Holy smokes. Time in Mozambique goes by so fast! How can MONDAY already be coming to an end? Tons has happened the last three days. So, a bit longer of a post. :)
Those of you who have visited Mozambique know, it takes a while to get places. So, Saturday, all day, Ezy and I drove to Massinga. It's approximately 330 miles of driving. Along the way, I hope you saw the Facebook page where we found a well that the Mozambique Initiative recently completed that was in full use! This was amazing to see. We also saw a well that was closed for a short time for the pumps to cool off.
Sunday was a typical Mozambican day, a day full of God, Jesus, and hospitality. We visited the partner church of St. John's UMC in Kansas City, Lihonzwane. This was my first experience 'in the bush.' We were more than an hour off of a paved road -- and I've got great video of how smooth (or lack of smoothness) the ride was. It's a vibrant congregation of about 75-100 members. The need for safe water can be seen here in addition to a beautiful new chapel thanks to the generosity of our church back in Missouri. Bishop Nhanala is going to dedicate and visit the new church next Monday.
The service was filled with singing, dancing, smiles, and great preaching. We processed in and marched. Funny thing here. I'm honored and thrilled to lead the Missouri side of MI -- but this white guy ain't got no moves to dance while processing in. The worship service was approximately 3 hours long, followed by providing us lunch as visitors.
On the way, we picked up Eti, a pastor of Malova UMC (Moundville UMC is their partner here in Missouri). We visited his church briefly on our way back through Massinga. Talk about a dynamic pastor. He preached on love and the various Greek meanings to the word and how it relates to life. A message we preach on in Missouri all the time, right?
We also picked up the District Superintendent for the Massinga district and visited Ngongane Primary School. This shows the truly transforming nature of MI. Thanks to Manchester UMC's passion for education - Ngongane was identified as an area by the government and the church where the church to help the community. Less than 5 minutes from the N1 national highway, this school has no electricity and was in thatch huts with tin roofs with no desks. The church here is partnering with the community Manchester UMC has provided funds for a new administrative block (office space for a principal, academic officer, and secretary) and three classrooms made out of concrete and desks. A need here yet (that I'll explore when I return) is bathrooms for the school. More to come here.
The 'transforming' and bringing people to Christ happens by these sorts of partnerships. Missouri partners with the Mozambique church. Mozambique church parters to their local community. How powerful is that?
We finished Sunday by meeting with Ezy's father in Chiquque. He reminded me of my grandparents, tinkering with lots of things in and out of his house including his garden, yard, and house. It was really awesome to hear his story of being a teacher and trained theologian. While my grandparents weren't teachers -- they were teachers in their own career areas.
That concluded Sunday's activities. The location we were going to stay in Maxixe wasn't available proves the phrase "be ready to be flexible" while in Mozambique. We found a good hotel in Maxixe where we stayed.
Today, we met with Arlindo Romao, the director of the Center of Hope. We discussed the great outreach efforts they are working on. The Center of Hope's role is to apply for, receive, and implement health care trainings in the community. They work with the Chiquque Rural Hospital and the government in targeted educational and training campaigns in the local community around areas such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. I talked about this in previous blog posts but it was great to visit with Arlindo more specifically for about an hour and a half.
Then, the journey back to Maputo, another 300 miles of driving. Ezy and I had a great time visiting, me trying to not fall asleep (I'm becoming my wife in cars, falling asleep easily!) Tonight, Ezy has welcomed me into his home for tonight. I will stay here for dinner and the night. Tomorrow, we leave early for Pemba, one of the most northern cities in Mozambique. For perspective, this distance is slightly more than from Washington DC to Denver, more than 1,500 miles.
Tomorrow, our hope is to visit Pemba UMC, and Mituge UMC and perhaps visit the Wimbe Beach.
My trip is now more than 50% finished. A few tidbits of thoughts in my head: I miss my wife and foster son. Natural, right? I think so. :) When I come home, it'll be two days before Thanksgiving (say what!). Why do I want to stay for another week? Take away Jesus, the Church, and Friendships -- there CANNOT be better and fresher fish anywhere in the world than Mozambique. This Yellowtail fish I have had twice, Codfish, Grouper, Redfish have all been amazing and beats anything I've had in the States.
Seeing the people walking 2-8 kilometers just to fetch water from a safe well is life changing. More of us in the States need to experience this. How far do you walk? I walk about 3 steps or 8 feet on average I would say in my house if I did the math. Other thoughts: I'm beginning to think about the next thing for MI (ie: Annual conference booth, offering, areas of growth). Lastly, I love learning about this country and look forward to learning so much more. Whether how cities are named, why culturally it's OK to give folks rides here and not at home, or discussing anticorruption efforts -- learning is a significant part of faith. Doing it with a Christian of another culture is just wonderful. I highly recommend it.
I now have less than one week of learning. God has been good to me, I'm thankful for prayers and His guidance on travels. I just hope that I am giving back as much as I'm getting while I am here. I question this every time I visit.