Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today is the Day of Salvation!

What an amazing day of worship!  We were invited to go to church in a village today about 45 minutes outside of Lilongwe.  A friend I met back in April when I visited here came by this past week, and he is the pastor of 6 churches in this village.  Today all 6 churches met together for a combined service.  We left our house at 9 this morning and didn't get back until 3 this afternoon!

 Our truck, provided by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, has 5 seats in it.  Our friend and his family, 5 more people, show up and say we are all going to fit into our truck.  The saying here holds true that there is always room for 1 more!  We are really glad they rode with us because they shared lots of information along the way about culture and places that we would drive past.

 We arrived at the church around 10 and there was already a large crowd there.  The deacons in the church met us at the truck and greeted us and carried our Bibles, diaper bag, chairs, etc.  We got seated and the pastor began to introduce us.  Some of this was in Chewa and some in English.  I am picking up bits and pieces and then realized that he said I would be bringing the message today!  He had mentioned this on the phone earlier in the week, but then I thought he was just joking or would have me stand and say something short.  I'm glad that I came prepared!

 The singing and music in the village was incredible.  Several choirs sang and they made some of the most unique instruments.  One guy made a guitar out of an old metal gas can that he shoved a piece of wood into and tied strings on.  Another guy made a steel guitar out of wood and used a glass medicine bottle to slide on the strings to make sound.  The sound from both of these instruments was unlike anything I have heard before. 

 During the singing I went over and asked the pastor how long I should preach for and he said 1 hour max.  I also asked if he would be translating and he said he would be.  I preached from Numbers 21:4-9.  The Holy Spirit was really moving and 5 people accepted Jesus Christ today!  Praise the Lord for new brothers and sisters!  One of those 5 people was the senior chief from the village.  This is really a big deal for the chief to make a decision like this.  He has requested a meeting with the pastor now to learn more about Jesus!  Please pray for this village and the churches to have a desire to reach others in the village.

 One of the church members prepared a meal for us at their home after the service.  It was very nice to spend more time with them and share a meal.  He made a comment that I will never forget.  He said they were so encouraged by us coming today and sharing because a lot of the times people forget about the villages and they need to hear about Jesus too. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Praise Him, Praise Him We Have Power!

So thankful that we have power right now!  The electricity at our house since moving in has been unreliable at best.  This last stretch we were out for 20+ hours.  We were so excited when it came back on!  It stayed on for about 2 hours and then went off again.  Thankfully it was only for about an hour.  Hopefully it stays on long enough to post this and fall asleep with a fan blowing on us!

Since the power has been off so much we bought a small 2 burner gas stove.  For some reason it seems the power is always off at meal time.  I got the stove top all put together and the gas hooked up this afternoon so dinner could be prepared.  I turned on the gas and found out the brand new gas bottle I just bought was empty!  So back to town I went and got it filled up and we enjoyed a nice dinner.

We began our language study today and it went really well.  We are using a new method of language learning and are excited to keep building on it.  Our language helper is really top notch and has taught language for the Peace Corps for many years.  Pray that our ears will hear and our tongues will be able to speak.  We can't wait to be able to communicate with the people here in their heart language and share the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.

The broken windows are all replaced in our house now but the screen saga continues.  Today was the 4th trip I have made to the shop to see if they are ready.  They are fixing 7 screens for us and we have 4 of them back now.  The other 3 were 'ready' according to them and I wish I could show you a picture of them!  One of them had a large hole they made while putting the new screen in and the other 2 were just about as bad.  I let the man know that this was not going to work and they were going to need to try again on those 3.  I am suppose to check back tomorrow to see when they might be ready again!

Monday, December 2, 2013

T.I.A. (This is Africa)!!!

It's hard to believe that we have been here approaching 2 weeks now.  This past Saturday we were able to move into our house!  That was a huge blessing to be able to unpack and get settled.  Thank you so much for giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program.  Due to your faithful giving we have a house, truck, fuel for the truck, insurance, schooling for our kids, and the list goes on and on!

The boys have loved moving into our house.  Our house helper lives on our property and has 2 kids (Gome and Vito).  They are both older than our boys but they love to play with them.  All Sunday afternoon they played basketball and watched a movie.  Kaleb introduced a Nintendo 3Ds to Gome!  He had never seen anything like that and loved it.  Kaleb said, "Dad, he didn't even care what game he played.  He just wanted to play it!"

Money is very interesting here.  The largest bill is equivalent to about $2.50 USD.  You must pay cash everywhere you go so it feels like you are constantly going to the ATM or exchanging money.  Erin made the comment today that it feels like we are playing Monopoly since we have to carry so much cash; unlike the board game this doesn't add up to much!

We had to replace 6 windows in the house today and several screens to keep the mosquitos out.  There is not a company to call and come out.  If you want the process to go somewhat quickly, not sure anything happens very quickly here :-), you must go down to the shop and bring someone back to your house to take dimensions.  Then, you take him back to the shop for them to draw up a quote.  After you go to the ATM and draw out enough money you then go back to the shop and pay.  Once you pay they will cut the glass.  After the glass is cut you bring the man back to your house to replace the windows.  He isn't finished as I'm writing this, but I'm sure I will take him either back to the shop or his house when he is finished.  Needless to say, this has been an all day project!  The cost to replace 6 windows here is about..............$60!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back in Africa!

We made it safely to Malawi last Thursday!  It was quite the journey, but the Lord placed people in our paths at just the right times to help with getting on and off planes.  We were warmly greeted at the airport in Johannesburg by old friends who helped transport us to the guesthouse for the night.  It was so great to see old friends and catch up even if it was for only a few hours.  The next morning we boarded the plane to Malawi and were again warmly greeted by our new co-workers.  It was such a blessing that customs at the Malawi airport allowed one co-worker to come back and assist with kids and luggage.  Between us and the other family that arrived we had quite the amount of luggage!

We are all finally sleeping through the night and feeling pretty comfortable navigating through the city.  Erin has been to several markets and is learning the best places to go for fruits, vegetables, etc.  We enjoyed worshipping Sunday at a church here in Lilongwe.  It is always such a blessing just to hear Africans worship.  I love to close my eyes and listen to the drums and their voices praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A big Thanksgiving feast will be celebrated on Thursday with families from Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.  We are very excited to see some friends we have not seen in a while as well as meet new friends.  Just in case you are wondering, there will not be turkey at the table.  Not to worry though, we have been hosted at 2 of our co-workers homes and their cooking is amazing!

We appreciate your prayers and emails.  It is always encouraging to hear from you.  Please continue to pray for our work permits to be approved soon. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Malawi Bound!

In less than 2 weeks we will be boarding the plane for Malawi!  Please pray that these last few days will be filled with great memories with family and friends.  Our time here in the States has been amazing.  We have thoroughly enjoyed being with family and reconnecting with friends.  Kody also had the opportunity to speak at several churches and share how the Lord is working in Africa.

These last few weeks can be stressful as well.  Trying to get all of our remaining belongings in 10 suitcases is tricky.  We have 8 of our 10 checked luggage already packed!  It's a good feeling to have most of the packing done so the last week here isn't quite so hectic.

Please pray for travel mercies for our family.  We will be on 4 different flights in 3 countries.  There is not a direct flight into Lilongwe from the States, but we are thrilled to get to overnight in Johannesburg and see many of our friends there!  We will be traveling with another family coming to Lilongwe and are very excited to be on this journey together.  They have 4 children close to our kids ages so that is a huge answer to prayer.

Pray for us as we prepare for our 'see ya later's' with friends and family.  This never gets any easier......we know that the Lord has called us to go and has given us much peace about that. but it's still difficult when you don't know when the next time you will see your loved ones.  Please pray for our family that the Lord will give them the strength to let us go and know that He will provide and protect us.

As we near the season of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, please begin asking how the Father would have you to give to support workers overseas.  Please take a moment and watch this video about the lostness we face every day and the great need for your financial support.  If you would like to support the work of our organization around the world by giving financially, please use this link.  Feel free to include "in honor of Kody and Erin Brandt" in the "tribute information" section.  This does not increase our salary; however, it does allow you to personalize your gift and our organization can more accurately understand who our partners are and the methods they use for giving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good-Bye Stuff



After months of acquiring the "stuff" we want to crate to Malawi, we finally said good-bye to it yesterday.  The movers arrived around noon to box up all of our belongings.  They technically arrived here a few hours before that, but encountered a bit of delay as the driver took too sharp of a turn and got stuck in the ditch at the bottom of my in-law's hill.  The highway patrol took care of keeping the traffic back since the truck blocked both lanes of the intersecting highway while we waited on the tow truck to arrive.  The moving truck pulled away around 6:30 last night and headed for Columbia, MO.  Our "stuff" will be transferred to the crates and stored there until we receive our work permit and land in country.  So long for now!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Travel Mercies

Kody is currently on the airplane headed to Johannesburg, South Africa, for a week of meetings.  He'll arrive tomorrow around 2 p.m. our time.  Please pray for safe, smooth flights and layovers as he heads overseas.  God reminded me this morning that praying for travel mercies shouldn't be taken lightly.

I dropped Kody off at the St. Louis airport and headed for my in-law's house in Dixon, MO.  In the minutes before I was about to travel through I-44 near Rolla, highway patrol was blocking off the Interstate because of flooding between Rolla and Jerome (my exit!).  I was detoured through the city and told I wouldn't be able to get to Dixon.  I phoned my mother-in-law who told me of a back way.  She then tried to take the back way to her church in Rolla not even 30 minutes after I went through and it had already been deemed impassable; she had to head back home.  I had a small window to get to Dixon and God guided me through!

Thank you for your continual prayers on our behalf!  You never know what each day will bring.

(And yes, pictures are coming soon.  I haven't forgotten!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Blog Facelift

Hi blog followers and prayer warriors!  As our family prepares to head back to Africa in two months, we've made a few tweaks to our blog.  We just had a photo shoot on Saturday, so you'll have to wait a few more days for new pictures.

In preparation for moving to Lilongwe, Malawi in September, we are busy purchasing things to crate amidst our hectic travel schedule for family visits, meetings, and speaking engagements.  We are cherishing every moment and memory being made during our time in the states.

Our family will continue to F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God)!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Farewells and Farewells.....

So hard to believe that we only have 5 nights left in South Africa.  The time has gone by so fast.  We have had 2 farewells in the past 2 days.  On Friday, Kody led his last session at the Soup Kitchen.  This past month he has gone through the book of Philippians.  The men have been very attentive and enjoyed hearing how Paul was able to be content and find joy regardless of his circumstances.  Joy comes through Jesus Christ alone and not from our circumstances.  The men came up individually to Kody at the end and said some very nice things.

We just returned tonight from the farewell at our church, Northmead Baptist Church.  It was so bittersweet.  We have made so many wonderful memories there and have seen God do amazing things.  To see the way that the youth have grown in their faith these past 2 years is priceless.  They each got up and read something that they had prepared and it was very touching.  It was an emotional evening.  One of the senior women in the church wrote a poem that we wanted to share:

Americans are odd folks; they live by a different code.
They 'speak funny' and they drive on the wrong side of the road.
It gets worse, they're also somewhat backward, the metric system not yet embraced.
We often wonder how they managed to put a man in space.
As for rugby and cricket!  That remains a mystery,
they are not part of their sporting history.
In spite of, or because of this, we hold you very dear.
We thank you Kody for your messages, they came through loud and clear.
It is a privilege and honor to have you in our midst.
Mere words cannot express how greatly you'll both be missed.
Bidding farewell is always tinged with pain,
But we have the glad assurance, that we will meet again.
God's timing is always perfect
He knew we had a need
For a person of your caliber to minister to the youth at Northmead.
So as we say farewell, we want you to know
Our thoughts and prayers go with you
As we prepare, to see you go.
Hamba Kahle! (Zulu for 'Go Well')  Tot Siens! (Afrikaans for 'Till We See You Again')
Ons het julle baie lief! (Afrikaans for 'We Love You Very Much') 
Ons sal julie nooit vergeet nie! (Afrikaans for 'We Shall Never Forget You')
We shall never forget our time here and the special people the Lord placed in our paths.  We love you all and will continue to keep you in our prayers!