Winding Down and Closing Out

Preparations to leave Mozambique have included far more than good-bye parties.  We finalized ministry and classes and gathered kids’ school records.

Several months ago we began organizing the house and dividing things into various piles.  Since one of the houses on the property was empty we used the front room of that house to store the smaller items which would be placed in a garage sale.  A second pile was made of items going to Portugal by sea to arrive sometime in September.  The third pile, mostly clothes and a few games/toys we wanted immediate access to, were set aside to go on the plane with us.

Items to Portugal

Items to Portugal

Garage sale items

Garage sale items

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a few other parties which we haven’t specifically  told you about – one at the church where we worship weekly and one with our workers and their wives.

We pre-advertised our furniture and sold it, to be picked up on the afternoon of the 28th of June.  We had our garage sale (no pictures, we were too busy) to get rid of all non-major items not being taken to Portugal.

Asher had to say good-bye to his dog, Beethoven.

Asher and Beethoven with Gerson, Asher's friend from school who is Beethoven's new owner

Asher and Beethoven with Gerson, Asher’s friend from school who is Beethoven’s new owner

We moved out of our house and stayed the final week in a guest house on the Wycliffe base while finalizing packing, etc.

Our empty house

Our empty house; the remaining sofa was purchased by someone moving into our house.  The suitcase in the far room came to Portugal with us

Our friends took us to the airport last Monday morning, the 7th and we said good-bye to Nampula (no pictures of this either as she took them on her camera and hasn’t been able to send them to us yet).  Tonight as I type we’re sitting in the Maputo airport awaiting our flight which will depart in 2 hours and a bit.

Mozambique has been good (with some bad as always exists in every place).  Saying good-bye is always hard but we (at least Dan and I) know new adventures and opportunities await.  We trust the God who goes before us!

More Good-byes – things to remember

We’ve referenced it before, but saying ‘good-bye’ is very important within the culture here and for that reason we’ve hosted several different parties. You’ve read about the good-bye in Netia, which to now was the biggest party, however the one held on 21 July was also large. This party was a mixed group of friends from our neighborhood, the kids’ school friends, expatriate friends, Dan’s students, and others who have been important to our adjustment and lives here over the last 9+ years. We invited 90+ people to the lunch. About 90 showed up.

We specifically planned a lunch so that it would be a very special time for everyone. Before we ate I, Dan, thanked everyone and talked about how the past 9 years had really influenced our walk with Jesus. How we have grown so much in Jesus because of the experiences and conversations we have had, time spent together and the influence of living in Mozambique.

After lunch I talked about what specifically we had learned from each person or family there or why they had been important to our time in Mozambique and thanked them for the things they had taught us.

We did not expect anyone to stand up and say anything however several did share their thoughts.

We share the following not to make ourselves look good, but because they are things we hope to never forget, things that humbled us, things that remind us what happens when we get involved with people, when we put ourselves aside and let God change us and use us as He wants, when we risk for God amazing things happen.

Professor Lucia, who has taught 4 of our 5 kids said, “over the years as you have interacted with us at the school and as we have gotten to know your kids we now call you the “White-Black People”.

The Vice-principle of the school stood up and said that Dan’s involvement in the PTA helped solve problems and the school appreciated Robin’s willingness to step up and teach English when they needed an English teacher and again helping to teach 5th grade math when they were again short a teacher.

Gito, who worked with Dan for years and who we discipled and help get through college, stood up and talked about how his life is very different today because we got involved with him and his wife. He talked of how much God had used us in his life.

Samson, the brother to Teles, talked about how discipling Teles and helping him go to college has help the whole family have a different future.

Narcia, the mother of our kids’ friends, stood up and explained that she now views us as her friends and from us she learned that all people are equal, even when from different cultures and places. We are all the same and the differences don’t matter. (This is something we feel strongly about. We are all created in the image of God, we all sin and need a Savior, we are all saved by the blood of Jesus. We are all equal.)

The next day a student told Dan, “Yesterday’s lunch was great. You had both the white and black people there. You did not separate us. That was great!”

As we leave Mozambique we now face adjusting and adapting to a new culture. Hopefully, through the power of God, study, patience and His grace we will one day be looked at as the American-Portuguese people who helped people see Jesus and know Him…

 

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!

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.

Finally, More Than a Stop in The Road

The road trip from Nampula to either Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique) or South Africa is a LONG trip which we’ve made multiple times.  As the national highway does not boast multiple exits with your chose of 20 fast food restaurants and innumerable hotels in which one can stay when too tired to drive further one has to calculate and plan each days’ drive based on where one can find lodging.

After several years of living in Mozambique we came to learn of a lovely lodging place on the north side of the Gorgongosa Forest, just south of the Zambezi River.  Catapu is the business side of the establishment – a hardwood furniture company which practices responsible forestry and seeks to integrate the community into it’s programs.  As a sideline they’ve built M’phingwe Lodge – lovely and fairly inexpensive cabins, in which people can stay.  Their restaurant, though simple in menu also boasts one of the best steaks we’ve ever had (which is a wonderful after having eaten all meals and snacks in the car all day).  We long ago dropped our previous lodging and always aimed to stay here on both the southbound and northbound parts of trip.

Anyway, because our trips are always so scheduled it’s common for us to be pulling into M’phingwe anywhere between 5 – 8pm and we’re always up and out of there before 6 if not by 4am.  Never have we been able to simply relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the forest.  Last month we decided to change that; we had no long trip to South Africa planned but instead decided we’d use part of the kids’ Easter break to simply go relax and have fun.

It was a long trip (8 hrs each way) but it was fun.  We took lots of games, hiked some trails, played more games, hiked a bit more, watched the monkeys, looked at bugs and butterflies and simply enjoyed the time (with only minor sibling bickering).