Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Many Faces of Nathaniel

Mozambique Update from Mark & Jen

Good News
Greetings from Africa. It's been so long since we last wrote, we feel we have catch you up on life again here in Africa. Here among the poorest of the poor, the world economic crisis is not on the minds of the kids God has called us to serve. You see, in the west, we strive to succeed. Here in the 2/3rds world, they strive to survive. And they do it well, for they have been practicing for many years. They are a remarkably sharing culture, oftentimes giving up the meager possessions they own to help a family member or friend who might be in worse shape. It's hard to wrap your mind around a people who always have an ache in their stomach because it's never quite full. They play hard here at our center making soccer balls out of plastic bags and trampolines out of old tires and very seldom drink anything. A simple, hard life with very few distractions. The beauty of such a life is that what we have to offer as missionaries can have such an impact so quickly. Do you know what an ice cold soft drink tastes like to a boy whose only know well water? Or a chicken dinner to a little girl who lives her life eating rice and beans? Or more importantly, just spending time and being a father to a group of kids who don't have a father? I tell you it's big. Big to us, big to them and big to God. The Bible states, and I paraphrase. “Hey, poor people, you are blessed, because you have the inside track on understanding the kingdom of God. Hey, those of you who are hungry, don't worry, because you will be filled. Hey, you who are sad and crying, take heart, it won't be long before you will be laughing your heads off in joy”. (Luke 6:20,21). Of course, it's not solely the physical state that God is referring to, but a spiritual state. And yet, the physical can oftentimes set the stage for a greater capacity to understand the spiritual. Life lessons are all around us. I think God shakes things up at times to see where our hearts lie. Maybe you are seeing that in your own life. If so, take heart. God is so jealous He will go to any lengths to remove those things that hinder His love from getting through to you.
Children's Day
On June 1st all over Mozambique, they celebrate the children. Here at Iris, we provide a short presentation and teaching program, a full chicken and pop meal, games and last but not least, a bag of sweets....to about 2,200 kids. Let me say that again, two thousand two hundred kids. We start the day early with Heidi Baker handing out presents to our 175 full time resident children. Beaming faces always follow as they try on their new clothes and begin playing with the one or two simple toys they receive. Next we serve lunch to our own center kids. Then we let in a few hundred village children at a time and have a short Bible lesson, followed by a full plate of rice and ¼ chicken and a soft drink. Greasy fingers and greasy smiles can be found everywhere, as the kids hold up their chicken in pure delight. Off to our grass fields next for sack races, tug of war and everything in between. Screams of ecstasy for the winners can be heard all over the area.An hour before dark we form two lines (called a prayer tunnel) and usher the kids out of the center as we hand them a bag of candy. I have to say, I got wrecked this year during this part of the day. Having the honor of hugging and touching and praying for and kissing thousands of little kids. Most were covered with dirt and wore clothes so threadbare that the slightest touch could cause a tear. Many of the 10-13 year old girls had their little baby siblings wrapped in a piece of cloth on their backs. Such responsibility for such a young age. Anyway, these kids loved to be loved and hugged and prayed for. We must have had 100 people lined up loving on these little treasures from heaven ushering them back to their difficult existence outside our gates. And yet, happy to have spent a few hours with a group of people who genuinely loved them. South African Surprise
I lost a another tooth (I thought that was supposed to stop when I was a kid.....or maybe I'm getting old) and had to take a quick jaunt down to South Africa to get it fixed. We made it into a 10-day holiday as we overdosed on fast food; hot, clean water and buying a few treasures to bring back to Mozambique. We even got a chance to spend a day in Kruger Park and saw some amazing wild animals.

Winter Time Frenzy
Yes, June, July & August is our Winter. 85 to 90 degrees by day and in the 70's at night. And, almost like a college town, our community population triples when “school” is in session. Three weeks ago all was calm. We now have 75 visitors, 90 mission school students and 150 Mozambican national Bible school students, not to mention speakers from all over the world. It's our busiest time of the year as we help facilitate our visitors to experience the love and power of God here at Iris. Documented Miracles
We had an amazing (Global Awakening) team come last week and witnessed our amazing God do some outrageous things! On the team were doctors from Harvard, Boston University and Cambridge. The research couple from Harvard and Boston U. brought sophisticated hearing and sight testing equipment. They said they wanted to test people before we prayed for them and then test them immediately after prayer and let the test results speak for themselves. Their heart was to reach a group of people that were "on the bubble" in terms of really believing that God heals people today. They felt like there were many people in the world who would never believe in miracles while others believed in them no matter what. They were after the people, like themselves, who would like to see a little more evidence. Along with Heidi Baker, we did a bush outreach with another evangelist, David Hogan. Heidi called all the deaf and (almost) blind people to the back for testing first (quite a challenge in the bush)! The machines were hooked up and everyone tested. We then called them up on stage to pray and then back again for more testing. The results were instantaneous and miraculous. People who couldn't read even the top levels on they eye charts were suddenly able to read very small type. People who couldn't recognize normal loud sounds were instantly able to respond to the faintest noises. Once they officially publish the results, we'll post them on our website. In the meantime, wow God! Don't Take it Personal
Please forgive us for not being able to respond to your e-mails. We really would love to sit down and reply to everyone of you, but the demands of life here just flat prevent us from doing so. Please know that we do appreciate each and every message you send us. Our hearts are with you even if our communication doesn't reflect it. Please don't stop writing. We love you and miss you all.

Please visit us at http://liquidmyrrh.org/

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tiger, Deer and Rabbit Riding

We have a new half-way point meeting place, The Carousel at North Pointe Mall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Savannah, a Wedding and 4 oh no! 3 Hermit Crabs

Catherine and I just got back from Savannah! We made a slight detour to Vidalia to visit the Tumi Outlet. No bargains were found. But we got Frosty's at Wendy's. It was miserably hot and I knew it was only foretelling of the weekend weather to come. Catherine's Frosty had a hole in the bottom, forcing us to combine them in my cup and I didn't really get any and it all melted way too fast. We stopped at a cute little gift shop on the square and cooled off. It was one of those like Bailes-Cobb in downtown Hartwell. It had tons of those handpainted Georgia Bulldog plates and bowls, handpainted signs about being Southern and local Vidalia Onion dressings and sauces. A sweet little old lady waited on us and giftwrapped the decorative iron bowl we picked out for Missy. Yes, I was a little last minute in getting a gift.

We met Elizabeth Glenn Howell and Rebecca Grizzle out on the Howell's amazing dock for shrimp. We watched the sunset and the porpoise swim. I love being on the marsh. It is one of my favorite places on earth. It soothes the soul.
Catherine and I got up early and combed the beach and explored the little shell and jewelry shops nearby. We heard that Miley Cyrus was on the island and had just left the jewelry store we were in. Catherine was not the least bit excited by this news and rolled her eyes when I got giddy with excitement of a potential celebrity spotting. Paul and Nancy Spencer arrived that afternoon. We walked the beach and Catherine explored the sea and marsh. Then we put on our sundresses and flip flops and went to a wedding.

Missy Duncan got married in the dunes on Tybee. It was very, very hot. The reception was under a live oak and they served shrimp and grits!

The next day we went to Sandra Bullock's house and swam in Sandra's pool. Missy had rented the home for the weekend. The pool has made headlines as it juts into a dune protection zone and Bullock had to pay $2,000 in fines to the DNR for not getting a permit to build it. But despite being illegal and disrupting nature, I really enjoyed it. After our refreshing dip in the celebrity pool, we went to Bonna Bella Yacht Club for lunch and then downtown for a carriage ride and ice cream at Leopold's. I went in The Gallery at Market Square for the art and the airconditioning. We walked the live oak sheltered squares and found John Wesley. We walked Broughton and window shopped. I love the French Market. I tried on perfume. We sampled honey in the Savannah Bee Company store. Yum. We then had dinner out on Isle of Hope at Pearl's Saltwater Grille. I had sea scallops.

Paul and Nancy left the next day and Catherine and I went to The Dollar Tree. It is becoming tradition now that all souvenirs, from anywhere inside the US, come from The Dollar Tree. Who really wants a souveneir marked with the location anyway? Surprises from The Dollar Tree are way better than some tacky t-shirt. So that is becoming the way we do things. Emma Grace got a $3.00 beaded necklace from a shop in Savannah and Carson got a rubber aligator from The Dollar Tree. We also picked up a styrofoam cooler while there to house the hermit crabs Catherine found earlier at the beach. We stopped back by Fort Pulaski, watched the 18 minute film inside the Welcome Center about its history and toured the Fort. I highly recommend it. Entry is $3.00 and it lasts several days. You can use your receipt and come and go as you please. In cooler weather I highly recommend packing a picnic and roaming Cockspur Island. You can roam the Fort and climb up to the top. Any child would love exploring it and climbing the winding staircases. The damage to the Fort is still visible and all bricks making up the Fort were handmade by slaves. The history is incredible and has all been well preserved. You must go if ever going over to Tybee. The island also has footpaths that look perfect for running...in the Fall of course. It is surrounded by pristine marshland and great for spotting shorebirds.

We stopped on the way home in Savannah and had lunch with Rebecca Grizzle at the Kayak Kafe near her firm. I didn't want to leave. But Catherine, 4 very lucky hermit crabs and I had to get back. Catherine got one for Carson, Gracie and herself and one for me. I named mine Hannah Montana, but she made a run for it last night and is stuck and parched somewhere in the tall grass of my front yard and has yet to be found.