I have had a major case of writers block!!! I have several topics swirling in my head that I would love to share on this blog, but nothing is coming out like I want it to, so I have been putting off writing all together. Yesterday I was with another missionary friend and we were talking about writing newsletters and blogs. Because that is what missionaries talk about, when they get together. She shared her technique, which was to just pick several areas of life and write two sentences on each topic. I thought that was brilliant and am totally going to steal her technique (although I am way too wordy to stick to two sentences)….so here goes:
Things at Neema Village are going very well. We opened the new volunteer house and have had a very busy start to 2017. By the end of March we will have had 35 volunteers come and go. In 2016 we had a total of 78 volunteers, so we are well on track to significantly exceed that number.
This year one of our main focus points is family reintegration. That means getting the kids living at Neema House back with their families. This is an effort that we have been working on for a while and are now seeing the fruit. We have had six kids go back home with their families so far this year, with many more in the works. I think this is one of the most exciting things that we do here at Neema. It takes a lot of planning and work before the transition and then we do a year’s worth of follow up to ensure that the child is integrating well. I love the planning process with our social work team, because it gives us a chance to use Neema Houses resources to empower and support the families of our children. The end product of this effort is that the whole family is benefited by their child’s stay at Neema House. Most of the time when a child goes home it is either because their father has remarried or they go to live with an aunt or grandmother.
Matt has had a very productive start to this year. Sarah, our accountant, came to Tanzania for a two week visit. During this time she and Matt spent hours and hours revamping the accounting system that we use on this side of the world to fit with the accounting system in the States. It was complicated and frustrating, but in the end they have developed a system that should satisfy even the most grouchy IRS auditor. Other big news is that we have welcomed the Striclyn family as part of our team. Jonathan and Whitney and their three kids arrived a few days ago. We are excited to add much needed members to our team, as the ministries of Neema House have definitely expanded past what Matt and I can make thrive. We are praying that the Striclyns will be able to settle in well, and that we will grow together as a ministry team.
The girls have loved having all the visitors come to Neema Village. They especially like when people come back who they remember from previous visits. We have been especially blessed to have Maxine from our home church The Vine come for an extended time. Maxine has been such an encouragement to us. She has also done a great job of taking pictures of the girls every time they are around, which has been great for the grandparents. Matt and I were able to attend a missionary support weekend at the base of another organization. It was a great time to recharge and deepen connections with those in the area. The conference was two days of intense sessions designed to help us to realign our focus and rest in Jesus. I cannot even begin to put words to how refreshing this weekend was for both Matt and me. We were able to address some of the unhealthy areas in our life and ministry and get refocused on drawing strength from the True source. One of the best things to hear was that almost everyone was struggling with the same things. It is good to know you are not alone!
We are coming to the States!!!!!! We purchased our tickets and will be arriving in Houston on May 29th. We will be staying for three whole months. We could not be more excited and May cannot come fast enough. It will have been 2.5 years since our list visit. Right now our plan is to spend 4-5 weeks in Texas, a few weeks in Colorado, 4-5 weeks in South Dakota, a couple of weeks in California and a quick trip to Ohio. We are hoping to connect with as many people as possible. We have several speaking events in the works, but would love to hear from anyone who might want us to come and speak at their group or church. Unlike our last visit, we are doing personal fundraising. This is the other thing that missionaries talk about when we get together. Fundraising is hard! I am determined to put it in God’s hands, knowing that He will put it on the hearts of those who are supposed to be part of our team. Could that be you?? Hint, hint… Recently, Matt and I were struggling with this very issue. We were notified that someone who had supported us was going to be unable to do so any longer. This is hard, because although you know it is not really personal, it feels personal. We know that we still feel our call to be here stronger now than ever. Only a few days later, we had a friend come to us (she happened to be in Tanzania) and tell us that God had put us on her heart for financial support. Even as I write this, it brings me to tears. I am awed by her generosity, but more than that, God is putting us on the hearts of others and they are listening. It takes the pressure off of us. God has us here, and He is going to put us on the hearts of His children to support us as He sees fit. If you do feel that God is putting us on your heart for the purpose of support, please send us and email: Kelly@tzorphan.com or Matt@tzorphan.com. We would love to talk with you about how you can join with us.
We have several big things going on and would love your prayer. Here are our top three prayer request:
- Cultivation of our team as we integrate the Striclyn family into our ministry.
- That our house on the Neema campus gets finished and we are able to move before we leave for furlough.
- Furlough: fundraising, rest, connection, safety/health, emotional strength, Neema House as we are gone for three months.