Sunday, December 5, 2010






Lynn and I enjoyed a wonderful 7 days on the Mozambique coast. This is the first time in a very long time we have taken that many days off at one time and just rested. Well at least I did, Lynn worked on her English health manual a fair amount of the time, but she did so without distraction, so that was refreshing for her.

Amazingly four weeks have already passed since then and each one of them needed some of that “retained energy.”

The first of these weeks we spent in South Africa purchasing a trailer, lots of building material for the training center and Mercy Air house, and picking up a few thousand books for our leadership training program. After all the effort of sourcing and purchasing these supplies, the biggest challenge was the importation of it all into Mozambique and then the transport of it to the mission here in central Moz. That took another week of frustration and effort and certainly drained a little more of that “retained energy.”

We arrived back on Saturday evening only just in time to start welcoming all the pastors and leaders arriving from different parts of the country for an intensive training time. Early Sunday morning the bell rang (our door bell that is) but it may as well have been the bell signaling the next round! The bulldozer was already on site ripping and clearing the airstrip site and they needed my input. It is a good thing that the day of rest is something we (many of us anyway) understand as a state of being rather than the cessation from work cause otherwise I am in trouble and so is every other pastor, nurse, farmer (etc.) out there.

This past week flew passed with very early mornings to monitor progress on the airstrip, welcome a huge grader on site, and then teaching almost all day every day. Oh and did I mention that we arrived back just in time to find our litchi trees laden with fruit ready to sell and distribute to the orphans and others. Needless to say, when fruit is ripe, it is ripe and it is not going to wait for you to have seminars or build airstrips. So the new trailer was put to work immediately loaded with fruit to sell to travelers passing by the mission. What a blessing to have the income which provides a number of jobs for our mission staff and is a contact point for relationships and influence which is what our life’s work is all about.

If you are one of the unlucky souls who never learned to take a holiday, learn to, because the energy I have had after a good rest has been absolutely amazing. I do know that many are praying for us and I am one of those who believe this makes the difference. But rest is critical for our physical parts and it seems that although we do need hard work to keep us healthy, we also need times of rest.

And regarding rest, one of the things in life that I am continually learning is to “rest in Him.” For those not familiar with religious language, “resting in God” is hard to explain any other way. Three simple words, but they are pretty loaded. They include the idea of 1. Accepting and trusting that God has paid for our sin and from His perspective has done everything possible to restore us into a relationship with Him. 2. Learning to totally trust that the God who loves us is working out a perfect, awesome and beautiful plan with our lives regardless of the trials and tragedies we face.

As I walked the airstrip under construction and talked over the strategy with the equipment managers and worried how we are going to get the levels right and fill the BIG holes, I have purposefully had to rest in Him. I am constantly driven by the huge benefit, added value and expanded capability to connect people and empower people the airstrip will give us. And in my weak moments remember that “faith is defined not by the absence of all doubt, but by the presence of action!” (not sure who said it but it stuck with me).

We received news of the passing of two dear friends this past week. They will be sorely missed and we weep with their families. But they now rest in the presence of the One they trusted and we will see them again one day.

Hey… get some rest…It will do you lots of good and give you the soon-to-be-needed energy for the challenges ahead.

Here is CBK (the mission Cessna) getting some rest at Mercy Air in South Africa just after having a new engine installed :) .

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Maturity comes with age

“…but sometimes age comes all alone” says John Maxwell.

My prayer is that maturity is coming with age, but I can see why I could really appreciate the idealism of youth. I remember when I was a little younger challenging my co-pastors (most with a fair amount of maturity than I) that “you don’t need million dollar buildings to build Christ’s Church. The first century church never did build buildings, they built people!” I think one of the leaders attending the conference who was facing the challenges of providing space to worship for his growing flock, kindly said, “give yourself some time Dwight, and you may change your mind.”

Well he was right J. And I apologize publically to all those who I put on a guilt trip for planning and dreaming and finally building a place where people can gather, grow, get help and get launched. So now I am in that place and we are building, building and building and it seems like we will never run out of things that need built. When you come to a country where most of the infrastructure has been destroyed by war, there is a lot of building to do that may otherwise be there.

Tome, Charles and I putting on the latest clinic roof

So we are building schools, clinics, mission houses, cottages, offices, widow and orphan homes, carpentry shops, grain storage facilities, churches, and a multi-purpose training center.

The Mercy Air mission house roof half up November 2010

Although the training center has been planned and badly needed for a number of years now, security of land, finances, and mostly all the other building, has kept it delayed. In the meantime we have used our school, under trees, and our unfinished other buildings to host our intensive training times. Needless to say it has been less than ideal, but it has worked and we now have about 700 leaders enrolled in our training program in 34 communities.

But now the administrative challenge is looming large as we work to keep adequate books, exams, administrative records and student records. So the training center’s progress is a big encouragement.

And I trust it will be to so many of you who have generously donated toward it.

Training center left wing foundation dug

Training center left wing foundation wall built!

The big challenges we have and are facing are…

· B Building on uneven ground which meant trying to level, but an even bigger challenge has been all the back-filling that is needed to get the foundation walls filled so the floor slab can be poured and the building built. Back-filling has come one shovel full at a time. But now we have been promised a back-hoe to rent and if that does not come as promised, Mercy Air has had a back-hoe donated which they hope to ship and we hope to import early in the new year.

· S Stone – building stone makes up a big part of concrete mix and out here the only stone we can get is that broken by hand…a guy with a hammer banging on a piece of rock until It is broken into little pieces. can imagine the time and effort that takes.

· S Sand – river sand that makes a second significant part of the concrete has to be dug out of a river bed one shovel full at a time and then loaded on a truck… you almost have to be involved in the process to understand how tedious this is.

· CCement – well as I am sure most people are aware, you cannot build a brick and concrete building without cement and well out here the factory is broken down more than it is working! When there is a supply of cement, the construction place feels like an all-out war zone with people screaming and shouting and demanding and pushing and shoving. Well I think you get the point…not a fun place to go. So we graciously try to await our turn and get the number of bags of cement the manager can give us without getting shot by someone else who needs it.

Building out here, even if you have the money, is not a fast or easy process. But it is important, because people do need a place to gather and grow together protected from the rain and sheltered from the scorching sun. Thanks for your patience and support for this important project and be encouraged, we are making progress!

Training center right foundation wall built

Training center water tower built and tank installed

Progress to date. Foundation walls on left and right wing built and foundation walls and slab poured on main conference room, office and admin. storage wing.

And although I am definitely getting older, and even feeling older, I sense the need to keep working at the maturity part J

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thank you!

A couple simple words that, most of the time, seem so inadequate to express how we feel are pretty much the only thing we have. And even if we embellish them with a number of other words, they still feel rather limited. So a few weeks back Lynn and I mobilized over 200 children who attend the mission grade school to help us thank some important people for helping to provide food for them. The pictures are at the end of this post and really were an attempt to apply the term “Actions speak louder than words.” Words that a new friend Bernie reminded us of with a project his daughter is doing to raise resources for missions.

The Global Care-a-thon is an expression of a group of good people from a very small community just North of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, called Heimdal. They are joined by many other good people from surrounding communities and are sponsored by a number of churches across the province so that they can give 100% of what they raise to feeding children. Besides supporting a few other organizations, they support SAM Ministries and their faithful help is what keeps little tummies full and little minds and bodies functioning in Mozambique. And this is so incredibly important! On the eve of their thank you evening I prepared a video to thank them that did not turn out so well due to software problems and no quick fixes out here in the bush. But I feel it is important to get the word out about the big difference these people make because they work together doing something fairly simple...asking for sponsorship from friends and walking.

This year their walk resulted in well over $100,000 being raised and $31,000 of it was given for our feeding programs. This provides the base support which helps us buy in food for the year ahead. Here is the script from the video I prepared along with a few pictures...

“Greetings on this special occasion; It is an honour to have this opportunity to bring you greetings from SAM Ministries here in Mozambique.

Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University but he is also a self-confessed atheist. He writes in his second edition of practical ethics the following example…

“The path from the library at my university to the Humanities lecture theatre passes a shallow ornamental pond. Suppose that on my way to give a lecture I noticed that a small child has fallen in and is in danger of drowning. Would anyone deny that I ought to wade in and pull the child out? This will mean getting my clothes muddy, and either canceling my lecture or delaying it until I can find something dry to change into; but compared with the avoidable death of a child this is insignificant. A plausible principle that would support the judgement that I ought to pull the child out is this: if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it. This principle seems uncontroversial.”

George Bernard Shaw says, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.”

It is a challenge when one is distant from a crisis to stay aware of the needs without becoming indifferent and to respond, even though it means going out of our way or getting dirty, or missing another maybe more exciting appointment. But you guys keep doing this year after year and your willingness to persist is a powerful expression of compassion.

This year again, your walk enabled us to continue feeding hundreds of children, thousands of meals. And you are joined by others who graciously share in the challenges we face to feed hungry people. This past year the global care-a-thon contributed 72% of our annual feeding budget, so you can imagine the important part you all play in this effort

Besides the mom’s or grannies left with malnourished babies that receive life-saving milk, are the various feeding programs.

This year our match to multiply program saw another 100 orphans added to our Amor orphan program run by groups of pastors who receive leadership training from us, and are challenged to mobilize others to address the critical needs in their communities. There are now more than 800 orphans enrolled in the program and the food you help to provide, and stimulate others to provide, multiplies your effort and is saving lives.

“Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me,” said Jesus (Matt 18:5).The word “welcomes” is translated “receives” in some translations and means among other things… “to take with the hand or, to receive into one’s family to bring up or educate, to embrace, to make one’s own.”

In every way you translate it, the word “welcomes” certainly includes the critical importance of addressing the nutritional needs of children.

Richard Stearns in his book “The Hole in our Gospel” says “One out of four children in developing countries is underweight, and some 350 to 400 million children are hungry. Worse, it is estimated that a child dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes.” He goes on to write “Malnutrition in children stunts brain development and can leave children mentally impaired for life, producing a whole generation of adults with compromised mental abilities.”

This is why we started a feeding program for our rural school here in Mozambique and why food is such a critical component in everything else we do for the children under our care. We started with an egg a couple times a week and then with a glass of milk due to the terribly malnourished state of the children. Then global care-a-thon found out about our situation and since the start of your participation we have been able to provide a full meal a day for over 240 children along with a de-worming program.

Food storage is critical since we can only access food at cost-effective rates when it becomes available. This is the reason we are now mobilizing food security storage facilities in other communities where we have orphan feeding programs operating. Food stocks have already been secured in a number of rural communities and it will be an ongoing priority for us to establish more of these in the years to come and work with our associations of pastors to stock them and manage them sustainably.

Growing vegetables and fruit to provide a rounded diet is critical in our context since purchasing these is impossible, or would simply be too costly and too distant to transport. This year your help again has enabled us to grow tons of supplies of vegetables and fruit. Our banana plants have taken off and are now producing significant quantities which the kids just love.

An African saying expresses it well… “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.”

We will let some of the many children you feed thank you personally!”

This last picture is of myself and the team of guys working on the new Health Post at the school. We just finished putting on the roof in the roasting heat. Thank you to the dear family who donated to make this a reality!

Monday, October 4, 2010

"I killed many men there"

Chiriza is a place not many foreigners have visited. In fact I guess the total would be three (including Rick Neufeld, Matthias Reuter the helicopter pilot, and I) after landing there in Mercy Air’s helicopter earlier this year. Rick then made a trip there on the back of a motor-cycle to hold a children’s ministry training time with our extension school, and then I made it right to the spot in our vehicle…supposedly a “first since the foundation of the earth” according to Pastor Pires.

Pastor Pires celebrating our arrival in Chiriza to a packed church

Our goal (as expatriates on the team) is to try to visit each of our leadership extension schools at least once per year and more often if possible. Our coordinator and supervisors of the program visit much more often, but those studying still count it a high honor when one of us foreigners visit and provide encouragement. As I headed out in late August on a tour of as many schools as possible along the Zambezi, one of these schools was going to be Chiriza. The only problem was that there was no way I would be able to take the time to walk, bike or motorcycle in this time, so we organized the meeting at a place called Nyakamanzi where the pastors and leaders would meet us for a seminar. Although this was still a two hour drive from the town of Doa and the little rustic room I rent to sleep in on the way through, it was doable.

As we arrived in Nyakamanzi a miracle awaited us. I say miracle because that is what the local people called it and in this out of the way forsaken place, I am not sure what else you can call it “if you have eyes to see”. At Nyakamanzi there is a river that cuts off any further passage to Chirize and only at the driest times and only in some years is it actually passable. We pulled up to the rivers’ edge only to find a stone bridge! A bridge that was constructed in less than 15 days by a Chinese mining company that apparently was given rights to a mine discovered during the Portuguese era. We think it is a gold-mine but nobody is saying. In any case, the pastors had been praying and hoping for the seminar in Chiriza and when they saw the Chinese building the bridge another miracle happened. They all “as one man” got their hoes and axes and built a further 15 km of road and two small bridges to ensure we could get all the way to their village. The scene was rather festive as we pulled up and our time of teaching and encouraging was soaked up in rapt attention.

While sharing with our monitor and other key pastors over a lunch of beans and rice, they thanked us again for intervening during the hungry time and assured us that all those who received help are participating in making bricks for a food storage facility to help with these kinds of crisis in the future. They then shared a little of the history of the area with us. It was here, said Pastor Wairosse that RENAMO had their main camp and many thousands of soldiers gathered. The reason for this is that because of its remote location and because it is so difficult to get here, the resistance soldiers felt that FRELIMO, the then Marxist government forces would never find them. It was between these two groups that the civil war raged in Mozambique from soon after 1975 until 1992 and totally devastated the country. In places like Chirize it is the conflict and death that can be remembered since nothing much else can be found here.

On Saturday this past week my travels took me to Tete, a city now a little more than 3 hours to the North of us. Here we shared with a group of leaders from 4 different extension schools. Pastor Pires from our Region 3, ( see the link) met us there and shared in part of the time. Although he focused on a number key administrative issues, he then shared the story of Chirize and the miracle we experienced there a few weeks back. As soon as he sat down one of the pastors jumped to his feet and very emotionally began to share his joy with us. “I can hardly believe what I am hearing here this morning,” he said, “but I am so thankful to hear the gospel has arrived in Chiriza and pastors are being trained.” “This (Chiriza) was a very hard place and during the war I killed many men there…many people died in this place. And now I am hearing that God is working miracles there!”

Pastor Bulaunde and me

Later after our time of training together I sat with Pastor Bulaunde and he shared a little of his story with me. Like all men his age who stayed in the country (many millions fled as refugees to surrounding countries), he had been force drafted into the FRELIMO forces and fought the war against the resistant movement in many out of the way places. The war was very much a guerrilla war with RENAMO destroying infrastructure and hiding out in remote areas. FRELIMO controlled the cities and tried to govern their recently liberated country. But with significantly different ideologies and personalities involved, along with a poor country flush with Communist era military hardware, there were no victors and the country slid to the world’s poorest.

But now pastor Bulaunde, along with thousands of others are engaged in another war. And this one is for the hearts and minds of people who now have a chance to experience personal salvation and transformation as they give their lives to a God who can build beauty out of ashes. These men and women need our help and encouragement as they exercise their faith and express that through the hard work of not only teaching and preaching, but also loving and working hard to bring development to their people and communities.

Leaders having a chance to catch up

I am honored to work alongside them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The value of time

If someone had told me that one day I would be married to a 50 year old woman, I am not sure I would have believed them. Who in their right mind would want to marry a person that old? Clearly the only thing lacking in the above two sentences is “perspective”. That of a 20 year old contemplating marriage compared to that of a 50 year old who has had the honor and privilege to have been married to his beautiful bride for almost 30 years! How do you place a value on this kind of time? I wish my beautiful wife another 50 and trust I can share them with her.

Lynn and Anne on the special evening

John and Anne along with their son Andrew joined us at the last minute for a rushed birthday supper for Lynn on Wednesday evening two weeks back. We had planned to be on the road making our two day trek North, so no birthday plans had been made. And when at the last minute the surgeon wanted to see Bero (who had surgery the week prior) on Wednesday for one last checkup, plans changed. But at my age it took a while for the implications of the plan change to sink in. “Hey we will still be here for Lynn’s birthday!” and “Hey it may be a great idea to get some of our Mercy Air friends to go out to supper with us.” Well by the time these amazing thoughts had penetrated this 50 year olds’ grey matter, it was terribly late and I only had the courage to call up a couple who have known us for a long time, have grown kids, and I was sure would not be offendedJ. At the last minute Andrew, their son, who was supposed to be away doing an instrument check ride and proficiency check, had finished early so he also was able to come for supper. Again the value of time in the building and maturing of relationships can’t be measured! Thank you guys.

At supper we had a chance to talk a little more with Andrew about the aircraft accident he had the week prior (see my last blog) and to thank God that he was safe and now had his license back. Flying is an amazing blessing and as I have mentioned before, has saved us so much time on the road. And I am not referring to international commercial travel; I am referring to the time flying the Cessna 182 has saved us on so many occasions. Driving back to the mission from South Africa after having flown down to South Africa reminded me again of the dramatic difference. Over this time (including my trip to Beira) doing a quick comparison between driving and flying…the same trip that would take 47 hours on the road and the best part of 5 full days, would take almost exactly 10 hours with the Cessna and can be done in only two and a half part days! That is less than half the time! Not only so, but driving on roads that are challenging with traffic and conditions that are even more challenging is pretty tiring. Yes maybe flying a plane is stressful for some of you, but taking off, turning on the auto-pilot, looking for traffic and monitoring the flight (and doing a little reading when there is nothing to see anyway), and then landing the plane is pretty easy in comparison and a whole lot safer. If something could give you more than half your life back, what would it be worth? Now obviously we don’t travel every day of our lives, but hey at my age, every day is worth a lot! And what is more I get to spend them with a 50 year old beauty J.

Bero's 21st birthday celebration

Lynn was not the only one who had a birthday, Bero also had one. He turned 21 just after his surgery and we were able to take him for a good birthday meal. He had the chance to taste his first ever ice-cream sunday. He tasted the chocolate sauce, but made it clear to us very quickly that it would make him sick to eat it! He did seem to enjoy the ice cream though. Bero's Canadian friends and all the others who made his surgery possible have certainly helped to change his future, and only time will tell the full value of this investment in his life.

Lynn attending to Bero's wounds after our long trip

We arrived back on Thursday evening, unpacked, slept and Friday I was off to Beira to pick up a team visiting from Christian Fellowship Assembly in Grande Prairie. This church has been one those that has supported us monthly for just over 22 years now! That kind of faithful commitment has pretty high value and what is more that amount of time investment has allowed us to establish ourselves in a country that experienced 26 odd years of war and be in a position to contribute toward the equipping and empowerment of leaders and their churches and communities. Someone once said, “we overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but we terribly underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.” How much more can be said of 20+ years. This past week we had the privilege of delivering 3 cattle plows to two associations of farmer/pastors who will use them to improve their food production. The gifts were the result of Unique Christmas gifts given this past year but are just in time for field preparation for the coming season.

Tamara, Steve and Laura Lee visited much of the work here and contributed in some neat ways. Steve, besides helping to source the plows mentioned above with one of our staff members, helped me to survey the runway so we could plot the grading that would be needed. Russell, our son, got the data via email and very quickly had prepared a profile along with details for the work that is needed. The girls helped Lynn to love on lots of sick people, women and orphans.

Time passes quickly and another week has come and gone, but the value of the time spent will impact the days and months to come in important ways!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Acronyms are great for all those who know what they mean. The thing I find is that even common acronyms end up meaning different things to different people, as in the case of TBO. In aircraft terms it is an expensive word, regardless of how you translate it. Some refer to it as “time before overhaul,” others as “time between overhauls,” and for others I think it means “too busy to overhaul!”
But TBO is hard to ignore…kind of like death and taxes! Because if you do you will be dead and won’t have to worry about taxes :).
It is that time for our trusty old (well 36 years old anyway) Cessna 182 to have her engine overhauled (although we will be getting a factory re-manufactured engine which is like new) and the timing worked out well. Although we had been running the trusty bird “on condition,” meaning that although TBO had come and gone, our specialized engineers had determined that it was safe for her to run a few more hours based on compressions and oil analysis etc. Well a fair amount of liters per flight were being burned up now and it simply made sense to say enough is enough.
Charlie Bravo Kilo awaiting fuel in Vilanculos on the way for a new engine
The mission plane has served us amazingly and really has been a story of faith and God’s faithfulness and provision. Bob Guzak a very good friend of mine called me from Canada in 1996 and said he felt strongly that this aircraft we were able to purchase, needed to be in Africa! I agreed but had no way or resources to do this, so Bob took on the challenge single handedly. He drummed up support from a number of different people and donated a significant amount himself. Then along with the strong support of his wife Sharon(also a dear friend of ours) , he got into the plane with a ferry pilot and flew this plane the 95 hours through 9 odd countries all the way to Zimbabwe.
As I stood alone at the little airstrip in Mutare, I could hardly believe my eyes when the little plane came into sight. There were some tears as we celebrated their safe arrival and the realization of a dream I had for many years (that will wait for another time).
And now C-GCBK or Charlie Bravo Kilo as she is known by those who have flown her, has flown more than 1500 hours on this engine with never an incident (only a little fire on the ground once :), and is ready for a new engine. I have to say however that this last flight down to South Africa did have me thinking some. Andrew Herbert, a good friend of ours and son of John and Ann Herbert who work with Mercy Air (John has worked hard with Gary Hillman of Hillman Air to keep our aircraft in excellent shape), was flying a Cessna 206 owned by Iris Ministries to South Africa last Friday for its engine change. As he passed Quilimane the aircraft was running smoothly and although it was getting dark he had taken all the precautions and the weather was clear, so he pushed on to Beira where he would rest for the night. Thirty miles or so out of Beira as he prepared to descend, his engine gave a shudder. He quickly checked the fuel, changed tanks, turned on fuel pumps etc., but then a sudden jerk and roll as the aircraft propeller tore it-self free and slammed into one of the wings! Andrew could barely get the wings level again and now was speeding toward the ground at 2000 foot per minute in pitch black conditions. “Beira, I have an engine problem and have to do an emergency landing,” says Andew. “Cleared to land runway 12” says Beira tower. “Negative Beira, I have an engine out and going down,” says Andrew. ..hessitation… “Cleared to land runway 30,” says Beira control. “Negative, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY,” says Andrew in desperation, but now with little time to say anymore. “Give your coordinates…” says Beira Tower. Andrew tries to give them to them but they misunderstand. “Too late, going down, “ says Andrew. He only has time to breathe a prayer, “God, thanks for having a chance to be a part of your Kingdom and for the time you have given me. I only now ask for your grace…” He turns on his landing light at the last second only to see trees. He pulls up hard to flair and either try to clear the trees or mush into them. Next thing he knows he is clear of trees and landing in an empty patch of ground. One bounce, lands and then crashes headlong into trees. The next thing he knows he is feeling his face to see if he is okay. Hardly a scratch but a long way from help in the middle of the Mozambican bush. His survival and the next 7 hours waiting to be rescued were traumatic, but God answered his prayer….”grace” That is all we all need right?
As we took off three days later to bring our bird down for the engine change, it was pretty hard to not think of Andrew’s experience. Thankfully we were flying in daylight (albeit instrument conditions), and the new autopilot and GPS made the flight a relaxed enjoyable experience. As I chatted with Andrew and we talked about safety in Mozambique, I mentioned to him how many times I have almost been killed on the highways driving. In fact one of these experiences is told in my last blog! Flying in a light aircraft saves literally days of travel on each trip, it prevents tons of damage to perfectly good vehicles due to the horrific road conditions, and it is certainly safer than the roads in Mozambique. We have been soo blessed to have been able to fly these past 14 years in support of our lives and ministry along with many others we have helped.
The timing worked well as well since Bero had to come down for his second surgery. He has been waiting for a few months for his TBO, “time between operations”. His first surgery was in February and the release of his first arm from burn strictures he got due to being badly burned as a baby during the war has given him a new lease on life. This second one on his right arm has already allowed the arm to stretch out normally! He may yet need a final surgery to get a skin graft on his left arm to fully allow that one to extend normally, but that will be up to the good graces of the surgeon who has offered all of his work for free. Grace :)

Joao and I in front of the University he attends
So yesterday I took the day to drive to Maputo, Mozambique, from Nelspruit, South Africa, to meet with the Civil Aviation authorities. Laws have changed in Mozambique and the license our aircraft was under was lost, so we will now need to try and apply for a private operators license to be able to continue our flying in Mozambique after the engine change and annual inspection. The meeting with the two guys at civil aviation went well (I think I was able to start making friends…an important step). After an ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) audit, the entire department in Mozambique was revamped with new people. I guess it was their TBO but that has left us with no one we know there and so the rebuilding of trust and relationship starts. They will study the steps we need to take to be able to get a new operating license so right now we are praying for …you got it…grace.
Since I was visiting Maputo, I called Joao (our sponsored student in university there) and he met me and just spent the day with me. What an awesome time to talk about the vision for the future with him joining the mission later in December after he has completed his university studies. He will have a business degree and his and our dream is for him to work with the pastors and their associations as they work at developing projects to feed the orphans, the widows, the elderly and themselves in very difficult rural conditions. For him this is his “time before overtime!” Knowing him he has put in overtime at school as well, but anyone who has been to the mission knows that Joao spends most nights working in the office until the generator goes off and he is forced to his tent. He is so thankful for the grace he has been given and is living it out. Keep him in your prayers so he can finish well.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The trip is over, the journey continues

Travel seems to be what characterizes at least one significant part of my life! I guess in most cases that is what defines a missionary…leaving home and going somewhere in obedience to Someone important who said, “Go!”

The purpose of the trip is the story of one’s life I guess and I have become very aware of how every trip I make is so integrally tied to all the other trips I and Lynn have made. And these go back a very long way.

The stories of this past week could likely fill a book, but I will share them over the weeks to come as they relate to the journey we are on out here. This last road trip I was accompanied by Pastor Pires Alberto Williamo (don’t let the name throw you!). He was selected by his peers to be the supervisor of zone 3 which is the area (of our extension schools) I was visiting this past week. His home village is Sinjal (on the banks of the Zambezi River). This is the village we have selected to establish a remote base for the mission because it would facilitate much training close to home for many of the monitors (pastor trainers) who we train.

But besides location, the real reason we have selected Sinjal is Pastor Pires and his proven faithful track record. Someone once referred to something called the “speed of trust” which can be illustrated by how easy it is to drive fast on a two-lane paved highway in good weather conditions, compared to the speed one feels comfortable driving on a pot-hole infested road where every turn you are faced with sharp-edged crevices that threaten to destroy your car or send you careening off the road to miss them.

Let me digress…On my way back this time I came around a corner only to have a big truck bearing down on me on MY side of the road. I had just reminded Pastor Pires to put his seat-belt on, so as I jammed on the breaks and swerved partly into the ditch to miss the truck, he was thankfully held tightly in his seat. Another pastor who was with us said I was a prophet because I knew the truck would be coming and that is why I made sure Pastor Pires put on his belt. I assured him that this was not the case J.

Getting back to the speed of trust…when one builds a relationship of trust with someone as a result of mutually faithful experience, the wheels become greased for a faster pace and effectiveness of work. And this is what we are seeing in the life of this amazing (“little” in the physical sense) man. Let me just add that this faithful pastor serves without a salary and finances himself from a little shop (Banca) he and his wife run along with a small hand powered carpentry business which operates out of grass covered shelter. He had a great opportunity to work for the government and has many family members in key government positions, but he had God’s call on his life, and simply turned them down and keeps turning them down to ensure he has enough time to fulfill “the call”.

This past year was a very hungry year and as some of you may have read from earlier blogs, there were many areas on the Zambezi that simply got NO rain. Not only so, due to that the people planted in the low areas by the river only to have the river come down in flood when the big hydro dam up-stream opened its gates due to heavy rain fall further up in the catchment area. We were able to respond to 16 of our pastors groups who formed associations to enable them to get some emergency food. The condition was that they would work together to “earn” this food so as to try and improve things in their community through various projects. In Pastor Pires home village 60 men and women who are studying with us formed an association and have done amazing things. They were helped with the food aid, but are now working together to “pay” for it. They worked with local government to get a piece of land they could fence and that would have the ability to irrigate from the river. They dug three wells along the one boundary of the land and by hand fenced the entire two hectares! This “fencing” material is not available in their immediate area, so they had to trek into the mountain area, cut the wood, and carry it by hand. Besides that they had to cut thorn bush which they then stacked around the bottom part of the outside of the fence to keep goats out and it works!

They have already planted a variety of crops and are now working to make bricks so that a food storage shed can be built in the years to come to try and keep enough food stocks in the community. It is hard to fully visualize the beauty that can come from people who are willing to faithfully work together for a better future. And the only likely incentive to keep serving together faithfully on this difficult journey is Christ-modeled, Christ-empowered servant-hood.

As mentioned there are many stories to come, but I simply cannot end this blog without talking about the 3 new graduates of our program that graduated in Nyangoma after a full 7 years of study. Pastor Thomas Inacio who was selected to speak on behalf of the graduates shared how he and his colleagues struggled to imagine how they could ever get through this kind of a program since they were already advanced in years. Pastor Ricardo had shared with them the story of Simeon and how that he had the promise that he would hold the messiah before he died, and challenged them that if they could believe, they would hold a diploma one day. Pastor Inacio said that did it. We decided to believe we could do it and now we have. And the blessing of the things we have studied and learned has helped us to now be able to really help and teach others truth.

I honestly could go on at length about all the encouraging words he shared, and the other two graduates shared. The reality is that their lives have been changed and empowered and they are making a significant contribution already to their churches and communities. These are the kinds of moments that make the journey so rewarding!

Pastor Inacio sharing the challenges of the Journey

Pastor Joalinho and his wife (she is happier than she looks since pictures are normally not taken with smiles...there is a reason :)

Pastor Domingues with his wife (took lots of work to get the smiles)

Thank you to those who are on this journey with us including the One who called us and walks with us.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A road trip

Tomorrow very early starts an 8 day road trip for me visiting our extension schools along the Malawi (North) side of the Zambezi River. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to visit these rather remote areas and encourage the leaders and pastors there who serve their God, their churches, their communities and the orphans as best they can.
If you read this and believe that there is a God (your creator and Father) who answers prayer, ask Him for a special blessing on all those I will be visiting and for my dear wife who awaits my return. Also, if you have another minute, remember Francois who is back but still struggling with asthma as he visits a number of our other extension schools on the South side of the Zambezi river. Finally, please pray for Rick and Heather and little Tendai, so that the Canadian consulate issues a visa so little Tendai can accompany her new mom and dad to Canada for a much needed visit.
Have a great week ahead!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moments that define the reason why

Our latest visitor brought up the question the other night which I am sure many have different opinions on (as most everything). Her comment was that for her Christ is the way…or put another way, for her God is not the destination, He is the path. It is the journey that is important and the experience and awareness of His presence as you live out the adventure of life. This is truly what it is all about.

I am not sure (from my perspective) there is this distinction, but the moments in our adventure of life that we “see” God at work, and specifically God at work because we have chosen to partner with Him, certainly are powerful. A few of those moments were ours to enjoy this past week.

After 10 years of study and relationship with us, we celebrated the graduation of 4 of our pastor/students. These were the very first pastors to start studying with us and there were five, but this past year Pastor Pedro, one of them passed away suddenly. But the remaining four have persevered through many challenges and have now graduated. The eldest of them, Pastor Ernesto Mabuleza, leads a strong church and was the delegated speaker for the group. It was a moment of rejoicing for them, and for us. And the reality is that this (along with practically everything I write about) is because of so many out there support and stand by us and those we are serving.

Then yesterday (Saturday) another two events occurred that were truly defining moments for me. The first was as I sat and listened to Pastor Paulo (picture above...a graduate of our program and now a supervisor of one of our training program’s regions) teach a session at a pastors seminar in Honde. The church was packed with pastors and leaders from a number of different churches; a great number of them studying with us at different stages. As Paulo taught, I started asking myself why I was even scheduled to teach today. This man was explaining, illustrating and describing the process and fruit of internalizing the truth in ways I could never do in this culture. But his starting point was that we can only start and stay on the path of truth’s transformational process if we 1. Are willing to recognize and highly value those God brings our way to teach us (regardless of what color, class, or culture they may be from) and 2. If we are willing to humble ourselves to listen to things we don’t immediately identify as valuable. The people laughed and clapped and whooped as he shared funny and interesting stories and illustrations. And then nodded and verbally “groaned” their acknowledgment as Paul emphasized the application.

Left to Right...Pastor Ricardo, Matthew and Rick Neufeld

It was great to have Rick Neufeld, our missionary partner, along and enjoy his enthusiasm as he shared and challenged the leaders about the danger of letting leadership go to your head! It is so rewarding to have other foreigners come and invest their lives in the lives of these awesome people and embark on the huge challenge of cultural and language adjustment as well as the perseverance needed to have the privilege of “those moments”.

The second event that impressed me significantly was the visit of Carlito Rui. Carlito is a young man we as a mission sponsored to take his teachers training. He graduated top of his class and because we did not get our application in early enough to have him come and teach at our school, he was posted to a rural school North of us. We encouraged him to live out the mission which we had emphasized many times and sent him on his way. That was 8 months ago and yesterday he came back to tell how difficult his past 8 months had been. He had to work without a salary and had to survive from the small gifts offered by relatives of a group of orphans he took the time to start teaching a craft. It was hard, but he persevered and two months ago one of the secondary schools in Catandika (ironically the same town we were in for the seminar yesterday), desperately needed a sixth grade math teacher, so they researched all the teachers in the area to see who may be qualified and because there was simply no secondary teacher available and Carlito had graduated top of his class, they called on him. Then this month, after the long wait, he received his salary! And the first thing he did was come to see us and gave an offering of almost $80 to help someone else. “I want to give more, but my two younger siblings are also needing me to help them to stay in school, so I will see what I can afford,” said Carlito. I almost didn’t take the money, but realized that it was critical I accept. He got a receipt for the money from the mission and the reminder that he is now a partner in helping us “to love people, so they have a chance…”. Carlito now wants to travel down weekly to help our orphans with craft making, so time will tell how that works out, but this moment in time yesterday is the reason why!

Between cloud layers on the flight to Beira with Lynn and Keren

We said good-bye to Keren (a ten month volunteer) this past week. She contributed in awesome ways and was such a great support to Lynn. As she left she was unsure of the next step for her. We prayed with her and gave reference for a masters studies program she really wanted to do in the UK. Although she did not think she had a chance, and even if she did get in, had no idea how she would finance the $40,000 per year studies, we encouraged her to “go for it and see what God would do.” She was accepted into the program, but when she got on the plane in Beira, Mozambique, she still had no clue how she would ever finance this opportunity. Well, she got to Johannesburg and from there shared her excitement with us at the news that a miracle had happened and financing was in place and she was off to study and drink tea (something she loved to do), in the place that prides itself in tea and education! We are proud of Keren and so excited for her…thank you God!

Lynn and Keren at the Beira airport while re-fueling for our flight back

A day before Keren left, Priscilla arrived. She would only be here for a couple days but was out volunteering with Mercy Air from Switzerland and really just wanted to see the work here in Mozambique. Although we were terribly busy with so many things, Priscilla was game just to jump in wherever and enjoy the ride. She shared her love for remote areas, the mountains, flying and adventure, and it was her who shared her perspective about Jesus being “the way”… emphasizing for her His presence on the journey which is an adventure if we are willing to embark on it. She was adventurous enough to accompany our guards to the only “mountain” we have on the farm where she shared Swiss chocolate and as much conversation as she could with guys who don’t speak English or Swiss German. They called her “Mamma Montanha” at some point and that seems to have stuck!

So whether you are looking for an adventure or a destination, it is awesome in life to experience the moments that define the reason why!

And it is so awesome to have someone to share those moments with! Here is my beautiful wife coaxing a praying mantis off of a bottle of suntan lotion as she cleans up the camp kitchen after lots of visitors. Visit her blog at

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What does impossible look like?

Not much after just wolfing down the last piece of my birthday cake (poppy seed chiffon backed with much love by my wife), bring on the world! I may be 50 years old, but I’m not dead yet so people are still going to have to put up with me and my weird and "wonderful" ideas for a while.

My 50th Birthday Christmas party shared with Keren's (a nurse who has served for 10 months) farewell

This past Sunday the week launched with the Mozambican leaders heading back to their homes after intensive training to face a lot of situations that I am sure look impossible. The day was then filled with the trip to Chimoio to meet a Mercy Air team arriving with guests from the UK. New people visiting are always a lot of fun (and some work). Introducing them to our world makes us aware of how much God has enabled us to do to this point, but it also makes us aware of how crazy some of the things we are trying to do sound like to people from another world. I am very aware that some of the things we are trying to do would be relatively easy in a developed country, but transplant that project here and…well there are days they start to look close to impossible.

We walked the team up across the bridge “under construction” to the site of the airstrip “under construction.” And as we checked out the area cleared for the hangar (already donated in the USA), I explained how I had searched for the right site, how Ron Wayner and Nate (another pilot) and I walked the route through the thick bush and determined it should be level enough, and then how we had started the tedious time-consuming task of de-bushing by hand. I explained to the team how I actually picked up the written approval from the Mozambique transport department to go ahead with construction (a miracle in itself). Rose, the leader of the group kind of stepped out and looking down the de-bushed but still very uneven stretch of land and said, “I can really SEE this being an airstrip.”

And that for me determines what possible looks like and as a result what impossible also looks like; impossible is simply something you don’t have the ability, willingness, creativity, or faith to “SEE”. So impossible is the way things look today with no one willing to take action by God’s grace, power and provision to change them or at least to SEE them from a better perspective.

And it is hard to SEE the things the way they could be or the way they should be. As we battled for almost 3 months to find a clutch for our truck to carry on the critical work on the training center and other projects, there were moments it looked like there would be no change. But with a number of us persistently looking for the solution, it came when Rick was able to find the right clutch in South Africa! And the truck is BACK, and working hard to help us achieve other projects (like the training center) that have also sometimes seemed impossible.

This week the “thatchers” (the guys that tie down and then beat the grass into place) completed their work on the roof of a meeting area/rest area in the camp site which is going to bring blessing and refreshing to many short termers. This has been long in coming, and although it is not finished yet (kind of like most things around here), it is looking beautiful.

Peter our brick layer and his assistant decided that since other projects were awaiting the truck, he would work on a few long needed finishing touches on the campsite kitchen and bathroom. So he has put in sidewalk and a step where there use to be an eroded ditch that threatened the survival of short termers trying to get to the kitchen in the dark. Now it is soo much better.

All ready for more people to come and SEE what will be possible so that peoples’ lives are changed and empowered in this amazing yet challenging country.