Friday, February 24, 2012

Brad and Jen

Brad and Jennifer Salyer and their six boys are missionaries in Mozambique, Africa.  When they left the states almost nine years ago (I think?), it was at the urging of God alone and they literally sold off everything they couldn't bring with them and left for Capetown, South Africa without any real idea of where they would end up or what they would be doing and without knowing a single soul.  All they knew is that the Lord said, "Go.", so they went.  I am very proud to know them and have decided to begin sharing their monthly newsletters here.  This most recent newsletter has me very excited, and I strongly felt led to share their story with all of you.  I hope you will be inspired and encouraged, and your faith strengthened by all that God is doing through them in the middle of the African bush.

February 22, 2012

There's something you don't see everyday
I have been ministering in northern Mozambique for about six years and if you want to draw a crowd and produce impressive numbers just get a generator and loud speakers, show a film, give away food or show up with a lot of white faces. But any missionary can tell you, if all you have is the word of God, you will get a small handful (maybe), and they will be hard to keep. You are about to read what God did in a village called Ntola, and it is unprecedented in my personal experience in Africa. Only in the Phillipines in 1999 did I see God move like he did a couple of weeks ago in Ntola.

I almost missed it
Last month when we were returning from Lusaka, we passed through Ntola. As we were about to exit the village a group of men were motioning for us to stop. I had no intention of stopping. I was sure they wanted a ride or to ask me for money or yada, yada, yada and the list goes on and I was very exhausted and had no time for jokers. Ali said, “We should stop and see what they want.” Grudgingly I stopped. The spokesman for the group said, “We heard you were starting a church in Lusaka and we need one here.” I asked who told him about the church and he said it was the school teacher. It turns out that when we were entering Lusaka two days earlier, we passed a guy carrying a suit case walking toward Ntola. We stopped and spoke with him and found out he was the new school teacher. Well, he walked the 45 kilometers to Ntola and told everyone about us and that we would be passing through in a couple of days. Before we drove away from the group of men, the king over the area approached us, so we told him of our intention to begin a group of Jesus followers in the village, to which he responded, “I certainly can't forbid you from doing that here.” We left with a promise to return in about two weeks.

Watch the road, Brad
Fast forward about a week. We started our return trip to Ntola early on a Friday morning. It would take about 5-6 hours to get there and we wanted to arrive with time to minister the first day. I was very grateful that it had not rained for a few days and the trail through the bush was mostly dry. About 20 kilometers outside of Ntola we were descending a long hill into a dry river bed. Near the bottom there was a ravine cut by erosion on our left and a narrow ridge we had to stay on top of with an embankment on our right. Half way down I heard a bird call that I did not know and I began searching the trees to try to see it. (For those that don't know, I am an avid birder). Well, I drove off into the ravine and became quite stuck. Our left side tires were dangling over the deepest part. My four faithful African leaders got the shovels, machetes for cutting branches, and enxadas (hoes) and, in one hour dug, chopped and hacked our way out. I apologized profusely to them for being so stupid as to drive off into the hole. They were gracious.

Day One in Ntola
We got to Ntola at about 2:00pm and went straight to the king's hut. We brought him a shirt and pants and his wife about two meters of brightly colored cloth (called here locally a capulana). We set up our tent inside his bamboo fence and then set off for the other end of the village. We stopped near the grain mill shack and got out and started to sing some hymns in Makua-Meetto. About 30-40 adults gathered. Most of the people were still at their farm plot and would not return until near dark. I preached the gospel and then asked for a show of hands of who wanted to follow Jesus. One man stood up and looked around at the others and said, “We are all Muslims but we want to follow Jesus. It is the only reason we are here.” I asked, “Do you believe everything I told you about Jesus?” They all nodded yes. I told them that we would return to the same spot at about 5:30pm so they would have time to tell their friends and family that we were here with the word of God. I would have been surprised if all 30-40 returned at 5:30 but I was shocked when about 200 people were waiting when we returned. No films, no loud music, no soccer balls, no food giveaways, just the word of God. After preaching the gospel, almost the whole group indicated they wanted to follow Jesus.

Day Two in Ntola - Morning
We returned to the grain mill at 5:00am and were greeted by a large crowd who wanted to hear the word of God before they left for their farm plots. One of them was a shayhay in the mosque. Shayhay is a Muslim teacher & I don't know how to spell it! This man prayed to receive Christ and then was glued to us until we left Ntola two days later. He watched us pray for sick people. A short time later he was laying hands on the sick and praying in the Name of Jesus for them to be healed.

Day Two in Ntola - Evening
We spent part of our lunch time searching for clean and animal free water to use for baptism. Lions could be heard huffing in the night and the occasional hyena cackling, so a safe spot was needed. We found a suitable spot and got ready to return to the grain mill. As we left the king's hut some people asked why we were not preaching on “their” side of the village. Ntola is long and thin, about 2 kilometers long. I promised them that after our meeting on the “other” side we would return to preach to them. Again we were greeted by a large crowd with many sick people waiting for prayer. A young boy was brought to us by his father who told us he was deaf. My guys were ready to pray right then, but I told them to wait so we could assess the kid's hearing and confirm his condition. The boy's name was Paulo. If we spoke behind him in a normal voice, he would not respond. But if we shouted right behind his head he would respond. I was thinking his hearing was normal because my six sons are just like that!!!! Later when I related the story to Jen, she said that was exactly how I was! Enough of that. We prayed for Paulo and then Ali stood about two meters behind him and said his name in a normal voice. Paulo responded . I had Ali back up about another eight meters and again Paulo responded. The grain mill was running and the crowd was talking about Paulo and he still heard his name in a normal voice. His dad was elated and all the sick folk crowded in closer. We quickly prayed for the rest of the sick and told them we had to leave because there was a group waiting at the other end of the village. As a side note, there are no formulas for how to pray for the sick but I decided I would pray for Paulo like Jesus had done for a deaf person on one occasion. While my guys prayed eloquently, I just put my fingers in Paulo's ears and removed them over and over again while saying “Ephatha,” which means “be opened.” God was not impressed but I think He likes it when we imitate His Son.
When we got back to the king's hut a group of about 20 was waiting for us even though we were much later than we told them we would be. As I was preaching the gospel, my guys stopped me and said that a very old woman had been brought by her friends. This lady could not walk and was placed on the ground about five feet behind me to my right. So I stopped and asked the old woman if she believed Jesus could heal her. She said yes. So I told her, “Here is what we are going to do. We are going to pray for you in Jesus' Name and then we are going to lift you to your feet and you are going to start walking. Is that okay?” She said “yes.” We prayed and I took hold of one arm and Ali took the other and we lifted her up and began to more or less drag her along. Then she started to walk a bit and then a little better. I stopped and asked how she was doing. She said she could move her legs now but that it was painful. We started to walk again all the while I was praying for strength in her legs. We stopped again. “How are you doing?” “The pain is gone!” “Can you lift you legs?” (like marching) “Yes” and she did. “Can you jump?” She did! My guys started to dance and the old woman joined them. We had a praise party to be remembered. You will hear more about this woman in a minute.

Day Three in Ntola - Morning
When we arrived at the grain mill at 5:00am I told the people we were going to have a normal CPM church service so they could see how it worked so they could repeat it when we left. So we spent the morning very carefully explaining how to worship God in the CPM model. After that we headed to the king's house for lunch. After our lunch, the king sat down with us and had some questions about Jesus. He is a Muslim and a leader in the Mosque. He said that the Muslim teachers say that Jesus did not rise from the dead but that the disciples stole the body. Ali opened his Bible to Matt 28 and read the verses about the Pharisees and Sadducees paying the guards money to say the body was stolen by the disciples. The king, with a loud voice and great joy exclaimed, “Now my eyes have been opened and I see that Jesus is the Saviour.” Then he held up his Portuguese New Testament and the Makua-Meetto portions of scripture we gave him and said, “Now I have the word of God in a language I can understand and I don't have to pay the Muslim teachers money to tell my what the Koran says.” A big thanks to John Iseminger for his continued work on the Makua-Meetto translation. Seldom have I seen any Mozambican convert with such joy and evidence of salvation. The king then said he was going to preach the gospel in the mosque at the next meeting. I did not want to diminish his joy so I did not tell him that they would crucify him if he did.
Day Three in Ntola - Evening
That evening, we met at the corn mill and a lightning storm started and everyone ran for cover but us. So we drove in the rain back to the king's house and ate dinner. My guys ate until I thought for sure they would pop. After dinner we were in the bamboo cooking shack when I felt that the guys are supposed to sing. It was just a feeling in my gut. They laughed. I said, “No, I mean it! Sing!” So they began quietly and I said, “You must sing loud.” So then they start really singing at the top of their lungs. After about twenty minutes the king peeked in and asked, “Y'all have prayed for many people here and God has healed them. Why have you not prayed for my wife? Have you not seen her limping around here?” I felt terrible and said, “Well, let's pray for her right now.” When we left the cooking hut, there was a crowd waiting for us. Apparently, the Lord put it in my heart for them to sing to let the people know where we were. Some were saying they wanted to hear the gospel and others saying they wanted to be healed. I told them that they must wait until we have prayed for the king's wife. We prayed for the king's wife and immediately, SHE WAS WORSE. She went from walking with pain to can't hardly walk at all. I guess I don't have to tell you I don't like it when that happens, especially when so many others are being miraculously healed. I told her that many times after prayer for healing the devil will make things worse to shake your faith and make you let go of the hope of healing. About thirty minutes later the king's wife was up with the other ladies dancing and praising the Lord. Then the old woman who was healed the day before of lameness came in and walked up to us. Fidalgo asked if she was OK, and she said she worked with her husband all day at the farm plot and that she felt great. Then she said, “ I just came here to get some more!” Oh yes, we laid hands on that old woman again and commenced on some holy Ghost prayer!!!!! We preached, sang, danced and prayed for another two hours until we had no more strength. Then I blessed the people with the blessing of Moses from Numbers 6:24-26 (the LORD bless you and keep you and give you peace.......) and then told them to go home. After thirty minutes or so I peeked out of the cooking shack and some of the people were still there. I told the guys to be quiet so they might leave. Not being unkind, but the human body has an expiration date per day.

We tried to leave, but the Lord said no
Our intention was to leave Ntola at about seven in the morning so we could get home at a reasonable hour and so if we had car trouble we could make a plan before we got stuck in bush at night. We got up at 4:30am and started folding the tent and packing up. But at about 5:00am it started to rain so we quickly stashed our stuff in the cooking shack. Somewhere around 6:30 the rain began to lessen and the people began to fill the king's yard again. But this time they came right into the cooking shack. The first four were teenagers who said they wanted to hear the word of God. As we were sharing the gospel with them, six women came in and sat down. So while I continued with the teens, Aria began to minister to the women. Then a group of men come in and Fidalgo began to minister to them. Other groups were arriving and we were out of ministers. I told the teens to hang on one moment so I could go and find Ali. I found him in front of the king's hut with the king and his wife and a group of other adults. He asked what I needed and I told him we were swamped but to keep going and we would make a plan. After things somewhat calmed down, a woman who had just received Jesus said that her house was full of devils that torment her at night and would we please come and cast them out. I told Aria to handle it at the king's cookshack and Fidalgo and I went to kick some demon backside at the woman's house. That morning we ministered from 6:30 until 10:00 before we were able to leave Ntola.

Scary river crossing
The rain which held us up also put water in a river that was dry on day one when we arrived in Ntola. The ravine that I ran off into while bird watching was on the other side of the river and it was important that we exit the river at the right spot. I had one of my guys walk across to check the depth. It was almost mid-thigh deep and moving so fast he was almost washed away. Also, on our right was a deep hole that had water when we came in, we used it to wash or hands and shovels after digging out of the ditch I ran into bird watching. If the truck was washed away it would go into the hole. I took a vote and my guys said, “Drive into the river. We want to go home.” So they started to roll up their windows so they would not get splashed, but I said, “No, roll them down in case we go into the hole because water pressure would keep us from rolling the windows down and we would be trapped.” (Discovery Channel) Short prayer and in we went and exited at the exact right spot to miss the ravine!! A shout of praise went up in the truck. A few hours later we arrived home worn out but rejoicing in the grace of God. My plan is to return to Ntola in about ten days. Please pray for the king to keep the faith in face of the opposition that will most surely come. Pray also for the Holy Spirit to continue to move in Ntola and the surrounding region.

A Note From Jen
Well, once again I'm really pressed for time in preparing this newsletter to go out. And the internet connection is going a bit slowly. And I have to make breakfast and by the time I'm done wiping the after breakfast bottoms, it's back in the kitchen to prepare lunch!!! So we're doing the simple text thing, again. But I don't believe I can add anything on to Brad's testimony, except to say that I'll keep trying to fight the internet beast to catapult bradnjenministries into the 21st century of digital wonderment while he goes out and has the real fun!

Thanks for your prayers & the time you spent reading our stories. We really hope and pray that these stories of faith will encourage you today. They've really encouraged us.

Brad, Jen, Kanon, Gunnar, Magnum, Remington ,Colt and Warrior

Monday, February 20, 2012

"I Love..." Mondays: The Little Things

On the way home from dropping off Joshua this morning, I had my iPod on shuffle in the car.  I like a mixture of music so shuffling is usually my favorite way to listen, even though I always end up skipping about ten songs at a time before I settle on something I'm in the mood for.  Something I'm always in the mood for?  Adele.  So as Rolling in the Deep fills the car with that brilliant voice and contagious beat, I notice Caleb is really into it and doing his trademark "hand dance".  Just in case you're wondering, he does this thing where he dances with only his he's at an imaginary baby rave with invisible glow sticks.  Well, the song ends and the iPod moves onto the next song and all of a sudden I hear the start of a massive tantrum erupt out of the backseat.  I look back at Caleb and he is literally in tears, squalling, with his face red and splotchy.  There's no obvious cause for this fit so I take my best guess and put Rolling in the Deep back on.  He instantly gets quiet and starts again with the hand dance.  We only listened to Adele on the rest of the drive home.  In case there was any question before...this is definitely my kid.

This brings me to today's post.  It's the little things like this, laughing at my ridiculously dramatic child, that make this life of mine full.  I haven't done an "I Love..." in a while and as I was trying to decide what I wanted to share my love of, I thought of this post from my good, internet friend (she's awesome, by the way, y'all should all check her blog out).  So today is all about the little things in life that I love...including dancing toddlers.

  • I love that solid chocolate part at the bottom of an ice cream Drumstick.  I'm actually not sure it gets much better than that.
  • I love the days on the weekend that Bobby gets up with the boys and let's me sleep in.  Sleep is my favorite.
  • I love the times that the boys let me hold them on the couch and snuggle.  They're only this little for a short while, after all.
  • I love it when you get a peanut M&M with two peanuts in it.  It's like the Momma one had twins.
  • I love it when my husband cooks or helps me clean the kitchen.  He's a better cook than me anyway and the dishes, well...they've always been my arch-nemesis.
  • I love finding cards or pictures that I completely forgot about.  It ranks up there with finding money in the pockets of your jeans or jacket.
  • I love the first sip of an ice cold Coca-Cola.  I also miss it because I quit drinking them back in December.  
  • I love the look Caleb gets on his face when he gets really excited and happy or is trying to look cute because he knows he's in trouble.  He really is so cute I just want to squish him all the time.
  • I love kisses and hugs from my sweet Joshua boy.  He melts my heart to mush.
  • I love when I get to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee in the morning and wake up really slowly.
  • I love getting to watch Joshua do new things for the first time and feeling one step closer to his total recovery.
  • I love getting into bed at night when Bobby's already asleep and cuddling up next to him.  It's like when you have kids and they are crazy all day but the second they fall asleep they're the most precious thing you've ever seen.  No matter what that day has been like, when he's sleeping all I can think about is how blessed I am to be the girl that got him.
  • I love it when I think one of the boys has a dirty diaper, but then I check and it was just gas.
  • I love the way the house feels when I just finished cleaning.
  • I love watching Joshua begin to pay attention to Caleb and give him hugs.
  • I love baths in my big tub.
  • I love getting into bed with freshly cleaned sheets.
  • I love it when my husband randomly hugs or kisses me and how our best days are the ones we pick on each other a lot.
What are some of your favorite little things?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Everyday Update

{Insert obligatory acknowledgment of how long it's been since I've posted here}

I have an estimated four loads of laundry pleading with me through the laundry room door.  But it's rainy out and I'm trying to get over a busy weekend (fun busy, but busy), so I'm pretending I don't hear their muffled cries to be washed, dried and put away neatly.  Instead, (at least for the moment) I've opted to sit here watching The Price is Right with Caleb while he plays on my phone.  Watching him "talk" to the app is only slightly less hilarious than his squeals of delight and screaming jabber over the contestants spinning the giant wheel on the television.  Who can get anything done with this kind of entertainment?  

We haven't had much excitement around here lately, hence the lapse in blogging.  It's been pretty routine and I've been even more exhausted than normal when the end of the day rolls around.  Still, I'm going to try and give a little update on all of us for those of you who are interested.

Bobby:  Really awesome husband.  Really hard worker.  Really funny.  Really good-looking.  Nothing new here.  Except he's taking me on a fishing trip with another couple in May and I'm starting to get seriously excited.  We haven't been fishing in a couple of years and we haven't really ever taken this kind of trip together.  It's going to be a much needed break and a lot of fun.

Caleb:  Adorable.  Hilarious.  He's starting to say a few new words, and attempting to repeat things a little more, but I'm ready for him to really start talking where we can understand him.    He loves to dance and is getting to the age where we are having to start with the discipline.  He knows what he can and can't do, but doesn't seem to care much.  I'm convinced he thinks his cuteness means he can do whatever he wants.

Joshua:  As always he has some days that are better than others, but in general he's making a little progress at a time every day with his ABA therapy.  They are really staying on top of his programs, making sure that he is being challenged and given an incentive to work.  Friday he repeated one of the therapist's sounds into a microphone which is a really big deal for a couple of reasons.  For one, repeating or mimicking (sounds, words, or actions) has NEVER been something Joshua would do.  And also, it's the first step toward getting him to say words.  
His gut has been in really bad shape for a couple of months, so I would appreciate prayers for that from all of y'all who are praying people.  We have tried quite a few things, and just did another stool test to kind of help pinpoint the problem.  This is pretty important because he could really use some more chelation to detox him from the toxic metals in his body, but his gut needs to be in better condition before we can do another round.
He is still on a smoothie-only diet, since he refuses any food that is on the diet we are trying to keep him on.  So if you want a target for prayer, I would say his gut in general is the big one right now.  Most people don't know this, but the gut (stomach, bowels, intestines, etc.) has a lot to do with how well our brain functions.  I would love for Joshua to start eating food that is on this diet because it is easier for him to digest, but what would be even better is if his gut would begin to heal overall so that these food allergies wouldn't affect him any more, so then we have more options for what we can offer him.  
Despite all of this, he is still the sweetest, most precious little boy (tied with Caleb, of course).

Me: I'm good.  Still expecting a miracle, but still continuing to pray.  Still doing everything I can in the natural in the meantime, because if the miracle is going to come through modern therapy, then I want to be in position for that too.  Every day I am learning more and more about what faith really is, and how little of it I had before this happened.  And lately I've been thinking a lot more about standing firm on what I believe and not being moved by what other people may think about it.  I mentioned that I have a fault of caring too much about what other people think, and it is so true.  I analyze basically everything I write here, going over and over in my mind what people might think about it, especially because the internet gives people the platform to be more harsh than they would be in real life.  But I'm slowly becoming more comfortable in my own skin, and more comfortable with the fact that I can't please everyone, and not everyone is going to like me or agree with me.  At the end of the day, I want to be someone who really believes what she says she does, and lives accordingly. I want to be someone who points to Jesus and says, "I don't know much, but I know Him."  I want to be someone who loves without condition or preference, freely, and in a way that is foolishness to this world.  I want to be a supportive wife, and a mom that my boys are proud of.  I want to show mercy and compassion to people and learn to be more kind.  And I don't think any of that is something to be ashamed of so I'm a little confused by why I'm so intimidated to talk about it.  Human nature is truly an interesting thing.  
Ultimately, I'm trying to soak up every bit of life as it is right now.  If you knew the details of my life at the moment, you would probably think that was strange, but there is something about this, I can see myself looking back and wishing I had enjoyed the every day things more instead of just going through the motions to get to the next thing.  I'm trying to be consumed less with the routine (even though the routine is inescapable) and more tapped into the little things that make each day special, even if it's just something like giggling with the boys or being thankful for a husband that only wants to be with us at the end of the day....

SO YEAH...We're doing good over here :)