Thursday. What defined today? Probably generosity and love.
For the last two nights, we stayed for free (other than paying our electricity) at one of Ezy's friends house while he was out of town. We started our day at 7AM by meeting with the pastor of Pemba UMC. Their sister church is Pitts UMC in Kansas City. It was great to hear how they are spreading the word of God in their community.
After a small hunt for breakfast while the car we were renting was cleaned, we headed to the airport. DS Alfa was incredibly hospitalble and generous with his time over the last few days. He stayed with us at the airport while we waited to board, saying it was the hospitable thing to do with his guest. What happens in the US? A goodbye hug at the airport so we can get back to living our lives. No offense to our culture, but it's true, right? I do it.
The flight was, let's just say, interesting. We flew on a circa 1980 prop-jet Embraer. Of course, I told Ezy that I believed with all of my being that this plane was literally 5 years older than me. Talk about retro with lots of tans and browns in the leather seats, paneling, etc. Also, it was bit hilarious to see the flight attendant struggle for three times to get the momentum enough to actually lock the door in place. It kept getting stuck on something, not locking into place. You know it was bad when the Mozambicans are laughing and saying "Chopa airplane" and laughing. Chopas are public transportation vans that aren't known to be the most reliable, comfortable, or new. It isn't a compliment. We made it, though. I'll take the final leg from Nampula to Beira on Saturday, so I get to ride in the same plane again. There's really no love and generocity in this story except from God since he was with our pilot and our plane.
Upon arrival to Nampula we were picked up by District Superintendent Herminio. After a quick run by our hotel we visited Nampula UMC. This is the sister church of Kirksville FUMC. Nampula is really the "hub" of the North Mozambique annual conference of the Methodist church. The pictures will prove it. They rotate having their annual conference in the North here. I was greeted by a song and flowers by the leaders of the church. Love and generous.
After a wonderful introduction in their sanctuary, got to learn all about the church's activities and ways they reach out to the community. From more than 690 members, 5 local churches, and a very busy weekly schedule of women, men, youth, and children acivities -- this is a vibrant congregation. I shared my passion for Mozambique, my learning together with those in the North, and the mission of MI.
After wonderful tour of the church grounds, they have multiple construction projects. Most significantly is the construction of a large sanctuary that will adequately be able to house Annual Conferences instead of overflow happening. While walls are built up by funds from the local church, they don't have funds for the roof, but have purchased trusses. They are also working on a children's "wing" or building where the children go during church.
I'll admit my western culture kicked in during this time to some degree. I grew quickly skeptical of the need of a larger, bigger church. We have lots of those in Missouri that we aren't utilizing effectively. That said, the church here is growing -- and Nampula is obviously bursting at the seems with construction, new high rises, and is the third largest city in Mozambique.
After the group photo, we shared in desserts (those who know me, know this is the way to my heart...) with pastries that reminded me of beignets, sweet corn cake, and a shortbread dessert. Topped off with a Fanta Ananas (pineapple) it was a great visit for about 3 hours. This has been the church who has the most folks that speak English of any I've visited this trip - a solid hand full. At one point, even one of the youth leaders translated for Ezy while he was speaking about MI. Love and generosity.
We hopped in the car with DS Herminio and I assumed we were going to the hotel to have dinner on our own and rest. Nope. We went to his house, met his family, and joined them for dinner. I met his wonderful wife and children (3 of them). They were watching The Amazing World of Gumball, except it was in Portuguese. This stuff just cracks me up. Our foster son would watch this -- and I'm 9000 miles away watching it!
Then, the ultimate surprise so far of the trip -- a personalized gift for me. A keychain made of the dark Mozambican wood of the area with my phone number etched/scratched out of one side, and my name on the other. What an awesome gift. What DS Herminio didn't know is that all trip I have been on a hunt for the best way to purchase Mozambican furniture (they have beautiful handmade wicker, or even what we would consider a Cedar Chest) and get it back to the States at a reasonable cost. Yeah, I know that's probably impossible. But, I will get it somehow. I digress. Generosity and love. I presented a stole to him as I have done to all of the DS's who we have spent time with in Mozambique.
We will get to spend time with him over the next two days. Tomorrow, we visit two churches: Nacala and Manapo.
Two random thoughts that I forgot yesterday and two more of today:
1) I am questioning whether the influx of cell phones in Mozambique is a good thing. There is definitely preying on people with very little financial means who don't have electricity or safe water. It's an interesting delimma for people. Everyone wants to use the shiny, cool cell phone they are often given here -- but at a price they really can't afford to spend. It's really sad to see a HUGE cell phone tower right next to thatch huts with no electricity. I've got
2) The US needs to change to the metric system and to celcius. It's brutal that we are about the only country in the world that doesn't use these regularly. It's time to make sure we teach both and even use both regularly in practice, I'm convinced.
3) Next trip, I've got to find a way to pack lighter. I packed two bags plus my backpack which isn't light either. One suitcase with my stuff, and another with gifts. My big bag is about 35 pounds (but under the 10KG limit, again with the metric system) and makes me look way too much like a Westerner, which of course I am. But when being a guest means others offer and insist on carrying my bag, it definitely ain't cool. I'm sorry guys.
4) 1 John 4: 7-21 talks about Love. I'm unable to be proficient in the happenings with the Syrian refugees. However, when I stumbled on this -- I wondered if it was applicable. I really don't know, but I enjoyed stumbling upon it.