|De Souza’s in Angola – Prayer Letter 09/10/20
Once again, we want to start off by saying, “THANK YOU!” In these uncertain times, times of pandemic, hardship, and division in our world, you have kept your eyes on Jesus and continue to faithfully pray for us and support us. Thank you for sharing God’s love in Angola! You are touching lives with God’s love in this present world and making an eternal impact!
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 2020, what a year of drought and heat it has been so far! For the whole world, 2020 has been a year of surprises, uncertainties, and frustrations. These verses have spoken to us time and again. Trusting the Lord means we seek Him and know Him. We know that He cares for us and for our loved-ones more than we ever could. Placing our confidence in Him means that when our well-thought-out plans are ruined, when our new paths lead us through the unknown, we can know with certainty that we are not alone. We can drink deeply of the river of God’s love and peace, take the next step in confidence, and continue full of life and bearing fruit. Some of the Ways the Pandemic Affected Us in Angola:
While the stories from the USA of empty shelves where the toilet paper or meat should have been reminded us of normal life in Angola, toilet paper is one thing we did not lack! We had to taunt our family and friends across the ocean with our vast supply, which even included “Butsoft” toilet paper! Over the course of two years in Angola, we have experienced shortages of diesel, gasoline, flour, salt, eggs, milk, various types of meat, cash in the ATM’s, etc. However, toilet paper has always been available for purchase, and after any length of time in Angola, you learn that you must have a roll of it in your car and in your bag, as it is a moment to celebrate if you ever find it in a public restroom!
While COVID-19 numbers were low in Angola, in order to prevent the fast spread of the illness, the country declared a state of emergency (tight lockdown for 6 weeks), then a state of calamity, which is still ongoing.
Eduardo continued to work at the hospital, but the rest of us were confined to the house. The worst part of this was that the meetings with the shepherd children and the Sisters of Hope had to be suspended. Crowds of people who depended on buying and selling their goods on the streets and in open markets were no longer allowed do business, leaving them without the means to obtain food. Along with other missionary families, we packed and distributed food and basic supplies to desperate families.
Provincial borders and some neighborhood borders were closed. Strict curfews were in place. Public transportation was suspended. Police were out using physical force to enforce mask and curfew rules. All of this made access to medical care extremely difficult, causing many to suffer from lack of medical attention for the regular illnesses and injuries that did not take a break for COVID – malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition, pneumonia, GI infections…
Just as for each one of you, the worldwide pandemic personally impacted our family. We had to choose to trust in the Lord as uncertainty, frustration, and fear surrounded us.
It was a strange feeling, a feeling of being stuck, the day in March when we heard that borders were closed and international flights were canceled. We knew this meant that if a family member in Brazil or the US had an emergency, we would not be able to be there for them. We had just purchased airline tickets to return to the USA for our home assignment, and we were sure this situation wouldn’t last through July…
In Angola, there are none of the conveniences that we take for granted in the US. All the food is made from scratch. Water needs to be boiled and filtered and fruits and vegetables bleached. Grocery shopping is tedious even without COVID. This meant that trying to keep up with homeschool, housework and cooking without the help of our beautiful, hard-working sister and house help, Sofia, was impossible.
In May, when rules lightened and Sofia was finally able to return, I had time to focus again on the children’s school. I was shocked to see how far behind they had gotten. To top it off, Tiago was desperate for a friend and couldn’t stand another day of confinement. I prayed, “God, we can’t do this anymore! Please do something!” Wow! God answered that prayer overly and abundantly beyond what we asked or thought! I immediately thought of our good friend, a 19-year-old senior in high school, Mariano, and called him to come help with the children’s school. As his school was closed for COVID, he was able to help full-time. His joy, companionship, and beautiful heart for the Lord were a breath of fresh air for us! Somehow, over the course of the next weeks and months, God knit our hearts together as only He can do. Soon Mariano was living with us and has now become a son to us and brother to our children. We are eternally grateful for the priceless gift that the Lord has given us in him!
In June, our visa renewal was due, so we turned in our passports and applications. Six weeks later, when we should have been flying to the US, we still had not received our passports and visas back. COVID had delayed our processes and canceled our flights. We couldn’t even try to get on a repatriation flight without our passports. Finally, in mid-August, we heard that Eduardo’s father was having some serious health problems in Brazil, and we sensed that it was time to find our way out. This meant that we had to be completely moved out of our house, have our passports in hand, and say some incredibly hard, “See you laters.” Then we would have to make the 14-hour extremely rough drive to Luanda, the capital, since domestic flights were closed. We needed to find a safe place to leave our car in Luanda, and somehow get on a flight to the USA. It would take another letter to explain all of the ways we saw God’s hand in this journey, but somehow it all happened and we were on a flight a week later, with passports and visas in hand, totally refreshed after having had our socks blessed off by a precious missionary couple in Luanda. Living by faith is overwhelmingly satisfying! God’s care and provision for us never cease to blow us away!
Now we are back in the USA, feeling like our hearts are torn between three nations we call home. We are so excited to reconnect with family and friends in the USA again! We are waiting to hear back about medical tests of Eduardo’s dad and missing our family in Brazil. At the same time, we are desperately missing friends and friends that have become family in Angola. Next Step after Home Assignment: Moving to Cavango
After much prayer and discussion we have committed to moving for at least 6 months to Cavango, an extremely remote village in the bush. We hope to make this move soon after our return to Angola in January. The Cavango clinic serves about 50 neighboring villages, which altogether would have a population of about 30,000 people who are largely unreached with the Gospel and lack any other basic healthcare. We will be learning and serving alongside Dr. Tim and Betsy Kubacki and are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to glean all we can from them! After our six month learning and adaptation period, we hope to decide whether Cavango will be a long-term fit for our family.
Leprosy – is this Bible times? No, this is Cavango…
In many ways, moving to Cavango feels like going back in time. Our lifestyle will be vastly different than it was in urban Lubango. There are no stores or even a corner where ladies sell their produce. Life is rugged and tough. Suffering and death are part of daily life.
The medicine we will learn to practice in Cavango will be bush medicine. We will need to learn to assess and treat without the use of labs or x-rays. Supplies and medications will be limited. Why would anyone want to give up modern conveniences, comforts, and entertainment to move to the middle of nowhere, to share with those who have been forgotten and neglected? Because these precious lives matter to God! Loving our neighbor as ourselves means that we are willing to sacrifice some of our excess to allow God to use us to meet some of their basic spiritual, emotional and physical needs. The eternal riches that this brings far outweigh the temporal sacrifices!!!
Each morning before starting clinic in Cavango, Dr. Tim shares with patients and family members, many of whom have never heard the Gospel before, about life with Jesus. It is wonderful to be used by God to bring healing to another precious life in this temporal world, but knowing that you were used by God to change someone’s life for eternity is priceless! It is worth every sacrifice we could possibly make! This is what excites us about moving to Cavango.
Please read a recent post from Dr. Tim: “This boy in renal failure and with a blood count 1/3 of normal was sent home from a hospital. His father had heard about Cavango and brought him here. He’s improving dramatically with appropriate treatment. His father today, who knows nothing of Jesus, after discussing his son’s improved condition, said, ‘Doctor, in the mornings you’ve been talking about a life with Jesus. I would like to know Jesus. How do I begin?’ We had a great discussion about Jesus and how to begin. He will receive a bible tomorrow.”
De Little Delightful De Souza’s
Saying “Goodbye for now,” to our newest family member was very tough on all of us. Mariano is finishing his last semester of high school in Angola and we are all praying for the Lord’s guidance in the next steps in his journey. The other four were so thankful for warm weather and a beautiful lake during their two weeks of quarantine here in Minnesota. We are now thoroughly enjoying being able to catch up with family and friends here.
Each of the children are excited about the coming move to Cavango. They are looking forward to getting to know the village children and to exploring the vast landscape and river of Cavango, complete with hippos and crocs!
|During our stay in the USA, we would love to meet and share with you! Please contact us if that would be something you would enjoy!
|Praise Report: We arrived safely in the US despite so many obstacles and uncertainties along the journey! We have experienced God’s protection and provision during our first two-year term. As our term has ended, we rejoice in the fact that we have developed a love and longing for Angola, a new homeland! We are excited to go back! There are so many stories we could share of the joy of being used by God to make an eternal difference in precious lives! There is no greater joy in life!
Please Pray: That we would continue to wholeheartedly seek the Lord and be filled to overflowing with the Spirit! That our time in the USA would be fruitful and refreshing. That we will be able to reconnect with the beautiful friends, family and supporters here. That the Lord would provide all needed finances and that doors would be open for us to return to Angola in January. For the children – that they would develop close relationships with the Lord. For Mariano, that he would be able to finish his last semester of high school, despite Covid. That God would reveal clearly his next step. For healing of Eduardo’s dad and that we would know if and when Eduardo should go visit him in Brazil. International travel and quarantine rules right now are challenging.
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Life with God sometimes feels like this twisting, treacherous road straight up the mountain, but the views, rewards, and experiences along the way are so worth it!
With love and thanks,
The De Souza Family
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