The sun is setting on this Saturday here in Mozambique.
Macate is King’s Way UMC (Springfield)’s partner congregation. They visited a few years ago and it was great to see the infrastructures in this rural church. I’ll send them specifics about the church itself, but the purpose of our visit was to inquire about the banana microfinance project. We approved this project in January.
They have purchased land that has about 1,000 banana trees on it. They are in discussions on land that they can plant fresh trees and start a second location. It was great to then visit this. It was the most offroad driving yet, driving over grass taller than our SUV’s hood. I was worried for the car. We parked and then walked to the location. It was really cool. The members of the church have cleared the underbrush of the trees and the trees have very green bananas on them right now.
Macate literally means banana, I’m told, and this area produces bananas year-round. It was awesome to visit it and go on a little adventure in the bush. We saw lots of trucks (pickup and larger) full of bananas, taking them to be distributed across the country and to the other cities in Mozambique.
We returned to the church and were served lunch and had fresh bananas from the area. Delicious.
Lastly, we went to Chimoio UMC. They are a large church and the highlight was the exchange of Q&A they asked me. The Men’s leader asked for advice on getting Men to attend their men’s meetings (we have the same problem!) and what are some of the activities they do. The pastor asked about the worship experience and how it was similar, different, and if the pastors of their partner (First, Jefferson City) led all of their worship services. The last question was from one of the lay members and was about what our “local churches” do. In our Methodist churches, we don’t have these, I explained. But we have some churches who do something similar, who are part of one church but worship in different locations at the same time. The local churches in Mozambique act as large community groups that are in the areas close to where many of the members (or potential member) live. I expressed that we have small groups, which operate like their “classes.”
I gave the district lay leader (acting DS on our journey, ha) a t-shirt and I look forward to seeing him in worship. He’s such a funny, good guy. He was a professional photographer for several years but closed his business because of the advancement of the digital and phone cameras. Because of this, he says that professional photographers never are to look at the camera. In all our photos with him, he’s always looking at something else. Me. The Bananas. His shirt I gave him as a gift. It’s hilarious. It’s been a joy to spend time with him and see Christ through him.
Now, for the rest, the conclusion, of my “Random Observations” I’ve got 4 things to conclude with:
1) Going through a 3-way translation for most of the church visits has been intriguing to me. Language is so important and with increased globalization, it’ll be interesting to see how this changes history and local languages here and in other countries. Words don’t quite translate correctly many times from one language to the next – so for any translator, this is a big obstacle. I wish so badly that I picked up languages easily.
2) The tradition of handwashing before meals here is something I enjoy. It’s extremely humbling to have someone physically pour water (often times that has been carried a long distance) over your hands into a bucket. Then, after the meal, it is repeated. I know my thinking here has evolved. My first and second trips I swiftly used hand sanitizer (secretly) after receiving it. We were encouraged to do so. I felt guilty for doing it, but felt like it was for my best interest. Now, I’m not so sure. I don’t think I did it at all after receiving the hand washing this my last two trips.
3) A new phenomenon (to me) in this area that was pointed out to me is using mosquito nets to protect gardens from chickens, ducks, or other animals that may be roaming the property. This is interesting and heartbreaking. Malaria is such a problem here. Yet, the people chose to use the nets to protect the food that must sustain them. They likely won’t have any money to purchase the vegetables if they are eaten. Both choices involve life and sustaining themselves. I asked about building a fence and it would have to be a fence with sticks very close together to keep long necks out. I thought it was interesting. It’s hard to say what I would do if I wore their shoes.
4) I’ve almost completely left my hotel/guest house television off during the last 9 days. Early on, I spent time watching the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN – because I was interested in what was said about the U.S. and our presidential elections. First, our primary system is incredibly difficult to understand and explain for people outside the U.S. It is complicated and is not intuitive at all but each time there is a state that is won – they are reporting the results.
Second, through the lenses of the people who do speak English here – if American politics is mentioned, the conversation goes: Is Donald Trump really going to be President of the United States? Americans need to remember that the U.S. is supposed to be the shining star of the world and you may Donald Trump as your President? I’ve also heard: A President is supposed to be respectful, but this guy says very mean, personal things to people. This is who will be representing the U.S. to countries like mine? They say: I don’t see that he will be able to sit across the table from someone who he disagrees with and try to find common ground.
Of course I have opinions on Donald Trump. These thoughts and questions by locals here are offered before they even ask for my opinion on if he can or will win. I only mention this because our elections do matter for the rest of the world.
Honestly, neither candidate translates very well into Mozambican (or African) culture (my opinion). My opinion is that it probably reminds locals too much of their own leaders who aren’t looking out for the country or people’s interests. The country Mozambicans look to the U.S. for honesty, integrity, visible progress, values, and hope. Instead, our top 2 candidates are seen like this: the wife of a former president (nepotism concerns) who is under governmental investigation or a shrewd businessman who’s known and comfortable with being disrespectful with no political experience.
It’s strange territory for us as a country in the U.S. Our world is full of cynicism, corruption, dirty politics, and lots of unflattering things. But there’s one thing that binds Methodists in Missouri and Mozambique: that because Jesus died for us, He gave us everlasting hope. Hope and grace are tones I’ve touched on as I’ve spoken to churches here. Mozambicans perk up hearing this. They nod their heads. And so should we, in Missouri.
Tomorrow will be a huge day. All district churches are meeting at Gondola Training Center for the graduation and worship service. I don’t know what to expect, but it’s going to be moving – and a celebration I don’t think I’ll forget. This is my last night in Chimoio. Second to last night in Mozambique before journeying home.
I’ll write tomorrow, but I want to also write a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has read and followed my trip. It’s selfish, but I need to admit that I write for myself as much as sharing my experiences. :) For those of you who have been to this great country: I hope it brought back memories. For those of you haven’t been: I hope you want to go just a little more than you did before (and I can help make that happen – just let me know!). For everyone, I hope you’ve learned something new on this walk with me. I have.
Tonight, I leave you with Romans 13: 8-10. I want to note verse 10; it is something I reflect on because I’ve been given nothing but love and wonderful neighbors here. “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”