Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Very soon I'll be getting my shoes (or sandals) dusty again with some good African soil. My flight is booked for January 28th. Hard to believe that this will be my 6th trip to Mozambique in four years. Time flies.

What's almost harder to believe is how far the training program has come in such a short time. Here are a couple of things that illustrate what I mean.

The "repair bay" in 2010
The repair bays now!

Prosper's first month of training with Mercy Tech in 2011
Prosper graduating from Tariro with his Mechanics Certificate, December 10, 2013
(photo by Heather Neufeld)

Me and Prosper Fernando
ASAM maintenance shop
Some really exciting news for this coming year is that Prosper will be returning to the ASAM mission base with his new certification. His job will be to work in the new shop, not only to perform maintenance for the mission, but also to start training other young men in the skills that he himself has learned. In his own words,"I am very happy to be where I am...I hope to give what I have (learned) to others."

We at Mercy Tech will be working closely with Prosper and ASAM, helping this promising young man get started in his new career. Together, we will start training many more young men from his community in the automotive repair trade. 

As part of our commitment, we will be supplementing Prosper's wages for the first year as the workshop project gets up and running. We invite you to join us financially in this exciting new phase of Mercy Tech's work. As you can see from Prosper's example, it really does make a difference.

Together, we are changing lives, one skill at a time.

We are so thankful for Dwight and Lynn Lagore, along with all the great staff at the ASAM farm, for connecting us with Prosper in the beginning, and for supporting him as he progressed with his training. Also a huge thank you to Aaron and Sarah Beecher of Tariro. Their dedication to training young Mozambicans is amazing and inspiring!

Here are some more photos of Prosper's graduation from Tariro on December 10th. Thanks to Heather (photographer) and Rick Neufeld for representing us all at this momentous event!
Waiting to be called up

Some proud friends and family

Receiving his certificate from Headmaster Aaron Beecher

Congratulations from Rick Neufeld

Receiving some tools

Reading the fine print with Joao Benjamim and Rick Neufeld

A graduation gift - a new spanner

And a thermos from Joao...every mechanic needs his coffee!

Again, a very proud mom and dad

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Looking Ahead

Fall is approaching, and as I watch the days grow cooler here in Canada, I'm reminded that they'll soon be heating up again in Mozambique as their winter comes to an end.

At Mercy Tech Mission, we've decided as a board that my next trip to Africa in 2014 will be during the month of February and the first two weeks of March - six weeks in total. Past experience tells me that it could somewhat rainy, as well as hot and humid during that time. Thankfully, I'll have our new maintenance shop to work and teach in.
One of my priorities will be to design and build the large doors for the repair bays so that we can finally bring the shop to a lock-up stage. It's hard to believe how far this project has come in just over 2 years.
Front view of the new ASAM Maintenance shop
But the primary purpose of my trip will be to continue teaching. Now that the shop has the roof on and the lighting installed, we'll be able to do some serious vehicle maintenance and repair. We'll get into projects that couldn't be done before because of a lack of space to work in.

Another focus for Mercy Tech in 2014 will be to assist at Tariro. This vocational training center is situated near Gondola and is run by Aaron and Sarah Beecher, a British missionary couple who have been working in Mozambique for many years. If all goes according to plan, I will spend some of my time at their school, looking for ways that MTM can add value to their existing mechanic's training course.
Aaron Beecher (Tariro) and Rick Cogbill (Mercy Tech Mission)
Tariro Mechanics Shop
So the planning and fund-raising begins again, and I'm reminded that even though I'm returning to a place that has become almost like a second home, that each trip is different and will provide its own challenges and rewards.

So onward we go. It's time to put some more miles on the duffle bag and a little more dust on the work boots. Time to do what we do, in the name of the One who calls us to do it.

Mozambique 2014, here we come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maintenance Shop Progress - August 2013

We just received news today of some recent progress on the maintenance shop project in Mozambique. A volunteer named Richard was visiting from South Africa, and he took on the task of installing the lights, wall plugs, and switches. (The following photos provided by Dwight Lagore)
Ceiling lights installed
Wall plugs and switches
One great piece of news is that Richard was able to work with Revi and Vasco, two men that Don trained in basic electrical work during our last trip out in March of this year. I'm told that Richard was impressed with how much Revi and Vasco had learned, and how much he could let them work on their own. Great teaching job, Don!
Some high ladder work
Richard, Revi, and Rick Neufeld
Vasco and Gabriel running wire
From the following photos we can also see that the shop is now being used for vehicle maintenance.
Jacobo, Richard, and Tome getting ready to service the Toyota

Tome and Jacobo

The new ASAM mission Toyota (the white one) parked inside the shop
It's encouraging to see the progress being made. I'm looking forward to actually using this shop as a teaching facility on my next trip (spring 2014?). Thanks to the ASAM staff and all the volunteers who continue to move this project forward, even when our Mercy Tech teams are not there.

If you haven't done already done so, please take a few minutes to check out our recently relaunched website for Mercy Tech Mission

Thanks for checking in!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

An "Official" Post

Okay, it's official - Mercy Tech Mission now has Canadian charity status (Mercy Tech Mission, registration number 826932444RR0001)

Is that the thundering applause of the masses I hear? Cool. I'm with you on it!

How "Tourist" can you get?
I literally had no idea when I first traveled to Mozambique 3 1/2 years ago that I would now be the director of a fully-registered Canadian charitable organization. In fact, the concept of a non-profit group to enable professionals to teach life-changing skills to those living in poverty wasn't even on my mind. 

Thankfully, there is One whose ways are higher than ours. He has bigger plans than we can even dream of.

So thanks to everyone who has encouraged us along the way, especially the field staff of ASAM in Mozambique for welcoming our teams to their mission base again and again. The MTM board and I are excited about what the future holds, and we look forward to even greater things we continue to "change lives, one skill at a time."

2013 Mercy Tech Team (Photo by Dwight Lagore)
If you've been following our projects, you'll know that we have been helping SAM Ministries build a maintenance shop where we can continue to teach automotive skills to young students. Our last trip in March of this year saw a four-member team construct and install the roof support beams and trusses.

Shop status at the end of March 2013
Just this week we received photos showing how the local staff have continued to work on the shop and now have all the roofing panels installed on the main structure. Just in time for the rainy season!
Shop status as of August 2013 (photos by Dwight Lagore)

As you can tell from the photos, there is still a lot of work to be done. We are specifically looking for an electrician to finish installing all the lighting and power outlets, now that the roof is on. And then there is the small matter of trying to invent a reliable door system for the large bay openings...African ingenuity will prevail!
Tome working on the mission backhoe
We especially appreciate all the hard work done by Tome, ASAM's main maintenance man. It's been a privilege to work with Tome over the past few years, and I am personally looking forward to returning early in 2014 for more training with Tome and others, as well as to continue working on the shop.

If you would like to assist with this and other Mercy Tech training projects, either financially or as a volunteer, or would like to find out more about what we do, just contact me at

Your gifts will enable us to continue teaching trades and life-changing skills in places like Mozambique. Tax-receiptable donations can be sent to Mercy Tech Mission, Box 1153, Summerland, BC Canada V0H 1Z0.

Mercy Tech Mission - Changing Lives, One Skill at a Time

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Effect of a Gift

During the recent trip to Mozambique in March, I had the opportunity to present a laptop computer to Tariro, a small trades school near Gondola. This computer was donated by Toshiba Canada through the efforts of Rhona Bartolotti, one of the IT support folks at SAIT in Calgary, Alberta. Thanks, Rhona!

Loaded on the computer was a copy of the automotive training program, CDXPlus, a very effective teaching tool supplied though Tim Spurlock of Jones and Bartlett Learning-CDX Automotive. We have used this program on most of our training trips, and the students find it extremely helpful, especially because of its video content. Thanks again to Tim and also Jonathan Berkompas for making this program available to our work.
Presenting the laptop to Aaron Beecher, director of Tariro
One of my original automotive students (March 2011) is Prosper Fernando, and he has progressed remarkably well in his pursuit of an automotive career. In spite of numerous obstacles, Prosper is close to finishing his training and will receive a certificate in automotive repair from Tariro in December of this year.
Rick Cogbill and Prosper Fernando
Prosper knows the CDX program very well - having been trained on it though Mercy Tech - so when the new computer arrived at Tariro, the other students immediately asked him to show them how it works.

Because the content is in English (of which Prosper is fluent), he also has to do the translating. When I asked him if the computer is getting much use, he laughed and said, "Yes. They are always wanting me to translate the lessons for them - I don't even have time to eat!"

Tariro automotive students accepting the new laptop

A CDX training session
Our hope is that one day soon Prosper will return to the new maintenance shop being built at the ASAM mission base, and from there begin to pass on his new skills to other young men from his village.

It was also a privilege to present Prosper with his first set of personal mechanics tools, graciously donated by Andries Mulder, manager of ACDC Express in Nelspruit, South Africa.
Prosper accepting a tool kit donated by Andries Mulder of AC/DC Express in South Africa
Thanks to all who have been a part of this ongoing process - the results are starting to show, and it wouldn't be happening without your help.

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Video Wrap-up of our trip

Thanks for waiting patiently for an update to this blog. Since arriving home from Mozambique at the end of March, I had to do a little business with a malaria bug that wanted to interrupt life for a few weeks, but things are back to normal now. Thanks for all your prayers and words of encouragement! (and thank heavens for Coartem)

Last night the team gave a report of the trip to friends and supporters from Summerland, and one of the highlights from that meeting was a short video of our trip. I've included it here below.

Thanks so much to everyone who made this trip possible. Although no dates have been set as yet, I know that one day we will be heading back to Mozambique. There is still much work to be done, not only on the maintenance shop project, but also with the training programs. The most common comment we'd hear from the folks there was, "When are you coming back? There is still so much to learn!"

God bless you all.
Rick, Don, Bob, and Bob - The Mercy Tech Team, March 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Final Field Report

It was our final day on the project here in Mozambique and by the time many of you read this, we'll be on our way back home to our families.

Quite a lot has been accomplished during the past 4 weeks, considering the size of this shop we are building, but a few things will have to wait for the next team to complete. Even so, here are some pictures of what we were able to do.
Don showing Vashco and Revy how to hook up power at the main panel
Burying the main power cable to the new shop
Presenting Vascho and Revy with their own electrician's toolkit (donated by Andries Mulder of ACDC Express in South Africa) 
Revy up a tall ladder to make some wire connections
Finally, all the trusses up and in place
Carrying in the roofing panels
Installing the first roof panels
Finishing some window frames
I even found time to weld up an exhaust system in our new pit
Presenting a set of tools to Tome, who did most of our welding
The shop as we left it - roof panel installation will continue after we leave
Thanks for following along with us on this adventure of faith and hope.
MTM team March 2013: Bob Brown, Bob Denesiuk, Don Bryce, and Rick Cogbill.