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.