The "dedication" of the baby process, is that women's ministry leaders and closest friends go into the house to pray and dedicate the child to God. After the prayer of dedication, then the child is brought outside into the sunlight to show for the first time. Someone gives a short message of encouragement and then the dancing begins with a loud shout for joy to the Lord. Not only was I privileged to come, but I dedicated the baby and then gave a short message of encouragement. Prov. 22:6
I wanted to speak to the ladies that we as Mother's have a tremendous responsibility in raising our children. They watch what we do, they follow what we do. We will make many mistakes and that is why all of us must help each other. We need to help keep each other accountable before the Lord and walk along side of each other to fill in the gap. We must take our children to church and teach them about Jesus and never take them to the witchdoctor. It doesn't matter what the traditions are, we must keep our eyes on Jesus because He is the only way. The blessings of our families come from Him. This is a day I will never forget and a child which I will always hold dear to my heart.

While I was speaking to the women and children, there was a stir amongst some of the ladies. So many people were crowded around me I couldn't see what was going on but a few of the ladies left. Afterwards we got word that a new baby had died during the dedication of life. This baby was the child of a boy whose father is the chief of witchdoctors in the Dondo area where we live. The mother was a niece to one of our other workers. The young mother had been living with the boy's family and they wanted the baby to be in line to be a dedicated witchdoctor. Since the baby died, the girl was put out. There was a ritual service for the dead baby the next day.

In the next 48 hours 4 people died within our project. Life is so fragile here. Have you thanked God for another day of life today?

Please Read These Words......
Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name

Friday, June 18, 2010

Without Clothes and Daily Food

Every morning at 7am we start our work day with a staff meeting. We have 12-14 workers each day come into our gathering room to pray, sing and receive their instruction for the day. Many of our ladies are very shy and do not say much when asked a question but when it is time to pray and sing, they can really belt it out! I love this about them, their relationship with the Lord and honoring Him in worship.

We have been going through the book of James and this morning we looked at james 2:14-24 about Faith and Deeds. We focused on later part of verse 22, "and his faith was made complete by what he did." Pastor Todd challenged each one of us to do something for someone else today and to bless some one with either clothes or food. When our workers were asked if they had someone in mind who they were going to bless, this was hard for them. Their thinking for some, was "I already have so little, what do I have to give?" But the challenged remain and they all came up with a name of their next person to bless. We didn't want to know, God already knew.

Val and I have already many on our list to help, it is just finding the time to meet privately with each family. Last year I visited a woman and gave her a bag of clothing and that night she was robbed. We have a chance of putting people at risk when we give so we have to be so discreet about our helping.

As we sat in the car in the village next to us some children walked by all smiles, dirty, their clothing falling off of them because they are so worn and torn, I said to Val, "it is not even clothes what they need here even with the condition of their clothes that we see but it is food that is the matter of importance." So many die here each year, month and even week due to malnutrition. It is the food, and yet food is so temporary. Yes we will give food, and we will even give clothes but more importantly we will give them a hope. And with that hope there can come change.

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." Isa 40:31

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Devil Lost Again!

The sound of singing could be heard from the gate walking into the courtyard of the church today. The Texas team offered a gift to the Food Pantry so it was distribution day today. 100 families in the project received 10kg of farhina, 1 liter of oil, 1kg of sugar and 3 kg. of beans. This should keep a family of 4-6 supplemented for about a month. Have you ever thought about how much food you eat in a month? There are so many times I can't even remember what I ate from one meal to the next or if I ate all day non-stop. Eating is so much different here in Africa, it is so much less, sometimes it is not at all.

I sat near the back watching the dancing and singing along with the tunes in 2 different languages. When the announcement had been made that the donors of the gift were sitting in the back, the Texans stood up and there was a loud roar of clapping and yelling. It made the tears well up in my eyes as they again started singing praises to the Lord for sending the Texas team to help them survive another month.

The women and men who received the food all have AIDS. They are victims of this disease. They are all without work and many times rejected because of their sickness. Many of them will not live until next year because of malaria or typhoid or pneumonia.
I have been told about 7 out of 10 people here have AIDS. I saw more men, women and children with AIDS today than you will see in a life time in America.

The last song of the morning before the food was hand delivered by the Texas team was, "The devil has lost again!"

Keep praying for us here in Mozambique. If you would like to help feed the poor, widows and orphans donate to our Food Pantry through Children's Relief International.

"If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10

Monday, June 7, 2010

Val gets to have all of the fun! For the last week I have been sick with malaria and she got to go out to the bush, drive on really the most craziest roads ever and got to put the truck into 4 wheel drive and splash through mud and drive fast to beat the clock. She gets to do all of the fun stuff when I am sick. But I am on my feet again and we are on the run once again.

We are part of the privileged people who find our work to be fulfilling, rewarding and worthy of our time. God has been so good to us both to bring us to work together here in Mozambique. Even though she did try to kill me 2 years ago when I was sick with malaria then since that time she has proven to really be a great friend and nurse on the field. My work would be impossible without her here. We enjoy the work, we love our people here and it has been a blast walking in this season with Valerie.

I am thankful that God saw fit for us to meet here and together journey the sandy soil of Mozambique searching for the hand of God by being the hands and feet of Jesus.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. John 15: 13

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Springs of Living Water

Our first team has arrived and they are off to drill wells of clean water for our friends here in Mozambique. This team is not an ordinary team but a team of rough and tough Texans with a focus of getting clean water into a place where not only will they provide a water that is healthy but they are also providing the word of the Gospel.

This is the second time this team has come into the area to drill water wells. The vision of this team is to train and build a team here in Mozambique to eventually take over this business so that it can become a self sustaining business. There are many NGO organizations in this area that are willing to pay to have wells drilled for their sights as well as the government having an interest in clean water.

Kudo's to the Texan's for their hard work, tough backs and spirit of delivering more than just water.

Friday, May 28, 2010

8 who are Great!

Living in a third world country it is a must that you use young men in the city to watch your car, carry your bags and just be a body guard like when shopping. These young men are all over the place desiring to be chosen as the one to help to earn coins to pay for their school, food, clothes or their family. I love how God puts these certain young men into my life to help, minister and to love.

There are 8 fella's that we use on a regular basis.

Joaquim and Fei Fei are the two teens that we use when we are in the center of the city buying food and fruits at the open market, having a cup of coffee, exchanging money or just shopping for whatever the needs are for the day. When we saw them for the first time this year they both had grown a head taller than what I remembered from last year and they looked worn and torn. Their smiles were big and it was obvious they were glad the Americans had returned. They wanted to know how our families were and if we were in good health. They practiced their English and we our Portuguese, now that is a challenge!

We shop at Shop-Rite for groceries like cheese, yogurt, frozen chickens, peanut butter and Coke Lite. All of these American type so called needs. We are so spoiled in America when it comes to our food and what is available. Did you know that 80% of the world is dying from lack of food, and the other 20% is dying from too much? This is crazy! I see the starving while I live here half the year and as soon as I walk into the United States I have to brace myself for obesity!

Monterrio and Jose' are the two men who help us at this store. Jose' is about 28-30 years old, tall, deaf and dumb but has a way of communicating! His joy is overflowing each time he sees us and he squeals with excitement when we are getting out of our cars. Hugs and hand shakes of welcome are his gift, he has a language of love and never says a word. Monterrio, is a very small man in structure with birth defects. And he too is full of excitement when we drive into the parking lot. They both help us park the car, direct traffic for us to get in and out, push our cart, helps us pack the bags of food and then escorts us out to the car protecting us from beggars and thieves.

Monterrio'a handicap is a short stump on his left side and his right side has an arm that stops before his elbow with 3 fingers. Each time we bag groceries I watch him in amazement at how he manages to get this done. He lives about 15 klms from where we live in Dondo so after bagging our food he always wants a ride home and we accommodate him. One day last year he wanted us to see the mud house he was building by himself! It was amazing! Seriously, I stood there with my mouth hanging wide open at what he had accomplished with one half arm and a stump. We gave him a little money for a door to help and yet today, he still does not have a door and it is cold at night. While we were shopping today, he asked for some corn meal to take home, how do I say no to this? Isn't this what supporters want me to do with what they give me?

Then we have Johnny and another man who is deaf and dumb and no one knows his name that I have found. These two men watch and wash our car at the beach. Johnny is crippled and uses one crutch but he can scatter to our car in a split second when he sees us approaching from a far and he too with this enormous toothless smile. Both guys take good care of us, helping us park and get back out onto the busy road.

And finally the two guys that I see first when we come into the country and who we see very last, Tomias and Antonio. These two young men are married and have families. They work as porters at the airport. I always look for them when I walk into the airport, they are waving and smiling, wanting to help with our bags. Having other Americans come in to stay with us on a frequent basis, I get to see these two fella's often as well. I tell them the days I am going to be at the airport and they wait for us and have a parking place ready to keep the cars, wash them and I even give them the keys and let them clean the inside.

I find myself thinking about how fortunate I am to know each one of these guys and a little about their lives and their stories. Knowing them has changed my life. I know that they have been placed before me to serve them, to help them, to mentor them, to speak the name of Jesus to them and to be an example of the light to them. There are boys and beggars everywhere here, I could have chosen hundreds of others but God had these 8 fella's for me to love. They are part of my ministry. They have become part of my life. They are a basic need for me when I am in town. I love to bless them with more than what other's do. I love to bless them so their quality of life can be better for a bit of time. These 8 are great!

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother." Deuteronomy 15:7

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Batman!!! POW! BAM! BOOM!!!!

Each day I believe that the people that God puts before me is for a purpose. Maybe to shine my light, the speak life into their hearts, to minister or encourage and some to just bring into my life to love as family.

Back in 2007 I spent 6 months in Mozambique finding my way around the culture, around the land and becoming part of what God called me to here. During this time I spent many days visiting with the children at the pre-school in a near by village. The village population is about 19,000 people and spans a rather large area with mud houses and several small markets throughout. The interesting thing about this particular village is that an estimated 7-8,000 people in this village are witchdoctors. This makes for a very dark culture.

Sitting right in the middle of all of this darkness is our Ray of Light Pre-school. Each day I would try to visit the children at the school and build relationship with the future generation of leaders being developed. This is when I met Batman. So you asked, “how did he get the name Batman?” This little fella would run up to me each time I came to the school and he would woo me with his smile and his Batman t-shirt. It became more of I wanting to visit Batman, than anything else. He definitely had stolen my heart. His smile, and hugs were just exactly what I needed to get my grandbaby fix.

I didn’t think about it at first, but then realized that everyday I saw him, he had on this Batman shirt. I thought, doesn’t he have any other shirt than this one shirt? You know, I really didn’t understand what living in poverty meant. Batman had on this shirt every time I saw him because this was the shirt he had. This was it. That’s all. No other shirt was good enough to wear to school. I sobbed at the thought of this precious child having only one shirt for school and my grandchildren having a closet and boxes stored of clothes that they owned.

This little guy is learning about Jesus at our Pre-school. God put Flavio (Batman) and now his entire family before me to love, encourage, pray with and become their Big Mamma. Flavio now has several outfits, his mother has a bible, she is going to school at night and they are all learning English. We sit together at church as a family on Sunday nights and this is good.

Today Flavio, his mother and brother, Aquila came to show me his school papers and how well he is doing in school. It was a moment for a grandmother to be proud. I encouraged him with his schoolwork and pointed out how great his artwork was. He smiled. I don't have much Portuguese yet, but a smile and a hug, and kisses can go a long way here. I love Flavio and how God put him in front of me one day a few years ago. I am happy I can watch him grow into a man step by step.

"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things just change

We have been in Mozambique now for 5 days and it seems like a month. It has been a pure delight to see the faces of those we love and work with in the Project. Val and I both knew that coming back we would have to face the fact that Zaira would not be here and we were not looking forward to going to her house but we had to. We needed to see, and smell, and touch the things that belonged to her. We needed to see the children and love on them like they know we can and most importantly we needed to grieve with Zito her husband. We needed to take another step of closing the door on that season in our lives and move on with this family in hand.

As we drove up to the house the spirit of a woman living there was gone. All of the busyness of washing clothes, and gardening, going to the well for water, all of the paths that Zaria would take were missing. I walked around the house to where we had planted a papaya tree last year to make tea for malaria. It was growing but the tea would be too late. Where the corn once was grown was a small field of weeds and small trees starting to come up. The living fence was in disarray and was becoming overgrown. The stand that we had built for her business to earn extra money to save for vitamins for her fragile daughter Noemia was empty and all of the food was gone. The path to the well was overgrown as it was not used as frequently as she would go to the well for water and baths each day. That was an empty feeling for me. I walked around and tears filled my eyes tumbling down my cheeks again asking, "God why?" It doesn't take me long to remember that God doesn't make mistakes and this was part of His plan. I know that Zaira is dancing in heaven and waiting for us all to come and meet her someday. She wins, she went first to be with the Lord.

Val knows this feeling of losing a spouse to death. We walked to the car at the end of our visit and turned back to the house and looked and said, "things change when people die." We both left feeling like we are about to embark on a new season. We are encouraged with what God is going to do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

There is a song for everything!

I'm leaving on a jet plane and will be home again soon in Dondo. One week from today I will be sleeping under a mosquito net on a foam rubber bed. I will be hoping that we have water and electricity and that our cell phones work. I know that the first few days we will be so excited to see everyone, visiting with our family Zito and the children, hugging the Piepers, the Cessito's who are the national leaders and all of the loved one's we have made our extended family.

This week Val and I are trying to spend as much time as we can with my parents, seeing the kids and their kids and saying our farewell's to our MBC family and supporters. Life is so good in America it doesn't take long to get back into the routine of living here because it is so easy. It doesn't take long to make a plan to go out to eat, go to a friend's house to hang out, eat anything under the stars and watch a movie, or go to one.

What we will find when we return to Mozambique are the smiles of our loved one's who have found hope in Jesus. We will find at least one less of our friends. We are trying to figure out what it will be like to walk to Zaira's house and she not be there to greet us, and kiss us and love us. We are trying to picture the look on Zito's face when he sees us for the first time without his wife. We are longing to hold the children and wonder what are they thinking because they too knew how special Zaira was to us.

We are praying for a time of grief to be short and not a distraction to what we need to do once we are there. God knows, He holds each one of our tears in a bottle. And Zaira..... she is dancing on the streets of gold. Waiting for all of us to come and join her praising our Savior and King. Amen!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's a Set Up!

Today was a set up....... it's pure and simple. God has a plan, we are part of the picture and He is going to see it through to the end of the day that He is glorified.

I gave a short passionate talk about my work in Mozambique today and my family came. It was a glorious day for me! My parents, my children, my grandchildren all heard my heart about my work. They couldn't get up and go get something out of the refrigerator, or turn the channel on the TV, or go to the bathroom. They had to sit quietly and listen, and that they did. They got to see first hand pictures of my church in Africa, my friends and hear of the tales I have from my work of the last 4 years.

I invited the entire church, (with the permission of the leadership of course,) to engage in building relationship with my church. Building relationship just my praying for their needs for now. Next to help them build their church just like we have built our own at MBC.

Today was a good day. God was glorified. And we all left knowing that there are some people waiting at a small church in Mozambique for some names of people who will pray for them and be of an encouragement to them.

It was a set up. God knew what He needed to do to get what He wanted for us to be changed enough to glorify Him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

45 Days

I looked at the calendar today and I realized that in 45 days I will be boarding the plane at the Cedar Rapids airport for a 2 day journey back to Mozambique. There are so many things to do, so many unfinished jobs that need to be in place before we go.

Yesterday my daughter shared with me that my grandson Koltyn 8, said he had the best day of his life ever! The family had gone to the airport to see President Obama's plane that brought the limo's ahead of time and they were able to see the plane being unloaded, a very exciting event for any young man. Then to top it off he was absolutely delighted that he got to eat supper twice!!

This event made me think of how much I will miss the daily conversations of my grandchildren. This event made me think about how the children that I love in Mozambique will never go any farther away from their home than they can walk. They do not know what an airplane is to look at it close up and personal. On most days of their lives, if they were never to change from what they are status quo, they will rarely have two meals in one day much less having two meals at supper time.

My goal each day is to be used by God and to remain obedient to His voice. Pray for Val and I for the next 45 days that we would be strong in the Lord, that our day will begin with singing His praise and that we will be wise in how we spend our last days here.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rain! Rain! Rain!!!!

In 2006 I met Domingas working at the project as a cook for the pre-school. She never smiled, she had been oppressed, the poverty she lived in was something I had never seen nor experienced before. I can usually make someone smile but she was a hard one to get to react to my silliness. It was my friend Diane that broke her to get that smile we worked so hard at.

Domingas the mother of 3 girls, 1 son and 2 grandchildren. They all lived in a mud home. They sleep on grass mats. They eat rice every day that they have food, and on very very special occasions they will get beans and maybe chicken. When it rains they can not sleep, they have to stand up because the rains run through the house. The floors are mud and the roof leaks.

They have not been so lucky this year to only stand during the sleepless nights of rain. Two days ago, March 1st her house wall caved in. The front fell right off the house! Can you imagine this? Can you even think of having to stand while attempting to sleep when it rains? What about your children? Can you imagine the inside of your house exposed?

If you are reading this, you are one of my friends. We are blessed......... my friends. Are you even the remotest moved by this? Look around the room you are sitting in. Take in all that God has blessed you with. Think about what you have and what you do. Is God speaking to you at all? What is He saying to you? Please obey Him. Not for me. Please obey God. You will never miss the amount of money He is now telling you to send in. Donate now at www.childrensrelief.org click on project/Green Door or send in a check and put Domingas in the memo.

You will never be the same!

May God multiply your blessing for being obedient.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

Tonight I have my 2 middle Grandchildren to spend the night with me because their mother is having a C-section in the morning. They came for supper and we had their favorite... pizza, they took showers, we watched a movie and then it was bedtime.

I first took 8 year old Koltyn to the bed he would sleep in for the night and prayed with him and said good-night. We didn't have much to say so it was lights out quickly. I did ask him if he was too old to have a kiss from his Grandma and he said it was ok to kiss him on the cheek, so I was privileged to get another kiss.

I then went in to lay down with Ally Max and pray with her and then our conversation began. I knew it was only to stay awake longer but we really had a great time as she shared some deep thoughts from a 6 year old. After she so graciously rubbed my back I thanked her and she started to ask me questions about heaven and God.

"Grandma, I really don't want to die." I said, "Honey there is really nothing to be afraid of. We are all going to die one day. We will be in heaven with all of our family and Jesus for forever." Ally says to me, "I know Grandma but I really like to shop and girls have to go shopping!" I started to laugh, and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Ally says to me, "Grandma! Are you ok?" I said, "Yes" But let me tell you a smile comes to my face again as I am writing this.

Next she says to me, "Grandma, I don't like it when Val is not here. She is so much fun and she plays with me. When she is not here it is like there is a child missing or a student gone." I about fell out of the bed laughing at this one. Val was sitting in the living room reading and she said she could hear me laughing and she started to laugh herself. Especially when she heard Ally ask me if I was ok.

Then for her final commentary on Abe Lincoln. This girl has been listening in class to the facts and life of Abraham Lincoln. I was blessed to know that she has such a love for learning. She knew everything and more that any 6 year old would or could know about our 16th President. I asked her if she knew about George Washington and she said she would need to read about him soon. We ended our conversation with one last question. I said, "Ally do you like to read?" She took a moment and said "Not really Grandma." But I do like to read, " Clifford books. He is just so cute and adorable!"

I am so blessed! Blessed to have 4 grandchildren today and one more tomorrow morning around 8 or 8:30. Brooke goes into the hospital at 5am and we are praying for a safe delivery. Ally and I want a baby girl, and she wants to name her Heather. Brooke and Eric, are just ready. They told me last night they had the perfect names picked out but they forgot what they were. I love my kids. They are just as nutty as I am:)

Proverbs 17:6 ESV

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Daily Google

When I don’t jump to conclusions, I am a process thinker. I like to take time to think about things. I like to gather information. I want to hear more about what other’s think on a subject. I like to search the scriptures to see what God has to say about everything I need to be obedient. I like to read manuals on electronics. And of course, I use Google.

I like Google. It has more information than anyone can imagine. If I don’t know something, I Google it. There will be someone, somewhere in the world who has an answer. It might not be a sound answer or the right answer to me, but there will be an answer. I have learned more about silly insignificant things on Google than I ever did while I was in a classroom.
As a matter of fact I have learned more from Google in the last five years than I have learned in the last 50 years of reading books.

There are so many directions that Google can take me in one day. I can find somebody somewhere someplace in the world to tell me what I want to hear. And with one click of the button, I could end up finding myself very confused and lost if I believed everything I read on the pages of Google. Well, actually I could never read all of the pages available on one topic.

To find the truth, the real meaning of life, learn about salvation and the life of Jesus, I will just stick with the Bible. The beauty of Google with the bible is I can find 2,479 different language translations. I can't speak any language except English and a touch of Portuguese, but it's there if I want it.

While traveling Val and I drove for hours and hours across the desert and wondered where all the animals were. In Iowa one can not travel more than 15 miles without seeing a dead deer, raccoon or a possum. " Just what are the animals in the desert"
I asked? We both looked at each other and laughed, “We’ll Google it!”
Googleing is my favorite pastime. Good googlywoogly!

2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

"There's no place like home." Those are sweet sweet words to my ears.
Home, it is where the heart is. It is not so much a place as it is an attitude. For the last 20 days Val and I have been to Rockwall Texas to a staff meeting. To Tomball Texas to stay with some dear dear friends, John and Janie, and to speak to their Mission Committee. Then it was off to my parents for a few days to share some time with them. Then off to visit an Aunt and Uncle to speak to them about speaking at their church, back to Tomball for a Moz. short term team meeting, and then at last, for a two day drive home. We even tried to see John and Cindy Pieper's daughter Mary and Harry but missed them in Flower Mound.

I did most of the driving and Val did all of the reading. She read out loud an Andrew Murray book called, "The beauty of Holiness," Donald Miller's book called, "Jazz Notes" and she read the Psalms, Proverbs daily reading and we started Romans after finishing the book of Acts and parts of a book we are studying for cultural learning, "African Friends and Money Matters."

There were times when we listened to music, sang out really loud and then there were times when we just laughed a lot till we almost cried over silly things just because we were dead tired and trying to stay awake.

Traveling isn't all that it is cracked up to be but God has a plan and we are settled in trying to do what it is that He puts before us and to do it well. We pray daily for wisdom and revelation of the scriptures so we are acting in faith for this prayer to be answered.

Our time was fruitful with all those we encountered and our support was raised. We have been blessed abundantly above and beyond what we could have ever planned for or hoped for. And that is the way we like it, we like it that God is in control and most importantly that we believe it.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" Psalm 37:23

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Having My Parents...

After traveling through Texas to a staff meeting with CRI and then on to Tomball to speak to a mission's committee Val and I have landed in Mesa, AZ. to spend a few nights with my parents. I am blessed to still have my parents, they are in their 80's and going to be married 60 years this May.

When I was a kid, I was considered a "handful," and that was putting it mildly. I certainly gave my parents every grey hair on their head. If children would have been diagnosed with ADHD at that time I would have fallen into that category I suppose. I left home at 17 from the supper table after saying "I'm moving out of this place!" and my Dad saying, "well, get your bags and get on your way!" Dad and I didn't quite see eye to eye on many matters. But today 40 years later, it is much different.

Today a visit with my parents is fun and usually filled with laughter. You can find us on any given occasion watching either a CUBS baseball game or some basketball game or anything that would be sports related. They are just fun people to be with.
Dad and Mom tell stories and they help each other remember how it all goes adding their own bit to completion. I think I have heard the same stories over and over and somehow they change a little from time to time but they are so cute. They help each other remember their multiple pills, where they have been and when playing cards whose turn it is. Mom can remember names if Dad can prompt her with who their kids are. Dad still holds the door for Mom and she still thinks he is the best man she could have ever married. They are just sweet to be around. They have been a good example to me in how to grow old well.

I have friends who have lost their parents and I always think that I am so blessed to have these two around yet. They make my life full. I don't know how much longer they will be here but I am cherishing every moment for now. Living in Mozambique during the summer I need to make these winter trips to see them. God bless my parents. Thank you Lord for their lives.

Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here's The Deal.....

Here's the deal beloved friends and family, I am honestly going to try and make this thing happen on a regular basis...... blogging, UGH! I am not a writer nor do I claim to be and who in their right mind would want to follow a retired, overweight, short, missionary around the world?

I do have to admit to you all that I have the best job in the entire world....... that would be in the entire world and I get to experience some of the coolest things. So I am going to leave it up to you and your good senses as to whether or not you want to follow me on the journey of my life.

The most amazing thing about living as a missionary is that God puts before me some of the coolest people! People that I would never met had I not left Quaker after 32 years and 7 months I might add and follow God's leading to move to Mozambique. My life at Quaker was full, rich and fun but can not hold a candle stick to living life in Africa. I feel totally blessed and grateful that I had the years I did at Quaker because God has set me up with some skills and preparation for going on the field.

Another place that God had me be for missionary preparation was the Mission Of Hope across from hippie Hy-Vee on 1st. Ave. in Cedar Rapids. There I learned more about ministering to those who are hurting and without much hope. I love the people there! I believe that each step and each person has been part of the process of learning and taking me to the next level of where God has taken me and is going to take me.

If you have been part of my life process, thank you. Thank YOU for loving me, helping me become the person that I am and continuing to follow my life. Blessings to you above and beyond what you could have ever hoped for or imagined!!!