Hi again from northern Mozambique! We have been keeping a busy pace the last few months, and have been reminded how much having a small baby affects day-to-day life (including newsletter frequency!)… so if you’ve wondered why you haven’t heard from us, Katie Joy is the culprit – and quite a cute little culprit if I do say so myself! Katie is six months old and growing well and frequently rewards our goofy attempts to make her laugh with chuckles and gummy grins with two tiny teeth at the bottom.
In April and May Alan started memorizing Titus with a few groups of our more mature leaders in four different churches. Right now there are about ten who are memorizing and another ten or so who are participating regularly. It has been fun seeing them internalize the Word of God in Portuguese, Makua, or Swahili, and wrestle together with what the scriptures are saying. It has been a challenge for Alan to memorize scripture along with them in another language! Alan has also been teaching through our basic church curriculum in the villages of Nekwaya, Kambiri and Nkororo. We’ve been studying about overcoming temptation, how to study the Bible, prayer, fasting, and church leadership. In order to save money on gas and try to make our car last longer Alan bought a motorcycle and has been using it on about of his trips out to the nearby villages that we work with. Also in April the weekly women’s study group here in town started up again after the harvest.
Our teammates the Smiths went to the States to have a baby and go on furlough in April, and May 15 we were excited to hear of the arrival of Micah Timothy Smith! We know they’re having a lot of fun being loved on and blessed by so many sweet folks stateside, but we’ll be really excited to have them back here with us first week of September.
At the beginning of June we received eight Harding students for a six-week missions internship. Together with the Westerholms we hosted them in our homes and showed them what are lives and work are like here in Mozambique. The internship is for students who think they might be called to foreign missions, and is specifically not a campaign, but more like an apprenticeship or job-shadowing. For six weeks they went wherever we went, learned some Makua and Portuguese (and some of the frustrations of language learning!), ate strange foods and spent nights in villages with Mozambican families. Part of the internship includes a survey trip to another area to see what the needs are and what kind of servants are needed there; this year Alan and Chad took them to another province to see the area of the Makua-Xirima people. We enjoyed having the interns here with us, getting to know them and being blessed by their fellowship – we put them on a plane Sunday in Pemba, and it was hard to see them go!
This weekend is the national women’s conference for Churches of Christ, and this year it is here in Montepuez! In a day or so women will be arriving from other provinces farther south, and the study and teaching times will begin on Thursday. Some women from another province will be planning the program – I have been informed that I will be teaching some but not yet informed as to when or what topic! =) Please pray that the weekend will be full of listening and learning together about life with God in his kingdom.
For a couple months the non-profit chicken business was doing okay – producing enough eggs to meet salaries and buy more chicken feed, but over the last couple months it has really struggled because of a lack of egg production due to sickness and poor quality feed. Being so far away from our supplier has hurt us more than we expected and we’ll be meeting next week to figure whether the project should continue or not. It has provided a good salary for three employees for almost a year and a half now, but lately it has been more trouble than it is worth. Please pray for us to make a wise decision.
Many of you will remember our difficulties with our landlord last year; there was a lot of unkind and irrational behavior on his part (not honoring previous agreements, demanding a 60% increase in rent or he would kick us out). In the end, though, he knew he wasn’t going to find another tenant to give him what he wanted, and he accepted a reasonable solution. Because of his behavior and unreasonable nature, we have been praying for a year now for God to provide us a place to live, whatever that might look like, so we would be able to get out of this relationship. Our contract with him runs September 1 through August 31, and he called again a few weeks ago. We were expecting a repeat performance of last year’s behavior, but thankfully that has not been the case. He said he got a loan from the bank and he wants to use it to improve his three properties, including this house. He wants us out of this house so he can fix it up and bring in twice what we are paying in rent right now. So we have written up a contract with the owner of another house around the block – we hope to sign it and pay him by the end of the week. The new house is really the only one this end of town ready to move in – and the toilets aren’t yet connected to a septic system and it doesn’t have running water 24 hours a day. The new house also shares one wall with a bar – it is common in Mozambican construction to cut whatever corners you can to save money. When the owner of the new house built his bar, he used the west-facing wall of the house to be the east wall of the bar. This means that the second window of the master bedroom and the window of the second bathroom look directly into the bar. Obviously we’ll be renting out the bar space as storage and the owner will move his beverage business with him to his other house.
So we are fundraising to build a house on our team land. We have an estimated construction budget of $30,000. In the past some people have asked us what financial needs they could help with – now is the time! If you are interested in helping with this need, funds can be sent to Donelson Church of Christ, 2706 Old Lebanon Rd, Nashville, TN 37214. Checks should be made out to Donelson Church of Christ, and please include a note clearly stating that the funds are for construction in Mozambique. If the house is built with donated funds, it will not belong to us when we leave Mozambique someday, but instead belong to the ministry and be used for ministry purposes.
On the family front, Alan and I celebrated ten years of marriage in May, and we’re ready to go for the next ten! Abby has been doing well with her school subjects, though she’s looking forward to having Luke and Andrew Smith back in class with her. Ellie has started reading words with short-vowel sounds and is so proud of herself! They are both so so sweet with Katie Joy, talking to her constantly and picking up all the toys she drops on the floor. We’ve been a little sick recently - we’re coming into a nasty season for allergies as the mango trees start pollinating and many people start burning their fields. In addition, we’re feeling a little overwhelmed adding moving to a new house to our month of August – it looks like it will be a crazy month!
As we wrap up, we ask you to join us in praying for the following:
· For the Kingdom of God to come here in northern Mozambique
· For our health
· For funds to build a house on the team land
Love in Christ,
Rachel, Alan, and the girls