December in Dondo… and coming home soon!
We hope you all had great Christmas and New Year celebrations! I finally figured out how to put pictures into my e-mails, so I hope you all enjoy this episode :-).
We had a busy month of December, and were blessed to have our team increase by even more than we had planned for! Right after the Iris mission school ended in early December, a couple from the States (Jason and Susan) and a lady from England (Isla) visited the base and all three decided to help us out! Jason and Susan are only staying short-term but will be taking Jon’s and my place as directors/finances/administration while we’re gone on furlough, which is a HUGE blessing! Isla went home to set everything in order and will be back in March/April to stay long-term, and will be helping our missionary Julie with the village-based orphan-care project. So our Dondo family is still growing! Thank you all who were praying for that, we were blessed beyond our imagination. The other new missionaries that we WERE planning on coming have been settling into their new roles very well, and it looks like they’ll be a great balance of talents and abilities to bless this place. The new girls from the States and Canada (Calli and Becky) are taking over the orphanage, and they are doing a great job connecting with the kids even though they don’t speak much Portuguese yet—but boy, the kids sure are learning English quickly! The Brazilian couple (Tatielson and Michele) will provide leadership for the church and Bible school, and their heart to disciple the pastors is amazing. It has been a busy month of training each of them up in their new roles, passing on all the responsibilities and answering the hundreds of questions that come up, but they are all doing an amazing job. Please pray for team dynamics between all of them, as right now none of the missionaries are bilingual (the Americans/Canadian/British only speak English and the Brazilians only speak Portuguese), so they will need a lot of divine help to facilitate unity and fellowship between each other. And also pray for quick language-learning ability!
Our Dondo family! (Plus some short-term missionaries and minus some kids who were visiting family for the holidays and minus one missionary who wasn’t around at picture time, Julie). If you’re interested: L-R Back row: Tatielson, Rui, Mariano, Chimuaza, Ron, Florentino (in the hat), Zacarias, Domingos A, Tony, Jon, Luis, Manuel, Jossias, Calli, Carla. Middle row: Jason, Nelson, Domingos C, Zito, Minezes, Joanel, Vito, Jan. Front row: Susan, Michele, Jose, Becky, Joao, David, Samuel, Ashlee.
Christmas was a busy time, Social Services (the branch of the government that deals with orphanages among other things) wanted to put on a big Christmas program for several orphanages in the Dondo area, and we were picked to host it! We had about 150 kids plus several of the local and national Social Services officials and even the mayor of Dondo! We did games with the kids, and then after a few worship songs, a short message, and the obligatory formalities, served a chicken dinner. I was impressed and touched that all the head officials and important people came down from the table of honor to personally serve the kids first before any of them ate, that was very contrary to the way things usually happen with people of their position!
That program took place a couple days before Christmas, so then on Christmas day we were able to have a more intimate family gathering with just our base—the missionaries, kids, and some visitors. We read the Christmas story out of Luke and Tatielson and Jon shared a bit about it, trying to make the message we’ve heard multiple times have new and personal meaning. It truly is amazing to think of God’s Master Plan to Save Planet Earth—have the Creator of the universe take on a physical, created body and be born as a baby in a smelly animal stable to an unknown, poor girl who everyone assumes has been immoral, and then to grow up as a normal human and die a criminal’s death. I’m sure none of us would have thought of that if we were trying to come up with a Master Plan! It is also a challenge to us to lay aside whatever we think is important and humble ourselves as far as necessary to connect with other people in order to show them love (Phil 2:5-8 and 1Cor 9:19-22). After that we shared communion together, remembering not just Christ’s birth but also His purpose for coming: to save us and to bring unity—unity across barriers of culture, race, age, and anything else that tries to divide and separate us. Then we had a great lunch and gave the kids some simple gifts, it was a good day.
Samuel reading the Christmas story from Luke.
Jossias opening his present! He’s one of our brightest students, so he was happy to get the nice notebook :-).
It was interesting being in a culture that celebrates Christmas, but doesn’t really know why. Because of the Portuguese Catholic influence, it became a holiday on the calendar, but it’s more just considered a “Family Day”, and most people have no idea what it’s about. Shops have holiday decorations, fake trees, strings of lights that play “Jingle Bells”, and Santa hats, and families will have a chicken dinner and maybe give their kids gifts… but so few people know its origin as a holiday to remember the moment when God became man and dwelt among us. This year we were very busy with the official programs, training new missionaries, and getting ready to go on furlough, so we didn’t get much chance to share a lot with people about why we celebrate Christmas. Next year I hope to do more.
One of our kids, Minezes, in a Santa hat. We’re glad he gets the chance to learn the REAL meaning of Christmas and not just the holiday hype!
Our New Years celebration was also good, we had a great time of worship and a powerful message from a visiting Brazilian missionary, then set off fireworks and had a campfire complete with marshmallows (which, yes, you can buy in Africa!). It’s crazy to think of all that has happened with us over the course of this last year, all the ups, downs, victories, frustrations, joys, sorrows, changes, stresses, improvements, setbacks… We have changed so much we hardly feel like the same people that came to Mozambique in January 2009. Now at the end of a year we are barely limping up to the finish line that will be our much-needed break. Please do pray for us in these last few days, it seems like every day a new big thing comes up that we need to resolve before we can go, and Jon especially is getting pretty discouraged by all of them. One of the biggest needs right now is we gave our passports to the Immigration office to *finally* get our residency status right before leaving, but the process is taking longer than they said (surprise!), and now we have less than a week to get our passports back before we’re flying out, and they’re still not done. PLEASE pray that they will finish VERY soon so that we don’t have to change our tickets or anything crazy like that.
Speaking of tickets, right now our travel plans are to fly to Maputo on the 9th and spend a few days at another Iris base (Zimpeto), then take a bus to Johannesburg, South Africa, to catch our flight home on the 13th. Please pray for safe, comfortable travel for us—at least as comfortable as a 7½ month-pregnant lady can be on looooong bus rides and flights! We are so looking forward to being with family and friends again, and hopefully we will be able to see most of you who receive these updates! We are also looking forward to the time of rest and refreshing, the arrival of the Little Reinagel (March 2 due date coming up fast!), attending the weddings of some dear friends, and the good food 🙂 (if we visit you, please don’t serve beans and rice… please). We already have our return tickets set for June 15th, so if you want to see us make sure you contact us before then and we’d love to get together with as many people as possible on this break!
Many thanks again to all of you who so faithfully lift us up in prayer, please keep it up in these last few days. This will be our last update this side of the Atlantic, next time we write it will be from home!
Blessings to you all as you start a fresh, new year!
~Carla, Jon, and Baby Reinagel
…And the obligatory pregnant profile picture, taken Christmas week at 7 months along!