Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kids Moving Up and Out!

This year is a gigantic turning point for us as we have 13 kids from the orphanage moving on to the next stage in life. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world and it’s only been 19 years since almost two decades of war ended. Severe poverty, disease, and corruption still plague the lives of almost everyone here. Most people turn to witchcraft when life is hard, and life is hard for everyone. Because of all these things – it is impossible to compare any part of Mozambique with the U.S. With education – when Victor was a child his classroom was outside under a tree. Today our kids have physical school buildings but the teacher to student ratio is 1 teacher for every 70 or more students at the elementary school level. I know this sounds impossible but this is the reality. I could go on and on about how difficult things are here but to get to the point . . . a very small percentage of Mozambicans ever make it through 10th grade, which is required to enter colleges for teaching, nursing, or trade school. Only universities require 12th grade but so few people get through 12th grade that most districts don’t even offer an education past 7th or 10th. There is a push for this to change and things are changing rapidly. A few years ago there was only one university in the country but now there are several.

Our kids at the orphanage come from the worst poverty and some of them had never set foot in a school building until they came here. Others were many years behind as they had only gone to school a few years or started very late. All of their educations were disrupted when their parents died or became too sick to care for them. So for us to have our kids get through tenth grade or higher is more exciting than I am able to articulate. Second to their faith is education and we can not say enough about how much it means to us to have our kids leave here with skills or degrees that will get them jobs where they will “be somebody” in society and hopefully be able to make a difference as Christians.

This month we have 13 kids from the orphanage going on to some kind of post-secondary education, training, or job. Sorry for making this blog so long but we just want anyone reading this to be able to see who our kids are and what they’re doing next!

Hope Bible College

Beira, Sofala Province


Age 21 (came to the orphanage at age 15 and in 5th grade)

Clara first came to the orphanage after her mom died and her younger brother Salmon is also in the orphanage. Clara has a voice as sweet as honey and has always been the lead singer in the orphanage band, and writes lyrics for most of the music. She is one of the nicest people you may ever meet. She is kind to everyone and we will often find her playing joyfully with a kid that nobody else wants to be around. She loves visitors and makes friends with everyone. A few years ago she became such good friends with girls from the refugee camp that she would ask to go stay with them on all her school breaks. Clara grew up on the coast where there is heavy practice of animism but she became a Christian at the orphanage and has been so serious about her faith ever since. She often fasts and prays and always goes to God for guidance in everything. She was also trained by Sueli as a Sunday School teacher and has done a tremendous job teaching God’s word to all the kids at church and in daily bible studies at the orphanage. After bible school Clara wants to work in children’s ministries. Her dream is to attend a music academy and she would like to focus more intensely on training praise and worship leaders in the future. We hope to have Clara back at the orphanage on staff in a few years.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Clara will find the right husband.
  2. That God will continue to develop Clara’s gifts in music and working with kids.
  3. That God will make his plan for Clara’s life obvious and then guide her in following it.


Age 24 (came to the orphanage at age 16 and in 4th grade)

Daniel first came to the orphanage after his mom was killed by a land mine and he was rescued from his relatives who forced him to make beer instead of going to school. Daniel is one of the most humble and hard working people. He always sees what needs to be done and then does it without anyone telling him to. He just completed his first year of bible school (with a huge graduation at the end) and is now doing year two. He says that bible school has opened his eyes to a new understanding of everything he had learned here and his faith has been growing tremendously. He wants to work with kids after he’s done with bible school.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Daniel will do well in school this year and learn everything put before him.
  2. That Daniel will find the right wife.
  3. That Daniel will find and be able to follow God’s plan for him.

Young Africa Trade School

Beira, Sofala Province


Age 22 (came to the orphanage at age 14 and in 5th grade)


Carlitos first came to the orphanage after his mother was so sick she could no longer care for him. He was rescued from people who had taken him in and were using him as a servant instead of allowing him to attend school. His brother Martinho is also in the orphanage. Carlitos is shy and humble and trustworthy. He doesn’t talk that much but we usually discover that he knows everything and he gets really good grades in school. Carlitos is great with numbers and math and he wants to be an accountant.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Carlitos will find the right wife.
  2. That Carlitos will do well in school and get the right job afterwards.
  3. That Carlitos will grow in his faith.


Age 21 (came to the orphanage at age 15 and in 4th grade)

Human Resources

Claudia first came to the orphanage after her parents died. Her dad was a police officer. She has siblings but none of them are here. Claudia has always done such a good job taking care of the younger girls that they always vote for her to be in charge of them. When Dorcas came here as a tiny baby, Claudia volunteered to take care of her and Dorcas has called Claudia “mom” ever since. Claudia is the most skilled hair braider and women from all over the neighborhood come here to have her do their hair. We think that she will be able to open her own salon. Now she is studying human resources and we expect she will be able to get a job that will give her the experience she needs if she wants to start something herself later on.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Claudia will find the right husband.
  2. That Claudia will continue to develop in her faith.
  3. That Claudia will do well in her studies and get a good job afterwards.


Age 20 (came to the orphanage at age 13 and in 5th grade)

Refrigerator and Air Conditioning Repair

Felix first came to the orphanage after his parents died. He was from the jungle and his family was Muslim. His younger brothers Isaty, Mauricio, and Canito are also in the orphanage. Felix and his brothers are known to be the most athletic and hard working kids who always go all out whether they’re playing games or helping with work. At the trade school they recommended that Felix learn how to repair refrigerators and air conditioners because they expect that these skills will always be in high demand here.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Felix will not have any health problems, especially with his vision.
  2. That Felix will learn everything before him in school and get a good job afterwards.
  3. That Felix will grow in his faith.


Age 22 (came to the orphanage at age 16 and in 6th grade)


Helder first came to the orphanage after his dad, a well-respected local pastor, died. His siblings in the orphanage are Silas, Felix, Samito, and Ronilda. Helder loves cooking and several years ago he was put in charge of the kitchen. He makes really good chicken, goat, rolls, and other things. He showed a great understanding of the bible and his soft personality always drew children to him. He went through Sueli’s Sunday School training program and ended up being a fantastic Sunday School and children’s bible study teacher. He is so good at explaining things to children and they love being around him. Even when he is outside cooking or barbecuing, groups of kids will gather around and want to help and sing with him. Helder may want to go to bible school later but he first wanted culinary training because he loves cooking. We expect God to use Helder in great ways.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Helder will not be influenced by negative pressure from his family.
  2. That God will show Helder a clear plan for him and help him follow it.
  3. That Helder will continue to grow in his faith and desire to serve God.


Age 16 (came to the orphanage at age 9 and in 3rd grade)


Silas first came to the orphanage after her dad died. Her dad had been a well-respected pastor in the community. Her siblings in the orphanage are Helder, Felix, Samito, and Ronilda. Silas has a great and easy-going personality. She has always gotten along with everyone and is well loved by the other kids. She also played guitar in the orphanage band. Silas didn’t originally go with the group to Beira but had been praying that somehow she would get to go to the trade school this year. Then after Victor met with the director and found out what a good program it would be for her, she got to go. Since there wasn’t enough time to get there by bus (it took the group 20 hours to get there in the truck) we explained our situation to the local airline company and they gave a good deal for her to fly here. So Silas was the first kid from the orphanage to fly in a plane. For someone from where our kids are from to go on a plane is almost comparable to someone from the U.S. going on a space shuttle. The other kids could not believe one of their own was going on a plane and now everyone in the orphanage has hope that someday they may get to fly too.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will bring Silas the right husband at the right time and give her patience to wait for it.
  2. That Silas will do well in school and get a job afterwards.
  3. That Silas will grow in her faith this year.

Piaget University

Beira, Sofala Province


Age unknown (came to the orphanage in 2nd grade)


Lazaro first came to the orphanage after his mother died, he lived with his aunt, she died, and then he lived with another aunt who also passed away. He has had a pretty difficult life, exacerbated by a condition that inhibits his growth. Nobody is sure how old Lazaro is but he is older than his sister Regina, who is 21. Outside of church and the orphanage, people have always given him a really hard time for looking like a child when he’s really much older. Lazaro is very smart and has always been really interested in journalism, politics, English, and French. We are so excited about him going to the university and expect him to love his classes.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Lazaro will not have any health problems, especially while he is far away from us these next few years.
  2. That Lazaro will have a great experience in school and be able to find work afterwards.
  3. That God will bring Lazaro a wife that is perfect for him and at the right time.

Marrere Teachers Training College



Age 23 (came to the orphanage at age 16 and in 6th grade)

Janete first came to the orphanage after her parents died. Her dad was also a police officer. Janete’s wonderful younger brothers VoVo and Gil are also in the orphanage. Janete has always been gifted in administrative skills and came on the orphanage staff a few years ago. Janete is extremely ambitious and has always created her own little projects to make money, doing things like baking and selling cakes. She recently expressed wanting to be a teacher and is starting the teachers training college this month.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will be present and active in Janete’s life.
  2. That Janete will get a job after she goes through the teacher’s training college.
  3. That Janete will be a good teacher.


Age 20, (came to the orphanage at age 14 and in 5th grade)

Leanora first came to the orphanage after her parents were too poor to take care of her. She has no siblings here. She is a great friend to all the girls here and Leanora can always be counted on to help in any way. She loves being involved in activities with the other kids in church. Leanora has done well in her studies and got good enough grades to get into the teacher’s training college, which has been harder to get into every year. The other girls are going to miss her so much this year.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will bring Leanora the right husband at the right time.
  2. That Leanora will learn and pass everything in school and then get a job at the end.
  3. That Leanora will continue to grow in her faith.


Age 18 (came to the orphanage at age 11 and in 5th grade)

Ruben first came to the orphanage after his mother died. He has no siblings here but Janete, VoVo and Gil are his cousins. Ruben played keyboard in the orphanage band and has always excelled in academics and especially in English. Last year he finished 12th grade, which is an amazing accomplishment as a very, very few percentage of people here have ever done this.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Ruben will grow in his faith.
  2. That Ruben will do well in school and then get a job.
  3. That Ruben will have patience and strength to wait for the right wife.

Commercial Driving School



Age 21 (came to the orphanage at age 11 and in 2nd grade)

Gabriel first came to the orphanage after living alone in abandoned buildings as a small child. After his mother died other relatives had tried to discard him and then he had lived with neighbors who had rescued him. He has no siblings in the orphanage. Gabriel has always been extremely hard working and has a great smile. He is also passionate about injustice and local issues. Gabriel has been going through commercial driving school. Getting a driver’s license here is nothing like getting one in the U.S. Here you must go through a school where you learn automobile mechanics and don’t receive your license until instructors feel that you would be able to fix a large truck.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Gabriel will grow in his faith.
  2. That Gabriel will learn and pass all the tests in school.
  3. That Gabriel will get a good job.


Nampula or Zambezia Province?


Age 21 (came at age 10 and in 1st grade)

Elementary School Teacher

Regina first came to the orphanage after her mother died, she lived with her aunt, she died, and then she lived with another aunt who also passed away. Lazaro is her brother and she has always been very emotional about him and what he has been through. Regina is a great young woman and has always taken on a lot of responsibility. She is very social and people always end up confiding in her because she is safe and kind. I’ve even seen younger boys in the orphanage crying and refusing to tell anyone what was wrong until Regina got there. She is also someone who has really lived like a Christian and refused to go along with the crowd no matter how much kids at school pressured her to be involved in a lifestyle that has led to almost every one of her friends being a teenage mother. Last year Regina went through the teachers training college and then graduated last month. This week she was supposed to starts her job teaching in a district in Zambezia province but the government cut a large percentage of teaching jobs at the last minute so she still doesn't have a position. I think Regina will be a fantastic teacher and someone that students will end up coming to for support in and out of school.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Regina will get a job this year.
  2. That Regina will find a good community of Christians where she will be living.
  3. That Regina will find the right husband.

Young People From Outside The Orphanage Who We Are Also Sponsoring

In addition to our own kids, we are also sponsoring 7 young people from 4 different churches who come from situations where they would not be able to go to bible college or trade school without help.

Hope Bible College

Beira, Sofala Province

Lourindo & Donativa (with their baby Jonas)

Igreja União Batista (Union Baptist Church)

Lourindo and his siblings came to Nampula from Zambezia province after their parents died. He and his older brother, Visado (who is on staff at the orphanage), are in a well-known local church choir. Lourindo is one of the most talented musical people we have ever seen and creates almost all the music for the Tcharuwani choir. We first met Lourindo (and Visado) after hearing their choir sing and wanting to get involved with them. Donativa grew up here and is also in the choir. She and Lourindo got married last year and this year their desire is to go to bible school.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will be very present and active in the life of this family.
  2. That Lourindo and Donativa will be able to learn and apply everything presented to them.
  3. That God will have a great plan for their lives and that they will be able to see and follow it.

Ruthie (with her baby Wilson)

Igreja Evangélica Paz de Cristo (Peace of Christ Evangelical Church)

Ruthie is a young, single mom from church who wanted to go to bible school this year. In the past two years she has become very active in all the church and youth group activities and especially in the choirs and music program.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will do a great work in Ruthie’s life and transform her completely.
  2. That Ruthie will learn and be able to apply everything presented in her classes.
  3. That God will have a great plan for her life and that she will be able to see and receive it.


Igreja Evangélica Paz de Cristo (Peace of Christ Evangelical Church)

Silmone grew up in our church and is the son of Mama Laura, one of the orphanage cooks. Though his family and friends have pressured him to get married and keep working (selling yogurt on the side of the road for pennies (there are just NO jobs here)) he has really wanted to go to bible school for a long time. Last year he completed his first year at bible school and absolutely loved it. He won many awards for his involvement in children’s ministry and he did really well in his internship here at the orphanage these past two months. On a side note, Silmone loves Yohani and would play with him everyday and Yohani loved it. Silmone was also really great with any administrative task that Victor needed help with.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will bring Silmone the right wife at the right time and give him the patience to wait for it.
  2. That Silmone will continue to grow in his faith and that God will give him great integrity in every area of his life.
  3. That God will have a great plan for Silmone and that Silmone will be able to see and follow it.


Igreja Peniel (Peniel Church)

Vicente is originally from Malawi, which is bordered by Mozambique on three sides and whose people are of the same ethnic groups as those in Mozambique. Vicente’s parents both died when he was a little boy. His mom was sick and his dad, a prison guard, died from complications in the hospital after being injured in a prison riot. Vicente and his sisters were cared for by their grandma and always went to church. A few years ago he traveled to Mozambique and became good friends with Gracio, who took Vicente under his wing and helped him get into bible school. Vicente is very gifted with children’s ministries and has done some of the best Sunday School classes we have ever seen.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That God will bring Vicente the right wife at the right time and give him the ability to see clearly and wait for it.
  2. That God will give Vicente great integrity and the strength to do the right thing in every situation.
  3. That Vicente will not get distracted from God’s plan for him and that he will follow where God leads him.

Young Africa Trade School

Beira, Sofala Province


Igreja Evangélica de Cristo (Evangelical Church of Christ)

Eva is a young woman from a family of girls who were left to fend for themselves after their mother died. The sisters have been through a lot, living in terrible conditions and doing whatever they could to get food to eat. No matter what happened they kept going to church and have stayed heavily involved. We hope that this training will give Eva a chance to gain the skills needed to get a good job.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Eva will grow in her faith.
  2. That God will keep Eva’s sisters safe and healthy and with enough food to eat.
  3. That Eva will learn and understand well and then get a good job.


Igreja Evangélica Paz de Cristo (Peace of Christ Evangelical Church)

Nelson is a young man from church who is well loved and respected by everyone. He got good grades in school but had no way to get further education. Because of his reputation we really wanted to help him. We are sure that anyone would be more than happy to have an employee like Nelson and we wanted to help get him the skills he will need to get a job.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Nelson will learn everything he will need to get a good job.
  2. That God will bring Nelson the right wife at the right time.
  3. That Nelson’s faith will grow this year and that God will continue using him in a way that is helpful to others.

Still at the Orfanato


Age 21(came at age 15, grade 3)

Zaqueio is one of the most wonderful young men we have ever had the privilege of knowing. He is so humble and hard working and always 100% reliable. Zaqueio has enormous integrity and is always a safe person to be around. He is also extremely courageous but has a soft heart and can be sensitive. He lost his older sister Alzira less than a year ago. Zaqueio was excited about going to Young Africa this year but the day before the group left, he had a terrible pain in his abdomen. For many years Zaqueio has had chronic abdominal pain that has disabled him on many occasions. He has been hospitalized several times and the doctors always give a diagnosis and treatment but whatever it is has never been permanently resolved. Zaquieo has learned to do electrical work by always helping electricians who have come to the orphanage and we call him for everything having to do with wires. He had his heart set on going to trade school to learn more about being an electrician but we won’t let him go at this time because of this health problem. Different doctors here have said he needs some kind of surgery to take care of whatever he has once and for all. Also – though we are not happy about Zaqueio still being here because of health issues, it is a great blessing to still have him around, as he is such a big part of making the orphanage function well.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That Zaqueio will somehow be able to see a doctor who will be able to successfully treat this problem once and for all.
  2. That no sickness or health condition will harm Zaqueio or interfere with his life.
  3. That Zaqueio will grow in his faith and really be able to experience God’s love – that he will know how precious and valuable he is to God.

Along with the great pride and joy we feel about our kids being in these schools, we of course also have the “empty nest” feeling and we all miss them terribly already. Just like normal parents, our relationships with these kids don’t end the day they go out the door and we are still supporting them financially, spiritually, and in every other way that we can. Two weeks ago Victor drove all the kids going to Hope Bible College and the Young Africa Trade School to Beira in the truck. It took 20 hours but they all had a great time. Gracio (a wonderful long time friend who you can read about in other places on this blog) lives in the area and is watching over our kids while they’re in Beira. He was able to get a house for the boys going to the trade school and university to live in and Victor took Helder shopping to get everything they need for cooking. We will hopefully be visiting them at least twice a year. Thank you SO much to all those who have been and are still supporting our kids through prayer and with financial help – you are making it possible for what we do at the orphanage to really make a difference once our kids leave.

The group that Victor took to Beira to start bible school and trade school: Silmone, Eva, Helder, Daniel, Nelson, Vicente, Donativa with Jonas, Lourindo; Claudia, Clara, Ruthie with Wilson, Félix, and Carlitos.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Claudia and Yohani.

I am SO grateful for how much the kids love Yohani and for how much he loves them! I can only be outside the house for about two minutes before someone comes to play with him and his little face just lights up every time he sees or hears the kids!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Victor's Family BBQ

Yohani with his aunt, Heliane, and cousin, Vana. Today is Heliane's 23rd birthday. She currently lives in Beira where she is studying accounting at a university there and she is back in Nampula just for Christmas break.
Yohani playing with his aunts, Estalinda and Dimisa, and cousin, Vana.
Everyone loves it when Yohani gets riled up.
Victor BBQing, Alberto, Zaqueio, and Jonas making rice (and Jonas really knows how to make good rice).
Victor BBQing chicken, beef, and fish with his niece Vana. (Maybe Vana's thinking about the sharp teeth of that giant fish head cause that's basically the only thing I could think about once it appeared on the wheelbarrow grill.)
Victor grilling the fish fins and peppers.
Heliane, Vana, Estalinda, and Alfenia watching Victor's dad on the swing.
Vana, Victor's dad, Yohani, Heliane, Dimisa, Estefano, Victor's mom, Erica, Miqueias, and Estalinda.
Everyone relaxing on the hill, enjoying the scenery.
Everyone gathered around the centerpiece of the yard (the orange truck cab).
Vana with her mom, Estalinda.
Yohani and his grandpa. I think Yohani looks exactly like Victor's dad and I always call them "Gemios" ("Twins" in Portuguese). (I'm sorry I could not get them to make the same expression at the same time so you could all see how much they really look like gemios.)
Yohani with his grandparents and cousin, Vana.
Victor's brother Charles with his wife Estalinda and daughter Vana. (Estalinda is also the daughter of Mama Maria, the orphanage cook.)
Me, Heliane, Yohani, and Dimisa.
Two peas in a pod - cousins, Jonas and Estefano, together on their little swing. Miqueias (another one of Victor's brothers) is watching (and it's Miqueias's birthday today (he and Heliane are twins) and he has malaria).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tonight Victor made me a romantic dinner with taco pasta, his own made up salad that included chick peas and feta cheese, cinnamon toast, guava juice, fruit salad with extra cherries, and mosquito keep away candle. Then he called all the older boys to come to our kitchen to study it and told them that they have to make romantic dinners for their wives (someday when they all have wives). After that he kicked them out and we had the romantic dinner with just the two of us plus Yohani sleeping soundly next to the table. I hope the boys will be receiving many more husband lessons from Victor this year! (And sorry there is no picture of the boys studying the romantic meal!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Yohani standing.
Victor strolling Yohani.
This was a pretty amazing sunset.

New Years Eve

There was a gigantic game of Capture the Flag in the dark. One team had glow-stick bracelets and the other team had glow-stick anklets.
These people are in "jail" and are being guarded by the one on the left.
Yohani and me.
Victor preaching to all who were at the orfanato from New Years Eve to New Years Day (literally a sermon right through the actual year change). Besides the kids, the Tcharuwani Choir and many youth from church came to the orfanato to celebrate with us. In Mozambique churches celebrate New Years even more than Christmas or Easter. Victor says so many people die here that people can't help but reflect on all the friends they've lost during the year and just want to spend New Years thanking God that they are still alive to see the next year begin. This is something that may be hard for us who are not from this continent to really grasp but for Christians here New Years is about their faith and it's always celebrated at or with people from church.

New Years Day

Pete and Mandy and TJ organized a day full of games and the kids LOVED it! This was a mango eating contest and the kids went crazy eating them.
After the mango eating contest.
Another game was dodge ball with water balloons. I am so sorry that I didn't get pictures of all the other games but there were TONS of them. The kids were in heaven. All the kids were divided into 4 groups and Pete kept track of who won each game/activity so that there was one big winner at the end.

And now there will be 14 pictures of people eating a goat . . .

Helder, Estela, Mauricio, Samito, Riquito, Jose, Mena, Virginia, Dorcas, and Alfenia enjoying the goat.
Pilonte, Lazaro, and TJ enjoying the goat.
Dionisio, Canito, Atija, and Belson enjoying the goat.
Pete and Mandy enjoying the goat.
Gil, Francisco, and Marino enjoying the goat.
Martinho, Little Victor, and Salmon enjoying the goat.
Silas, Manuel, Graça, Isaty, Carlitos, Ofeita, and Ganito enjoying the goat.
1/3 of the orfanato enjoying the goat.
More enjoying the goat.
Isaque Pequeno, Clara, Anabela, Minoca, and Gabriel enjoying the goat.
Tomo's girlfriend and Tomo enjoying the goat. Tomo is a great guy who is currently volunteering at another orfanato in the city through Japanese Peace Corps. He has become friends with our orfanato and is so great with the kids. His girlfriend was here visiting for only about one week and they had a great time!
VoVo enjoying the goat sozinho (sozinho, as I have mentioned before on this blog, means "alone" and is one of my favorite Portuguese words).
Victor enjoying the goat while Baby Yohani sleeps soundly.
Daniel drinking a coke after serving the goat to everyone else.
And finally, this guy (Helder) enjoying the goat after he killed it with his bare hands, skinned it, cut it up into pieces, froze it, marinated it, cooked it, and now eats it. How many of us can say that we prepared our own food and mean it like that?!!!