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.
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.