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“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

— Mark 8:36

We aren’t very good about updating our blog, but have resolved to try to do better! To subscribe to our newsletter or receive our prayer updates, you can click the button above. Below are blogs reaching all the way back through our years in Mozambique. Enjoy!

On Failures and Results

Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote,  

“Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. 

… The big results are not in your hands or mine.… All the good that you will do will not come from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love.” 

As long-term missionaries, this is a truth that is still painful, yet at the same time liberating. When slogging along for months with difficulties and obstacles, it is easy to think we have somehow failed. Conversely, when things are going well, it is quite tempting to attribute success to our talents and foresight. To get, as the USA midwesterners would say, “The big head.”

Either one is incredibly dangerous. To emerge from a failure sure that “If I had only,” then the results would have been different is to pile a burden that can crush the soul. But to believe that my achievement is solely due to my inspired leadership . . . well, that leads me to a place that I should not go.

While we were in Mozambique, I spent weeks preparing for a ladies luncheon, meant to encourage local missionary ladies. It was one of the big events at the retreat conference led by an outside organization, and I made tablecloths, got a speaker, and spent hours collecting flowers and making arrangements. On the day, the room was a burst of color and as they walked in, the ladies appreciated me lavishly. Wow did I come down a couple of pegs as the lunch was brought in: beans and rice! Everyone grimaced, but ate it with good will. I had not checked the menu for the week, assuming that a special meal would accompany our special luncheon, instead of the food that all of us ate many times a week at home.

Recently, God reminded me again that “it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of his good purpose . . . ” (Phil 2:13 exerpt). When he brings a task to mind, I thank him; when a great idea pops into my mind, I remember it is him who put it there. Or try to, anyway. Sometimes my pride gets its little claws into me and I don’t even want to dislodge it! He is so kind, to always let me try again . . . and again. . . -C

Welcome to our World

If you’re coming over here because you clicked from our newsletter, welcome to our blog. If you’d like to be on our newsletter list, please email us. Fair warning, we’re pretty bad about updating our blog, but it isn’t from lack of desire to inform. More, it comes from a doubt that we have anything interesting worth saying. We aren’t like those missionaries who have lots of pictures of cute kids, or airplanes, or crusades. We work at computers and telephones, mostly, especially when on furlough. Usually when you go on furlough, you stop work on the field, but we are continuing many of the duties of the field just because there is no one else to do them. Mostly, it’s the member care (vital) and AfriGO (which cannot be dropped). I don’t think you want to see a monthly photo of what I’ve put together for the magazine or website, really. 🙂 Occasionally we’ve got some good road trip photos, but not here in the USA. So, what can we share with you? Sometimes some good news – like our members got their work permits that we prayed for!!! Or sometimes an accomplishment, like a graduation or finishing exams. Or our thoughts on living in a foreign country which feels like home to us. But I don’t feel like writing about any of that today. It hurts my heart to be missing that home, where my dogs are right now, so instead I’m concentrating on our joy at a rare Christmas with family this year – and probably snow!! Our thankfulness at one more school holiday with Toby, before we leave him behind and return to that country. Our deep gratefulness at all God has provided for us, and the kind people He uses. -C

December in Connecticut

At this time of the year, I always feel like I ought to come up with some special spiritual message which has not occurred to any of the billions of people who have celebrated Christmas over the last hundreds of years. Right. Expectations are a bit too high. Instead, this year we find ourselves just kinda hanging on and trying to build a “new life” here in the USA, albeit a temporary one. Last month I cried “uncle” on the constant moving around and we settled in a bit early here in long-term housing. We received an incredibly warm welcome, but still there was that uneasiness over the first week as I struggled to feel comfortable in a new place. The unpacking of the clothes, settling of the bathroom drawers, buying of the groceries. The evident unhappiness of our younger son made it much more difficult as I tried to think of something for him to enjoy. He’ll start school next month and he’s not happy about that either. Really, all of life right now feels disjointed and it isn’t just us. All around us, anger is swirling at the political situation, covid is roaring forward, and we all wonder what the year ahead holds. Some are eagerly anticipating a vaccine and others sure that it spells doom. We are thankful for the care of family, whose love has not wavered for us, and even more especially for our Heavenly Father, whose presence with us is a constant, steady force. He who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Come and be with us. We need you.

– C

Graduation

It’s Graduation Day at
Rift Valley Academy!

Of course, none of the kids are there—the hall that should be filled with grinning graduates and weepy parents is empty today.  Instead, we sit in our living rooms all over the world (literally) and watch with tears and some disappointment.  Not in who the kids are, but in what they’ve lost.  The big senior trip they’ve been saving for as a class, the final dorm parties and long talks with friends about plans, the hugs goodbye and gifts exchanged.  Some of these friends they will never see again in this life because they live across the world.  

Maybe that sounds overly dramatic, but I promise you it is not. All that to say, please pray for these kids. They are moving on, and are doing so with admirable courage and grace. Attending RVA is a special experience which they will cherish, and we are grateful to the people who have parented and taught our son in a way that helped him see the Father more clearly.

Some of you have been praying for Toby for years, and with tears streaming down my face I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  He’s had to face things that are very hard, due to our ministry.  Some things we can’t even talk about.  He’s had malaria 9 times and was on crutches for months once because there was no doctor who could diagnose a simple ligament issue.  He’s said goodbye to friend after friend in our transient missionary community, and endured abuse or aggressive interest because of his skin color. 
He left home (Mozambique) at 14 to go to a school where he didn’t know anyone, and returned “home” at Christmas to a country (Namibia) he didn’t know. Through all this, he has persevered and become the amazing person he is today. 
As he moves on now, to go to a home country that he does not consider home, we covet your prayers for him again.  He goes forth with joy, but many an MK has stumbled in this transition.  

We know often these announcements are meant to prompt a gift for the graduate, but that’s not what this is.  God has provided wonderfully for Toby – the latest gift is an extra scholarship from his college to cover the cost of his expensive travel from Africa back to USA.  We are thankful!  But we do ask for your prayers for him especially over the next few months.  – Cami and Kevin

God Gave Kittens

Ok, what? Kittens? Yup. Back at the beginning of lockdown, I looked in the face of my older teenager who had just had all his dear friends, and senior trips, ripped away from him, and my younger teen who was quietly fearful about the growing covid-19 threat, and felt my own pounding heart as we contemplated the unknowns here in Africa, and I thought “what we need here is some kittens.” Sweet little balls of fur that required nothing but cuddles and pets and dangling strings to make them cavort around. So I asked God for some kittens, and the next day two little terrified puffballs arrived for us to foster. Toby kept them in his warm bed at night, and spent patient hours sitting with them in the day. They, and the succeeding foster kittens, entertained us for hours and brought a lot of comic relief. People have told us we are somehow courageous for fostering kittens and giving them up to the folks who have come, one by one, to adopt a total of 7 little visitors by now. That’s silly. They’ve helped us to cope a bit better during these times. Do you feel the weight of these times? I do. I’ve broken down weeping as I watch the lives and jobs lost, the dreams crushed, the hatred thrown in all directions. The uncertainty weighs heavy. So, we thank God for the purring kitten rubbing against our noses, intent only on receiving our affection. Thanks, God.

Shine

For the last few months we have been concerned and praying for you all as you weather the effects and trauma of Covid-19, but now our hearts weep for the situation in America. To watch the anger, pain and injustice is simply horrible. Please know as we deal with our own crisis, yours are not far from our minds and hearts. For both we cry out to our Father for peace, wisdom and justice and mercy to rule.

Here in Namibia we are well. Strange times and still no one knows what will happen in the coming months or even years. There is a general feeling that ‘Africa has been spared’ which we are not sure of, but we can report herein Namibia the government has been proactive and wise. Unfortunately the case numbers of our neighbor, South Africa, are rising rapidly. Namibia’s airport was scheduled to open in July, with flights resuming, but if cases come across the border then things may stay shut.

We as a family are well. We were able to drive 4 hours south to a place called Sesriem where we camped in the quiet desert, watched the stars and climbed some massive dunes. It was 2 nights of beautiful quiet. Things are mostly open in this country, with use of masks and distancing.

We have sailed on this sea of uncertainty and fear over the last few months and as we have been able to return to some of our traditional roles and responsibilities I have been pleading with God to give me new wisdom and direction for our ministry here in Namibia (and Angola…AfriGO…possibly Botswana…). And over the last few days He has been very clear to me that I (we) must shine. Whatever light we can muster from our weak and possibly damaged faith, we need to let it out, speak to others, write, give, act and be all that Jesus is. This was such a relief to me as I have found myself emotionally drained, at times worried and so consumed by the troubles and challenges both near and far, I have been empty. And God knows….so He has relieved me and told me to shine—and relax. Trust. Obey. Rest in the overwhelming fact He is still God. – Kevin

Crisis Mode – Again

The first two weeks of March, we were all distracted and distressed.  But then I found myself relaxed, busy with daily tasks and checking in on our people, able to focus on things that needed doing and sleeping well at night.  What happened?

It struck me a week or so ago, and I had to laugh out loud.  I’d slipped into “Mozambique Missionary Mode”.  You see, we frequently had “crises” during our years there.  A child would have malaria (or logistically worse, a parent).   Rebels would be operating somewhere near our town, or gangs would roam the streets at night with machetes.  Sometimes we’d hear gunshots.  Once, electricity went out in the whole north (more than 10 million people) for 6 weeks.  An underground cable would break and banks would be offline for a week.    Or, I’d have a personal health crisis, which happened more than I’d like to remember – a torn ACL, two sicknesses at once, crushing back pain, just to name a few.

Anyway, during each event we’d go into our crisis mode, checking in with each other and colleagues frequently.  We’d make sure the pantry was equipped.  We’d check the cars had gas.  We’d talk about what we’d do “If” something or other happened.  We got really good at it.  In fact, when we were in counseling in the USA in 2018, two different of our counselors told us that we were excellent at problem solving, but pretty terrible at dealing with the emotions left over from trauma.  We couldn’t argue – it was how we survived a lot of tough situations.

I found myself back there again recently.  Kevin and I began to problem solve, and we felt confident that we were ready to address this latest crisis.  Watching people in first world countries deal with this crisis has been hard – many of them have no experience with “public upheaval” like this, and yet many nations around the world have dealt with that in the past or deal with that in their present.  Many from my generation have never had their control taken from them in such a big way. 

But feeling sanctimonious about it is not the right way.  While I can be grateful for the ability to compartmentalize and keep working in the midst of it, God calls us to humbly enter into the lives of those around us. The fear, the criticisms, the false information and accusations swirling around, those losing their livelihoods and those who are actually dying from this.  Watching all of it and getting ready.  Doing what we can, and praying for wisdom.  God help us all.

Uncertainty

For some of us (I won’t say who), not knowing what is coming is the worst thing EVER. It leaves us paralyzed, tentative, and fear threatens to creep in. Kevin and I have already experienced a fair amount of uncertainty in our lives, sometimes while waiting for decisions which will change the course of our lives.
This one – Covid 19 – seems different, because things are already changing but we don’t know HOW BAD it will get. When it started, we had international visitors here and we were uncertain how it would go for them to get home. Meanwhile, Toby was in limbo and we were uncertain if he would make it home. I only realized how upsetting that was after he arrived, when my brain just shut off as a way to cope with what it had been suppressing. The kids have been video gaming like crazy and I know it is not good, but have been unable to gird myself up to make them stop and do something else.
I finally realized that I am having trouble because of uncertainty. There is a knowledge deep inside me that it could get very, very bad on this beautiful continent – and yet a hope that somehow it will pass us by. I am not worried for our family – in all likelihood we would not get very sick. But if this hits the poor areas, where people are crowded and there is no running water . . . the fallout could be terrible. I watch the news and count the numbers and worry.
It has also been difficult to deal with the Christians and their assurances – this has been an issue I’ve dealt with here before. Some here believe so strongly in the power of their words to prevent and cure illness, and whenever a sickness is mentioned, the response is “You are healed in Jesus name” and that’s the end of it. Most times, the person does get eventually better, but those with chronic conditions usually don’t talk about them because they are not yet healed. Once, healing was proclaimed on a sick cousin, and 30 minutes later the announcement came that the cousin was dead. I wondered what would happen next, but the response was just that it was God’s will.
For me, these proclamations are so deeply offensive to the Scriptures and to my theological understanding, but I’m learning that in some cultures here, nobody has any problem with the lack of logical progression. You can be all in for believing for the healing, and all in for not being bothered when it doesn’t happen. Through the first days of Covid-19, the proclamations were coming thick and fast (and are still trickling along) and it caused me a great deal of inner turmoil. But I have concluded that it is better to be silent and let God speak instead. If he wants me to say something, he’ll have to tell me.
So, how does one cope with the uncertainty? That’s a lesson I am trying to learn. Without a doubt, talking to our Father about it is number one. It’s easy to avoid that, but it is essential. Talking to “your people” who are in it with you is another good idea. Maybe not watching so much news also. But I think for me, repeatedly taking a deep breath and choosing to trust God as we walk forward. He knows what is coming. He knows what will happen, and how and when. What am I choosing to be faithful with each day as the time unfolds? What do I need to grab hold of and steward well? How can I be present in each of these moments with my husband, children, and friends? How can I reach out to those around me? All good questions. I picture God’s love wrapped around me like a blanket given to people in danger of going into shock. He shelters me under his wings and if I look up into his face I will relax and trust. – C

At a loss..

Often when I know it is way past time to update our blog, I just feel totally bewildered as to what to write about. When we lived in Mozambique, there was always something interesting going on, like the dog killing a spitting cobra, or someone down with malaria, or rebels on the main road shooting at our car (which we were not driving). Here in Namibia, life trundles along in a more or less predictable manner, albeit with its own challenges. Here, too, everyone we know is very tech-savvy, and we have to be more careful about what we write online. Taking photos is awkward, and much of our work involves the not-so-inspiring hours spent in front of a computer. In particular since I started working for the magazine, I have few stories to share!

Our life here is certainly different than it would be in the USA, but to us it seems totally normal these days. Last month, my sister and her kids visited, and it was fun to see our world through their eyes for a little while. We forget that granite rocks sprinkled all over the earth isn’t normal, or rocks that shine like gold aren’t typical. Our intense, baking sun is a real challenge for pale skin (whew did we get bad sunburns!) and our house windows and doors are covered with iron bars and the alarm must be set each time we go out. These are the surface differences.

At a deeper level are the political and cultural beliefs of the people all around us here. Those are much more tricky to navigate than the practical day-to-day, and sometimes it is exhausting. We continue to struggle to bring in volunteers, under a government that still believes we must be profiting financially somehow, or that we should simply hire locals (with what funds?). We continue to feel like outsiders at our church, where we are rarely greeted and never invited over. I could go on – well, I really can’t. We must be careful not to offend, as we are visitors here, and grateful to be allowed to serve. There are many here who are dear to us, and do welcome us into their hearts, and for that we are also grateful.

I suppose each blog post should have a point, but these types of musing usually just end with a “Yup, we’re here. We’re glad. Sometimes it’s hard.” – C