Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh how I love Christmas Smiles!

Monday Dec 12th, we had our Annual Amigo Orphan Christmas Party- it was sooooo much fun! Although the mission indirectly assists with Amor Orphan Programs in many northern communities (where pastors in our training program reach out to those in need in their areas, well over 1000 children!), we have a much more in depth involvement with the Amigo Orphan children here in our local area. 

This year we were again blessed to have the party hosted by Lamimos Lodge, and our friends William and Monica who own it. These folks open their restaurant each year on their only day off each week, and bring in their staff extra just to host our large group! We are so thankful for them! Each of our guests (children and their caregivers) ate a YUMMY lunch of 1/2 chicken and rice with salad and of course, the staple party drink in these areas-  coca-cola!

After lunch we heard the Christmas Story, played games, painted faces, made ornaments from seed pods and then handed out the gifts. It was an amazing day and everyone had such a good time. The kids were so happy, the grannys were so thankful for everything and the food was very yummy!

Since I cant possibly describe it any better, ill just let the pictures show you how much fun was had!!
 Joao and the caregivers celebrate the gifts!
 Mariamo looks pretty excited too (she was singing).
 This kid just melts my heart, Francisco you are such a sweetie!!
 Me and the Girls work on some glittery sparkly ornaments.
 Tendai somehow was given the job of decorating poor Francisco's face! He was such a good sport about it though!

 Tendai and Mae Vaida discuss the meal.
 Leila Frank (our colleague) joined right in with the singing and dancing!
 Serving the meal to the grannies.
 The older boys (Gabriel, Farai, Paulo and Francisco) enjoying their cokes.
 Pastor Mariano reads the Christmas story to a very attentive audience.

 When we first met Nailene three years ago he wouldnt even smile at me, or even look at me.. now just a glance in my direction brings big shy smiles and if I tickle him he just giggles! He is growing up soooo fast!
 The grannies worked really hard on their ornaments, Im fairly certain they had never had the chance to do something like that before and they loved every minute of it!
 Getting ready to give out the gifts.
 Barb Wayner (of Mercy Air Mozambique) helps to hand out the gifts.
 The older boys and grannies show their appreciation for Pastor Mariano,  who pretty much runs the orphan program under our supervision. We are so thankful for him and all the work he does!
Group Shot at the end of the party- lots of very happy faces!!!

We are so thankful for everyone who sponsors these kids. Your sponsorship helps us provide food, school supplies,  clothing and valuable life skills to the children.  If you are interested in knowing how you can help with our  Amigo orphan program please let us know. We do have several needs including staff sponsorship (sponsoring the salaries of the local staff who work directly with the children), additional sponsorship for students in higher levels of education, and individual children who are waiting for sponsorship as well.

This Christmas is going to be a really busy one for us! We leave this Sunday to go down to South Africa  to pick up some short term visitors. These visitors are VERY special to us as they are all FAMILY! Nothing excites us more than having family around for the holidays!! We pick up my sister and her husband and their baby boy on Christmas morning, and Rick's brother Kevin two days later! My sister and her family are coming as volunteers for three and a half weeks to help us with our house (he is a plumber!!) and with various other projects around the farm. We will also be visiting orphan programs and local churches to show them what our mission does, and what our mission trains others to do!

We plan to be back here on the farm before New Years and to jump right into work as soon as possible!
Please pray for us as we have an awful lot of travelling and errands to get accomplished in a short period of time. Pray that our visitors will not have horrible jet lag, or to many problems adjusting to the weather etc.

Ill try to post an update on our house from down in SA- but the good news is.. THEY HAVE STARTED LAYING BRICKS!!! It is sooooo exciting to see where the walls will go and how everything is laid out. Please pray with us that the funds we need will come in, as we have lots of supplies and materials that need purchased, and our house fund at this point is very very low!

Thank you so much for your prayers, we hope you all are enjoying this Christmas season and taking time to celebrate Christ's Birth as the central reason for it!

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai

Friday, December 9, 2011

Invasion....some good...some not so good.

Some of the pastors enjoying a meal together, prepared by our school chef and some of the sponsored children who volunteer to help during their holiday.

This past week we were INVADED- By over forty pastor monitors who came to attend the Seminario Biblia de Fe (Faith Bible Seminary) intensive training seminars! All of these gentleman come to get trained twice yearly and then go home back to their communities and train many more pastors who are studying in our program there! 

What made this Intensive Seminar even MORE special that they normally are, is that we were for the first time EVER able to host it at the Training Centre which has been under construction for what feels like forever and was finally ready to be used. There is still some work to be done, but at least it is useable now!
Needless to say, EVERYONE was pretty excited to be using the training center! In the picture above you can see the three "wings"- on the left  and right are classrooms, and in the centre wing is a general meeting room, a administration office and what will one day be a bookstore.
 Dwight welcomes the pastors and gives the first devotional in the new building.
Pastors worshipping and praying together.

All of the missionaries are involved in some way or other with seminars. Rick was teaching two books this time, as well as a seminar on orphan care. In addition to that Rick managed to keep a pretty good handle on the work going on at our house and we were able to get the floor finished completly! YEY!
The pedreiros work to complete the last portion of floor.

Yey!!!! Its all done! Praise the Lord!

Its exciting for us to see the floor done, and we cant wait to see the walls start next week!(we hope!) Right now the guys are very busy making bricks for the walls- which is a big job, since we are gonna need an awful lot of bricks!

We have also been INVADED lately by insects. In particular ANTS. Every day I clean, spray, and try a new method of persuading them to go elsewhere. We havent had this problem before, but aparently this year the ants have decided to invade. Hoping the invasion ends soon. :)
 These are pictures of the INVASION of the flying ants. This does happen every year, and usually im prepared for it. It allways happens after major rains at this time of year. This year, I forgot. Perhaps because we were on furlough last year, but it completly took me by suprise this year, which meant I left our windows unsealed... and the flying ants INVADED. 
After a mild panic session, I hid in the bathroom with Tendai and let Rick take care of exterminating and cleaning up. ICK.
This year we have also had a problem with crocodiles which Ive blogged about before. Our river shouldnt have crocs at all, but it does for some reason. They are mostly small and not of the man-eating variety, but they have been attacking our sheep and lambs when they go to the river to drink. Domingo our shepherd caught one a month or so ago in his net, and just caught another one the other day. 

 The most recently caught croc, a small juvenile, and Domingo our shepherd in the background.
Tendai is so brave. I wouldn't even go near the thing. Go Tendai!! (I should clarify that it was dead. Im not about to let my child sit on a live crocodile)
 It was also Tendai's 3rd Birthday last week. We got her a bike on our last trip to South Africa, its still a bit big for her, but she enjoys trying it out every so often while she waits to grow into it! We cannot believe she is 3 years old already! It seems like just yesterday she was a tiny little baby being placed into our arms on the side of the road! She is such a blessing and we are so honored that God chose us to be her parents!

This week we have plenty of prayer requests and praise reports! Its a busy time here on the farm.

Prayer Requests

- One of our staff members, Charles, who has been with the mission a very long time had to have emergency surgery this week. It was a life and death situation and although he is still struggling with the aftereffects of having major surgery he seems to be doing ok. Please pray with us that they can keep infections away and under control (as in these conditions that is a constant and MAJOR threat) and he can remember to take it easy. In the pic below he is waving to all those who have prayed for him, this was taken the morning after his surgery when he was still on painkillers.

-Pray for us as missionaries as we are far from home and family during the holiday season. Many of us are travelling this year to various places, but we covet your prayers for our safety as we drive in less than ideal conditions. Dwight and Lynn are going to Canada on furlough so they are doing ALOT of traveling!
- Prayer for our house construction would be appreciated. Both that the guys will be able to get work done during the rainy season, and that we will have the funds to continue with our build. In a month or two we will be at a stage where we are going to need a large amount of funds at one time. If we don't have those funds we wont be able to continue.

Praise Reports-

-Most of the children in the Amigo Orphan Program passed their grades, and those who didnt have been identified and plans for tutoring help are in the work for next year.
-The rains have started and the local people have planted their fields- pray the rains will continue!
-We have family coming to visit next month as short term volunteers! We are sooo excited to go pick them up and have them visit us for a few weeks! 
-We get to spend a few days as a family over Christmas in South Africa, we still have errands to do, but we are hoping that we can find a day or two to have fun together as a family.

Again, Thanks to everyone for their support and prayers. We love to hear from you!
God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pouring of all sorts.

We started pouring the floor on our house this week. The first day was PERFECT for pouring- overcast, cool and just fabulous. The second day started out well and the guys got a good bit accomplished... and then just after everyone had left for the day the heavens opened up and it POURED. The kind of thunderstorm where you run and hide and wish you had earplugs. Rick tried to get plastic over the newly poured floor, but fearing for his own safety  (in a lightning storm and standing on a mesh of rebar) he only got MOST of it covered... the very edge where he wasn't able to secure actually washed away, so we will have to repour there, as well as drain the remaining rooms that are waiting to be poured as they literally filled to the brim with water. It was nuts. 

Please pray with us as we try to get the rest of the floor poured next week. We need several days of non rainy weather in order to finish. Once the floor is done then rain wont be such a issue. As long as it isn't pouring like crazy work can continue, though at a slower pace.

Here are a few pictures from the last few days!
Rick helps to level out a stubborn "low part"
 Tendai learning a thing or two from Peter.
 Nearly half way done!
 We train em young out here!
Looks like she needed a bit more instruction.
One of our workers wheels a VERY heavy load of cement.
 Finished product-(the top part at least)
 wow. good thing we just got them new boots.
Tendai's boots after her hard five minutes of floor smoothing.
 This is what the foundations looked like today after the CRAZY thunderstorm. Totally flooded. Completly. ack!
 our foundations aka the lake. the rooms on the right were supposed to be poured today but we couldnt due to the rain.
Rick made a little hole in each room right by the edge of the foundation that we will repair later, but it helped to drain nearly all of the water in just a few hours.  In this picture you can see the waterfall off to the left if you look closely.

Starting tommorow, (Saturday the 26th) the Pastor Monitors begin arriving for this week of Intensive Training Seminars. Rick will be teaching two books as well as a shorter one hour seminar, and trying to keep everything going at our house as well. Please pray for him and the everyone else participating in next weeks busy activities!

God Bless,
Rick, Heather and Tendai Neufeld

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November Update Video

Hey All, We posted this update video last week, If you havent already checked it out then here is your chance! We hope you enjoy it!  ( if you do enjoy it.. or even if you dont, take a moment to let us know!) :)

Tommorow (Nov 23rd) after several delays and much dirt packing and rebar tying... we are starting to pour the floor on our house! Please pray for good weather and no hiccups! We are so grateful to those who have donated thus far to our house fund and have made it possible for us to get to this point. We look forward to having this part done, and starting on the walls soon. We have enough funds to start the walls, but will need additional funding to finish them and for the more costly project parts such as roofing etc. Thanks for your prayers, we appreciate them so much! 
Rick, in addition to pouring our house floor with the guys will also be prepping for and teaching two books during next weeks intensive seminars! Please pray for us as this is a busy few weeks coming up!
God Bless,
Rick. Heather and Tendai Neufeld.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bubbles of Blessings

** Note- this is a bit different than my normal posts... but I really felt I needed to post it anyway, maybe there is someone out there just like me who needs to see it.- Heather**

Every once and awhile there is a moment where I capture pure Joy on Tendai's face. You know the kind of joy we all long to have.. where you throw your hands up in the air and giggle and chase bubbles and dont care who looks at you or what they think if they do?!? This week I caught a few pics of Tendai chasing bubbles, and though they arent in the best of focus, they spoke to me. 

I long to remember that feeling. Ive caught myself at home lately lifting my hands in worship as I listen to Casting Crowns or Chris Tomlin and then lowering them quickly, not wanting to look "silly." Shame on me. When did it become silly to raise my hands to my creator? When did I become scared to look silly when Im the only one home? (or in front of others for that matter!)

I hope these pictures remind you (and me) to look for those moments, the ones where we feel free, to laugh, to giggle, to lift our hands, to twirl around, to passionately worship our Abba Father.. and chase those bubbles of Blessings. 

God Bless,