Monday, December 1, 2008

The Final Writings in Africa...for now ;)

Can you believe another blog entry so soon! Sadly this is my last one to be written in Africa though..for now :)
“Wisdom: Life for your soul and adornment for your neck”
The last bible study I did with them was on the beauty of wisdom. (Proverbs 3:13-35) I used verses 21 and 22 as kind of our theme verses which say, “My son, do no lose sight of these-keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.” I tied in jewelry making with this devotion not only for their enjoyment, but also that they may have a reminder of the importance and beauty that wisdom brings. They had so much fun making necklaces and bracelets and were so creative with the designs they made! After we finished we ended up just hanging out and I took pictures and videos of them being 100% goofy! It was so great seeing them feel so comfortable around me, laughing and playing and having a good time! It is a part of this trip that is most definitely engraved in memory!
"An African Thanks Giving/Adventure”
Around 5:30pm Victor, Christina and I headed to the SIL church for a thanksgiving celebration with not only a group of Americans in the area but also with people from places like Holland, Spain, etc. When we arrived, with Christina’s amazing pumpkin pies may I add, we hung around for a few minutes and then all sat down to begin. We started out with a hymn “For the beauty of the earth”, then heard a devotional on Jesus feeding the 5,000 which concluded with prayer and then feasting. I think I only recognized a few traditional foods like corn, mashed potatoes, and rolls-but it was all still very good and oh-so-filling to the point that a wheel chair would have been a dream to have by the end of the night! But, I guess it wouldn’t be a true thanksgiving meal if you were still able to walk afterwards, right? After dinner and desert were done everyone sat around and talked for a while and I ended up meeting some really nice and neat people. As me and one younger women I met were talking I all of a sudden see out of the corner of my eye this thing waddling across the floor and 2 men chasing “it”. I turned just in time to see “it” was exactly what I am most terrified of here in Africa: Bunny spiders! (As Christina calls them) They are huge, disgusting, and actually waddle from being so big. So, finally they throw some kind of plate on top of it to trap it and then try to find something to put it in to show everyone. Though I am completely disturbed, the lady I was talking with had never seen one so I ended up being the one to find a container for them to use but then immediately found myself running for the other side of the room when they failed to transfer it over successfully, which in turn allowed it to fall back on the floor to take off again. Let me just add that, though they are big AND waddle, this by no means slows them down from being just as fast as the next. So, finally they have it locked up in the container and kids and people are huddled around being quite entertained- half-way across the room you could here the noise of it clanking around in there too. Gross. Actually, if I sit and think about it enough I can hear it like it’s here with me…moving on.
“Ilha de Mozambique”
The morning of the 28th I ended up having the opportunity and invite to go with Jean and the Snider’s to Ilha de Mozambique-translated to Mozambique Island-for the weekend. I was told by several people here that I had to see the coast before leaving and that it was some of the most beautiful waters; I definitely accepted the invite and excitedly went with them! The drive was beautiful and once we got on to the island it was absolutely amazing. The water was many different shades and so clear! It definitely had the whole “tropical” feel to it. So once we got there Jean walked me around and showed me all the different places; the island is only about a mile or mile and a half long/wide. After that we headed back and joined the Snider’s for a swim in the pool. That evening I experienced my first true African “wait” at a restaurant. I have heard from Christina that the waits can be pretty insane but I had never had the memory of experiencing it for myself. So get this, we go to this place, we’re the only customers, and we start a game of uno. About an hour at least goes by and the game is still going on, which also makes it the longest round of uno I have ever played in my life- ha-ha, and our food is still not here. Finally, after we start to question if we even placed an order, they start to bring out the food and we’re all quit overjoyed. Experience number one :) The next day we end up going for a swim in the morning, and then head off to the Museum. The tour was fun and interesting…and really cheap! How nice. After that we all ended up taking an hour or two to just relax and rest. Before we knew it it was dinner time and we headed out. We first went to this really nice place which over looked the water…oh it was such beautiful scenery. We then ordered an appetizer and then all figured out what we wanted. After about a half hour and finally deciding, we put in our order only to find out they didn’t have anything that we all wanted. This, as I am told, is typical for an African restaurant. Ha-ha. So, after being there about an hour, we head back to the place we ate at the night before, placed the exact same orders in, and waited another hour. Experience number 2 :)
I didn’t mind too much though, I had great company and I was getting in lots of memories from all sorts of angles! After that we headed back and Jean and I had some “big girl” time- we ended up sitting out in the awesomely set up lobby and experienced our first time ordering without anyone there to translate for us. We must have done something right because before we knew it hot chocolate cake with ice cream on top was being brought out to us. ;) The next and last day there we pretty much just spent out by the pool. There was one point I was sitting out with my feet in the water, trying to air dry my bathing suit and I had only been sitting there maybe 5 minutes when I look down and see my legs are burnt with funny patterns on them from where my arms were resting. I’m tellin’ you, the sun here just don’t mess around!

“Final Day”

So today is the final day being in Mozambique; at the orphanage surrounded by big smiles, tiny hands and the best laughs. I have spent the morning packing up and sorting out what I am leaving and what I am taking, doing last loads of laundry, and just hanging out. Tonight Victor is making a special chicken dinner for all of the orphanage and the music class (who we invited over for one final hang out party before I leave). I will be picking up ice cream today too for another special treat to add for everyone and then after dinner we will all watch a movie and have desert. It should be a great last evening and I am thankful for the ability to have it with ALL of them. Christina asked me if I was really sad to be leaving or if I was just day dreaming about being back home and you know, it really is a huge mixture of both. I am so thankful for my time here; I would not trade it for anything in the world. God has taught me so much in every situation, moment, child, person, conversation, etc. I have been blessed to the max! I know it is going to be a huge challenge leaving the life I have grown close to through the joys and struggles; I know there will be some challenges that await my arrival back in the states and I am sure it will take me a good bit to re-adjust. But fortunately the same God who brought me here, helped me through each struggle and gave me each joy, is the same God who will remain faithfully here with them and with me as I go back home. A few people have pointed out that I have used “God is the same yesterday today and forever” a lot in my blogs; along with so many things I have learned and become more aware of, this is one of the main. It doesn’t matter where I am, what I am doing, how hard it is, how exciting or fun- God is the same; unchanging always and forever. How amazing! What a solid and unshaken foundation to walk on! This is the source and truth I am trusting in and counting on; I must and will and shall! As difficult as it is going to be, though, I can’t help but also rejoice in the idea of being re-united with all my family and friends at home! As much as I trust God has brought me here, I also trust he is bringing me back home now. Therefore the phrase “bitter-sweet” really really really implies in this exact moment.

“An evening to remember!”
(Writing and pictures are soon to come)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Adventures Never Stops!

“Surprise! It’s a box!”
So the morning of the 20th I get a message that I have a rather large and expensive box waiting at the post office in my name. After the initial shock of, “A box? Really? A box?” I then requested the assistance of two of the older kids I have gotten closest to, Philip and Clara, and we then journeyed to take care of a few things in town; retrieving the box being the main! So, we started our journey by heading out to the main street (about 10 minute walk) to catch a chopa (public transportation). Once on one, we were soon overcome by the entertainment of sudden jerks and slamming of breaks; sending one, like myself, lunging into the seat in front of me for secure leverage. Needless to say I may have missed the Carolina Fair, but there’s a whole new kind of fair they got goin on over here! :)
So, after doing my last grocery shop of the trip, we then headed to get money out of the bank and over to get this mysterious package. When we first got the post office we weren’t sure where exactly to go and ended up getting sent to another location like 4 or 5 times. Phew! Finally though we made it to the right spot and were greeted with a great big smile, and a package! Bingo! We paid for it and then headed to catch ourselves another ride back. This ride was very smooth! I was also in the front seat… :)
As soon as we got back to the orphanage Clara and I went into our house and quickly opened the box! My mouth dropped and my heart leapt with joy when I saw all the love, encouragement, thoughts, and goodies located inside. What a blessing for the kids! They knew they had a church, Oak Brook Community, praying for them, but now to see proof with their own eyes...what a true gift of love!!!! I wasn’t able to show the kids the box right away due to other things in the schedule going on, but knowing about it and the excitement it would bring the children had definitely built up TONS of anticipation within me!
“From one heart to another”(11.26.08)
So after almost a week of not being able to give them the box, I was finally able to today! Oh goodness gracious what blast it was to see the excitement and joy and laughter leaking out of these children; non stop may I add! I started out telling them it was from my church from America. Then I showed them the pictures that the kids from OCC had drawn for them...I wish I would have recorded it..I did not expect them to respond the way they did! They were wide eyed with "oo's" and "aah's"; clapping and shouting and jumping around with each one they saw. They loved them all and had a hard time sharing them with each other, aha. :) Next I passed out the books, where they all crowded around each other to look at them. I'm not sure who enjoyed looking at them more, the children or the older youth!! Their favorite furry animal in the animal book, due to one of the movies I showed them last week, is the monkey. They act all crazy and silly when they see it!

After the books, I gave them the stickers, puzzle and the ball catcher game. They enjoyed these so much, too! They all took turns trying out the ball catcher one and laughed just as much while watching each other do it as they did when they were doing it themselves. It was quite a time of entertainment! (I have a ton of pictures and videos I will show yall when I get home!)
So, then came time to give out the candy. Oh boy, these kids made sure they weren't passed over!! They were all bouncing around with hands open and ready in clear view. Haha it was awesome!
Once all was shown, played with, and passed out, the kids then settled down and drew pictures and wrote letters for everyone at OCC expressing MUCH thanks!! They truly are SO thankful, and it meant so so much to them.

Thank you all again for this awesome gift!
So now for other happenings! I will kind of be going all over the place on dates and things that have gone... hope you can handle it :)

Tuesday 11, 2008
I was finally able to do my first bible study! We have had a difficult time finding a translator to fill this spot, but praise God one of the ladies I met at the women’s luncheon said she would be happy to come and do it for me. She had never done translating before but I think she did great! The girls got the main message of my lesson, which I entitled: “Beauty is fleeting, BUT”. I tried to stress the point across to them that, as we polished each others nails and did skin scrubs, it is OK to get prettied up and enjoy being girls; this is one of Gods unique blessings to us. But when we put that as priority over becoming beautiful in Christ and allowing him to scrub and polish us and our hearts, in order that they may be beautiful and pleasing to Him, then that is where the problem comes in. Our number one goal should be the desire of beauty everlasting: the beauty found only in Christ and His word; not the fading beauty that is only offered by this world which, in fact, is fading away even in this moment. So yeah, this was the basis of it and it went so well! The girls seemed so encouraged, too, which shows me the hand of my Father was present and at work. “Thank You, God!” (I could just kick myself for forgetting to take a picture, too..ugh)

November 16-19th, 2008
One of the girls I have met while being here, Jean Marie-24-from Minnesota, invited me to come stay with her, the 3 kids she home schools, and Allison and Angie-2 missionary girls working with SIL-Wycliffe. I arrive there on the Sunday evening of the 16th and got to stay through till the evening of Wednesday the 19th. It was such an enjoyable and great time of fellowship. I was extremely encouraged and re-energized during this event and felt like, once returning to the orphanage, my eyes were seeing things in a refreshed and new light. God is the most perfect provider of every need. How unfathomable is His character!!!

Friday 21, 2008
Some of the kids from the orphanage, who are all in my music class, were gone to a conference this day, so the music class ended up being very small. When the kids from another part of town came for English and music class they asked if they could watch a movie instead which ended up being just perfect! We ended up watching 2 movies: Sister Act II, (A choir movie) The Fighting Temptations (A choir movie). They really enjoyed them both and on Monday I am going to teach them “O Happy Day” from Sister Act. That should be a lot of fun! :)
After they all left Christina and I experimented with the making of a tomato sauce for our noodles. It started out a little rough, but after adding everything in it it suddenly became not only a meal but a dessert too! (sugar, flour, and lots more) The final result tasted actually quite yummy! We got some bread and butter to go with it and then we cozied down and watched a movie and a half. It was nice girl time with her!

“A few of my favorite things…”
One of the things I enjoy most around here is ALL the laughter. It never ceases! It doesn’t matter if the kids have eaten all 3 meals or missed all 3 meals; they laugh and play joyfully just as much as ever. What a joy to be around and what a conviction like no other!!

The other night we were about to watch Superman, which they all loved and who Clara is praying I marry, and they were all gathered around me asking me to sing. If I did anything silly with the sound of my voice in the process, or did a little dance along with it, the kids would laugh SO hard. They made my self esteem boost way high after that! ;)
I also showed them the movie “Dustin Checks In”, which is about a monkey. Oh goodness gracious, if I could just record them all watching a movie then no other/better entertainment would be needed for me! I wish you all could hear it and see it for yourself, but I will try to video and capture as much as I can.

“Did anyone say: Bugs?”
So the rainy season is starting to approach and I have seen in the last 2 weeks more bugs than I have my entire time of being here. The other night I had to “calmly”...yeah right... get one of the guards to come and kill 2 mammoth size spiders for me; and this was AFTER I had already killed one myself. I still don’t know the best Portuguese, but I went out and all I could say was “Grande bisho na minha casa! Eu medo! Fashavor…come!” This translates to: “BIG bug in my house! I scared! Please…come!” The guards found this very funny, oddly enough, and one of them came quickly and smashed the guts right out of them as I cheered him on. Eh. If it were a lizard or roach I would have no problem leaving it! (Never would I have thought I would say that about a roach..) But spiders…the size of your hand…staring at you with their beady ugly little black eyes and holding a sign saying: “I’m gona eat you”…I think not. Their morrer! (Dead)
Tuesday 25, 2008
I wasn't going to write anything for this day until the ride of my life took place. Me and 3 of the girls ran into to the city to hang out and run an errand and our ride on the chopa was INSANE!!! The roads were wet and crowded, and our driver was CRAZY. He sped like there was no tomorrow, weaving in and out of traffic.. I was so scared and the girls just laughed at me. If that wasn't bad enough though, at one point we came to a screeching stop and I just prayed as we were inches from hitting a man, who was trying to get his bike full of stuff for whatever work he did, across the street. The chopa guy was so mad that he pulled up next to him after the fact and tried to knock his heavy and full bike over. I felt so bad for him. When we got to our destination I wanted to jump out of the chopa and kiss the ground, but after thinking about the millions of parasites that would soon make home in me if i chose to do so, I decided it was best above all to offer MANY thanks to God instead; oh I did!

Monday 24, 2008 “I’m singin’ in the rain”
So today was the official start of the rainy season! Right after voice class was finished, we were about to pray when the sky all of a sudden opened up and released all its water. We all ran and made way to Christina’s house where those, not from the orphanage, waited and slept for the next 2 hours at least for the rain to stop. I, on the other hand, sat for about 5 minutes and then ended up running outside with Clara to go to our house to make sure there was no leakage. There was, but it was nothing too bad! So, then I grabbed my rain jacket and spent a good while taking pictures, enjoying the rain, and being entertained immensely by the kids enjoyment of the rain. They definitely took advantage of the rain; using it the bath, cool off and play in! It was a great add on to the day, though the after effects were not so great for the older boys’ tents. Please pray that as this rainy season comes they can establish some kind of stability for their homes! Not only them, but all their neighbors here; most of them live in mud homes which we all know can not last long in seasons like this.

Wednesday 26, 2008
Today was my last Classe de Musica, for the teaching part anyways. After each class I always end up reviewing things and seeing how each person is progressing and who is not. If some are not progressing like others, I always say "homework!" for the particular thing they are lacking in. The kids think this is the funniest thing. Well, today I could not say "homework" due to no more classes. However, they all said "Teacher teacher, homework for you!!" And I said "Ok, what is my homework?" And they lovingly yet humorously said "do not forget us!!" I could never forget the faces and hearts I have grown so close to and love so dearly. The absence of being in their presence is going to be very challenging.

“In the blink of an eye”
I am in shock at how fast this time truly has gone by. At some points it didn’t feel like it but then to see, wow, I have one week left; that’s crazy! It truly shows how our lives are like a mist; I see the true reality of that the older I get. I also look back at all that has happened, all that has been learned, all that has been taught and I am quickly humbled as I see how undeserving I am to have been in the midst of it all. I honestly don’t even know where to begin to tell of all GOD has done in EVERY moment of everyday. This actually will lead me into a few new prayer requests:

1) That God would begin to reveal to me how I am to present this trip to all those back at home. I don’t want to rob God of any of the glory or recognition for anything that has happened during this season; I see how easy it could be to do that. Please pray that God gives me the wisdom to know what would be most pleasing to Him for me to share; what would bring him the most praise! This is my desire.
2) For the separation that will soon take place. Victor shared with me the other day that it is going to be very hard for them when I leave; especially for Clara my roommate. He said he has seen such changes in her since I got here and he has seen her open up in ways that she has never opened up before. This was SO encouraging to hear but then also hard, keeping in mind I am leaving soon. I have grown quite attached to her; to all the kids! I have grown completely fond and love knowing, too, that at anytime I can go out and be with the kids; whether playing, watching, holding, singing with, etc. It is a lifestyle I love and see Christ in constantly, and the closer I get to actually leaving the more I realize just how hard it really is going to be.
3) A sweet and memorable last week for all of us. That whatever it is being done, God would be glorified and memories would be rooted deep; lasting forever.

My life will never be the same after this trip because of what the Lord has done in my heart and what he has shown me in the hearts of these people. I pray that as I have been encouraged and blessed beyond measure, that each of them would also be just as encouraged, if not more, and blessed; that Christ was and will continue to be seen in and out of my life and that I may bring encouragement to all of you as well. To Him be all glory forever and ever!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hokay so!

I have a little bit of catching up to do in filling everyone in on what's been going on here lately. Sorry! It’s been quite the 2 weeks and I will try to make sure I hit all the highlights!
Well in this week I started up voice classes and helping teach English class with Christina. This has been a lot of fun, and any time spent with the kids is always good! I am learning more Portuguese during the English classes as well which helps a lot and helps us all have more fun communicating with each other due to us learning the same words in the others language!

This week has also been extremely HOT and on the day that I thought was just completely unbearable Victor brought home my beautiful fan. Oh it could not have come at a greater time!!! As the week neared its end, though, it began to get cloudier and cloudier and come Saturday it actually drizzled and sunday (the 26th) it actually rained pretty hard for a little while. This could be a sign that the rainy season is near…o the thought!

Today Victor threw a huge picnic for his church. When he first told them he was going to have this for them, none of the adults knew what a picnic was and only the kids from the orphanage were familiar with it. He had BBQ chicken and regular chicken prepared, cake made by Janet-one of the girls on staff, rice, and soda! For some, they have never seen or tasted any food like this. (The BBQ chicken, cake and soda that is.) When Victor asked them what they thought about it, they said they didn’t know because they had nothing to compare it too. They seemed to enjoy it a lot though! When they began serving out the food, they decided to do things different and start with all the kids. There were at least 60 kids and only about 10 adults. As they began to serve I just kept looking at the food and thinking “there is no way this food is going to feed all these children AND the adults. There’s no way!” Christina and I were both a little stressed. But as I stood in this mindset, it wasn’t but maybe 2 minutes later God reminded me of the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. “He had only 5 loaves and 2 fish. All were filled and they even ended up with leftovers”. This was the next thought that flooded through my mind, as the line seemed endless, and gave me peace and confidence to trust in the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Once everyone was served I at last stood in front of a table; a table of plenty. With dishes that didn’t seem to empty; a pot of rice that didn’t seem to have a bottom; I stood in awe of my God once again and was thankful for His faithfulness and for His word! I am continually becoming more and more aware of why he tells us to meditate on His word day and night. Had it not been for the reading of it I would not have known that story and been reminded of it and Gods faithfulness proved throughout it. If it were not for His word, every promise and every act of faithfulness, we would be a people without the knowledge of hope; a people without purpose; a people living daily in fear and doubt because we have nothing that shows another way. How amazing it is that God made and gave a way so that we do not have to be a people like that! How amazing it is that we have this compass to help us through life, situations, thoughts, etc. How amazing it is to still have the freedom to read it; hiding it in our hearts that we may know Christ and not sin against him! “O Father, may we ne’er take your Word for granted, but rather hide it in our hearts that we may be reminded of your faithfulness, reminded of your commands, and in return be obedient and faithful and pleasing in your sight.”

So for the rest of the time during the picnic, while everyone was still eating and hanging out, Christina and I hung with the kids taking pictures left and right! It was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the fellowship so much!!

Then, because of the weather getting rainier, a few of the boys came over to my house and put up black tarp on the windows They told Victor that "We can't let sister Ashlie suffer in this weather!" So then they took the initiative to doing something about it. They are so sweet and are always looking out for others needs and then meeting them to the best of their ability. What a conviction and example of a servants heart!

That evening Victor, Christina and I went to the SIL (Wycliffe) church for their evening service. It was really neat and we are hoping to go again next Sunday to hear the youth choir sing! OH and after the church service we went out to eat and I got a HUGE plate of rice and fries and chicken. How much did I pay you ask? A whopping $4.00 U.S. dollars! Oh man. Talk about a steal!

Today, after the older kids English class, we added an English class for the little kids. It was so cute and they were eager to learn! We did sentences like “I am/I am not hungry”, “I am/I am not hot”, I am/I am not cold”, and “I am/I am not thirsty”. Ok, time for a funny story about the pronunciation of “th”. In both the older and younger kids class, sounding out words that have “th” in it is so hard for them. It always comes out a) firsty or b) tirsty. They try so hard to get the proper sound out but it’s just so hard for them! It’s so funny to watch them put so much emphasis on putting there tongue in between their teeth, too, and then still not getting it. Bless the hearts! With the little kids we also do things like “sit down”, “stand up”, “jump”, “clap”, and “stop”. It’s a lot of fun!
So, after English classes, Victor, Christina and I spent the majority of the day getting our visas renewed. Come to find out they will only extend my visa for 30 more days each time which would then leave it expiring again on the 1st of December. This would mean I would spend a whole extra day in Mozambique with an expired visa. We will either have to spend the money to renew it or see about changing my flight time to leaving Nampula on the 1st rather than the 2nd. I pray God’s will is done and I trust that it will be!
The voice class today was a bit..discouraging. The student haven’t been reading or memorizing the verses I’ve been giving them and I don’t want this just to be a class for techniques. Especially since the group is made up of a church choir and Christian band. For the past 2 weeks I have been trying to encourage them to memorize and hide Gods word in their heart, that way when they sing praises to him they know who it is they are singing to. For some reason, though, they have not been doing this. Today I had Victor give a devotional on the verse I gave for them to work on over the weekend. It was Psalm 5:11 which says: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” He gave the history and background of this verse and spoke on it for the next hour. I began to realize, also, that not everyone has easy access to a bible, so, I changed things up a little bit. What we are going to start doing now is on Mondays I will give out the verse and we will spend the first part of class reading the chapter and seeing what the original context of it was, that way there is no confusion. Then, through out the week I will have them copy down the specific verse and at least work on meditating on it through out the week, being ready to share something they either learned or were encouraged from it on Fridays class. We’ll see how this goes! The verse for this week is Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Today seemed to be exceptionally hot, considering the past couple days was nice and cloudy with a cool breeze. I was pretty tempted to buzz all my hair off, but then I regained consciousness.
This was a very chill day, which was good, considering I wasn’t feeling all myself. I ended up taking a nap and waking up a little more energized! When I went outside all the kids were sitting under the big tree in between Christina’s house and mine and I stopped to hang out with them for a bit before dinner. While we were hanging out one of the little boys Isaac came running through everyone pulling a string with a Barbie doll car attached to it. As he went by I noticed there was something sitting in the “driver’s seat” of the car. I stopped him and my eyes were quickly adjusted to what it was: a dead rat with a hole pierced through its neck! *GAG* I was so disturbed but somehow managed to get lots of pictures. They took such pride in this and found it very amusing that I was disgusted. Once I finished taking pictures they picked it up by the body and chucked it. Hand washing was the least of their concern, too. But, that is another HUGE difference in the cultures for sure!

Today I woke up and felt heavy hearted. I think a lot of it has to do with not feeling quite myself physically and allowing the discouragement from Monday’s class effect my outlook on how today and today’s class would be. In my devotions I was encouraged by these verses:
-Psalm 25:3 “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”
-Romans 5:3-5 “We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.”
-Philippians 3:13b “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
-Psalm 16:7-8 “I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
-Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything to hard for me?”
Again, I see the importance of God’s word. It is the fuel for our souls, the nourishment to our bodies, and the glasses our hearts need to see God’s sovereignty!
Well, needless to say, the voice class went so well, so fun, and left us all so encouraged! We opened with prayer and a song and then jumped into review from last week and then I introduced them to vocal warm ups. I’m not sure who enjoyed this more, me or them! =) At the end of class I taught them a new song: “Kum Ba Yah” (No, not the camp fire one). I split them all up into 4 groups, gave them each parts and then had them sing those parts together while I sang the verses. It sounded so amazing and I made sure to record it! We then ended in song and prayer and everyone left with such an excited and encouraging glow. “Thank you Jesus!”

This particular morning my alarm was the sound of the children singing praises to God with the beat of a drum in the background. There could not have been a better way to wake up! “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”-Lamentations 3:22-23 Nothing too different happened this day. Clara was sick so we pretty much laid around, talked, and watched movies all day after class! It was good for me too considering I still wasn’t quite feeling myself.

This was a different, interesting, and great day! Since I don’t do English class on Friday mornings with Christina, due to them only taking a test on these days, I was able to start the day spending extra time in quiet. This morning I was in Matthew 25. When I got to the Parable of the Talents I was so humbled and convicted, especially when I got to verse 21 where it says “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” O if only we/I would remember and realize the true reward that awaits those who are faithful, for then would we/I truly strive to be faithful, even in the smallest most “insignificant” moments. (I could go on for hour’s about what all God has been showing me in my quiet times, but I reckon I will save that for a blog of its own maybe!?)
So, after my quiet time I went out to see what was goin’ on and ended up meeting some missionaries that were here. There was a husband and wife from Washington just in Africa for the month to travel around and get different footage for there ministry. They were here today to interview Victor and Christina about EvanjAfrica and to get video of the orphanage and the projects going on here. Then there was a man named Pete and 2 of his children. His wife and his other son were at home doing school! It was really neat meeting them all and getting to talk to them. Pete invited me to eat an American lunch with them too; ham sandwiches, choc. chip cookies, and orange soda. It was a nice treat! Later on I ended up getting to talk with Mrs. Becky (the interviewer’s wife) for a few minutes and in those few minutes we got on the topic of something I had been struggling with personally and she came in with such encouragement! She looked like Mrs. Wall and had the tone and encouragement of my mom. I didn’t want her to leave!! But, I was so blessed and thankful for the time that she was there and that we got to talk. She was God-sent no doubt. After they were finished all they came to do we all circled up and prayed, then as they were leaving Pete invited me to come for dinner with Victor and Christina while I was still here; enchiladas’. I am so down for that.
Voice class was yet again great! Victor came and translated for the beginning of it so we could discuss everyones thoughts were on the verse, how they were encouraged, and/or what things this passage really taught them. One young man said this verse encouraged him to see that though things may be hard or difficult, or may not go the way we want them to, we should and still can rejoice and be glad in the day, knowing that God created it! After the discussion time we did our voice warm ups and this picture was taken while I was showing them a new way to do warm ups. Rather than the simple "la la la's" i wanted them to make their lips vibrate (kinda like the sound a horse makes) and do the warm ups that way. We pretty much spent that whole part of class getting them used to making that noise, considering a lot of them had never done it before. It was hilarious! (Fortunately, amidst all the laughter, they all did learn to do it!)

This evening I showed the kids “A Night at the Museum”. They enjoyed it so much!! My favorite part about movie nights is listening to their hearty laughs. They are so contagious and seem to bring such a joy to all around! Oh! Before we watched the movie Victor showed a bunch of older pictures of the kids and the orphanage. I have never heard more laughing in my life! For the first few minutes I just sat and listened, wondering why they were laughing at certain picture when they seemed perfectly fine. Victor said they are all always picking on each other, and laughing at a picture is there way of picking fun. They do it completely out of fun, and no one gets hurt by it, but it was so interesting and entertaining to watch this! I could only take a few minutes thought of just watching, and soon couldn’t help bun join right in! I haven’t laughed that hard since being away from the states. It was a purely good time.

So yes, this is the update on all that has been going on lately! I hope and pray you are all found spiritually encouraged and physically well. Please know I am holding you close in my thoughts and prayers! Thank you for your faithful prayers and comments of encouragement. They mean so much and I am so blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful family! I love you all! Oh, and I can’t believe we are November now! Wow!

Prayer Requests:
1) For Victor and Christina: That God would provide the financial supporters they need to be stable.
2) For the orphanage: That God would continue to provide the funds for the projects that are taking place now, and that will take place later.
3) For me: That I would not waste a single moment, but that in each one given I would be faithful, obedient and willing to be used to the fullest!

Thank you all again! I love and miss yall!

“Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Here are some random pictures of the daily happenings that go on around here! I hope they make you all feel more like you're here with me!

#1- My bed

#2- English class

#3- Let the corn rows begin!

#4- Almost done!

#5- Finished project! (Yellow shirt: Jizella, Blue shirt: Lanorda, Blue shirt: Cloudia)

#6- Close up of the sweet corn rows

#7- The after effects of corn rows: BIG HAIR

#8- Cloudia: The skilled braider!

#9- Nolita holding up her pottery

#10- A few of the girls playing

#11- Kinito (Maybe 7 or 8 yrs old..they are unsure)

#12- Mina (4 yrs Old)

#13- If only they knew..

#14- The boys infront of their temporary homes until the new dorm is finished! (They love it!)

#15- Elder (White shirt) posing for the camera. He was one of the children from the orphanage and now he helps out with the kitchen work. He is such a young man who loves the Lord and loves to serve! He also is dedicated to doing morning and evening devotions with the children during the week, and teaching sunday school.

#16- In need

#17- In plenty
Well this is it for now. I will post more later! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I am so blessed!

As I sit and type, the air is filled with an amazing breeze and joyful songs of praise as the Evanjafrica band is practicing! They are such a gifted group of young kids and their voices and styles of music are great and unique to my American ears, considering they are not the kind of sounds you hear often in the states! Their practices are like a group affair, too. It starts out with just the band and maybe a few other people listening, then before you know it over half the orphanage is standing around listening and dancing! They keep asking me to teach them new things and… right! The more I listen to them the more I’m like “Teach me!!” I will actually be teaching voice lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, starting tomorrow, and then going through until I leave. My main focus for what I will be working on them with is 1) To gain a deeper understanding of our motives and purpose for making music and singing and 2) To teach them a few voice techniques to enhance the skills they most definitely already have. It will be things like breathing properly so that when they are up and dancing around they can keep a controlled sound to their voice, etc. I was thinking I would only be teaching the kids from the orphanage but I was informed the other day that it will be kids from one of the best choirs in this area as well. Oh man...! I have never taught voice lessons; therefore this will be a growing time in that area and a growing time in relying on the wisdom and grace of God all the way! Oh…! Little Isaac just brought over a little clay set he made for me to see! It’s a computer with a keyboard and mouse. It’s supposed to be like the ones me and Christina use…How precious!!!

Ok, story time! So the other day as I was looking out the window, I saw the kids throwing tiny mangos at the dog, Simba. (The orphanage pet) I quickly went out and yelled “Now! Shayga!” This in English means “No! That’s enough!” So they stopped for a little while. Then next thing I know their throwing more again. All I thought was “this poor dog and the abuse he puts up with!” Well, a few moments ago (in the present time) I was distracted by this same event, only this time it was with one of the little girls and little boys. The little boy was attacking the little girl with the same tiny mangos, then vice versa. It looked painful to me but they were definitely enjoying it! Hmm…I understand their different kind of…entertainment…more each day. J
Another new thing that has been added to the days is doing work outs and exercises with a few of the older girls. Right now I am only doing them with Clara, but soon it will be more girls. I didn’t think this would be something of interest to them but they were actually the ones to come to me!

So yeah, for the curious minds, now that I have one I will give a layout of what my schedule will look like until I leave (events are subject to change quickly):
Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays:
-8am-9am-Helping Christina teach the older kids English
-9:30-10:30-Helping Christina teach the younger kids English
-1pm-2pm-Helping Christina teach another English class to the choir group
-2pm-4 pm-Teaching music classes to the Evanjafrica kids as well as the choir group
-4:30pm-6pm-Work outs with a few of the older girls
-Evenings are free, but since their days start at 4:30am sleep is ready to be started at like 8 or 9!
Tuesdays and Thursdays:
-8-9-English class for older kids
-9:30-10:30-English class for younger kids
-Free time until 4:30-6pm-Work outs
-These are pretty chill days with no real set schedules except for chores, music practice, playing games, etc.
-So far it’s just been church and then back to relax and enjoy the Lords day of rest! Next Sunday, though, we are hoping to make it out to the evening Wycliffe church service, which is a church for all the missionaries located in and around this area. (Most are Americans) They also have a big celebration for thanksgiving which we are hoping and planning to attend. That should be fun and interesting! Also, Sunday nights are usually when they do a movie night. Tonight it was “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. It’s so much fun watching movies with them and listening to all their hearty laughter! (Even though the majority of them have no idea what is being said)

Today I had my first class. I was SO extremely nervous and leading up to it I was worried and questioning if this was something I really should be doing. Before I knew it, it was time. I started the class out with getting their hearts and minds in tune with what worship is and why we do it. One of the main classes I taught this past summer at camp was on “A Heart of Worship”, which answered those exact questions. I can see now how God gave me training in this area there, and how that training has prepared me to teach it here. God is so good!!! The class went so well, too. They were a great group of about 15 young people who were so receptive to all God was speaking through me! Victor translated, too, which made all of my speaking 100% understood. (Phew! Another blessing) Well, after the class was over I was made aware, by God, on how I had doubted Him again. I doubted my gifts which HE has established in me, I doubted that God could use me again for His good work, and I doubted that God was the same yesterday, today, and forever. I was reading just the other day too, in my journal entries, and seeing how God has been so faithful in all areas of my life! How could I see that and yet still dare to doubt Him now? He quickly reminded me that it is HE who has brought me to this place, it is HE who has put these opportunities in front of me, it is HE who chooses to use the weak to lead the strong, and it is HIM and HIM alone that I should be trusting in to fulfill the plans and work he is laying out in front of me, not my own strength or what I feel I am or am not qualified to do. HE has provided for me thus far, and in every situation I should and need to continue to trust that He IS unchanging. (Hebrews 13:8) He knows exactly what I need exactly before I even realize I am in need of it. My job is to continue searching out His heart, trusting in His heart, and not being anxious about anything, but rather knowing that “My God will supply every need of mine according to HIS glorious riches in Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:19. What comfort we can take in that promise! This is another situation God has used to remind and stretch me; that I may draw nearer to His heart. Thank you Jesus!

A deeper longing for Christ and time with Him, a deeper understanding of what it is to be His hands and feet, a deeper understanding of what it means to be still and know that He is God, an increased attitude of gratitude, a deepening of trust and reliance on Christ alone, a deeper understanding of the riches we as Christians truly have in Christ, the power of praying in Jesus’ name, and an increased understanding of a servants heart are just a few of the many things God is teaching, maturing, and stretching me in. I am ever so thankful!!!

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”-Acts 20:24

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Halleluiah, what a Love!"

It’s been another great, and quite fast, week! There was no real set schedule, but still the days seemed to fill up really fast. Estephano, Victor’s younger brother, came in last Sunday and has been taking Clara and I out sight seeing and exploring for the past few days. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is here!

Wednesday, at 6am, all the kids and staff met on the foundation where the new boys dorm will be built. Victors dad was there and gave a message and then we all prayed for the project. We prayed that once we get started God would continue to provide and bless the work being done, and that it wouldn't stop until it was completed!

Later that day, Clara and I went for a walk around the town and met up with Estephano. We then walked back towards the orphanage and down to a "river". Due to the huge drought they are in, there was not a drop of water there! (As you can see) Come December, though, it should fill back up completely. So after that we came back to the orphanage and played with the kids, sat and talked with Christina, and played some more until dinner time.

Thursday,(yesterday) there was a huge struggle and need for prayer! The city shut the water off a few days ago, because of the drought, and by this day it still hadn't been turned back on yet and everything was completely empty and water was VERY difficult to find. The kids had not been able to shower and they were now limited on the water they were allowed to have. On top of that it has been exceptionally hot, which means the need for water is increased! Well, by that evening, due to many many prayers from all of you and more, the water was turned back on and we were able to fill everything back up again! Praise the Lord and thank you all for your prayers. Please continue to pray that, if it pleases Him most, God would keep the water on! Not only for the orphanage but for the whole city!
Hokay so, when we went for another days worth of walking and adventures, I got to ride on my first Chape(sounds like Shoppa). This is a van which is used for transportation. It's kind of like our Charter buses, but not really. (Picture soon to come) They pack these vans in tight and then stop about every 5 seconds to pick up more people. It was a fun experience and took us about 20 minutes to get to our first destination; the Mountain. Once we got there we climbed up and instantly stood in awe of the beauty that laid before us. God truly is the most amazing artist, y'all!!! So,we start walking around on this mountain, minding our own business and just talking away, when suddenly these 2 men start walking towards us. They seemed kinda sketchy and it looked like might have wanted to start something, and though I was ready to bust out my scissor kicks, Estephano thought it best for us to head in another direction. ;) Once we got to the next destination (still on the mountain) we saw more amazing sites. One of them was a little house with a yard of green grass! I was so excited to see this! I have not seen one house or area that really had any grass except for this house and a gas station down the road. Yeah, so after that we headed down to catch another Shoppa for our next stop. We soon arrived at one of Nampulas nicest and biggest, what we would call them, Malls. We went into this little cafe' place and devoured a bottle of sprite, then moved on to another cafe' place that over looked part of the town, and drank lots of juice and talked. We did this for the next hour then needed to head back because it was starting to get dark. (Dark equals not as safe) So, we get back and by this time we are all so tired from the heat, walking, and riding that we all go our separate ways and head to bed!

Today(Friday) has been a really hot day. Not humid though, like South Carolina! (For this i am thankful!) One of the neatest things I did today was lay the first huge rock down on the foundation for the new boys dorm.(pictures soon to come) It was heavy, and I found a shoe. After that I finished my laundry and then cleaned my little house. Then I headed over to my bathroom and ventured to fill up my big bucket used for showers. It was like an event because it soon turned from just me trying to do it, to 4 of us doing it! Everyone here is so sweet and jumps to the opportunity to help another in need. And they do it with a HUGE smile! I am learning so much from their cheerful servants heart! As for now I am heading out to ShopRite with Victor to get some groceries and then hopefully a fan tomorrow, which will be a HUGE blessing to have with this weather. Oh boy will it!
Thank you all for your continual prayers. They are felt and greatly needed! I wish you could all be here experiencing this with me, but since you can't please know you are in my thoughts and prayers daily! Please continue to fill me in and keep me updated on praises and prayer request you all may have! If you don't want to post them on here you can email me at and I will reply from there. I love you all and God bless!