Monday, November 23, 2015

And Then There Were Two


Meet Zuka...short for Bazooka...our newest friend and playmate...


 Or as Dubu likes to call him, "My New Squeaky Toy"


Laughing it up at a mutual joke
New puppy, new adventures
Truly, the two dogs are already the best of friends...rolling, romping and running all over the place.

Thee two boys and the little lady are in doggy heaven eating up the precious cuddles and puppy licks.

They are very glad that there are now two puppies, double the trouble and double the fun.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Seven for Seven

Seven 


Super


Sweet


Snapshots


Showing


our Super


 Seven Year Old.


Happy birthday Nathan!
You are a joy in our lives.  Your loving, sharing kind spirit is a wonderful part of our family.
Your love of Jesus is obvious and we believe He has great plans for you!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sweet One

Over the past weekend, we celebrated this sweet girl's first birthday


Lots of moms talk about how quick that first year goes, 
but truly this year seemed to flash by in the blink of an eye.  

Seriously,  how did this little bit


Become this big girl so fast?


With our year split by two countries and 4 (maybe 5) homes, 
the time flew by as this one grew from this 


to this before our eyes.


Loved by her family from the beginning, 



 

She has brought us so many blessings and such joy...plus a good share of sleepless nights.



Happy first birthday Miss Es,

Our loving, adventurous, cuddle-giver.

May God continue to grow you into a mighty woman, fully in love with Him. 


Friday, October 16, 2015

Getting out of the House

Many a mom has bemoaned the struggle found in the physical act of getting children out of the house.  

“Where are both shoes when we need them?”

“Really a down parka?  It is 80 degrees outside.”

“Who put the car keys in the freezer??”

“Are all the kids here?  Dressed? Shoes?  Well, two out of three isn't too bad.”

Still, a recent venture of ours might have landed at the top of the list of the “getting out of the house” fiascoes….at least in our family.

All was going fairly well, until the second padlock on the metal security door clicked.

Oh wait, you don't have a metal security door?  Meet ours:

(This metal door is double padlocked every time we leave the house.) 


The second padlock had clicked shut and I look around to make sure both boys made it out with me (Esther was strapped to my back.)

My heart sank.  Both boys were there, but neither of them were wearing the keys around their neck.  Usually when we leave, one of them proudly wears the keys to get us out of the gate.  (Another large, padlocked security structure.)

Both boys. No keys.  My heart sank.  There is no way back in the house without the keys and no way out of the yard (remember, the large aforementioned gate).  Both boys swore they didn't have the keys.  Frantically, I quickly looked through my large diaper bag/purse, but came up empty handed.

“What will we do?!?,” I cried.  “Mom, don't worry, Nathan can fit through the metal door,” Caleb volunteered.

See the small oval openings?  Apparently, Nathan is smaller than them....or so we thought.

So began the great home invasion.  We opened the wooden door and picked Nathan up, sliding him through one of the larger openings.  “Fit” is a relative word, but Nathan tightly squeezed through the grates.  Well, he fit after a couple of rearrangements...arms up, shoulders down, head turned was the final correct combination.  The brave boy cryed out a couple of times as he scraped his head or Dubu chomped on his leg.

(I forgot to mention Dubu was locked in behind the metal door.  She thought it great fun that we decided to return Nathan to her through the door.  She showed her excitement as she normally does, jumping up and nipping him repeatedly.)

Nathan went into the house, to appear a moment later breathless.  “I can't find the keys! They aren't in their spot.”  (At about this time, Caleb starts muttering, I thought I had them. I went to the bathroom, found my shoes...etc.)

“Nathan, YOU are our ONLY hope.  FIND the keys!”  I desperately encouraged him.

As he returned to look once more, I started throwing things out of the diaper bag.

It was with a mixture of glee and frustration that I found the keys at the very bottom of the bag.

I cried out to Nathan, who came running and got ready for the extraction process.  Getting out might have been a little harder.  His head might or might not have gotten stuck in both the metal door and the dog's mouth.  After a couple of false tries and a couple of new scrapes, we got him out.

We secured the doors and were finally able to say we got out of the house and were on our way.

Caleb reassured me as we left.  “Mom, don't worry, I had a backup plan.  All I needed was a machete and bolt cutters.  We might have needed a new door afterward, but we would have been in the house. No problem.”

Here's to hoping that we remember the keys from now on or Nathan doesn't grow too much before Esther can take his place in slipping through the metal door.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Tomboy in the Making?

I think we might have a tomboy in the making...


One of those girls who doesn't mind getting dirty...


 Loves to play outside whenever possible...


Loves to explore whatever comes her way...


Always on the go...


 But then again, with this crazy bunch... 


She didn't have much hope for other options.

Love those eyes!  




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Around this Table



I have come to realize recently, around this table is where I do the majority of my ministry.




Over open school books, pencil cases and heads bent in concentration.

Over a cup of tea or a meal shared with new friends.

Over conversations, questions, hearts explored and lives shared.

This is where I sit, stand and sometimes even sing. This is where I share the grace of the One who loves faithfully, gives unselfishly and grows me endlessly.

As I gaze at the picture, I cringe at the mess. Do you know how hard it is to take a beautiful or artsy picture of a messy table?

But in that truth lies an even deeper truth…


Where I minister is not glamorous. It is not flashy or exciting. I can not write of hundreds coming to know the Lord or fabulous miracles experienced around this table.

I can write of a daily desire to share, to serve, to seek together the One who simply knowing Him is a miracle in itself. I can write of lives loved, hearts encouraged, and many, many dirty dishes.

Around this table, I see the beauty of Him who left perfection and entered into my mess. 

Around this table, I see the beauty of lives transformed, not in a huge moment, but in the daily grind of hugs given, tears dried, and math problems conquered.  

Around this table, I see the beauty of the mundane becoming sacred as the bread of fellowship is shared and friendships are formed.


In this mess, around this table, by the grace of God, this is where I will minister.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Newest Addition

Meet Dubu...



Dubu, which means bear in Swahili, became a part of our family this past month. 
It is our hope that Dubu will grow up big and strong like her German Shepard father since she is supposed to be a guard dog.  

As you can see she is already taking her job very seriously...


Searching and removing potentially dangerous objects like bones, broken avocados and Wendi's lemongrass plants which she loves to dig up and eat gnaw on the roots.  (Lemongrass might just get the other nasty tastes out of her mouth?)


Wrestling down these specious acting characters.  

The boys and Esther have really enjoyed playing with her.  She has a great personality with the kids...putting up with their mischief quite well, while adding a bit of her own of course...



Never one to lay down on the job (well, maybe sometimes), Dubu has been a joyful new addition to the family.  We look forward to many more years and adventures to come.




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sit

Up at 6:30 am (or 6:00 or 5:30) with the squawks of little girl.

A prayer, a moment in His word. Barely enough of Him to get me through the day.

The whirlwind of breakfast, everyone dressed, Da out the door.

School starts. Bible, Math, and the like. Hard work, attitude adjustments as needed. (Theirs and mine.)

2 pm arrives, school is done, little girl is napping, I am wiped and I just want to sit.

Sit...and maybe read to escape a bit.

45 minutes, an hour max, and so much calls for my attention.

There is work to be done…dinner to be started, blogs to be written, dogs to be trained...and I really should look for another filling of His Word.

But, again, all I want to do is sit.

To sit, in itself not a bad thing. 

Yet, I sit and mistakenly turn once again to my phone, sucked in to the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter for way too long. The little girl squawks again and I find myself having done nothing, rising again as empty as I was when I first sat down.

Or I sit, resting in His presence. To regroup. To restore. To be restored. To be filled.  The little girl squawks and I find myself refreshed a bit, ready to end my day strong.

The choice is mine to be made.

45 minutes and the clock is ticking.


Think I will go now and sit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

School Daze

Fourth Grade. Did you read that? FOURTH grade! How is it possible that we have a rising fourth grader in the house? Not to mention his brother a rising first/second grader. Wasn't it just yesterday that they looked like this...



Well, I guess I remember now...

Kindergarten in the US....1st grade in Brazil....2nd in Mozambique....3rd split between the US and Tanzania...and now 4th in Tanzania

or

Pre-K in Brazil...Kindergarten in Mozambique...1st split between the US and Tanzania...and now 1st/2nd in Tanzania (age-wise Nathan should still be in 1st, but he is doing a lot of second grade level work already, so naming his grade is kind of complicated.)

So that is what happened and how they ended up looking like this...




And that is how I ended up spending the last week planning for the new school year which starts for us on Monday. I did quite a bit of pre-planning before coming to Tanzania in January, bringing many of our books with us...but have decided we needed to add and tweak somethings. (Thank goodness for curriculum in ebooks and for Nana and Papa mailing us the rest!)

So what will the next year look like for us in school? Something like this:

Bible: We will finish up our last few lessons of Community Bible Study which we brought with us. Then we will study Jesus' miracles using ScriptureAdventures. In November, we will do a special study using hymns of thanksgiving. In December, we will start Scripture Adventures Life of Jesus Study (pretty handy that the life of Jesus starts with the birth of Jesus). We will continue with the Life of Jesus till we finish the study.

Math: We continue to use Math Mammoth, supplemented with math apps and games. (Nathan is our math whiz and is already half way through MM 2nd grade. Instead of moving him up when he finishes in the next few months, I will probably do another math program such as MEP.)

Language Arts:
Caleb: Rod andStaff Grammar, Writing and Rhetoric and All About Spelling. (We have seen VAST improvement in his spelling using this program. I cannot tell you enough how much it has helped him!)

Nathan: Rod and Staff Grammar, Writing with Ease and continuing to learn to read using All About Reading (Another great program!)

History: We will continue using Story of the World and its activity book. We are now on Volume 3 and will be learning about the age of Colonization, Empires and the race for the new world.

Science: This year we are trying something new with science and will be studying Astronomy and Zoology 1 using Apologia Science and the Jr. Notebooking guides. I am excited about this change and have wanted to take the leap into Apologia for awhile now. The books are in the mail (pray for a quick and safe arrival!), so we will actually start our year with a study on plants as we wait for them to get here.

Fun Friday: This is also a new addition to our school this year. I am hoping to save Fridays for all the things we don't normally get to during the week... Art, Music, Geography, Engineering, Logic...just to name a few. We will probably do Bible and Math plus as much as the others as we can.
In Art, I am excited to use this program since my art skills are nil. For geography, we will be using this program from Simply Charlotte Mason once the books arrive in the mail. Til then, we will do a brief overview of each continent. For the STEM related stuff, I am pulling from this and this website.

Oh! And we are learning cursive with the worksheets from this great resource.

So that's our year in a brief nutshell. I am looking forward to it and am praying that it will be a complete year without any major transitions (refer to the list of four countries in four years above for the motivation behind that prayer).

Maybe we can hope that our biggest transition will be as this one (who loved playing with her alphabet as she "helped" plan school for her brothers)...



...starts to do this more often...



...getting mobile, dropping her morning nap and joins us for school,

....but that will be an entirely different blog post to come.

*Links are provided in case you want to know more about any of our choices for the year. They are not affiliate links.*


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill? (Newsletter Update)

Highlights:
  • "This is what we need!," a reminder of the importance of Bible translation.
  • We are settling in well to our new home in Mbeya. We even have a couch!
  • Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill?

Dear Friends and Family,
The three Ndali men gently stroked the books, passing them back and forth amongst themselves.  Smiles lit up their faces, thankfulness beaming from their eyes.  They had traveled many hours by bus, from a neighboring country, seeking these books written in their mother tongue.  Excitement burst forth with their words, Our people will welcome and celebrate these books like the birth of a son! This is what we need!” 


The Ndali people group is just one of the people groups with whom we work. The Mbeya Cluster Project is one part of the Uganda-Tanzania Branch and currently serves over 10 people groups.  (The pictures shown in this update are of a community test with the Sangu people group. Community tests are just one tool our translators use to ensure a clear and accurate translation.)

The people groups with which the Mbeya cluster works represent over 3 million people in southwest Tanzania.  That is over 3 million who yet do not have the adequate access to the Scriptures in their mother tongue.  As the Ndali man said, this is what they need and this is why we do what we do.
Currently, the Mbeya team has around 80 people working on the different aspects of Bible translation and they have kept David very busy.  Since arriving, David has issued and repaired laptops, configured servers and worked to maintain a functioning IT system in the office.  He very much enjoys this work and is thankful to be able to use his skills in such a way.

Part of his responsibilities also includes shopping for supplies for the office at times.  While this might seem a simple task, this is Africa and the unexpected can be expected.  Recently as he returned from one shopping expedition, a large cow was grazing and blocking the road.  David got out of the car to encourage it to move along.
Grasping the cow by the horns, David pushed and pulled at the cow.  The cow either wanted to stay where she was or was very happy to meet David. She showed David by shaking her head, lowering her large horns at him and taking a step toward him.  As all you Texas fans know, “Hook ‘em horns” can mean a couple of things.  Instead of taking the risk of getting gored, David returned to the car and used it to gently nudge the cow out of the way.  Cow wrestling, a necessary IT skill?  At least in Mbeya!

While David is busy at the office, Wendi and the children have been busy at home finishing up the school year, hoping to have it completed in the next couple of weeks. They will then take a short break before diving in again. 
The boys continue to thrive.  Most days you will find them building something, whether it is a goat pen from scrap wood or a Lego castle. (They are both lobbying for a goat, but mom and dad aren’t quite ready for that yet.)  Esther is growing like a weed.  She loves to stand up, hates being on her tummy and enjoys all kinds of food.  Both boys love to make her laugh and she is sleeping much better in her own room these days.

As we continue to work on getting settled in Mbeya, our house is starting to feel more like a home.  Furniture is slowly coming along.  We now have a couch and a coffee table (answered prayer!), but there are a few more pieces we would like to add in the future.  Home is far more than a place, but a community as well.  We are also thankful for friendships that have begun to form and for the amazing welcome to the Mbeya community. 

One of our biggest struggles still is finding a church home here in Mbeya.  Worship here is very different from what we are used to.  It is incredibly loud, which has resulted in headaches on many Sundays.  On top of that, our Swahili needs lots of work and we rarely understand what is said at the churches.  Still, it is our desire to join in worship with a local church.  Pray that we find creative ways to work through these challenges, that we are able to connect with a body of believers and that we would begin to build eternal relationships at church and in the community as a whole.  
It was just over six months ago that we came to Tanzania.  As we look back over the past six months with the multiple transitions and the many large expenses (hospital bills for Esther’s birth, plane tickets, orientation and language school costs, furnishing a house), we praise God for you because we know we could not do it without you.  As we look forward, we know that God will continue to provide faithfully through each of you. 
We are truly thankful for your faithful prayers and financial partnership.  There is no doubt that God is using each of you to bring His word in the heart language of people throughout southwest Tanzania. Thank you for your willingness to be used by Him to bless our family as well as bring forth His Kingdom work here in Tanzania!
 
In His Hands,
David, Wendi, Caleb, Caleb, Nathan & Esther Richards



Praise God for:
  • The translation work being done in Ndali and the other languages of our region.
  • Our house becoming more of a home.
  • New friendships taking root.
  • The formation of a good school and work routine.
  • God's abundant provision.
  • A wonderful time of rest and restoration at the recent branch retreat.


Pray for:

  • Opportunities to continue improving our Swahili- for us to find a language tutor and for time to study.
  • Creative ways to connect with a Tanzanian body of believers.
  • Us to build relationships that point others to Jesus.
  • Health. We all picked up a small cold during the retreat.
  • Blank Bibles throughout the world to be filled.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

(Rest)oration

There are those times and places



when your soul 



and God's creation meet




and in that moment rest becomes

 


(rest)oration.



 This past week, we were blessed with such a time at our branch retreat in Dar es Salaam.  

A beautiful view.
Fun in the water.
Good food. (Grapes!!)
Great friends.
Wonderful Biblical teaching.
A fun VBS program for the kids.






And in that moment,
rest became
(rest)oration.



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