Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Christmas From Anna!!

My dear family and friends, I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas! Snow on the ground... Christmas trees up... Last minute runs to Wal*Mart and standing in 20 minute check out lines. Fresh baked Christmas cookies... Christmas pagents... Sounds of snow crunching beneath boots. Christmas presents... Long drives through the cold to visit family... Staring out the car windows at all the lit up houses covered in Christmas lights and decorations. New sweaters... Sucking on red and white striped peppermint candy canes, trying to make the end pointy... Christmas songs playing softly in the back ground. A manger set on top of the mantle surrounded by swags of spruce and holly berries...Christmas.

Hard to imagine all those wonderful things as I sit here in the house with the fan blowing directly on me, sucking ice cubes to stay cool. The thermometer says it's 100 degrees, and I believe it! I passed George today and he said, "It hasn't snowed yet." "But they're calling for it tonight!" I assured him. "A 70 percent chance. So we should still get our white Christmas!" Hahaha.

Christmas is going to be an exciting and amazing event here, and I am so excited! Tonight we have the candle light service at church. The kids are all going up in groups to sing a Christmas song or do a skit. I've been working with 9 of the four year olds in the baby house to do a special Christmas song. They are so precious and are really doing a fantastic job! I hope they don't get stage fright. After the service the church will be set up with tables and decorated with streamers and balloons and maybe a Christmas tree, though we haven't bought it yet.

Tomorrow morning the gift giving starts around 10:00. I will be assisting in the baby house, and might move over to the girls dorm when the babies are done. At 1:00 the kids from the bocaria (the city dump) arrive and get a chicken lunch in the church, followed by gifts prepared for them, and then we haul them back to the dump in the big cameo truck.

Next our kids file into the church. They will sit at long tables, each get a big plate of chicken and rice and french fries, and a bottle of Coca-cola or Fanta. After everyone's tummies are quite full, they will have the after noon to spend playing with their new gifts. The missionaries are getting together to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and eat pop corn and Christmas cookies.

Sunday morning's church service will be a special one, as we are integrating about 60 kids back into their homes and families this year, and we are having a special service for them. Sunday evening the long term missionaries are getting together to have a cook out, sing Christmas carols (Like "I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas" ;-)), and have a gift exchange.

Everyone is talking about it being Jesus's birthday. The preschoolers run up to me just to ask "Is it Jesus's birthday yet?" Then run off to play again.

Things are certainly different here for Christmas. I can imagine what's going on at home. Right now it's about 6:15 a.m. Mom is getting up to start getting the gifts and food packed to take to the grand parent's houses for our usual Christmas eve get together.

Tomorrow morning my brothers and sisters will be tip toeing down the steps at 4:00 a.m. to sit on the couch with all the lights off except the Christmas tree lights. They will sit there talking quietly and staring at the Christmas tree, in great anticipation of mom and dad finally rolling out of bed to get the day started. Hopefully Cara or Christina will remember to put the coffee on so it doesn't take dad an extra 20 minutes.

Mom and dad will come in and turn on the light and put on the radio (WCRF's 7 days of non stop Christmas music, you know!). Dad will sit down with his bible, and read aloud the story of Jesus's birth from Luke. Then starting with Sammy (the youngest) and working their way up, each of my siblings will pass out the gifts they bought or made for each other. It is so special at my house. Everyone opens their gifts one at a time, and lots of "Ooh's" and "Ah's" are raised over each other's presents.

When the siblings are done, we clean up all the wrapping paper, then comes mom and dad's gifts. We again open the gifts one at a time, waiting for each person, and getting excited with them. When the Christmas presents are over, we clean up, everyone makes a place under the tree for their pile of gifts, and we spend the day playing with the new toys and wearing our new clothes.

Mom makes a big lunch to have around 2:00, and grandma Dorn comes over. Last year grandma came on Christmas eve and spent the night, so she was there for our special Christmas morning routine. That was sooo special.

God has blessed me with 18 amazing Christmas's at home with my absolutely AMAZING family. I can't believe I won't be there this year, but I am thrilled to be here. AND, my mom and dad consented to leaving the Christmas tree up till I get back, so that makes everything okay. Lol

Well, right now I am going to the baby house. The kids just went down for their naps, and I am getting together the educators, and decorating the whole baby house! I have garlands and streamers and balloons and Christmas lights, and a Christmas tree poster the kids made with their hand prints. It'll be so beautiful when the kids wake up.

May the Lord bless you richly this Christmas. May His light shine ever brighter on you, and may you sing and make music in your heart to God! Don't be frustrated over burnt cookies or the wrong size clothes for someone. Just relax and enjoy your day. Sit and just ponder our Savior's birth. Think about what it means to YOU personally. Thank God for His incredible gift to you. And think about what you can give back to Him for Christmas this year.

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal!

In Jesus, Love always,

Saturday, December 04, 2004

December 3, 2004 Update

"Mana Ana"
An update from Anna Coumos, serving Jesus in Mozambique, Africa with Iris Ministries

Bondia! Good morning!
I am sorry it’s taken me awhile to get this update letter out. So much has been going on around here. But now things are quieting down a bit (for me anyway).

Well. Where do I begin?! In the last several weeks God has really been stretching me. It’s been so good. I’ve learned allot about God, allot about people, and allot about myself (my, there’s allot I need to work on).

Every day can get so busy. Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. But God is so faithful. He just pours out grace and everything I need to get through the day. Over and over He brings me back to Isaiah 43:1-3, 5:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Do not be afraid, for I am with you."

Wow. What a promise! I am just amazed that the God of the Universe. The Same God that created the Heavens and the earth and all that is in them, would want to be friends with ME! He cares for me, He protects me, He provides for all my needs…He loves me. That’s a Huge and amazing revelation to me.
I love the Lord so much! I love in Isaiah 49:23 (the last part), where God says, "Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Lots of things can let you down. But God will NEVER let you down.
I have two passions here above all else—the baby house, and the girls dorm! The girls are all so special to me. About once a month I make a healthy snack for all 94 girls. Sometimes peanut butter and jelly on crackers, sometimes bananas, or something else. I have them all go to their rooms and usually one or two of the girls help me and we go from room to room. First we pray together, then pass out the snack It’s so fun. They love it.

One of the short term missionaries wanted to have a party with some of the girls. So today we had a festa with the 2 youngest rooms (5-8 year olds). Some of the girls have gone home for the extended school holiday, so we just had 7 girls for the party. I translated for Katie and told the girls, "The reason for this party is because you are all very special to God. You are His daughters. And because God is a King, that makes you girls His princesses. So today we are going to treat you like princesses!"
Benia (7 year old) prayed, and we passed out candy and juice. Then we blew up balloons for them to play with. Another short term missionary did the girls hair in colorful clips, and some of us painted their nails. They we’re so excited and unable to contain their joy, which bubbled out in laughter!
To me, it is such an honor to be a part of these sweet girl’s lives. They are all adopted by God, and they ARE princesses.
Casa Dos Bebe’s
The baby house will forever be stamped on my heart. I love each of those babies with all my heart. We’ve had several new babies come in the last couple months. It’s amazing to see them in the state they are when they come—often expressionless, and sick—and watch them change and grow with love and care.
I go there about 3 or 4 nights a week to put on a movie and help diaper and dress the kids after their baths. After the video is finished and all the kids are in their rooms, I go into each room to pray with the kids. They come one by one to sit on my lap, and I pray the blessing from Numbers 26 over them, as well as the Spirit of adoption, and health.
We just got over a bad bout with malaria in the baby house, so it’s really important to pray health over them. One of my boys, Ivo, had malaria really bad and didn’t come to preschool for a week. One day I had the rest of the preschoolers gather around and we prayed for him. He is now healed and back to his happy little self. The kids are never slow to say, "Jesus healed him, because we prayed!"
I have been given lots of supplies from various people for preschool, which has been a great blessing. The kids are learning and growing so fast! Angelo can almost write his name. Aidenha, who couldn’t trace shapes or letters when we started, is now tracing her name all by herself. They are learning to stand in a line and wait their turn, instead of all crowding around. They are learning to interpret stories I read to them into their own words and tell it back to me. It’s so fun to watch their minds develop! I love it.
We have been learning a new number every day. What shocked me was today when Salito was counting his blocks, but not in Portuguese. In ENGLISH! Sometimes I count in English and then Portuguese, but I had no idea they were catching on because they never repeated me. I just love teaching preschool.
Felismina is learning and growing so quickly. She has the cutest voice—I love it when she talks. She has come so far from when we first got her 4 months ago! She can walk if someone holds her hand. She is such a happy little girl. Full of life and spunk. She has brought such joy to the baby house. She is also very bright and is doing excellent in preschool!
Here Kitty, Kitty…
I’ve adopted a kitten! It’s a cute little white kitten with brown and black stripes. She is so adorable. A missionary treated it for worms and fleas, and now I’m taking care of it. She has found a nice home in my flip flops and sleeps there every night. She is really adorable. I’ll keep her until I leave, and then I am giving it to some other missionaries at another Iris center, who want it to keep the rats down.
Coming to an end…
My time here is coming to an end (all too quickly!). I am hoping to come back long term. But it’s still very sad to think about leaving this place—a place that has become my home. On Sunday I was sitting in church holding one of my dear babies (who was sound asleep), and watching the toddlers hold hands and dance. It was so precious, and I couldn’t help but cry a little, thinking about leaving in 6 short weeks. I can’t believe I have been here for almost 6 months!
I love Mozambique so much! I love the people. My heart just sings for them. I have made friends with so many of the Mozambiquan ladies and children. It’ll be hard to leave. But at the same time, I really look forward to going home and seeing my family. I look forward to seeing all of you and sharing with you what God’s done. I am looking forward to preparing for my return to Mozambique, as well.
Well, it’s time to close. This has become much longer than I planned. I hope you don’t mind.
May God bless you richly. Thank you so much for praying for me.
Here’s another praise report: I haven’t had malaria for 1 ½ months! Hallelujah!
I’ll see you just after Christmas. Please continue to e-mail me. I love hearing from you.
Love in Jesus,

Thursday, October 28, 2004

October 26, 2004 Update

"Mana Ana"
Anna Coumos, serving Jesus in Mozambique Africa with Iris Ministries
To all my dear friends and family, may the Lord bless you richly and may you be encouraged at what God is doing here!Greetings in Christ's precious name.

I have so much to tell you. God is doing so much, and I am just hanging on for dear life and living the ride of my life! What a journey Jesus takes us on when we choose to follow Him. It is so incredibly awesome, and so extremely stretching. In my last e-mail home I asked my parents, "How can I love it here so much that I never want to leave, and cry at the thought of leaving, but at the same time want to go home so bad it hurts and makes me cry?!" It is very hard to leave my family and go on the mission field. This is why Jesus said, "Whoever has left father or mother or sisters or brothers, etc, for my sake..." It's not an easy thing to do. But you know, the rewards are eternal, and they make it so worth it.

Today a boy came to me needing new sandals. His were broken. His name is Abu and he is 10. He has the sweetest face. So I took him to the clothing room and he traded them in for some shoes we found. I feel like a mom when I have them try on shoes and I feel where their toes come to, and have them walk back and forth to see if they are too big. After I gave him his shoes I prayed for him. It's so special to sit and spend time with these kids one on one. That's how you find out their personality and who they are.

Another boy, Mateus (Matthew in English) came to me today. He came to tell me that he needs to go home. His mom is expecting a baby, and he just found out she is in the hospital. He doesn't know if she is sick, or if she is having the baby. His educator (guy in charge of the dorm) said he could go if he gets the money for the bus. But also they said he should wait till school is out, which won't be until December. So I don't know what will happen with that.

Last night after the long tremors business meeting, Karen (who is in charge of the baby house) got a phone call that there was an abandoned baby at the gate. Today I went to the baby house to meet the dear girl. She is about 2 years old, I would guess. She doesn't have a name yet. She is very precious. I knelt down and talked to her and prayed for her.

We've had 5 kids come to the baby house in the last 3 months!
Carlos-Carlos is a dear little 7-year-old I grew attached to during my short-term visit. I spent the entire time I was at home praying God would bring someone to mother him and care for him. Since being here again God has answered the prayer in a way I never expected. Carlos is a very good boy. But he has behavior problems and it has recently been decided that he needs to be with an adult at all times. So we are now taking turns every day, looking after him, between 2 educators and a few missionaries. I have him on Fridays from after lunch until 4:30 when they go take showers. He is very sweet, but recently he has been manifesting demons. It is not scary, because we have the authority in Christ to overcome the evil one. But it is very sad and he needs lots of prayer. Please pray with us for him! I think most of his behavior problems will end when he is completely free from that. Both times he manifested Jill (long termer) and I were there, and immediately started praying over him and commanding the enemy to be still and to stop tormenting him. After praying he calms down.

Preschool is the highlight of every day for me (and for the kids!). We are doing a shape and color every day. Today we did yellow and stars. They made glitter stars and got lots of star stickers to put on their papers, and they traced stars. They had to find everything that was yellow. Their snack was yellow apple slices.

With the weather getting hotter, I am finding we don't do quite so much because they go much slower. I used to plan lot of different activities because they would just jump from one activity to the next. Now they are little turtles going slowly along. We still pack quite a bit into 2 hours though. They LOVE escola.

I am still working in hospitality and doing the clothing room. The sweet lady I am doing hospitality with (Jill) offered to help me in the clothing room. We are tearing through it and doing a major Spring-cleaning. We are taking inventory, and getting rid of allot of junky stuff that has been cluttering the shelves for years. I love organizing, as my mom would tell you, so this is most enjoyable to me.

I've been setting things aside for one of the missionaries who can't afford Christmas presents for her dorm. She has 50 boys. Today I'll be going through 8 big boxes that a team brought, full of donations! I am praying there will be some good things I can give her.It's so fun to sort through clothes and decide who they will fit and who would like to have what. Right now we need shoes for the older boys. Most of them have sandals or flip flops, but you can't play basketball or soccer in those, so they want shoes. I am praying God would provide, and they are all praying too!

Hospitality is fun. I get to meet the new short termers and show them around (so when are YOU coming?!). God does amazing things in the lives of everyone that comes here. They are all here because they felt God calling them, so it's awesome to just sit and listen to them pour out their hearts and what God is doing. I get to pray with so many people and watch their calling become clear and their lives blossom.

We are preparing for Christmas here. It's so fun sorting clothes for the dorms and little toys and toothbrushes, etc. I am really looking forward to Christmas here. It's going to be amazing. It was so weird going to South Africa and seeing all the stores decked out for Christmas, when it's 100 degrees F +! Some long termer who have been here for awhile said Christmas here is so different from home that you don't feel that home sick. The weather is getting hotter by the day, but we still have some cool nights. Apparently this is not like normal October weather at all. I am just enjoying it while it lasts, because I know it will be scorching hot very soon.

There has been a problem with theft around here lately. Yesterday Liz Lazar (long termer) had her clothes stolen off the clothesline and one of the boy’s dorms was broken into as well. I had one of my favorite skirts stolen off the line awhile ago. It's so annoying.

I've had the opportunity to pray for allot of sick people lately. God works in ways we don't expect. It's not during some big ordeal. It's just every day as I go about my normal business and someone comes and says they are sick and so I stop what I am doing and pray for them.

Next week we are having a HUGE conference here. People walk for miles to get here for it. There will be about 4,000 people here. They will sleep here in the schools and church. Please pray for us during the conference--November 4-7. I am really believing God for miracles, signs, and wonders as well as refreshing which everyone needs. God is a worthy, and He loves it when His children come together in unity to worship him in Spirit and in truth.

God has really been blessing my time with him. I find that the ONLY way for me to stay sane every day is to just start seeking the Lord the minute I wake up, and spend every moment of my day conversing with the Lord. If I don't, everything falls apart and I can't go on. I claim Matthew 11:28-30, which says...

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I have learned to take each day as it comes, and not think about tomorrow. I now understand why Jesus said,

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."(Matthew 6:34)

With so much happening in one day, I can't even begin to think about tomorrow, which is quite strange because I used to just plan out my week in my mind, and now I can't even plan out a single day. I just go with whatever happens. Each day lasts so long, but at the end of the week it seems like time has flown by.

Tonight my mom and dad called me! That was an exciting surprise If you want to call me, I have a cell phone now. I think my number is 011-258-82-365-702. You can call any time. But we are 6 hours ahead of most of you, so if you call at 6:00 p.m. it will be midnight here. But I wouldn't mind being woken up to a phone call. So call away!

After our lovely chat I went to the girls dorm. I passed out vitamins in my dorm, and I brought them nail polish to do with my girls. It's so fun to sit and joke around with them. From there I went to another dorm where I do bible study every Tuesday night. I was there for about 1 1/2 hours, and 2 of the girls walked me back to my house. I love spending time with the girls! They are so fun.

Well, I think that's all for now. I need to go to bed; it's late. I've included an updated list of prayer requests. Thank you so much to those that are praying for me--I can really feel it! May you be forever touched by the love of God. The Lord bless you and keep you.

Love in Jesus,Anna Coumos

 Pray for patience, grace, and new mercies when dealing with the boys who want stuff from the clothing room. I feel like all they do is ask me for stuff. I get so annoyed and sometimes just want to cry. They sit outside my door waiting for me to come out so they can ask me for shoes or a new shirt or whatever. They all need, but we don't have everything they need, and I can't spend all day every day giving them stuff, so they have to learn to stop asking me for things constantly. Pray for the boys I am dealing with, as well.
 Felismina is doing wonderful--thank you for praying! She can stand on her own now. We are still working on walking.
 Please pray for my health. I just got over my THIRD bout with malaria. I am so sick of getting malaria, but I just pray God would protect my body from those horrid mosquitoes.
 Pray for my time with the Lord every day to be refreshing and for my relationship with God to continually grow.
 Pray that my attitude towards the boys would change. It is very hard to keep that compassion for them when they are at my door 24-7 asking me for stuff. It's so tiring. But I don't want to lose my focus.

Please let me know how I can pray for you, too! Thanks for keeping me updated on what's going on at home. I appreciate it.

Please continue to write--I love to hear from you.
Also, my snail mail address is:Suite #5Private Bag X11340Nelspruit 1200RSA

Friday, October 01, 2004

Update #5 (I think)

Anna Coumos, serving Jesus with Iris Ministries in Mozambique, Africa!

I am loving it here more than ever! God’s been doing so much. I will try and fill you in on everything.

-God’s Protection-
Last week one of our drivers was taking out $11,000 at the bank. He got in his car and drove somewhere else, and when he got out of his car some guy came up and took the money from him! Vesco (the driver) tried taking it back and the thief shot at him and ran. The bullet went through his shirt and missed his shoulder! God was so looking out for him. This was Vesco’s THIRD time to be shot at. The first time it went through his pants and missed his leg, the second time it missed him completely, and now this. What a big God we serve! The money has not been returned, but it was GOD’S money and we are just praying He would return it 7 times to the ministry!
I continue to teach preschool 5 days a week. I love it. The 3 year olds are really coming along and learning quickly. Today they got to play with dry rice, and glued foam shapes and other small items to paper.My 4 year olds are learning to write their names (s-l-o-w-l-y but surely!). They are so fun. Right now I am doing the 5 senses with the older kids. I am so excited for Smelling, Tasting, and Touching. For touching I am going to make up touching trays. They will get to play with sand, dry rice, dry noodles, shampoo sealed tightly in zip lock bags, play dough, water…they’re going to love it! And I bought these fruit flavored har candies that fiz on your tongue for that day.
Felismina continues to grow and learn. She now talks a little bit on her own (instead of just copying me). I am working “therapy” into preschool which is so good for her. Just stuff like digging in a bowl of dry rice,and working on her fine motor skills. I’m also continuing to work on her legs, trying to help her walk.Continue praying for our dear girl.
-Chicken feet!-
The other day I got a bowl of rice and topping from the kitchen. I saw a piece of meat sticking out and said,“Oh, there’s meat on here! I wonder if it’s fish or chicken?!” So I scooped it out with a fork. It was chicken alright! The chicken’s FOOT to be exact. Claws and all. It was so disgusting. Talk about losing your appetite. I was very tempted to use it’s claws for a tooth pick. Or a back scratcher. Heehee. I gave it to one of the Mozambiquan girls, and she just stuffed it in her mouth and asked in shock, “You don’t like chicken?!” LOL
Today I was informed by a short termer here who is a doctor that my malaria here is resistant to the medication I am on! She is trying to get me different meds right now. She told me that after I just got over my SECOND bout with malaria! This time was more like a bad head cold and I had no voice. I found out the night before I went to South Africa, so I was able to rest up in South Africa and came back feeling great! Just in time, too, because…
-God’s got more in store-
I get to stay till January! The night before I went to South Africa I had a meeting with Steve and Ros Lazar (the couple that run this orphanage), and shared with them that I want to stay till January and possibly come back. They asked me lots of questions, and in the end they said, “We don’t usually let girls your age stay long term because we haven’t had a good experience with it. But instead of just telling you no, I think it would be best for you to pray and write us a letter stating why you feel God wants you to stay longer.”I went to my room that night and was up until 2 a.m. praying and writing the letter. I really felt God wanted me to stay longer simply because he is not done teaching me here!

To be honest, staying longer seemed very doubtful. But they day I arrived back from SA I learned I COULD stay longer! They prayed about it and really felt it WAS God’s will for me to stay. Yes!!I can’t tell you how happy I am. They have given me many more responsibilities, which I am just getting into.

I have started working in the clothing room where all donations come through. I will be doing that myself when Bonnie and Anton go home to South Africa for a month. I am doing hospitality e-mails, and working with the new short termers that come through. I will be working 1 or 2 afternoons a week in the girls dorm, and taking on a room of younger girls to do special things with like games, and sorting their clothes and spending time with them. And I will continue my 5 days of preschool, and doing the baby house a few nights a week.

It’s allot, but God is teaching me to prioritize, and to stay sane. I have learned so much about God since coming here. Every time we pass these tests, He trusts us with more. He’s an amazing God!

I’m almost finished reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. We have been reading it and discussing it at the long term home group on Wednesday nights. I encourage you all to get your hands on that book. It’s so good! God’s taught me so much through this book, about serving and friend ships and working together with our brothers and sisters in Christ… Every Christian should read this book! It’s been so good to read it in a group so we are all growing at this same pace and encouraging each other.

With that, I think I will close. It’s late and I need to go to bed. Tomorrow is church, and I am cooking all afternoon with Hannah (long termer) for a meal we are making for the long termers to conclude our study on “The Purpose Driven Life”.Thank you so much for your prayers. I feel them! Life here is amazing, and I love every moment of it. Even the times when I am feeling so weak, because in our weakness HE is strong. I feel that so much here. May God bless and encourage you every day as you press on in Him.

Love in Jesus,

I have a web site now! From now on you can read my updates at:

Special thanks to Mr. Williams for making this site for me. I will try and have updates atleast monthly. Please give feedback to my parents or me so I know what you think. I’m excited about it!

Monday, September 13, 2004

August 29th through 30th

August 29, 2004
Dear Mom and Dad, and everyone in my family Hey, I might just send this to my newsletter list because it is a news letter in and of itself. Probably more interesting than the other one!
Hi! I am sitting at Hannah’s waiting for the phone line to be free so I can send my newsletter. Tomorrow a short termer is leaving and I have 8 letters I am sending with her. There are ones for the grandparents but I am sending them to you guys because I don’t have the addresses.

Karen has malaria But today I went over to talk with her about the baby house and about starting the preschool for the next age group down (3 year olds). So to make a long story short… Laura is moving to Katie P’s dorm and taking over (Katie P lives in the city with Yolanda—the little girl she just adopted! And 3 other girls). So Laura will have 50 boys to look after. Anyway, I just found that out today. So I came to talk to Laura and she asked if I could take over preschool. Even though she loves it, it would be allot more stressful to do that AND look after 50 boys. So I start on Tuesday! Eek! I will wait to start the other preschool until next week. So I will be teaching 5 days a week; Mondays and Thursdays I will be teaching the 3 year olds, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I will have the 4 year olds. PRAY FOR ME! There’s 10 in the older group and 7 in the younger group (including Felismina).
It’s so weird. I spent the last year and a half really learning to teach (in Sunday school and 2 children’s churches, as well as Girl’s Only cell group). But I never considered myself a teacher and I didn’t know why God was having me teach at church. Now a month and a half after I am here I am put over all the preschool and I am THE TEACHER!! Eeshi! (that is what you say in Portuguese for “Wow”).
Today is the LAST day of the fair. Send me pictures! I can’t believe I survived a week without the fair. Wow… I still want to be there next year. Chow!

August 30th, 2004—Okay, so am I ever going to get online to send all these letters?! I have NO idea! But today has been so good. The Monday morning meeting was GREAT. I went with Anton and a new couple here (George and Jill) to drop someone off at the airport, then Anton dropped us off at Shop Rite. I spent allot because I had to buy the snacks and juice for preschool for the next 2 weeks (healthy stuff like bananas, apples, crackers, peanut butter, cheese, yogurt). Anyway, while I was there I ran into a couple and there 2 young girls who are here working with Iris. They are from Australia, but they have been renting a house in the city for 2 months. Next week they are going to Pemba for a couple weeks, then going home. So anyway, they started talking to me and asked me if I would be willing to start an intercession group for Iris Ministries? They have daily intercession, but this would be different. If I could find people here (I just have to start with one other person because where 2 or 3 come together, God is there as well) who will be totally committed to spending say half an hour a week in prayer with me. I will get the prayer requests and then also make up a list of all the ministries Iris has and the long termers, and churches that support Iris, and once a week we will get together and do intercession for it. Because in order for this whole ministry to keep going, it needs ongoing, consistent prayer support and Spiritual protection. I am honored that God would give me the role of getting that going! It’s so neat to see what God has done in the last 2 days—from being put over preschool, to starting this prayer team. Praise God!
One final praise report. At Shop Rite today I finished quickly so I was waiting outside and got the opportunity to share Jesus with 2 guys. I think the one guy was just wanting to know if I was available cause I am an American. He was the guy that works at Steere’s (little place like McDonalds). The other guy was a Supervisor in the Shop Rite parking lot. So he came over to just make sure everything was okay and I had someone coming for me since I had been standing there for awhile (waiting for Anton). Then we started talking. He has a wife and 2 daughters. So he was saying money is bitter (I think he was trying to say it is hard to come by) and he wants to go to America where he could get a job and make more money than he does looking after cars. So I said to him, “Once you have money then you buy food and then you use up your food and have no money. Having allot of money is not so important. Because when you die what will your money have gotten you? But Jesus loves you so much. If you pray and trust in Jesus, he will take care of you and give you a job. And what’s better is then when you die you will get eternal life!” You should have seen him and heard the questions he asked. So then he told me he was getting off work at 5:00, and tonight he is going to go to church. I told him to go home and take his wife and daughters as well. I was like God really loves you and if you let him he will make you so happy! Because money and wealth don’t bring you joy, only Jesus can do that! Lord bless him. His name was Anenis. Pray he would find his hope in Jesus.
After that Anton arrived with 2 new visitors. I got to play the hospitality role and take them through Shop Rite (I think I am as fast as Anton now!), then I showed them around the compound when we got back to the Center.
It’s fun and totally tiring working here. But I love every second of it. Even laminating a huge stack of stuff for preschool, and lightening the load of other missionaries. And then just being able to encourage the long termers and the short termers. And they encourage me and bless me so much. God is so wonderful. It’s so awesome to have family in Christ!
Okay. Maybe you will get these 2 newsletters before I return home?!
Blessings. Chow!
In Christ,

August 21st through 29th

*August 21, 2004*
An update from Anna Coumos in Mozambique Africa, serving Jesus with Iris Ministries

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.” --Jim Elliot
(Speared by head hunters in Ecuador while serving there as a missionary in 1956)

Bondia! Good morning from beautiful Mozambique!

I can’t believe I have been here for over a month already!! Time has flown by so fast. I can’t imagine coming home in 2 ½ months. If God opens the doors, I really want to stay here longer. My heart is here…
Every day brings new challenges, and with each challenge I learn more about God. He is so amazing and faithful.

The weather here these days has been quite hot. I am not looking forward to the summer heat and high humidity!

I love everything here. I don’t even mind the cold showers (sometimes they are actually hot!). I am taking Portuguese lessons, which is helping immensely with communicating. I taught preschool 2 days in a row by myself in Portuguese! But that is the extent of my vocabulary. Talking to preschoolers. I don’t know enough to carry on a conversation with adults yet. Please pray for me to learn Portuguese REALLY quickly
and easily. It’s hard when the educators or Mozambicans want to talk to me or ask for something and I only understand a little of what they are saying.

I was going to the prison a couple times a week with Corrie, and the last time I went one of the police officers gave me his name and phone number and asked me to call him. I did NOT call him. But I haven’t been back since because I was in South Africa. God is really working at the prison! One day Corrie went and the chief of police asked her to come into his office. She was so worried, thinking, “What did I do wrong?!” The police asked her to tell him exactly what we do when we come. She thought he was thinking we were preaching or something, so she said, “We just feed them and say a quick prayer before they eat.” What happened next took her by complete surprise! He said, “Well I am a Christian too, and I am so glad you are coming!! The boys here stole some things and that is why they are here.” He explained from a biblical perspective why he was punishing the boys. We still don’t like HOW they are doing it (shoving a bunch of guys into a tiny dark room with only a hole in the ground, and not feeding them), but this is a third world country so you just have to accept that.
So the chief of police said, “We are glad you are caring for them, but please don’t forget about us (the police)”. That was so cool! So after that Corrie decided to take a little more freedom and she started reading scripture to them and explaining it, and I get to pray for them when I go. So one day she got back from the prison and hurries over to me, her face glowing! “Anna, you’ll never believe what happened today! I explained God’s plan for salvation and they were listening so intently. So I asked who wanted to pray and accept Christ in their hearts, and ALL the guys raised their hands! So we prayed and everyone accepted Christ!!” Wow!! Praise God!! Please pray for the guys at the prison. Pray that this commitment would change their lives and turn their lifestyles around completely. I LOVE going to the prison. I don’t know why, but my heart is just there. God is moving and it’s so awesome to see!

Last Sunday we had a wedding here. This is a story that will give you goose bumps!!
Peggy and Helmut were married for several years and had 5 children, but they were not Christians, and they ended up getting a divorce. 3 years later they both got saved. Last year Peggy came to Iris for a short-term mission trip and loved it here. While she was here someone told her she would be married within a year. That kind of shocked her because she didn’t know anyone she’d marry, so she just forgot about it. Right after she returned from Africa she ran into her x-husband and they decided to go out for dinner. They started talking and realized they really loved each other. On Christmas Helmut proposed to Peggy! Then she asked where he wanted to get married, and he said, “Let’s get married in Africa!” He had no idea about the prophecy she had received when she was here; he just always wanted to go to Africa. So 5 years after their divorce they got married to each other again, and this time as Christians!! Peggy wore her capalana that she received last year when she was leaving (all the visitors get a capalana when they leave). The wedding was beautiful, and the newlyweds were just glowing. Pastor Jose used the opportunity to preach to the Mozambicans about God’s plan for marriage and purity, and how men should not beat their wives. It was really good. And kind of funny. When he was doing the wedding vows and saying “In sickness and in health”, he said to Helmut, “Even if your wife gets really sick and is so skinny and gets a hole in her cheek where food falls out, will you still love her?” “Yes!” (Helmut’s quick reply;-) Then to Peggy he said, “Even if your husband gets so sick you that he can’t work and you have to help him to the bathroom, will you still love him?” “Yes!” This sounds funny to us, but those are not uncommon occurrences for Mozambicans! The wedding was so sweet, and I loved it! (Don’t worry mom, I still want to get married at OUR church)

Last night I stayed the night at Don and Karen Braun’s house. I was watching their 3 children while they went to an overnight retreat for the long termers. We read books for hours, played games, made puppets, and made popcorn on the stove! Even in Africa I still don’t get out of babysitting…

An update on Felismina: She is doing sooo well! If you remember, she is the little tiny 4-year-old with HIV. I will try and enclose a picture of her, next to Addinha (who is the same age). Felismina is crawling now, and copying words you say. They think she might know Shanghan (the local language) and not Portuguese. She is very bright, and she has brought such joy to the baby house. Her smile is sooo beautiful, but I have yet to get her to smile for the camera. Her name, Felismina, means happy girl.

*August 24th, 2004*
I am now officially Mozambican. I still can’t believe it, but I HAVE MALARIA!! Two crosses. On Sunday I had diarrhea, and all day I felt like throwing up, so I didn’t eat anything. Debbie (one of the nurses) did a malaria quick test and it came back negative. Monday I was still feeling like throwing up, so I went to the clinic and they did a regular malaria test. At 1:30 I got a phone call and the Mozambican doctor asked if I was well enough to walk to the clinic? On my way over I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t he have just told me on the phone if I were negative?!” So I get there and find out I have 2 crosses of malaria. To have 2 crosses is not good, but it is better than one cross in a way. With one cross your not as sick, but it lasts longer. 2 crosses mean you’re really sick but you get over it quicker. I am on Coartem so hopefully soon I will be feeling a bit better. I feel like all I have done is sleep and lean over a bucket. All I can keep down is cream of chicken soup, yogurt, toast, and Maria crackers. Last night I watched a movie with Laura and Katrine (long termers). And my parents called me so I felt much better being able to talk to them.

*August 26th, 2004*
Yesterday morning I woke up early to say good bye to my dear sister in Christ, Christine. She is a long termer who I met last year. She now lives in Pemba (Northern Mozambique) at another children’s center run by Iris, but she was here for a visit. So our family has been writing her for the past year and a half, and she is sooo dear to me! It’s like having a sister on the same continent and in the same country as me. We had an awesome time together. She went back to Pemba and now I miss her so much. It’s so much easier to be here when you’re with someone you really know. Please pray for her while she is in Pemba. (And pray for me as I try to survive without her…)
I thought I was better this morning, so I spent a couple hours at the baby house. I am not better. I feel so sick and my head hurts. And I feel so tired all the time. Please pray for the malaria to LEAVE me in the name of Jesus!!

Bless you all! Thank you to those who have e-mailed me. I am sorry I can’t reply to each of you, but your e-mails are a blessing to me. Keep ‘em coming!!

Love in Christ,
Mana Ana

P.s. August 29, 2004 --- Oh my! ALLOT has happened since I last wrote, so I will be updating you ASAP. And thank you for those who have been praying for me. Today I am feeling MUCH better! I am definitely over the malaria. And Bonnie (a long termer here with her husband and daughter) brought me dinner today. She’s been concerned about me because my diet has consisted of cream of chicken soup, yogurt, and toast.
So it was great to eat normal food again, without hanging over a bucket afterwards. I HATE malaria!!

“My FIRST official update letter!!” August 8th, 2004

Mana Ana in Mozambique, Africa with Iris Ministries

Hello everyone!
I am so excited to be writing to you all and sharing with you God’s faithfulness.

I’ve never written an “update letter” before, so I have just been praying over the last
couple days that God would place on my heart what He wants me to share.

My dad and I had a great time together while he was here. It was so nice to have him here while I got started into my area of work here. It was very difficult for me to see him go, but God has blessed me and the long termers here are so nice!

I have settled right into the baby house (Casa dos bebes). There are 26 children in there ranging in age from 3 months to 4 _ years old. I love each of them so much! One of my biggest prayers before I came, and even while I am here, is that I would be able to be a mother to the motherless children. God is teaching me how to do that. From learning all their names and personalities, kissing them on the head every night before they go to bed, hugging them every morning, holding them, praying over them, laughing with them, kissing their booboos, working on colors and shapes with them so they remember at pre school, and sometimes disciplining them, … I believe God is reaching their little hearts.

All the little children call me “Mana Ana”. The kids love me and are constantly wanting my attention.
“Mana Ana, Olea akey!” (Look here!) “Mana Ana, Helena y Angelo…..!!” (Helena and Angelo are the 2 most strong willed children here. Heehee) “Mana Ana! Mana Ana! Mana Ana!…” Oh, how I love them!!

In the baby house I help feed the kids, oversee the bedtime routine, and take a couple kids out every day to spend more one on one time with. I also put together projects for the short termers to help with, such as washing and sorting all the toys.

Besides working in the baby house, I have been helping the hospitality team by giving tours of the center to the new short termers that arrive, and going on some ministry outreaches.

Last Sunday I went with a lady named Corrie to the police station to feed some street kids that the police arrested (they didn’t commit a crime, the police are just crazy here). The police took us outside behind the jail and they had 2 little tiny dark rooms and we did one room at a time. They let the guys come out (about 20 filed out of each little room). Some of the boys looked quite young—like 14 or 15. and we prayed for the food, then gave them plates of rice. After they finished the rice we passed out bread. They won’t let us take time to pray with each of them or share the word of God, but at least we can pray before they eat. Corrie has been going every day for about 3 weeks and feeding them. She has pleaded with the police to release the boys but they won’t.

Last week we took 10 children with aids out for lunch in the city. That was so much fun! They were cutting their french fries into little pieces and eating them with a fork. And they had never had sausage before so they weren’t sure how to eat it. Then we took them for ice cream.

The critters I am learning to get used to include: lizards and cockroaches (and a few other insects). The cockroaches are really fast so they are hard to kill. There are tons of lizards. I had one on my wall one night and I just prayed it would stay on my wall and not join me in my bed. It took me a long time to get to sleep that night because I kept wondering if it would grow huge in the night and come eat me. I’ve seen a few mouse droppings in my room but I haven’t seen the mouse. Corrie found a mouse in her BED the other day under her mosquito netting!! She came to the kitchen as white as a ghost and asked one of the guys to please come take care of it. My family can tell you that if I see a mouse in my room I will probably die….

Another thing I have gotten used to is the driving. Often times the roads are really bumpy dirt roads. And you just pile as many people as can possibly fit (or sometimes can’t possibly fit but we make them fit) into a land rover or pickup truck, and then you pick up people on the way and drop them off a mile later so they save a mile of walking. And every time you stop for a few seconds’ people are coming to your windows trying to sell you all kinds of stuff. And here people are constantly walking across the road and they come sooo close to getting hit by cars! It’s so insane.

Yesterday (Saturday—it’s Sunday the 8th now) I went with 5 long termers and 4 kids to the Indian Ocean to a beautiful beach. It was so incredibly gorgeous!! I LOVE the ocean. The water was cool and stretches on forever. The waves felt so good. We found a HUGE jellyfish washed up on shore. I took several pictures. It was really quite sickening to see a jellyfish up close. And it was still alive so we couldn’t touch it. I love seeing God’s creation. He is so smart. I don’t know how He could think up some of the things He’s made. God, you are so amazing!

I have been having some wonderful time with God. He keeps reminding me that I am called to the NATIONS. Right now I’d be happy to stay in Mozambique forever. But God is just giving me a vision of mothering children all over the world. And telling people about God’s passionate love for them. I have learned how to really “do devotions” in the morning. It’s not just getting up at 7:00, reading a chapter in my bible and a chapter in my devotional book, and then being done. I’ve been asking God to wake me up, and so sometimes it’s as early as 5:30. I’m learning to worship him without CD’s and without a worship leader. Just singing praise to Him from my heart. God is so faithful and I love Him so much! All fruitfulness flows from intimacy…

I have been lending my computer to a long termer named Erik for the last couple days, so it’s taken me awhile to get this written. Tonight I spent a couple hours in the girl’s dorm. I’ve made friends with several girls. Rosa is 16 and she is so sweet and so funny! When I was sick (last week I was sick on Sunday-Tuesday and throwing up. I think it was the flu.) she prayed for me and the next day I was better. So anyway, she always calls me “Hey, White” and I call her “Hey, Black”. Today we changed it…she is “Bronca” (white) and I am “Preto” (black). She’s is just so funny and crazy and I love being with her. She speaks English pretty well but she denies it. So she is teaching me some Portuguese. And Corrie is teaching me Portuguese as well.

The weather here was very cold after dad left! And it rained really hard for 3 days. The day I got sick we had hail! Now it is starting to get very hot.

All right, so I guess there is no real structure to this e-mail. I am just telling you what’s going on in some random order. But God is awesome. Thank you to everyone who has sent me, both financially, and with your prayers. God bless you all!!! I love you and miss you.

My prayer requests:
*Pray that I wouldn’t feel so lonely. It’s hard living in the short term compound because people are constantly coming and going. They are all very nice, but I hate that they have to leave so it is very hard emotionally.
*Pray for Felizmina--- She is HIV+, so she is 4 years old but smaller than a 1-year-old. She is very skinny, and only weighs about 14 pounds. She was just brought to the center 2 weeks ago. She is so precious and smiles all the time. Pray God would heal her from aids!
*Pray for health among the missionaries. It seems we are all getting sick—half with the flu, and half have malaria!
With much love in Jesus,
Anna Elizabeth Coumos

July 31st

Hello everyone!!
Just wanted to let you all know I am alive and well!!! and loving Africa.
I spend about 6 hours a day at the baby house or with the babies.
Right now my computer isn't working to go on line so I am using someone elses.
I have to get Outlook express, as well, so I can type e-mails off line and it is much cheaper.
They don't want you racking up time and $$ without Outlook. Pray my computer (Lord bless the Sahr's!!) will take it.
I love you ALL and miss you all very much. I will read the e-mails people sent as soon as I can.
I have so much to write about but it is about 11:00 or so and I can't spend so much time on line.
Have a great week. Pray for me. I have a cold and a terribly runny nose...and today my throat started feeling sore.
God bless you all!
Love in Jesus' precious name,
Anna (aka Mana Ana)
Please forward this e-mail to everyone---I love you mom and dad and all my dear siblings and niece or nephew to be. I miss you but not as much as I thought I would. I really love it here. I think of you all the time and what's going onat home and I read my notebook constantly (without skipping ahead;-) ~chow!!