African Cuisine

We had an assignment here at orientation to cook an African meal from scratch. So we decided to stick together as our Sub-Saharan Africa group and make our meal pot-luck style.

We contributed some fresh squeezed lemonade.

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Yes, we cleaned out all our paper cuts and hang nails.

And ended up straining the lemon juice through disposable tea bags.

  • Hey, you use what you have, people!😉

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It was definitely more fun to try new things together as a group. You know, things like peanut soup.

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It smelled so good!

I love that when given the option, we choose to do things together.

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That’s what this new Africa family is all about.

And while we’re spread out all over the continent, in our hearts we will always be near.

Mmmm, it was yummy. =)

Building Love

It has been nine years of building.

Building has been so rewarding and so wonderfully challenging.

It has looked like seven children; one little girl that went straight to Jesus’ arms, two little boys for eleven months of investing, and four little girls that we still get to hold.

It has looked like one dog, six cats, and one turtle.

It has looked like a tiny one-bedroom apartment, a four bedroom mansion,to us, with a fenced in backyard, a hotel, a guest bedroom, the floor of a friend’s basement, and now a temporary apartment for only 4 more weeks before we move overseas.

It has looked like unfair arguments followed by yielding apologies.

It has looked like dancing through Scripture and worship together.

It has looked like letting go of our “mine” in exchange for the most beautiful “us”.

It was looked like this building of “who we really are”, reveling in the family unity stitched by our Father.

It has looked like endless parenting tears of challenge and utter joy as we hold each other’s hands throughout this lifelong investment in curls and beautiful brown eyes.

And while the storms sure seemed to build wind and rain surges to hit the very house we’re still building, through God’s grace I always find you with a hammer and a ladder. I’ll take the nails, my love. You will always be worth building and rebuilding our “us”, even on the most exhausting of days.

Love is our choice. And the most utterly rewarding choice of all.

So just like we have sung together over the passing years…

What I’m trying to say in some clumsy way is that it’s you and only you, not just for now, not just today. But it’s you and only you for always.

So if you hold the nails, I’ll take the hammer. I’ll hold it still, if you climb the latter. And if you will, then I will build.

So to my love who is currently asleep crammed in a twin bed beside his sleep-struggling baby girl, I love you. It has been an utter privilege to walk beside such heart and such love for these past nine years. I really don’t deserve you. I thank my Father ever so many times for the gift of you in my life. Thank you, Matthew, for relying on Jesus to love me ever so deeply and continue to lead us in such gentleness.

Looking back on the last nine years, I have nothing but excited anticipation about the beautiful story God is unfolding in our lives. Matthew, I don’t know what the future holds, but I am certain of this: with your hand in mine it is so much easier to find the beauty among this world’s offered ashes. Even though this world is not our home, I find my home in the reflection of Christ in your eyes. As we fix our eyes on Christ and with your hand in mine, we find our feet stepping out in His Word. When the storms arise and the temptations hit too close to home I am thankful that your hand will continue to pull me to Jesus. And I likewise.

Happy 9 years, my Matthew.

And here’s to a lifetime more.

We Scream

I scream. You scream. We all scream for… Frozen yogurt. 

We found a local frozen yogurt store while out and about the other day. It’s been nice to get off of the facility every once in a while for something more than toiletries. 


The girls highly enjoyed the discovery. 


Highly.

🙂

Positively Pinchy

Today was clinic day 1 resulting in shots for the 130+ people at orientation. With shots day comes some grace in getting the afternoon off. 

All the preschool children families got cycled through first before naps. (Seriously good call, medical team!) The girls have known about the shots for over a week and were pretty laid back about them with only a bit of anxiety mixed into conversations. Let’s be honest, no one likes shots. But we all agreed that dying of rabies was a far worse plight. 

Our girls were champs! Three out of the four of them didn’t even shed a tear! And the one who did shed a tear was perfectly fine almost instantly. I’m really proud of their courage and trust! 

The rec team pooled together and gave the kids Popsicles and ballon animals. The nursing staff got everyone fun character bandaids and even played a Disney movie in the waiting room. It was a surprisingly fun experience for us all! 


So this weekend we’re taking it a little easy and enjoying the beauty of pain medicine as God teaches our body to fight off small doses of various vaccines. Isn’t that just incredible? Like that God would so design us to be able to overcome such sicknesses? I don’t want to take it for granted even if it is a well-known and common fact. 

In the past missionaries would pack their belongings in coffins instead of suitcases when moving overseas. Their coffins! Today I am reminded of how thankful I am for God’s gift of knowledge to be able to invent vaccines!

Get some R&R this weekend, dear friends! 

– We send our love.

Prayer List

Dear friends and family,

We have sent out first prayer list update via our email. And it has struck our minds that maybe someone may have fallen through the cracks in joining our prayer team. We covet your prayers so humbly and thankfully, dear ones. I just can’t stress it enough.

So if we have somehow managed to fail in adding you to the email system that Matt has been updating, please, please email us at MnMStauffer@gmail.com with a little note so we can be sure to spell your name right, etc.

Again, we thank you so for your fervent prayers for us and the Chopi people in Mozambique.

To God be all the glory as He reveals His plans for the Chopi in the years to come.

I’ll keep updating this blog on our adventures and we’ll catch you on the next prayer update!

Love you all,

Monica (and the family)

Safety Swirlings

You know, here at training we’ve been discussing safety, but maybe not in the way it could be expected. Safety is not a flippant reality, but God has been impressing upon my heart how even within the realms of responsibility, safety is not to be defined by me.

 

It has looked like this:

I’m surrounded by workers that are leaving to go to very unsafe places. I call them workers intentionally. The very mention of other words in association to them could compromise their safety. And while responsibility regarding their safety is still to be desired, they are laying down everything we define as safe in America in order to bring the gospel to very, very unsafe places. I was fully prepared to encourage them on in such pursuit until the question was posed to all of us. “But I’m not going to a safety risk!” came my fearful response. And through His guiding He has been revealing to my heart that no place in this world will ever be safe enough that I would not have to wrestle with this same concept.

It has forced me to reckon with safety. Who defines it? Can I allow it to master me? Can it cripple me to remain in only those places deemed “safe” and “secure”? What if there was a family member in an unsafe place? Why would crossing from “safety” to an unsafe place be deemed heroic? What about the billions of people around this world that live in unsafe places?

What makes me believe that I am entitled to safety anyway?

 

We have been working our way through Acts here at orientation. Acts is redefining my thoughts on safety. If God moved so overtly in His people’s lives to send them into very unsafe situations, why would I believe He could not be moving amongst His people in that way now? What if that’s His call on my life? What if Paul and Timothy and Barnabas and Luke and Mark and so many others had chosen to cling to safety? Would we even have the New Testament? Would we have even had  a chance to believe? Would we have ever even heard?

How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? – Romans 10:14-15

What if we all just clung to our safety instead?

I must confess, this really messes with me. This really bucks my core. This really bothers my mind.

I am not entitled. I am not guaranteed. Have I become too spoiled in the absence of war and the abundance of perceived peace that I have turned a deaf ear to the reality of this world?

 

It was challenging this morning sitting in our small group and struggling to hear over the kid noise. They can be such a blessing and so, so obnoxious too. Their kids. They are both a delight and a chore. I choose to dance in their delight, but I would be a liar to say they are not work – a lot of work!

Ironically, the reality of kid distraction, allowed me to see different pieces of Scripture as I came and went between the adult small group and the kid needs.

Acts 16: Paul adds Timothy to the traveling party, the Holy Spirit forbids them to go to Asia (plan 1), the Spirit of Jesus forbids them to go to Bithynia (plan 2), and there at plan 3 they finally sit down to rest when there is an assembly of women. Ever had a hard day? This may have been the definition of a challenging day for Paul. Not even his attempt to rest for a minute seemed t be working out.

But then comes Lydia and suddenly she and her whole household are miraculously saved by the power of Jesus Christ. But who has time to celebrate, right? Cause while Paul and Luke and Timothy were sharing about the same Jesus that saved Lydia and her whole household along comes a demon-possessed slave girl. With the demon cast out, the disciples find themselves in the hands of some very angry people who were profiting off of the demon girl’s possession. There they are turned over to authorities and beaten and imprisoned. To which they give up, right? To which they cry out to God asking why He allowed their safety to be compromised when they were doing exactly what He asked them to do?

No, to which they are found praying and singing hymns to God with their feet still in stocks. And thereafter with a violent earthquake and their act of submitting to the very corrupt authority by refusing to escape, the jailer and his whole household come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

But it leaves me asking, Lord, why did they need to be beaten?

And I am challenged to ask myself, “Do you think the message of perseverance can be preached without persecution occurring?”

Why sure it can be preached! But it cannot be internalized.

I’d lie to say there’s no fear within me. We’re moving to an unstable place. Look up the news on Moz yourself. It’s not roses.

There are past hurts, swelling fears and generations of rebellion and pain that plague the country and can result in very unsafe circumstances that are occurring right now, not just in some dusty history book. But I’m pierced to the heart to think that fear of safety could paralyze us from bringing the Good News to the lost in Moz.

It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not just sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. – Matthew 9:12-13

How horrifying lest my selfish fears anchor me to safety over salvation! Join me in repenting. Lord, please let your compassion consume me and compel me to run to the broken world!

I’ve heard and even said “the safest place is in the center of God’s will”. But here in Acts 16 I see the opposite. The center of God’s will resulted in beating and imprisonment! But it also resulted in new churches and salvation.

Lord, help me to be willing to endure the sacrifice and persecution that Your Name would be exalted through more lips. And where I cling to safety and hide behind presumed responsibility (as if my mind is somehow higher than Yours- may it never be!) and cower, clinging to the offering You ask of me… Lord, help my unbelief!!! Renew my mind, Lord. Please, Lord, teach me how to walk in your ways, that my path may be straight and that I may walk with You in delight. Nothing will ever be more important than just being with You. Teach me to cling to that truth in every circumstance while I pray for peace in Moz.

~ In Jesus’s Name.

Amen.

 

 

 

Cultural Creations

I love overhearing “I speak Portuguese,” and “I speak Africon” as they play out their future African nations with our quad mates. They talk about Past wars dispersing their tribes. They play through language barriers and cultural differences. They talk of loss and eat on the floor at a local restaurant. 

Play is so important to them as they sort through the realities to come in a mere…


50 days until we move overseas. 

– Thankful, grateful and beyond blessed by our dear Father.

Settling

We’re settling into new routines and getting used to things here. I just wanted to take a quick moment to share a few pictures that are representative of our time here.


The girls did a nice job traveling here without any car sickness. They did a lot of sleeping on the trip over, recovering from our wonderful and exhausting last 30 days before orientation.

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We’ve been trying new foods and new schedules and a lot of news. Sometimes we’re excited about the changes and sometimes Eden clings to Matt’s arm and has to be peeled off by her teacher at drop off. Overall, though, all the girls have done really well with the transition to their school for seven hours of our training time each day.

So we live in a quad with three other families. One is a journeyman going to European peoples, another family is a precious older couple going to Uganda and then a dear family going to South Africa. The way quads work is that each family has enough individual rooms for their family, a washer/dryer, small kitchen/breakfast nook and bathroom as a personal space to that family. Then we all get to share a community living room space.

Hannah has found a best friend in our South Africa family’s youngest. And since Hannah and this little one are in class together, they became instant friends. Rachael and Abi also share class with the two boys of this same family. It’s so awesome how the kids all instantly became friends as if we’ve known each other for years.


We also have our Sub-Saharan Africa affinity (location group) that has been an instant family to us. Despite being spread out all over Africa, we’ve instantly become a small group full of love, respect and encouragement. Here we are having a kid movie night and excluding a meeting keeping some of our team from being able to come, I love how everyone instantly wanted to come enjoy frozen pizza and sit on the floor with the kids.

As you can see, we’re doing well and settling in nicely as we finish our second week here at orientation.

And I’ll leave you with this last picture that our friends caught while the kids were entertaining themselves in the cafeteria after a meal. The kids were enjoying how they had all sat in the baby highchairs when a gentleman came over and sat in one too. Their expressions are priceless as they lost it in hysteria.


Enjoy your weekend, friends.🙂

His Personal Love

In a free moment, (which I am learning are scarce when you are handed a schedule with every hour for the next 60 days planned out) I wanted to stop and tell you a small story of God’s provision.

It started abruptly for one little three year old girl as this new word, “Africa” joined our vocabulary. She didn’t invite it, but she learned to get used to it.

Soon “Africa” meant cleaning out old things from cabinets.

Then “Africa” meant doing a lot of shopping and mystery boxes arriving via the mailman.

Then “Africa” meant packing all our stuff away in boxes and giving a lot of stuff away.

But then came the one day amidst all the “Africa” when she looked up at me with sad little eyes and asked, “Pink car is being given away too?”

Pink car was a dear friend to her. Pink Fisher Price car meant “Africa” could wait for a few minutes of reckless parking lot play. Pink Car was independence as she sped her little legs, Flintstone style”, in that preschool play car wherever her heart desired. Pink car was far better than any bike. Pink car was even better than sidewalk chalk. Pink car was AWESOME!

I couldn’t possibly help her understand that she wouldn’t fit in pink car by the time we could see it next in two years. I couldn’t help her see how old and sun-faded pink car had been through the years. Pink car could not go.

And she hurt.

And we hugged.

And God heard her little heart.

 

And then on day one of orientation she found…

Green car!!!!

Oh dear ones, look at her little face. She just couldn’t stop giggling.

Her heart was so full and she shouted out, “I LOVE MY SCHOOL!”

– Oh how He loves you and me.

– … Her dear little heart. He cherishes it so.

At Last.


We have arrived.

Fully unpacked.

Reality is sinking in.

Despite Rachael’s arrival day strep throat diagnosis, we’re all settling in well. Our dear little trooper is on a strong antibiotic that will allow her to be safe for kid public  in a short 12 hours after dose one. We’re thankful for a quick discovery, quick acting medical team recommendation and quick responding medication. Rachael’s in great spirits and excited to be here despite her sore throat.

Early bedtimes for all tonight as tomorrow promises teacher meetings and scavenger hunt completion. Oh and let’s not forget our need – NEED – to play on each of the three playgrounds available.😉

It’s still a bit surreal to be here, but we are SUPER excited and thankful for the privilege of being here!

Wahoo!!!!!

We made it, dear ones, we made it!