Well, the trip is officially coming to a close. I offer this post as my closing thoughts to leave tomorrow's post about visiting Gondola, which will be more important to share.
Today was as expected, mostly a travel day. Big news: we didn't fly on the 'airplane chopa' as expected -- we were in a jet. A short stop in Tete meant that I got to briefly experience the 109 temperatures there today. About the same time it was snowing back home.
After arriving in Beira where it was only 87 degrees with 70% humidity at 5:30, we were greeted by JJ waiting for us at the airport. JJ is the Executive Assistant -- or the Bishop's 'right hand man' in Northern Mozambique. We ate beachside again (I know you feel sorry for me) and Eurico joined us. Eurico is a pastor in the North AC of the Methodist Church but was just assigned and will be the full time North AC VIM coordinator starting in January. Guess what Missouri? I'll be encouraging teams to visit the North as well as the South!
I've got big hopes and dreams for the Mozambique Initiative. There's potential for growth, partnerships, and learning. I pray that our Missouri churches remain to have open hearts for this country and the UMC here. Whether thinking about specific projects that specific churches may be interested in or thinking big-picture like the #MOAC16 Mozambique Initiative offering, this trip has been well worth the time and energy.
Tomorrow is Gondola. I'm super excited to end the trip on this high note. This was a dream of the church just a few years ago. Next Spring, the first class will graduate. More on this tomorrow.
Lastly: 3 takeaways and random thoughts:
3 Takeaways from the week:
1) The Roundtable was great. The United Methodist Church globally is supportive of Mozambique, and Missouri is one of the strongest partners. The Mozambique Church presented its priorities -- and MI will continue to align our priorities to match theirs. We have just a little work here, but not much at all.
2) I traveled a long ways during the last 10 days. I've flown more than 2000 miles in Mozambique while driving about 1000 miles. Visit our Facebook page for photos, and if your church was mentioned -- expect me to reach out to you after Thanksgiving.
3) Our Mozambican brothers and sisters are fantastic. They have a vision and passion for God and Jesus that is admirable and contagious.
My 4 Last Random Thoughts (last big ones at least) are as follows:
1) This has been an amazing, whirlwind experience. I think about where I've been in the last 2 weeks, people I've met, and what I've seen. The real world for American culture Craig returns starting Monday, when the journey home begins. During this season of Thanksgiving -- I will be particulary thankful for those things that I have that are unthinkable for nearly everyone here. While Thanksgiving will be great, I will be with my family back in Rolla. This transition will clash hard with the "Black Friday" emails that I keep getting and being tempted to read and see what the latest and greatest prices are on things. Things that I don't need or even really want, but that I'm tempted with.
2) I don't think I've discussed this but it's a very interesting time in Mozambique right now. Politically, there have been clashes between the majority and minority parties. The US Dollar to the Metical (Mozambican currency) is stronger than ever, but in real terms this only means that the Metical is losing value. From August (my previous trip) to today -- the conversion rates were: (Aug: 38 mets to 1 dollar) When I arrived 2 weeks ago: 48 to $1 and today, I converted money at 55 metical to $1. This is nearly a 30% devaluation of their currency in the last 3 months. Financially, the IMF is showing concern. Inflation is very high, the Mozambican government just raised interest rates.
All of that just means life in Mozambique will get harder in the coming months if this devaluation stays or (Heaven forbid) continues. Things will get more expensive for locals, wages will not increase. This is a huge problem and concern for the country broadly. Please pray and watch this closely as it could fracture the country and cause record growth over the last 15 years to be halted or reversed.
3) The Chinese influence here is stronger than ever. It's an interesting dichotomy. The Chinese are doing good things like working on roads, but the skeptic in me says they are doing it for a cost: mineral rights and trading advantages. For any venture capitalists out there reading this (I doubt it...) Mozambique is ripe for growth. Just visit this country and see the potential.
4) We take for granted the ease of access to cars of our own. The logical challenges related to transportation here are huge. I'm just one person, but coordinating travel for me isn't an easy task. Meeting pastors using public transportation (private entrepreneurs) for two hours one way because they don't have and can't afford a car or motorbike is humbling.
Until tomorrow. Peace.