Sunday June 2, 2013
Alarms started ringing at 4:00am. We got up, got ready, and hit the road for a cold and extremely bumpy 3 hour drive. Despite the length of the drive, we laughed as we ate our boiled eggs, huddled for warmth, and began developing a video game for missionaries, which is a combination of NASCAR and Oregon Trail. When we finally got there I was excited to see all of the people coming to greet us. Soon we were surrounded by people and were forced to become street performers. Since I really don’t like making a spectacle of myself in that way I kept trying to find smaller groups of kids, but every time I made a friend, hordes of children followed. Then we went in the building for the church service, which seemed to last a rather long time. It took all of my willpower to stay awake. Finally the service was over and I could stand up. And of course, before lunch I chased a bunch of kids around the village.
We were served ixima and pork, which was pretty good, but due to the gluten-free team members each of us were also served a plate of rice topped with a whole fish. Despite its intimidating appearance it was definitely the best part of the meal.
After eating we went back outside to once again become street performers. We sang, danced, & chased kids until it was time to go. In the midst of this a woman kept running up to me trying to teach me Makua very loudly while she pointed at different things and laughed as I tried to figure out what she was saying. Soon it was time to get in the truck again and take the 3 hour drive back.
This time we decided to get all the interns in the cab, stuffing 4 people in the back seat and 2 in the front with Chad (as well as several Mozambicans in the back). With every bump (and there were many), my eye locket landed in someone’s shoulder, the sweatiness of everyone intensified, leaky water bottles were spilling everywhere, it sounded like parts were falling off the truck, and the chicken in the back squawked with apparent rage.
We made a halfway pit stop visit to drop off the preacher and learn how to make ixima without the fire. The second leg of the trip was also long and bumpy, especially for the chicken that still remained. Chad has a way of attacking the road that saves us from having to slow down in front of pot holes and allows us to take advantage of the air we can catch when we’re coming out of the holes. When we got back to Montepuez we finally dropped off the last man and his angry chicken, which were warmly received by an extremely drunk woman.
When we got back to the house the smell of pizza wafted out the window. By the time we got settled inside it was time to eat, and Amy surprised us with some Cokes as well.
After dinner and Dora the Explorer the girls went to bed and we stayed up talking to Chad and Amy about all of the strange things they’ve eaten, like diesel-seasoned beans. I also realized that the mark of true love is eating rancid antelope meat for another person. Tomorrow is our rest day & it is the perfect time for it.
Monday June 3, 2013
I finally had the opportunity to sleep in today, but I just couldn’t. A little after 7:00 I got up and took a shower, then played with Maggie & Jane until the other girls woke up. We played Just Dance 3 until Raqman and the boys picked us up to go to the market to buy food to make dinner for intern night. After a trip that was perhaps a little longer than it should have been, we finally got back to the Westerholms’ with all of the ingredients we needed. Some were a little stressed out by the market atmosphere. On the plus side, we dominated haggling for sweet potatoes. The salesman offered them for 50 meticais, so we walked around and eventually came back in hopes of getting them for 40 to which he said, “Eh…I can’t do less than 35.” Works for me.
We ate rice & beans for lunch and then had some rest time before we started cooking. Then it began. Cooking in Mozambique is nothing and everything like you’d expect. The food is expensive, sometimes rotten, unavailable, and hard to find. All recipes go through price and availability filters. Then there’s the actual cooking. It’s an all day event with made from scratch dishes, sanitized vegetables, and trying to keep bad proteins out of the meal (ants on the counter and worms in the sweet potatoes). It’s messy, sometimes appliances fall apart, and there’s not much of a backup option. But it provides for a great bonding experience, a lot of getting out of your dietary comfort zone, and some incredible meals. There are great substitutions, the food is much healthier, and you know exactly what’s going in it.
The boys came over for intern night early and played Wii with Chad & Maggie while we finished cooking. We served chicken on toasted bread, sweet potato hashbrowns, fruit salad, Cokes, and for dessert we made banana ice cream with dark chocolate mocha sauce. Dessert was good. Dinner was … edible.
After dinner we had a devo with the girls and played Balderdash with the interns and Chad & Amy. Soon the boys went home and the house was silent for a while.
Tuesday June 4, 2013
We went for a village visit with Alan today and I finally got to visit the village where I’m bonding – Nkwonoma. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to spend my weekend there. I’m also trying not to romanticize it too much because I know it will be difficult and it will most likely be the thing that pushes me way out of my comfort zone.
But before we went to the village we stopped to visit a church member. We walked into his yard and found him starting up some homemade brew. At the same time another church leader walked up to Alan and said, “Alan, you need to talk to him. Be honest. Be direct. This is serious.” Drunkenness is so common in Mozambique and it can so easily destroy young churches. We’ve watched everyone from babies to the elderly drink the dirt cheap gin sold at every shop. This morning showed both the patience in dealing with people and the aggressiveness in dealing with sin that God’s ministry requires.
We got to the village for our Bible study and all of the people were so friendly – both young and old. Soon after our arrival Alan began his final lesson on the “Four Trees” series. Just as trees are points of reference in Mozambique, God also uses trees to direct us home. Ala focused on the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, the burning bush in Exodus, the cross, and the tree of life in Revelation.
After class we ate ixima and beans, ten I participated in my typical game of chasing all the children around the village. After we said our goodbyes we headed to a nearby village for 2 baptisms. Not only was it great to witness these 2 people commit their lives to Christ, but we were also able to reunite with some of the women and girls we met at the first ladies’ class we attended.
After the baptisms Alan dropped off different groups at their villages while some local church leaders walked the interns to the crossroads where we would meet Alan.They taught us Makua and we taught them English.
Mozambicans walk very slow. My saunter is faster than their stride.
After a long ride back I rested on the couch for a little while, then watched Amy make ricotta cheese and homemade deodorant before team night.
At the Howells’ we ate some delicious soup and sang some songs before Celeste & I did the kids’ Bible class. We then played an aggressive game of reverse charades and then had dessert. After championing the game, no thanks to me, we headed back to the Westerholms’ and went to bed.
The people of Montepuez are plagued by low self-worth, which leads to drunkenness, crime, incessant infidelity, a fatalistic worldview, low work ethic, lack of responsibility, and a lack of commitment to faith. Satan controls them with demons of fear and disease. But where demons are cast out, there the kingdom of God reigns. May Montepuez, and the rest of Mozambique, pledge their loyalty to the one who is the Lord of all and the one who has subdued their oppressive captor.
Wednesday June 5, 2013
Every morning seems a little earlier, every shower a little colder, and every skirt a little less desirable. This morning we left with Alan at 6:00 to go on a village visit. It was a pretty long drive, but the paved roads were a pleasant change. A little beyond halfway Alan dropped us off with some church members while he went to pick up a few others. We chatted in English, Portuguese, Makua, and gibberish until Alan got back. I think I strained my thumb cracking peanuts. So. many. peanuts. I also had a second positive latrine experience.
I feel like I’m constantly fighting my desire to be American in order to become accustomed to this culture. At this very moment I am sitting on a mat directly over an ant hill and ants are overtaking my body. But who cares? Not me. I use latrines despite the fact that it’s unsanitary and I’m pretty much completely exposed to a village. I eat all of my food with my hands even though I’m tired of getting beans and matapa stuck under my fingernails. I let flies crawl all over my face until they get stuck in my eyelashes and try to keep a straight face in a mad attempt to assimilate to this culture. I have a feeling they’re going to always know I’m different though.
I am kind of confused because I don’t feel like I’ve hit the culture shock that we spent so much time preparing for. While the latrines, bucket showers, and omnipresent insects take some getting used to, I have never felt debilitated by it or frustrated by the fact that I’m in Africa. I don’t really miss America yet. I am not bothered by my lack of communication ability and I love to experience the Makua lifestyle. I don’t know if that’s good or if it means that I’m doing it wrong. Maybe it’s just not here yet.
I think the most shocking thing so far is that I don’t find Mozambique shocking. For the most part, Mozambique is exactly what I thought it would be. Those pictures of Africa weren’t lying.
Thursday June 6, 2013
*This is likely about to get more detailed than you might have desired.*
There are boobs everywhere. There is no safe place. No matter which direction you turn, a woman is there aggressively breastfeeding, and from this there is no escape.
We slept more than 7 hours before getting up to go to language class. After some study with Raqman we went by ourselves to the big market to get bananas and cucumbers for Rachel. Though we had been to this part of the market multiple times we got lost multiple times. Getting lost has a tendency to heighten team tensions.
As we wandered we were offered endless varieties of livestock, sea creatures, fabrics, alcohols, and sexual favors. This was complimented by a bit of hostility between a few teammates who all claimed to know the way, but only wanted to volunteer that everyone else was wrong. Alas, we finally found the food market and a deal on cucumbers. We were finally able to head back to the Howells’ for an intern meeting with Chad after a quick stop at the Lanchonette.
Today’s intern meeting addressed poverty and how African peoples view material things, based mostly on the principles laid out in David Maranz’s African Friends and Money Matters. Poverty is typically a result of laziness, oppression, and culture norms. Poverty in Mozambique has led to a generally fatalistic worldview that puts little value in hard work or diligence. Government corruption and imperialism has limited the advancement of the Makua people by enforcing the use of Portuguese, having low standards for education, not providing for the needs of its people, and having low standards for healthcare.
After the meeting we headed back to Chad’s for our final meal with them before packing our stuff and taking it to the Howell house. We unloaded there, then got back in the car to go to the ladies’ class. I truly love this group and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to develop relationships with them.
In the midst of one of their Makua conversations one lady stood up and said, “Jezika,” and all the women nodded and repeated it. Rachel turned to me and said, “You have been chosen. Do you want to teach class next week?” I gave them the ever-popular thumbs up and they all laughed. Looks like I’ll really need to study my Makua this week.
After class we loaded everyone up, dropped them off all over Montepuez, and got back to the Howells’ for some soup. Alan was not ale to join us because he had to go pick up Chad and the boys in a village after Chad’s truck broke down for the 13th time in the last couple months (at least, that’s my low estimate).
After dinner we had worship time, put the girls to bed, and packed up for bonding. I don’t know how I feel about bonding. I’ve been really comfortable in the villages, even when I’ve been off by myself, but I’m sure it will become much more difficult when Alan drives away.Because the thought of it scared me is the reason that I decided to come to Mozambique. Now that it’s a reality I feel differently. It’s no longer a terrifying or romanticized experience, but rather a challenge to everything I know and an opportunity to communicate openly with God. I pray for strength, understanding, open-mindedness, and a prayerful heart.