Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pemba Life + Iris Ministries

My kitchen!

My room and cute little mosquito net!

Gracinda cooking coconut rice for me

Focas and Ossamo - Gracinda's sons. they are holding the groceries to make the coconut rice. - the place where we bought our rice!
Mana Geti, cutting wires as we prepare for the next day of class. she was teaching us a song in Makua at that moment.

My ladies in class making jewelry!

Hello all! My heart is stirring with the realization that I am no longer sharing with you all as a single entity, but as a member of the Iris Ministries Pemba family. This is a humbling, and exciting realization; exciting not only for me as I am thankful to be a part of this family, but for you as well since we are united and God is doing things. I believe that God is, and has been, uniting this movement with God’s plans in the U.S. and my home church family, Grace Center. God is certainly moving. He never stops. With joy I want to share what I learn from the heart of this amazing place, the Missionaries that God has assigned to be here for this season, and the people of Mozambique that I am already learning from.

My role as jewelry teacher/lover of Makua ladies, is being expanded to helping in whatever way that I can with Mercy Ministries. Nathalia, my colaborer in the Jewelry “Iris Arts” department, unexpectedly took on the role of head of Mercy Ministries soon before I came. So she has more on her plate than she expected! Mercy ministries is one of the many ministries on this large base, and it basically deals with the people: the needs that they have and all that that entails. This is everything from the jewelry class for the ladies which directly provides food for them, housing ministry, which involves roofing and providing houses, setting up visits to the locals’ houses for Internationals that visit the base, dealing with emergency situations– like giving milk to dads whose wives have just died, or if someone is truly starving giving them food. We also talked about how to deal with the many that come asking for different things on a daily or weekly basis. Nathalia, Geti (, another Mozambican man named Chafim, and I had a meeting with Mama Aida, Heidi B., Monday concerning all of these areas. (Iris is so amazing in that Mozambicans are meant to eventually take over the ministries that are set up by the International Missionaries, so there are usually at least two Mozambicans on the department teams. Geti is so amazing, and she trustworthy and a woman full of Godly authority. She is also my friend from last year! What a joy to work with one of my friends. She is the mother of Anna who I will always remember spent a day cooking an amazing local dish called Matapa for my friend Ruth, and I. So far I’ve gotten to see her a couple of times since I’ve been here. A visual for this is that she had her head lying in my lap as I was sitting on the floor at church this last Sunday, and I took her to get some pizza afterwards, which is a real treat for kids here!). Wow, it was amazing to see how these things are talked about and decided upon – I am so thankful for all that I will learn from Heidi, and am humbled that one of my dreams is becoming a reality; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the Lord if I could learn under or be disciple by Heidi Baker! I am not quite being disciple, but I am directly learning under her as she is very involved in every ministry on the base and we have two meetings a week with her.

Some of the items discussed dealt with housing for the people. There are some that have had pauses on their houses being built due to lack funds or a change in leadership over the project. Heidi was saying how important it is that we fulfill our promises and finish these houses. I agree. So we are working on finishing the ones that have been waiting the longest, and a team from the Harvest School is going to be the labor force for the houses! We also decided that those of us in Mercy Ministries should start going with the visitors that go on house visits every Monday (visitors from all over the world are here at all times and visit houses of poor local ladies that we have on a list – these are also the ladies in my class) so that we can actually know the conditions of their houses and lives in order to see if there are some areas we can help with and whose are in the worst condition.

Basically, Mercy Ministries is doing what I learned from Heidi last year, but on large scale; making friends, seeing what their needs are, and out of relationship giving with labor or supplies rather than funds (sometimes funds when it’s appropriate). It’s also so important that they are given dignity in working for what they receive – so the jewelry class that I’m a part of is actually a job for these ladies. Wow – I love this model of ministry, and I can’t wait to see the ins-and-outs even more.

Jewelry Class

Oh my goodness I LOVE my class!! I am having so much fun with these ladies. I keep thinking to myself, “I knew I liked these people”. Haha! They are proving to be so kind, fun, and just interesting. Every morning we sing together, I already shared this, but this week they have done some songs I didn’t know that have been so fun! Some of the ladies get so excited and they start dancing and making their crazy shrill warbling sounds. I always dance with them, of course! Why wouldn’t I?? Ha! Every day I’ve been trying new Makua phrases on them and love seeing them laugh and get excited when they hear me trying. I’ve also gotten to lead two songs in Makua, which really got ‘em goin haha! Songs are sung in a call and response system here so the song leader sings loudly by themselves and everyone sings the response, so when I started leading these songs in Makua it was awesome to see their reactions. I want them to feel that there is no separation between us, and I want to show them, especially those that don’t know me yet, that I want to be their friends and not just their teacher or that I think I’m better than them. I think this is very important in ministering to someone. Since we are ALL saved by Grace and they are my sisters in Christ.

The class is from 8 to 10:30, but I am usually busy preparing for the next day until about 1. It’s been a lot of work this week, but its fun work. On Tuesday and Thursday morning I actually lead the classes, even though I just got here. It was a bit crazy at points, but again, I am seeing how much God prepared me for this over the last 8 months with my tutoring and teaching drawing classes. I actually preached a tiny sermonette on Monday and Thursday in Portuguese. So far we have made some necklaces and some really nice wire and bead bracelettes. They are having a little bit of trouble understanding how to use pliers with the wire, but they will get it. So far Nathalia and I are coming up with the basic design and letting them choose the color mixtures etc. so it’s a joint design.

By the way, Nathalia is so awesome! She is from Colombia so she has a South American spunkiness, which I love. I think we are a great team because she is a go-getter and I’m a bit more mellow; I help her not to stress and be happy, and she helps me to be more aggressive haha! You HAVE to be aggressive to live in Pemba or you will never get things done. Things that take one day in the U.S usually take 3 here…or a week. Ha! For example, last Saturday my refrigerator broke and it’s still broken, because there wasn’t a budget for fixing it, and now that there is, the mechanic hasn’t come when he said he would. I was thankful that I hadn’t bought groceries yet!


Last weekend was a conference in Miezi, a close province. I got to pray for a baby who was blind. I didn’t understand completely what was wrong with him; the mother just said that he was sick in his eyes and body. So my friend Stuart and I prayed. I had no idea if anything happened. And I don’t think anything had happened yet, but it was an awesome test of faith. The next day I heard stories about a baby that couldn’t walk or see since birth that was able to walk and see after Heidi prayed for him. I found out from Stuart that it was the baby that we had prayed for!! I’m so thankful that the baby was healed; as you may know, when you pray for someone’s healing your heart really expands for them and you so want to see the healing. I’m so glad it happened, even if it took a while!

The team there also saw another blind and lame woman completely healed. They didn’t know she was blind, but saw that she was getting distracted while they were praying. They got annoyed because she was getting excited about a car passing by saying, “Look there is a car!” They realized afterwards that it was the first time in years that she had seen anything, including cars! Ha!

Adjusting some more

One of the main differences between life as an Iris Missionary rather than a student is that I am allowed to be alone, with caution, obviously. This is so freeing for me, because I’m always wanting to do things with people; They invite me places or to their homes a lot. Finding someone to go with you isn’t always easy. Especially now that I don’t have Ruth ( my roommate and close friend last year – where are you Ruth???), I don’t know of anyone right now who would come with me to all of these places. It has meant that so far I’ve spent more time doing things by myself than I’m used to here. I was definitely lonely the first couple of days. It’s quite different to have a room COMPLETELY to myself rather than shared with 5 other girls and then 3 other roommates in the other rooms.

So far I’ve taken some of the Iris boys (used to be orphans, but aren’t anymore woo!) to the beach (ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS TO DO YAYYYYY), and have visited the house of my friend Marilia, and Gracilda as well as do a couple other things around the base with people all unaccompanied. It’s been fun, but different.

Reconnecting with Mozambican friends!!

I didn’t get to share about this last post, but I got to see my best friend from here this weekend. Ahhh. How can I put it into words!!? She works in the kitchen, which by the way, when I saw the kitchen ladies and Phillipe, the head of the kitchen, I came in saying “Simpwanaka” (“friends” which is the word that I used a lot when getting to know them; it always delighted them that I would try to speak their language), and, wow, I had such an amazing welcoming – I was close to crying seeing all of them. I got hugs and kisses and laughter. One of the ladies, was so excited and every time I see her she goes crazy. But I’ve got to get back to my original point, I got to see Filomena on Friday! I walked up to the kitchen and asked if she was there after chatting a bit with the other ladies, then I saw her sitting in the back of the kitchen. It was so great: she saw me, but had a double take and then put her hands to her face in disbelief! Ha yay! I ran up to her and we were full of joy to see each other! The other ladies hadn’t told her I was here yet, and she was so surprised. She told me that she had prayed for me to come back, and that she missed me so much. She joked a bit like she usually does when we were catching up and she said that she was always thinking, “Tetra tetra onde fica meu Tetra?” meaning, “where’s my Tetra”. She actually sang that part. HaHA! I told her that was a great song, and joined her in it (as we have a few other times with a couple other ladies).

This is so amazing to me: even though I don’t speak Portuguese or Makua well, and I haven’t seen her for a year, she truly is my friend! We get each others’ senses of humor, and have tons of fun together. How special is that?! Ahh so amazing. And, wow, she showed me the necklace that I made and gave her when I left – it was on a different cord and the wire and stone were wrapped around with thread many times to make sure the stone didn’t fall out. Wow – I haven’t seen anything more beautiful. We talked about how I am going to learn Makua more easily now and she said she would make me a dictionary and I said I’d make her one in English too. It’s amazing. She said she was sad that I live at the other base, and joked about how when I lived there across from the kitchen she could so easily see me through my window and watch me eat, or sleep or go to the bathroom- Ha, just kidding!

Thank you, Jesus, for Filomena. For some context, she is the woman that put earrings in my ears when I was leaving last year; she took them from her own ears. She never ever asked me for anything and even refused to borrow a pair of my shoes when I offered them to her in a situation when it would truly have helped. She chose to stay barefoot in order to not take advantage of our friendship. She was the one who patiently taught me some Makua words every day. She works at Arco-Iris all week during the day and her husband works elsewhere during the night, so they only see each other for a couple of hours a week or on their rare days off that line up. She didn’t have a watch last year to get to Iris for work– she would just get up as early as possible to make sure she was there by 6 a.m.; the walk takes half an hour. I got to give her a watch, and that small gift did so much for her! She has a cheap cell phone now, which is amazing so she probably has an alarm! I’m so glad that Arco-Iris is providing a job for such an amazing woman.

Today, I visited my friends who Ruth and I visited many times last year: Focas, Ossamo, and his mom Gracinda. She cooked me coconut beans and rice, the dish that I’ve tried to replicate in the U.S. a few times (I never make it as good)! I went with her two sons into the village market to buy all of the ingredients like we usually do; it’s one way of blessing them because they get an awesome meal and left overs out of it ( even though she wanted to send all of the leftovers home). She takes great care to make it and it takes a few hours to shred the coconut, cook the rice, and then the beans. It’s totally worth it, it’s soooo good! In her prayer for the food she prayed, “Thank you lord that my daughter, “Mamwanaka”, is here eating with me.” And she made a little pot of part of the leftovers to send home with me. Ahh – I’m back in Pemba!

Visiting Marilia was really cool…all 8 of her children remembered me and were so affectionate. Her dad is living with her too, and they asked me to pray for him, which I was really glad to. He is fatally ill, but I’m not sure with what. His skin was tight to his bones and he was laying on his bed, rarely speaking. God told me interesting things for him, and that is that He is going to give the man joy despite his illness. That’s a bit of a tough thing to tell someone who is more or less on their death bed, but if theres one thing that Ive learned from being here, it’s that God truly can fill the “suffering” with joy (I’ve seen the blind and lame that haven’t been healed yet, and may never be, but they are full of joy and always smiling), and I believe that that is happening for this man. I had the children lay hands on him too, which is always fun. Those children have so much faith, they are usually quite powerful in prayer.

Thank you Jesus for the people of Mozambique. They are faithful friends and give out of their lack. May they be blessed 100 fold for what they give.

Joys of living in Pemba a.k.a. “Pemba equals patience”

Like I said, our refrigerator broke, and I hadn’t bought groceries, but we still had some stinky stuff in there belonging to my unfortunate roomate. And the ants that so love living in our kitchen had some fun in there. Ha – I opened the door and they were all over the chocolate bar that Iris gave to me as a welcoming present to the base (they had a basket with a Mozambican skirt, oranges, bananas, juice, a coffee mug, and chocolate waiting for me upon arrival to m house. Their generosity never ceases to amaze me!!!) . The ants have a little highway starting from the doorway and ending at our sink about 5 feet away. They like to go past the table for easy access to any crumbs or sweet residues. Haha! We keep trying to spray bug spray that smells really awful but it only works for about half a day. Catherine and I are going to start naming them, I truly have decided that I have to think of them as little pals, or I’ll just be constantly grossed out. Haha! We have one mirror in our house and it is a broken piece of an old mirror. Today it broke again and so it is about the size of a hand.

This week I needed to get a Sim card for my cell phone because it’s hard to function without use of a phone and mine is on global rates. I also wanted to buy a water purifier to save myself from having to pay $10 a week for water bottles, but I needed a ride to get this because it’s heavy and the usually way to get to town is to pay about 3 pennies to jump onto the back of a truck. I couldn’t organize getting a car without a phone very easily. It took me all week to accomplish both things! And now I need to somehow get onto the internet ( I guess I will have accomplished this if you’re reading this haha), which has been up and down for the past few days, in order to unlock my cell phone to use the Sim card! Haha, Pemba equals patience. I also keep getting stuck at one of the two bases at night; I live at village of joy base which is 10 minutes walk from the main base, village of joy and I’m not supposed to walk alone at night. So if I am at one or the other alone after 5 pm (that’s when it gets dark) I get stuck there, and I have to hope or pray that one of the Iris missionaries with a car will need to drive to the other base and I can jump into the back.

It’s quite possible that we will run out of water with all of the students here and the reservoir that only lasts a while. Here is a picture of my shower. I usually just use a little plastic 4 Liter cup to take bucket baths. The water is cold, which doesn’t bother me because It’s hot here!

This is an adventurous life and I love it.

Prayer requests

- The reason I have been able to make this nice post is that I’ve had a yucky cold today and left the other base early ( 12 - I’m usually there till 5). I know it will go soon, but it’s not fun for now.

- Please pray that God will show me how to handle the many relationships I have here. Some of the kids get jealous, and many of my friends here get sad when I don’t spend all my spare time with them. I have more responsibilities now than I did last year, so I want to do a good job of balancing these things. I also need to make sure I give myself alone time and don’t start booking myself every day with the people that want to invite me to their houses. I’m having to learn constraint.

- Please pray that the Glory, love, and joy of the Lord will invade our class with the ladies. I so want to see each of the ladies fall more in love with Jesus. The ladies each have an overwhelming amount of practical needs as well, which I need God’s grace to understand how to help with. I want to learn their names and learn more Makua as well, and my brain is already getting a bit tired! Our class starts at 1 am U.S. time, so maybe this would be a good one to pray before bed!

- As always, safety for me might be a good one as well. I am fairly safe, but there are banditos here that have been known to wound people when they steal. They don’t usually steal if you’re in a group, and I’m trying my best to always be in groups.

- I have been getting more and more hungry for God. Please pray that my intimacy will grow in this time. It has to in order for me to see breakthroughs in my relationships here– and I just really want it!!!!


  1. I absolutely love reading your posts Tetra. They're so full of life and joy, I wish I could see you where you are right now. Actually, reading these have been reminding me of things I should be working on, like trying to become closer with people and being patient(!). I'm really glad to know you're having a wonderful time.

  2. So glad to read about your life in Pemba, Tetra! It's a joy to read of the things you are blessed to be a part of there. I can hear the joy and love in your posts! May God continue to bless you with strength, patience, and wonderful friendships. Thanks for sharing!