I pray this finds all of you hungry for the fresh Bread, the Living Word, Jesus Christ “in” you, fresh each day. Wow! The word “manna” means “what is it”. God told the children of Israel to gather fresh bread each day and not to save it. Each day we need to ask God, “What is it that You want to show me today God?” And each day we need to give it away, whatever He shows us. Is it love? Is it a kind word? Is it a meal for the hungry? What is it God that you don’t want me to keep but to give away? Wow.
There is a little girl in our toddler house who is always so sad. She is about 3 years old and I hold her every Sunday during church for at least three hours. She is a very frightened little girl who came to us two months ago. Her mommy went to prison and here, if a mother goes to prison and there is no family left to care for the children, the children also go to prison. If no one comes to bring food, they die there eventually. Conditions are horrible and there is sexual and physical abuse. They don’t receive medical care and they might receive one meal a day, maybe. The mother begged us to take her baby and raise her. This mother is now dead. As I look into this little girl’s eyes and see such sadness that grips at your heart like a vise, I thank my God for my family (all of you are my family) whom I will see again. Today I sat on the ground and had a breakfast roll and tea with her and for the first time, she laughed. I ran and chased her and scooped her up and tickled her and she was happy and laughing in that small piece of time.
Yesterday I visited the hospital and here is another sad, sad place. There were three very large tents on the front lawn (dirt). The hospital was remodeling a wing and so the patients had to move into these tents. They are not sanitary, right in the dirt, and bugs and mice can come in very easily as there are many openings. There are families sitting in groups all over the hospital grounds with their family cookpots and dishes. If a person is hospitalized, again the family is required to provide food or they go hungry. We went inside one of the wings and the rooms are large rooms jam packed full of beds, some right up next to each other, complete strangers. The aisles are only wide enough for one person. Most beds don’t even have sheets or pillow cases. The women have to use their Kapalana’s (wrap skirts) for sheets.
There were plates and cups with food and dead flies and no doctors or nurses checking vitals. People were everywhere and it is very noisy. Anyone can come in and visit and be as loud as they feel they need to be. I was praying for a young lady who had a small baby curled up next to her breast feeding and it was obvious the mother was in pain from an eye problem, possibly a tumor on the brain. That baby has to live there on that bed and be cared for by the mother as she lies there sick. I feel so helpless sometimes and God reminds me that He is not helpless. He is a Father to the helpless and He is there with them, especially when we come to pour His love out on them and play with the babies and bring a small measure of joy to that place. As I left, tears were falling from my eyes because of the human condition there in that place. I am going shopping for milk, juice and bread tomorrow to bring to the mothers who have nothing.
Those who have given to my ministry, this is one of the places your giving is being put to work. Also, there are about 50 widows who need new roofs whose houses are in such a sad state of repair. One roof will cost about $400. This is our newest project and I had the honor (on your behalf) of buying the very first roof! And so your giving is a gift to the widows and the orphans. This is true religion. When you give to these, you give to God. Thank you.
Jesus wants us to move in with Him. He wants us to share His life, every minute of it, and He wants to share ours, every minute of it. Jesus never asked us to give ourselves away, feeling like we have to sacrifice everything to show Him we love Him. He asked us to give Him away. It’s about His overflow, His love, His life. We can offer Him to a lost and dying world. He is more than enough. You don’t always have to give what people ask of you but you can always have something to give.
As I sat in the garden this week, the Lord impressed upon me the importance of His garden. When I was in the village last weekend, every single person wanted me to draw a flower on their arm with a permanent marker, every single one. I thought, “What a strange thing for these people to want?” They do not show tenderness or compassion for each other. Theirs is a dog eat dog world, where it is the survival of the fittest, even amongst the children. Children are left to their own devices. There is no parental supervision. If a child gets close to a fire, no one jumps to stop him. He just has to learn on his own by getting burned, literally. I have seen many, many toddlers who can’t even walk yet playing with the kitchen knife. I am not kidding! And so I don’t see them admiring flowers and such. As I thought on this, I heard from the Lord.
In Psalms and in Isaiah, there is scripture that talks about us being the planting of the Lord. In the midst of all of this suffering and dying, I keep hearing from God about vines and vineyards and fruit and gardens. I feel like the Lord is very much aware of and concerned for His garden. Even in the driest of places, He is planting us where we will grow best in this season. His garden will be fruitful this season and a rich, rich harvest will come at the end of it. We are the planting of the Lord, a precious flower that He has created and planted. His fruit is budding on the vine. We are His fruit and He has made us to be good and sweet and full of life. He tends to us and feeds us daily through the nectar of His vine. Stay close to Him in this season and watch the harvest come. Tend to His garden. Tend to His people with love, the nectar of His very heart.
Today I went into town and thought about how very different we do things in a third world country. We hitch rides from the base to town (4 miles) and we travel in groups so it is fairly safe and the people here are actually very nice if they aren’t bandito’s (bad guys). It is definitely not safe to go anywhere at night. So anyway, we catch a ride and we never know if the driver will speak Portuguese, Makua or Shanghan. But all we have to say is “MCell” and they drop us there in the middle of town. MCell is the cellular service here (if you can actually call it that) and they sell blocks of minutes on the street corners on these little scratch off cards. You cannot get anytime minutes or unlimited texts…. Just blocks of 100 metacais (local money).
Then we go to the fruit and vegetable market and as soon as you step up to a vendor, you get swarmed by all the others close by. There can be at least 5-6 hands with fruit or veggies literally in your face at any given time. So we haggle it out with them and leave thinking we got a good deal. Then we walk up to the bakery for our fresh bread. There is no such thing as bread on the store shelf. Only fresh bread here and boy is it yummy! Then we go to the supermarket which is smaller than your local Valero gas station store, about half the size maybe. There are only two aisles and only wide enough for 1 ½ people. Most shop vendors take a siesta at around 12 noon and come back anywhere from 2 – 330 pm. Today we sat for an hour outside the market and no one came and so we hiked it on down to the next place about a mile away. Then we have to lug our haul back down the street about 2 blocks, trying to avoid the street people who want to sell you anything from a ball point pen to a pineapple, and we look for a taxi to take us home which is 50 mets ($2) or we hitch another ride. Then when we get home we have to dunk every vegetable and fruit in bleach water to kill all the parasites. I have to actually wash each and every piece of lettuce, one at a time.
>What a strong and wonderful person you are for the things you are doing in Africa. To give up all of lifes luxuries so that you may better the lives of those people you have described is the ultimate sacrifice. If only the world was filled with others like you, what a great place it would be. My respect for you cannot be described in words, and you are the role model of an extraordinary witness for God. We love you and miss you immensely and pray for your safety and well being every day. Love and Hugs, Jacob, Lesli and Linda