Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mozambique update- June 21

Hey Guys! It's Emmie here. This is our last night in Beira and we have really enjoyed our time here. Yesterday we got to go swimming in the Indian ocean and have eaten all sorts of interesting things, including grilled fish (fins, teeth, and all) and lots of prawns (giant shrimp). This morning we split into two groups and went to different churches. We had a true African experience! At the church I attended, Barb gave her testimony and Jeff did the sermon. We had a great translator to help us along. At the other church Dave gave the sermon and Kelsie was even asked to name a baby that was being baptized! She named it Esparaza, which is Hope in Portuguese. After church we got to visit with the children, that was amazing for all of us. We haven't done much construction work yet, but we have definitely been building relationships with the people of Beira, which is just as, or even more, important. We have all been learning that flexibility is the theme of this missions trip. We have a great group of people here and have had so much fun! One thing we keep hearing from the people of Beira is that prayer is the most important and most effective way of strengthening and encouraging the Christian community here. Thank you so much for your prayers and please continue to keep us in them. Tomorrow morning we will be making the trip to Gorangosa, where we will stay for the next week. We may not be updating until we return to Beira because we are not sure of the internet connection there. We will talk to you when we get back to Beira! We hope you all are doing well!Emmie

Mozambique, June 22

This from Barb on the trip to Mozambique around June 20

Hey everyone,
We were up early today and went to Food for the Hungry office for Devotion. We met everybody!!!! We toured their offices and warehouse. We then left for Gorongosa. The countryside is beautiful and interesting. There will be cement houses and then there are huts just like we see in the movies. We have only seen baboons on the side of the road. We arrived in Gorongosa and are greeted by all of the Food for the Hungry Staff. Neil and I hosted Joao in Cedar Falls last winter. I saw him immediately and Neil and I got the biggest hug. We went on a tour of the area, and saw government offices and the hospital. We have been so blessed by the graciousness of the people. We are making good friends too. We have a prayer request for you. The Gorongosa region is the gathering area for people among other parts of Mozambique and bordering countries to come to see witch doctors. The Gorongosa area is the center for spiritual darkness in the country. This is a very important prayer request. We thank you for your prayers, we can feel them.
God bless you all,

June 28 Mozambique update

This one from Dave Bartlett:

Partners in Praying,

It is Sunday afternoon here. Our team has just returned from worshipping with two churches. We divided and preached in these two local churches and then each team ate lunch in the home of the pastor of that church. Attending church and teaching in Mozambique is a humbling and growing experience. In one church, Jeff taught on courage and in the other church I taught on the marks of Christ's church. Other team members participating in leading the services.

This trip has definitely exceeded the hopes and expectations that I had for it. God is using our team in so many important and surprising ways. We have been utilized effectively by the Food for the Hungry team and by those training pastors as a tool to show unity and the importance of God's Word. These folks have given us opportunities that I never thought we'd have during our time here.

Some of the experiences that have touched my heart and challenged my mind include:

Participating in a Communinity Development meeting with the leaders and parents in a community who expressed their hopes and dreams for their children's future. A part of the meeting helped them understand their current assets.

Yesterday we visited a prison. It was very depressing; however, for a time we could be "salt and light" for those men and women and proclaim that God is the God of the do-over and forgiveness is found in Jesus.

Yesterday we participated in a Kids Growing With Jesus Club that meets under a mango tree every Saturday afternoon. There were more than 100 children with three adults leading. We greeted the children, sang several songs, and then one little boy (1-2 years old) climbed up on my lap. I held this little boy and really quickly he feel asleep on my lap. While holding that little boy I thought about my own grandchildren and I prayed for the children of Mozambique--those with no education, orphans, kids with malaria, and those with so many other problems and struggles.

On Friday we helped at a medical clinic for children in the community of Machiso. We used some of the soccer balls, jump ropes, frisbees, and volleyballs we brought to entertain kids while many others were getting medical checkups. Some of the children w support are in this community. In the afternoon, we encouraged and challenged 20 pastors who were getting training. I taught them about the incredible power of God and our team together was a very strong visual image of men and women, husbands, wives and children serving Christ because of love.

Seeing this beautiful country and getting to know some of these quiet and gracious people is having a big impact on me. I'm not sure how to put that impact into words yet. But I believe that none of us will return the same as when we left. God has been so present as we have visited homes, spoken with pastors and teachers and community leaders.

Yesterday we visited the place in the river that serves as the laundramat, place to bathe and baptism. It was a beautiful day and several of us took a shower under a huge waterfall. (In modesty we did leave our pants on.)

Our team of eight seems to be getting more oneness and unity each day. Please continue to pray for our health and safety. Please pray that God will use our remaining 3 days here in Mozambique for great impact. Please pray for our families at home as they too make sacrifices for us to be here.

I also just prayed a prayer of thanks for those of you who are praying for us. Today we are on a mission in Mozambique and I hope you are on a mission in your community in the U.S.

Dave Bartlett
For the Mozambique Team

Mozambique update- June 24

From Ben Bartlett:

Greetings from Mozambique. Thanks for your continued prayers. They are much needed for us and for the food for the hungry team and for the people here in Africa.

We had another great day today. We started the day by going to a devotion with the local food for the hungry staff. It was a great chance to share some time in worship and for them to share some more about some of their programs. This was also the time where we were able to present some of the stuff we brought to donate to the area ministries. We brought soccer balls, volleyballs and nets, jumpropes, washcloths, and lots of medical supplies. The staff was very grateful. After this time of devotion, the team split up. Neil and Kelsie had a chance to go the local hospital here in Gorongosa. The rest of us went again to the village of Nhuranga. While there, one of the local teachers showed us the plans that they had developed for the school they are hoping to build. Then we helped them clear out some weeds/shrubs in their town meeting space. The locals showed us how to use their tools - and then gave them to us to use. When they saw us trying to use their tools, they started laughing hysterically at us. It was pretty funny. Also - Dave chopped off his finger with a machette and Neil had to sew it back on.

In the afternoon, I (Ben B) had a chance to go visit my sponsored child. This was an amazing experience. It was so good to meet the kid I have been seeing pictures of. It was also sad - my child's father and mother are both dead, and he lives with his grandma, who has no males in her household to help her. The grandma was very thankful for our support and very glad that we could visit. At one point she said something like this, "I never expected God to provide a brother to help me raise Mauricio." I found this to be an amazing statement. She sees me as a brother and a partner in her doing her job of raising her grandson.

There is still much need in the village of Machico (the village where my sponsord child lives.) According to the food for the hungry staff, there are 205 kids registered to be supported in this village, but only 67 sponsors. But God is definitely at work here. We see him working in amazing ways every day. On the way home from the village, Kelsie's chicken pooped on my jacket. Unfortunately, I have come down with a bad case of criptosporosis.

2 of the details in this email may not be entirely true.

Again - thanks for the prayers. See you all in about a week.

Sincerely ,
Ben B. and the Mozambique team

Happy Independence Day- June 25

From Neil McMahon:

Howdy folks, Today is Moz's Independence Day, celebrating Their independence from Portugal. No one is working, there are hundreds of people just out walking along the road. It is a day for partys sometimes late into the night, sometimes drinking a potent corn based "nipa". It is like moz moonshine. And since no one is working, we took the opportunity to go to the Gorongosa National Park, about an hour drive form here. It is a game park that is being repopulated as it was decimated during the civil war to provide both armies with food. This area was the center of most of the fighting. We were able to enjoy oodles of monkeys on the road, int the trees, most staring at us. The wart hogs and the deer and birds of many flavors kept us entertained. The lions, elephants,and zebras kept well hidden, much to the dismay of our hosts.

Our sponsored children visits have really been a highlight. To see and talk with the child that we have prayed for and sent money to support makes it a whole new level of real. The FH staff have been great and they have loved these visits too as it gives them more credibility with the villages, and it also makes the program more real and personal.

It is a good thing that we knew going into this that this was a relationship building visit mainly since the amount of work we will actually get done on the school rooms is negligible. They are still in the planning phase for the most part. However, the time spent with the great folks here and the time building trust and respect for each other has and will be invaluable.

Last night we were without electricity for a while. With absolutely no light pollution (except Emmie's torch that she had a difficult time turning off)), the stars were unbelievable! The milky way was not just a streak but with areas of lighter and darker. God's creation is amazing!

The main prayer request is for unity on the team and staying focused. At this time in a multi week trip, tiredness, differentness, etc can be not so fun anymore. It is at this time that we will need to rely on God's strength, not just ours. It is at this time, heart change can be accelerated. We are doing great as a team, and want to keep it that way, so pray! Dr Albertino and I will be screening A LOT of primary school kids tomorrow.

Thanks for your partnership, for the team, neil

PS - Dave's finger and Ben are doing well (except Moz is almost out of chicken.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tornado Recovery

Becky Bartlett helped coordinate a missional outreach last weekend in Parkersburg. Here's a little summary of the weekend:

As an ongoing piece of our commitment to helping Parkersburg recover from the devastating tornado a year ago, teams from Orchard Hill served meals to clean-up volunteers June 11-14. The RCA partnered with RISE ministries to bring over 250 high school volunteers to the area for a weekend of service. Orchard pulled the Chuckwagon (mobile kitchen) out there and also used the Aplington Middle School kitchen to prepare all the meals for the hungry workers.

Over 100 volunteers helped us prepare, cook, and serve the meals. The student volunteers helped at over 30 sites in the community- the city ball fields, along with many homes of families who still needed recovery help. It was a productive weekend and we were honored to take part in ongoing efforts in Parkersburg. A big thanks to Jeff & Kelly Kramer and Ted & Linda Hamer who spearheaded the Chuckwagon crew!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wild about the Child

Wildwood Hills Ranch Camp is WILD about the CHILD! Kris Hoskinson and her daughter, Addelyn, myself and our kids, Sara and Nathan, traveled 2 1/2 hours south near St. Charles, IA, to Wildwood Hills today. Ranchers were fully engaged by the time we arrived in their 4 rotations...horseback riding, lake activities, team building on the log, and the art center. What a great camp! And the staff are my heroes! They are amazing with the ranchers...firm, fun, and all about sharing the love of Jesus in word and deed with the 80 kids who were there from the Cedar Valley this week. God is so very good through Wildwood Hills Ranch, and I know this camp will have a bigtime impact on the lives of so many kids as they experience the unconditional love of God and others.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Mozambique update

This one from Kelsie Kunkle:

Hello to all our family, friends... and most importantly, our prayer warriors,

I, Kelsie, am in charge of this update, so sit back, relax, and enjoy!! We, as a group, are continuing to be strengthened in Christ and are becoming more unified with each other. It's simply great and refreshing to be in community with so many fellow Christians. The fellowship we are able to have with the Food for the Hungry Staff here in Mozambique is so encouraging and gives us all different pictures of what the Body of Christ is designed to be. We all had such an awesome day. Since we have arrived in Gorongosa, our hosts are taking us to meet many community leaders and visit various places. Today, we went to a "school" in Nhuranga. This school consisted of around 200 students who took turns attending classes under three different trees. There was one teacher and some volunteers who work together to make this school work, yet, it's a challenge to get kids to come since attendance is pending on the weather and the distance required to walk to the school. The community does not have the resources required to build a school room, so hopefully, in the future, we can partner to fulfill their dreams of providing children with an education.

After visiting with the community leaders and the chief in Nhuranga, we traveled to have lunch in Mucodza. From this point, we separated into to groups to do home visits to some of our sponsored children. This required hiking several kilometers to find the huts that belonged to our children. Tyler, Emmie, Ben and I went to Vunduze to visit Emmie's and mine and Tyler's children. Words can't describe how incredible and God-sent this experience was. Tyler and I finally got to put a real life situation to the girl in our picture, Mazanga. She was delighted to meet us and after we gave her our gift, her family returned the gesture by giving us a live chicken and sugar cane. It was so amazing. Emmie also had a great experience meeting her sponsored girl, and she even received a goat leg... yes, you heard me right... a goat leg. Emmie's face was priceless. The other group, which consisted of Neil, Barb, Dave, and Jeff. Neil, Barb, and Dave got to meet their sponsored children, and they described their experiences as also being absolutely incredible.

The countryside of Mozambique is beautiful. It is covered by sorghum, corn, and sunflower crops and mountain-fed rivers flow through the land. Overall, it is much more lush than I expected. We are very blessed to be here and are learning so much. For myself, my heart continues to grow for the people of Africa, in particular, Mozambique. Thanks for your prayers, as they are very needed and appreciated.

Tomorrow, the group is headed to clean up the area where the school will be built. Neil and I (a nursing student) are going to the hospital to help with clinical check-ups. I imagine it will be another day filled with adventure and surprises. Until later, may the Lord bless you!

Love to all,

Kelsie and the team

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Camp time!

Almost 80 Waterloo children left yesterday morning for a week at Wildwood Hills Ranch! For some of the kids, this is their third year of camp-- which is amazing. When I scooped our Longfellow kids up at 7:00 AM, every child was waiting on a porch, on the steps or right in the front yard. It's an exciting day when you're heading off to camp!
Cedar Valley Community Church provided a wonderful breakfast and fun activities for the kids as they were checked in, and checked over. All went very smoothly, and there was a great deal of kid-energy expended before hopping on the school bus for a 3 hour ride to camp. : )
There is HUGE potential for the experience of this camp to impact the lives of these beautiful children this week. Please pray for soft hearts, teachable moments, and bucket loads of patience and good cheer for the counselors. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would move throughout the week...molding, shaping, stirring, whispering.
It'll be HOT. It'll be high energy (50 boys, 30 girls--I'm just sayin'). It'll be challenging. But it may also be life-changing-- not just for the kids, but for their families, their neighborhoods, schools and this community.
Maribeth Boelts

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stories from Beira, Mozambique

As written yesterday, Father's Day, by Jeff Mickey on the trip:

We met with a young man yesterday morning named HowlKanu (How Canoe). He is in charge of child development and the sponsorship program for Food for the Hungry (FH). He had an amazing story. He became a Christian when he was in 4th grade. His dad was a powerful communist. They lived in Ethiopa at the time and his dad did not like it that Howlkanu became a Christian. He tried to kill him 6 times before Howlkanu escaped to the streets where he lived alone for 10 years, graduating from high school and eventually university with a degree in development. His dad killed more than 70 people, or had them killed, before the government was overthrown. At that point the new government in power executed Howlkanu's father immediately. He shared with us the pain of growing up without family love. I am very thankful today for the father and family love I received growing up.
After meetings we went to a beach. It was a private resort called Savanne.
We took a dirt road passing unbelievable poverty, rice fields, swamps, and forests. We saw a group of baboons out in the middle of an open pasture. All along the way the narrow, rough dirt road, which is unpassable in the rainy season was lined with women carrying loads on their heads and men riding and pushing bikes with loads of sticks, grass, rice and other things that would make it impossible for us to ride and impossible for them to see if they were behind the bike pushing. There is not enough room on the road for the car and bikes at the same time. At one point our side mirror hit a bundle of sticks that were on the back of a man¹s bike. I don't know how the man didn't get knocked off the bike.
At the end of this road was an unbelievable paradise. We took a boat across a river canal lined with Mangrove trees to an island. This place was so out of the way I don¹t know how anyone could ever find it. We walked the boardwalk to the most beautiful sand beach I've ever been on. The water was warm and the ocean waves were swelling at 8-10 feet, some higher. We rode the waves for awhile before grabbing lunch. Some of the people in the group ordered fish, others prawns (shrimp), and I ordered a half chicken. All of the food looked just like the animal it came from. The fish still had teeth and eyeballs, scales and fins. They had just been thrown on the grill. But everything was very tasty. The food has not been bad and we've had plenty to eat so far. Interesting that paradise is so close yet so far away from so many people! I think God's kingdom is like that. Once we discover the way we have to help people get there! It is worth the trip, despite the obvious pain, suffering and treachery we go through along the way.
This morning we split up and attended two different churches in Beira. Both Dave and I preached at the churches we went to. We didn¹t know that we were going to preach until we got there and they asked us to. I'm glad that I had prepared a little bit beforehand and God had given me something to share as I had no notes. The interpreter did a great job and I pray that God was able to speak through me and the interpreter to get past the obvious barriers between us and encourage the people of this church. If you had told me that I would preach at a church in Africa some day I would have said you were nuts!!
I am missing home, Cindy and the kids a lot! Tomorrow we head to Gorongosa after morning meetings and the real work begins. It will be good to get to the village. I'm thankful for the unexpected time we had in Beira, but we all are excited to meet the people of Gorongosa.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eight to Mozambique

We have a group that left for the Gorongosa Region of Mozambique on Wednesday, June 17. Neil has been there before and writes this bit:

We take our first anti-malarial pill on Tuesday and leave on Wednesday. We are driving to Minneapolis to get on our 25 hour flight to Johannesburg (via Amsterdam with a layover there). We spend the night there and get on a short 2 hour flight to Beira, Moz. Gorongosa is 3 hour drive on a good road.

Some background for some of you may be helpful. This trip to Gorongosa is many years in the making. God has been teaching many of us at Orchard Hill Church that the way to help people, either here or overseas, is by developing a relationship with them and the other things (money, other aid, etc) will play a natural, obvious part as the relationship progresses. Gorongosa was presented as a place where we could become involved in a long term relationship under the organization Food for the Hungry (they call it their Community to Community -C2C– program). We expect to be involved there for many years but also the goal is to have them stand on their own at some time in the future as real transformation happens. We also expect to be changed in the process as God will use this relationship to grow our hearts along the way.

Our trip this time will focus on assisting them to build class rooms, but really, we are developing that relationship and doing whatever we can to help push back the spiritual darkness, the poverty, the lack of access to education and medical care, while helping to develop their indigenous leadership (the “5 Giants” according to Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan). Pray that we will do whatever we can to walk with God and the folks of Gorongosa in this process.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

people get ready

Last night, I went to a concert at East High called "People Get Ready". It was a culmination of three nights of workshops to teach children some songs and a dance and to help form a children's choir that will perform with Trin-i-tee 5:7, a gospel trio who will be performing at Gallagher-Bluedorn on August 7.

After three nights of what I would call "frustrating" practice for the directors, the concert came off with flying colors. It was wonderful! God was honored and glorified as His people used their talents to praise Him, and I was surprised and delighted by the joy of the evening!

Above is a picture of Ellaysa who taught a praise dance to students and who also did an amazing job miming a song in the performance. Ellaysa loves God and spends a lot of time working with youth to teach them how to worship and praise God through dance and movement. The other picture above is my daughter and others who are doing a few measures of "freestyle" during their dance to a song called "Victory."

Below is a picture of the choir with Dante, one of the two directors who led the choir. He devotes a lot of time to making music and sharing it with young people in our community.

Picnic in the Park

OHC is joining with Harvest Vineyard the first and third Sundays of the month to offer a meal for around 300 people, provide hospitality and some kids' activities, and to join with Harvest as they offer worship and testimonies in Lincoln Park. Last Sunday was our first "PIP", and we had a great time. What a great group of volunteers and what a great opportunity to meet new friends in a new place!

Friday, June 12, 2009

how = Honesty, Openness, Willingness

I have two friends, Dante and Ellaysa, who are leading a three day workshop this week to form a children's praise choir and praise dance team for children ages 6-16. The 3 workshops will culminate in a concert on Saturday night at East High. My daughter, Sara, is 10 years old, and is one of two white children involved in these workshops, and she is the only caucasion as she dances in the front row of the 15 person dance team.

After two nights of workshop with about 50 kids, she began to process verbally on the way home. The conversation went something like this....

S- "It's kind of weird looking around and being one of the only light skinned people there, Mom. I kind of feel weird and feel like I'm a little on the outside."

Me- "Do you think it would feel differently if you actually got to know some of the kids that are there?"

S- "Yes, I did get to meet a girl named Mashya today, and two other girls called to me tonight, by saying, 'Sara, Sara'. I don't feel so outside when I get to know some of the kids. But I feel like I don't know some of their ways. I do see how Dequon and Destiny must feel going to our school and being the only 2 black kids in our class. "

Me- "Sometimes when we don't get to know people, we live with ideas in our mind about our differences, and we might think that we are better than other people. That's called prejudice. I know that I have prejudice that lives in me because of this."

S- "I know that I sometimes think that way, too, Mom."

She went on to say things like....

"I could be really embarrassed being the only white girl on stage during the dance Saturday. But I'm going to do it. I want people to know that they can mix, and it's okay. In fact, I really like being around some African-American people better than some white people. (She then went on to name who she knows that is 'nice and warm' and she named who it is that is white that she doesn't like to be around....I'll leave that out of this conversation. :0)

Can you just see her wheels turning as she's processing all of this in her 10 year old mind?
How is it that we can ever begin the journey of racial reconciliation if we don't first begin? It's a long and winding road, and one that will be traveled through relationships, but it begins with a single step. One of my favorite acronyms of HOW we can move off fear to growth is H- honesty O- openness and W- willingness. These tend to allow God to move me off "stuck" more than anything else.

fear not

Again, we're spending some time on the Joshua passage (Joshua 1: 6-9) at church and even doing a sermon series called "Be not afraid". There are loads of Scripture telling us not to fear. In recovery groups, they tell you that fear is the underlying emotion of every defect. There's an acronym for fear which is False Evidence Appearing Real. And basically what recovery groups do is help support people in facing and moving through fear. That's why we all need "recovery groups" in life to help us keep growing...because it's fear that keeps us stuck. Another quote I like that helps me move off of the fear base is,

"Being restored involves action. We act our way into right thinking not the other way around. Belief comes as we act."

Friday, June 5, 2009

dying to live

Joshua 1:6-9 (New International Version)
6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Our leader, Dave, has been reading and encouraging reflection on these Joshua verses lately at church. Here's something I've been thinking about with these verses lately. This Scripture passage speaks so clearly to me about spiritual and missional growth in living.

We so often want to add things to our lives to help us grow spiritually, but we rarely consider what we may need to give up. I think the Joshua passage repeats the need to be very strong and courageous because the growth journey is largely a dying journey of my will to God's will. And it's hard to die. Back when I served on a spiritual growth team at church, we studied the most common barriers to spiritual growth. The list included-

1. The distraction/lure of popular culture. (seduction of worldliness, recreation, sports, fashion, tv, news, music, house standards, etc.)
2. Pace of life (busyness robs us of time and energy)
3. Materialism/consumerism (debt, greed, covetousness)
4. Control (do it yourself mentality, power, manipulating and possessing)
5. Quick fix mentality (instant gratification)
6. Inadequate view of God (God created in our image, Biblical illiteracy)
7. Easy believism (low expectations, low commitment, wading pool theology, avoidance of confrontation)
8. Legalism (worshiping religious activities, me-focused religion, obedience with wrong motive)
9. Laziness (slothfulness, avoidance of suffering)
10. Disobedience (sin, relative morality to no morality, addictions)
11. Relationship (pleasing others first rather than God)

Growth for me has often come through disciplines that help break the hold that these things above have on me. God has grown me most when I surrender and die and find that instead of losing freedom, I begin to find freedom and abundant life. But it's hard to die. And it's so daily. And I am far from having arrived. But, I agree with the passage in's a bit easier to keep my eyes straight on God when I am meditating on His Word and finding strength and courage from God within His Word.