Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Wishing our sweet girl a very, happy 13th birthday!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Feather and the Ant

I sat in the village yesterday on a worn woven mat beneath two looming trees that offered shade from the hot summer sun. Women sat beside me, feeding their babies and holding squirming toddlers while we worshiped and prayed together. As Scott began teaching, I noticed a mass of tiny red ants next to the mat. They were swarming around a hole, no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter, carrying a white feather.

I was intrigued by what they were trying to do, and it didn’t take long to realize that they were attempting to drag the three-inch long feather, far bigger than the hole and certainly bigger than the tiny ants, into the hole. They pushed and prodded, working together in typical ant fashion, until finally, after twenty minutes or so, what seemed to have been impossible, happened. The last of the feather disappeared into the hole along with the swarm of ants.

Working together, they had accomplished the impossible.

Just a few minutes earlier, before worship began, Scott, David and I had walked across the village’s sandy soil to Julia’s compound to check on her and her newborn twins. We had brought her a box of food, a large can of formula, and three more bottles. I asked David to share with the church that this gift wasn’t just from us. I wanted Julia and the church to know that these gifts of food—along with the many prayers being lifted up for her family—were coming from people from all over the world, including the small church in Inhambane who are giving out of their own contribution. I wanted them to see that God calls us to work together as a Christians to help those in need. It is a love for Christ that compels individuals in Brazil, the US, and South Africa and here in Mozambique, to give financially as well as to pray for a mother they’ve never met, and to pray for her newborn twins they’ve only seen in photos.

Just like the ants and the feather, dozens of individuals have rallied together behind this family, to do for Julia what would have been impossible on her own.

Recently, I started reading the amazing true story about Katie Davis, who at twenty-one has given her life to care for the poorest of the poor in Uganda. I was deeply moved by some of the words in the introduction, which reminded me once again of the importance of every person, every life.

Her co-author, Beth Clark wrote: I’ve notice something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold to the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations and yes, the world. (From Kisses from Katie)

Sometimes I see the task around me as overwhelming. And honestly, sometimes I ask myself if it’s all really worth it. I see so many hurting people—homeless, jobless, physically hungry, and spiritually empty that I don’t think we’ll ever make a dent. And the problems aren’t just limited to third-world countries. Yesterday, I talked with a friend from back home who had started reaching out to a group of women in her community who were broken and hurting. She felt small for the task, but what seems impossible is suddenly possible when we let God move in us. When we let Him use us for his purpose. When we work together like the swam of ants, praying, giving, encouraging, we can change the world one person at a time. For me, it was powerful reminder that every very life does matter, and that with God all things are possible.

Be a blessing today,


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update on the twins...Two weeks old

Scott and David went out to the village today to teach and check on Julia and the twins. The baby that was taken to the hospital last week is doing better and his rash is partially cleared up, so we are grateful for that. Julia is also slowly getting stronger, but she isn't producing milk, so we are thankful for the availability of formula. She was almost out of the second can, so their timing was perfect. We will take a couple more cans on Sunday to ensure she doesn't run out as communicating with someone from the village isn't always possible.

We will also take more food on Sunday to ensure that Julia is eating enough to keep up her strength. She told David and Scott that she needed corn meal--one of their staple foods--and eggs. She also needs a new bottle as one of them cracked this week. We'll buy several to ensure that she has two for each baby. The church in town that we work with has "adopted" the babies as well and is helping out as they can financially, and we are thrilled to see them get involved in serving others.

The saying that "it takes a village" is so true as taking care of these babies has become a family affair. You can see, too, how tiny they still are in the photos. Please continue to pray for this sweet family. Scott and David spent most their time there praying with the Christians and encouraging them. The weather continues to be cold and rainy which along with everything else, makes it hard on everyone.

A special thanks to those of you who have given to The ECHO Project so we can continue to help in situations like this. We've been so encouraged by your generosity. We have a number of other projects planned in the coming weeks that will truly make a difference in the lives of individuals. I will be sharing more in the near future about what is planned including the building of more homes for the homeless.

Count your blessings today!


One of the twin's cousins helping out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Update on the twins

Last Wednesday, Emily and I visited the twins and their mother out in the village and took her some fresh fish and peanuts. We were thrilled to see her feeling better and looking much stronger! The twins were eating well, both breast-feeding and taking the bottle as she still doesn't have enough milk.

One of the twins had a bad rash on his head, so Emily felt that we needed to take him to see a doctor. I believed there was a chance he could be dehydrated, so we drove mama and her babies along with her mother-in-law to the hospital. After over an hour and a half of waiting in the hot sun (as we were told to do!) they called her in then told her that they were finished seeing babies for the day and she would have to come back tomorrow.

I wasn't very happy, but there wasn't anything I could do, so we drove back to the village. Since they live much closer to the hospital than I do, I gave them transport money so she could go with her mother-in-law back to the hospital Thursday morning.

Most of them don't have phones, so I wasn't able to get an update right away as we couldn't contact anyone. On Sunday, three of the disciples went to teach and took several gifts, but most of the village was gone to a funeral including the mama and her twins. So I was happy to know that she was able to travel. We still haven't been able to get a hold of them by phone for an update, but we are planning to drive out to take the twins some more formula tomorrow or Thursday and see how they are doing.

To make things more challenging, a tropical depression hit the coast of Mozambique yesterday. There has already been a substantial amount of rain and high winds. One phone carrier is already down, and the Internet off and on, so communication is getting harder as well.

Typical house stucture

This non stop rain makes it extremely difficult for the people here, many who live in reed homes. Imagine having small children--or twin newborns--and trying to keep them dry and clean. You can wash their diapers and clothes, but there is no way to dry them. Roofs leak, and after a two or three days of rain, things begin to mold and start smelling bad. With high enough winds, there is even the strong possibility of weak structures falling over.

Please continue to pray for the twins and their mama and those effected by the storm.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A lesson from the heart of Africa. . .

After traveling all over the world and living among a number of cultures, I’ve learned to enjoy the differences in people. It’s definitely taught me to be more patient and understanding with others, but there is still one thing here that really grates on my nerves.

People who cut in line.

And it happens all the time. Now granted, I’m a bit of a rule follower, but in my mind, no matter where you are, orderly lines help everyone get done faster. It just makes sense.

Last week, we had to take Gabriel and one of his classmates to South Africa to catch their flight back to boarding school. Now typically, crossing the boarder takes about an hour. The longest we’ve ever had to wait was two hours and sometimes we’re lucky enough to get through in a half an hour or so.

This time, though, our luck apparently ran out.

We were driving through Mozambique toward South Africa when ten kilometers from the boarder we hit a long line of cars. Now there is another way into South Africa via Swaziland, so Scott went and talked to the police to find out what was going on. The police assured us that they had stopped the traffic in order to help control how many people went through the boarder at a time, but the wait shouldn’t be longer than an hour. And it would definitely be shorter than going through Swaziland. The boys even went up to the top of the hill and sure enough. The line stopped not too far in front of us, allowing the police to monitor how many cars went through the boarder as many people were returning to SA after their holiday along the Moz coastline.

Realistically, I decided that the hour the police had quoted us would probably turn into two hours, but that was okay. The sky was cloudy for the moment, meaning it was a bit cooler, and we were all in good spirits.

We began to realize, though, as the line finally moved, that the first traffic control stop was only one of many.

In total, it ended up taking eight hours to drive that ten kilometers and cross both boarders. But the biggest frustration for me wasn’t the long lines, the hot sun, or the fact that there were no bathrooms nearby.

For me, it was the drivers who decided that they didn’t need to wait in line. It became a constant trickle of cars passing us on the shoulder. Apparently, they decided that if they turned on their hazard lights it was okay.

Well, it wasn’t okay. At least not to me. The police had our line of cars blocked with spikes on the road, but the spikes didn’t reach the cars that continued to pass on the shoulder. So they just kept going.

In all, I’m sure there were at least two hundred cars that made their way to the boarder via the shoulder while the rest of us waited in line. I’m also sure that their impatience probably added an hour or two to our own wait.

I found myself grumbling. Who were they to think they were so important that they could cut to the head of the line ahead of all of us who were “following the rules.” I got angry. They had no right to cut in line which in turn added to the wait of those of us who were staying in line.

But then I started wondering about my own attitude. And wondering what God thought? Was the bigger “sin” those who were breaking the traffic rules and cutting in line or me or my growing anger and impatience toward them?


The question began to bother me.

It’s an easy trap to fall into (at least for me). Other people’s bad behavior justifies my impatience, anger (okay, and maybe even the envy I felt because I wasn’t at the front of the line like they were.) It’s easy for most of us to avoid the “big” sins, I mean it’s not as if I’ve murdered anyone lately. But the Bible doesn’t really classify sins. To God sin is sin no matter what it is.

Paul said in Romans one that “Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior.”


I’ve thought a lot about the trip over the past week and my attitude. It became a reminder to me of how God looks at the heart, and how I react to situations around me. It’s not wrong to get frustrated and even angry at a situation, but my response to that situation—and my heart—is just as important to God.

Paul was continually encouraging the Christians to grow in their faith. He wrote in Galatians that, “. . .the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. . .”

As we begin a new year, may our hearts be open to the Spirit continuing to work in us to produce more of these godly attributes in our lives.

Be a blessing today!


Sunday, January 08, 2012

The least of these...

Five days ago, one of the Christian women from a village where we have a church gave birth to twins. The mother had been very sick and the babies were born early, so on Friday, Emily and I drove out to the village to take a food packet and vitamins to her and to check on how she was doing. While there, we learned that she needed a blood transfusion, but was unable to get one at the hospital before they sent her home. We also found out that she didn't have enough food to eat and wasn't producing enough milk to feed the tiny babies.

After going into to town to buy formula and bottles, we returned and Emily showed her how to make the formula and clean the bottles. It turned into an emotional meeting when the extended family joined us and started singing and praising God. Emily shared some words of encouragement and we were able to pray over the mother and her new babies.

While the vitamins and food are helping, she is very weak and because of some other problems, unable to nurse the babies, but the twins are taking the formula. We are grateful to those of you who have given to The ECHO Project so we can in turn help in emergency situations like this one. 

Tonight at church, the Christians discussed adopting these two babies and helping out financially with the mother's needs. I was touched again to see the joy of giving spread to the Christians here in town. Please pray for this sweet mother and her babies as she has a difficult road ahead of her. We will continue supplying formula and supplementing the mother's food in the coming months.

To find out how The ECHO Project is making a difference to individuals or to give, please visit our website. We've also just opened a brand new on-line Safari Shop where you can buy really cool products and all profits go directly to The ECHO Project.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

We just finished shooting fireworks from our roof while watching a fantastic display in the neighborhood, but I wanted to stop and wish all of you a very happy and blessed 2012!