April 2007 Mozambique Evangel

The Mozambique Evangel April 9, 2007 By Charles Woodrow

Abstract: For the seventh year we sponsored a Christmas food distribution / evangelism program for needy persons in our neighborhood. Andrew and a young man in the church have started an evangelistic sports ministry on the compound’s soccer field. The church began 2007 with an all day fast and prayer service, and God’s response to those prayers is becoming evident, particularly in His gracious dealing with an erring church participant.

Dear Friends:

Greetings from Nampula. We have been kept busy since our last newsletter catching up on administrative work that accumulated during our twelve months away from Mozambique. At the same time, we have resumed several of our local ministries. The following is an update on the more noteworthy events.
In December, shortly after returning to Mozambique, we organized our annual Christmas food distribution ministry to 100 needy families living in our neighborhood. These are people, mostly elderly, widows, handicapped, and orphans, who are on the official government welfare roles. As you can imagine, one has to be pretty poor to qualify for welfare in a country that until recently was the poorest nation on earth for 15 years running! These are the poorest of the poor. They are also our neighbors, so you can appreciate the pressure we continually sense from the admonition of Galatians 6:2 to “bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.”

So every year since 2001 our family has provided food at Christmas time as a gesture of our purpose to serve the community, and it has turned into a Christmas observance we look forward to as much as our neighbors do. In Nampula $5.00 buys enough staples to provide a relative feast for a moderate-sized family. There are times when we wish we lived back home where we could enjoy our weekly candy bar without being reminded that all around us are people who can’t even buy bread, but on the other hand, where else does a gift costing five dollars make so much difference? This illustrates the simultaneous blessing and tension inherent in missionary life – because of great need on every hand opportunities abound to be useful, but with those opportunities comes the pressure of responsible stewardship to Him who said, “To whom much is given, of him shall be much required.”

Two of our handicapped friends receive food at the Christmas food distribution.
Even as the hospital ministry always existed primarily to get the gospel into the ears and the hearts of our patients, we also combine the food ministry with a gospel presentation and hand out scripture portions in the local language. Similarly, years ago we used a sports ministry to present the gospel to local youth who met on our compound to play soccer, but after a year that fell by the wayside when the fellows leading it moved away. Recently Andrew has taken up the cause, and he has a good number of neighborhood kids meeting with him and a Christian brother twice weekly to play soccer and hear Bible stories. Pray that until the hospital is built and functioning God will show us other ways we can minister to our neighbors and that He will own our efforts by shining into their hearts “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Everyone who receives food hears a gospel presentation and receives Scripture portions.

In the church plant, we began 2007 with a day of prayer and fasting. This is a custom followed by many congregations here, and their good example has rubbed off on us. The month previously we had done a study on fasting from the Scriptures, and this seemed a good time to begin applying what we learned. The motive for doing this on New Year’s Day stems from the fact that this is a time when people typically take stock of what has gone before and consider what they want to see accomplished in the coming year. Scripture counsels us to “commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established,” so we invited the congregation to an all-day meeting for prayer, fasting, worship, and study to seek the Lord’s blessing upon our church through the coming year. People participated earnestly, so much so that they prayed right through two of the scheduled breaks. Our requests were that God would grant conversions; that long-time participants would grow in Christ; that the Muslim wife of our main leader, Arnaldo, would be saved; that our second leader, Gustavo, would be blessed with a believing wife; that our services would be attended with the power of God’s Spirit; and that Grace Missions would receive enough funds that hospital construction could get underway in earnest.

Since then one man has made a strong profession of faith in Christ and three people have been accepted into membership. For our small congregation, those results are gratifying, particularly as our leaders require evidence of genuine spiritual growth before granting candidates the right hand of fellowship. We wish we could be more “user-friendly” in our membership interviews, but experience has shown that we do no favors by granting applicants the benefit of the doubt. In African culture the need to be part of the group goes deep, and people will enthusiastically profess what they have not experienced personally in order to satisfy that need. Also, because the local culture lacks the Christian trappings that still characterize so much of western civilization, a church member who is not indwelt by God’s Spirit inevitably becomes a cause of stumbling to others and of painful church discipline as he continues in the ways of local culture, heedless of Biblical admonitions he cannot comprehend.
God’s dealing this year with one of our long time attendees is worth describing here. Her name is Maria, and she is an intelligent, attractive 20-year-old orphan who has grown up in our church for the past 12 years. The two brothers who raised her were also long-time participants before straying into short-term common-law relationships with unbelieving women. This is unfortunately so frequent in the Christian community that church leaders scarcely take note of it, but it is contrary to the Bible’s teachings and ours. Thus it regularly becomes a proving ground by which one’s submission to Christ and Scripture is tested.
For years Maria appeared to benefit from God’s good hand upon her. She attended church faithfully, participated actively in all our programs, and memorized our entire Scripture memory catechism of over 300 short Bible passages (usually one to four verses). More importantly she had excellent spiritual comprehension and could almost unerringly give the correct sense of Scripture, something that seems especially hard for most of our people. However, there were inconsistencies that fostered doubt in the minds of our church leaders. She seemed indifferent about her brothers’ departure from Christ, never even seeking prayer in their behalf. And though she wanted to be active in the church, she fended off invitations from our leaders to place herself under their authority by officially joining in membership.

When we returned from the States in November, we noticed that Maria had gained weight during our absence. Her personality was noticeably different, the sparkle was gone from her eyes, and she was clearly struggling spiritually. She had neglected her scripture memory work; and when I re-started the Scripture catechism classes, she battled to re- learn verses she had known for years while many who had always lacked her ability left her far behind. Within a couple of months it became apparent that something was growing in her lower abdomen. I drew her aside one day and mentioned my concern that she consult a gynecologist to verify that she didn’t have an ovarian cyst or something else needing medical attention. She glibly assured me that she had already had an ultrasound and nothing was there. However, aware that she could no longer hide her condition, she did not appear at any further church functions.
Julie and I resolved to visit her at home both to confirm our suspicions and to assure her that we were not abandoning her, but to my shame several weeks passed and I still had not worked a visit into my schedule. Eventually, we heard from mutual friends that she had indeed been pregnant but now had lost the baby after about six months. Immediately Arnaldo and I made our way to her and her brother’s home, wondering how we would handle this situation where both consolation and rebuke were needed.

Thankfully, God had already ploughed up Maria’s heart, and our job turned out to be easy. We assured her of our concern for her that though she had never placed herself under our authority we could not see her going astray and stand idly by. We asked her to tell us as much as she felt she could. She immediately burst into tears but made a clean breast of the entire episode. The older of her two brothers had died a few months earlier, and she was engulfed in loneliness. She decided to assuage her grief by having a baby. She knew her plans were contrary to Scripture, but there is no social pressure brought against it in the local culture or even in many evangelical churches. Her parents who might have remonstrated had both been dead for over ten years. The only problem would come when our own congregation became aware of her condition, before which time she intended to hide herself at home. However, she discovered she could not hide from God. During her pregnancy, everything she hoped and planned for ended in failure.

Indeed, her story left us speechless. Her application to nursing school was rejected as well as her back-up application to the teachers’ college. The boyfriend from another church who had courted her for four years and whose aid she had enlisted in this endeavor was immediately transferred by his job to a city hundreds of miles away where it became impossible to continue the relationship. Having been induced by Maria to stumble with her, in his new location he soon succumbed to temptation with another girl whose father then required him to marry her. In the midst of all this, she also lost the only family she had had for the past ten years by cutting herself off from the church. In short, by attempting to gain a baby by her own means, she had in a matter of months lost the Lord’s blessing, her hoped-for career, her courtship of four years, all possibility of ever marrying the father of her baby, and her family in Christ. Finally, she lost the child for whom she had sacrificed everything else. Even before the last disappointment, she was convinced none of this was coincidence. God’s chastening hand was upon her.

Amazingly, in the midst of these heartbreaks she experienced the paradoxical relief of realizing she was anchored to God by a bond that even sin and her own volition could not break. This manifestation of His faithful love to her, overruling so emphatically her intent to go her own way, actually served in the end to personalize her knowledge of God and solidify her love for Him, similar to Asaph’s response in Psalm 73 when he too realized under different circumstances that he could not shrug off the God who had taken hold of him. “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant. I was like a beast before Thee. Nevertheless, I am continually with Thee. Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterwards receive me to glory.”

In view of her tearful repentance and God’s own dealings with her, all we had to do was comfort her and remind her that the way back to God was simple when one had a broken and contrite heart, which God himself had created within her. However, to return to the church plant she would have to make a public confession of her sin and of her sincere repentance. In African culture losing face is usually avoided at all cost, but Maria was eager to set the record straight about her sin and to vindicate God’s response in upholding His word. I suggested she address the congregation the next Sunday during the announcements, thinking it would be easier at the beginning of the service when many still had not arrived. However, Arnaldo had previously pointed out that while her example would normally be a stumbling block to the other youth, God’s dealing with her could serve to warn them from pursuing the same course. She agreed with Arnaldo and asked that she rather be given time at the end of the service when all were present so they could learn from her experience. She further surprised us by asking if it would still be possible for her to join the church. Lack of accountability had contributed to her fall, she thought, and now she wanted to place herself under the leaders’ oversight. She ended by beseeching us to pray regularly not only for her, but also for her brother as well, the first time she had shown concern over his spiritual plight.
Maria is intelligent, articulate, and knows the Bible well. The following Sunday she gave a brief but earnest declaration of her sin and subsequent repentance, touching on each point where she had disobeyed God and how in faithfulness and love He had dealt firmly with her sin. She earnestly thanked Him that neither He nor the church had allowed her to go her way unchecked. There were a few moments when she had trouble maintaining her composure, but that was appropriate under the circumstances.

God’s faithfulness to His erring child and her response encouraged all of us. It was evidence He had heard our ongoing prayers from New Years’ Day and was indeed manifesting Himself in the lives of our church people. We don’t see that as much as we want. Ironically, the nagging doubts I formerly had about Maria’s spiritual condition have been virtually erased by this experience, knowing as she and I both do now that she has a Father in heaven who owns her as His child and will not permit her to go her own way.

There are other less important things to report which I will save for the next update. Please join our congregation in the prayer requests mentioned previously in this letter. Pray also that God will grant us the funding we need for the hospital. Pray also for our contact in the oil and gas business. Thus far he has been unable to secure the capital needed for re-drilling the well. Rather, during this time he has experienced setbacks both in church work and personal matters. Pray that God would bless his desire to generously help worthy Christian ministries as he has been privileged to do in the past.

By His grace:
Charles and Julie Woodrow

December 2006 Mozambique Evangel

The Mozambique Evangel December 26, 2006 By Charles Woodrow

Abstract: 12 months of visitation to 52 churches has uncovered 31 potential missionary families, but none yet called of God to Mozambique and also funds toward a new Land Rover and purchasing the bookshop, though still not enough to fully resolve either difficulty. A donor for the hospital work may be forthcoming. During visitation, God removed adversaries from office here in Mozambique and placed in high places friends who support our plans to establish a Christian surgical center.    This is the time to act, and thus a time for fervent prayer!

Dear Friends:

We are back in Nampula after 12 months of visitation in the States. During that time I was able to present at 52 churches as well as speak at pastors’ fraternals and national church conferences, before medical groups, and in many private homes. We are grateful to the churches that gave us these opportunities and are praying that God will bless the seed sown with a future harvest of missionaries, prayer warriors, and co-laborers that will strengthen His people here in Mozambique.

Along the way God led us to 31 families with the specific gifts and preparation necessary to fill the eight positions we are especially praying for – two general surgeons, a general medical doctor, an anesthetist, an administrator for the hospital, an experienced church planter, a secretary, and someone to advance the various FIEL literature and conference ministries. All of these families are faithfully serving God in their local churches and are fruitful in their employment; thus they invariably say that while they are willing to serve God in Mozambique or anywhere else. However, they need some indication that He actually is calling them before leaving the labors He has blessed so far. We agree and prefer that God do the arm-twisting rather than man, so we are praying daily as we stay in touch with these families. Christ’s parable in Mark 4:26-29 of the sower who can only scatter his seed and then must wait for God to mysteriously make it germinate and produce a crop has taken on new meaning for us. Now that we are back in Nampula, we are praying that God will make fruitful the time spent sowing at home during 2006.

While on visitation we received considerable help toward getting a new Land Rover to replace our 18 year-old model. We now have $22,000 of the $35,000 needed. Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto is making a special effort to collect the funds needed to purchase for us the downtown site of our Christian bookstore. They have $13,000 of the $35,000 the owner is asking. The pressure we were feeling on both fronts is somewhat relieved – the wrecked Land Rover has been made operational again, albeit with some audible groans and moans, and the owner of the site we rent for the bookstore has agreed to give us more time to raise the money we lack before selling the location to someone else.
The great question has always been, “How is God going to provide the million dollars needed to build the hospital?” During visitation, God may have led us to the answer. Some of the literature we distributed got passed from hand to hand until it came across the desk of a Christian oil and gas speculator. The details of how God has dealt with this man and his wife over the years make an amazing story which I hope I can someday relate in one of our newsletters. In earlier years he was a generous multi-millionaire philanthropist with five oil companies trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange and supporting a variety of Christian ministries with a special interest in mission orphanages and medical clinics. Later in life he lost almost everything he owned and nearly died from cancer, and then his wife also was diagnosed with a form of cancer that is frequently fatal. At the end of these reversals they were literally penniless, without money to buy groceries for even a single meal but were grateful to God for sparing their lives. One thing they were able (barely) to hang on to through all of this was the mineral rights to a potentially profitable natural gas borehole. For 30 years they had been unable to exploit this well for a variety of reasons, but finally they are preparing to re-drill the borehole. From the previous attempt they know at today’s prices the well can yield up to $350,000 per day! Because of their stage in life and how God has dealt with them, they have little interest in storing that money in a bank. Rather they have dedicated this borehole to funding Christian ministries. We were amazed when we received a call from their accountant saying financial assistance might soon be available from them! We knew nothing of them or how they knew of us. We were greatly encouraged when a providential series of events gave us the opportunity to spend a weekend getting to know them in their home. We discovered to our delight that they are humble, transparent, genuine servants of God who aren’t just fantasizing about this borehole. We hope the unlikely series of events that led to our friendship indicates that God indeed plans to bless their undertaking and that He is letting us be one of the projects that may in time benefit from their generosity.

We earnestly solicit your prayers for this couple:

  1. That God would grant them great success in this attempt. A 14,000 foot borehole is not a trivial undertaking, and the possibility for failure seems significant to a layman like me.
  2. That God would grant them discernment in today’s evangelical Christian climate where false ministries seem to abound and that they might be clearly guided by Him in using the vast resources He has placed under their care.
  3. That Grace Missions may still enjoy their favor when the day comes that they are able to begin disbursing their profits.

Friends in High Places:

Psalm 127 reminds us that God gives to His children even in their sleep, in order that we might not succumb to anxious over-exertion in trying to accomplish what, in fact, will only be done by God’s kind favor. Upon returning to Mozambique, I was pleased to discover that during our absence God orchestrated local changes which suggest we may be approaching the day when He will complete the hospital project begun so auspiciously ten years ago.
In Mozambique, as in perhaps most other places on earth, having friends in high places is essential in accomplishing major undertakings.    Similarly, having adversaries in high office can be lethal. Over the years we have had both types of relationships, and the result has been a roller coaster experience of troughs of near-devastation alternating with peaks of sudden exhilaration, as people who have heard our stories are aware.

Adversaries who have almost vanquished us include a Muslim doctor at the “competing” downtown hospital who was promoted to an important position in the Ministry of Health. He used his authority to close down the surgical block at Marrere where we were witnessing to all our patients and conducting weekly evangelistic services for the whole hospital. His decree was overruled by the National Chief of Surgery, a strong personal ally brought in purely by the Lord’s doing. But later that assistance was negated by the Muslim Vice Minister of Health, a truly powerful adversary recruited by the local doctor after he was promoted to the Ministry of Health. The Vice Minister drew up documents closing down the surgical work which, in order that the edict might never be rescinded, he intended to have signed by the Minister of Health. However, as the Minister of Health was considering the matter, a remarkable string of events unfolded that only God could have planned. It gave the Minister a highly favorable impression of our work. In the end, he not only ordered everyone to cease hindering us, but also authorized us to build our own surgical center right here in Nampula.*

One of the important allies that God used to get us through these near-terminal experiences was the Provincial Health Director from 1995-1999. He began his tenure as the most vigorous opponent of all but in answer to desperate prayer became a strong friend.**

Others who have strenuously opposed the medical work have included one of the major political parties. Being a foreigner I cannot venture into political issues so cannot state in print the reasons for their opposition as it would reveal the identity of the political party. However, for a short while the opposition of important party leaders completely shut down all prospects for building the hospital.

The point is, important allies have been essential all along the way because there have been no lack of adversaries. We imagine the opposition comes from the evil one, who must despise our efforts to take back ground in Mozambique that he has owned for so long.

Having been out of the medical circles for eight years now, all of the friends who once helped us have moved on, and there has been little opportunity to cultivate friendships with those who have replaced them. The Provincial Health Director who helped us so much was succeeded by two others who never even knew Grace Missions. The Minister of Health has also been replaced, as well as the Governor who supported us with his letters of recommendation.

To make matters worse, from 2000 to 2005, the Governor who replaced our ally and who lived just a few miles from our project was the Muslim former Vice Minister of Health, the very man who had drawn up documents to close down once and for all our medical evangelistic work at Marrere! During his tenure no construction was taking place on our large tract of land on the main highway, and to outside observers the project must surely have appeared to be languishing. That was just as well for us. In actual fact, we were tied up behind the scenes re-working our building plans so they conformed to national requirements, and then we spent a further year obtaining a building permit. Finally we were able to start construction. A few months after we finished the foundations, when it became apparent we were actually going to turn our plans into reality, I received a document from the local health office telling me we must obtain approval from four different offices in the Ministry of Health before proceeding further. I had painstakingly obtained all the necessary approvals already, as they knew, but now everyone who had authorized the project was out of office. I feared the new government officials, at least one of whom had previously attempted to finish us for good, intended to argue that we must start all over again obtaining approval from the current authorities. We were in the States on furlough when the ominous letter arrived, and I could not respond until returning to Mozambique. Thankfully, by the time I returned and went to the inspector’s office with all my documents, there had been another complete change-over in administrations with a new governor, new provincial health director, and new minister of health.

As the inspector scrutinized my documents obtained years earlier, I scrutinized his face trying to discern if he was friend or foe. His expression changed noticeably when he turned a page and saw the recommendation of the Provincial Health Director who had been so helpful years ago. He asked me how well I knew the man. I told him he was a good friend and had been instrumental in promoting the project, as was evident from the recommendation he had written.    Immediately the inspector’s demeanor turned to one of friendliness, and within a few minutes he handed the documents back to me saying that the former Provincial Health Director was now the National Health Director who is directly responsible for our project. He then confided that when the threatening letter was sent there was indeed a larger plan underway, though he didn’t reveal any clues as to what it was. He did say it was well that I had been unable to respond in a timely fashion, that now the plan was obsolete, he didn’t need any of the documents I had brought, and I could continue with building the hospital. That assurance from the local health officer responsible for inspecting the project was a great relief. But much more than that, I was relieved to find out we are now under the authority of a National Health Director who diligently helped us in the past as Provincial Health Director. What a change from the previous five years when we sat under the nose of a displeased but very able Muslim governor!

That is not all, however. I was grateful to learn upon returning to Mozambique last month of yet another important ally. He is the head of endocrine surgery at the medical school. Ten years ago when I was the only surgeon doing thyroidectomies in northern Mozambique, he and an endocrine surgeon from George Washington University dropped in at the hospital to visit our surgical service. The Director of the Central Hospital had refused to tell them about our work, had refused to give them a copy of our experience with thyroidectomies, and had prevented me from meeting with them. However, the Provincial Health Director (now the National Health Director) did not want me to miss this opportunity and personally drove the two surgeons out to Marrere so we could meet.  They invited me to their hotel later where the Mozambican surgeon expressed his disgust at the attempts to limit the surgical program at our hospital. The providential nature of that encounter became apparent months later when the American doctor, Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, paid a return visit to Mozambique just in time to play a critical role in securing the Minister’s favor for our surgical hospital.*

It now appears the encounter may be providential in still another sense, as the Mozambican surgeon who was so irked at the hindrances being placed upon our surgical program at Marrere is the new Minister of Health!

Both at home and in Mozambique, God has strategically situated friends who will surely prove invaluable if He indeed plans to build the hospital during this term. I am thankful for the strides made over the last six years establishing the nationwide FIEL Pastors’ Conferences, the literature distribution program, the pastors’ training seminars, and the Reformed Evangelical bookstore.

Hospital-based evangelism is of little point if there are no churches to refer people to that will proclaim the gospel of salvation by grace through faith rather than the false gospel of salvation by works that is so common here.

These advances in the ministry to existing churches came because the drought on the medical evangelistic front left time for other work. However, I hope that we are finally nearing the end of the dry spell we endured so long and that soon hospital construction will be vigorously underway.

In I Kings 17, God sent Elijah to King Ahab with the unwelcome news that there would be neither dew nor rain for some years except by Elijah’s word. God then commanded Elijah to go away into hiding. Finally, in I Kings 18, after three and a half years without rain, God told Elijah to return to Ahab for He was going to send rain to end the drought.

After giving the message to Ahab, it is instructive to note what Elijah did. From I Kings 18:42 and James 5:17-18, we see he went up to Mount Carmel to pray for what God had clearly announced already was going to happen.

Why did Elijah behave this way? One would think his confidence in God’s determination to carry out His own decrees would have caused him rather to busy himself finding a safe refuge from the coming rainstorm. But Elijah knew that his prayers were to be the means by which God brought His purposes to pass. While Ahab went off to celebrate, the man of God withdrew to pray – and pray – and pray. When he began, there was nothing but blue sky overhead. However, as he prayed, a little cloud began to form that grew until it turned the whole sky black and finally broke forth in the rushing of wind and the downpour of a heavy shower.

Though circumstances over the years suggest God does intend to build a Christian hospital here in northern Mozambique and recent events further buttress that conviction, this should not produce a let-up in prayer on our part. Rather, I hope this information and our recent trip through the United States will stir a great outpouring of supplication for God to do what it seems He will do, since in the eternal decrees of God our prayers are the means God has appointed by which this hospital is going to be built. It clearly is not going to be a work accomplished by mighty men. As God has ordained things thus far, we have never had the backing of governments, of big mission boards, of mega-churches, of NGO’s, of denominations, or of giant Christian corporations. Even our potential hospital donor is without strength apart from an important piece of paper still in his possession. And for reasons that remain a mystery to me, after almost 17 years, we still do not have other missionaries working alongside us. Nevertheless, this ministry is visibly one of the most prominent works in Nampula and through the FIEL projects is reaching churches throughout the nation. As people who have heard the stories realize, progress has come purely by God’s grace, often in amazing fashion, with little input from the arm of flesh. Perhaps that is precisely what God intends, but that fact behooves us to pray all the more diligently, even as Elijah did when God told him it was going to rain. For when God plans to do something, He does it through the prayers of His people.

Family highlights from a gratifying visitation time will have to await another letter. For now, please pray that God would:

1)    Abundantly bless our oil and gas friends with more resources for His work than they are able to give away.
2)    Provide us with the funds we need for the hospital. 3) Enable us to get the project up and running while powerful allies are in office to run
interference for us against foes Satan would use to thwart us. 4) Grant us a harvest of at least eight families from the 31 we have contacted during
visitation by extending to them a call to serve in Mozambique.

By His grace:
Charles and Julie

*    See the Fall 1996 Evangel, Vol.12, no.4 which is on the web-site on the “Interesting Stories” page under “Getting the Minister’s Approval.”
**    See the Spring 1996 Evangel, Vol.12, no.2, which is on the web-site on the “Interesting Stories” page under “When Adversaries Become Friends.”

August 2006 Fiel Conference Update

The Mozambique Evangel – Update Aug 11, 2006 By Charles Woodrow

Dear Friends,

We give thanks to those whose prayers have brought down the blessings we have experienced here in Nampula during the past two weeks. Everyone associated with planning the FIEL (faithful) Pastors’ Conferences here in Nampula felt that our seventh annual conference was even better than those of previous years.

At the outset both Karl Peterson in South Africa and I here in Nampula felt that we were encountering more than the usual obstacles and setbacks. From my end, we had invited an exceptional speaker from Brazil, a creation scientist, and had scheduled special meetings for him the week before the conference so that all the churches and students in the vicinity could benefit. However, a seemingly endless series of difficulties prevented those meetings from getting the publicity and careful preparations they merited. We rented a 1000 seat theater, but were prevented from putting up our advertising posters around town until only two hours before the first presentation. Other delays kept us from getting publicity to the churches in time for them to promote the meetings from their pulpits. We had only 60 people at the first presentation, 100 at the second and third, and 150 at the final talk. The presentations were outstanding and many participants glowingly raved about them, an unusual response from Mozambicans who don’t normally exhibit so much enthusiasm or motivation. However, it looked as if the evil one had won the first round in so severely limiting what could have been a powerful influence for the gospel in Nampula.
While those meetings were being hamstrung, I kept encountering setbacks in trying to prepare for the conference as well, which was to follow hard on the heels of the city-wide Creationism meetings. We sent out our request for prayer, and by God’s grace things got turned around in the final two arduous days before the participants arrived. We had 225 pastors, church workers, and wives register from 44 denominations all over the country, making this our best-attended conference yet. Adauto Lorenco, our creation-scientist, continued to bat 1.000 with four more outstanding presentations that impressed us all with the glory of God in creation as confirmed by what science is finding out as it catches up with what Bible-believing Christians have known all along. Adauto effectively showed how atheistic scientists who espouse spontaneous, natural creation and evolution are finding the evidence mounting more and more against them, not that any are persuaded by that to re- think their presuppositions even though many now acknowledge how untenable their position is scientifically. The pastors were most appreciative, and many asked that we have lectures on science and the Bible at every conference. I was delighted with their response. I thought Adauto’s voice was much needed in Mozambique where the atheistic interpretation of scientific data has until now reined unchallenged in every city and village for lack of an educated Christian response.

Karl Peterson planned an excellent program, the best yet, and received much praise from the pastors for his work. The theme was Power in the Pulpit and the messages centered on the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures and the efficacy of Bible-based, Spirit- enabled preaching. Adauto’s presentations were graphic demonstrations of the former two points, but our main speaker was Conrad Mbewe from Zambia who really delivered the goods for us.    His eight messages were great examples of the very points he was making. We thank God for an African pastor of his caliber who can be such an encouragement to our men. We have more than a few attending our meetings these days who could reasonably aspire to similar heights, and we are glad for the opportunity to influence them. Karl also organized four workshops where the pastors grappled with 15 different scenarios he presented,    all    classic    problems    that characterize    Evangelical churches    here,    with Conrad giving a Biblical correction for each after the men had time to seek Scriptural solutions amongst themselves. Karl’s scenarios and Conrad’s responses (along with some of the astute comments from our own pastors) were truly inspired. The subsequent evaluations turned in by the pastors confirmed that this was an exceptionally helpful conference.

We thank God for a further, long sought-after breakthrough realized at this year’s meetings. We have finally uncovered a gifted translator/preacher in one of our own pastors who has come from over 1000 kms away to attend the conference for each of the past four years. He translated all of Conrad’s 11 sessions indefatigueably, almost without missing a beat, and from his own passion for the word was able to not merely translate, but enter into the heart of the messages as well. He has assured us that he and his wife will be returning to the conference as long as we continue hosting it. An added encouragement to me was his comment that he is involved in teaching the materials he gets at our conferences to the regional pastors in his own denomination. The item he singled out as especially helpful was the handbook on systematic theology that all of our conference participants receive each year. He did not know it, but the handbook was assembled by me, and I was pleased to hear that he not only studied it, but is reproducing, distributing, and teaching it to many others.
Right on the heels of the FIEL Conference was my FIEL Seminar, an intensive six day crash course in systematic theology that lasts over 12 hours per day with only brief interruptions for meals. We have fifteen lectures and handouts, fifteen homework papers, fourteen discussion sessions, and fourteen tests. During the 60+ hours of study we look at over 500 Bible texts. Thirteen men and one woman signed up for the seminar. As usual, the course was over the heads of a few participants, but as usual, there were exceptional students who profited much. Their test scores and their own declarations corroborated this assessment, and that is what continues to make the FIEL seminar the high point of my ministry in Mozambique. One young pastor who attended from over 1000 kms away scored a perfect mark on 12 of fourteen tests, missing only one and a half out of 278 questions. For years he had been trying to attend the FIEL Conference and this was his first year to succeed. His only exposure to Reformed theology had been through the FIEL books and the FIEL magazine, which is what had whetted his appetite for attending both the conference and seminar. As his performance clearly showed, he readily understood and embraced the material being taught.

The woman in our class, Leonor, was also an exceptional, bright, and spiritually mature Christian. She scored a 97% on her tests, which normally would have made her the run- away valedictorian, except that we had an even more outstanding pastor participating this year. Leonor is a 36 year old Sunday school teacher who comes to the conferences from 200 kms away. She is quite attractive but has never married. She has had plenty of suiters, but is waiting for a godly man who can be the kind of spiritual leader a woman of her stature needs. Gustavo, one of the two African preachers in our own congregation, is 35 years old and single for the same reason – neither he nor I had yet encountered a solid female Mozambican believer who would be a suitable helpmeet, thus he has remained celebate well beyond marrying age, an amazing phenomenon in African culture. I made sure to get the two introduced to each other and thought my prayers for Gustavo had finally been answered, but was disappointed when Gustavo said he could not court a woman older than himself. As far as I am concerned, if Gustavo goes to his grave a bachelor, it is now his own fault! The Lord has provided, if he could only see it. I give thanks to God for this fine woman because she is proof of what God can do here in Mozambique and encourages us to keep praying and working and to not give up hope. She has faithfully attended the FIEL conferences for years, scheduling her annual work vacation around the conference dates. Her evaluation of the seminar was gratifying, saying that from her personal Bible reading she had “notions” that what she learned at the seminar was true, but had never heard it taught in church. Now she had concrete proof from Scripture that what she had only suspected before was indeed correct. As the conference is explicitly for pastors and church leaders only, accompanied by their wives when possible, I am not sure how this unmarried woman has successfully crashed our meetings for several years, but am happy to accept that she is a God-appointed “Gibeonite exception” chosen to be a special example of His grace!
I close with a few quotes lifted from the evaluations our participants supplied at the end of the conference:

“I have long desired to participate in a conference of this nature, so unforgettable, so important in the grace of God. The program was exeptionally rich and I am deeply grateful.”

“The messages were marvelous and carefully presented.”

“I was completely encouraged by the ministry in which Christian workers are involved. The messages were, as always, very interesting. I believe that we must change the manner of preaching in our churches.”

“As touching the messages, I was instructed in a manner so moving I must carry this teaching to the rest of my brothers in the church.”

“Above everything else, I want to give thanks to Editora FIEL for the marvelous way they have blessed my life.”

“In conclusion, I want to thank God and the leaders of this ministry for their vision in promoting these conferences, for they have greatly helped the pastors and leaders of the churches in Mozambique.”

Karl mentioned to me at the outset of the meeting that Editora FIEL had supplied $7,000 for the annual conference and the year’s book distribution program (45 pastors who each receive a free book every month for 36 months). Karl put an additional $6,700 of his personal funds into the conference. My share for the conference, seminar, and pre- conference city-wide meetings was a further $6990.00. Beyond that, Grace Missions purchased twenty-five thousand dollars-worth of books (including freight) which FIEL provided us for only $10,000 and which we sell at the conference and in our bookstore at half that cost. As in the previous six years, Richard Denham, founder of Editora FIEL, Karl Peterson, and I rejoice to sink our personal finances as well as our ministry funds into the Annual FIEL Pastors’ Conference because like many of our participants, we believe it is vital to the churches in Mozambique. Please join us in this ministry, as additional funds would enable us to expand it’s influence even further. The meeting hall we use was packed nearly to capacity this year. For ten thousand dollars, we could build a covered pavilion that would accommodate 350 church leaders for our preaching sessions. This year we could accommodate only 60 participants on the conference grounds, having to put a further 24 out-of-town leaders in downtown boarding houses.    For five thousand dollars we could put up tent sites and an ablution block that would accommodate many more of these men on the conference grounds we rent for these occasions. Even though the books we supply are sold at a fraction of their normal cost in Brazil, they are still out of reach of most of our men. Additional book subsidies would get this fine literature into the hands of many more pastors.

We are thankful to be part of a ministry that is fairly bursting at the seams! Please help us to lengthen our tent cords and strengthen our stakes, so that many more in Mozambique may be blessed with the rich legacy left us by the Reformation fathers!

By His grace: Charles Woodrow

July 2006 Update from Devin Smith #2

The Mozambique Evangel – Update July 30, 2006

By Devin Smith with Charles Woodrow

Thank you for your prayers. I, Charles, and all the men involved were in agreement: The conference went very well. The speakers were very powerful and effective. The men seemed very receptive and appreciative. The accomodations and details came together fine. Of course, there were a few glitches (this is Mozambique), but in all the conference went better than could be hoped for.

Adaltou Lorenzo spoke on numerous aspects of creationism. He had a computer presentation which was spectacular. Many of these men have probably never had physical science or biology. He showed them galaxies and bacterial flagella–there were ohs and ahs–it was great. He finished every presentation with an appeal to the men to trust their Bibles and to minister the word of God with conviction and confidence. One would think that such a technical presentation would go above the heads of these men, most of whom do not have more than an 6th to 8th grade education. Only a few have gone beyond that. Yet Adaltou’s DVD was by far the best seller in the bookshop, which says a lot. For myself, I was able to spend about three nights in a row talking with Adaltou about Creation science until 1 AM. As a biology teacher, I found his counsel immensely helpful. Charles joined us too, when he was able. It was a precious gift of God to get to know this dear man.

Conrad Mbewe spoke on the sufficiency of scripture. Despite using a translator, he spoke with power and clarity. Charles noted that he was especially effective in speaking to these men as an African. He spoke of the ways of the village and the pressures especially upon Africans to abandon the sufficiency of Scripture. He gave a biography of John Calvin, which is very important because so many are told that Calvinists don’t care about the lost, and also that Calvin burned Servetus for heresy. It seemed as though the message was helpful.

One new thing that was added this year was that the men split up into small groups to consider how they might use the Bible in different difficult situations. They gave their answers to the whole group, and then Conrad added how he would speak to the situation from the scriptures. All agree that this was a very helpful time.

Conrad and Adaltou are travelling together through Angola to do another conference. Please pray for them. Pray also that the effects of their ministry in Mozambique would trickle down to their congregations. I know there will be many pastors giving “Creation seminars” in their home towns using Adaltou’s DVD, which is an exciting thought.

The bookstore ministry saw decent results. Many of these men are on a book reading program, and are getting the Fiel literature. Whereas in the past perhaps a thousand volumes would be sold, this year there were around 300 sold. If for no other reason to come to Mozambique, I am thrilled that 8 pastors bought J.C. Ryle’s Holiness at my recommendation. “Mission Accomplished!”

Servants for Christ,
Devin and Charles

July 2006 Update from Devin Smith #1

July 12, 2006 – Update from Devin Smith, in Mozambique with Charles Woodrow

Friends and Family,

I have not asked Charles if he has sent an update to the church, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to send one myself. We’ve been here for almost three weeks, but we’re only coming on our first full week in Nampula itself. Most of you probably know that we were delayed again and again on our way to Nampula. Charles was not discouraged, but anticipated it to some degree. He hoped, of course, that this trip would go exceptionally well, and we’d get there in the anticipated 36 hours. Well, the Lord promised we would have trouble in this world, and I think the roads of Mozambique were designed to this end. Nevertheless, we were all thankful and relieved to arrive safely in Nampula. And the Lord maintained our countenances throughout.

This past week has been consumed with putting things in order on the compound here. Beginning today, we are beginning to set up for the Fiel Conference. I will spend a good portion of the coming week taking inventory at the bookstore and preparing the books for transport to the conference. Charles has told me of the countless preparations he needs to make in the coming week–they are too many to list here. Please pray that all would come together for the conference.

I have already arranged a translator to accompany me for some evenings at the conference. I plan to conduct several interviews with attending pastors. I want to have a fuller picture of what ministry is like for them, and also what the Fiel ministries have meant to them. I don’t believe the translator is a Christian. He speaks English very well, and I’m hoping it will be an opportunity to minister to him as well.

The speaker will be coming in a week or so and will lead some evangelistic meetings in the town. We have arrangements to make for that as well. Pray that God will open the hearts of some Mozambiquans to respond to the gospel of his grace.

Lord willing, I will speak twice in church and twice at a missionary fellowship meeting. There are many missionaries here who have come within the last year. Very few of them attend a local church regularly. Those that do attend a local church are finding the ministry is often poor, even apostate in some cases. Pray that my messages would be an encouragement to them, and even more that we would be able to encourage them face to face when we get to meet. We have such an opportunity tonight. It’s the 8th, but all of the American missionaries (and a few Canadians) are having a 4th of July get-together. I don’t know if there will be fireworks. I think we’ll have trouble in the town if we do.

I’m amazed at how many Reformed Baptist missionaries there are being drawn to this place. I can think of two that I’ve met, three that are here that I’ve heard a lot about, and many more that are very interested in coming. One of them, Henri Van Der Walt, and his wife, Melani, have become especially dear to me. They are with New Tribes, and they seem to me to be of a very excellent spirit. They have four kids, similar in age to my own. You don’t get to see many missionary kids, because most of them are farmed out to boarding schools or family. I understand why they do this, but I don’t sympathize. Henri and Melani are an excellent example to me of a couple that is making it work for the whole family. Their kids are doing very well. I get the sense, more and more, that they are very interested in working more closely with Charles.

Finally, please pray for our dear families. Pray that Amy and Julie would have the strength and spiritual resources to do “double duty” with the kids. We miss them very much.

Sorry this is so long. Probably only a few will actually read it. I hope the prayer requests will at least be conveyed to all, and my thankfulness for the prayer and support.

Our love and prayers go to you as well. May God greatly bless you all this summer in Jesus.

For the King,
Devin and Charles

July 2006 Newsletter

Dear Friends:

Grace Missions Newsletter – July 2006 – by Charles Woodrow

Hello from Nampula, Mozambique. We have interrupted our visitation time in the States so I could return to Nampula to host the seventh annual FIEL conference in Mozambique. These are nationwide conferences sponsored by Editora Fiel (“Faithful Publishers” in Portuguese), a Brazilian-based publishing house that translates excellent Banner of Truth style books into Portuguese, publishes them, and then distributes them throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, which includes Mozambique.

In addition to the publishing ministry, Editora Fiel distributes these books free of charge to select pastors. If a pastor can show that he reads, understands, and benefits from the literature through correspondence with the publishers, he will receive one free book a month for 36 months, at the end of which time he has the nucleus of an excellent theological library. This is a real boon to the pastors here, where until a few years ago there were no Christian bookstores at all and Christian literature was almost impossible to obtain. Even today, we know of only two Christian bookstores in the entire country, one of which is ours in downtown Nampula. The next nearest one is 1500 miles away.

Editora Fiel has had at times over 400 pastors from around the world on their free book program, and presently there are 55 pastors from Mozambique benefiting from this ministry. We can never express the extent of our gratitude to Richard and Pearl Denham, Reformed Baptist missionaries to Brazil for over 50 years and the founders of this exceptional faith ministry.

Besides the book ministry, Editora Fiel also hosts annual pastors’ conferences in Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, and Angola. Karl Peterson organizes the Mozambique conference from South Africa. I have the privilege of being the host missionary as the conferences are held here in Nampula where I have been promoting this literature since the beginning of our ministry 16 years ago.
The purpose of the four day conference is to refresh the spirits of God’s servants, to better equip them for ministry, and especially to acquaint them with the doctrines of grace and the rich legacy left us by the Reformation fathers. Our speakers this year are Conrad Mbewe, gifted African pastor from Zambia, and Adauto Lourenço, creation scientist and Bible scholar from Brazil.

Please pray for these meetings which will get underway on 25 July. Pray that God will grant unction to the speakers as they preach and that He will open the eyes and hearts of the listeners to behold the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Usually we have 150-160 pastors, church workers, and wives at the conference. They come from 30-40 different denominations and from eight of Mozambique’s ten provinces. Last year we had over 180 participants register for the conference. Registrations this year are running ahead of last year, with 155 received already.

What draws these men from such diverse church and geographical backgrounds is the opportunity to buy excellent Christian literature. We bring in thousands of dollars worth of books sold to us by Editora Fiel at only 20-50% of their usual cost, which we then put on sale at one third of our cost. This year we spent $10,000 on our book order, which means it will cost us nearly $7000 by the time all are sold. The conference is provided free by Editora Fiel to the 55 pastors on the reading program, the rest pay $10.00 each, though total cost for the conference historically has been about $100 per pastor.

Editora Fiel, Karl Peterson, and myself rejoice to bear this cost; we see it as a rich opportunity. Because there is no money to be made selling books to impoverished Mozambicans, we have a corner on Christian literature here. If Mozambicans want Christian books, they must get them from us! Therefore they have no opportunity to acquire a taste for froth, man-centered teaching, watered-down doctrine, Christian psychology, or other emanations from western pop Christian culture. We thank God for this opportunity to influence the church in Mozambique for good and to have the ear of all serious-minded pastors seeking to study their Bibles, to consult Christian literature, and to teach His truth to others.

To sponsor a pastor in the free literature distribution program, you can contact the Denhams at Christian Literature Advance, PO Box 4645, Greenville SC 29608. To help me with our expenses in this ministry, which come to $22,000 per year for the FIEL conference and seminar, the bookstore, and book subsidies, please designate your contributions to Grace Missions for “FIEL ministries.”

As I write we are nine days away from the conference and much remains to be done. I am thankful Devin Smith from our home church is here with me. He is helping with many of the details and will be running the book room during the conference. My conference work is complicated by the fact that immediately afterward I will be leading a 60 hour, one week seminar on systematic theology for 20 select pastors from the program. That material had to be organized before turning attention to the conference work.

In addition, Adauto Lorenço, our creation scientist, has agreed to come five days early to lead four city-wide meetings open to believers and unbelievers on science and the Bible. Even in underdeveloped Mozambique, evolution, life arising from non-life, and the self- creation of the universe are taught in all the schools as scientific dogma not to be questioned, even though each of these things are contradicted by science. Church-going students are assured that the Bible is merely a collection of myths not to be taken seriously. It is doubtful that any of the students have ever heard a scientist challenge these unfounded assertions, or have any idea this can be done on scientific grounds. Please pray for these meetings, the preparations for which are proving much more time consuming than I anticipated.

We are further hindered by the fact that we are running nearly two weeks behind schedule. I returned to Mozambique alone, leaving the family in California. To keep our separation as brief as possible I planned my timetable to allow the minimum number of days necessary to get all the work done. However, Devin and I were held up five days in South Africa as preparations there took twice as long as expected. We had our own supplies to get back to Nampula as well as a truckload of personal belongings from a fellow missionary who had just recently moved from Johannesburg to Nampula and needed the use of our truck. It had been waiting in Johannesburg since last October when we used it to haul our wrecked Land Rover and baggage the 1700 miles we had to travel to catch our flight out of Africa.

This trip we lost an additional four days from delays en route related to breakdowns in the bush and the inevitable customs gauntlet at the border. Those trials are almost to be expected, but being the eternal optimist I had not planned for them. The result is that we have been nearly two weeks behind schedule from the time we got started here in Nampula.

For those interested in African travelogues, the report of our trip and the status of our 17 year old Land Rover are attached at the end of this narrative.
We were grateful to find everything and everyone well on our arrival home in Nampula and are looking forward to the conferences and seminars coming up during the next few weeks.

Eventually I must give an update on our States-side visitation since my last letter written in April. Our hearts are filled with praise to God for the work He is doing in the many sound church ministries we have been exposed to, and we thank Him for the privilege we have of knowing so many choice saints, some of whom were familiar, even legendary names to us before, but now have become personal friends. What a blessing our visitation time has been!

After visitation ended and we had given up nearly all hope, we had some breakthroughs toward meeting two of our financial needs which I must share as well in a future letter. Only a few hours after those developments I was contacted by an officer in an organization that provides funds for hospitals and orphanages in Africa. He heard of us through a friend who attended one of our presentations last November. Our literature was forwarded to him and he contacted me in May. After interviewing me over the phone he said he would like his organization to help us get well along on our construction program. The entire board will meet in another month or two at which time they will consider our project. Please join us in praying that this might be the financial breakthrough we have been praying for.  It is time to get this hospital built!
More news will come in a later letter. In closing, I ask you to pray for God’s blessing upon the upcoming city-wide evangelistic meetings on science, creation, and the Bible; for His undertaking in the pastors’ conference; for His enabling in the follow-on seminar in systematic theology; for His provision of finances for the many expenses associated with these ministries; and especially for those board members who will soon be considering a contribution toward construction of the hospital.

By His grace: Charles Woodrow
Land Rover Update: I was amazed at the good job Dirk Van den Brink, our mechanic and Christian brother in South Africa did getting our aging Land Rover rebuilt. It made the trip back to Nampula ok, though we had two breakdowns with seized up wheel bearings that cost us two days of travel time. Both cases may have been caused by tightening the wheel bearings too much in an effort to reduce wobble in the wheels which I presume resulted from damage in its crash landing when the suspension broke last October and we went out of control, sailing over an embankment on a curve in the road. However, the Land Rover runs fine around town and we are glad we can still count on it for local service.

We trust the 17 year old vehicle will get us by until we have raised all the funds needed for a new Land Rover. We now have $15,000 toward the $35,000 a new one will cost.

African Travelogue: We left Johannesburg about 10:00 p.m. Monday night, expecting to drive all night and reach the Mozambique border at 5:00 a.m. This was necessary as we knew it would take all the next day to cross the border due to customs hassles getting the rebuilt Land Rover back into Mozambique together with the truckload of household goods we were carrying in the Bedford for our missionary friend.

However, about midnight one of the Land Rover’s front wheels seized up suddenly, destroying the tire and causing the vehicle to swerve out of control. Devin, who was driving at the time, was able to avoid an accident in part due to the fact that the heavy trailer the Land Rover was pulling kept the car from going broadside and flipping over. We had to get towed back to Johannesburg, finally arriving at 4:30 in the morning. We were just thankful to God everything was still relatively intact and we were alive to fight another day!

We slept for about six hours while the Land Rover was being repaired and then started out again at 10:00 p.m. that night, Tuesday. As planned, we got to the Mozambique border at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday and took 12 hours just crossing it because of all our goods and equipment. We got to the capital, Maputo, that night, where we were delayed 24 hours while the load in the Bedford truck was processed through customs.

We finally departed for Nampula, still 1500 miles away, at 5:00 pm on Thursday. At about 2:00 a.m., a rear wheel bearing on the Land Rover packed up and we were stranded again, this time in the wilderness. At 5:00 a.m. I drove the truck into the nearest town, about two hours away, and got a new set of bearings which our mechanic/motorist put on there beside the road. Around 1:00 pm Friday afternoon we were underway again.

At 11:00 pm the truck trailer tire went flat and our truck driver didn’t know it. We knew it because we were driving behind him in the Land Rover, but the single lane, one-way dirt road we were traveling on at the time was so narrow for six miles that we could not move over far enough to even flash him with our lights and he could not hear our horn over the din of the truck engine. By the time we were able to alert our motorist the tire was smoking, completely destroyed, and he was driving on the rim. We spent three hours in the darkness getting the tire changed – it is a big job changing a truck tire in the middle of the night on a dirt track in the wilderness. Our truck driver/mechanic was no use to us at this point, having succumbed to malaria. African immune systems are continuously fighting off malaria, but when fatigue or secondary illness sets in, the malaria gains the upper hand. We started treatment and put him to bed for the rest of the trip.

We were finally underway again at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Then another one of the truck tires began flying apart. At this point we had no spares and were only half way to Nampula, so we had to detour to a town 55 miles off our course where we spent an unplanned $750 buying two new tires for the truck and trailer. We had to scour all our pockets and bank books to come up with that much cash. Then we had to mount the tires ourselves as they don’t do that for you here, though precisely because of that fact we had our own mechanic with us and all the tools for mounting a truck tire on the rim. However, that was another delay of seven hours, so by the time we got to the Zambezi River it was evening and the ferry was not running. We had to spend the night there, then crossed about noon on Sunday. The rest of the trip was uneventful though arduous. We covered the remaining 400 miles in about 15 hours and got home to Nampula at 3:30 a.m. on Monday, one week after leaving Johannesburg.
When all goes well, the 1700 mile journey takes 48 hours of non-stop driving, with the motorist and me taking shifts behind the wheel. We much prefer that to prolonging the experience finding places to bed down every night! There are no Holiday Inns, no roadside restaurants, no bathrooms, and for one 500 mile stretch there are not even fuel stations.

This time the trip took an entire week, stopping only for breakdowns, customs hassles, and the ferry crossing. The record for us is two weeks. That time we had three vehicles and two trailers, every one of which had a major breakdown in the wilderness, and we spent a week just crossing the border and clearing our goods through customs.

It is a standing joke in our family that the longest part of our trip home each furlough is the ride to the airport! We could fly directly from Nampula, but the cost of getting the whole family from Nampula to Johannesburg almost doubles the air fare we would have to pay for getting to the States. On the other hand, that might be cheaper than the repairs we have had to make to our aging Land Rover the past two trips!