Yalu

Os planos de Deus são muito mais altos do que os meus.

Ontem ia a passear com o meu amigo Isaac. No dia anterior, falei com ele sobre a conversa que tive com os guardas sobre a religião muçulmana em comparação à cristã. O diálogo entre nós naquela noite foi extenso, então saí dali com muitas histórias e dogma na cabeça. Estava um pouco aborrecido com a situação, confesso, mas reconhecia que valeu ontem.

Entretanto, falava com Hadassah e Isaac sobre as histórias que o guarda me disse, em parte para desabafar histórias confusas da minha mente e ouvir alguém a rir. Com certeza deixou-me com uma convicção sobre o meu compromisso à minha própria religião. Tinha falado também sobre a religião com um novo amigo meu, chama-se o Tiago, e aprendi sobre a origem da palavra religião. Em português fica muito mais óbvio do que inglês: ré-ligação. Religião é simplesmente a busca duma maneira para ré-ligar-nós com um poder mais alto. Ou seja, é a maneira de restaurar o nosso relacionamento com Deus.

Nós temos perdido esta conotação quase completamente e muito infelizmente.

Isaac e eu tínhamos chegado à nossa rua entre a zona do Palmarejo e o Baixo, mas parei para conversar com Yalu nas três palavras francesas que consigo dizer com uma fluência fingida. Ele é nem senegalês como alguns de vocês tivessem pensado, o Yalu é de Guiné-Bissau, e, portanto, um muçulmano. Então comecei a falar com ele sobre os meus pais, que saíram neste semana passada, e a nossa viagem. Disse que tinha falado com Buba e os guardas no sábado anterior e Yalu decidiu dizer-me que todas as religiões são quase iguais, então realmente não importa. Tinha ouvida a mesma ideia do guarda no dia sábado, então mergulhei na conversa com o Isaac a escutar e o debate pariu. Falamos sobre vários temas a tratar-se do Evangelho e quando ele tentei dizer algo para desvalorizar a divindade do Cristo, eu antecipei o ponto ele estava para discutir e trouxe as suas ideias à luz. Iluminado as contradições que tinha, estava a deixar-lhe sem respostas ou maneiras de fazer um argumento.

O Derek disse-me que é bom ter balas na arma. Sentia-me que enquanto a conversa com os guardas no sábado que estava a ficar com flechas ardentes no escudo, mas ontem, tirei-as para parar as ideias contra-evangélicas do Yalu.

Sentia-me mal também, porque achava que foi apenas outra situação em que fiquei sem progresso em evangelizar aqueles homens.

Claro que não é a verdade, por aquela situação, eu fiquei equipado para falar com Yalu na terça-feira seguinte.

Graças a Deus, e estou certo que não fui eu a falar. A conversa inteira foi no Crioulo, que fica mais difícil para mim do que o português. Começou em português, mas troquei para Crioulo quando mencionei os meus pais.

Realmente, começou no francês. Em apenas três palavrinhas que aprendi do Yalu. Deus fornece, às vezes sem nós a saber.

Disse para ele, faz um balanço. Os muçulmanos adoram as considerações das ideias e pecados, trabalho dos juizes, etc. Espero que ele já esteja a pensar em como os seus bens possam sobre-numerar as maldades, mas nunca as superam.

Que sigam na oração para os meus amigos, pela convicção do Espírito Santo no coração do Yalu.

⁃ Micah

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Week of March 5

Monday has been the break I needed (I wrote this yesterday). Getting to spend time with Isaac and Matthias over at Joseph’s house Sunday night was a great beginning for this week. God has provided me with friends who I hope to have for a lifetime. They are people with whom I have taught, fought, and grown so much. Today I am so grateful for having the opportunity to get a little sunburnt with my team at the beach and go grab a caramel milkshake afterwards. Sitting in the café, Tiago, a Brazilian missionary, and I chatted away, speaking polar opposite Portuguese dialects and talking about what it truly means to be an evangelical Christian missionary in Cabo Verde.

It’s tough, mas aquilo que vale não é sempre tão facil. I was chatting this past week with a group of guards (some friends who hang out near our leaders’ apartment). Our conversation shifted from the nuances of language and Porto’s most recent win to the differences between Islam and Christianity. My guard friends are primarily from Guinea-Bissau, and most of them are devout Muslims. One of them is especially zealous, and while I shared the gospel with them he shared various stories from the Koran. He was trying to get me to understand, just as hard as I wanted him to understand.

Bu sa ta pirsibi? Bu sa ta pirsibi kel kuza ki N ta fla-u?

Eu entendo sim, entendo-te.

He kept asking me in Kriol if I perceived what he said. He wanted me to internalize it, and in Portuguese I assured him I understood. I kept focus and listened to him, waiting for windows to start talking about the hope there is in Christ. In frustration he left me with one more thought, a thought to balance in my mind: How can Christianity be worth so much if it is so easy? Islam is difficult, just like mining diamonds or raising a son.

I could cry as I write this because he just wouldn’t perceive what Jesus and his sacrifice truly mean yet. It is not easy to be a Christian. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. No amount of prayer can get me to where I need to be. No amount of fasting can kill my desires enough to keep me from sinning. Accountability partner safety nets and daily quiet times will fall short of bringing me to perfection because I cannot keep from my sinful nature. That is why I need Jesus as my savior, and I have to make Jesus the one who calls the shots in my life.

But oh how I love to call the shots and get the glory from what I do. But God calls me to die to myself. My desires, my pride, and my ambition have to go away so that he might increase through my life. That is my goal, to glorify God, and to do so as completely committed. It’s easy to be a semi-devoted Christian, really easy, and that guard this past week pointed out to me that that kind of life is not worth much when considered and weighed. But, a devoted Christian, a Christian willing to take up their cross and humble themselves, one willing to teach the scriptures with authority and love that Jesus did…from my experience thus far, I can say it’s been the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.

Pray for Achada Mato, a zone here in Praia with a new church that I work in alongside Hadassah. Pray for our leaders: Txiku, Minga, Chondinho, and Ana. I am struggling to work with Hadassah and the leaders of AM humbly and effectively. I’m meditating on Micah 6:8. To do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with my God. Pray for the building up of church leaders in that community, and that the congregation, especially that recently converted believers, will be strengthened. Pray for Edson, Leida, Lite, Cynthia, and the rest of the youth group. For my team and our leaders Derek and Lauren, earnestly ask God to strengthen us, and to help us to not grow weary of doing good. That God would continue protecting us and grant us unity, and that we can serve him with all that we have through and beyond these next two powerful months. Acts 2:41-47. I serve a God who can make the deaf hear and the blind see. He can make the guards perceive. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict them.

Matthew 17:20 –  He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Ate o proximo,

Micah

Whatever Week Comes After Week 2

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So, here I am. Today marks exactly three months since I arrived in Cape Verde. It is incredible to think back as I sit here and realize that it has been just three months. I have done so many things, and I have learned so much. Even in my first two weeks here I could feel the immense growth in my understanding of what it means to live abroad and to be immersed in another culture.

But, I have not done a great job of sharing these things during the journey thus far. It’s so easy for me to say yes to what seems like a few things and quickly find my self overwhelmed with commitments. I take advantage of everything I can here, and I do so because I want to discover as I can about how I can be used in missions in the future. With this I often find myself pushing aside things that keep me linked to the States.

In my three months here I have been involving myself in a great number things and I have met countless individuals. Also, I have not just stayed in Praia (the capital city of Cape Verde in which I live). I have traveled to Cidade Velha, Ribon Egua, Tarrafal, Pedra Badejo, and São Martinho Pequeno just to name a few cities and zones. Some places I’ve seen as a tourist, studying the way Portugal has left a powerfully placed footprint on the history of this island or seeing how God himself has left his artistry in the crystalline water of white sand beaches. Most places have not been what people might consider postcard-worthy, but they are immensely more beautiful because of the relationships and ministries that God is forming. Take for Ribon Egua for example. It is a small zone in the rural interior of the island where I go with my church to evangelize and teach every Sunday evening. Ribon Egua is not just ruled by the rain (or lack thereof), but also human trafficking and other things that wreck havoc everywhere from the city to the most remote village shack. Still, every time I go to Ribon Egua I am amazed at the beauty of the countryside that lies behind the houses and the gentle, kind people who live inside them. I have seen this place at times through the eyes of a tourist, but I do not just want to settle for that. I want to see this place through the eyes of someone whose heart truly breaks for the people here. I want to invest all I can in this, not so that I can leave here just having had a great experience of an amazing learning opportunity, but so that God can be exalted. I would say that the main thing I have been learning here on mission is that everything I do has to be to honor God. I have to give my best because he gave his life for me so that I would have hope. I will share that hope, but I want to do that without my pride or my personal interests impeding his vision to reach every language, every nation, and every person.

That is why I have been so busy, because I feel urgency beginning to tighten its grip on me as I am approaching the end of the year. Here in Cape Verde the end of the year is such an intense time because people drink, party, and do things they normally would not dare during the other parts of the year. For me, the phrase “end of the year” stops in my throat and sticks as soon as I say the word “end.” Only five months left. Five months until the end. But, it’s not the end, it will just be a transition from one step upwards into another step upwards. I say this with hope that I take advantage of all that I can to here to help me when I go back to the States, and then when I go on to Guinea- Bissau, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Mozambique, or wherever God could lead me.

One of the things I am doing now is still asking questions nonstop trying to learn more Portuguese. Also, today at 4:30 pm I will finish my Creole course. Learning Portuguese and Creole have gone so well. Ridiculously well. So well that I can only give the credit to God. I praise him not only for the gift he gave me, but for the passion that he has given me to learn two of the most helpful things I can use to communicate with the hearts of people here and share the Gospel. I will have to tell you more in future posts about Portuguese and Creole and how infatuated I am with language.

My schedule the whole time have been here has been organized around a kindergarten program my team works with here that is called Pepe. Pepe has went from seeming like one of the hardest, most testing things I have ever done to being one of the most rewarding. I love all of the children, and I look forward to dedicated a post primarily to Pepe to let you all know how great it is. Other things I have been joining include ministries and service opportunities such as Cru at the Universidade de Cabo Verde, which is just like Campus Crusaders in the States. Almost every weekend I teach English at my church’s seminary in a zone called Sao Felipe. I also go to a house in one of my favorite zones called São Martinho Pequeno and I give Bible lessons with Ashlyn and our pastor to our friend Lucidio to disciple him and grow his house church. There are so many things here that I do both with my group and independently. Pepe, Cru, teaching English, planting house-churches, teaching Sunday school, and translating are just a few of the things that I want to dedicate future posts to so that I can explain more of the ins and outs of my experience with Cape Verde and Global Year.

But, my journey here is not all things to do and appointments to be on time for (which is lucky for me because I am rarely on time). I often just grab my bag and go the café nearby to study Portuguese, some bible lessons I might give later in the week, or simply to talk about highs and lows with my friends on the team and the friends I have made here in Cape Verde. God has continued to bless me here moment by moment, in every conversation I have. It is a great privilege because when I was in America that was how I felt God used me the most. Through simply forming relationships and investing in people.

God is maturing me in my faith and my relationships. He is showing me how I can alter my behavior to be a better influence and disciple others. The last 24 hours have been great for me because two of my friends here from Cape Verde, Emerson and Chris, got to come stay at my apartment with two of my friends here in Cape Verde, Isaac and Matthias. We played cards until 1 am and after breakfast this morning we went to the beach to swim in the cold, tranquil water. On the way to the beach, I saw a few people I have briefly met here and was able to chat with them like friends. I crave those kind of relationships and I pray that that way God uses me will continue.

That is also why my prayer is to keep this up. To focus on the relationships I have and invest in them, just as much the ones here as the ones I have in America.

Ate pronto,

Micah

 

(Photo credits – Matthias Sarrell)

Weeks 1 and 2

So much has happened over the past two weeks, but I want to keep this post relatively short just so I don’t take up too much time. God has been working in amazing ways, and I am happy to have been growing closer to him, my team, and the people of Cape Verde.

Orientation week started over two weeks ago, and it was the first time that I was able to connect with my team. We participated in a variety of activities, most of which were intended to build strength within our team. Everything from simple team-building games to a kayaking relay race gave us an taste of what it would feel like to be a member of the first Global Year team to be sent to Cape Verde.

Our flight left early in the morning on the Sunday after orientation and we flew to Boston for a long layover. The layover was spent with the family of one of our team members, Hadassah, and they showed us around Boston. After some good food and cannoli, we boarded our uncomfortably warm flight to the Azores, refueled, and headed on to Cape Verde.

Monday morning around 10 o’clock we arrived in Praia, snagged our bags, and headed to the home of our host missionaries, Derek and Lauren. Over the last few weeks they have organized activities to familiarize us with the city and its zones, as well as the language. Many people have helped me to make this transition, and I have made many friends here.

Portuguese has been coming along smoothly. To all the people who ever told me it sounds weird: you were so wrong. Portuguese is one of the most beautiful languages I have ever heard. To everyone who said it was so challenging: you were right. Thank God I have had great language instruction that also taught me how to teach myself (shoutout to Señor Plotts). After about a week here, I have had numerous conversations in Portuguese, and I am constantly learning new words and phrases.

Today, I began taking classes in Crioulo, the Portuguese pidgin that predominates speech among Cape Verdeans. Although Portuguese is the official language, not everyone speaks it. Portuguese is notoriously nuanced and difficult to master grammatically, where Crioulo follows almost no rules and has a constantly evolving, mixed vocabulary that borrows from several languages. I am so excited to learn the language in which the locals love each other, sing beautiful folk music, and compose their cultural identity.

This journey has already been chiseled away and rebuilt parts of my worldview. I can feel every day how my mind is changing, my heart is breaking, and my ego is crumbling under the overwhelming call that God has put on my life. My agenda has the potential to be questioned by him and altered to further his own plan. I constantly have to echo that He must increase and I must decrease.

Without the people I have met on the way, I know that I would not be able to achieve all I have over this past while. I’ve been so grateful for my team and the many ways that they have both encouraged and challenged me. I am especially grateful for the two young men who are in this adventure with me: Isaac and Matthias. Isaac encourages me with his love and encouragement, and even when he annoys me I know that I can trust he cares for my best. Matthias has a work ethic and passion for creating beautiful art that impresses me to no end, and he finds excitement and thrill in all he does. Above everything: they truly love Jesus.

Please pray for me to continue realizing God’s calling for me to disciple other people here in Cape Verde and for me to understand more about my own skills and talents. Pray for unity in my team, and patience and understanding on my part.

Ate em breve,

Micah

I’m funded!!!

Since May, I can only attribute the ways that my life has been changing and the way that miracles have been happening to God. This summer has brought about a lot of change for me. Leaving boarding school and saying “see you later” to a lot of my friends was when it first hit me that I am moving on to a new chapter in my life. September is bringing about a huge commitment, but it is also an amazing opportunity.

However, not until later this summer did I realized that God is truly calling me, pulling me, to Cape Verde. As of today, I know that I am fully funded for this journey! Friends and family have donated in abundance and I am so grateful for how God has blessed me through all of their generosity.

As you’re reading, you may be wondering why I keep attributing these things to God, and why I am not just grateful for how my these people have shown their love for me by giving. Honestly, the only thing I know to say is that I fully expected to have to take all of the money which I have earned waiting tables this summer to finance this mission. I would have been reliant on my own strength and abilities and through providing all of this money I fully believe that God is showing me that the path I am taking is the one for which he has called me and will continue to support me.

I believe that God is calling me to take risks, to trust that he will provide, and to believe the promise that all things will work together for good. Even in uncertainty, when I doubt that there is any plan and my ability to control outcomes is nonexistent, God has a plan for my life and he is already proving that.

All this is uncharacteristically optimistic of me, I will admit. But, right now I am holding onto this moment so that when this journey gets harder (and I have been told it will likely seem impossible at times) I can look back and see how God has provided.

To all my friends and family: thank you again for your generosity and support. Please keep me in your prayers as I prepare myself spiritually and continue to realize God’s calling for my life.

1 Corinthians 13

“…according to his purpose.”

I woke up yesterday thinking something like “all things work together for Christ and people who love God for good” or some jumbled up variation on the misquote that stuck in my brain. The past week has been rough. I turned in my Cape Verde mission commitment letter that said I was willing to agree to a small list of very big things for the next year of my life. A year that I am learning a little bit more about every day, but also still wondering at its mystery.

This trip a huge commitment for me, and it makes me nervous. I have talked about it a lot with my friends and family over the last couple of days, and I hate that a lot of those conversation have been clouded by my doubt and anxiety that is prone to attack my mind when I am worried about the future. Graduation is approaching, and I already miss the people I care for so much here at my boarding school, NCSSM. The last two years here have been formative, and I want to make the next month or so one that I will remember as the greatest time I spent with my friends in high school.

I am preparing for fundraising now, and I hope to have letters and other information out soon so that you can be a part of what God is working. Right now, more than anything, please pray for my finishing well here at school.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV

– MM

Intro

As a part of my gap year in Cape Verde, I hope to keep a blog updated about all I will be doing. So far, I know about three things for certain:

  • Cape Verde is off the northwest coast of Africa.
  • I will be doing evangelical missions.
  • I will be learning Portuguese.

I am very excited for this opportunity that God has put in my life, and I hope to share some of the amazing experiences from this journey with you all.

On a personal note, for my friends and everyone who has encouraged me to go on this mission to grow in my faith, become a better person, and learn so much about another culture, please keep me in your prayers. I would love to hear from you anytime (seriously, just contact me and I will find a way to get back to you).

Thank you again for all your support in the beginning of this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Até a próxima (until next time!)