Saturday, July 6, 2013

Moving Day has come and gone!!!

Well. That was rather anticlimatic dont you think? After years of working on this house, we finally moved in last monday, June 24th.  As we had been slowly moving stuff over for weeks, I didnt even think to take a picture of the event, but we are mostly moved in now, and LOVING it! We still need to get the last of our belongings from the old cottage, and do a lot of cleanup and work over there, but we officially IN the new house now!
We absolutely LOVE being here- it has been such a blessing for Tendai to have a room,  and if all goes well, we may even be adopting another child soon to put in our second bedroom! (Dont worry, we still have a guest room for visitors! LOL)
Here's a few pics (i think i may have posted some of these before, but here they are anyways!)

 Main room from the entryway.
 Dining area
 Kitchen area (Island still needs the backing on it, the kickplate still has to go on all the cupboards and the countertop needs to be epoxied and secured)
 Main room from the hallway. Will definetly be needing curtains sooner than later.... i feel like i live in a fishbowl!
 Me.. I feel like im teaching a cooking class every time i cook!
 Our bedroom. weve got a double bed duvet cover trying to act as a throw cover on our two singles, and its sister up there on the window trying to be our curtains... ill get curtains eventually im sure.
 Tendais room- thats her bed from our old house, cut down to size and ready for use as a "big girl bed". :) Beside it is the refrigerator box which makes a great hideaway!
 Organized toys and clothes... love it.
 our bathroom. The sink was made for us by a potter in white river south africa, her work is beautiful and is remarkably well priced (even cheap!) compared to buying a regular sink!
main bathroom.. its useable, but everything is kinda "half installed" :)

Although we are moved in now, there is still work that needs to be done. The porch and verandah do not have floors, the yard needs to be put back together and landscaped after all the trenches and pits that have been dug. The guest room and bath need to be painted, and have the plumbing etc installed,  the main bath is still a work in progress, touchup paint after the replastering in all the bathrooms need to be finished, etc etc. And of course, we still have to pay back the mission's general fund for the loan we took to order the materials and items from South Africa. If you would be willing to help in this area, please let us know. You can give online thru our website or by mailing directly to our head office in Edmonton. Instructions for online giving, and the address of the office can be found here.  If mailing please make sure to mark donations for "Mozambique Childrens Ministry" (which is our ministry needs fund designation) so they can be sure to get to the right place!

Thank you so much to the many many many many people who have prayed for us, contributed towards our needs and worked alongside us as we have built this home literally from the ground up over the last two and a half years. We are so grateful for your love and support. We have decided to name our home "Shekinah House"- Shekinah has several meanings, but most centre around indicating the Old Testament "dwelling of the presence of God". We want our home to be a place where we, and many others can find rest and find peace, in God's Presence. It is our dwelling, our home. The word is also a nod to Rick's parent's business, which incorporates the word Shekinah in the name. They, and so many others from our home church, have stood behind us and supported us - both financially and by praying for us as we have worked on this home and we hope many of them will get to be guests in it before too long! (And not just them, but my family, our supporters from across Canada and the Globe as well!)

Please continue to keep us in your prayers, aside from the financial needs mentioned above, we have all come down with tonsilitis in the past week and have been pretty achey and miserable. Tendai had the triple whammy of malaria, tonsillitis and a nasty nasty cold all at the same time! We appreciate your prayers for our health. We also appreciate your prayers for our safety and the peace of this country, as we head towards an election later this year, and their have been various clashes as the opposition party flexes its muscles. Please pray for peace and common sense to prevail.

God Bless,
Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Journey up north .... seminars, water pumps, and a whole lot of fun!

 Smiles in Chireza
 Rick handing out Certificates to a  Faith Bible Seminary student.
 Even the very little ones carry the littler ones!
 Listening to Rick as he teaches.

We spent the middle part of June enjoying a family ministry trip to several villages north of the Zambezi. While Rick led seminars with the pastors and children's ministry workers, Tendai and I built relationships with the rest of the folks. Tendai had a blast playing with anyone who was willing, and I enjoyed hanging out with the children or women or whoever happened to be around. I helped a teeny tiny bit with the seminars, but really enjoyed getting to know some of the pastors wives, and Simukai students. (Simukai is the mission's Literacy Program fro Women). 

Our trip up was good, although uncharacteristically wet for this time of year meaning the road was muddy, muddy, muddy! We were even able to meet up with some friends in Tete for a quick bite to eat before continuing on our way.

We arrived at our first destination literally 30 seconds before a big truck full of logging company workers arrived- Praise the Lord for that, otherwise I dont think we would have had a room... at least not a "nice" one with a toilet- (it didnt really flush you had to get water from the shower (cold) to flush it, but its better than having to walk across the courtyard to the communal one, thats for sure!!!)

We got up bright and early and headed out , got to see a lovely sunrise thru the mist over the banana plants, and were on our way to Chireza. Two years ago I was the first white woman to have EVER visited that village. (at least in any living persons memory). This time around I was the .... SECOND white woman to visit that village! :) To be honest, I didnt think there were many places left on the planet where that was even possible- certainly not any here, only a few hundred kilometres from big cities! As we got closer to Chireza we were met by Pastor Januario, who helped us navigate over the "rock bridge" and over the "road" to the community. As we approached the rock bridge, I heard him whisper in the back of the truck, "Jesus Ajudanos" (which means, "Jesus help us"). Not exactly encouraging..... :) We made it over safely however and as we approached the village, still probably about 2 or 3 kilometres out, Tendai noticed that the children started to wave and run after the truck, shouting, Mama! Mama!.  This confused her, and she said, "mommy, why are they calling you mama? you are MY mama!" I responded that they werent calling me "mama", they were saying something in the local language that we didnt understand. Pastor Januario quickly corrected me however saying, "No , Senhora Missionaria (what most of the Pastors call me- its means Mrs. Missionary), they are calling you Mama, you are the only foreigner woman to have visited us, and the whole community sees you as their Mama! We are so grateful you come to visit us!"
Pastor Januario and the boys soccer team. I seriously think they are allowed to wear these shirts once a year, when we show up. They have been around for so long! 

Talk about incredibly humbling. I was followed by dozens of children EVERYWHERE I went. The women wanted to see my hair and feel my skin. And when I joined in the dancing during the service the ululating went "thru the roof!" (Ululating is when they do that noise with their mouth/tongue... hard to describe but the closest thing i can think of is a very rapid yodelling. :) ).

As we were about to leave, the Pastor's wife presented me with an offering of a guinea hen. If you know me, you know i hate chickens. (i can deal with chicks, but once they have real feathers... ick). But I accepted and posed for the photo anyway, and enjoyed her for lunch the next day! 

Times like this are a good reminder for me- this village does not have a well.. not for drinking water or for washing or anything. They dont have electricity. They dont have a school with walls. There is ONE latrine in the whole community, built by our monitor pastor there since we encourage all of them to build one. But despite all of these challenges, it wasnt just the water pump we brought that they thanked us for. They thanked us continually for simply coming. For being there. For being willing to drive nearly 7 hours that day alone (not including the seven hours the day before to get up there) to make a three hour visit to their community. For braving the lack of water, sanitation, roads and power to visit their little community in the middle of "nowhere". It is an example of what we call the "Ministry of Presence". There has been a lot of debate lately over the effectivness of missions, and in particular, short term trips, but it would take an awful lot to convince me to write the whole concept off. 

Obviously, I feel God has called us to missions here otherwise I wouldn't be here, but that calling came as the result of several short term trips as a teenager and young adult. Of course, there are organizations that tack "volunteering" on to the end of a holiday and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside for having "helped", and I'm not talking about those trips. There will allways be short term trips that are badly run and are destructive. I'm talking about the ones I have been a part of, either as participant or host- we work hard to make sure the teams are prepared for what they will experience. We work hard to make sure they are respectful and polite, in both our own culture and the new one they find themselves suddenly in. We don't drive down the road snapping photos willy nilly of every cute little kid we see. I could talk on this subject all day, but my point for this particular post is, we can minister just by being here! The community of Chireza was equally as excited by the brand new water pump they were going to receive, as they were by the fact that we had come. They realize its not comfortable there for us. They know we had to travel a long long way on very very bad roads to come. They know we do not normally eat food like they offer us, but are impressed by the fact that we graciously try everything at least once. Our wilingness to leave the relative "comfort" of our home, whether it be in Mozambique or Canada, is a demonstration of God's Love to them. Money alone simply cannot do the same thing.

In Chireza we gave a water pump to the association of Pastors and Simukai students. They will use the pump to irrigate the maize field or vegetable garden they have, to provide food not only for their own families, but also for the orphan children and widows in the area. I still find it hard to fathom that many of the kids in this community had never seen water flowing out of a hosepipe before! There was a lot of shrieking and laughing when the foot pump started to work!
 putting the pump together
lots of happy folks! (they are standing in front of the "lake" that forms during the wetter time of year, in a few months it will be dry dry dry here, but if they dig a few metres down, the water table is easily accessible and irrigation possible for those with a pump!)

We were incredibly blessed by our time in Chireza, and I look forward to returning again some day! Ill be back with another blog post in a few days that highlights the rest of our up north trip!
God Bless - Rick, Heather & Tendai!
sunset on the way to our next destination

p.s. You may have noticed that Ive included several short videos in this blog post. Lately we have been uploading very simple unedited videos that depict life and our work here, onto our YouTube channel. We have about twenty up so far, and would LOVE it if you would take a moment and go check them out. Our channel/ user name is MrsMozzie123. We update weekly and you can subscribe to our channel to get notifications of when we do. Some of them are just fun, others serious or some explain typical life, or some of the work we do. We hope you will enjoy them! If you do can you let us know? We want to know if people are actually watching and enjoying them! Heres one more just to make you smile... trust me... you will smile. :)

p.p.s. as a side note. Chireza may not have a working well, a school, many latrines, electricity or even musungu visitors very often... but they had 3G internet, from a cell tower across the Zambezi river in the town of Tambara... a few short kilometres away but it might as well be a world away!

And now for the usual smorgasborg of update photos

(Please Note... this was supposed to auto post a few weeks ago and I just noticed it didn't... oops. So here it is, even though its late! Im working on an updated one now that will have pics of us in the new house etc! :)  )

After the last post, which was heavy on my heart, I knew I needed to post something that showed the progress we have had lately! Weve been up to all the "usual" stuff... orphan program meetings, trips to town for supplies, delivering orphan food, time together as a family, working on the house, etc.

Last week Friday was the day before Mozambique's Children's Day, and so our orphan program for the day included lots of juice, popcorn and prizes for everyone who had memorized their Bible Verses. Most of the children have memorized at least 4 verses now (with the exception of a very few who live far away or only just joined the program recently), but I was really suprised when Paulo stood up and recited, word for word, with references, all but two of the TEN verses I had given them to memorize. This is surprising because due to his school schedule Paulo cant attend as many orphan program meetings as the other kids, so he had been diligently working on these at home on his own! He  had been taking time to teach his two younger brothers as well, including little Felicio who isnt even school yet! Needless to say I was pretty excited!
 Paulo reciting his verses.
Phillipians 4:13, just one of the verses the children are memorizing this year.
We took three days last week to go on a short holiday to celebrate Rick's Birthday at our friend's lodge, north of here. It was a wonderful time of refreshing for all of us, and was quite needed! We are so thankful for our friends who run the place, and our family back home who sent us "birthday money" so we could go!
One of the lodge staff, Holly, shows Tendai and her friends a baboon spider.

 Rick and I enjoyed a dinner under the stars, courtesy of our hosts!

 On our way home we drove by this: One of the Oxcarts purchased thru the Unique Christmas Gifts donations parked alongside the main highway, ready for action. This one belongs to Pastor Paulo, who recieved it just last month- Rick is pictured here, with two of Pastor Paulos sons.
 The fridge finally arrived and has been installed at the new house!
 Which means we are getting closer to moving in--- which makes Gladys very happy! (there will be a functioning washing machine at the new house!!!)
 The arrival of all these appliances has meant lots of play houses for Tendai!
 And apparently for Uncle Francois as well!
 Never too old or too big to enjoy a cardboard house!
 Working on our countertops.
 So lovely.
 Ill be really glad to move into our new house too (obviously), for many reasons, one of which is, we will hopefully be using a Gas Geyser to heat our water instead of a "donkey" system with a fire. Which should prevent the situation in the above picture from happening again. Our worker had made a fire ... apparently an abnormally big one, which caused the entire tank to boil and turn to steam. After having chunks of rust come flying out of the pipes I ran to get our neighbor Tony (Rick was up north so Tony graciously became my fix it guy for a week), and we proceeded to watch in somewhat awe as steam poured out for over 30 minutes. Seriously. The whole house got a steam cleaning. It might be dirty, but its sanitized dirt. :)
On monday this week we delivered orphan food. I took along the ipad and showed the kids videos we took of them on Friday. They quite enjoyed that!

Also saw some amazing sunsets and moonrises this past week. We are blessed to Live in such a wonderfully beautiful place.

Thanks again for keeping us in your prayers and also for your financial support. We know that we could not continue here, without the prayers and support of so many people at home. These past few weeks I have seen time and again, how many of you back home pray for us- it has been wonderful to recieve emails and letters, facebook notes etc, from people responding to a request for prayer on so many different items. We truly are blessed to have friends, family and supporters who surround us with prayer on a daily basis.

God Bless, Rick, Heather & Tendai Neufeld