Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Week in Mozambique

Eating a simple meal of cabbage and rice at a women’s conference I was invited to speak at a few days ago in Buzi, the district pastor’s wife quietly explains, “The people here are suffering.  Even to get this meal, everyone sacrificed greatly.  The rice and corn fields haven’t produced any harvests this year because of the drought, and many are hungry.”  The next day, a church member brought to our attention the condition of our former guard.  Weak from a stroke, he stopped working his full time job.  But now we heard something most Westerners never hear.  This man could not walk because he was too weak from not eating!  The little bit of food he had, he gave to his wife and children.  Brian came home almost speechless after taking food to this man’s family and probably saving his life.  Today I received news that one of our grown orphan boys went to our worker’s house asking for a meal.  “Why did he go to your house to ask for food?  Why isn’t his uncle feeding him?”  Clemente replied, “His uncle hasn’t been able to find work, so the whole family hasn’t eaten these last 3 days.”   Telling one of our church leaders the condition of the hunger problem in Buzi, Mama Aida informs me how the ladies when doing home visitations, discovered countless families in our own neighborhood that are also suffering from hunger.  She said these mothers go house to house asking their neighbors if there’s anything they can do to earn just a little money to buy food.  Of course most of their neighbors are also lacking.  I quickly asked her to make a list of these ones suffering.  Yesterday and today we had the joy of giving out rice to 50 needy families in our own backyard.  

We plan to return to Buzi soon with food as well.  Today I spoke with our dear pastor from another local church who reported how so many widows in her town are also suffering from hunger.  I told her to make a list too, and I’d go there next week.  None of these people came to me with these reports because they thought we had food to give.  They were just sadly telling me what was going on in their areas. We are so dependent on Jesus to be our source of joy and hope in such a difficult place.  That’s our constant message to the Mozambicans as well – look to Jesus.  He is our only hope.  We must all depend on Him alone.  I praise God we are here and able to help a bit.  It’s such a different world here!  What did your week look like?


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Set Your Minds on Things Above

Dear Family and Friends,

“Set your minds on things above…” Col. 3:1.  “In everything give thanks…” I Thes. 5:18.  Think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).  When we wake up in a world of poverty, corruption, and war, these verses keep us on the right track.  God is good, no matter what is happening in our lives or around us.  His character doesn’t change.  He never leaves us, and we can never be separated from His love.  As we worship, come into His presence, and feed on His Word, we are filled and ready to give out – once again.  Our lives are different from those of you living in First World countries, but no matter where we are or what we’re doing in life, we all have negative influences and have the choice each day on what we will think about and dwell on.  I’m so thankful for the wisdom and encouragement we receive from the Scriptures!

The Lord has put on my heart for some time to put scriptures to music here in Mozambique.  I don’t know how all the details will come together, but I’m just taking one step at a time.  This is an oral culture with a high percentage of illiteracy.  Singing the scripture is a natural way for the Gospel to spread and for believers to learn and remember what the Bible says.   Right now I have 10 Mozambican worship leaders working on songs.  The dream is to record them in time, and put them on the mini SD chips with our oral Bible school and audio Bible.  Many of our pastors have cell phones and whatsapp (even though they live in mud huts in the bush), so I will be able to pass these on to our distant provinces as well.  Please pray for these song- writers, that they receive inspired melodies that any Mozambican will enjoy singing.
Already 3 great songs have come back, and we just started this two weeks ago!

Over half of Mozambican households own a cell phone - most take micro SD cards
Brian has been busy with our leaders in Zambezia, flying there last week to meet with them in Quilimane.  (We’re fortunate some of our provinces have airports, since the roads are too dangerous to travel.)  He prepared the leadership team for gathering students from their 22 districts for the next Bible school session in Pemba.  It was also great to hear reports from their seminars these past few months.  Three new churches have birthed in this region recently as well as a couple new children’s ministries.  2 kings 6:1-23

I’ve been enjoying visiting and preaching at our local surrounding churches – mostly giving this message of valuing scripture and putting it to music!  Brian is continuing preaching at our main regional church, when not visiting other provinces. 

The famine continues in some parts, but praise God, a huge donated container of freeze dried food has arrived from the States!  It is now in Nicuadala, Zambezia.  Our leadership team is now busy giving out this food to our most desperate areas. 

We’ve also been blessed with funds to buy food for the areas too far away from this container.  Next week one of our missionaries, Peter, will be going on a train to the province of Tete, with one of our lead Mozambican teachers.  Their farms are still dry and no harvest has come for a very long time.  Of course they will also take the opportunity to share the Word of God with our churches there. 

Our boys, Caleb and Nate, are doing very well with their home schooling.

A bit of sad news, our beloved dog, Midnight, passed away last week.  He had been with us since the first week we came to Mozambique, 8 ½ years ago. 

Politically, the conflicts continue here and are worsening in some parts.  But the immediate area we are in is fine.  Please remember in prayer our Mozambican teaching teams that travel in war zone areas though.  One has been shot at while in public transportation traveling through a conflict area, but he was not injured.  He is our head seminar trainer, named Pastor Mario.  He continues strong and full of faith.  The others are also not deterred, but request prayer for safety and protection.  (We have 5 main teaching teams doing about 100 seminars this year.  Our missionary team does other seminars and evangelism in addition to these.)

Thank you again for your continued financial and prayer support.  We are happy to be serving the Lord here and value your participation!

Financial contributions can be sent to:
Transforming Lives Ministry
1908 S. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA   92672

Much love,

Lorena, Brian, Caleb, and Nate

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” Heb. 4:12

Our team here in Central Mozambique loves to teach the Word of God.  We train others to teach, and divide into small groups as we reach out to over 60 districts with hundreds of churches in our care.  Yesterday was another one of those great teaching days.  After three hours of very dusty travel through hundreds of potholes on a dirt road to Buzi, Sofala, we arrived at a little church filled with women who had gathered for a 3-day women’s conference.  They had already begun the night before with Cecelia, who leads this district with her husband, Jaco, along with many local pastors.  The women greeted us warmly, eager to learn more.  We sang, danced, and attentively soaked in the Word of God all day.  What a joy to participate in giving the Word to women so hungry for Him! 

Buzi Women's Conference
For lunch we ate a meager, but wonderful, meal of cabbage and rice. Our central region still suffers from hunger, as their farms have not produced much of anything for the past 1½ years.  The rains have been scarce.  They are preparing their fields now for the upcoming rainy season, which is supposed to be arriving late this month or November.  (Please pray for these rains to come!)  No one complained, but it was sad to see the land so dry and the hard times these families are experiencing.  It will still be another 3-4 months before another harvest, assuming the rains come.   Prices are going up tremendously as well, since the supply of food is diminishing. 

God is good, however.  We thank those of you who have contributed funds to help those suffering from famine here in Central Mozambique.  A container of donated freeze-dried food has arrived and the food is currently being passed out to the districts in the province of Zambezia.  For those farther away from the container, we are sending teams with money to buy rice.  We’ve already been doing this, but we continue to go to new areas as the famine is still affecting many.   You’ll see more pictures in our next post, as we are making plans now to go to a very impoverished area in Mutarara, Tete.  This is a very difficult place to reach, however, as the roads are still unsafe for travel.  Please keep Oct. 11,12 in your prayers as our missionary, Peter, will be traveling there on dangerous roads with Mateus, one or our best Mozambican itinerate seminar teachers. 

Pastor Jacob and his wife Cecelia
Near the end of the day, Pastor Jacob commented how our discipleship books have changed so many people’s lives in his churches.  “Do you have more?  Has Pastor Brian finished another book yet?” he eagerly asked.  “He is almost finished with Foundations III and we are ready to print one on stories from the New Testament,” I responded.  He couldn’t thank me enough for all the seminars, discipleship books, and Bibles we’ve been given them these past few years.  Yet we feel so blessed as well, being able to participate and see the spiritual growth in this district.  So from Pastor Jacob, his many churches, and from all us missionaries, we thank you also for your prayers and support in making the production of these discipleship books possible. 

We are one Body, but many parts, each doing what God asks us to do.  Thank you for remembering us and taking time to read our posts.  We pray abundant blessings on you, from all of us here in Central Mozambique!