Posted in Crossing Cultures, honesty, Mozambique, my heart, that's just life

Even When it’s Hard to Find Words

You know, it’s really hard to find words sometimes. No, I’m not just referring to our efforts to crack away at Portuguese fluency. I’m talking about crossing cultures back across the ocean.

It’s really hard to communicate how much I deeply treasure these beautifully flawed people. It’s really hard to live in the gap between two very different, but very encouraging worlds and find myself at a loss of relayed words.

What do our brothers and sisters of the United States want to say to our brothers and sisters here? Is He not the same God?  Are we not reading the same Word?

I find myself floundering in an unexplainable loss of words some days. What will I put on the blog? What will be heard back from here? What words will represent a world that so many may never see firsthand? How can I possibly capture the beauty of the world here without others only seeing the ashes? How can I possibly portray the realities here without others there thinking money and pity need to be given? How can my words encourage the depth I can barely express when language seems to slip like sand through my hands?

These are the thoughts that sometimes paralyze me as I think of what and how to share with you all. No, I don’t over-script my words or create situations that are not true to the realities here. But my heart just yearns to share a depth with you all there. My heart longs to connect my people on both sides of the ocean. You all are my world, disjointed as it may feel at times. And I am honored to wrestle with how to cross the ocean with heartfelt words. I am honored to let Jesus stand in the gap through our lives here.

Please know that I think of you often and hold you all so dear in my heart, even when I wrestle to find the words. Thank you for your joy in the pictures and the videos we spend hours and hours downloading through slow internet realities so that we can share life together. And thank you for your patience as things take more time here and as we learn that taking time is not always a deficiency, but many times an opportunity to really think through and treasure each investment.

The ocean between us is huge… and deep.

It’s easy to get lost out there amidst the waves.

Thank you for fighting the surf with us,

riding out this adventure

even when it’s hard to find words.

 

Posted in celebrating life, JOY, Overwhelmingly Thankful, thankful and grateful, Wrestling Language

Your Love

With the visit of Matt’s mom, which I will be sharing our adventures for those three weeks quite soon, you all overwhelmed us with your love.

We made a list of what all we could think of with full intention of letting things linger until another trip of another family member and then you all surprised us by buying it all in one swoop. And we are overwhelmed by your love.

So much about this season here in language training has been repetitious. Monday through Friday looks so very similar: Get up way crazy early because the sun is up, breakfast, get kids ready for school, drop off older girls, return home to finish prepping for the day, language lessons for Matt from 7a – 10a, my language lessons from 8:30a – 11:30a all while the little girls play and run wild in the house, (which many days looks like juggling taking them on language outings to keep them from going insane playing with the same few shelves of a few toys), pick up the big girls at noon, lunch prep, lunch, littles go down for naps, bigs get homework help, language for me from 2-4p, language for Matt from 3-5p, I play with the kids/start bathtime routine post-language amid dinner prep, Matt enters post-language and helps with dinner/bath routine, dinner together, then family worship/bedtime routine. The sun sets here between 5:30p and 6p year-round and the kids go to bed between 6:30p and 7p. Matt and I then usually have a few hours to watch a movie, study, check email, FB, or chit-chat before we knock out somewhere around 9:30p. And then we repeat that schedule – to the nines, people! – every. single. day. Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday have a bit more variety depending on weekend activities, visiting village churches, etc., but the evenings usually look the same for us in terms of our bath/bedtime routine with the girls.

So you all entered into this, the same-old, same-old. That being said, friends and family, I don’t want to downgrade the training we have had here. While our schedule has stayed virtually the same for our ten months here, consistency has built our language and culture learning. Day after day. Sentence after sentence. The people aren’t boring and neither are the lessons (most of the time), but it’s just the scheduling consistency that can sometimes feel like a groundhog day.

And then along came you all with your blessings. And the squeals. And the delight. Because really I can’t possibly describe to you how much joy filled our household. So we took videos so you could be there too.

It may just look like things, but it’s your heart that we have felt as we received your gifts. This was so much more than a care package to us – it is a chance to finish strong, sailing on the wind of your encouragement.

Thank you, dear friends and family, for your beautifully generous hearts.

You love us far greater than we could ever deserve.

Thank you for walking this road with us.

We love you all so, so much.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all so

for your love.

Posted in God's heart, living in their world, Mozambique, willing hands

In the Dim and Dusty

It happens week in and week out here in the dusty village church. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of it all. Over a hundred kids. All of whom are struggling to read. And all of whom are needing your attention. Right now. Or they’ll get too squirmy and run off in herds to the “bathroom” at the back of the church. Apparently when you’re a boy you use the overgrown brush urinal best when with a friend… or seven. Ha!

They all sit there in the mud-hut church, chattering on so in the beginning. Two languages permeate the dimly lit space. One of which I am fighting to grasp, the other of which is still completely foreign. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the organization of it all. Math pages in plastic pockets go here. Everyone’s group lists to distribute. Then there’s the list of absentee children that needs to be on hand should once the master list is called we still have bodies in the seats. It’s hard to say “come back next year” to those that have been missing for over a month and have been lost in our advancement forward in the lessons. Try as we may, the line is still a hard one when you’re strapped for teachers.

Sometimes there are so many kids that one can be found looking up from a mat on the floor outside of the church. Reading lessons are complete and they’re now surrounding you. Fourteen or Fifteen big smiles. Their dirty little feet squirming. And they’re all just waiting in anticipation as you grade their math papers. They laugh and cheer as you grade their friends’ papers. And then magically you assign a number. One through twenty. They await with bated breath for a twenty. Sometimes I give the struggling ones three or four chances to gain a twenty. I don’t know if they’ll ever gain a twenty in their school. And that kind of twenty joy is radiant.

This time there were only a handful. So I got a chance to see more than I usually do. Dedication of a generation pouring into the next. Even one that can barely read above the children’s level, trying hard to help them reach and advance beyond his skill level. A teacher who has become a friend, flexing into a patience that only comes from a greater desire to give than to receive. Teaching children may not be her thing, but she’s not going to let that stop her attempt to help better someone else.

But here in the dim light, I see another face. She’s seen this little boy for years. And try as she has, and try as he might, he’s still just here. His peers have left him in the dust as the years have proven more fruitful for them than this little boy. But here she sits, teaching. Showing. Trying to help him embrace a skill that is thus far conquering him. She encourages. She’s consistent. And there I saw her heart. Her desire for this little guy to get it. He has aged out of the group, but he still needs the help so. So she invests and invests. Quietly. In a mud hut. In a country that you won’t find in the news. In the heart of Africa.

And she’s been here for over twenty years.

Not for her glory. None of this is.

And she’d be the first to tell you that she’s just a normal person.

Because she is.

We each are.

It’s all for His glory.

And it was just beautiful to see her heart in that dimly lit mud-hut.

Each of their hearts.

Here in a dusty village church.

Week in and week out.

 

 

Posted in Mozambique, thankful and grateful, Video Update

Eight Month Update

It’s time for another video update. This time we’re celebrating eight completed months here!

We took this video while on our first family vacation away for a night. We went to a beach lodge for a night and enjoyed the quiet, watching a little Disney Channel Portugal, not having to cook from scratch and skipping doing the dishes too! =)

It was truly refreshing and while it was short, we all came back ready to return to the language grind.

So without further adeu, here’s our eight month update video. =)

We love you all! Thank you continually for your love and support.

Posted in God's heart, JOY, life thoughts, my heart, willing hands

Refreshing

Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability!

How REFRESHING to know you don’t need me!

How AMAZING to find that you want me!

 

I am completely insufficient of a warrior in this battle. This battle is beyond me in immeasurable ways. The wisdom needed, the grace offered, the endurance, and so much more … I am completely insufficient! I am absolutely nothing on my own!

But the power of CHRIST in me makes me strong

This completely blows me away! How He does not need me. Not even in the slightest! He’s completely and entirely All-Sufficient!

And yet how utterly amazing to find that He still wants me.

I am completely humbled that He would choose to use me as His mouthpiece. ME?!! Oh how HE must be the One bringing the victory through these lips, through these hands…

And how He so willingly receives this offering that I lay at His glorious throne…

I am brought to tears at His utter grace.

How He takes the incapable, breathes the life in them, gives them the words and the boldness, orchestrates the listeners, touches the hearts, and then receives it gladly as an offering unto Himself.

It was all Him!

All Him all along!

Oh thank you, Lord, that You would bless me so to be a tool in Your hands.

How humbly amazing indeed!