Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update on Visas!

Thanks for all the prayers folks! God has answered and we now have been able to arrange with the immigration department head to proccess our initial visas (the ones we need by thursday) HIMSELF!!! So that means we no longer need to go to Zimbabwe. This is a huge blessing because our paperwork has not yet arrived from the Canadian Embassy in Maputo. So hopefully we can still get our paperwork by the end of this week. Please continue to pray that the paperwork will come in this week, and we can apply for our DIRES (residency visas) as soon as possible. It will still be tight to get them in time for us to leave for South Africa, so that is still a prayer request as well. (we cant leave the country without them!) Also, our poor truck is in need of prayer- today the air conditioning quit, and the front end is making interesting noises... we know first hand how God can keep a vehicle running on little else but faith (for example our ancient cavalier at home!), so please join us in praying that it will make it to South Africa and the mechanics that await us there! We know so many of you are praying, and we are constantly blessed by that. We have a busy few weeks ahead of us.. as our VBS starts this coming monday, and we are madly preparing for that as well! Ill try and upload photos soon, but thought i would get this update up for the time being! God Bless, Rick and Heather

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hard at Work!!!

We have many roles here in Mozambique. Our primary role at the moment is to be learning as much as we can about all the different programs. Rick however just cant seem to leave his construction background for too long, and has been hard at work getting Dwight and Lynn's roof on! (for which they have been extremely gratefull- it looks soooo much more like a house now!!) We are also in the middle of making plans for the little cottage that is our temporary home, as we have recieved a generous donation of funds that will allow us to complete the ceiling and verandah, which will make the cottage a LOT more livable in the coming HOT season!
Dwight and Lynn's place with one half of the roof almost done!
Lynn has been busy taking me along on home visits, so I can get to know the families we work with, and their individual needs. It is always a blessing for me to go to these homes. I love to visit with the people and more often than not there is a baby I can cuddle for at least a few minutes. African Moms have no problem handing their babies over- they love to see us white ladies cuddling their little ones. Of course, with me cuddling so many babies- and none of these babies having diapers- it was only a matter of time until one of them peed on me! Here is the little culprit- Gerente (which means "manager"). He is the grandson of Pastor Ricardo,whose church held the welcome service for us when we first arrived. Oh well- I guess ive been lucky to make it two months without actually getting peed on! The things we have to suffer for ministry! :)
In two weeks our annual VBS starts up at the mission school, and we are hard at work preparing lessons, craft ideas, and games. It is a lot of work to come up with 4 hours of activities for 10 days for over 100 kids, ranging in age from 6-12 or even older! We are looking forward to it though, as it will be our first real chance to organise some childrens ministry here in Mozambique. Part of Rick's "preparation" and "planning" for this two week event was determining whether the construction plastic here is strong enough for a slip& slide. Yes, this fell under the category of work! Its tough- but somebodys got to do it! Also falling under the category of work; trying to teach our worker Clemens how to have a water balloon fight so Rick could try out how easily the balloons popped. Some things you just have to be here to see- so here are some pictures of the slip & slide testing.
Rick testing out the slip&slide- those men in the background thought he was using the water to wash the plastic (many people here use this plastic to help keep the rain out) they were QUITE shocked when he took a running start and jumped on it! I can just imagine what they were thinking the crazy muzungu was up to now!!!! ahh.. sunlight dish detergent makes a great slip&slide- they should sell this stuff alongside the plastic- we used the same exact stuff at the camp we used to direct in Northern Manitoba!he stood up to try and stop himself... didnt work- right after this pic he was a little wet muzungu mud ball (so of course he just HAD to go again to clean off!)
a little girl participating in one of ricks object lessons-they had to race around the room- one of them blindfolded.
Also part of last weeks work, was spending Saturday morning "observing" the children's program at Pastor Ricardo's church. We observed about half an hour and then Pastor Ricardo turned to us and said- "ok, now you give a word" (refer to past post on church services!). Well, after Rick's first "word" (which apparently was not long enough) we ended up being asked to give about 4 more "words" until it was noon and time for lunch! At one point Rick and I had all the kids being rain and the wind, and the adults being thunder, helping us act out the story of Jonah- we had a great time, and the kids had a blast too. It was a great time and we look forward to going back another week (more prepared!) to do another morning of kids ministry!

Girls demonstrating an African Praise and worship song for us, complete with stomping and shuffling!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Church, African Style

Today we went to a local church, where Mathew (our mission administrator) attends. We of course were asked to "share a word" so Rick spoke about the importance of teaching our Children about God and being examples for them. This blog post will be a bit longer, as I feel like I have to try and share with you the African Church Experience- which is long too!! :) Rural African church services are totally unlike anything I have experienced in North America, even Brazil was nowhere close to these services. It is hard to explain because everything is just so... African! When you arrive there might be 2 or 20 people there. This however is no indication of how many people will be there at the end of the service. As many people don't have watches, they know to make their way to church when whoever is there first starts up the Praise and Worship- which can be heard a long long ways away. Of course- if you happen to be there that day, the congregation will gain a few curious onlookers, eager to see who the visitors are and what they will have to say. Once things get going inside it is an experience for the senses! The women are singing with all their might, dancing and jumping/shuffling forward and backwards, small children strapped to their backs, sleeping thru all the jostling and shaking. Bigger children are dancing at the front, hands raised to God, faces dripping with sweat. Even the very littlest ones, two years old are dancing and singing.

young children dancing (incuding one with only one leg!) Dust is filling the air because the dirt floor just can't withstand the shuffling and jumping. The smell of sweat is strong, and only gets more pronounced as more people join in and the songs get louder and the dancing more involved. Someone is the back is pounding on a well used drum- providing the only instrument, aside from the occasional shriek of a whistle. One song after another is sung, led by random people - some small children, some men, young women and elderly widows. There is no order, and whoever wants to lead the next song just sings out and everyone follows. And then after an hour or so of clapping, singing, women "ay ay aya yayayayyah -ing", and dancing we arrive at the end of the worship.

young mothers gathering outside the church Everyone settles onto a plank bench, or more likely a woven grass mat, and the dust begins to settle. By now most of the congregation will have shown up, and if you turn around you would be shocked to see how many people are behind you. As people settle down mothers will go about the business of getting themselves and their children situated, often opting to breastfeed during this more restful period of the service.

Now it is time for the choir- or choirs. Choirs are a proccess. They are not simply called forward to present a song. No- the congregation sings a song as the choir members make their way out of the hot building into the hotter sun, to organise themselves into the proper order. Then they begin singing, and shuffle/dance their way into the church. After a song or two, the next choir will go out, come in and go up- if the church has more than one. Now it is time for the speaking. Of course, if there are visitors they must first be welcomed, greeted, share greetings and then share at least a mini sermon. After this, whoever is supposed to be preaching will come up and RE-preach whatever the guest shared, but usually with decidely more oomph, handwaving, halleluyahs and amens! Whatever the point of the message was- EVERYONE will have heard it before leaving church! That is certain.

Rick- sharing a greeting and a "word"

And then there is prayer. Anyone with any need at all comes to the front of the church, on their knees and waits to have hands laid on their heads and be prayed for. And those who dont come forward for prayer are either praying themselves or singing more worship songs. Prayer is a corporate experience- everyone prays at once, until one voice rings out above the rest, signaling the end of prayer time. We all say Amen. Once all who have needs have been prayed for we begin to wind down the service- more singing follows, visitors are now individually greeted, hands shaken, babys passed around, -no one rushes off! I love church services here, the worship is so heartfelt- even though I cant understand most of it, people praise God with their whole beings, every limb becomes an instrument of worship. Of course, many of these people are new believers, and many struggle to leave the old traditions behind, but when it comes to worship- they hold back nothing. It is a humbling experience to watch and worship with these people, who have so little, suffer so greatly and have seen so much loss. Yet their worship is enthusiastic, heartfelt and encouraging. Please join us in praying for the church here in Mozambique, many struggle to leave behind old traditional ways and beliefs.

one of the grannys we work with- still holding to traditional religion- see the bottle of "medicine" tied around her neck?- its to keep eveil spirits and sickness away.

just an example of the rations we provide for one person for one month, rice, salt, beans, dried fish, cooking oil, soap and also some maize (not pictured)- each of the orphan children in our sponsorship program receives this amount.

praying for one of our orphan and widow families

Again, thank you for your prayers- my mother came thru her surgery well and is even able to walk already (just a bit!) We praise God for his continuing care for her. Please continue to pray that her heart and back will remain strong and heal well. Also thank you for your prayers for peace for us here- I have been blessed by the prayers of so many!