Posts by The Howells

A Small Taste of Injustice

May 9th, 2017 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “A Small Taste of Injustice”

It’s been a crazy 10 days. I have witnessed (and experienced) injustice in a real tangible way. I was often at a loss for words when I explained to people in the US that I would be fighting injustice in Africa through music. This week and half has totally given me a new perspective on what it is I am doing here.

Let me briefly summarize the incidents that I am talking about here:

1) My co-leader of the Music Academy plays flute for a local 5-star hotel. Swankiest (is that word?) place in Livingstone. Draws big paying crowds from all over the world. He has worked there for twelve years. He was told 10 days ago, on Friday, that the management had decided all the musicians were either going to take a 40% pay cut or be cut from their position. Because… they can’t afford them?!?

2) The next day, Saturday, the former location of the Music Academy had a break-in. It was the last day of the contract with the security company. Guess who was the prime suspect? The night guard. He was found inside… charging his phone. There was nothing taken, because we had moved all of our equipment and instruments to the new location. But really? The guard who was supposed to protect …

3) Our missionary partners and friends here in Livingstone have been plagued with vehicle problems for about as long as they have been in the country (3 years). They had just spent an exorbitant amount of money on getting engine parts repaired, requiring towing halfway across the country, vehicle rentals, as well as airplane flights to the city where the work was being done. On Sunday, just before a trip to the capital city to take care of dental needs, they found that the engine needed work again. So their trip included a new vehicle purchase… after they already spend so much on repairs.

4) On Tuesday, our Livingstone ministry team was traveling to join the other half of our organization in the town of Choma, about 2 hours away, for a wedding reception celebration for two of our American co-workers. We hired two buses and drivers to get us there. On the way, the bus I was in was pulled over by the police, an hour from our destination. The reason was that the driver had forged his license plate because he wasn’t technically licensed to drive this style of vehicle. We spent the next two hours at the police station waiting for them to sort out the situation. Meanwhile the celebration was delayed waiting for us.

5) On the return home trip, the same bus broke down 25 minutes outside of the town we had just left. The drivers argued with our people about the payment for their services, even though the service was not completed. They had to pay their boss the fees received, but we had already used those fees to pay the police fines earlier. Everything took so long, we could no longer travel because it was getting dark (you don’t want to take public transportation at night time in Africa). So we had to travel back and spend the night, including making an unplanned (and unbudgeted) dinner.

6) Back to our missionary friends: after purchasing a new vehicle on Friday and sending the rest of the family home, the father was waiting until the next morning to finalize the purchase paper work. Saturday morning, his bag was stolen out of his new car which included his wallet, passport, phone, and the bill of sale for this new vehicle. Because it was a weekend, the proper people at the police station couldn’t begin an investigation. Until Monday.

Now most of these “personal” injustices are really just inconveniences. Expensive, yes. Frustrating? Definitely. But we’ll pick up and carry on. We may have to fight the feelings of entitlement that we “earned” a day off after the frustrations. Or we deserve extra screen time to “escape”. Or we are justified in our grumpy, snarky attitudes towards our children. Not that THAT EVER happens…

The true injustice is behind the scene. It’s the systems that cause people to lose their jobs because of greed. It’s the poverty mentality that urges a guard to see what he can get away with. It’s the desperate need to earn an income that makes a driver cut corners to take a job. It’s a culture that shrugs it’s shoulders at crimes against the “wealthy muzungu (white man).”

Though the music academy, we seek to empower our students not just with a skill but with a relationship with Jesus Christ that shows them that they can have honor, integrity, respect, and courage. They experience His love through us. They grow up knowing the Jesus loves them because of the music academy and the other programs they participate in here. Then when they grow up and move into the business world, or use their skills in a trade, they won’t treat their customers or their employees this way. They will be the start of a shift in the culture that treats others with dignity, that goes out of their way to help, that shares with the needy around them.

But during these moments of injustice, did I stop to address the greatest injustices? Because it didn’t fit in my 9-to-5 planned program, was it to inconvenient to tell the driver that Jesus loves him? Was it too much to go and visit the night guard while he was in a holding cell as the police sorted out the details? How much does it take to forgive the police for not being there when we felt we needed them?

The greatest injustice is that these people don’t know that Jesus loves them. That He gave His life so that they wouldn’t have to be separated from Him forever. This is what it means to Seek Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly. I know my purpose and my role, my calling to fulfill that standard.

Now… How about you?

Set Backs and Steps Forward

October 24th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Set Backs and Steps Forward”
The month of September started with much anticipation as we planned the opening of the Elijah Music and Creative Arts Academy (Elijah Academy for short).  The entire team of our mission organization (over here it’s called Elijah Mission International Zambia, or EMIZ) met for devotions and praying over the space.

Elijah Academy Opening Day
Classes were scheduled for 2 and 4 PM that Monday and the next day was 2 and 7 PM.  The class we were starting with was Theory Level 1.  My teaching partners, Likando and Steady, were excited about the prospect of getting solid teaching in this area.  So when the time rolled around, our grand total number of students that showed up was…

 
One…
 
And he was well beyond Level 1…
 
We avoided disappointment as we held out for the rest of the week, but no one else came.  Then we thought about what possible explanations for this might be.  The first one was that it was the first week of school here.  Another was that the news about the academy might not have been advertised well enough.  In addition, we didn’t yet have instruments to teach with and maybe Theory just wasn’t enough to motivate students to come.
 
So we put those plans on hold.  The solution would present itself in the next two weeks.  In an answer to your prayers, our shipping container arrived safely, AND EARLY!  And later the same week, the Creative Arts side of the Academy opened an Art Exhibition in our local Art Gallery (the only one of its kind in Zambia) that featured work by local students, many of which are orphans or vulnerable children.  At the opening ceremony for this exhibition, we promoted an Open House of the Academy.
 
14449943_187909694967868_754909058352900999_n   img_8060  14440775_187915841633920_5486902879523676491_n   14446069_187916151633889_9747343277485532_n   14368758_187914621634042_6642869162404557406_n   14362656_187909394967898_6232964569021243972_o
 
When the Friday afternoon of the Open House arrived,  over 100 potential students and musicians turned up.  And some were an hour and half early!  We enjoyed sharing the instruments with them and getting them excited about classes which would begin the next week.  Even our missionary partners, the Emerts, got in on the fun!
 
img_8135   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 2   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 1  2016-09-23-17-12-44   2016-09-23-17-24-30   2016-09-23-17-32-11-hdr
 
The next several weeks have been full and busy with classes.  Brad is teaching a trumpet class and the theory class.  Our Zambian music teachers are Steady (on clarinets, recorder, and theory), Isabel (guitar and voice), and Likando (flute, recorder, alto sax, and guitar).  We all take turns in leading devotions and worship with our students.
 
img_8383   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 5   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 6
 
It isn’t just Brad that’s been busy!  In addition to homeschooling, Amber has actively taken part in assisting with a young women’s ministry called Girls Revolution.  She has been building relationships, mentoring, visiting homes, and sharing devotions along with the Zambians who lead GR.  The focus of this ministry is on purity in their relationships and building into their identity in Christ.
 
img_8093      14355187_10154133261687732_8246195355766591459_n   img_8780
 
Amber has also volunteered her time in helping with a neighborhood Kids’ Club.  They recently had 400 children show up! Liezl, who leads the club, estimates that over the year, 220 kids have been led to the Lord and discipled throughout the time.  “We know about God, and we go to church,” one student told her, “but we didn’t realize that we could really know God.”  The kids receive practical training as well through the use of colored plastic tokens they earn for attending, answering questions, and participating in the activities.  Every six to eight weeks, they have a Club Store where students can purchase toys, school supplies, or home items like soap and toothbrushes.  More often, the kids will pass by the luxuries of toys for things they can share with their families.  One boy saved up his tokens for several months to buy a backpack for school. We are excited for our home church in Michigan to partner with this great outreach to help provide items for the kids to “buy” with their tokens.
 
14641905_10154226979627732_4985639919160662217_n  img_8085   14716044_10154226979637732_3509911855790774414_n
 
In October, Amber’s dad, Ken Rice, was on assignment in Angola (Zambia’s neighbor to the west), so he made the flight to visit us for a week.  We enjoyed showing him the city of Livingstone, experiencing the ministries we are involved with, and making a special visit to the game park where we were privileged to see nine rhinos up close and personal.  It was nice to have our first “family” visit.  We are looking forward to more in the future! **hint hint**
 
img_8455  img_8464   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 3   Form 42 Entry 773 Fileupload 4
 
Finally, to wrap up the month of steps forward, we had a special time of prayer and fasting over EMIZ property in Choma.  Many of you may remember that when we first started our Zambia journey, we worked with the music academy in Choma (about 2 hours northeast of Livingstone).  In fact, we had originally planned to live in Choma to work there.  The one-year delay had to do with this property that has now fully been given to Elijah Missions to use.  Our aim was to rededicate the land, the buildings, and the future of that place to the service of the Lord.  It was a great time of spiritual victory, dreaming and envisioning the future work that can be done there.
choma-pf
 
We have seen the hand of God moving in the work we are doing, in the people we are getting to know, and inside our hearts as we continually pursue building our relationship with Him.  We are missing friends and family but are grateful for technology that allows us to stay connected.
 
As you pray for us, please keep these requests in mind:
 
1) Holidays:  As November approaches, all of our American partners will be heading back to the U.S. for some needed rest and reconnection with family.  Even our Zambian partners go to visit family, which leaves us on our own for the remainder of the year.   While we do have a family trips planned, we are going to be on our own for a quite awhile.  Pray that we connect to each other as a family well, and can thrive in this time of making new memories, even while missing our family traditions back home.  If you would like to include us in your Christmas card list keep in mind it could take at least 2 months for mail to come but we certainly would LOVE to hear from you (Even in February!) Our mailing address is below.
 
2) Pray for relationships.  The ones we are making (with ministry partners, fellow missionaries, students) but the ones we have need maintenance too. (ie…marriage, children!)
 
3) Praising God for his answering our prayers about our shipping container, for family visits, and for new found friends (especially teenage BOYS!)
 
We cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for you!  Our faithful supporters: you make this possible!  The reality of living here long term has impressed upon us just how important our regular monthly investors are.  For sustaining the work we are doing here in Zambia, we are asking you to consider starting a regular monthly investment, or if you are currently giving, consider boosting your gift to help us cover a new gap.  Recently, the country of Zambia had an economic shift that caused all their fuel costs to go up 30%.  This, of course, causes the price of everything to go up!  In response, we need to adjust our budget to match.  You can sign up online by clicking on INVEST.  In the past, one-time gifts have helped us purchase our vehicle and get other start-up costs covered.  You can still give one-time year-end donations which will go toward saving for future trips back to the US (aiming for November 2017).   Thank you so much for your investment in God’s work here through us.
 
To continue following us, you can sign up for our email newsletters: SIGN UP
You can also find our frequent short updates on Facebook at HOWELLS IN ZAMBIA.
If you want to email us, you can do that as well at howellsfamily@poetice.org.
Snail mail (And I do mean S N A I L) is:
Howells Family
PO Box 60250
Livingstone, Zambia.   Yes, that’s it!
 
Zikomo ndi musala bwino!  (Thank you and remain well!)
 

We aren’t in the US anymore, Toto

July 18th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “We aren’t in the US anymore, Toto”

WHEN GOD CALLS AND WE OBEY,

HE IS FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISES

At various moments throughout the last two weeks, one of our clan has turned to the other and said, “Hey!  We’re in Africa!”  There are so many things we have become used to already.

  • Driving on the left side of the road.  Brad had to jump right into this and hasn’t had too many mix-ups!  Amber has even driven a little bit!
  • Contacting plumbers, electricians, and carpenters to adjust things in the house.
  • Shopping in the markets, negotiating for prices, and navigating the grocery store.  We even had one day where we didn’t have to to go that grocery store at all!  That must mean we are settled in, right??
  • An hour drive to church… which is 12 miles away.   That’s right.  The church we have visited is along the gorge of the river that divides Zambia and Zimbabwe.  2/3s of the drive time is up a dirt and rock road that makes us very thankful to have the truck we have.  
  • Climbing our yard’s wall, following army ants, spying on lizards, playing frisbee in the dirt, building with Legos, navigating poor video connections with family and friends (Google Hangouts has worked the best, FYI)
  • African mornings are CHILLY!  As you can see in the first picture up there, hoodies, jeans, and hats are necessary as the mornings can be down to 45 degrees.  Average day time temps are currently around 75.  This weekend may get up to mid-80s.  So while you all are suffering heat-waves, it feels like Fall over here!
  • Taking pictures of what may seem ordinary but reminds us that T.I.A. (this is Africa) – see below!


(a sample of our daily views around the house – that’s Harold, the nice mosquito-eating spider in the corner of our bedroom)


(kids enjoying life in Zambia)


(landscape from our drive to church)

We have been so pleased to see how God has answered prayers.  One big one on behalf of our kids was that we would find good friends.  Our mission partners, Jeremy and Courtney Emert and their kids have been fast friends.  Right off the plane, the kids were connecting and playing with each other.  Living with them for a week certainly helped but we are often asked, “When are we going to have a play date (or sleepover) with Olivia, Jude, and Lincoln?”  We were able to bless them by taking their kids for the first of many sleepovers while Jeremy and Courtney had a long-overdue date night.

We have been able to sit in with the Immersion Interns (also known as the Elijah Experience or EXP) during their devotions, worship, and debriefs.  Brad’s cousin Hannah McCarty has been part of this group and it has been fun to connect more with her and hear her story as God has radically transformed her heart.  

God worked in these teams in a very amazing way recently.  Early on Saturday  morning, (the day of our game drive to see the animals in the pictures) someone broke into the house where some of the team was staying and stole a bag with 24 passports (from 3 or 4 different countries!).  The team was planning on leaving for the small country of Lesotho (pronounced “le-SOO-too”) which is inside South Africa.  Without passports, the team was stranded.  Many prayers were offered, including “God, just have the thief throw the bag over the wall with all of our passports.”  On Tuesday morning, this is exactly what happened!  The bag was found back inside the wall with all 24 passports present!  

The work at the Music Academy has not begun yet.  We have been encouraged to protect our time of “settling in” but we also have had some roadblocks   We are working on getting some furnishings.  It’s hard to teach and learn if you don’t even have chairs!  Currently, we also are limited on instruments.  The instruments we collected this year are on a boat in the Atlantic ocean and are scheduled to arrive mid-September.  In the meantime, we are looking at some music theory classes to help build the foundation levels of music reading.

The team Brad is working with includes Likando (on the left), who plays flute at the Royal Livingstone Hotel right by the Victoria Falls, and Steady (in the center) who has worked with vocalists and church choirs in the Livingstone area.  We are working on a few income-generating events to help support the academy.  Meetings with them are an educational experience for me.  I (Brad) learn “new” words: for example, traffic lights in southern Africa are called “robots” and “mahala” means free.  They are also full of smiles and laughter.

We also have an official PO Box here in Livingstone!  Our regular mail address is:

Brad and Amber Howells
PO Box 60250
Livingstone, Zambia

We have Zambia phone numbers now so our other communication methods are slightly different.  For all those who use Apple devices with iMessages, you can still text us using the howellsfamily@poetice.org address.  We can also receive Apple FaceTime calls through that address.  Non-Apple people can message us through Facebook, Skype (Bradford.Howells), or Google Hangouts (bahowells@gmail.com).  We have decent internet so emails and messages are pretty reliable.  We are 6 hours ahead of you in the Eastern Time Zone, so 9 AM for you is 3 PM for us. 

As you pray for us, here are some specific things you can lift up:

  • That the shipping container with instruments arrives safely, on time, and with no hassles.
  • We need classroom furniture for the music academy.
  • The EXP team safely ministering in Lesotho this week, and their return drive (20-28 hours).
  • The upcoming Reach4Life event that will minister to and educate 150 youth in the Livingstone area August 5-8.

On the day of our flight out of Grand Rapids with our family, and again for a morning devotional, Brad shared about how God is faithful to His promises when but they are often tied to a command to obey.  As we sign off from our first Zambia email update, our prayer is that you experiences His faithfulness and promises as you obey!

-Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  (the promise)  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (the command)”

-Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you (the promise); you need only to be still (the command).”

-Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will with over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Seven Weeks Till We Go!

May 8th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Seven Weeks Till We Go!”
SEVEN WEEKS TILL WE GO!

There are so many emotions wrapped up in those five words, it’s hard to begin!  The anticipation, nervousness, excitement and sadness. Needless to say, the emotional pendulum can swing back and forth in a single conversation.
April started off with a relaxing pace since we were all to enjoy some extended Howells family time for Spring Break.  That pace became a memory as we were blessed to have our home church host an African Dinner fundraiser for us on April 17.  Thanks to a fantastic refugee ministry in our church, we enjoyed authentic food and music prepared by 2 Congolese families.
IMG_4979
IMG_4981
At the end of that same week we hosted a fund-raising garage sale. We had 14 families donate various goods for us to sell and it was a great success but boy were we tired!
 
IMG_5065
 
The next week of April we were preparing our instrument donations to be shipped on a container.  The shipping container was in Kansas!  We graciously had some friends volunteer an entire weekend to take our VERY loaded mini-van full of 5 personal totes and nearly 70 instruments to Kansas for us.
 
IMG_5169
April 30 was our final “formal” fund-raising event.  We and some friends hosted a 5K “fun run”.  We had youth group volunteers, neighbors, co-workers and friends come to show their support and to sport our new t-shirts!

IMG_520613112822_1702672259985359_6684177206187111641_o
In the midst of this all we also decided to attempt to sell our house “by owner” for a few weeks to see if we had any interest.  All glory to God to let you know that we accepted an offer just last week, had inspections, appraisals and anticipate a closing very soon. Wait what?! Through all the busyness we honestly felt your prayers for us carrying us. Thank you and please don’t stop.
Visit our blog to see more pictures from these recent events
And now May has arrived. Now we are looking at the beginning of the endings. School concerts, trips, graduation, family birthdays, doctors appointments, summer camps, family outings.  Oh… and the packing, storing, selling, donating, and tossing of all of our things that have occupied the spaces of our house.  Will you please be praying for us as we make our final preparations and balance busyness with family?

MAY-BE?

As we enter into these last few weeks, we are launching our “MAY-be it’s you” campaign.  God has so clearly paved the way for us to be going (and we are SO excited!) but we are not there yet!
Perhaps you have been thinking that you’d like to get involved but one reason or another you haven’t yet. Perhaps you have thought “I’ll wait until they leave before I jump on board” or perhaps this is the first newsletter of ours you’ve read!  We are asking you all to please consider joining with us as investors in this ministry.  Here are a few reasons why YOU are being asked to consider once more getting behind what we are doing:
1) You know and love us.  You have watched our journey.  You have seen how God has opened doors, spoken through other people, and equipped us for this mission.  You have faith that God is doing the right thing and you want to show your support of us by financial investing in what we are doing.  And/OR…
2) You believe in justice.  You believe that in God’s Kingdom, there should not be pain or death.  Children should not be separated from their parents because of HIV/AIDS.  You believe that all people, regardless of color, condition, or continent have dignity and a destiny.  All people should be free to imagine their own future.  Poverty cycles must be broken.  Communities can be empowered to thrive.  You believe life is more than just surviving to the next day.  You see the power that the arts have to combat the injustice by bringing hope.  You can join in the fight by supporting us with regular monthly investment.  And/OR…
3) You trust in God’s plan.  All that justice talk might go right over your head. ( I know it did for me at first.) But You yourself have experienced God’s love, His freedom and restoration. And you want to get behind this ministry that is designed to help others experience God in that same way.  You are willing to entrust a portion of your financial resources with anticipation of how God will multiply it and his kingdom!
Whichever reason, or combination of reasons applies to you, we need you!  Just by reading through this update, you are invested in what we are doing, and we are so thankful for you!  Please consider how you might be called to take the next step and invest in our mission.  Will you please pray with us for God to provide just what we need.
When you are ready to move forward, click INVEST and get started today.
We are active on our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/howellstozambia) and encourage you to LIKE it so you can see our updates there as well.  We have these lovely green Zambia flag bubbles that we will POP every time we reach another $100 monthly level.  Just let us know by email, text, or Facebook message that you have chosen to invest in us and we’ll get popping!  Our goal is to pop 10 bubbles before the end of May.

MAY-be it’s you!

Journey On,

THE HOWELLS FAMILY

Marching On… Howells to Zambia

March 16th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Marching On… Howells to Zambia”

Let us fill you in on what has happened in the last few weeks!

FEBRUARY INVESTOR DRIVE

We began February with a push to gain ten new monthly investors at $100 per month.  What we didn’t know is that God already had them lined up, ready and waiting.  We found some had started giving monthly in January and we didn’t get notice until mid-February.  We made little Zambia flag bubbles that “popped” with a check-mark to show that we had one more family parter with us.  The final bubble was completed on February 29.  We were doing our own special “Leap Day” dance!
BIG BOY FUNDRAISER
IMG_3968On March 7, the Wyoming area Big Boy restaurant hosted a 100% profit fundraiser for us.  The owner’s children are students of Brad’s at Vanguard.  We had four hours of food and fun connecting with old and new friends.  In all, we raised $500 which will be helpful in preparing instruments that we have collected to be used at the Music Academy.
Big Boy Day

“GO” DATE 
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the last month was setting a “GO” date.  July 1 is the target for us to leave to start doing what we have been preparing for nearly two years.  There are some other “GO” goals we need to meet between then and now: mainly closing the funding gap.  
AND NOW… BACK TO THE FUTURE…
We have some events coming up in the next two months that you are invited to.
KCC AFRICAN DINNER
On Sunday, April 17, Kentwood Community Church is hosting a African Dinner for us at 12:30 in the gym.  The meal will be an authentic African meal prepared by our friends at the Wayfinders Refugee Ministry.  You can come hear more details about the lives that the Lord is changing both in Africa and right here in Michigan.  This is a fundraising event to close that gap as part of our “GO” goal.  
HOWELLS to ZAMBIA 6:8 5K 
If you don’t know much about Brad, he has become a runner over the past five years.  He has coached his school’s Running Club for 3rd through 5th grade students, ran a half marathon (13.1 miles), a 25K race (15.5 miles), and a full marathon (26.2 miles).  He has drawn his best friend and both Jaedon and Seth into the addiction!  We thought, why not host a 5K (3.1 miles) for fun and for fundraising?Banner Hi Res
logo howells
The numbers in the name come from Micah 6:8 where we are told that God requires us to Seek Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with Him.  These three components have become the core purpose of our mission in Zambia.  
To register, go to www.runsignup.com/h2z685k.
As our adventure continues, please lift up a few prayer needs:
1)
Parenting in the busy-ness of preparations, event-planning, and engaging in our kids’ hearts in the transition.
2) Funding: closing the “GO” goal gap.  Most of this is airline tickets and vehicle expenses. Pray that God will reveal His new monthly investors throughout the next three months.  (If you are one of them, visit www.poetice.org/invest/howellsfamily)
3) New relationships: Unity amongst co-workers (American and Zambian); friends for our kids.
4) Logistics: packing up house; delivering home goods and instruments for shipping; renters for our house.
5) Finishing strong:  This one is personally from Brad- As I leave my job at Vanguard, there are a lot of memories and relationships wrapped together here.  Coming to grips with the “end” of that is difficult as I can become sentimental (for very good reasons!).  I have been so blessed with a such great work environment that I forgot it was work! 

Instruments have a Story…

January 12th, 2016 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Instruments have a Story…”

instruments have a story

Many of the instruments we have collected are cast-off, unused and stored  for unknown reasons.  Perhaps a student used to play in band, doesn’t anymore, and the instrument went under a bed, never to be heard from again.  

AND THEN THERE ARE THE INSTRUMENTS THAT HAVE A STORY.

After the first of the New Year, Amber and I were contacted by our local newspaper.  We had tried to get in touch with them in November to see if our instrument drive would be a story of interest.  Now I (Brad) was having a phone interview with a reporter.  The next week, we were back to school and we received an email with a link to our article.  You can read the article here:

FAMILY COLLECTING INSTRUMENTS, GETTING READY TO START MUSIC SCHOOL IN AFRICA

We shared this article on our Howells to Zambia Facebook page.  Within 48 hours, this post has reached nearly 4500 people, more than any other post to date.  The print article came out over the following weekend.  We have had several emails and phone calls from people around town with instruments.

Sunday, January 10, I received a call from a lady who had a valved trombone that her husband was considering donating to our ZIP Drive and the Music Academy.  The problem was that he was on hospice care and couldn’t leave their home, so would I be willing to visit with them and share about the ministry so he could decide?  I scheduled a visit for the next day.

When I arrived, I met Becky Curtis at the door and she ushered me into the living room where Tom was sitting with his walker with his oxygen tubing running along the floor.  I shook tValved Trombonehe hand of this man and was startled by the strength in his grip.  While he tired out moving papers on a clipboard, and had to pause between phrases to catch his breath, Tom was very
determined to assess whether our cause was the one he had been waiting for.

In 1972, Tom purchased this unique instrument from a music store in Traverse City, MI.  He had learned trombone in school but described himself as a “below-average” player.  He found he didn’t do well with the slide of a trombone so he found that this valved trombone worked better for him.  This instrument was one that had been designed for the Ohio State University Marching Band.  Tom has played this instrument in churches he has been apart of for many years since then.  

For seven years, Tom wanted to donate his valved trombone to a person or organization that would appreciate it for more than just the music it would create.  He found our article and was moved by our story.  Tom highly prized this instrument and wanted to find a home for it where it would “continue to bring glory to God.” 

Brad and TomI told him about the impact the Music Academy has on the young people in Livingstone.  I explained to him how we live the Gospel alongside them as we engage in relationships.  I shared how learning an instrument equips them to imagine a better future.  I told him how this instrument would empower a continuing legcy in the lives of the students who learned music on it. His instrument would indeed bring glory to God by changing  lives forever.

Tom’s eyes filled with tears and we both realized that God had brought our stories together.  And I am honored to be able to watch just how God is going to fulfill this man’s desire. 

Tom and Becky Curtis have decided to become a part of the story that will change the future of real people in Zambia.  

HOW WILL YOU JOIN IN THE STORY?

***Follow up – 1/17/2016:  Thursday evening, after this story was posted, Becky Curtis called me to let me know that Tom passed into the presence of our Heavenly Father during the day.  While we are saddened by this news, we rejoice in Tom’s restored strength and health in eternity.  We are praising Jesus that He allowed the timing of this story to happen as it did.  Please pray for the Curtis family over the next few weeks especially. ***

Merry Christmas from the Howells

December 16th, 2015 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Merry Christmas from the Howells”
IMG_2226

THE HOWELLS FAMILY

Do you know what your name means?  Were you one who took a lot of time to choose just the right name for your children? Names are powerful and can reveal character!  If I’m being honest, we chose one of our children’s names because “it didn’t rhyme with his siblings’ name”.  We’ve been learning about some names of God during this Advent.  I love that God’s character is so immense that it simply cannot be displayed in a single name!  One of the character revealing names of God that we daily embrace is Immanuel: God with us.

This past year has been full of needing Immanuel.  You may be aware that we changed our Zambia plan back in April.  Instead of serving at an established music academy we were asked to help launch a new music academy in a different city.  Among many other feelings, considerations, and ideas, we have fully embraced this calling as such an undeserved privilege.  God’s plan is bigger and better and we do not want to miss it!  With that in mind, we made the decision to go to Zambia for as long as God wants us there, instead of the original one-year commitment.  

In June, Brad was able to travel to Livingstone, Zambia and meet with the Zambian staff that we will be serving with.  He met with musicians from the community who are all very eager for the music academy to open next year.  They enjoy playing together for special occasions, holiday church services and just for fun.  Their heart for their own people shines through:

“THE ACADEMY WILL BE OPEN TO PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT WALKS OF LIFE.  OUR MISSION IS TO ALLEVIATE THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LESS PRIVILEGED.”

IMG_2548

VISITING WITH OUR IN-COUNTRY PARTNERS, JEREMY AND COURTNEY EMERT

We decided homeschooling all four kids this year was something God was asking us to do. God was gracious to point out to us that having this year of adjusting to homeschooling will be a tremendous blessing to our children.  Now homeschooling will be the familiar instead of one more new thing.  Immanuel! He is WITH US in these details!

This is a challenging journey though.  We are connecting with churches, school music programs, and other musical centers to collect new or used instruments and music supplies.  With a new academy, the students rely on donated equipment to use as they learn these new skills.  We have several fundraising ideas up in the air, many letters and emails to write, lots people to meet with and donors yet to discover.  All this is in addition to Brad’s full time job and other family commitments.  Will you pray for us regarding this?

We are planning on making our “big move” this summer (2016).  Before this happens, we need to have secured our full missionary support.  With an open-ended length of service, we need monthly supporters who believe in this work to commit to give “until they come home”.   Our two “big ticket” items that need to be met are housing and a vehicle.   Please prayerfully consider how you could partner with us.  We need each and every one of you!  Feel free to share our prayer cards or website with people in your circles.  We need partnerships with people who believe that the gospel lived out alongside of people can indeed change lives.  

IMG_4883

BRAD AND AMBER AT POETICE’S ANNUAL WINTER GALA

Immanuel.  Our God not only calls us into relationship with him but wants us to join him in whatever work he has in mind for you and me to do!  How privileged we are!  

Thank you for your investment of time, finances, and prayer for us.  Please know we pray for you too; praying that we will each experience the deep character of our Immanuel each day. 

Here are some ways to stay connected with us:

www.poetice.org/howellsfamily

www.justushowells.blogspot.com

www.zambiainstrumentproject.com

www.facebook.com/howellstozambia

email: howellsfamily@poetice.org

To sign up to be on our mailing list, visit http://goo.gl/eIzkZe

 

Mid-March update

March 25th, 2015 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Mid-March update”

Oh so many MANY thanks to all of you for asking how we are doing!! As you may recall from our last newsletter this month has been a big push for us to have our funding in and pledged so we can determine when we can get going! We will cover that later in this update so thanks for reading!

First a quick update regarding our recent events that so many of your organized, attended, assisted with, and prayed for.

PANCAKE BREAKFAST
Our pancake breakfast and silent auction was so fun (and yummy!) Overall we raised about $2000 towards our mission! IMG_7610

WINTER GOLFIMG_3799
Another amazing friend literally dug up their yard for our behalf! He created a 6 hole golf course IN HIS YARD, invited their people, roasted hot dogs and did the POLAR PLUNGE himself!  I don’t know how we know these crazy people but I’m SO glad we do! What a fun afternoon that was!

So where are we now?!
Well, I’m glad you’re still reading! Currently, our support stands at 66% of our pre-service need and 60% of our in-service need. We are humbled to have 60 families, individuals and churches say “yes” to partnering with us! This is a dramatic growth. Our very deepest gratitude to you all for what you can do and are doing.

But we aren’t there yet!  Please help us maintain this momentum. 7 days until our Support Checkup to see if we have raised enough to settle on a departure date!

As I reflect on these past few months there are so many facets of this journey that I could expound on but the one that keeps surfacing is growth. One of our sons will wake up periodically complaining about aches and pains. Being the very affectionate mom that I am, I tended to think it was just a ploy for getting out of bed (again). When in conversation with my wise mother in law she mentioned the “growing pains” that her boys used to have. Oh! I bet that’s what Seth is experiencing too (although the bedtime ploy still lingers…).

It is safe to say these past few months are full of our own version of growing pains: growing in faithfulness, in perseverance, in prayer, in boldness, in passion for Gods heart. It’s good. It’s hard. It’s a challenge and its only the beginning. Transformation is slow but sure and we are beyond thankful to be on this journey.

 

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

We have some fun opportunities for you to join with us this Spring!

April 23-25 we are hosting a fundraising Garage sale at our home at 1796 Durango Court in Wyoming, Michigan. If you’re doing any spring cleaning and finding some “treasures” you’d like to donate please let us know! If you’d like to help out (either with set up, take down or just sitting here with us while we sell!) let me know! I’d love some company!

If you are local and happen to be running the Fifth Third Riverbank Run– join our team!!! It costs nothing to you (plus you’ll get a super suave wristband!) Our Howells to Zambia running team is made up of any level, any runner. We ask that you seek out sponsors (your family, neighbors, friends, co-workers) to donate for you to run. We will provide you with a link for them to use for the donations. So fun to run for a cause. (can’t believe I just used the words “fun” and “run” in the same sentence…said Amber the non-runner 😉  )

So what if you’re NOT spring cleaning and you DON’T run?  Well, do you EAT?? We are having a BIG BOY fundraiser in Grandville, Michigan on Saturday, April 18 from 4-7.

 

PRAYER ASKS:

  • Preparing our house to be rented. Boxing, packing, and cleaning. God has provided an AMAZING friend who is going to be our property manager! Huge praise for that!
  • Renters!
  • Wisdom about selling our vehicles and for buyers.
  • Upcoming fundraising events
  • Brad’s job allowed him to sign a contract about his returning for the school year of 2016-2017. This is good because otherwise they may have given his salary away. Also, they may have found someone to take his job for the 2015-2016 year already! Yay, God!
  • Our children’s hearts
  • continued funding needs

We would like to know how we can pray for YOU too. We have your names and we have committed to be in prayer for you so please- let us know any specifics. We are in this together, friends!

THANK YOU for loving our God well and by expressing that through your sweet support- prayers and finances- of us.

Journey On!

Brad and Amber Howells

howells_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Brad & Amber Howells are soon-to-be Full-Time Missionaries in Zambia.

Howells February Update

February 4th, 2015 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Howells February Update”

Refrigerator

Hanging on a Fridge
We were looking over all the memos, pictures, and notes hanging our refrigerator the other day when I noticed a letter  hiding behind a few other “important” documents.   It was a letter detailing an upcoming missions trip that my aunt and uncle are taking to Guatemala at the end of this month.

“Hey, Amber!  Have we sent them anything yet?”

“I thought you were taking care of that!”

“Let’s get that taken care of…”

Then it struck us…

Perhaps some of you still have our letter hanging on YOUR fridge? We get it.  We’re just like you!  Now, we are planning on supporting my aunt and uncle but it made us realize that perhaps you intend on supporting us as well.  Can you go check your refrigerator?  Did you just need a little reminder?    A gentle nudge?

and here’s why we are requesting:

March Deadline
In order to move forward with the next stage, such as purchasing plane tickets, Poetice has requested us to have all of our upfront costs (tickets, housing, insurance, and transportation) in the bank by the end of March.   We also need to have 100% of our monthly expenses pledged and starting to come in.  We love this about them because it makes us work harder to ensure we will have what we need to do what God has for us to do.  In addition, it makes us rely on God’s timing and provision all that much more.  We walk the fine line of relinquishing control of the fundraising and being responsible with the monumental task it is.

But the end of March is 55 days away.

As of today, we have 31% of our upfront cost covered and 15% of our monthly support pledged.

gulp… We are confident that the Lord has called us and He will provide.

Will you accept His invitation (and ours) to join our team?  Go to Howells Monthly Support to set up your monthly donation.

Pancake Breakfast/Silent Auction Fundraiser
Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 14.  Some friends from Vanguard Charter Academy (Brad’s school since 2002) are hosting a fundraiser in the gym at Vanguard.  All are welcome to join us at 1620 52nd St SW, Wyoming, MI, 49519 (or click http://goo.gl/Nd4P8l).  More details will follow.

Communication pieces
Haven’t signed up for our email newsletter yet?  Click here to register!

AND you can join our Facebook page at Howells to Zambia.

Finally, if you just want to shoot us an email: howellsfamily@poetice.org

Thank you for your love and support!

howells_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Brad & Amber Howells are soon-to-be Full-Time Missionaries in Zambia.

Howells FAQs

January 24th, 2015 Posted by The Howells' Blog 0 comments on “Howells FAQs”

You can probably imagine, but we get asked the same questions all the time.  I even had a student’s parent say, “You probably get asked the same questions all time time.  You should put a FAQ on your website.”  Lightbulb moment.  So here it is!
1. WHEN ARE YOU LEAVING FOR ZAMBIA?

While we won’t have a specific date until March or April, the plan is to leave late June or early July.  July is the most expensive month to fly because that is when most Americans will go.  Our schedules are more open and Africa is cooler (their winter).  It all depends on the cost of tickets.

2. HOW IS GOING TO ZAMBIA AFFECTING YOUR JOB?

This is one of our confirmations that the Lord has given us.  Brad had talked to his principal after the last trip in 2011 about the possibility of teaching there for a year.  Mr. Vriesenga has taught in Christian schools for many years and is very supportive of teachers using their skills and talents in cross-cultural settings.  He is doing everything he can to ensure that Brad’s “leave of absence” will allow for returning to his position when we return for the 2016 school year.  Nothing is 100% guaranteed but we trust that the Lord will provide.

3. WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR HOUSE?

Our current plan is to rent our house.  We have a friend who owns a property management company who will assume the responsibilities of landlord while we are away.  If you know of someone who may need a house to rent in the “panhandle” of southwest Wyoming starting in the summer, please send us an email.

If you have more questions, and I realized we get asked that one all the time, we may just add it to the FAQs.  Email us at howellsfamily@poetice.org!

howells_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Brad & Amber Howells are soon-to-be Full-Time Missionaries in Zambia.