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Hello!

I want to write you all to say thank you for your love and constant prayers of protection over me. Some of you may have already heard my recent news, and others may not have yet, but I wanted to get the word out to everyone that I recently saw those prayers so clearly in action.

I am fine and well, but two weeks ago I had a single-vehicle accident on my way to the capital city to do some paperwork. I came through with miraculously only a few small bruises and scratches. The wonderful vehicle, that so many of you prayed for, protected me well. Unfortunately, is now at the mechanic’s awaiting repairs. The car rolled over to the side in the accident and I think that is how most of the damage occurred.
The bull bar on the front of the car (one of the upgrades we raised money for) took the brunt of the impact and kept the front of the vehicle from smashing in. That is a blessing! And my seatbelt protected me from getting thrown forward – it gave me a few bruises while holding me in, but I think that is a pretty good trade-off. J

I am devastated about the damage to the new vehicle that was entrusted to me to use and feel so bad about that.
But ….
I am SO thankful that there were no other cars in the road when this happened. I am SO VERY thankful for God’s protection. I am thankful for the kind and helpful people He had on the scene to help me arrange things. I am so thankful for my loving teammates and friends who are helping me through this and encouraging me. And I am SO VERY THANKFUL to God for His protection.

Not to be overdramatic, but … In the few-seconds-blur that was the accident, I thought I had reached the end of my time here on earth. Because I am here safe and sound to tell you this story, I know this is Him telling me that He still has more for me to do in the Kingdom. I am humbled by this, and will continue on with a renewed sense of purpose and focus on HIM, because I realize anew today that every moment is a gift from Him to be used to glorify Him.

My Angolan friends keep sharing a common saying to encourage me, because they know I am upset about the vehicle. It translates, “You can buy everything but life”. They are right. Things are just things. God gave me the car. He can take it, or cover repairing it. Thank you God for my life.

I have had Psalm 91 on my mind since the accident. As always, God had me under the shadow of His wings; however, I have been made aware of it yet again in a very real way. I have been thanking God and giving Him praise for His protection whenever I tell anyone what happened to me. God is great! It could have been much worse, but I came through it all unharmed. I don’t want to take that amazing miracle for granted.

It took me awhile to get this news out to many of you and I apologize for that. I was waiting until I had more news from the mechanic. Unfortunately the damage is quite extensive and it looks like it will be a costly repair. I have a missionary friend several days drive across country who is also a mechanic, and his family is traveling over the Easter holiday. So when they are passing through Huambo this week he will look over the car and see if it looks like the repairs quoted to me are correct and honest. Thanks again to each and everyone one of you for being there for me, and I will keep you updated on the progress of the car and news related to damages once I confirm it.

On another note: Palm Sunday (or Dia dos Ramos) was a good day in the church, and the kids had alot of fun re-enacting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. We praised God together for all He has done for us, and gave thanks for the gift of His Son. The church will be holding an all-night prayer vigil the Friday before Easter. You are welcome to join us in prayer anytime you think of us that day.

It's perfect for me!

It’s perfect for me!

Dreams really do come true!

Dreams really do come true!

 

My Cup Runneth Over!

I am so thankful to be able to announce that we have reached our vehicle funding goal!!!!!!!

I am overjoyed and amazed! I admit I found myself in tears several times over the last few weeks each time Ron (one of my overseeing pastors at Little Rock Church) would call to give me updates on the gifts that were coming in. I am so touched by each one of you who gave to this need. I am so incredibly humbled by your generosity. And most of all, I am in awe of God’s provision.

To me, it was such an overwhelming task to ask for such a large amount, and yet for God it was nothing at all. In a matter of weeks, through you, He has provided all we needed. God has confirmed to me again through this process that He wants to provide, if I will just let Him! Praise Him!

So thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your gifts, and thank you for your love and support. I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love I have received these last few weeks. I am also SO encouraged through our partnership in the kingdom. As I try to practice giving thanks for all things in all circumstances, you all sure are making it easy to find people to be thankful for!  And not just because you gave money, but because you are: giving of your time to pray for me, freely giving your emotional resources to support me, and letting me know you are thinking of me.

I had no idea where the money would come from, but that wasn’t a problem for God. He knew.  Now I face the seemly daunting task of finding a vehicle, and then buying it. But I know this is also nothing for God and I trust him to have the vehicle all ready for me.  I will keep you updated on the situation.

There really are no words to adequately express my gratitude, but I know that God will richly reward you for your sacrifice in order to help my work here. And what a blessing this vehicle is going to be! You have given me a way to reach throughout the country and be available where God would use me. So thank you, for becoming hands and feet in the kingdom in Angola!  

Vehicle Fund Raising

Hello Everyone!

 

I have a special, and somewhat urgent request.

In order to continue the work that I am doing here in Angola, as well as become a greater help to our team, my supporting church and I have prayerfully begun the process of fund-raising to buy a vehicle. If you are able to contribute to this process financially and/or through prayers, it will be a HUGE blessing to me and to others whom the vehicle will help here.

Shortly after I arrived here, I was blessed with an old vehicle from some missionaries who were leaving the country. It has been a blessing, though not able to withstand some of the rougher roads we have to traverse here. But after 22 years in Africa, this car is done with handling the rough roads, has spent most of the last few months needing constant repairs, and the time has come to sell it and raise funds to buy a new vehicle.

Out of God’s family, a generous heart felt led to agree to match all donations made toward a vehicle, dollar for dollar, up to half the total cost.  This overwhelms me and I can’t do anything but praise God for His provision and the giving hearts of His children! This daunting task has already been made easier for me by God proving, yet again, that nothing is too small for Him to care about or too big for Him to accomplish. This matching offer stands until the end of the year. So if you are able to give towards this need, please do so by December so that we are able to take advantage of this generosity.

Thanks to the thoughtful and challenging questions brought by my support team and supporting church, we have thoughtfully considered many of the questions which arise with this decision. I have attached an information packet  compiled by my supporting church, and which contains our research, as well as answers to questions many of you may have. After much prayerful consideration as to the type of vehicle required in this environment and my specific ministry, my church and I have decided on a Toyota Land Cruiser.

You can read our proposal here:  Vehicle Purchase Proposal for Jordan Yarbrough

Our total goal is:  $75,000

Know I do not ask this lightly, high costs are simply a reality of life here. It is very difficult for me to ask this much of you, my wonderful supporters and family. However, it is also a reality that I need a vehicle to work most efficiently here, and I know that nothing is too big for our God.

My recent newsletter can be found under the “News” tab at the top of the page

 

And a work update of sorts

During this initial period here in Huambo, thought we intentionally set it aside as a time of cultural learning, progress has seemed to be so small and things seem to move so slowly. And in a way that is true. Things move slowly here. At times I feel discouraged because I want to have more things, exciting and amazing things to report to all of you and prove that your support in Angola is worthwhile. But in another way, these months that we have taken to focus on learning and building relationships have really been so amazingly beneficial. And I can more clearly see that these relationships are the work of God in building the foundation of our work here. I am starting to see how much more receptive people are when I understand a bit of the culture and try to go about doing things in their way. Relationships with people are the open doors we need to enter the life and culture and share the life and love of our Savior. From the police who stop us occasionally in town, to the friends I see on a weekly basis; from the people who gave me rides while I was on foot, to my ever-growing “family” … All of these are God-given opportunities to learn and in turn demonstrate a personal relationship with God. Often people I meet belong to their church, but for many this attendance in no way affects the way they live the rest of their life. It is my heart’s desire to lead others to an encounter that will give them life-changing relationship. I think it will be a tough road at times, but our God is a way-maker.

The concentrated time with different missionaries in Swaziland, South Africa, and Namibia in October was really encouraging, inspiring, and educational. I visited a Christian leader training school in Swaziland that an Angolan we know attended. We visited a couple who have a preaching school and an orphanage in Tsumeb, Namibia. I was privileged to spend several days with a Swiss missionary couple who have worked in children’s ministry in South Africa for over 20 years! I learned so much about working with children in an African context, and was privileged to participate in their children’s hospital ministry.

Praying over those sick babies and children in a South African Hospital overwhelmed me, and reaffirmed my desire to work in this capacity in Huambo. I have been focused on learning church/Christian culture here in Angola, and haven’t spent as much time pursuing medical outreach yet. But God placed on my heart the knowledge that it was time to begin more medical outreach. Since my return, many opportunities to focus on this area have already been provided. I have been beginning to receive calls from other expatriates here in Huambo, from friends who know I am a nurse, and people in the neighborhood who are beginning to stop by for advice and help. I am loving it. The last week in October I attended a mini-workshop given by a nurse who works in a city about 2 hours away using plants locally available to treat illnesses. I have already been teaching my “family” and neighbors about these treatments. We are all amazed that some of their problems can be treated in such a simple way. How exciting it is to empower people. During the month of December, I will be doing an internship in a mission hospital in Lubango (a city in the south of Angola) to learn more about healthcare in Angola and the resources that are available to me here. This is an amazing opportunity, and God arranged it at just the time when I was ready for it. I look forward to sharing about this time.

During the last month, God answered a prayer with unexpected rapidity and I became the owner of a vehicle – a used Nissan Pathfinder. I had been planning to wait some time before I purchased a vehicle, largely because they are normally so expensive here in Angola. I had prayed about it, and was content to wait until God provided a reasonable used option. At the end of September (to my surprise) I was offered a vehicle by some missionaries in a city a few hours away who were leaving Angola. The price they offered was unbelievably low for Angola, and though well used I knew it had been well-cared for. After prayer, consulting with my supporting church, and a member of my support team who is a wonderful mechanic, we decided to buy the car. I am now learning to care for a car in Angola. I have been blessed by “o meu primo” (one of my Angolan cousins) who knows alot about the upkeep needed. This car is a blessing for ministry in many ways. I did not travel in the city after dark when I was without a car and I also couldn’t schedule much in a day because it took much more effort and time to get from place to place. But having the ability to be out and about a little later and accomplish more things each day has opened up new ministry opportunities. And I am meeting lots of people in the “neighborhood” by giving rides along the way.

One area of ministry that I have really been enjoying is the opportunity to be involved in a local English club. It is in the evening and now that I have my car I am able to participate consistently. I have led discussion groups the last few weeks with some more advanced students, and was surprised by how well it went and by how much I enjoyed it. God gives grace and words for the moment. I am loving the opportunity to connect with people while teaching at the same time. And my network of friends here in Huambo is ever expanding. For those of you who want ideas for packages, I would really like to get my hands on some good Christian films and videos of Christian speakers to watch with the students to provoke discussion. If you have ideas, titles, or materials to suggest I would love to hear them. Also, Bible story books or stories of Christians in English written at a low to moderate reading level would be awesome to use for this group. They could practice reading and then we can discuss.

Next week a large group of leaders from our inviting church are coming from Luanda to stay with us and we will spend our time meeting various leaders in Huambo, looking into land options for future church building and development, and organizing some specific plans of action for our team with these leaders. While this will be a time of proving in respect to my Angolan hospitality and cooking skills, I think it will be a really good time of growing closer to our Angolan leaders and hopefully coming up with a joint vision for the next year of work. Please pray for this meeting the Dec 7-10th of December.

As always, I love to hear from you. Thanks to all of you who have sent packages and cards, and emails so far. The workers at the post office say that my family and friends in America must love me alot. My birthday was unbelievably special thanks to so many of you, and especially my supporting church Little Rock Church who sent tons of cards to make me feel special. The kids classes sent me awesome artwork to decorate my walls.
Thank you most of all for your continued prayers. I need them and so does the country of Angola. Our God is a mighty God who takes such good care of me, and provides me with more than I need or deserve. Every situation I have been in thus far has been easily resolved as God worked through kind and generous hearts or softened the hearts of others.
I praise God for He has done marvelous things! And I know He will continue. Even in the harder moments, His presence has never left me. He is never far away.

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! One of the things I am most thankful for year ‘round is each and every one of you and your constant prayers, love and support. Knowing you all are lifting up the work here in Angola gives me constant encouragement and hope.
I want to apologize for the long lapse of time since I have last updated you all. I know it is hard to pray when you aren’t sure what the immediate needs or praises are, and I am ashamed that I haven’t shared them as they were happening. I sincerely apologize for my failure to communicate and in so doing keep you connected to your work in Angola. All kinds of things vie for my attention and make it difficult to prioritize my time. And as my fellow nurses can tell you, prioritizing my time was never a strength of mine. I am sorry my communication has been constantly pushed aside. I will try my best not to let this long lapse happen again. This post and the next are divided into Personal and Ministry sections to help if you want to skim. I know there is alot of info, but I want to catch you up on all that has happened and is happening. And I will still love you if you don’t read every word.

Personal Update

This has been a busy last few months. For most of the month of October, our team traveled in Southern Africa visiting with and learning from other missionaries in our part of the world. I met so many wonderful new friends who will be such helpful resources in the future. It was wonderful to be welcomed, spoiled, and listened to by people who are working to accomplish the same things we are striving towards, and can sympathize with the struggles and joys. During my time in South Africa, I was also able to meet up for a few days with a dear friend who had been working in a clinic in Zambia. The time of relaxation with her was so restful and revitalizing! On the long overland drive back to Angola, some of my team-mates and I were able to camp in a game park in the Kalahari dessert and enjoy seeing some African animals.

When we returned from South Africa, I was sick for a while, recovered after a course of antibiotics, only to get sick again. I am finally pretty much back to normal now. November was a rough month for the team as a whole, both emotionally and with sickness. Some Portuguese missionaries, who had been working near Huambo, and had become dear friends and cultural teachers decided to leave Angola permanently. This was a loss to be mourned.The Reese’s had some things stolen, and both families have had difficulties making necessary repairs to their homes. We are all emerging the stronger and with a little more patience and understanding. We know in the grand scheme of things these trials aren’t even worth mentioning, but it was rough for a few weeks. We are entering the holiday season now, and it is always the hardest time of the year to be away from family. Please remember us during this time.

The end of October brought the start of my first rainy season. It now rains every day. Sometimes alot, sometimes a little. At first the hard rains seemed incredibly noisy on our tin roof but now I am accustomed to the noise and love it. We have the drill down when the hard rain starts for the day. We all run to put basins under the spots in the roof that leak. The large holes in the dirt roads in my neighborhood have turned into small lakes. The weather is very interesting because when it rains, it is very cold (we even had hail one day) but then once the sun comes out it is very hot. It is summer here, after all, but you never know what the temperature will be. The rain can come up very quickly.

I continue to live with my Angolan family. I have been with them since August. What a blessing they are! My cultural and language learning continues to move at a rapid pace because of this experience. I have been told several times that I am now about ready to marry an Angolan.🙂 I have “primos” (cousins) all over Huambo who help me with various things from car advice, to making sure I know how to be safe in my new country, and even teaching me the proper etiquette and ways to dress for different occasions/celebrations. I have been sharing things I have learned with my team and even other missionaries who have been here for years but have never heard some of the things I am learning. Just “normal” everyday things but that really affect how you address things. For instance, many of the Ovimbundu (the dominant Angolan people group here in Huambo) keep pets and plants, not necessarily just because they like them, but to protected them from evil spirits that are sent against them. They believe when evil spirits are trying to enter your home, these plants and/or animals act as a buffer and absorb the spirits before they can harm the household. So when plants and/or animals die, you know that you have been under a spiritual attack. This gives a whole new aspect to some conversational topics, and also a new awareness of the spiritual battle that wages around us. I have been told that Huambo province is the center of the most intense spiritual warfare in the country.

Despite all the wonderful benefits, living with another family means that my time at home is not always my own. There are always visits to be paid, visitors to visit with, yummy food to learn to cook, and Brazilian novellas (soap operas) to be watched. As much as I love this situation, I will most likely begin searching for my own housing after the start of the new year. I certainly plan to continue with all the relationship building, visit paying, cooking, and all the other things that have been so wonderful during this time (except possibly the time watching novellas); however, my own home will enable me to have have more regularly scheduled time for communication, study, visiting, discipling, teaching, etc.

When I was a kid, I always said I wished I had been born a hundred years earlier so that I could have lived like Laura Ingalls Wilder or the pioneers. They always had so much more in the way of adventures than I did.

Well, at least now I am living a little closer to that dream. I still have alot more in the way of modern conveniences than they did, like a computer to communicate, a solar powered flashlight and phone charger, a generator in the evenings, and car or mototaxi to get us to and from the stores and the market. I am so thankful for these things. And really, I guess I am spoiled. But I do get to pull my water up from a well right now. My practical mom always said “It sounds very romantic, but you wouldn’t like if you were dirty all the time and couldn’t take a shower.”  But I am enjoying the change of pace. It is thrilling to be pulling my water up from a well, buying things in an open air market, living on dirt roads, and speaking in Portuguese. For now. Ask me again in a week and I might be a little less enthusiastic.🙂 It is exhausting though. I am always hungry and thirsty and tired. And when it gets dark I am ready to sleep.

 

Today, my first day in Huambo, we went to the government office to register that we were now staying in Huambo. Each time you travel to a different province in Angola, you must register your change in current location. So this was our first priority.

We went and they were very friendly to us. When the officer was filling out my paperwork he said, Jordan, that is the same name as the basketball player! I said yes, but my mom had named me after a river, not Michal Jordan. When we left, he still remembered my name when he said good-bye.🙂

 

We next went to a mercado (grocery store) to get a few things to eat and checked out prices. Most things are similar to Luanda, but fresh foods are much cheaper and even cheaper still in the open air markets.

I then went to the bank to set up my angolan bank account.  We then went to a park and had a picnic lunch which I shared with some little friends I made. Bought some tangerines in the park which were delicious. It is so fun and novel to be able to buy anything and everything just along your way as you walk. If you need more “saldo” (pre-paid minutes) for your phone, there is someone selling the cards on the sidewalk. If you need bread for lunch, there is someone walking along the road with a basket of bread on her head. If you need some vegetables for dinner, there is a mama sitting on the side of the road with fresh tomatoes and lettuce spread out on a blanket. If you need a padlock, or a blanket, or sugarcane, or a coke, or charcoal for your fire there are people selling it alongside the road and you simply open your window and buy it.

 

We then went to another little mercado to see what was available, and looked at some furniture options. After, we went to Huambo’s main market and bought out produce for dinner. Later in the afternoon we went to look at a possible option for housing for someone on the team. It is a real fixer-upper, but if the price is right it could be worth it. Our friend Charles, who wanted to look at the house too, went with us. When we arrived to pick him up, I visited with some of the family he has living with him, and his wife showed me their home. She showed me the room they have all ready for me to come and stay in for a visit! I am so thankful to have this Angolan family that is ready and excited to take me in and teach me about themselves, their family and Angolan life and culture. I think it will be a really great bonding experience. And I will learn really valuable things like how to prepare and cook frango (chicken). In Angola that starts with a live chicken (“galinha”) running around the yard. I also want to learn to make funge, an Angolan staple kind of similar to grits (but more cohesive) made from maize or cassava. And staying with a family like this will teach me more about the correct social behaviors and how for me to appropriately interact with people. I look forward to this time.

 

I have included a few pictures. Me leaving Luanda for Huambo early Monday morning, a few sites seen out the car window on the drive to Huambo, me pulling out our days worth of water from the well yesterday morning, Katie doing laundry, and my bedroom in the Reese’s house. I will post a few pictures of the house and our market when I can. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger if you want.

 

In summary, life is a little harder, but very satisfying and very interesting to explore. And mom, you were right.  I do miss my shower.