I suppose everyone that reaches 50 years of age can’t believe it actually happened. I am not sure why 50 seems like a much bigger deal than 30 or 40. Maybe it is the “half century” comments that come out. I would say I don’t feel like I’m 50 but I have had quite a time recovering from gall bladder surgery I had in November…pretty sure it would have been a bit quicker at 30… At any rate, I am thankful for God’s grace in bringing me this far in years. He has “blessed my socks off” in so many ways and continues to show His grace towards me when I still can’t seem to “get it right” after so many years of walking with Jesus. Thanks for those who sent cards (hard to believe quite a few made the trip through the mail) and for all the Facebook wishes. Reading through all the comments reminds me of all the great people God has put in my life for 50 years! Here’s to another….hmmm, maybe not 50 years but a few more years anyway.
We made the 2,300 kilometer trip from Mozambique to South Africa in 3 days. Each day we started by 5:30 am for the cooler temperatures and to make sure we did not have to travel in the dark. Our main objective for the trip was to get our co-worker’s Land Cruiser to South Africa for maintenance and repairs without ADDING anything to the list. Since it was our first major road trip in Mocambique we were glad to be joined with our co-workers Fernando & Tabitha who went along to visit family in RSA. It was a great opportunity to get to see the southern part of the country. Except for several stretches with lots of large pot holes the trip went well. Thought we would share a few photos of our 3 days on the road.
The Makhua saying here in Northern Mozambique that seems to express the culture to a tee is “Vakhani Vakhani”. It is the main answer one gets when asking the question “How are you?”. It means little by little. In other words though one is not doing great, little by little we are moving along or getting there. The saying fits just about any situation. For instance…we have been thinking about getting some bedroom furniture made which involves finding a carpenter, showing him what we want and then buying some wood. Sounds relatively simple but it is not like running down to the local Home Depot or Lowe’s and picking out treated lumber.
I made an appointment with our carpenter to meet him first thing one morning so we could go lumber “shopping”. We went to the first saw mill and it turned out that all the lumber was already on order for someone else so we headed off to the next one. Once we arrived we had to wait for a while before the boss arrived and after talking with him we found out that although all the lumber was pretty much spoken for he would be willing to sell us 10 boards. We negotiated the price and in the end the carpenter said he would stay until the boards were sawn and then give me a call to pick him up. I expected to be back before noon to pick the boards up. When he did not call by 3:00 pm I decided to call and found out that we had only three boards up to that point. I could only imagine how late it would be until the other seven were done. Fortunately it only took another hour and a half to saw up the next log so we got our seven boards done rather quickly. I drove back and found the boards stacked and ready to be loaded. I found out the price was almost double but also realized the boards were quite a bit wider than we had expected. The next step was to negotiate a price for the helpers to load up the lumber (nothing done for free) and off we went.
Once we got home we had to pull ten very green and very heavy boards off the top of the Land Cruiser and stack them on our front porch so they could dry. Now we will have to wait for a couple of months for them to dry at which time the carpenter will return to begin building furniture. As I look at the stack of lumber on my porch each day it is hard to imagine the finished product. I would love to have my furniture much sooner but I realize that the wood needs to go through a time of drying and then get sized and shaped so that it can be used by Abdala to be made into useful and beautiful pieces of furniture. Using it like it is right now would only cause the furniture to warp and split.
As I thought about this it reminded me how impatient I can get with God as He continues to work in me to conform me to the image of Jesus. I am reminded that it is a process and that little by little (vakhani vakhani) as I trust Him he will continue to mold me into a usable vessel for His honor and glory!
I guess the big news in November was my emergency flight to South Africa for gall bladder surgery. I am so thankful it did not happen while Lisa was gone!
It was really neat to see the Lord going before us each step of the way starting with providing the right people here in Mozambique to diagnose the problem. We are also thankful for provision of a place to stay during the recuperation and time to rest before heading back. We enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner with our friends Peter and Kathy Thomas
We had a quiet, blessed Christmas. On Christmas Eve we enjoyed dinner and fellowship with some of our co-workers. The on Christmas day after we exchanged gifts we attended a special service with our church family. It was a special time of focusing on some of the prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah to earth. We also shared time with our Mozambican family providing them with a few goodies to make their day special.
In the beginning of September we took on the challenge of caring for Toto, an 8 year old for a few weeks while his father was out of town. He kept us “hopping” and it was a learning experience for us in many ways. It was a time for him to experience new things as well as a neat opportunity to have spiritual input into his life as we took time to share the Word with him and talked a lot about the Lord. There were a lot of seeds planted during that time.
After Toto left, Lisa was able to travel to the USA to be present at the birth of our second grandson, Jack. During her month there she was able to spend time with all of our kids as well as other family members. We thank the Lord for the special provision that allowed her to make the trip.
In July we were excited for our friends, David and Fitina, refugees from Congo who after many years of waiting finally had the opportunity to move to the United States with their two children. They seemed to have made a smooth transition all though I am sure it has not been without many challenges. David has called me from time to time to let me know how things are going. Not long ago I received a call in the middle of the night, which is always a challenge for me, to let me know that they are expecting their third child, a boy, in May and that they will name him…Jonathan. Now, how could I be upset about a phone call like that in the middle of the night?
We had a special treat in July when we participated in the annual “Conferencia Fiel” It is put on for Mozambican pastors, their wives as well as missionaries. It was a great time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment from the Word as we heard great teaching from the Word from speakers from the USA and Brazil. It was encouraging to see the participation of several hundred pastors and leaders including several from our little church who are hungry for the Word.
In August we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. It seemed to pass with little notice but we were surprised by a very special cake and roasted cashew nuts from our friend and sister in Christ, Dona Albertina. We are thankful for the years the Lord has given us together! This year will be the big 30.
In May we decided it was time for Lisa to go to South Africa to try and get some help with her constant health issues. In the end the Lord provided for me to accompany her. We were blessed to be hosted by Peter & Cathy who opened their home and helped us get to all the appointments. We praise the Lord that we were able to find out the root of her problem (parasites) and after treatment (and time away from Mozambique) she has felt a lot better.
Also in May, our oldest grandson, Robbie celebrated his first birthday. It is always hard to be so far away during these special milestones in our kid’s lives but it has been cool to see the Lord add to our family here in Africa. We enjoyed being a part of our little Mozambican “grandson’s” first birthday party in June. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to have input into his little life through the relationship that Lisa has developed with his mother since we have been here.
Lisa and her friends finally finished up a sewing project that took far more time than they originally thought. All the extra time was well spent developing a deeper level of friendship while passing on her love for sewing to the ladies. Only the Lord knows how He is using the conversations that revolved around spiritual things. We were all very glad to see the red and white checker material “disappear”.
March and April were super busy for me in the office. I was still adjusting to my new ministry while working hard on revising our bookkeeping system which I had hoped to have it ready by January.There were a lot of long days and late nights with a lot of Skype conversations with our US Home Office team to help me through the transition. There were times I thought I would have to give up but the prayers of many gave me the needed courage to press on. The system has been working well so far and it is good to have a clean start this year to really see how things will work out.
It was good to have co-worker Clemilda back from her time in Brazil at the end of April, especially since Fernando was getting ready to head out in June for his wedding.
We welcomed the 2012 with a small group of our church family in an all-night prayer vigil. We enjoyed singing, praying and yes, even eating. Our Mozambican church family continues to be a blessing and encouragement to us. It was good to have co-worker, Fernando back from Brazil January after my “solo flight” in the office during December.
In February we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of our little church. Lisa helped a few of the ladies make and put up decorations. (The large poster in front of the church is still intact and could very well be useful for this year’s celebration.) There was quite a bit of special music, teaching from the Word and of course special food. Next month we will be celebrating again. This past year has been difficult as Satan has been successful in causing problems that have really reaped some negative consequences. Thanks for praying…
Last Thanksgiving we reflected on all the things the Lord did to get us moved to Mozambique and get us settled into our new ministry. Who would have thought that one year later we would be spending Thanksgiving in South Africa all because of my gall bladder suddenly acting up? Although we are far from our family and our teammates in Mozambique we will be enjoying a special dinner with our friends Peter and Kathy who hosted us during our last trip to South Africa. As we reflect on these past two weeks our hearts are full of thanksgiving for:
- God being in full control of our lives and for His gracious hand of protection through our crisis.
- Dr. Pim and Dr. Woodrow who dropped what they were doing to attend to me. Both made home visits over the weekend to administer needed injections and for observation. They are the ones who made the very wise decision to call in the emergency medical flight.
- Co-workers who went above and beyond the call of duty to get us around the city for the needed medical attention (doctor visits, blood work, purchasing meds etc.) and to make the arrangements for our emergency flight to South Africa. We are also thankful for their willingness to take over our responsibilities during our absence.
God’s provision through our medical evacuation insurance to not only be transported to South Africa by air ambulance but also to work out all the details of what medical facility we would go to, what doctor we would see and even where Lisa would stay during my hospitalization. I don’t know how we would have done all that on our own in such short notice.
- Successful gall bladder surgery and for continued recovery.
- Provision of a place to stay post hospitalization until we return to Mozambique once the doctor releases us.
- All those who have faithfully prayed us throughout the crisis and for all the encouraging notes that have been sent our way by so many. Thanks!
So, who knows what next Thanksgiving will bring? Whether in Southeast Africa with friends & coworkers, the USA with our family or in our heavenly home…I am thankful that our Father holds the future in His hands!