Someone asked while we were on home assignment, what physical obstacle are you dreading going back to in Mozambique. For me (Michael), it’s water – or the lack thereof. Sure enough, when we got back the water situation needed attention.
We have three sources: rain (we have two more months of dry season), city pipe (in three weeks it has been turned on for just a few hours) and a well. I opted against a rain dance, prayed for the Lord to allow city officials to open the valve to our area a little more often and went to work on the one source I could do something about.
As some of you may remember, our well is by no means a modern bore hole. This is a hand dug well roughly 5 meters deep with a cement cover on top with a hole in the middle for the bucket. There is just enough room for me to squeeze through the bucket hole and then reach my dangling legs out to find the little cutouts that I use for a ladder to descend into the hot, humid, oxygen deprived depths.
When I got to the bottom, sure enough it was dry but at least the reason was apparent. While we were gone the sides at the very bottom had caved in when the water got up over the casing blocks that I had installed. Then when the water table went back down… no water.
I went to work packing the dirt and sand that had fallen into the bottom back into the cavity where it had come from. Thankfully right above the area that had caved in is a layer of soft rock that provides protection from potentially life threatening cave in. (I work hard to make this point clear to my wife.) After two part days of digging and replacing old casing blocks that had disintegrated and installing a lot more new casing blocks it’s back in business. Praise the Lord that even though it has been an abnormally dry year we still have about a foot and a half of water at the bottom. It is dirty but I hope in a week or so it will be clean enough to at least wash clothes. With that and what’s left in our tank that will Lord willing get a little more from the city water line, we hope to make it through to the end of December when the rains should start. Then we should have plenty.
This physical obstacle has a strong parallel in the spiritual realm. Even in the city where “churches” abound, many are spiritually dry. Pray for people have the courage to dig down, find the lies that cover and dirty the water. Pray for missionary teams that are working in areas where there are no “wells.” Pray that the people of Mozambique will find and drink the life-giving water of truth.
A big thank you to everyone who blessed us this last year while we were on home assignment. The Lord answered our prayers as we traveled many miles safely, ate in many of your homes without gaining too much weight and had many opportunities to share about the kingdom of light overcoming the kingdom of darkness in Northern Mozambique. Thank you so much for partnering with us.
Growing up in South America I didn’t do a lot of fishing but what I did was with a simple line and hook with some sort of bait. I got to do a little more of the same kind of fishing in Venezuela. The trick was to keep the piranha off the hook long enough to catch something more palatable.
Earlier this summer Austin and I got a taste of a whole different kind of fishing. Austin was introduced to rods and reels, leaders and all sorts of flashy lures. Thanks, Mike Plett for showing us how to catch a “Jack” (northern Pike).
The vastly different forms of fishing remind me of the vastly varying contexts we are called into to “fish for men.” Each unique context presents its own challenges. Will you pray with us for our colleagues and the many new believers among the Lolo and Mwinika people. They are looking for creative ways to spread the gospel to more and more men and women who need the gospel in Mozambique?
We are looking forward to getting back to our own work in Mozambique after our year of home assignment.
Imagine a man, ready to start a journey, standing in the middle of a long road that stretches off into the distance. He doesn’t know what is in front of him and what all he will pass through. He anticipates the joy of discovering new things and building new relationships. He is awed by God’s creation that surrounds him and by the thought that this awesome and powerful Creator knows him intimately and still loves him.
Like this man we have also started on another stage of our journey. As we start out, yet again, we know that the Lord is always with us. He is always leading and guiding us. He has called us to follow Him even though we don’t know what the road ahead holds for us. By His grace, we will follow him.
It is sometimes hard for us to think of leaving newly made friends and family behind. Also, it can be very tiring to always be packing up or unpacking; but yesterday the Lord reminded me of an important truth. Hebrews 11: 13-16 says “All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. And obviously people who can talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them.” The Lord reminds us that we are on a journey here on earth and are just passing through. We look forward to the day when we start the ultimate adventure in heaven. We will finally be home and will never have to pull up stakes again.
Thank you for praying for journey mercies and for those that we will have contact with as we share what the Lord is doing in Mozambique. We are leaving Spokane,WA today and are making our way up to central Canada.
From one traveler to another,
Jessica for the Richardsons
I know this is a few days early but we are caught up in the holiday spirit and want to wish you all a Happy Resurrection Day. It is because he died for us and rose again that we can live for Him.
After spending 7 months in Western Washington we have finally made it to Spokane. It was hard to say good-bye to friends and family in the Monroe area but we have been so welcomed here that it has made the transition easier. We have had many opportunities to share our ministry here already. Next week Michael will fly to Tennessee to see his parents who just arrived from Colombia and his granddad who is in poor health. When he returns we will have several other opportunities to share our ministry in the Spokane area and then, the beginning of May, we will be heading off to Central Canada. Thank you all for thinking of us and praying for us. I have included a couple of funny stories featuring Austin on the theme of moving for your reading enjoyment.
Michael and I were outside and realized our van was packed to the roof. A couple of minutes after returning inside I was surveying the living room and saw a pile of school books on the couch. I asked Austin what they were there for and he said, “What? Dad said I couldn’t bring anything else…” Hmmm. I don’t think Michael had the school books in mind when he said that. Wishful thinking on Austin’s part.
The next morning we were loading ourselves into the van and noticed Austin sneaking a few more things into a bag he was carrying. Michael asked him what it was and Austin, as only a teenager can do, looked at him exasperated and said, “Daaaad, it’s carry-on.” We all burst out laughing because that was the last thing we expected to hear and he got a free pass to bring it along.
Wow, the last 4 years have flown by. One one hand it seems like we have been in Mozambique for a lifetime. Much has happened, but where do we begin to share all that God had done in and through us in this amazing country. Maybe we should just say that God has us on an incredible adventure. Please join in the ride!
Twelve hours in tightly packed train and five hours in a mini-van bus with nineteen people or 45 minutes in an airplane; which would you choose? We chose both. The former for the experience and the latter because we didn’t think we could handle the experience again. Here’s how it went.
Two colleagues and I (Michael) needed to go to a new location to help the missionaries get a jump start in their culture and language learning. So at four in the morning we arrived at the train station. It was dark and there were not many people standing outside. We soon realized why. They were all on board the train. It was packed with standing room only. A man who had been there since two in the morning decided he was going to sell us his seats. While we were getting settled someone stole my friend’s wallet including all of his documents. In desperation, we called out saying that we knew the money wouldn’t be there but we needed the documents back. When it became light we found the documents on the floor having been left in order by a very considerate thief. We took the opportunity to give testimony to God’s answer to prayer. After that our trip was long but fairly uneventful. We had a great time with the missionaries at their new work and afterwards were very thankful for the short flight home.
It was good to be with the family again and to pick up on where I had left off with building relationships and learning culture and language. Take last Sunday, for example. One of Jessica’s new friends, Isabela, invited us to attend another small church in town. The kids thought it was great to sit on the bamboo mat on the dirt floor with the other women. For once Jessica was comfortable because her feet could reach the floor. It was an interesting service, listening to the lady preacher speaking in Portuguese and a man standing right beside her translating into the local dialect. Janelle asked why they were standing up there and arguing. She didn’t understand that is the way they preach and the man was just trying to say it again in another language.
After church we went to a thatched restaurant/bar that Isabela’s husband owns and Jessica helped prepare lunch. It was a traditional Portuguese meal (not Mozambican) and Issabela was excited to teach us how to make it and for us to eat it. It is pretty much a thick bean soup with different types of meat served over rice. The ‘different types of meat’ included pig’s ears. Jessica, knowing what was being served, delicately picked out the beans for her and the kids and generously gave me the ears. Oh well, some furry pigs ears are worth it if eating them would help build stronger relationships.
We have asked you to be praying for our family to adjust to Mozambican culture and today we got a sneak peak at how the kids are picking it up.
The kids and I (Jessica) were trying to decide if the birthday party we had been invited to was going to be at 2 or 2:30. I was going to make a quick call to clarify the situation explaining that if the party was at 2:30 we didn’t want to show up half an hour early. Austin turned to Janelle and said “It’s better to show up late than early”. She heartily agreed with him. I had a good chuckle as I thought they were becoming good Mozambicans. They had not even realized that they had begun to pick up culture from those around them.
I thought of all the times we had gone to a Mozambican church since arriving. Before we leave home we are trying to get ready as fast as we can (as peacefully as possible) and then arrive at the church right on time or occasionally a little late. We then wait a good 20 or more minutes for enough people to start arriving to start the service. There was one social event I attended that started an hour and a half late.
We are so time oriented as Americans. We judge effectiveness on how efficient something is. We want to get the most amount done in the least time possible. We overload our senses and our daily lives. The Mozambican culture, generally speaking, is very relationship oriented. Relationships take priority over schedules. Michael has gotten to know several merchants in the area. He calls them the "fish man", the "chicken man", the "guava man", the "artist" and the "tailor". He tries to go out regularly to visit with them in their different environments.
The "fish man" has already invited him to go up north to meet his family and pick up a load of dried salted fish. The "chicken man" has introduced him to his family and taken him around town. The "artist" is working on a painting right now that he is doing on a piece of white cloth (they use this instead of canvas). The "tailor" took him to buy cloth for a pair of dress pants. He is learning a lot from these new relationships. Please pray for wisdom in these as there is certainly going to be a give and take aspect to them. We don’t want to just be taking but want to give in a culturally appropriate way that goes along with why we are here.
Michael has been asked to be the new NCLA coordinator (National Culture/Language Acquisition)for the mission here, when the man who is currently doing this goes on furlough. This involves helping equip the foreign missionaries with the necessary tools for learning culture and language as well as providing accountability. When we were first asked about doing this we wondered about how it fits into the vision that God has given us in being here. Our vision is to help equip the Mozambican church to reach out to the unreached people in their own country. We realized that this goes right along with it. We can challenge and help instill this same vision in the new missionaries that arrive. This next week Michael will be gone to visit a missionary work in a village about two days from here.
"Praise the Lord, all you nations, Praise him, all you people of the earth. For he loves us with unfailing love; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 117 NLT
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you…" Psalm 107:1-2 NLT
As we are studying Mozambican culture and Portuguese we are always looking for "Culture Events" that we can observe, ask questions about and eventually take part in. Usually we look for them outside of our home but today a good one came to us.
It started a week ago when the drain on our kitchen sink didn’t just back up, it welled up and spilled over until stinky water was all over our kitchen floor and running out the back door. We did our best to plug the sink and eventually it drained; sort of sudden like and I had hopes that the offending clog had let loose. I’m afraid it just dropped a ways and joined many others.
A few days later we noticed our neighbor next to us on the second floor of our small apartment building sweeping water from their apartment. Downstairs was also having trouble. The two apartments on the third floor seemed to be doing all right (except that it seemed to be their dirty dish water flooding our apartments). After a couple of other incidents over the weekend it was high time to call a plumber.
One was contacted Sunday afternoon and then again Monday but never showed up. As we waited one of our house workers spotted another plumber that he knew walking by on the street and asked him to take a look at our problem. He dug down to the clean out and sure enough it was completely packed with sludge. He named the high price of $20 to clean it out. While I was able and gladly willing to pay, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to learn how the Mozambicans would work this out.
A neighbor suggested we ask everyone to pitch in since it was a common problem for everyone. What an experience going from apartment to apartment, explaining the situation and asking if they were interested in helping fix the clogged drains. Our inquiries seemed to be met with enthusiasm and we gave the plumber the go-ahead. Four hours later the drain was working again.
Since then just about everyone has paid their $4 contribution. Far more important than the monetary help are the relationships we hope to continue building with our neighbors. As we get to know them and their way of doing things we look forward to deepening our ability to relate to and effectively communicate with the Mozambican people we came to reach with the gospel and challenge reach others.
How about you? What "problem" can you use to build relationships with those around you?
With great sincerity we thank you for praying for us during this last month. Our transition has gone very well, especially considering that we got here in the rainy/hot/sick season. After we all took our turn in bed for a few days we have enjoyed fairly good health. Please continue to pray in this regard. Despite our best efforts it has proved very difficult to keep from getting bitten by mosquitoes, especially little Emily. We hear of many in the city who are suffering from Malaria and pray that God will be gracious toward us in this regard.
Socially we are slowly making friends. Africans tend to not be quite as open in the beginning, as Latins. The kids are starting to play outside of our apartment but not knowing Portuguese is an intimidating barrier for them.