• 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.

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    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.