Generous Generosity!

Living in Mozambique we are well aware of how wealthy we are compared to our neighbors.  We have a roof over our heads and clothes to wear.  Our kids do not miss meals.  They own the books they need for school and toys to entertain them.  We purchase the medicines needed when ill without having to borrow from every neighbor or do without because we can’t afford it.

God calls us to be generous.  We’re called to care for the poor and watch out for those in need.  We’re told that in caring (or not caring) for the “least of these” we’re caring (or not caring) for Christ Himself (Matt 25:35-45).

Perhaps living here, among poverty, should make that easier.  There certainly is plenty of opportunity to look out for the poor.  There are daily opportunities to be generous.

God has allowed us to give to beggars.  We’ve been able to offer some help for the needs around us.  With the amazing generosity of our supporting churches and IDES we could help organize famine relief projects.  God has been glorified.

Yet now, this area is one in which I’m really feeling challenged.

Am I generous?

God has called us to be generous because He is the most generous.  He gave His son – for me.  I want to be generous as He has shown.  I want to show/extend that generosity to others . . . to love them as myself.  I’m not stingy or ungenerous necessarily, but am feeling the challenge that I need to be more generous than I am.  And I’m sorting through what that looks in a more concrete form.

Which leads me to explain the title of this post.

I’m not sure if it’s grammatically correct to use an adjective to describe it’s related noun, but there is no other way to describe our brothers and sisters within the Netia church.

If you read this earlier post then you know we said good-bye to those in Netia last Monday, the 16th.  Though the churches as a whole gave Dan a gift of appreciation, it was then opened up that others might offer individual gifts if they wanted.

We live among a poor people and yet the outpouring of love, demonstrated by their giving, was amazing.  For those who have so little to be sacrificially generous – giving out of their little to bless and love on us was overwhelming.

It was an overwhelmingly generous generosity!  I’ll share pictures of some of the tangible gifts we received but that wasn’t their only means of generosity.  They gave generously of their time, many walking for hours to be there to say “good-bye” and then walking hours to get home.  They gave up time in their fields or doing other necessary life tasks.  Both types of gifts and the pictures we have will provide a nice reminder for me to think and reflect on as I talk with Jesus about being a more generous person.

 

Good-Bye Netia

Last Monday, the 16th, was our time for saying Good-bye to Netia.  What a beautiful celebration it was.  As we arrived there was a small crowd outside the church but inside was packed.   People, not just from the main church in town but from throughout the district had arrived to spend time with us and say good-bye.

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Netia holds an extremely special place in Dan’s heart and it’s clear he holds a special place in theirs.  Several groups sang and worshipped.  There was a time for us to give them gifts to say good-bye (Bible dictionaries for the group of 14 main leaders, packets of teaching/encouragement letters for each church there, and tons of pictures taken throughout the years).  There was a reading reminding of God’s goodness and the work He’s done throughout this past nine plus years.  None of that is our work but rather that of the Holy Spirit.  Dan was a tool to help equip and train these men and they in turn have become tools that the Spirit is using and will continue to use in a mighty way.

The Leadership presented Dan with a special stool, used for the traditional kings or men of honor.  Everyone laughed as he sat on it and immediately tipped over for a moment.

 

Others brought gifts as well, (though that’s it’s own upcoming post).  Then we sat around, visited, and took lots of pictures while waiting for lunch to be served.  This goodbye was also important for Josiah because he has a very good friend, Jordão, in Netia.  This gave them the opportunity play soccer one last time and say goodbye.

 

It was a great day and we left with hearts full!

Finally Finished . . . Now to Start Again

Long, long ago I considered myself a book worm.  For the past several years, to my dismay I can’t make that claim.  It seems life’s tasks and children, combined with just not making the time have kept me from doing much reading.  Another part of that however is most books I pick up these days are books I want to think through and process and I don’t want to read them if I don’t have the time to process them appropriately.

On that note, way back in 2008 during our furlough a friend recommended Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love.  We quickly purchased it but I started the first chapter and realized in the midst of furlough travels I wouldn’t have time to process it as I wanted.  We returned to Mozambique and I started it again but discovered I couldn’t watch some of the recommended videos.  By the time I’d decided to read it anyway several other things cropped up and again it got put on the shelf.

So now, 6+ years later I finally picked the book up again, motivated by it being the study book for a Ladies’ Bible study I’m in.  It’s a great book and very challenging.  I’ve finished the book now . . . but I yesterday I started reading it again.  There’s a lot in there and the Lord’s challenging me quite a bit.

Here’s some of thoughts and points I’m reflecting on:

  • Our love for God always comes out of His love for us.  He loves us (me) individually, personally and intimately.  Do I love Him, who is everything, as my everything?  Do I crave Him?
  • No leftovers for God!  Give Him the 1st and the best!
  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength?”  Loving Him with EVERYTHING!  Does my life reflect that?  Specifically how?
  • “Love your neighbor as yourself”  –  Specifically here . . . . how does this play out in my life?  Do I sacrifice for my neighbor – my time?  my finances?  What else.  Do I recognize my “enemies” as neighbors and equally love and sacrifice for them?  Am I willing to love my enemy?
  • Do I / Can I trust God with complete abandon?  What am I doing right now that requires faith?
  • Chapter 4 touches on profiles of the lukewarm and chapter 6 identifies characteristics of those truly in love . . . where am I in all this?

Don’t think I’ll have trouble working through this book the 2nd time, despite the processing I need to do.  I look forward to seeing what and how the Lord is going challenge and change me.

Motorcycle Distribution

Remember our VBS and Church Camp project last summer?  We were raising funds for the Netia Project (click the link to read more about it) which would give 14 trusted (and proven) church leaders chickens, goats and a motorcycle.  The chickens and goats were to provide food for their family (or as the animals reproduce the offspring could be sold as a source of income) and the motorcycles were to provide transport so they could travel more easily to the churches which have been planted, thus providing more regular teaching times and eventually being able to reach further beyond where they can currently go.

We returned in January excited to tell the Netia leaders that we’d raised the funds for the project.  Initially we thought we’d wait until mid June to purchase things (honestly we didn’t want to purchase everything in January or February only for word to get around and then we’d receive hundreds of requests for motorcycles or chickens or goats or all of the above).   At the same time we needed to rely on the wisdom of the Netia leaders who understand some things we don’t.

In March the leadership advised that we should go ahead and purchase the chickens and goats as prices for animals would rise drastically once the harvest started being collected.  We took their advice and animals were distributed then (sorry we didn’t manage to get pictures).  The Motorcycles were purchased in May and a big celebration was planned to commemorate the giving of those.

Even during the preparation and celebration for distributing these motorcycles we were once again so impressed with leadership.  First of all, apparently while we were on furlough two of Dan’s students stopped coming to the weekly classes which continued in our absence.  They started attending again when we returned.  The general leadership decided that didn’t show the maturity or faithfulness to warrant receiving a motorcycle.  Secondly the leadership, on their own without prompting from us, created a list of regulations each minister receiving the motorcycle had to agree to and sign.  I won’t type each of the 13 articles out for you however they were establishing/reminding Biblical criteria for behavior, accountability in ministry, outlining works and responsibilities for the motorcycle and establishing criteria in which the motorcycle could be taken away.

It was a great day.  We rejoice because we’d found good prices on the motorcycles and therefore had extra money to purchase several bicycles for other ministers to receive.  A government official was there to observe and participate in the festivities.  There was lots of singing and a short message by Dan.  It was a great day.  Can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do through these men, now enabled to travel farther to spread the Good News of Christ and continue to disciple those new churches.  To those who gave through their VBS and/or at church camp – THANK YOU!

Preparations Well Underway

Our departure from Nampula is less than a month away and preparations to leave have been underway for quite a while. There’s lots to do:

Sorting through the house:  As we prepare to move we obviously have to sort through the things in our house.  We are taking some things to Portugal with us, more than we initially thought since we’re sharing shipping space with a friend.  Still we’re selling most stuff.  One of the houses on the property is vacant so to keep our house clear I’ve been carry things over there.  Smaller stuff to put in our yard sale is sitting in the front room of that house and things to ship to Portugal are going in another room.  As for the large items we made a list and have pre-sold most of those.

A Good-Bye Party: One of the groups which Dan teaches meets on the 9th and 10th of each month.  That meant he needed to use June’s class to tell them good-bye.  We purchased roasted chickens, took along rice, and a cake and had gifts for each of the students.  A good time was had by all!

The Last Day of School  – for Robin and the kids (minus Karunia).  Though several friends have been invited to a good-bye party later on we aren’t sure how many will actually be able to come.  For that reason we baked cookies for all 5 kids to share with their classes and made sure to take a few pictures (though we don’t have pictures of Josiah with his class as they studied in the afternoon and he went along to school, not thinking to take pictures on his phone).  Robin gave her last math class, returning their tests and allowing them one final opportunity at a timed multiplication exercise to earn prizes.  It was a big milestone to be done with daily school here in Mozambique.  And while I, Robin, really enjoyed the opportunity to teach, look forward to having the extra time to focus on other tasks which need done before our departure.

2 weeks left in our house and 3 weeks left in the city.  Preparations will continue.  Opportunities to say good-bye will come with several other people/groups/classes and the kids will continue to squeeze in every last opportunity to play friends.  It’s a busy time but a good time and thankfully I’m not feeling to overwhelmed.