Back in Africa!
Since Jon shared about our time back in the States, I’ll talk about our journey back to Africa:
We first flew to Atlanta, which providentially happened to be the only international airport in the Eastern US that was not having delays and cancellations due to the weather. While at the airport, we ran into some missionaries we knew from the Maputo area who were also on their way back to Africa! So we got to talk with them for a while, and we even sat very close to them on the plane. When we got to the Johannesburg airport, we parted ways with the Maputo missionaries only to get in the visa line with another missionary we knew well! That was an amazing divine appointment, because we both needed to stay overnight in Johannesburg (not the safest place in the world), and we had a hotel reservation but he didn’t so he was able to tag along and get a room in the same hotel. While we were still at the Johannesburg airport we got in line to exchange some money, only to run into yet ANOTHER missionary who helped us a lot with transportation last time we were here! We couldn’t have planned all those meetings if we had tried; it took God to put it all together. Different people seem to experience God’s loving but quiet “I’m with you” in different ways – ours seems to be divine encounters. We were so encouraged to know He was looking out for us. The hotel was nice and safe, and the guys got to discuss some important things while I went swimming in the pool to loosen up after the stiff 18-hour flight. Jon found out some needed information about transferring money into the country, and got to help the other missionary out by fine-tuning his accounting spreadsheet. We didn’t get the most sleep on the plane or that night (yay jetlag), but hopefully our internal clocks will readjust soon. We got back to the airport for the last leg of our journey, only to find out that our direct flight had been cancelled AND our baggage was considered overweight by the new airline. God was still looking out for us though, and the lady at the counter only charged us for less than half of what she should have for the baggage, and we were able to reroute through two other cities before finally getting to our airport in the biggest city near our village. We had a few more headaches in the Maputo airport, but once again two very nice men helped us reduce our costs and get us safely on our way. We got to the airport to be greeted with a blast of humid 100 degree air (not exaggerating), along with a very excited missionary welcoming us back. We went shopping for some essentials, then got to our village and our new home, put down our bags and crashed into the unmade bed. We were beyond exhausted, but glad to be back.
The next day was Sunday, so we got to attend our new home church and be introduced as the new members of the family here. It was great to see familiar faces and meet some of the people who we have come to serve. Yesterday we had a great meeting with our base director, and she gave us some of her vision and a better idea of the tasks ahead of us here. We found out that we will be able to apply for our Mozambican residency after only 6 months, which we thought was going to be a year, so that’s a praise report! Constantly having to renew visas is very costly, tiring, and often frustrating, so the sooner we can be rid of their inconvenience, the better.
Thanks to all of you who prayed for a safe journey—we certainly had that and so much more! Our prayer requests this time would include:
– That we could readjust to the time and the heat. We have been exhausted from the combination of jetlag and sweltering temperatures, so that makes it hard to get anything done or to connect with people when you always feel like you’re about to pass out. I didn’t remember heat feeling this miserable, but I guess it’s just our bodies going through shock from freezing-cold to roasting-hot with no transition (God sure knew what He was doing when He created the gradual seasons, didn’t He?). That and Jon and I seem to be responding to jetlag in opposite ways—I can’t sleep and he can’t stop sleeping. A normal schedule would be very nice.
– Ease in learning the local language. We have a decent handle on Portuguese now (though we still have plenty to learn there too), but last time we were in Africa God was impressing on my heart how important it is to the people to be able to communicate in their mother tongue.
– That we could be sensitive in learning the culture. Knowing the language does no good if you offend someone with actions, gestures, or clothing that would be considered innocent in our culture but horribly offensive here.
– For good relationships, clear communication, and unity with our fellow missionaries. Our base director is Brazilian, which is all the more reason for us to master Portuguese, but we would like prayer that miscommunication would not be a hindrance to the work here in any way. That goes for our marriage as well—for some reason we tend to misunderstand each other far more often over here.
– That we would be able to develop deep friendships with the Mozambicans. We don’t want to minister to them from our safe bubble at a safe distance. We want to get into their lives and know them, and be able to disciple them in their walks with Christ.
Thanks again to all of you who faithfully lift us up in prayer. We definitely need every bit we can get!
With love from Africa,
~Jon and Carla
P.S. If you get the chance, please check out our website – www.jonandcarla.com. We will have pictures of our house posted soon, as soon as we’ve moved in enough for it to look presentable.