Friday, December 12, 2014

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed.

One month and counting,

A new country, a new culture, a new language, a new home.
His abundant provision.
One week and counting,

Saying good-bye once again to family and to friends who are like family.
His unending comfort.
Two months and counting,

A little girl, who likes to be held, by her mom, all.the.time.
His all sufficient strength.
Many days and counting,

Schooling to be done. Lessons to be learned. Boys to be trained and discipled.
His enduring faithfulness.

His lavish love.
His sweet mercy.
His glorious grace.

Overwhelmed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Next Step

Highlights:

  • David's trip to Tanzania was successful and very productive.
  • We have decided the next step for our ministry is...

Dearest friends and family,

During this season of thanksgiving, we have much for which we are thankful.  We are thankful for a Savior who continues to lavish us with His grace and mercy.  We are thankful for Caleb and Nathan's decisions to follow Christ and to be baptized!  We are thankful for three healthy, beautiful children.  We are thankful for David’s safe return from Tanzania and for a productive trip.  We are thankful for each of you, our prayer and financial partners, who make this ministry possible.

We are especially thankful that God has shown us what we believe to be the next step in our ministry with Wycliffe Bible Translators!  We have been offered and have accepted an invitation to serve with the Uganda/Tanzania branch of Wycliffe in the city of Mbeya, Tanzania.  We plan to leave for Tanzania in mid-January.  David will use his technology skills to support about 70 people who are currently working on 9 different languages with 4 more languages expected to be added in the near future.  Wendi will continue to manage the home as well as homeschool the boys.

We are truly blessed to be able to continue to serve the Bibleless using the skills and talents with which God has blessed us.  Mbeya, Tanzania is a slightly smaller city than Nampula and promises a very different climate due to its location in the mountains of southern Tanzania.  David said the land around Mbeya looked as if God had crumpled up a piece of paper and then flattened it out again, leaving ripples throughout.  For all the coffee fans, Mbeya is a large producer of the famous Tanzanian coffee a couple of you have mentioned to us.

Before we get settled in Mbeya, we will do three weeks of orientation in Dar es Salaam, followed by twelve weeks of language school in Iringa, Tanzania.  While English is spoken by many, Swahili is the main language of Tanzania and we will do our best to learn and use it.  Orientation is offered twice a year and we hope to attend the next available one in mid-January 2015.  This is a very quick turn-around for our family, as well as the paperwork necessary for work visas.  Please be praying for all the details to fall into place in God’s perfect timing.

While this time back in the US was initially unexpected, it has been full of abundant blessings.  We have truly enjoyed connecting with several of you (and look forward to seeing many more of you over the next month or so).  Moreover, your calls, emails, gifts, meals, and kind words have repeatedly shown our family the love of God in tangible and practical ways.  Thank you for loving us so very well!

Once again, thank you for walking with us along this journey, even through the most unexpected turns.  Thank you for being willing to be used by God to bring His word and His kingdom to the nations!

In His Hands,
David, Wendi, Caleb, Nathan and Esther

Praise God for:

  • Safe travel for David to and from Tanzania.
  • Esther's growth and for several good nights of sleep.
  • Renewal of friendships and relationships.
  • Time with family and friends.
  • The many opportunities to share about God's work in Mozambique.
  • Caleb and Nathan's decision to follow Christ and for their baptisms.
  • His faithfulness in answering our prayers and walking through the transition with us.

Pray for:

  • Our preparations for travel and transition. 
  • Paperwork to be completed in a timely manner for our visas to Tanzania
  • God to go before us, preparing a place to live and for friends & community.
  • All the hard good-byes we will be saying once again.
  • Esther's continued growth and settling in.
  • Health for all.
  • The boys during this time of transition.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

For Such a Time

Welcome to the world Esther Mae...

We have eagerly awaited your arrival and now rejoice that we can hold you in our arms.

Your arrival is part of a unique season for our family.  A season of transition, searching and seeking.  A season of waiting, hoping and trusting.  A season of faith, restoration and once again stepping out into an unknown.

Yet, it is no accident that you were born in this season and for that reason our hearts settled on your name.  


It was said of an earlier Esther, your namesake in scripture, that her presence was for "just such a time as this."  We believe that this can be said of your presence in our lives as well. 

A friend in your mommy's Bible study prayed this over you right before we left Mozambique, before we even knew your name.  Our hearts have carried the truth behind this prayer since.  You are a wonderful gift from God, given in His perfect way, in His perfect timing. 

It is said of an earlier Mae, your mommy's great-grandmother, that her presence was of  a calming, joyful faith.  She was one of the first godly examples in your mommy's life and her prayers and love undoubtedly live on through you. 


Welcome to the world Esther Mae...

You who are already adored by your brothers and your parents; You who have been prayed for by countless people; You who were born for such a time as this. May you step forward with bold faith and confidence in God's provision, power and love just as your namesakes did so long ago.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Settling



One of the small joys the boys have had since returning to the State is watching one of their favorite shows on TV, “This Old House.”  For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it is basically a group of expert builders who get together and remodel an older house from top to bottom.  The boys truly enjoy watching the construction from beginning to end (We as parents are also thankful for this during times in which we need to focus elsewhere. Hey, it’s educational, right?)

During one of the episodes they watched recently, I noticed the show was doing an inspection of the foundation of the house which was about to be remodeled.  This particular house was built in New England in the 1800’s and rested on a foundation of a collection of rocks tightly stacked together.  The host noticed that the foundation had settled in several places as rocks had worn down, shifted, or even fallen out.  He also pointed out that many of the walls bore the brunt of this settling, with cracks running up from the “settled” areas.  

As we now are moving into the end of our first month during our time here in the US, this picture of a house settling continues to speak to my heart.  For you see, that is what we are doing, we too are settling.  Our “normal” foundation has shifted, is a bit worn down and is even missing some important pieces.  

Currently, we are getting settled into a home of friends in Thomasville, NC.  We will be here through the birth of baby and on until mid-December.  We are truly blessed by their generosity and have enjoyed spending time with them and others in the area.  (As we continue to get settled, we hope to see many more of you, sharing with you the things God has taught us since we saw you last.) 

In some ways, our attitudes, the “walls” of our family, have begun to show the impact of this settling.  As we settle into a new routine, a new normal and our temporary home, quick tempers, impatience and harsh words have to be guarded against lest the cracks in the walls create permanent damage.  Instead, we hope to settle into a pattern of kindness, patience and joy during our times together.

Even the construction novice that I am knows that building up on a settled foundation is not easy.  Yet, I also know that our foundation is strong because it is built upon the ultimate rock, Jesus Christ.  He is using your friendship, prayers and encouragement, along with the truth of His Word, to strengthen and reinforce the parts of our foundation that need it most.  He is the true master builder, gently correcting our cracks and missing pieces, creating His masterpiece in His perfect timing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our God Does Not Eat Alone




 “Our God does not eat alone,” reflects Samuel, a member of the Makonde people group.  Samuel’s view of God springs from understanding the New Testament in light of one of the greatest cultural values among the Makonde-that of generosity and sharing. One of the greatest insults among the Makonde is to be called a person “who eats alone.”   Samuel’s understanding of God has been transformed after being able to hear and read the New Testament in his own heart language.

The Makonde people span the Mozambique-Tanzania border, numbering over 400,000 in Mozambique alone.  Samuel, along with many other Makonde, joined together to celebrate the dedication of their New Testament in print and audio on 26 July 2014.  
 
 After 20 years of difficult and diligent work, the Makonde celebrated receiving God’s word with gusto.  Hundreds joined in a march through the main street of town to deliver the Bibles to the main celebration.  International visitors joined in with over a thousand Makonde to hear songs of worship and speakers in Makonde.   

The mayor of the town announced that “the greatest of all poverties is the word-of-God-poverty” and that now that God’s word is in Makonde, his people will be able to escape this poverty.  At the end of the celebration, no one had to eat alone, as a meal was shared with those who attended.
 
Samuel’s testimony rang throughout the day. “Our God is not a grasping God. He is not a keep-it-to-yourself God. Because of His love for us and his desire to bring us to heaven, He did not hang on to His Son. Truly our God does not eat alone.”  This realization has given Samuel much joy and a certainty of faith which now can be shared throughout the Makonde people. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Transitions: June Newsletter



Dearest friends and family,

If you have followed our family through much of this journey over the last few years, you would quickly notice the theme of transition is one that has come up repeatedly.  As you have walked along with us, we have experienced transitions in employment, homes, countries and cultures.  Repeatedly, we have seen the faithfulness of the unchanging God in the midst of great changes.  Often we have seen His rock steady, loving kindness expressed through many of you and for that we are forever thankful!  

It would seem that this theme of transition is not one that we are done with yet.  Personally for our family, we are in a great period of transition as we prepare for the arrival of Baby Richards toward the end of October.  Wendi is doing much better health-wise as the pregnancy progresses.  Her energy (and the ability to eat) has returned for the most part (the ability to eat a great deal).  The boys are truly excited about the prospect of baby and eagerly await the new addition.  Please be praying for us as we finalize decisions/plans about where we will travel to have baby.  The health care system here in Mozambique is not incredibly strong and it is advisable for us to have the baby out of country. 
In addition to the transitions personally occurring in our family, there is also great transition in the work of Bible translation in Mozambique.   

This year we rejoice as three New Testaments will be dedicated and the Makonde, Sena and Kimwani people groups will receive God’s word in their own heart language.   The Takwane New Testament will also be completed this month and now moves on to preparation for publication.  As these groups receive their New Testament, the translation projects will be phased out or moved under management other than SIL/Wycliffe.  Join us in expectantly praying that as each of these groups receives God’s word, lives will be transformed by the power of His grace and presence.   Thank you for being a part of bringing the Word into the heart languages of Mozambique!

The other ongoing projects within Mozambique are currently being transitioned into what is called the Southern Africa service group.  This group will be responsible for supporting Bible translation projects not only in Mozambique, but in many different southern African countries.   (This transition to cover southern Africa has been a long process and is not expected to be completed in the near future.)  

As a result of these multiple transitions with projects reaching completion and movement toward supporting Southern Africa, there is also an ongoing transition in regards to the possible sale of the SIL Center and property on which we live in Nampula.   Needless to say, all of these transitions have had and continue to have an impact on our positions as support staff.  As things continue to change here, please be in prayer about the future of our positions here in Mozambique.   Although at times the future seems unclear, we know the One who firmly holds the future in His hands…and it is never unclear for Him!

Again we thank you for walking with us through this journey!  We are honored by your faithful financial partnership, prayers, encouraging emails and packages.  Not only are you making an eternal difference by bringing God’s word to the heart languages of Mozambique, you are making an eternal difference by showing God’s love to our family.  Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can be praying for you and your family!

With His Love,
David, Wendi, Caleb and Nathan Richards

Join us in praising God for:

  • God's word getting into four new languages!
  • Good health for Wendi and baby (David and boys too).
  • The safe arrival of several packages and the goodies inside.
  • The ability for Caleb to have some educational testing and the resulting suggestions and tools.
  • His provision, grace, mercy and unfailing love.


Join us in praying for:

  • The new life developing in Wendi and our adjustments to being a family of five.
  • Wisdom, clarity and patience as we face the many transitions ahead.
  • For peace and stability in Mozambique especially as the election season is approaching.
  • Blank Bibles to be filled throughout the world.
  • The story of a family serving the Bibleless of Mozambique using information technology & communications.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Art & Music Homeschool Night

This week, the homeschool familes of Nampula hosted a presentation night with the theme of art and music.  The boys had worked long and hard on their projects and were excited to show off their work as well as cheer on their friends who had all worked hard too. 

For those who are far away, here is a look into their presentations.  Caleb did an artist study on Leonardo da Vinci.  His display included facts on the artist, a colored Mona Lisa and Last Supper and a depiction of da Vinci's workshop...including a lego corpse for dissection (one of the artist's studious past times). 





 And for his presentation:


Nathan did his presentation on poetry and music:


And his presentation:


As you can see, both boys did a great job. Not a bit of nerves even as they spoke in front of around fifty people.  We are thankful for the all the families who helped make this night a success and for the opportunity we had to be a part of such a fun time!



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Knots in your Tiqvah (part 3)



This is the third and final part of a talk I gave recently.  You can find part one here and part two here.


So now that we have these two clear examples of unmet expectations, we once again are left asking, so what does this mean for me?  How does the way they respond to their unmet expectations shine light into my life?  Is it enough to change me in anyway?  I hope so, at least for my own life. 
We have now been in Mozambique for ten months.  I can remember for the first few months many of you asking, “So how is it?  Is it what you expected?”  In those first few weeks I can remember answering that it was what I expected for the most part.   Still, as our time has grown longer here, I can say more clearly now that in many ways it is not what I expected.  

My tiqvahs have been challenged in my relationships near and far, in my children, in serving the Mozambicans, in our ministry and in our very purpose in being here.  So as I look back at these two examples and ask how they responded to unmet expectations, I cannot but ask myself how I respond in like.

I wish I could tell you that I have responded daily without grumbling and despair, but then I would be lying to you and I think there is something in the Bible about the whole lying thing, so much better to be honest.  I have grumbled, complained, whined and in some moments been led to despair.  I think the hardest part for me has been the moments in which I have doubted God’s purposes for us here.  When I begin to think that He is not what I expected.  

As God has revealed to me how I respond through this study of unmet expectations, He has also revealed to me that I have a choice in how I respond.  If I walk away with one thing, if you remember one thing from this talk it is this:  When we have unmet expectations, we choose whether we respond to the circumstances created or to the character and promises of our Creator.  

For the Israelites, they responded to the circumstances around them.  They responded to the lack of water and food instead to the character of God that is promise-keeper and provider.   They responded with fear to the Canaanites instead of responding to the character of God that was their protector and who would lead them in battle as the Warrior King.  

For the disciples, I think they initially responded to their circumstances.  They responded to the death of their friend with fear and despair instead of remembering His character of love and His promise that His death was for their good and salvation.   I think they responded to His rising from the tomb and his ascension in a way that responded more to His character than their circumstances.  They were still under the tyranny of Rome, still without the physical presence of their dearest friend- yet they responded to His commands to go and teach with the power and presence of His character as never before.  

For me, I hope that I am learning to respond and trust the character of God over the reality of my circumstances of unmet expectations here in Mozambique.  I remind myself often that He is good, He is for me, He has a plan that is good for me and for this moment, He specifically intended for me to be a part of His plan here in Nampula.  

And for you?  What now?  I think it is safe to assume we all deal with unmet expectations and with tiqvahs that have been tied in knots.  It is also safe to assume we all respond to these unmet expectations in many different ways.  My prayer is that as you face yours this coming week that you will remember your  choice- will you respond to the circumstances created or to the character and promises of the One who created you?  Remember He is good.  He is in control.  He has a plan for you.  It is for your good and ultimately for His glory.  

As it says in Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think [or imagine, to Him that is beyond even our greatest tiqvahs], according to the power that works within us [His glorious power], to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen”
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