Tuesday, December 22, 2009

At Home in Lichinga

Merry Christmas Everyone,

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

Our simple little shelter

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.
Party Time

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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Week to Go.

We have entered one of the busiest months of the year. How are you all doing? Some of you are probably trying to figure out what to buy for those people who seems to have everything, I am sure their are some of you who have your shopping finished and there are probably some of you like me who still have some to do. I just pray that during the business of this time of year that we can remember what this season of celebrations is all about. If this was your last Christmas season would there be anything you would do different?

This past week has been very nice for me. Last Monday evening the Wilcox family arrived and are staying in the same house as I am. It is so nice to have some others living with me. I don’t have to eat meals by myself anymore. It is just a blessing to have them here. They have been very busy since they arrived. Their main reason for coming to Beira was to take part in the conference that one of the churches here in Beira is putting on from Dec 9-13.

The Wilcox Family

We are very excited to see what God has in storing for us at the conference. They have rented a sports stadium because they are expecting about 2,000 people in attendance. There are people coming from all over Mozambique and from several other countries around the world.

My Portuguese lessons have continued to go quite well. I wrote my final test on Friday and I got 76%. I thought today would be my last lesson but when I went to class yesterday my teacher asked if we could finish the last couple of lessons after the conference because he is helping a lot with the administration of it and these days before the conference are very busy for him. It will be good for me to have a bit of a break and let my mind digest what I have learned.

Felix and I have continued to get together quite regularly through the week and have had a lot of time to sit a chat and he always has two or three questions we try to deal with each time. I am reminded over an over how we need to be like the Bereans who Paul spoke to. They had open ears to hear what he said then they would search the scriptures to see if what they were taught was true. I have not always done this in the past and I have baggage that I am having to get rid of because of it and so I am trying to teach Felix the importance of this as well. It is so easy to take what others say as truth with out going back to Truth(Jesus) to see if what we have heard lines up with what He has written. As I was writing this letter Felix stopped by and was just telling me that there are some issues with his work. Somethings are being pinned on him that are not his fault please pray for him, he has such a humble attitude about him in regards to this. It has been such a blessing to see his generosity. He just wants to serve others and not expecting anything for it, which is not common here. He has setup internet at our house for us just out of the goodness of his heart. I believe God has great things he wants to do in and through his life.

Yesterday the Lord brought me in contact with a friend of mine Mateo that I first met when I was here back in April. I was on the way up the stairs going up to my Portuguese lesson and there was Mateo. In this culture it is so important to stop and greet people that you know and not just wave and keep going. I didn’t have much time but we talked a little and exchanged phone numbers so that we could be in touch later in the day. I then found out that my lesson was canceled because my teacher is very busy, so I went out and I was looking around in different stories for a small gas double burner stove to take back to Lichinga. I was entering one store and there was Mateo, standing at the door in his long white Muslim robe. He is in his mid to late twenties. He teaches Islam to about 100 Indian children in a school here. All the students are on holidays now, but he still has to come to work and sign in in the morning but he doesn’t have anything to do so he just walks around town. I think it is so neat the contacts that God gives me here. I know there are many Muslims in Canada but I have never really spent much time with any but here is one that I am friends with by divine appointment.

Mateo is well studied in Islam he went to Kenya for six years and studied and learned Arabic which he speaks and reads and he also memorized a good portion of the Koran. Many of the shop owners in town are Muslims and he knows most of them and what they sell. He was able to help me find a stove for an excellent price after that we sat down and talked for about an hour. He is very open to here about other things that are different from Islam. I shared the gospel with him and he was very open to read verses and then explain to me what he understood their meanings to be. I am excited to see what God is doing in his life. Please pray for me for wisdom as I would still meet with him some more over the next week or so that I am here. I really don’t have experience in ministering to Muslims, I need wisdom in this area and I know the Lord can supply all I need. Just that I would be sensitive to him and not just speak what I feel I should say.

There are many Mormons here in Beira. They are easy enough to spot in there black pants, white shirt, black tie and name tag. I have had a little contact with some of them as well where I used the internet and I am seeking the Lord as to what my role is in regard to them.

Well it is hard to believe I am in my last week here in Beira. The time has been such a blessing, but I know the Lord has much more in store as I head for Lichinga some time the first part of next week. I would appreciate your prayers for the travel arrangements has I have a few options that I would know what would be the best and for safety in travel as well.