August 30, 2010

Surprise jello

A friend called me tonight and said she wanted to bring something over. I gave her the directions to my house and there in her hands was a glass dish of stripedy jello! We have been messaging about this recipe for a few weeks now....and I procrastinate, but Angie doesn't! She is a little powerhouse and a giver and because I would not get it together and make the recipe, she did it herself and brought it to me.

Angie's been reading my blog and saw the Jello Chronicles section. She has this beautiful recipe for striped jello that her mother used to make and now she makes it for her son. And it makes her really excited! She brought it to us and stood there bursting, so we all sat down to have some.

It is delicious.

Thank you Angie. I know this really was a labor of love for us. Let's see....6 hours making a jello dish then driving across town to deliver it.....when you already work full time and have some huge challenges in your life right now. Thank you so much. We love you and love that you are the kind of person who gets excited to bring us your jello recipe. How fun and caring.  For lots of reasons, it's a treasure from you.

Here is the recipe as Angie wrote it for me:

Warning: need to plan for about 10 minutes each hour for approx 6 hours in order turn out perfect. Will save little bit of time if put the dish in freezer before start so it can harden first layer quicker, it is always the layer taking longest.

1- (3oz)pkg. each of the following jello flavors: 
Black Cherry, Cherry, Lime, Lemon, Orange, Orange Pineapple, Strawberry

1- can sweetend condensed milk

Mix black cherry jello with 3/4 cup boiling water & 3/4 cup cold water. Stir well. Place in 9x13 inch glass pan & refrigerate untill well set. 

Mix cherry jello with 1/2 cup boiling water & 1/2 cup cold water & 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk. 
Stir well & cool, place on top of first layer & chill untill well set.

Continue layering jello, making sure previous layer is well set & mixture you are adding is cool. Even number layers are creamy.

When done you will have a beautiful 7 layer giggley jello everyone I have make if for has loooved. You end up with the cherry, lemon & orange-pineapple layers being creamy. Serve scoop of cool whip and yummy. 

I have experimented with changing the flavors of jello and found that the grape is good in replace of strawberry and if you can find it the berry blue is a good layer when creamy.

August 24, 2010

Divine meetings

It is a HOT day in Phoenix, the heat index is near 120ยบ.

It is Tim's last day before he leaves for college though, so we took him to lunch. On the way back to the church, Charles recognized a woman walking across the church parking lot. She is a refugee from Iraq who lives in some apartments near our church. We go there to do some outreach and meet people sometimes. Charles thought he would give her a ride because of the heat...she is paralyzed on one side because of a stroke and walking is grueling even on a good day. With the heat today,  it is just dangerous.

We picked up Aida and drove to her apartment and she insisted that we come in for a drink of water. She cannot drink the water because it is Ramadan and she is fasting (no liquids during Ramadan until sundown).  She kept saying thank you and we got along pretty well with a conversation about her family and what we could help her with. Then, as we were leaving, a young couple came to her apartment too. They are also from Iraq and used to live next door to her, so they come by to see her often. They are also Muslim and they speak English well, so we stayed and talked further with Aida, since we had an interpreter. 

We talked a little about other things, then the man asked if we knew of any English classes Aida could go to. As a matter of fact we do!  Some ladies at our church have really responded to the need for English as a second language classes (ESL) and started a class during our Sunday School hour. Our faithful van driver picks up several refugees and they meet together for and hour learning English through repeating and learning Bible stories. So we got it set up for her to come. 

She also wanted to know if we could help her call her daughter. It's been 5 years since she has heard from her daughter, who moved to Australia. Through the Red Cross she has received a phone number that she hopes will put her in contact with the daughter. So on Sunday we will help her do that too.  As you can imagine, she is really excited about it and I am too. Pray that we can find information about the daughter. She doesn't know if she is even alive or in Australia's heartbreaking.

Aida said she had prayed for God to send her someone to help her, so she thanked God first and us second for helping. He also sent that couple to further things along with those ideas on ways to help her. Amazing to see God work, He is reaching out to this little woman who has had so much trauma in her life and is now here in a country where she cannot even communicate with people or know where to go for help. She had walked all the way to her son's school because they called her and found out that everything was fine, and they just needed some information. It was about a 1/2 mile walk each way and with the heat it was a dreadful chore, but God turned it into a divine meeting. Now she will learn about God's love more and more as she comes and as people befriend her in our church. 

August 21, 2010


Four years ago, there was a monsoon storm thrashing Phoenix on this date. We were keeping vigil by a bedside where a struggle was also going on while the storm raged outside. Then the storm stopped (outside and in) and my Dad left for Heaven, quietly and peacefully, looking up as he left. 

I wrote about it here last summer, but I want to keep remembering so I am linking to that post tonight. I want to remember that there is sometimes a struggle, but there is peace in the end. The night my Dad died, Heaven was so real to me that I almost expected to see it when I followed my his gaze up to the ceiling. 

Now I know that death is just a transition. I've seen it and envy it a little. Can you imagine stepping over with God and reaching your Home that is more familiar and real somehow than the ones we've lived in here on earth?

August 19, 2010

Pets on Parade ;)

I am really glad that I do a double take sometimes. A quick glance misses some fun details.

This morning I pulled out of my driveway to head down the street to take Maggie to school, and at fist glance I saw my neighbor riding up the street on his bicycle. This was not unusual, he is usually out there finishing his morning bike ride when I leave to take Maggie to school.  Today, something about the look on his face made me do a double take and then I saw, there on his shoulder, was a parrot. I started going on about it to Maggie, "There's a BIRD on his shoulder! hahaha, isn't that funny? That is hilarious." Maggie, who is about to turn 13 just looked at me condescendingly and says, "Mom, that is not funny, it's weird."  I thought it was about the funniest thing I've seen in a long time, and then I remembered my own dad.

My dad always got some kind of regular exercise too. He jogged for a while, then his knees hurt, so he took up riding his bicycle, but the ten speed bike hurt his back bending over so far while riding. He then got the idea to put long upright handlebars of an old kids' bike onto the tall, skinny, sleek ten speed bike. It looked funny....not haha funny, but ODD funny.....embarrassing to preteen daughters type of funny. I was about Maggie's age at the time. These days, this would not be an odd sight, but in the '70's it was pretty weird. When I tried to inform him of this, he just laughed.  He liked his invention, he was always improving things by fiddling around with them. There was no stopping him. My dad was a nerd. I just made peace with it, even as a preteen daughter. (and I tried to stay off of the street at bike riding time)

One day he decided to take our dog for a bike ride...our poodle. He wired a metal milk crate to the back of the ten speed bicycle and put a little cushion in it and put the poodle, Muffin, into the crate. Off they went, a spectacle on wheels! He liked it... Muffin that is, (yes, Muffin was a boy dog with an embarrassingly sissy name)  so Dad would oblige him almost every day from then on with a bike ride, to the enjoyment of the whole neighborhood. He wasn't a spectacle to them, he just made them smile.

I only wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't want proof back then. Some things you are only fond of by way of memory. (especially when you're a preteen girl hiding in the basement while her dad takes the poodle on a ride through the neighborhood on an incredibly strange looking bicycle)

August 11, 2010

Flying Home

I got a new hard drive, so I am back online. There are a few more posts rattling around in my head about our trip and I wrote a couple on the way home in my spiral blog.

August 6, 2010:

We are waiting to take off in a jet out of Mozambique. As we sit here in the air conditioned plane, there is a stunning sunset out the western window. The sun looks huge and deep red....sinking down through a line of clouds, we watch it drop through and emerge from the bottom.  It's like the punctuation mark on the end of an epic, unforgettable  trip.

We just said our goodbyes to Charlie and Angie Lechner and their family. They are a missionary family in Maputo and we spent the night and a very fun day with them, breakfast at a cute coffee place, shopping at the town crafters' market, and lunch by the bay. I highly recommend making a layover in Maputo to stay at the Lechner B&B! Very fine people serving there....and now they are our friends.

The stewardess is telling us instructions over the speaker and it sounds like she is whispering a love poem to us. Charles was interpreting what she was saying, "Dear passengers....You are the most beautiful passengers we have ever seen. We will love serving you this evening, you lovely people." It makes us laugh until tears come. (When we landed and the stewardess started in with her sultry voice, Charles leaned over and interpreted again, "Dear John....leave this plane at once for you dirty rotten passengers.") Portuguese is a beautiful sounding language. It sounds like Spanish, French and Italian all mixed together. I will miss saying our most used Portuguese phrase, "Obrigada" which means "Thank you", because it sounds so nice if you can roll your r's and I can, so it's lovely to say. ;) Bon Dia means "good day" so we would say that as a greeting as we entered a village.  One morning John Dina offered Diana a cup of coffee and she sleepily said, "Bon dia" instead of Obrigada, so now we use them both interchangeably to razz her a bit. Although it really is a good day when it begins with someone offering you a cup of coffee.

We are in the air now, beginning our 31 hour trip home. Before we sleep again, we have an hour flight to Johannesburg, a five hour layover there, an 11 hour flight to London, another 5 hour layover, then a 9.5 hour flight home to Phoenix, where we hope to find our families waiting to hug our necks and take us home to our beds!

We're glad to be headed home, but it is a hard goodbye. We have deeply meaningful memories and insights from God now in Mozambique. Our hearts are full even through the lingering grief.  Just as the Bible passage that Michael gave to David in the Johannesburg airport on our way here, I think that God is causing a great joy to rise up in David and Diana's spirits as they come out of this journey.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
   you have loosed my sackcloth
   and clothed me with gladness...Psalm 30:11 

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
~Matt Redmon

August 5, 2010

A powwow and a barbecue

Today, Thursday, August 5th, we stayed around the Dina's home, but we were still busy. After a quick breakfast, some local pastors started arriving for a pastor's powwow. They met in the living room while Wanne, Diana, Earnesto and I worked in the kitchen and Earnesto outside, making vegetable/not beef soup for the pastors.

We got everything chopped and into the pot to stew, then got in the truck to buy fresh bread. On the way we stopped by the apartment where Jessica R and Sally will be living while they are in Quelimane for 2 years working with students. The landlord lives on one side of the duplex and the empty apartment is on the other. Since her husband had the keys with him and wasn't home, the landlady let us look at her home. It has the same floor plan on both sides. They are a family from India and really friendly. (Cheryl they are in good hands! She is a mom of 4 daughters and they are going to keep a close eye on the girls....maybe too close, but it won't hurt  It is a beautiful apartment and in the small backyard, they will have their own coconut and papaya trees! Pretty cool, Jessica!!!! The duplex is right across the street from the bakery where we bought bread and the local 'Walmart' which is called Pep....more like a Family Dollar Store, but it was fun calling it Walmart...I have to do word associations to remember sometimes.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig and we fed the hungry men. Then we visited, rested and used the computer while the pastors talked again....we were so glad we didn't have to be in there! Nothing but pastor talk, blah blah blah, all day! (we can say that since we are their wives) The report was that it was a good meeting though. A family who are good friends of the Dina's came by this afternoon also to talk to the Johnsons, as have several Mozambican families this week. Everyone is so comforting and speak with such love for their son. It is a huge thing to them that  we all came this far to visit.

We made a trip to do more errands with Wanne. I think trying to hold firm while going over the multitudes of potholes here really works the abs baby! Too bad we are eating so much to counteract it.  Wanne is a great cook and is always whipping something else out to feed us....such a good hostess. These errands were paying a bill at the car insurance place, then picking up some supplies at a place that reminded me of Walgreens....shampoo, cleaning supplies and a few food items. It smelled really good because of the detergents.  We have been given an abundance of bananas, so I was looking for something to make banana pudding and Diana found custard mix and a thin wafer cookie there so we got it. An adventure in translating measurements and we have a huge pudding to go with our barbecue for tonight. Everyone is outside cooking and talking so I will join them soon. I have to go and see what kinds of exotic things Wanne and John are cooking out there. Some of it will include coconut chicken, coconut shrimp, some kind of red meat that I think was reed buck, potato salad that Wanne made this afternoon and of course the puddin.

We are waiting for  a missionary family who is driving through Mozambique on their way to move to South Africa. The Dina's have known them for years, so it will be a nice reunion of them tonight.

Gaining understanding and perspective

Wednesday morning we began the day with Wanne's scrumptious coffee cake! It was my birthday and she made a special breakfast....she didn't even know coffee cake is one of my favorites. We headed out to a village just past the quelimane airport. The women's or youth's mission team went here to work when they were here.  The houses are more spread out and there is tall grass, mango trees and gardens everywhere, then a hut, then more vegetation, another hut and so a country village.

The church is large and made of mud, but another church building is almost built next to it. It is even more large and made of cement blocks. They make the blocks 2 at a time in molds kept by the stack of finished blocks in the current church.  Cash is scarce this year, as the rice harvest was so bad, so the tithes of cash were next to none and the building and making of blocks has come to a halt until more money is available.

The youth worship team here was amazing. I took a short video, but it will only give you a taste of what it was like. Drums, yambi's (long flat shakers), dancing and really loud, beautiful was contagious and inspiring. There was a woman with short curly hair who lead the singing, the band and also kept shooing and shushing the little children who all sat in one place together on a mat. We called her Jackie and children's leader. ;)  The youth here all knew Jeremiah, they worked with him in other areas and played competitively with him in soccer. One of the young men got up to read the Johnsons a 2 page letter about Jeremiah's legacy and their experiences with him. It was beautiful and full of love, but half way through he had to put it down and dash from the church. He was so overcome with emotion that he cried the rest of the time we were there. Sobrinho and John both tried to console him, but he was very broken up.

I think Diana and I came to a conclusion on why Jeremiah fit in so well here. Even at our church in Phoenix, Jeremiah was loved from preschoolers to senior adults. I told Diana that I remember when I would talk to Jeremiah, it was like he was fully engaged in the conversation, not just nodding and enduring a conversation with an adult. He always seemed genuinely interested in whoever he was talking to.....what a gift to give to people. We talked about how awkward it is to be here going to villages each day, not being able to communicate with the people and just smiling and nodding a lot, then you are exhausted from it. Jeremiah didn't do that. He engaged people, played with them, didn't let language or culture separate him from them. I think that was what the secret was, because we've heard the people from the villages, time after time,  give testimony on how he didn't stand alone, he was one of them. And I really think this was why they felt that. God equipped him just like they needed him to be. We are having amazing revelations  here.....things are coming together and understanding is taking place. Another amazing gift. I'm so glad we came.

We took the Dinas out to dinner in the evening. Eating out in Quelimane is a little adventurous and a little  scary. We went to the Quelimane Hotel and all was good, it was a very nice meal. I had something called escallope, which I was glad to find out was not an exotic animal, but something like chicken fried steak, salad and potatoes and rice. The restaurant is on the 7th floor and it has an outdoor balcony, so we stood out there for a while, looking at the city and the river front/bay area. Then we came home exhausted again to a birthday cake made by one of Wanne's missionary friends named Debbie, who is from Australia. So we had African chocolate birthday cake baked by an Aussie. Fun! (and yummy)

August 3, 2010

Orlando's church

Orlando's church is not as far away as the other villages, but the dirt roads here are washed out from unseasonal rains with deep ruts and 'pot holes' that are more like small ponds filled with muddy water.  Driving anywhere  is slow going and I want to say bumpy, but there's got to be a more descriptive jolting, body slamming or as if you were driving in a trampoline. Your body moves side to side and then back and forth. You discover body parts you never knew could jostle....or at least never felt before, like your liver and spleen. I know just where they are now and I also know it's best to not disturb them.  It's not just a drive, it's a workout. I am home while the others are out to another village. My back felt stiff when I went to bed and when it loosened up around 3 am, it did not go well. This morning I am sitting in the Dinas very pleasant living room with high ceiling, open windows and chiming clock. I have a heat producing gel pack between the couch and my back and 4 ibuprofen floating around in my bloodstream being nice to me.

Earnesto, the house helper, has been busily washing up breakfast dishes, sweeping floors and is now running errands. He speaks only Portuguese and I only English but it only took us 3 or 4 minutes to communicate and understand that he was going out to run an errand. He is so nice, always smiling and busy and he stays later than he is supposed to most of the time.  It looked like Wanne was fussing at him the other day and she explained that she was shooing him home. But I think he wants to be around the Johnsons too since he knew Jeremiah so well. They spent 3 long weeks here by themselves while the Dinas were gone last Spring and he loved Jeremiah. We learned this morning that Earnesto also helped with a new mission started recently here on the outskirts of Quelimane. He is not the pastor, but is a disciple and believer. The Dinas have a high respect for him.

I sure wish I knew some Portuguese to say some things to him. That is one of the most frustrating parts of being here for a short time, you cannot personally communicate with people and you want to. In every village, forging along down roads, in the shops in town, you can see so clearly that these people on the other side of the world are exactly the same as people in your own culture. Humanity is a common condition, with common habits, personalities and love of friends and family.

Yes, and now on with the story. We arrived in Orlando's village, called Machimano in the Madal region, to singing. Their songs have verses and choruses and they have their own musical score, although it is not written down as far as I know. Most of the songs are in Shwabo, which is not usually written. Where I was sitting was right in front of the drum section. Two young men were on big normal looking drums that fit between your knees and are beaten with open hands. The other man was on a drum that was small and stood up on a stick. He beat that with two thick drumsticks. And though the drum he played was small....about 10 inches was the loudest one. His arms went high into the air and came down with precision on that thing, beating a really enthusiastic rhythm for the singing. And all the time he played his little son, maybe a year old, sat at his side, never even blinking at the loudness or the wild arm swinging. He was almost an exact miniature of the drummer. Cute! At one point in the second song though, the people all just looked at him and the other drummer took the drumsticks and showed him how the song went. He tried again and another young man came up from the audience and took the drum and moved into that position to continue. He didn't look ashamed or embarrassed, he just scooted down the bench and clapped along. Later on after a few more songs, he silently went back and shoved the other guy out and continued playing.

As before the church members stood up and talked to the Johnsons about their son who they had come to know and love. Their admiration and honor of him really touched them. Juli McFadden said in one of her comments, "I knew God would show them amazing things that they would not know if they had not gone. (to Mozambique)" And He has. It has been amazing to hear it from the mouths of those who knew him here and see their love for him and how his influence is going on. They are so proud of how Jeremiah was letting God work through him. 

Jose from Madumwe was there and added his testimony (Orlando is working with the church in Madumwe and discipling Jose).  And Joao, a young man from Quelimane came with us this day. He works for SIL ministries and is college trained in Greek and Biblical studies, so he is helping translate parts of the Bible into Shwabo language for people to use in building up the churches there. Most people in these villages speak Shwabo and Portuguese, but Shwabo is their first language. He charged the church with this verse:

 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

 A few times when people here gave testimony John got very choked up and could not translate. Other times, he spoke too quietly for me to hear the translation, so maybe I will get some of those stories from him at a later time. But this service seemed to be especially meaningful for David and Diana. God is turning their sorrow into joy.....which reminds me of a story....

When we were having problems in Maputo airport, getting another flight to Quelimane, David and Charles met a man who worked there named Michael. Michael helped them with the changing of flights and would say things like "God bless you" or "God is good" and he was very kind and helpful. Then we saw Michael again at the boarding gate. This time he had a little extra time, so David and Charles talked to him more. They asked if he was a Christian (but they never told him the reason for their trip or anything about Jeremiah) and he was, so they told him they were pastors. At this, Michael looked up at them and said, "Oh! I have something for you!" He got out a slip of paper and wrote on one side 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Then he turned the paper over and wrote Psalm 30:11, just writing the references for the verses, not the whole verse. David said he knew what 1 Corinthians 10:13 said, but what was Psalm 30:11? Michael looked at him and quoted,

 You turned my wailing into dancing; 
       you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

How absolutely, astoundingly COOL is our God to send us Michael, the prophet to encourage them like that?  I'm telling you, this whole trip is full of little nuggets, but that one was huge.

One of the songs the people at Orlando's church sang was a simple chorus that talks about how there in no one like Jesus. I have looked and searched and there is no one like Jesus. They did motions of walking, of searching, of turning around to see, but there is no one they have found who is like Jesus.


August 2, 2010

Sunday in Africa

This morning we traveled a long way...on dirt roads, paved one lane highways, and a very nice 2 lane highway that even had shoulder on each side to a place called Sopinho, a Monigan village where the Zambezi River meets the Indian Ocean. This is the village Jeremiah and Sobrinho were traveling back from when their accident happened. Jeremiah and Sobrinho came here in February and Jeremiah started playing soccer and gathering a crowd, as was his part of the job, and Sobrinho the evangelist would preach when the game was done. This community of believers has grown since Jeremiah's death until today Jeremiah's father, David and Charles came and baptized 17 new believers. All new Christians and all came to know Christ because of Jeremiah opening the door to the community with his soccer ball.

They welcomed us with song as we got out of the truck and sang as we walked to the beach for the baptisms. I really want to add here that these African pastors, under John Dina's lead, really prepare the new Christians before baptism. They come each week and have classes and ask the people questions about their understanding  of the things they've learned. They fully realize the concept of salvation through Jesus' sacrifice and baptism being a public way of showing what's happened inside them. The new believers lined up 2 by 2 on the beach and walked in to Charles and David, where the pastors prayed for them and baptized them in the cold brown water of the Zambezi River, while all around them people washed things and brought in their fishing nets and boats. They came up from the water and were met with open arms and smiling faces to hug and kiss them, celebrating this public commitment.....very joyful!

It's not an easy commitment here. One man was a convert out of Islam. He even went to his Muslim leaders and turned in his hat and robe. They told him it would not go well for him, but so far there has not been a problem. He told the pastors that he used to live in constant worry that he was not doing enough  to be right with God--that he would not make it into heaven. But now, hearing the gospel and putting his faith in Christ, he is fully at peace with this new faith and his eternal destiny. The Holy Spirit and the confidence the Scriptures give has transcended culture and background. It is a real faith and affects all who give their lives to Him in similar ways.

When one of the pastors was talking about Jeremiah's death four women began sobbing and covered their faces with their capelanas. They deeply loved Jeremiah there, the foreigner who became one of them. (common phrase we heard over and over about him) One of the women had cooked many times for Jeremiah and that boy loved to eat, so she especially had a connection with him. She gave her life to Christ and is now trying to give up alcohol, which is an addiction for her. She was baptized today along with the others and is fully committed to this new church.

When Jeremiah didn't show up for his usual Tuesday visit, the women knew something was wrong. And when one of the African pastors came to tell them of his death, the women knew and were crying before he even told them. The church there grieved, but they told the African pastors that they were going to continue in the faith and go forward as a church. John was explaining the other day that a person who has died has a special honor and respect, more so than when they were alive. A light came on in my mind. I asked John if Jeremiah's death made the message he brought even more strong among these people and he just said, "Definitely!"

It also dawned on me this day that Jeremiah's playful spirit, which got him in trouble all his life, is what God used to gain acceptance, welcome and entrance in these villages. And because of his death, the message he brought here is stronger and more respected, more so than if he had just come, been loved and then gone home. Even though his life was a short 21 years and his work in Africa was a short 4 months, the reward and the fruit Jeremiah brings with him to the throne will speak for itself. "Well done, good and faithful servant."

It is all for Christ.

Jesus is worthy of our lives, our all.

He can use anyone who decides to obey.