Sunday, December 27, 2009

So, they pay you right?

Christmas 2008 091 Welcome back to More Information Mondays!  Sorry, I've taken a few weeks off with all the craziness of coming back to Mozambique and jumping right into Christmas festivities and lots of little boys.

So to pick up where we left off, I'm answering some Frequently Asked Questions that I'll be able to save in the margin of this blog so first time visitors will know who and what they are reading about.

A question I get asked a lot is about finances, both for me and the boys.  People want to know where I get money to live on and how I have money to do things for the boys as well.  February 2009 038

Well the simple answer to both of those questions is this same - God provides!  And he provides thru people!

When I first made plans to come to Mozambique in 2003, many people made one time donations that helped with start-up expenses.  At the same time, many people committed to supporting me monthly, each with a different amount, whatever they felt led to give.  In the following years, some of those people have had to stop giving regularly but God has always put it on someone else's heart to start!

June 2009 081 And even now, I get occasional gifts from unexpected sources, sometimes even people I have never met before!  They send financial support or practical donations for the boys - it blows me away how generous and kind people can be.  And how faithful God is to provide every good things we need to serve him and others. 

So no, "they" don't pay me to be here, whoever "they" are - the kids??  The ministry I work with is completely faith-based, meaning all of it's support also comes from trusting God to provide thru individuals and churches.  So, they don't have extra money to pay us missionaries, all the money they receive goes into helping the people here in Mozambique. 

I am supported by the generous and sacrificial giving of family, friends and my church and I am so grateful for that support.  I am so grateful to God for how He always provides just what I need.  I am grateful I am able to help meet physical needs in my boys and my community thru the generous giving of others.June 2009 011

I tell people who support my work that they are an integral part of it - they are part of this ministry!  Without them, I wouldn't be here caring for my boys as I'm able to do.  It's not just a saying, it's the absolute truth.

So thank you to all of you who have supported me personally.  And even to those of you who give to other missionaries or your favorite ministries or causes - you are changing lives with your sacrificial giving!

"He who is kind to the poor, lends to the Lord and He will reward him for what he has done!"  Proverbs 19:17

October 2009 035

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do they celebrate Christmas on a different day in Mozambique?

Christmas 2009 062 No, they don't - we do, this year!  Because a number of staff will be away on Christmas day this year, we decided to celebrate a week early so today was the big day.  And I am appropriately tired for someone who arrived two nights ago, slept poorly with jet lag and arranged Christmas for 34 boys and ten ladies!  Whew!  I am so glad for the help I had in Rebecca and Meghann, without whom it would have been an underdecorated dorm and I would still be filling gift bags and crossing our names on new clothes!

The day begins with peanut butter for the breakfast bread, always a welcome treat. 

Christmas 2009 043We gathered them all up at 9am to give them their new clothes and can I give you an example of how easy they are to please?  They cheered when I mentioned the new underwear!!!  They are so  easy to love and bless!  They all went into their Christmas 2009 036respective rooms where they got matching outfits.  Followed up with our annual room photos which you can delight in here.

After lots of photos, we eagerly awaited Pai Natal (Father Christmas), complete with a song to Christmas 2009 047welcome him into the  dorm.  This year, Pai Natal was our center Pastor Nico, along with our director, Papa  Steve.  We're a packed house with lots of visitors coming to enjoy the fun too. 


NORMALLY, I would give Christmas 2009 029out the dorm presents first - this year a seesaw for the garden, a plastic bike, soccer balls for each room and skateboards for each room.  I FORGOT!!!!!  I guess I was a little overwhelmed after all. Here they are on my bed, ready to hand out - sad!  So we progressed directly to the boys' gifts. 

Christmas 2009 030Oh, the joy and delight and exclamations when they receive their gifts and dig to their depths to see what treasure lie therein!  They knew we were assembling them in my house the day before and were SO excited!

Christmas 2009 100Squeals of delight over a kids' meal toy, a bouncy ball, a lollypop!  Showing all their friends, tearing open their biscuits, calling out 

Here, Feliciano wastes no time trying out his new coloring book, one of his favorite things ever! 

Christmas 2009 111to everyone who will look - it's joyful madness and it lasts for almost an hour before they calm  down, comparatively.  What little lovelies! 

Shondino looks pretty happy with his present too!

Christmas 2009 138 Pai agrees!  After enjoying their presents for awhile, the boys eagerly await the center bell which calls them to the church for the last special event of the day - LUNCH!  A big plate of rice and salad and fries and beef and CHICKEN!!!  And a SODA POP!  Oh, they're so thrilled!

Christmas 2009 192 Here's a shot of the whole church set up for the festivities.  We had dramas and singing and dancing while the tables were being prepared.  I just found out we served about 500 people and had enough for 7 plates leftover!  That's amazing!  I'm so glad we didn't run out, God always provides when we give generously!

Speaking of, thanks so much to all of you who give generously to me and my boys, making times like this possible!  God will indeed always provide as we submit ourselves to Him and his plans for us!

I'm so thankful I can be here with my boys, blessing them, caring for them, enjoying a hug and an impromptu game of catch with a new ball.  What a delight to be able to pour out love and blessing on them when they can give nothing in return.  Except of course their love!  

  I am the blessed one!   Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 07, 2009

So, what happens when they grow up?

Oh, well, you should know that I give them express orders that they are NOT to grow up, even to squashing down their little heads when I think they are getting too tall!July 2008 011 cropped

But, these darlings don't always obey and this is one of those times - they grow up in spite of my commands!

Each year, usually in January, we have a big dorm shift in the center.  This usually coincides with what we call "reintegration," when families have been identified

                                 Joao leaving to be reunited with his mom!

with whom the children can be reunited.  This happens often when the kids are older and can fend for themselves a little.  Or, we sometimes find accommodation for the older youth, off the center. So a trickle-down effect occurs, opening up spaces in each of the dorms, so kids move up from each of the dorms as well.

Usually around nine years old, my oldest boys move up to the next dorm.  One year though, I had them til 11 and 12, just due to space issues!

This year, the boys moved a bit earlier than usual, last week in fact, so i will return to a very different dorm.  It will be hard to not have the seven boys from Room 2 who were there when I left!  Even thought they are only about 50 yards away, I will miss them!

I guess I can kinda answered both elements of this question - what happens when they grow out of my dorm and what happens when they grow out of our center.

Either way, transition is hard!  For them and for me!

Here's a post I wrote earlier in the year when last years group moved up to the next dorm:

Moving On Up!

February 2009 040cr

Well, when I see how big they are, I am amazed they were with Well, when I see how big they are, I am amazed they were with me in my dorm as long as they were! In January (so, I'm a little behind on my blogging!), my oldest boys moved up to the next dorm. As always, it was a sad day for me as I said "ate logo" or, "see you later" to: Antonio, Tome, Silavio, Fauso, Marcos, Fabiao and Joao (l-r, above and the same order for the following individual shots).DSC_0853

The last year with the boys of Room Two were definitely challenging. They were the oldest group I've ever had in my dorm (due to space limitations in older dorms) and were entering adolescence, a trying time, no? My age range was from 4-12 and it sometimes felt impossible. There were DSC_0850times I thought I would be cheering as they left rather than crying! But we survived and pressed on and there were many, many more wonderful times.

This time of year is always hard for me, I hate to lose my boys to the next dorm, even though it's only about 100 yards away. It changes everything.

Moving of the dorms always reminds me that try as we do, we are not a real family. I know there are age-related transitions in all families so I try and take great comfort in that. But February 2009 029my biggest comfort comes from the Lord who alone knows how to console me when I am weeping on my bed after sending the boys off with their bags of belongings. (Oh, the backpacks were presents, the bags of belongings aren't pictured!)

Oct profiles and head shots 021 This year was especially hard as these are the last of the boys who were already living in the dorm when I moved in in 2004. They were the littlest ones then. So it's the end of a complete cycle for me. Most of them have been living in my dorm for 7-8 years so it was a bit traumatic for them as well.

But, as in most things, the lead up to the event was worse than the actual living it out. The boys have adjusted well to their new dorm. One of them Gorgeous Fausowisely told me that although he misses our dorm, he's now glad he moved because it signifies that he is growing up! Most of them come over to the dorm nearly every day and a few have become helpers for the little ones. Come to think of it, even boys that moved out four years ago still pop round most days to say hello or, let's face it, have a jump on the trampoline!

Transition times always bring out the potential for great regret in me. Did I do enough? Hug enough? Talk, teach, impart enough? Shouldn't I July 2007 016have had them in to play rather than read that afternoon? Did I tell them the right Bible stories that they will carry with them? Did I teach them to read??? Have I been a good steward of the responsibility the Lord has given me over their lives? Birthdays 003

Well, certainly I did not do ALL that I COULD have. But God is gracious and knows I'm not perfect! It's a good thing that these boys are his precious sons and he has all they could ever need and knows how to impart that to them. I thank God that he has allowed me to be a part of their lives and will continue to be as well!

Indeed, though, I do miss them in our dorm so much! Famba nai Jesu my little darlings!