October 31, 2016

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What keeps me going . . .

So normally Leah would write our newsletter, and she has been doing a fantastic job in my opinion, but this month I (Daryl) want to share a few thoughts with you.  I’ve been asked a few times over the last couple of months questions like why am I here, what keeps me focused and excited about the work we are doing, how do I deal with all the hard stuff that comes with living and raising a family in Africa.  As I have thought about these things, God has drawn my thoughts to a couple of stories that I want to share with you.  My hope in sharing these experiences with you is that you may better understand why we are so excited about what God is doing here in Mozambique. 

The first story that I want to tell you is about a couple of our employees at the restaurant that we are running while our teammates are on home assignment.  Every week I take the same two employees to the nearest city, about an hour and a half away, to shop for groceries for the restaurant.  If you know me at all you probably know that I hate shopping more than pretty much anything else in the universe, but I love and cherish this time every week with these two guys.  A few weeks ago, we were on our way to the store when we got stopped at a police checkpoint, a frequent experience here.  Everything was going fine until she asked for a specific document that we couldn’t find it in the car.  At this point she told me it was about a $30 fine and then walked away with all my documents to go speak with her boss. The guys that were with me turned and said they could make this go away very quickly for about $3.  In Mozambique, it’s very common just to bribe police officers to make things like this go away but it’s also illegal.  I then proceeded to explain why we couldn’t just bribe the police officer, even though she came back and asked for a bribe as well.  I told them that as a follower of Jesus we have to be willing to do what is right even if it is going to cost us something.  At the time, they were clearly a little shocked that I would rather pay the fine than pay the bribe.  When the officer returned, I apologized for not having the document, told her I would get it soon, and told her that I deserved the ticket and would take it.  She gave me my documents back and told me to go; after we left something kind of cool happened.  When we pulled away they both expressed that this was the first time they had ever seen anything like this happen.  This was so strange to them that they then proceeded to tell the story to everyone they saw after that.  What was even cooler for me was that they got to see faith in action and really experience what it means to follow Jesus.  The prosperity gospel movement is really big in Africa and I hope that we are able to clearly demonstrate by our actions alongside our words that we don’t believe this but we do believe that we serve a great God who can help us through the difficult things we face even if it cost us something personally.

Weekly, Daryl goes grocery shopping for the restaurant with a couple employees in a city 1.5 hours away.

The second story is about something that happened during a palestra, a teaching time, that we have every Saturday morning.  This palestra is made up of mostly Muslim men in our community and we meet on our farm under a tree.  We started this time back in April of this year and we have been teaching through the book of Genesis.  For a long time, I had wondered what type of impact we were really having.  Even though we had a good number of guys who were showing up each week, we weren’t really getting any feedback or participation during our teaching times.  A little over a month ago, another Mozambican Christian friend encouraged me to start our time together in prayer.  Up to that point we hadn’t been praying aloud for fear that we might offend our Muslim friends.  After some time to think and pray about this I decided that next time I had the opportunity to teach I would start our time with prayer.  Just a couple weeks later I had that opportunity and I offered a very simple prayer.  I simply asked for God to give us wisdom in understanding his word, to help us better understand who He is, who we are and what our relationship with him is today.  That day I taught from Genesis 29 about when Jacob met and married Rachel.  One of my key points was that we as men need to be willing to serve and work for our wives, that our love should be sacrificial in the same way that Jacob sacrificed for Rachel.  Now, for westerners we may joke about stuff like this but we understand the concept.  However, for the Makua people that we serve this was maybe the strangest thing they had ever heard.  I was met with a lot of nervous awkward laughter and wasn’t sure that anyone really bought in to what I was saying.  I left like always just hoping that God was building up to something big for some future generation.  However, later that day I got some very surprising news. Another missionary from Tanzania called me and told me that something happened today that had probably never happened before in our community. One of the men from the palestra had gone home after our time together, gotten a bucket and went to the well to fill it up.  He then returned home to pour his wife a bath and let her rest.  I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say. 

I could share a lot of other stories as well but it’s things like this that help me stay focused on why we are here.  It would be easy to forget sometimes that even though we don’t always see it, God is working and moving in the hearts of the people here.  We forget that most of our neighbors and friends have probably never truly heard the Gospel message and know little to nothing about the God we serve.  We are starting from the ground up and building the foundations of their future faith, but it takes a long time.  That’s why it is so exciting when we get to see glimpses of how God is working in their lives and we can feel for just a minute that we are having an impact in their lives.  And that’s what keeps me going.

Weekly "Teaching Time" with the guys in our neighborhood.
In Family News:

Leah's parents came for a visit in October.  We really enjoyed having them here with us for a couple weeks. 
Both homeschool and Silas' preschool are going well.  SIlas' preschool will close for the school year next month and then he will begin kindergarden readiness at home with Leah.

  • For a good visit with family
  • For opportunities to show our faith to those around us.
  • The kids as they go to school and make friends.
  • For future ministry opportunities (we have some ideas churning in our minds and we’d like God’s guidance on how to proceed).
God Bless,
Daryl, Leah, Gabe, Eden, and Silas Burnette
Leah's parents came to visit
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