Hello once again from Mozambique!
We are home! Transitioning back to Mozambique after an absence isn’t always easy, and coming back with a new baby adds its own special challenges, but with God’s grace we are here! Katie travelled really well on the long plane ride (actually all three girls did wonderful!), and though we had a few hassles with our luggage not being checked all the way to Pemba, we and all our luggage made it to Pemba intact and at the same time. Abby and Ellie were waking in the middle of the night for several days - it seems to take about a week to be completely over jet lag. Our house had been empty (and our fridge and freezer as well!) the whole time we were gone, but our teammates came over to clean before we arrived and also provided meals for over a week, which is a HUGE blessing!
We were so richly blessed by our time with treasured family and friends in the States. Thank you all for blessing us and helping us welcome Katie Joy into the world while we were with you. We live a strange double life; we miss our Mozambican home and friends when we are in the States, and we miss our stateside family and friends when we are here. Whatever we may have given up, God has richly blessed us with loving community to welcome us wherever we land.
Getting settled and getting our lives started up again takes some time here. Since our teammates the Smiths were leaving for travel to South Africa and the States for furlough, anything we wanted to do as a whole team we had to get done in 2 and a half weeks. So we had two major meetings to participate in right after our arrival. First, our teammates hosted a meeting of different missionaries and NGO workers in the southern part of our province to share experiences, ideas, and encouragement to understand how to more effectively bless the Makua-Metto. Then the next weekend our team met with almost 80 church leaders here in Montepuez. Chad, Jeremy and Alan shared the information gathered from last year’s church growth study looking at the way the churches of Christ in Cabo Delgado have grown (from 350 members in 2006 to around 1000 members at the end of 2009). They assessed together (“where are we”) and worked on forming a vision together for the future (“where do we want to go?”). Just a few days after that meeting, the Smiths left to begin their travels.
Our house also takes some time getting back into shape. For starters, it took the telephone company several days to start up our internet access again, but even once it was restarted we couldn’t use it anyway because there was a lot of lightning damage all over town from a big thunderstorm the first week we were back, and it took the phone company a long time to make it to our street for repairs. We’re going on four weeks back in the country, and our phone line and internet were just fully functional a couple days ago! Our plumbing and water situation has needed attention, too. It took three weeks to get running water in the house again, and we only just now have toilets that flush. We just returned from a trip 5 hours south to Nampula for 4-6 months’ worth of groceries (meat, cheese, butter), household supplies (toilet paper and bug spray), and hardware (to repair all our broken and leaky plumbing).
We are looking forward to an unusual year here in Montepuez – not strange, but different from our “usual.” We are actually “alone” (only in an expatriate, English-speaking sense) in that both of our teammates are gone at the moment – the Smiths for vacation and then on to furlough and childbirth in the States to return in September, and the Westerholms for three weeks of travel to meetings, vacation, and car repair. We will host interns again from Harding University for six weeks in June and July, and Abby will be schooling without the Smiths boys while they are gone. Also, in the next few months we will begin prayerfully fundraising to build a house due to our landlord’s increasingly unreasonable behavior over the last few years.
We are happy to be home, though, and enjoying seeing our Mozambican friends we missed for three months. They have all enjoyed meeting Katie Joy and talking about how big she is, how much hair she has, and how she isn’t a boy like the doctor in Nampula predicted last year! The harvest is underway and nearly over, and so the women’s study group is ready to start up again, and I am very much looking forward to that.
Before leaving Mozambique in December, Alan wrote a letter and read it to the churches that he consistently works with thanking God for the ways that the churches have grown over the last few years. He asked them to do three main things: keep studying the commands of Jesus, obey what they are learning and share it with their family and friends, and take a portion of whatever offering they receive each week and give it to someone in their community who is in need. In the letter, Alan shared that with the growing number of churches and leaders he needs to focus on those that are serious about living the kingdom life, and that after our return from the states he would be working with those communities that were doing those kinds of things. So, in the next few weeks we’ll be visiting the eight churches in the Mirate area as well as others to see how they are doing and to continue working on leadership training and church planting.
The non-profit business has been busy with chickens and sustainable agriculture projects. The 100 chickens are still young and have started laying eggs but haven’t reached full capacity yet. As of right now we’re having trouble supporting the three Mozambican employees of this project. We’re hoping that once the layers produce at full capacity the business will be self-sustainable and that we’ll be able to use any additional income to support additional projects. We planted a big plot of beans using a sustainable agricultural method that we’re hoping will catch on with others and we’re looking forward to harvesting that in a couple months so we can testify to this method’s effectiveness. Last year, we did one sustainable agriculture seminar that was very well received and this year we would like to do more. If you’re interested in helping with these projects, please contact us and we’ll send you some more information.
We invite you to pray with us:
· For us to stay in a posture of listening to God’s Spirit
· For our health, especially Katie Joy as she grows
· For adjusting to life and responsibilities in Mozambique with a new baby
· For God’s kingdom to come in this area, and for church leaders to have that vision
· For Katie’s Mozambican Residence documents to be approved without hassle
With much love,
Rachel, Alan, Abby, Ellie, and Katie Joy