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.