The workweek has ended here in Mozambique. Two churches were on our agenda for today: Monapo and Nacala.
Monapo is a fairly young congregation and we were greeted by a group of 20 church members in song. Kidder UMC is their partner church. As a life long Missourian, I'll admit here that I have no idea where Kidder is. Anyway, some details about the church:
198 members, 2 local churches who are about 12 kilometers (6 miles) from the main sanctuary/chapel.
This church has seen the fruits of the MI partnership in very personal ways. First, a well was drilled just off of church property and it was in use by a whole group of people when we walked up. Then, MI provided electricity for the parsonage, and also some assistance on the chapel. They sincerely appreciated the visit and work of Sarah Bollinger, and gave me a capulana to make sure I get to her. I was also presented with a capulana as a gift of gratitude to MI's work with their church.
After sharing of refreshments together and seeing the property, we headed out toward Nacala. The cool story here, I think, is that the pastors of Nacala and Monapo are spouses. Talk about commitment to the Gospel, right? These churches are separated by about 60 kilometers and to get to Monapo, the pastor uses the chopa, but stays at the church on Friday-Sunday.
Nacala was very special. The pastor, women's group leader, and another church member who arrived late made up the small contingent to greet us. It was special because of how personal it was. I think they were a little worried I was disappointed in the turnout -- but quite the opposite. It was noon on Friday. We had a great conversation about their families, the church, and the Nacala community.
Nacala is a growing industrial area, a port city. Lots of construction is taking place here. A relatively small 118 member congregation that has more than 75 children is just cool. There's potential here, and I think the direction of the church here is on the right track. A former church member who was active in the ports started (financing) the construction of what would be the biggest sanctuary in Nampula. He was moved, and construction halted due to lack of funding.. The church though, is poised to succeed by thinking outside the box and being willing to let go of this building by selling it or renting it.
The financial challenges of the Church here are underscored by this very smart couple who both have other jobs to supplement their pastoral salary. I'm grateful for their work to grow the church. They were clearly well respected in their congregations and a great couple.
I'm told a trip to the Nampula area isn't complete without a trip to Ihla de Mozambique, the Island of Mozambique, about 40 miles from the main road back to Nampula. A one-way road leads to the island with a few wider places for cars to stop and wait for traffic to pass. It's a beautiful island with old buildings, probably nearly all of them are at least a hundred years old. On the island is the largest fortress in Mozambique, built in the 1680's by the Portuguese in order to help keep trade of all kinds (minerals, made materials, slave trade) under their control. The history here is just amazing. We've come along ways in this world when you think about the slave trade coming through here only a couple of hundred years ago.
Ezequiel, Herminio and I had dinner seaside literally with hundreds of feet of beach shoreline to ourselves, listening to the waves crash with sand in our toes on a folding table 50 feet from the water. Now that you can picture where we are at, are you curious of our dinner? Ezy and I had some seriously scrumptious shrimp. Herminio had calamari, and his plate was clean before ours. We are living the hard life tonight in Mozambique.
This quick weeklong itineracy around Mozambique has been insightful. It shows the variations in the country in a very quick way. From mountains in Nampula, more thick bush and trees of the rural parts both in Inhambane and the far north. Fruit trees everywhere except the cities (mangos, bananas) to the Cashew trees of Inhambane and Nampula. Cultural and area differences are seen religious differences (Islamic presence in the North) and the blank look or casual double-take in the North (of being American, I think) to not getting a second look at all in Maputo (big-city hustle and bustle are the same in the US and Mozambique).
Some things remain the same, though - no matter where. The need for water. Hospitality. Kindness. Helping strangers. Eagerness to be successful. Evangelical nature of the church. The joy of visiting and welcoming a stranger in Christ (me). The singing.
Random thoughts of the day:
1) I'm continually impressed by the children here. Whether playing with dirt or a handmade car from soda bottles and sticks they seem to be having fun. And when I see children with older siblings, they are helping their siblings carry water, materials, even coming to sell food roadside. They are given great responsibility at young age., which is obviously very different from American culture.
2) Sand + Rain = Only partially a good thing. I know it's rained a lot this week back home and I am speaking out of turn. However, after seeing a thunderstorm here in August and then just rain shower here once this trip, the erosion that takes place here is just devastating. Rain is a necessary evil here though, because most of the economy here is around agriculture. .
3) I need to educate myself on soccer/futbol worldwide. Josh Schaller, this means your help is needed. It's tough to be a baseball fan in subSaharan Africa. Nobody understands. Ha.
4) One of my favorite cultural practices in Mozambique is the hand washing before meals or refreshments. The host brings two buckets of water to guests and meal participants. It is two buckets, a bucket with water and one to catch the water. This gesture is humbling as a receiver of it and constantly reminds me of the humility that Jesus was shooting for in John 13: 1-17 by washing the Disciples' feet. It's a powerful act to experience.
5) Proof that I'm meant to be in Mozambique some: The music played about everywhere here is 15-35 years old. From Luther Vandross, Macy Gray, Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, Springsteen -- it's awesome stuff in my opinion. Of course, I might miss TSwift or One Direction a little bit if I was here for
Tomorrow is another travel day. Chopa Airplane = always fun stories! Beira for a brief visit and drive to Gondola on Sunday.
Until tomorrow. Peace