Today concludes my last full day in Mozambique. I've blogged about the heat and God laughs at me today, it's overcast, breezy, and about 75 or 80 degrees at the most.
The day began for me at 4:26AM when my alarm went off (that's 8:30PM Saturday for you in Missouri). JJ picked us up 5 minutes earlier than our 5AM departure, showing that American influence on Mozambican time is an actual thing.
The three hour car ride is always good. Whether talking about political challenges in the US and Mozambique to differences in Church politics in the two countries, it is was full of conversation, even if it was early.
Torres, the director of Gondola Training Center, met us outside as we arrived at shortly after 8AM. After a tour of the facilities, we went inside his home and discussed the history and goals of Gondola Training Center more in depth.
The GTC location has transformed significantly over the last few years. From solar panel electricity, a new dorm, a well, it's a great place. For those of you like me who weren't sure of the history:
GTC opened in March 2014 and was imagined as both a lay person and local pastor training center in the North part of Mozambique. The certificate program/curriculum was designed to be a 3-year curriculum. Students (adults) stay at the GTC for 3 months for 3 years, and the rest of the year they are to put into practice their learning in their local churches and communities. Each cohort class is 12 students.
There's likely to be a change in the curriculum/process. In an effort to expedite and help with costs, these GTC students starting with the June 2016 class will likely begin a 2-year journey, being at GTC for 5 months each year for the 2 year period. One cohort class is lay members, and the other is licensed local pastors.
GTC is ripe for growth and responding to the needs of the United Methodist Church here to develop leaders and provide educational opportunities. I learned about the progress and the needs. A new dormitory is likely needed to more culturally appropriate house and provide space for a longer 5-month stay. Smaller needed items are obvious, like a gas stove in the kitchen (currently food is cooked by charcoal), chairs for the classrooms (they are currently carried by the students from the kitchen table to the classroom and back).
As VIM teams think about coming to Mozambique, this would be a great place to consider visiting and working. It's rural, beautiful, peaceful, and a short drive from the larger township of Chimoio.
After Torres' family fixed us a wonderful lunch -- I did something super cool. I got to pick cacana leaves and help with the digging up of a cassava tree with Rev. Rita, who came to meet me. Cacana is a leaf that is used in cooking cassava and it sounded like what we would consider a garnish. Rev. Rita oversees the microfinance projects for MI in the North. She's also the pastor of a small congregation.
After arriving back in Beira, we met with Eurico to discuss some logistics of VIM team visits and enjoyed a last dinner in Mozambique.
Tomorrow, I will be at the Beira airport for my 1:30PM flight. It's always fun to see how long I will be in travel status. So, let's walk through this together. I'll be dropped off at Beira at approximately noon on Monday, Mozambique time. That's 4AM Missouri time on Monday. My flight is scheduled to lane in St. Louis at 1:51PM on Tuesday local time. So, I'll be in travel status for 36 hours, including the drive to Columbia. If all goes as scheduled. haha. :) It's daunting and yet thrilling at the same time.
It's been awesome to spend time in Beira. I won't likely get to post something from "the road" home. I'm thankful to each of you for taking the time to read this each day and getting to experience it with me. Thank you for prayers and positive comments -- I am aware I've filled your Facebook feeds with lots of things over the past few weeks.
Concluding thoughts on the week for real:
Mozambique is an awesome country. You should visit the churches and people here. Coming here will leave you speechless on so many levels: the love you experience, the poverty, the passion for the Church just to name a few. The task of trying to help here is daunting and overwhelming.
Together, one friendship, one visit, one microfinance project, one safe water well, one permanent chapel/church can and does bring Missouri and Mozambique closer to the image of Christ.
Hang on Missouri. Let's continue to change the world in partnership with Mozambique. Philippians 1: 4-11 tells a prayer of thanksgiving that I am praying today about our brothers and sisters here in Mozambique as I leave to come back home.
Until I'm back in Missouri. Peace.