We have found that living in rural Africa often requires that you GET CREATIVE! This week I thought I would show you a few ways that we all have been getting creative.
THE BOYS: Decided they wanted something else to do other then kick the soccer ball and climb the trees so they found an old rubber hose pipe and tied it up between a couple of our trees to create a swing. Now, that's creative!
MYSELF: I was wanting something to celebrate with the kids to remember the Harvest Party's we usually attend. So, we baked some Fall cookies for the occassion and cut out and colored some pumkins from a cereal box.
MARC: The dogs need a mid-day snack since they're so hungry in the evening they end up fighting. Marc decided to make a more cost effective snack then the very expensive dog food so he made doggie snackwiches out of cheap bread rolls with dog food stuffed in the middle. He froze the treats so the dogs have to work on chewing them rather than just swallowing them whole.
Well the Election is over. Yesterday was very peaceful. Actually it was probably the quietest day we have had here in Mozambique. There were no chattering guards outside our fence, not many people walking by, hardly any vehicles driving by. It was strange how quiet is was but we are grateful. As far as we know or have heard there was no election drama, at least not on this side of town.
We have yet to hear any results although most assume the incumbent party, Frelimo will continue their rule. The government has until November 12th to declare the official winner. Or as many would say to fix the votes to favor the Frelimo. Regardless we do not yet officially know the winner. That will come later.
I am thankful that all has gone well and peace has reigned. And most of all I am thankful that Jesus Rules. Thanks for all your prayers!
Today our friend Antonio, his wife Candida and their 1 month old baby boy came for a visit. Antonio worked with us at Teen Missions back in 2007 and was Marc's right hand man. He has truly become a friend. He is a gentle, sincere, God loving man. It is neat to watch him love his wife and express it which isn't the cultural norm here and to watch him develop as a new father. He is full of questions and soaks in any little bit of advice I give him from the importance of the baby nursing, his wife needing to rest and eat and drink enough, etc.
I thought you might enjoy some photos of this beautiful family. The baby was a darling. He has the cutest little fat cheeks and soft, curly hair. It was so good to see him thriving. When he was first born he was struggling to nurse and I really encouraged Antonio to help his wife keep trying and not give up. Surely if they had not been persistent and continued on this would be a very different story as there is no way they can afford to buy the cans of infant formula that the baby would have needed. So many little ones suffer from malnutrition and eventually death when they are unable to receive their mother's milk and the poverty stricken family's can not possibly provide the needed nutrition.
Our prayer is that God continues to bless this little family as they faithfully serve Him. He currently lives in a VERY simple 2 room place that is part of a building at the mission he works for but he has been building a house. He makes a tiny salary so although he has been faithful to put whatever he can afford into the house it is taking a while and seems as though it will take quite a bit longer. He began building this house before he even was officially engaged over 3 years ago. That is perseverance! Only wish we had the finances to help him finish it more quickly.
Today is a lonely day. We have friends here and we are not alone but there are days when we feel alone. Occasionally, we have a great sense of missing "home" and all that is familiar and today is one of those days. We try to guard our hearts against discouragement and "feeling" like giving up but like everyone, anywhere in the world we have one of those days. Normally Marc and I are quite balanced. By that I mean that when one of us is feeling like giving up the other is the voice of reason in the wilderness saying "Wait a minute, let's be reasonable. No, we can not sell everything, jump on an airplane tomorrow and fly off into the sunset." But once in a while there are those days that both of us are ready to throw in the towel and it seems no one is being the voice of reason except the spirit of God inside of us reminding us of what He has determined for us to do. We are not our own. We have given the authority over to Him to make plans and design the purpose of our lives. Just every once in a while we need to be reminded of that. And every once in a while we need to miss our loved ones, our home, our familiar but then remember that we have been called here for such a time as this. We do not know the future but we do know who holds our future. Lonely is something I am sure Jesus felt. He has suffered it all on our behalf. I am sure He missed His father, missed His home. But he endured and walked His path in life. Wow, am I so grateful that He did. I do not feel guilty for being lonely. Instead I feel comforted in my loneliness by Him that brings all comfort. Thank you Jesus!
The Termite Hill the boys conquered in order to build a fort.
Me getting my hands dirty.
Micah returning from the Squatty Potty
The house from the entry gate
Marc and Jacob hard at work.
Amazing texture and character in this "cob" house.
Today we went with our friends Jacob & Jaynie (American missionaries) to their farm that is about 45 minutes out into the bush to help them work on their house they are building. They have another couple visiting from Florida that also went with us. Thought I would share some photos.
They are building a cob house....for those that don't know what that is like I didn't before they told me it is plaster made up of sand, mud, cow manure and straw. It actually is very interesting and nice looking. They have harvested nearly everything they have needed; old bricks, straw, sand, rocks, and mud all from their farm. It used to be an old farm owned by a Portuguese man but has been abandoned for the last 30 years.
Today we worked on building trusses. They have to build at least 25 GIANT trusses so today was a lot of lumber cutting, measuring, hauling and nailing. The boys worked until lunch time but then decided they really NEEDED to build a fort on top of the giant termite hill nearby. We had a good day. We are tired and a little sunburned but glad we could help some.
To me it is funny living in rural Africa as you never know as a missionary what you will need to know or do. Today we were building trusses, were asked if we have any antibiotics on hand as a worker was suffering from a toothache and infection, and called by another missionary about what size needle to use so they could inject their dogs with medicine to prevent them from dying from an illness, and had to teach our boys about using the squatty potty. You just never know but such is life here and I love it.
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION is coming up and the craziness of the campaigning that is going on all around us these days is entertaining. The last couple of days our town has been a buzz preparing for a visit by the President today to campaign. I knew something important was happening as a rough structure for a stage draped in red cloth was erected in the town center and helicopters were flying around, both of these are not the norms. Nearly everyone has some form of candidate advertisement plastered on their cars, carts, bicycles, bodies, store fronts, electric poles. Everywhere! Of course, it doesn't hurt that people benefit from their willingness to "support" their party through being given diesel, fuel, no harassment, etc. There are two main parties with a smaller third one officially a part of the election. The dominant party is Frelimo, the secondary is Renamo, and the much smaller third is the MDM (Movement for Democratic Mozambique-I think??). Frelimo has been in power since the end of the civil war which officially came to a close in October, 1992 but the first free election wasn't held until 1994. The count down is on....Elections are to be held October 28th. Please pray for a peaceful election and that the results will be fairly reported and accepted. We along with most missionaries in town plan on just hanging around home for a few days during that time because people become VERY PASSIONATE and it is better not to get caught in the middle of one of the crowds.
Our computer seems to have some kind of virus. It is not letting me upload photos. Anytime I try to put a photo on here the whole thing crashes. It is frustrating me. To me a blog entry is just not a good blog entry without a good photo. So I wait......for my husband to work a miracle with the computer. No computer "doctors" here so we will see how this goes and how long it takes.
I do not pretend to be a political activist or even knowledgable about politics per se...I actually don't even like to discuss politics much. Just ask my best friend, Debby. She is always up to date on the latest politics and ready to discuss (aka debate) things. Poor her has me for a friend that really is not all that interested. I am more concerned with the human suffering that I see as a result of the politics and most times think politics is one big, self-serving game that I wish wasn't being played.
This week has brought together an interesting convergence of events in my life. ZIMBABWE....is on my mind and heart heavily.
To me Zimbabwe is:
Where we used to get all of our groceries and mail back in 1997 when Mozambique was still recovering from the horrible effects of civil war. (The border is only about 1 1/2 hours drive from us)
The home of two dear African friends of mine, Liz who has gone on to be with the Lord and Ska who is now living in the USA.
Where we heard of Marc's grandfathers death via fax.
Where we welcomed our first child, Micah, into the world.
Where our son Nate spent weeks recovering from his accident falling into a well.
Where we recently were refused entry to get a visa, making it necessary for us to travel to Malawi.
This series of events that has got me thinking and praying all started by my attending a women's retreat last weekend at a nearby center. There were 54 women in attendance with the majority being from neighboring Zimbabwe. My heart was moved by these women that had been through so much trauma and heart ache in the last few years as they watched their home land and lives fall apart. Many of them had their lives literally stripped from them as Mugabe's government took away their homes and livelihood. Yet, in that place although their was hurt, weariness and even some bitterness there was a deep hunger for God and for His restoration in their lives. It is difficult to explain seeing a grown woman, old enough to nearly be my grandmother on her knees, pouring out her heart to God asking Him to remove her pain and deep grief over losing all she and her husband ever had in life. Seeing her beg God to remove her bitterness and bring her back to Him. It deeply moved me and inspired me. By the end of the weekend we literally saw change had come and from their faces you could see they were leaving in freedom. Hallelujah! Our God is so great!
The second part of this is a book I have been reading this week. The speaker at our women's retreat was a woman named Ellie Hein. She is a missionary here in Mozambique but is originally from Zimbabwe. In her book, Beyond the Shadow, which I brought home she tells of her and her husband's involvement in ministering in Mozambique during the civil war and their part in bringing about the peace treaty from both sides involved. It is fascinating but has caused me to take great pause in the cost of sharing the Gospel and of following God and not man. Many times freedom comes at the cost of great suffering and persecution. How do I possibly understand this?
Then finally, today it was announced on our local TV that Morgan Tsvangarai, the opposition leader is "disengaging" from the unity government in Zimbabwe. My heart fell when I heard this news. I am well aware that only God can restore that land but I also know that it is very possible that the nation of Zimbabwe will fall back into ruins. From what I have heard from friends that have visited the country, it has made progress this year and come back to at least functioning. Most people are able to obtain money and food and form somewhat of a normal life. With this current news there is cause to wonder if once again the greed of a few will bring poverty to a nation.
All of this, together has brought me to my knees for the nation and the people of Zimbabwe. May God have mercy on this land. May righteousness reign. May the believers bear up under their hardships and sufferings with great strength. May His glory be seen for all eyes. May we that take freedom and progress for granted be sensitive and prayerful for those that do not enjoy such privileges. May revival come. May God's chosen one rule and reign. May the needs of our brothers and sisters be met by His hand.
I would be honored if you would join me in praying.
This weekend I had the opportunity to go away to a women's retreat. It was lovely to spend the weekend with over 50 other ladies seeking to walk deeper with the Lord and just enjoy good teaching, fantastic worship, fellowship, laughs and good times. Many of the ladies were from over the border in Zimbabwe. I was humbled by the hardships and suffering they have endured and the pure faith and hunger that it has brought about in them. I was blessed to be a part and am grateful for the seeds planted within my own heart. In the photo above I am enjoying my "early" cup of coffee. Let's just say we were up at the crack of dawn literally and I look surprisingly awake for that time of morning.
So, for us to get to a good dentist it is about a 3 hour drive one way to the city of Beira on the coast of Mozambique. My friend Charmain (she's from South Africa) came over last week and I did a "little dentistry" on her. She has a tooth that has a hole, doesn't want to drive all the way to Beira and I happened to have some Dentemp which is temporary filling stuff that I brought from the US. So here we are in my living room "filling" Charmain's tooth. We have photos because our husbands thought it was funny and decided to document the event. Amazingly, she said it is doing great. You never know what you might need to do on the mission field. Better come prepared!
Dear Friends, Wow, it's hard to believe October is here already and that we have been here for nearly 8 months. We are rapidly moving into summer and the rainy season here in Mozambique. The normal temps these days are mid to upper 80's. Thankfully it is a dry heat so at least until the rainy season begins, we are not smothered with humidity. We are well and even though we have had to make some tough decisions lately we are constantly amazed that the Lord goes before us in all things and has His plan perfectly laid out before we ever get there. So now it's time to share news!
First, we want to let you know that we were able to purchase a good, reliable Nissan 4x4 in August from some other missionaries. What a blessing to have our own vehicle! Thank you to all that have given. The vehicle cost $11,000. So far, we've paid $8,000 and still need to make payments for the remaining balance of $3,000. We have made an agreement to pay $500 a month prayerfully believing God will provide those extra funds that are not in our normal budget. However, we would love to be a blessing to this other missionary couple and pay this debt off earlier if possible. If you are interested in giving towards the remaining balance we would be grateful. Donations can be given online at www.cten.org or they can be sent with a note indicating that it is for the Pavkov Vehicle Fund to: CTEN,PO Box 291307, Kerrville, TX 78029-1307
Secondly, we want to tell you that after serving for months at the orphan center, praying and seeking counsel from our sending mission, Commission to Every Nation and our home church, Grace Capital Church, we have decided our ministry needs to move in a new direction. Our vision and ministry approach were not matching up with the Center's founders and realized it is better to move on. We still have a heart for orphans and will be ministering to them directly. While praying about the future we discovered MANY indigenous churches in our region, especially in the bush, do not have outreach ministries directed to orphans and widows (the primary care givers of orphans). Pastor's and churches are overwhelmed and feel unequipped to help. That is where we come in. Our new ministry focus is going to be encouraging and working along side Pastor's and churches to start orphan and widow ministries to those that are most needy in their own communities. We feel a burden to help these Pastor's and churches see that if they will reach out as servants and meet practical needs they will be powerfully displaying the Gospel to their communities. To begin with, we are partnering with another missionary in town named Rosane, who is from Brazil, and has been here working with indigenous churches for the past four years. Together we will be building relationships with the Pastor's and helping them to initiate and sustain ministries in their communities focusing on orphans and widows. Our ministry will also be spending the majority of our time visiting and getting to know the local orphans and widows in order to build relationships with them and discover their most pressing needs. We will then be able to determine which outreaches to focus on and what needs to address first. We see the work primarily being in the areas of agriculture, education, animal breeding, and nutrition. Our prayer is that through this ministry the orphans and widows we build relationships with will receive dignity, become able to care for themselves and be introduced to God and the need to fully rely on Him.
We appreciate all of your prayers, words of encouragement, care packages, and support so we can be here. We are grateful that you have chosen to work alongside us as part of a team reaching out to those in need here in Mozambique. We will keep you updated on how this ministry is developing and the impact it is having in the local community. We are excited to see God transform the lives of the orphans and widows that we will be coming into contact with over the following weeks and months. Please keep this work in your prayers.
I have so much. Too much. Compared to the world some would say maybe not since our life here in Africa is "simple" and not "very trendy" with the latest gadgets or conveniences. But when I compare myself to thousands of Mozambicans it is too much.
I have three pairs of shoes, many will never even own one. I have a house to live in that is made of block, most will only have a mud hut with a grass or tin roof. I have a bed and mattress to sleep on, most only have a grass mat or mattress they must share with their entire family. I have good, nutritious food on my table, most will only eat 1-2 times a day and suffer hunger on a regular basis or dig through trash heaps for today's food. I was given a good education, most will not complete school because of lack of funds or needing to provide for their families or if they are fortunate to stay in school only achieve a 6th grade education.
I am blessed, that is obvious. But aren't Mozambicans blessed as well. Do we not have the same God? How does opportunity and lack of poverty change the course of ones life?? I contemplate this all the time. Some would say TOO much is relative yet I don't think it should be. The Bible speaks of God meeting our needs; food, clothing and shelter. My heart is longing and crying out to lay it all down for the sake of others. What an impact the body of Christ could have on the world if we were willing to do without for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of loving others. I need you Lord to show me what to do without...
You know I always heard from other mother's when the boys were younger, "Enjoy them because they grow up too fast and soon they will be gone." I guess like most I heard that but didn't really believe it or sense it. I was too busy moving from day to day, moment to moment caring for them. When they are young you are constantly running around meeting their needs and somedays it seems you never stop and often wonder when do I get some "me" time?? When they are young we spend our time preparing them and waiting for the "next" big step. When they lay on the floor we can't wait for them to crawl, when they crawl we can't wait for them to walk, when they walk we can't wait for them to run. Sometimes I found myself so busy looking to the next moment that I didn't savor the current moment. How sad.....Now that the boys are older and they are maturing it seems that time has sped up and they are growing and changing too quickly. I am excited to see the young men God has them to be but I want to enjoy them now and treasure the moments and memories now. I don't want to have to look back and wonder where the days went?? So many days I blow it. I, being absorbed in my self-centeredness miss great opportunities to cherish the moments. I feel like God has opened my eyes and is drawing me to a place where I ENJOY my children and just being with them. My prayer is that God will help me to savor the time, seize the opportunities, and treasure the memories with my two little men. My youngest Nate still calls me "Mommy" most of the time and Micah, my oldest still snuggles up to me needing a hug. I hold my breath knowing that those days are soon coming to an end but while I have them I will love them. So to my two little men I say "Be who you are and know that Mom loves you forever and is so grateful she gets to be your mommy." What's NOT to love about these faces???