Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Year Anniversary Iglesia Bautista Los Gladiolos

Rebekah and Leanna are wearing the traditional Canary Island dress of long ago in honor of "Canary Day."










Today was the second anniversary of our church in Santa Cruz, Iglesia Bautista de Los Gladiolos. We have been in the Canary Islands for just a little over three years, and thank the Lord that He has allowed us to be a part of His work here in the islands. We pray for more fruit and for the spiritual growth of the people that God has allowed us to minister to.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Observations

Here are some bits and pieces I picked up on my trip to Mozambique; observations I made while there.

I noticed that very few people in Mozambique smoke cigarettes. In Spain, it seems the smoking rate is much higher than usual--I don't know if it is because they still allow smoking in many public places, but it appears to be prevelant everywhere you go. Nathan said that if they do smoke in Mozambique, they tend to buy cigarettes individually, one at a time, because they can't afford to buy a pack at a time. I suppose smoking is only for the rich in Mozambique.

Nothing gets thrown away, everything is reused, which is the most efficient form of recycling. Emily washed out jars, ice cream tubs, yogurt containers, plastic zip lock bags--and used them over and over again. Plastic containers are very expensive in Mozambique, and her friends often asked her if they could have the plastic ice cream containers (rectangular plastic tubs) which they called "lunch boxes." We could all do well to take a few lessons from their thrift.

I didn't see many overweight people in Mozambique--they definitely don't have a problem like we do in the states. People eat to survive, and have to walk a lot. Many living in the villages have to carry water from a communal well, which I am sure is better than going to the gym and lifting weights. I was amazed at how the women would carry loads on their heads, not using their hands to balance anything, and often had a baby strapped on the back as well.

The women were much more modest in Mozambique and South Africa. I didn't see any ladies wearing mini-skirts or short shorts. Many women wear the traditional capulana, which is a piece of material wrapped their waist and worn like a long skirt, and many wear skirts as opposed to pants or blue jeans. Perhaps it is cooler to wear a skirt. I was really surprised to find many long skirts being sold in the stores in Mozambique and South Africa. Here in Spain it is nearly impossible to find a long skirt.

The people of Mozambique were very polite and greeted you on the street. Here in Spain the people rarely greet you or acknowledge you. It was very easy to talk to the people while on visitation with Nathan. Here in the Canary Islands it takes a long time to get to know people and to get them to be friendly with you.

I am thankful that I was able to experience Mozambique and South Africa. I love learning about various cultures and hope that I will be able to return someday, and also that my husband will be able to visit as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saying Goodbye Never Gets Easier

Me and my son Nathan. He gave me a capulana, which is the traditional African dress. It is considered a custom of respect and honor to give a capulana as a gift, especially to your mother. I am thankful for such a fine and generous son.
Saying goodbye on our last day, in Nelspruit South Africa, where I caught the mini bus to Johannesburg.

Squatter camps in Johannesburg, South Africa.



Tuesday May 18th was the dreaded day when I had to say goodbye to my little grandkids, and Nathan and Emily. We had a great time together and made many memories. They took me to the bus stop in Nelspruit, where I boarded the Citibug van which took me to Johannesburg, a four hour ride through the beautiful mountains surrounding Nelspruit.

In Johannesburg, I made plans to meet with some missionary friends of ours who are working there. They picked me up at the airport and took me around the area where they have their church. Then they took me to see the squatter camps in the Johannesburg suburbs. It is absolutely unbelievable--you could never imagine living in such terrible conditions. Another thing that struck me is the crime--I read that there are over 50 murders a day in South Africa (some estimates are higher, as many crimes go unreported). I was thankful we don't have to deal with that in the Canary Islands.

My trip was very smooth, I made all my connections and my luggage even arrived. It seems like nearly everyone who comes to visit us here in Tenerife always arrive without their bags : ( .

Doug did a great job keeping house, playing "Mr. Mom" in my absence, but left just enough dust and sticky fingerprints in the kitchen to let me know that I am still very much needed. I am sure they had a major clean up day before my arrival.

Jenny and Hannah arrive on Tuesday, Lord willing. Please keep them in your prayers that they will have safe travels.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Church in Mozambique






Nathan and Emily have been in Mozambique for about three years, and have had to learn Portuguese in order to minister to the people. Nathan has already started a small church and a Bible Institute here, as he endeavors to train nationals to do the work of the ministry. The needs of the people here are so great, you could spend many lifetimes trying to accomplish all the work that needs to be done. Certainly there is a need for more laborers in the fields.

Nathan learned Spanish as a child when we were missionaries in Mexico, so perhaps somehow that facilitated his ability to learn Portuguese, because he has done very well in the language and is able to communicate and preach in their tongue.

They also have a ministry to children on Saturdays, and it is easy to draw a big crowd of kids here, unlike the states and in so many other developed countries (like Europe) where the kids have so much more to occupy their time. It is so vital to reach these children for the Lord, as they will be the future generation of church leaders, and hopefully build strong Christian families to continue on in the faith.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Traveling into Mozambique






Water tank and pump Nathan had to install. They rent the house but had to do a lot of things to make it livable by our standards.
Emily's kitchen. Notice the water filter by the sink.

After a few days of rest and relaxation in the beautiful guest house at Mercy Air, we made our way into Mozambique. Having been a missionary in Mexico for nearly seven years, I was a little accustomed to extreme poverty, so I wasn't really surprised by what I saw as we crossed into Mozambique. Going through customs and immigration reminded me of our earlier days crossing into Mexico. Going from South Africa to Mozambique is like entering a totally different world.

As soon as you walk into the immigration office you smell the perspiration and urine. Emily told her children not to touch the railing or anything else in the office. When you realize what the people have to go through to take a bath, and that they can't afford things like antiperspirant, you understand more why they smell the way they do, and that their life is about survival--they are just trying to put food on the table.

We got through quickly and without any problems. I was relieved that they didn't inspect our trunk, as it was loaded to brim with groceries. They buy meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, and a few other things in South Africa because the quality is better and less expensive. Fresh milk is very hard to come by in Mozambique--they usually drink UHT milk, the same thing we have in the Canary Islands--or what I call "shelf" milk because it doesn't need to be refrigerated until you open it.

Once we arrived in Matola, I immediately had an even greater appreciation for what they have to deal with living here in Mozambique. Their home is very basic, but by Mozambican standards it is above average. The street they live on is very old pavement, covered with sandy dirt, so it appears to be a dirt road. It is very dusty, and there is trash everywhere. People that do have nice houses live behind cement walls with a gated driveway.

My biggest concern while visiting here is staying healthy. I do everything I can to avoid getting bit by the abundant mosquitoes. Running a fan, putting on repellent, and sleeping under a mosquito net are just a few of the precautions I take. When I get up to go to the bathroom, I swish the mosquitoes away as they fly around me. Maybe I am too paranoid--Nathan's family has been here for almost three years without contracting malaria, but still it is very common here.

They have to purify their drinking water, and have a huge filter by the sink. When they clean the filter there is a muddy sludge that has been removed. I decided to buy filtered water, just for peace of mind.

Emily has a full time job caring for her three small children, all under five. Just keeping them clean would be a major task. They enjoy playing outdoors, but most of their yard is sandy dirt.

As I was fixing myself a cup of coffee last night I saw something move under the kitchen curtain. I was afraid to look, but was relieved when it was only a big lizard, rather than a dreaded cockroach. Emily's kitchen is very clean--but when you live in such a hot climate it is practically impossible to eliminate every pest, especially since the house is older and has so many crevices where they can crawl in from outside.

I came in the "cool" season--but I should say "cooler" because yesterday it "only" 90 degrees. I can't imagine how taxing it must be on them when it is 110 degrees. I am thankful they have an air conditioner in their living room.

There is only one reason I can think of why anyone would want to live here, and what will keep Nathan and Emily here, and that is John 3:16. I am thankful that they are willing to serve the Lord here in what most of us would find rather uncomfortable.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Trip to South Africa/Mozambique





I left the Canary Islands Tuesday evening for my trip to South Africa/Mozambique. It was a long trip, especially when you consider that I had to fly to Madrid first, which doesn't make too much sense considering it isn't in the right direction. It added five hours to my trip but there aren't any affordable direct flights to Johannesburg from Tenerife. I made all my connections, and my baggage arrived safely in Jburg as well. I took a van/minibus (Citibug) to Nelspruit South Africa where I would meet up with Nathan and his family. It was a four hour drive, and I was very tired of sitting by that time.

I had taken an earlier bus to Nelspruit than what I had planned since I got through immigration/customs much quicker than expected, so I arrived three hours early. I didn't think it would be a problem since I had Nathan's cell phone number. I had to find an ATM to change money, then buy a phone card, and figure out how to use the public phones. Even though they speak English in South Africa, they had a difficult time understanding my American accent.

I forgot that things never usually go as smoothly as you think--and for some reason Nathan's cell phone wasn't working that day. After several people helped me try to reach Nathan, I sat on the curb in front of a laundry mat in the hot African sun. After traveling for 24 hours, I was a bit tired and overwhelmed--and couldn't hold back my tears. I probably looked very odd, with my suitcases and sitting there crying. It looked like someone had just dumped me on the sidewalk and I had no where to go. One man must have seen me and took pity on me, inviting me into his laundry mat and let me use his phone--but Nathan's phone still didn't work. Seeing Nathan and the kids pull up was the most welcoming sight! My frustration was quickly forgotten.

We stayed in a very nice guest house in Nelspruit operated by a ministry called Mercy Air. They help missionaries take supplies into remote areas of Africa, and do emergency medical flights as well. I was so thankful for a beautiful place to relax with the family for a few days before we ventured into Mozambique. Nathan and Emily like to stock up on supplies and groceries in South Africa since the prices and selection is much better.

On Saturday we loaded up the car and stuffed like sardines in their 4 door Toyota sedan, and we headed to the border of Mozambique. The immigration office was dirty, smelly, and not very welcoming. I suppose having been a missionary in Mexico helped me be better prepared to deal with the surroundings--it reminded me a lot of Mexico.

In my next post I will tell you more about Nathan's ministry and their every day life in Mozambique.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Baptism







Sunday our church had a baptism after our Sunday morning services. We had it at Medano Beach, not too far from where our new work in San Isidro meets. Four adults were baptized, Jenny and Valentin, a couple from Romania who got saved a few months ago and attend our church in San Isidro, Maribel, a young woman from the Philippines who has been attending our church in Santa Cruz for several months now, and Ignacio, an elderly man who also comes to our church in San Isidro.






We had a good time of fellowship and a little picnic afterwards. It is very windy in Medano, and the kids tried their hand at flying a kite which was fun.