Monday, December 29, 2008

Is that snow??? Nope- but its maize flour- even better!!!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We certainly enjoyed a wonderful few days of rest! We had a yummy Christmas dinner with Dwight and Lynn, and were able to catch up on some reading and such during the few days off. Charles (one of our mission staff) distributing seed to an area leader. One of the women in our Work for Food Program signs her reciept. Many of these women work wth these children strapped to their backs all day long!
There certainly was a feeling of Christmas on Christmas Eve, when we had the privilege to show the Love of those in Canada who have given toward the current food shortage in our area. We were able to purchase and distribute several hundred kilos of maize seed, as well as maize flour to pay our " work for food" program participants. Although we can't help everyone- we have been able to help many thru the generous giving of folks back home- Thank You.

Me and Charles showing packages of seed.. thats a mountian of maize flour we are sitting on. Praise God we could find and purchase it!

unloading the truck

Just finding, and buying, the maize flour and seed was quite an accomplishment in itself. Our driver Domingo made two trips to town in one day, and Dwight and Lynn took the mission van in to pick up seed as well! Many of our workers stayed several hours late to wait for the arrival of the truck to help unload the flour. You would think after being asked to stay late, in the rain, delaying supper, and now having to walk home in the dark- they would have been grumpy- but they werent! Smiles all around!! Did I mention they also had to get our four tonne truck unstuck in the driveway??? (while it was still loaded!) We have great staff here!

Rick and Lynn's Christmas Present

This past week we also had a little fun... we bought Lynn a guinea fowl for Christmas. Pretty much since we arrived here Lynn has been talking about wanting a guinea fowl- apparently she finds their "squawking" to sound more like "music" - ( I think shes been in the bush to long!) So when Rick saw one for sale just up the road from us, he hurried right home to tell me and off we went to buy a guinea fowl. I must say.. Im not terribly fond of "buckwheat" as she has been dubbed- but she makes Lynn happy so I guess it was a good Christmas present. I was especially not fond of little buckwheat at 5:40 am today when she started making "music" near our house.

Lynn trying to determine which on is hers- the other two were for an orphan/widow home.

Rick also had some fun teaching Gabriel how to shoot recurve- He actually picked it up pretty quick! And got a few "bullseyes".

This was not one of the bullseyes.. although it was pretty funny.

This coming week we are busy preparing to have Dwight and Lynn go down to South Africa for a while- yep- that means WE are in charge!!! ( Francois and Alta are visiting family over the holiday season) We appreciate your prayers for safety for them as they travel, and also for us as we remain here at the farm- with a lot of projects to keep on the go! We hope your New Year will be a blessed one! Have a great remainder of the Holiday Season! Rick and Heather

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Rains Have Arrived!!

Trying to drive thru the RAIN!!!
Praise the Lord- The rains have come! And they have come in abundance! We thank God for sending the rains, and are enjoying slightly cooler weather (only plus 30-35 now!), but we know that the hungry months are far from over, and even with the rain, many will still struggle to feed their families as they have lost all their seed in the month of no rain. Please join with us in Praising our Lord for the rain, and also bringing the needs of the people here before Him as well.
It was one week ago when the rains started- and its absolutly amazing how green everything has gotten in that one week! Maybe I only notice it now because this last week has been SOOO busy for us- in fact this is going to be one long blog to get it all in!
Rick and I on the Mozambiquan Coast
Last week tuesday we joined Dwight and Lynn as they headed to Beira on the coast to say goodbye to Kim Lagore, who has been with us on the mission for five months as a short term volunteer. After dropping her off at the airport we madly drove around the city trying to get some errands done, and trying to avoid getting absolutly soaked. (when the rains finally come around here they definetly come with "gusto"!)

One of our sponsored kids, Gina, enjoying a wonderful chicken and rice dinner.

We then returned home to the mission for one day to have our Christmas party with the orphans in our sponsorship program. It was a wonderful time! The kids were thrilled with everything- including the chicken and rice dinner they enjoyed at a restaurant about 40 minutes from here. After a wonderful lunch Rick and Joao told the Christmas story, and we played some games. Then we came back to the mission, watched the movie Cars (in english... although cartoons seem to be understood in any language!) and then handed out presents for each child. It was so special to see the smiles and the laughter as each child opened their gift. Their caregivers were so thankful for the gifts they started to dance and sing- it was a really neat moment for me.

drinking out of a glass bottle is something little Noemia had not quite mastered

All our oprhans, most of the caregivers and some of our staff, Jorge, our Orphan Sponsorship "guy" is on the left.

It was interesting to see how the kids responded.. some were so excited by it all, and others seemed a bit shocked to be holding a doll, a ball, pencil, crayons, notebook, hair clips and sweets! I was so proud of one of our little guys- Tito. Dwight saw him opening up his bag of sweets and asked if he could have one. Without even missing a beat, Tito reached into his bag, and handed Dwight the biggest sweet in there! (Dwight of course said thank you and gave it right back!) Filipe and I working on his 'thumbs up" gesture. Rick & his very strong volunteer doing an illustration at Pastor Antonio's church in Guru.

After the excitement of the Christmas party, it was time for Rick and I to pack our bags to head north for the weekend. We found out once we got up there that Rick was not going to be speaking at a youth conference (like we had prepped for) but rather at a conference for youth leaders and pastors. So after hastily re-organising and writing out some sessions on Friday night, we spent saturday with a wonderful group of leaders who truly are desiring to see the youth in their churches and communities reached for Christ. Rick also spoke at the church of one of our training school moniters on Sunday morning. It was a good trip- and gave us a chance to experience travelling on Mozambiquan "highways" in the rainy season. It was definetly a good way to realise how absolutely neccesary a reliable vehicle is!

This was part of the "being fixed" part of the road- not the worst section by any stretch of the imagination!!!

Anyhew... now that I have covered everything briefly- Ill attach some links here to my facebook albums from the orphan party and our trip up north. There are so many good pictures.. its hard to just post a few here!

trip up north- orphan party-
We would also like to say Merry Christmas to all, and we hope your christmas season is filled with family and friends. We are blessed to have been invited to a Christmas get together with some brazilian friends living here in Mozambique- which promises to be a fun evening!
Thank you so much for all your prayers! Feliz Natal! Rick & Heather

I just thought this was an awesome shirt. Made me smile.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fighting the Fires.

This past week we were once again fighting fires on our property. This is very strange for this time of year, as normally we would be nearly a month into the rainy season- this fire was most likely started by someone hoping to flush out an animal to hunt. It destroyed a nearly two kilometre long section of our property, as well as putting our workers and Rick & Dwight in danger. Fighting fires here is not a matter of hauling out a big fire truck.. or even a big water tank... or even a hose. No water bombers, and no protective gear. Here our guys drop everything, rush out to the fire, grab the nearest branch with green leaves on it, and start beating the fire.
Rick asked me to come with this time and take pics and give the guys water, so I could really see what it was like. I have to tell you, this was not even the biggest fire we have had this year, and I was terrified. The sound of the rushing fire, the smoke, the intense heat... and the senseless destruction almost brought me to tears. I stayed at the edge of the property, both for safety, but also in case the trucks needed to be moved (Dwight's had already needed to be moved once as the fire spread so quickly).
Aside from the obvious danger of the fire... the fact that there even was a fire points to a far greater threat. We are nearly a month into what should have been our rainy season, and have yet to get the needed rains so the people can plant. We are already seeing signs of starvation in our area, and we have people coming to the mission daily for help. Our food supplies are stretched to the limit as we need to make sure we have enough on hand to continue with our orphan sponsorships, and our own staff needs. It is heartbreaking to hear our pastor monitors from the training schools tell us they will be dying of starvation this year unless something changes drastically. And they are not just exagerating, or saying it flippantly... this is a very very real reality for many of the people we work with. The price of maize (the staple food in our area) is already high, and for those who can afford to purchase , it is hard to find. Please pray with us as we consider how we can best help those around us, and also pray that the much needed rains will come.. and come abundantly!
As well as fighting the fires, both Rick and I have been struggling with feeling under the weather for over a week now- Rick with a sore throat, and I am adjusting to side effects from a new medication. We seem to be getting back on track though, just in time to head to Beira to see our friend and short term co-worker, Kim, off as she heads back home to snowy Canada. We also have a trip planned to visit some churches up north this weekend, and speak at a youth conference on Saturday. Again, we ask for your prayers for health and of course travel safety.
Now for a bit of african "fun"- In SAMM missionary tradition.. I have saved the yucky gross icky story until last... Last night as I was headed into the washroom to shower.. I saw this monstrosity of a bug. I have no clue what kind it was. All I know is it was HUGE and fat. I of course "calmly" requested that Rick come help me. He used the broom to skootch the thing out of the bathroom and (as I safely hid inside the washroom door... SIX FEET away from where he was with the bug) he proceeded to whack it with the broom to kill it. I am telling you this thing EXPLODED. Not just squished.. not just crackled and crunched... IT EXPLODED with a noise I cant even describe.
And I (who remember was six feet away, inside the door of another room) was subjected to BUG GUTS being splattered all over my feet and legs. Now... after I screamed and freaked out a little.. I calmed down enough to remember to take a picture before washing my leg off. (thats how you know you are really a photographer! lol) So hear you have it.. this is what hit my leg from six feet away... goodness knows where the rest of him went. Ick. Yuck. Welcome to Africa.
Thats all for this time.. stay tuned for the next update- weather permitting we will have photos from our "christmas party" with the Amigo Orphans in our sponsorship program! God Bless, and thank you all for your prayers and support. Rick and Heather

Friday, December 5, 2008

Busy Week! ( aren't they all??)

Filipe learning how to give a thumbs up!
On Orphan Food Delivery Day everyone is all smiles!
This week has flown by! We held our intensive training seminars for the Bible School this week, and Rick and I were priviledged to lead two sessions on Childrens Ministry- well I should say Rick led them- he did all the talking!
Food Supplies include fish, beans, rice, salt, maize and some soap for washing.
I was also able to go out with Jorge and Lynn again to deliver the food supplies for the orphans and widows. Although they are allways a long day or two, they are easily the most rewarding days each month. This month was especially rewarding as we were able to see one of our orphan and widow families and their new house! The house was constructed in the past month, with funds from a generous Canadian donor. The smiles on their faces were incredible.. and the new house will be a huge blessing for years to come. It will protect from rain and wind, and will also be much easier to keep pests out of!
Thats Marosa's old house to the left and the new one behind it!!!! What a difference!
Marosa, Tito and Paulo in front of their new home. We also handed out solar powered audio New Testaments to several orphan families. They were very excited to recieve such fancy "technology" and I am certain they will get much use in the coming months. Please pray that peoples hearts will be open to hear the words of Jesus.Jorge explaining what all the buttons do and how to charge the New Testaments. Work continues here at the mission as well- Rick is starting to work on getting our ceiling installed so we can fight off some of the heat, and our verandah is also in progress. Me and Julinho- hes my special little guy- we think he suffers from cerebral palsy and he is almost completly blind. Adding to that, his mother is completly deaf! Please pray for our local people, and all of Mozambique. The rainy season is very late this year, and if it does not come soon, many will die of starvation. We are badly in need of rain. Thank you all for praying with us, as we value those prayers very much! Until next time, Heather and Rick

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Walking with Giants!

Yes... that is a 4,000 Kilogram Adult male African Elephant I am "taking for a walk"- there is nothing quite as intimidating as having "Casper" on your heels!
"Casper" getting up from his morning brushing.
We had the opportunity this week to spend a morning at the Hazyview Elephant Sanctuary. I am not sure I will ever cease to be amazed at God's ability to create. In fact, I hope I never do. Spending the morning learning about and interacting with these massive creatures was truly an incredible experience.
Kim, Myself and Rick just hanging out under four tonnes of sheer power. Good thing he liked us!
Kim and Kitsol
We booked in for the whole package, so we got to assist the trainers in the early morning by brushing the elephants, and then joined the rest of our group for the feeding and walking with elephants program. I learned so much about elephants, and it is amazing how God thinks of every small detail!
sitting atop Casper you feel really really small
I love elephants, so this was a dream come true for me, and something I would definetly like to do again. There is something very moving about standing beside a four ton animal and interacting with it- we even got kisses from one of them!
Rick.. getting a kiss from Kitsol.
Our time here in South Africa is almost done, and we are happy to say we have accomplished pretty much everything we came down to do! The Bakkie is fixed (as much as one can fix an old beat up bakkie), supplies have been purchased and we all feel rested enough to get back into the crazyness of life in Mozambique. Please pray for safe travel and for a productive week of training next week with our pastors training school.
allways on the lookout for a good shot!
hows this for a parting shot??
God Bless, Rick and Heather

Saturday, November 22, 2008

VBS 2008- Be an Example!

Little Isabel -her eyes just captivated me!
Well, we have been in South Africa for a week now, and I am happy to say that we have almost gotten the truck repaired completly. We are also blessed that Mercy Air's resident I.T. Specialist was able to rebiuld their internet system after a lightning strike took out the whole thing. We were out to supper when it happened, but those who were here said it was incredibly loud! So, now that we have internet again, I will do a post on our VBS.
Out two weeks of VBS was so much fun- but im glad it was only for two weeks! The kids had so much fun and we all had a blast playing the games, doing crafts, learning our Bible Verse- 1 Timothy 4:12, and hearing about heroes from the Bible. Rick and I were completly exhausted by the end of the two weeks, but it was well worth the effort to see all those smiling faces every day! It was good for us to see how our training and creativity can work here, and we look forward to being able to work with more childrens groups.
We were also really excited to see our schools teachers take ownership and leadership of the many different areas. They led games and singing times, directed the quizzes and helped out with servant hearts anytime we asked them to!
To really do justice to VBS you kinda have to be here- but for those of you who couldnt make the two day trip, Ill post some pictures!Heather teaching a lesson on Esther. At this point "Esther" is getting perfumed and lotioned by her maidens so she can be the prettiest lady in the whole country.(it was really nice smelling lotion and perfume too!!!) Tug of war! Teacher Tito (AKA Goliath) during his death scene. He went all out- it took him like 45 seconds of swaying and groaning and falling to finally die. The water balloon/wet sponge slingshot. This was pretty much the highlight game of VBS alongside the slip and slide. Kim took this job very seriously. She was really good at it too! and... the final results! Everyone gets WET!
Hey pastor Rick... arent you supposed to be setting an example???!! LOL
These kids had SOOO much energy!
Thanks to everyone who prayed for our VBS, and also for our journey down here to SA. God certianly heard and answered all of those prayers in big ways! Please continue to pray for us as we have one more week of errands and repairs to do, as well as taking a day or two to just relax before we begin the two day trip back up to our base! God Bless,
Rick & Heather