Hello to all of those near and far –
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and concerns as Mozambique experienced the strongest cyclone known in the southern hemisphere. I watched snippets of clips from various news stations and wept my heart out. My prayer now is that the devastation and destruction that took place in the homes and lives of so many will open wide the doors of opportunity for them to know the Lord and find their security and safety in Him.
Our little village area experienced little of the ruin and damage that Mozambique experienced. Yet, their lives, too, are changed. How can one not be impacted when one’s own country is grappling with how to move forward?
Our preschools will continue their feeding programs through the remainder of the year. These programs tend to cease when the harvest is ripe and corn is being shucked and crops are being pulled from the dark earth. But, the harvest will be minimal this year and people need to be fed. Pray for our team, as we walk out this year together and yearn to help the community in the best way possible. Pray, too, that we would have wisdom, guidance, and strength.
p.s. And forgive me for not having responded to individual emails with my previous update. I will try and be better this time. It has been a busy season for me too, which I’ll tell all of you about soon and very soon.
Hello friends and family, near and far –
Attached is an update concerning the effects of Cyclone Idai and its impact on our village and beyond.
It’s now a PDF document, so you should all be able to open it. Apologies for those of you that weren’t able to open it the first time.
Again, many many thanks for your love, prayers and support,
Hello all –
Prayer Request, concerning the aftermath of Cyclone Idai
All week long, I have been scouring the news, looking for images of hope (or the face of hopelessless) on Facebook, and praying for the villages of Mozambique. My heart is undone. This country has already been ravaged by so much unrest, calamity and despair, and now this….
The missionaries are fine. Exhausted, but fine. The schools were well build and still stand, strong with deep foundations and thick impenetrable walls. The villagers are okay, having described the radical wild storm as the longest day of their lives. I can’t imagine the fear or dread that they must have felt, huddled under plastic and grass roofs and clustered together in the middle of their tiny homes, the walls made of mud, clay and sand, while fierce winds and heavy torrential rain fell around them. It must have been absolutely terrifying, and this was just in our village. If you read news reports, (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47624156?fbclid=IwAR0KWQ9DEe9kUS-Nw_gsqVMzWoocsd8i9HaVS9T3s22qIx0rkyCfDlDzRAk) the images and stories of what happened elsewhere in Mozambique are horrifying. It’ll take decades to repair the damage done, but the heartache will probably never go away.
In our villages, one in four homes were destroyed. Over 20 inches of rain fell, mostly in the span of 24 hours. Many crops were destroyed and the storm came at the absolute worst possible time of the year, at the tail end of hunger season, just before crops were to be harvested.
We will most likely extend the feeding program through the remainder of the year. Typically, we feed the preschool children through hunger season, before the harvest comes in, but this year’s harvest will be harshly inadequate.
If you feel led to assist us financially, all donations through the end of March will go directly to relief efforts. You’re welcome to contribute to our organization’s general fund at www.ireachafrica.org
You’re also welcome to contribute at https://my.bethelredding.com/default.aspx?page=3591&funds=3781,3703,2596,2610, which is our (Julie & Nate Miller) Bethel M80 Child Education Center account. All contributions will go towards the school and the extension of the feeding program.
June 28, 2017
A short, condensed update on us, the Miller tribe of three
Bennett is now 17 months old. I vividly remember when he couldn’t yet pick up a Cheerio, his head still fit under our wood dining room table, and his movements were contained on the square of a blanket laid on the floor.
Today, he carefully holds and crunches on an apple while nestled in the baby carrier on my back and sits on a pedal-less bike as I zoom him back and forth down our black concrete driveway. Too, I have come to understand why moms use child harnesses. (We have a very quick, inquisitive, and adventurous little ‘runner’ on our hands).
Nate is Nate: hard-working, devoted, and studious. It has been stretching for him to attempt to juggle being a dad, a husband, a full-time student, and an employee, but he’s incredible and has always made time for Friday night movies and popcorn (which is what we did in Africa every week), bedtime story time with Bennett, and coffee and prayer time in the morning.
I’m well. It has been challenging to adjust to living in the United States and my body and soul have hungered to be back overseas, but I’ve continued to ask the Lord what He has for me in this season, as I want to fully embrace the ‘now’ in preparation for the future.
Too, motherhood is an adjustment. I rarely wear make-up anymore, my ‘purse’ has become a diaper bag, my work-outs are now toddler friendly (We go for runs in the jogging stroller) and I can’t even remember the last time I set an alarm. Too, I had my first (paying) job when I was 15, delivering newspapers, and then worked all through high school, college and beyond, never stopping until our little one came into this world. Being home is definitely work (a job) too, but it’s different. For a while, I wanted to get a part-time job. I wanted to accomplish something outside of the home. After 6+ months, I finally found my peace.
Now, after 2+ years in the United States, we’re beginning to think of life overseas once more.
Nate will graduate with his degree in Urban and Regional Planning this December. His heart is to work as a planner in the Middle East, helping to rebuild post-war torn cities. My heart yearns to build more schools, as I have seen the incredible impact of Jesus, His love, and education to so many in Mozambique. Though, presently, my work is to be a mom – raising Bennett and hopefully another little one soon. (We’re believing for a third pregnancy, as I had a miscarriage with our second baby this past month – a sad, heart-wrenching experience that Nate and I am still processing, yet overcoming, as we know we will meet our little one in heaven one day).
I have so much more to say, but know that long emails are, well, long :). I’m happy to chat more about us, life, family, and missions if anyone is eager to hear….
Know that your support of Nate, Bennett, and I and the schools in Mozambique have been a tremendous blessing. Because of the school’s success and its deep impact on the village, we are now raising funds for a third school. Property has already been purchased. Anna has long been involved in the village, (where the new school will be built), just a few mere kilometers from our present school, having done outreaches there with the children for quite some time.
Growth continues to happen. Lives continue to be impacted. Jesus’ word continues to be spread. That’s what it’s all about folks. The Lord sent me to Mozambique to begin a good work and the good work continues.
I can’t wait to do more.
Joy, blessings, favor and increase,
contribution news Checks made out to:
In the memo: M55 (Support for us)
In the memo: M80 (Support for the Center)
Send to: BETHEL CHURCH, 933 College View Drive, Redding, CA 96003
A tiny update (and then something you can be a part of below…)
Our little, Bennett, just turned one. He’s pure delight and I simply can’t wait to have more.
We’re hoping/planning/believing that we’ll be back overseas by the spring of next year. Come on Jesus! Our hearts long to be a part of the developing world.
Nate’s in school full-time, will graduate with a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning this fall. His goal/dream/desire is to help rebuild post-conflict war torn cities. I want to build more schools.
Our two schools in Mozambique are doing exceptionally well. Drama, science and personal/social/health classes have been introduced, one more full-time teacher was hired on this year, we now have 7 after-school bible/math/reading/writing classes for our 7 graduating classes (2009/2010 graduates to 2016 graduates) and my babies (aka students) from 2009 are graduating from elementary school this year. Eek! Anna continues to thrive in her role as the on-site director and is getting serious about learning Portuguese. Go Anna! I couldn’t be happier.
So, now for some other news…
See these beauties? They’re our precious students (past and present), from our lovely little school in a tiny remote impoverished village in Mozambique. They come to school barefoot, in thread-bare clothes, and leave with a complete uniform, including flip-flops, underwear, and sometimes even a jacket… and so much more. This year, I’d love to purchase each of them (and there’s 90!) a pair of shoes that will last them 5 years. 5 years! (Right now, we’re lucky if their flip-flops last them until the end of the school year). Wouldn’t one pair of shoes, that lasts each child 5 years, be absolutely brilliant.
So, join me…now.
For every $20 that you contribute to this account, (which will buy one pair of shoes), I’ll also contribute $20 and buy a pair of shoes. Come on! Let’s make this happen!
Give here: https://my.bethelredding.com/default.aspx?page=3591&funds=2279,3703,2596,2610
(Put $20…or maybe even $40 or $60 in the M55 iReachAfrica account) and then write to tell me about it so that we can let the world know what we’re doing.
See what we’re buying, together, here: https://theshoethatgrows.org
Do it now though. I only have two weeks, as I need to get those shoes on a plane to Africa the first week of March.
p.s. When we reach 90 pairs of shoes, I’ll give a shout-out.
August 26, 2016
9:00am. Oatmeal pot scrubbed, poo-stained clothes soaking in the sink, blueberry-faced baby sleeping (he went wild with the blueberries we ate this morning), and work-out clothes on. I’m getting there, …but aren’t we all. 😉
Nate thought that it would be good if I shot out a hello to all of you and gave a general update.
Our little munchkin is 7.5 months old. He’s too active to cuddle, loves to crawl up our legs by grabbing onto any bit of leg hair (Apparently that’s what leg hair is for?), thinks our bellies are bouncy castles, is often found attacking the stroller tires with his three (almost four!) teeth (ewww), and is now in his crib and sleeping through the night. Bliss.
Nate’s halfway through his Master’s program at Portland State University (PSU). He’s interning for the Bureau of Environmental Services and comes home saying “I love my job.” So good. He’s in the thick of pursuing that which the Lord put on his heart nearly a decade ago. It’s amazing to see His plans unfold in His perfect timing. Nate will graduate in the fall of 2017 with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. His heart is to go into post-conflict developing nations of the world (Africa and the Middle East perhaps) and help rebuild their city infrastructures. Wow wow wow.
Meanwhile, I’m making roast-beef-and-mash-potatoes-type-meals for dinner (and cooking isn’t even close on ‘my favorite thing in the world to do’ list), have memorized every hardbound child’s book we own, find my hair bound up in a tight bun every day (as ‘someone’ enjoys tugging on it), and continue to dream of Africa.
Anna, the onsite director in Mozambique, is doing a most brilliant job. She’s really happy there and I’m so very impressed by her. Her love of the work and the Lord’s perfect timing in sending her continues to astound me. (‘Perfect timing’ seems to be a theme here). The classes now have pet turtles, new African baby dolls (that the children thought were real and asked the teachers if they were okay being in the classrooms, alone, overnight), and a really fun water wall.
A recent visitor – a father of two – said this: The nursery school was without doubt the best I have seen in Africa. The class sizes were small and they had both a teacher and a helper in each. Learning was student centric and fun. Teachers and helpers engaged the kids and cared for them. I was very impressed. While I had an opportunity to learn about each of the ministries they do at Africa 180, I was most touched by the walk I took through the local village to meet and interview parents and past students. What impressed me was the amount of connectivity that the school staff had with the families. They knew them by name and knew their stories. Teachers knew what challenges students had at home and were treating each student holistically through these relationships. One of the amazing additional programs this nursery school was engaged in was Alumni classes. Teachers had seen that students moving on into government schools were not getting the same level of care and that students were actually loosing skills. To combat this, the school started a weekly alumni class where graduates could come and practice skills. In the community I met families with alumni students and they confirmed the positive impact that the Africa 180 team had made on their lives. I have been looking for a school for Joshua and Grace to start in and this little pre- school in the middle of Mozambique was just the ticket. Too bad this school is more than 2000 kms from home!
Nate and I can’t wait to be back in the nations, with our son, but have learned to be content in this season of our lives too, knowing that the Lord’s timing will prevail.
Thank you, one and all, for continuing to sow into our ministry in Africa. The Lord’s hand is surely upon it, as it continues to grow and bless the surrounding villages.
Cheers, joy, and happy fall,
At 41 weeks of pregnancy, (in my last update) I’d asked for prayer, prayer for an easy delivery. Well, folks, the only ounce of ‘easy’ in the delivery was knowing that Jesus was there with me. I labored naturally for 36 hours (gasp) with little progress, was given an epidural – as I was completely and utterly exhausted and needed help of some kind -, labored a bit more and then, ready to push, the surgeon said ‘We’re going in now’, as baby’s heart rate had plummeted, and I went on a very quick, bumpy, unplanned trip in my hospital gown, laying in the hospital bed, to the surgery room. Gulp. I couldn’t see much, as my view was hurriedly obstructed by a large sheet of blue hospital paper, couldn’t feel much… and then Bennett let out his first cry and Nate announced ‘We have a son’. It was a very raw moment, surreal. I cried. We both cried. I couldn’t wrap my head around what had just transpired. One moment I was getting ready to push and thinking about what it would be like to catch our baby and cut his (or her) umbilical cord and the very next, a beautiful boy was placed by my side. Ahhhhh. So emotional.
Bennett Alexander Miller was born at 6:30am on January 30th. I was induced at 7:30am on January 28th.
I praised Jesus that I wasn’t in the bush in Africa. When dreaming about pregnancy, birth and babies, I’d seen myself among African women, in the remote parts of Mozambique. Nate comments that if ‘Julie had it her way, she’d be laboring under a tree with a stick to bite down on’. Yup. That was me, that was what I wanted…until I experienced the complications of Bennett’s birth.
He’s now 4 ½ months old, has streaks of untamable blonde hair that sticks straight up, and adores his Rainforest Jumparoo, continuing to jump whenever held (as we’re now, in his eyes, simply an extension of his Jumparoo). I can’t wait to have another (and am still believing for twins, though I think it would be a bit more challenging now…) I could see it happening though. God has a great sense of humor.
So, mommyhood. Love it.
It hasn’t changed my love of the nations though. Within days of having Bennett, Nate and I looked at one another, saying, without saying, ‘I’m still ready. Are you?’ We simply can’t wait to get back from Africa. We’re eager to show off our son to all of the mamas, the papas, and the children of Mozambique. We’ve been asking Bennett if he’s ready to meet his African family.
I recently sent 70pds of love to Mozambique – black baby dolls, finger paints, blocks, bright colored markers… and rain jackets for the teachers (as per request). I wanted to tie a large red ribbon around Nate, Bennett and myself and crawl into one of the suitcases and yell ‘surprise’ as we leaped out into the sticky warmth of African sunshine and there, listen to the women pound corn in the wee hours of the morning, take a small child’s hand and lead him across the street to school, watch clouds of dust rise in the overly crowded village churches as women dance their way through worship, and hug our teaching staff for being so devoted, so hard-working.
It’s only a matter of time. Nate has a little over a year of school left; I want to have another baby….
The schools, under Anna’s care, are thriving…and she wants to stay. She loves it there. Who wouldn’t? Come and you’ll fall in love too.
January 14, 2016
40 weeks pregnant. I celebrated by staying in my soft, stretchy cotton pjs until noon and watching various YouTube videos about how to wear a baby. I have absolutely loved being pregnant and took a good long look at my extended ‘rocket’ belly (as Nate calls it, as it shoots straight out), with a very distinct dark line running down the center, and thought, “I’m going to miss this.” Though, subsequent pregnancies will surely equal a similar look.
We haven’t told anyone if it’s a boy or a girl. Actually, we don’t know ourselves. It’s going to be a surprise. Nate and I both have a hunch that it’ll be a little girl, though our moms both think a small boy will soon come forth.
Aside from baby news, our 8th year of classes started up this week at our two schools in Mozambique. I wish with all of my heart that I was there, (though not at this exact moment, as I’m ready to pop). The beginning of the year is filled with such jubilation, excitement, and eagerness. So many new little friends, ready to learn, to grow, and to know more about Jesus, most of which are thrilled to be at school, though the first couple weeks are inevitably a little tough on a few, with tears shed.
We’ve extended our Crèche program this year and now run both a morning class and an afternoon class, which brings our school body up to 90 students. I don’t think there’s a wandering, unschooled three to five year child in the entire village. We’ve scooped them all up and given them dolls to dress up, blocks to stack and songs about Jesus to boisterously sing. It’s all so very new and exciting for them.
We’re planning on revitalizing our Adult Literacy classes, which the village mamas keep asking about. The classes have brought such incredible freedom and joy to the women. It’s amazing to see them confidently, though very slowly, write out the letters of their names and rehearse what they’ve learned. They’re so very proud of themselves and we’re so proud of them.
We’ll also start up homework clubs for youth that are in school and haven’t yet learned how to read and write. Once upon a time, about 6 months ago, the youth approached our staff during a time of prayer, saying that they wanted to better understand their teachers at school and learn these invaluable skills. How could we not have compassion on them? How could we not desire to run alongside them and help them to learn these skills? These youth are the future generation of Mozambique!
It’s great fun, to see the work in Mozambique keep growing and expanding. I can’t wait to set my feet on Mozambican soil again…with our babies.
Thank you, one and all, for partnering with us as we continue to hire on additional staff, invite more children to our schools, start and refresh already established programs, and ask for more of Jesus to invade the lives of all those that we work with.
Stand with us in prayer, as we celebrate what Jesus is doing in Mozambique, and as we prepare to bring a little one into this world,
P.s. Today is January 20th. Baby is still in the womb. He or she should be here soon and very soon (as I’ll be 41 weeks tomorrow). Pray for an easy labor and delivery … and let’s all celebrate the miracle of life!
I straightened my mid-back length hair, walked to the parlor to get my fuzzy upper lip hair waxed, grabbed a $3.00 small (8oz) Americano for my walk home and excitingly saw that I had mail – in our small, squeaky, rusted metal mailbox -, until I realized that it was an electric bill. On the outside, I look very much like the average American. On the inside, I’m very much not.
A story: Recently, the Mozambican teachers were having a difficult time getting a few students to come to school on time. (The children tend to play in the dirt and run around mango trees along the way. They are, after all, only 4 years old). Together they came up with a plan and decided to ‘encourage’ the timely children by rewarding them with a before-school early morning plain biscuit. When this didn’t lure the tardy children in, they resorted to plan B; walking the children back to their homes for the day and letting their parents know that they could come again to school tomorrow – on time. This plan stuck.
When Anna (the onsite director, who’s absolutely brilliant) told me this story, I was delighted. I felt so proud of the teachers, having come up with and executing a plan on their own and then, upon realization that it wasn’t quite working the way they had anticipated, formulating a second plan.
I think they’ve taken ownership of the school, realizing that it’s an investment into their community, their children, and the future of their country. They’ve embraced the challenge and are pouring themselves into something that they feel is very much worth it. With that mindset, the Center continues to grow, to thrive, and to be full of life and love.
Although I’m physically in the United States, my heart and passions are with those teachers, the beautiful Mozambican children that we have the honor of investing into, and a country that I have great hope for.