2017. How can it simultaneously be the fastest and the longest year ever?! 2017 has been spent attempting to learn a tribal language called Shona, working on trying to get a seminary above water, giving strangers rides to town, driving bumpy dirt roads, and not blinking when the power shuts off. It’s amazing how what once might have seemed strange is now the new normal. We only realize how strange our new “normal” is when teams visit and grown men scream like little girls over the spider that our 3 year old has affectionately named or when the table talk about the demon-possessed girl and witches who live down the road keeps our guests from being able to sleep…(sorry guys).
We have enjoyed exploring this place that’s been assigned as our home and are growing to love our neighbors more and more. There’s no denying that coming from a culture of instant gratification where the customer is always right to a culture where customer service is virtually non-existent and the saying “Americans have the watches, but Africans have the time,” couldn’t be more true, has been a frustrating and sanctifying process. But we are learning to appreciate this way of life and are growing in admiration for the resilience and contentment of these amazing people, most of whom have never known any of the luxuries that we often feel so entitled to.
I personally don’t like using the word missionary. And in 2 years I find that I’ve seldom used it because somewhere along the line, this word has somehow become a title associated with strength, spiritual distinction, and a praise that we’ve never felt worthy of having bestowed upon us. After 2 years of being “missionaries” we can’t speak for all m’s, but we’ve never felt more dependent on the church, more needy of prayers/support, or more desperate for grace from both God and men. Strength is the last word we would use to describe how we feel. Instead we feel as though, in many ways, we’ve been stripped naked in a field with nothing to hide behind…nothing except the one reason we are here in Africa…Jesus who clothes us in His righteousness. And its only when we face our weakness that we find encouragement in the truth that His strength is perfected in our weakness. He’s not surprised to find out we can do nothing apart from Him and His body.
When we are missing home and feeling like fish out of water, we are comforted by our Savior who left His home in heaven to come live in a foreign land so that God and sinners (like us) could be reconciled. I imagine what life must have been like for Him, being born in a barn to an unwed mother. He was never welcome. He was despised and rejected by those who had been created to worship Him. He is the One who was always expected to meet the needs of others while rarely having anyone notice His. He was the most broken man to ever walk the earth, yet the only one unbroken by sin. It takes an unparalleled wholeness to love with such reckless abandon. This is why He is the only one who fully met God’s standard for loving others.
The humility of this King, who laid down equality with God and all His entitlements to come and make himself nothing by serving those who should be serving Him, is nothing short of breathtaking. I imagine Him walking among the least of these…meeting them at the well, eating on their dirt floors, holding and healing their sick children…What an amazing picture of a compassionate King who LOVES His people. As the rightful owner of every earthly possession and word of praise, He’s completely unimpressed by the status granted by men. People have value to Him because He made them in His image, not because of an “image” they’ve crafted before fellow creatures.
As we co-labor with Zimbabwean believers to “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that Jesus Christ is born….” We are increasingly thankful for the opportunity to be here in this place and for Nick to use his gift of teaching to help equip believers who have many different gifts—gifts like languages, faith, and evangelism. Together with those who give and pray for us stateside and with our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters, we form a full body that has been commissioned to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. It has become increasingly clear to us that we will need the gifting of this entire body if we ever hope to fulfill the great commission.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are excited to see how the Spirit is working and how He plans to use this seminary to train laborers for the harvest field. Of course, we greatly miss the lights, smells, and sounds of Christmas. But Christmas has never meant more to us than it does now. The lyrics of all the songs have come to life. We’ve experienced His grace and patience on another level and this motivates us to share His goodness with fellow sinners who have yet to find His forgiveness. We’ve seen Him adopt orphans, restore broken marriages, liberate alcoholics, and empower weary saints. We’ve felt Him patiently correct, lovingly comfort, and generously give to us as He fulfills His promise to be with us always. We are watching His Kingdom come to be on earth as it is in Heaven as His word transforms hearts and brings glimpses of peace on earth with every changed heart. Every year when I write this letter, I wonder about what He has written into our story for the next. But whatever is to come, one thing is certain—He is faithful.
Merry Christmas from Zim,
Nick, Kyndra, Jake, Jimmy, Libby, Phia, Kate, Juliet, and Johnny Moore
If you’re interested in the tradition of individual updates on the Moore crew, you’ll find them below:
I’ve been busy juggling language learning with life in Zim. Nick and I just passed our last language evaluation 20 December! Thank you for praying. It’s truly miraculous to see how He helped us get here. I can remember having to practice over and over just to say good morning! I’ve enjoyed learning to cook more creatively and one of my greatest joys in this life is hosting teams/Individuals who come to serve alongside us. I’ve een busy keeping kids alive while prepping to start homeschool mid-January. I’m looking forward to having more time and flexibility to have the kids on mission with us. I’ve struggled to find my place here as this is the first time since being a Mom that I’ve had responsibilities in addition to motherhood and, to be completely honest, I’ve lost balance a few times and forgotten to make my home priority. I’m thankful for how the Spirit continues to expose my sin issues. It’s been painful but amazing to be assured that He knows the truth about me, but loves me anyway.
Jake (12) has had a harder time adjusting to life in Zim. After struggling to connect with him we had several people mention that we may need to have him evaluated. He was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Since the diagnosis, we are now able to understand him in ways we never have before. We have been given a new perspective about his quirky sense of humor, random fact sharing, and solo dance parties. He’s been studying New Testament Greek and has a deep interest in the book of Revelation. He uses words sometimes that I’ve literally had to google to find the definition. He’s been asking for a foghorn and “those shoes that turn into skates…” He refuses to admit that he found those on a list of most annoying gifts to ask your parents for.
Jimmy (11) has continued to foster a love for music. He’s a natural musician and has picked up guitar extremely fast. He’s written a couple songs, one of which he played in his school’s talent show and was recognized by a local musician as the best act of the show. He’s witty and clever. He and Jake can both quote every line in every movie they’ve ever seen…they’re pretty proud of this fact. And, yes, it’s just as annoying as it sounds. He’s 11 going on 18 and is almost daily trying to convince me that his maturity level is ready for freedoms that he is most definitely not ready for. No Jimmy, you cannot ride 30 miles to town on your bike or watch “5 nights at Freddy’s”…EVER, it’s NEVER gonna be a yes. Gotta give him credit for trying… Lately, he’s been asking for a ukelele, “you know, like a little guitar…”
Libby (9) is really growing up. She’s still a Daddy’s girl and loves taking selfies with him. Her love for babies has only grown and she still asks to hold every one she sees. She loves going with me to visit in the village and she is eager to see and meet needs. She’s quite the comedian and enjoys making videos on the iPad that could give Ellen a run for her money. My favorites are her workout videos where she recruits Phia to be her punching bag example of what not to do. Libby wants her own room for Christmas…cute, huh?
Sophia (8) is our little tree hugger. She says things like, “Why can’t we just have peace and stuff?” She’s always asking if the things we do are safe for the environment. She too is eager to help our neighbors and is the first to volunteer when I need something done. She is hoping to start her own little garden plot and learn how to live off the land, she says she can share her food. I’m bracing myself for when she starts growing armpit hair and refusing to flush the toilet to conserve water. I’ve often wondered if maybe she was switched at birth and there’s a mellow hippie somewhere wondering how she ended up with a wild, opinionated little blonde. Her request for Christmas was world peace, just kidding…she wants “books about nature…and stuff.”
Kate (6) is a dancing queen. She’s perceptive and smart. Just finished kindergarten, but is reading on a 3rd grade level. She loves gymnastics, dancing, and cooking. She’s extremely honest and it seems her filter may have been left out of the box. I think I’ve met my match…no denying this one’s mine. She keeps us on our toes and I’m saving up for a boxing ring for her teenage years but praying Jesus gets ahold of her before I need to. Kate asked for new jeans and a gymnastics bar to flip on.
Juliet (4) is one of the weirdest little people we know and I mean that in the nicest way. She’s like a little marshmallow. Very affectionate and has a contagious laugh, but an ear-piercing scream. She is always carrying a bag full of toys or random items from around the house. When something is missing, nine times out of ten we can find it in a stash-pile under her bed. We are trying to teach her about serving and when we give her chores she replies with things like, “but I would have to lift my arms…” or “but I’m just a baby…” It might be funny if I weren’t sincerely concerned about her ending up on “hoarders” one day. She’s got plenty of energy to boss others, (especially poor Johnny), jump on beds and obsess over one movie at a time. Juliet wants “Trolls and paw patrol things” for Christmas.
Johnny…what can I say about Johnny? He’s perfect. Haha! No, but really…he’s pretty close. He has turned me into one of those doting Moms who can’t see any wrong in their child. I’d never been one until this little guy. He randomly gives hugs and expresses how much he loves us, gives compliments freely, apologizes when he hurts someone…he earned the nickname “puppy boy” for a reason. I do think there’s something to the baby thing. He loves playing with bugs, taking walks, and hanging out with his siblings who he calls “the kids”. Johnny asked for “dinosaurs and cars…and trucks.”
Overall, the kids are doing well. Of course we have our days and moments of missing home, family, and friends. But each time this gives us an opportunity to be reminded of why God has us here and what our purpose is. I am praying that having them at home for school and serving alongside us will help foster in them a love for the people and even help them learn Shona! We are all really excited about the opportunity to help them find their place and calling in Zim. One of the hardest transitions here is the difference in church. We feel a void having left a church family who we lived life with. The kids especially struggle to feel like they belong in the church setting. But I am hopeful that being home and having the chance to make some friends around the seminary will help them build relationships with kids who attend the church near our home.
*not included: several trips to the ER, a few snakes and scorpions caught and killed, almost constant sicknesses, countless fights, tantrums, a perilous trek across three African countries and back, and various other forms of chaos.