Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seeing Heidi, Miss amy, and getting prepared!

Mama Heidi speaking and reminding us of what we want to give our lives for!

Hello friends!
There was a conference here in Nashville last weekend in which David Hogan and Heidi Baker spoke!  I got soooo....just overwhelmed by what God did in me there. I had an incredible encounter with the Lord in which He truly started breaking my heart for the mamas and the women that I live with in Pemba. thank you Lord for that! I am so thankful. 
The amazing Lancaster family! Go to www.Wewillgo.org to learn more
Last week I was miraculously blessed with the ability to get to visit Miss Amy Lancaster in Jackson, Mississippi! She and her family live there with other missionaries, right in the heart of the downtown area which is apparently one of the "worst" cities in the U.S. Which is where us Iris folks like to be!!! It was amazing to see all that God is doing there, and I was SO encouraged to live life with them and to the people ther efor a while. I realized something while interacting witht he people there: people are people...and I love them. ! Walking around the neighborhoods there was so similar to visiting friends in Pemba, and  loved it. I am realizing more and more that God made me to be a lover of His children - especially the onees that don't get much love. Thank you Lord, for breaking my heart for your lost children!

They also have a lot of knocks on their door for help from their neighbors, which is similar to my 350 or so people that knock on our doors for help in Pemba. that was one of the reasons that I wanted to visit them - to see how they stop for the one there. I learned a lot from their patience and kindness and HOSPITALITY! Oh my goodness - the south has such an anointing for hospitality, it's amazing!!! I want to be like that, Jesus. I realized that i can NEVER let the jewelry making preparations stop me from really caring about the ones that knock on my door for help. 
This week I have the opportunity to go to California for a while. There I will be seeing and encouraging my sister who moved there recently, visiting with my aunt and asking for help with Jewelry making (she makes Jewely as well!), meeting up with Iris Alumni who I will love to ask for prayer and disection of my time this summer, and just get some time to fill up in the amazing worship there! 

Please keep praying for finances for my plane ticket and living expenses there, and praise the Lord with me that He has provided everytime I have really needed it. Also please pray that I figure out how to really connect with my church family while Im here, though I have time limitations! I'm realizing Im not as close to people there as Id like to be, and I really need friends right now!!!!
Dont forget you can email me anytime if youre wondering about what's going on with me, or if you want to give advice about how to...be a missionary that's visitng home!! :)
love and peace

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Everyday life

If I were in Pemba this week...

These are the faces that I would be seeing tomorrow morning if I were in Pemba. I would be getting up early to jog and spend time with God, then I would be either walking (if so, I'd see ladies carrying their loads on their heads on the way there)
or catching a ride to the other base to begin teaching these ladies at 8:30 am.

I would say "Moshellelia Simpwanaka" and "Salaama" (good morning friends! and hello!), give two kisses on either cheek, and hugs, and then start worshiping and dancing! Then we would start teaching!

I would be making time out of my busy day to make sure and eat lunch in the kitchen - because that's where my best friends are!!! These ladies teach me Makua, joke around with me, make special kind of food for me (JUST ME!!!) and save it for me, and sing songs together. They also bring me into the kitchen and try to teach me to make the food with them. This is one of the best parts of my day, and most important, in my opinion (probably the Lord's as well!). Sometimes I get busy and may even miss a lunch meal - but these ladies are the main reason that I make myself stop doing busyness!

I would be getting visits! every night, these two girls knock on my door (the lovely white girl next to me is my roommate, Bridget!!!!! I love her!!) and they come in and just hang out! They are daughters of teachers in the Bible school. They will sometimes jsut sit contently while Bridget and I are doing our own things, or they will play on my computer, or we willl help them with some homework or give them some food. (I had to set some parameters at one point, because for a while I was getting knocks at all times of the day including 6:30 am on a saturday morning! ha!).

This is what I would be doing this weekend if I were in Pemba - sitting on a rope bed, in a hut with good friends, playing cards with a little girl sleeping on my lap and village kids crowing around to see. Or, an amazing friend would be cooking me a meal. I always bring persents when I visit these friends - usually some food, something practical, and something fun like jewelry! I love my weekends. One time I bought bamboo for a friend to fix part of her house.

Seems adventurous, huh? Well this is just everyday life in Pemba!!!

To become a monthly supporter please contact me at Tcierpke@gmail.com
To send a tax deductible gift to me through Miraculous Love Ministries send it here (Always listen to Him first):
P.O. Box 1543
Franklin, TN 37064

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fun Videos from Iris Arts jewelry making class!

Here are some really fun and beautiful videos from our class!
The first two videos are from a day that we had a party and foot washing for the ladies. Because the Pemba base also houses the Harvest School of Missions, we had Harvest schoolers helping with the class for the two months that they were on base. They were in class once a week, and did a lot of other amazing things to help us during the week (we love you, Harvest Schoolers!!!!!). This was their last day to be in the class, so we had a party in which each lady recieved a skirt (an awesome present for them), foot washing, toenails painted, and some brownies!!! It was such an amazing and fun day. They were very thankful and were singing most of the time that we were washing their feet.
The second video down is them getting very excited about receiving skirts! You can hear their token warbling sound that they make with their tongues - it's a type of applause, and it's hard to do!!! I'll master it yet! Ha!

The last video is the ladies having fun during worship. We have worship before class every day, and they have a lot of fun. You can see in the middle of their dance circle that the women bring their children to class, and some of the dance too! One of the little girls is named Regina, and she is always dancing in the middle of the room when we are singing together!!! These ladies have a lot to be upset and worried about - many of them have a lot of children and no husband or way to support themselves ( though Iris does feed them and their families and supply many basic needs). But they are full of joy because of Jesus' love for them, and because they are learning how to make jewelry and will be able to have jobs soon!

Muluku Aureriheni Simpwanaka!!! (God bless you, my friends! - in Makua)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm in Nashville - but I'm returning to Mozy!

I am home! Or in one of my two homes.
A week ago I arrived here in Nashville TN, my North American home. Traveling went smoothly, though it took 3 days and I was pooped when I arrived! My friends had a surprise birthday party for me on Wednesday night the 31st, and it was such an amazing gift to me. I am now a quarter of a century old, and ready to live life!

I would love to share the basic life plan with everyone, so here it is:

My 3 months in Pemba was amazing, and challenging. I have been welcomed back by the base leaders in Pemba to to be an Iris Missionary on the base for another 6 months to continue training and loving the 109 ladies that I have been working with. I am excited and have many dreams for the direction of the class!!
Those dreams include working more on technique with them by having small group training, and starting a smaller group on projects with metal jewelry designs such as rings and pendants!! Iris Arts is also working on the business aspect of the project and is looking into selling jewelry online and in the U.S with Heidi Baker as she preaches in other countries.

I am here in the U.S. for about two months, mainly to close this chapter, connect with and say proper goodbyes to YOU, and get better equipped emotionally, spiritually, and physically (with supplies). I am looking for odd jobs as well, looking to share as much as possible about my awesome time in Pemba, am selling my stuff including my car, and am hoping to serve at the Iris Nashville conference coming up Sept. 23-25, as well as at "We Will Go" in Jackson, Mississippi.
I also feel that I need to take advantage of the resources of the U.S. as much as possible when it comes to really equipping myself so I'm going to be studying Portuguese, jewelry techniques and books, as well as hopefully getting to Redding, California to get truly filled and rested and possibly a RTF healing week.
Those both cost money, and my first priority is to get a return ticket to Pemba, and Visa! But I have been feeling the importance of taking care of myself and preparing to be a healthy Missionary and am hoping to be able to do both. While I was in Pemba I started to see the importance of getting rid of my "junk" in order to truly have plenty to give of myself to those around me.
So, those are all the things that I'm dreaming and believing for in this time period!
Please feel free to request getting together with me if you are in Nashville , but do it NOW, because I am going to run out of time quickly, and am planning on going out of town more next month than this one.
Bless you all, and I'll be putting up some more stories from my last weeks there soon!
Love you all so much, and am so happy to be here in my second home!

To become a monthly supporter please contact me at Tcierpke@gmail.com
To send a tax deductible gift to me through Miraculous Love Ministries send it here (Always listen to Him first):
P.O. Box 1543
Franklin, TN 37064

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stopping for the One - what does it look like?

I’ve had a day where I’ve come to tears a few times every time I think about the women that I work with. It’s not because I’m worried about their life situations, but because God is so filling me with love for them as I get to know them that it overwhelms me. Their life situations are worthy of tears, but I’m thankful that I know the truth about that; That is that I’m allowed to be joyful though the world would say I need to be in despair. I’m thankful for the kind of tears that God brings me and these that He is bringing.

The last month has been hard for me. Let me be transparent; I have had many difficulties. They have been very good difficulties, but difficult nonetheless. About a month ago, dissension started in the unity of our ministry team. They weren’t and aren’t large – with Iris’s personality, it’s hard to stay in a place of disunity for very long. We all so desire to move forward with the Holy Spirit, and I love working with people that put Him first and actually try to line up Biblically in decisions. Most of the issues, turns out, were things in me that I didn’t know were there. This time has been an amazing way of pointing out more of my “junk” to get rid of. It’s been overwhelming at times, but I’m so thankful for it now. God has repeatedly been telling me that He is beautifying me to be His bride, and I can see that this has been a weeding and pruning time for me.

Other issues have been that my wallet was stolen, and I’ve been without money for three weeks because the credit card I had from my father (thank you Jesus that I happened to have it – I don’t own one and I only had that for my flight confirmations) wasn’t working. I think I’ve also just been realizing so much about how to live life, that it’s been overwhelming for me.

I hope everyone I love realizes that being here in a revival zone, in an amazing environment, following God’s call on my life isn’t enough on its own to make me close to Him. I’ve realized I can’t rely on that to create intimacy with God. Yes, sacrificing most of what I’m used to and giving up rights to “my life” really affects me in an amazing way, but I’m seeing in so many areas of my life what it takes to be consistent in putting Him first. It’s not always easy. Right now I’ve decided to fast for this week - I really want to be hungrier for God, and I really want to know Him better. So I’m making decisions that better position me for that…or trying! I’ve been alone this week, no roommate and no Harvest schoolers. That school ended last week and all have left for homes or outreaches. Nathalia, my co-worker is also gone. The only friends that I have right now are my Mozambican friends – which is amazing because I love having time for only them. But Im alone in the evenings working on designs for jewelry making and I keep giving in and eating things! This is me being transparent. J But there is Grace and Im getting up today deciding to fast for another week (except for on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning as Ive been invited to a friend’s house from the kitchen and on Saturday am cooking breakfast for some of the amazing boys from the orphanage/no-longer-orphans.)

One thing I think is amazing is that I’m being forced into a position in which it doesn’t matter to me at all whether anyone knows what I’m doing for the glory of it or affirmation or what it does to my identity. God has so been working on identity for me while I’ve been here, which I think is the first thing to deal with when doing full-time ministry. I think when you’re consistently walking in the destiny called you to and living out the practical aspects of it, like prepping jewelry designs, you realize what it looks like to truly decide to follow Him and sacrifice and that joy that comes from other people thinking you’re special or amazing for following God simply doesn’t make doing any of it worth it. The only thing that makes doing the very hard stuff, the amazing stuff, the boring stuff worth it for me is the way God is using my life to draw beautiful people closer to Him and showing me how He sees His children – it’s all about Him. It can’t be anything else. I’m so thankful to be realizing this. As I’m so very close to being completely alone with God, and Mozambicans, I see that it’s amazing to have the affirmation of others stripped away and only live off of God’s and their affirmation. (My friends here are incredibly affirming, though which is amazing. But I can’t live from that place either.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3. Also what “stopping for the one” looks like. I’ve been learning this very much in this department. There are 280 women in the program that I find myself needing to stop for frequently. How does it work, you ask? I ask the same thing all of the time; I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to do anything out of my own strength here. So what does it look like for me at this point: it looks like not getting frustrated or being rude when it’s hard for me to walk more than a few feet without getting many many requests for money, food, or hearing stories about deaths in the family and problems with houses, that may or may not be true. It’s me stopping to talk to them, being kind and smiling and seeing if any of these things are emergencies, if they are I do something about it – if not I tell them to come talk to us on Tuesdays at 11 when we have our requests day. It’s me swallowing my pride and explaining (which I did yesterday) why I’m not a “bad friend” for not giving them exactly what they ask for in that I am able to say no and still love them. Explaining that I am not their savior and that Mercy Ministries has to be responsible to try and help emergencies before needs like a pot to cook in that could actually wait until the next week. It’s me deciding that I will honor my promise to visit my friends that live a very long walk into the village on my only day off from work , Saturday, (other than Sunday, my sabath) even though I’m very tired. It’s choosing to spend money on my friends here instead of on myself, and sharing my food with them.

The best example that I have at this point of how stopping for the one is actually so important and SO worth it is this: last Tuesday I was very very busy and was getting sick. My throat was hurting terribly and I was sneezing and coughing. I had class in the morning and sang too much which made my throat hurt worse, but I had told the girl, Julieta, whose mother died in our class about a month ago that I would visit after class. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time, because we had to sell jewelry that afternoon, and I was supposed to get a Sozo with Kristene and Eileen from Grace center and Grace chapel. I seriously considered just giving her some food and a gift and saying that I didn’t have time and that I felt sick. But I knew that I knew inside that I needed to STOP for her, and take the time to do this thing that I didn’t have time for in the natural. As we were beginning to walk I found out that she lives in Imbonderio, which is about a 40 minute walk ha! The sun was hot, I only had a little bit of water with me, and my throat was hurting so badly. But I knew I had to go.

As we were walking I slowly started to remember why I knew I needed to do it. I started remembering the way this area is so much bigger than I think it is and that there’s so much of the culture and way of life that I haven’t experienced yet. I was walking through a new area that I hadn’t been to before and it was beautiful – there were many hills and the huts were strewn about them. Once I got to her house, I found out that she wasn’t actually living with her grandmother as I thought she was – she (13) and her brother (9) live alone in a small house that looks like the tool shed of another house that shares the same fenced in yard. Her grandmother apparently lives about 10 minutes walking distance away. But Julieta and her brother are basically being fed and taken care of by the house that they share the yard with; there are four girls and a married couple that lives there and they are amazing. The leader of the bunch is named Anifa, and she has a baby named Nelson (who peed on me, Gracas a deus (by the Grace of God haha). I had spoken with Julieta many times about her mother dying, and somehow I didn’t get the information right about her living situation. It’s hard sometimes to understand the way someone’s life is – this is why you visit them in their houses. This is why you take time for them. Oh my goodness, I wouldn’t have known otherwise. So, I decided to buy her groceries. I got enough for probably two to three weeks for her, hallelujah. It’s not usually a good idea to do that very often here, but I knew it was right for me to do in this situation. I’m talking with our team, as well, trying to decide what to do from this point for her. It seems that it might be better for her to be with this family than with her grandma, but I’m not sure.

I can't believe how obvious it is that visiting this girl's house changed so many things in the way I understand her and am able to help her. Giving her my time, and sacrificing my comfort to walk to her house was all I needed to do to bring some change. I want to say also that that night, I noticed that my throat wasn’t hurting anymore. That was truly a miracle. The next day, she and her grandma brought me a papaya from their trees, since they don’t have a lot of money to buy a present for me. That papaya was so precious to me.

Please try to stop for someone today. And pray that I will have the strength to remember to stop here as well.

love you all so much

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stories and news!

The Wedding

Eddy and Rosa’s wedding was amazing. I haven’t been to a one more beautiful, I don’t think. Rosa is one of Heidi’s adopted Mozambican daughters from the Glory days of when she and Rolland first lived in the southern part of Mozambique. She was not much different than the girls that we take care of on this base now: poor and living in terrible conditions without great life prospects! She is an amazing testament to life available to us through Christ’s sacrifice – she is now such an amazing, pure, and strong women of God. Eddy is a Missionary from California who works with the young boys that live here on the base. He has a dad from Bangladesh and a mother from Switzerland.

Together Rosa and Eddy present an amazing promise of multi-cultural unity in the body of Christ, and the entire day reflected that truth. It was on the beach in Maranganha, which is such a beautiful paradise of an area about 15 minutes from the base. All of the Harvest school, Bible school, missionaries and Mozambicans that work with Pemba were there. I saw so many friends from different areas of my life here: pastors from the Bible school, women from my jewelry class, women from the kitchen, the amazing children from the base, Missionaries from the base, and Harvest schoolers. The wedding didn’t start for a few hours so we all just chatted on the gorgeous beach and sat on grass mats overlooking the ocean; the day was a beautiful excuse to hang out with friends!

I love the informal personality of Mozambique/Africa and this day was such a perfect blend of that and western tradition. It made the environment of the wedding incredibly authentic and cut through the emptiness of some of our traditions. Heidi is such an amazing wedding officient. She so gets the culture and so doesn’t care what anyone thinks that I think every culture of the quasi-30 cultures represented felt comfortable and joyful. She and all the amazing family, Rolland and her sons and daughters lead us in an ample amount of worship and prayer for the couple. She also spoke about the marrying of cultures and destinies! There were some hilarious and fun Mozambican traditions as well. Apparently it’s normal to ask the bride and groom each a funny question regarding their future like: “will you love him when he doesn’t have any teeth?” And another is that everyone watches as they tell each other secrets. It was also a huge event for them to have their first kiss! The ceremony lasted at least an hour and then the anticipation for the kiss took at least 15 minutes ha! Some of the best men lifted then bride and groom up onto their shoulders so that everyone could see the kiss. Ha! It was hilarious. Then the rest of the evening involved a chicken feast and dancing!! It was an amazing time; a wedding done right. And I so loved thinking of the symbolic nature of God’s love for the body of Christ of every nation.

Heidi Baker– what a privilege to be around her

I’m amazed at the amount that I’m getting to be around Mama Aida. She is truly involved in every part of the base and really lives what she preaches, believe me. I love learning from her with how to do what we are doing. And it touches my heart so much to see the way that she relates to my women – I looove to see that she also is trying to speak to them in Makua and meet them at their level. She also likes to sit with them on the ground when preaching (on Mondays we have time with Heidi and our group), which is also something that I feel lead to do with them. I just love her heart and the way that she does things.

Last week after our amazing staff home group in which the missionaries get together and worship and get some time with some of the amazing speakers that are here for the Harvest school, I loved seeing her with her kids. Some of her children from Maputo were in town for the wedding and the rest that are as well that are the ones that she wrote about in Awlays enough etc. – they are all grown up and amazing men and women of God. WOW – and she was just sitting and hanging out with them late after the meeting. I could hear them outside of my house just chatting and laughing and then them praying for her. It was late at night and I know that she has to be up early every day. I think it so neat to see what her life is like – she chooses her relationships as high priority and it’s beautiful.

She even picked me up on the way home from church today. I have a 15 minute walk to my house from the church and she picked me up along with a bunch of the Mozambican pastors in her car and gave me a ride. We chatted a bit about Mercy Ministries, and it was lovely. I love seeing people that live what they preach even in small ways.

“Staff meetings” done right

Our Staff Meetings are so amazing, as per usual for Iris. They are less staff meetings and more an opportunity to tighten our Pemba Missionary family, rest in God’s presence, and have some encouragement, with some announcements as well. Two weeks ago our meeting was about the importance of our Intimacy with God. Heidi talked about how we HAVE to spend time with God EVERY DAY in the secret place…That this is our battle cry: “All fruitfulness flows from intimacy. Stop for Him and stop for the one”. It was so good and so refreshing and so true. She also felt like we need to start using the rope beds that we have set up in the prayer hut to come and get rest and prayer whenever we need it. During our meetings everyone that is tired laid down on the beds and we prayed for eachother.

The next week we had African drums and we prayed and spoke out the Psalms for the first hour of meeting. It was an intercession and dance fest – I loved it. There are so many things that are happening in Iris that we “should” be worried about right now, and this was such a powerful way to combat all of it. We all feel tired a lot but I think standing up and dancing and marching and praying is such a slap in the face to the enemy who wants us to be tired and give up.

I notice that because of Heidi’s obedience to do the strange things like have everyone lay down during meetings or dance around and march to drums during our meetings that it affects us with similar boldness. I had a very hard week last week and was definitely feeling tired emotionally and physically, but that prayer warrior dance meeting, along with having an amazing time of worship that night as well really equipped me for my class the next day. I had a sense that I was supposed to do something different than usually. I felt this nudge from God do something “weird” like Heidi had done with our staff meeting. I kept asking what it was and finally I felt that each women in my class should get prayer and rest like in our meetings. So I had half of the class (after our usual worship and prayer)work on jewelry while the other half also split into two groups: one praying and the other laying on the beds and mats that we have on class. Then we would rotate. And I told them that jewelry making wasn’t as important that day, but that I felt that they all needed rest and peace in His presence. I quoted, “They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength” Isaiah 40:31. I also saw that my friend Nathalia decided to cancel the normal routine of our home group with some of the teenage girls on the base that night and just keep singing and asking for God’s presence instead of us teach. Obedience! – is key.

Daily responsibilities/daily laying down burdens

This ministry proves to be one of the most challenging on the base; we take care of needs of the people (the women and the disabled men). I find myself daily having conversations with at least one of the 280 women in the program in which they are me asking for help for their houses, their children, their food…”we don’t have doors, we don’t have beds, my child is sick and I need money for the hospital, I need more food, I have holes in my roof that ruin my house when it rains…everything”. And the men that are disabled need new brackets for their wheelchairs and tires.

On Tuesdays we have an hour where we just sit and give women time to listening to all of these things and the life stories of some of the women. All of the women that I listened to had at least 5, but more like 8 children and were raising them alone because their husbands abandoned them years before. It can be overwhelming! J But thank the Lord that He is responsible for the lives of the women…He is their savior, not me! Thank you Jesus for that! I do realize how much I need Him as Jehovah Jirah and I personally need Him at all times in order to have the faith to believe He can handle these situations.

Caleb company!

It was SO AMAZING to have the Caleb Company from Tennessee here in Pemba! Tod Mcdowell, his two children Mandy and Michaia, Lauren Ellis, Kappel Cloninger, and Ben * got here about 3 weeks ago and what a blessing it was!! Even more exciting was the Jack Beach, another Caleb Company who is living in Rwanda for an undecided amount of time gave me a surprise by showing up here for 4 days!!! He didn’t tell me, the sneaky guys, but just showed up in church two Sundays ago. What an amazing surprise to see a great friend when you don’t expect to see one!! Ha – it was wonderful… little gift for me. Wow – it’s so refreshing to have friends from home who know you in your normal context to get to join in on your less known one. They got to meet some of my friends, make friends of their own and see the amazing world of Iris Pemba! I also loved seeing them preaching and teaching here with the Harvest School and Mozambican Bible school. Tod is such an amazing teacher and I was so encouraged and blessed by all that I got to soak up from him. He gave an amazing word at our staff meeting about Sabbath (how its necessary!!), and to believe God for the things we need and want here.

Kappel and Lauren made me a short video as well, about our Jewelry class!! I’m so excited to be able to share some footage from one of my classes!!! You all get to see some of their dancing and singing and beautiful faces!! What a joy to be able to share that with you all – these words only go so far. I’ll be able to show that when I return in September, so look forward to it!

Visiting friends reminds me why I love being here (i.e. the real Mozambique)

My favorite things that have been happening are the hardest to express with words! My relationships here with the Mozambicans bring me such inexpressible joy and are best experienced than explained, but I’m going to tell of one my house visits that especially show a bit of the amazingness. Every time I feel tired and have had a lot to do during the week, spending time with friends in the village sets me right and reminds me of why I LOVE being here. Two Saturdays ago I visited my friend Elena who I had met last year because I sat with her learning how to basket weave a few times. I could tell that we had similar personalities despite language and skin color difference. She doesn’t basket weave for Iris any longer, she now has a job in the kitche, which is an amazing thing. She lives right next to her sister, Filomena, who is actually a worker in my Jewelry making class! So that was exciting to visit both.

As we walked towards her house out the back of the base, up the hill into the village, she pointed at the prayer hut and told me that she had spent an entire night there in January praying for a paying job (basket weaving only gives food, not money) because she was at the end of her rope and had to get money somehow. Soon after that she was given a paying job from basket weaving to working in the kitchen for pay!! And she said that she was so thankful and knows that the miracle was because of God wow! And then I told her about how I got here and how that was a miracle for me too. And she again said that she had prayed for me to come back here and that she thinks ill be here for 7 years or something like that ha!

Walking through the village is always fun, and this time we had a few fun interchanges with people where I’d surprise them with Makua, and then we went into the market where she bought some greens to make Matapa, a local dish. I let her buy that for me, though I felt like paying for it; I resisted since I know it blesses her to be able to buy food for me ( bought her some other food instead ha – Oil and spaghetti).

We got to the house and she kept up the giving, and my heart started to break. First She brought me some fruit, which I ate. Then she brought out some STRAW that she had cut up and proceeded to cut more of for me to see if I could remember how to basket weave!!!!!! AH! And then we sat and did it together just like old times!! That was one of the kindest things anyone has done for me here, I think.

I had brought some tomato and cucumber and she and her kids and filomenas kids ate it all quickly and really loved it which made me happy because they don’t get a lot of vegetables here. She has 4 boys and filomena has 3 or 4 and a grandchild also named filomena ha! We called her filomenia (little Filomena). I just loved hanging out with them. We joked and had a great time. Its so fun just to sit and do something with your hands while chatting and Elena gave that gift to me!

The Matapa and Xima was so delicious and she actually filled my Tupperware that had had the tomatoes/cucumbers in it with the leftovers. And get this - she prepared a bundle of straw for me to take home and finish working on! Then I gave out more presents, which I like to do with everyone that I visit – I like to give something useful along with something fun. So I put rings on the ladies fingers, then little journals for the boys for school and then a ball for the little one and clips for the girls’ hair. But of course they gave back (on top of what they had already done!!!) Elena brought out one of her own Kapulana’s and Filomena brought me a nice shirt that is obviously right out of her closet. I can’t tell you how much this all blessed me. It was a giving/loving fest, and I was sooo at ease – I was with my friends!!! What a day.

But wait there’s more…

Get this – I had flippantly mentioned that I was interested in buying a “cama” – it’s a rope bed that serves as a couch so that I can have places for people to sit when they visit me (we only have two chairs in my house), and she said that her son could help me get it. The problem is that the place to buy them is far from the village and I didn’t know how I’d get it to my house. SO - her son helped me by carrying it ON HIS HEAD all the way TO MY HOUSE!!!!!!! HA! They also helped me to get a Mozambican price for it by having me stand to a distance a way while they negotiated the price (they mark it up for us whiteys). So it was only about 7 US dollars.

When we got to my house they set the couch down and I said “SIT DOWN!” in Makua, because I felt so bad that they had walked such a long way – they all plopped down and we had a laugh. I brought them cold water and bananas. I had three awesome Mozambicans in my little bedroom yay!!

Wow what a great day!!! That’s some of the amazingness of the people here – it’s overwhelming and amazing. Come, guys! Come meet my friends here!!!!

House Guests!

I’ve been having Mozambican house guests as well which makes me so happy!! I asked phillipes daughter to eat lunch with me last Sunday at my house. Ah it was amazing! And later that week she actually stopped by at my house after school – How special Is that?!!!! WE talked and I gave her a soda and some crackers etc. We even danced a little. I love having guests and I especially love that she would feel comfortable just hanging out. Such a blessing!

Also some of the Mozambican children that live on this base whose parents are teachers in the Bible school come and knock on my door and just hang out with me. I love it. Rachela who is 7 and adorable comes and knocks on my door at least once a day. Sometimes I can’t spend time with her, but usually I just let her in and she plays with my computer, I help her with homework, or she just hangs out with us while we do whatever we are doing! I love being in Africa!

Making decisions about long term Missions

I fasted all last week and prayed about many things including the possibility of being here as a long term Missionary. It’s such an honor to even be invited to be a part of this family for these three months; It’s amazing to think of being a permanent part of this family. I was very worried about a few things at home – mostly just Shyanna, the girl that I have unofficially mentored for around 8 years. Her situation is very unsteady and I have felt as if I’d be abandoning her If I were to leave her now, but I am fairly confident that God is saying no to me in regard to taking her situation into my own hands. Please continue to pray with me about this decision! I will let you know what’s decided after I meet with the Base leader this week.

Being pressed into a mold of Jesus

“Crushed but not abandoned, pressed down but not destroyed” Refiner’s fire… I know that this is a season for me in which God is rooting out old thought patterns and is pressing me in many ways, but pressing me into a mold of Jesus. I keep getting the word that He is beautifying and teaching me how to be His beautiful bride (bride of Christ) This has been a hard season and stretching in many many ways, but God is clearly doing deep works in me.

Today I felt that I needed to cut my dreadlocks… I have had two dread locks in my hair for the last 3 years (along with my normal length of hair). I feel as if God is really wanting to strip down the things that have been what I know my personality to be and reteaching me who I am. I have always been “artistic” and have liked to be different and unique. I think God is almost making me a clean slate to reteach me who I am, though I know that art is an intrinsic aspect of the personality He gave me. I am going to be quite beautiful the longer I sit with Him, getting to know Him and start looking more like Him. He also says that I am already beautiful, but I know He loves my obedience in giving Him EVERYTHING to continue a deeper work in me.