I did not anticipate doing a blog post on my first night in Maputo -- it's been a long journey. 19 hours of flying time, somewhere around 10 hours in airports and we made it around 9:15 local time here! However, I got so much sleep on the airplane, my body's internal clock is messed up. So, you get some initial thoughts at 2:00AM my time.
I can't explain the feeling of being in Mozambique. The sense of hope, hospitality, and grace from those here even when you arrive at 9:15 at night while we took sleep and time away from family of Ezy and Naftal -- they were happy, thankful we are with them. And so were we!
Our hotel is fantastic and is a glimpse of how far the country has come over the last few years. With less than 5 minutes in my room, I took a hot shower (didn't happen 9 years ago!) and got settled in, as this will be my home away from home for the next 5 nights.
As I write this, my heart breaks for those in Columbia and involved in the "MizzouHungerStrike" or "ConcernedStudent1950" movements. With the football team adding their weight the strike, state legislators calling for removal of President Wolfe, it's bleak. My heart breaks for all of those involved. Racism exists everywhere in this world. Without the hope that Christ offer's -- it's hard to imagine as broken humans that we will figure out how to treat each other. That said, I feel pain for former colleagues who are working incredibly hard for no credit or fame - and even getting blame -- in an effort to create a safe environment for students.
I pray with all of my being that both the "ConcernedStudent1950" movement and the University both have grace in this tense time. If you look at the social media and articles, there isn't much (any?) grace being offered.
How is this trip and the protests connected? They are connected because there's suffering involved. Millions of people in Mozambique walk miles to get clean water. They can't go to WalMart and get a few cases or turn the dozen faucets in their house to get it like me. They walk miles, to get only what they can carry. Too many children in Mozambique don't have an adequate school facility and actually meet underneath trees for primary or secondary school, in 100 degree heat. Suffering. Unfairness. Too many growing churches here can't even pay ensure their pastor has food on the table. Their churches are evangelizing beyond belief in a world that has so much wealth and yet how it is possible for them to not have enough food to eat?
There is unfairness in the protesting, too. Is Tim Wolfe or Bowen Loftin to blame for the selfish and racist acts of a few? Is it fair to call them names when people don't know them? Is it unfair to blame protesters for being angry for the racist acts they endure? Suffering. The graduate student Jonathan Butler is self-subscribing to suffering to call attention to the issue.
All in all, the community (Columbia, Missouri, Mizzou) suffers because protests are divisive in their nature. We're called to recognize injustice and have honest, open dialogue. Dialogue brings awareness and systematic change. I'll be participating in a dialogue of how to improve and expand the work of the Methodist church in Mozambique at the same time that I will be praying a dialouge happens in Columbia. A dialogue, though, has to be two-sided and have all interested parties involved. It also needs to be of hope, the future, and working together. That's what's happening here with the Church-- and there's no doubt it can happen in Columbia if everyone involved has grace, a truly open heart, and a desire to make the community and world a better place.