Dear Friends and Family,
Hello again from northern Mozambique! We’re in the middle of our “winter,” which means the air is very dry, and it’s actually chilly in the mornings and pleasant all day long, which we are thankful for! This week we are preparing and packing for a trip down to South Africa; we are in need of a few services hard to come by in northern Mozambique. For starters, our truck needs some work by a fully equipped mechanic, and we are also all lined up with dentist appointments – nothing like driving 3 ½ days so you can go to the dentist! Also, on July 12th, Ellie will have surgery to close her umbilical hernia – please keep her in your prayers! My parents will join us in South Africa a few days after that, and then we’ll have a week of vacation before re-packing the truck and driving 3 ½ days back up Mozambique.
We got word Monday that Belarmino, a very sweet man from one of the churches here in town had died. He had been very sick for a long time, and a few months ago his relatives came from the Namuno district and took him back to his home village with them. We were sad about that, especially since his sweet wife Delfina, along with other believers were doing such a good job taking care of him, but it is a common practice in this culture to take very sick people away from their immediate families back to their mother’s original village. Tuesday Alan took Delfina and other family members out past Namuno to that village, and yesterday I took church members out to do the Third Day ceremony together in that village.
A few weeks ago Alan went and visited with Belarmino. He was pretty sick, being mostly confined to a rope bed and after spending a few minutes catching up on the news from Montepuez he asked Alan, “Do you know why I am sick? My family member was jealous of me and put a curse on me.” After listening for a few minutes Alan asked him if a child of God can be cursed. Belarmino shook his head “no” and said it was hard being confined to a bed and sometimes he thinks too much about it. Alan reminded Belarmino of the scripture that he had been memorizing with our teammate Jeremy Smith earlier in the year and encouraged him to “remain in Christ” and not to give up hope. We believe that Belarmino will have his hope fulfilled!
Our team has had missions interns from Harding University with us for almost a month now. The Missions Internship is for students who think they might be interested in living and working in Africa, so they can come and experience a small slice of that. At the first of June eight college students arrived and have had a busy schedule learning Makua, spending weekends out in villages, eating interesting foods and job-shadowing us for the last few weeks. Right now they are with our teammates Jeremy and Chad doing a survey of another people group here in Mozambique, in hopes that God might plant a seed for one or some of them to come back long-term!
Work with the churches over the last couple months has seen a number of issues come to the surface, both good and bad. The churches in Newara, Nkororo and Kambiri have had some difficulties but seem to be heading in the right directions. Newara had a few baptisms earlier this month and are almost finished building their own church building (we only helped them with some black plastic for the roof). Nekwaya has had a lot of internal conflict lately and needs prayers for maturity. On the other hand, the Bible study and discipleship training in Chiure continues to be one of the most enjoyable and fruitful things we are a part of. The churches in that district have planned and held a number of meetings on their own, planted multiple churches this year, and the men we have worked closely with over the last few years have been mentoring others. We have been studying through the book of Acts together, and a few weeks ago the different men each shared about the baptisms that had happened on Easter Sunday in their churches. Alan started making a list and we realized that 70 people total had been baptized in the different churches in the Chiure district that day. Praise God!
One leader from each of the churches in Chipembe and Nkunama are also in leadership positions with the minority political party and are currently on bad terms with one of the local officials in the area (who is a member of the party in power). She is the woman we mentioned in our last newsletter who declared that the churches in that area were not allowed to teach their children and had to stop making visits to another village to plant a new church. This past Saturday, Alan was a part of a meeting with multiple government officials and church leaders as they tried to resolve this issue. Please pray for peace and wisdom for us and these leaders as they consider their allegiances.
The last week of May I was blessed to go to a missionary women’s retreat/renewal called Come Before Winter in Kigali, Rwanda with my teammates Martha and Amy. The CBW team travels to several places around the world each year conducting renewals for women in ministry, and the experience was a rich, deep blessing from God that was very much needed. Mentoring and counsel from believers who have been walking with God ten or twenty or thirty years longer than us is hard to come by when we live in such a remote location; we crave it and are very, very grateful when we are able to receive it.
We are really, really excited to share an answer to prayer: Allison and Robert Berger are joining our team for one year to come and teach our children! This fall we will have one older class (Abby, and Luke and Andrew Smith), and one kindergarten class (Ellie, and Maggie Westerholm), and so we are very grateful that the Bergers have chosen to come work with us. Robert and Allison currently live in California, and they just celebrated the arrival of their first child Miriam, and they plan to arrive in Mozambique early this fall.
The house construction is going well – it’s always a little behind the schedule we’d prefer, but this is Mozambique, which means we don’t have a Home Depot down the street! Alan has had to work as the contractor while continuing in ministry activities. We have finished the walls up to the top of the windows, but work will stop for a few weeks while we are out of the country. We have received $24,525 towards our fundraising goal of $30,000 – praise be to God and thank you so much!
One significant challenge the last month has been the lack of water. We built a cistern out near the house and hooked it up to the city water, but because of broken pumps and lower water levels, we have not had water coming into the cistern for over a month. It is becoming clear that we need to pursue digging a well on our land to deal with the water shortages for most of the year; this would serve all the families on the land (us, the Westerholms, the teacher house and school house, one Mozambican family living on the land) as well as providing water for ministry events. We have begun looking into the process of digging a bore hole on the land; depending on which company we use in the area, the cost could be between $5,000 and $10,000, which unfortunately was not part of our family’s original construction budget.
So we need $5,500 more to reach our construction goal, and then we are praying for God to provide the additional funds for digging a well on the land; if you feel led to help contribute to these needs, checks can be written to Donelson Church of Christ, 2706 Old Lebanon Rd, Nashville, TN 37214. The memo line should read “Mozambique Construction,” and a note included specifying that the funds are for Construction in Mozambique.
Both construction and our drive down to South Africa are weighing on our minds right now. Please join us in asking God for:
· The remaining funds for house construction and well-drilling
· Protection from car accidents, breakdowns, and theft as we travel to and in South Africa
· Ellie’s surgery on July 12th to be successful and peaceful and that she will heal well
· Our dental visits/procedures to be reasonable
· Our vacation to actually provide the rest we need
· Kingdom vision for us and our Makua-Metto friends!
May God’s will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven! Amen!
Rachel and Alan