Saturday, April 30, 2011

Welcome Back Neufeld Family....

Students from our bush school very eager to see Tendai peer thru the windows of the new school clinic while I received the official tour.

We are HOME! And this time it really is HOME… not just the place we are currently laying our heads at night! We have had a busy week, adjusting to the warmer temperatures, humidity, unpacking and organizing not just our luggage, but all our belongings as everything was put away, and of course, evaluating the damage done by the rats! Thankfully, we did not lose too many things, although we lost a good chunk of the items we use for camping on our seminar trips so we will have to replace some of those items.

The trip up from South Africa was interesting. Having been away for 8 months we were interested to see how the roads had improved, and what if any changes had been made at the border crossing to speed things up.   The B & B we stayed at told us how on Good Friday  the border lineup was  FIFTEEN KILOMETRES LONG….. just to get INTO the border area!!!! We decided to leave VERY early the next morning to try and avoid a repeat of that scenario! We arrived at 6 am and there was no line in sight! Praise The Lord!
Our border crossing went well except for one small detail- the temporary import permit for our vehicle had gone missing and so we had to pay a fine. We were told it would be 1000 Rand fine, but we only had 500 Rand as we had just changed almost all of our rand into Meticais (the Mozambican currency)- Rick ran back to the money changers in the heat (yes at 6 am it was already warm and muggy) and tried to exchange some US Dollars for Rand.. they wouldn’t except US dollars… (on a side note- WHO does not except US dollars???.. I mean.. its like the universal currency !!) So he ran back to me, and got the Meticais we had just exchanged for and  ran BACK to the changers and exchanged them back to Rand (meaning we lost a good bit in the double exchange.. sigh) and then RAN back to pay our fine.. which we were then informed was… 500 Rand. The amount we had in the first place. ….. Welcome  back to Africa Neufeld Family!

The rest of our crossing went very smoothly and we were on our way in no time! In Maputo just up the road we stopped for fuel, a bathroom break and to grab a bite to eat at a little restaurant beside the fuel station. As we finished up our fuel and bathroom break we noticed an argument between a restaurant employee and a visiting south African tourist.  It seems the Credit Card machine wasn’t working, and the South African wanted to pay with his Rands (which are widely accepted in Mozambique). The employee was refusing his 200 R note and the man could not figure out why….  You see, over a year ago there was a problem in SA with counterfeit 200R banknotes so many places wouldn’t except them.. the issue has since been resolved and its no longer a problem.. but apparently the news has not reached Mozambique yet! Since I now had LOTS of Rand, I traded two of my 100 R notes for his 200 R Note and we solved the problem.. then our family headed inside to get some breakfast! We stood at the counter, perused the menu,  while four staff watched us intently. We looked up, opened our mouths to make the order and they said… “oh. Sorry. We have no food”   …… Welcome back to Africa Neufeld Family!!

We bought some chips at the gas station and ate those for breakfast.  J

Our next adventure occurred when Rick got a ticket for “speeding”. He was told he was in a 60 Zone (he wasn’t) and that there was a school up ahead where the zone changed for our side of the road. (yes  apparently school children only cross one side of the highway…).. There was no school (at least not one that was in use, the was one under construction but no classrooms or buildings were complete… an there was NO speed sign). Rick tried in vain to point out the holes in the policeman’s story and reasoning, but since he had a firm grip on Rick’s license already there was not much we could do but pay the fine.  (note to self.. DO NOT HAND OVER LICENSE TO CORRUPT POLICEMEN!!!)…. He did tell us though that once we were out of his  “60 Zone” (which didn’t exist) that we could go 200 KM an hour if we wanted since the 100 KM/hr sign was just a suggestion….
Welcome Back to Africa Neufeld Family!!!

Thankfully after this point our adventures stopped for the most part. The previously nearly undriveable sections of  highway that have been under repair for over THREE YEARS were completed in our absence… it was wonderful to be able to drive on nice roads for almost the entire trip- and it saved us a couple of hours of driving too! Now there is only one section of bad road and potholes to contend with on the drive south, instead of THREE very bad ones!!!!
Welcome back to Africa Neufeld Family!

Gina with the dress made just for her by her by her sponsor!

We arrived home safe and sound with only a minor injury to my foot incurred while walking in the dark at our overnight stop. We even we able to get home in time to stop at shoprite and get some groceries. Imagine our shock when we walked in to find shoprite completely remodeled with new coolers and freezers!! WOOHOOO!!! Welcome back to Africa Neufeld Family!
Tendai attempts rather unsuccsessfully to get Magnum to move out of the way... hes about 6 times her weight and a few inches taller!
 new paint on the walls, shower wall had been torn down in our abscence and has been rebuilt.. theres even a new toilet seat on the toilet!!
tiles in the shower (walls and floor... woohoo!) and a rainshower shower head! THANKS ANDY!

We even were blessed to come home to a very clean house and a brand spanking new bathroom (shower tiled, walls painted, new showerhead etc) thanks to the efforts of Andy and Lovemore who had a lot of work on their hands following the rat and worm incident and the remodeling of our bathroom following some pipes leaking in our wall. The new bathroom is wonderful and we are very appreciative of their efforts! Welcome back to Africa Neufeld Family!!!

Thanks for all your prayers, our first week home has just gone so fast and we have had a wonderful time seeing our friends and coworkers again. I (heather) was especially blessed when several of the orphan children and widows cried when I visited them. Gina, who holds a special place in my heart, held me tight and hugged me as she whispered.. I missed you Donna Heather (in Portuguese of course).  Ill, admit it, I cried too.  One of the widows cried as she grasped my hand and said she had prayed for us everyday that we would come home to Mozambique soon.  It really helped me realize the impact the work we do has here, I do not simply hand out food and clothing and school supplies, my presence here makes a difference, the love and care and fun I share with these children and widows impacts them! I guess I always knew that, but seeing their reaction to our return once again confirmed in my heart.. .THIS is HOME for ME!
Casamilo sees bubbles for the first time (i think- he was so suprised by them im quite sure it was his first time seeing them!)


God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going... Going.. Gone.

Hi all, we have made it to South Africa, we are safe, healthy and all our luggage arrived too which in itself is a minor miracle!! We had such a great last weekend in Canada, including several fun evenings with friends, and Tendai's child dedication on sunday. After the Sunday service our church held a fundraising chili dinner for us,  and a "silent" auction, it was amazing!!!  (my sis even made chocolates to sell!- if you are interested in ordering some from her, let us know- talk about a good way to talk about missions etc with your kids, give them africa themed chocolates!) The dinner and auction were a HUGE success, and we thank everyone who worked so hard to prepare the food, donated items for the auction and helped to make the day run smoothly. A total of just over 17,000 $ was raised that afternoon, which means we can definetly get a really good start on our house! :) God is GOOD! (and we are so incredibly humbled and thankful for the generosity of our church family!)

Monday morning we got up, had breakfast with Ricks family and headed to the airport. Where we needed a small army of luggage trolleys to get all our stuff inside! 
Trolleys one and two.
add in a stroller and a two year old..
and another trolley.... (three trolleys, one stroller in total)
Thats, NINE checked bags (four of which were oversized) , SIX carryon bags, ONE stroller and ONE toddler and TWO adults. ACK!
we were expecting to pay quite a bit (upwards of 300 dollars) since we had three extra bags, and Air Canada does not allow humanitarian bags like other airlines. Turns out since our original tickets had been purchased in september- we got a snazzy break and instead they only charged us 60 bucks for all three bags total, since at that time the charges were lower and the baggage limits higher! how nice!

once we arrived at Heathrow for our ten hour layover (that turned into 11 since we arrived early after a fast flight with good tail winds), we settled into this little corner. Most comfortable ive ever been in an airport to be honest!! (in this pic we are coloring with color wondor markers.. these things ROCK for when you are traveling!)
Tendai LOVED the kids area "trial project" thing they had going. Sure hope they keep it going since it was a godsend for us! she got to play, we didnt have to worry (it was supervised) win win for everyone!! Here she is giving you her best "growl" like a gladiator. arent you scared???!!

We arrived safely in South Africa, after a VERY long flight- made longer by the fact the plane was COMPLETLY booked. not an empty seat to be seen, and miss Tendai was not interested in sleeping for a good portion of the flight! Once we arrived we made it thru passport control (immigration) very quickly and were very suprised to find that we did not have to pay the 1000R fine for Tendai staying a day past her visa date in September (long story, but God obviously did some work in that one!). We also made it thru customs with no problems whatsoever. The one officer who even asked us anything told us to go right on thru and smiled broadly when we said all those rubbermaids were filled with clothes, toys and toothbrushes for orphans! 

We are enjoying a few days in Pretoria with good friends, and getting a few errands done here and there, we head up to Mercy Air on Sunday and will spend monday trying to organize our DIRE (residence permits for Mozambique) issues with the Mozambican immigration folks in Nelspruit. Your prayers would be appreciated for that. We were out of country when our last permits expired, and will be asking for grace, to renew again, instead of apply all over again. Then finally, next week we will spend two days at Kruger National Park, with friends enjoying God's amazing beauty, resting and being refreshed before heading back to Mozambique!
Thanks for all the prayers, we know that we have been covered by prayer this entire journey and we know those prayers have made a difference! Please continue to pray for our travels, safety, health and our visits with the immigration folks!
Blessings, Rick, Heather & Tendai!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Invasion of the Rats... and other things...

Well, this is a pictureless post, and im warning you now, if you are bit squeamish you may just want to skip reading it all together!

Last week, we recieved an email stating that the gentleman who had moved into our house a month ago to stay until we got home had decided to move out.... due to "a rat and worm incident". Thats all it said. no explanation- Im sure you can understand that we were worried and a bit confused... especially since this gentleman (our swiss friend Andy, who has just joined the mission to work alongside us) had laughed very hard at Rick and Myself last year when we jumped on chairs and screamed when a rat ran by in our living room. If the "incident" was enough to make HIM move out... WHAT on earth had happened??!!!

After some panicked emails to our colleagues back home we discovered that as Andy had only arrived in February, our house had been sitting empty for much longer than anticipated. This resulted in a large group of rats taking up residence in our attic. 


Apparently when Andy arrived the rats were so plentiful and active at night that he could not sleep from all the noise- so he threw a bunch of rat poison up there and thought that would be the end of it. 


apparently it wasn't the kind of poison that dries them up when it kills them, or else there was too many for them to dry up properly.... (i told you this was gross... but if you are still reading here is your second warning!) Now... please remember, we weren't actually THERE (we are here.... and only heard this thru emails and rather concerned facebook chats online), BUT... it seems that after the rats ate the poison and died,  maggots (the aforementioned "worms") got to work on the rats! 


To make matters oh so much worse, apparently some of them fell thru a light fixture in the ceiling and landed on Andy as the poor guy tried to sleep at night. ACK!!!!  I cant even imagine. I would have FREAKED out. I know that Rick and I are called to Africa, I know this is something we make a decision to do every day of our lives... but maggots falling from the ceiling onto my bed at night was not something I ever imagined signing up for! (and Im fairly certain there isn't a missionary on the planet who would say "hmm yeah, that was something i expected!")  :)

Thankfully, we were not there. And I did not have to deal with it.... and Lord willing I WONT have to deal with it! The attic and house have been fumigated, the plan is to have the attic cleaned out by the time we arrive home, an I can go back to being blissfully unaware that maggots falling out of the attic is even a possibility. (please note, that although I am glad it came up while we are away, I am not in any way happy it happened to Andy- that is one nasty introduction into missionary life in Mozambique and I feel rather guilty it happened to a guest in our home while we were away!)

Ive told you this rather gross story so you can remember to pray for us in the coming weeks. We have one more week in Canada, but then we start the journey home to Mozambique. It will be a long journey, but we look forward to it, and are getting ready for it! Each day we clean up a few more boxes, back another suitcase and see another person for the "last time" (this trip home at least!). This story in particular however reminds me that we need people to bring us before God on a daily basis. This is just one of the many bizarre situations that we can/could/might/will encounter on a daily basis.

 I (heather) worry about taking my child into a home where Rats are apparently running free,  I am concerned about her no longer being able to attend daycare, play with other children her age, and I wonder how I will be able to homeschool her properly- will I be able to teach her everything she needs to know? When you pray for us in these coming months, could you remember to pray for us as we face these challenges? It may seem silly, but rats freak me right out, and I could really use some prayers regarding them... more specifically, that they would all  be gone, and not come back, as I CANNOT sleep when i hear scurrying (you can ask Rick.. ill keep him up all night looking for things). And no mother wants their child sleeping in a room with rats scurrying around.. doesn't matter where you live or who you are... that will always be a concern!

Of course, we also covet your prayers for our health, safety, our financial needs, and that we can get started on the construction of our house quickly once we get home to Mozambique. And Im definetly going to find some ways to rat proof the next one... i have no idea how yet... but surely i can outsmart them... I think I can.. I think I can!!!

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai 

P.S.  Many of you know that we have focused this furlough on raising our 'Prayer Support'  we are still short of our 500 PPD goal, but those who have been praying have been making a huge difference! This coming sunday our church (Grunthal Abundant Life Fellowship) will be hosting a fundraiser for us. We did not organise it, nor ask for it, but one of our PPD-ers felt led by God to organize a chilli dinner for hundreds, along with a small ticket auction and other things as well. If you are in the area this coming Sunday (APRIL 10th), stop by and join us for the Sunday service (10 AM)- Tendai, along with several other children will be dedicated to the Lord during the service, and the chili lunch etc will take place following that. All our welcome to join- and it will be your last chance to hear Rick speak for awhile as we leave the VERY NEXT DAY!! We hope to see you all there! And many thanks to the folks from our church who are putting this all together to help us raise funds for the construction of our home in Mozambique, as well as our other ministry needs!