How can you possibly sum up 3 weeks in Mozambique Africa that forever alters the course of your life? How do you put to words days that mark the worst and the best at the same time? How do you explain love and heartbreak, when you are unable to speak the same language? I will do my best for your sake and for mine to tell the Tete story. But I know that I will fail to do it justice.
Tuesday December 8th, 2009
5:30am the alarm goes off and I know there is no ignoring it today. I crawl out of bed and begin the final stages of packing. By 6:30 my bags were packed and it was merely time to wait. By 9:30 it came to the point were it actually looked as if we were going to leave. I said the last of my good-byes, and gave the last of my hugs. We piled 8 girls into the back of the Land Rover and David, Pastor Carlos and Willie, made up the driving team. I pressed my face against the back window, watching Lisa and Jess walk behind and the Land Rover exited the gates of Iris Ministries Pemba. I knew that even when we return 3 weeks later the base will never look the same again. The first day of driving ended in a quiet peaceful village. We were all tucked snugly in our tents safe from the “mother spiders” by just after midnight.
Wednesday December 9th, 2009
Rain gently tapped my tent to say good morning. We all quickly loaded the truck and drove away within the hour. In desire to keep the party moving we have not really stopped for food the last couple of days and so by lunch we actually got out and had a meal. Trying to estimate time is near impossible because of road conditions. In looking through the window I feel like I am watching a arcade driving game. “Drive a Land Rover on roads in Africa trying to avoid children who run in front of the car, tire-popping pot holes, and vehicles driving on your side of the road.” It was again midnight as we were nearing our destination for the night and in all honesty I was not excited about the 2 hours it takes to get the bags and set up camp. But then we experienced a miracle. We pulled into the Dondo base to find out that they had beds made for us and food on the table. I was so shocked all I could do was walk around with my mouth open trying to take it all in.
Thursday December 10th, 2009
This morning I took a shower! It was so glorious I didn’t even care that I shared it with 2 cockroach things each bigger than my thumb. I truly have stopped caring about the extremely large insects. I walked out of my room, feeling cleaner emphasis on the “er,” and another amazing surprise walked into the visitors’ center, Ron and Jan Brunk! This is a couple I met before coming to Africa that went to the school 2 years ago and own the bike store in my tiny town of Whitefish, Montana. Out of a town of maybe 6,000 full time residents we met up in Dondo, Mozambique by surprise. Now because Ron would come into the coffee shop that I worked at almost every day and so him and Jan then had me to their house for a cup of real coffee. French pressed, and served black in a real ceramic mug. We left one of our Mozambiquan girls, Fatima here in Dondo for holiday with her family and the rest of us didn’t make it on the road till around 2pm due to some Land Rover issues. Today’s road I no longer felt that I was watching a video game I felt as if I was in a movie. Truly it was surreal. I begin to write the story in my head to entertain myself for the next 12 hours. Midnight had come and gone and construction roads stretched an unknown length. The African bush was dark and encircled all around us. The air smelled of cigars and clouds of dust would choke your breathing with every passing semi. David, 25 years old, 6’5” wearing a Patagonia plaid button up with the neon driver’s vest was the only one talking and it was never more than the few phrases of, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” or “ Oh, come on!” Pastor Carlos the Mozambiquan guide sat next to him interpreting the road signs for David, with his little son Willie almost 3 years of age asleep on his lap. The road was littered with reflecting road signs but it was a mystery to all of us what any of them meant. It looked as if they had just put every sign they had on the road to say “yes this is the main road and not some abandoned bush bush trail.” In the back the seven girls sat in silence. Amy with long blond hair braided into a million tiny braids and a big Canon camera around her neck at all times was the official photographer. Debora, 6’2” could be mistaken as a New Zealand super model over the inquisitive student that she is always has a huge smile on her face and always excited to take in all the new experiences. Ruth Ann, with long brown hair always pulled back into a braid has been put in charge of food. She is wonderful for the job considering her Amish background. Tuweni, also known as “queweni” is from Malawi. With no fear of speaking her mind and her desires she is a valuable asset to the team considering she speaks the local language. I can be summed up as the young inexperienced nurse, and Natalia is from Tete and we are transporting her back to her family. Merari a firery Porto Rican co-leads with David and Pastor Carlos and serves as the Portuguese translator. The Land Rover jumped and shook after every pot hole and everyone did their best to find a handle to hold onto during the ride. As we came to a bridge again littered with construction signs one man stood in the center with a red light saber waving back and forth.
Now if you take this team and exaggerate all of our personalities, gifting, and backgrounds this would be a crazy good film. We made it to Tete around 2am yet again and Maria Jose and Roberto greeted us with open arms and a hot meal. Our Tete home has a weird familiarity to it. It honestly feels as if I’m staying with my Brazilian Aunt and Uncle, and my siblings and I just did 3 day road trip to get here. The house has 4 empty bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen the size of the bathroom. There are 2 chairs and a bench in the living room along with a few African nick-nacks. But there is not much else in house. Mi and Pi don’t even have a bed. And yet we are so grateful to be living in such luxury, because in Africa this is housing of only the rich. I believe many Americans would break down in tears if they had to live in such poverty conditions. After unloading the luggage from on top of the Land Rover we placed our air matrices close together on the cement floor and slept as best we could in the suffering Tete heat.
Friday, December 11th, 2009- Monday, December 14th, 2009
The first few days spent in Tete concussed of just spending time with “family.” Each day we went to the small one room concrete church. There is a brothel right next to the church that we are trying to purchase to turn into a children’s center. However, it is currently still in business. We have walked all around the surrounding village in prayer and Saturday night when we showed the Jesus film at the church many of the prostitutes came over and came up to turn they’re lives around. Many of them were at church the next day as well. The Tete church is amazing and these people truly love the Lord. They are far more mature spiritually than most of the churches here in Mozambique and that is all thanks to Mi and Pi (Maria Jose and Roberto). I have gravitated toward two little girls in particular here at the church. They must be about 5 years old. One of them is the Pastor’s daughter named Ida and the other I never was able to get her name. They are best friends and are always scene together. Each time we show up they run over and are attached to each side of me the entire time I’m there. They remind me of my best friend Nicole and I when we were that age.
Tuesday December 15th, 2009 - Thursday December 16th, 2009
Bush bush visit- Singorah: The camion full of our missionary team and a group of Mozambiquans from the Tete church arrived to the sound of singing and dancing. One by one we jumped down from the back of the truck and joined the celebration. Singorah is the most beautiful village in Africa. Ok, well as far as I’ve scene. Green grass covers the ground as goats, cows, chickens, and donkeys roam. Ducks and Hogs enjoy the watering hole shaded by a large mango tree. Even in the little church the women have hung dried flowers from the roof. Everything is clean and beautiful including the people. They are all so inviting. One women walked us to the market and tried to buy us sodas. We managed to buy the drinks and so she bought us a pack of cookies.
When we visit the bush bush, during the day Mi and Pi split up the Mi’s and Pi’s and talk about AIDS, sexual purity, and relationships while the rest of us take the kids. Typically the we paint the girls fingernails while the boys play soccer. We sing songs, and dance, play games, and tell a Bible story. Tuewni is so good with the kids and we are lucky to have her. She has a billion songs up her sleeve all in their language. We visited another visit on Wednesday as well and did the same thing with them. Except Maria Jose and Roberto kept the Mi’s and Pi’s together and talked about relationships. They had the pastor and his wife give each other a hug in front of everyone and even the children turned around to witness the most awkward hug. They simply do not hug. We have enjoyed bringing the concept of the hug to the people. Even with the children, it takes them a little while before they melt and embrace the embrace.
When we got home to Tete Thursday evening upon entering the bathroom we found the bathtub was completely covered in cockroaches. This discouraged the excitement of showers mildly, but not much. We killed them, removed them and got the shower line moving. 12 people sharing one bathroom means that it takes a while for everyone to get a turn. After everyone got their shower, we went to town to buy supplies for the next bush bush visit. I got some time on the internet, which was a wonderful surprise and after collecting a small donation we sent our leaders out to dinner.
Friday, December 18th, 2009 - Saturday December 19th, 2009
Back to the bush again. These two days were openly some of the worst days I’ve had in Africa and at the same time two of the most amazing. At the first village it had to be 50 degrees Celsius. Upon arriving to the first village I got serious stomach cramps. We set up our tents and I went to bed almost immediately. Sleep was not an option however. This was indescribable heat. The ground is mainly coal and therefore it was radiating heat all night. I was drowning in pools of my own sweat. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life and I will be honest in saying I don’t desire to ever experience that again.
Once Saturday rolled around, and I gave up the idea of sleeping at all. I’m sure no one slept at all Friday night. We played with the kids again while Mi and Pi took the adults. At one point I looked over to find a little boy of maybe 3 laying in the dirt crying. I went over brushed him off and took him in my arms. He stopped crying and calmed down as I gently rocked him. He had a necklace placed on him from the witch doctor, which meant there was something wrong with his health. I began to sing blessing over him, and canceled all curses placed on this boy in the form of the bondage around his neck. I sat down and cradled him in my arms and Roberto and the local pastor came over and noticed the witchcraft symbol as well. The pastor begin explaining to this boys mother that the witchdoctor doesn’t have any power to bring healing and blessing. Witchcraft only brings curses and destruction. The Holy Spirit is the real healing power and there is no required fees, or negative consequences. In the end the mother couldn’t care less, but the little boy changed. He was held and loved for an hour. He experience the peace that comes only from Heaven and the enemy could not touch him while he was in my arms. I don’t mean to sound mellow-dramatic but the spiritual world is a reality here.
We left Saturday afternoon and went to another village. Again we were greeted with singing and dancing and Deborah and I joined in on the party. My eyes focused on the amazing dancers and my hands clapped along to the beat and too quickly for me to understand what was happening my capulana fell off! Grabbed it faster than I knew I could move and Doca, my sister from the Tete church, and I had a good laugh. Yep, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I flashed the whole church! The local pastor took a small group of us on a little tour after the welcome party, and we ended up hiking up a mountain in capulanas in the heat of the day. Not something I would recommend. It was beautiful though. He then took us to the chief’s house to introduce us. This is probably the farthest into the bush that we have been yet. There is no electricity, no roads, no cars, nothing remotely close that gives hint of the modern world. However as we neared the chief’s house Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” drifted from the radio. It simply didn’t fit the scenery of hippo skulls, and mud huts.
We came back to camp to find that lunch was ready. Deb and I helped Fatima and Doca with the dishes. We had a blast washing the dishes African style, using the dirt as a scrubby sponge, and brown muddy water from the river to rinse. When we were all finished Doca and Fatima took off our sandals and began washing our feet. Not long after this beautiful moment, Deb and I decided to join the dance party. We learned the Tete dance to the best of our ability, which resulted in a lot of laughter by all. That night after the rain, the film, the prayer, and salvations we jumped back into the camion to head back to Tete. No one really packed the gear for the drive home and Deb and I were sitting at the base of the pile and it was not long before DVD players begin crashing onto our heads. We did our best to hold everything in and with sweat pouring down my face and my body getting tossed worse than some crazy earthquake it became mandatory that I make it to the end of the camion. After falling onto Mozambiquan laps, and worrying about my capulana falling off again, I made it to the end just in time to hurl over the side. Yep, again the worst and the best wrapped into one.