Saturday, November 10, 2007

We are home!

well, not really...but we are back on American soil as we wait for our connecting flight back to RDU! We traveled for roughly 24 hours after arriving to Malawi from Mozambique, stopped over in Zambia, switched planes in Ethiopia, refueled in Rome, and now in DC...WOW!

Just to give you a quick recap of our last two days...

-(on Wednesday)the Seminar eneded on a FANTASTIC note! Words cant really describe it, but we can tell you this...the Holy Spirit was all up in there!

-that night, the young african men had a suprise for us...they did a sort of "roasting" skit of ALL of us, mimicking our actions and tendencies. It was HILARIOUS! It really touched our hearts that they cared about us so much to take the time to think up all of the skits.

-that night there was an earthquake! It was just a tremor, but lasted for about 10-15 seconds. Half of us slept through it and the other half had NO IDEA what is was until the next morning!

-the next day (Thursday)was spent mostly traveling, but Mike S, Crystal and Glenda were able to go back to the hospital. More than 1/2 of the patients they had prayed for earlier had already been discharged!

-Before we flew out Friday morning, we were able to stop by the market in Lilongwe, Malawi. We bargained with the best of em! Nothing has a price tag, EVERTHING is negotiable! It was quite an experience, as we had TONS of people surrounding us every step we took to try and buy from them.

THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for all of your prayers and support. The Lord is really doing AMAZING stuff over there. The African people are HUNGRY for the Lord and the Holy Spirit. I encourage each one of you to check out the Wheresoever website (link on the side of the blog) to get a history of how it started and what exactly is going on. There are so many awesome stories and happenings, it is almost unbelievable! They need ALL the help they can get, whether it is financial, prayer, or serving on the next trip! We hope to see you then! :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6th

The Seminar continued throughout the day today, with the entire American team teaching at one time or another. Crystal spoke a powerful message about how to connect with God from the beginning of your walk. She used a great illustration with participants from the audience and they seemed to really connect. Pastor Mike gave an enthusiastic message on the 6 leadership standards from Acts, and taught everyone a worship song in English. Glenda spoke about caring for Baby Christians, and Nick taught again on the importance of Children’s Ministry. Mike and Jay also gave powerful messages, speaking on spiritual gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit.

While not teaching at the Seminar, we had the chance to go minister in different parts of the town. Glenda went with Moses for Children’s ministry, and she shared a few stories that the children could apply to their lives.

Mike and Nick went over to the prison with Gift, Pastor Kenneth, Pastor Fife, and Christiano. The prison is nothing you can relate to back in America. There is an open courtyard with no roof, and the area is roughly 6 yards by 18 yards. Then, there is a bathroom, and maybe 4 or 5 tiny cells. And that’s it! This is for 58 prisoners! Some of them sleep in the open courtyard on the concrete floor, and their clothes are tattered and worn. Their only form of entertainment is a game they play with some pebbles and some indentions in the concrete (kind of like the game Mancala if you are familiar with it). When we arrived in the courtyard, the one guard started to sing a worship song. Immediately, ALL of the prisoners joined in! They all had huge smiles on their face and they all sang in tune. 58 prisoners, locked up in terrible conditions, signing their hearts out for God. It was amazing! (We have found that many people know worship songs, they just don’t understand having a relationship with God.) Mike gave a very powerful message, and we found out that 54 of the 58 had never received Christ before. When Mike gave the call, all of those 54 accepted Christ! Mike had explained that Jesus had helped him get out of a prison sentence, and that Jesus could set them free too. Very soon after this, the prison guard handed Christiano a piece of paper through the door to the courtyard. One of the inmates who just accepted Christ was being released! He even let Christiano announce this in front of everyone! AMEN! Also, while praying for everyone, we realized there was a Pastor among the inmates. We did not know why he was there, but he was obviously broken down during prayer time and repenting. We prayed with him, and told him that although he was in prison, he can still be a Pastor for the inmates, and that it was his job to help and grow them when we left. He was very receptive and promised us he would do so!

Although we have not gone into too much detail about the Seminars, we do want to share this about the Pastors and leaders of the church: They are HUNGRY for the word of God! It is amazing to see how much their hearts are open to receive all the things we are teaching them. They worship the Lord in a way we can’t even understand with our traditional “western” Christianity. They truly submit to the Lord and praise and worship like it is the last thing they will ever do on this earth. It is refreshing and inspirational to see them connect in worship the way that they do! The Lord is preparing these great leaders for many wonderful things, and we just thank Jesus that he is using us for His Glory!

Monday, November 5th

First off, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the prayers! Jay and Alex are both healed and feeling great! Since we had arrived so late the night before, we pushed back the start of the Seminar till after lunch. Some of us took this time to rest, while others headed to the market and around town to chat with the locals and get used to our new home for the next few days.

After lunch, the team split up a bit. Jay and Pastor Mike stayed at the seminar, and Pastor Mike gave a powerful message on Love, Forgiveness, and Acceptance from John 21.

Crystal, Mike and Gift headed over to the local hospital to bring medicine and to minister to the sick. The iv’s looked as if they had been used over and over again, and there was the look of much pain and suffering on the patients. We found out that the doctors are only at this particular hopsital for two hours a day. ONLY 2 hours a day! Most of the patients were sick with Malaria. Mike, Crystal and Gift gave a salvation message and almost 50 people received Christ! After that, they prayed for healing over all the patients. They also took many witchdoctor charms away from the patients, as they were relying on them for healing.

Nick and Moses headed over to the soccer ground to do some children’s ministry. About 75 children were there, and they played barefoot soccer in the mud for 2 hours. Then, Nick taught on the body of Christ, using a soccer team as a metaphor. On the way back home, a police officer approached them, asking for money and cigarettes. It was very apparent that he was drunk. After Moses explained we were from the church, he apologized and asked for a Fanta soda! Moses said that he was on his way back to work, and that this was a usual occurrence. Please pray for all of the city and government officials, because this example explains some of the corruptness we see in the area.

Danny and Lindy were able to meet with the DC (District Commissioner/Governor) of the Angonia District to tell him about the medicine we brought. The request was to be able to give it directly to the hospital, rather than have it sent to a lab to be tested. (if this was the case, it would most likey be confiscated and possibly sold somewhere else). In the past, the DC has not been that receptive, not even allowing an interpreter for their conversations. However, this time he was all smiles and very open to all that Danny and Lindy had to say!

Since we didn’t have a morning Seminar session, we invited everyone back for an evening session. Lindy, Nick, and Anessia preached on Faith and trials and tribulations, referencing Job and James 1. The message was accepted very well, as it was evident that some of lifes problems they were trying to overcome were affecting their Faith.

As always, here is some more random info:

-The government turns off the power randomly during the day at times, and the water is turned off everday at lunch
-During lunch, everything shuts down (market, shops, etc.) for 1 ½ hours
-There is a genuine kindness among all the people. For example, at the water pump, everyone helps out each other. They all take turns pumping and helping fill the buckets. It is a second nature to them, as they just do it without being asked. This may sound simple, but it speaks volumes about the kind of people we are able to work with and minister to.
-The children are given huge responsibilities. Every place we have been, we have seen children who are 5 and 6 caring for babies who extremely young, some even a month or so old. They wear the babies on their backs just like their mothers do, and often have them throughout the day while their mom does the wash and cooks. The children also roam free throughout the day. However, as mentioned in the water pump example, everyone looks out for each other. They tell us that school is closed…we cant figure out if it the summer break or if it is closed for a while, but they tell us it will re-open again one day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sunday, November 4th

Today was a glorious day! The entire team split up, going to 7 different churches to preach in the Tete area. Western Christianity had influenced much of Africa, and people come out in their Sunday best. The African woman looked beautiful in thier traditional dresses, and the men more ties (and some suits). This, of course, meant that we were to do the same. Tete is one of the hottest areas in Mozambique, and today was not any different. The temperature read 109 degrees...YES...109 degrees! As you can imagine, the churches were HOT! Some had dirt floors, no air ventilation...HOT! But, the HOLY SPIRIT was all over the place so we could not complain! Also, many of the Pastors in Africa PREACH! When i say preach, i mean they are enthusiastic, passionate, wiping the sweat from their face PREACHING! So of course, we all preached the same way, giving it all we had! Although we did really communicate with the Senior Pastors about the messages we would share, the Holy Spirit made sure it was what that particular church needed. For example, Nick and Moses were able to preach at a church that was focusing on Children´s Ministry that week. Moses has his own childrens ministy in Angonia, and is also very passionate about children. So, they were able to give an inspiring message about the Children of God`s kingdom, then they taught a Sunday School class for the children. It is our prayer that many other churches follow this churches example of Childrens ministry, because they are currently one of the only churches in the area offering these servies. Jay and Gift were able to preach about the Power of The Holy Spirit...this is exactly what the Pastor wanted them to speak on, but they did not communicate before hand. The rest of the stories about Sunday morning are just as powerful!

We all talked about our experiences afterwards and one theme continued to come up. HUMBLED. The pastors, elders, and church congregation treated us and served as if we were the President of the USA. They would not let us carry our bags, let us sit in the the best chair, and some even collected an offering for us. Just think...some of the poorest people in the world giving us rich americans reminds us of the story in the bible when the poor, old woman tithed all that she had, even though it was a few pennies. We could not give any of the money back b/c it would have been disrespectful, so we gave an offering to the churches that we attended. They were ever so grateful!

Speaking of humbled...the African team are the most servant, thoughtful, kind, genuine people we have ever met! They are always making sure we are doing ok and our stay is pleasant. Thier servant hearts and love for God is something that the Lord will continue to show people as they are an amazing example for all of the people here. Also, they have a great sense of humor! They are always trying to joke with us or trick us with funny little lies about the country or area!

After church, we had some more time to rest before our trip to Angonia (this is also Vila Ulounge, where the Missions Base is located). It was about a four hour drive from Tete, and we broke down a few the middle of nowhere...and road was very bumpy...but, God took care of us and somehow we arrived safely!

Now, we will hold a Seminar and some Crusades in this area, as well as do some Childrens Ministry. God is showing us some amazing things and we are blessed by the ways he is using us!

Here is some more random info:

-A cookie or cracker is called a biscuit
-We were blessed with running water in Songo...but not in Tete or we used a bucket of water to bathe...and we have to put disinfectant in the water
-sometimes there are little stones in the rice
-most everyone likes to put hot sauce and garlic on everything (the garlic looks exactly like the hot sauce, not the kind we are used to)
-although there is electricity at the Missions Base, they still like to cook with a fire

Prayer requests:

-Please pray for Alex, our keyboard player. He has been up and down with a sickness, and we think it might be Malaria.
-Please pray for Jay, as he is feeling a little weak. We think it might be heat exhaustion from Tete.
-Please pray for the continuing work of the Holy Spirit on this country. These people are hungry and open to the power of God!
-Please pray for our continued health, energy, and enthusiam and that we can continue to preach the good news with clarity and passion!
-Please pray for Moses and his Childrens Ministry and that God will expand the ministry all over the country of Mozambique!

Saturday, November 3rd

We left Songo very early for our trip to Tete. Since the Baptism was not until the afternoon, we all took some much needed time to rest! We had been going strong from the crack of dawn till late into the night with the Seminars and Crusades in Songo, and our bodies needed a little rest.

During our rest time, Danny held a council meeting for the churches in the Tete and Moatize area. These are churches that Wheresoever has helped start. In all of Mozambique, this ministry has helped start roughly 130 churches! At the council meeting, many of the Senior Pastors gave testimonies of all the great things that have happened after the Tete Seminar (done a few months back). Out of the 7 churches represented in this meeting, they have only 1 car amoungst all their congregation! They also said that after the Crusades in Tete a few months back, 10 more churches had been planted!

As we were getting ready to go to the Baptism, Lindy was talking to one of the Inn workers, Sergio (he says it Sedju). She had known him from previous trips to that particular Inn, and she informed him we were going to a Baptism. He was VERY excited and declared that he wanted to come and be Baptized! So he hopped in the Cruiser and Mike gave him the Salvation message. It turns out that a long time ago he had heard about Jesus, but turned away from Him.

We held the Baptism in a big river which runs right through the city of Tete. To get to the river, we had to walk through a muddy creek bed where the water came up to a bit higher than our knees. To help Pastor Mike get across, some men carried him through the creek. He teared up and said that it was the most humbling experience of his life. On the other side on the creek was the bank of the river and a little beach area. It was like a scene out of a movie! In a little inlet on the left, women were washing their clothes and bathing. Thier small children were helping too. One little girl who couldnt have been more than 2 years old was washing her outfit on a rock and she stood there naked. It was very evident that she had watched her mother do this many times before. More younger children wrestled around in the river, while some older boys played soccer in the sand off to the right. In the distance we could see 2 men on a wooden canoe, spear fishing (whom we later bought some fish from). Pastor Mike gave the Water Baptism message, and we sang some worship and praise songs. Most everyone along the bank came over to join in! After that, Danny, Lindy, Matias and Christiano baptized roughly 30 people. While all of this was going on, Sergio was ministering to two other young men along the beach...and they too accepted Christ and were baptized! Sergio stated to Jay that he thought he had been called by God to minister to others! AMEN!

After the Baptism, we headed over to do another Crusade in a village. Crystal, Mike S. and Nick gave testimonies/Salvation messages, and we danced and danced and danced! 381 people gave thier life to Christ that night, and many people came forward for prayer at the end. God is doing amazing things in this place!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Friday, Nov. 2nd

We were all extremely excited to see what the Lord had in store for us today. Being the last day in Songo, we really wanted to leave a HUGE footprint on this place. The word of the Seminars and Crusades had spread even more like wild fire, so we were expecting bigger crowds than the previous days.

The Seminar worship started off with a bang, as people had come prepared to be transformed and have biblical truths placed on their hearts. Glenda had taught the children a song in English for them to perform in front of the Seminar, and then they sang a worship song with Moses and Nick beating away on the drum. Then, Mike S. taught on the character of Christ from 2 Peter. Nick then spoke on the importance of the body of the church, as well as the need to rise up and mentor older teenagers/younger adults. Finally, Jay brought it all home, re-iterating the fact that these teenagers and younger adults are the future church leaders and need to be raised up.

Right before lunch, we learned that we would be able to speak in a local prison. Pastor Mike, Mike S, Crystal, Nick, Chrissy and Pastor Kenneth quickly headed over, as it would be a short visit due to the 2 Crusades later in the day. It was an extremely small prison, maybe the size of a gymnasium. The cells were extremely small, with 4 prisoners per room. There was basically enough room for their tiny mattresses on the floor, and nothing else. There were no lights in the rooms, and only a small window allowed light in. They were very excited to see us. Obviously, Mike S. preached a great message about prison and salvation (for those who do not know, Mike runs Pardoned By Christ, a prison ministry in the NC area). 42 people received Christ! Chrissy led some worship songs, and the prisoners sang their hearts out. Some were older, but many were teenagers or younger men. Crystal also brought the word about second chances. Pastor Michael closed in a powerful prayer, and we all passed out soap and tracts. It was very evident that we impacted their lives.

After lunch, most everyone headed back over to Chitema to finish the Crusade we started yesterday. However, Pastor Mike and a few of the African team members stayed at the Seminar, as Pastor Mike wrapped up the 3-day training. As we drove into Chitema, the children cheered and ran alongside our cars. It is so very humbling to be treated this way as we enter all the villages. Word did travel, and close to 1000 people came out. Nick preached a message of salvation, because some people who had come were not in attendance the previous night. The African team did another funny skit, and Bishop Christiano did the altar call. Many more people received Christ today. While passing out tracts, you would have thought we were passing out $100 bills. It almost turned into a mob scene! At the end of the service, we called for people to come forward for prayer requests. TONS of people were in need of prayer! Although there were many spiritual and mental healings, there was an amazing physical healing as well! Crystal (who is a RN) had an elderly woman come up for prayer. The woman pointed to her knee and asked for prayer. Crystal could tell that this woman’s knee did not look right, as it was shaped in a funny way. She laid hands on the elderly woman’s knee and began to pray, and then she heard a POP! The woman jumped for joy…literally! She began to lift her knees up off the ground back and forth, smiling. Some amazing miracles are happening here! AMEN! Nobody wanted us to leave, and tons of children jumped on the back of our cars as we were driving away. But, we had to head back to Songo to finish up another Crusade. With no time to stop for dinner, we set up for another passion filled Crusade! Once again, the children cheered as we came into their village and ran after our cars. About 400 people came out, ready to dance and praise. Now I now we have tried to explain the dancing to you, but it is almost too hard to describe. Many churches sing worship songs before a service for 30 minutes. Africans dance and praise before the start of a service for almost an hour! NONSTOP! Many of us have volunteered to be on the worship dance team that dances for everyone before the message (we’ll let you guess who the ones are!). There are some awesome dance moves to different songs. One is almost the exact same thing as the “crip walk” dance in the US (except your feet stay together). For those old folks out there in Blog land, this is a very popular hip hop dance move. The children and adults go crazy when we do it!

For the program, Jay gave his testimony, and Mike S. preached a “jump up and down/run around” enthusiastic message about God’s love. As before, many people came forward to receive prayer at the end. The Holy Spirit was truly at work! We ended with one big dance party as we celebrated God’s victory in Songo!

We are off to bed as tomorrow we will travel to Tete for a Baptism and then to visit churches on Sunday. Then, we are back to Vila Luongue and the Angonia province for more Seminars and Crusades. Praise God!

Thursday, Nov. 1st

We woke early as usual for prayer and to prepare for the day. News traveled very fast, as even more people showed up for the Seminar. As we drove up, the children ran besides our car and were cheering and chanting that we had returned! We got started, and the children were allowed to stay for praise and worship. This was truly a blessing. Their pure joy and innocent, uninhibited, transparent worship for the Lord was absolutely breathtaking. The flow of the day continued as the first day, with Nick and Glenda working with the children while the Seminar took place. Jay gave a message on Emanuel (God is with us), and Nick preached on the importance of establishing children’s ministry (They are the future leaders of the church-Proverbs 22:6, they are important and used by God-Acts 23:16-22, Jesus said to do it! Matthew 18:2-6). Then, Glenda gave her testimony and used visual illustration on how to care for the baby Christians of the village, related it to caring for an infant child. It was extremely powerful!

Before lunch, we took a quick trip to the dam. I have no idea what the dam name was (HA!), but is supposed to be the 2nd biggest dam in the continent of Africa. There were mountains all around, and a tranquil spirit in the air. As we peered over the edge, a beautiful rainbow looked right back at us. Interpret it any way you want, but we believe it was God confirming our journey to Songo and the love and grace He is showering down by bringing all of His people together.

After lunch, the group split up. Mike, Crystal, Pastor Mike, Glenda and Matias went back to the Seminar. Mike S. spoke about Faith, telling the story about Jesus healing a sick boy (Matthew 9:17). Crystal spoke about the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. The rest of the group went on a Crusade to a village/township called Chitema. Chitema was about a 45 min. drive from Songo, with the majority of the drive being on dirt roads. As we arrived, we were planning to set up on a soccer field in the middle of town. Luckily, some people were getting ready to play and asked us to move. This was a blessing from God, because there were not many people around. So, we headed across the street to set up right smack down in the middle of the village. As we drove in, the children began to cheer and run after our car. Nick got out a soccer ball while Jay got out a beach ball, and the crowd began to swell immediately. Literally hundreds of children appeared and began to play. Like many African children, they LOVED the video camera and the digital camera, screaming and cheering joyfully when it came out. More people came out than the previous crusade, with close to 800 adults and children in attendance. As the same as the previous night, the Crusade began with enthusiastic dance and praise. It is really hard to put into words…just think of one big dance party, with everyone doing the same dance and shouting the same words…AMAZING! After a relatively similar program from the previous night, almost 400 adults gave their life to Christ!

Here are some random tidbits of information thus far from our trip:
-our meals consist mainly of rice, seema (like grits, but really thick), more rice, a spinach/tomato medley with a vinegar base to put over our rice, and normally some kind of meat (sometimes chicken, goat, and fish-complete with the fish head!)
-Toilets do not have seats on them
-Nick and Mike S. have become regular drivers of the vehicles, and Jay has driven too
-Like previously mentioned, they LOVE being photographed. For the most part, they don’t smile in the pictures. However, as soon as you show them, they crack up laughing and pointing!
-A flashlight is called a torch
-Driving along the villages and townships is really fun. Many children and adults give us a blank, “What in the heck are you doing here?!” stare. It almost looks a bit mean at first. Then, we all smile and wave…and a HUGE smile comes across their face and they wave back…EVERYTIME!
-Halleluiah= AMEN! Although we have come in contact with close to 5 different languages, any time someone says, “Halleluiah,” EVERYONE in EVERY LANGUAGE responds Amen!