Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What a week!

WOW! Thats about sums it up, but Ill try to go into a bit more detail for you! :) This past week we travelled to Zimbabwe to attend a conference on Soccer ministry put on by AWANA Clubs Int'l. For those of you who dont know, my parents are AWANA missionaries and I practically ate, drank and breathed AWANA for the first 18 years of my life. The training was being done in part by friends of ours from back home, so it was a great opportunity for some fellowship as well. We are grateful they let us non-AWANA missionaries attend so we could learn the program as well and use it hopefully here.

 Soccer drill sheet. This now makes sense to me. 

We also spent a day visiting with my team leaders from my last Teen Missions Int'l Trip in 1996, Pastor Emmanuel and Betty Zihove. This couple was a huge influence in my life back then, and were used by God in many ways, not the least of which was to encourage me to return to Africa as a full time missionary. Its been 16 years since I saw them last and I waited two years after arriving here to even know if they were still alive, and now another two to finally make it work to visit them! I cant express to you how encouraging it was to sit and fellowship with people who made such an impact on me, and my family. My mother says it is her dream to one day meet them as well. 
 Posing for one last photo after lunch.
Betty playing the tambourine during worship.
 Man, how I missed them! I do not know if they will ever truly understand the impact they  had on my life, and indirectly on the lives I hope to impact myself! Never underestimate how much power an encouraging word or caring action can have in a young person's life. These two did not do anything spectacular- they just cared when I needed it, and spoke encouragement to me. They bought me a sprite when I was sick and sent my parents a letter. Nothing earth-shattering. But it was enough.
 I was asked to share a testimony at church, and Rick was asked to preach.

We arrived home to see the progress on our house. They guys kept pretty busy while we are gone, but Rick is hoping that we can get a good amount of stuff done in the next few weeks and get this roof on!
 Both end peaks are now done! Only this last little section of the middle wall needs completion! then we can START with roof type stuff. The interior walls all still need to have their peak parts done but that wont stop the roof starting.
 Our pedrieros hard at work! It freaks me out how he stands so far out over the brace. ACK!
 I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!! (Thanks to God for providing the sunbeams for added effect!) :) Of course this is only one part of the project nearing completion, but every little bit helps!
 Looking out our bedroom window.
 Getting the cement up to the top is a bit of a process.
 You have to scoop it into the bucket.
 Then lift it as high as you can.
 Then haul it the rest of the way up! Heavy work!
 Other workers are sanding down the Eucalyptus poles to be used as beams and supports.
 The view from one of the windows in what will be Tendai's room. Shes got the best view.
 Other window.
The view from YOUR room! :) It will look much nicer eventually, I promise. This is the view from the guest bedroom where we hope to have family and maybe even some other visitors stay with us when they come to visit! :) WOOHOO!

Thank you for your prayers as we travelled last week. We had no problems with borders or police or safety at all, which was a huge blessing. Although I came down with Malaria at the end (we think), it seemed to be a mild case and Im up and over it so that is great!

Praise and Prayer Requests!

-Safety as we travelled to Zim!
-Progress on the house!
-A good time of learning and fellowship with friends in Zim.
-The airstrip project is still moving ahead!! WOOHOO!
-For a home church that has been praying for us and encouraging us in so many ways lately! THANKS!

- For health, we have all had Malaria again this past month, and now we seem to be fighting a flu bug.

-For Rick as he prepares for several Children's Ministry Seminars next month, and us as he will be away for a good chunk of time, and Tendai and I will be farm bound with no vehicle for that time.

-For our support and special projects funding needs to be met. We are heading into a busy time with ministry and house construction and need funds to be able to continue with both!

-For the team from our home church, Grunthal Abundant Life Fellowship, that is getting very close to coming out here! Only two months till they get here and we cant wait! Praying for calm nerves, that last minute preperations go well, that their hearts are prepared for what God can show them here and that they are able to be a witness of His love and care to the people they meet as they work here!

Thanks again for all the prayers and support! God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Onion.

This onion.... brought me such great joy this past week. Really. In over three years of living in Mozambique I have NEVER seen a Red Onion in shoprite. Sometimes they dont even have regular onions (for two months last year!)- which is enough to put this Onion loving lady over the edge, but i managed to survive without them. Surviving without small things that I enjoy and "crave" has become part of our "normal" over here. But back to my Red Onion- I was so excited about this onion- i photographed it- I actually bought a whole bag of them, but split them with another missionary here who was equally as excited about the arrival of a few small bags of the things! They cost us almost a DOLLAR an onion, which to me seems outrageous but i hear the cost of onions is going up back home as well. It seemed to me that i should make sure to use these onions wisely... i mean.. at a buck a peice they had better be used in some GOOD FOOD! As I contemplated how I would use my new treasure, i started thinking about onions in general... how they have layers.... how I have layers (wife, mother, missionary, friend, sister, daughter, aunty, fun loving adventure seeker, scared to try new things scaredy cat, etc).... and finally... how our ministry here has layers. Which brings me to my point! This week was one of those weeks where I saw a whole lot of layers in our ministry! (that was a really long intro to get to that point wasnt it!?)
 (pic of Tendai taken by our friend Shayle)
Our family has decided to make it a point to participate in the English church service in Chimoio (an hour away) on a more regular basis. Its good for us to get out and see other people and enjoy worship and fellowship in a group. The gentleman that usually leads it was gone this week, so Rick and I were asked to take the service. It was so nice for me to hear Rick preach (in English) again, and I enjoyed leading worship (although I was petrified since I dont usually lead worship with my guitar!). Just another layer added to our ministry here- occasionaly reaching out and ministering to those who minister (other missionaries and aid workers). (sorry no pics from then.. we were kinda busy)

This past week one of our mission staff had to bury his wife. This young man has already lost a child in recent months, and now his wife as well! He is broken, hurting and in need of encouragement. At our devotional time the day after the funeral he came, hungry for a dose of encouragement and prayer. It was so awesome to see our missionary staff, and the local staff reach our to lay hands on him, and pray for him in this difficult time. I was nearly brought to tears as I listened to one of our local guys pray passionately in Shona for healing in this mans life. Encouraging and supporting our local community in the struggles, trials... and even in the joys they have- just another layer of our ministry!

A few weeks ago I blogged about two widows who had recieved audio Bibles. This past week I was able to take Vicki and Barb to visit the home of one of the ladies. Vicki and her husband Keith are VERY involved with supporting and promoting the work of the organization who makes these solar Bibles available to us. She was really happy to get to see one of the Bibles in a home, being used!
Listening to Galatians 6:9- encouraging Mae Loliata not to give up!
 While there we also met Mae Loliatas newest grandchild (her oldest daughter is married and lives in Chimoio)- an adorable, as of yet unnamed boy, four day old bundle of cuteness! She joked they would name him "Eric" (thats how they pronounce Rick's name here)- but we shall see if they do! :)
When they are born, even most Mozambican babies look REALLY white, but give him a month or so and he will look like all the other kids! 
Barb prays a blessing for the Baby.
Visiting local homes, distributing audio Bibles, cuddling babies, eating casava root cooked in water from questionable sources- just another layer of our ministry!
 Our house is still progressing, though we are almost to the point where funds are going to be the reason we have to "pause" (or rather, the LACK of funds!) This picture is the back end of our house, that door will lead into Ricks office/ministry storage room. I was very exciting to see the end "peak wall" go up.. it looks so much more like a house now!
 A glimpse of the front part of our house thru the Garage window. The first window on the left will be the living area, the second one is the dining area.
Some of the local staff posing with some donated clothes from South Africa that the mission was able to bless our workers with last week- they also happen to be posing unintentionally with rows upon rows of bricks for our house! Each of these bricks is made by hand using a metal mold. So thankful for workers who have been able to help us save lots of money by making good quality bricks here at the farm rather than having to transport lower quality ones from town!
Building our future here, building our family here, providing jobs to local people so they can build their future and their families- just another layer of our ministry here!
The local community requested that we come with our (the mission's) tractor and try to "level" the community soccer pitch for them.  What they really want is all the clumps of thorns and pokey grass taken out as the pitch itself is actually quite nice and level already. Unfortunately the tractor is no match for mozambican thorns and pokey grass so the community will have to do some field work before the tractor can come back and make it nice and smooth. At least we TRIED! (and in the three short minutes we were there we attracted quite a crowd!) 
Helping the local community (or at least trying to!) have a place for fun and community events- just another layer of our ministry here!

And finally, a few pictures from our annual Easter meal with Francois and Alta (our South African colleagues).  I make a cake for this meal every year. An ice cream cake. It takes a lot of work to make an ice cream cake in Africa (and some planning too bc ice cream isnt allways available!) Francois LOVES ice cream cake, so he is always asking me to make one, but I tell him.. only at Easter! Its too much effort to make those things unless we are celebrating a resurrection! This year I finally "perfected" the cake, the first year the recipe I used resulted in a great tasting but rock hard base. The second year the base was great but the icing was so sweet it could knock you over. This year... we mastered it. It looked and tasted soooo yummy! I even managed to create a few piped chocolate decorations which im pretty proud of!
 The giant chocolate blob in front is the stone in front of the tomb. Its hard to see the chocolate crosses that were standing on the cake.. but they were pretty cool. Thanks to my sister for bringing me real chocolate chips that Ive been hoarding since December!
 Tendai was pretty stoked about the cake. 
 Francois and Tendai rolling away the stone.
 We used a small tupperware dish to create a "tomb" in a section of the cake. Inside was a note saying "He is not here, He is Risen!" I think this will be a new easter tradition for us. Making the tomb did not take much effort over and above the normal effort to make this cake, and it was a neat way to talk about Jesus' resurrection. 
The cake had chocolate butterflys and flowers symbolizing rebirth and new life, and a rainbow cake base - symbolizing God's promise to us! Overall I think it was a pretty meaningful cake- and it tasted REALLY yummy too.
Celebrating God's Blessings with our African friends, encouraging each other in our work here as we are all far from family and things we hold dear, making memories as a family, creating traditions for our home- just another layer of our ministry here!

Thank you for praying for us! As one of our friends recently put it- although we need financial support, packages from home, emails and a familiar voice every once in a while, PRAYER is by FAR our greatest need here on the mission field!  This week we will be travelling to Zimbabwe to attend a seminar to get training on using soccer as an evangelism tool in a large group setting. It should be very interesting and we look forward to meeting with others from all over Africa. We will get to see some old friends (not that they are old, but weve known them for a while) and also get to visit with the pastor who hosted my missions team when I was 16 years old- he and his wife are responsible for igniting a passion for Africa in me! We appreciate your prayers for our safety as we travel and try to avoid getting stopped by corrupt officials.
(another pic by Shayle)

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

this just makes me feel like "Easter!"

Blessings! We have had a great week here at the farm, despite Tendai having another round of malaria (thankfully a not so bad one, that she is bouncing back quickly from!) a bad incident with a propane tank and a green mamba snake tried to "get" Tendai at our front door as well! On monday we delivered the monthly food amounts to the orphan homes- taking with us a group of volunteers from South Africa who were interested in learning about the Amigo Orphan Program and how we "do" ministry here.
It was a blessing to be able to share with them!
I had the opportunity to hand out a stuffed dolly to one of the newer children in the program. Angelina has never had a dolly before- and was beyond thrilled to get one. The doll was donated by folks from a church in Fort McMurray, AB, to give to children in the orphan program, along with numerous coloring books, crayons, sweets and small toys and school supplies. The kids were so excited to receive the gifts, but none more so than Angelina and her granny with the gorgeous little dolly.

This picture just makes me smile. Such weathered hands holding a fluffy and soft doll... :)
  Granny Lolieta shows me her basin- a plastic basin that she has patched up (you can see its nearly split in half!) ... first with some sap and "gum" type substance, and now she is SEWING it! wow. 
This is Farai's notebook, with the food chain depicted. Was really exciting to see how much detail he put into his notes.... and that they were completely readable! (handwriting is a struggle for many kids here so its exciting to see he is doing well!)

And one final picture... Tendai helping daddy learn how to ride her bike. What a good helper!

Thanks so much to our faithful prayer supporters back home. As I mentioned, weve had a great week, but a lot of scary incidents also! When those things happen we KNOW it is the prayers of the faithful back home, lifting us up in prayer on a regular basis that make it possible for us to continue here.

Prayer Requests this week-
Safety & Health
Travel Safety
That work will continue well on our house
That our ministry funds, as well as our house funds will continue to come in

Praise Reports-
Tendai is over her malaria and was protected from the snake.
We had a fabulous Easter Weekend fellowshipping with friends and refreshing our souls!
The center wall on our house is NEARLY complete! Yay!

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai!