Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prayers Please!

We just received an email from Scott's uncle Allen. He is in Inhambane, Mozambique looking for a house for us to live in. This morning he looked at a three bedroom house on a quiet street in town next to a park. The house is in good condition and to quote Allen, "This is the place!"

He is going to meet with the owner and try to sign a contract for us this week! Please re-double your prayers for this house until we have it signed and sealed. There are very few houses in this area for us to choose from, so getting this house will be a gift from God.

Also, remember to continue to ask God to speed the process of registration that will allow us to stay in Mozambique. Everything was completed on our end this week and is supposed to be finalized by the government in a couple weeks.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Swimming with the Pink Dolphins

After almost four months of living in a Brazilian neighborhood, we were excited for the chance to see some of this beautiful country. I had never realized just how big Brazil is. After a two hour drive to Sao Paulo we jumped on a plane and headed for Manaus. We were greeted three and a half hours later by six guys who said they were there to take us to our boat.
Now maybe this doesn’t strike you as odd, but I’d been working on my book on the plane and am in the middle of a hostage situation in Central Africa. So when six guys showed up to pick us up, I was a bit leery of what we were getting into. Things couldn’t have gone smoother though. They took us to a hotel where we caught a boat about thirty minutes later, and for the next two hours we headed up the River with a dozen tourists from New York, England, China, and Brazil. A rain storm hit about halfway into our trip, covering the water with a heavy mist, and forcing the workers to roll down the tarps along the edges of the boat. Even with the rain, it was beautiful.

By the time we got to the lodge, the kids were tired and hungry. They’d finished the snack packs I’d made them on the boat and the humid temperatures didn’t make for a lot of smiles. Our rooms were small, but adequate, but there had been a mix up. Instead of two rooms for three people, they’d given us three rooms for two people. We tried to explain that it wasn’t going to work for Jayden and Mariah to be in their own room as they had arranged things, especially since they were on different floors!
So Scott went down to work out the room situation, and they decided to give us a suite! The suite had two huge rooms with living areas, two bathrooms, and a balcony that circled the suite. Wow! This turned out to be such a huge blessing as we had plenty of room to spread out.
Dinner was fantastic, as the kids agreed. An all you can eat buffet with salads, meats, vegetables, and desert. Since dinner was served late, and there had been an hour time change, we all conked out pretty quickly after dinner.

DAY TWO: The Pink Dolphins

The schedule had us up early for breakfast so we could meet our guide by eight. First on the agenda was a trip up river in a long boat, through the jungle, then into the widest area of the river. Our guide talked to us some about the river then we headed on toward one of the villages. The highlight here was learning how rubber is made from a rubber tree. It’s very tedious work that requires hours and hours of labor early in the morning before the temperatures rises.

On our way back up the river, those who wanted to feed the dolphins stopped at a wooden structure and were showed how to feed them. At first we took turns, one at a time to feed the dolphins, then were given life jackets and a chance to swim with the dolphins. It was an incredible experience.

Coming next. . .an encounter with a piranha.

Monday, February 25, 2008

On our way home!

Well, we survived our trip into the Amazon and are on our way home today! And wow, what an adventure we had! God blessed us with an incredible time and some much needed refreshment and renewal as a family. We are ready to jump back into school again.

I'll be posting lots of photos in the days to come as well as highlights from our trip so be sure and keep up with our posts. From swimming with pink dolphins, to fishing for piranha, to listening to the howler monkeys scream across the rain forest.

More soon,


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another adventure. . .

Mariah enjoyed a post-birthday party on Tuesday when our good friend Jacquie arrived with the presents we'd ordered for her. (Everything is so much cheaper in the States) Mariah has had no interest in books until she recently read the condensed version of Anne of Green Gables and loved it. So this year, we got her the complete Anne of Green Gables series (all seven books). She can't wait to jump into them!

Up until now our time here has been full with language, language, and uh. . .more language. After three and a half months of rarely leaving our section of the city and knowing that this might be our only chance while here in Brazil, we decided that it was time to take a few days off and explore the Amazon! The kids are ecstatic and we're pretty excited too. So stay tuned for some photos and commentary on our latest adventure!



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Updates from Africa

First of all, congratulations to Ronie who won a copy of DiAnn Mills' latest release, Awaken My Heart! (You can check out DiAnn's really cool contest at this link)

While we continue to pour ourselves into language learning, our hearts are still back in Africa. I thought you might enjoy a brief update of some of the things that are happening both in our ministry and in South Africa.


Bia and Gustava have a fantastic video of the work they've been doing in Mozambique the past few months. We are getting excited as we will be joining them soon. Please check out their video here.


Where were you when the lights went out?

My friend, Shirl Corder has an interesting blog post on the current dark days of South Africa. Serious power shortages have led to rolling blackouts across the country, making for a national crisis. Check out her informative post from February 2, 2008


An update from Janelle.

The Zimbabwe school year normally begins in the middle of January of each year. But in this distressful year, with Zimbabwe in complete economic collapse and teachers fleeing the country, many of the schools did not open until the beginning of February. Now all our children are back attending school and we are very thankful for this. But the schools are seriously understaffed, with one high school only having 6 teachers and another 4. Of course the children’s education is suffering.

The staff in Bulawayo continues to work with the children, ensuring they stay healthy both physically and spiritually. Cornelious, our director, is totally dedicated to each of our children, and to their families and caregivers, even to the point that he sometimes takes the children into his own home when the situation demands it.

The regular, day to day expenses of the ministry is being covered by sponsorships. This includes
the uniforms, school fees, medications provided for the sick, staff salaries, vehicle and office
expenses, etc. As the sponsorships increase, we will be able to take more children into the program. We now have 165 children, but there remain thousands that are in the same situation as our children.

Normally, the day to day running of the ministry does not include the distribution
of food, but because of the desperate food crisis in the country, late last year we began giving
each of the families food packets of basic foods stuffs, i.e. corn meal, cooking oil and soya
protein mixes. Because of this extra expense, we made an appeal and God blessed us with sufficient funds to cover the food for the next several months. As the food crisis continues, we will probably be making another appeal when these funds are used. We praise God for every person who gave to assist these helpless children.

Please continue praying for the many needs in this part of Africa. For more specific requests, you can visit the website for African Outreach Ministries



Monday, February 11, 2008

Ever the Adventure. . .

Yesterday, Scott was supposed to preach at a house church about forty minutes away, so about nine o'clock we headed for the bus station where we were to met Francisco who would help us get to Indaiatuba. Of course, this was also the time it started pouring down rain!

I have to admit that I wasn't particularly happy at that moment. Getting drenched on the way to church isn't fun. Thankfully, the heavy rains let up fairly quickly, so with a back pack of dry clothes (just in case) we continued on toward the station. The only problem at this point was that we weren't sure exactly how far (or where) the main station was. So we jumped on a bus that was supposed to take us there, but when we arrived, we couldn't find our friend. A quick phone call confirmed that we were at the wrong station. With the bus to Indaiatuba leaving in ten minutes, we didn't have time to get there, but did find another bus that would get us there.
Not really complicated at all, right? Wrong.

We were on our way to the right city, but didn't know where to get off the bus. Scott thought he saw the exit to where the church met, but I wasn't too keen on getting off in the middle of the highway (yes they stop there) so we ended up going all the way into Indaiatuba. About thirty minutes past the church. Eventually, we had someone come and pick us up in his car, finally making it to church about three hours after we left home!

Thankfully, Brazilians aren't worried about time like Americans, and they were all happy to see us. Scott did a great job speaking, and we ended up having a wonderful time with the small group of Christians.

Once again, when it was time to leave (about seven that night) it was pouring again, so our friends graciously took drove us home even though it was not on their way. We are so thankful for this small group of Christians who have allowed us to be a part of their fellowship!

Thought you might enjoy a few photos of Brazil outside our neighborhood.

Prayer request: We've all been healthy the past three months of living here, but this weekend Scott came down with a cold and spend most of Saturday resting. Now, I'm coming down with the same thing, (he would have to share that!) but I really don't have time to be sick! Please pray that I can't shake this quickly and that the kids won't get sick.



PS Don't forget to leave a comment on DiAnn Mill's interview by Wednesday for a chance to win a copy of her latest book!!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Meet DiAnn Mills!

DiAnn Mills was one of my first writing mentors, so I'm thrilled to have her as a guest on my blog today. DiAnn is a best-selling author of twenty-three novels, twenty-two novellas, as well as the non-fiction release, Lost Boy No More that tells an incredible true story from Sudan.

Today, DiAnn is offering a free copy of Awaken My Heart, so be sure to leave a comment with a way for me to contact you! I'll draw a winner from the comments next Wednesday.

Here's what DiAnn has to say about her latest release.

When I was a kid, I used to get spanked for lying. Now I get paid for it! Ah, such is the life of a fiction writer. Hi, I’m DiAnn Mills, and I’m excited about Awaken My Heart, my new historical novel published by Avon Inspire.

I live in Texas, the Lone Star State, where history and adventure are carved out of ordinary people and presented in novels and across the screen. Texas provides the perfect setting for tales of adventure. Here you can find cowboys and rodeos, deserts and mountains, bluebonnets and cactus, rattlesnakes and alligators, trail rides and space exploration. The romance and intrigue of those who helped build this State weave powerful stories. You name it, and Texas has it. But it’s the stories about the courageous people who stand tall and make this state what it is today that captures the readers’ attention.

Let me introduce you to my February release!

Awaken My Heart is set in 1803, when Texas was Tejas, a colony ruled by Spain. Indians, Mestizos (native-Spanish lineage), and the elite ruling class of the Spanish lived and died here. The priests living in the Catholic missions helped educate and train the people in various crafts and how to serve God. From this culture was born my story of forbidden love.

Which brings me to one of my greatest heroes—Zorro. Who can forget the handsome, daring masked man who championed the poor and fought the injustices of his people? His flashing sword, generous smile, and chivalry would bend the strongest woman’s resolve. It also helped Zorro’s cause to be portrayed by Antonio Bandera in The Mask of Zorro (1998) and The Legend of Zorro (2005).

Is it no wonder that I call Awaken My Heart my Zorro book? My hero, Armando Garcia, is passionate about the cause of his poverty-stricken people, but his passion also extends to Marianne Wharton, the daughter of a wealthy American rancher. The wealthy and the peasant. The Diablo and his angel. And her daddy ain’t happy. Oops! I mean Marianne’s father is out for blood.

This isn’t the first book I’ve written about historical Texas. The Texas Legacy Series was set in the period of the Old West when lawlessness and unscrupulous characters crawled out from under rocks and attempted to claim the state. I chose unlikely heroes and heroines who made a courageous stand for what they believed in.

Hop into the saddle and grab the reins. This ride will keep you up all night.

Be sure and visit DiAnn's website for more information on all her books. She'd love to hear from you!



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Home again!

We arrived home late Tuesday night after an amazing four days at a church camp. It was so wonderful, in fact, that it didn't seem to matter that we got soaked in the rain again coming home from school yesterday, or that the rain has been so continuous that we had to set up a fan to dry our one set of sheets in order to go to bed.

Many churches in the area host Christian camps during carnival for families. So on Saturday, a friend picked us up and drove us to a city about an hour away where the camp was held in the middle of town. We were all a bit nervous arriving as we only knew two people. But God soon took care of that. By the time we left, I was in tears as this group had become like family.

Which really makes no earthly sense. Here we are, foreigners who are struggling to speak the language, yet we were honestly embraced as family. While there were a few people who were nervous to speak to us at first because they didn't speak English, they soon realized that was okay. Everyone became our language tutor and were patient and encouraging. I often sat for an hour or more, chatting to different women about all kinds of things. Another amazing thing considering this was all done in Portuguese! Besides making friends, my confidence has risen tremendously.

And the kids did fantastic. We were so proud of them for jumping in and making friends. They swam, played soccer, and tag with the kids the whole weekend.

Ministry times were incredible as well. We realized that we've felt dry spiritually. Going to church in another language isn't always easy, but for the first time, I actually worshiped in Portuguese. It brought me to tears, realizing that my spirit was singing and being refreshed in Portuguese! Scott preached Sunday night and did a great job (in English.) Before long he'll be preaching in Portuguese!

By the last afternoon, I was completely exhausted, but again we were blessed to spend some time with English students. They had patiently helped us with language all weekend, so we enjoyed a few hours of English conversation with them as well as teaching them a few songs in English.

We know without a doubt that God orchestrated this time here. Five months ago, God shut the door to our going to Portugal and we couldn't understand why. Now we are seeing Him build relationships with people in the most amazing ways. As we look at moving to Mozambique in the next few months, there is a good possibility that we will have additional team mates from here to work with us which is now one of our constant prayers.

God is so good, isn't He!

Thanks for sharing the journey with us,