Wednesday, July 8, 2009

starting something new...

We have had an exciting past couple months here in Montepuez. I (finally!) finished up my master’s degree, our team received 7 interns, and we also took the first steps towards a new project that I have been dreaming about for some time now. After living in Mozambique for over five years, we have a deeper appreciation for the needs of the people here. Some of our friends require help in the form of relief (one-time help in a time of crisis) and others could really benefit from some type of sustainable development (changing the dynamics of the system here to enable people to find meaningful employment). A little over a year ago, I began to have a vision for something that would bless people in both ways. My dream was to start a non-profit business that would pay a good salary for its employees and provide enough profit to support some development projects and give consistently to ADEMO, the association of handicapped and disabled people.

While on furlough in 2008, I spoke to a number of individuals and Bible classes about these ideas and was blessed with $2000 of start-up money for this enterprise. After returning from the States to life and ministry in Mozambique, I began to more thoroughly investigate what it would take to make this dream a reality. Our team’s goal, here in Mozambique, is to help get a church planting movement going among the Makua-Metto people. I spend a lot of time in villages and in the city helping young churches get started and training church leaders. I enjoy what I am doing and feel gifted and called to it. Because of these ministry commitments, realistically I can only commit about five hours a week to this new project. So, as I looked at what it would take to start the non-profit business, the biggest initial barrier was finding a trustworthy manager to run the day-to-day operations. As part of my final two classes in finishing up my degree, I met regularly with a Makua-Metto pastor of an evangelical church here in town, Domingos Aurelio. I have known him for a few years now and he is well-respected in the community and one of the few leading pastors in area churches that is actually Makua-Metto (the majority of them are from other parts of Mozambique). Domingos has been employed for the last eight years as the manager of a wood-cutting business in Montepuez. He was responsible for overseeing their human resources as well as keeping track of finances and materials. In January of this year, I started praying more earnestly about this venture and shortly thereafter learned that Domingos’ boss was closing down his business in order to move on to other things. Domingos and I talked about our vision for this project, he was excited to join something that sought to bless the community and agreed to manage the day-to-day operations of the business.

As we looked for a small plot of land to house the business, we came across a larger piece of land (about four acres or roughly the size of two city blocks here!). Besides being in a prime location, the price was very good as well. One of the Smiths’ supporting churches had funds available, and we were able to purchase the land for just under $10,000. I am continually amazed and overwhelmed at God’s timing and plans. The original vision was to have something relatively small, and God has surprised us with a much bigger vision than we could have asked for or imagined.

In June we completed the sale of our first round of chicks and made enough money to pay the guards, manager and buy another round of chicks that will be ready to sell in August. We have employed one of the church leaders to sleep in the coop and feed and water the chickens. As far as our business plan, we are buying chicks from a business in Nampula and are raising them to sell here. Eventually, we would like to have housing for three or four groups of chickens at different stages of growth. We should be able to turn a profit of roughly $500 for every round of chicks. While that does not sound like much, it could really make a big difference here. At some point, we would also like to have layer chickens in order to sell eggs (which would make a good profit and bless people through the added nutrition/protein).

The land is large enough to house a number of different ministry projects, not just the chicken coops, and there are a number of costs involved in getting the land ready for long-term use. For the near future we have identified some things that would help the non-profit business run more effectively.
• start another group of broiler chickens and a small group of layers ($2500)
• construct a storage building used to hold feed and other supplies (about $3000).
So, with about $5,500 we could finance the first permanent building for this project and help stabilize it financially. If you are interested in helping out financially with this project, please let us know.

The non-profit business and resource center will initially only use a small portion of the new land. We have brainstormed a number of possibilities and are excited to see how God may use it for his glory. Please pray for the success of this new initiative and let us know what you are dreaming and imagining.

We’ll send a more newsy newsletter soon.

Grace and Peace,


  1. Hey there! I was reading the blog post and couldnt help be remember our prayer group and the time you were praying about your double major and how that a professor had called the second your "lack of faith" degree...I guess its just interesting to see now using some business know-how to build faith.

    Grace and peace.

  2. Encouraging to see your progress and the joy you seem to find in your work in the kingdom of God there. Sounds like what Paul was about, i.e..."for your progress and joy in the faith." We thank God for you and marvel at what his Spirit in his servants produces all over the world. "...until Christ is formed in you." : )

  3. Organic, No-till Farming

    1. Restore the soil to its natural health. Contamination: inorganic pesticides, insecticides & fertilizers
    2. Maintain the healthy soil. Healthy soil produces healthy crops with highest yields and prevents most disease, pest, weed and erosion problems.
    3. Increase the soil’s organic matter every year.
    4. Little or no external inputs [It is not necessary to buy anything, from anybody.]
    5. Leave crop residue on top of soil. No burning. You are burning up fertilizer. Do not plow it into the soil.
    6. Plant green manure/cover crops to increase the soil organic matter. Seeds are available in every country.
    7. Plant the new crop in the crop residue by opening up a row or a place for the seed.
    8. Plant every field every year [no fallow land]
    9. 0-tillage: no plowing, no digging, no cultivating. No hard physical labor required so children and the elderly can farm easily. After two or three years the yields can double while reducing the labor by half compared to traditional farming. Farmers farm ten acres alone using hand tools only [Honduras]
    10. Tree crops: fruit, nuts, coffee [shade-grown], etc. Use perennial cover crops
    11. Permanent paths [walking]
    12. Permanent beds. They were used 2000 BC in Guatemala, Mexico and many other coun-tries. 15-25% of the land is in paths and that saves 15-25% of the seed, water and labor but yields will be higher.
    13. Hand tools: machete, weed cutter, seeding hoe. Local blacksmith should make them.
    14. Soil always covered. Never leave the soil bare.
    15. No compost making. Use the organic matter for mulch. If there is an excess, pile it up and use later.
    16. Vermiculture: Not necessary; too much labor. Do it in the soil in the fields.
    17. SRI - system of rice intensification. Double yields, reduces water requirements by 50% and reduces labor.
    18. SRI for other crops: sugar cane, finger millet, cotton, wheat, mustard.
    19. Bucket drip irrigation should be used during the dry season and in areas of low rainfall: Imported bucket drip kits are US$15. A bucket drip line can be made locally from poly tubing [US$3, Nicaragua]. One will irrigate a row of crops 33 meters long using only 20 liters of water per day. A dripline can be moved to irrigate several rows per day. Water can be from a stream, pond or well. A drip kit returns $20 per month to the farmer [FAO study].

    Ken Hargesheimer
    Tue, Dec 30, 2008

    Dear Ken,

    Thank you for all the DVD’s you sent me. Thank you for all the info. I am applying it in my own vegetable patch. It is working. Got half a pocket of potatoes off a square metre. So would imagine about 10 pounds per square yard. This off previously dead low, carbon soil. Sure next crop will be better. Got yams coming up on same spot already. Want to plant herbs and spices. I will send photos.

    Your advise is so simple. People do not believe me when I tell them. I am so excited about growing things now. This coming from a commercial plum farmer. May you be blessed this holy season a thousand times more than you blessed me with you help.Jeremy Karsen,

    Project room: Kyomya, Uganda
    We have been working on improving farming techniques for almost a year. Unfortunately, the farmers are planting small plots of land that only feed their family. There is no other choice but to try new techniques to improve the output of their plot. Ken Hargesheimer suggested the "no till" farming techniques as well as the "drip system". Both have proven effective at increasing produc-tion by at least 5 fold. The time is now for Kyomya to become a model agricultural village. []

  4. Old McHowell Had A Farm... E I E I Oh!!

    Keep up the good work.