Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa Doesn't Come Here.

Every year around this time newspapers inevitably publish articles dealing with the science of Santa’s travels. I read one online recently that said Santa would have to visit 1,178 homes EVERY SECOND- and that would only get him to the 132 million homes where children would expect him, a mere 15 percent of the world’s households! The article failed to take into account however, that for many children, Santa simply doesn’t come.

There are no brightly wrapped presents under a sparkling tree. There aren’t many presents, if any at all.  No Christmas dinner with food to fill everyone for days to come.  Christmas day passes with very little fanfare at all. In our village water still needs to be pumped at the community well.  Firewood gathered.  Maize pounded. Of course there will be a simple festa (party), family will come, visitors will be welcomed warmly, and the Birth of our Saviour will be celebrated and remembered, but the meal will still be simple, nothing like the ones most of us will enjoy on Christmas day.
You see, Santa doesn’t visit our village. Im pretty sure He doesn’t visit most of the villages around us. Yes, he did visit our playgroup party a few weeks ago in the city with all of us foreigners in attendance, arriving in a helicopter, with gifts for the children. But he doesn’t come to the village. Santa doesn’t come here.

But you know what?
That’s ok. Most of the kids here have no clue who he is anyway, and to be honest, many of them don’t even know that you are “supposed” to get lots of brightly wrapped gifts for Christmas. To those who attend church in our area, Christmas is  about celebrating the birth of Christ.  (imagine that!!??!!) To other’s, especially here in Mozambique where Christmas isn’t even an official holiday (we have “Family Day” instead), its simply a holiday to spend with family and friends. For the families whose parents have work, there might be a slightly bigger “do”- small presents will be exchanged, like a balloon, or a small plastic car.
For the kids in our Orphan Program we have a Christmas party- we have a special meal at a local restaurant – chicken, rice, French fries, salad and a coke! We will have music, games, and yes,- Gifts.
Earlier this year Rick and I, some colleagues and local pastors had the privilege of handing out 130 Orphan Care Packs, purchased thru our Unique Christmas Gift Campaign last Christmas. For those children, those Gifts were most likely the only gift they have ever received. Santa most definetly does NOT visit those areas. Two years ago the village that received those packs full of love had never even seen a white woman before… a large, bearded white man in a red velvet suit would have caused a riot!
 One of the Pastors Associations grows lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage and onion for the children in their orphan program.
 They water using this foot pump donated thru the Unique Christmas Gift Program.
A young pastor studying using his very own Bible.
Rick and Pastor Paulo's son with the Cattle and Oxcart they have recieved thru the Unique Christmas Gift Program. 
 Rick with one of the orphans.
Waiting to open their care packs. 
Pastor Toca was thrilled to help with the delivery!

When it comes to handing out the gifts purchased thru the Unique Christmas Gift Campaign, we always share a bit ,whether we hand out Ox-carts and cattle, water pumps,  Study Bibles, Milk for an underweight infant, or simply the small toys and clothes the Amigo orphans will receive this coming week. We will spend time explaining the real Christmas story, the most beautiful gift ever given in the history of the world, and how people way across the world in Canada and the U.S. have been sponsoring each of them, because they love them, and have accepted the free Gift offered in Bethlehem and Jerusalem so long ago.  
(God loved the World)
And because of that love, and that Gift, we have a gift for them.

So for the kids in our Amigo Orphan Program, (and the others we will deliver gifts to during the coming year) Santa will not be coming this year. Probably not next year either. He is busy enough in other parts of the planet, bringing giggles and smiles and toys all over. Its ok if he doesn’t come.

And He is more than enough.

If you would like to be a part of sharing The most AMAZING GIFT, the Gift of Christ’s Love with an orphan, a Pastor who is studying faithfully, a struggling infant or any of the other people who are helped by and ministered to thru the Unique Christmas Gift program please click here, to visit our website, see our Unique Christmas Gift Campaign brochure for this year and see where you feel called to help. Or maybe you would like to help on a more permanent basis, by sponsoring an orphan or helping to provide for our ministry needs on a monthly basis please get in touch!

Enjoy this Christmas with family and friends, enjoy the decorations, the presents, the laughter, the snow (if you get snow where you are!), and if Santa comes to your house ( he might make a pitstop at ours)- enjoy the smiles he brings, but I truly hope that the birth of the tiny baby Jesus will be remembered and celebrated in your home this festive season!

God Bless and Merry Christmas!
Love, Rick, Heather, Tendai and Ryan.

Friday, November 22, 2013

CHAOS 2013... errr.... oops. I mean.. VBS 2013!

(this is what a week of VBS with 130 kids can do to even the most sane missionary!!! j/k... i was reacting the little fried fish in my hand)
Every year when school is done at our bush school, we host a week of VBS for all the school kids. Its a week of fun, games, food, treats, singing, dancing, and learning. We pick a theme for each year, and encourage the kids to memorize a Bible verse to go along with the theme. This year our theme was "Health" and we all memorized
 Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all of your HEART, with all of your SOUL and with all of your MIND.
We talked about keeping our bodies healthy by eating and excersizing, keeping our mouths healthy by brushing properly- even if we have to use a "bush brush" made out of a stick- , keeping our minds healthy by studying well, keeping our insides healthy by washing ourselves and our food properly, and keeping safe while crossing the roads and around cars. We also spent a bit of time with the older students talking about relationships, and their rights, how STD's are transferred, and what God's plan for sex is.
 All in all it was a GREAT week - even though we ended up doing half the week with less than HALF of the amount of staff we normally have due to a scheduling conflict! OOPS! God brought us some of the older students and two of the orphan boys volunteered all week to help out wherever needed! God also sent some cooler weather so we were not melting- it was hot, but not HOT HOT!!

What follows are a whole whack of photos from the week- they do a much better job than I ever could!
This little guy was the winner of the first round of dodgeball for the week!

washing hands before lunch

every time I see kids (SMALL kids) playing with these bike wheels it reminds me of the episode of the Amazing Race where all the teams had to try and complete a run across the soccer field and back doing the same thing. To this day it cracks me up absolutely hilarious it was to watch grown men and women get sooooo frustrated doing something that is literally child's play for these kids!

Of course, water balloon games were a favorite this year, as they have been in previous years!

Rebecca remembered the memory verse from last year... and the year before that!!!

Enjoying lunch with friends

Lining up for lunch in an orderly manner. Im big on this. I expect the kids to line up nicely and patiently, otherwise it turns into a wrestling match and the little ones get squished at the front!

Pastor Mariano helps to serve up lunch.

Simon doing some warm up stretches with the kids. 

Simon (one of the mission's health workers, and our translator for the week) did most of the health related teaching, while Rick focused on the Bible teaching. Here Simon is teaching the kids about brushing their teeth- using a brush made from the branch of a particular tree and whittled to resemble a fluffy brush. (hey.. when you live in the bush you do what you can!)

Rick checking on smiles!

The older girls won the Water balloon catching competition... which meant they got to throw all their baloons at the boys! She looks way to happy about this!

bad day to be a boy apparently!

the younger kids making necklaces with beads and laminated pictures reminding them of the lessons for the week

This is why a lesson on handwashing was soooooo needed... can you see how dirty the string is where the little girl had been holding it to thread on her beads?

wet sponge fight- another favourite, one of the reasons we tell the kids NOT to wear their best clothes!

A local businessman in Chimoio donated a WHOLE bunch of oranges to our feeding program. These were the best oranges I have ever tasted. SOOO good. We cut them up and then for two days each child got vitamin packed oranges with their lunch meal! Its such a blessing to them when we have the little extras donated- oranges, sweets, cookies, all of these things make lunch just that much more nutritious and yummy!

We were able to purchase enough toothbrushes for everyone to take home one!

The "caril" or sauce that went on top of the sadza one day- cabbage and onions.

One of our colleagues had been experimenting with a fish farming project and the school kids got to taste the product of the experiment- yummy fish!

I think they liked it don't you?

rick with his "redneck blutooth"

These oranges were SERIOUSLY good.

Everyone enjoyed them!

I thought about eating a fish.... but changed my mind. I try not to eat things that can look at me. (still)

Just one of the school kids enjoying a healthy lunch! MMMM!

This is one of our preschool kids- thanks to generous supporters each of our preschool kids is able to enjoy a cup of milk each morning- vital for growing bones and minds!
 One day the kids got to play with play dough. 
 You cant really see in this picture, but he made a cellphone... complete with a touch screen and buttons.
 Two women sitting around their maize pounding containers... and an elephant. (a very very very small elephant)
 My elephant.
 We also played with hula hoops!

 Lets just say that hula hooping required a level of coordination these kids did not have.... yet!
 Wet sponge games are lots of fun on hot sunny days!
 Lots of smiles
 Passing the sponges over the head.
 Such a great smile!
 the older girls playing "basketball"
 CHUMBA! (favorite running game this year... "LION" - or tag.. sorta)
Even hot potato with a balloon is lots of fun!
 Of course we also had times of teaching- here two of the teachers are demonstrating how cars drive on the street, and encouraging one of the children to cross the street, safely.
 Drawing a road safety picture.
 Rick and Simon teaching- Simon is a great translator- he copies exactly what you do!

Simon teaching about clean water and hygiene.

All in all- VBS was a great success... we had lots of fun, and I am pretty sure the kids did too!
 God Bless- Rick, Heather, Tendai & Ryan.