Bwana Yesu Asifiwe.
Sometimes, probably more accurately weekly, I fall into the terrible pit of self deprecation as I disparage over what I could be, would be, and should be doing, and how I’m failing short or behind in various areas. In the midst of my funk last week, one of my neighbours stopped by, we exchanged the normal cultural platitudes and right before she turned to walk away, she asked me in English, “are you okay?” I was sincerely blown away. She became intentional, “got real”, by jumping out of the cultural box and asking that question in my tongue. So I engaged and we had a boundary shattering conversation about our lives, struggles, and our beliefs. My sweet neighbour is a devout Muslim and throughout our conversation we each spoke of God and how He is our cornerstone, but…we are not worshipping the same God.
It’s amazing how similar we are whether it’s our fears, desires, or our obedience in our faiths, and yet simultaneously, how far apart we are. You see, I’m in need of a Savior, an intercessor, a redeemer. I can do a thousand good deeds and feel really good about myself, but still I’d lack access to the thing I want most. Redemption. Self-redemption is every human being’s fondest hope, but it is also our impossible dream. As humans we tend to reject the belief that we are beyond helping ourselves. In fact, we often protest that God only helps those who do help themselves. Deeds vs. faith. I lean toward the latter, and my neighbour toward the former.
The conclusion of our conversation was the ceremonial “BarakAllahu feek” (May Allah Bless you) and I replied “Mungu akubariki” (God bless you). Locally, God and Allah are used interchangeably and I’ve realized how critical it is to say Jesus in whatever I do here. Not simply God, because there are more Gods than I can count here. The central person is Jesus. So, “Bwana Yesu asifiwe!”, “Let Jesus be praised!”
As for my moping around, many people hold to the “God loves you just the way you are” adage, assuming God thinks this way: “You’re okay just the way you are. Therefore, I love you.” God’s word to us is actually: “You’re okay because I love you and sent my Son to die for your sins.” God loves you, me, us, right through our ungraceful pity parties and we’re okay because we are loved in Christ.
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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, and with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6
We visited six families in May and we met 15 non-believers and 10 others who were nominal Christians at best. We shared the gospel of Christ with each of them. Two people decided to follow Jesus! Five others were interested about learning more about Jesus and Christianity. One of those who accepted Christ, named Mlerwa, is well known in the area and is very excited to learn more and become involved. Pastor Eliah and him are going to meet weekly for Bible study and hopefully eventually leadership training.
Two representatives of E3 partners visited us for a week and trained us, the pastors, and five local leaders on the revamped E3 evangelism method we will be using when the mission team arrives at the beginning of July.
Our ministry partner, Missions to the Unreached, held a pastors conference this month and we donated 5000 bibles to the pastors. Also, James spoke with several lead pastors about the importance and benefits of moving toward self-sustainability.
James’s brother and sister, John and Jenna, and Jenna’s husband Grant visited us for about three weeks and really lifted our spirits with their presence and of course the goodies they brought us :). With their help, we held a Vacation Bible Study for the neighbourhood children. A total of 30 children attended as we taught about the 10 Commandments. The majority of my neighbours are Muslim, so I am very sensitive that I do not appear to be proselytizing their children, especially during this month of Ramadan. My goal is to introduce them to Jesus and sprinkle seeds, and believe me we did just that. It always helps when I have guests from America. The kids love their attention.
First, thank God for great pigs! We’ve only lost 5 pigs total, 4 babies and 1 adult which is amazing and our pigs are growing well. Thank God for Paulo, who continues to develop as a leader on the business side and spiritually as he leads the other boys. Glad rainy season is over and Moses can play outside again. Although, he is pretty hilarious nowadays as his personality takes shape. I enjoyed spending time with Jenna, John and Grant. Always a good time when family visits, especially now that we’re all adults. By the way, I put John on my workout and diet plan and helped him lose 10 lbs. in 3 weeks. Hoping to FINALLY get my motorcycle working in the coming weeks, so I can whip around town on it and not have to sit in traffic all the time.
Moses is constantly hungry these days and stir-crazy. He needs to start school soon and he needs to eat meat! He should start school in August, unless I (his mom) get cold feet. And we’re working on increasing his pallet. It’s not a fun process! Many nights, he falls asleep hungry and crying only to wake up at 2am still hungry. At which point, we just give him anything. Moses loves wandering the neighbourhood with his friends and going to the maduka (little shops) to buy candy and little biscuits; too bad he doesn’t like to share any of his treats. He loves getting money from daddy and greeting daddy at the road to hop in the truck and steer it home. And he is finally learning to play nice with Abel!
Abel STILL only has two teeth. I can see the four teeth up top coming in, but they are taking their sweet time. We got Abel local walker to help him practice walking, but he’s not very excited about it just yet. The sooner he walks, the sooner I’ll let him go where he most desires – outside, and not just on the porch, outside the gate. He’s already learned how to throw a good fit (must have learned from Moses), and he loves Mama Angel and Mapinduzi. He loves letting the dogs lick his mouth, which I despise, and he loves playing with Housseini, one of the little boys here. His first birthday is just around 2 months away!
I love having visitors! Because when they come that means I get to go into the city and eat some good food, and oh yeah I also love their company. lol. But seriously, the conversation and memories created at the best part of visitors. Currently, we have Jordan and his wife Courtney, and Jonas from our home church visiting and I love the energy they bring. They also brought me vanilla wafers and they can babysit my kids while I go on a date…both great bonuses!
I’m excited for the mission team to arrive in a couple of days. It’s going to be a great time and I’m getting loaded up with snacks! lol. It’s going to be a fantastic couple of months here! For me personally at least, because I don’t share snacks! Hummm…maybe that’s where Moses get it from. Oh well!
S.H.A.D.E – Albino Initiative
We provided SHADE products to 80 albinos in the Kinondoni area of Dar es Salaam. We visited this area last August and did not have enough supplies for all in attendance, but this time we made sure we did! A big thank you to John, Jenna, and Grant and all their efforts, and their communities rallying around them to make this a successful outreach!
Also, we partnered with Standing Voice, a UK-based ministry to provide reading glasses and reading devices for 25 albino students. The students and their teachers also received training on how to use the devices and best practices for teaching children with low vision.
1520 Unreached Farm
And the multiplication of the pigs continues! The pigs have grown to 91. We put one pig down due to illness and currently, two other pigs have been set aside due to symptoms of sickness. We are optimistic that these pigs will return to fill strength. Swine flu is going around in these parts, and we’re doing everything we can to protect our pigs.
We built another pig pen for our growing crew and now we are building a house for the farm labourers. The farm workers had been living in tents up to this point!
Our goats are being herded all over the place, but sad to say Simon has left the team for now. He has a wife and child to tend to, and he left to fulfil these familial obligations. His brother Mussa remains to watch over the goats.
We planted corn instead of pili pili in May due to the longer than normal rainy season. This year, we planted the corn on the high ground only, due to the flooding that occurred in the low lying areas last year. Join us in praying for a successful corn harvest.
We anxiously await our plastic bee hives from Zambia, we‘ve decided to wait and use these plastic versions because they produce better honey and are easier to maintain. Meanwhile, we encountered a little trouble with our goats really liking the moringa trees we planted for the bees. We now have a restricted area for goats.
Pastor Eliah asks that we pray Mlerwa remains steadfast in faith because he has much promise and hopefully by God’s grace he may grow to be a leader of Disunyara Church.
Pray that the swine flu epidemic does not infect our goats, and continued prayers for all our self-sustainability efforts.
Pray for all the children that attended our VBS. Pray that seeds were planted and that their curiosity about a man named Jesus will blossom into faith.
Pray for spiritual growth for our preaching points located in the villages of: Ngozi, Ngozi Mwembe, Mondo, Waya, Mgongo, Dutumi, Mlandizi, Disunyara (2), Kilangalanga, and Kwala.
Pray the Lord will continue to bless our ministry with young men eager to learn and grow in Christ.
Pray with us as we host our second mission trip starting July 1st. Pray for the safety and preparation of those involved, from our national pastors to the E3 team leaders and the mission trip participants. May the Lord bless us with a successful trip.
Pray that the Lord gives James and I the strength to preserve in forcing Moses to eat different foods. Dinner time lasts entirely too long and includes way too many tears these days and we’re wearing down.