Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mercy Is Alive...

Last week at the Christian Musicians Summit in Redmond, WA, I heard a great song by Elevation Worship, entitled The Church (Chris Brown and Mack Brock). Here are some of the words from that song:

We are the change the world is waiting for

We've got a love the world is desperate for

We will lead and take to your streets


Now's the time for us to rise

And carry hope and let love shine

And show this world that mercy is alive

Now's the time for us to rise

And carry hope to hopeless eyes

And show this world that mercy is alive...

The song truly describes what Mercy Tech Mission is all about, so naturally I used it to create a short video about MTM's trip to Mozambique earlier this year. I hope you enjoy it.

In other news, I'm happy to present the volunteer team that will be heading back to Mozambique in March, 2013. Joining me for this month-long adventure will be Bob Denesiuk and Don Bryce, both from Summerland, BC. Our goal is to continue working on the Maintenance Facility project at ASAM, the SAM Ministries mission base in Mozambique.
Bob Denesiuk and Rick Cogbill - Mozambique 2011 (photo by Lynn Lagore)
This will be Bob's second visit to the ASAM farm in Mozambique, having travelled with me there in March of 2011 to work on the conference training center.

Don Bryce
Don is an electrician and owner of Totaltech Electric. His role will be to bring power to the new shop from the generator building, and to install all the electrical panels, wiring, and fixtures. Don is also looking forward to training local staff in the basics of electrical installation and maintenance.

Mechanical student Prosper using his new skills to fix the farm backhoe
Thank you for following our work as we fight poverty in developing countries. By teaching our trades to those living in places like rural Mozambique, we continue to bring "hope to hopeless eyes," proving that mercy truly is alive


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wood Lathe Training Update

"I love it when a plan comes together." That famous quote by Hannibal Smith, the crusty leader of the A-Team, rings a bell in most of us. It really is a great feeling when something you've worked at long and hard finally shows results.

Earlier this year, MTM volunteer John Topham (with the help of the Summerland Rotary Club) arranged for the shipment of a wood lathe to the SAMM mission base in Mozambique. The plan was for John to join me there during the month of May to teach local young men how to use the lathe. The goal was that through these new skills, they would be able to provide income for their families in the years ahead.

Matthias Gasser with the new wood lathe
Well, the lathe did arrive at the sea port of Beira during May, but became bogged down in customs until long after we'd returned to Canada. It was finally delivered to the base and set up by Swiss volunteer Matthias Gasser - a step forward, but not the plan we'd hoped for. It was disappointing, but God was not done with this project yet.

Through another project that John and his sons are involved with in Liberia, another trip to Africa was planned for November. John was able to add a side trip back to Mozambique on his own to do the teaching that was originally planned, and the results are shown below in some great photos taken by Dwight Lagore, Field Director of SAM Ministries in Mozambique.

Gabriel, Pindurai, and John Topham with some newly-created bowls.

Finished products from John's wood-working class
It is so thrilling to see the results of the efforts and sacrifices of dedicated people. A big thanks to John for seeing this through. We also look forward to another project that he is working on via the Summerland Rotary club and the Chimoio Rotary club in Mozambique - a library for the local school operated by the mission there.

We will be returning to Mozambique in March 2013 to continue working on SAMM's maintenance shop project . My next post will present you with the volunteers who have signed up for this ambitious trip, so stay tuned!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Young Man's Words...

"Teach (a) young man is teaching (the) world."

These words were recently posted on Facebook by Prosper Fernando, one of the Mozambican young men who attended our first automotive training course in 2011. Here he is below, paying close attention as MTM volunteer Ed Hyslip explains basic maintenance on the mission backhoe.
Prosper is now enrolled in Tariro, a nearby technical school run by British missionaries, Aaron & Sarah Beecher. Prosper is pursuing his dream of becoming a fully-trained mechanic, but life is not easy for these young men. Although the training is provided free of charge, Prosper still has to find a way to pay for lodging and food in a distant town, and because he is at school all day, he cannot go out and find work. He uses a donated bicycle to travel the many kilometres from town to school every day, but it broke down last month.

His most recent posting on Facebook was: "I will be offline from tomorow bkos i want to sel my cellfpone. Bkose i want to buy new parts for my bike."

I post this, not to plead for money for Prosper (though that would not be a bad thing), but to hi-lite how important vocational training is to people like him. Prosper knows that only by learning a good trade will he be able to provide for himself, and in the future, for his family. It's for young people like him that we continue to take our skills training to places like Mozambique. We are so grateful for mission organizations like SAM Ministries who allow us to come as volunteers to assist in their projects.

Unloading blocks (photo by Dwight Lagore)
Just this week, we learned that the last of the building blocks (2000 in total) arrived for the mechanics shop project at the SAM Ministries base in Mozambique. This means that there are now enough blocks to finish the walls up to roof height (the finished building will be 2-stories high).

Quissito checking for level (photo by Dwight Lagore)

Installing the first level of windows (photo by Dwight Lagore)
This facility will be a key location for training skilled mechanics in the Mucombeze area. We are trusting God for funds to keep this project moving ahead. Between now and Christmas about $6,000 is needed to pay worker's wages, buy more window frames, and purchase supplies such as cement, sand, and reinforcing steel.

Tome using the unfinished shop and its repair pit to perform some work on the mission backhoe (photo by Dwight Lagore)
Once the walls are completed, we will then be in a position to put on the roof and bring electrical power to the building.

Our Next Trip

March 2013 is the projected time for our next trip to Mozambique. I will be travelling again with building contractor Bob Denesiuk (MTM Mission Trip, March 2011), and our goal will be to fabricate and install the metal roof trusses on this building, as well as install the roof sheeting so that this shop can begin to be fully utilized.

Some other volunteers are considering this trip as well, and we continue to pray for God's guidance in putting together the full team as He sees fit. Travelling halfway around the world to work in the African bush is not an easy decision to make, and we are so thankful for those who do make the sacrifice and travel with us.

The financial needs for the March trip are daunting. At the current costs of steel and other materials, we estimate that it will take almost $40,000 to pay for the building supplies, local wages, and travel costs for the team. We welcome any and all groups and individuals to contact SAM Ministries about fund-raising for this important project, as we attempt to bring this building to "lock-up stage" by the end of March 2013!
Prosper Fernando and Rick Cogbill (photo by Todd Green)

Thanks for coming along on our adventures in Africa, as together we continue to fight poverty by teaching life-changing skills to young men like Prosper Fernando.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Late Summer Update

It would be easy to assume that between trips to Africa, not much goes on with Mercy Tech Mission - but that's not exactly true.

A number of things do go on behind the scenes - it's just that I don't often have photos to share about it. This blog has mainly been a photo journal of our adventures to "Change lives, one skill at a time," as opposed to a commentary on mission work or serving the needs of the poor.

That being said, I know a number of folks have been checking back to "see what's new," so I want to give you a brief update on where we're at as an organization.

1) Charitable Status:

As many of you know, Mercy Tech Mission has made application to become a recognized Canadian Charity. Although we submitted our initial paperwork back at the beginning of 2012, the process became bogged down while I was overseas during the months of April and May. I'm happy to report that we are back on track, and are hoping to receive our status as a Charitable Trust with CRA in the not too distant future. This is an important step for Mercy Tech, and we value your prayers in this regard.

2) The Next Trip:

We are tentatively planning a return trip to the SAMM mission base in Mozambique in early 2013 (possibly March or April). There are a number of local volunteers already showing interest in being a part of that team, and it has the potential of being our largest team yet. Our goal will be to work with the local staff to complete a major portion of the remaining work on the Maintenance Shop and bring it to a lock-up stage.
Current status
As you can see from the above photo, the walls have been completed to about the 1st level of windows. The exciting news is that SAMM has received donations through friends and supporters at various churches, and as a result more concrete blocks have been ordered.

Our goal for next spring

This will enable the local staff to continue building the walls, hopefully taking them up to roof height in anticipation of the arrival of our "roofing team" next spring. We also hope to do all the interior electrical and plumbing work at that time. Our immediate goal: To raise around $35,000 for the remaining projected costs of building materials and local labor.

Donations towards this important project can be made online at the SAM Ministries Project page or through this link: Mozambique Maintenance Shop Project

3) Looking Forward:

Check out this link to a recent article featured in Tire Review, a US-based automotive magazine. It's based on a telephone interview I did last month with staff writer Shana O'Malley, and describes how Mercy Tech Mission came to be.

On a personal note, I have been busily working on the second book in my series of humor stories about Slim Shambles Auto Repair. The great part about living in the Okanagan Valley in the summer is the ability to take my laptop out to one of the many parks or beaches in the area and write to the inspiration of God's beautiful creation. The down side is, I drink too many MacDonald's coffees and eat too many of their muffins...

Some upcoming dates:

September 14: I will be speaking at Prairie Bible College's chapel service, addressing the student body on how God can use our vocations to show others the love of Christ. It begins at 9:55am if you happen to be in the area.

September 15: Once again I will have the privilege of talking about our volunteer time at the SAMM base in Mozambique to the great folks at God's House Pentecostal Church in Okotoks, AB. The service begins at 6:30pm Saturday night.

September 18: MTM will be hosting an information night, 7pm at the home of Bob and Connie Denesiuk in Summerland, BC. This will mainly be a Question and Answer night for those showing interest in making a future trip to Mozambique, but is open to all who are interested in learning more about what we do and why we do it. Please let me know if you're planning to attend. (Note: There will be a formal MTM Update evening at Summerland Baptist Church sometime this fall; time and date to be announced)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shop Update - June 2012

Although I have been home from Mozambique for a month now, some work did continue on the Maintenance Shop project after I left. All the blocks purchased while I was there have been used, and the work is now halted until further funds come in.

Main shop walls, up to first window height.
Repair pit (already in use, according to last report!)
Rear storage area, awaiting more steel to complete the trusses.
Many thanks to Swiss volunteer Matthias Gasser for taking these photos, and for helping to weld up the roof trusses (pictured above) for the shop storage area.
Matthias Gasser with the new wood lathe
Thanks to everyone who has had a part in supporting this important project, and we encourage you to consider continue giving so that this important training and maintenance facility can be completed soon. For more information, please follow this link to SAM Ministries - Maintenance Shop Project.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The lathe has arrived!

Those of you who have been following this blog will know that through the efforts of Rotarian John Topham, a wood lathe had been donated and shipped to Mozambique, and that one of our goals in the April/May trip was to teach students how to use it. However, although the lathe arrived in the port of Beira during our trip, it became embroiled in a mire of paperwork between the shipping agents and the Customs department, and as a result never made it to the mission base during our time there.

Here's the good news - the lathe has now arrived! Word came that the machine was ready to be released, and ASAM farm manager Joao Benjamim and driver Jacobo immediately made the onerous trip to Beira and back to bring it "home." We are grateful for safe travel over one of most dangerous roads I've seen in Mozambique, especially since the return trip was made at night. The men were held up at the seaport for about 8 hours, resulting in their not arriving back at the mission base until 3am in the morning.

It was a happy group who unloaded the heavy packages the next morning.
Matthias Gasser (the lone white face in the back row), who is a short-term volunteer from Switzerland, assembled the lathe and has already started his first bowl-turning project.

Kneeling in front: Joao Benjamim & Jacobo Ibrahim - two very tired men!

Wood lathe ready for use.

First mahogany bowl to be turned in the new lathe.
Special thanks to Matthias, Joao, and Jacobo for bringing the lathe odyssey to a happy conclusion. We hope that it won't be too long before a trained instructor can return to Mozambique and begin training the local men on this amazing and useful machine.
Matthias Gasser & John Topham

Thursday, May 31, 2012

That's A Wrap...

All things have a way of coming to an end, and so has this two-month trip to the ASAM mission base in Mozambique.

Looking at the busy night scenes outside the Johannesburg airport, it hits me that my current trip has now come to an end. If any more work is going to be done on the projects over the next few months, it will have to be done by others - the staff and workers at the SAMM mission base - and to that end, I'm grateful that the shop is at a point where others can carry on with the building work. My hope is that with perhaps one more team of volunteers, we will be able to complete the shop on our next trip.
My KLM flight being prepared to leave South Africa
It was a busy time with many exhausting days, yet by the grace of God my health was never better. Thank you to all for your prayers and encouragements, and thanks once again to John Topham for joining me on this trip - it was a pleasure to work with you, John (and in case anybody is wondering, John cooks a mean pork tenderloin!).

I'll leave you with some photos to wrap up the time here, mostly of the shop, but a few from my visit to a local church.

Yes, my shoes are dusty (a lot of cement dust this time) and as I leave, the challenge remains - who will form the next team of Mercy Tech Mission volunteers? Who will use their skills and training to build into a life for the glory of God?

Could it be you?

Mercy Tech Mission - Changing lives, one skill at a time.

Swiss volunteer Matthias helping to install floor steel

Peter setting the front corner pillar
Fani and Tome preparing steel for trusses
Quissito is small, but he's tough!
John Topham (center) advising Domingo (l) and Pindurai (r) on the first door frame
Installing the door frame
Peter and Fani finishing the very last concrete section
Roof trusses for the storage room
One tired but happy concrete crew

Where we started two months ago...
Where things stand for now
Pastor Mariano's small church

The women leading a song

The pastor's son keeping time

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where Does The Time Go?

It's hard to believe that I have only one week left here in Mozambique, and also somewhat embarassing to realize that it's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted an update! Where has the time gone? Maybe this set of photos will explain.
Work continues on the maintenance shop.
Only one more floor section to pour.

The automotive training also continues (photo by John Topham)
The class learns about cooling systems at the power generator shed (Photo by John Topham)

Buying maize for the feeding programs

A visit to the river where a local family is doing their laundry
Cecilia is the wife of Domingo, the mission's head shepherd
The beauty of a child's smile
Providing water for the compacting of the airstrip
John couldn't resist checking out this ancient Hino truck...
Handing out soccer balls at a local school