Category Archives: Mission Trips

I’m still in love

It has now been almost 3 months since we’ve returned from our trip to Africa, yet it  feels like forever ago. I miss it all the time. Not just the children there who I still cry for, but the actual land itself. I miss all of it. There’s something about Africa that just makes you feel alive. It’s like it brings you back to the basics of life, of nature and of people. Take that and combine it with being somewhere new, not having to go to work, new experiences and new faces, and it’s just a combination for falling in love with the place.

But unlike Cancun or Colorado or any other “vacation destination”, I feel this was different. It was a connection much deeper, although I can’t totally explain it. It’s like Africa got in my bones. But even odder than that, I felt that way before I even got there. I loved it before I even stepped foot on the soil. Maybe it’s the Lord calling us to it, as some level or another. Who knows. Time will tell.

We’re definitely called to the children. And for now, that looks like 2 beautiful children from the Democratic Republic of Congo who will be joining our family probably within the next 8-9 months, maybe sooner.

This whole adoption process is crazy. When we first started, we wanted the kids (or rather kid, since we initially thought we were only going to try for 1 this time around) home and with us right that instant. We wanted everything to move the quickest it had ever moved in adoption history. Every day those first few weeks was so tough. I could feel my heart physically and painfully missing them and yearning for them to be in my arms.

It has now been close to 3 months since we began our adoption process, and I can tell that the waiting that we’ve been having to do is starting to take its toll. We’ve gotten our fingerprints, physicals,  blood work, letters of recommendation from friends, family and employers, and are a month and a half into our home-study. Adam and I have done everything on our end, and there isn’t 1 more thing that we can possibly do at this point, as much as I almost wish there was. I’d almost prefer a terribly long list of to-do’s, with all its frenzy, as opposed to this nothing. We’re just sitting and waiting. Our social worker quoted us 2 months to have our home study completed, and that was the expedited service! Still 2 more weeks until the 2 month mark.

Meanwhile, the waiting is wearing on me. Some days, I wonder if we’re even still adopting. It’s difficult not to confuse the waiting with loss of interest or a changing of the mind. Having no more tasks to complete, I’m left with battling thoughts of feeling like I’m not emotionally involved enough in the process. Should I be doing more? Something? What can I do? Should I be talking about it more? It sure doesn’t feel like a normal pregnancy. And I guess it isn’t… but yet it is. We really are having a baby. Not just that, we’re having twins! We’re getting 2! But it doesn’t always feel like it. I somewhat envy my pregnant friends. The “real” kind of pregnant. The kind that our society welcomes with open arms and celebrates with baby talk on a daily basis. A woman who’s pregnant cannot escape that she’s pregnant. Those around her remind her all the time. People just light up talking about her soon-to-arrive bundle of joy.

Yet I don’t feel that. Who knows, it could all just be in my head. But I almost feel as if I can’t fully celebrate my pregnancy for the fear that I may make someone feel uncomfortable. I might strike a nerve with someone who doesn’t fully support it or may have some issues with it or maybe have their own opinions with how my life should look or what the “best thing” for me would be or for the children. So I almost feel like I have to such my stomach in. Try not to be as pregnant. Maybe not really talk about it as much as I’d like to. And that’s okay, too. But I miss that daily celebrating that a mother gets.  I do.  Poor, needy me, as strong as I may seem to be on the outside, still needs it. And every day.

~Jennifer

Our Trip to Africa

Mozambique Update #2

There has been so much going on here in Maputo it is hard to know where to begin.  We went on an outreach at the city garbage dump which is not far from the Iris base. This is a huge dump about 3/4 of a mile long by 1/2 a mile wide and at least 100 feet tall. You can find everything from car parts to clothes to rotting food. Random piles of trash can be found burning throughout this heaping mountain, leaving toxic fumes behind. People of all ages, families and children actually live here and rummage through the mess to live off of. We went around to a few of the homes around the dump and prayed for people. Another team went on the top of the heap to minister to the people who lived up there. They were not welcomed by the locals there, who threatened them and kicked them off. We then held a church service at the Iris church they have planted in the dump, where we also shared. At the end of it, we passed out bread to all the children.

We’ve been to some really good church services here at the base, including Thursday evening children’s church and Sunday morning. They love to dance here, and the kids have taught us some of the Mozambican dances. We recognize some of the songs they sing here, if only they were sung in English. It’s fun interacting with the children, holding them and dancing with them during the services. They really light up whenever you give them any attention at all. They are precious.

We’ve spent a lot of time in the nursery and baby house. We have a list of about 7 that we wish we could take home with us. Unfortunately, we hear that international adoptions out of Mozambique are near impossible. The children do have it wonderful here at the Iris base, however, compared to life outside the base. They have food, clean drinking water, games, love, Jesus and education for them here. Life for those in the bush or city is much more difficult. Much hunger, sickness, crime and hopelessness.

We took a trip to the city for souvenir shopping and to eat lunch at the mall, in which we officially survived our first car wreck here. No worries, it was pretty minor. We were just rear ended while riding in the back of a truck. It broke the door of our truck and messed up the other car’s front bumper a bit, but no injuries and we saw it coming. No cops, no insurance claims, just 2 drivers getting out to review the damage to their vehicles for about 30 seconds, then back on our way again. We all high-fived for surviving our first collision. Of course, this didn’t stop the other driver from continuing to ride our bumper for the rest of the way into the city. That’s just how they drive here- crazy.

Adam did get his bag, praise the Lord, which we had to go back to the airport to retrieve. We were very happy to see our peanut butter! We also got a chance to shop at a grocery store here and were able to get a few groceries, which has been very nice in order to have some variety around here. Otherwise, it’s rice with a topping for both lunch and dinner, which we do eat most days.

The World Cup has been a big part of the activities around the base. All the kids watch the games each night, which they really get into here. Soccer is taken very seriously here, and the kids go crazy any time a goal is scored. It’s quite the site.

Yesterday, we went to another children’s school/orphanage ministry about 15 miles from the Iris base. This was great to see. There are 700 students who attend here and 37 orphans who live there, all ran by 1 man and his wife. He shared his testimony with us, which included narrowly escaping a civil war in his home country of Congo and being the first in his family lineage to convert from Islam to Christianity.  He has since led almost every member of his family to Jesus!  It’s amazing what he has been through and what all he does there. We would like to find a way to bring him to the States to gain more support to help run his ministry and school.  They used to get financial support from Iris Ministries, but Iris has lost so much of their donors in recent times with the tough economy, that they could no longer support them. So now they are run only from the money they bring in from charging the secondary school students. The primary school is totally free for those who cannot afford any schooling otherwise.

Four more days until we leave for Uganda.  Our hearts have been deeply touched here at Iris and we will miss all the wonderful people here.

Ola from Mozambique!

So here we are, day 6 of our trip to Africa. After 2 days of travel, we arrived at the Iris Ministries base. This is now our 4th day here, and our bodies are starting to change time zones and feel settled in here. Adam still hasn’t gotten his suitcase yet, which never arrived here in Africa. Hopefully we’ll see it soon. Luckily, he packed a few days worth of clothes in his carry-on along with his essentials, so he’s doing alright.

The base is amazing. It’s huge, and hosts nearly 300 children. Even more from around the community attend the schools here. The children are so open to love and are quite welcoming. They know what the visitors are here for, and that’s to love on them. So they all greet you with smiles, waves, high fives and lots of hugs. We are definitely needed. Every child wants you to sit by them, play and talk with them, have you hold them…

The baby room, filled with around 35 of the cutest little toddlers 1-2 years old, is what broke my heart the most. I cannot fully describe the scene of this room as you walk in the door. Once you’ve been spotted, at least 6 or 7 of them immediately run up to you with their arms lifted up to you and begin crying to be held by you. At first, it is a precious site. There’s nothing like being wanted by a child, who longs for your love. But it doesn’t take long before you are soon overwhelmed with them. You know that you don’t have enough arms to possibly hold them all, and you’re quickly overwhelmed with the situation.

It’s a strange mix of joy, sadness and anxiety. The ones being held are so happy and begin smiling as soon as they’re in your arms. But then you look down and see 4 more crying at your feet. There are so many. And all of these precious ones need and deserve a mommy and daddy to each one of them. It is so important in their development. It’s heart-breaking, but I still can’t think of another place I’d rather be. I could spend the rest of my life in that room.

The older kids are amazing, too. Some of them know a little English, and we can communicate with them. We’re also learning many Portuguese words, which definitely helps. They actually speak Mozambican Portuguese, which is different from the European style that we tried studying before we came. My knowledge of Spanish has helped a lot, as many of the words are similar. While Adam’s French hasn’t helped a bit.

Adam and I did get assigned a room to ourselves here, which I was pleasantly surprised about. There’s a little sectioned off area for the visitors here, with community restrooms, showers, eating area and kitchen. All of the water on the entire base has been treated and is drinkable. And the sand on the ground has all been treated for ringworm. We’re still waiting for our 1st trip to the supermarket, which is tomorrow afternoon. I’ve never been so excited about going to the store! We missed the first bi-weekly trip, so we’re starting to really feel it now.  Fortunately, we did pack some food, complete with mixed nuts and protein bars. Otherwise, we eat with the kids, which consists of rice and a topping.

Last night we went to the streets of downtown Maputo to preach, pray for people and hand out food to the homeless.  Adam and I both got to preach two different times to different crowds.  While praying for people, two men were healed.  One had a sprained ankle and the other had pulled muscles in his neck.  It was good being with the locals in their environment. 

We’ve had no real sickness. God has been with us, protecting and watching over us. We are trying to take every moment in. 10 more days here until we leave for Uganda for a week.

Taking in the Last Notes

I wanted to soak in every moment, every blessing at church today. I had to keep reminding myself, “This is the last time you’ll be here before Africa.” I thought about the amazing music, with loud speakers that didn’t allow me to miss a note or a word, how the room was slightly cold, and everyone looked well-fed, healthy and strong. I still found myself dreaming about where I wanted to go for lunch during the last 20 minutes of the sermon. I bet almost everyone in there was probably thinking the same thing. We’ll all eat lunch afterward, and the day after that, and the day after that. Even breakfast and dinner. We don’t ever have to skip a meal here.

But NEXT Sunday… where will I be? What will THAT church look like?

We’ll probably be in some small, little building or room somewhere in Mozambique. Will there even be A/C? Will we get seats, or will we have to stand or sit on the ground? Will we even be able to hear the speaker, or even be able to understand him, for that matter? Will we know any of the songs? Even if we did, they probably won’t be sung in English. The orphans only get bread for breakfast, and I’m not sure how much. What about the rest of the community? I’m sure that most people will be hungry. They’ll be hot, tired, crammed in.

Oh, how I longed to just soak it all up in my seat this morning. The music, the cool fans blowing above me, the freedom to worship without any fear, the comfort of familiar faces. I felt at home. I was at ease.

I know it’s only the calm before the storm. In 6 days, my life will change forever. I will never be the same. As I looked up to Him this morning, I officially let go and gave God permission to wreck me. I knew that He would anyway. There was no way around it. But I think that it’s different when we actually choose to surrender to God and to what He wants to do in our lives. So it’s done. There’s no going back. Life as I know it now, the way I think and how I feel, will never be the same after Africa.

And for what? What is the point? Why go? Why Africa- the shots, the long traveling, the visas, all the money… Surely it’s unto something, right? Surely the Lord wouldn’t send us to a continent half-way around the globe just for a nice vacation, to see a few things and perhaps feel a little better about our lives back at home. So that we could look back in 20 years and say that we went to Africa once. Surely it is more than that! Surely it is unto something bigger, something greater that He wants to birth in and through us!

There is a cause. We go in the name of Love himself, who died upon a tree. He is the living flame of love. He calls us to where He is. We are going to find him, our Jesus. He is there.

~ Jennifer

The Fear of God

In one week, I will touch down on the soil of Africa, the continent that has moved my heart so much over my lifetime and especially during the last five years.  I will finally be there!  I always knew I would find my way there one day.  The Lord spoke to me within my first year of surrendering my life over to Him about Africa, and specifically Uganda.  At the time, I did not even know where Uganda was located or one iota of information about the place.  Now I will physically be there with my wife and Jesus!

I feel waves of excitement about this but found that fear has been my main emotional companion in relation to the trip.  Not the fear of sickness, long travel, our home, absence from my dog, or the unknowns of being on a foreign continent… but the fear of the Lord.  He has made it abundantly clear that we are supposed to be in that place at this exact time.  He is sending us.  It is not our own doing.  Sure, we agreed to say “yes” to Him, but He has spoken, opened the door and created the possibility of this adventure with Him.  What will happen?  How will our hearts be opened? How will He encounter us?  What will He ask of us?  I do not know the answer to these questions, but I do know that our level of accountability goes up post-Africa.  More will be required of us.  I want to be found wholly faithful to what Jesus is leading us into, both internally and externally.  I fear Him, because at the end of this life I will stand before Him. It is at that time that I will give an account of the status of my heart and what I did with the revelation that was given to me.  I want to be able to stand before Him with confidence and love without any ribbon of regret.  His opinion is the only one that matters, and it cannot be altered.  This is a terrifying reality.  I will need lots of grace, the kind that only Jesus gives so liberally, in order to finish the race and be found fully faithful on that day.

~Adam

Counting Down

Shots have been taken, visa applications have been sent, and both our jobs have given us the okay for the time off. Praise the Lord!

Sat., June 5th, our 1st flight leaves out of the Kansas City, MO airport. We won’t arrive in our destination city of Maputo, Mozambique until the following Monday at 7:35am, after having stopped in both Washington D.C. and Johannesburg, South Africa. So lots of time on long plane rides and in airport layovers.

What’s the Plan?

In Maputo, Mozambique, we will be staying at the Zimpeto Children’s Center for 2 weeks, ran by Iris Ministries. We’ll be staying in dorm room style accommodations, complete with metal bunk beds in rooms that sleep anywhere from 4-8 people/room. (Sounds romantic, doesn’t it!) There’s a possibility we may be split into separate rooms based on gender. (We’ll be crossing our fingers on that one.)

We plan on going on one of their over-night outreaches that the ministry offers every weekend along with a team of pastors that would involve staying in tents in nearby villages. The goal of these is to help plant and encourage new churches, evangelize and run medical clinics.

There are lots of activities around their base camp that we will be doing, including street ministry, church meetings, clinic & hospital ministry, helping at their Bible school, life-skills schooling, ministry to those who live in garbage dumps, and caring for the orphans there at the base. There are over 100 orphans housed on their property, split up by ages into dorms along with a house parent. There are 40 orphans alone in the Baby House aged 0-5 yrs.

NEW NEWS: On June 20th, we’ll be flying to Uganda’s capital city of Kampala to stay with one of my childhood friends. Laura, who currently lives there and works with a ministry called Watoto, which also helps with orphan care, discipleship schools and more. The Lord spoke to Adam about Uganda years ago, and it has been on our hearts a lot lately. We arere very excited about going! We’ll be staying there for 1 week and will be helping care for the orphans, as well as wherever else we can.

Please continue to pray for our trip, including safety, good health, ease of travel and that we would get everything out of this trip that the Lord intends for us.

We are not just going to try to change Africa, but for Africa to change us. We want the Lord’s heart for the poor, the orphan and the forgotten.

~ Jennifer