Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saying goodbye...

Hello supporters! We just want to say again how much we appreciate your prayers. We believe this mission has been a huge success! We have been told by the pastors and staff here that we can't even fathom the effect we have had on the lives of all these children. This is so extremely exciting, I cannot put it into words! For many of us on the team, this is the realization of a lifelong dream.
As we travel back to the States tomorrow, a huge portion of my heart will remain here. I know I speak for the rest of the team when I say that we each have a huge investment in this place. Many of us are already talking about returning in the near future if it be the Lord's will.
Our hosts here have been amazing. They have driven us around, made food for us, and taken care of us very well. Today we were pleased to use some donation money from Solid Rock to bless the staff with some tools to make their jobs easier. We were able to purchase for them a microwave, a silver pot, a new toaster, and several other kitchen and household appliances. We are so in awe of the way they have denied themselves and taken care of us these past nineteen days. They will always be in our hearts and in our prayers.
Speaking of prayers, please pray that we will have a safe journey home. Our first flight leaves Harare at 1:15 pm local time (4:15 am Pacific) for Johannesburg, South Africa. Our second and longest flight leaves for Atlanta at 8:45 pm local time (11:45 am Pacific). We will be in the air for about 17 hours. Finally, we will leave Atlanta for PDX at 8:22 am Eastern time (5:22 am Pacific). We are expecting to arrive in Portland around 10:35 Pacific. If you could lift us up in prayer during this time we would be very glad.
Thanks again for your support. You have been essential to the success of the team. See you back in Oregon! In Christ, --AJBrady

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another VBS. Much Larger Scale!

Hey Solid Rockers, family, friends, and other blog followers! Regrettably, this is the first blog post in four days. I apologize for this. The internet has just been down quite a bit lately. I know you would all like to see pics too but I'm not sure when or if we will be able to get those on here. But here at least is another update...
So as I told you, the last VBS went great. That one took place last week and was attended by around 45 kids. This week God is throwing much more responsibility at us. We have close to three hundred kids and are expecting even more tomorrow! Instead of splitting the kids into three groups like we did last week, they are in nine groups. This means that each of us is in charge of three sessions (teachings, crafts, or games depending on the person) each day. Since the people at the Highfield Church over here want their youth to gain more experience in teaching and leading, we are doing a bit more delegating this week. For instance, I have been doing the first two teachings every day and then having my Zimbabwean assistant (Daniel, who also interprets for me) teach the third.
Just like last week, we are teaching on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. We taught about the first three seeds (falling on the path, the rocky soil, and among thorns) on Monday, Tuesday, and Today. Tomorrow we will talk about the seed that fell in good soil and give them kind of a recap. I am sure the kids have been very blessed this week. They've learned lots of new songs, stories, and scriptures. But they have blessed us far more. Tom and I were talking this morning about this. Tom pointed out how we came here expecting to bless them, only to be blessed by them. And it is so true. Working with these kids has been amazing for all of us. They are so joyful, especially considering their circumstances.
After VBS, the rest of our typical day is relatively free. On Monday, some of us used this time to go out to an area where there are lots of huge rocks perched atop one another. Picture Pride Rock from The Lion King. There is a very poor community of people living behing these rocks. Mikayla and Christiana were able to share with some children with Jephat as an interpreter. Evan, Becca, and I were allowed into the village where we met the community leader, handed out a lot of snacks, and practiced some Shona. We believe that God used us to plant seeds in that small community.
Yesterday's free time was spent partly at the market where we had a chance to find some souvenirs. Some of us even acquired intense bargaining skills! Then we spent today's free time driving through some wildlife parks. We saw lions, cheetahs (and bears, oh my!), wildebeast, and warthogs. Girikai and I even got to chase a small herd of wild zebras and catch it on film! As you can see, we have had a wild time! God has blessed us in so many ways on this trip!
In closing, I would like to list a few prayer requests. Number one is that God will do His will in us as we spend our last five days here. Second is that Glenn Miller is returning to the States tomorrow to undergo hip replacement surgery. Pray that he will heal quickly and that he would be a messenger of God to the nurses and surgeons in the hospital just as the apostle Paul evangelized Roman guards. Number three: pray that the remainder of VBS will run smoothly. It has run pretty well so far, but if I told you that it has been without a hitch, it would not be the truth. This week has had its share of trials. Just pray that God will go with us as we complete the week. The fourth request I would make is that you pray for our team's unity. God has put together a great team to do His work, but among any group of people there will likely be a few disagreements. Please pray against anything that Satan may send to cause disunity among us.
Thanks for reading and thanks again for praying for us! In Him, --AJBrady

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Short update....

Hey again. Just wanted to give you an update. God got us through a week of VBS and we are looking forward to the next one. As a kind of break this weekend, we stayed at a lodge in a game park. We saw many species of animals, went canoeing, and did a bunch of other fun stuff. Tomorrow we're going to Highfield Church where John Ross is preaching. Please lift him up in prayer. He is at this moment sitting across from me and working diligently on his sermon. Besides that, I would ask that you pray for VBS this coming week and pray against any spiritual attacks sent to hinder us from doing God's work and blessing these kids. Thank you so much. The entire team is grateful for the support back home. In Christ, --AJBrady

P.S.: We are going through the book of Philippians right now as a team. Feel free to follow along. Today we did chapter three up through verse eleven; tomorrow we are looking at the rest of the chapter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More goings on in Zim

Hello blogsters! I had planned on updating once every other day. But since now I know that there are those of you who check many times a day for updates, I will try to write every day.
Today's happenings included another session of VBS. The Lord again blessed it abundantly. What we have done with the lessons is we have split the Parable of the Sower into four teachings. The first was about the seed that fell on the path and was snatched up by birds. The second was the seed that fell on rocky soil and was scorched by the sun because it had no roots. The third, taught today, was about the seed that fell among thorns and were choked out by said thorns. Tomorrow (finally!) we will teach on the seeds that landed on good soil. This has been a very effective scripture to teach. We have been able to teach the kids to read the Word often (so that the devil does not snatch it away like the birds), to always have faith (so they have roots in the Lord and will not be scorched), and to follow this passage in Romans 12: "... do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds..." (so that they will not be choked out by cares of this world, as the plants were choked out by the thorns).
The kids have also been learning a new memory verse and a new song every day. I must tell you, teaching new songs over here is amazing. The Shona are a very musical culture, so they pick up songs extremely quickly. We have taught the children four songs now: "Praise Ye the Lord," King of Kings and Lord of Lords," "Be Excellent," and "I Can Do All Things." The latest of the four goes exactly as the memory verse for the day, Philippians 4:13. We taught them another song to go along with the theme for the week. So it is really five new songs they have learned if you include that one. The song is called "Sow, Sow, Sow the Word" (cum "Row, Row, Row Your Boat").
Another event of the day was visiting another children's home. This one was more rural than most of the other ones we visited. Very few of the children there spoke English. What better way for me to practice my Shona! While here, we did a small skit on the parable from VBS and Glenn Miller also shared a Gospel message. It was really a huge blessing to visit these children and know that we were making a real difference in the lives of the young and innocent. I'm sure you will see from pictures (if I ever manage to get them on here), that the kids are very enthusiastic to greet us, marvel at our cameras, and hear whatever we have to say. What an exciting opportunity to share Jesus with them in a very real way!
Apart from those things, today was made up of small tid-bits of interestingness (new word!). We browsed a marketplace a little. A few of us bought small things. Of course, being the only white people in town, all the vendors flocked to us (historically in Zimbabwe, as in most of Africa, the white people have always been the ones with the most money). I was wearing Converse basketball shoes. I must have had a dozen different offers to trade them. They love brand names here in Zim even more than we love them in America. I simply said that I will still need my shoes for awhile and that maybe I would trade them later. We left the market with more cultural knowledge and certainly some mild amusement. But not nearly the amusement I got from explaining American things to people who have not heard of them. Tonight I had the privilege of explaining drive-thru windows to Girakai, one of the workers at Hands of Hope. He said that one could make a lot of money in Zim by introducing it. He had never heard of any such thing. He was also quite amazed to hear that the tallest building in the world is almost one kilometer tall!
Ok guys, that's all I have for you today. God bless and thanks again for all of your prayers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Successful VBS!!!

Hey!!! Thanks again for your prayers! Just wanted to give another update on our progress in Zimbabwe...

         On Saturday, we sat in "The Upper Room" as a group and planned the whole VBS thing. We have now had two very successful days of VBS. It is still a work in progress, but praise God that we get to practice on a group of sixty for this week before putting on the VBS for three hundred next week! 

         Christiana and Sarah have been the organizers of everything. Their job is to make sure everything is running smoothly. The other nine of us work at different stations through which the kids rotate by age group. Julie, Becca, and Mikayla run the Arts and Crafts station. They have been quite creative with that. Tom, Abby, and Evan run the Games station. They have played many games and, so far, no kids have been injured. John, Tim, and myself run the Teaching station where we teach the Word. Side note: I have had tons of fun preaching and teaching through an interpreter. I'm really not sure what is so cool about it. It's hard to explain really. Try it sometime!

         The theme for this week is the Parable of the Sower. We always open up the day with an assembly of all age groups. There, we sing songs, read the memory verse for the day, and read the parable. We then dismiss them to their various stations.

         The kids have responded very well to the entire structure of the VBS, praise God! We have been able to work together and mesh very well as a team. It has been such a huge blessing. This has reminded me of the passage in Romans 12 which says that we as a church are all members of one another. Each one has his or her own gift that God has bestowed upon them. And there has been absolutely no shortage of gifts given to us on this trip. We will continue to chase after Jesus and His will with total confidence that He will do more amazing works through us.

         Thanks for reading and continuing to pray for us! We appreciate it more than I can even tell you! God bless you all! Oh and.... please comment so I know you are reading.   --AJBrady

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mhoroi from Zimbabwe!!!

Two of the world's busiest airports. Hartsfield International in Atlanta. And now O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg. Except... the Jo'burg airport is not so busy at present. This may have something to do with the fact that it is 2:43 am local time. See, the plan was to board a South African Airlines flight to Harare, Zimbabwe at 7:40 last night. The one problemo is that S.A.A. overbooked our flight. So here we are, the nine of us sprawled out on the tile floor of a very deserted (but normally bustling) Johannesburg Airport. 
A.J.Brady, August 7th, 2009: Johannesburg, South Africa

Fortunately, I am now able to report that we made it safely to Zimbabwe. Instead of the South African Airways, we eventually boarded an Air Zimbabwe flight. We've been in Zim for two and a half days now. We have seen many many many amazing things happen in such a short time. God has had His hand in everything. 
The very first thing we did when we arrived was an exercise that Glenn likes to call "To the Streets." This game involves being dropped off in the very center of Harare and answering questions from a sheet of paper provided by Glenn. Very similar to a scavenger hunt. By the time we were finished with this exercise, we were good and exhausted (as if the nine-hour time change wasn't enough!). We all hit the sack.
Day two: We visited five homes, including the two Philadelphia homes supported by Solid Rock. These were absolutely amazing. It was great to see firsthand what Solid Rock is doing 15,000 kilometers away. One of the highlights of the day was when Christiana was able to assist one of the caretakers with physical therapy for a traumatized toddler who is still unable to crawl. This was clearly a huge blessing. After visiting the homes, we returned to the Hillside home where we are staying and made plans for the VBS we are putting on next week and the week after.
Finally, today we visited the thousand-acre farm. We attending a really cool church service there. We were blessed and very impressed by the happiness of all in attendance. They sang; they danced; they shouted for Jesus. Evan played a few songs on the guitar. I was able to preach a sermon for the very first time in my life. The team put on a skit and led the congregation in "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." An amazing story about the message the Lord gave me this morning is that, unbeknownst to me, there was a poster nearby with the very same scripture that I shared from: The Great Commission. Praise God for His amazing hand in everything!
On behalf of the entire team, I would like to thank all of you for your prayers. They are much appreciated. I promise pictures next post! Rarai zvakanaka! Good night!   --Andrew Brady

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Hey Portland Slumdogs!
Jess and Ash here... Quick recap about yesterday's happenings. Started the morning off taking care of the kids, getting them ready for the day, and no big deal... there was a pleasant poop surprise under one of our little ladies' dress.

We were able to draw pictures with the kids, help them with writing, and played a few hand games.

Some of the ladies spent the day cooking an "American meal" for the team and Irene and Roshan. Some others spent part of the afternoon finishing up last minute details for our sarees.
The rain has been coming down really hard and the boys spent the day fixing the holes in the roof. After a long, but fun afternoon, we came home to a fresh, home-made meal: mango salsa, guacamole, and vegetable salad. The beef for the tacos was so fresh that apparently it was slaughtered 15 minutes before we purchased it..?

Later that night, after cleaning and helping around, us ladies were able to play dress up! It felt like Prom night all over again... India style.... We got the opportunity to feed the kids in our sarees. They were so excited to see us dressed up, they were screaming "Supaaaa!" and applauding us.

It's beginning to be more and more of a struggle to tuck the kids in bed and say goodnight to them as we've grown closer to them each day. The concept of time has completely escaped us, and it still hasn't hit us that we're leaving them Saturday... These beautiful kids have become our teachers... We came here to bless them, but more often than not, we feel as though we've been blessed. We try and serve them, but they insist on serving us. We have all learned so much from these kids. All the things we worry about on a daily basis seem so trivial as this place: Happy Home, has been a place of provision and God's grace.

There's so much more we have to share with you all when we get home. Thank you for your prayers. We are all healthy and we look forward to this next week to see what else God has for us.

His therefore yours,
Ashley and Jess.

ps the picutures