Tim writes…

Please pray for emotional healing and strength for those of us who were in Ivuna last night and the local people connected to us who are still there. We faced hours and hours of some very strong, irrational, opposition to us brought on by a temporary army sergeant who had the task of evicting us and the two new missionary families who were placed in our house there.  All of this was while we were doing our best to please and obey orders, although on hindsight I failed to meet some unspoken expectations which was partly responsible for the verbal abuse and threats.

~Pray that threats would not be carried out. Particularly the threats to evict and occupy Noel’s house in addition to ours, and chase everyone out of the Ivuna area who has any connection to us.

~Pray that God would stir zeal and purifying in the hearts of the local believers in a way which brings forth much fruit for the Kingdom and in the local congregation. We shed many tears and fervent prayers together as we said our goodbyes at 10:30pm and started our long journey back to Mbeya.

~Pray for freedom and wisdom to effectively facilitate two new projects in the valley which are prospering: A handful of new SALT groups where Kingdom Christianity is being taught, and the water project. We were able to complete one SALT meeting yesterday, but did not feel free to continue with meeting the four other new groups as was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

~And do praise God with us! We are confident God in His grace and care. It is no mistake:

1. That He allowed major milestones in both our new residence permit AND Charitable Organization Certificate just prior to this episode.

2. That God is working good deep things in our hearts and in the believers there in Ivuna. It is amazing how God uses difficulties. He turns even anger and injustice like this into opportunities to heap coals of fire, strengthening our faith and the faith of those looking on.

3. That this morning God spoke directly to our situation as he brought me Psalm 94 in my daily Bible reading schedule:

When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord , held me up.  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.  Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?  They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.  But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

Psalms 94:18‭-‬22

“Grace is but glory begun and glory is but grace perfected.” ~Jonathon Edwards

The glory of grace in our souls during a trial is but a tiny foretaste of the glory waiting to be revealed. Be of good courage, heaven is coming!

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more loss in Ivuna…

Yesterday we found out that the local army in Ivuna is taking over our compound for three months of training. The new missionaries who had just moved in last week were given two days to get out. We know this is a powerful stroke of the enemy against these faithful kingdom workers. Tim and Korosso had a lot of communication with the village leaders, but at this point there’s nothing we can do, and once in the government’s hands we have no idea if we’ll get it back.

The raw reality of our house and compound being used for army training rather then for the furtherance of the kingdom is breaking our hearts.  I envision drinking and prostitution. In that house that couldn’t be ours anymore, but we yearned for it to be used to push forward God’s work in that village. We feel the intense warfare and can do  nothing but give our grief and loss to our kind Heavenly Father once again, and plead that even in this His purposes would be realized.

God can turn things around for good.  Patrick and Shadrack and thier families are now moving into the other compound, which hasn’t been sold yet and will be living with Mangola and Sophia and their six children. That will mean a lot of people in one compound but it also means a lot of daily fellowship and discipleship for these new believers and that is exciting!

So today I’m alone, while Tim is there facing the difficulties, moving furniture out of our house and doing hard meetings.  I smile at the sun, soaking in it’s comfort. I water the flowers, thrilled by the splash of color that just a bit of water can produce in the middle of the dry season. I plant succulents in a charming little basket and kiss my babies toes. These things that God has given to me are precious. The losses are His and as Elisabeth Elliot said, “the more I perceive God’s purpose for my life, the less terrible the losses seem.”  God is still a good, unchanging God in this world of sin and injustice. And my soul clings to Him as my only Help, grateful for the losses as they continually lure my heart towards heaven and in that one thing I can be thankful. And that one thing is all I need.

 

 

 

…and more about travels

We just arrived home from a 3,000 kilometer trip. We only touched a few corners of Tanzania, but we got a taste of how big this country really is. Our first stop was Dodoma, which is now the new capital. We visited the Deeper Life church there, did some paperwork, and toured a few interesting places. After traveling another day and a half we reached Ngara, perched on top of a mountain and very much feeling like the edge of the world, I mean, the edge of Tanzania. And that it is. The mountains and the rocky red soil gave this town a totally different feel from Mbeya.

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The children and I had a week with the Ngara ladies and children, while most of the men traveled to Uganda.

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From there we headed south, choosing the less traveled dirt roads. We visited the town of Ujiji where Stanley met David Livingstone. The mango tree in the background was grown from a slip of the original tree that David Livingstone was sitting under when Stanley found him.

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Tim was pleased to be able to meet with a refugee from the Nyagurusu refugee camp who had contacted us last year about the Bible courses.  The camp is closed to visitors but he was able to get permission to exit the camp and meet with us in the small town nearby.

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And of course, the lake! The first time we were at Lake Tanganyika. The children seemingly can’t enjoy water without getting into it. Which I can’t relate to. I’d much rather sit calmly by the water and meditate, but for some reason my wild adventurous children never sit contentedly beside me. =) So I let them swim even if I hadn’t packed any swim clothes. Wildly and gleefully.  And beings we weren’t done traveling for the day yet Tim had to pay for a room in a guest house so they could all change and clean up… just sometimes parents make impractical decisions!

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Beings we chose the more remote route, we drove hundreds of kilometers on dirt road and thru lots of bush and uninhabited areas. Or so it seemed… this was a restaurant somewhere in the bush, so I’m sure there was a village close by somewhere. And we were very grateful for the boiled eggs, chapati, and chai! It was definitely the scenic, adventurous route. Narrow dirt roads up into mountains and down into valleys and around too many curves to count. Thankfully the roads were relatively smooth and didn’t make travel too difficult, till we came to two big trucks which were stuck and recovering from an accident, totally filling the road. It was uphill, around a curve and at a very narrow place in the road. Visions of sitting there for hours waiting for them to be moved wasn’t very pleasant. Dust, that awful red stuff, lay like snow on the road. The only possible way out was moving lots of big rocks out of the ditch… thankfully, a large group of men stood around trying to help the situation and they pitched in and helped Tim shove rocks out of the way and then pushed us thru the precariously narrow tipsy space. I’m sure I grew a few more gray hairs in the process but we made it thru!

We also drove thru Katavi National Park, but beings we were only staying on the main road and didn’t pay entrance fees, we couldn’t take pictures. It was a nice diversion although it’s dry season and our spirits weren’t necessarily inspired by miles of ugly scrub brush and weary trees. And the Tsetse flies!! They were horrible..swarming around the car trying to get in and diving in the doors and windows as soon as they had a chance. But then we reached the river… where mounds of hippopotamus (approx 60 of them!), crocodiles, and lovely birds enjoyed the lazy river and the surrounding green. An ugly wart hog scampered across the road and mischievous monkeys stared at us from the trees. I would have loved to see the park in rainy season!

We were privileged to visit the village of Namansi for the weekend, accompanying Pastor Alistidy, who is planting a church there. Namansi is situated on a peninsula of Lake Tanganyika, with some of the houses nearly smaller then the rocks dotting the shoreline. The setting was fascinating with the village clinging to a rocky hillside overlooking the vast beauty of the lake. The grass roofed houses, fishing men going out on the lake with thier wooden boats, women dipping water from the lake, while droves of children splashed and swam like schools of fish. The picture below is what happened when our children went swimming…or did anything else aside from sit in the house. Even the church services were hijacked with a few hundred unruly children, fascinated with their first interaction with white children.

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Donkeys brayed in the the early morning, competing with the roosters and the gentle sound of the waves washing ashore.

Mama Laxson, our main contact in this village, walked for an hour from her house to come help cook for us. Which they did with such lovely tanzanian hospitality… Fish, greens, cassava, ugali, chicken and rice.  It was a very good experience for the children as supper came hours after they first complained of being hungry and had fallen asleep on the hard mat they shared. Sibling relationships tested to the inth degree when they’re all lined up on the mat, with only one blanket and that blanket was too short for all of them. =) I smiled as I knew they would remember and smile too eventually, even tho they didn’t think it was funny at the moment.

We were also able to stop and visit our precious Gladi and her mom and siblings. Mama Lei said she has no peace or victory over sin…how we pray she will again turn to the Lord without any reservations.

and now we’re home, grateful and blessed. The boys were delighted with their soft beds and I’m having fun cooking again. In the end home is the very best place to be!

Of permits and travels…

After months of planning to leave Tanzania due to our resident permit being refused, we were quite surprised when our work permit unexpectedly appeared on the approved list online. By that time we had kinda accustomed ourselves to the unexpected and the many disappointments and it seemed the inevitable was our moving out in October. Tim had already planned a trip to Uganda in order to reenter Tanzania and buy another 3 month business visa (his last possible one).  He kept the plans to travel to Uganda as even thought the first permit was thru, we also needed the resident permit. But two days before we traveled to Uganda the resident permit was also approved and he was able to reenter Tanzania with the receipt of the new resident permit!  It truly feels like a miracle.

And against normal procedure they issued it for two years starting from the issue date, not from the date of our last permit’s expiration. So we have two full years and just knowing that this can still be home for the next two years feels amazing!

We don’t feel a lot of elation or excitement, but just a quiet peace in knowing that this is where God wants us.  And our prayer is that not a day here would be wasted but that God would be able to use us in the precise ways that He wishes, with the people He brings our way, and in the work He’s given us to do.

Two more years is a long time for our children, as by 2021 it will have been over four years since they’ve seen grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, or had interaction with our church. We’re grateful for the ones who came and visited and we’re hoping for more in the next few years!  We’re sensitive to the fact that they face unique challenges with being bi-cultural and bi-lingual and yet needing a solid identity, but at this point they’re happy here and are happy to be able to stay.

And so are we.

“I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize that He is able to carry out His will for me. It does not matter where He places me, or how. That is for Him to consider, not me, for in the easiest positions He will give me grace, and in the most difficult ones His grace is sufficient.”  ~J. Hudson Taylor

the adventures of Jeshua David

My journal entries of this last week are almost exclusively about Jeshua, so I decided to allow others to enjoy a peek into the drama of beings this boy’s mother.

School is done for the term, you know. And no child’s eyes have ever shown brighter at the thought of having two months vacation from books. He literally danced and whooped with delight. It was a hard year for him and his teacher and we’re both sighing with relief that fifth grade is over and we can both hope for a better term next year.

His immediate passion after the last math test was done and the last creative writing was stowed into the folder, was BIRDS.  He’s been building every imaginable version of bird trap that he finds inspiration for, buying fish to attract them, climbing to the top of the brick wall to set his traps, and talking about all his aspirations of catching birds. Unfortunately his traps failed, every one of them. And my compassionate heart would have helped him if I had any idea on what to do, or how to build traps that actually catch birds. He asked every person around for advice and went from emotional highs to emotional lows by the hour. Eyes shining with renewed hope, “Kevin told me the sticky traps for rats work to catch birds.”

(horrors) In my mind’s eye I see one of my beautiful yellow friends stuck to a sticky trap. What could be worse?

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Jeshua.”

He built box traps and string traps. He set them in the bushes beside yonder path and came in deflated and sad as the neighbors thought he was doing witchcraft. And so he kept quiet about the bird bones he found on top of a brick wall and strung them on string. He only shows his treasure to the people who know him well enough to know that he’s not a witch doctor.

Depressed, after talking to yet another neighbor, he informs me that he learned that our president doesn’t want anyone catching birds. (Tanzania is home to over 1,000 different species of birds and that piece of info, although questionable, wouldn’t be surprising)

He takes his sling shot out and roams the neighborhood, trying to stalk birds. And the neighbors yell at him, all saying they don’t want boys with sling shots around as there’s too many houses with glass windows.

Trying to encourage him, I try to ignite an interest in bird watching and starting a life list. “That’s something you can do no matter where you are, and no one will be shouting at you or getting wrong ideas.”

Suddenly all he could think of was an early morning excursion to watch for birds. “Oh Mom! I need a bird book! Could you please make us some egg sandwiches tonight so we can leave early in the morning? Oh Mom! There’s so much dew on the grass I need a pair of boots! And Mom…could you take that broken camera into town sometime to see if they can repair it? I NEED a camera!

(And no….my brain never feels tired)

But I fried eggs and made sandwiches at 9:00 at night. I googled for an East African bird book and bought one. And all is well.

Just maybe all 1,000 species of birds in Tanzania will flock to our compound now that the sinister traps, reports of sticky traps, flying rocks and sling shots are given up on.

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The Winch

The boys are always eager for adventure and as our compound is not usually a highly adventurous place, seem to be able to find some and turn an ordinary day into highly charged excitement quite easily.  Last week it came by noticing an innocent little winch sitting in the shop and with some jimmy rigging and dragging an unused battery from Samuel’s shop, they soon had it working. One of them sat in a cardboard box connected to the winch and kumbe, it pulled him across the porch! What fun. But definitely not fun enough. Their next try was building a wooden seat and winching themselves up into the avocado tree.

“The hard part is getting that car battery up in the tree,” says Jeshua.

My eyes widen slightly at the thought of that huge battery sitting precariously on a little platform, so we encouraged them to find an alternative route.  Jeshua informs us that, “the winch can pull one ton, so that means it can pull any adult.”

I hide my silent mirth. Boys. There’s nothing more fun in the whole wide world.

And they did it. Whenever I hear the whine of the winch, I smile. My boys growing themselves up with discovery and adventure. These are the best years, as I will know all too well the day I find my nest empty.

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The Accident

And yes, if an accident was going to happen I certainly thought it would have happened by Jeshua falling off the high brick wall while setting bird traps, or while taking rides up into the avocado tree. But it happened while dutifully doing his chores on Wednesday evening. He was hauling water to the front lawn to water the strawberries, waiting for the bucket to fill, and absentmindedly grabbed the clothes line strung between the porch posts.  Completely forgetting the rule of ‘no hanging on clothes lines’ his boyish energy took over and he swung himself out as if he was imagining a swing on a tall tree. The string immediately broke and he crashed down his head hitting the edge of the cement porch.

He lay totally still. A massive lump as large as an orange forming on the back of his head. Thankfully, his daddy was standing in the lawn and saw it happen. I came on the scene with Jeshua just coming to, groaning and moaning. He spent that first evening throwing up and groaning, with us anxiously getting advice from various doctors and friends. We took him in to the hospital but no doctor able to do a CT scan was on call, so we brought him home again.

That was four days ago. He’s been flat in bed ever since in a dark, quiet room, trying to heal from a concussion. His headaches were intense and he lived on pain meds for the first few days, he slept most of the time and ate nearly nothing.

Today he got up and sat at the table for a few minutes and walked outside for a bit. His headaches are a lot less severe so it seems he’s healing well. We miss our Jeshua and somehow the whole house seems quiet without him around. We’re delighted when his wry sense of humor comes out, assuring us that he’ll be okay.

Hopefully in a few days he’ll be climbing walls and trees again. And I think he will probably never again hang on a clothes line. =)

~the end of the adventures of Jeshua David  (to be continued at a later date)

Of joy and blessing…

We had the privilege of hosting Patrick and Shadrack and their wives for a week. They spent most of their time studying thru two Lamp and Light courses, “A Faith Worth Dying For” and “In Step With the Prince of Peace.” As Pastor Korosso and Tim taught the sessions every day they had many opportunities to answer questions and have discussions about important Bible principals and doctrines. These men are young in the faith but so full of desire and passion for God.  It was truly a blessing to share a week together, times of serious discussion and times of laughter and friendship. It made for a very busy week, Tim with teaching and Ikupa and I keeping everyone fed. We cooked many large pots of food!  I was so thankful for dear Ikupa’s faithful help.

On Sunday the Simike and Kiwira peoples all gathered at our house for communion services and a send off service. It’s hard to describe with mere words the joy and love of precious brothers and sisters sitting together humbly confessing needs and rejoicing in the finished work of Calvary.  Varying skin colors mingling together in one bond of love.

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Praying with the Ivuna missionaries

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After the communion service us ladies gathered inside for a foot washing service. It was new to most of these ladies, but we had such sweet time together.  When Jesus washed his disciples feet, he was showing us a picture of humble service, where no one is greater or lesser then the other.  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater then his master, nor is a messenger greater then the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

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We have a neighbor lady who runs a small restaurant and she is delighted for the added business of cooking for us when we have big groups on a Sunday.  I have no cooking pots big enough for a crowd and my rice cooking abilities haven’t stretched to this proportion yet. =)  She brings huge pots of rice, beans, greens, and beef for a very affordable price. And everyone is happy and full.

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from left to right: Kahabi and Mama Enoki (Simike), Shadrack and Prisca (Namanyere), Tim and I, Pastor Korosso and Mama Ima (Simike), Patrick and Anna (Namanyere), Warren and Kim (Kiwira)

And now it’s a week later.  We said our goodbyes to the Namanyere people on Friday, as they bused home to pack for their move to Ivuna.  Once again the guest house feels empty, but our hearts are full. Thank you God.

 

 

 

Namanyere and other joys

We lady folk were invited to the town of Namanyere to attend a women’s conference. I don’t usually leave my husband and children for five days, but this time Tim really wanted me to go. I took Kasia of course, and Amy as in her opinion she wasn’t sure she would survive as the only female in the house for five days!  She might have been able to help keep them fed, but beings she’s only 8, I opted to take her along. We traveled 8 hours by bus, a rather rattly description of a bus it was, but we made it.

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We stayed at the pastor’s house and walked the mile back and forth every morning and evening.  The schedule was full of wonderful teaching and preaching by Deeper Life pastor’s wives, (and a few sessions by Beka, Trudy and I) discussion times, sharing times…and resting times as we waited for the food to be cooked. None of the dear ladies wanted to miss the sessions in order to cook, so we sat and visited while they cooked and stewed over massive fires and pots.

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Ugali waiting to be served.

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Meeting a wee little chocolate cherub. There’s nothing cuter!

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Enjoying our rice and beans with so many sweet ladies and children. IMG_4091

Amy helping the other girls wash piles of dirty dishes

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Kasia and I, with beloved Ikupa and a new friend we met at the conference. Mama Laxson is the only Christian woman in her village. She said goodbye to everyone on the last evening with tears streaming down her cheeks, so grateful for Christian fellowship and friendship.

Even though we had a lovely time, five days is long enough to be gone from my hubby and sons. They were feeling rather hungry by that time and grateful for someone to cook for them again. =)  We’ve had a busy few weeks finishing up school and end of term things… another school term is behind us. All of the children are delighted with the prospect of having a few months off, and scamper outside as soon as they can in the morning. We’re keeping some summer things going, like math flash cards, creative writing etc.  Just enough to give us a bit of time together every morning. Without that I start missing my children and the daily interaction of the school room.

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Chips and chicken kabobs to celebrate the end of the school term

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Judson was part of the Art and Craft fair this year again. The turnout wasn’t nearly as good as last year and he was disappointed at the lack of sales. His expectations had been really high!  He took it like a man and packed his paintings away to try again at sales another day.

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Having a special outing at Maua Café.

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And evening supper outing with Beka and Trudy. Only a few more weeks and we’ll be saying goodbye to them as well.  They waited a year and a half to see if Ivuna would open up again, meanwhile keeping busy with helping in Kiwira and holding health and Bible classes in many parts of Mbeya town.  Now it’s time for their furlough, and they’re heading back to the states with a one way ticket. It’s been nearly 7 years of working with these dear girls!

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Here’s the tiniest person in the household. The tiniest person with the biggest opinions! She is putting all our child training knowledge to the test and making us scramble for more. Her traumatic entry into the world indeed mirrors her rocky personality, but she’s also so extremely sweet and teachable. She sleeps thru the night now and often has her morning porridge before demanding a morning feeding. And for the last four meal times she hasn’t thrown a screaming tantrum when it was time to hold hands and pray, but rather obediently held our hands and put her head down. Whew, what a break through!

She surprises us daily with how much she understands. She loves to do the Swahili greeting of placing her hand on an adults head and greeting ‘Shikamoo’, but so far she only says the adult’s response, “baa” (marahaba).  She imitates many words and once again we’re experiencing the wonder of watching a child learn how to express herself. It’s so much fun!  She’s decided to be a late walker like most of the rest of the children, but I’m really looking forward to when she decides to walk as the cement floors are so cold.

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The cold dry season is here. Constantly blue sunny skies and  chilly mornings. The temps drop to 42 degrees almost every night which feels really cold in an unheated cement house. The dust is starting to swirl on the road and the months of waiting for rain have begun. The garden has been put to sleep, but we’re keeping the strawberries, a few patches of grass, and a few flowers alive by watering them.

Work and ministry related things have been a kaleidoscope of different things. Tim has been busy with office work a lot, especially with all the difficulties in getting work permits etc. which has taken endless hours of work.  He does the mission financial records and works with the two translators he has employed, plus oversees the print shop. Every week there’s instruction class for three new believers, *Samweli, Jeshua, and *Mama Vanessa who are wanting to be baptized. There’s also a young men’s discipleship class with *Bazi, *Kevin, Samweli, Judson, and Jeshua. Sometimes Tim joins the SALT group that meets here every week and is mostly a very busy man.

*Mama Vanessa is a young neighbor lady who started coming to church here a few months ago and started opening up about her life. She has a long difficult history, but amazingly is still living with her husband. He is abusive and seemingly has demonic forces at work in his life, giving her a lot of grief. She came to the end of herself the week all her money she needed to buy vegetables to sell was stolen.  She came one morning intent on making her peace with God and after giving us her painful life story, knelt on the floor and cried and prayed, confessing her sins and asking Jesus to be Lord of her life. She is a truly transformed person. There is no greater joy!  She is currently very busy with working at a rice hulling mill in town, so I don’t see her much. Pray that she could stay faithful and be a shining testimony to her family.

*Bazi is the Ivuna chief’s son and is currently living here in town while going to high school. He is a sincere Christian, valiantly fighting the battles of youth. He helps with preaching at the Kiwira church services and also here in Isyesye.

*Kevin is not from Ivuna, although it seems like he is as he went to school there for four years and that is where the Ornelas’ got to know him and where he gave his life to Jesus. He is currently living here in Isyesye and is employed in the print shop and training to take care of the Maji ya Uzima students (Lamp and Light Bible courses)

As many of you know, we’ve had very unstable status here in the country. We had been planning to renew Tim’s 3 month business visa for the last possible time and then leave for Kenya in October….when randomly one morning Tim checked our work permit status online. It had once again been deferred a few weeks ago.  To our surprise it was now in the ACCEPTED list. We very reservedly rejoiced. Mwaweza, one of the translators, traveled up to Dodoma to pick up the permit and we didn’t really believe it was real till he called and said he has it in hand.

So the deep down feeling that God still wants us here was actually something real…and not just our whims and desires?

The next step is applying for the actual resident permit, which usually is immediately approved based on the approved work permit. But things have changed and Tim worked for quite a few days to iron out gliches and new procedures.  Currently all the paperwork and the application is submitted and we wait the outcome.  The last year has had so many inconsistent ups and downs, kind of like bobbing on the waves of a restless shore line, that we’ve learned to let go and smile at whatever outcome. It’s amazing to see God work things out….after going thru so many impossibilities. If we actually get our resident permit we will have no question whatsoever that God wants us here still.

We do hope for the permission to sleep here, beings we now have the permission to work here! =)

And now it’s time to make hamburgers and apple pie for Judson’s 13th birthday!

Blessings to all of you!  We love you and thank God for our dear church and family so far away!