Saturday, March 28, 2020

March Updates

In as much as the COVID-19 virus has impacted everyone around the globe, it has not left behind our African sisters. The news ranges between countries or towns, of course. Many of the African countries have taken a very strong stance and instituted strict protocol on their regions to keep the virus out or the number infected low. That is hopeful. But these lockdown restrictions have caused other very stressful issues, as well. There are no easy answers here. But we have a faithful God and know that no matter the trial, He is our source of protection and comfort!

My trip in May has been postponed, of course. As global travel opens, I will be reorganizing a trip. But for now, there's no indication how quickly that may be. It has left many MOPS Africa leaders and myself disappointed.

But now onto some fun news; because MOPS Africa is an amazing group of world-changing moms, and that is always worth celebrating.

Our Lekki, Nigeria MOPS groups held their first meeting this month. What a gorgeous group of moms we welcome into our MOPS sisterhood.


Meble, who works with moms of special needs children in Kampala, Uganda, took a special trip to visit her moms individually when they were not able to come meet together this month. She blessed them with food and love.


Our Ghana leadership team has been preparing to hold their country-wide conference mid-May if restrictions are lifted in the next few weeks. And if not, they'll postpone for a better time. They have over 400 moms interested in coming!


On International Women's Day earlier in March, one of our Rwanda MOPS groups blessed a mom who had recently been left by her husband. They sang with her, shared some of their food, and let her tell her story. What a blessing they were!


And here is an incredibly sweet gesture by one of our MOPS South Africa leaders' husbands.... who contributes to their monthly MOPS meetings by regularly taking charge of the childcare for the meeting. This month he set up this cookie dough activity to keep the little ones engaged while the moms met to talk about balancing work and motherhood. Thank you to all the dads who contribute to making these MOPS meetings a success in different ways!



Many of our MOPS groups, in Africa and around the globe, will not be meeting in person this coming month and possibly for many weeks to come. I have loved hearing from our African leaders about ways they will be staying in touch with their communities during this time. We have some planning on holding video calls, some who are starting up WhatsApp MOPS meetings. And other leaders who are intentionally checking in on each of their moms to pray and encourage her. MOPS is changing the world, one family at a time. And I am grateful to see this continuing, whether groups can meet in person or not.

Stay courageous, STRONG LEADERS, for you were born for such a time as this!

As always, I like to share a few extra photos of our MOPS groups in action this month:

Kenya

Kiberia, Kenya MOPS, listening to a guest speaker - Pastor Ben


Tanzania
Selfies at a Moshi MOPS meeting!

Malawi
Gertrude working with some moms in her community at their MOPS meeting

Uganda


MOPS Leader Peace and their group in Soreti, Uganda had their first To The Full meeting this month learning about living with fun and joy!

Friday, February 28, 2020

February Updates

Earlier this month I had a visit to MOPS Headquarters in Denver. Once a year the 12 Global leaders (myself representing MOPS Africa), as well as the top 30 US leaders, meet together with MOPS staff for a leadership summit. We are trained and equipped to carry-on into the next MOPS year strong.

We were taught about the importance of Excellence in our service within this MOPS organization. MOPS has a unique opportunity to reach moms all over our communities and the world, and if we do that with excellence, women see our love and grow closer to Jesus as a result. Not only that, but each mom in MOPS represents a family, and what a ripple effect our leaders and MOPS groups can have on her! When our leaders pour encouragement, prayers, and truth into moms, it may be felt for generations to come. But that will only happen with excellence.

Sherri Crandall spoke beautifully about how we can be in danger of loosing momentum if we are not all doing our part in the process. MOPS leadership in Denver pours into me, so that I can pour into our MOPS Africa coaches and leaders. Our Africa leaders in-turn pour into their MOPS groups and moms, so that they can then pour into the community and make changes in the world. In order for us to thrive as leaders in MOPS we must always pursue excellence - by pursuing God, pursuing others, and pursuing growth.

Melodi Leih taught us about the potential of MOPS and about our plan to stay on course of reaching moms: We must remain focused and eliminate distractions, because obstacles in our life will throw us off our race. We must carve out time to serve, because the life-changing relationships in MOPS do not happen without prioritizing this ministry in our lives.

I love the African leaders I get to serve with each day and the global leaders I get to collaborate with regularly, too. I'm grateful for the commitment every one of these women have made to making better moms and a better world!

MOPS Global Team in Denver


Preparing the next global curriculum!


I want to introduce our two newest MOPS Africa coaches we added to the team this month:

Saphira Mukuma from Zambia -



and Ernadize Fourie from South Africa -



Welcome to the MOPS Volunteer Team, ladies!! We are very grateful for the time and commitment these women dedicate to helping moms grow!

Our coaches have the responsibilities of:
1. Maintaining a strong relationship with the groups in her area, reaching out at least once a month, and aiming to visit in person once a year.
2. Training new leaders and ensuring the leaders in her area understand and complete leadership training and use the curriculum sent out by MOPS.
3. Investing in herself through MOPS training and through a true relationship with Jesus.
4. Starting new MOPS groups in her area.
5. Reporting back to me once a month on how her MOPS area is doing!

If our African leaders have questions or concerns about MOPS, a coach is your best place to start! We have eight MOPS Africa coaches now:
Sylvia (South/West Kenya), Pamela (North-Rift Kenya), Stephanie (Rwanda), Penlope (West Uganda), Sylvia (East Uganda), Saphira (Zambia), Chilufya (Zambia), Ernadize (South Africa).

We also have Favour serving as MOPS Country Coordinator over Zambia and Sonja serving as MOPS Country Coordinator over South Africa.


I also wanted to recognize our MOPS mentor Chioma, who was highlighted in this online article from Swim (Supporting Women in Ministry) International: https:www.swiminternational.org/resources-.html




To highlight a few of our beautiful MOPS groups this month:

Ivory Coast
MOPS group in Yamoussoukro, led by Viviane


Zambia
MOPS group in Lusaka, led by Elevine


Uganda
MOPS group in Jina, led by Jackline

Rwanda

MOPS Rwanda prayer meeting in Kigali, lead by Stephanie

South Africa

Sonja, Ernadize, and Roana sharing at a local function all about MOPS!


Saturday, February 1, 2020

January Updates

We have so many groups on fire in MOPS Africa. I want to highlight just a few of the great efforts this month:

Firstly, I want to introduce our newest MOPS coach - Chilufya Siamwiza of Zambia. She has been a strong leader of MOPS Zambia for several years, and we are so happy to have her on the official MOPS Volunteer Team!


We also welcome a new MOPS group in a new MOPS country - Senegal! This is a nation that is only 4% Christian. Please pray for these beautiful mommas starting out their group. May they grow closer to Jesus through meeting together and sharing together.


Pastor Sammy Kimitios, our MOPS Kenya Ambassador visited a local group in his region this month who, because of some language barriers and technology, I don't get to hear from often. It was good to see how our Mois Bridge, Kenya group was doing and receive a good report.



Penlope, our Western Uganda MOPS coach, visited a church who was interested in learning more about MOPS. They loved what they heard, and so we welcome our newest MOPS group in Uganda!


And in Eastern Uganda, I received a beautiful picture from our newest Teen MOPS group, run by Immaculate. Here the girls are, getting ready to practice their sewing skills:



In Ghana, Harriet and I have been working hard on an upcoming May conference in Accra. Ghana is home to more than 10 MOPS groups, and we are looking forward to celebrating with a great conference in May.



And finally, I'll be traveling to MOPS Headquarter in Denver tomorrow with the rest of the global team and other lead volunteers for training and meetings. I am asking for prayer that the time in Denver will be productive, inspiring, and a time to refocus on our Lord! None of these efforts in MOPS matter unless He is the one glorified.







Thursday, December 26, 2019

Happy New Year!



I want to take time, as we come to a close for 2019, to share some highlights of MOPS Africa this year 🙌

*One year ago, MOPS Africa had 54 MOPS groups meeting in 11 different countries. Today, MOPS is in 120 groups across 16 countries. We are directly reaching over 2,500 moms and their families in Africa! All backed by MOPS International - an organization impacting 100,000 moms around the world. Better Moms Make a Better World! Find out more at www.mops.org/

*Our team of leaders is growing: We now have 2 MOPS country coordinators, 5 area MOPS coaches, 3 MOPS ambassadors, and 2 MOPS advocates for Africa! And we're hoping to have 3 more area coaches lined up within the next few weeks. 

*Five countries hosted their own locally-run MOPS conferences this year: Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and  Zambia, including over 600 moms in their communities.

*55 MOPS Africa leaders have become MOPS Leader Certified by taking a series of 4 courses on the vision of MOPS, how to incorporate our mission globally, and how to lead others well. None of this was particularly easy for these leaders, as most don't have enough internet access to watch the videos. But with transcripts prepared, these leaders got it done!

*Two US MOPS leaders went with me on two separate MOPS Africa trips: The first to Kitale, Kenya and Lusaka, Zambia in April, where we attended MOPS group meetings, presented at several MOPS leadership retreats, and supported the official government launch of Zambia MOPS. The second visit was in June to Nairobi, Kenya to launch a new MOPS group and then to meet up with Favour in Kigali, Rwanda and launched MOPS at a strategic school -  and between these two launches, there are now 18 new MOPS groups reaching 650 new moms in Africa!

*We have 12 official U.S. partnerships to African MOPS groups.

If you haven't seen the other posts throughout the year, please take a look. There are so many beautiful updates to celebrate!

Welcoming our newest MOPS Coach this month - Sylvia Nantongo. Many know Sylvia as the amazing MOPS coordinator of our Teen MOPS group in Kampala, Uganda, working hard with Amy in Germany to establish sustainable living opportunities like sewing and soap making for her moms. She is now ready to be a coach for our 8 Eastern Uganda groups in the Kampala area, where she already serves helping many MOPS leaders.


And, here's a peek into all of our MOPS Africa Christmas celebrations this holiday season......

Ghana- On Christmas eve, one of the Accra MOPS groups visited a group of disabled women in their community, bringing them gifts of food. What a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday, by giving to others:


Zambia- Speaking of service, earlier in the month, Zambian leaders went to the local mall to reach out to new moms to tell them about joining a MOPS group:

 

Also, of special note - We started a conversation on our MOPS Africa Leaders WhatsApp group this month about Christmas traditions and specialty foods -by-country. And.... one of the food delicacies in Zambia is caterpillars and worms. I think my favorite part of the WhatsApp conversation was when no other African country could believe these were actually considered edible! 🤣 While I opted not to try these (pictured below) when they were offered on my visit this year, I have no doubt they were on many of our MOPS Zambia mom's tables this Christmas!

They're bought dried in a bag from the market, rehydrated, and then cooked 

Nigeria- MOPS Lagos celebrated this month with a Christmas party with their children.



Cameroon- Our Tiko MOPS group celebrated on the 26th with several of their group moms and the pastor!


Tanzania- Moshi MOPS had a big Christmas celebration on the 25th, complete with good food, dancing, and kids caroling.


Rwanda- MOPS Kigali had their monthly prayer meeting this month and also worked on their basket-making skills. These baskets can take two days for the moms to make, and turned out beautifully!




Loss- And as we all know, amidst the celebrations, there is always the possibility of deep loss, felt even harder this time of the year. We had two of our MOPS moms pass on this month, both very suddenly - one in Cameroon and the other in Rwanda. They both left behind small children, and in the case of our Rwanda single mom, there is now an orphaned five-year-old boy. The MOPS leader will do what she can to provide for the little boy, praying that extended family is eventually able to come to care for him!
Additionally, one of our moms in Kenya lost her baby after an emergency c-section. Her MOPS group came to rally around her in the hospital as she grieved this deep loss.
We are praying for all of those involved in these terrible tragedies felt at the end of this year.

And we are all hopeful and excited about what is to come in MOPS Africa next year. We have BIG plans.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

November Updates



'Let us come before Him with Thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.' Psalm 95:2-3

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, observed during the last week of November. It celebrates the harvest time before the cold winter sets in and reminds us of our blessings and reasons to give thanks during the past year. We celebrate with visits from family coming from far away and have a big feast, which resembles the harvest feast in 1621 shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag (Native American) people. We typically eat turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and bread. It is not celebrated by everyone as a religious holiday, but Christians will use this time specifically to thank God for all of his provisions and blessings.

Image result for cartoon cranberry


While the holiday does not extend much outside of North America, it is good for all people and countries to give Thanksgiving to the Lord for his goodness! Not just this week, but all year long. For where would we be without His mercy and grace?

As the holidays come around again this year, we have so much to celebrate and thank God for here at MOPS Africa! Here is what has been happening this month:


At the beginning of the month, Uganda MOPS Coach Penlope Muhindo and Ambassador Alison Kasiringi returned from a trip to visit all 31 MOPS groups in their region of Western, Uganda. They came home with a great report. These groups range in age from eight years old to newly established just two months ago! We have some groups getting trained for the first time through the Leadership Handbook and Global Curriculum, and others who have just received their 'To The Full' globalized curriculum. I am so proud of what this area of MOPS is accomplishing. Here are just a few of the photos from their travels.

                      

Coach Penlope (below) and leaders happy to receive their new curriculum
MOPS Nigeria started a new group at mentor Chioma's place of work this month with eight moms. They will be meeting during a MOPS lunch-hour fellowship, twice a month. Welcome to the global MOPS community, ladies!

Newest MOPS group in Nigeria

MOPS Rwanda also started a monthly prayer-meeting called 'Saturday for Christ'. This month, they prayed and shared stories and testimonies how Jesus changed moms' lives through MOPS, and they look forward to this prayer meeting once a month at Hope Haven. Stephanie says "MOPS surely came at the right time in Rwanda!"

First Saturday prayer meeting

And finally, I want to introduce these two awesome women who have stepped into the role of MOPS Advocate over the last few months:

Haley Strong lives in Oregon with her husband, Matt, of nine years. They have four beautiful children together. Haley has been helping with our MOPS sisterhood partnerships here in the US and is working to get more MOPS connections! She has been to Africa before - a trip to Ethiopia for hospital work, where she helped to deliver a baby! - and she is looking forward to her next trip. 


Here are a few interesting things about Haley:

Favorite food: Tacos
Favorite bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Favorite color: Teal
Favorite place traveled: Sweden
Fun fact: Her favorite band is an American group called Hanson - She has seen them in concert 60 times (and is at their most recent show tonight!).


Kimberly King lives in Maryland with her husband, Jim, of 18 years. They have two beautiful children and two cats.  She has been helping with group communication, leadership support, and administrative guidance. She has also been to Africa before - to several countries including Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Ghana. Interestingly, she also helped deliver babies (on her Zambia trip)! 


Here are a few interesting things about Kimberly:

Favorite food: Brownies (dense chocolate cake) and warm chocolate-chip cookies.
Favorite bible verse: Ephesians 4:29 - "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen"
Favorite color: Green
Favorite place traveled: Safari trip to Kenya/Tanzania
Fun fact: She has run an 80km ultra-marathon race.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

October Updates

There are oh-so-many fun things to say about our MOPS Africa groups this month.


Tomorrow (Friday, November 1), we are hosting a 24-hour prayer day. For an entire 24 hours, we have lined up people around the globe to be praying and fasting for our leaders in MOPS Africa - 48 people in 16 different countries coming together to pray the following:
  • Psalm 115:1 - For God's glory to shine through this MOPS ministry. May we be ever striving to glorify our Lord as we serve Him in MOPS.
  • Mark 16:15 - To reach more moms in our current MOPS communities that don't know Jesus. That we may not only change the lives of these women, but their whole families. May the next generation of Africa be changed because of this good work.
  • 1 Tim 2:1-4 - For all of our MOPS leadership, both in our country and through MOPS Africa. May the Lord keep them safe, focused, and may He raise up committed, honesty, servant leadership to fulfill this big task ahead of us.
  • Phil 4:19 - For the provision of resources needed to accomplish the work set before us.
  • James 1:5 - For wisdom to lead our MOPS groups well
  • Psalm 51:10 - For our leaders to have a pure heart and personal relationship with Jesus by regularly studying his word and being in prayer
I am so excited to see what comes as a result of these petitions to God on behalf of MOPS Africa. And for those who are not on our official signup sheet, we still covet your prayers alongside ours on this day! Join in, knowing that at that same moment, you are joining a MOPS sister in prayer on the other side of the world on behalf of MOPS Africa.


Since Favour's and my visit to Kigali in June, 17 MOPS groups have started in the beautiful country of Rwanda, hosting over 650 moms!! We have Stephanie Birundi to thank for this incredible growth - who we also just welcomed as our newest MOPS Coach! MOPS Rwanda had a beautiful leadership conference this month, and we are just so excited for the growth and excitement for MOPS in Rwanda.

Leadership conference
Stephanie, our newest MOPS Africa coach


In Malawi, our devoted brother in Christ, Sky, is working very hard overseeing our MOPS Leadership handbook and Global Curriculum translation into the Chichewa language, so women around the country will be able to access our materials in a language they can understand. The process is slow, but full of love. First, the documents are translated by hand into a journal. The handwritten notes are then typed one page at a time on a hired computer at an internet cafe, saved on a usb flash disc, and then transferred to email. Finally, they are compiled back into the original document format again.

Getting started

Hand written
Off to the internet cafe for transcription

Final Product!


Here's a peek into a few of our MOPS meetings that happened in October:


Githunguchu, Kenya MOPS

Juba, South Sudan MOPS

Tiko, Cameroon MOPS - Making fish cakes together!

Nakuru Kenya MOPS

Jinja, Uganda MOPS


And last but not least, here is an update on our MOPS Leadership Certification Training - We have had 31 new MOPS leaders, moms, and pastors complete this important training in September and October! That makes 48 Leadership Certified MOPS leaders in Africa. Way to go!

Pastor Blaise (representing Cameroon)
Harriet Livingstone (Ghana)
Pastor James (representing Ivory Coast)
Ruth Aduvagah (Kenya)
Janet Kimitios (Kenya) 
Janet Wafula (Kenya) 
Janet Ngeywo (Kenya) 
Eunice Mwende (Kenya) 
Jackline Wanyoyi (Kenya) 
Dorren Mandu (Kenya) 
Josphine Moraa (Kenya) 
Shallom Dorcas (Kenya) 
Mercy Chemtai (Kenya) 
Lena Too (Kenya) 
Lilian Situma (Kenya)
Carolyn Omeri (Kenya)
Sylvia Kiberenge (Kenya)
Violet Cherop (Kenya)
Pamela Mirikau (Kenya)
Eunice Alawnya (Kenya)
Rebecca Ochola (Kenya)
Cherry Tay (Kenya)
Pastor Sammy (Kenya)
Mary Khisa (Kenya)
Grace Ayienda (Kenya)
Pastor Richard (Kenya)
Jacklyn Motondi (Kenya)
Sky (Malawi)
Gertrude (Malawi)
Miriam Nanyonjo (Uganda)
Sylvia Nazziwa (Uganda)