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36 Hours – From the Editor

I’ll get to the first point of the title in a bit. The second part simply means, this is Matt.

Kelly recently joked, but seriously, about making some sense of our relationship after “almost ten years of marriage”. Life will teach you some things, if you are participating. Kelly and I have a cycle we work with. She tends to get pretty worked up (positive or negative) pretty quickly about an issue. I will calm her down and assure her things will work out. From that point, I will work very hard to make sure things will work out. Most of the time things will not quite work out, and in my despair Kelly will assure me that there is a purpose. After that I will rebound, and the whole cycle keeps going. I’ve had serious regrets about things not working out completely. Now I think a real conclusion might be too much to ask many times.

I want to thank everyone for their support. I’m sure many reading this support us both financially and spiritually. We both wish we could do a better job letting everyone know what it means to us to be fully supported by those who not only believe in Neema House, but also believing the we can manage this whole situation. Michael and Dorris just returned to the United States. Honestly, I’m jealous. Nothing I deal with is normal. I never get to say “Hi” and have someone say “Hi” back. In Tanzanian Swahili you first greet a person with a typical Swahili greeting, and after they respond, they will greet you again with “the greeting of the month”. The second greeting ranges from funny to straight up Davy Jones dragging you down to his locker. By this I mean that it is incomprehensible. It’s really a game of who’s in or out. Sometimes I can laugh it off. Other times it ruins my day. From there you have to answer questions about how your house is, how your kids are, and how your wife is. The way this it is asked will depend on if the asker is from Meru, Kilimanjaro, city Masai, or tribal Masai. Naturally, I must respond differently to each. This may seem trivial, but after 9 months I still don’t know how to respond to each one. This is only part of it.

In 36 hours we will be returning from a Masai Village where we have saved the lives of 4 babies and an abandoned mother of twins. We are taking out two babies to visit their extended family, and also taking out the mother minus her twins. They simply will not survive, let alone thrive in a remote village. The mother and her older children will be given clothing and food to help with the situation of the father running out. Backing up to when I went out to pick up the mother and her babies; I was told about a cave where there were ancient paintings. There wasn’t much time, and it didn’t seem appropriate to visit this site at that time. I told our village contact that I wanted to visit the cave this time out. He informed me that I will have to pay someone from the village to takes us there. You may not perceive anything significant about this… but it broke me. I really have to pay to see the backyard at this point?!?! I have no doubt about your gratefulness, but I need something more in this situation. Life in Arusha is nothing but giving. It’s not only the people I’m working with who are constantly asking, but perfect strangers who literally say “give me money”. It’s not really the fault of this village that I am where I am personally. But truth be told, I am where I am. Whether you pray for grace for me or mercy for village, it is appreciated. I don’t have a specific desire, but I am up at 3 a.m. to pour out my heart. Whatever Yahweh has for me, I need it soon. I could really use some tangible thankfulness here. I could use a day off of giving. I could use a day of rest.

“Reveal Your work to your Your servants, and Your splendor to their children. And let the pleasantness of Yahweh our Elohim be upon us, and confirm the work of our hands for us; O confirm the work of our hands!”

– Psalms 90:16-17

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April Weems
09/15/2014 at 7:56 pm

Oh Matt! Kelly has said so many times how wonderful you have been and what a rock you are for her. This is so hard for you. I wish I knew what to tell you to comfort you. All I know is that God chose you and Kelly for a reason. You have exactly what He wants right where He has you. You and Kelly were bold enough to step out and obey His call. He confirms the work of your hands each day in the beautiful, healthy smiles of those precious babies you have saved. It is normal and okay to feel discouraged at times. Just remember: God’s got your back. When you stumble He will lift you up. That is His promise. I love you and Kelly and the girls very much and am thankful for your hard work and dedication to those babies, the nannies, and the families you help each day. I pray that God fill you with what you need and give you His strength to meet the challenges He allows to be set before you. You can do this and do it well or God would not have sent you. It takes time. All good things take time.

09/15/2014 at 8:03 pm

To Matt and Kelly both: your family has been gone from home and family and friends for 9 months. We were first amazed when you both not only heard a call to Tanzania, but fully responded. Fully. Not many hear and fewer respond with “Here am I, send me.” Then we have marveled at the patience and perseverance and skill and tenderness with which you both have handled literal life and death situations on a regular basis. You both have been so strong for your girls, for the nannies and staff, for the Fortsons, for the steady flow of volunteers of all ilk, and for many otherwise hopeless babies and their families. You have every right to be weary, Matt. I am weary for you. We saw first hand the constant barrage of needs and few to shoulder the responsibilities. I know you know there are many people praying for your family and for the success of Neema House – much is invested there and much is to be gained. I have prayed that God will wrap you both in a blanket of peace and a sense of “It is enough.” Whatever you are able to do – it is enough. It is more than would have been done without you. And if conversations are impolitely cut short or paperwork isn’t done on time or repairs don’t get finished or blogs don’t get written – what you both are doing is enough to further God’s work and show His love where it is sorely needed. And I pray for other leaders to find Neema House and be called to share in your work. Kelly is right – there is a purpose and all things do work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I pray you can find clarity and completeness and rest.

Kevin Huddleston
09/15/2014 at 9:53 pm

I’ve always observed that you were a man of few words. But when you speak it’s hard to ignore because it is always packed with truths. I hear your angst and can only imagine how difficult it must often feel to carry on in such a difficult environment. Life in Africa…how do you adjust? Make it fit? I pray for you to have peace and patience as you guys carry on this good work. I hope to see you soon. Be strong…go lift some weights and yell at the moon!

09/15/2014 at 10:48 pm

First, we miss you guys. A lot.
Secondly, thanks for the transparency. It’s refreshing.
Thirdly, take your day off. Take a dew. We are not given, but commanded a sabbath. Rest. You cannot out-give Yahweh. He waits on high to pour out on you His chosen and precious ones. He sees your exhaustion, your weariness, the places you are worn. He who keeps you does not slumber (psalm 121:3) but He does give you rest (Psalm 127:2). Take your rest.
Fourthly, we are there with you and will be praying for you. We are exhausted too. We are stretched thin. It does make us lean heavily on Him. And it certainly makes us long for home. We also see our depravity very clearly in our tiredness. Let Him be enough for you. As Zoe said, it is enough, He is also enough.

We were told, going into church planting, “it’s not glamorous!” I think the same can be said of mission work. We have a starry-eyed gaze of going into the mission field. But it’s not elegant and heroic in the trenches, but sweaty, messy, intense hard-work. With little reprieve. But I can see from Kelly’s posts what God is doing in and through you. Do not be dismayed! You are the broken vessel He is shining through.

We love you.

We will be praying for fresh out-pouring a of strength and faith and joy and REST!

Jason Clark
09/15/2014 at 10:56 pm


Hey brother we have not met yet, but I can feel your pain and struggle. I just want you to know you are not alone in feeling this way I feel it also. I want you also to know Jesus himself got to this point at times as seen in different parts of the gospels. The answer to this whole thing is, it’s not about us, it’s about glorifying God and serving him in his kingdom. You are not in Africa for you I could think of thousands of places that would be a lot safer and nicer for you and your family, but guess what this is where God has called you. Life, you think was a lot easier when you had God in a box for Wednesdays and Sundays, guess what I have found out, it isn’t until you stepped out of that box to truly follow that you actually start living. Brother I am praying for you that God will show you a glimpse of the beauty he has in store for you and your family.Your doing, and that’s all we are asked keep doing and keep loving those around without agendas, just love.
Keep Smiling,

Judy Coneby
09/15/2014 at 11:28 pm

Matt…much love and prayers for you as you lead your family through the calling The Lord put on your hearts! May you know and feel His gratefulness for your service. Many lives are touched by your every day routines. Most will not be vocalized until eternity! I am reminded of another missionary friend in Haiti who felt the same way…wishing she could know if what she was doing was even appreciated. The Lord answered her prayer, and He will answer yours/ours as we pray for you! Big Hugs from Uncle Keith and me-now from North Georgia! We look forwRd to coming and visiting you as soon as we get things settled on this end! Thanks for sharing your heart and remember that if you need anything at all that we can help with….do not hesitate to let us know!

09/16/2014 at 8:12 am

May God provide peace and comfort as He fills your heart with His Spirit of joy. You are doing His work, and you are doing it to bring glory to Him, to serve those in desperate need, and for those of us who could not or have not made the journey that you have made. Thank you for doing what we cannot do, for serving those we cannot serve, for sacrificing in ways we cannot imagine. You are doing kingdom work. For that opportunity I am grateful. Your struggle is real, but your God is powerful to meet your needs. Peace brother.

Steve &Ann
09/16/2014 at 8:22 am

Dear Matt, You do not know us but we know your parents. Steve and I are in the Philippines and feel exactly the same way that you do. You are not alone. We will pray for you.

09/16/2014 at 10:43 pm

This is my long-distance hug.

09/18/2014 at 5:10 pm

I understand, brother. Peace and rest to you.

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