Butterfly Sparks Designs

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Africa: Wednesday

On Wednesday, we spent some time in the morning with the boys, and then David, Hilario, Shawn, and Jason took them to a nearby soccer field to play. While they were gone, Sarah, Lauren, Ian, Alexis, Joanna and I (with Shawn and Jason joining us later) had a time of prayer. We prayed specifically that the boys would not merely see Masana as a place to receive food and teaching, but that they would understand that Masana is only able to provide that to them because of God's faithfulness and provision -- that God loves each and every one of them to provide those things for them. Then we went around and we each shared a specific boy whom God had laid on our heart this week, praying for each boy by name. We closed by praying for the health and protection of each housemate and staff member, and we also lifted up the retreat this weekend.

After that, the boys returned and we spent time with them. Joanna, Shawn and I went to a local Mozambiquan street market with Alexis. All I can say is "whoa". It is impossible to describe it in words -- something you have to experience to understand. More on that later.

After returning from the market, we spent more time with the boys, where Manual and Chico proceeded to "do my hair". I sat on the ground while Manual "styled" my bangs and Chico pulled my hair back into a ponytail twist. They kept saying "bonita, bonita" (pretty, pretty), and even with all of the uneven and loose hair, I thought it was beautiful, too, so I kept it that way for the afternoon. =) Unfortunately, we were all busy with the kids, so no pictures were taken!

Joanna knows Spanish, so she is able to communicate pretty well with the boys (the language spoken here is Portugese), so they love trying to talk wiht her. And seeing Shawn interact with the boys is just sweet. We knew Shawn's heart would be moved and it certainly has been. This place will mess you up, but in a really, really good way.

After the boys went to their classrooms, Shawn, Jason and I hung out and talked for a while until the boys returned for church. They sang praise songs (I will never tire of listening to those boys sing and "drum" on the table while lifting praises to God). Then, Shawn taught them about faithfulness from the Book of Daniel. It was so great!

Shawn told them the story of the three men in the fire, and how even though they could have avoided being thrown in the fire by worshiping another God, they were faithful to God and to each other. They loved hearing the story, and we loved how Shawn tied in the message of being faithful to each other. The boys will often steal from each other, so this is an especially applicable lesson for them.

After the boys left, Joanna and I spent time with Mama Julie learning how to make begias (I have no idea if I am spelling that right). I can't wait to get home to make them. It was great spending time with Mama Julia -- she is wonderful. We also got to meet some missionary friends of Sarah's (from Texas) who are loaning us their van to transport the staff and families of staff to the retreat this weekend.

Then, after a little bit of downtime, Lauren, Sarah, Claire (a lovely friend of theirs), Joanna, Paito, Tilfu, and Felix (the boys who live here), Joanna, Jason, Shawn, and I spent time on the rooftop having tea and talking, while eating some of the best cookies ever made. =) Also, Paito told us his story of how he came to Masana. He is a beautiful boy who is ALWAYS smiling. I was honored that he felt comfortable to tell his story. What a wonderful boy.

Then, it was a dinner time with everyone, which is always fun. We had fun eating and telling stories. Paito, Tilfu, and Felix are so gracious and serve so sweetly at dinner time.

And then, bed. We were all pretty tired last night. What a great day. Ready for tomorrow! =)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Africa: Tuesday

It's bedtime in Maputo. What an amazing day. We woke up to the sound of laughs and giggles from the boys outside of the windows. I'm not sure that there is any better way to be woken up!

We spent time with the boys this morning while they washed their clothes and prepared for breakfast. After breakfast (Mama Julia is amazing), Sarah took Shawn, Joanna, Jason and I to the village where Juma and his family live while the boys had their school lessons. It was our first trip through Maputo in the daytime, and we were able to see the condition of the city. After a long and bumpy ride, we found our way to Juma's house, where he, his great grandmother, grandmother, and little brother and sister live. Sitting under a shade tree in the front of their house (which I'm guessing is about 12 x 10 feet and just tall enough to stand in) was Juma's great grandmother.
Juma's House
Juma's great grandmother, Luis, and silly Sarah

Juma's grandmother and great grandmother spoke a great deal about Juma's progress since returning from Masana several months ago. He returned to school, under the impression that he was at a third grade level. However, after only a couple of weeks, it was clear that he is at a fourth grade level, so he was promoted. Juma's grandmother and great grandmother said that Juma came back from Masana a different boy. That he is respectful, goes to church, and is disciplined at school. We saw a picture today of why Masana exists...of what God can do through us as we serve and invest in others.

There are so many things I am longing to share about our trip to Juma's house today. I am still trying to get my head around our experience there and will write more about it later. Our time there this morning is somehting that none of us will ever forget. You'll hear more about it later, I promise!

After returning to Masana, the boys had finished their lessons and were ready for church. Luis led worship. How amazing it was to hear those street boys sing praises to God in their native language. Wow.

I taught the boys that they have new name in Christ, with the verse in Rev 2:17. Each boy wrote his name on one side of a white river stone that we brought from the US. We talked about how people know us by our names, and I shared that sometimes when I make mistakes, I wish I could clear my name. But we read the verse and they learned that no matter what they have done, they are clean in God's eyes. So much so that God promises them a new name in Heaven. They turned their rocks over to the blank side as we read the verse, and my prayer is that they lay their heads down tonight knowing that God's love is theirs with no cost or requirement. I must say that teaching through a translator is different! But Luis did such a great job with that, and after I was done he again shared the message to be sure they understood.

Then, lunch was served. We had rice with a vegetable topping similar to spinach), peanuts, coconuts, and other spices.

After lunch, we said goodbye to the boys. Lauren took Shawn, me, and Joanna to the grocery store and we were completely giddy while looking at all of the interesting local foods. We had our first taste of Fanta Ananais (Pineapple) soda, a local favorite. Joanna and I are officially addicted. It's a really good thing that we don't have it in the US!

After our grocery store excursion, we took some of the to the city beach. Jason drove. And that's all I have to say about that. haha! Seriously, he did a great job! We only almost wrecked once!

The beach is very polluted so we didn't swim, but the boys did and had a great time. Sarah, Lauren, Joanna, me, Shawn, and Jason hung out on the beach and enjoyed being entertained, especially by Chico and Pai! Felix came along (Felix lives at Masana) and was, as always, a delight to be around.

After the beach, we said goodbye to Chico and Pai. Then we had a cookout and enjoyed some "smoky" conversation on the rooftop of the Masana house while drinking some seriously delicious hot tea. Our hosts treated us to a lovely Amerian dinner of hamburgers, potato salad, and baked beans. It was a great dinner with our hosts and the three boys who live at Masana -- Felix, Paito, and Tilfu.

The boys love touch, love to play, and love to laugh with us, even though sometimes we have no idea what they are saying!

The first day was amazing. We can't wait for tomorrow!

Thank you for your prayers, and please also pray for Shawn tomorrow as he prepares to teach the boys from the book of Daniel.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Africa Bound.

I'm on my way to Africa. I mean, literally. As I type this, I am in the plane, at 36,957 feet over the Atlantic, near Namibia, somewhere between Sunday and Monday. With three of my dearest friends at my side, we will touch down in Johannesburg in about 4 hours, and then hop on a smaller plane (much smaller) to Maputo, Mozambique. There, we will spend 10 days with Sarah Olds and her team, showing the love of God to homeless boys in Maputo.

I started praying over this trip in August of last year, when the question was asked: "Will you go?" After a quick orientation, and a couple of weeks in prayer, I knew that God was calling me to go. As I sit with three others who shared the call, I can't imagine being anywhere else with anyone else right now. God has given us, both individually and collectively, a sense of peace and joy about this trip that is ... indescribable.

We are a uniquely diverse team, with varying spiritual gifts and talents, whom God has woven together for this purpose, on this day, for His glory.

Jason's heart for loving God through loving others is contagious, and as a pastor from our church, we are so privileged to serve under his leadership. Jason's discernment and humility allows him to truly meet people where they are.

Shawn's heart for others - and I mean all others - is wired to show love and help as often as possible. I'm not sure who will cry more on this trip -- me, or Shawn! If there ever was a humble, gentle warrior, it's Shawn.

Joanna's heart for the nations is apparent in her mission experience, as well as in her thirst for knowledge and going deep into understanding culture. Her insight has been critical to us during our preparations

Sarah Olds and her team are doing incredible work and changing a nation, one boy at a time. Raising boys to be honorable, godly men. What an honor it is for God to allow each of us to be a small part of it. We are humbled, and so thankful to God for this amazing opportunity.

As we obey in the small things, may we not seek to do great things for God, but to do all things for a great God.

Peace, friends. Your prayers and support are appreciated. Here we go...

As I finished typing this post, we reached the African coast!