Jakaranda Beauty

My husband is indefatigable and passionate about his work. I love that about him. He’s also creative in making time for his family. I love that about him too. One Saturday this lovely month of October, with the Jakaranda trees in full bloom, he proposed we take a few hours to ride around town and take in the beauty. It was a lovely idea.

Bougainvillea and Jakaranda combination
Our two sweet peas
And our three young striplings
Jakaranda trees with the hazy Mbeya peak in the background
A special connection

Did you know these trees bloom their brightest at the very end of dry season? Can we also bloom our brightest when our environment is parched? God promises we can. “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

Perhaps your parched ground is loneliness or grief. Perhaps you’ve been betrayed or misused. Perhaps life hasn’t fulfilled your long held dreams. Right now your roots can go deep searching out the Living Water. And you will bloom bright.

Bloom on.

October Kaleidoscope

The moon rises, a round red ball above the horizon. Dust hangs in the air. We’re grateful there’s no wind tonight at least. Yesterday the wind flung clouds of dust into the air and a whirlwind roared down the road and across the compound, an inferno of dust and trash. The Jakaranda trees are in full bloom–breathtakingly beautiful in the otherwise drab landscape. Anything green which has survived the last 6 months is coated in dust…and we all wait breathlessly for rain.

And then it comes. Dark clouds. Wind. A roar of rain on distant tin roofs. The roar comes closer. The children stare bewildered.”Mom, what is going on?” “It’s going to RAIN! Quickly pick up your toys outside!” It took saying it three times before it sank in, and then oh, the yelling and scrambling and squeals of delight. The roar becomes louder and then starts splattering on our roof. Kasia cries, terrified at the noise, and is utterly bewildered at the sight of water coming from the sky. (has she actually forgotten?!)

The whole world seems to stand in silence. Muffled gray clouds skuttle across the sky. It rained.

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Our rain drenched world

This month has been like a kaleidoscope. Full of intense battle, beauty, pain, and joy all swirling together in bright colors. Each contributing to the whole beautiful picture. Remarkably the hardest and the most painful things are the brightest colors in this spiritual kaleidoscope. Mostly we are learning that when we are weak, God is strong. When we have no words and no wisdom, God speaks. When we are desperate, God answers. A new awareness of this spiritual reality has made me beg God for more and more of HIM. I’m thankful for the kaleidoscope of experiences that God brings into our lives and the design He is detailing.

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One of the bigger challenges and joys has been the arrival of Jeanette and her baby girl. Her story is an intensely sad story of abuse and neglect. She came because she had no one who cared and nowhere to go. A mere child herself, with little knowledge of God and His love for her…battered about with earth’s cruelty. So she’s here. And after two weeks, I feel like asking God, “and now what?” My answer came when my sweet friend Kim messaged me Ann Voskamp’s words, “The best investment of your life is to love exactly when it’s most inconvenient. If I won’t be inconvenienced, I can’t know love. Am I willing to live an inconvenient life? The brokenness of people is never truly an intrusion. Loving broken people when it is inconvenient is the way to have fuller inclusion in the life of Christ.”

And so we say ‘yes’ to the journey.

Janette’s four-month-old baby is threatening to capture my whole heart. I’ve tried to focus on helping her be a good mother, reminding myself this is an opportunity to love, to give them a chance at life–not adoption. But this child is irresistible. We’re already attached to her. And without me knowing what happened, it has brought the pain of it all out fresh again. Like ripping the scab off a nearly healed wound, leaving it bleeding and raw again. I wanted it neatly healed and for it to stay that way always.

Instead, God teaches me that love doesn’t grasp, neither does it choose when and how to love. Clasping a child into my arms as mine would come much more naturally than loving for a season, and then seeing them move on. Being able to keep this child would be much easier than putting in time and effort, in the end knowing that she is still at the mercy of her mother’s decisions.

But God wants to love through us according to His plan and purpose. That is more beautiful than hanging on to our own ideas of how we want to love and serve. We grasp the kaleidoscope and insist on pouring in our own colored sand, in the design we choose. But God knows the colors and textures that will bring out the brightest results, in our lives and in the lives of those He brings our way.

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Isn’t she precious?!

Can I trust Him? Can you? Can we say with strong faith, “that He will perfect that which concerns me? As we chose to trust, the bumpy inconvenient things turn into joy. Rarely glamorous–just one act of obedience at a time.

A few more colorful highlights:

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The group who traveled to Sumbawanga a few weeks ago for preaching seminars.
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SALT discipleship classes
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A picnic a fun in the woods with the dear Kiwira folks
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A weekend with these precious ladies.

School Begins…(and other small things)

We are more thankful then usual for the gifts of books, after weeks of trying to find a way to get them across the ocean. But here we, three weeks into the school year! I am totally enjoying the quiet structure to our days and the four students with their noses into books. Unfortunately they don’t all love books as much as I do… The Math pretests are done, and now we’re off to learning all the new, exciting things for this year. I’m slowly learning as I go with high school credits and things pertaining..and so thankful for the resources available.

The fifth child is consistently noisy, bouncing from desk to desk trying to get attention from everyone, distracting and saying funny things.. I started a few preschool things with her which delight her endlessly, “Mama, teach me my BBC’s!” “Mom! teach me SCIENCE.” She trails on behind in age, and feels it sorely, thinking by all means she should be allowed to have light-units and science books too. She’s learning to have one-half hour quiet times by herself on the couch, which gives the classroom a break. But mostly we look forward to when she’s 3 and can have real preschool books and a desk. For right now we learn the sounds and numbers and read The Pokey Little Puppy endlessly. “Mom….read a poky puppy a me?” She is addicted to that ragged little book and has it half memorized. I try to be as excited about it as she is. =)

One of our family hobbies is to explore remote corners of this beautiful country. One Saturday we decided to escape the dust of Mbeya and drive to the Tukuyu rain forests. Words don’t do justice to the beauty.
enjoying Mama Anita’s new baby.
Tim started a Creation to Christ class every Sunday evening.

Through the joys and the battles, we’re keenly aware of our weakness. Trusting in our God who has promised “to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!”

An update from the print shop…

The student enrollment in the “Maji ya Uzima” (Lamp and Light) Bible Courses continues to grow as sincere students pass the word from one to the other.  I (Tim) was much encouraged a week ago by the testimony of one of our local students who stopped by to drop off some completed tests. He told me that he is being greatly helped in his personal life and learning much from the Word of God. He has been telling many others about this opportunity to study the Word, requesting another twenty registration forms for his friends. This is a joy to our hearts.
   Samson Mwaweza (pictured) and Pastor Korosso are the main translators. Recently we have added Peter to the team in an effort to complete the main translation of the Lamp and Light Bible courses before summer 2021. The last checking is then done by Lamp and Light of Kenya before printing.
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Kevin is responsible for the student database, printing, and checking the student’s tests.
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Jose is Kevin’s helper with printing and cutting.
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Maji ya Uzima opens up opportunities to preach and teach where people are hungry for more. One of our students is a new pastor here in Mbeya whose home town is Sumbawanga. When telling his hometown pastor about our teachings, he became very interested and began begging us to come and teach. After preparing him with the Swahili version of Gary Miller’s book Did Jesus Really Say That?, we agreed to come. This little book has become a tremendous tool to find out who is hungry for the truth before we invest time into an individual or church only to find out that they just wanted the white man attached to their name. Please pray for us as we travel with several from the church here in Isyesye and Ivuna to hold meetings in three locations Sep 1–6.
Did Jesus Really Say That? ready for distribution.
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Maji ya Uzima books waiting for the cutter.
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This week we are taking steps forward with the English course we hope to start in Mbeya.  We have a meeting scheduled in the capital city of Dodoma where we will be giving a presentation to a panel 15-30 national leaders in the ministry of education. The significance of this is that we are asking the ministry of education to process the work and residence permits for volunteer English teachers, rather than us trying to get our own permits. As government restrictions on work permits continue to clamp down on us, we feel this may be the best path forward for not only short term workers but also for long term workers here in Tanzania. Pray that God would direct our presentation, and move in their hearts for a positive reception.
Thank you for supporting these opportunities to share the Word in Tanzania!

Back to Mbeya…

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Our visitors, Dave and Jean Brenneman and their daughter Hannah, along with Heather Nolt arrived on Sunday. With the Covid-19 challenges they worked hard to get here and we wish their stay could be months long instead of just 10 days.  On the way back to Mbeya the main road passed through Mikumi National Park, so they requested we spend a day there. We had a really good time, one of the highlights being the amazing variety of birds.

Photo credits: Hannah Brenneman

And then the van was having problems. It lost most of its power and Tim wasn’t sure if we’d make it up the Iringa mountain. We were far from any town. We were wheezing along, only able to go 10 kilometers an hour up the hills when we noticed a truck pulled off the road and a grease-covered mechanic working on it. Just maybe he would be able to work on our van. We sat there for three hours, but in the end, we had a van that nearly flew up the mountain. We could not have been more grateful.  Do you think angels ever appear covered in grease with wrenches in their hands?

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The angel’s mechanic shop.

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The girls enjoying Heather and Hannah’s company along the way.

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I caught a bit of Tanzanian beauty while sitting alongside the road for three hours.

And now it’s back to work at home. Tim and Korrosso are knee-deep in trying to get approval for an English program here in Mbeya. Please pray for this. These issues along with resident permits and our children’s student passes are making for multiple trips to Dodoma ten hours away. It is becoming necessary to find someone who can live in Dodoma as it is difficult for Tim and Korosso to juggle it all, both of them being family men and loaded with responsibilities here in Mbeya with the translation, print shop, and SALT. We are incredibly grateful that Joanna’s appeal was granted yesterday (after having been denied her permit), which means she will be able to teach at the children’s home for at least two more years. God is so faithful to meet our needs.

While at the guest house in Dar, i discovered a book on the shelf titled “Expectations and Burnout.”  It was not a small book but I read it nearly from cover to cover in those three days.  This expresses the questions of my heart these past few months. Robynn Bliss says, “The question that needs to be answered–the bottom line–seems to be this question: How can we embrace a sometimes harsh and below our expectations reality and still expect that our awesome, powerful, almighty God will work in and through us?”

How do we let go of our expectations of ourselves? Do we let go of them all to the point that we’re just surviving and somehow think that we’re fulfilling God’s purpose for us here? Do we try harder and eventually wear out and realize that we can never do what God can do?

How do we let go of our expectations of God? When we cry out to Him for things we thought were His will and the heavens are silent. Do we keep hoping that He will work, but when He doesn’t in the ways I expect, we burn out from all the hope deferred?

How do I let go of ALL my expectations and yet still be full of hope and expectancy of what God wants to do? Letting go could be dissolving into a useless clod of disillusionment. Or it could mean letting go of everything except a God focus, allowing Him to bring to fruition the expectations HE has for me. The latter is my choice. It’s a scary choice as it will not be the same as my expectations. It hasn’t been. And I will find a more peaceful, more restful life when I realize in my heart–not just in my head–that I can trust God to fill me and use me. It is not from my own effort, it is obedience to His voice, moment by moment. I can rest and let go.

At the moment there are piles of school books on the table beside me and the schoolroom is in grand confusion. There are portfolios to finish and curriculum plans to write up, books to organize and schedules to plan.

And I whisper to myself, “My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

A Sunrise and Trash

Yesterday morning Tim and I were walking along the beach. Our bare feet made light footprints in the sand, which had been hardened and smoothed by the receding waves. The morning air was cool and damp. As we walked we watched the glow in the east slowly growing more brilliant and beautiful. It’s not every day that we get to watch a sunrise over the Indian Ocean. The waves crashed rhythmically. A crab skittered into its hole as we walked by. A perfect few moments.

But there was something else other then the awesome sky vying for my attention. The trash. My clean loving soul is horrified at the filth and trash that lines the beach in this city. And, at this moment, my eyes seemed glued to it. An old toothbrush… two waterlogged pampers…soda bottles…broken glass. Ugh. Trash is not pleasant even in a garbage can, much less on a beautiful beach.

I tear my eyes away. There are better things to look at. The sun is now peeking above the clouds on the horizon–a fiery ball of orange turning the clouds into a flaming work of art. The colors tumble and move on the water as if the Creator’s paintbrush is quivering in anticipation of the grand display. We stand still and stare. It seems otherworldly, so beautiful it is.

A lone fisherman’s boat bobs on the waves, a tiny speck on the vast expanse of water. The sun rises in the sky, spilling all its light into this side of the world. The colors fade and the day moves on.

As I read through my scribbled journal pages of this last month, I saw a mixture of sunrises and trash. Glaring at me from the sand are the attitudes I had, how hard it was to serve when I didn’t feel like it. I see the times my children made wrong choices and the angry words from someone we love.  It all lays there in disarray much like the trash on the beach. But interspersed throughout the pages are sunrise moments–those times when the Word of God spoke to me, encouragement from a friend, a struggling soul making right choices, kind words, and a friend’s new baby.

And God quietly removes the trash. Job says, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag and thou sewest up my iniquity.” (14:17) David says in Psalms 103, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

I don’t have to look at it again–that heap of trash. I can enjoy the sunrises.

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July was an extremely busy month of…so many things. Justin and Tim had two days of SALT leaders meetings with 40 men and a few women from the various SALT groups in the region and just a busy mixture of office, print shop, translation, visitors, relationships, children, and sourdough bread.  And now it’s been almost two weeks since we left on a trip to Zanzibar. We needed some time as a family and we wanted to visit the Smith family who is alone for six months while the Kauffmans are on furlough. We drove to Dar with the “Yam.” (which is Kasia’s name for the new mission van.) After parking the van in Dar we ferried to the island. We had a lovely week there visiting the Jazani National forest, a butterfly conservatory, the slave market museum, the fascinating evening food court beside the ocean when all of Zanzibar culture comes out for display. We went to the ocean a few times and one time Tim, the boys, and the teacher guys went out on a boat to see underwater coral and fish. We roamed through a spice garden, learning about black pepper vines, iodine trees,  ginger plants, cinnamon trees, and watched a man ‘walk’ up a coconut palm to pick coconuts. Christina and I went out to town for shopping and talk time. And we had good times of fellowship with the Smiths.

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Posing with a cement snake.

On the ferry headed to Zanzibar.

At the Butterfly conservatory.

Learning about the slave trade. Zanzibar was the hub of the East African slave market till 1909 when it was finally totally abolished.

Seeing where our common spices come from is so fascinating.

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Fun times with the Smith family.

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Shark kabobs anyone? What about fried octopus?

We ferried back to Dar on Wednesday expecting to pick up Dave, Jean, and Hannah Brenneman, and Heather Nolt at the airport the next morning. But alas, the day before we found out Tanzania is not allowing visitors unless they hold a negative covid-19 test report. They were not allowed on the flight. So we are currently waiting and are thanking God all their tests came back negative and they are arriving tomorrow morning.

During the three waiting days we were incredibly blessed to find a small guest house set up for traveling missionary families. It is equipped with bikes, legos, games, swings, and picnic tables. Shelves of books and hot showers. A washer and soft beds. We went grocery shopping and have been able to cook our own meals. Tim and I found some incredible books on the shelves which has evoked lots of deep heart communication about marriage and life. So it seems our three days of waiting turned into a blessing that we were not expecting!

Being in the city gives us opportunities to show the children some real supermarkets and restaurants. A few days ago we took them to Subway. I was totally enamored with the clean, fresh decor and atmosphere. (Is America actually like this?)The children stared at the food and had no idea what to do. We explained to the boys that they can choose what they want and the waiters will prepare their sandwiches. We had to explain it twice while they stood there totally unable to function in such a different environment. The waiters were laughing…and we explained it again. “Oh. You mean we get to choose what we want on our sandwiches from all this stuff?”  I’m afraid we will have many more such moments with all manner of things next year in the states as they adjust.  Yes, they are competent in the Swahili language and culture, not knowing that a part of them lies dormant…too dormant and will have to be unearthed. We will all feel clumsy in more ways then ordering Subway sandwiches.

And now tomorrow we will head west again in our gray yam. To the dusty Southern Highlands and home. We will be able to start school, as our school books are winging their way across the ocean at the moment. Yea!!

Pamosi Gardens

One day Tim said he found a lovely little garden tucked away in our neighborhood and he wanted to take us there for an evening. They serve french fries and fried pork and we could all have supper there.  And perhaps enjoy a few green bushes and trees as our neighborhood is quite bereft of green these days.

It was a fun outing, altho the electricity was out and so they couldn’t make french fries… so we decided to make use of the bits of green here and there and take family pictures. I guess it didn’t matter that we weren’t dressed up and everyone was tired. =)  It was the diversion we needed.

So here’s a few of them…

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June Gifts…

As June kicks up its dusty heels one last time, I realize I need a change of perspective. I have been tempted to think that it seems time for some showers of blessings after a year of difficulty upon difficulty. Just thinking about them makes me cringe. Its like the screech of a broken record, something I want to forget and move on into a more glorious world where all dreams come true.

Perhaps God smiled. Or perhaps it pained His heart to see my lack of understanding of His ways. Either way, it might finally be sinking in that this is what I should be expecting in this fight between good and evil. I read 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 and realize even Paul had to come to that place. After listing all the beatings and stonings, shipwrecks and dangers, the daily pressure and anxiety he had for the churches, he writes, But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” v 9-10 ESV

I’ve been chewing on this all week. Can I really be CONTENT with weakness so the power of Christ can rest on me?

So today it’s time to grasp ahold of the goodness of God. It’s time to notice the beauty under my little patch of sky.

Here are a few beautiful things and people I captured in June.

A lemon blossom, blooming in a dry scraggly tree.  And the flowers we bought, thinking they might do better with the intense sun on the front porch. And indeed, they are thriving.

The blooming aloe vera. And tiny daughter having a tea party.

Kasia on the monkey bars in Kiwira. And growing sons with the rabbit cage they just finished. The unique design is for collecting rabbit urine, which is to be sold for fertilizer. (yes, really) The first occupants are two guinea pigs, who are currently experiencing culture shock.

Two precious daughters. In the topsy turvy, busy melee of raising children, it’s nice to have an epic moment here and there. They also got the stomach flu this week, but I’ll spare you those pictures.

Kasia in training. I am fascinated how a toddler so quickly learns language and culture. I had to work so much harder for things that she takes for granted.  June is also birthday month for us, so here we’re celebrating two of the children’s birthdays with barbecued chicken and donuts.

We had an impromptu retreat with the Smith family and Jason K coming from Zanzibar and those of us here in Mbeya and Kiwira. These boys are all growing into men!  We were also able to go to Tunduma to visit Gladi and her mom. It was precious to be able to connect with my chocolate child again.

Kasia meets a guinea pig and the Mbeya and Kiwira girls enjoy a day together.

And then I realize that we have in fact, had many showers of blessings. So often I just don’t notice them at the time when other things are clamoring and the evil of this world seems more dominant than goodness. God help me to take on His perspective and gratefully take the gifts He gives us. In the end, everything is an undeserved gift. Yes, even the things I shrink from if they grow Paul’s contentment in my heart.

“Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all His praise?” Psalm 106:2

 

May family notes..

My May installment is late in coming, as life gallops full speed and I have little time to write or to enjoy the quiet moments my introverted soul craves. But, I remind myself, living life is better than writing about it. (really?)

The skies are an incessant blue every day. The morning temps drop to 45 degrees as winter in the Southern Highlands creeps in. The grass is turning brown and the garden is sad and empty. The marigolds are dropping their seeds and the flowers we want to keep alive need to be watered every day. Dust billows from the road and mini whirlwinds whip trash and dust into the air.

Hello dry season.

And no, I don’t like dry season. Something inside of me seems to shrivel along with the grass and my clean loving soul loathes the dust, the painful cracks on the children’s heels, and the lack of green growing things. But I’ve been challenged this year to find things to appreciate about this season. Sunshine–all we might need or want. And the simple promise from God that “while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

The war of seasons–and dry season coming out on the winning side– is a sign of the faithfulness of God. None of us would thrive if everything always stayed the same. If it constantly rained we’d forget the value of it and miss the joy of the first rain. This is how God designed His world…a season of rest and a season of growth.

I wonder if that is what God has in mind when He takes me through lonely, barren places? When my heart feels raw with disappointment and pain. Of course, I would always choose the fruitful times when things are prospering and all my dreams come true. But perhaps it takes both seasons to bring my soul to maturity.

And when the labor seems hard without a whole lot of fruit, I need to remember the promise: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9

This is a reminder to me to keep dropping the seeds of love, compassion, and truth to the people around me. When the rain of God’s spirit falls on these hearts, some of them will sprout. It is not for me to decide on the “due season” of reaping. My responsibility is to plant the seeds.

I’m sure a lot of seeds are being planted every day in these young lives, but I don’t always notice in the hustle and bustle of family life. I do know that they are growing in every way and laughter is my close companion these days as I watch my sons grow into teens. The personalities, the opinions, the expressions…ah, I love it.

The younger children’s school books are done for the year and we don’t know when we can get our CLE order sent across the ocean. Covid-19 closed the postal service between the continents and DHL costs hundreds of dollars. So we’re waiting till air travel resumes and hopefully, we’ll get a few visitors who can bring our boxes of books. Judson is still finishing 9th grade, but on the side and part of his woodworking class, he built a table. He was quite pleased with the results. All the boys on the compound also built a playhouse for the girls, with help from the dads, and are in the middle of building a large rabbit cage. Which will aid Pastor Korosso’s second attempt at raising rabbits to sell. We hope Queenie won’t eat them all this time if we have a solid housing system.

Amy bakes cookies, helps with dishes and cleaning, and plays endless hours with Karissa, who lives right next door. We made a big batch of salsa to can. And so somehow we keep busy even without schoolwork.

Jeshua started a Bible stand at the duka next door. He spends about 3 hours a day sitting in the sunshine giving any interested passerby a tract, advertising the Lamp and Light Bible courses, and helping people fill out applications. He’s sold some songbooks and Bible covers and it was a happy day for him when he sold his first Bible. He gets himself in a lot of people’s lives.  His group of boys has been faithfully coming to prayer meetings and church services. It makes for a lot of ups and downs, disappointments, and high times for an 11-year-old boy as he tries to reach out. My mother heart hurts when someone mistreats or disappoints him…but in the end, I think it’s making a man out of h

Amy, Karissa, and the Kiwira girls love the new playhouse.

We don’t know what is going on in the country with Covid-19 as the government hasn’t released any information since the end of April. So life goes on as normal, most people have stopped wearing masks, and we hear reports around town of a lot of sick people. Here are the ladies of Mbeya and Kiwira enjoying a (very rare) shopping spree.  We have 16 children–the three of us moms–and all getting away at the same time rarely happens! And yes, we had a lot of fun.

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Here’s 13 of the children waiting for an outdoor church service.

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And here’s my littlest one, who keeps my days full of sparkle and smiles. She’s helping herself to leftover rice. “I yike rice a beans.”  Yes, child, I know. She is happiest with her simple Tanzanian food: rice and beans and millet porridge.

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

April family notes..

April. The month of dying pea vines, ripe carrots and squash, and the familiar chill of early fall. The skies are gloriously blue, except for the few remaining torrential rains. The dry, cold season is coming. After a rainy season with more rain than usual, we’re glad to see the sun. We had a major cleaning project in Tim’s office as unbeknownst to us the rain spouting behind the office had a crack in it and before we knew it the wall, floor, and bookshelf were saturated and moldy. It’s also the season for rats, it seems. They invaded storage totes and delighted in disturbing our early morning hours by their fights up in the ceiling of our bedroom. The rat who kept randomly running through the house at odd hours was finally caught and killed. But only after a lot of screaming by the lady folks and whoops and hollers from the men. And a torn-apart kitchen. Thanks to poison our nights are more peaceful again.

We’ve had a lot of varied experiences this month, most of them unexpected or spur of the moment. Amy was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis. Definitely not a pleasant experience for her but she bounced back incredibly fast and is now good as new. In the flurry of getting ready for the hospital, I remembered the pillow and blanket and Tim remembered the kanga and dishi, so we were better equipped then our previous hospital stays. It was so sad to see her hurt and the first night was rough. She couldn’t sleep unless she just had a round of pain meds. The bright lights, the TV, the crying babies all attributed to a nearly sleepless night. But her surgeon was excellent and even though it was Easter weekend we were able to get help before her appendix burst. We were home within 24 hours and so incredibly grateful for God’s blessings of protection…and home.

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Amy’s hospital stay was on the same day as Kasia’s 2nd birthday, so this picture is the only one we have of her actual birthday. Wild hair and boisterous delight over her pancakes, mangoes, and yogurt.

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According to what we’re hearing, Covid-19 is now in Mbeya town. So this is how we do street witnessing. We all have varied opinions on wearing masks. Some of us do it gladly, others of us loathe it. I’d rather sew them and see others wear them…

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A few days ago, Tim accompanied Jeshua the last few feet to the top of his tree. The rest of us watched from the house with binoculars..till I couldn’t watch anymore and nervously busied myself with something else. Ironically it was the same day he finished 6th grade. Two mountains conquered in one day! The crow’s nest at the top was empty, so he’s planning on keeping his ladder intact for a few months to keep an eye on the crows. I’m only too thankful to have his feet on the ground for the next few weeks, at least.

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Our children’s visas ran out this month. We could not exit the country because of Covid-19 so we traveled down to the border to verify a 30 day extension that the government issued on any expiring visas. It went smoothly, but one month is a short time, so once again we’re wondering what to do and hoping the travel bans will be lifted by the time we need to exit.

While we were down close to Lake Nyasa, we decided to stop at Matema for a few days of family time. It was lovely. The mountains, the beautiful lake, and the children’s endless delight at riding the waves were a refreshing change.

We all went on a dugout canoe ride to visit one of the villages tucked between the Livingstone mountains and the lake, the village where most of the pottery is made for this part of Tanzania. A dugout ride is unique in that it feels very tipsy, but unlike a normal canoe, they are almost impossible to turn over and quite safe.

And then, we did celebrate Kasia’s birthday. A whole two years of delight with this child.

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Justin and Esther Hochstetler and their four children moved to Mbeya a few weeks ago and are now living in the other apartment in the compound here. Our kitchen doors are only a few feet apart and we smell each other’s cooking, they hear Kasia’s tantrums and we hear their baby cry. Our children play together for endless hours. And we’re grateful for friends and fellowship. The journey is always sweeter when we can do it together.