Sunday, July 31, 2011

When Life's a Stretch

Sometimes even the simple things can stretch you.
That's a tall drink of water...
For a giraffe, getting a drink takes some work. You have to make sure nothing (like a hungry lion, for example) is going to pounce on you while you're bent in half just trying to make ground level. Or is that water level?

For the Mercy Tech Team, the stretching came in the Paris airport when Customs decided that they didn't like the mechanics wrenches in Todd's carry-on bag (those are "spanners" to you Brits). Our flight was already boarding, yet Todd had to retrace his steps and put the tools through as checked baggage. With Rick and Ed waiting anxiously at the gate, he made it back just in time to be one of the last passengers on the plane.

But of course, that's not the end of it. The bag never got on the flight, and we chewed a few more fingernails while it slowly made its way to White River, South Africa a few days later.

But all is well, and after a bit of tool and grocery shopping (and a trip to Kruger Game Park) we are now ready to fly out to Mozambique. Our flight will leave around 8am tomorrow morning (Monday August 1st) via a Cessna 310 piloted by Paul Middleton of Mercy Air. We should be arriving in Chimoio just after lunch, and then it's on to the ASAM farm and camp life for a month.

We are well and anxious to begin our work. Please keep us in your prayers as we move on to the next phase of our journey.

I'll leave you with a few photos of our time in both Paris and in the game park. Lord willing, our next post will be from Mozambique itself.
Is this my good side?
Let's go, Baboo. It's only a bunch of cheap Canadian tourists...
Ed and Todd having second thoughts about sleeping in tents for the next few weeks.
"It's just the Eiffel tower, Ed..."
600 steps and still breathing...
A couple of art critics
Does not play nicely with other children...

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Piece of the Puzzle

Ever feel like life is just one big puzzle, and that you won't really get the full picture until the last piece drops into place? Maybe that's a little too deep for a blog post by a humour writer, but we've had a few last-minute puzzle pieces show up lately, and I thought I'd share them with you.

Mozambique Vocational Skills Training Initiative
A key component of our trades training program in Mozambique was going to be a vast library of training videos that had been graciously donated by CDX Automotive (click here to watch a sample of their amazing training videos).

The only problem was the software had been shipped out of the US weeks ago but had not yet arrived. Today being the last day to get mail (we fly out on Sunday), Nan and I prayed specifically that He would show us what to do - I mean, how do you replan your whole training program at the last minute?

Within an hour of our prayer, the shipment arrived. A piece of the puzzle drops into place.
Another tool we thought would be good to have is a laptop computer that we could leave with the students after we are gone, so that they could continue their training until I return at a later date. On a prompting from God, Todd approached an associate who handles the IT needs at SAIT to see if she had any ideas.

Not only did Rhona find us a good used laptop (via Toshiba Canada), but she also upgraded the hard drive and RAM, and replaced the worn mouse pad and keyboard. Todd picked up the computer yesterday (again, down to the last minute!) and it works beautifully. (Thanks, Rhona!) Another puzzle piece that brings clarity to the picture.

Mercy Tech Mission Advisory Board
For me, clarity for the ongoing work of Mercy Tech Mission is important, and one piece of that puzzle was supplied when we had our first MTM Advisory Board meeting on July 9th. These great people will be the ones I draw upon for advice and support as we continue to move forward in this work that God has called us to.
L to R: Rick Cogbill, Caroline Isaak, Bob Denesiuk, Pastor Larry Schram, Todd Green
Solving puzzles, one piece at a time. Of course, God knows the finished picture from the beginning (or even before?). But it's exciting to be part of a team that gets to work on that puzzle with Him.

I leave you with the verse God has given me for this trip:

"Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane...

It's time to pack the bags one more time. Each time I vow to take less "stuff" but there's always something that just has to go - or at least I think it does. This time it's less granola bars and more training materials, not a bad swap.

One week from today I get on a plane with Todd Green and Ed Hyslip, two volunteers who will help me teach automotive mechanics in Mozambique at the ASAM mission base. I'm told that at least 7 students are waiting to start the training, and I'm sure that number will continue to grow as word gets out. Finding skills training is just not easy in the African bush, but it can make such a difference in a life.

I've mentioned the maintenance shop project before, and the photos below show the progress to date:

Freshly dug foundations in March, 2011

New cement and steelwork - July 2011 (Photo: Dwight Lagore)
Peter, the head mason on the ASAM farm (Photo: Dwight Lagore)

This important building will not only become the base for our trade school, but also the maintenance shop for all the vehicles and equipment on the ASAM farm. To date we have raised around $4000, or 15% of the $30,000 project. To start putting up the walls, we need more.
Artist's conception of the finished maintenance shop
Please contact us if you would like to be a part of this important project. I'd love to be able to "order up the bricks" while I'm out there next month!

And please pray for us as a team as we spend the next 5 weeks in Africa. 
Todd Green

Ed Hyslip

Rick Cogbill
Serving together as Mercy Tech Mission - Skills with a purpose.