How did March get here so quickly? It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in Africa two months now. When you have been gone from your house for so long, it’s normal to forget where you left stuff! While we were gone, my guys sanded and stained all the doors and window frames of our house. This was a messy project that required them moving a lot of our things, and well. . .things don’t get put back exactly where we left them. So just settling in takes time. Add to that all the updating of accounts, making sure bills were paid, and greeting everyone which is very important here in Africa. It has been eventful.
I had started a newsletter toward the end of January, when we got news of David Cuna’s mother passing away in her home village outside of XaiXai. David is my right hand man, and I have been in his home village many times. I’ve known his mother for years, and was there when she was baptized. At the news of her death, we dropped all plans and traveled south to the funeral. In Africa, funerals are not just a service to attend. I spent three days in XaiXai, then returned home only to be contacted only a day later by an elderly South African couple with a medical emergency. This couple had been in Inhambane looking at mission work in the area. The husband couldn’t get out of bed, walk, or even stand on his own. It appeared he had suffered a stroke, so I quickly arranged to drive them out to a hospital in South Africa – – eleven hours away. This took two additional days of helping this family in distress. Thankfully, it turned out that it wasn’t a stroke, but cerebral malaria which he was treated for. These events quickly reminded me that I was in Africa where planning schedules rarely works.
Despite everything that has happened, it’s been wonderful be reunited with so many of our disciples and the churches here. It is good to return to learn of what they have done in our absence. We see definite signs of spiritual growth, but have also identified some areas of concern for us to address. Upon our return, we have also learned of several members who passed away during our absence. We are thankful that we were a small part in sharing Jesus with them before they met Him personally.
While it was good to be with family and so many of you in the States this past fall, we have found ourselves returned to an “empty nest.” Still, it is good to be home again. We are praying for great clarity and fruitfulness this year. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
Because of the cross,
ECHO Project Helps Kids Go Back To School
One of the areas of growth in our ministry in 2017 was in our service to the community and those most in need. The benevolent branch of our work is financed through contributions made to The ECHO Project. The goal of the ECHO Project is to help those most in need in the areas of Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity, thus ECHO.
Last year through the ECHO Project we were able to give over $12,500 worth of aide to people. The largest percentage of help was through compassion after the category 4 hurricane Daneo hit our city last February. Because of your generosity, we not only provided food to widows and the elderly, we cleared dozens of fallen trees, rebuilt half a dozen houses, and were able to put new roofs on several different schools around us.
We were also able to help 4 different disciples launch or expand their personal business under the area of opportunity. One of those brothers has already repaid his interest free loan, and the other 3 are making progress.
We occasionally get donations from local lodges or businesses in the area as they know we are out actively helping the communities in which we serve. One of our key disciples works at a restaurant at one of the beaches, and the manager donated a lot of school uniforms and clothing for us to distribute to those in most need. Though the ECHO Project, we purchased basic school supplies to add to the donation of uniforms. We then went to one of the local schools and asked the Head Master to identify the orphans and most vulnerable in their school. We distributed the clothing and school supplies to those identified. The children we so excited to receive the gifts and the school administration was thankful for the help.
Family News Update
It’s been a crazy year for our family, and we never imagined all the changes that have taken place. But that being said, we are so thankful all our kids are doing well in life and most importantly, spiritually.
On December 23rd, Gabriel married Alexandra Akers. They had a small but beautiful ceremony during his Christmas leave in Tulsa as they wanted her to be able to join him at his first posting. We are happy to welcome Alex into our family and love her greatly already! On December 31st, Jayden and Scott flew back to Africa so Jayden could start back to school on the second of January.
Lisa stayed in the States longer than Scott to get Mariah back to Abilene Christian University for her second semester. Lisa was able to return to ACU to celebrate Mariah’s birthday with her the end of the month, another blessing.
Mariah’s birthday party at ACU.
We were both blessed to be able to attend Gabriel’s graduation as a US Army Calvary Scout. Gabe excelled while in his training and was personally selected for a posting in Fairbanks, Alaska. Alex was recently able to fly up to Alaska to join him, and they are currently waiting for housing to be assigned.
On the way back to Mozambique, we stopped in Kijabe, Kenya where Jayden attends Rift Valley Academy. The Junior class puts on a yearly banquet for the graduating seniors and as parents of a Junior, we had the task of helping construct the banquet theme for the dinner, The Polar Express. It was a great memory to share with Jayden as we don’t often get to visit him at at his boarding school.
Jayden with Lisa before the banquet.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our ministry!
Scott, Lisa, Gabriel, Mariah,
and Jayden Harris