Today is one of those truly dreaded days when you’re on a trip to Mozambique. You get comfortable, start a routine, keep opening up, have friendships, and you slowly then have to say goodbye.
DS Antonio met us at the hotel at 8:00AM and we got our day started. Nhatsanga UMC (sister church of All Faith UMC) was our first visit on the agenda. Today’s travel journeys were not quite as far, really located in what we would consider suburbs of the City of Tete.
Before Nhatsanga, we started out spending breakfast at the DS’s house with his family. We had bread, a bean-fried patty (was good), and the had awkwardness of being the guy who doesn’t drink hot tea or coffee during breakfast (breakfast #2, we ate at the hotel). I tell Ezy that it’s bizarre to drink hot tea (incredibly hot) or coffee when it’s 85 degrees outside at 9AM. He says it’s crazy to any iced drink (tea, water, soda) when it’s cold outside. Touche, my friend. You win. :)
The DS’s family is great. His youngest is 6, I believe. He’s an awesome kid. Super talkative, played hide-and-seek with me around the truck, and wanted to see the Goat after it was put in the truck. Yes. The Goat Story continues. He told Domingos (who speaks awesome English, you may recall) that we should untie the goat after tying its legs and putting it in the truck bed. We just laughed. He was concerned.
A common theme here that you’re seeing is that many churches are working on infrastructures. Since they only purchase and build what they can afford at the time, they don't put together a budget for the whole project because it may take 5-10 years for them to complete a project, and they're okay with this. Nhatsanga is the same. This is a unique church because it’s mostly dominated by women. Women fixed the parsonage roof, contributed and were the leaders of rehabbing the chapel, too. We were met by about 15 of their members. We have a well here that is working and spent time discussing sustainability projects for them to consider. The pastor is also at Gondola, and I will see him on Sunday. His wife was there, led the meeting, and was also at Tete UMC and sang (solo) a beautiful song as their guest.
The story of the goat continues. Of course, Nhandoa wanted me to enjoy the goat (which is a female). Culture says it was for me to fix and enjoy. Then, there are practicalities. Nhatsanga has a goat project of their own so it was decided yesterday to present the goat to them. A white-stretch-of-the-truth is that I told her that I was so moved (I really was moved) by her singing, boldness, and strong nature to sing joyfully in a different congregation that I wanted to present a very unique gift, the goat. They loved it and invited me to come back next year and see at least 1 more goat, after it mates and reproduces. I trust God will forgive my stretch of the truth (well, okay, lie).
In Mozambique, you aren’t a guest until you share a meal together. They prepared a local fruit juice for me to drink called “malambi” and it’s made from the bayobob (who knows on spelling) fruit. It was a very thick juice made with water, sugar, and the fruit. It was pretty good, very thick, stuff. This was my third meal/food.
It may sound like all of these visits are the same. I hope it doesn’t. Each of the personalities is of the attendees, pastor/leaders, and character are all different. Next, we headed toward Moatize, partner congregation to Memorial UMC in Farmington. This was a treat. We were late. They were still there.
We were greeted at the front of the church by singing, dancing, and with silver leis for Ezy and me. About 15 people greeted us, mostly administrative board members. They provided a beautiful written overview of the church activities that we’ll have Ezy translate and get to us. That included 95 members, 2 local churches. Of note, they are working on outreaching to the native Mozambicans. Many of their congregation come from the miners in the area. This is good except when their contract is over, they all leave for their native country or city. They are in the process of opening another local church in Katemi, focusing on locals. Evangelism at work.
Gloria, the founder of the church, said that it was founded in 1983 and that while they (like we) have many challenges, partnering, they and they hope we are very happy. Their top priority includes building a security wall around the property. The area of the church and parsonage includes an area of the city that after dark, they struggle with theft. Pastor Armando’s laptop was stolen, among other things. Then, they hope to do a sustainability project.
Then, the super cool part. Gifts. They began by giving me a hat (perfect for mowing my yard) and a wood carving for my desk of the country of Mozambique, saying it belongs on my desk, so that everyday, I will think of Moatize. Then, they gave a gift to Mama Nancy (a beautiful capulana) to deliver. I presented stickers to Pastor Armando’s family, altar colors for the church, and a cross necklace for Armando. Armando said he would read and translate (he speaks English well, educated at Africa University) to the congregation this Sunday. Letters were from Nancy and their senior pastor.
I had chills when they said “Mama Nancy” and presented me with the capulana. They proudly showed the photos that were presented to them from their visit – and they were even more proud that they received new photos of their trip to Moatize. This is how our relational and connectionism works. They care for her, she cares for them. Mutual. Partnership. It’s a beautiful thing.
We shared refreshments (4th meal), toured the property, parsonage, chapel, motorbike, saw the beautiful large trees that they said were planted by Nancy (I have photos!). We took a group photo and prayed for Pastor Armando’s wife as a group, with her, who was not feeling well and looked like she didn’t feel well.
Lastly, we visited the school that is near the Tete UMC property where they are building a new chapel. This private secondary school was founded in the mid-1990s by Bishop Machado. Our takeaway here was to do some digging as to who were the partners. They have good infrastructures (great for the 1990s!) but need to transform some into more of an information technology section and other issues. We were offered refreshments here, too. 5th Meal of the Day.
We concluded with a wonderful dinner with the Tete District Administrative Board. We were served chicken, rice and matapa (traditional Mozambican dish I hadn’t had on this trip). 6th Meal of the Day. I’m stuffed. Still. It may not sound like a lot, but when you graze and don’t move much – it is a lot!
After dinner, with the whole group of the District Administrative board there, I presented DS Antonio with a pastoral stole, t-shirt (SERVE), and a wooden cross to put on a necklace. For Domingos, I presented a t-shirt and cross, too. They’ve been so kind, gracious, humble, and have given so much of their time to be with me.
The first verse I happened to turn to, fits for the last few days’ visit. Colossians 1: 9-14. “We have not stopped praying for you (virtually exactly how Pastor Armando described it)…bearing fruit in every good work…endurance and patience….and most importantly verse 14, where we have been forgiven for our sins through Jesus, who connects Missouri and Mozambique.
God is good. All of the time. It’s been a wonderful few days in Tete. I’m passed my half-way point of being in this great place. By popular demand (my own demand…) I have a random thoughts list going that I’ll probably begin to touch on tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a travel day to Beira. We’ll get to visit the Dondo motorbike project recently funded and hopefully get to see the work being done at the Dondo orphanage location. Thank you so much for reading, praying and supporting me during this trip. I’m grateful.
Obrigado. Boa Noite.