Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas thought

Christmas thought:
 I've been really enjoying giving presents for Christmas this year
because theres a rapture that comes from giving to people who truly
NEED things! Most of my friends here get excited about things like:
one of my old skirts, a plate that I don't need, forks and knives
(that they have to learn how to use because they usually eat with
their hands), a bottle of toothpaste, packets of chicken stock, their
first pair of tennis shoes....things that to us we can find duplicates
and duplicates of lying around in our houses or kitchens.
It makes you shake your head and want to ask "Why?", doesn't it? God,
why do some have so much and some have so little? Yet, I think for us
it's easy for that thought to bring shame, which is equally not a
burden for us to carry. Yet, it's SO important for us, friends, to
REMEMBER that people like my friend Emilta, who I just gave a water
bucket to this morning because she has no running water and nothing to
carry water in from the wells for her and her 5 kids, EXIST. And
remember that there are ways to give to people like her instead of
give your neice a 30 dollar BRATZ doll like Oxfam who can provide
goats or ways or school books etc. to people who have nothing or
Project Ak-47 who provides for kids who have been rescued from being
Child soldiers. Or even IRIS Ministries who is about to give christmas
presents to hundreds of children all over the world including Pemba
and feeds thousands of hungray children every day!
But  there's even more to this issue...I think my real point is this,
friends: Don't get taken away by the stuff - remember that we can
exist without the "STUFF" of this world. While I'm so happy to bless
my friends here with stuff, I'm even more happy to see that THEY HAVE
BEEN LIVING WITHOUT STUFF that we often feel we can't I live without
and are even...HAPPY! And for me Christmas always fills me with joy
over remembering that it's possible to have what Jesus died for:
ABUNDANT LIFE, with or without the "stuff". IT IS POSSIBLE to have
joy, contentment, and ABUNDANT LIFE through HIM who gave it all for
And that's enough for me. I pray you find it too if you haven't.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Light overcomes dark

Im realizing that Ive been somewhat avoiding or ignoring writing nd sharing about life here, and Im trying to analyze why. I believe part of it is that living here is...mote likfe regular life than ever before and its harder for my mind to isolate stories or thoughts to compress into a blog post. ! The other part is that Ive had some really trying experiences and realizations in this season that I subconciously am not desiring to share. God, restore to me that love of sharing life on the Mission Field with others!
My friends, this place Has some very real darkness. It is heartbreaking. Ive had some sobering situations , challenging realizations and come face to face with yucky realities of the area that have made me feel...that I need God to be the source of my hope for change in the women and the culture I love here. Yet I know Im bringing light.

DARK:The hardest thing for me has been a realization of how deeply sexual sin affects this culture. Starting with my close friend who sexually contracted AIDS even though she has been incredibly mature and passionate for Jesus as long as Ive known her, learning more about Ceremonies, which is a non-optional (except for kids that have the blessing of getting a ceremony through Iris) time of preteen girls getting often times raped as well as taught about the "wisdom" of having more than one man in their life because of reasons like having more financial support, and finally seeing how many of the single, husband-less mothers I know are getting pregnant. People actually believe, and doctors sometimes subscribe, having sex is good for your health and you can get sick if you dont do it regularly.
I have a precious and sweet naivete in regard to these sexal issues that Im not embarrassed to have but am rather thankful for. It took me a long time to learn or believe that these things happen underneath the surface of the amazing culture and beautiful people I interact with and love so deeply. But the realization has sunk in.

Ive been wondering how My life experience can be used to affect this culture - my  mind doesnt naturally..go there or understand the level of attachment one can have in a society that's so sexual, because by God's grace Im a virgin who's never been raped or sexually abused. My world doesnt involve a struggle to stay abstinent, and my first thought is how can I speak into lives of peoplewho I cant relate to at all. But surely it would be an amazing thing for them tohear my testimony of abstinence. Im not sure if they would even believe it! Im going to pray and think about how to talk about it, please pray with me for this.
And pray for my heart that sometimes feels discourged and wonders how to know if I know what I think I know to be true about my friends and daughters here. Or if any progress is being made in our discipleship.

LIGHT!!: last saturday night I went to the beach at NIGHT for the FIRST time ever since Ive been here!! Ahh sigh it was So wonderful. I have always loved the beach at night, and somehow Ive never even thought of it as a possibility to go to this Pemb bech at night over these two years. Why? Because "you dont" go anywhere outside of your house at night. mozambicans dont either. Its actually not very wise. Some parts of the beach are apparrently where prostitutes will go to do their business after being purchased. There are "banditos" out at night (robbers). Etc etc etc. And somehow, Ive become more fearful than remembering that...I LIVE in Pemba. 
How did I get there - harvest students went in a group (of 5 or more) to have some worship. Oh my goodness, I cant tell you whwt this did for me. Its the most beutifl, awe-strickening sight to stare into the ocean at night with the moon reflecting and the waters rushing toward you, dark but very present. We didnt see any "banditos" any prostitutes, or any partyers. We BROUGHT the presence of the Lord to that place, claiming territory, we saw angels hovering over the waters, and we changed the atmosphere there, AS WE SHOULD BE, instead of hiding away in our little western style homes. By the end of the evening I felt a freedom that was bursting out of me. I started skipping along the water edge and eventually just purposely fell flat on my back, fully clothed, at the shoreline letting the dark waves crash over me. Ah! Haha! I started laughing like a crazy person and having a blast - letting go of all things that I think I "know" about life, especially how to live here in this place. I welcome more uncomfortable things, Lord. I welcome less cushion. I welcome a loss of control in this culture and life here Jesus. 

My amazing Russian friend from my Harvest School, Eugenia, is here and it's been an immense blessing for my heart. We've been talking about our last two years of life. I loved hearing about her experiences, because they were difficult just as mine have been in some ways, but her outlook hs been amaxing. I remembered the thing that so impressed me about the russian friends thwt were in my Harvest school was that they truly have difficult life scenarios and have to live with incredibly huge faith to be travellingand living the missionary lifestyle that Im also living. Everyone Eugenia knows is low income and yet they share and give to each other. I remember inmthe hwrvest school they would always give out of thelittle they had. 
Eugenia went on to tell me a story about how recently she had gotten an email from one of our Iris missionaries in the Congo who had some refugee children come to him asking for food and he didnt have enough for them. She said she only had 30 dollars at the time, but with tears decided to send most of her 30 dollars to feed these kids. She mentioned it also on a blog or something online, as well as to her other Iris Russia friends, and by the end of the week people of their own accord and out of their little also donated and they had about 1000 dollars! 
Confrontation with people who truly live in selfless sacrifice is one of the most encouraging and refreshing thing. I sometimes blame my culture that I grew up in for my selfishness and clinging to "my" stuff, but I think in reality I have the choice to include sacrifice in my life. If I truly listen to my Lord speak, He is often asking me to do things that involve selfless, uncomfortable, sacrifice. God, let me relearn how to be uncomfortable wnd sacrificing. Some of my happiest and most content times in my life have been when Ive been obedient to do something that I really didnt want to do.
Eugenia also reminded me of the passion I had in my Harvest school and reminded me of how I got a group together on one saturday to help one of my friends build her house. She had materials but no laborers, so we went and helped. I completely forgot that I had thought of organizing such a sweet event. I think of how I now work with the people that help organize work for our ladies' houses and how most of the ladies have to wait so long to have their houes built...If a harvest stuent organized doing something like that under my watch Id be so incredibly thankful and blessed. God,thank you for using me - will you help me not forget my passion that I started with! 

I visited her yesterday - A few weeks ago she was close to death and her cheeks and temples were hollow. I had been wearing myself out trying to figure out ways I could help her, wading through cultural issues eith her family, figuring out if she was getting all the medecine she needed, seeing at she was running out of hope and joy. I brought a nurse from Iris to see her a few times and we got her ome medecine for CANDIDA that was causing sores in her mouth and stomach which made her not want to eat. She hadnt eaten for four days the first time we went to visit her together. W knew the medecine would help, but My nurse friend said that coming out of her malnourishment would truly need a miracle.
I was considering getting her to  maputo hospital or paying to have live-in nurse because she was so extremely close to death. I kept thinking, if this were one of my friends at home dying in front of me! I wouldnt be satisfied until I did all I could to help her. 
Then something miraculous happened, and it truly is mirculous. I made these arrangements to bring her to  wedding of one of the Iris missionaries whom she had had a close relationship with and I felt it would really cheer her up, though I was nervous bout her getting overheted. I was finding an umbrella, finding smething for her to spit in (becuse she needed to spit every few minutes), and was going to bring a ton of ice water ne only birng her for half an hour. It was a bit of a scary but important thing I was trying to do for her. But last minute my car I had arranged fell through. I prayed and decideed the best thing would be for me to visit her insted of go to the wedding. So I bought some chicken and fries, ketchup, cookies, and brought a friends laptop that had some movies on it nd walked through the village 30 minutes to her house. I was amazed to see that she ate some of the chicken and one of the cookies. This was  huge difference for her. The nurse friend of mine had said we should try bringing her food she likes so that shell at least try to eat (she hadnt been wanting to eat and would sometimes throw up whatever she got down). After that saturday something has dramtically changed to where she has gotten her apetite back and I believe it was miraculous. A few days after I was getting messges from her saying that she was hungry all the time and wanting to eat chicken every day. She has been eating really well since then and is actually gaining a little weight! I brought a whole chicken to her yesterday and will continue doing so as much as I can. She actually has her personality and I felt like I was spending time with my friend yesterday and not  hollow shell of her. Hallelujah!
Im going to see if I can spend the night at her house next week! Im excited over the thought and she got very excited too!! Itll be my first time to sleep in the village and its something Ive been wanting to do for a long time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Big news!

I have news. News you may have expected -Or may not have. Its something that Ive known for a while. Its a bit hard for me to tell in some ways because its bitter sweet news for most of us. As many things wonderful in life there is a sacrifice involved: I am now officially a long-term Pemba Missionary! Sacrifice being that we will continue seeing little of eachother for the next year and a half! My commitment time is basically outlined for as long as I think necessary to get the Jewelry program self- sustainable. At this point I am planning and feeling like mid-2014 is that amount of time. So Im coming home for Christmas, will return here in February, stopping in Tete, Mozambique to do a short jewelry workshop with women on the base there and every 6 or 3 months as a Pemba Missionary Ill need to renew my Visa (6 are issued in the U.S. And 3 in south africa).
The classes and amazing things happening in them do feel like they are just getting started and Im so excited to see where it all goes! 

 I will miss you guys, you dont even know. Here is something I wrote last week:
First november in my life when Ive been sweating and no need of socks. Obviously this is an intriguing and iconic difference between life here and my usual life in the U.S, but really the oddness for me comes from the lack of change. For someone so used to change, dramatic weather changes in fact, beginning to live life in one basically unchanging season leaves me feeling as if something got stuck in the clock gears and time has paused. Yet in my mind I know that things have changed. Not just the seasons but lives are changing at home. Relwtionships are changin due to little communication or understanding of one anothers' lives. 
...That is the biggest sacrifice for me. I can deal with taking bucket showers, having less vegetable choices, mosquito bites, finding bugs in any place you can think of in your house, being very hot and sandy, having perpetually dirty feet, and having very loud music playing 24/7 outside of my little house. But it's hard to feel relationships changing. I just have to bealieve and remember that me being obedient to the Lord brings blessing in EVERY area of my life including community. I do believe that. My friends and family are meant to be doing whwt theyre doing, and unfortunately that means in separate places for parts ofour lives. 
Who is my father and mother? Wasnt it...Jesus, that said that? Ha! How very aprropriate (though, I love and miss my mother and fáther, but I had to leave them for this season).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Giving and recieving in Pemba

So much happens in a week, it's hard to put it into organized places in my thoughts in order to share. I feel like Im always neglecting incredible experiences when I share these little bits. But here are some, and that is the best I can give or today. 

Wednesday I had a very real moment that  I’m thankful for, though it is a bit hard for ones heart to hear it, I find it really amazing because it’s real life and I had an opportunity to love practically as well as remember one of the reasons Im here.
Memuna, A little girl can be a rascal around the base sometimes, invited me to her house and seemed really excited for me to say yes. She doesn’t live in the children’s center here, but she is one of the children from the village who almost seems like she does because she spends most of her time here as well as goes to school and eats at the daily childrens feeding that happens in our church (adjacent to my office, so I hear the singing, shouting and screaming of these sometimes 200 little guys that are usually only eating this one meal for the day). I love that she took a special interest in being my friend, because I think she is overlooked a nd maybe not even liked very often, and Im so happy to love her.
We walked to her house and she didn’t speak very much the whole time. Which is sometimes her personality, but she also just seemed tired that day. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she was hungry.
We got to her house. I know her mom because she used to be in our jewelry class, but moved into the gardening group before I returned this year. She also is one of the women that I truly love but can at times…well for lack of a better way to say it, she can be manipulative. But I truly love her, and it was wonderful to see her home. She has 7 children, and a very sick father living there. She has no husband; this is the all too normal situation of our wonderful ladies here.
Usually when I visit friends int heir homes I can see that they have needs, but we still have a wonderful time together, talking, laughing and enjoying each others company, but this bunch was incredibly somber. Every one of them, even the little ones, were frowning and looked weary, as if they were incredibly tired. I soon found out that it was because…simply put, they were hungry. It was such an eye-opening moment for me. It was one of those moments when you realize that somehow youve found yourself sitting on the inside of a story sometimes told by people in first world countries in a theoretical, sad way about people “starving in Africa”.I know Im around hungry people all of the time, but somehow it isn’t the focus for me most of the time; I’m usually focusing on bigger picture , how to get them skills and jobs to change their entire lives, as well as realize their own dreams, desires, potential  and extreme value that God sees in them different to the rest of the world. But in this moment, it was simple.
These people were hungry, and I asked them the details; they had run out of the food that Iris gives them almost a week earlier than the food is supposed to last. Probably because of the amount of kids she has, and feeding her father as well, and to be honest she probably solds part of it to buy other things. They actually have to pay for water, which they were also almost out of. I asked them if they had eaten anything today, and none of them had. Apparrently Memuna brings some of her food from the children’s feeding home and shares it, but she hadn’t that day because she was waiting for my visit. But that was basically, as far as they told me, all they had been eating since the Sunday before.
.So, I gave them some money. It wasn’t a lot, but it was what I had in my wallet. About 40 mets, which is about 2 dollars. But that can buy some beans, xima, and water. This is going to sound backwards, but it is important for me to be cautious about giving money here. The point of what we’re doing in Iris is to encourage Mozambicans, give them dignity, and opportunity to take care of themselves without dependency on us. As someone a part of the widows ministry, it’s extra important for me because it can be really unfair for me to have special friends within the group. But when God says give, I give. This was definitely a situation to break any “rules” and basically, feed some very hungry friends. I’m also going to check into seeing if she can be signed up for more food because of how many kids she has.
I’ll always remember that somber heaviness in the air over their hut; it was as if the unspoken words were just hanging in the air:“We’re hungry and don’t have food”.  I am soso thankful that I have money and food to share with friends. I’ve never been truly hungry like that in my life. And somehow I was born with the ability to only be that hungry by choice.
God, I don’t understand why I was born with that privelage, but I  thank you for it. And I thank you for the opportunity to feed the hungry. Thank you for Iris giving food and opportunity for life. Thank you for the Jewelry class that will provide money and food for these women.

I’ve had a few exciting gifts these last two weeks. My friend Emilda has sent her two oldest sons, Jaime, and Alberto, to my house to bring me sugar cane, Mandioca root, and a strange bean (or I guess it isn’t actually a bean but it looks like one?) two times. For no reason! They were jut waiting outside of my house a couple of times over these last two weeks bearing gifts! I can’t tell you how this touched me. Of course I want to refuse gifts like this from a momma who literally has no one providing for her but Iris. But, she wants to give it to me and it even hurts her for me to refuse. I even offered some to the boys to share, and they refused.
Of course I sent the boys back home with some little gifts as well. This is what we do around here: back and forth sharing and loving. The poorest of poor sharing their little with me, Of course I’m going to share out of my (by comparison) wealth and abundance!
These are the kinds of experiences that aren’t easy to put into words and share with others. What this kind of experience does inside of your heart is truly a piece of the Kingdom of God. It speaks of the truths that exist in heaven, where life is MORE THAN FOOD or what we OWN. I think this is a lesson you simply can’t grasp until you get the blessing of seeing true LACK and seeing generosity and joy inside of it. 

Small group with village girls:
Ive started a small group that’s consisting of about 5 girls from the surrounding villages who come to church but have no one pouring into them, no place to share questions, thoughts, ideas or problems in their lives.
Im really really excited about it. So far we have talked about the possibilities of their lives, abilities to dream, and their value. We have also talked about Jesus being  REAL, real enough to know that He is with us at all times, we can talk to Him, sit beside Him, He has thoughts about us, had plans for us when He made us. Ive shared a lot of my testimony, regarding how I became a Christian when I didn’t really know what that meant, and got to a point of learning for myself in an incredibly real way that God was more than an idea and a concept like a lot of the church sees Him as. And I talked about how I wondered bouth this thing of “hearing God” for so long and wanted it to be real, but never saw proof of Himreally being able to speak of us. And how I now hear Him all of the time. What a joy. I realiyed how amaying Jesus was when we were talking. Especially when reading psalm 139 and hearing about how God truly loves us and took great care in the way He made us.
The girls have been so excited about it. WE have been doing some fun things like making bracelettes and playing games as well and Ive been giving them opportunity to share about any problems during the week. So far they have proved to be shy abot themselves to some extent. I know it will take tim for them to truly feel safe to share things they feel. And to be honest they probabl don’t think much about how they feel, because they are used to not being allowed to….jsut managing through lifes difficulties. Im so excited to get to become like sisters with these precious girls.
Update on me:
Ive had some things shaken these last couple of weeks. Normal problems within the minstry in communicating as a team have seemed bigger than they should be have and affected me and at times made me feel doubts about my strength and abilities. But Im having to remember that Ive been here over two months and Im starting to feel tired! I have to remember to not neglect my tim with God that recharges me physically, emotionally, and mentally. Ive started fasting this week for the first tim in so long. I can already see it "working"...amaying how it always does. 
Again, this week is an important one. jane, the visitor from England is leaving and we are evaluating what to add into our prorgam from what she has taught and what to exclude or change from what we have been doing. Please pray for us as w make big decisions.

prayer requests:
_ I wont give into lies that stem from tiredness or basic warfare from being on the "frontlines" so to speak, here.
- Unity in our team and in our vision for the program
- Grace for myself to be God's daughter and nothing else

Thank you all! love you!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Living and loving ( from 3 weeks ago!)

This is a blog I wrote about three weeke ago that i never got to put up!! Thanks for reading.

Had a visit from two of my favorite women here in pemba. I cooked them a special spaghetti meal, and we had a wonderful time together!

This morning it rained. It doesnt rain this time of year often at all. Its beautiful, consistent heavy rain when it does and my tin roof amplifies the sound well. But the difference between my reaction to rain here and at home is that All i can think when it rains here is,"oh God please dont let any of our ladies' rooves cave in." That is a sad reality for a lot of the women in our program. We have a roofing ministry, but its very expensive, takes a lot of volunteers and time. But im so thankful that we are working at literally putting roofs over heads.

Sad cultural realizations:
Last week i was in the city running errands with Chafim. He was buying soap for our babies (ladies, and invalids in the program), I was buying cookies for the women in the ktchen (it was graduation day of the harvest schhol and i knew the ladies would have been working since 4 am to make food for the harvest schhoolers. The are usually sweets, but last year they were only for the harvest schoolers and my friends who had worked so hard, probably ready to keel over, didnt get any sweet treats. So this year God gave me the idea to get them a sweet treat and tell them how much theyre appreciated). As I got back in the car and was waiting for Chafim I noticed 3 little children staring at me. This is common; children either stare in amazement if they dont see many white people, or theyre more used to you and they run up and touch you, or theyre used to you at the base nd they pummel you with hugs and ask you for anything they can see ln your person. These were the first category. I thought at first they were looking at my candy wanting some, and to be honest,that made me feel slightly...tired. When you have people ask you for things all day, sometimes just thinking about it makes you emotionally tired. But i thought, "thats stupid!" got out of the car to give them some candy,  and they started making awful scared sounds and backed away like I had just hurt them. I tried again and the same thing happened and they actually hid behind some men all  standing around and the older had her protective arm around the two little ones. 
I thought they were just scared of white skin, but Chafim explained that some kids are taught that white people are going to kidnap them and sell them. I had no idea. Ive never encountered that before. It broke my heart. And to think I thought they were going to beg for candy. Sobering realities of the past. Thats why makua creates such a breakthrough for connecting to  people. portuguese is the white mans language and me trying to speak makua shows I want to honor them and understand them! I love it so much. God, i wont stop until I see barriers broken down!!

The all too real reality of death in Pemba:
On saturday I had two wonderful friends over for breakfast who were here for the Harvest School: Brittany Harrison, and Lauren Brown. Sandi, my sweet rommate and I were eating with them and having a conversation that was giving us all chills. We were talking about faith for miracles. We were sharing stories of people that had been raised from the dead, had been dead for hours, and either through a wuick prayer or 3 hours of prayer they woke up. One of those stories involved a boy whose head had been crushed  by a truck, his brains had been...more or less splattered on the road. When he was healed 13 hours later, his head somehow regrew, and he had no brain damage. We were so encouraged thinking about how the key to miracles is persistence regardless of what you see. Just keep trying - pray for the impossible things every time. 

Our conversation was interrupted by the sudden sound of sobbing and wailing outside of my house. As we are always ready to try and love those around us and as appaling things seems to happen on a somewhat regular basis here, we jumped to our feet to comfort whoever was wailing. We found a group of woman just a couple of houses away - literally right outside of my home - crying because an 18 year old boy, Alex, had just died. Right at that moment, they had recieved the news. All 3 of us were faced with the immediate reality of our exciting conversations in that moment. Wow. Such is life in Pemba. 

Brittany and I started timidly talking to each other..."I want to pray"..."we've got to pray". Why else would we have just had such a conversation if not to build our faith and prepare for this situation that landed on our laps?? W could have chosen a  illion other topics of discussion. Not a coincidence. Yet, this is the problem, and I guess this is why it helps To not be super emotional or worried about offending like David Hogan, there were weeping women and family members all around us, and we didnt know the boy!! It felt so offensive and rude to think of trying to pray for him. What if he didnt get up? I guess this is what everyone deals with in the face of praying for...a dead person. 

Brittany and I kept asking the lord - "what should I do?" because in the end, my job is just to be personally obedient - not paying attention to what everyone else has chosen to do. As a community who believes in raising the dead, youd think this wouldnt be a difficult request. But in the face of it, it is truly difficult to go there. But Brittany and I were as bold as we had guts to be. We asked. And they said no, that theyd already prayed. Then, we walked up to the door where the family was sitting, which felt rude, but we did it anyway. W kneeled at the doorway, trying to figure out what to do. 
Then they carried the body out, inches away from us wrapped in a sheet. Jesus. Can you imagine? A fresh wave of sobs and wails let out all around us. Tears were streaming down Brittany's face as she so wanted to pray for him. Finally, I said, " brittany, lets continue praying at my house. Remember the centurion in the Bible who said to Jesus, "all you have to do is say the word and my servant will be healed."' our faith was strong. We went and interceded for over 3 hours.  I felt as if a lot of things broke and happened in the spiritual realm. Sandi had had a dream the night before in which someone was holding a hand over Heidi baker's mouth, and we all felt it had to do with this situation....she is on a speakingtour right now, and we felt that this death was a discouragement meant to hold back her words. We prayed against that.

But he didnt wake up. Why? I dont know. But it doesnt shake my faith.  It says in the Bible that all we have to do is believe, and by the mesure we believe, it will be done. But that doesnt explain why they dont get up sometimes. Im not God. But I still believe what He says to be true. Im must keep trying and having radical faith. Im still believing for a complete healing of Victoria. David Hogan spoke her a couple of weeks ago and reminded us that he has seen 30 people,personally, when he prayed, get up after haing been dead. He reminded us that its hard when they dont...but that you have to keep trying. It helps to believe What God says regardless, and not to feel "failure", which,as Csey Long says, doesnt exist in the Kingdom. 

So. This is my life in Pemba. Very real things. Very real opportunities to test what you claim to believe. It was a hard day, but an amazing day, in which I learned what its like to live on this fallen earth - I wont stop until I see heaven's realities come here.

Life and ministry is going very very well. God was right when He told me not to fear and to go where He was sending me. Im already seeing the differences in ME this time - all that He has done to prepare me, and all that He wants to do through me. I see there is a lot of importance in me being here in this timing, and Im anticipating big growth in the ladies and the program over these months. 
Nathalia, my coworker in the Jewelry making class, and I are overhauling the program right now. She has given me the freedom do make almost any changes I think are necessary to make the program what God has planned for it be and put dreams in my heart for it to be. Im waiting to see if we will get to start paying the ladies per project (up to this point, making jewelry is a once a week job in which they recieve two weeks worth amount of food for them and their whole family.) 

God has been speaking to me a lot about giving them the chance to make choices, be adults, be respected, and be like artisans rather than...workers. In abut two weeks we are going to have a group discussion day where all the ladies, nathalia, Filomena (the woman who is on salary to help lead the class) and I talk through the reason we are doing this class/business together, what our dreams are for it, and give them opportunity to share their dreams, thoughts and concerns. I want them to realize that this is an opportunity to learn skills that can change their lives, if they take advantage of the training we are offering.Then we are going to give them opportunity to vote on which technique of jewelry making theyd like to sepcialize in: wire work, simple beading, bedweaving, crochet, coconut, and kapulana hand-sewing projects. They will then be broken into specific skill groups in which they specialize, and I will be working very hard to train these groups well, with a leader for each group. Im so excited to see this become more of THEIR project in which they are making choices, and are doing things that they enjoy (because theyl have chosen which technique they like the best!)
 I also am making plans to do painting with a small group soon. I dont know if anyone has the skills or desire to do it, but I cant wait to find out. God had so many specific words about painting, i cant wait to see how it goes. 

This week I have been very busy: Im organizing all of these changes starting wiht taking all thenJewelry we have been making and making it better qualitt and more durable. Then designign new pieces. Ive designed probably about 10 new pieces. But i also needed to have master example pieces of things we have been making, so Ive been making lots of jewelry. Its a bit time consuming! The  Ive been taking pictures of each piece and using a program on the Ipad to make inventory lists, supply info, and instruction sheets for each piece which im going to translate into portuguese. Ill also add some makua phrases. Then we will print These out for when we have visitors that want to help. This also all aids in them being able to work without me. Ivalso been reorganizing our supplies in bead sizes and trying to phase put any supplies that we dont use alot. I want to makeit somthat we have consistent materials coing drom specific places so that we can have consistent pieces of jewelry! 

Anyway, Im doing well. Spending good time with friends, mozambican and non-mozambican alike. Its normal to have incredible ministry opportunities daily by loving people around me- theres so much opportunity for ministry just walking a foot outside of my house. Everywhere I go there are hurting people that I see and i love seeing them light up with a smile or one Makua phrase constantly walking in the opposite spirit of the white peoples colonialism in the past.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pemba at last

July 25th The curse and the blessing of today is that im very sick! Curse: it doesnt feel nice and i needed to be doing some things. Blessing: i can write a blog and get some extra rest time!  Ive been home all day with upchucking and tummy problems. Im feeling a bit better now because my roommate Sandi Nuestadt got me some sprite and crackers! Actually ....she gave me the crackers earlier and I ate about 4, but they didnt stay in my stomach. :( hopefully this last round of 3 crackers, with the help of the sprite....will work out for me.  So - enough about my stomach.... I feel like im at that point where so much has been happening that i dont know where to begin. Guess ill start with the beginning. First week I tried to slowly re-enter this crazy and amazing world. My roommate and I bought a few things for the house like trashcans, ice trays, and matches. My first  night here, I was alone and didnt have sheets for my bed yet, because they were in a bag that Nathalia was keeping for me. So I used a dirty sheet that was still in this house, and covered myself with clothes as blankets - it actually got a little cold. Haha! Pemba always makes one resourceful. It took us a few days as well, to get our water filter working. We had to buy 4 new filters and a new spout. But, hallelujah, we have filtered water now. Friendships and loved ones: But you know i dont care as much about household issues as much friends! The people here. There have been so many excited hugs and kisses and saying in makua "Mi kahoonkelia nyu chinene" (ive missed you so much!). There are so many people to see and connect with that im still running into people that i havent gotten to see yet, and excitedly greeting. There are 90 women in our two classes, so thats a lot of friends and a lot of hugs! Plus the kids i know here, the staff in the kitchen, and who can forget the white people here that are missionaries as well!? Ive gotten to be around Nick and Cate and baby Lily quite a lot, which has been the joy of my heart. They are so wonderful (hope youre reading this. right now and you can know how much i LOOOOVE you guys!!!!) And ive gotten to rconnect with Heidi a bit - she remembers me, which is really lovely. Ha! So may people com and go as short term missionaries, and ive been gone a long time, so that's a feat. She's just as amazing as ever,and again, iv been reminded of how much her obedience to the voice of the Lord and the nudges of the Holy Spirit can break through such huge barriers like culture, language, and amount of people youre leading. What an honor it is to be able to learn from her and be included in her Iris family!!! Thank you, lord. Ive instantly reconnected with my closest friends like Filomena and elena in the kitchen, and Emilda and maria from my tuesday class. Filomena continues to amaze me with the depth of friendship, trust and intimacy we can have with each other. Its always amazing and comforting to be reminded that the people you felt like you could trust are still exactly who you think they are. Do you know what i mean? Here in pemba, there can be startling things to learn about friends you think you know, all of the theyve been doing something deceitful, or have bought into some of the cultural pitfalls like taking a sick child to a witchdoctor. Or even the sexual sin that just seems so integrated into life here. There have been a few ladies who are in our program, husbandless, who end up pregnant. Im sure occasionally that is due to a horrible situation that they were victims of, but usually its because they have just had a man around for a bit. Its actually common for young girls here to be taught that its better to have more than one man, because youll have more provision. Its hard and heartbreaking to learn more and more about the deep rooted trials and issues of this culture. But God is bigger. And its amazing to see the "success stories". And there are TONS because of what Heidi and theIris family have sacrificed for all these years. I have to remind myself sometimes that these issues are why God has brought me here. The purity that God has granted to me is a gift. I know affects these beautiful ladies around me, and that is part of the thing that attracts them to me. I like to be able to love the hard ones, that arent easy to love. And isnt that the point? "if you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same...but love your enemies, and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return..." luke 6:32 Oh God, let this be said of me. It's always easier to love the ones that treat you well. jesus let me love the tough ones well!! Anyway, it is good to have someone that you feel at rest with after a long day. And im so thankful that filomena is that for me. Yesterday i sat and ate with her and we just had a huge heart to heart, intermingled with joking and learning makua. She actually opened up about something she hadn't told me before - her husband used to get drunk and has beaten her 6 times. But she threatened to divorce him and he stopped drinking. Its been 6 years since that last happened, hallelujah. Shes a strong woman. Im so glad she held her ground and didnt allow that to continue.  Thank you, lord.  She also told me that she stood up for me! I had told her the other day that, as is common, id had one of the men that works here ask me to marry him. Before he had asked me my name. HA.I told him, dont you think its a problem if youre asking me to marry you and you dont know my name yet? Filomena went and scolded that man yesterday! HA! I love it. She said," you shouldnt treat her like that, shes a missionary and a woman of God, and she deserves respect! Dont make her want to go home to the U.S! Haha! That touched me so incredbily. What a friend! Really, that meant so much to me. And she brought me some pastries on monday - her husband works in a bakery. Theyre probably really expensive for anyone who lives here. I love it when people give me little gifts - its so special. Victoria finally got the correct tests that should let them know what kind of medication she can have. Im feeling a lot of hope about it. i hqvent been ale to see her since last saturday, but im hoping to visit, just to sit with her, sing songs and love her, is weekend.  Visits!!: if youve ever rrqs my blog before, youll know that part of my ministry is visitng friends in the surrounding villages. So far ive only been on one visit, but it was wondrful. However, Ive also found one of my new favorite things: inviting my mozambican friends to MY house! I love going into the villqge, but this is so fun, because I get to treqt them like they treat me. Cook for them, bless them, allow them to see some of ,y culture. Last week i invited Emilda Fausto to my house. If youve not eard her story, ahe is a women who came to us homeless, rejected and pregnqnt after her first husband hqd sold ht another mn only to be rejected by that one when she got pregnant. Her life has so chqnge since being a part of the Jewelry class wnd her whole countenqnce is just rdiqnt and bequtiful. I invited her and kids to my house last saturday. It was so wonderful. I made some spaghetti, some cucumber salad, and cut up some apples. Its fun to think about giving them things they dntusully get to wt, like fresh apples and cucumbers. I usually dont buy apples much, myself, because they are expensive here. I wndhow often she gets them? I asked her if shed ever had them before and she said they had. The thing I love aout Emilda is that she is so kind and eet. Shes like a cild almost - and I suppose she is one of the ones that God has sent me to to mother. He has talked a lot aout beng a mother here, and I think thats prbably accurate to think she is one that Im called to mother. thank you, God! She acutally speaks mostly makua, which is anther reason I feel ale to be closer to her know thanlast year - i wouldnt have been able to converse with her as much last year. ok - so picture this sweet mozambican woman, and 4 kids sitting around a tableusing forks and spoons to eat spaghetti. HA - if youve ever seen the way they eat, youd know thats a funny and differnt sight. They usually always a with their hands, and usually use rice or xima to scoop up their food. They were all so well-mannered and polite and the kids sat the whole time without complaining. It was just beautiful. Then we played crda together. Something so uniting and Its always nice after spending a few days seeing the hardships and having requests for help from people, to just have fun with mozambicans. This is what I love. This is what Im called to do: break down barriers that make us feel like we arent both mans and sons/daughters of God. If both sides can get this, its a liberating and beautiful thhing that solves many problems in one. Sandi and I sent them home wiht some balls, a toothbrush and lipstick for momma Emilda, and some hair clips, as well as photos of them from last year. The visit was quite a succes, and shes already asking me when I can visit HER house. Jewelry Classes:  Are going well, but we are thinking that we need to overhaul everything after the Harvetschool. There are lots of little things that dont seem to be working as well as they could be, and Nathalia and I both have a heart to see the women truly owning what theyre doing and enjoying it. So i think were going to let them choose what category of jewelry making they would like to emphasize in, then get those groups really trained well on that particular technique, whether its simple beading, beadweaving, wirework, or hand sewing projects. Im excited to try and break Down more barriers and get this whole thing to be THEIRS. :) im excited. Pray for us as we are transitioning!! story of the week: Last friday as we were in class, nathallia seemed distressed and left early. She told me later ( since i was teaching class) that one of our ladies'  daughters had been taken out of their home in the night by a 70 year old witch doctor. He molested her and they found her somewhere away from the house traumatized and wounded. I teared up hearing the story and was so thankful that nathalia had gone and taken a team of visitors to pray for and comfort her and her mom and sister. This little girl is only 5 years old and when they found her, she wasnt able to pee easily for a couple of days. On sunday at church, I saw her mom, Isabel alface, one of my favorites (one of 90 favorites ;)) , and went and sat by her on the floor. Her little girls were both on her lap - the 5 year old was asleep and had tear streaks on her face. I could only imagine she was still in trauma shock. After a little while Isabel wanted to shift because her legs were hurting from the girl sleeping on them- I offered to take her, wondring if she would be too scared to be with anyone other than her mom. She let   Me take her and the girl just conked out completely at ease on my lap. I took the opportunity to love her and pray for her. The next day at our devotion time with Heidi, I did the same thing - I held her as much as I could and prayed for her. What struck me, and made me SO thankful is that she felt comfortable with me. She was completely relaxed and even peaceful. It was interesting to see that she eventually was smiling and laughing by the end of the meeting!  How do is this normal life here? The mom and even our workers seemed slightly casual about the whole scenario. Its so normal to have awful things happen here, that I think they Dont get as startled as us westerners do. Jesus, please restore and redeem her and the women here in Pemba. Other, happy, story!: Also at our devotional time, i got to see my friend Maria, and her little daughter Regina! She is definitely one of my closest friends in the class, and we call each other "npuanaga' which means friend. I call everyone that really, but there are a few who we really call each other that like a nickname and she is one of them - my best friend, Filomen is the other.  Her little dqughter is crazy but so loveable! She has an interesting personality and would wreak havoc on our classroom by pulling on everything she could reach - quite often pulling over buckets of beads onto the floor. But she also looooved the worship and would lift her arms and spin in a cute little circle in the very middle of the room while we were singing. Soooo cute. She is probably about 2 now or almost - she is speaking a little bit now. And here is the most amazing thing: she was saying my name! And saying "npuamaga Tetra" to me. It was the cutest thing in the world. She remembered me, and picked up on the fact that her mom calls me npuanaga. So cute, and made me feel quite special! Prayer requests: -pleas keep believing and expecting miracles with me for Victoria's life. And pray that I will know how to handle the changes in her and still treat her good friend. Not a "sick person". Oh, I so want to be there for her in this time!! - please pray i dont stay sick! That I get better tonight! - i find its difficult sometimes for me to take dreams, and ideas and turn them into reality. Please pray with me that God will give me the mind of Christ to know how to make simple steps to see through all the divine ideas He has given me for this time!! - so far, i havent hd a good internet conection - i want to get an internet stick, but im not sure if it works on my little Ipad, as it doesnt have a usb port. It's really really important to my heart health to be able to talk with family and friends regularly! Please pray that ill find a solution - i know my papa God has good gifts for me!  - please also pray that I will feel like I have family here on the bse in this Iris community. i still feel a bit of a lack of community here, which is discourging. Will you pray with me that I know what steps to take to build up or community? Thank you for your love, thank you for your encourgement. Thank you for bein with me while Im here. You all are, you know. Much love - tetra