Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life with the Raley's

Life here is always busy... I just wanted to take the time to update things over the last few weeks. I will warn you first that this is a LONG post but this is the only place I "journal" and I don't want to forget all that Lord is doing in our life. We would love to hear from you. Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement.

The last time I posted we were just getting ready to head into Mozambique. During the months that we do not have teams here on outreach, Mark goes into Mozambique for the Leader's Training. Now that the kids are both home schooled we will be able to go in with him on occasion for the leader training. It worked out for us to go in this time along with my parents who are here visiting. This was my mom and dad's first time to see Mozambique. This was also my mom's first time ever in a tent; good thing we stayed in Xicumbane, which I call the Hilton of Mozambique since it has a flushing toilet :)

We traveled in on Wednesday which was an experience in itself. We have had so much rain in Polokwane as well as Mozambique. Once we got into Mozambique the roads were not in good shape at all. There were so many parts with standing water so it made for a long, bumpy ride with the occasional instance where we were stuck and had to use the winch to get out. Overall it took us around 7 hours to get from the border to Xicumbane.

Road in Mozambique

Mark is using the winch and a tree to get us unstuck.

As we got close to Matsilele, William had to stop and discovered that his bumper and hitch (he was pulling the trailer) was almost off. So we hooked the trailer up to the Land Cruiser and Mark pulled it the rest of the way to Xicumbane. My parent's got to experience a lot of adventure on this drive in. William told Mark that he needed to stop in Matsilele at Pastor Robert's and let him know we had arrived and remind him about the training on Thursday. We drove on and of course the road between Matsilele and Xicumbane is always the worst part and because of all the rain we quickly got stuck. Mark was able to use the winch and a tree and get us out. We started to drive a little further and got stuck again. By that time William had caught back up with us and was able to pull us out. I was so proud of Mark. He did a great job driving and maneuvering through all of the mud. By the time we arrived in Xicumbane he was one tired man. But boy was it fun!

Fixing the bumper

When we arrived we quickly set up tents and got dinner ready, thanks to Sharyn for preparing chicken, potato salad and cole slaw! It was yummy and much needed after a long day of travels. At dinner William told us that when he stopped at Robert's he told them that the kids and I were with Mark as well as my parents. He found out that my friend, Cassilda, that I meet in 2003 was actually there and that Robert was going to arrange for her to be at his house on Saturday when we dropped off the orphan food. Of course this brought tears to my eyes I haven't seen her in 7 years. (I will explain more of the story later in this post)

Setting up tents in Mozambique.

It was very humid while we were there, but the good thing is we didn't get very much rain and we DID NOT see any snakes. This was something I was praying about. The last 2 months Mark went in they killed a snake. In February it was a black mamba and in March it was a cobra. So I praise the Lord for His protection and no snakes!

Snake killed in February

Snake killed in March

Mark and William along with our translators Derrick and Member had training on Thursday and Friday. Thursday morning after we had breakfast William lead a devotion with the leaders and we were able to attend that. William introduced us to the leaders and my parents were able to see what a teaching time is like. During the rest of the training the kids worked on school and then we went for walks until the guys were finished. They also played a few games. Every afternoon when Luke was finished with his school work, he would listen for someone at the well and then would run and help them pump water. Dad and I went to help one time. It is hard work for sure. Makes you think twice about your faucet at the house.

Mark teaching at the Leader's Training

Brit is working on school.

Luke is working on school.
My mom and dad in Mozambique

Brit and Grandmom and Pop Pop

Luke enjoying a walk with Grandmom and PopPop in Mozambique.

Playing a game of UNO

Luke is helping at the well.

Dad is helping at the well.

I enjoyed our time in Mozambique. I haven't been back since August when we took the last team in for an outreach. I love that the Lord has chosen our family to join Him in the work He is doing in Mozambique and South Africa. I can't wait until outreach time which starts the end of May. We will get to go in on 5 different outreaches.

Things are so green and the boabab trees are full of leaves. The Limpopo River is so full that people have to pay someone to take them across in a small boat. On Friday afternoon we went to the river to meet the leader from Ngala and give him the orphan food for the month.

Limpopo River by Xicumbani

Handing the orphan food to the leader from Ngala so he can take it across the river.

After we returned from the river the kids went with Willam, Derrick and Member to get wood for the fire. Mark and I walked with mom and dad down to the local Spaza shop. As we were walking past the school mom and dad were holding hands. All of a sudden several kids ran up and held hands with my parents and walked to the store (go figure the one time I didn't take my camera - so I ran back to the tent and grabbed it). When we got to the store mom stopped and played "caps" with the kids and dad went in and bought 40 pieces of sweets aka candy. As we walked back he enjoyed passing out candy to the kids. Of course he ran out of candy.

Mom playing with some kids outside the local store.

Dad is handing out some sweets (candy).

Mark and Dad in the Spaza shop.

Friday evening we had a nice braai and while we waited on the fire we enjoyed a watermelon that one of the leaders gave us.

Enjoying watermelon on a warm day in Mozambique.

getting the fire ready for the braai

checking on the meat

Saturday morning we got up early and loaded everything up and headed for the border. On the way we stopped at Pastor Robert's house in Matsilele to give him the food for the orphans. I was very excited to see Cassilda. Let me fill you in on the story with here...

Mark and I first went to Mozambique on an outreach with PaulAnn in October of 2003. This was our first ever foriegn mission trip. We had asked a few people to commit to pray for us as we prepared and as we were gone. One of my mom's good friends became a very faithful prayer partner. She sent us cards and emails encouraging us and praying for us. The night before we left she sent my mom an email and told her about a vision the Lord gave her and my mom forwarded it to me before we flew out. Here is what she said ... "The Lord spoke to me and told me that: 1st Alicia would meet a young mother with children that needed your help spiritually and emotionally. 2nd Mark you will minister to a very large (I think black) man who is very down and needs encouragement. You will both face many trails and major conflicts with Satan but the "blood of Jesus" you will have VICTORY." Well we both meet the people she spoke of in that email. The Lord created a connection with me and Cassilda. We were able to spend alot of time together on that outreach and I loved getting to hold her 3 week old baby girl. I remember the drive out of Mozambique wondering if we would ever return and if I would ever see her again.

July 2004 PaulAnn went back to Matsilele for another outreach but we did not feel that we were supposed to go on that one. Mark had an opportunity to travel to Guatamala for 2 weeks and work with Charlie and Pat Reynolds. I was able to send a letter and some pictures to Cassilda. When the team returned a friend of mine gave me a letter from her and pictures they took while there. It meant so much to me to see the photos and read her letter and see that she still thought about me too.

We returned to Mozambique in 2005 and every year since then. During those years the Lord began to call us to full time missions and specifically to work with Samaria Mission in Mozambique. In 2006 we took our kids with us and we were in Salani which is only about an hour drive away from Cassilda in Matsilele. My heart wanted to see her and have her meet our kids and tell her that we were praying about moving to Africa. The last night we were there the Hixon's and our family drove some supplies about 1/2 way to Matsilele for the cycle tour. I knew that if God wanted me to see her then she would be on the road. We arrived and dropped off the supplies and I remember looking out at the Limpopo river as the sun set and telling God that I was ok with it and trusting Him if I was to ever see her again. We headed back to camp and when we arrived Pastor Robert (her pastor) was there to greet our team. I couldn't believe it. I was able to ask him how she was and Mark suggested that I get Kenneth (one of our translators) to translate a letter from me for Pastor Robert to take back. We took a Poloroid picture of our family and sent it to her. My heart was so happy to send word to her.

The next 2 years we drove by her village on the way to other villages for outreaches and I always hoped to see her on the road and never did. When we moved here last June we found out the village we were going to for out first official outreach as staff with the mission was Matsilele. I couldn't believe that after all these years and now that we had moved here the Lord was taking us back to where it all began. I couldn't wait to get there and see her and tell her we live in South Africa. Well after camp was set and things were settled I was able to ask Pastor Robert about her and he said she was gone to Maputu to be with her mother who was sick. So I just came to peace with the fact that when God was ready for us to meet again we would. His perfect timing. At least I knew she still lived there and was healthy. Each month as Mark has gone in for Pastor Training he has always asked Pastor Robert about her.

When we stopped that Saturday at Pastor Robert's house and I saw her sitting on a mat waiting for us I was completely overwhelmed with God's grace and goodness in my life! What a sweet reunion. Member translated for us and we were able to visit for 20 minutes or so. Her little girl is now 7. She was with her and she got to meet my kids. She said she has the pictures I sent her hanging in her house and I told her I have several pictures of her in my house as well. I was able to tell her that we will be in Matsilele in June for 8 or 9 days. She told me that her mom died as well as 2 of her younger sisters. She brought us a watermelon and roasted peanuts. God's timing is perfect and the fact that he waited to let us meet again until the time my parent's were with us. Amazing times!!!

Me and Cassilda. This was taken in 2003.

I am introducing mom and the kids to Cassilda. What a sweet time.

Cassilda and her daughter who was just a three week old baby when I meet her.

Me and Cassilda - it has been 7 years since I have seen her.

We left Matsilele and headed for the border but we stopped at, Kudo's house, blind man, that the mission has provided food for each month for several years.

We also had to stop and leave the trailer in another village closer to the border and then Sean, Joseph and Gabriel would bring it out in a week when they were there for leader training. The roads out were a little better but as we got closer we did come across a man who was stuck. William was able to tow him out (backwards since his bumper was broken) We did managed to make it to the border without getting stuck. Mark did a good job driving even without much brakes. When we got to the border, William was able to fix the brakes "good enough" to get us through Kruger and home. They will get more attention at the end of the month when we spend 3 days working on vehicles. I say we but I guess I really mean the guys. I will help Sharyn with vehicle paperwork.

Headed to the border and we saw this couple stuck.

At the border working on the brakes.

After we left the border we told William, Derrick and Member bye and then we headed into Kruger so my parent's could expericnce it since we were there anyway. Mark took us to Crook's Corner which the kids and I had not seen yet. It was amazing. The river was flowing so high. Then we spent the day driving to Mopani lodge where we planned to stay 2 days. We ate dinner at Mopani Saturday and Sunday and had the best food! All day Sunday we drove throughout the park between Mopani and Shingwedzi. We were planning on driving home on Monday but my parent's were having a great time and wanted to stay one more night so we drove on down to Satara and spent the night there. On Tuesday we went on a morning drive and saw lions as well as lots of other animals.

Crooks Corner in Kruger Park. This is where the Limpopo River and the Luvuvhu River meet.


We came across this watering hole. There were around 25 to 30 elephants or so. It was fun to watch them play.

Then we made the trip home through the mountains. It is such a pretty drive.

Luke is checking out the view as we stopped for break on the drive home from Kruger.

The 15th was my mom's 60th birhtday. So when the kids finished school for the day we loaded up and took her for a surprise birthday. We drove her to The Ranch and went on a game drive and lion tour. The lions were amazing. They are in capativity and they are trained and used in films, documentaries and advertisements. We got a chance to drive really close to them and get some great photos and our tour guide told us lots of information about lions. To end the tour he took us over to the caged area and let us go in two at a time where there were 10 - 12 lion cubes from 8 months to 2 years old. We got to pet a lion! That was a great experience!!! We also got to see the lion that played "Aslan". He is 29 years old and has been in over 400 movies/documentaries and has flown all over the world to film. Then we stayed at the hotel and had a great buffet for dinner. We ate way too much then came home for cake and presents.


Mom and the lion

Dad and the lion


me and the lion. What a neat experience!

Brit petting the lion

Luke is not old enough to go in so we took his picture outside the fence.

This was one of the lions in the fenced area at The Ranch. Luke and another girl, who was smaller than he was, were not allowed in the fenced area. They told us that lions have an instinct to go for the smallest prey. You could see it in his eyes as he crouched down and walked over to the fence.

"Aslan" from Narnia. The guide is making him roar for us. He has a red mark on his nose because early in the month he was walking by the fence where the other lions are one got him on the nose.

Friday dad went with Mark, Sean, Gabriel and Gordon to Mashushu (in South Africa) to work on the foundation of a new church building. They had a good time and worked hard ... dad was sore for a few days!

Dad working in Mashushu

Mark and Sean at Mashushu

Two tired men after working all day in Mashushu.

This week we have been at home. Marks started another session in Seminary and the kids are busy with their home school. Mom has been a HUGE help with Luke and home schooling. I ordered a computer program for him to use and we had trouble getting it on my (dinosaur) computer. Dad and Mark worked on it for a few days and got it to work so he started it this week and mom is continuing to work with him. I think the retired teacher is enjoying it.

Our fence was finished while we were in Mozambique. We are so thankful that the Lord provided the funds for it. It feels better to know that we are fenced in and no one can climb over the half gate to get in the back yard or break a window into the kids room which are in the front. We praise Him for the security.

With the fence brought the 2 guys that we hired to build it. They showed up our house one day to give a quote for the fence. Mark did not know them and had not scheduled them to come by. We found out that someone else who gave a quote was too busy to take on the work so he called these guys and told them about the work and they came by. After meeting them and walking them around the house we found out that they can do pretty much anything when it comes to building. Their quote was the best price so we hired them to build the fence and we decided that if we were satisfied with their work we might could hire them to finish the hall bath which has been gutted for awhile.

Without the fence

After the fence

We have had them give us several quotes on things that need to be done around the house so we can start saving for them. All they are charging us for are materials at cost and labor. Well, we thought we would have them begin on the bathroom but we ended up having to start with the roof.

After we moved in and the rains started coming we soon realized that our roof has many major leaks. We have dealt with it for months and have a habit of moving a picture, moving Brit's desk and placing towels all around. We had one quote on it a few months ago and we have had some friends look at it but haven't been able to fix it. Honestly, it was just one of the many things that NEEDED to be fixed on the house. So we just take care of them as the Lord allows. Well, the guys finished the fence and looked at the roof and gave us a quote and really told us it needed to be done before anything else. So here we are and they began the work on Thursday.

Fixing the roof. Apparently the nails were never covered and almost all of them were popped up. So they hammered them back in and put this special membrane and paint on them.

You can see that the screws have popped up.

This is the old membrane that was pretty much rotten and cracked in places. This is actually white paint and not the correct paint that should have been used. The cement wall was cracked and water would drain down behind the membrane. Our entry wall and Brit's wall is the worst leak. The water just runs down it like a river.

One thing I know for sure is that this house was a gift from the Lord, an answer to prayer. We knew the house needed some work and we honestly didn't know the extent of it at the time. We will say that the Lord has provided for each thing that needed to be fixed and we trust Him to continue to provide. We thank Him for this house. Above all I thank Him for who He sends to us for the different projects. We have been able to welcome them into our home and get to know so many of them. These two men right now that are working on the house are very nice and we have had some GREAT conversations with the them about the Lord and one of them even came to our church service on Good Friday. The other man has told us that he feels the Lord calling him back to Him. Pray for us as we continue to build a relationship with them. Especially pray for Mark one of the men really enjoys visiting with him. My prayer is that this man will turn back to God.

The kids have been busy with sports as well. We are so thankful for the school they attended here for awhile. They have allowed our kids to still be involved in sports and compete on teams.

Luke at Hockey practice.

Brit is coaching the U9 boys soccer. She is doing a really good job.

Thanks for hanging in there to read all of this. It has been too long since I have had time to update and I don't want to forget all that the Lord has done. All praise and glory to Him!!!