"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the maiden voyage of the uss scared cat

So I took my first drive today; not the 200 meters from my house to the shop. Nope, I drove about 4km down to the basic school to get a tray of eggs. It hasn’t rained now for about three days, so things are pretty dry, just a few mud spots. But the road is hard, uneven, bumpy, rutty…and I don’t remember which way to go sometimes (there will be an island of trees, you go left or right around it. Both sides meet up, but one is not as nice of a ride!). We made it okay-only one egg got broken on the way home. I still wouldn’t say I am overlying confident with the stick shift on the left hand thing though. But I figure some day I have to work myself up to driving alone. We are going to bring the truck into a mechanic we found, highly recommended by another mission organization. He is going to go through it and get it into tip-top shape. It’s been losing power and burning oil, but not at any type of regular interval so Brian isn’t sure what else to have checked out. Once it is running I better, I may brave it to Chongwe to get the mail!

not so weird

So, it really wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be to have Catherine here. It was a little awkward right away, but then she got to work and we started school and it was fine. I was aware she was there the whole time, but I didn’t feel as “watched” as I thought I would (one thing I REALLY don’t like). She did a bunch of sweeping and wiping that we just haven’t had time to do, made us nshima and rape for dinner (always better than when I try), then worked on some clothes. The girls and I still helped with some when we weren’t doing school. But it was really a change in the feeling of the day for me. I didn’t have this huge list in my mind of all I had to do. We were able to spend a little more time on school and it just seemed a lot more relaxing of a day. She will come and help me out three days a week to start. Who knows? We may even start to change our clothes every day since we’ll have help washing them! It’s the middle of the afternoon and I have no guilt about spending 45 minutes typing on the computer for the blog!

spitting cobra

Had our first real scary snake at the house. There was a decent sized spitting cobra sleeping in the rocks right next to the house. John called me over to see. I am still trying to decide if I really want to know when the snakes are there! He tried to kill it with rocks, but it was too quick. It hooded out and went up the house wall a bit before scurrying off and going under the container. Brian was gone,(he was rather disappointed that he wasn’t here to kill it) so as soon as he got home he took the tractor and brush hog out and did a bunch of cutting around the back. The snakes like the tall grass, and we had a little too much in the back. Plus, since it hadn’t rained for a few days he was out enjoying the sun. Talking to Nathan about it later (he was at the house when the snake was there), I was like, we have NO WORKING VEHICLES here today! Not good! The school’s truck was going in to get maintenance done, which meant Brian had to go get Henry in our vehicle. There is a bus there I suppose someone would have had to figure out how to drive, other wise the gator or the tractor... Unfortunately it is going to happen again this Friday. That is something we will have to watch and plan our trips better. Obviously we don’t anticipate any accidents or bits or injuries, but what if there was? We need to remember to have at least one vehicle here for emergencies,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a misc post

Quick thing to pray for: the parts for our fridge need to make it to a pastor in GA before Wednesday as he leaves Thursday. Please pray they make it!!!
It seems a long shadow has lifted…the sun was shining, it was a beautiful day! We have been dealing with some personnel issues for over three weeks now. The amount of stress was unbelievable on our family-when mom and dad are stressed, everyone is stressed! It took a long time to get a response from the US office due to computer and email problems, then the personnel here decided to drag some things out…it just went on and on and on. It seems to have basically, finally, resolved itself. Monday should be the end. Pray it is! The whole atmosphere and feel of the place has changed since Friday when some of the staff moved-it just feels better around here. I know many of you have been here on summer teams and the above will pique your curiosity, so I will just let you know that Daniel and Henrich decided to leave. It seems everyone is still friends, but they decided this was best for them and their families.
We went to another BRAAI a few weekends ago. It was a good time for all. Nathan and Tim went with us and I think they enjoyed it. It was something (fellowship) they didn’t get to experience over in Malawi. The only bad part-Mariah got bit/scratched by their German shepherd dogs. It scared her pretty good, but probably scared the owners more! She is fine. There was plenty of food this time so that was good. We really need these times to just close off thoughts of work for a few hours. Unfortunately the truck started acting up on the way home, so it looks like we are going to need a mechanic to go through it. Vehicles over here are very expensive and they get very abused. We have changed filters too-air, oil and two fuel filters. They are about $40 a piece!!
We have baby guineas! At least 3 now, one got crushed, but the others are doing okay. We should get plenty more soon.
It has been raining just about every day now, anywhere from 1 to 2 inches. So we do a lot of clothes in the rain-makes rinsing a little easier, it’s just drying that creates a problem.
We also have a naked boy who runs around our house. It is easier in some ways-less clothes to wash, but I don’t think Nathan likes it too much . He is a complete Coppertone butt. It’s really pretty cute and makes toilet training a lot easier.
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for their Christmas and end of the year gifts. We have been incredibly blessed by the faithfulness of God’s people in helping to provide for our needs and ministry here. It looks like we will need some of it to pay for a good going-through on our vehicle.
As much as we hated the training our church had us do (because we just wanted to get here), all we can say now is THANK YOU!! Thank you especially for our time in Colorado at Missionary Training International. We used our training before we even got here and have used it about daily now that we are here! Gospelink said they would require anyone who came here after us to go through the training, so we are praying that P & L will find a way to do it. It’s crazy busy for them getting ready to come here, but having been here three months now, we know how much crazier it is going to be for them when they get here without it.
On Monday Brian is going to be picking up Catherine, who is Witness’s niece (?). She is going to live with Witness’s family and help me out a few days a week here with the clothes and some cooking and cleaning. I am just running out of time to do it all and do the other work that needs to be done. I should have more time for blogging on a regular basis too then.
I have also begun doing the bookwork for the school. I really enjoy it; it doesn’t take much time, but I feel a little more useful (ministry-wise). I guess I am also going to be Henry’s secretary for now. Until we get the office set up and he can print himself, he has been giving me tests to start typing.
On Friday night Brian and Nathan will be going to the airport to pick up Nathan’s dad, Pastor Cliff Morris. Students arrive on Saturday and the school year officially begins with 12 students. The campus isn’t quite ready, so they will be working hard on the cosmetics for the next week or so. Officials from the Finance Department will be coming out the 2nd week or so of February to see that students are here, then they said they will give Gospelink the tax-free number they have been waiting. Please pray they will approve. We aren’t sure what they will say as building is still going on. Please pray!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Got the backhoe back home today. It was supposed to be here before Christmas but the guy that was supposed to do it and said he would decided not and left for holiday and wouldn’t return any of my calls. I really dislike putting something back together that someone else tore apart. Well I got it together and runable, that in itself was no small miracle. There is so much more wrong that needs fixing but it is here instead of sitting down the road. Timothy got the motorcycle running today. It took him a couple of days. The motorcycle, 4-wheeler, gator, tractor all sat for over 2yrs. You can not do that if you want stuff to work. So I have the frustrating task of fixing. I do not consider myself a mechanic by any means. I can replace parts if need be, but trouble shooting is not my gift.
I got a fine today; it seems my road tax has expired. Who knew? No one ever told us when it was due. I guess I cannot complain to much, I had 2 other potential fines this last wk but was able to talk them into a warning. So only paying 1 of 3 is not all bad. The police have check points all over right now. It is revenue making time so got to watch out.
Garden update: the lettuce, radishes, carrots, potatoes, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, rape, asparagus, squash (3 types), watermelon (2 types), cantaloupe, muskmelon, cucumbers, pumpkin, cilantro, basil, are all up. I’ve planted orange, lemon, guava, avocado, eucalyptus and a few other trees. I have started moringa, tamarinth, grapefruit, and a few other trees. I’ve planted numerous other vegetables and getting ready to start more. I’ve been so busy with administration, inventory, personnel issues, and family that I have not had the time to spend doing the gardening I would like. I am trying to me harvest for April through July to provide for all the different teams coming through. For those of you that are coming, I am going to try my best to provide some fresh produce from here, but no guarantees.
It is my 1st yr so I’m just learning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the question

So this whole missionary thing started with a question-is there more to this life for us than kids and cows? Now after two months I feel like it’s the same questions-there’s gotta be more to life than kids and working just to survive. What are we doing here? Why did God put us in this place? We can look back and see that good things happened during the process of getting here both for us and others. But now that we are here, what now? We have little to no idea of what is going on back home, what our friends are doing now, what’s going on at church, in the news, politics …and we just seem to spend everyday trying to live and survive out in the bush. What’s missionary about that? Where’s God now? Where’s the ministry we are suppose to do? Okay, I know a big part of it was the process and what happened; and we see some big changes coming that we are called to be a part of (God seems to enjoy putting us in this one type of position over and over again). But still, some times at night in bed, it’s like, what’s different about here? Why couldn’t we keep doing what we were doing before in a modern home with friends and family around for support? What are we doing here that’s different? If this is supposed to be the answer to that first question of the journey, I admit to a little disappointment! And just so you all know, as we do, this is part of the transition we are in-the culture shock, the everything of moving…we knew we would have days and weeks of feeling this way, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Hopefully we’re not spoiling your visions of what missionaries are…”God called them to this so everything is suppose to be great and fun and what you thought it would be.” Sorry, it definitely isn’t all roses. It’s doubt, fear, even anguish sometimes…
Though we can’t sit down and talk about this with you over a cup of coffee, you wouldn’t believe how good it feels after writing this slice of life to you. The burden is temporarily lifted, and so, so often, God has answered a prayer of our heart’s cry before you even see the post!


come on all! sign up as a follower on the right so we can see who you are! Encourage us!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Just saw a link saying that Minnesota was going announce Al Franken won the election. Sorry friends, even if we were to leave Africa right now, I don’t think we could live in the land of 10,000 idi...
From The Times
December 27, 2008
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset
By Matthew Parris
Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.
It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.
At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.
We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.
Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.
This time in Malawi it was the same. I met no missionaries. You do not encounter missionaries in the lobbies of expensive hotels discussing development strategy documents, as you do with the big NGOs. But instead I noticed that a handful of the most impressive African members of the Pump Aid team (largely from Zimbabwe) were, privately, strong Christians. “Privately” because the charity is entirely secular and I never heard any of its team so much as mention religion while working in the villages. But I picked up the Christian references in our conversations. One, I saw, was studying a devotional textbook in the car. One, on Sunday, went off to church at dawn for a two-hour service.
It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.
There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.
I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.
Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.
How can I, as someone with a foot in both camps, explain? When the philosophical tourist moves from one world view to another he finds - at the very moment of passing into the new - that he loses the language to describe the landscape to the old. But let me try an example: the answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it's there,” he said.
To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It's... well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary's further explanation - that nobody else had climbed it - would stand as a second reason for passivity.
Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.
Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.
And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

love and hate

I love the warm weather. My daily attire is t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. What’s not to love?
I love the people. You will never meet friendlier people. We had a guy sitting next to us at restaurant the other day (it was tim, kel, and me) he pretty much joined us, bought us drinks. In America there would be many that would have found it rude but not here, I like that.
I love the quiet of living in the bush, and the beauty I see everywhere out here from the wild flowers and the trees in bloom, the colorful birds to the mist that covers the mountains in the morning and how easily things seem to grow.
I rather enjoy the off-roading we have to do to get back here to the house
I love all the fresh fruit and vegetables

What I hate: missing my family and friends. That is by far the worst thing about all this. It is true isolation. We are missing the fellowship, true fellowship. I had brothers in the lord that would challenge me. There are still days that I cry over the void I feel. It sucks!
I hate the fact I have a backhoe, tractor, gator, 4-wheeler, motorcycle, plow, disc, & planter NONE of which are in working order. (yet)
I hate long life milk. I’m sorry but growing up drinking fresh milk and now having this mutated stuff. It just doesn’t fly.
I hate powdered milk. You just shouldn’t smell the milk before you drink it.
I hate the fact that just about everything here is more expensive than the states. Fuel just went down to $5 dollars a gallon it was over 7.
I hate that the fuel is very dirty over here, you are changing filters and plugs all the time.
I hate the fact that people are content and satisfied with things and service that they shouldn’t be.
I hate that know one is in a hurry here. Any store you go into, minimum 1-2 hrs. and that’s if you know exactly what you need. Tim got a good taste of what it is like; he wouldn’t last very long here. It becomes very frustrating very quickly.

protea hotel safari lodge

Thanks to the grandparents Korbl & Kallevig, Aunt & Uncle Huizenga, and great grandma Vivian, we took the kids up to the Protea hotels safari lodge as a surprise Christmas present. We began the day taking Tim to the Sunday market to get a few presents and I got a beautifully carved chest. We then had a quick bite to eat and headed up to the lodge. We got there around 2:15 pm and were in the pool by 3:15! The kids sway until close to 4:30. There was a playground nearby too that they played on. We got some menus and headed back to our rooms. Tim discovered that the water was hot-very hot! We ordered supper and then vegged out a bit. The meal and service were both excellent. During supper the momma and baby kudu came to visit and the girls fed them out of their hand. After eating we headed back to our rooms, watched a little tv and went to bed. It was sooo nice to sleep with a fan on all night too. We were of course all up early, got all the kids bathed and showered. Tim kicked up a big buck of some kind right outside our room. Breakfast was an amazing buffet, again the service amazing-by the time you finished your juice, they were there to take your cup. The kids really enjoyed the REAL chocolate rice krispies. After breakfast we took a little walk to the lion enclosure. There is a mom, dad and the two cubs that came with them about eight years ago. Momma was getting ready to pounce the fence-she’ll often do that when kids are putting their hands on the fence, and of course ours were. We walked back and got ready for our game drive. For about an hour we drove around their 1000 or so acres a saw many different types of antelope, zebras, birds and their 18 year old elephant. We could have gotten rides on the elephant, but we ran out of time. This is the type of place you can day trip to, so we will do the elephant another time. We got good video and photos, some of which I already posted.
Thanks again Korbls, Kallevigs, Vivian and Huizengas!


So I mentioned that Christmas was pretty much just another day this year. That’s not only because of being here away from family and the climate. The truth is, it has been tough-tough to take the time with God that we need to. I was just thinking how blahh our posts have been lately. We aren’t ourselves really being challenged spiritually (by others-we’re regularly challenged by the conditions of being here!), held accountable to others, we are often too tired to do much. I know my devotional life has suffered-yet God is faithful to hear and answer prayers. What would we do without the hundreds of people praying for us daily when we sometimes can’t pray for ourselves? We do so miss our prayer group and our “iron sharpening iron”. There is a little here, just thinking of other people living so nearby and knowing they see and hear what you do… Whether we like it or not (we don’t), we are seen as “Gospelink” here, we are the “director” here-that is how we are viewed. Really, we are pretty low on the totem pole-we are the newbies! We can tell them numerous times that we aren’t any higher up the chain than they are, but they don’t see it that way. We are from the States…
Anyway, all that to say it isn’t exactly appropriate either for us to use the national staff here at the college to confide in. We are really looking forward to Paul and Lori getting here! We will also be having some other Westerners coming through in the next few months. Nathan is working short term with Gospelink in Malawi but has to leave the country for a month due to visa processes, so he is coming here to help. His dad should also be coming for two weeks to teach a course at the school. Our missions chair said he would send someone to check on us after three months, which will be February (HINT HINT TONY!!!). The first group of summer teams comes in April, then there are teams through July, and then Paul & Lori should arrive!!! So please pray for us during this dry season of life-even though it is rainy season here! :-)

prayer requests

Dear prayer team,
Thank you for your faithful prayers as we labor here. It has been a tough few weeks for us emotionally and spiritually but we are so encouraged that you are uplifting us daily. THANK YOU!!
· Please pray for a couple or individual man/woman for each of us to form relationships with to be kept accountable
· Student interviews for school
· Staffing concerns and issues and school, Paul & Lori as they continue preparations
· Gospelink tax exempt number which we are starting to focus attention on getting now
· Funding and safe travels for Gospelink container that will be shipped end of January
· Wisdom and discernment in parenting our children
· Parts for our refrigerator to arrive quickly, and be the right parts
· For 6 packages we are still waiting to receive, for more letters of encouragement to come
· Praise for a good visit with Uncle Tim. Praise for Nathan and Tim who just came here from Malawi and with be helping out for awhile.
As you give of your time and hearts to us in prayer, may God show His favor on you.
In His Grip Being Held, Protected, and Loved,
Brian, Kelly Jo and the kids

progress report

Let’s see, as I said fridge isn’t working right. We now need to order some parts from the US, so who knows how long that is going to take. All of the bedrooms are finished except to get the curtains up and the clothes pole for the closet. The guest room has lots of bins to go through (clothes, kitchen stuff) as does the girls room, but that will happen as it happens. We need to get some dressers probably, not all the bins we brought to use for dressers survived. All of the ceilings and insulation is up. We need to paint the main room and bathrooms and finish up the bathrooms (tub in one, shower walls and sink in the other). We basically ended up giving ourselves these past two months to focus on the house with college things as they are able; now we will switch to the other way. There is a guy serving short term with Gospelink in Malawi that has to come here for a few weeks due to visa issues and also his dad will be here for awhile, and he has agreed to help us wherever we need him, so that should be good!
There is quite a bit planted in the garden now. Some that was planted on a Saturday was already up that first Wednesday! Mainly garden items for this year, which we will use ourselves and summer teams. Doing a lot of testing this year to see what works, what doesn’t, trying different methods. We are also doing some administrative things for Gospelink with banking and building materials. At our training they always asked us, “What do you think you’ll be doing?” Some of this stuff wasn’t in our plans, but now that we are here fulltime, there is lots of catching up to do around here. Bri has sat in on some student interviews, we will start trying to get Gospelink’s tax exempt number, we are waiting for money and the time to work on the farm equipment. We will soon be getting ready to help with getting supplies and setting things up for summer teams that will start arriving in April. Kelly is using her accounting skills now as well doing the finances for the college and being Henry’s secretary!


Well, Christmas was pretty much just another day; only we didn’t do as much work. It was 90 degrees in the shade that afternoon. Before lunch we took about a two hour hike to show Tim the campus and the river. It was hot, we got sun! We had been up past midnight talking the night before and up at 6:30 am, so it was a short night. Tim’s first flight was cancelled; his second delayed, so he ended up staying a night in Ethiopia, which we had tried to avoid. I tried to rest some in the afternoon, but you know how that goes! After breakfast and cleaning up, we opened presents. The kids had gotten candy in their stockings earlier, so they were happy. They each got one gift from us. The grandparents and Kari & Leroy sent money so we are going to do something fun as a surprise with that. It has felt like “Christmas” for awhile as we open new boxes of books, videos, clothes, toys…there really just wasn’t anything they needed. We got Cybil a few skirts (she’ll wear them, but doesn’t really care for the chitangas), got Mariah some chitangas (she wears two to three at time), Greta and Hailey each got a baby, Joe and Myron got some animals for their barn-they are running a game farm I guess! Henry didn’t get anything-what do you give a four month old? Brian’s present will come later, we got Tim a Zambia stocking hat, and I got pop-pop I don’t have to share! Right now the fridge isn’t working, so it isn’t cold pop, but it tastes good nonetheless. The afternoon was pretty laid back, finally had steak and chicken on the grill for supper. Boy was that good! I was stuffed, but it tasted so good I didn’t want to stop eating! After supper we really “celebrated!” When the explosive on the end of your yard stick firework is the size of a baseball, you know you are in for some big booms! No regulations on the fireworks here. We lit up the sky and quite a few people got to watch the celebration from all over the area. As Brian said, I never want to do fireworks in the States again! We were going to have cake before bed, but it had been a long day and everyone was crabby, so they got a piece for breakfast the next day. All and all it wasn’t that much different of a day for us. It just didn’t feel like Christmas. I am sure next year things will be a little easier.

Friday, January 2, 2009

pictures in no particular order

Fuel tank is on empty...

Mary Poppins or the Sound of Music??

Roasting Peanuts