Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Resurrection Day

Wishing all our readers, friends, co-workers ..... yes and YOU ... a Happy Transformational Easter and a super Resurrection Day!  Love you all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Precious 'cargo'

A day in the life of our Pre-School at Mucombeze is an interesting one.  It all starts with more than 40 screaming bundles of energy packed in very small package that has fragile written all over it.  Taking care of this precious 'cargo' takes a lot of effort, creativity - specially if you have to return it to sender daily.

It does require a healthy doze of Godly insurance to take care of it.  A good story, a biscuit and a crayon in every hand makes the 'package' come alive.  But taking care of Africa's most valued asset - their children places huge amounts of responsibilities on our shoulders.  Something we take very seriously here.  The daily dangerous of getting to school is the same all over the world I guess.  Crossing roads and rivers full of crocodiles seems different than Europe or Northern America but they aren't really.  We might not have a school traffic patrol taking care of the flying missiles - but we have dedicated teachers who makes sure that kids not just cross roads safely but that they are actually taught traffic and road rules.

At our crocodile invested rivers we have a small boat operating to make sure children are ferried to and from the school safely.  So taking care of Africa's 'cargo' is a full time business.  Got a few pics in the process to share our day with you!
One of my all time favorite photos - kids being led safely over the road.  All on time ... well nearly everyone is on time except for someone in the back trying to get in line!

And there we are ... safely across ... the second batch of cargo ready for the day!
Another safe day at the office!
Alec Wilson, our stand in teacher for the day, takes care of our precious 'cargo' for the day.

Happy and ready!
Ok because they are girls they do have the right to 'show off' a bit.  Only a bit though!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Making a Difference!

We often get the opportunity to meet extraordinary men and women in the bush.   People going beyond the call of duty.  Men and women who serve and care although they have not been asked to do so.  They are not being payed ... they are never covered by a headline story .... they simply show up and make God known through their servant hearts.  So today I would like to share a few of their stories ..... if I may?

Meet pastor Xavier Getz from Guru.  Guru is about 200 km's from our mission base.  He is a church planter, leader and Bible teacher.  His love for the Word of God is amazing.  He takes responsibility for huge areas in central Mozambique and believes that every believer should have a Bible in their hands.  As you know this is unlikely as getting Bibles to very remote villages can be an extremely difficult task.  Not for pastor Getz.  He makes a plan and because he makes a plan we desperately try to help him to get Bibles to believers.  In the process an organisation with the name 'BIBLES FOR BELIEVERS' became crucial partners with us.  They made Bibles available free of charge so we could help pastor Getz.  His report back to me was simply:  "All Bibles have been successfully placed in the hands of believers in villages.  Can I fetch the next batch?"  He receives no salary but his drive and motivation ....... is awesome to see.

Alec Wilson is a man who is capable of speaking many  languages.  He is currently translating a lot of women literacy material into the Malawian Chewa language.  With more than 750 women studying literacy in Malawi it is a huge blessing having free material available so they too can read and write.  The moment women can read and write they receive a Bible in their mother tongue.  Alec helped as, after translating 5 books into Chewa, to also distribute these books to the various schools in Malawi.  In the process of distributing these material God blessed him in an unique way.  He met his family in Malawi which he has not seen since 2003.  The family thought he died ..... and the surprise visit was a 'miracle from God', as Alec puts it.

The next brother that makes a huge difference in the various communities he serves, is pastor Mafuta.  Everytime I look at his humble home (above) I realize that these men are not doing what they are doing because they are interested in making money or benefiting from anything they are doing.  Their humbleness, friendliness and servant heart brings a tear to my eye many times.

Pastor Mafuta is a church planter.  I sat with him after attending a church planting seminar with him.  He was on fire and ready to plant many churches in un-churched areas.   But this was not what took me by surprise.  It was the way he was going about it that amazed me.  He went to his family and wife and asked them permission if he could plant churches for a full year.  In return, if they would allow him to do this, he would serve his wife and family for a year outside of the church.  I have never heard anything like this.  And in an African context that was very strange.  Of course they gave him permission .... and so he went on his way planting churches.  "And next year.....", he says - "I will serve my family to honour God, but now God will bless me and open doors so we can share the Good News in time for those who needs it!"

We made sure he was equipped for the task.  He received "Heart of man" charts and materials donated by Bibles for Believers (yes again ....).

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Hope means 'getting up'!

On my way to our bush school!
 The last 2 months has been a very difficult time for our bush school.  Our school cook died due to a short sickbed and it caught us all off-guard.  We had to shuffle and change our school teaching stuff suddenly and unexpected and then due to an above averaged rainy season ..... full rivers brought more crocodiles than usually and killed 2 of our school boys.

We have all learned through many years though that the only way to overcome difficulties in the bush is to press on and persevere.  And keep on sharing HOPE.  We  have many projects currently at our bush school and a few of them is bringing hope to kids who currently need HOPE and need to see that life can be turned around despite hardships.
Through all the chaos and changes at our school - life goes on ... as our pre-school learns.
 Our LIBRARY project is a huge undertaking and thanks to great sponsors via South Africa and Canada we have been moving forward slowly but surely.  We had to wait for the rainy season to get everything on its way.  The Library will not just bless our local children but will also have a huge impact on the literacy endeavor we are undertaking in the community and specifically with women in the area.  We hired local community members to be part of our Library building project.

The foundation of the library are finished and the local community members are helping to fill the foundation so building can start.

In the meantime we appointed a new cook in our Bush Kitchen.  Armando Jaime currently serves about 180 children in the school.  He has proved himself as a loyal and hard worker and has been working for the mission for a few years now.  He loves children and is part of our mentoring staff at the school.

The Library project is not the only project at the school.  We are busy installing a water tank and water lines (clean borehole water that is) to the bush clinic as well as to our kitchen.  This means that all our children will be able to drink and use clean water at the school.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Update on 'Crocodile Bridge'.

Since I last reported on the crocodile tragedy at our bush school another boy, Chupi - 7 years old, has been attacked and killed by a crocodile.  That is 2 boys in a month.  Needless to say the rapid planning of the bridge has been a number one priority currently on the base.  School children and the community are gripped by fear and the river that brings life and water is now a place of danger.

Here is the latest report by Dwight Lagore on the bridge, its planning and the way forward in building this structure:

"The immediate and amazing response by so many of you to the need for a suspension bridge has been overwhelming and encouraging.  And we are awaiting news of others who have said they would like to help make this happen.  Thank you!

We have a 'rough estimate' of the costs for a pedestrian bridge, and that is still all we have until we can get the final design done and organize the technical team to get this bridge installed.  Today Dave Geerling, John Herbert and Ron Wayner helped me to better survey the likely sites for the installation of a bridge.  We first visited the local leaders home but found he was at a funeral for a family member in another village.  A community member who I have known for some time, Fernando Gimo, was at the home however and was more than welcome to guide us and review the sites for this bridge.  After some bush-whacking and a couple river crossings .... doing my best to keep my camera dry and still stay alert for possible crocodiles .... , we found 4 alternative spots.  Instead of the 30 to 40 meter distance Ihad thought we would need to span, it turns out we will likely need to span 55 to 60 meters.  This is still very doable, but it will impact on the cost and materials we will need."


Dwight is currently in contact with Allan Luus (CEO of Mercy Air) who will meet with a civil engineer and with Phillip Kruger of Steel Ropes in South Africa to get a design finalized along with quotes.  The coordination between the various shipping and import agents from Mozambique will be planned and will be able to get us closer to the final estimate of the total cost involved.  Transportation from South Africa to Mozambique is planned via Sol Trading in Mozambique who trucks materials for the mission and they have pledged for this project to transport 'either for free or at least for a very reasonable price'.

Dwight reports:  "In the meantime we (here in Mozambique) will source, purchase and import all the needed materials and equipment to make this happen and also start to install any of the foundations and support systems needed to ensure the success of the technical team once they do arrive.

We are working with local leadership and government to ensure all the legal documentation is in-hand to make sure the bridge has official support and authorization.  The local community leader has assured me that his letter will be ready this week and that the community is very excited about the blessing this bridge will be to everyone.  Besides the children getting to school safely, is the benefit that sick people can get to our clinic as well as the grinding mill to grind their maize.

While this is all in progress, we are not waiting around!  Rick Neufeld our resident "Crocodile Dundee" is working with community leadership to hunt any crocodiles in the areas the children have to cross.  Bait has been set and as recent as today a crocodile was hooked.  Although it got away, more bait was set and Rick is doing everything he can to protect the children who must cross the river every day so they have a chance for an education."

We will keep you updated on the progress!  Thank you again for your support and prayers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When the lack of a pedestrian bridge .... kills you!

Little Manuel Samuel is like any other village boy .... full of energy, full of smiles and even a few dreams of his own.  He attends our village bush school and as he and so many boys continually reminds me his favorite time of the day is lunch time when he eats beans and sadza (maize porridge).

He would never know that a few days ago would be his last in the village.  Between the Zuze village and our bush school lays the Mucombeze river.  It's not a very big river but during the rainy season it becomes a violent and fast flowing river filled with many crocodiles.  Many of our 150 children needs to cross this bridge daily if they wish to attend school (which they all love to do!)  During rainy seasons many kids don't dare to cross the river unless someone in the community helps them to cross by dug out canoe.  There is no pedestrian bridge for any of the children and for many years our kids have to cross this dangerous river.  

Little Manuel thought a few days ago that a quick swim after school would cool him down as the days are hot and humid.  He would never return.  He was  unaware of a crocodile that was hiding in the water.  It attacked suddenly and deadly.  Manuel's full body was not recovered.  We were devastated.  

The situation highlighted this past week with the loss of Manual Samuel to a crocodile emphasized a critical problem for many of the children who attend our school and their families.  Many days of school each year are lost due to the river being too full to pass and many literally risk their lives to get to school.  We visited George who made a canoe out of bark and has been helping the children and community every day for free to get back and forth across the river, but he cannot always be there and when the river is in flood even that option is out.

We would love to build a bridge in Manuel's honor so the children's needs are met and so the loss of his life leaves a legacy for his family.  We would love help to explore design options for a walking bridge that could be build along with making sure there is a spot it can be built that will keep it hight enough to not be affected by the floods and still serve the community and children.

If you feel you could participate in this project by any means, technical advice, funding, help - in whichever way you feel possible ..... please help us to leave a legacy for Samuel in the form of a pedestrian bridge across the Mucombeze river.  Please contact us at:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Plotting goodness!

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that all of us on this great continent has been placed here to plot random acts of goodness wherever we put our feet.   Our lifestyle changed because of this - we are like spies constantly on the lookout for areas where we can plot goodness.  Saying this .... doesn't mean it is always possible or easy.  Or like a lady that confronted me a while ago when she said:  "It must make you feel good to help others!  It puts you in a commanding position with the people."  The words shocked me at first - and I pondered on the question why we actually help others.

But the truth is ....we all carry a great responsibility to not just help the poor but to bring hope and Christ's love through our actions.  I simply can not overlook Isaiah 58: 10-11 when it says in the Scriptures:

"Feed the hungry!  Help those in trouble!  Then your light will shine out from darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day.  And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too;  and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."

It is not necessary to be a wealthy philanthropist of a full-time volunteer to make a meaningful contribution.  Rather we should give generously of whatever wealth and abilities we have, no matter how small the amount.  Each of us has something to give.  Some have wealth, some have talents, some have time.  Whatever gifts we have been given - large or small - we should share generously.  When we do, we make the world better for someone else and find true meaning and satisfaction in our own lives.

This happened to us a week ago when we heard someone was suffering.  They never asked for helped but we kept our ears opened and allowed God to bless a family that was hungry.  And by the way .... many hugs to every single one of you who are helping and plotting goodness with us to the poorest of the poor.  Here are some of the joys:

Selita is a leader in the women's ministry and the family went through a very difficult time.  Alta decided to share a bag of maize with the family.  Selita's husband came to help immediately and the joy was contagious as they asked God silently for help.

The whole family came to share in the joy and God's answer!  They were truly waiting for GOD to come ....... and he uses people in the process.
Family life ....!  Maize being pounded the traditional way to make maize flour so it can be consumed as a porridge.  Children watching mom!
And this is what I love the most about Africa - the whole family gets involved in the daily house chores!  Every little bit helps ... this girl got her own container to help to grind the maize.
Like mom .... like daughter.  Following in the footsteps of her mom - providing food for the family.
Love so amazing.  This touched our hearts deeply.  When a lady from the Women's Ministry was to sick to prepare food these ladies from the Simukai Women's Ministry came to help.  Carrying wood to make fire and help preparing food.  Selfless service .... servants of God himself!

Very busy ... no time for a conversation!
Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done all around us!

Friday, February 21, 2014

"FORD, e muinto forte."

"Pastor .... pastor .... mira ...spera um pouco!"  (Bush Portuguese for:  My friend .... stop .... wait a little!)  Well ... I get that a lot when I drive on Mozambican roads.  Sometimes I stop ... sometimes I don't.  They stop me mostly for 'small talk'.   And the conversation starts off by complimenting my very old vehicle - a 3.0L V6 Ford Courier.  It is as old as the mountains.  23 Years to be exact and I have used it for the last 18 years in the bush.  YES .... 23 years.  They just don't make them like that anymore.  "Your FORD is as strong as a buffalo", my friend Mr. Thetcha replies.  His eyes sparkles, and I know what the next question would be.  He asks me the question weekly.  "Are you ready to sell the 'buffalo' to me?"   My reply is of course always the same:  'NOPE' - you don't sell a legend.

But when it breaks down - which it hardly does - I am in big trouble.  I do have a very rare disease (incurable according to specialists) - which is classified by Google as:  Techo fobia.  Engines and parts of any vehicle do not make sense to me at all!
Mmmmmm not sure what Cathy Middleton from Mercy Air is trying .... but she IS TRYING!  And for me ... that is enough!
But when friends arrive from as far as Canada to help ... that makes you feel very very special.  Rick Cogbill is a phenomenal man.  He is a mechanic by trade but what really makes him special is the fact that he has started a great ministry called MERCY TECH (  His vision is:  Changing Lives, One skill at a time.  He trains mechanics all over Africa in a missional context.  It has not just changed our lives but many Mozambicans in the process.  He as trained many mechanics on our base in Mozambique and one of them, Prosper Fernando is now the Chief mechanic and Maintenance Workshop manager.

Prosper Fernando - Chief Mechanic and Manager of the maintenance workshop!
Anyway my FORD was tackled by many as you will see .... and I currently have a brand new clutch, brake - and other strange parts fitted that I didn't know existed.  Thanks to all for the help!!!

I'm not sure what they are looking at ... but it must be important!
Even our mission driver got involved in his sparetime to fix the lights on the Ford!  What a team! 
Rick Cogbill (kneeling for various reasons) teaching and training other mechanics in Mozambique as they assess the age of the FORD.
 Special thanks to Rick Cogbill and Mercy Tech changing our lives ... yes by fixing a very important ministry tool.  Sooooo thankful!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mercy, mercy and more mercy!

I am looking at a mountain of folders filled with photos of all we are busy with on the base.  And as usual I realized that I have gotten way behind my journalism capabilities.  The stories are so many and so many lives have been changed just in the last few weeks it leaves me breathless.  From Education to Spiritual formation and rebirth, evangelism and just by simply LOVING PEOPLE.  Looking at the pile of articles in front of me makes me realize just how busy GOD is in the restoration business.  And doing this ... HE is using ordinary people who is willing to step out .... and take the challenge.

Mercy Air team arriving in force!
Over the past few weeks, we have had the privilege of receiving a number of short term mission guests.  Among them was a team from Mercy Air, South Africa. 
 Anne Herbert, one of Mercy Air's team members, has provided much help and support to our student remedial education effort over the years already.  
She was able to accompany the current team and dedicate her time here to helping train mission staff members in student assessment and basic literacy and numeracy activities.  Here are some of the highlights of the day.

Before we started the day at our bush school it was games as usual (just to get everyone's attention)!  Our volunteer staff and guests got into the action very quickly.
Vicky - a medical researcher from the UK visited the school and soon had everyone joining her for games.
Whoola-Whoop gang!
And off to work we go!

Mathematics, colors and other educational games helped kids to get a grip on what they understand and what not.  The purpose of the training was to help teacher how to assess if students struggle and how to correct problems quickly and efficiently.

Anne Herbert from Mercy Air, South Africa is a specialist when it comes to remedial teaching for children.
And what would life be if there is no reward for a good student!!!!
It was a long day for the kids but they enjoyed every single minute of it!
Students gathered in small groups to assess if they understood what they have learnt.
Anne Herbert created a lot of materials from scratch to help Mozambique in far off areas to also have the opportunity to read and write.
Even some of our adult staff was trained!
At the end of a long long day .. .lunch was served to hungry students.
Special thanks to Mercy Air crew and staff for being such a 'merciful' team and serving the way you do.  Much appreciated.  (Photos:  Paul Middleton, Francois Rauch, Lynn Lagore)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

21st Century: Church-Planting RIP?

What does church planting look like in the 21st century in the African context?  Is the goal to plant more churches or is to plant new kinds of churches?  We already know that church planting isn't just about numbers - it's about the deep renewal of the church and the development of new ways of being the church that are biblically rooted and contextually appropriate .... specially for the African context.

The why, how, where, when, what and who questions were discussed at an open workshop with more than 50 leading pastors from the central parts of Mozambique.  Everyone agreed as Steven Loots from Harvesters International concluded that he was a firm believer that we need to be planting new Christian communities of faith in all sorts of contexts and places.  He challenged leadership that the mental image we already have of church may be different and that other images will make us wonder how we define church. Leaders learnt:

  • Churches planted should reflect deeply and continually on the cultural context in which churches are planted;
  • Church planting that attempts to incarnate the gospel into areas and people groups beyond the reach of existing churches;
  • Planting that encourages creative engagement with diverse communities.
In conclusion everyone summarized their feelings that they are convinced that church planting in AFRICA and across the world  is crucial for the continuing mission of the church and the health of the Christian community.  Steven discussed amazingly practical ways of making church work in Africa.  His contagious spirit and love for God and his church infected us all immediately. Leaders left equipped to immediately transform their communities by planting churches and doing practical friendship evangelism .... things the western church has somewhat forgotten .... ouch!

Here are some highlights on the workshop held in Chimoio: 

Charlie 9 ready for take-off to Beira International Airport.  If fact .... yes it is already in a lift-off position .... lights on.... engine roaring .... and slowly but surely ascending. 
In spite of the bad weather ... everyone arrived back safely at the Mucombeze National Aerodrome!
Looked like the pilot worked extremely hard ... or the cockpit leaked.  From left to right:  Raymond Lombaard (Wheels for God), Dwight Lagore (C9 pilot) and Steven Loots (Harvesters International)
Visiting on the veranda in the bush - priceless in the African style.  Braaivleis and big stories!
Ray Lombaard teaching evangelism as part of the church planting workshop.
It rained a lot during the workshop - but it didn't stop these boys from catching a quick bath outside.
Steven Loots sharing strategy with Joao Benjamim as interpreter.  Harversters International planted more than 16 000 churches in Malawi alone in the last couple of years.
Geography and Theology meeting each other.  Pastors are trained to map their areas of influence.
A happy and well equipped group of pastors ready to plant new churches.