After today’s visits, I only have 2 more church visits during this trip to Mozambique. We’ve visited 10 congregations thus far on this trip plus the other places.
Today we visited Messica and Munene (Manica) churches. I was especially excited about Munene’s visit due to the fact that my first exposure was regarding the Munene UMC. The church I was raised in from a teenager onward was Rolla FUMC and this is their covenant partner. I remember seeing pictures of their worship structure. I was pumped.
Manica is a beautiful area. Full of lush greens and one of the areas that the timber/lumber trade is most heavily. We got to drive through areas where trees were clearly being grown to be timber. This also is set against the beautiful Manica Mountain Range. Obviously not mountains like in Colorado, but definitely mountains – and it sets the backdrop for many of our churches and people to be in a beautiful setting.
God brought me down from a pending high when we pulled up and the pastor, Marta, was clearly not well and in tears because she wanted to be well but was very weak. The lay leader, administrator, and church counselor ended up meeting us at the parsonage. We did our normal visit but it wasn’t normal because of the pastor’s clear pain. It wasn’t malaria but some sort of cold or other sickness. We prayed for her, she took our photos, and left. It was disheartening to some degree, but I hope that our presence and prayers help her heal from this sickness of more than 2 weeks. Since this location is pretty close to Zimbabwe – all of the Munene participants spoke and understood English.
The District Lay Leader joined us in the morning as our guide. Last night’s story was a cat. This morning’s story was about a lizard and he related it back to being grateful for our visit and how we (Missouri) is a blessing to this community. He’s clearly got some great stories.
Last on our agenda was Messica UMC. Their partner is Linn Memorial UMC in Fayette. Their uniqueness? We sang at LEAST 6 songs during our 1 ½ hours or so with them. They win the award for being the most song-oriented during our visit. It’s truly a gift and a beautiful thing to hear their voices. They have a very strong pastor, Antonio Macilau. He’s an Africa U graduate and is boisterous. We went to their new chapel location that will allow them to grow better and provide a better structure than their existing small chapel. Like he thought of it days ago (he probably did) - the district lay leader's story here was different yet. No lizard. No cat. This story was of a flower. A flower like in a bouquet of flowers that are tossed by the bride (and groom together here) for a wedding celebration. He said that God took this bouquet of flowers -- representing the blessings of the Missouri United Methodist people and he blew the (and he took out a flower, in his pocket and blew it toward the congregation) blessings to Africa -- all the way to the far side, to Mozambique. And he said how the person who catches the bouquet at a wedding is: they feel excited, thankful, and so happy to receive the blessing of our partnership. I told you he was a cool guy.
Pastor Macilau said something that struck me as we were leaving. He said he was so grateful for support from America and Missouri over the years. He said that if you look at when there are disasters, Americans respond. Many countries (he named them, I won’t) who have a physical presence here daily do not respond and it saddens him.
More profoundly, he said something that I’ll probably never forget. He said that he felt very confident that on judgement day, that God would not be asking us what our sins were and judging our sins. God knows that humans and have since virtually our first day of being here. Pastor Macilau believes that we will be judged more on the number gifts of love to our fellow humans. Being human and sinning, to God, he said, is a given. The acts of love, caring, and assistance isn’t. Working to grow closer to God through Jesus isn’t a given.
Wow. I told him that my Methodist friends back home would say “That’ll preach.”
The trip is quickly beginning to wind down. I go through many emotions throughout the week. Excitement of starting the journey. For my fellow running friends, I hit that first “wall” about on Day 5 and then the second “wall” at about two days ago, Day 10. Today is when I realize the end is coming. Two church visits and Worship/GTC graduation. That’s all of the big events left in my time here.
Tomorrow will be the end of my “Random Observations.” I’ve got two for today. Sunday will be full from GTC graduation.