Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Vacation?

On Facebook, it seems like half the posts I've been reading lately are about people's summer plans, sitting by the pool, and time off from school. What I'm most excited about this time of year isn't vacation plans, but the fact that winter is finally here. (It was actually cold yesterday!) But as for vacation. . .well instead of slowing down for summer, our schedules actually speed up as our yearly short-term groups begin arriving.

We try to coordinate each groups activities to go along with what we are already doing so that they complement our work. This year, we are looking forward heading up a couple large projects with teams from the USA, Brazil, and South Africa.

  • A water well will be put in in Magola, one of the villages we work at. Currently, the women have to walk well over a mile each way to get water. A team from Katy, Texas has raised the money for this project. They will be doing dramas and activities in the village for three days, then spend three days in town working with contacts at one of our local high schools. They will also spend time with our ladies class on Saturday.
  • Our fourth annual English camp will be led by a team from Houston, Texas. This has been a very important part of us reaching out to new students every year.
  • A team from Brazil is planning to join us for English camp and other ministry, using their Portuguese.  
  • A team from South Africa will be working at the same local high school as the Katy team. They will be continuing the stories and teaching, along with helping to set up a vegetable tunnel, and visiting the children's ward at the hospital and orphanage.

We are extremely blessed by those who are taking the time to come and be a part of the lives of the people here through teaching and encouraging!

Below, I've posted some photos taken over the weekend of our women's class and a drama that was put on by some of the students at our Sunday afternoon church at David's house.

Be blessed!

Mariah and Abby help teach English

Filo and I working on both English (for her) and Portuguese (for me).

Inge working on Portuguese and teaching English. After our language exchange classes we have Bible study.

Four of the Christians presented a drama dealing with the pull between following God and the world.

Scott often uses the audience to help teach a point. The guys had fun with this one.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How you know you are in Africa

I saw a list in a missionary's newsletter recently, about things that make you know you're in Africa. It's been fun for me to see our world through the eyes of my mom and niece who are visiting for the first time. Here are some of their observations--with a couple of mine thrown in as well--along with some photos that, to me, represent the beauty of Africa. 

You know you're in Africa when. . .

-you see a goat tied onto the top of a vehicle.

-you see women walking down the road carrying live chickens.

-there are more people on the road than cars.

-kids chase your vehicle and try to jump on.

-people are selling things--everything from cashews to phone chargers--on the side of the road.

-we are the minority.

-there are palm trees everywhere. Lots and lots of palm trees. 

-we see oxen pulling carts on the side of the road.

-we see goats--everywhere.

-the houses are made from different building materials.

-the money is different & you can't figure out the exchange rate (is that why things seem so expensive?)

-there are lots of pot-holed roads.

Mozambique Home

Living on the water in Zambia


You never know who you might run into!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What if your world was filled with darkness?

What if there was a way to bring hope?

Here is the latest update from The ECHO Project.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oh, me of little faith

I took the plunge, yesterday. Literally. After four years of living thirty minutes from the Indian Ocean, I went snorkeling for the first time to celebrate Mothers Day. It was an interesting experience to say the least. As we returned on the boat, I started thinking about when Peter walked on the water and how I could now relate some to his reaction.

Yeah...Oh, me of little faith.

You see, for my first snorkeling experience, we went out on the boat into the ocean to first search for whale sharks. Now keep in mind that I much prefer sitting on land and watching the ocean. Thus the reason I've never been out in it other than on a boat. But despite my lack of experience (and shall I add fear) I decided to be brave and jump in with the others when a school of dolphins appeared. I was fine, for the first few seconds. Then I saw those big blue waves swelling around me. And let me tell you, they were big swells. Suddenly I felt extremely small and vulnerable. And as the boat begun floating further and further away, I started to panic.

The same thing happened to Peter. The disciples were out on the water and thought they saw a ghost. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I would have panicked as well.

Then Jesus said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

When is the last time you've been afraid? The loss of a job, a bad diagnosis, problems with a child...It happens to all of us. Something happens and we panic. We forget to trust in Him.

Peter, though, decided to trust. At least for a moment. He got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward Jesus. But like me, he was distracted by the wind and the waves and started to sink.
Huge school of sardines.

Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?"

Why do we doubt? What a piercing question.

With all the negative news storming the media today, along with the difficulties people are facing every day--it's easy to give in to fear and panic. I've noticed it in my own life. In many ways, it's been a challenging year for us. This means that--along with many of the frustrations we face every day--I've found it too easy to get caught in that downward spiral of negativeness and fear. Instead, though, I want my focus to be on Christ and His holiness. Is it easy? Not when that storms raging, but here are a few things that help me.

1. We have to guard our minds and what we put into it. Paul had great advice for this. He says in Philippians 4:8 that "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about these things.

2. Read through the Psalms. David was placed in some difficult situations, and yet his reaction was always to turn to God for strength.

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. Psalm 112: 6-7

3. I'm also reading Soul Detox: Clearing Living in a Contaminated World by Craig Groeschel. Craig talks out the importance of fighting soul pollution that is threatening our health, faith, and witness to others. He gives practical ways to remain clean, pure, and focused on God's holiness.

What about you? What practical steps are you taking to navigate the storms of life?

Getting ready to snorkel!
Scott Scuba Diving with Jayden

Some of the fish 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kruger Video

Here are some of my favorite photos and video from our recent visit to Kruger National Game Park in South Africa. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Heart of Thankfulness

During our long drive home to Mozambique this past weekend--after being stopped and questioned by the police not once, but twice--I decided I needed to take make a mental list of everything we had to be thankful for. While the past few weeks in the states were extremely tiring from living out of suitcases, we were blessed by time spent with so many people.
Celebrating Scott's parents' 50th anniversary

While this is just a glimpse of my list, I'm grateful for everyone who opened their home to us. To those who drove long distances just to have lunch with us. To those who spoiled our kids and kept them while we were celebrating Scott's parents' 50th anniversary. To those who sat down with us and asked us how we were doing.

Together as a family again!

I'm thankful for the chance to reunite with both old friends and new friends. For girl time at Starbucks. For pedicures and late night chats. For BBQ, and, of course, good ole Tex-Mex. And especially time with our eldest who is now back at boarding school. It was so great to have our family all together again.

I could go on and on.

While our time was short and there were many of you we weren't able to see this time, we really are grateful for our friends, family, supporters, and churches who continue to be there for us in so many ways.

One of the things I'm thankful for on our return is seeing the twins out in the village again who are now chubby and smiling! What a blessing to see them thriving and their mama smiling. (photo below)

Please keep us in your prayers during the coming weeks as we settle back into life here with our new teammates (Another BIG praise!) We have an extremely busy summer (winter for us) with a number of teams coming through to help us short time with the work here.

Twins in the beginning of January shortly after they were born.
Twins now in the beginning of May (with my mom)

Lastly, for those of you who missed the news (I haven't mentioned it on my blog yet), I'm excited to share that Blood Covenant won the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from  Romantic Times Book Reviewers' Choice Award. This is book two in my series set in Africa, so I was thrilled to learn about this.

While life is full of uncertainty, and so many are struggling with difficult circumstances, may each one of us take the time today to be thankful for the blessings God has brought into our life.