Day 2 is in the "book" in Maputo as they say. As I begin writing, 10PM here means it's 2PM back home. A lot has happened in news back home. The unrest back home hopefully has climaxed. President Wolfe resigned, Chancellor Loftin is stepping down as of January 1. Civility seems to be creeping in some conversations I read online, but not in others. My focus: Mozambique.
Yesterday was a fairly quiet and restful day. We walked around Maputo, spent time with Ezy and Naftal at different times and tried to get accustomed into the time change and being back on the ground.
Today was different. Today, we booked it. Ezy picked us up from our hotel promptly at 8AM (no Mozambique/Africa delay here). Our goal of the day was to visit three churches in West Maputo, rural outskirts of the city. For each church, we met the leadership of the church, listened and learned about the activities of their church, took a photo with the group and the church building, then prayed for them, their partners in Missouri, and the MI relationship to continue to flourish.
First on our agenda was Muamba UMC. Their sister church is both Ava UMC (that's you, Kerner!) and Fairview UMC. This was a good visit because of how Jeff, Nate, and I all know the sister churches back home. Second was Sabie UMC. Their sister church is Union Memorial. This congregational leadership was interested in a partnership to help with their sustainability, so we discussed and brainstormed ideas that could be good for them to submit as a microfinance project proposal through the South Annual Conference for MI to consider helping. We discussed possibilities like a shop, agricultural products (this area is very agricultural) or even a partnership with the Muamba church to find the best market to maximize and ensure best results.
Lastly, we visited Muhalaze UMC. These church leaders (Romeo and Antoinette) are church planters in the area. Their story was awesome and personal for me. They were misplaced a few years ago (2013) after area floods took place. The government assisted in moving them and others in the community to Muhalaze, a bit further away. In doing so, Romeo and Antoinette realized there were no other Methodists in the area. So, they reached out to a few others in the community and started a church! Romeo isn't a pastor yet, his title was something like "Evangelism Director" but he is in training to become a pastor, similar to what we would deem a "licensed local pastor" in the States. Their evangelism has been to the least and lost of the community including the community alcoholics and women in the community was inspiring. They were founded in May 2014 and are on their way to becoming a local parish, church. They currently have about 110 worshiping with them weekly in a thatch structure. Romeo and Antoinette, the other couple who were there, and the youth representative were inspiring. Their hope, optimism, and ability to outreach (evangelize) in a Christ-like was way cool.
Even cooler for you church-goers -- they don't have a sister church! I'll be working when I return to find them a good partner, similarly young church in Missouri.
So, that last visit was particularly meaningful because I was a core team member for a church plant that unfortunately failed. I know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into this all too well. It's real and personal for me. This is hard work. Seriously, this is some of the hardest work in our church -- and they are succeeding at this point and glowing with enthusiasm
For perspective, we spent about an hour and a half at each church. So for 4 1/2 hours or so, we were with churches. We left our hotel at 8:10AM and didn't return to Maputo for dinner (lunch skipped) until 6:00PM. That math means we were driving for about 5 1/2 hours today -- and we were in the West Maputo (hello, this is the capitol city!) area -- not super duper isolated. I say this just to underscore the infrastructure progress and challenges Mozambique has. We literally, drove around a 'pot hole' that was about 18 inches/2 feet deep and 6 feet wide. It was some of the roughest roads I've been on in Mozambique, and it was only an hour from the capitol city of over a million people.
We concluded our evening by eating dinner with Ezy -- and Yvi Martin joined us! Yvi is an Associate Pastor with The Gathering, who was in Mozambique prior to our arrival to visit and dedicate safe water wells. Thanks to Yvi, Matt, and the team who came to document and dedicate these wells they work to provide!
That was my day. Tomorrow will be huge and eventful. It's the first day of the Mozambique Roundtable! I've already met folks from GBGM, South Africa, and seen our German missionary friends Claus and Renate!
(I'm having issues with my SD card reader on my laptop, if I can get it fixed, I'll add photos to here!)