December 09, 2011

I'm so proud of him!

Some of you may remember me boasting about my 'son' Joseph Ekwa Atilio Ofuho (Got to love those long Sudanese names, eh?). Thanks for all who sponsored him through Clinical Officer school in Kenya in the last years. He graduated this September with high marks and great respect from all his classmates and professors. He's not only a hard working student but a 25 year old man with a heart of Christ's love to heal and serve his people. I'm so proud of him!

His colleagues were so impressed with his skill and character, that a Kenyan doctor from the hospital he interned at paid for him to apply to Medical School at the Kampala International University in Uganda. I am proud now to say that Joseph is taking his final exams in his first semester to be a Doctor!

I am now thankfully employed as a part time nurse practitioner which allows me time to start a ministry with some other Christians leaders here in downtown Steubenville called, "Mamma Nita's Coffee House". ReShawn, a 17 year old leader who is on our Advisory Committee came up with that name since Mrs. Jaunita Slappy is the owner of the house and a very loved and respected Grandma by all of the downtown people. Our house will be a sort of "Friendship house" of sorts, a place for people of all ages to come together for social, spiritual and community gatherings. We've got big dreams for it!

This week as I was volunteering at our downtown Fourth Street Free Clinic, one of my mid 50 year old patient and I had finished our consultation about her Asthma and Hypertension, and I asked her daughter and her if they'd like to pray together. We held hands and I prayed a simple prayer to bless them and remind them how loved they are by God and that He has not forgotten them and spoke Jesus' healing over their hearts and bodies. Marie's daughter, Melissa began weeping. She could hardly control herself. We hugged, and cried some more. People are so hungry for a touch of Love.

Pray that "Mama Nita's Coffee House" will be a place where people can visit to laugh, to cry, get healed or just to have someone to talk to and play cards with. Please pray that we can continue to gather people from all different churches in the area to form a loving community of the Body of Christ so that we can be a healing river of love to the many hurting young and old people in our city. We want to see this city transformed. I want to see your city transformed. Let's do it one "Melissa" at a time!

God loves you and I love you, too!!

October 14, 2011

MIssions in Ohio...

I'm back, settling into my Ohio'n life. Here's a little update...
* I'll stay in the States 'a while' to help build up some of the young people with a heart for missions here at Franciscan University and work on building the foundations of my own mission work
* I start back at my old job at Take Care Health retail clinic as of December 13
* I'll continue to volunteer at the 4th Street Free clinic weekly
* It's on my heart to start some sort of coffee house or meeting place for young people with all the churches working together on it. I'm hoping it will also emerge into a place where we can pray for our city to see God really do something even greater here. The reaction of people downtown is, "That's what this city needs!"
* Joseph Ofuho, a Sudanese son of mine, is in Medical School in Uganda in his first semester. Thanks for all the donations to help him to keep on studying until 2016.
* I'm working on a missions formation program for leaders of short term missions which may launch next September. Please pray for wisdom as I develop this.
* I will continue to stay connected with many missionaries who are on the field doing amazing things, so if you need places to share your resources and prayers, let me know.
* And I'm eagerly taking extra time to go deeper in the things of God--He has so much for each of us!

Most likely some time after 2013 God will call me to some wonderful 'crazy' place to serve people with leprosy along with a team of other missionaries... so if you can also keep that in prayer for me!

Thanks so much for all your love and support this last year in Africa! I love you all!

August 31, 2011

Things I learned on the African Mission field this last year...

• Keep the Gospel simple “This command I give you, Love one another.” People are so hungry for love. I saw the joy that I brought my sweet Mozambiquan leper friends and that they brought me…
• I realized I kinda like eating the fried white ants
• I saw it’s so key to not let myself get offended by others and to seek to be ‘un-offendable’ like Jesus lived. It may seem unrealistic, but it’s the Gospel. I can’t let those hurts rule my heart as it will eat away at me and I will miss the beauty in the situation.
• I learned we actually can love our enemies. The opportunity of loving and treating in the Nuba clinic the patients who were killing people in Darfur was life changing, yet strange, and hard to explain.
• I realized I really, really, really miss eating my Mom's bran muffins when in Africa
• I experienced the importance of being myself, being fully Catholic and praying for unity in the whole Body. I can feel how much unity in the Body is burning on God’s heart
• I can see my love for those with leprosy is so given by God and that He has a plan for me to serve them in some way at some point in my life.
• It was so cool to experience how ready God is to heal the sick, keep dying children from dying, and encourage people. And what a privilege this year to literally see the blind see, lepers cleansed, almost dead come alive and the lame leaping and hugging me with joy! God, you are so nice!
• I saw how generous people around the world are who donate $20,000 per month to help 800 Mozambiquan malnourished kids live healthier
• There are so many people around the world who have no idea that there is a God or people who love them so much. They are living in such suffering, fear, physical pain, bound to witchcraft and in utter isolation. I grew in compassion for these many tribes from so many nations who could be so much more happy and free if they had hope and confidence that God is greater than their fears and a ready help in their difficulties. I also realized more than ever there are so few Christians willing to ‘Go’ and reach out to Muslims and those who have never heard or seen the love of God. Pray for more courageous missionaries to go!
• I’ve learned that I’m not as physically strong as when I was in my 30’s which is quite humbling. But that doesn’t mean I’m not called to missions, just that I have to take care of myself and also trust God that He knows every hair on my head and if He calls me, He will provide and sustain me.

And lastly but most importantly…
• I learned to long for God to be my primary treasure… not the lepers, not my mission team mates, not my family or friends, not chocolate and icecream (though those are great things!) and certainly not the good works that I do. Him alone. Loving and worshiping Him with all my heart and resting in His love for me have to be my primary goal and aim.

What did you learn from your life this last year?
I'd love to hear!

Thanks from the Africans and myself for your prayers and donations this past year!

August 04, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine!

My fever would not leave. After 6 days of the fever and sweats, my legs and hands began swelling and everything hurt to move and my skin was mottled. Fr. Kevin and the YWAM team helped me to board the vehicle headed to Kampala Uganda…a lovely 12 hour drive at least.

“We’re just waiting for 1 more passenger then we’ll go.” Patience… Africans have a lot of time, not many watches. “Let’s go!” he said. The largest Indian man I’ve ever seen sat stooped over in the middle of the little 5-seater wagon, and I had already sat my bunch of sweet bananas on the outer seat I wanted. 3 people remained outside.

“We fit 4 in the backseat.” “How the heck are you going to fit 4 back here? This is a BIG man and I have BIG hips!” I said in my meek American tone. We argued so much that they gave me my money back and told me to wait for another car. UGH. The same problem arose in the next car until I forked up some more money to cover the ‘loss’.

After 30 minutes of driving, the little Muslim boy sitting next to me was holding his hat over his mouth. “”Inte cues?” No, definitely not, he nodded his head. “Stop! He’s going to vomit!” Just in time. I decided to take a pee break as the roads were more than bumpy. But… no privacy… and I couldn’t squat due to swollen painful joints. “What the heck… give them a show…swallow your pride.”’ I peed with a few people gawking… oh well, what else will they talk about at dinner?

Arriving in the transition point where I was to board a 30 seater bus, I stopped in a restaurant for chips and chicken. “Can I have chips and chicken?” “No”. Öh, what are those cooking outside?” ”Chips” “Can I have some?” ÖK”. “Chicken is there?” “No, no chicken.” Chips it is!
So, I ate my cold chips and watched Home Alone on the TV with a bunch of Sudanese and Ugandans laughing away… what a scene!

Boarded the bus. The conductor offers a prayer of protection. “God, please protect us and cover this car with your Precious Blood. Keep all the giraffes, elephants and rhinoceros’ and other large animals away from our path, O God. And keep all the bandits and thieves from boarding our car at any of the stops. And keep our driver awake…. In Jesus Name.” Now that’s a real traveling prayer!

I arrived safely, was taken the next morning to the clinic and attended to wonderfully and got on the right medicines, along with all of your prayers. By the next morning, I was noting a significant change and am on th road to recovery after having liver enzymes elevated to that of a person with hepatitis. They are now on their way down.

I’m now in transition back to the US for a long rest and with the intention of returning in early December to Sudan to work with leprosy patients and build up the YWAM clinic among other works.

Thanks for all your prayers and support! Keep them coming!

July 20, 2011

Yea! to be in Yei, Sudan!

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you from Yei, the New Republic of Sudan—the 54th country of Africa. The July 9th celebrations, as you maybe have read in the newspaper, were, and continue to be incredible. After decades of war that I actually shared in physically, it’s been a joy for me to congratulate so many Sudanese here and assure them that there are MANY wonderful people praying for them around the world.

I was warmly welcomed here to the Yei YWAM (Youth With a Mission) on the 5th of July and to my surprise soon became sick with a severe migraine and vomiting for several days—almost a week. I was ready to give up and go home—I felt to awful. I had no idea what work was going to open up for me and I was really feeling unsure of what lay ahead.

Now all is made new! I’m sleeping better than ever and eating great. I went to town to meet Bishop Tombe last week who then introduced me to the Holy Spirit Sisters who have assumed responsibility recently for the leprosy program of Yei. We chatted for hours and though they are fully staffed for the basic leprosy program, they warmly welcome me to “fill in the gaps” and support the program as I feel led. Sr. Veronica, a doctor from Ukraine said, “You’re an answer to prayer!” and I replied that their welcome and response was also an answer to mine and all of you who have been praying for me.

I will also be assisting YWAM with improving their Yei clinic and then move toward working more regularly with the leprosy program. I also am weekly attending an amazing time of intercession for Sudan and unity in the churches. It’s solely led by Sudanese Pastors and lay people and we pray all day—It is so beautiful and an answer to my cry that 1 Chronicles7:14 be lived out in Sudan.

Thank you to all who have been praying for me—what a difference I feel since sending out an ‘SOS’ prayer request that first week… Your prayers are incredible! Keep them going please!

With renewed strength,
PS: my gmail is now restored!! Yea again!

June 30, 2011

The Great Leper

I wept and wept seeing Jesus’ heart as He healed the desperate people plagued by leprosy. Weeping because of the pain each person had endured from years of harsh rejection, bitter shame and intense suffering; crying 'happy tears' because they finally knew true love and their incredible dignity.

As I read the book, Second Touch by Thoene, I felt deeply that this is not only ‘a fictional novel’—this really is Jesus’ heart to heal from the inside and out, those afflicted with leprosy. As I wept, I realized more deeply than ever, that He has given me a piece of His heart for those who are suffering around the world with leprosy--and it's time to act on it concretely.

I then remembered my friend Carisianno in Pemba, Mozambique—his tender face so marred that it made him appear inhuman; his left ankle and foot so contorted he had to walk on the anterior part of his foot with a special shoe that was so worn and broken that it barely fit anymore. His swollen fingers—if that’s what they are still called—so contorted that they were useless. But his heart—his heart so amazingly golden, tender, full of feeling! Tears rolled from his blinded eyes when we parted for the final time.

Please pray with me and those that God will send to work with me in this leprosy ministry. I actually don’t know what the ministry will look like—but Jesus does. (Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you…” )

I leave for Yei, South Sudan in two days to work with YWAM and have no idea if that is where God will bloom this leprosy work. Please pray with me to listen attentively, and follow however He leads me, but I sense the Lord’s eagerness to be with his children with leprosy. He who was called, “the Great Leper” (Isaiah 53:3-5) has taken on yours and my leprosy—we all need God’s Touch.

May you open your hearts today in a greater way to God’s love and healing touch. He cares about every detail and concern in your life--more than you’ll ever know!

Thanks for your prayers and love,

June 18, 2011

Praying for those in Nuba Mountains

Dr. Tom Catena had to amputate 2 children's arms this week because of bombs dropped by the Khartoum government on the people of the Nuba Mountains. All the people want is freedom or religious, security, to live in peace and develop their lives. Please pray for a cease fire and breakthrough there!

I left there last week and am transitioning through Nairobi and Uganda on my way to join a new family of missionaries in Yei, South Sudan. Youth With a Mission (YWAM) is the group, one that I was a part of 15 years ago and loved. What will I do? We'll see... probably a combination of some medical work in their clinic, some leprosy ministry and joining with the YWAMers to build the faith and character of the people in our area. I'm excited!

Thanks for your prayers and support... More stories to follow in the coming month! Please pray for peace in the south as they get ready to celebrate their Independence day on July 9th!

June 11, 2011

Keep praying for peace to reign in Nuba Mountains

Dear Friends,

I arrived safely in Nairobi 2 days ago, but our amazing medical team decided to stay and serve the wounded from the fighting in Southern Kordofan at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Since the last attack in Heiban, which was in my previous blog, no further major incidents have occurred near us.

God has great plans for the people of Nuba Mountains--for peace, self determination, freedom in all aspects and most of all freedom to live in unity and tranquility. Please continue to pray for God's peace to come to those fighting and for international aid to contribute to those suffering.

I will rest in Nairobi for a week or so then head to a new mission site in Yei, South Sudan in preparations for the July 9th celebration of the new country of South Sudan!

Thanks for your love, support and prayers for me and our brothers and sisters of Sudan,

June 08, 2011

a Sorrowful Awakening Tonight

I can’t sleep now, I’m thinking about what just happened tonight. I heard Esther, our Ugandan Midwife talking loudly outside my door, “30 people are being brought from Heiban—shot. Let’s go!” So our whole medical team attended to the wounded, many who will need amputation tomorrow.

The war has begun here in Nuba Mountains, Sudan. After almost a decade of relative peace, the fight for independence continues. I will be leaving here in 1 ½ days as it is becoming too unsafe here. Please pray for peace for these dear people and a smooth transition for our team and the 60 employees of the diocese including builders, teachers, pastoral staff and we the medical team.

Thank you for walking with us in prayer.

June 04, 2011

Disappointments are in God's hands...

Dear Friends,

Amidst all the great things I've been sharing, there are many sad things that are difficult to understand. Three precious kids whom I've been fighting for, praying for, buying special foods for passed away in the last week... such a mystery... yet at the same time Musegba in my last blog got healed... Politically things are tense here in the Nuba Mountains and I encourage you all to pray for peaceful solutions for these dear people.

All I can do is still thank God and trust Him amidst such obscurity. "I will trust in You God... teach me Your ways" Psalms

Pray for me as I transition to Yei in the south of Sudan by mid June to discern a few ministries there. Pray for me to rest in the Lord amidst all these transitions in a way that brings a great Joy and strength amidst all these challenges.

God bless you!

May 24, 2011

Thank you for praying...

This is a tense time for Sudan...but not without HOPE
We hear the bomber plane flying over us daily this week on it's way to an area in the south called Abeyei. Please pray for peace to reign in Sudan.
Our area of Nuba Mountains is also in need of prayer as both people running for Governor say they won the elections. The man that the Carter Center endorsed as winning fairly is a War Crimes convict. God help us all here.

And He will. He is so present and he reminded me of this on Monday when a little boy came to see me in the clinic. A Muslim orphan, he was hit by a rock in the eye and blinded last year. His guardian didn't even notice he was blind until the teacher made note of it. It was obvious on exam; unable to even see my fingers in front of him...
He now sees, thanks be to God. We prayed and simply asked God to heal him and He, being the marvelous Surgeon he is, completely restored his sight. His Arabic name means "Future". It reminded me that God has a good future to see His love here in Sudan, and a great future for each of us--amidst the struggles.

HOPE... we can have HOPE amidst any difficulty, trial, blindness, sickness, tragedy...
GOD LOVES YOU and me and all of us. Let's open our hearts to God's love today in a really big way... He is so wanting to fill us, touch us, encourage us to not complain, and help us to look to the needs of our neighbors and to His great love...and somehow, our needs get filled when we do that... That's what I'm learning here...

Pray for me to as I discern if I am to stay here longer than July. If I stay, it depends on me having a mission partner sent here no later than end of June to branch out in the areas God is calling me to serve. I'm resting and waiting on Him to light the way...
Thanks for your love and prayers and all the generous donations! It will all be put to great use here!

May 07, 2011

I am at the feet of Darfur….

Fadina, a beautiful fair skinned Sudanese, traveled for 7 days in a car to our hospital with her sick 9 month old, along with her Father and husband. He made the motion of a gun blasting to show the violence that surrounds them ‘at home’ in Darfur. “So many people around the world are praying for you!” I tell them and the many other people from Darfur that come to our hospital. I kissed her baby’s forehead and said, “Rabounah fi” with hands clasped together pointing to heaven. God is with you and is our hope.

This morning in prayer God just said to me, walk the hospital halls and ask for My Presence to fill the hospital. Pray with me that each person who comes here will experience the love, healing and touch of God, as many return to places that are so violent and difficult.

Please pray for us also in the coming weeks as we wait for the election result of our election last week for Governor. Please pray also as some of us have a heart to form some sort of program to assist the widows, orphans and disabled people of the Nuba Mountains in a way that brings unity and healing to the community as a whole and encourages them to know the love of God. We need God’s strategies, wisdom and grace to understand how to do it.

By the way, Adam was discharged today with a big smile! I told him, “Rabounah al Messiah has great plans for your life, Adam!”

May 01, 2011

Amazing graces....

I wish I could bring each of you here to see this amazing place! I feel like I’m in some other world here in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan—and somehow I think I am. I made it hear safely just after Easter and am in full swing serving in our out-patient department of the Mother of Mercy Hospital trying hard to diagnose patients in Arabic. Three African “Clinical Officers” and myself see over 200 patients a day that come from as far as Khartoum to be seen, while others come from Darfur—including those who are causing the problems there. I’m really impressed with the young men’s quality of service and love for the patients, along with the over 100 staff members of the hospital.

While we’re seeing patients, Dr. Tom Catena does surgeries from anything to taking out goiters, repairing hernias, and amputations to small cosmetic fatty tumors, and then after surgery attends to the 200+ inpatients and emergency cases. Our Ugandan Midwife is often up in the middle of the night delivering complicated deliveries. Are there any brave surgeons who want a vacation in the Nuba? We need help!

I stood outside the consultation room today marveling at the vast array of people that were waiting to be seen. All shades of Arab and African brown, some with rings in their noses, others with turbans on their heads, many with their white religious robes and caps, while others with decorated clothes and body stains and scars that only hidden tribes in the north exhibit. National Geographic would go nuts here taking photos.

What an amazing privilege it is to be here and get to know these beautiful and diverse people of Sudan. A Dinka family has traveled for five days to receive TB treatment for the mom and child and seem to feel quite alone being the only Dinkas in the hospital. So, today I brought my computer with Dinka singing and videos of Turalei which just brightened up the whole ward!

That evening, unconscious 9 year old ‘Adam’ was ‘rushed’ to us which took the neighbor 2 hours on a motorcycle. I don’t know how they managed. He was dying from neurotoxicity of a venomous snake bite. We had 1 vile left of anti-venom, but he needed 5 vials for his size. He didn’t improve after administering it. I told the Muslim parents that we needed a miracle. I was awakened at 3 am with the feeling that he was close to dying. “In Jesus Name, Adam will live!”

Eagerly I went to see him in the morning. His bed was empty and everything cleared away—my stomach sank for the poor parents. “Adam meiten?” (Where’s Adam?) Happily the other patients said, “He’s outside eating.” I danced around the room! Like Mary Magdeline who saw Jesus alive, when I beheld the happy little boy outside, I shouted, “Halleluiah! Shukuran Rabunah!”

Pray for all of us to have the strength to endure daily any hardships (like over 120 degree heat and nothing cold to drink or fans to cool us off) and to continue to love each one that comes to us with the joy and healing love that God intends, including those we treat who are perpetrating many of the atrocities in this area and in Darfur.

Thanks to all of you praying for us and sending money. We appreciate it all and thanks for being such a part of us! Tomorrow is the first day in Nuba History that people will be able to vote for their own Governor. Please pray for peace in the Nuba Mountains—something the northern president has recently stated he will not uphold. Amidst this, we are going to continue to sing and declare over this place that, “Halleluiah! Our God reigns!”

God bless you!!

April 17, 2011

It makes a difference to simply be friendly...

I had amazing God-encounters with people on the 'shappa' (local Mozambican bus) on my way to Sunday church. My favorite one is when I met Marrarrah at the bus stop on the first Sunday. He was drunk as a skunk and making us all laugh, though the pity was masked. On one of his less drunk days we got to know each other a bit sharing about our lives. The next Sunday I asked him, "Marrarrah, how come you drink so much?" Thoughtfully he replied, "My Dad drank a lot and he was crazy, and so I have the same problems as he--I can't help it."

"Marrarrah, I know who can help you." and I went on to tell him about a man in northern Mozambique who asked for help to get free of his alcoholism. "Just ask Jesus and you can also get free of the drinking and the craziness. God loves you so much!"

He didn't approach me the next few weeks and then I motioned him over to me to give him a gift. I had a picture of Jesus that said, "Jesus I trust in you" and encouraged him to trust in God to help him.

The last week I was there, Marrarrah immediately came up to me when he saw me. He looked so different--peaceful, happy and he said, "Katie, I've left drinking and I even went to church today. I feel really good." If it was culturally appropriate, I would have given him a huge hug right then and there. That is a miracle in a place where an estimated 85% of the men have drinking problems.

If my whole time in Mozambique was for that one man, it was so worth it. I know he will never be the same. Maybe there is a neighbor in need of your love today. Reach out--you can make a difference too. It's easier than you think!

March 21, 2011

Heading back to Sudan for a few months...

Aquiring my visa for Mozambique took many odd turns, so I felt it was a good opportunity to go back to Sudan for a stint—the country God had so intensely put on my heart for the 6 years I was serving there. I will work in the Nuba Mountains in a hospital built by the Diocese of El Obeid and headed by my friend Dr. Tom Catena. It will be a time of sharpening my medical skills, along with listening to the Lord as to if I am to return to Sudan on a long term basis.

My heart is to build the unity of the Church and assist the local people to care for the poorest of the poor and see God’s kingdom come through love, His healing, and miraculous power.

Please keep me in prayer during this transition and that I will really hear specifically what God is asking of me to do. If at the end of July, there is no clarity about Sudan, then I will happily return to Mozambique to continue to serve with Africa 180.

God is good and will lead me… thanks for walking with me!

March 05, 2011

What does Katie do all day in Mozambique?

You may be wondering what a typical day is like for me here in Mozambique. After taking my morning tea and home-baked bread, I went to our children’s clinic across the street that is appropriately named, “Blessing”. Some 30 mothers or Vovo’s (Grandmas) with their little ones were getting them weighed.

Vovo Adelina, who cares for 8 grandkids, has to come back weekly since Isabel is so sick with her HIV and also a horrible secondary infection from a dirty IV that was inserted in her head in the local hospital The Ibuprophen had no effect when I did the dressing on her infected scalp. Poor little 18 month old sweetie. To try to encourage this amazing ‘Vovo” (Gramma) so I gave her some multivitamins. “For me?” she asked—as if why should she care for herself when she has so many sick children to care for at home. Once convinced we also want to care for her, too, she got a big smile. “If you’re not well, vovo, these kids won’t be well.” I gave her 2$ for the bus ride to and from her house.

If we have the money, we give some little flour, oil and beans to help with the family’s needs—its’ not much, but very well appreciated. Fatima, a mother of 7 kids, has tried various means to help her hungry, sickly children. She had paid to see the “the prophetas” (a sort of witch doctor) but didn’t receive any help. She wanted food as her kids were starving and Fernando lost 0.5 kg these last 2 weeks. All we had was 1 kg of maize flour to offer her. I told her, “Fatima, there are many stories of how the flour never runs out when we trust in God our Father. I don’t now how God will help you, but let’s pray for you the same blessing.” She then broke out in a long prayer in her mother tongue of Shona, lifting her hands and face to her Father God. They never cease to amaze me. Pray for more help for our families concretely and miraculously.

The last girl I saw, a gorgeous 15 year old, held her beautiful 9 month old infant. “Why did you stop breastfeeding last week?” we asked. She thought she was pregnant. The pregnancy test we did confirmed it. The problem in this cultures it that it’s taboo to breastfeed when you’re pregnant. What then happens, the infant becomes quickly malnourished and often dies or contracts another disease because of the malnutrition.

It’s these little things that are saving lives here—any of you could do what I did today; it’s not hard—but it does take a lot of dependence on God for the grace, strength and endurance to face some 30 – 50 of such cases everyday.

It’s not all bleak though—many kids are getting fat, many of our HIV positive kids are fat and taking their HIV drugs regularly and hopefully will live fairly healthy lives for as long as possible.

Thanks for your prayers, your generous donations—we have a bottomless pit for prayers and financial help. I pray blessing on each of you also and that you are joining me to reach out to the poor and weak ones around you to show God’s love also.

January 23, 2011

Loving the one...

Stop for the one. This was Iris school’s motto. I did it today in the clinic I now work in 4 days a week in western Mozambique. I see about 30 Mothers or Grammas or Auntie or Dads with a little one or two who needs milk and food for the next two weeks. Most are HIV+ parents with sickly children who are either HIV+ themselves or so weak from TB or lack of food.

We treat their pneumonia, worms, diarrhea or skin rashes, along with the Momma’s illnesses. This is our alternative to an orphanage—we care for the families to do it in their own homes. That was Maria’s concern today. She is the Auntie to Fernando who is a 22 month old with AIDS. His parents died and Maria’s husband did too—likely from AIDS. She cares for her two kids and Fernando—but it’s hard.

When I questioned why he lost a pound, she tearfully said, “All I ate this week was the greens I could find in the fields. That’s why he lost weight. We have no food in the house and I can hardly work in the fields because I have to care for my kids. I am alone.” I took her hand and said, “Estamos juntos, Maria.” (We’re together with you) We try to provide such families a small sack of maize flour and beans when we can afford it, but it’s not that much in light of feeding a whole family, but I offered her this little bit.

“Can we pray with you, Maria?” She softened and with begging eyes said, “Yes, please.” We both wept as we prayed together, asking the Lord to provide a way for her to provide for her kids. I don’t know what the answer will be, but I trust God does. He cares for ‘the one’, and we are too. There are so many “Maria’s” we meet each day at the clinic—so many.

Pray for us to keep being God’s hands and feet and food for these beautiful Mozambique families. More and more I’m feeling God’s peace to serve here in this coming season of my life. It’s a privilege, and I have so much to learn in regard to what it means to love amidst such challenging situations when we don’t have much materially to give. Pray for us to have the strength physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially to care for these people with HIV and their complex needs.

It’s one person at a time… I pray for each of you also to reach out to the outcast, the sick, the lonely in your neighborhood also. I wish I was in my hometown to do that for our poor, but I trust my brothers and sisters there to reach out one person at a time also to help transform my city.

God bless you and thank you for your love and support!! I feel it all the way over here!

January 07, 2011

January Newsletter

I made it to my new mission in western Mozambique in a village near Gondola. Let me tell you a little about this mission.

Africa 180 is the name of the group led by Tracy Evans from Bethel Church in California, and they have about 800 orphan infants who are on a health and nutrition program based in a relative’s home. They felt it was best for the children to remain with a family member rather than put in an orphanage as it was with Iris and many other groups because then the kids can maintain their culture and family ties better.

The mission also care for their care-givers (sisters, grandmas, aunts.) with food as needed. There are 5 missionary nurses/staff, hailing from S. Africa, USA, Ireland and Germany (plus the
Mozambican staff). They have two prison ministries serving 200-300 men. They have a pre-school and have just secured the government's permission to build a Christian high school.

A couple on the staff have also established an excellent Christian primary school, serving 600 local kids. They have a 9 acre farm, to train ex-convicts agriculture. The foundation is laid for a hospice unit/recovery center, and soon for a high school and 2 or 3 duplexes (to house more missionaries).

So, it’s quite full! I am planning to write a few project proposals, particularly for the HIV clinic because this mission is supplying the $12,000 in milk and food and medicine PER MONTH because HIV positive women are not to give breast milk after 6 months according to World Helath Organization WHO guidelines. But, sadly, WHO will not provide any milk along with many NGOs!!

Terrible- so the malnutrition is subsequently rampant along with the fact many have HIV or their parents do. This mission is the ONLY group in at least a 150 mile radius that is even attempting to supply milk and support for these vulnerable families. They tried goats for milk and other means, but this is the cheapest and most culturally acceptable means. But what a challenge!

We had enough milk for today, but on Monday when Jackie goes to pick up the order of powdered milk for the next 2 weeks, she doesn’t have the $3000 needed YET. They said they literally live hand to mouth each day but God has been providing for the last 7 years! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 3 days!

I’ll stay here indefinitely—so thanks for your prayers, especially for these little ones who need their milk provided. I will ask someone to help me write a project proposal for some NGOs to see if they can help us. Please say a prayer we obtain their favor for this and next year. I applaud this mission for taking on this challenge of providing milk and food for these forgotten little children who are malnourished and who have HIV or are disabled. It’s really the heart of God they are living out.

Lots of love to you and thanks for your love and support, especially all the prayers!