Monday, May 28, 2012

Children's Ministry Training Seminars-May 2012

 Rick has just returned from 10 days up north, where he visited many communities, He was able to teach Children's Ministry Seminars in two of them. and hand out seminary certificates in several others. Trips up north are always exciting. Its an adventure every time, never knowing if the road or the ferry will be usable, if fuel will be available, if the churches have gotten the message what time you are coming, or even if they have gotten the message you are coming at all! Tendai and I stayed home this trip, to supervise the work going on with our house construction, but my heart ached to be on the road with Rick. Visiting the churches up north and fellowshiping with the pastors and leaders is always such a blessing to me, even if I'm exhausted and drained by the time we return. Rick enjoyed his time, and was blessed to see so many young people eager to learn how to minister to children! Unfortunately we have no pictures of Rick doing the teaching this time around since I wasnt there to take all the hundreds of pictures I normally do! 
Children in Thoera crowd around the Muzungu with the camera! (A surefire way to attract a crowd of smiling kids it to bring out a camera and let them see the digital pics on it!)
Another sure fire way is to make some popcorn and share it with your host's family and their friends, late at night, around the fire.

 Children in Chicote, listening to a solar bible, in their own language, for the first time!
During the seminars, we provide the lunch meal for the participants, Rick will often eat with the pastors and on this day enjoyed some fried, dried fish, rice and beans. (The rice and beans look quite yummy to me, the fish not so much! I find it hard to eat anything with a visible head!- but i have tried it in the past!)
 The Chicote Children's Ministry Training Seminar participants and their Bible's and Seminar packs. Each seminar participant recieves a Bible and a handout booklet covering the seminars main points.
 In Inhangoma the children crowd around the entrance to Rick's little "compound" made of sticks and reeds. In these remote areas, visitors like us are few and far between, so the kids and local folks are very curious about our tents, trucks, etc.  It can feel a bit like you are living in a fishbowl at times!
 Inhangoma Participants practicing the Bible memory techniques by drawing  pictures to represent words in the verse. Here an upward arrow represents Mulungu= God.
 Ricks little tent in the compound.
 Seminar participants working together in a group to come up with a creative way to teach a Bible verse. These practice sessions are very important since creativity in learning is a completely foreign concept. Most schools here simply rely on the teacher repeating a concept fifty times and the children repeating it back. Being able to repeat back, but not truly understanding a concept is common. Using actions, illustrations, explaining what a word means, games, songs, drama and other activities to teach memory verses and Bible stories is one of our key teaching principles. We especially like to encourgage the leaders to use materials readily available to them for their lessons and activities, rather than rely solely on outside items like flannel graphs, photocopied coloring sheets, etc.  
 As Rick was leaving, early in the morning to make his way home, he came across seminar participant, Moses who was trying to ride his bike and listen to the solar Bible he had purchased at the same time. Even though he had recieved a printed Bible as a seminar participant, he sold one of his chickens so he could purchase a solar Bible, allowing him to hear God's Word wherever he was, and those around him and in his family who cannot read can also hear it! :)
 A small rowboat overloaded with people makes it way thru the heavy mist,  across the Chire River, while Rick waits for the ferry to come and transport him and the truck across.
The small floating barge is the ferry.
While Rick was up north, Tendai and I had to fend for ourselves when it came to giant icky spiders like this. ACK!
 The already sanded wood piled and protected by plastic.
The wood left to sand (a good portion of this is done already since this pic is a few days old!)

Work on the house is continuing as well. The guys have sanded over half of the ceiling boards already- working way faster than we had anticipated! Soon we will get them to take a break from sanding so they can start putting a coat of silkwood/varnish on the boards in preparation for putting them up!
We still need to raise just under half of our house budget. We are very close to having to stop work because of lack of funds, except that their is work to do now that does not require more materials, only the cost of labor so we are able to keep going! As soon as we have the roof on, we will be starting to plaster the walls, install window and door frames, etc- very big jobs!
Please join with us in praying that the funds we need will come in. Perhaps God is laying it on your heart to be a part of our journey & ministry here- if you would like more information on signing up as a monthly supporter, or to donate a one time gift towards our building fund, please contact us at the email up on the right hand side of the page!

 Another thing we are very grateful for this week, is God's protection of Gabriel, the missions carpenter. He had an accident with the planer and cut off the tip of his thumb. We are so thankful that it wasnt worse, and happy that he should regain complete use of his hand! Praise the Lord!

When we stopped by to visit him he was using his recuperating time very wisely, by reading the Bible and studying the seminary course books he is taking this year thru the mission's Faith Bible Seminary!

Prayer and Praise
-So grateful for a safe trip up north for Rick, as well as Safety for Tendai and Heather while here at the farm.
-Praise the Lord for a good time of fellowship and learning with the ministry leaders up north.
-Praise the Lord for God's protection of Gabriel and that his injury was not worse!
-Praise the Lord for cooler temperatures and not much rain so the local people can get their crops off of the fields. 
-Praise the Lord for the warm blankets we handed out last week to the orphan children!

-Prayer for our health, Rick is just getting over, and Tendai and I just starting with a nasty, energy draining, head & chest cold.
-Prayer for safety as we travel to South Africa on June 2nd, to pick up supplies for our needs, the house, the team coming in July, truck repairs as well as to apply for Tendai's Canadian passport.
-Prayer for the team coming from our home church Grunthal Abundant Life Fellowship, for the entire month of July. Pray for safety as they travel, and that their hearts and minds will be prepared for what they will see and experience here. Visiting Africa can be life changing- for those who receive the visitors, but even more so for those who come! (I would be evidence of that!)
- Prayer for us as we host the team, that we would have wisdom and energy for a whole month of hosting!
- Pray for our  monthly ministry needs and house fund amounts to be met. We are so appreciative of all those who support us, not only financially, but even more so, with prayer. Our work here is dependent on both! If you are interested in signing up to receive our monthly email update, or would like more information on donating to our work here, please contact us at the email on the right hand side of the blog page!
God Bless, 
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

 Last week we purchased thirty warm fuzzy blankets at the market- one for each of our Amigo orphan children! Its the cold time of year now, and warm blankets are TOP on everyones lists of requests. I love seeing how excited they are when they get these blankets. Without the many sponsors who donate each month to assist these children, we could not afford to bless them with these blankets to keep them warm. So thank you to all the sponsors- you make this possible! :)
 Aside from blankets,  I got to go with Francois to hand out some clothing donated by a team from Polokwane South Africa. It was lots of fun to bless the kids and their grannies. 
 Tito (holding the blanket) and his grannie, Mae Marosa. the other children are some extended family members and a few neighbor kids who were over playing for the day and ended up with some t-shirts!
 This little guy just stole my heart. :)
 Some more community kids who received some blessings- the little girl on the right has a stomach so swollen from malnutrition/worms it just makes my heart sad.
 In other news, the guys have started sanding all the boards for the ceiling of the house. Rick showed them how to do it, and they have been hard at work ever since!
 And last but not least, this is NOT a warm fuzzy at all- a picture of a BIG scorpion that made his way into Tendai's play area last weekend- ACK! Thankfully she saw it and told us before anything happened!
We also had a huge Black Mamba snake slither by our house this week- Magyver our little dog went NUTS- thankfully he eventually listened and came back but its a miracle the snake did not attack him. Please pray for safety for us, and the dogs, and especially for Tendai as she plays outside. Rick is gone this week, so I feel especially paranoid about it all! He returns later this week, after ten days of seminars, planning, certificate ceremonies and long days of driving. We appreciate prayers for his time of ministry up north, for safety and health as he travels and for us here at the farm while he is away.
We also appreciate your prayers for our house project fund. We praise the Lord for the amazing progress we have seen on the house. It has also been nice to spend some time with the Orphan Kids lately.
Thanks so much for joining us in prayer, support and in Praising God for the awesome things we get to be a part of here!
Rick, Heather & Tendai

Saturday, May 5, 2012

THANK YOU! (and you, and you, and yes, you too, and you....)

I want to start this week with a really big Thank You to all of you who have contributed towards our house project, thus far! This week we got to a major “milestone”- we put up the very first roof Beams! After a good discussion with the guys about which method would be the best for lifting them we eventually got one up! And we celebrated all around! It’s a pretty dangerous process lifting up 9 meter poles by hand, but they guys got it done! On Monday we hope to lift up the remaining poles and then work will start on prepping the ceiling boards to cover them.
 The first beams ready to go up.
 Rick helping to lift the first beam up.
 Success!!! YEY!

 Standing under the door frame in the middle wall- looking up I can see Beams on both sides! SO EXCITING!

Of course, we never could have gotten to the roof beam part if we didn’t have fabulous walls made from bricks- lots of bricks and concrete that many of you donated funds towards! One of our supporting churches actually challenged their AWANA kids to each sponsor bricks. Every week when they sponsored a brick, they could write their name on a paper brick and affix it to the wall of a model of our house in the room they wanted to help build. Such a sweet idea! We asked the church to send us the names and yesterday I went over with my sidewalk chalk and wrote out each individual name on a wall in our home.  I know many of the people who donated- in fact some of them are family friends who have known me since I was born, some are relatives, some are strangers, but each of them now has a place in our home. It really made me appreciate the giving of others to help our ministry here as I wrote each name on a Brick.
 Me and Tendai putting the kids names on the wall.
 All the clubbers names. (hard to read, but i promise they are all there)
 The leaders names as well.

Long story short- Thank You Hampton Baptist Church AWANA clubbers and leaders- we appreciate your thoughtfulness, giving and especially your prayers, we miss you and hope we can visit again next time we are home! Its not just Hampton Baptist that has donated towards our home though, there are many many of you, too many to name! From our home churches, supporting churches, family, friends and even folks we have never met- so many have donated sacrificially to help us build our home. We are so grateful for all of you! Please join with us in praying that the remaining funds will come in. We are very very very close to being out of funds, and will have to stop work on the house until more funds come in. Although many of the "big" items are done, as we all know, its often the "small" things that will end up costing the most! Wall plastering, paint, bathroom and kitchen fixtures and cabinets- all add up! Thank you for praying with us!

In other news,  We delivered orphan food last week- and I was privileged to hand out a few more bags of goodies from the Fort McMurray church to the last few Amigo Orphans who had not yet received. I cannot tell you how much I love being able to give little girls their very first dolls. It is something we take for granted, the ability to pretend play, to imagine, to share our secrets with a dolly who will never spill the beans! Many of these girls care for siblings or relatives from the time they are 3 or 4 years old, carrying around younger kiddos on their backs as they fetch water and firewood.  But that early “life experience” does not stop their joy in receiving their first dolly- the smiles when they get that first dolly just give me goosebumps! Here is the smile Celina gave me as she showed off her brand new dolly!
 Celina so excited to have a dolly of her own!
 While handing out the orphan food, the chickens are allways something we have to keep an eye on! They constantly try to get the maize!
 Until Granny M comes with her stick!!
 Joao was feeling rather poorly this week, missing school since he had Malaria.

The Amigo Orphans also met for their twice monthly meeting this past Friday.  All the kids within walking distance come, and it was a lot of fun this week (as usual) watching them play. I tried my hand at some jumprope (which sadly, I can no longer do with any sort of grace- I used to LOVE doing Jump Rope For Heart at school, but im realizing that was many years ago apparently) and also enjoyed playing some Frisbee.  I absolutely love watching the kids interact with each other and Pastor Mariano, laughing and just enjoying being kids! Mariano told the story of Noah and listened to their concerns and requests- mostly for more pens and notebooks for school! (at least they are taking school seriously!)
 Cerio and Tito play football with Magnum, and Tendai.
 Mariamo makes a valiant attempt to catch the frisbee.
 Joao spent some time trying to read the children's Bible. (he was feeling much better!)
Love Cerio's Smile!
 One of the local ladies stopped by to purchase some of our lemons to resell in the community.
 I love lemon season here!
 couldnt resist this pic of the smaller Amigo Orphan boys sporting the shoes they received a few months ago.
 Tendai was LOVING the games too!
She aparently also enjoys drawing with chalk in the new house!
Rick went rat hunting after a particularly brave rat decided to parade across the floor in front of us as we watched TV one day. Lets just say the rat was no match for hunter rick and his pellet gun. :) (ill spare you the pics of the rat)
Prayer & Praise
- We are all healthy at the moment! YEY! Pray we stay healthy!
-Safety as we travel- Rick is preparing for a really big trip up north to do Children's Ministry Training Seminars in two different communities as well as a lot of prep work for the team coming in July.
- For our ministry funds and house project funds to come in. This month our DIRE's (residence visa's) have to be renewed, which means we pay 1500.00 dollars just to stay in the country!
-For the health of the local community- so many people are suffering from Malaria and flu.
- For safety as Rick and the guys work WAY up high on our house walls to get the beams in place!
-Praise for some good chances to fellowship with and visit with Orphan families lately.

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai