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.

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