Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Transformation!




I am not the most patient person in the world.  You can pray for me.
I like to see things happen.  I like to help make things happen.  I like to see "PROGRESS!"
I remember when I was giving birth to Joshua.  Joshua was STUCK.  I was in labor for 27 1/2 hours.  I remember asking the midwives (who knows how many times) are we making any progress?  Anyhow...

I like progress.  I like to see results.  Life isn't always cooperative with this kind of an attitude.  Although it can be a great attitude in many work situations, it can be frustrating as a parent or in dealing with people situations (or waiting on work from others).

Back on February 6th of this year, we were just adjusting to the addition of little Alto to our lives.  She had just arrived the day before according to my pictures on my phone.  I was outside and the cat was watching something.  As I looked, I saw the biggest and (honestly) rather scary looking, hairy caterpillar that I had ever seen before.  (Many of the hairy ones can cause serious skin irritation.)  He was headed for the porch, so I captured him in a jar.  We observed him for a while, and decided we had better let him loose before night.
You can see the beginnings of his cocoon at the bottom.
We coaxed him onto a tree just outside the fence.  When I took him out of the jar, I noticed he had something started (web?  I didn't know what it was.)
The next morning, I went out and he was no longer a caterpillar!
There was this soft mass covered with hair and spines attached to the tree where I had left him the evening before.

By the end of the day, it had formed up a little more.

I am not sure how long we left it there before I decided I wanted to see what came out of that cocoon. I cut the bark off the tree and glued him to a craft stick, and we kept him in the house.
In the beginning we would check on him almost daily.  Then it became checking on him a few times a week.  Then as the months went by, I would sometimes forget about him completely.
From time to time we would search online to see if we could identify him by the caterpillar stage and also the cocoon stage.  From our research, we thought it might be a African wild silk moth.
I was concerned that the cocoon might be getting to dry, or too hot, or too who-knows-what.  I had never hatched a cocoon before.  One day while working at my desk which is in my bedroom, I heard a faint scratching sound a few times.  I though maybe we had a mouse in our room.  Then after a while, I thought it might be the cocoon.  It had lots of spines on it.   I moved the little bucket which contained him right next to my work area.  Sure enough, a little later in the day, that thing moved so much I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  It was very active.  At least I knew it was still alive!
We decided it was time to move it to the "bug house" that Joshua had started many months ago.  Trying to relocate this spiny thing without getting poked is challenging.  Those spines make me itch.
He was moved.  Then the wait started again.  We would check more often again.
The days passed on.
Then...
One afternoon, I walked into my room and what do you know?!  There was a huge moth in there with the cocoon!  I made some kind of excited sound as I saw it.  Joshua heard me and said, "What?!"

Then he said, "OH!!!!"
He figured it out without me saying anything.  Soon he was in my room with me, checking out our long awaited guest!
It was August 15th!  It had been more than SIX MONTHS!
We were so excited that he lived and was actually pretty cute.

We were able to share how moths and butterflies change from caterpillars with several people.  Our worker Beltina was totally surprised to learn this.  She said that the village people had seen such cocoons while gathering fire wood, but didn't know what they were.

After watching him for several house, taking lots of pictures, and sharing him with others, we put him outside on the porch post.
The next morning, he was still there.
The next morning, he was STILL there.
Finally after a few days, he was gone.  I am assuming he caught the sent of a female and flew away to start the next generation of such moths.
There are so many lessons that we can take away from this experience.
First, patience.  Some things take time.  There are some things that should not be rushed.  Growth normally takes time.  We need to be patient with each other and even ourselves.  As we look to Jesus, know His true character, and trust Him, we become more and more like Him, the changes will come.  Some changes are fast, others take effort as we must keep our eyes on Jesus and accept victory in Him daily.  My job is "to seek Him" with my whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.  He has the victory for me, I need to keep looking to Him and accept it.  In my own strength, I can do NOTHING, but "in Him" I can do all things... which leads to the next lesson -
Transformation....
When that "bug" was in the cocoon, what was it?  It was GOO!  That caterpillar totally (TOTALLY!) dissolved.  I could not open it up and find a 1/2 caterpillar and 1/2 moth at any stage.  That needs to be the same with me.  When I am converted, my goals, my motives, my life need to be all about loving God and wanting to bring Him glory.  If I try to go 1/2 way, I will not become what God is trying to make of my life.  I need to be a NEW CREATURE in Christ Jesus.  The OLD must pass away and all things must become new.
It amazes me to this day that many of the things I once loved, have no appeal to me today.  Many of the things I didn't like, today I love.
And daily, God is still changing me.  He is helping me leave off wrong thoughts which lead to wrong feelings.  He is trying to make something beautiful out of my life even though I have been an ugly caterpillar and scary cocoon.  In the right lighting, that moth is beautiful!
When I stay in the sunshine of God's love, others may get a glimpse of Jesus (even through me!)
That bug's job was to stay in the plan.  My job is to stay in the center of the God's will for my life.  He is changing me.  He is helping me let go of things that bring pain to myself and others.  Some day... some day...  He will finished that which He has begun in me.
I am so looking forward to Heaven.  I am looking forward to knowing my Jesus face to face.  I am looking forward to seeing all of creation without the slightest blight of sin.
How about you?  I hope so!  God loves you!
You know, we can have some ugly spots in our lives.  That caterpillar and cocoon were rather scary and even dangerous.  No matter what mistakes you may have made, HE LOVES YOU!  And He STILL has a GREAT plan for your life.  Look to Him.  Keep looking to Him.  By beholding we become changed.  Make sure you are looking at the TRUE character of God.  HE IS LOVE!  And everything about Him is Love.
Keep hanging on (just like that cocoon).  The day is coming... just a little bit longer... but not too much longer! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Books, book, books!

I am still learning the publishing work.  I have gone to five different meetings now outside of Kibidula so far (Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam-another time, Morogoro, Iringa, and Singida).
I have been reading books, articles, watching tutorials, asking lots of questions, and doing a lot of trial and error.
It has been challenging, but I think some of it is starting to come together.  Because I know so little, it makes me aware of my total need of God to help me through it.
First I started with books to publish that had already been printed by us previously.  I only needed to make very minor changes (didn't seem minor the first time though!) like changing the spine size and information on the first few pages.
Then I got books where the text was all ready but the entire cover needed to be updated (and a few pages!)
The OLD cover of "Health and Happiness".

Cover Updated for Health and Happiness

Then I received the text where all the words were fine, but the layout was not.   So this was a new experience to put it all in a specific layout (with additions of little inserts), add pictures, and design three covers for it.
Soon, I will have the entire project to work out.  The text will be raw from the editors, and everything will be new.
This next project (You Turn, a shortened version of Health Power) requires a LOT of pictures throughout the book with the text flowing around pictures of different shapes and such.
God is so good to walk me step by step by step through this process instead of making me jump in the deep end all at once!
Truly this is His work, and He leads step by step.  I am thankful for such a Wonderful, Loving Leader!
New book covers designs
I am also VERY grateful for a director and team that give me lots of feedback and suggestions.  This is not the work of one person, it is a team effort.  I just get to do most of the computer work on it.  Thank you Jason, Bill, Temboh, Joel, Edgar, Doug, Joshua, and Wiktor (at the press)!

Sample page of the first book I worked on "layout".

I am very excited about the Steps to Christ book project we are working on right now.  If we can get the proper backing, we hope to make this book available at a very affordable price to the public!  I personally plan to buy a LOT of them to give out (especially to the police when they pull us over).

These little books can reach people in places where no person can go personally.  These books can bring the good news of better health of body, spirit, and mind!

Thank you for all the prayers and support!  God is faithful, and Jesus is coming soon! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Timber! (In many senses of the word)

We have some very tall, old trees that are about past their usefulness.  The decision to hire some locals to cut and mill the trees was made.  We have been hearing chainsaws and the portable sawmill for weeks around here.
We also have a new skyline since so many tall trees are down now.
Last week some of the Cootz, Joshua and I went out to see some of the operation in action.  The mill wasn't going, but we saw stacks and stacks of cut lumber.  We also heard cow bells and a chainsaw.  We had to work our way into where they were working, but it was worth it!


Stacks of fresh lumber
It seems that the big trees are mostly cut on Sunday.  Then the main person works to cut the large trees into sections.  Then he uses his chainsaw to cut them into thirds or fourths.  He does an amazing job milling those pieces with only a chainsaw.  They look so straight and even pretty smooth!



Straight cuts with the chainsaw - making thirds or fourths

Then three men with a team of three cows and a donkey yoked together with chains, pull the cut sections to a pile where they will start milling again.

These guys didn't want us taking pictures, so we were trying to be discrete.  (So I didn't get good pictures!)
Three cows and a donkey pulling sections

Then then men pile the sections together
Then this last Sunday, the tallest trees closest to the shop were cut down.  These were located between many structures (the old farm house, the little house behind, the little round outbuilding, the "outhouse" (choo), and the garage/shop.
Jason used the JCB to move a piece of equipment, and then used it to help the trees fall a better direction than if they were just cut.  He also used it to move the big trees to a pile away from where they were falling.  It was amazing!  God really blessed us with a great piece of equipment.  It is used to make fire breaks, roads, fix roads, move trees, help fall trees, dig up stumps, dig the ditch for the dam, and many other things I don't even know about, I am sure!
The JCB lumberjack in action. Those other tall trees to the left of it are down now also.  That was the first of the day.

Soon our lumber supply will be good again, and these trees that were getting dangerous will be down.

This particular type of cypress gets hollow inside and rotten if you let them get to big.  These were already starting to be that way.
The darker areas are really soft and starting to rot as well as the center.

God helped us to get them cut just in time!  Also the tall pine trees that the monkeys hide in, are down.  YEAH!  That is a bonus for us!

Thank you for all the prayers and support!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fire, fire, fire! This is not a drill!

I think Doug learned it in the Navy, but this is what he announces when there is a wildfire.
"FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!  THIS IS NOT A DRILL!"
All hands on deck would be a good interpretation.  We have had three unexpected fires already this dry season on campus and one nearby where we were called to help.
The winds are STRONG now.  The grass is too tall and too dry.  This all makes for a challenging fire season!
Thankfully I don't believe anything important has been burned.
Even the fire that went through the old cow pasture didn't seem to harm the wooden posts.
God is so gracious to us!
It is also honey harvesting season.  How do they calm the bees?  They use smoke.
Where there is smoke.... (you know the rest)... there is fire.
So some of the fires are because the remains after smoking the beehive have not been put out well enough.  The following day when it is warm, dry and WINDY, the fires have started up.  It is almost ALWAYS in the afternoon that we have fires, but not always.  Our second fire was in the morning.

GOD INTERVENED AGAIN.
Our last fire was our largest one so far.  It happened on a Sunday and most of our staff and nearly all of our students were GONE!
The phone rang and it was Jason.  He was a LONG way off, on his way back from town with a truck full of window glass for the press building.  He asked where the smoke was.  He said he could see BIG SMOKE and it looked like it was at Kibidula or just north of us from where he was.  I asked where he was.  HE WAS A LONG WAY OFF.  I ran out to the road, and could see NOTHING.  NOTHING.......
Doug and Joshua jumped on the motorcycle and off they went to see if they could see smoke.  They went one direction, and not too far away, Joshua saw two small puffs of smoke the other direction.  They turned around and zipped off, coming back by here.  I immediately changed clothes into some I didn't mind messing up, and called the Cootz (only the ladies home at that time!)
Then I get the message, YES it is HERE and it is BIG!  I start calling people and running to get the truck ready.  Jason said he already got the message and called the driver of the water truck and "our" fire chief.  After driving to get a few more helpers (I will try to keep this a short and not include ALL the details), off we went to join those that had already arrived.
As I was driving out, I started to think it must already be out.  I couldn't even see the smoke from the house or much of the road.  As we finally got closer, we could see LOTS OF SMOKE!  The wind was so strong that day that the smoke was being pushed off down low for a distance and wasn't very noticeable from campus roads!
The water truck and crew were busy and the fire was out within an hour.

In talking to Jason after it was out, he said by the time he got close to campus, it looked like the smoke was FAR away.
WHAT?  If Jason had waited until he got close, he would have dismissed it as not here. 
Oh, how thankful we are that God showed him BIG SMOKE from far away, or that fire would have been HUGE by the time we would have found out about it!  God intervened again.  God impressed him that it was at Kibidula or very close to it.  I am so thankful that the few people that were able to come to the fire were around.  We were not a lot of poeple.

All the glory goes to God.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Where's my phone? God intervenes!

Yesterday, Doug received a call asking if he could escort a truck load of bags of cement out to the new building site for the One-Day School that has been started here.
He finished his lunch quickly and left.
When he got home, he relayed this story to me.
He said, "I lost my phone."

I asked what happened.  He said it fell out of his pocket on the way to the work site.  I said I hoped it didn't get run over by the truck!  Then he showed it to me.  The screen cover was partially off and it was a little dirty.
He laughed and told me the rest of the story.He said his alarm to renew his phone package went off as he was escorting the truck out.  He pulled out his phone and turned off the alarm while driving.  He then put it back in his pocket.  He was going slow because the truck was coming slowly.  He doesn't have any mirrors on the motorcycle (another story).
At some point after arriving there, he searched for his phone and realized it was missing.  He retraced his steps and drove back out to where he had last used it.  Nothing.
He asked others there to call his phone to help him find it.
If I understand correctly, someone even asked one of the people that were in the truck about it, but didn't get a response.
Doug listened carefully while close to the truck, and sure enough, he heard something inside.  Our director climbed in and started digging.   I mean digging.
It was buried beneath a cushion and pile of coats.  It would seem that someone didn't want the phone to be heard.  They must have seen it on the road or even fall out of his pocket and retrieved it.
They didn't get it turned off before arriving at the delivery spot.
It would seem they hoped the mound of coats and cushion would keep it from being heard and retrieved.
We praise the Lord for helping Doug get his phone back. 

God is so good to us.  We just don't know how many times he intervenes!

It reminds me of the incident that happened several weeks ago in town.  Tere, Catherine and I were in town doing shopping for ourselves and others.  We split up for some reason.  I was putting my phone in one of my baskets.  Each time I came back I would unload my basket into the truck and continue on.  We had put a LOT of stuff in the back of the truck.  We had parted ways.  When I came back to the truck about 15 minutes or so later, Tere and Catherine were there.  They said they were so glad to see me and pointed out my phone was sitting right out in the open in the back of the truck on top of everything in plain site!
OH, I about choked!  All I could do was praise God over and over again for protecting my phone even in my carelessness!

Several weeks before this, we were trying to get phone lines set up for the Cootz and I ended up getting a new sim card also.  We were pulling out and putting in new sim cards, cutting them, trying this and that to make everything work.  I was being very careful each time to put the tiny sim card in a safe place each time I changed one out.  It had been a full size sim card, but was now trimmed down to the smaller version.

When we finished there (which was a little booth by the side of the road), we went back to the truck to leave.  I don't remember why, but I decided to check for the sim card (my original one).  I looked for it and could not find it.  I was sure it was in my little pink zippered pocket.  I told the others I couldn't find it.  Tere said, it is in your little pink zipper purse.  I said I was sure it was too, but I had looked more than once already and it wasn't there!  I said she could look for it while I went and retraced my steps.  I walked back to the place and told them what happened and we looked all around, nothing....
I was praying.  This was my main phone number line and I also had "money" on that line, maybe $30 or more.  I prayed and walked, and searched.  The thing is about the size of a large pea.  It could blend in so well with little pieces of paper.
God lead me to the exact right place in the ROAD and there it was.  I picked it up flashed it to the people at the stand who were also still looking on the ground for it.  I praised God all the way back for helping me find my needle in a haystack!

GOD CARES.  He really does.  Little things, big things.  I don't recommend being careless, but I am so thankful that He is there in our time of trouble!

Medical Missionary Work in the Village

With our last evangelism school session, when they went out to the village to do their effort, our Mr. Bill went with them.  He was right there in the middle of it with them helping with first-aid issues and other things.  We were told that there was a terrible case of bed bugs where they stayed.  Some of our students were "city folk" so the village conditions were a real eye-opener for some of them.   One student said she didn't have a clue that people of her own country lived so close to the edge of survival.
One lady in particular that had some nasty wounds on her legs was helped by Mr. Bill and our students.  Before the end of the meetings she was able to walk again and even walked to the church service.  We are thankful that we can watch God work to help people not only physically but also spiritually.
Here are a few other excerpts from Bills notes on the village effort.

     We were provided with a five room building for all 30 of us, two rooms for the ladies, 3 for the guy's, no kitchen or bathroom of course. The kitchen was a separate little building apart from the main house with a two or three burner stove, depending on how many fires you want to make on the floor. Totally off the grid as you would expect. We did have running water however, would you like to know how far we had to run for it? Only one quarter mile twice a day. We had 5 gallon containers and buckets. The guys would carry these containers, usually by their handles, some on their shoulders, that was my preference, the ladies choose to carry these 70 lb. burdens on their heads. I think it will forever fascinate me to watch them do this. One day while I was getting my bath water at the pump, two little, really little girls, no more than 6, or 7 years old, were also fetching their family's water supply. I pumped the water into their buckets, and with all my strength, lifted each bucket above their heads, until they positioned themselves under their load, relieving me of the weigh that made my arms shake, then in amazement watched them skip away, okay, they didn't skip, but it would not have surprised me if they had.
        What occupied most of our time was walking from home to home visiting, making friends, sharing the gospel as we had opportunity, and having prayer with them. On the first day out, our group of three came to the home of an intoxicated man working his craft of basket weaving, his wife sitting on the ground with their youngest of eight children by her side. All three looking dirty and dejected, the woman especially, with her head hung down, not bothering to even look at perhaps the only visitors they may of had for years. After ten minutes of trying to encourage this family, we started to leave, but by the request of the husband to his wife to show us her lower left leg, we stayed to see a sight that made our stomachs turn. On the front of this leg was a 4 inch gash, very deep and badly infected, due to an injury received by falling two months prior to our visit. The infection surrounding the wound by 3 to 4 inches, wrapping around to the back of the leg. Then were her right leg makes contact with the oozing  fluid of the infection, the infection had spread to that leg as well. Before even considering the implications of the problem, I told the students who were with me that we have to treat this. Fortunately I packed my little first aid kit; a small roll of gauze, some tape, a few band aids, what more do you need to save a leg. In the bush country of Africa you do what you have to do with what ever you have. We returned the next day to start treatments, washing the infected area with warm water and soap. One day we forgot the soap and she didn't have any, so we used a small packet of shampoo I had in my backpack from a hotel. After cleaning the wound and the infected areas we applied a charcoal poultice, prayed, and left. By the third treatment, the oozing had stopped and the infection was in remission. A week and a half later we were able to stop the charcoal treatment and focus on aiding the healing process. For that we applied honey. Toward the end of the 3 weeks of treatments, the women told us how surprised her neighbors were to see her walking again. We didn't realize when we first met her that she wasn't walking.

Bill in Njojo village helping the lady that couldn't walk

         It didn't take long before word got out that we were helping people. We were mostly getting people with infected foot injuries....
       We were taken to the home of a little 7 year old girl who became ill when she was 2 years old. She was hospitalized for a week, recovered from the illness, but was no longer able to walk or talk. Her mother died giving birth to her next sibling so Sara, was given to her grandparents to raise. Tanzania does not have facilities, or homes for the handicapped. This is not an uncommon case, I have seen it twice before. As the child gets older, so do the grandparents, until they are incapable to meet the increasing needs of the child. They usually die at a young age of neglect and starvation. We took a video of her and as much information as we could, and told the father we would try to locate a facility that can give her the care she needs.
     Three days before our effort ended, a mother brought her eight year old daughter to us with a massive infected sore on her neck, under her left ear. My heart sank at the sight of this beautiful child with this nasty infection eating away her flesh. So what can we do? We do the best we can with what we have, and pray! After the third, and last day of treatment with charcoal and honey, the improvement was remarkable. We instructed the mother to continue the treatment until she is completely healed. I hope to go back to that village to check on her.
     Each evening we conducted meetings, mostly on better living habits and health. It amazed me how far people would walk on trails in the dark to attend the meetings. The meetings were conducted in front of the building we were living in. One evening a large black snake was seen coming out of the building. Those who seen, and killed it believe it came out of the room that I and two other men slept in, on the floor.
    After about fifteen nights of being eaten by bed bugs, I finally figured out how to get rid of them. God's natural remedies are truly wonderful. I would take a clove of garlic into my sleeping bag and rub it all over myself, then leave the rest of the garlic in the bag through the night.


Thank you for all the prayers and support.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Agriculture School Graduation and the first time to use our new buidling!

 On June 19th, we said goodbye to the second year students that graduated from our agriculture school sponsored by REACH Switzerland.  We had 27 graduates.  It was a happy day for them and their families. 
This ambitious group of students and staff decided they would work extra hard to clean up the things left over from construction so they could use our new multipurpose building.  It was a fantastic way to begin the use of this new building.


The graduating students giving a song.

The students and staff did a nice job of decorating and preparing for the graduation.  It was a very special day, and we were blessed to be part of it with them.
After the program was finished, the graduates and staff.

Please do continue to pray for the young people here in Tanzania.  We seek to equip them with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual tools to help them in this life and for eternity.
In addition to the agriculture, spiritual, English, sewing, and carpentry lessons, the graduates were offered a very special deal.  Sewing machines and carpentry tools were purchased and for a fraction of the cost, the students were able to purchase them so they could immediately go to work with their acquired skills.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.