Friday, December 31, 2010

Beginning a New Year

As Christmas was drawing nearer and we still hadn't decorated the house, I started feeling disappointed that I couldn't decorate with the nice electric candles in the windows, the fake pine garland, the beautiful wreath for the door, and other nice things that I always liked to use during the Christmas season in America.  I didn't like the fact that I had to settle for some dollar store tinsel garland we had from the states and some other odds and ends that I managed to scrape up for the holiday decorations. 

When it came time to decorate, the kids and I grabbed our meager decorations and tried to make the house look as full of holiday cheer as possible with the few things we had.  We ended up with a small fake Christmas tree (Tyren bought it in town here last Christmas-our first Christmas tree ever) decorated with balls, lights and a star that a Mozambican friend had bought for us last year when Tyren was in Maputo; the dollar store red and green tinsel garland draped around the ceiling and walls of the kitchen, school room and living room areas; and large red bows hanging in the windows.  The look of utter joy and delight on the faces of my children after all was said and done brought tears to my eyes, and suddenly I was ashamed of the disappointment that I had allowed to enter into my heart hours before.

I began to think anew about why we celebrate Christmas.  Although the reason for the season had never departed from my mind and heart, I had allowed something altogether unlike the joy and love that we celebrate over Christ's sacrifice for us when He came to earth, to enter into my heart also and take root.  That seed could have destroyed my joy if God hadn't shown me His joy anew in the faces of my children.  At that moment I chose to abide in Christ and receive His joy.   

As we enter into this New Year, I pray that God will continue to shine His face upon us and show us His joy not only in the faces of our loved ones, but also in the midst of the storms, in our times of hurt and disappointment, and in our days of despair.  May His joy continue to be complete in us at all times.

"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."  John 15:11

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

God Answers Prayer!

I've been a firm believer and participant in prayer ever since I was a small child and found out one day in church that Jesus could stop me from having nightmares if I asked Him.  I found out at that very young age that He does indeed answer my prayers.  I stopped being afraid to go to sleep because He did stop the nightmares when I began to ask Him every night before I went to bed.  Eventually, I no longer had to ask Him every night and the nightmares just never returned again.  Well, since then I've learned that no prayer is too large or too small for God.  He loves to answer our prayers, especially when our prayers cause us to draw closer to Him. 

Since we've been in Mozambique, I've actually begun to appreciate and experience prayer much more than I ever have before.  Mainly, it's because I realized how much God loves me and how much He so desires to bring His kingdom to me.  He says in Luke 12:32, "Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."  Some years ago, I read that scripture and almost began to cry as I realized how much God loves to bring pleasure to His children through His kingdom promises.  I realized that not only does He love to bring us such kingdom promises as joy, peace, and love; but that He also loves to bring us things that just make us happy!  In His kingdom, there is no lack of anything.  He enjoys it when we have no lack of happiness! 

Having said all of that, let me share with you some highlights of prayers answered since we've been in Lichinga...  
I have a habit of whipping up sweet treats whenever we get short term visitors here.  I usually pray while making the treats asking God to bless them so that the visitor(s) would enjoy them.  Once, I quickly made some peanut butter fudge forgetting my prayerful habit because I was in such a hurry to get it done.  When all was finished, I tasted it and it was absolutely horrible!  The confectioner's sugar I used had been stored in a container along with some very strong spices and the fudge tasted like a mixture of all of them!  I told myself that it was because I had forgotten to pray over it while making it and I quickly asked God to "heal" the fudge.  The next morning, I put the fudge on the table and gave a disclaimer about it's taste because of the flavor of the spices.  I explained that I didn't have time or ingredients to make more, so "what you see is what you get".  When someone mentioned to me that they thought the fudge tasted great, I decided to try it again.  It was perfect!  There was no more spice in the fudge!  God had answered my prayer and "healed" the fudge!  Silly of me to pray and not have expected God to answer! 

During the rainy season here, rats usually have a tendency of finding their way into our home.  Last January, when Tyren was going to be away in Tanzania for a couple of weeks, I prayed that God would prevent any rats from coming in while he was away so that I wouldn't have to deal with them by myself.  Well, God prevented those rats from coming into our house for almost a whole year!  We just got "our" first rat last week since that prayer!  I should have asked God to prevent rats from ever coming into our house again!  Maybe that's what I'll do now...

Another nuisance of the rainy season is that flying termites also find their way into our home at night when they spy any little speck of light coming from the house.  They usually manage to make their way in through spaces in the roof.  Usually, when they start coming in at night, we just decide to turn out the lights and go to bed under our mosquito nets.  Making sure the house is dark seems to be the only way to keep them from getting in.  Or, so we thought!  Last week, when they started flying in, Tyren put up one of those sticky fly papers (that we brought back from the U.S.) so that they would get caught on it.  It was pretty early in the evening and I wasn't looking forward to going to bed yet, but figured that we'd better or else the sticky paper would soon fill up with unfortunate flying termites.  Minutes passed by and it seemed that only a few of them had gotten stuck to it.  We didn't see any others flying around or landing on the counter, floor, or anywhere else, either.  I mentioned to Tyren that they had stopped coming in for some reason and was wondering if the ones that had gotten stuck had some way of communicating to the ones outside on the roof ready to come in, that there was a danger ahead.  Then Tyren told me that he had prayed and asked God to keep them from coming in.  Wow!  I wish we had thought of that when it first happened to us two years ago! 

Well, I actually have a list of at least 5 other answered prayer highlights, but I think I have to stop here to avoid making this blog into a book! 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of...Rain??

Cloudy skies behind our house
"I don't like rainy season!  It just rains all the time and we can't ride our bikes!" exclaimed Amerel as we prepared to eat breakfast to the sound of pounding rain outside our house (and sometimes inside, too, because of leaks in our roof) one morning.  I struggled to find positive things to say about rainy season.  It's actually always been kind of hard for me to enjoy this season, also, since we've been here in Lichinga.  Much of the rainy season is characterized by stormy mornings, stormy afternoons, stormy evenings and/or stormy bedtimes and it can last from 3 to 5 months.  It usually rains every single day until the end of rainy season.  As I thought of some positive things about having to endure the rain all day every day for the next few months, I began to think about one of my all time favorite movies that I used to watch around Christmas time every year.  One particular song from the movie came to mind and here is my rendition of it as I thought about cheering myself up during this mostly dreary time of the year here:

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from the movie "The Sound of Music".) 
Popping popcorn, and watching good movies;
Worshipping Jesus and reading the Good Book;
Exercising and losing some weight;
These are a few of my favorite things!
Receiving phone calls and reading emails;
Teasing my children and just having fun;
Hearing good music and reading good books;
These are a few of my favorite things!
When it's raining and all's muddy,
and my kids are sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don't feel so baaaaddd!!
You know, I didn't come up with all of the words to that song at once; but I actually couldn't fall asleep one night until I had finished the song in my head.  And then this morning, I wrote it all down before I forgot.  Rainy season is actually a blessed time of the year here because it's the time when all of the local people get to plant their crops which they depend on for most of their food for the whole year.  Just because I'd rather look outside on the sunshine shouldn't make me want it to go away when it's so beneficial to all of us here.  When I can get over the dreariness of the cloudy skies, I actually thank God for the rains!  

Outside our front door
So, have a great matter what the weather!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Granola and other thoughts...

Living in Lichinga, has it's advantages.  One of them being that it certainly brings out the creativity in those who never had a creative bone in their body, namely ME!  Before I continue, let me just state that I love food.  I actually enjoy food.  When I sit down to a meal, I like to enjoy every bite of what I'm eating.  When we first moved to Mozambique, I can honestly say that I barely enjoyed anything that I ate for the whole of the first year we were here, maybe even longer.  I ate just because I had to put food in my body to survive, but there was nothing enjoyable about what I was eating.  My kids felt the same, but I didn't realize how it affected them until Tyren and I were looking at some old photos of our kids from the first year we were here.  They looked like someone was starving them!  They weren't eating well because they didn't like the food either! 

Now, back to Lichinga bringing out creativity.  Since I love food, and Lichinga didn't have much of any kind of food that I (we) actually enjoyed eating on a regular basis (at least not on a missionary's budget), I decided it was time to start being creative with meal making.  If I was going to ever enjoy the food here, I was going to have to invent new ways to eat it that tasted more interesting than what we had been used to that first year.  We've now been here for about 3 1/2 years and here are some of the foods that I've re-created using the local foods available here:

veggie burgers, soy meat burgers, bean burgers, bean sprout burgers, homemade granola, soy meat tacos, homemade jam, yogurt, yogurt cheese (cream cheese substitute), yogurt-cheese cake type dessert, yogurt dip, pretzels, bagels, bean soup (I never liked bean soup until I moved to Lichinga and perfected my own "curried" bean soup), chapatis (flour tortillas), homemade corn chips, homemade pop-tarts (I got this recipe from someone else's blog), various fried pastries, cheese-less quiche...and the list go on, but I think I'll stop for now and continue in a later blog. 

Well, needless to say, we've all been eating quite well these days and my children are looking healthy again.  Sometimes, I think, too healthy in my case!  I'm still trying to lose the baby fat from my last pregnancy!  There goes another blog topic...



Let me briefly introduce myself...I'm Tiffany.  I am a missionary in Mozambique with my husband and 3 children.  We are originally from the U.S.  I might as well mention why I decided to start a blog.  About 2 years ago I had a monthly email that I used to send out to a list of interested people.  About a month before my 3rd child was born, I stopped.  Since then, people have asked me to continue, but I just never got around to it.  Well, here I am finally getting around to it in the form of this blog. 
Don't expect this blog to be very informational or educational or revelational (is that a word??).  It's just about me (and my family, of course) and everyday life here in Lichinga, Mozambique...or wherever else I happen to be.  Eventually, the blog will have photos, links, etc. whenever I get around to putting all of that stuff in here.  For now, what you see is what you get. 
If you're interested, continue reading as I plan to update at least once a month...maybe more often.  We'll see... 

God bless!