Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 2009 Newsletter

Wow! This year is our busiest to date – we are thankful for our God who sustains us and for a few moments in between events/travel/visitors to catch our breath! You can find a copy of this newsletter and past newsletters on our blog www.howellsinmoz.blogspot.com.

Alan has continued studying regularly through the Train & Multiply curriculum with leaders from Chipembe/Nkuunama and Nekwaya. He also has continued to study with the young churches in Nkororo, Khambiri and Namwaciko (inaugurated in February), and with another new church plant (July) in the village of Neewara. About once a month Alan and Jeremy have gone down to do Train & Multiply with church leaders in the Chiure district, and they have also continued to host leadership meetings here in town with leaders from village churches, focusing on having God’s love for each other and working peacefully together. Recently Alan also made the trek to visit and worship with the church way down in Maxoca (4 hours on a bad road) that we don’t get to very often. It was a good weekend studying and worshipping together, and 26 people were baptized.

Each year our team commits to at least one weekend study seminar in each of the districts/church clusters in which we work. Last year we studied through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount; this year we are studying faithfulness in God’s dream for marriages. The lack of faithfulness in marriage remains as one of Satan’s big strongholds here, and we ask for your prayers that God through his Spirit will grow people to walk in faithfulness. We have already done this study with the Balama/Upaco cluster and the Milamba/Chiure cluster, and in October we will study and discuss marriage with the believers in Chipembe/Nekwaya, Pemba/Nanjua, and Namuno/Montepuez clusters.

Earlier this year God answered our prayers for land here in town to start a non-profit chicken business and to have space for a development/resource center. We have started the non-profit chicken business and are finishing selling our second round of broiler chicks. The dream is to have a chicken-selling business that pays for itself, provides a few jobs, and also provides extra income to invest in other projects in the community. The first round was a good start, paying for itself and for the next round of chicks; the second round has not gone as well – we had a cold spell soon after we received the tiny chicks, and close to 200 chicks died. Please keep the chickens and this small business in your prayers!

Over the next few weeks our team will be talking more concretely about how to best use the land to encourage development. There are many possible options – ways that we can encourage better nutrition, more sustainable farming techniques, sanitation, etc. Some of you have already given towards the development of the land (building a storage facility for future construction) and the non-profit business (a group of layer chicks and another group of broilers). Currently, we have received $1000 and still lack $4500. If you would like more information or are interested in helping, please let us know!

On another note, as many of you know, our teammates Aaron, Mika, Josiah, and Elijah Roland went to the States in December 2008 to receive counseling and care. Based on the wisdom and counsel they have received there, they have decided to remain in the States and not return to ministry in Mozambique. We are thankful for all the ways the Rolands have blessed our team and our Mozambican friends, and we miss them and continue to ask for God’s blessings for them. More recently, in the midst of their transition as a family, several of Aaron’s extended family members have experienced severe health problems, and we ask you to continue to lift them all up in prayer.

In early June we received a team of 7 missions interns from Harding University. Kara, Harrison, Matt, Ashley, Amy, Abby, and Daniel lived, worked, and learned with us for six weeks, and God blessed the experience very much – it is difficult to summarize in one paragraph! The Harding Missions Internship is not a campaign; it is a learning experience for those who think they might be interested in foreign missions. The interns immerse themselves in life and work here for six weeks: language and culture learning, spending a weekend out in a village, joining with Mozambicans in projects (building a mud hut) and in daily life (harvesting and pounding grain), and fellowshipping and studying with believers. The internship also included a survey trip to an area where more workers are needed, and a visit to the team in Lichinga to see their development/resource center there. We were so thankful for the interns that God sent our way; we pray that God is leading them to come back to serve in Africa… and maybe even join our team!

God blessed us this year with more visitors as well: before the interns my brother and sister-in-law James and Kirsten Wilson came from Denver to visit us for two weeks in May, and we thoroughly enjoyed having them here! It was their first time on the continent of Africa, and did a great job meeting our Mozambican friends and visiting people. Their visit went by WAY too fast! Then after the interns left, my parents came for two weeks in late July/early August. We enjoyed having them here for Abby’s 6th birthday, and many of our Mozambican friends they met two years ago were happy to see them again! While my parents were here our teammates Chad and Amy Westerholm returned with Maggie and her new baby sister Jane after their furlough/ childbirth/ fundraising time in the States. We rejoice in God’s provision; he provided the funding that they lost in the previous year due to the economy, plus more! Then right after my parents left, as a team we received Dr. Van Rackley from Harding’s Marriage and Family Therapy department. Dr. Rackley has invested in our team since the beginning, working with us on team dynamics, our working relationships, our communication with each other, and personal and marriage counseling as we have adjusted to life and work in Mozambique. His time with us is always an invaluable blessing.

Dr. Rackley’s departure coincided with Jeremy and Alan flying to Kigali, Rwanda for a Church Planting Movements conference. They flew through Nairobi, Kenya, and were stuck there one night due to the strike of Kenya Airways employees, but thankfully still made it to Kigali the next morning, in plenty of time before the conference started (thanks to so many of you for praying!) Alan and Jeremy enjoyed the conference and learned a lot; much of the information presented seems to be very appropriate and reproducible for the kind of grass-roots movement we are in the middle of here. We have already enjoyed trying out some new ideas and changes in our study times with our friends here, and we look forward to growing in this further.

In three weeks there will be a women’s conference here in town for our province. We have been planning together with our friends here, and we are really excited about our time studying together as women. One main theme of the weekend will be the girls’ Ekoma, the initiation ceremony done for girls in this culture to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. While it is a great idea to celebrate this transition in life, traditionally the ceremonies include a lot of abusive and harmful behavior from the older women in charge; beatings, humiliation, and instruction in sexual promiscuity are the norm, and sometimes even female circumcision is still done in a few areas around us. In the last few years many of our friends have been interested in doing God-centered Ekoma, focused on blessing and prayer for the girls/young women, and instruction/encouragement in walking with God. A few friends have already done an Ekoma within the church, and we are looking forward to discussing it with women from the whole province.

Speaking of transitions, we have had a few in our family this year as well. Abby finished kindergarten, lost her first two teeth, and has started first grade. Ellie is growing a lot, enjoying preschool lessons, and really likes to go with Alan on some of his visits out to village church members. And… as several of you already know, we are expecting baby Howell number 3 in mid-January! So far, both the baby and I are in good health. However, due to the poor state of healthcare in Mozambique, we will be going to the States to have this baby, and will be returning to Mozambique the first week of March.

We currently have a sudden, urgent need concerning our rental housing situation here in Montepuez, but since this is already a long newsletter, we will write about that in the next day or two so you can join us in specific prayer. Your prayers to God over us are so precious.

Our prayer requests:
• for the Kingdom of God to come among the Makua-Metto
• for the health of our team, especially our pregnancy and childbirth in January
• for the Roland family
• for the non-profit chicken business and future development & resource center
• for the women’s conference at the end of September
• for us as we parent and educate our children
• for our rental situation

We love and miss you all!
Rachel, Alan, Abby, Ellie, and baby Howell

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