Wednesday, 16 October 2013

September 2013

Among the things we do are working at the office, going to the early Tuesday morning prayer meeting with the pastors, helping the boys with their homework (now they need less and less help from us), studying and practising our Portuguese, "getting settled", music lessons with the boys, family Bible reading, visiting churches, etc.

The highlights of September were:

The visit of our friends from Scotland, Trevor and Irene.

Joseph's birthday (and Steve's, too!)

Visiting Tsalala Church

A game of ten-pin Bowling with the kids of the compound

Young people monthly programme

Sunday School in Matchovana church

Listening to the testimonies of the 6 young people from Maputo Church that had been baptised earlier that morning.

A hoopoe at our kitchen window!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The sounds and smells of Machava

The weaver birds are starting to weave in one big thorn tree in the middle of the compound. It’s a noisy business: the husband does all the weaving, and if the wife isn’t impressed, they argue about it and then she just tips the nest out of the tree and he has to start again. Standards are high: a scattering of failed nests builds up under the tree, until the boys discover how good they are for lighting fires.

It’s not only the kids that set fire to things; there are some contemplative types politely referred to as the maintenance team, who sometimes brush grass and leaves together to be burned. The ground is almost pure sand, so the brushing whips up a fine dust which mixes with the smoke and hangs around the house until teatime.
Mostly, apart from the weavers, this is the quiet season.  The insects seem to be keeping their heads down until there’s more of their kind of heat and humidity, and a lot of the birds are away touring Europe.

In the night we often hear a long, low moaning, which is the warning sound of a train as it approaches a level crossing that has no gates; and then there’s the call to prayer at the popular local mosque.  But traffic noise is very little, because out here in the suburbs where there’s not much tarmac, there aren’t many vehicles either. People going to town just walk to the main road to catch a minibus. For main roads going east into town, there are only two choices, the canal road and the toll road, and either way you have to go early to beat the rush: at 5.30am it’s a half hour drive, whereas after 6.00am it will take two hours or more.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Leaving and landing

We are enormously blessed to have the support of our family in what we do.   Back in July we drove south and were able to catch up with almost all of Steve’s family to say our farewells, and after that Katuska’s side of the family gathered in Belfast – her parents flew over for a month – to celebrate our niece Astrid’s wedding.

Two weeks ago we finally packed our stuff: five suitcases, two guitars, two violins and one laptop, that’s travelling pretty light, and there are a whole lot of things that got left behind. At last with the great help of Les and Mhairi from Stepps, and Katuska’s sister Suzanne, we set off for the airport and left without incident – even the guitars passed as hand luggage without a murmur.

We had two longer flights with Emirates, Glasgow to Dubai and then to Johannesburg. The boys were determined to watch films and play games the whole time, while we just slept after all the weeks of preparation and packing.

The last leg of the journey was the short hop with South African Airways down to Maputo. A quick passage through immigration, and the customs men only opened one suitcase, and there we were – in the warm air of Mozambique at 10pm. This photo was taken by our friendly pilot out in the airport car park.

We were collected by our colleagues Larry and Gary. It’s not compulsory to have names that rhyme, but perhaps it helps. Now we’re settling in and getting to know the rest of our team, and we’re enjoying the warmth – though this is the cold season – and all the new sights and sounds of the compound and of Maputo. It’s great to be on African soil and know that this is where God has brought us to serve him.

We arrived to find our house ready for us, pretty much fully equipped. From what we’ve seen before, missionaries usually spend their first few weeks going out to get furniture and all they’ll need for everyday living; but in our case the couple who were here before, Dave and Ann Dedrick, retired just at the time we were planning to come here, and left a houseful of things for us – dining table, chairs, beds, crockery, cooker, cupboards, you name it. What a huge difference this has made!

So our first hours on African soil were welcoming and comfortable. We chose the bedrooms we preferred, curled up under the mosquito nets and slept, until the birds outside reminded us there was going to be lots more to see and do.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

OMS Scotland Conference, Saturday 18 May 2013

It’s in the nature of mission conferences that people assemble from all points of the compass; but since things in Scotland have been at a low ebb, it was especially encouraging to welcome friends and colleagues from far and wide.  We gathered from the central belt of Scotland, the midlands and South of England, South Wales, Northern Ireland, the USA and Canada; and our field reports and news included Indonesia, Spain, Mexico and Mozambique as well as the work of Mission Possible in Colombia and Men for Missions worldwide.

Doug Atherton brought the Bible teaching that gave the day its central focus, and his message was right on target for supporters and missionaries alike, taking as twin themes The Person God Chooses (Joshua 1) and The Method God Uses (John 4).  Doug reminded us of the years of faithful service that prepared Joshua for what lay ahead, and also of our pressing need for the indwelling Word – that we, like Joshua, must not let the Book depart from us; and in what is, for me, an abiding image, he urged us to lift our eyes from the ground and look up, to see the harvest that is already ripe.

We were hosted by Kilsyth Community Church, an ideal venue for the day and familiar territory for OMS in a relationship that goes back many years.  Warm thanks are due to Bill and Lilias Anderson for all their help in arranging the conference.  Our hope and prayer is that the Lord will prosper OMS in Scotland as a sending base, and bring fruitful work from the seeds of encouragement sown here.

Friday, 18 January 2013

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those days, you know, when everything seems to go as you don’t expect it.   Got up early in the morning, prepared pack lunches for the boys and got ready to go to Little Creations (Carers and tots group in Blairbeth).  It was freezing.  But it’s always freezing here, however, in the recent days it has been really freezing, with temperatures below 0 degrees.   So, this time was not only my perception, but what the thermometer said.  Drove nicely from the northeast of Glasgow to the southwest, and found that somebody has taken my parking space.  Not that there were not more places where I could park, but that is my parking space (really, it isn’t, but I was assuming so, since it’s always been empty every time I needed it).  Quickly I chose another equally comfortable place to park for the next 2 hours.

Once in the warm building, I was glad to see familiar faces again – my friends and co-helpers – and then welcome sleeping babies, happy little children, smiley grans, less-smiley granddads, chatty mums, all coming in a good mood to share time, a chat, and a cup of something.   It was good!   Really good!

After Little Creations, I managed to arrive late to the SU group which was starting yesterday.   I mean, how could I not have left enough time between Little Creations and the Spittal SU group, when the venues of each of these activities are so close to each other?  It only happens to me! The story is that 2 schools are sitting together in the middle of Spittal.   I chose to go to the wrong one.   After finding where the entrance of the right school was, I was already late.  Right outside it I was wondering whether I should go in or not?  I ate my pride and embarrassment together (they don’t taste good, I tell you!) and decided to go in.  The receptionist was so kind, and told me that other visitors have done the same, going to the wrong school first.  She took me to the place where the SU club was meeting, and to my delight I saw 10 kids, 5 girls and 5 boys eagerly listening to William.   O, that was such a great sight!  Ten kids have come to the first meeting!  Some came to find out more about Jesus, others because they’ve heard that SU groups are fun, others to see what is it like.  I was really happy to have gone to the meeting, even when I was quite late.

Back home, I started to prepare dinner, so that it would be mostly done before taking Samuel and Joseph to their violin lessons.  As I left to pick my boys from school, I saw that a delivery card has been put through the letterbox saying “Sorry I missed you today when I called to deliver.”  But I was at home, how could they have missed me?  The card was not there when I arrived, but it was there when I was leaving.  It was becoming one of those days… , where your parking space has been taken by somebody else, when you are late for a very important event, when the delivery person doesn’t care to ring the bell.  Just one of those days!

The meal was nearly ready before I left with the violinists, but without my mobile phone, since the battery was flat.  The music place was strangely quiet.  My watch is slightly faster than the teacher’s, but this time she was not there, not even after 10 minutes.  Ah, but I had been really late earlier on, so I was patient, and waited for about 20 minutes.  Her car had broken down, and she had kindly phoned me on my charging-at-home mobile phone.  All this I found out through Steve and Benjamin who had walked to fetch me.

It was definitely one of those days…. where everything had gone quite differently from expected.
* I thought I had lost my parking place, but God provided one better.
** I was quite late and very embarrassed because of that, but I received understanding and kindness.
*** I was out of reach, but I was fetched.

It was one of those days, where God poured his grace and favours on me in a way that I could perceive them clearly!   It was a wonderful day!