Saturday, October 22, 2011

Encouragement comes in the form of Tic Tacs and other things...

This week we were soooo blessed to recieve a lovely bunch of care packages from Home because Dwight and Lynn just returned from South Africa. Along with some story books for Tendai, and some lovely outfits, we recieved candies we cant get here, some spices we love, lip balms,  cards, stickers for T, lotions and..... LOVE.  Those little packages brighten my day so much. The BIG container of Tic Tacs we got caused great excitement for Tendai. Recently the little tic tac containers arrived at our shoprite so we purchased a few to be her "potty candies" (we are potty training... still).  The look on her face when she discovered what to her must have looked like a GIANT container of her favorites, was priceless. She grabbed them out of the box and yelled..." look mommy!! BIG potty candies!!!." Too funny.

Of course, the biggest encouragement for me came in the form of the cards my mom sends me each week. It never fails to amaze me how she can send me a package or card months in advance, and when I finally get it here it is EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that moment. For instance. My mom sent Tendai a lovely sticker book in a big bubble envelope. I figure she wanted to wrap it up in some cloth to protect it in the package so she chose four pillowcases and wrapped it up. THIS very week I realised we did not have enough pillowcases for us to wash a whole set and have some on the bed as well.  Just love how God meets even our small needs, that are just insignificant to everyone, but He chooses to meet them anyway.

Other encouragement came from the the cards my mother sends,  there is allways at least one of them that blesses me so much. Here are two in particular :

"Just Think
You're here not by chance.
but by God's choosing.
His hand formed you and
made you the person you are.

He compares you to no one else-
you are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that
His grace can't give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfull His special purpose
for this generation."
(Roy Lessin)

And this one, whose truth has been so apparent to me lately as we have seen the power of prayer in so many ways.

"No ocean can hold it back
No river can overtake it.
No whirlwind can go faster.
No army can defeat it.
No law can stop it.
No distance can slow it. 
No disease can cripple it.
No force on earth is more powerful, 
OR effective than

Thanks again for all the prayers and support (and letters and emails and packages!) We will definetly need lots of prayer in the coming weeks as we gear up to run our DVBS at the school for 160 kids! (oct 31-Nov4).
God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Monday, October 17, 2011

is it mid october already?

These past few weeks we have had quite a bit of rain, even though its not rainy season yet.. at all! We have been thankful for the roof over our heads as the rain has come down pretty hard at times! Although we are enjoying the early rains, we do hope they slow a bit so we can get some much needed sand from the "dry" riverbed before the path becomes to soft for the big truck to enter. All the construction projects on the farm need the sand so its very important that we get as much as we can before the rains "really" come!

We are also excited to have the trusses finally going up on the rest of our garage. Once they are all up then we can finish the roof sheets and our garage will be completely ready for rainy season! Woohoo!

Its also exciting that we now have almost all the supplies we need to pour the floor on our house! This includes A LOT of cement (this is about half of what we will need) and also rebar to support the floor as well. The guys are SOOO close to finishing the filling of the foundation- and then they will need to prep the floor to be poured (that means a lot of rebar and leveling etc) And then we will be pouring! I cant wait for the floor to be on. For me it feels like everything up to this point has been preparation for building the house, and now we are so close to actually BUILDING the house! 

We appreciate your prayers for the funding we need and the supplies we need to be available.  As Dwight and Lynn put it when they moved into their permanent home here on the base (from the tiny cottage they were in, similar to ours) "(their) "survivability" level went WAY up." In other words, when you have a place that feels like home to you, your chances of sticking it out here in the bush go way up! We love our work here, we love the people we work with, and cant wait to have a place for our family- because we plan on staying for a really long time!

this is from last week, there is already another whole brick covered in the verandah!

Rick has been working hard to keep the guys at the training centre on track as they race to finish the work needed before the rainy season arrives. We want to use the center for the upcoming Seminars for our Pastors in November. There is so much work to be done, but it looks like we will at least be able to use the training centre even if its not totally complete. It has been many years in the making so this is pretty exciting to see the roof go on and know that it will be at least useable soon!

Heather and Tendai have been busy working on some preschool activities during the day and my usual work as well. I was so excited last week when we got the marks for most of our orphan kids from the school. Overall they are doing really well, but one family stood out as having EXCEPTIONAL marks. 
One of the kids in the Amigo Orphan Program receives school supplies and texts!

In mozambique students are marked out of twenty. Ten is a pass (so 50%).  Most kids hover right around that mark, just barely passing is completely normal and meets the status quo so no one really pushes them much harder. We have spent a good amount of time lately encouraging our kids towards excellence, not just "good enough to pass" and have even started tutoring some of the older kids. Our hope is to have tutoring for all the kids soon,  we just need to find the right person to do it! All that to say, in a sea of good marks (10-13's) three of our kids had consistent 15's and above and even a few 19's!!! I was quite impressed. There are a few kids who are having some issues, but having their marks and attendance records will really help us to come up with a plan of action to help them! 

I was beginning to feel like perhaps it was the educational system that was flawed, that the kids here were not being taught well enough to receive high marks, since it seemed that EVERYONE was getting what I would consider low marks. Now that I have seen that its POSSIBLE for them to Excel, I am so much more motivated to see all of our kids do well! Please pray that we can find someone who can help us tutoring the children in our program part time. 

Our little zoo is doing well.. both duikers seem to be doing well and both of them LOVE when Rick comes with their bottles... they run straight for him! Its the most adorable thing, and they are so cute, but since we are hoping to release them into the wild eventually, we limit our "cuddling" with them to feeding times so they don't get too used to us.

Pretty much since we got home in April, Rick, and Domingo (our shepherd) have been trying numerous methods of capture to try and catch the Crocodile that has been eating our sheep and lambs. Its literally been months of baiting the thing- I am sure we have fed that thing at least twenty chickens, numerous other hunks of meat, at least a dozen fishhooks and all sorts of other things. Today Domingo came to wake us up early and tell us that the Croc had been CAUGHT! (and using his simple drag a net across the river and leave it method.. no bait, no hooks, no wire... Way to Go Domingo!)  

Rick had to go help him get the thing out of the river and brought it back to our house so the guys could skin it. (If you catch a crocodile you might as well keep the skin!) Unfortunately since it had died in the water during the night we couldn't eat the meat, its never a good idea to eat wild meat you didnt actually kill. Too bad since it was a lot of very good looking meat!

He wasnt a huge croc by Zambezi river standards, but for our little Mucombedze river, which isnt even really supposed to HAVE crocodiles hes a fairly good size! We all touched his skin, which felt like rubber and then two of the guys skinned him, and spread his skin to dry. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

As always we covet your prayers and we love to hear from you! Its always encouraging for us to get emails from home, comments on the blog or even cards in the mail. Specific prayers for right now include prayers for our health as Rick has Malaria and both Tendai and I have had a stomach bug for a few days now. And we just had ANOTHER snake on our yard as I was writing this update! Lovemore came running with Tendai who was "helping him" and brought her inside before going back out to whack it and kill it with a long piece of rebar.  Prayers for safety from the creepy crawleys like Snakes, scorpions, stinging centipedes etc are always appreciated.

To close off Ill post a few pics of the gorgeous Mozambican scenery. Lately weve been taking one afternoon each weekend to drive with no exact destination in mind, but to just enjoy the drive and scenery along the way! Weve visited mountains, forests and even spent some time visiting a few of the churches pastored by men in our Training program.
 children dancing at an outside church gathering in Catandica
 Pastor Paulo's daughter joins the "choir" to sing and dance.
 large areas of clear cut forests of mature trees...  most likely for charcoal production.. so sad.
 see the sign up there beside the huge area of trees cut off??? it says.. "conserve the plants", other signs nearby said "conserve the forest", and similar slogans!
 The view over Catandica from the top of the Serra Choa mountians. SO pretty. The drive up was breathtaking thru hairpin turns on the steep side of a mountain covered in gorgeous Mozambican forest!
 on the other side of the mountian the landscape changed drastically, it was like stepping into scotland or ireland or something. No more forest, just hill after hill of rocky pastures with short grass. The sky was amazing. We will definetly be going back there again.. it was spectacular!
 going further into the mountains we arrived at yet more hairpin turns winding up the hillside.
amazing fall colors... except here these are SPRING colors!  The red leaves are actually the new growth, they turn green as they mature!

Thanks again for your prayers and support, we appreciate them all! Please feel free to drop us a line any time!
God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's Up??

Hey All,
Sorry its been awhile since my last post- seems I let time get away from me! Weve been busy with all our usual things lately, office work, orphan food delivery, house construction, snake killing, duiker rearing,.... oh wait. Guess I should go into a bit more detail on those eh? :)

Weve been so busy with everything the last few weeks I didnt even remember it was Thanksgiving this weekend until a Canadian missionary friend from Madagascar announced she was inviting EVERY Canadian on the Embassy's email list for their area to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. WOW. First of all... I wish I could go (but its a bit of a hike no matter how close Madagascar looks to us on the map) and secondly.. I wish I had the courage to organize that kind of get-together! 

Here at our farm, Dwight and Lynn left today to take Ruth and Royden who had been visiting for two weeks down to South Africa, so Rick and I will be the lone Canadians this weekend...  well, along with two mozambicasn (living at the farm.. there are lots more up the road! ) two south africans, one american and a Brazilian. ... Maybe we can organize a get together of some sort on the weekend to mark the occasion!
On Monday this week we did Orphan Food Delivery. It was good to see the kids again, and spend some time visiting with the grannies and caregivers. At Mae Liria's house these two little neighbor kids wandered over to say hi. Can I just say that they were two sweeties? They spent a while hamming it up for my camera, and investigating the finer points of the truck.

Im not sure exactly WHAT they were discussing, but it was a very intense conversation!
And of course, they had to look at themselves in the truck's mirror- like paint!

Mae Liria cares for three children that are enrolled in the Amigo Orphan Program, but she also has another grandchild that she cares for while the father works at a farm near here. Normally the little one is scared to bits of me.. but this week I got a few adorable shots as she rested on her grannies back.

I also got a cute pic of a neighbor boy using the broken down remains of a wheelbarrow to carry a water jug. It struck me as funny that he would go thru so much effort to use the wheelbarrow (it was pretty awkward to use) rather than just carry it on his head like everyone else. And then it struck me. Three years ago I never would have thought.. hmmm carrying things on your head is soooo much easier! I think Ive been here a while!!! LOL

Our house has been progressing as well- 
 Tendai is standing in what will be the guest room, looking out over the main room, master bedroom and her own bedroom. Its exciting to see the foundations filling up! Only the room where Rick is standing and the verandah are left to be filled!
 the verandah half filled!
 Rick uses the Backhoe to dig a septic tank pit for our house.
Stacks of bricks all made by our workers- they are doing such a great job at making these and I cant wait till its time to use them for the actual walls!!
Weve had unexpected rain recently, along with a few other delays so now it looks like our floor wont be poured until Late Oct/ Early Nov at least. We are praying that we will have enough funds to continue building. It is awesome so see how fast the foundation has gotten filled- even though it feels slow at times, its still been several months faster than the other houses that have been built recently!

We have also had our share of wildlife issues recently, including a snake taking refuge under the groundsheet of our blow-up splash pool. Lovemore and I took turns whacking it (he with a length of rebar, me with my pellet gun). Im pretty happy to say that I managed to take two shots and hit it both times, killing it.
No one is entirely certain what kind it is, but seeing as it was making its home by our kiddie pool It had to go! So proud of myself since three years ago even the thought of snakes made me all nauseous! (They still freak me out.. but at least I can deal with it now)

 We also took in two baby Duiker's this week. Duikers are a type of very small gazelle, they dont get much higher than your knee full grown. Right now our big one is just higher than Tendai's knee! They are both orphaned ( duikers are hunted for food here, even though there are very few of them left) We have one male (Named Colin) and a tiny female that we are hoping will make it. She doesnt have a name yet.
 Colin hiding out in the bush! ie.. the fence enclosure.
 ahhhhhh!!! being chased by a small human!
sooo cute. 

Thanks everyone for your prayers and support. We have had a really great week and are looking forward for the next little while as things on our house continue on! This update has been a bit all over the place, kinda like we have been lately, but I hope you have enjoyed it!
Blessings, Rick, Heather & Tendai