Progress in Zim

Hello hello! I know it’s been quite some time since we have updated everyone, but things have been going really well. We have broken ground for the chicken run (I’ll leave all of those details for my sweet hubby to update you on). Our friend, Chirsty, was here for the entire month of August, and we were able to have a VBS out at Goshen Farm. BUT the most exciting news is – we found out we are expecting a sweet little child in March! It’s been an exciting month to say the least!

The August Movement: Christy arrived on August 3. It was such a blessing to have her here. I was excited to introduce her to my husband, and we were thrilled to be able to show her everything we have discovered about Zimbabwe. Actually, a team from Solid Rock Church in Portland, OR was here as well. They had come through the organization Hands of Hope. We were able to assist them with a VBS at the Hatfield Home for 4 days. We had a great time getting to know some of the people from the team, and Christy and I were able to get some good ideas for hosting VBS out at the farm. We were so thankful for the way God blessed our VBS program at Goshen. We have 27 kids that live there permantly, but we also opened it up to the community (as a way to reach out to the families). By the end of VBS, we had 72 kids! Yes, it was just the two of us who organized it, and we only had the help of 2 teachers. It went so smoothly though – thank you Lord! Our theme was faith. We taught stories of David & Goliath, Daniel in the Lions Den and Joesph’s Coat of Many colors. It was amazing the way the kids would remember the stories and tell them back to us. Keep in mind, most of these kids do not know English very well. It was awesome to watch them increase their Engish throughout the program. God just works on so many levels! At the end of the 3 days, we held a graduation ceremony and invited all of the parents to attend. Casey preached a short message on faith and invited them to attend church. I think it really spoke to them just the way we took care of their children in those few days. We were able to feed them daily, rent a bounce house for them to play on one day, and just pour love into them. We are just believing that God did something in those children during those few short days. We pray that they never forget those stories of faith and grow to truly understand what it means when the word says, “We live by FAITH, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. This was our memory verse for VBS. I cannot tell you how precious it is to hear 72 kids shouting that at you. These kids really soak up what you teach them.

We’re having a baby! How crazy is that?! We are so thrilled! I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a shock at first. We had both battled the African flu (not fun at all), and I had just recovered, but I was starting to feel very nausious. Smells were getting to me, my appetite was crazy and I was getting extremely tired all of the time. I didn’t know if I had caught another bug or what. Finally, we decided maybe we should take a pregnacy test, and well, you know the results! Our dear friends Katie & Nico referred us to her doctor, and we were able to go and get an ultrasound right away! It was crazy. Our little love wasn’t that big (measured at 7 weeks then), so we couldn’t see that well, but we have an appointment to get a 12 week scan for a better view and to check on eveything. Let me just say, being pregnant in a foriegn country is a challenge! I get cravings for things I can only get back home. My appetite is crazy, and my hormones are intense. So please pray for my husband. Really. It was been so exciting, but it also has increased my faith even more. It’s funny how you think you have faith, and then when something like this happens, you throw the faith out the window and try to take control again. Even though I was excited, I had another little breakdown. Ok, I lost it! I just started crying to Casey as I worried about the future. Here we are in a foreign country not knowing what we will come home to. We don’t know about work. We don’t know where we’ll be living. We don’t have a plan, and we just created life! What were we thinking? Then, he just looked at me and said, “Tonya, do you have faith in God or not?” Smack! Where was my faith? God had brought us this far. He has provided more than we can even describe. He is the creator of life! He’s got it all planned out. All we have to do is trust Him and listen to what He is saying. He wouldn’t bring us this far to leave us hanging. After that nice little cry fest and some time spent with the Lord, I just have this overwhelming peace about everything. The word says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 So, I hold tight to the faith that He is working it all out. He knows exactly where He is taking us in this next season. It’s not for me to plan out, but for us to seek Him and obey what He says. I’m excited about the future! I cannot wait to see what God has in store, and I really can’t wait to meet our little mister/miss in about 6 months!

I guess that’s all I have to say for now! Please keep us in your prayers. Pray for direction in the upcoming months as we prepare to come home. Pray for health for us and our little baby. Pray for wisdom and discernment as we continue to move forward with the chicken run. Pray for Casey as he continues to have doors opened for him to preach. And, as always, and most importantly, pray as the Holy Spirit leads.

We love and miss you all! Cannot wait to see you all in a few months.

Much love and blessings,

T

Hello everyone once again! I know that most of you guys have heard the news but we wanted to share it on the here as well,Tonya is pregnant and we are excited! To a lot of people this seems to be the most inconvenient time, however God is the creator of life and His timing is perfect. We are celebrating this special gift and cant wait to be parents!  Some things are a bit difficult  but we will be home soon enough and appreciate all of you who are praying and/or donating to the cause here in Zimbabwe. We have a mission to complete  and we believe we are to see it through to completion before we leave. I just want to say that the cause here is great and we cant solve all the problems we are seeing,but we can do what the Lord has laid on our hearts and this happens to be a chicken run. The ministry here is genuine and these guys are stretched thin,so establishing this business is going to generate a constant flow of income, allow them to grow and stand on their own feet one day. God has provided multiple properties and we believe this is part of the process to help them stand and advance the Kingdom of God in this nation. So whatever you have contributed or are going to contribute,you are making a huge impact here in Zimbabwe,but even more importantly in the Kingdom of God. I never thought I would be living in a third world country trying to raise funds for people I had never met and do such a seemingly small task  but when we stand back and look at the big picture,we are being the body of Christ,whether you sow prayers, finances, or resources. On top of that God is causing our gifts that He has placed in us to be exposed and utilized for His glory,not ours. To be honest,that is our prayer God remove any vanity that has held us in captivity,that has held us back from doing Your Will,and sometimes that is tough when those trying moments come,but God never leaves us,never forsakes us. I thank Him for that!

Back to the chicken project-we have started the building,very simple design and basic building methods.  20 feet  by 80 feet,with the capacity to house 1000-1200 chickens. Homemade bricks,we made over 5000 for this project which was very tough work,but in the end is going to save us over $2200,so that cost is eliminated. Next,we must get lumber for the trusses but I believe we have a connection here so maybe we can get a discounted rate on the lumber,then we will hand build to save more $$,then we will get metal roofing which is going to cost $350-$400,chicken wire,water tank and  feeders,electricity which will run about  $1600 for all material and connections, then the major cost-a back-up generator which is going to cost  $6400,this is a necessity because  of the power cuts here in Zim which are random ( I think someone just likes playing with the switches ) but is necessary for water to be pumped and for the heat lamps to be operational on the cold nights. Here we are just starting to enter into spring/summer months so maybe we raise that generator money later,I prefer to have it all done before we leave but we will see how it works out. Also we must get  canvas sides to block the cold at night which are going to be less than  $500,oh yeah and nest boxes which is another small cost,so all in all  we can have a fully functional business for around $10,000 that can pay for itself in less than two years and generate an income that pays for the future growth (building projects,the children of the homes,etc.) I know that I am not being very technical with all my numbers but we want to give a rough idea of where we are with this.  We have pictures posted on Facebook so you can see the progress there,We currently need to raise around $8000 to complete this project,initially the project was going to be around $16000 but we have cut costs where we could. I mention all of this because we do need your help and would like to see it completed before we leave. This is making a huge mark and redirecting the future for many, many lives from pastors to children,aunties to farm workers. We ask that you first pray,and then if the Lord tugs on your heart to give whatever you can. Also I just want to say,yes we do have a  home church who has supported us in a major way, who has been coming here for 10 years and are established here. We as a church have other projects going on-a church plant in Clarksville(under construction),fundraising for a dental clinic here in Zimbabwe,so this is  another project that God has laid on our hearts and we are reaching out to the body of Christ not just one church so we thank you for all of you support  in whatever way. If anyone has any suggestions or questions you can send me  a private message via facebook or email (cen-79@hotmail.com). We love you guys and you all at home are in our prayers! God bless you

Casey

ps. I hope my last blog didnt freak some of you out. I believe that it is important to be real about real issues and to expose darkness in whatever form it comes in-even though it may be uncomfortable at times.We love you guys and God bless you!

You can contact us at:

Casey: cen-79@hotmail.com

Tonya: tonyamae.nichols@gmail.com

To donate through the Tabernacle: http://www.thetabernacle.us/partner-with-us & specify Casey & Tonya Nichols or Special Build (Nichols)

Advertisements

We’re Not Chicken Farmers!

Have I told you how much I love Zimbabwe?! Well, I do. It finally hit me a little over a week ago. We had just left the farm and were heading into the city, and as I was staring out over the bush, I realized, I love this place. I am so happy we are here, and I am so in awe of how God is moving! It took some time. We had to plow through some struggles, warefare and cultural barriers, but I believe we have crossed those bridges. We have pushed through the major obstacles and are now on the other side. I love the way God works! I love this life with Him. He really is always working on our behalf.

Ok, now for the update. I know we have been silent (blog wise) for a little while, but for a few weeks we were sorting out our car issues. It’s a very long story — involving false papers, stolen money, police stations, many hours/days at ZIMRA (registration office), weeks of waiting, an almost seized vehicle, and finally a car that is legal to drive! It was such a long and frustrating process, but we really  saw God’s hand in it all. We didn’t have to do anything, but God brought all of the lies and manipulation to the surface. AND, we got our stolen money back and learned so much through the entire process. We were able to witness to a few people, pray for some and really learn what it means to be patient and wait on the Lord. He taught us to be careful with our words, to not slander and to show love no matter what the circumstance. It was kind of amazing the patience we had throughout the entire thing. All I can say is, our God is so good! I love Him more and more every day. I have seen Him work and move like never before in these past two months. He has caused our faith to be so raw and so real and so out in the open. It really is a beautiful thing.

We also were able to spend some time with Pastor Daley and Julie’s friends Pastor Nico and Katie. Well, I guess they are now our friends too. They are such a wonderful family! They have two boys, Jordan (6) and Nathaniel (4) as well as two beautiful labs. We were happy to have some dogs around because we are missing our baby, Cleveland, so much. Anyways, we had some great quality time with them, and God really used that visit to pour out some incredible insight and wisdom into our lives. During that stay, we spent a lot of time resting and really seeking God about this chicken run and just our purpose here. He really began to speak to us about what a major deal this chicken project is. His hand is all over it. The Lord really began to give us an understanding of how big this can be. This really can be an incredibly successful business. He is going to make this ministry here be self-sustaining. We keep going back to you can either give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Let’s be honest, if donations and handouts made you rich, Africa would be the wealthiest contitent in the world! Yes, they do need our help, but are we really helping them if we just keep giving them money? No, we must teach them to be businessmen and women. We must show them how to steward their money well. We must teach them about marketing and having strategy. I know, it doesn’t sound easy! It’s a huge challenge actually, but it’s the only thing that is going to truly grow and develop a successful ministry. Think about how difficult it would be to live our life only waiting on the next hand out. That would be miserable. Thankfully, that is not the place Pastor Mutatu and Irene want to be. They don’t want to rely on handouts. They want to be self-sustaining. So, through God, we are going to do our best to help them get there.

Before we left Nico & Katie’s, we were able to go by a company called Feed Mix. They were incredibly helpful and generous. They printed us pages of information about what is necessary when running a chicken business. OK, let me just stop here and say neither Casey or I are chicken farmers or know the first thing about running a chicken farm. Why in the world would God choose us to do this? We don’t know, but it’s caused us to be 100% reliant on Him. We keep going back to the saying “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” It has been amazing to see how God has completely directed our path into places like this. It’s incredible the places we have ended up. Sorry, there is just so much that has happened that I’m trying to find a way to put it all into words. Alright, so after Feed Mix, we were pointed in a right direction. We were educated on the size the coop needs to be, vaccinations that have to be given, heat for baby chicks, etc…. It was a wonderful starting point. From there, we were able to sit down with the Mutatu’s and really dicuss what they wanted and the potential we saw in this project. Well, not just saw, but really felt the Lord was giving it. As Casey says, we have never seen God push something forward so much. It’s obvious He wants this thing to happen. From there, the connections just kept happening. Everywhere we went people were just willingly pouring out information. Now, that is somewhat rare in Zimbabwe. Usually everyone is just trying to make a sale, but not in these casese. We had a freezer/refridgeration company be completely honest and real about how good and bad certain products would be. They told us not to purchase anything until we had a generator (being Americans, most people would just try to sell us the biggest/most expensive product they had). We then got connected with a good generator company through them. Then, this is the most exciting part, we were able to visit Crest Breeders. This is the second largest chicken company in Zimbabwe. We just showed up and explained a little of our situation to them and asked for advice. At first, they were very hesistant. They wanted to know what we were doing, where it was located and other things. BUT, then it was like as if you saw the Holy Spirit tangibly take over. All of the sudden, this guy started pouring – I mean pouring – out information. He was like you need this and you need that. He even went as far as to do a cost analysis break down for us. He showed us the difference in doing broilers (chickens for slaughter) and layers. He contiuned to give us information and advice to run a successful chicken farm. THEN, he took us out and let us see the chicken houses. He gave us a complete tour and even introduced us to the manager over that area. They pulled out chickens and showed us how to determine when they are done laying eggs. He explained the markets for eggs, chickens that are about to lay and even old chickens that are done laying eggs. It was AMAZING! Casey and I just kind of looked at eachother like “is this really happening?” Have I mentioned how AWESOME God is?! Have I told you how exciting this life is with Him? It has been such a mind blowing experience to watch this happen. We also were able to meet with a builder and negotiate pricing. He gave us his labor cost and the cost for materials. Well, remember those bricks Casey and the guys were making? They have plenty to do this project for the first 1,000 chickens. That cut the supply list cost more than in half! I am telling you, God is all over this thing!

So, that is where we stand. We now have a plan, a building design (sketched out by my amazing husband), a builder and most of the supplies. We have actually had some people contact us and tell us the Lord has laid it on their heart to help see this thing happen. We know the Lord will provide. I mean, look at what He has already done!

Well, I guess it’s time for me to let my lovely husband write a little something (he always says I write to much. I guess that is because I talk too much too). We love you all and are praying for all of you back home as well. Thank you for the continous love and encouragement.

Love & blessings!

T

My baby is becoming a chicken farmer!(deep southern accent)Our God does have a sense of humor and I think that it is hillarious.I am not going to spend much time on writing about the chicken project but it really has been amazing to see the hand of the Lord orchestrating this whole process.We do have a building design,material list,labor cost,and are continuing our education in chicken farming.These guys have a good understanding of chicken farming,but more education on the business side is necessary, so we are doing that together.(pastor,farm manager, Tonya and I)Tonya is gifted in business and is a huge help to that side of things.(cha- ching! :)This is going to be an awesome ministry/business and has great potential for growth.We have even had one person in particular say that the Lord has laid it on their heart to contribute to this specific project.(you must understand we havent been asking for money but God is moving upon the hearts of His people to make this happen and we thank Him for that!)I am saying that to say this if you are one of those people who want  to donate to the chicken project in  you can go to  http://www.thetabernacle.us/ and click donate box,then be very specific in your wording -”casey and tonya chicken project” and this will go to that project.We just want this information out there so you will know if you want to donate.I will tell you this is good ground and the money goes to this project 100%.

Now I want to talk about the spiritual climate here in this nation and how God is moving.We have been experiencing so much on many different levels so I will try to cover as much as possible.Currently in this nation the unemployment rate is 80% which gives people a lot of spare time.There are many different sects and cults here and they are very active,however God has His people here and is raising His church(Ekklesia- Pastor Tony Daley) up.The Word of God talks about in the last days darkness growing darker,but the church growing brighter in the midst of it all,and this is exactly what we see here.We are being connected with many different pastors representing many different denominations here and this is exciting because we see them coming together for one common purpose,there are no arguments about “my denom” being right and yours is wrong,there is not even a hint of that.They discuss the issues and are bombarding the heavens with prayer-together. example of an issue: witchcraft is a real issue here, 1 week ago there was a story of a witch actually flying through the air and knocked out of the sky because the people of God were praying in a certain area and it rendered her powerless-this was witnessed by a guy and the witch said this is why she was knocked out of sky.powerful!!!We need to wake up ekklesia!!and yes demonic forces are real and do manifest magical powers which is a deception and a lure to lead people astray.We have shows about mediums, and magicians who can levitate and walk on water,this is how satan works-seduce with a  sense of power but in the end leads to hell and so many people think it is cool and want to be a part.Remember Jesus and the temptation by satan, Matthew 4:9-11-”if you will bow down and worship me i will give all the kingdoms of the world but Jesus said you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only”.Dont be deceived by compromise but live according to the standard that our Lord set for us.I am not meaning to preach but the withcraft i see here is in and creeping into our great nation so the church should rise up in the Spirit of unity as Jesus prayed we would.  John 17:21

Also concerning Tonya and myself,we are preaching,teaching,getting to pray for the sick,pray for those with tormenting spirits,and the amazing thing is, God is doing the work through us.People here can and will testify of the Lord bringing deliverance to their situation,or even freedom to an old mindset holding them in bondage,or even healing to their bodies.I am not saying this because we are that great,but because He is and He is using us to do it.So the kingdom of God is at hand,not just here but all across this world-wake up church!!!We must love one another as we do ourself,pray for those who are hurting,bless instead of curse,feed our enemies,care for the orphans and widows.We are His hands and feet in this earth!Lord we want you to find a bold faith in us when you return! Luke 18:8

Guys I just wanted to give this brief description on the happenings here where we are.There is so much going on here I dont have the time to tell it all,but the Lord is working and doing many things but the goal is the same-rescue His people from the grips of satan. We also want you to know that if you are reading this we are praying for you,if anyone has questions you can post them or send messages via facebook,but our message is this-we serve a living God is He is still revealing Himself to people as the great “I AM”!You can pray for us as well however the Spirit of God leads you to pray,specifically you can pray for chicken project and for a continued spirit of unity in our interactions with all these people we meet. Thankyou guys for all your support and prayers. God bless you!

Casey

Life in ZIM

I just want to greet everyone who reads this! My beautiful wife is great about telling the details of all that is happening here in Zimbabwe so you can read her section for that. The transition process for us has been a little rough but it is all good! God is changing lives on both sides of the culture. However it isn’t about the culture, but the Kingdom of God! Mind sets have to be dealt with first though (Peter) and only God can do that through our mingling and doing ministry together. So yes, God is faithful and doing a mighty work here in us and through us! We continue to thank God for all of you at home and we are praying for you as well! No matter where we go, God is the same yesterday, today and forever! We miss all of guys but are very excited to be doing what He has called us to do. I will give a little info on TJ’s House. This is an orphanage that is rescuing children from the streets of Zimbabwe and God is providing and teaching these people to be self sustaining so they are in a season of transition as a ministry. The ministers have great character and are people of integrity and are very much Kingdom minded. There are four different locations where children are cared for, educated and most importantly, instructed in the ways of God. In the schools, these very children out shine the children from the community, not to boast, but to show the blessing of God. Oh yeah, I should mention this, that all 4 of these locations have been given to this ministry and one of these properties is a 1000 acre farm (a big deal in Zim!).There is a great group of leadership and everyone is very much in agreement with the vision for this region and nation. So the kingdom of God is very much advancing here just a limit on resources. We are currently in the process of constructing a chicken run on the farm to house 1000 chickens to start with. This will be a great business venture to help them stand on their own feet however the finances to get all the materials is a hurdle at the moment. This will be constructed out of bricks made at the farm by hand which are molded they just have to be fired now. Let me tell you this was work and these guys work hard, I know I was out there with them. Then we have to buy roofing materials (lumber, nails and a covering). Also, we have to pour the footer and floor which is all hand mixed and laid with a shovel, no concrete truck. God help us! If you know anything about concrete you know this is not an easy task nor is it fast. I’m telling you all this to give you a visual on the processes here, it is very….third world. Work is work, it is just an ancient way of doing things. There are concrete trucks but I’m not sure about the cost and they are rare, I have only seen one. Ok enough of that. God is moving and doing a great work here and I understand that everyone cannot come but you can pray, so please do. More to come soon just want to give you all an idea of the happenings here. By the way, there are pictures on facebook of our brothers/sisters in Christ here in Zimbabwe. God bless you all and we will write again soon!

OK, time for all of my lengthy details…

It’s so hard to even begin to describe life in Zim. This has definitely been the biggest adventure for both of us: full of highs and lows. If you have never been to a third world country, I think it is impossible for us to fully convey the way life is here. It is pretty amazing though the way God created us. We are creatures who are able to adapt – if we allow the Lord to help us. What seemed to be so difficult and challenging the first week – like bathing out of a bucket and going outside to use the restroom, now are just a way a life. We’ve adjusted. Thank you Lord for taking over!

We have said from the beginning we wanted to be completely transparent and honest in our blog. We want you all to know the struggles we face and challenges we go through. We want nothing else other than to be completely raw and open. That’s how you truly see everything God is doing. We are only human, but “through Christ ALL things are possible.”

We’ll do our best to pick up where we left off. We stayed at the Mutatu’s home until the following Monday after we arrived. Before we left, we wanted to cook them an “American” meal, so we picked up a little extra food when doing our shopping at the market. We cooked them cheeseburgers & ramen noodles (in our box of supplies from the states), and we bought chips and Coke. Of course the electricity went off RIGHT as we stood up to begin cooking the meal, so we started a fire outside and cooked everything out there by flashlight most of the time. They were so excited, and so were we. It was fun! They are not used to eating a lot of meat during their meals, so the burgers were extremely filling for everyone! They usually eat a small portion of meat with tons of rice or saduz and a veggie. This was a treat for them (and for us as well). Casey preached the Sunday service before we headed out to the farm, and he was able to share his testimony. It was awesome to see the way God used that to speak to people. I am so proud of the way he is growing and maturing in that gift. At this point, we had adjusted much better, but we were excited to get to the farm. We were ready to feel more settled and begin figuring out what work we felt the Lord leading us to do.

Monday we arrived at the farm and were able to nest a little (I think it’s a female thing, but it made me feel so much better!) We were given the main mother’s room in our house. There are 4 rooms in the home that surround an open kitchen/living room/dining room. No doors. They were so sweet and hung a sheet over our door though. We had purchased a mattress on the way out, so we were able to have a full size bed rather than their twin bed there. We met all of the aunties, farm manager & teacher at Goshen Children’s Village. We met most of the kids, but got to know the 10 kids that live with us and Auntie D & Auntie Lucy that night at dinner. They don’t speak English that well, so there is a communication barrier (it is getting much better though the more time we spend with them). We talked and they just smiled and stared that night, but we were happy to be apart of their family. We now were auntie and uncle to 10 sweet children.

Throughout the next few days, we began the work we had talked with Pastor Mutatu about doing. I began helping Mrs. Paraza at the school, and Casey began helping the guys on the farm. I would help her teach & observe grade 2 while she taught grade 1. It was a struggle because the children really didn’t understand anything I said. The first day, they just stared, laughed and smiled at me a lot. They quickly learned to listen to me and understand me some though. Mrs. Paraza would interpret when I would teach English, and the kids slowly caught on. It was still a challenge and frustrating though. We set a schedule for all of the children in the village and outside in the community  to come and play on the farm every Tuesday and Thursday from 2pm-4pm. This way, they are able to learn English, pick up my accent, and in time, we be great for me to be able to share Jesus with the kids from the community.

Casey went to work first thing milking the cows! He finally admitted to me later that he did spray himself in the face that first day. Oh, the experiences and laughs we have had! A few days after the farm work for that season was wrapped up, Casey initiated the process of building the chicken coop. They want to be able to eventually house 5,000 chickens. Most the other buildings here are made out of brick and concrete, so that will take a lot of time, money and hard labor. They decided the best thing to do would be to build them big enough to house 1,000 chickens. Bricks began to be made that week. They make them all by hand by mixing mud and water. You can see our facebook page for some photos of the process. They were all so thrilled and excited about the progress of the project! The finished making the brings within about a week’s time. They also told us that their mind set of the “white man” has been changed because of us – well Casey in this case. They said they are used to the white man just pointing and giving direction, not working. But Casey was out there working with them and doing everything they did. That spoke so much to them. It also was an answer to one of our prayers. We have prayed that mind sets be broken on both our end and theirs. We don’t want culture to get in the way of us living out the Kingdom of God.

Although we are more settled and more comfortable than we were in the beginning, I would be lying if I said it has been easy. It’s actually been far from that. This journey has been full of tears, laughter, sorrow and joy. We both have battled some illness, but have seen the Lord totally intervene. We have questioned a lot why are we here? what is our purpose? are we doing anything? But just as we begin to really question (probably me more than Casey), someone calls or gives us an encouraging word, or God completely speaks through someone in a sermon. He has been so faithful to continue to reassure us (me) in our many times of doubts and questions. Pastor Daley called us one night (a night that I was actually struggling particularly hard), and just really encouraged us to just do what we know to do here. Not to try to figure it out, and God would lay it all out for us (this is me summarizing). Those words brought peace and reassurance though. We are not God. We don’t understand His ways, for “His ways are higher than our ways.” All we can do is what we feel the Lord leading us to do.

I can say it has been such a refining process for me. I can’t really put into words what is taking place, but I feel God moving. I feel him molding me and making me into something greater. I feel my flesh being crucified more and more. There are times that have been so frustrating because of culture differences – like today for example. We were going to run a few errands with Pastor and Irene and I only had jeans left that were clean. Not realizing it would be a big deal, I just put them on. Before we left though, they told Casey I must change and wear a skirt or dress if traveling with them. Yes, I know, it sounds somewhat absurd. Casey was extremely frustrated and I was, well – super annoyed! Who are THEY to tell me what I can and cannot wear. What happened to my rights as a human? What happened to the Bible saying come as you are (does it really say that, btw, or have we always just been told that)? Super angry in our room, I grabbed Casey’s hand and said, we haven’t prayed, we have to pray. I prayed a prayer asking the Lord for grace and mercy and understanding. I prayed against division setting in, and asked the Lord for help. I changed into my dirty dress, annoyed, and walked into the living room (a little fearful of what my husband might say to them). He just calmly expressed his frustration with them trying to make us fit their culture, but said it would be ok. They explained that it’s not necessarily their culture, but a standard they set for modesty in their ministry. They weren’t trying to make us conform, but wanted us to be accepted into their community and help set a standard as well. We, as white people from America, are closely watched and do set an example. We felt better after that explanation, and later when Casey and I were talking, he reminded me that the word says, “we must become all things to all people so that we might win some.” So, for the sake of ministry, I will wear my dresses and skirts. I am here to share the love of Jesus, not to worry about my appearance. I must continue to die to myself, and allow the Lord to have his way. I feel Him pouring His peace into my life.  I feel Him close. I see Him answer simple prayers, and I feel as though I am hearing him more clearly. It’s so good. I am so in love with my Lord!

I am sure I could write for hours and hours about our faith being stretched, the laughter we have shared and the wonderful friends we are making, but I am sure you are all exhausted after reading all if this. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Pray for guidance as we continue to sort out what the Lord would have us do. Pray for mind sets on both ends to continue to be broken. Pray for Casey as he continues to preach frequently (we have a bible study almost every night at the farm, and he leads it a majority of the time). Pray for language barriers to continue to be broken. Pray for finances for the chicken coop project and other areas we would like to help with. And most importantly, pray as the Holy Spirit would lead you to pray, for He knows what we need more than we do.

We love and miss you all. Thank you for all of the constant support and prayers.

Blessings,

Casey & Tonya

 

We Have Arrived!

Hello from Zimbabwe! I still cannot believe we are actually here. We are living in Africa! Although we have only been here for 5 days now, it somewhat feels like a month. I really don’t know how to describe what we have experienced in this short stay. It’s hard to put into words all of the emotions. It has been full of struggles and challenges as we adapt to a new way of living and different culture, but, it has also been so full of love, encouragement and constant gratitude for our coming. We’ll do our best to update you as much as possible without being too lengthy.

We arrived Sunday around 12:45pm Zimbabwe time. It took us well over an hour to get through the line to get our visas. Everything is done by hand, and they are not in any sort of hurry. It’s a much slower pace of life here. When we finally got through we had to have our bags checked because of the large size tubs we had (full of toiletries, medical supplies, blankets & a few American snacks). They passed the test, and we were permitted through to our hosts. Pastor Mutatu, his daughter, Ruthie, his friends Mildred & her husband (whose name escapes me) were patiently waiting. They had a sweet homemade welcome sign on a 8.5×11 piece of paper & huge smiles on their faces. They were just as excited as we were. We instantly felt welcomed. We also were greeted by another couple, Ryan and Amanda from California! That was a big surprise. They are missionaries who have been living in Harare for the past 7 months. They are here through a mission program (from what I understand), so we will not be working with them, but I know we will be able to spend some time with them. We were exhuasted from our travels which began on Friday, so we went to Pastor’s house  in Glen Noraha, ate some dinner & went to bed for the night.

It’s been an adjustment as far as the sleeping goes. For the first few days we would go to bed early, and then we would find ourselves wide awake from at least 2am-4am. Last night we finally started getting on track though. I think the fact that we stopped letting ourselves take naps has helped. They were insistent that we rest for a few days. They said they wanted us to be fully recovered from our travels and strong to go to work.

As far as the living situation goes, let me just say we are spoiled babies in the states! Electircity that just randomly goes off during the day, water that stops running, outdoor toilets and baths from a rubbermaid round tub are all normal to them. This was probably the hardest thing to adjust to. We hadn’t bathed since Friday night/Saturday moring because we had been on an airplane the entire time, and we woke up Monday morning feeling in major need of a shower. Well, the “shower head” was in the outdoor toilet stall, but the water was shut off. Irene, pastor’s sweet wife, heated us up a pot of hot water and gave us one tub of cold water. We went to the outdoor sink to attempt to at least wash our face and hair. Casey, my amazing husband, was attempting to help me wash my hair, and he accidently dumped the whole thing of hot water on my legs. We just stared at eachothr and laughed knowing we had so much to learn. So, with one freezing cold bucket of water, we washed our faces and hair. What an experience! That day was pretty much spent resting and getting to know the family.

The next day, I woke up in tears and told Casey I don’t know if I can do this any more. We still hadn’t bathed, we were struggling with a language barrier and thick accents, and I just didn’t know if I had the patience or strength to do it anymore. He just encouraged me, we prayed and reminded each other of Pastor Tony’s comment that “the first week will be very hard. You will struggle with feeling connected spiritually and have some culture shock, but just hang in there because it will get better.” We found comfort in those words, but most importantly, comfort that we knew God has called us, that he was working and the picture was so much greater than we could see. Thankfully, this was the morning everyone was bathing! We quickly learned how to bath from a tub right beside the toilet. Let me tell you, it’s never felt so good to bath in my life! What a humbling expereince. That’s when I realized how spoiled and weak we Americans are.

The past few days have been much better. We have adjusted more, we are slowly learning the langauage -and I mean slowly -, have met some incredible people and Casey even had the opportunity to preach last night! He did awesome if I do say so myself. It was a brief message, but more of an introduction to who we are, what we have seen and how grateful we are to be here.

I could continue to go on for days about the people and everything else, but I will let my husband take it over from here.

ok,now my turn-finally!i am going to keep this short as possible and as direct as i can be.wow!this place is absolutely amazing!in the 4 days that we have been here i have been humbled,but also stirred up in my spirit.these people are absolutely sold out for Jesus,beyond anything i have ever seen!i am humbled that the Lord would call us to be a part of what is taking place,so much vision and direction from a very humble man of God,just a limited supply of funds,however God has provided farms and homes for these children to dwell in.I mean the Lord has actually given very nice homes and property to this ministry(one of the properties happens to be a 1000 acre farm)this is huge in zimbabwe.i say that to say the Lord is moving in ways here that is only heard about and now i see why.these people are humble and demonstrating the love of Christ in ways that most of us have only read about!now time to be transparent-we got to visit two of the homes where the children stay and hear a couple of stories about the orphan children-i found myself fighting back tears in that moment,almost an uncontrollable outburst of compassion.i knew right then and there that this is the center of Gods heart!then later on before we left they asked me to pray,i started out with a few words and had to pause because the only thing that would come out of my mouth is cries,out of my eyes tears,the presence of God was so strong,finally i regained my composure and prayed but was touched in a way that i never will forget.thankyou Lord!!! and this is only the beginning!  

We will be heading to goshen on monday,this is the farm where we will be staying.Tonya will be teaching and i will be be helping with construction projects,the first is a chicken coupe to house 5000 + chickens.this will help the minstry be self supporting as well as provide jobs,which in turn is another chance to share the gospel of Jesus.

We look foward to sharing our stories from the farm! Until then, please pray for continued direction, relationships being built and that the Lord’s will and puroose would be accomplished through it all.

We love you all!

It’s Really Happening!

Yep, it is really happening! We are moving to Zimbabwe for six months, and we could not more excited about this journey God is leading us on. I’ll do my best to fill you in on everything we know as of now.

A little background:
Around March we really began to seek the Lord concerning what was the next step in our lives. We had begun to feel frustrated and basically out of alignment. We began asking God what He was saying concerning our young adults ministry and just our lives in general. What began as just a casual (and somewhat joking) remark about moving to Africa for a year, really struck something within both of us. After weeks of prayer, God made it pretty clear to both of us that this was the next chapter in the Nichols’ life. It really doesn’t make much sense, but we have no choice but to be obedient. Casey was reminded of Genesis 12:1 where God tells Abram to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Sometimes God doesn’t provide all the details, He just tells us to follow Him and have faith. So, that’s what this next season is about: complete and total FAITH. Faith that God will provide direction. Faith that God will provide provision. Faith that God will protect. Faith that God really does know what is best for us.

What’s to come:
We soon began to really pursue the move. After speaking with our Pastor, Anthony Daley, connections were quickly made with Pastor Mutatu in Zimbabwe. Our church, The Tabernacle, has an orphanage over there, and pastor Mutatu and his staff are the overseers. Their church also has farm land, livestock & occasional building projects (from what we understand). There is still so much that is unknown about this journey. There are so many questions we have not been able to answer simply because, we have no clue! What will we do while we are over there? We don’t know. There’s where faith kicks in. What will we do when we get back? We don’t know. Another step of faith. It’s exciting though! We cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store. We know it might not be easy, and we know there is much to be learned, but we know our God will always provide.

Casey did receive an email from Pastor Mutatu stating there is much work to be done. He said there is a possibility that we could teach in the orphanage – There are a range of things such as math, science, english, history, art, home economic, etc… Casey thinks I need to take my sewing machine and teach home ec, but let’s be real, I haven’t even figured that darn thing out yet! Pastor Mutatu also said they want to build a chicken run for 5,000 chickens or more! Yes, you read that right – 5,000 chickens! Also, Casey will be ministering in the church on the farm (where we will be living) and in the city. My favorite statement Pastor Mutatu had to say was all this work will be done “as the Spirit leads.” Listening to God is the most important thing. We don’t want to miss what He has in store for us and His people in this next season. We want to go where He says go and do what He says do. May we be His hands and feet.

We will do our best to keep everyone updated with this blog. How often we’ll get into the city and have internet connection is another unknown. Also, we are not asking for anything but your prayers! Please pray for wisdom and knowledge as we begin this journey. We will post more specific prayer requests as they come. Although we are not asking for any donations to be made, we have had several people ask us how they could. You may do so by going to http://www.thetabernacle.us. Click the GIVE link and follow the steps from there. You MUST be specific and list Casey & Tonya Nichols on the donation form. Also, you can find more information about TJ’s House on the church’s website. That is the orphanage will be helping.

Thank you all for all of your love and support. We can’t wait to give you an update from Zimbabwe!

 

Love & Blessings,

Casey & Tonya

Image

Mom loaded us up at Sam’s Club!