Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We have moved! We are now living in Gondola and have “officially” begun working in the community.

Two Tuesdays ago, we packed our bags and various household items and drove the three hours to Gondola. We arrived in time to fetch our mattress from Chimoio (20 minute drive) and go to the South African grocery store. Now two weeks later, we are settled into our lovely apartment; have two persons helping us around the house – one to carry water and one to help with the cleaning. Both go to the Mennonite church so we are also getting to know their families.

We have joined the timeless tradition of carrying water. Well, we haven’t exactly because Novencio carries it for us in 2-20 liter containers at a time. We use about 80 liters every two days (or thus far). Having to calculate how much water to have Novencio carry makes us aware of how much water we use. So we recycle it as much as possible. Most of the water is recycled by using it to flush the toilet. Our apartment has all the modern fixtures—sinks, toilet, bathtub, just no water running into them. The kitchen sink, bathtub and toilet all have pipes that work going down, so we can have water drain there. Nonetheless, we collect most of the water and use it to flush the toilet.

Noemia helps us keep house. She will be here three days a week. The first day she came, we did not have enough for her to do so she went home at 11 AM instead of 3 PM. It’s an adjustment having people work for us. She will clean our house, help with laundry and probably do some cooking. Being from North America, I struggle with feelings that people think I can’t keep my own house. But here the mentality is that if you have the means to have someone work in your house, hire someone. It provides employment for the person and additional income for their family. For us, Noemia and Novencio also allow us to get to know them and their families well, in addition to having someone care for those aspects so we can focus on our work and relationships in the community.

The Mennonite church has been super welcoming. This Sunday was special for them because we arrived. The Gondola church has two daughter churches and both congregations sent representatives to participate in this Sunday’s worship service. About ten people walked the 27 KM (3 hours one way) from Tiki Tiki to be there and another man brought a chopa (bus) from the other church, about 67 KM away.

It humbles me to think how God brought everything together. We left Garden Park Mennonite Brethren in Denver at a time when Garden Park needed everyone possible to carry out its ministries. We were sent off in a similar way that the Philippian church sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul (Philippians 2: 25). In the meantime, the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Gondola, Mozambique has been praying for two years for someone to come and be a part of their church. Approximately, two years ago, Joel and I decided that this would be a good time for us as a couple to go into MCC, God willing. Apparently, God was willing and was preparing us to come. Now the hard part of actually living out God’s call to enter into community across cultural and linguistic barriers continues in earnest!

We do not have a schedule yet. These initial first weeks will be comprised of meeting with various people from the church. Joel will visit several “machambas” (fields) of people in the church. We will work with the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) to help write a proposal for a food security project funded by MCC. I will meet with the leaders of the women’s group associated with CCM as well as attending the Thursday afternoon meetings of the women at the Mennonite Church. When we have a car (we share a vehicle with another MCCer) we will visit the daughter churches and eventually the sister church in Tete, the province to the north.

Our initial work will require much self-starting and initiative. We are capable of reaching out, but it is not our natural tendency for either of us. Please pray that we will know how and where to meet people. Pray also for us to continue to learn and understand Portuguese. Now that we are more in the country, people’s understanding of Portuguese is not as strong as in Beira, so one of these days, we’ll have to begin learning a local dialect as well.

A few things about Gondola and Manica province…
- We live a stone’s throw from a bakery where we buy bread every morning for breakfast. This bakery is apparently known beyond Gondola for its good bread! How fortunate we are to live so close to it!
- People sell bananas under our balcony so for 2 meticais (about $.08) we buy 4 bananas. Bananas are in season year-round so we will have a supply all the time!
- Manica is known for growing much produce. From the sounds of it, we live in the California (as far as fruit production goes) of Mozambique, but without the pollution, population and the ocean. - Gondola is very hilly. Our house is on the main road which seems to follow a ridge. From our back balcony, we can see the church and on clear days see mountains in the distance. When trying to figure out what time to leave for church, Joel used our binoculars to see if people were beginning to congregate under the trees outside of the church. 
- Gondola also has a lot of trees. So between the majority of houses not having electricity and the trees, when we look out, especially at night, we don’t see a lot of houses though they are there.