Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Do you Twitter?

It's been a hectic week with guests from Brazil, final exams for Gabriel, and a writing deadline tomorrow. Add to that, the humid weather is like a sauna and makes me want to do everything in slow motion!

For those who have asked for an update about Emmanuel in Zimbabwe (he was in a serious car accident last week), we Just received news that he is doing well and the great news is that now he can "feel when someone touches his legs"!!! He still cannot move them (or very little), but the physical therapist said that he will be working on his legs soon. So, keep up your prayers for a complete recovery. Also, Pastor Nyandoro successfully delivered corn to all the rural districts. AOM is planning on sending more food relief funds to purchase another consignment of corn in the near future. God is good!!

Lastly, do you Twitter? If you'd like to receive short, mini-like blogs from me (very short and fairly frequent) about my life in Africa, you can go here to sign up. This is a fun, real-time way to keep in touch. Check it out.

And while all of you are enjoying your snow and hot chocolate, here's a photo of our summertime beach.



Friday, December 26, 2008

Expecting the Unexpected. . .

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! I've been enjoying the photos of snow several have sent me, and am dreaming of snowball fights and sledding.

We'd planned a quiet Christmas at home, with a few friends, but our "quiet" holiday turned into a bit of an adventure. I woke up about 2:00 Christmas morning. Instead of catching a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer, I walked across our bedroom and stepped into a half an inch of water.

Now the rains began Christmas Eve, and we had been a bit aprehensive because it was a bad storm with lots of rain and heavy winds. SInce this was our first heavy rain, we had no idea if the house leaked. Well, in the middle of the night, we quickly found out. Rain, gushing in from the south side of the house, poured down the walls and into some of the rooms. Our room didn't end up being too bad (only about a quarter of it), but Gabriel's entire floor was covered in water. (Thankfully, I make him keep under his bed clean!) The kitchen had some water, but the back veranda was the worst. Scott mopped up about 15 gallons of water the next day.

Almost forty-eight hours later, it's still raining, though for now we are staying dry. Many of the houses around us are made from reeds, and they are having trouble keeping dry. Something that's not easy. After soaking up all the water in our house, and making barriers with towels, I've hung them all up to dry on my wet veranda, but until the sun comes out again, nothing is drying.

The weather seems to be effecting the electricity as well. It's become a bit of a game for all of us. When the power goes off, we have to run around and unplug everything, so a power surge doesn't blow anything when it comes back on. And when it's on, I have to charge my computer so I have enough power to work on my deadline when the electricity goes off again. We've got candles, matches, and flashlights set out as you never know when it's going to go out.

The good news, though is that the temperature has dropped with the rain, something I'm really thankful for! I can actually move around without sweating!

Have a blessed day!


Rainy view from my window.

Trying to dry laundry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Elephant Encounter

Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas and God's greatest blessings upon you in the New Year.

Here's the elephant video I promised. (This is for you, Ronie!)



Sunday, December 21, 2008

To the least of these. . .

I think I mentioned last week, that one of our house churches decided to visited the orphanage in town as a way to show love to the community. Yesterday, I baked two cakes with two of the christian women. We also gathered clothes to give to them. Unfortunately, I came down with a nasty cold last night and wasn't able to join the group as they went out today, but from Scott's report, it was a blessing to everyone.

There are about twenty-five children living in this house, from small babies to teenagers. One of the babies is four months old but looks like a newborn. Probably due to AIDS. The children literally grasped on to Scott and the others and wouldn't let go. They have such a need for people to love them. Mariah and Gabriel took colors and paper and drew with the children, and of course they all LOVED the chocolate cake.

I think everyone was blessed by the experience. The christians who visited, these who regularly care for the children, and the children themselves. We're planning to return a couple times a month to play with them and simply show them God's love.



Friday, December 19, 2008

The making of a cover

UPDATE: First of all, I'm grateful to report that Emmanuel made it through surgery and that it was a success. Please continue to prayer for a complete recovery, and especially that he will be able to walk again. Thank you for all your prayers and the contributions that are being sent in to pay for the surgery and food for the community.

On another note, I've always been interested in how book covers are created. To be honest, the cover is a big selling point to me. If I don't like the cover, I'm less likely to buy the book. And the opposite is true as well. A fantastic cover can convince me to buy it over another book.

Typically, the author fills out a number of forms with information regarding the main characters as well as the overall theme of the book to help the artist create the cover that you see in the book stores. Right now, I'm working on one for Zondervan for my new suspense series. They ask a large range of questions from the color of the heroine's eyes, to elements that could be featured on the cover, to a list of already published covers the tone I'd like to see.

In the end, it's the publisher who chooses the final cover. I have, though, been asked for my opinion on early sketches of the cover and have been allowed to ask for slight revisions when the cover didn't fit a certain aspect of my book. Thankfully, I've always been very pleased with my publisher's choice on covers.

In the past couple days, I've got to see two of my covers that will be released next year. It's always fun to see what the cover artist comes up with. What do you think? Does a cover really sell a book?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayers for a people in need

PHOTO: 25 billion Zimbabwe dollars. . .enough to buy a loaf of bread.

As many of you know, along with our work in Mozambique, we are also actively involved with both leadership training and orphan care in Zimbabwe. The past few years have shown the decline of a country that once was called the breadbasket of Africa. Today, the situation continues to deteriorate. Inflation is over 230 million percent, and the people are facing both starvation and the spreading of cholera.

Two weeks ago, AOM sent money to our churches in Zimbabwe for the purchase of corn to distribute to the families in Bulawayo and in the various rural districts. The leaders were able to purchase 500 x 25 pound bags of corn to distribute.

As some of the pastors were traveling out of Bulawayo to distribute the food, tragedy struck. Pastor Nyandoro's multi-ton truck hit a large pothole as they were approaching a bridge. The truck hit the bridge and the chassis and cab were completely destroyed and all the fuel for the entire trip was lost. But, the most tragic part of this situation is that one of our senior pastors, Emmanual Mwale, seriously injured his back. He is in need of immediate surgery to prevent being paralyzed. He has a decompression burst fracture of L.1 (lumbar) with severe spinal chord compression. His back needs internal stabilization and fusion.

Please pray for the difficult situation facing these people and especially for Emmanual's healing. If you are interested in learning more on how you can help financially, please contact me here. All funds will be used toward Emmanual's surgery, repairs on his truck that was being used to serve those in need, and to purchase more corn that will be distributed to throughout the rural districts.



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Expecting the Unexpected

We returned home last night to a bit of a surprise. Both water and electricity had been off during the day, the water for about twelve hours. What we didn't realize was that the bathroom plug had fallen into the drain and the taps left on. So by the time we got home, the bathroom had flooded, (there's a two inch step down into the bathroom) and was already spilling into the hallway.

The good news is that we have both water and electricity today!

Count your blessings,


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Even in the short time that we've been here, it's exciting to see what God is doing. While I've spent most of my time working with the kids to finish up the school year and get the house running again after our absence, Scott's been out spending time with our disciples. Our goal is training them through life-on-life which means a lot of time out with the people we are working with.

And the kids are catching this vision as well. Yesterday, Mariah agreed to teach English to two of the neighborhood boys. Today, they showed up and school began. I was amazed to see that she'd prepared a lesson plan, had pens and notebooks for them, as well as her "classroom" set up. We'll also show an English Bible film from time to time. Jayden's also found a student to work with and is excited to start teaching him.

Gabriel made plans to go fishing with some friends and told us he wanted to disciple them as well. We talked about what that meant and was excited to see them realize that we're here not to fulfill a job requirement, but to live the life Jesus has called us to live.

And we're casting the vision to our new Christians as well. We want the community to see that we are different that we love and care about them and want to show that through everything we do. Scott challenged them last week to come up with some ways for us to reach out to the community and simple show them our love. Several great examples were given and today we plan to set times to get together as a group and reach out.

Pray for the new Christians here and wisdom for us as we try to serve the community here.



Mariah teaching English

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's been one of these crazy weekends. Since we've returned, either the power or the water has been out. Today the electricity was down about twelve hours. We had company last night, so of course the power was out then as well. Seems to be something that goes hand in hand. I've learned to light a few candles and laugh a lot.

Then Gabriel cut his finger badly while working on his tomato plants. A friend of ours, who works for the hospital, took him there to have it taken care of. He's going to be fine, but it's going to take a lot of effort on my part to make sure he keeps it clean and covered until it heals.

And this afternoon, our neighbor brought over Mariah's new cat. We paid about 30 cents for her and while she's scrawny and timid, Mariah is thrilled to finally have her own pet. Patches, as she's now called, did fine until we took her outside to go to the bathroom. She tore up Scott's fingers trying to get away, so there I was back playing nurse again.

The powers on for the moment, so I'm going to quickly send this out before it cuts off again.

Never a dull moment, is there?



Friday, December 05, 2008

There's no place like home. . .

We finally made it home after along twelve hour trip--the final leg of our journey. Border crossings are always a bit adventurous as you never know exactly what you might encounter. Just before reaching the border, we stopped to get fuel, make a handful of peanut butter sandwiches, and change out our cell phone chips. The group of ladies sitting in the first photo under the tree are there to exchange money. They walk around with large purses, ready to make a deal with any interested customer.

Once we made it to the border, we started the navigation of lines, people, passport stamps, and police inspections as we left South Africa then entered Mozambique. This time, to our surprise, they didn't inspect our cars until Scott left the last post in his car (we had two cars this time) and the officer decided to pull me over and search my car. With the passports in Scott's possession and a car full of luggage, we were a bit worried, but thankfully the man wasn't interested in anything more than a quick glance into the back of the car.

Maneuvering through Maputu is even more challenging than the boarder crossing. The road is flanked by scores of people, taxis, and sellers until the obstacle course gets even worse a few hours north with the paved road literally filled with pot holes.

A few more hours north and we stopped to fuel up the cars again, this time hoping we can beat the sun as it begins it's decent. Driving at night something we avoid as the narrow roads, many with no lines or reflectors, are extremely dangerous. Something we encountered first hand. As we drove in the dark, we came across a bus that had overturned on the side of the road, marked only by a row of branches. With no reflectors anywhere on the vehicle, it was a miracle we didn't slam into it.

With pounding hearts--and thankfully no further incidents--we made it the rest of the way home.

But of course being back home has brought with it it's own set of adventures. The water cuts out at night, there are no lights in the bedrooms and kitchen, and an intense heat never seems to let up. Add to that, the stores shelves were half empty in town, we believe because of the excess number of tourists here for the beach. We decided to drive to the nearest town about forty-five minutes away only to find out that there was a city-wide holiday and everything was closed.

So while feelings are naturally a bit mixed, I'm still very glad to be back. We've seen team mates and met with friends, greeted the ladies from the open market who were excited to see us back again, played with our puppies, and even made home made root beer as a treat tonight.

No, there really is no place like home.

Monday, December 01, 2008

On the Road Again

We are waiting a few miles outside Kruger Game Park for our car to be serviced before returning home. Not a bad place to wait around if you ask me! Thought I'd quickly post a video of few of the highlights from today's game drive.