It is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas here and we are enjoying some cooler weather in comparison to Beira.
Praise the Lord I arrived safely home in Lichinga Thursday morning. I was met at the airport by seven of the missionaries from the base. It was so good to see them all. Some I had met when I was here last and a few that I hadn't met yet. There is a new family here that came in September, the Jungs (pronounced Yungs) and they have three children and they are from California, also Melissa came in July and she is from New York State. Oh and I can't forget Tyren and Tiffany had a new baby girl Kia and she was born just a few days after I left in June. It is such a blessing to have so many people here it sure helps to be able to spread out the responsibility.
I have been spending these first days here getting settled in and meeting the missionaries that have arrived since I left and getting reacquainted with the others. Right now I am staying in the dorm mother's room in the orphanage because none of the girls are here yet. I have a nice full kitchen to use and I am enjoying it while I have it because I will not be staying in there for long. Hopefully we will have some little girls here in about two months.
The Wilcox arrived back here Saturday after being gone for over a month and it had been seven months since Antoinette has been here since she has been helping at the base in Pemba she will be spending a month or so with us before she goes back to Pemba. They were all more then ready to be home.
The weather here has been such a pleasant change from Beira. We are 4,000 ft above sea level so it is nice and warm during the day it cools off at night to be able to wear long sleeves and use a blanket to sleep. I was up on the roof of the orphanage doing a little work for a couple hours on Friday and got a good sun burn. It seems I burn much easier here then Beira, I guess it's because I am 4,000 ft closer to the sun:).
Saturday morning I had borrowed Christian Jung's motor bike to go into town. The Wilcox passed me coming out of town and I was waving at them and not watching where I was going and rode off the road down into a pretty big pot hole. I was able to control the bike and get through but I hit the hole so hard I bent both the rims on the bike. I was going pretty fast but the bikes here are China quality so I think that is why so much damage was done. Thankfully I never fell and I was able to ride it back and I took the wheels off and was able to get the new parts that afternoon and by that evening it was all back together and as good as new. I was very surprised it was done that quickly because this is Africa and things don't usually go that fast, but we praise the Lord that they did.
Sunday morning we went to the village of Assumane just a few kms away and met with the Christians there in a simple grass shelter. As we were all singing and worshiping I was standing there looking up at the grass roof and just thinking, that God just loves to meet with his people. Wherever they may be in a building, outside, or whatever continent they are on He desires to meet with us more then we do with Him. There were about 90 children there as well as 40 or fifty adults. We were reminded of the reason we celebrate this Christmas season. For many of us we know the store we have heard it many time, but in these villages it is still not very well known.
Praising the Lord Together
After the gathering we went to one of the Christians houses and a few of the lady missionaries here had organized a Christmas dinner for everyone. It is quite a task of trying to organize a group of 140 plus children and adults to make sure that everyone gets food and that others aren't going through several times. It went very well and we all enjoyed a wonderful meals of rice and chicken and pop. Then we gave balloons out to the children as they finished eating. There was a time I thought I was going to be mobbed while giving out balloons but we soon got it under control.
Where there is food there is lots of people.
Trying to get them organized to play relay games.
Elias takes it very seriousWe only had 120 balloons to blow up.
Good job James.
Peter in mid blow.
Before they could eat all the children had to get their hands washed.
Then they were served there food and drink.
Tiffany put a little smiley face on the hand with permanent marker so we knew who had eaten already.
Yes we had benches for them to sit on but the preferred the ground.
Peter and Pai Phinahas doing a great job washing plates.
As far as building goes they have asked that I oversee the construction on the base here as Lord willing there be construction teams coming. There is a little bit of work remaining to be done on the orphanage and then we will focus on finishing the admin building which will probably take a couple of months. They also want a laundry area for the orphan girls and then a school. We are kind of hoping that these projects might be able to be done over the next year. The Lord as made it be very clear to me that I need to change my pace here now that I am here long term. I suffered spiritually in the past when I was so busy working and I wasn't taking enough time to enjoy and grow in the abundant life that Jesus came to give. There is always the tendency in overseas missions that we are here to serve God and we need to always be busy doing something. God has showed me that my primary reason for being here is not to serve Him but to grow closer to Him and allow Him to transform me and out of this transformation he can transform others lives. Yes I am going to be laying a lot of blocks and working with concrete and many other things but these are just ways that I can interact with others to build the Kingdom of God. All these buildings will one day be destroyed but each of us must be involved in building that will last forever.
If any of would like to come and help for any amount of time please let me know. Speaking of that do you remember me speaking about my friend Albert that came here back in May to help with the work. His brother Rudy is coming Lord willing and will be here in Lichinga on January 16th till the beginning of April. We are every excited that he is coming to help. Please keep him in your prayers as he starts to travel on the 13th I think.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with friends and family.
Your Brother in Christ,
P.S. I don't have as much access to internet here in Lichinga as I did in Beira, so please understand if it takes me longer to reply to your emails.