Sunday May 26, 2013
Bailey, Cara, & I joined the Westerholms for church this morning. We went to a village about an hour away, halfway between Montepuez & Pemba. We sat on a mat in a hut with about 25 others, worshiping alongside the Makua people, attempting to sing & mostly just repeating sounds I think I hear & the phrase “Apwiya Nluku” (Lord God). We listened to 4 different sermons before loading up the truck & driving down the road to have lunch.
When we got to the house where we were having lunch I turned toward the doorway & looked at the horde of kids, which apparently implied that I wanted to sprint around the village & get lost in a corn field. After running for a while & getting completely lost, the kids finally led me back to the right house. There’s nothing quite as humbling as standing in the middle of a corn field with a bunch of 4 year olds who speak a different language, knowing that they are your only hope of getting home.
I went inside to watch the women make the day’s ixima. They sat, faces almost hidden by the smoke in the dark room, as they leaned over the pot, aggressively stirring the thick mixture. A few minutes later I ate it. Our matapa for the day was a seasoned chicken broth, which was later complimented by a live chicken attempting to avenge the death of his brother chick. After eating as much ixima as I could without having it come out my ears, I rinsed my hands and went back to play with the kids for a little while before leaving. Soon we loaded up again to head back to Montepuez. We dropped everyone off and finally got back to the Westerholm house for a lazy afternoon, helping in the kitchen.
I love being with the people here. I don’t love the bucket showers, the dirt, the heat, and the language barrier, but I do love the people. I loved getting lost in the middle of a corn field with a bunch of kids I didn’t understand. I love trying to have conversations with the workers at the Howells’ house. I love making up words to Makua songs so I can join them in worship. I love playing ridiculous nonsensical games with Maggie and Jane. I love working in the kitchen and talking to Amy. I love listening to Chad talk about Mozambique. I love hearing Alan come up with puns. I love watching Rachel interact with the ladies at the women’s Bible study. I love the people.
Today in church I read II Chronicles 20, telling of Jehosophat trying to lead Judah against an impossible enemy. He prayed, “God, we are powerless against the hoard, but we look to you.” There are so many things Mozambicans feel powerless against – poverty, health problems, corruption, ethnic tensions, alcoholism, cultural enslavement to fear, lack of education, lack of sanitation, & so much more. But our God is greater, our God is stronger, & our God is higher than any other. When we look to him and lay our battles at his feet he will destroy out enemies & we will be victorious through his power.
Monday May 27, 2013
My feet & fingernails have been stained black. I think it’s the true African within easing its way out of my soul. Or it could just be that I’m constantly filthy & the pitcher shower just doesn’t cut it sometimes.
We got up early this morning (around 4:20) to go climb a mountain. While I typically don’t have much trouble hiking, this particular summit did me in. Perhaps the witch doctor cast a spell on me. It was awesome nonetheless. The locals never climb the mountain recreationally, but rather just for spiritual reasons – mainly because the trail takes you through a witch doctor’s house. It was a beautiful view from the top, similar to what I imagine Simba saw when Rafiki lifted him up at Pride Rock. After taking a bunch of goofy pictures and having some worship time at sunrise, we began the descent.
When I get to Heaven I hope God lets us see some portions of our lives because I imagine the the birds’ eye view of me crab walking down the mountain was somewhat humorous. I would also like to note that Bailey nearly knocked me off the mountain when he turned around and hit me in the face with his walking stick. I would also like to note that the mountain was covered in genetically enhanced ants that would go out in colonies & assault their enemy by latching into their skin & attempting to burrow into their soul. My body is covered in bites. I would also like to note (despite the strange and personal nature of this comment) that I later found a mountain rock in my butt. So there’s that.
We got back to the Westerholms’ for breakfast & then played Wii with Maggie & Chad. After lunch Rebekah took us to the market to buy food to make fajitas. We also bought our first kapalanas, which is basically a piece of fabric that becomes the traditional women’s wrap skirt. But you can make anything out of this fabric. If everything that could be done with this fabric was put on Pinterest, the site would have to shut down.
We then took our groceries back to Rebekah & Kara’s house to begin making fajitas for them, all of the interns, & 3 of the local Peace Corps workers. Everything went well. The tortillas were shaped like Africa. It was practically art. It was great to chat, eat, & play games with people our age – especially when they speak English.
We got back to the Westerholms’ after Amy & the girls had gone to bed, but that didn’t keep us from staying up late, as usual. Chad told us about the night he almost spent Christmas in jail, as well as countless other stories about his life in Mozambique & the States. As we started to get ready to go to bed Chad went outside to get our laundry from the guard. But when he turned the basket to fit through the hall, he discovered an open bag of detergent was siting on the clothes, spilling and leaving a muddy, fresh-smelling trail through the house. We sat on the floor and deliriously laughed at the snow-capped, linen-scented African home. We soon went to sleep, a little cold in the low-80s weather.
Tuesday May 28, 2013
Every time I see Ben he asks me one or more of the following questions: Do you ever feel like you’re being followed? Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? Do you ever feel like people are talking about you? Do you ever feel like you’re the laughingstock of an entire province? Do you ever feel like the caucasian elephant in the room?
The answer is always a resounding yes.
This morning we got up early to go to a village Bible study with Alan. I think I got both motion sickness and altitude sickness due to the consistency and depth of the craters we drove over. So I sat in the back of the truck and tried to learn more Makua, which was difficult over the roar of the truck rattling.
We arrived at the church and attracted immense amounts of kids, and a few adults as well, who crowded around the windows for the duration of the service. Alan talked about battling the witchcraft ideology that so heavily influences the lives of the Makua people. People go to magic seeking one of two things: escape from suffering or opportunity or prosperity. Today he focused on the latter using the woman at the well in John 4. The woman couldn’t afford to send someone to get water for her, she went to the well alone at noon without any friends, and she obviously had bad luck with men. The world had rejected her and offered no blessings. But Christ offered her blessings eternal despite her history and popular opinion.
After Bible study we were served ixima, matapa, and little tiny fish with little tiny creepy eyes. If I rolled the ixima ball around the fish and ate it, it just tasted like a fishier, crunchier version of ixima. Soon we left for our long ride home to Montepuez with approximately 5011 people in the car.
We got back to the Howell house and embraced a few minutes of stillness before language class. After some practice we headed out to the market again, which seemed a little more the influence than usual. Everyone wanted to talk to us for long and loud intervals. I talked to one man who knew a little English and held my hand for about 5 minutes. “You like me? You girlfriend? You me go Pemba? Pemba big city.” Just when I thought I’d never get away a drunk lady came and grabbed me and pushed me across the marketplace, where the other interns had also been escorted. It seemed we were now at a dance bar. Bailey, in an attempt to be culturally accepted, started dancing, only to have a large drunk woman push him agains a post and attempt to have her way with him. Bailey quickly pushed his way out of the hoard and dragged us all back to the other side yelling, “Mpaka meelo!” which is the closest thing to go away that Bailey knew. It means “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
On that note we left the market and the boys walked us back to Chad’s. I played legos with Jane and worked in the kitchen with Amy until dinner was ready. After dinner we joined the family devo and sang some ukelele songs. Every night Chad reads a Bible story to the girls, in English & Portuguese. Tonight’s story was about I Peter’s “hot potato verse.” Cast your anxieties on the Lord, for he cares for you. We don’t have to hold on to our worries or let them consume us – as soon as anxieties arise, we can peacefully pass them on to our God of comfort. After the Bible story the girls prayed. Jane’s standard prayer is, “Dear God, Everything is okay. Amen.”
After the girls went to bed we played Scattergories with Chad & Amy – laughing about all our ridiculous answers. (Because everyone knows that a good tool for measurement that starts with q would be “quid tentacle, s”) Soon we went to bed – because there’s just not much else to do when the power goes out every night.
Wednesday May 29, 2013
Ezekiel 1 describes a chariot and throne room that are beyond belief. They are absolutely incredible -“awe-inspiring,” the prophet says. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet and I will speak to you.’ And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet.
Sometimes I am so desiring to stand for God, but I can’t stand without his Spirit and I cannot be filled with his Spirit without humbling myself to bow before him in the midst of his radiant glory.
Today was primarily a team day. It began with a long language class with Raqman, followed by a team meeting – just business stuff. It turns out that the 60 day multiple entry visas we requested are actually 30 day single entry visas, so Alan will have to take all of our passports to Pemba and hopefully get them all renewed so we can do our survey in Tanzania.
After the meeting we had “girls’ time” at the Cotton Club restaurant, one of two restaurants in Montepuez. Every 2 weeks the men and women on the team join separately to talk, pray, and eat together. As we went around the table we discovered that all 4 interns have been struggling with the same two things: 1) We haven’t been actively pursuing God, but rather passively awaiting his revelation, and 2) What on earth is God calling us to do?
It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by people that I relate to and women that are so capable of guiding us in God’s path. As our conversation continued I was both encouraged and discouraged by the fact that the women on the team still have dreams, most completely unrelated to what they’re doing in Montepuez. I was encouraged by the fact that even after spending so much time in the field, they still have very different dreams for their lives that the pursue to better themselves ad adjust with God’s calling. I was discouraged to know that many of the dreams I have now may never come to fruition – they may always be dreams, or something to look forward to. But I must trust that God has my best interest (his utmost glory) at heart and that he will give me the truest desires of my heart (his utmost glory).
I also got a confirmation of calling a few minutes after I said that I was comfortable being single. Moments later I was completely surrounded by cats. This is the only time I have seen cats in Mozambique.
After lunch at Montepuez’s fanciest restaurant (all the raw chicken without the hassle of toilet paper), we went back with Amy to do some Bible reading and help make coconut chicken soup for team night. Once everything was ready we packed up and headed for the Howell house, where we ate, sang, and played games. I also spent a fair amount of time looking through the hymnal with Bekah, reminiscing on days of old.
Thursday May 30, 2013
This morning we got up early for another language class with Raqman. After learning a few new things we headed to the market to practice – except this time we didn’t go to the little market. We went to the giant central market. This market brought about a wide array of emotions in the group. Some were terrified to be so crammed into an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar things. We slid through alleyways, my hand grazing chickens as I hit my head on the gin bottles hanging from the tent tops. People were everywhere – friends, beggars, salesmen, gentleman callers, and at least one unsuccessful thief. He got really close to me in the crowd and stuck his hand into the front pocket of my backpack, which I was holding right in front of me, so I casually stuck my hand in the pocket, grabbed his hand, and shook it, accompanying it with the standard “Salama,” and a smile. While the fear of unfamiliar territory kept me cautious, most of me felt like I was in a James Bond movie.
When we were finally done in the market we headed back to the Howells to have an intern meeting with Chad to talk about the highs & lows of the week, and then spent a long time talking about language. Not only for us today, but in the Bible language and message contextualization is vital for the spread of the gospel. This is especially true for the Makua people who almost lost their native languge in the midst of colonization and westernization.
After our meeting we went back to eat lunch with Amy and the girls before going to the women’s Bible study.
Due to a few different abnormal situations, the group was much smaller today, but still great. It’s great to hear the women singing, reading, and responding to God. After the study we visited a mother and her newborn baby, which was super tiny. We came back to the Westerhoms’ to play Wii and read while we waited for spaghetti and meatballs. We also spent a fair amount of time explaining Beyonce’s fame to Amy. Soon we ate our delicious spaghetti and hung out for the rest of the night.
Also – Muslim women, especially North Africans, will have their husbands drink their urine because they believe this love potion will keep their men faithful.
Friday May 31, 2013
This morning we got up to go to the village for the women’s Bible study with Rachel. The drive was beautiful – and relatively smooth too! We snapped peas with the women before going to visit another member of the church. Walking back to the church building it began. I don’t know why, but everywhere I go it happens. I must have some aura, some permanent nonverbal communication that gives me the appearance of someone who desperately desires to chase large amounts of children for extended amounts of time – so I did. Granted, every time I act on this impulse I end up lost in the middle of a village with no white folk in sight. Somehow I always find my way back – so far.
After a long time we finally started the Bible study. Rachel had said this village was more difficult than others we had visited. Many groups tried to plant churches here, but nothing ever stuck. This all female church in a heavily Muslim area is going against all the odds.
In the time we spent waiting for the women to show up or finish cooking I discovered another essence that exudes from me. Any time I am sitting in sight of a child in a quiet setting, my eye contact immediately initiates a ridiculous looking face contest. That is how I make my friends here. By the end of the service I was surrounded by kids with a new friend laughing in my lap and a handful of the children’s gifts (peanuts and dried cassava). After a long study we headed back for language class.
I was a little distracted during class today. The first reason because half the time I was doubled over laughing at Raqman. Raqman apparently wasn’t in the teaching mood today because he spent the whole time on his phone, just nodding his head as we read our vocab words incorrectly. Secondly, I was distracted by the kids playing soccer in the court where we were having class. Whiel the game itself was entertaining, the ball construction was more. This is not one of those Pinterest DIY ideas. The kids found a condom, blew it up like a balloon, and wrapped it in whatever old yarn or twine they could find on the ground. It seemed to work well. At least they’re using it for something. Most Mozambicans are convinced that condoms spread AIDS.
After class we went back to the Westerholms’. While the other girls napped, I helped Jane & Maggie reorganize their room, closets, and art shelf because they noticed that everything had become messy and they wanted to surprise Chad & Amy. So I picked up countless legos with Maggie and threw away tons of old coloring sheets with Jane sitting in my lap singing, “Anywhere with Jesus.”
Soon Amy came down the hall with huge pots of boiling water for the kids’ baths. I am beyond impressed with Chad & Amy. They aren’t just great people, but great parents. They make incredible sacrifices for Maggie & Jane, handle conflict with love & peace, maintain their authority & relationship, and set a great example for a godly home – this in addition to everything else they do. It has been such a blessing to live with this family and see all 4 of them reflect Christ in their home.
After dinner and devo the interns gathered around the TV with Amy & some chocolate cupcakes to watch Never Been Kissed. I completely forgot I was in Mozambique until I heard “Call Me Maybe” blasting from the bar next door.
I don’t know if the stuff under my nails is chocolate, dirt, or worse.
Amy & Maggie
Saturday June 1,2013
This morning I got up and took a shower before going to the Children’s Day parade. I have found great contentment in the bucket shower, especially on warmer days. We got ready just in time for Raqman’s scheduled pick up time. Africa time set in. We heard the parade pass through the streets. An hour into the parade we decided that we didn’t need Raqman to walk us to the parade, so we went by ourselves. The boys found us soon after. We kind of stood out in the crowd. There were children everywhere, traditional song & dance, food, and people. Then the interns headed to the Lanchonette (Montepuez’s fast food restaurant) to get some fries and have some time with each other (and a few other friends that we met at the parade). In the midst of eating our fries we realized why Mozambicans are so fascinated by us. We turned and saw the 2 other students that we had heard about coming from Emory to research a local nonprofit. We stood up and yelled, “White people!” Unfortunately they didn’t notice us fellow Americans, so we just looked ridiculous as usual.
The girls headed back to the Westerholms’ to do Zumba & Just Dance 3 with Amy for some much needed exercise and dance skill improvement. At 1:00 we went to a birthday party with the Howells, which is strange considering Makua people don’t really keep track of age or birthdays. When we arrived Alan said, “It shouldn’t be more than 2 hours for sure.” 2 hours later a man was still preaching at this 5-year-old’s birthday party while Tanzanian worship music blared in the background. Eventually the food was served. We looked at the buffet and at each other. “I think tonight’s the night,” we said, predicting that this mysterious spread may be the vessel of the millions of African germs that would crawl into our digestive systems and destroy our lives. But allowing these fears to overcome us would have been culturally unacceptable, so we filled our plates with pasta, potato salad, and various other mysterious things. Rachel laughed as she pulled a whole chicken foot out of her spaghetti, causing me to wonder what I had overlooked.
Then the dancing began. The image of a bunch of awkward white people dancing for all of these African people was truly astounding and hilarious. For an hour we danced around the potato salad table, sweating and fearing for our health. We hit our heads against the homework pages that were decoratively hanging from the roof. We pretended that the macarena was all the rage in America. That night we believed we could dance.
Finally we wen home, singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs until we got back. After dinner we had a short lights out devo with headlamps in the girls’ room, where they had set up a tent to go camping for the night. After we said goodnight we stood outside their room making bird noises to make the camping experience a little more realistic. After a few minutes of turkey calls we headed back to the living room and played Bang! with Chad & Amy. We went to bed right after that, knowing we’d have to get up at 4:00 the next morning.