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My Friends’ Memories From 2009 and Plans for 2010

A Jon Post

“What is the best memory you have of 2009?” I ask in halting Portuguese.
S, the quiet yet confident one responds and tells me, “No, I have been here. I don’t have any good memories.”
“But you haven’t been here all year!” I reply, “What is the best memory you have from the WHOLE year?”
“Ah,” S responds, “Well, I got a job (a missionary from Northern Mozambique hired him as a guard outside his house) with a good salary and I was able to provide for my family. That happened in March!”
“And you T? What is your favorite memory?”
“None Jon, I have been here since January. I have no good memories from 2009.”
“Nothing, T? Come on there must be some good memory from this year!” I respond, trying to sound positive.
“No Jon… nothing beautiful happened to me this year. I have been here.”
Try as I might, I can not get T to tell me a good memory from last year.
“Ok,” I say, trying a new tactic and to sound positive, “When you guys are better what are your plans for 2010?”

Suddenly the smiles are set free and we talk about going home to family, getting jobs, moving to better places, providing for sick and dying uncles or other family members. J tells me about his children back home waiting for him to return. T tells me about getting a good job, buying some good land and farming on it. S tells me about his 6 children who he is so proud of who all passed the school year (a very rare thing here) and the two oldest who he hopes to send to university this year.

And all of us smile and laugh and enjoy the hope that has crept back into our conversation. And all of us try to ignore the black truth that looms over the entire oncology ward. These men will probably be dead before these plans come to pass. They will probably be dead before the end of this year.
“What are you thankful for this new year?” I ask.
“That we saw 2010! And we just pray that we see 2011” J responds with a large smile.

This is life here in the oncology ward at the Maputo General Hospital.
This is life… a nearly infertile soil where roots of hope occasionally writhe their way out to see the sun.
This is death… a black mass of poison growing deadly hideous… worms of cancerous cells tracing their fatal path across skin, bone, flesh, eyes.
This is life… and death… in the oncology ward at the Maputo General Hospital.
What part do I play in it? Not much I think. Enough, I hope, to see Jesus lying on dirty, sweaty, uncomfortable sheets on a thin mattress. Just enough to show the love of Christ with a smile, a prayer, a kiss, a cool cloth on a sweaty forehead.
And to hope. To hope in this mystery… that the sting and victory that death has now will be swallowed up.

Our Christmas in Mozambique

A Layne Post

Jon and I spent our first Christmas in Africa as a couple… and it was good. Of course there were plenty of people and things we missed; however, our new experiences here were priceless.

We spent Christmas Eve with three other missionary families; a Portuguese family, a Brazilian family, and an American family. Our traditions were combined as we ate chicken wings and quiche for appetizers, a yummy fish and potato dish that is common in Portugal for dinner, and cupcakes and snickerdoodles for dessert. Though it may sound odd to you, it was really good!

Ladies on Christmas Eve!

And the men!

We also exchanged small presents in a gift exchange, complete with the opportunity to steal gifts. I think Jon and I ended up with the best gifts; Jon got a headlamp and I got a bottle of cocoa butter lotion! Nice!

Not sure if Jon was ready for the pic, but he is cute.

Christmas day I decided to keep with my tradition of making cinnamon rolls, and I do believe this year they were the best yet! I have to tell you a secret… We ate the whole pan before the night was over. YES! All of them!

Cinnamon rolls with cinnamon cream cheese icing... yum.

After breakfast we had previously made the decision to spend a couple hours at the hospital in the Oncology ward, where we have been volunteering for the past couple of weeks. Many of the patients are too far from home to leave for the holidays, so they were going to be alone and far from family. We could kind of relate. That time was definitely the highlight of our day. Funny how you go to be a blessing, and in return you are the one that is blessed. (More at: www.africangypsy.blogspot.com)

Later that night we were also grateful to have the opportunity to join our families for a few festivities via Skype and webcams. We seriously felt like we were sitting in the room with them. Awesome.

Angola Update:

We have a little bit of exciting news. Yes news! It has been awhile!

I recently decided to go ahead and send another round of emails in search of connections in Angola, and quite honestly I thought I would not hear anything until the New Year, but guess what? I already got two replies!

One is probably not going to be of assistance with a visa, but is still a good connection. The other is with a ministry that is already established in a couple cities there in Angola. (Remember we must come under an already established NGO to even submit an application for our visas.) What is exciting is that they are potentially interested in working with us and want to have an interview!

The lead couple is in South Africa for the month of January, and on the 7th Jon and I were going there anyways to renew our visa for Mozambique. The trip will be much longer now, but we feel it is more than worth it, and is nothing compared to needing to travel to Angola. We consider this a huge blessing!

So here is how I would ask you guys to pray for us. This interview will be two-sided, as we want to get to know their heart and mission as well. It is no small thing to partner and come under a ministry or organization.

While I would like to get terribly excited and say how perfect this could be, how the timing is fabulous, how things could line up beautifully… above all we want the will of the Lord. If this is His open door, we would like it to be clear and confirmed to both parties involved.

We love you guys! I pray your holidays were blessed and that you had the chance to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord and Savior.

Merry Christmas

A Jon Post

What an amazing God we serve.
In light of the recent “extended text” versions of these blogs I’m going to keep this one short. I just want to say a few things since this is good ol’ Christmas Week. A role model of mine often makes lists of things he’s thankful and it is always pretty moving so I think I’ll model that today.

Thing’s I’m Thankful For This Christmas

  • Singing and laughing with 75 orphans and vulnerable children at a children’s ministry yesterday
  • Being back in Africa after a year away
  • Fans (when the air is so hot, moving it around the room REALLY makes a difference)
  • The way people here in Mozambique smile and say “Bom Dia” with such a welcoming voice
  • When my wife looks at me with her smiling eyes. It melts my heart every time. I could not have chosen a more lovely or loving woman to join with me in living the epic
  • Finding the family of Christ all over the world
  • Banana bread
  • That my wife can make some INCREDIBLE food with really really basic ingredients
  • The love of Christ that Africans (Angolans, Namibians, Batswana, South Africans, Mozambicans) seem to be so good at showing
  • My Chaco sandals (I’ve had these for 5 years and there’s no reason to think they won’t last another 5)
  • My family back in Arizona and Texas
  • Supporters who pray so hard for us

We have a quick year end letter to all of our supporters. If you have time you can download and read it. For those of you who like to paste Christmas cards up on your mantle we have one here as well

Christmas Letter

Christmas Card

Merry Christmas from Mozambique

Merry Christmas from Mozambique

We made it to Mozambique!

A Layne Post

Through some divine appointments and blessings along the way (full story here), we have made it to Maputo, Mozambique. Just by driving to our guesthouse we realized we were in for new experiences. Maputo happens to be a very large, busy city, which is something Jon and I are not terribly familiar with here in Africa. We usually prefer to stick with the small towns.

It is very hot and very humid here, though if and when the clouds are out, it is bearable. Not having air-conditioners can make the afternoons interesting. We are very close the water, and hope to get over the visit the beach/waterfront soon.

Jon fixing the fan in our little room

Jon fixing the fan in our little room

It all reminds me of Corpus Christi.

Also upon arrival we have been thrown back into Portuguese. While it still can take a bit to warm up in conversation, we remember most of what we learned, and I believe we will continue to gain skills with practice. We were very thankful when we realized the accent is not too bad, and we can understand just fine, though like in Portugal, sometimes we need people to slow down.

We have been welcomed to the community of missionaries with open arms, and our hearts and spirits are so refreshed. I have been able to visit a women’s Bible study and will join next month for their start of a Beth Moore book! We have also acquired Christmas plans, which is exciting! We don’t have to be alone. =)

Through this network of missionaries, the Lord has blessed us with somewhere to live for the next couple of months. A missionary family is currently on furlough, and we are going to be able to rent their apartment until they come back. This is a blessing on so many levels, but one in particular is that it is fully furnished. Jon and I own very little, and eventually we will have to buy things, but this allows us to delay a bit.

The highlight of our first week here would probably be the opportunity we had to join a friend in her ministry at a local hospital in the oncology ward. She has a weekly ministry with the children there, and we were invited to join their annual Christmas party. They asked if Jon could bring his violin and play some Christmas songs, which ended up being such a blessing to all those around. Many of them had never seen a violin before, so to hear someone play such fun songs was a treat.

Layne showing Miquel how to blow bubbles

Layne showing Miquel how to blow bubbles

Jon Playing "Feliz Natal"

Jon Playing "Feliz Natal"

Not only were we able to bless them in a small manner, we found ourselves being filled with joy and praising God for the lives of the individuals we met. To see people in such pain with physical ailments rarely even encountered in the States… to see them laugh and smile is simply amazing. They loved on us and eagerly helped us practice our Portuguese. We look forward to developing these relationships more and more.

Thank you for your prayers thus far. They have definitely been felt and much appreciated. Please continue to pray for the following:

  • Open doors to ministry
  • Favor with immigration (We have 30 days for now, and probably no trouble for 90)
  • Safety for us and the vehicle (Big city = more crime)
  • Health, health, health (I have been quite sick since we arrived… probably a parasite.)

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Jon played “Joy to the World”. Sorry about the constant dudding in the sound.
Apparently clapping right next to the camera creates that effect.

Jon Playing “Feliz Natal”

Being a Missionary Father

A Jon Post

When he was young, about the age I am now, he wanted to go. He even had a location he felt the Lord had put on his heart. China. He bought and read many books about missions in China, the Chinese culture, the Chinese language, all of them still in his library bookcase today. He was passionate. He was unafraid. He was going.

Father and Son

Father and Son

But the timing wasn’t right. He got married, he started a family, and he was VERY good at his engineering job. He went on a short trip to Taipei, but the long term vision changed.

I came along after a few years. Growing up under his love, care, and stern hand of discipline, there was nothing I wanted more than his approval and pride. I wanted to be a veterinarian; I wanted to be the President of the United States; I wanted to be a basketball player; I wanted him to tell me “Well Done”.

I was 14 and, for the first of many times, I went to Africa. I found something that grabbed me even more than all the others: I wanted to be a missionary in Africa. I went back 5 times over the next 6 years. I could feel the purpose and meaning in what I was doing. The Lord put something on my heart much like He did my father’s so many years ago.

My father was quick and faithful to show me how much approval and pride he had in my heart to go. I never doubted that he supported me completely.

In the purpose and meaning I found in being “a missionary”, I started wondering, “Why didn’t my dad do this?” I knew he had wanted to when he was younger. I just thought he had compromised on what the Lord had put on his heart. I let pride well up in my heart. I thought “Well, where my father failed I will succeed.” I even implied in conversations with him “Everyone should be like me! You should be going to China as a missionary!”

It’s been 13 years since I first went to Africa. I am married now and I’m doing what I set out to do. I’m “a missionary in Africa’.

Next step? Starting a family. My wife and I are planning to have children soon. I will be a Missionary Father.

Now, in my travels and my church experience I’ve noticed that children of missionaries tend to struggle mightily. We all know it’s true. Yes, there are some terrific successes in missionary parenting, but in general these kids are miserable people. Growing up as children of these “overseas missionaries” must be a very hard thing to do. As I look to become a missionary father I have started looking for ways to avoid some of the pitfalls that seem so common in my line of work.

I’ve talked to missionary parents about this and I’ve talked to missionary children about this. Both success stories and failure stories.

And I realized something.

I know what it means to be a missionary father.

I’ve always known what it means to be a missionary father.

  • He comes home from his day job every night by dinner time.
  • He prays over his children as he tucks each one of them into bed at night.
  • He sets weekly time aside to join his children in their lives: Sleepovers, sports teams, cub/boy scouts, daddy/daughter night out, family camping trips.
  • He never misses big events in their lives (as defined by his children not by him): Birthdays, losing little teeth, graduations, achy tummies, sports games, scary thunder.
  • He loves his wife extravagantly and shows his children.
  • He disciplines sternly and consistently and lovingly.
  • He plays with his children often.
  • He works with his children around the house.
  • He shows his sons what it means to be men.
  • He shows his daughters what it means to be loved and respected.
  • I have always known what it means to be a missionary father.

    I grew up with one.

    His missionary heart never wavered. It never compromised in its strength or passion. He just realized what most “missionaries” never do.

    His mission was me.

    I know now what it means to be a missionary father: I am a missionary to my children. Everything else is just my 8-5 day job in comparison.

    Ministry outside my home will never be as important as ministry in my home.

    My father taught me that.

    I’ll be a missionary father soon. I hope I make mine proud.