September 2015 Evan & Natasha Richmond Update

ONE YEAR IN AFRICA: Measured in Love

Evan and Natasha live and serve at the Zimpeto Children's Centre in Maputo, Mozambique, which provides a loving home and shelter for orphaned and abused children in desperate need of crisis intervention and emergency care. They are dorm parents over the "Quintal" (girls dorm).

Just over a year ago, we left our country and hometown on a journey that would do nothing short of change our lives forever.

Full of emotion and painful goodbyes, we sobbed our way across the Atlantic ocean to arrive in one of the world's poorest countries—Mozambique. Upon arrival, surrounded by warm hugs and precious smiles, we knew we had made no mistake. Over the past year we have experienced both joys and challenges like never before. Surrounded by poverty at its worst and loss at every corner, discouragement comes quickly like a thief in the night but joy always puts up a winning fight. And so as we reflect on God's goodness amidst utter brokenness around us, we take the time to remember little moments that have made up our year.

I must admit, part of me wanted to just recap the success and claim small victories. The mathematician in me wanted to choose pictures that would best showcase program advances, new initiatives and outcomes. I was so tempted to try and put numbers to it all: how many girls have learnt how to read, how many people we've seen come to faith, how many cockroaches we've killed, how many outreaches we've been on, how many snacks we've served, how many awfully sick girls have made victorious strides back to life...

....but then I remember something so much more than math, program outcomes, statistics and numbers--people. We didn't move to Mozambique to accomplish some sort of goal or to somehow numerically assign value to what we see in front of us and all God has done in our lives and the lives of those around us. We came to Mozambique for something numbers and programs could never measure or account for. We came to Mozambique to love and to stop for the one God places in front of us. And this past year the ones in front of us have been our beautiful girls.

Please, join us in a review of fun, laughter, and love as we reflect and rejoice in the highlights of ONE YEAR in AFRICA.

Wide-eyed and half asleep, a photo from Heathrow airport after Evan's first airplane ride ever in August 2014. Love drove this crazy man of mine to follow me across the world and embark on a journey only God alone could have prepared him for and called him to.

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Our first month in Mozambique was full of smiles and laughter. Nothing like seeing a child enjoy their first birthday party ever and my first African birthday! Her contagious smile and joy couldn't have shone brighter that day. Love radiates in her very smile. Somehow years of forgotten birthdays melt-away for a single moment.

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Friday night snacks have always been one of my favourite times of the week. A quick flash back to the first time I got to bring them snack. These girls love food!

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With a love and passion for education and literacy, Evan and I just couldn't keep the teacher inside of us hidden. With our Canadian students heading back to school last September, we kick started a literacy program for the girls.

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Seeing our girls perform at a national military celebration couldn't have made us two dorm parents more proud watching joyfully from the stands.

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Diving into the books, Evan re-discovered his love for libraries. This past year he has happily worked along side our wonderful librarian encouraging reading.

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Our first Christmas in Zimpeto was nothing short of majestic. Celebrating Christmas eve by candlelight service with 250 children singing all around was one of those beautiful soul-chilling moments to remember.

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New years eve once again topped my list of favourite celebrations. Check out these goofs fighting for "most-straws-in-hair" competition.

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Her little smiles, love and endless cuddles never cease to restore my heart after a long day.

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Last February, after discovering a rat in our home, we pulled apart every last nook and cranny in our house; including pulling out every bag of girls clothing and supplies from the storage cupboard—what a task!

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Seeing my first chameleon up close and personal!

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And seeing my first Mozambican crocodile! Be careful: I've heard they're deadly.

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Exhausted yet full of joy and a new found passion for faith, we made it back from our retreat in the BUSH with our teenage girls and lived to tell the tale.

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A visit from both our mothers, whom the girls called "vovo" meaning grandma, couldn't have made us or our girls happier (unless of course our Dads decide to make the trip sometime too...hint hint. nudge nudge). Head over heels for these little one, I'm half surprised they ever made it back on the plane without one of them trying to sneak inside their luggage.

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Celebrating June 1st, Mozambique's Children's Day, my mom and Evan got a little too excited with the face-paint proving once again there is no limit to how far these two will go to pull a smile out of one of our girls.

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We were so excited to surprise our moms with a one night stay in Krugar park in South Africa.

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Being in Mozambique on Father's day (coincidentally my dad's birthday too), we decided that we would by our fathers a Harley Davidson Motorcycle-but until they come to visit, they'll have to share it with our girls!

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Evan's first Mozambican father's day was a ton of fun. Surprised by breakfast in bed by our little loving monsters!

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In much need of a little getaway, we were so blessed to meet up with some of our friends from Camp Cherith all the way in Africa. In June we drove to South Africa to visit a long time friend and couldn't resist a quick stop at U'Shaka Marine World. I naturally won the contest for being the most obnoxious and loud audience member earning a kiss from a seal!

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In June, Evan and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary surrounded by the love of our 75 girls and a special surprise visit from one of the girls who touched my heart the most when I first came as a visitor in June 2012.

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Nothing like a good old Canada day celebration and passing out ice to our girls explaining-CANADA is really COLD.

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And so, as forewarned, a measureless light-hearted one year review of our lives here in Africa. Perhaps the song from the Hit-Broadway Musical RENT, Seasons of Love best captures the very sentiment we feel right now...

"Five-hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure, measure a year? Measure in love."