One Week in a New World

We’ve been in Moshi for one week. What an amazing, awe inspiring moment in our life!

Moshi is located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and some of the new surroundings remind me of Montana. The clouds have kept the old mountain peak hidden this whole week. We’ve seen glimpses of the snow covered peak, but the old giant disappears into the clouds.

The driving roads change from paved road to dirt, to rocky, to washed out in an easy one mile drive from Moshi city center to our new home in the Shanty Town district (I love that name!). In some ways, it’s just like a drive from our old home in Colstrip out to our pastor’s ranch house.

The vegetation, landscape, and some of the house design in our neighborhood reminds me of south Florida, or north Mexico (just across the Texas border) or even pictures of beach towns in southern California. But then the trees remind me I’m in Africa.

I thought that I would feel like I’m in a foreign land the moment I stepped foot on the ground, yet the landscape doesn’t disorient me like I thought. The real trigger for culture shock is the culture. The land lets me think I’m somewhere in North America, but the sounds of Africa and the markets of Moshi don’t allow such confusion.

Nearby conversations don’t carry familiar words or sounds. There is no Walmart. There are no stop signs or traffic lights (just alot of traffic).  The easy swipe of a credit card is not a part of the shopping experience (Dave Ramsey fans would be happy). Canned and processed foods are more like luxury items, not the norm. Even a quick trip to the store requires a stack of money (Tanzania Shillings) compared to one or two US bills.

I think I’m feeling more of convenience-shock than culture-shock. My common conveniences are missing as I wait to discover new ones.

The first week of missionary life is culture immersion. Learning to thrive in a culture, in Christ honoring ways, is no insignificant task. Adopting a culture is the way to relationship with the people of that culture.  If you misunderstand the culture, you miss the people.

We miss the known comforts of America, but we are willing to find new ones here.  I could wait for traffic lights to be installed before I drive or I can learn to drive like the Tanzanians. I could write to Walmart and request they bring a store to Moshi or I can learn to shop like a Tanzanian. I could prefer to use a credit card or I can refresh my mental math to quickly sort through tens-of-thousands of shillings (yes, tens-of-thousands) for just a few items at the market. I could wait for a long time for convenience to come to me and never form relationships with the people of Tanzania. Or, I could learn my new home.

The Stewarts are happy to be in our new home even though disorientation is a part of the first steps in creating a new home. The kids started part days at a local school and will take Swahili lessons at least once a week. Autumn and I deep dive into Swahili lessons on Monday.

We are thankful that Aunt Grace came along for the first six weeks of this adventure. We are thankful for all the prayers made on our behalf. God is listening and blessing us with great favor as we make the transition to East African living.

Missing comfort is overcome by peaceful joy. Finally arriving in Moshi increases our faith even more knowing all that God has done to get us here. As our faith rises, our joy increases, and both of these propel our momentum to go.

-Evan

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

The day is here, friends.  We left on a jet plane yesterday morning from Montana.  We’re in route to Tanzania!

Keep us in your prayers (those prayers are already working BIG TIME!).  We are scheduled to arrive in Tanzania tomorrow morning (8/22).

Our faith is rising and our joy increasing as we go!

-Evan

Tune Into Special Friends

On Tuesday the Stewart crew met with our special friends, announcers at Montana’s Christian radio station Your Network of Praise.On Fridays, YNOP hosts the call-in r request show “The Diner”. The Stewart kids recorded an early call-in request in the studio.You can listen online! The show starts at 11:30am (MT). The kids are up first.Click the link below.https://radio.securenetsystems.net/cwa/index.cfm?stationCallSign=YNOP

Thankful for Training

It might surprise you that not all missionary sending organizations prepare both the missionary and their kids.

AG World Missions prepared all year to host, train (and even entertain) “missionary kids” while their parents receive training. The Stewart crew is spending the next 3 weeks in Springfield, MO for missionary training classes.

Missionary life isn’t just an adult thing. Everyone who goes is a part of the work. The Stewart kids will make friends with other African kids, they will get know Tanzanian adults. Just by being kids, they might positively influence others more quickly than any adult missionary.

The AGWM mission kids program is a huge blessing! Members of Team Stewart have not only raised money for us to go to Africa, but also for amazing state-side opportunities like this program. Our awesome team is helping prepare our kids for success.

The growing support team encourages our faith to rise, which causes our joy to increase, and stirs our desire to go!

~Evan

We Almost Can’t Believe It!

Yesterday we hit the long awaited milestone of 80% raised in monthly partnership pledges.  That’s just 80% in the officially recorded pledges (received by AGWM).  The better news is that we are at 93.6% in total pledges (recorded and verbal)!  All of the remaining verbal pledges are working to get their paper work in.  We should soon see that 93% become the new official level.  Thank you to all of our partners (monthly, one-time, and prayer partners) who are on this journey with us.

And now for the even better news!  Reaching 93% means Team Stewart only needs $346 in monthly pledges before we hit 100%.  3-4-6 dollars!

If you haven’t joined the team, today is a day to do it.  By joining the team with a monthly pledge, you’ll be directly involved with what God is doing in East Africa.  God is at work.  Join the team today as a monthly partner, one-time gift partner, or a prayer partner (click the links to find out how).

God has made the impossible, possible!

In August of 2018, Autumn and I received the final budget and our hearts sank when we read the total monthly budget required – $5,403.  We both thought that was an impossible number to reach.  How could two parents, with one income and busy schedules possibly fundraise over $5,000?  And don’t forget the additional $37,000 needed for the one-time cash fund.  I thought it was impossible.

God taught me it is possible.

It remember the day, last September, when it all changed.  I was reading my bible and found the story of Elisha and the king’s messenger in 2 Kings 6-7.  The capital city of Israel, Samaria, was besieged.  Things were bad.  The king’s army was powerless.  The people inside the city wall were starving.  They were so desperate for food, some even took to cannibalism.  Life was terrible inside the city.  Instead of blaming the enemy for the current tragedy (or even blaming himself), the king blamed Elisha the prophet and he went as far as to blame God (v 6:33).  The king sent a messenger to sneak out of the city and find Elisha and murder him.  Elisha was miles away at his home.  When the messenger arrived, Elisha quickly got to the point and told the misguided messenger that God would rescue Israel.  In essence Elisha said, “You want to be rescued?  All you have to do is ask.  God will rescue you by tomorrow evening.”

The messenger then made the biggest mistake of his life; he doubted God’s faithfulness and kindness.  The messenger boldly declared, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” (v 7:2).  God wanted the messenger to see that “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26), but the messenger could only think “with God no things are possible”.  Elisha told him that God will deliver his promise, but that he (the messenger) wouldn’t receive any of it.  The next day, as promised, God routed the entire enemy army and delivered a huge flow of food and necessities into the starved city, but the messenger died before he could partake in the provision.

After I read that story, I knew I was viewing my situation like the messenger.  In my heart my lack of faith was propelling me to declare “some things” are impossible with God.  God reminded me of the truth.  I went to Autumn and told her that I didn’t want to be the messenger.  I didn’t want to miss out on the amazing, awe inspiring provision of God.  We prayed that night and asked God to open the doors of heaven.  Within three months, by the end of November 2018, God raised the $37,000 for the cash budget.  By January 2019, we were at 50% of our monthly budget goal.  Four months later, we are at 96%.  We are in awe of God’s provision.

In God’s way and in God’s time, he’s inspired numerous people to give their hard earned money and valuable time to partner with us.  Because the financial milestones are being met, we are on track to be in Africa by mid-August.

Don’t be like the king’s messenger.  When he saw difficulty, he thought impossible.  Be like Elisha who saw possibility even in the worst of circumstances.

Your perspective of possibility is directly tied to your perspective of faith.  The Stewarts are daily learning that as our faith rises, our joy increases, which gives us more desire to go after Jesus.

-Evan

 

So Close! At 86% but…

Team Stewart is getting sooooo close to the Monthly Partner goal!  We are at 86% in monthly partnership.  Our giraffe friend is almost completely full.

We are at 86% including verbal pledges.  But we are at 70% with confirmed pledged received by AGWM.

AGWM won’t approve us to go to the next stage (visa paperwork) until the 80% mark is reached in “received” pledges.

We are so thankful for everyone who has sent in their pledges (by mail or online) and very thankful for everyone who has told us they will join the team (we’re already counting you as a team member!).

If you haven’t mailed in the pledge form or filled out the online giving form, we would greatly appreciated you doing so this week.  This will help clear an important administrative step in the process.

We are always looking for new partners to join the team.  The work of Jesus is a team sport.  There is a part for everyone to play.  If the work in Tanzania excites your spirit, then join our team today.  You can be a financial partner (one time or monthly), a prayer partner, and even a story sharer (share our story with others in person or on social media).

When you find life in Jesus, faith will rise, joy increases, and you’ll want to go after Him.

~Evan