Friday, March 31, 2006

Zion Chapel team was here!

It has been a very full week with the team from Zion here and we are just now catching our breath.  We took them to the airport today.  On the way got stopped by the police (again) only this time we actually got a ticket for having four people in the back seat instead of three.  Never mind that chapas are crammed with people...  Oh well, it will just be a hassle to go pay it but at least he ony fined us 200,000 instead of a million.

It was great being with people from the team and different than being with other teams since we actually knew them and they us.  We had a good trip to S Africa, they loved the accomodations and Kruger Park was pretty good also.  We saw lots of giraffes and elephants, some zebra off in the distance, a big hyena that walked across the road, rhinos, buffalo, a lion (when we had almost given up on him) and a warthog (right after I said "I haven't seen Pumba yet.")  I was so excited to see him that I yelled and he ran away!  But then he came back.  They sure are ugly.  We also saw some beautiful birds, and other sights that maybe Joanna will put on her web site soon:  It's amazing what you pick up with a zoom lens like hers.  Have you ever really looked at the spots on a giraffe?

Other highlights of the trip included a trip to the city dump with a man we met at Iris Ministries orphanage.  He was discovered at the dump years ago by Tanneken.  He is now a man of God and likes to take others to the dump to pray for and encourage people there that he knows.  People actually live at the dump and earn some money by collecting things for recycling.  It is really awful to see their living conditions.  People came running from all around when they saw us to ask for prayer.  It was really hard to be there but good at the same time if that makes sense.

Our first night in Chokwe we had a terrible rain/wind/lightning/hail storm.  Our room was next to a tin roof so it make quite a racket.  The hail broke some windows in some other rooms. I kept wondering how it would be to spend the night in a mud hut with a storm like that.  Some lost walls because the mud got too soft, others had lots of leaks and water coming in, roof were blown away, etc.  I heard some comments that they were thankful the storm was at night when people were inside.  The next day people were busy cleaning up/repairing their houses so the kid's club we were going to visit was canceled.  However, we talked with a Mozambican pastor/worker with Child Development and he gave us some very interesting insights into Mozambican culture, bride price, male/female roles, etc.

Mucatine was our next destination and I enjoyed seeing some of the women I met there last June.  They remembered my name!  (Sad to say, I couldn't remember all of theirs.)  We saw a WR field of irrigated corn that almost looked like Illinois corn, intercropped with mango and papaya trees.  By the time the mango get big the papaya will be done producing.  The ladies went through the field and picked corn and gave some to us.  They are so generous!

The team also presented two seminars (one in Maputo and one in Chokwe) on finances - Biblical perspectives, Excel tips, etc.  It was well received and they want written notes so they can teach it to pastors and others.  Much of the teaching in the churches here is very basic so when they get something with some more "meat" it is exciting to them.

There was a lot more that happened but I'll let you take a look at the team blog at if you want to know more.  You can also ask Joanna when she gets home in a couple of weeks.  She will be with us one more week before heading to Norway to see Christine.

Tomorrow we plan to head up the coast 6 hrs. to Inhambane province and the city of Maxixe (Masheesh).  We will enjoy some of the beautiful beaches there as well as a coconut press on Monday.  South Africans are starting spring break so there will be plenty of them in town also.  There is a possibility we will locate in this town in the fall if we decide to go through with coconuts so I am excited about seeing Maxixe.


Blessings, Rachel and Steve






Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St Patricks Day!

It is time to catch you up on our lives.  We have thoroughly enjoyed having Joanna with us this past week.  She arrived last Thursday with a sore knee, some other ailments and some hair-raising stories for this mom, but it seems she is almost as good as new now.  We sent her off to Beira yesterday to join the Zion team.  They will be there for one week and then come to Maputo the 24th.  We have been busy coordinating activities for the team here and it seems it is all coming together. 

Monday night we were invited by some Malawian friends to their home for supper.  We work with the mom and she informed us during the day that we were going out to eat.  We arrived at their home, had some appetizers and waited for all the family to congregate.  When we arrived at the restaurant we were ushered into a room with about 20 other people seated in a U shape.  Then we found out that it was another extended family whose daughter was having a birthday as was the daughter of the family that invited us.  We dined on clams, calamari, fish and prawns until 10 p.m. and caught a glimpse of the lives of the well-educated, wealthier folks in Mozambique.  It was a nice evening, just different than we had thought it would be.  We’re learning to take surprises in stride. 

This week we made a quick trip to Chokwe and Xai-Xai.  We took the opportunity to spend a night at the beach with Joanna and it was very relaxing.  This beach is at the end of the road and it feels like a dune buggy track through the sand for the last 15 minutes.  The beach is basically deserted and pretty clean although the currents can be strong so we didn’t actually swim much.  Joanna and Steve are dealing with some sunburn which will of course turn into beautiful tans soon.  Joanna commented that this has been probably the only time in her life that I am browner than she is!  I’m sure by the time she leaves Moz this will not be the case. 

On the way north we had another encounter with a policeman.  Having a car with South African plates really makes a difference on how much we are stopped.  This time he noticed that I didn’t have on a seat belt (in the back seat) so he started yelling about that and saying, “That will be 1 million.”  We explained that we thought only the front seat riders needed to buckle up.  “No,” he said, “that is only in S Africa.  In Mozambique everyone needs a seat belt.”  We didn’t mention the fact that no one wears one in chapas, but we were quite sure he was just looking for an excuse to pocket some extra cash.  Steve kept talking, the policeman saw that all the car papers and our papers were in order and eventually let us go.  Whew, another one without having to pay! 

The chicken houses are all done in Manhica, our latest town.  It was amazing how fast they got them done, because a group of pastors helped with the construction.  It was hard to keep enough construction materials in place because they were moving so fast!  It kept Steve hopping last week.

Steve also preached on Sunday at MICF and we had guests Sunday overnight who are returning tonight, so it has been busy.  Steve’s head is spinning a bit right now as his job description is mushrooming.  He has been given responsibility to oversee two people—the ag guy and the American investment guy.  Plus, he has been asked to oversee all of Southern Africa (all of Moz and Malawi) ag/trade operations which is a much broader job than just micro-enterprise projects.  It means giving some of the things we have been doing to other people to oversee since we obviously can’t do everything.  Hopefully that can be put in place in the next few months.

March seems to be flying by and we with it.  Summer is coming to an end and with it we are getting some cooler temperatures.  We haven’t used the AC for several weeks, but Joanna thought it was very hot and humid.  Compared to Europe it is.  Paris is about 32 and we are about 85-90.  We saw the Penners in the Maputo airport as they came in from Germany and took the same flight to Beira as Joanna.  (they are a couple who are missionaries from Zion Chapel who have been pastoring there for 20 years)  They are visiting a gal from their church who working in Dondo.


Monday, March 06, 2006

First week of March

After a week of meetings (22- feb) I spent two days getting ready to build in Manhica.  This is the sugar town about 1 hour north of Maputo where we are starting the next series of chicken houses.  When you drive through town, you see all sorts of old metal tanks sitting around on the ground or even hanging from the trees.  We thought they were just old water containers that had been used to haul water and store it over the years.  Pieter told us that this is where they ferment the molasses from the cane processing and make a local brew/beer. 

Since we were separated from our 1 ton Nissan truck while we were gone to the US, we had to find a different way to haul supplies.  WR has two trailers, but Pieter has them both in use building guest houses for Strategic Church partners who are relating to specific villages and branching out from there.  We had to wait in line to get the bigger one and then Wednesday I went to Chokwe, picked it up and started hauling materials.  Reginaldo (our builder) and I went to Xai-Xai and picked up poles and beams for the frames and got to Manhica after dark (not anyone’s favorite time to drive as people walk on the roads and sometimes drive without lights).  I got home at 9:30 ate supper and went to bed.

The next morning I took Rachel to the office at 7 and got out to the stone and cement place by 7:40.  The place was crazy and it took until 9:30 to get the cement because of all the logistical problems they were having.  The hassle was all the people waiting on me in Manhica to start work.  I dropped all the materials and was out on the road back to Maputo by 1 pm and returned with a second load of stone by 3:30.  I got home by 7:30 that night and left the next morning and took the sheet metal and lumber up to distribute.  It was an all day affair again with us getting rained on quite a bit, Reginaldo losing his borrowed phone and getting lost (not finding a location that we had only visited once). 

It was quite a week.  I think I spent about 50 million Mts. 

Rachel here:  I had an interesting conversation with a street vendor I’ve been getting to know.  He normally sits on the sidewalk and makes woven coin purses and larger bags.  He also sells candy and cookies.  I’d noticed that he had not been doing any weaving lately so I stopped to ask him about it.  When I asked how he was, he showed me his very swollen legs.  I never quite figured out what caused the swelling other than that he said he had been fighting.  I asked why he wasn’t weaving.  Well, he said, he didn’t have money to buy supplies because he had to spend all his money to have a consultation with a witchdoctor.  Doctors are too expensive and even the witchdoctor took all his profits so he was stuck.  I asked him if he knew Jesus.  He said he does but I’m pretty sure he knows him like he knows Mohammed and Gandhi.  I shared a bit with him and asked if I could pray for him.  He said yes, so I did.  Please pray for Tito Jose that God will touch his heart and his body.

I’ve been coordinating the next training that will start this Tues. in Matola, close to Maputo.  We have two trainers locally and were bringing one from Chokwe.  Only problem is that we found out yesterday she is sick so we had to make some quick adjustments and bring another trainer from Chokwe.  It should work out, it just won’t be as organized as before.  Tues a.m. we will be at the first day of training and then take off for Chokwe, Xai-Xai, Macia and Manhica until Thur. a.m. when we return and pick up Joanna.  Yeah!  We’re excited to have her here.

We’ve had a break in the heat wave and it feels like a cool fall day (around 70).  You should have seen the people bundled up this a.m.!