First I worked with our Tanzanian team, which now consists of seven families. It was really encouraging to see our first team member there reach what we call “capable-high” in language and culture. This does not mean that he is done with his lifelong learning of how to love the Tanzanian people in a way that they will understand can move forward. It just means that this learning will take place in the context of other jobs, like teaching and discipleship. The other families there are also doing a great job of moving towards this goal as well.
After these evaluations, I had the privilege of going, for the third time, to a consultant training course which was hosted by the Highlands camp in the beautiful Morogoro mountains (see attached picture). The Lord brought together an amazing group of people to lead and take the course. I was challenged and encouraged as I rubbed shoulders with believers from other countries and cultures. I wish you could have met the lady who is reaching out to her Somali people with the truth, or the wonderful person who nurtured us into her South Sudanese world for 10 hours of “real practice,” or the young man from Zanzibar who is living against the tide of over 97% of the people who practice the dominant Middle Eastern religion.
This time I not only led a table group but also did some up front teaching. Together we studied how to be “growing participators” in the many people groups around the world. We looked at God’s plan to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory and how these people groups are domains of God’s redemptive activity.
After five and a half weeks away from home, I returned on Thanksgiving Day, thankful to have been able to do the work I had done and thankful to once again be home with the family.
P.S. I while in Tanzania I also got to go on a Safari. Check out the pictures on the photos page.
For many years, NTM Mozambique has enjoyed renting an office in a nice neighborhood that’s not too far from downtown. Unfortunately, the rent price kept going up. We finally had to move. Thank you, Wycliffe Bible Translators for renting us some space. We are moved and pretty much up and running.
May this office continue to serve the missionaries out in the villages as they plant churches among the least reached peoples of Mozambique.
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.