• Brazil and beyond…the adventure begins again!


    Hello everyone! Sorry for my long absence on this blog…

    I’m back at it again and will try to do better at posting regularly, so you can keep updated with what is happening! I’m currently back in Brazil for almost three weeks after being back home in Canada from Sept 2015 until Feb 22, 2016. My time in Canada was good but also very hard. The good was being able to reconnect with friends and family, having opportunities to share about my work and the amazing response by so many – sponsoring children and partnering with me financially and in prayer. I was encouraged by all the love and support.

    My best friend, partner in travel and adventure, the sister I never had...Sharlotte Weslosky July 4, 1976 - Dec 31, 2015

    My best friend, partner in travel and adventure, the sister I never had…Sharlotte Weslosky  July 4, 1976 – Dec 31, 2015

    The hard part of my time was both my grandma Nancy and my best friend, Sharlotte passing away in December. Being in Canada and not in Mozambique was a HUGE blessing and something I’m very thankful for.  I was able to spend time with both of them even though it’s never enough. Both were a big part of my life and the loss has hit me very hard. There were days I wasn’t sure I could carry on…but God’s grace, comfort and strength has been there for me every day. And life goes on…I know they would both want me to continue on living and being who I was created to be.

    And here I am…back in Brazil…

    Foz do Iguaçu

    The beautiful, powerful & majestic Foz do Iguaçu “Mightier than the thunder of great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – the Lord on high is mighty.” Ps 93:4

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    Visiting 3 Fronterias Pretty cool to be able to see 3 countries at the same time! Argentina on the left, Paraguay on the right across the river and Brazil in the foreground...where I was standing and taking the picture from!

    Visiting 3 Fronterias
    Pretty cool to be able to see 3 countries at the same time! Argentina on the left, Paraguay on the right across the river and Brazil in the foreground…where I was standing and taking the picture from!

    Standing by the Brazil marker

    Standing by the Brazil marker

    A better idea of where the countries are

    A better idea of where the countries are in relation to each other.

     

    My time here hasn’t just all been traveling and sightseeing though…this is a picture of “home” here in Itaperuçu. Located high up on the hill with a great view…and a terrible road coming up here!

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    Below is the view out of the kitchen window…the “lawnmowers” are hard at work!

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    It has rained a lot during our time here…so we had to take advantage of the days when the sun was shining.

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    Lots of our days looked like this as well…meeting with the key people at the mission here, continuing to build relationships,

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    My favourite moments are always the ones where I get time to spend with the children! It was fun to be able to actually converse a little more with them this time. They always love to practice their English as well!

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    Quite a few of our sponsors sent gifts or cards along as well…and here Ruth and I are delivering a few of those gifts. The smiles say it all!

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    One day we all piled in and went on another adventure…visiting Caçador, a remote community where the mission has built a school. We were all shook up by the time we got there…thanks to a crazy bumpy road.

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    The school – a huge blessing to a community that had no school! I visited this school and community two years ago when I was in Brazil, so it was nice to see all the changes. The biggest one is that the school is finished and functioning!

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    The whole team enjoyed seeing the school in action! We took lots of pictures and video. Here the children were learning the different instruments and clothing that is used in capoeira (a Brazilian martial art infused dance).

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    Then it was time for the practical part of the lesson…the kids had such a great time with it all. I got right in there with them!

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    Then Professor Cabelo, the guy teaching the lesson decided I needed to learn some moves! I gave it a good go, but I definitely need a LOT of practice!

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    I impressed them all with my cartwheel though! :)

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    We also visited in a few homes…this lady (with her granddaughter) actually remembered me from the last time. She gave me the biggest hug when I came up to the door.

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    Being in their homes and seeing the conditions they live in was a reminder to me of how blessed I am in my life. There is no great joy in my life than being able to share God’s love with them.

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    On the topic of being thankful….this is the laundry facility! The bottom left hand is a picture I took at the same house two years ago when I was here. Not much has changed in this area!

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    All too soon I was time to say goodbye to part of the team as they headed back to Canada.

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    I enjoyed my last few days visiting with friends…soaking up all the moments.

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    Boa viagem! On to the next adventure…South Africa and Mozambique here I come!

    Please keep me in your prayers as I head back…there has been some unrest in Mozambique in areas close to the mission. Pray for protection and wisdom as I serve the people I love there. Also there has been severe drought in Mozambique, all the crops have died and many people are suffering. Pray for us as we respond to the needs as we are able.

    If you would like to donate to our Emergency Feeding Fund please click on this link:

    https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/12181 (Select Emergency Feeding Mozambique 2016)

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    Until next time, Janette signing off from the São Paulo airport

  • Celebrating Worker’s Day – May 1st

    Worker’s Day is the same as Labour Day in Canada…and here in Mozambique on holidays people like to get together for a festa (party)! This typically involves…food, loud music, hanging out together and of course, dancing! Joao (our Mozabican missionary) hosted a small party with some of our workers to celebrate the holiday. I’m always up for a festa so I joined in…for the festa part…I let all the guys do the work and cooking! :) Okay…so I did help out a little. It was fun to just spend time with them listening to their stories (I’m so happy to know enough Portuguese to understand the conversation), joking around, eating good food, dancing, and then schooling them in badminton! We played workers against me and my sponsor students…they didn’t win a game against us. A very memorable and fun day!

    The chicken plucking crew…I was very happy to avoid that!

      

    Cooking a BIG pot of rice for just 10 people!

      

    Nezi & Portasio, older students in the sponsorship program…doing dishes

      

    Amadeu enjoying the festa!

      

    Tea, bread & butter for the appetizer…Hey Camilo!

      

    This picture makes me smile…One of these things is not like the others!! :)

     

  • Christmas in March 3 Times Over…and a Visit from a Friend!

    March was a wonderful month for me! I made a quick trip down to South Africa again with Dwight and Lynn to shoot some video footage for a promotions video for our child sponsorship program. I was excited to be able to go for a whole different reason…FINALLY getting my Christmas parcel sent by my family in October. The parcel had quite the journey…coming through a postal strike in South Africa, then having to track it down because my mom put the wrong address on it, calling the post office in Nelspruit on Skype, where it had been sitting for a whole month…telling them to please not send it back and finally having a friend from South Africa go and pick it up for me! Needless to say I was VERY excited to get it…the first thing I did when we got to Mercy Air was ask where it was! My friend, Anne went with me right away to the office to pick it up… 

    I’ve never been so happy to see a box covered with duct tape!


      

    A whole lot of fun surprises in one box!

      

     Less than a week later, my friend Robbyn came as part of a SAM Ministries board visit and brought at least half a suitcase of presents for me! Talk about being doubly blessed…a friend and presents. It was so much fun having company in my little Bushbabe cottage for almost four weeks and introducing her to life in the Mozambique bush. 

    Bushbabes!

        

    Christmas #2


    The third Christmas arrived only a few days later when my missionary colleagues, Rick and Heather Neufeld arrived back in the bush after being on furlough in Canada. My wonderful mother had sent another package with them! Lots more goodies…which I forgot to take a picture of. 

    All of these things made for a memorable and abundantly blessed March for me…one of my favorite moments though was being able to introduce Robbyn to her little sponsor girl, Sarudzai.  It was another reminder for me of why I love my “job” and a beautiful moment when the two sides of the sponsorship program have a chance to meet.

       

    All to soon April 8th arrived time to say good bye…Robbyn got in the little mission plane at our bush airstrip and began her journey back to Canada. Goodbyes are so hard but I’m thankful to have a friend who now has a first hand understanding of what my life is like out here in the bush.  

    Smiles on our faces, but the sunglasses were hiding the tears


     

    Making friends with Amigo , the baboon! #lifeinthebush

      

  • A Chance for a Little Rest and Relaxation!

    The end of February, the mission team planned a little time away in Vilanculos. Vilanculos is a beautiful spot right on the Indian Ocean with warm blue water and white sandy beaches. The perfect place to spend some time together as a team and be refreshed. Andy, Joao, Jenn and I made the 6 hours drive down. Dwight and Lynn flew down and met us there…then on the way back we switched. It was much nicer to fly the 1.5 hours, but fun to get to experience both! On one of the days we did a full day boat trip and got to visit a few different islands. We also went snorkelling for two and a half hours on 2-Mile Reef. It was my first time snorkelling and aside from drinking what felt like about 5 liters of sea water…I absolutely LOVED it. There’s a whole other beautiful world under all that water! The trip wasn’t nearly long enough…but I’m so thankful for the time we were able to spend. Being at the ocean, walking on the beach, just exploring and finding treasures are things that restore my soul!

    Here’s a few pictures so you have a little taste of what it was like:

    Archipelago Lodge where we stayed

    Archipelago Lodge where we stayed

    Beach at our lodge from up at the restaurant

    Beach at our lodge from up at the restaurant

    Our beach

    Our beach

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    Sunrise - I could wake up to this every day!

    Sunrise – I could wake up to this every day!

    A stop at Pansy Island on our boat trip day

    A stop at Pansy Island on our boat trip day

    Many great treasures waiting to be found!

    Many great treasures waiting to be found!

    Hands filled with treasures...cooling off. The sand was burning hot on my bare feet!

    Hands filled with treasures…cooling off. The sand was burning hot on my bare feet!

    Beautiful views

    Beautiful views

    Lunch and a little rest in the shade. It was a blazing hot day...

    Lunch and a little rest in the shade. It was a blazing hot day…

    You can't go far without seeing some dancing...

    You can’t go far without seeing some dancing…

    The three ladies - Jenn, Lynn and I checking out early from the hike up the sand dune. We were too hot and the water looked so inviting...

    The three ladies – Jenn, Lynn and I checking out early from the hike up the sand dune. We were too hot and the water looked so inviting…

    A cooler, rainy day

    A cooler, rainy day

    Joao & I all ready for the flight back to the mission

    Joao & I all ready for the flight back to the mission

    See you next time Vilanculos! I'll definitely be back!!

    See you next time Vilanculos! I’ll definitely be back!!


    I brought the "beach" back to the bush with me!

    I brought the “beach” back to the bush with me!

  • Miracles in the Midst of Challenges

    The last few years as I’ve been more involved with our Child Sponsorship program in Mozambique I have seen the many challenges we face. One of the biggest is having students especially girls continue on with their education as they get older and reach the higher grades. A couple contributing factors are the cultural practice of fathers marrying off their daughters young to collect the lobola (customary bride price) and a very low literacy rate in the rural area where we live. Many of our students come from homes where their parents don’t read and write, so they don’t have the support to learn and stay in school. As a result, education isn’t valued and many only see the future through the cultural norm…getting married, having a family and working the fields. Every year it is so difficult and heartbreaking to see students choosing not to continue on in school or having their parents make that choice for them. We try to the best of our ability to provide opportunities and keep them in school, but many times it isn’t enough and the turnover of students in the program can be quite high. However after all these years of having the program…things are slowly starting to change!

    Flora and Beti, 2 young ladies in our program who are currently pursuing career training. Here they are sharing why they are continuing to study instead of getting married.

    A rare story: Flora and Beti, 2 young ladies in our program who are currently pursuing career training. Here they are sharing with a group of pastors why they are continuing to study instead of getting married.

    This is the framework for what I’m going to share with you now…the MIRACLE in the midst of these challenges! This past year, our sponsorship program saw our first two students actually complete their Grade 12. We celebrated and recognized them for this wonderful achievement. Both have the desire to continue on and do career training. Neither one was able to get into the government school (which is much cheaper) they wanted to though…so this coming year they were both going to work with the mission and do some other studying.

    Farai Joao

    From left to right: Joao Bulaque (father), Farai, Joao and me

    A couple weeks ago, the father of one of these guys met with us and asked if his son could go to the private school for his training if he helped to pay some of the cost! He said he had cows he could sell to help pay and wanted his son to continue on with his studies this year. He even brought a significant amount of cash with him to the meeting to show us he was serious. My heart was full to overflowing…and it leaked out my eyes as I sat in the meeting. I had to thank him for being willing to sacrifice to see his son have a better future. I was reminded this was a great example of why we have the sponsorship program…because change happens. It may be slow and take time…but this father and son prove it is in fact possible. A MIRACLE in the midst of challenges.

    Please pray for more of these kinds of stories as we continue to work to provide an opportunity for each child to reach their God-given potential. You can be part of it…by sponsoring a child! Last year approximately 187 of our 255 students were sponsored…so there’s room for more people to be involved. For more information go to www.samministries.org/Mozambique/child-sponsorship-Mozambique or contact me! I’d be more than happy to partner you with one of the children that is available.

    Sponsorship = Big smiles...and Student ID cards from Canada do too!

    Sponsorship = Big smiles…and Student ID cards from Canada do too!

    ***Just after I posted this blog…we had some more good news. One of our students got into a Mechanic training program at a school in Beira! Beira is five hours away from where the mission is, so it makes the logistics a challenge…but we have a great team here. We are happy to what needs to be done to see our students succeed. It’s very exciting for this young man…but also for us and the sponsorship program…another step forward.

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    Castro, the one who just got into the Mechanics training. This picture was taken at VBS in November 2014…to send to my roommate who sponsors him. I can’t wait to share this news with her!

  • Bush Entertainment!

    Right now we have a pet baby baboon named Amigo here at the mission…part of our “normal” day is the “troop” (aka Jenn, Lynn, me, sometimes Dwight and often at least one or two of the dogs) taking him for a walk. Tonight he was having fun playing on a big sand pile…so we got down there and played with him…for over half an hour!

    Here’s a little video of some of the fun…he’s trying to find the “other” baboon on my cell phone screen. He kept reaching for him, kissing and licking my screen…so cute, funny and our daily dose of entertainment! Then he peed on me…and it was straight to the shower for me!

  • It’s Official…

    I finally have the little plastic card to prove I’m a resident of Mozambique for a year! After all the hassles getting my application in it was quite wonderful to receive my official DIRE (Documento de Identificação e Residência para Estrangeiros). It also means I don’t have to just carry around a piece of paper with my passport to prove I can be in the country. Hooray!!

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    Today also marks 5 months in Mozambique for me! I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by…I can’t remember what my old “normal” use to be. The new “normal” is so totally different but I’m loving it. School started here this week…so I’ve been busy with prep for that and meetings with parents, teachers, students and the rest of the mission education team to get everything in place for our external sponsorship students and discuss our plans for the year. Very busy times…with lots to organize and many exciting developments happening!

    Stay tuned for my next post…in the meantime here’s a couple pictures from one of the meetings at the school.

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    If you’re still reading…here’s the link to our latest mission newsletter…I even wrote one of the articles!
    SAM Ministries newsletter January 2015

  • Hello 2015!

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    Happy belated New Year everyone! It’s hard to believe the last day of the first month of the year. The quote above is something I’ve been thinking of at the start of this new year. It’s reminded me to once again…live each day to the fullest. What kind of book are you going to write this year??

    I really enjoyed my first African Christmas which was filled with unique experiences. Unlike my “normal” white Canadian Christmas…this one was hot, humid and green, but that wasn’t the only thing different. On Christmas Eve, our late afternoon adventure was taking a hike up to the Rock here at the farm. It’s the best place to watch beautiful African sunsets and if it wasn’t such a long hike I’d go there way more often. We hiked up, watched the sunset and then the storm rolled in! I’m talking a tropical torrential downpour…we got about half way back to the truck before we got caught. Needless to say we were drenched by the time we made it to the truck. I never experienced that on Christmas Eve before! After proper showers and dry clothes, we enjoyed a wonderful ham and homemade perogie dinner and hanging out together.

    Here’s a couple shots from the Rock…I never get tired of the view.
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    Christmas Day started with a nice breakfast with Jenn…then Andy picked us up and we went to visit some of our workers in the community. When you visit in the community you end up going from one house to another and at every house they want to feed you. So after having breakfast at 9 AM, we then had 4 meals between 10:30-3 PM and even though you tell them only a little bit…their idea of a little isn’t the same as mine! I was ready to burst and didn’t want to see another spaghetti noodle for a LONG time. I enjoyed visiting and just spending time out in the community with the Mozambican people. They love having visitors and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It was truly a unique Christmas experience! After our time in the community, we decided we needed to burn off some calories and so it was another hike to the Rock. We had to make room for turkey supper! I can confidently say I’ve never eaten 6 meals in one day in my life. At least I was controlling the portion sizes for the turkey dinner!
    Here we are…hot, sweaty and a bit sunburnt, but enjoying our Christmas adventures!

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    Partners in crime/adventure/bush life…so thankful for Jenn. Really going to miss her when she goes back to Canada in April.

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    Spending time together with the mission team and with people in the community definitely made my Christmas.
    One of my Christmas traditions is to do a puzzle and thankfully Lynn had one for me to do! I spent quite a few hours relaxing and working on the puzzle throughout the holiday.

    The finished product!

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    Boxing Day brought a whole other “adventure”…malaria! I felt horrible…I can definitely tell you malaria is no joke. Thankfully I have great nurses out here. They got me started on treatment right away and Jenn even came to give me a Gravol injection in the middle of the night. I was pretty wiped out for a couple weeks…but I recovered. Dwight said I’ve now had my official right of passage to Africa. At least been sick over the holidays allowed me to lay in bed and not worry about all the things I should be doing.

    The New Year has been a little less adventurous…thankfully! January 6th brought a return of the regular work schedule…and it was back into the full swing of things. The last few weeks have been looking ahead and planning for this coming year…Goals, Objectives and Budgets. I’m excited for what this new year will bring.

  • Lychee Day!

    Catching you up on some of the other happenings in the past month…since I’ve been too busy to do it before.

    Here at the mission farm we have 354 lychee trees…I know because I asked today. Since I got here in September I have been watching those trees…just waiting for the lychees to be ready! In November finally they were ready…and we put the signs out at the main road saying we had lychees for sale. I made sure I bought some right away…I also started taking more walks through the lychee orchard in the evening just to have a few.

    We were blessed this year to have a guy come and want to buy a tonne from us. It meant a very early 4:00 AM start for a lot of our workers, Andy (our main agriculture guy) and Jenn who braved the early morning to join the “fun”. They began the process of harvesting them. At 7:00 AM when I arrived for devotions…I wondered why in the world basically no one was there. That’s when I found out everyone was harvesting lychees…well that I was a party I couldn’t miss so after devotions I joined the crew who was sitting under a big tree sorting them. We worked all day not even stopping for lunch…and finally around 4:00 PM we had a tonne loaded on the truck! It was a LOT of work…work is always more fun when you can do it together. There was lots of joking and laughing as we worked that day…and of course eating as many lychees as we wanted to!

    lychees and my feet Keeping my toes up so the ants wouldn’t crawl on them!

    IMG_4641 A BIG pile of lychees

    Lychees me and Meque Meque showed me the ropes and made sure I was doing it right

    IMG_4640 Two of the grannies from our Widows and Orphans program helping out

  • November Adventures!

    10649607_10152933680817059_8701072180265939430_nAn aerial view of the mission school…complete with a game of tug o’ war happening in the field! We played tug o’ war for an hour at VBS that day! (Photo credit: Helen Gilbert)

    The last few weeks here in Mozambique have definitely been “buzzing”!

    I can hardly believe it’s December and Christmas is almost here. The last few weeks have just flown by filled with wonderful activity, seeing God’s hand at work and some tough challenges.
    November 14th marked the end of the school year. I was thrilled to be here for all the activities surrounding that time. School closing parties, awards ceremonies and a week long VBS children’s program at the mission school in the bush. The theme for the week was the Armor of God. The week was filled with Bible stories, crafts and games including the huge sponge/water/mud fight one of the days! I even got to experience the joy of a wet, muddy sponge right in the face! Being white you’re a pretty big target and with 200 kids you can’t possibly watch everyone. I was in charge of the crafts and we had fun painting, stringing beads and coloring. The highlight for me was just being with the children interacting, loving on them and having fun. I’ve really enjoyed putting faces and personalities to the names of the children in the Child Sponsorship program. I hope to communicate those things more with all the sponsors.

    Here’s a few pictures from the week…
    IMG_0902 Listening to the Bible story

    1526746_10152439345617116_322698963892816554_n I enjoy every moment with these adorable children

    IMG_2677 Field games

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    Concentration required Concentrating hard! (Photo credit: Helen Gilbert)

    untitled event - 076 The finished product…name tag with Bible verse for the week on the back

    IMG_2697 Getting ready for the big water fight!

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    IMG_4364 (2) Let me give you a hug…you’re not wet enough!!

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    IMG_4448 The face of joy and happiness

    This year we had the opening ceremony of the bridge, built this year in memory of our 2 school children taken by crocodiles earlier this year. The whole community was there for the celebration along with some dignitaries and government officials. It was a wonderful time with ribbon cutting, speeches, singing, dancing and food. The program was finished but the music and dancing continued until a whole other adventure started! Some children decide to throw rocks at a bee hive down by the river. All of a sudden everyone was running and scattering in all directions. I was standing there thinking, “What is going on??” Next thing I know I’m completely swarmed by African killer bees…they’re stinging me and I’m swatting (or doing the “bee salute” as someone called it!) trying to get them off me. Not such a fun adventure! When the dust all cleared, six people including me were stung numerous times. One of the guys stung badly was allergic. We saw God perform miracles and his life was spared! Compared to the number of people who were there and the fact only a few of us were badly stung was a miracle in itself. My recovery from the around 60 bee stings I received has taken awhile. Thankfully last week I was finally able to stop taking any medication to keep from being itchy. I was sooo itchy! I was so thankful for the prayers and messages of encouragement especially in the days right after it happened. I can’t begin to write the whole story of what happened on Nov 20th, the day we still talk about and refer to as “Bee Day” but ask me sometime and I’ll tell you the whole story. Needless to say, I can now say I survived African killer bees! The story is still a “buzz” …just today at devotions one of our workers was telling his perspective of the day…we were all laughing and smiling. It’s funny now to look back and tell the crazy stories of the day. I’m so thankful for God’s faithfulness to us.

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    Memorial sign

    10476133_1493224407631812_6961759512269217947_n Inaugural walk…”Is it going to hold all of us??”

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    The following week, I was blessed to share my story of God’s faithfulness as I walked through cancer with two different groups of pastors in our Leadership training program. The way I was feeling physically as a result of all my bee stings was exactly how I felt some of the days during my cancer treatments. God used my sharing to remind me of those things and to draw from Him once again. I’m always amazed as I look back and see all God has done in my life!

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    December has been a little slower and given me a chance to catch up on Sponsorship program administration and organizing for the coming school year. It feels good to be able to get some of these things done.
    This last week I’ve also had a chance to do some Christmas crafting which I enjoy…creating Christmas cards with buttons!

    10846111_10152486342032116_1930652373741802426_n (2) Jenn, my partner in creativity!

    Christmas is very different for me this year…my first African Christmas…which definitely doesn’t include snow, cold, bundling up to go outside, hot cocoa with marshmallows and sadly being with all my family and friends. I’m experiencing a “Green Christmas” complete with lots of sweating…unlike the ones I normally know! It does however include a renewed sense in my heart of the wonder of our Savior’s birth and all Jesus brings to our lives. This year many of the things I associate with Christmas have been stripped away…allowing me to see more clearly and focus on what is really important. A true gift to me this year!

    I can’t thank you enough for your prayers and support. Many days knowing you are praying and standing with me has be a strength and comfort for me. I’ve been blessed to see God providing for my needs and giving me continued health. There are always days that present challenges…for me recovering from the bee attack resulted in some tough days, but it provided me with an opportunity to receive grace and strength from God. He has also placed a wonderful team around me here…who ministered to me physically and emotionally.

    Prayer Requests:
    •We are now heading into the rainy season here which is also the “high” season for malaria. I would appreciate prayer specifically for continued health.
    •Wisdom as I look ahead to the new year and plan goals, objectives for the Child Sponsorship program and lay out my budget.
    •For all the children in our sponsorship program to really know God’s love and plan for them.

    Well I’m going to sign off for now…there’s always so much to tell! God is at work and I love being part of what He is doing here in Mozambique. If you want to know more…send me a message. I’m always happy to hear from you!