Friday, September 14, 2007

Here's an interesting map dealing with access to water:
Population Without Sustainable Access to an Improved Water Source (Percent)
2004




To see additional information about sustainable water stats accompanying this map, check out Globalhealthfacts.org at: http://www.globalhealthfacts.org/topic.jsp?i=82

Monday, September 10, 2007

I wonder why…

…the man on the bike that just passed my house has a car battery strapped to the bike. Does he think it will help him go faster? Or is he carrying it to a car that needs it?
…our neighbors below us play their music so loudly. They don’t go very far from the house and so don’t need it all the way to the bakery. I wonder if they know it gives me a headache.
…the school day is so short. But I guess it accommodates all the students. They have three sessions a day: 7-12, 12:30-4:30, 6-10 from what I can tell.
…my housekeeper turns Joél’s white socks inside out to dry and not our colored shirts. She initially turned everything inside out, but now generally only the socks.
…the acacia trees lining the streets in almost every town have been pruned so much that they only have branches and no leaves. Almost every town has trimmed their trees. Granted they grow back quickly and the trees that were trimmed here in Gondola in March now have leaves, but in a society that loves shade? And why did they trim them so severely just before the president arrived in town?
…our neighbors always ask us where we are going. Do we live such a different life that it’s interesting to find out where we are going? Do they think we are so strange that they wonder what we do all the time? Is it a way to start conversations and we’re so dense we don’t know what they are asking?
…the men at church really encourage the women and youth get together and on Sundays perform a song and dance but barely meet together themselves. Isn’t the purpose of meeting for edification of the church, so when each group meets and shares what they did, it edifies everyone not just certain ones?
…the men working on the rail road tracks are dressed in bright yellow coveralls. Does it help a train conductor to see the workers? Doesn’t yellow show dirt easily?
…many people have roosters. Do chickens need a rooster in order to produce eggs? Are other people annoyed by the roosters crowing whenever they feel like it (all day and all night)?
…it seems like women at church whose husbands do not attend are able to talk more than women whose husbands do attend. It almost seems like a disadvantage to have one’s husband at church (in terms of equality).
…kids who have never seen a camera are drawn to them and automatically smile.
…many women wear two skirts at the same time. Generally they wear a skirt and then cover it with a capulana, sometimes two if they need somewhere to put the capulana that they carried a child with.
…so many kids gather around us when we drive into the communities where we are working with sand dams. Our colleagues say that it is because of the cars, but if it were, why do they linger so long and then the adults come and watch us?
…I am so bothered by people always watching me or asking me what I am doing?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

We have added quite a few posts recently, so if you have not read our blog since July, there's new material. Happy reading!
How do you spell savings? V-I-S-I-T

Our savings group is up and running, sorta. It took several months to explain the concept of working together to save individually and collectively. The members of the group seemed to understand how it works but when it came to carrying out the actual savings we had difficulty. Some people never came to meetings, other people did not bring their money, and others talked about fines more expensive than they can afford!

So, we arranged to visit several savings groups in the Gorongosa District, where our friend's organization oversees a number groups. People are always up for a trip and free food, so the combination of a ride in our truck with breakfast, snacks and lunch provided was enough to convince the members of the savings group to go.

Everyone gathered at our house at 5:30 AM to eat breakfast and pray before setting off on our road trip from Gondola to Gorongosa. We left at 6:45ish (amazingly on-time!) and arrived promptly at 8:30. We drove through town, turned on a gravel road and before long turned onto a foot path rarely frequented by motor vehicles with four wheels. Through the grass, pot holes and steep ravines we drove and arrived at our first group.

This group began meeting in January 2007 with 25 members. They were a good group to observe because they follow the prescribed procedures of how to run a savings group. It was eye opening for our group from the minute the meeting started. The president called the meeting to order and asked the fiscais (fiscal agents) to open the box and begin counting the money in the box to check if it corresponded to the secretary's accounting. Out came the money--13,000 meticais in all and it took several minutes for the fiscais to count. In the meantime, our group's eyes widened to see how much money this group of peasants had saved in 8 months. The meeting continued, our group continued to be in awe.

At the end of the meeting we had a bit of time for questions. One of the question that the hosting group answered was how being a part of the savings group had changed their lives. Several answered that it allowed for them to save money, whereas before they had tried to save by putting some money in the thatch of their houses or elsewhere but always they had not been able to accumulate any funds. The savings group allowed them to put their money in a place unaccessible to them or anyone else who might arrive at their doorstep asking for money (here the custom is borrow money and whoever's need is more immediate has claim on the money). It also provides a way for individuals to take out small loans with minimal interest for business ventures and in case of emergencies.

After lunch, we visited another group. This group had just begun their third cycle. During their first cycle, they put in small amounts (10-20 meticais) but after they distributed the money, they realized how valuable saving collectively and offering small loans. So their next cycle, they put in more money and at the end of 8 months their group of 12-13 people had accumulated 57,000 meticais (approx. $2300 USD).

This opened the eyes of our group and the questions flew out of their mouths. They talked about how to administer a savings group. One of the interesting things that happened in this group was that women spoke. Ordinarily women do not speak in front of men and in this group, as our group asked questions, the women answered them freely with approving nods from the men. I asked how the women's husbands had responded. One replied that initially he had forbidden her to attend but she continued going and at the end of the cycle, when she brought home her savings, he changed his tune to "My wife is a good woman!"

One of the best quotes of the day was from our secretary. He said, "I can see now that we are no longer poor, we just do not know how to use our money well." Joel and I are quite excited to see how our group develops after this trip. They returned to Gondola very encouraged and ready to begin saving together. We see possibilities with them to begin thinking about how to plan for money (budgeting). Furthermore, this group is comprised of the leaders of the church and they can influence the rest of the congregation. If we do talk about and begin helping them to budget their own household expenses, we can potentially think about how to increase giving to the church through budgeting their tithe.

At the end of the day, the group was excited about participating in the savings group. Several said that they are no longer going to save in their pockets but put their money in the box. The president of the group told me that he understood the theory but now he has seen how savings groups work and is committed to participating with confidence.
For more information in case you are really interested in some of the issues we encounter here....MCC has several resources available that deal with water and food security. Both are major problems here in Mozambique and the focus of the sand dam project and the future food security project that the Christian Council of Mozambique is going to start in January 2008 with MCC's assistance. Here are the resources available from MCC's on-line resource catalog. If you are interested in studying these topics, contact MCC to buy or borrow them. MCC's resource catalog is located at http://www.tng-secure.com/scripts/mcc/catalog/index.php:

WaterWorks Toolkit (quoted from MCC's on-line resource catalog)
WaterWorks Toolkit 4 sessions Curriculum and DVD Primary to adult Mennonite Central Committee 2004 Borrow from all offices Across the globe, one in six people do not have access to clean water. This toolkit is for churches, schools and other groups who want to learn about water and MCC water projects around the world. Includes a four-session curriculum, children's activities, a DVD, a poster, stickers, a WaterWorks Giving Calendar and more.

FoodBasket Toolkit (quoted from MCC's on-line resource catalog)
This toolkit is for churches, schools and other groups who want to learn about food issues and MCC food projects around the world. Includes a four-session Adult/youth curriculum and also a curriculum for children. Includes a DVD with the videos "Food: A Plate Half Full," "Coffee, Corn and the Cost of Globalization" and "The Miracle of Giving: Mozambique." The children's curriculum includes activities, a Fun Page, a storybook, poster, stickers, a Giving Calendar and more. For primary grades to adult, this toolkit can also be purchased from MCC in Akron, Pa. and Winnipeg, MB for $35 Cdn./$25 U.S
The Children

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007
I am unnerved by the children. When we drove into Canhama yesterday afternoon, children from all parts of the village ran to where we parked, swarming around the trucks. They don’t talk to us.

I have to wonder what they think. We drive up and begin to unload plastic containers, multicolored bags and from each container or bag, we pull out assorted things—tents: total 3, one yellow, one green and one tan/green; pots and pans; food. Moriane starts a fire, Tony and I search for firewood, Joél sets up the tents. I start peeling and cutting potatoes, carrots, peppers and tomatoes for caril; Moraine prepares the meal. All the while the children stand clustered, slightly off to the side, saying nothing or occasionally talking to each other or giggling. At dusk they go home.

When I come back from the bathroom in the morning, a few children have arrived at our campsite. I try to perform my morning routines of washing my face and putting on moisturizer without noticing the kids watching. But I do. I find myself turning away, not wanting the stares or wanting to engage them.

Joél and I prepare breakfast. Actually, Joél does. I feel frozen by not knowing what to do. Last time we were here, our colleague offered our left over rice to children. We never saw anything like it. Children were piled up on top of each other to get a bite to eat.

It’s two weeks later and two more weeks into the hungry months. We eat our breakfast, struggling to know what to do. We arrived here in order to help the communities so that they can achieve food security. How do we who have food security work in communities where there is none? What do we do with the silent crowd of witnesses, watching our every move, every bite?

The children have been distracted. I guess the visitors to their community have gotten boring. A different skin color, house and mode of transportation no longer holds their interest this sunny Tuesday morning. But I am still unnerved by knowing that though they left for now, they or other children will be watching. What does it mean to share?

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007
The children surrounded us almost all day. They left only for a little bit and at lunch they were practically sitting on our esteiras (grass mats). We had to ask them to go home so that we could eat lunch and take an afternoon rest. I wish I knew how to engage them but not encourage them.

I realize how North American I am when I am here. We certainly do not like to be too close to our neighbors and definitely do not like to be stared at.

Friday, Aug. 24, 2007
Last night we discovered five girls age 8-13 that walked from Canhame to Mambue (15 km) to carry water for their families. They hadn’t eaten anything since leaving Canhame and weren’t planning to eat anything until after they had arrived home. They arrived to get water but hadn’t succeeded yesterday because the lines were too long. They were spending the night in Mambue. All they had with them were an extra capulana each. They didn’t have shoes and we supposed that they were going to carry 20 liters (we found out this morning that they were only going to carry 5 liters).

We gave them some bread and meat to eat. There were other children around but we gave a full meal to these girls because they had come so far and were not with their parents.

Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
The children here in Thangera (and all the communities) do not speak much Portuguese. When we arrived they were all in the school yard and then swarmed around our cars. It took several times to get them to give us space to eat our lunch and back to school. Afterwards, there were only a few that hung around our campsite.

I feel so conscious of Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.

Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007
We arrived home last night. My house on the second story is removed from the stares of any children. It’s a comfort to not have to be the zoo exhibit or village entertainment.

I continue to struggle to know how to relate to the children as we will enter the communities over the course of three years. Through the course of our trip, I tried to interact more with the children. In Canhame, I saw several girls crocheting; Tony had given me a crochet hook for my birthday. So my crochet hook in hand and some string, I went over and asked them to teach me how to crochet. They showed me but because I don’t speak Nungue and they don’t speak English or Portuguese, we didn’t talk much.

In Mambue, there were about 5 girls that followed me around. I took their pictures and showed them. That brought lots of giggles and smiles. When we left Mambue, we found out that one of the girls who we fed hadn’t gotten her water yet (see above picture, she is second from left). Her older brother is the community liaison between Canhame and Mambue and us. He did not seem concerned that she would need to walk the 15 km by herself. What we consider normal is so different here.

In Tchinda, we didn’t see the children much. They gathered around our campsite but when we went to eat, they removed themselves to give us space. The dam site is 2.5+ km from the community so no children followed us there.

In Thangera, only boys hung out at our campsite. We camped under a tree with large exposed roots. We talked with some of them and found out their names. The girls only watched in the mornings and afternoons before and after school.
Living on the road

We have been spending quite a bit of time on the road with the sand dam project. In August, we took two trips - one for a week and the second for 10 days. Living on the road is dusty. We take bucket baths and as soon as we walk out of the "casa de banho" (house of bath) our feet are immediately covered in dust. We sleep on grass mats (esteiras) with blankets and other assorted things—MCC has two sleeping bags which Joél and I put under our blankets for additional padding. We take all our food and water. The communities have limited access to water so we don’t like to get water from them, plus it’s terribly dirty. So we buy ½ liter and 1 ½ liter bottles of water to drink and take 4-20 liter water jugs with us for bathing and cooking. It’s not enough and we stop at the Zambezi River to refill mid-week and if we go through Mandie, we refill our water jugs with water from their clean well.

Saturday, August 11

Well, we are now “home” in the land of luxury—water in our house, food in the fridge (made by Noemia in preparation of our arrival) and mattresses to sleep in, no chickens, goats, pigs, cattle or guinea hens (known as chickens of the bush here) walking through our campsite or any children assembled standing silently watching the white people do their crazy things.

Our week went well. We met with the same four communities that we met with three weeks ago. They are very excited and half organized to get the project going. The communities are DESPERATE for water. One of the communities has to walk 15 km to one of the other communities to get water and that well is going to dry up between now and October. Several of the communities are planning to go to the Zambeze River (20+ Km) with a cart and cattle to get the water needed to mix with the cement.

On Monday, we traveled from Chimoio to Mandie (pronounced Man dee a) and slept there. Tuesday, we visited all four communities and let them know when we would be back to talk with the entire community, not just community leaders. Wednesday we visited two and Thursday we visited two. Tuesday and Wednesday nights we slept in two of the communities and had to carry our own water in (in the back of our truck) because of their lack of water. When we met with the communities, Moriane did most of the talking and when someone in the community didn’t speak Portuguese or wasn’t comfortable translating Mick translated. Joél and I asked questions to the community about how they work together, agriculture and past projects they have done. Tony measured potential sights so he can calculate approximately how much concrete we’ll need for each dam and how much sand the dam will be able to hold. One of the communities between Tuesday and Thursday had begun collecting rocks to put in the dam and had two substantially-sized piles.

Saturday, September 1

The communities have begun working. We left Chimoio on Monday, August 20th and drove straight to Canhama. Along the way we stopped at two of the communities to let them know when we would be working with them. We spent two days in each community. The first day, we talked with them about how to organize the work and marked out where the actual dam would be. Tony did some measurements based on the communities knowledge of where the water comes during the rainy season. The second day we had the communities begin carrying rocks and digging the trenches for the dam.

We took machetes, two types of hoes, pickaxes and shovels up with us to leave with the communities. All four of them had begun digging their trenches and collecting rocks for the dams.

We had to ask several of the communities if they really wanted to do the work because though we gave them several days notice of our arrival and time of community meeting, they were really late. So we had them consider if they wanted to do it or wait. All decided in favor of it because they are so anxious for water.

The communities

Canhama (can yam a) has to walk 15 km to get water and that well goes dry in October. They apparently had a decent harvest but are dry, dry, dry. They keep their cattle at the Zambezi River 20+km away where sometimes crocodiles get their cattle. The community began digging and though we expected to hit rock within in a few feet, when we left, they had yet to hit rock and were digging through hard soil. The children even got involved in carrying rocks. (see picture below)

Mambue (mam bwe) has a well 2 km away but its the same one that Canhama and 5 other communities use and so have to use a well 5 km away when the well goes dry in October. They did not have a good harvest. Ironically, they offer us food--massanicas (small apple like fruit) and corn whenever we visit. They had begun gathering rocks after our first visit. This dam will be the longest--close to 50 meters in length. Fortunately it will be able to collect alot of sand behind it.

Tchinda (tcheen da) walks a ways for water. Their river is almost ideal for a sand dam because it is wide, full of sand and has rock walls see above picture). During our first visit in August, we encountered a delegation from the government talking with the community about their situation. In a letter that the community addressed to the government, they identified three major problems--water, hunger and the school. I hope that our project with the sand dams works and helps them get water which in turn will aid in being able to grow crops for themselves.

Thangera (tan jer a) is the community with the huge hole that they dug out for water. Though they have water close, they share it with five communities and the water is limited and dirty. This dam will be the smallest but the digging will be more difficult because they have to carve out crumbly rock.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Carrying things

Mozambicans seem to not like to carry things in their arms. Their prefered mode of carrying something is on their heads. Common things we see being carried on people's heads include - a bundle of firewood, 20-liters of water, 25 kilos of rice or corn, basins full of vegetables or fruit to sell at the market. It seems like women are more likely to carry things on their heads; men use bicycles more. But both genders do carry things on their heads. Occasionally we see something more unusual--a small pumpkin or bottle of Coke.

If someone is not carrying an object on their head, sometimes they strap it (if it is small) in a capulana and carry it on their back. Often we'll see a mother with a small baby on her back and a 10-year old girl carrying a toddler in a capulana.

Chopas (minibuses) are often seen with lots of baggage on top of them. People transport goods to sell at markets or corn to take to the mill. Frequently we see goats on the top of chopas or strapped to the back of a bike.

This woman is carrying a hoe.
Chickens, goats and farm animals
When we camp in the communities where we are working for the sand dam project, we get to experience the farm yard up close. Chickens, guinea hens, goats, pigs, dogs, an occasional cat and cows roam freely around. Chickens and goats both just their heads forward to walk. Pigs seem startled to find someone in their way. It’s a free for all for food and so at any given time one or several animals are trapsing their way through our campsite, nose to the ground, looking for food. And we’ve been woken up a few times by a snort right next to our tent, as a pig looks for something to eat.
Mozambicans like music.
They play their radios really loudly and have them on most of the day. When we worked with communities on their sand dams, several of them made sure that they brought along their radios for while their worked. Music appreciation is not only limited to radios. They sing a lot. Moriane is constantly humming or singing. In the grocery store, you can hear people singing along with the background music. In church they sing loudly. While we still lived in Beira, I asked Augusta why people sing so loudly in church and she replied, “So God can hear us”.
Poverty is relative…

Mozambique is a poor country, rated by some experts as one of the 10 poorest in the world. People we meet here talk about being poor but for the most part, the people we come in the most direct contact are well fed (because they grow their own food in their fields) but may not have enough money to have super nice clothes (but their clothes are clean) or a house made of cement (but many have tin roofs on sun-baked brick houses). Many adults are taking advantage of educational opportunities available for adults to continue their education that might have been cut short because of the war, early marriage, the need to work in their family’s fields or other life events. They may not have a lot of money to put into the offering plate on Sunday but they seem to be happy—surrounded by their families and friends, living their lives. In a discussion about poverty during our MCC orientation, the presenter, a former director of Ten Thousand Villages challenged us to look at what poor people do to generate income. We daily see people making a living with small business ventures—cutting hair, selling fruits and vegetables by the road, selling clothing on sidewalks, baking little cakes and selling them, collecting money on the chopa (mini bus), or buying live animals, butchering them and then selling the meat.

What does poverty really mean? I read once that poverty is a lack of options. That certainly seems to resonate here. Each place we visit seems to be lacking something—good roads, adequate rainfall, adequate building materials, transportation, food, education. Each group of people we come into contact with us tells us that they are poor. It seems to be a chronic condition here. But what I am learning is how we all interpret our own poverty (generally economic) differently. One person may say that he/she is poor because he/she can not afford really nice clothes, while another can barely afford the chopa fare to the next town but has enough to eat, while another lacks access to clean water. For each person who says he/she is poor, it seems like there are others lacking more than he/she. I am challenged to rethink all the times I considered myself poor—was I truly lacking when I was in graduate school?

In the midst of all this, we see so much hope. We see Mozambican society working to make a difference in itself. All over there are signs of support for those who are affected by HIV/AIDS. On World AIDS Day, students wore shirts and participated in marches to educate the public more about HIV/AIDS. Municipalities are fixing roads—filling in potholes, repaving streets, paving side walks. We see public gardens being maintained—weeded, new plants germinated, trees trimmed, parks landscaped, tree trunks painted. Every morning individuals sweep their section of the sidewalk next to a street and their yards. We know quite a few people who are going to school. Women are attending school and some are learning how to drive. Many people have radios (even those who do not have electricity, have a battery operated radio) and regularly listen to it. (We get our news through our friends in the church!) They know a bit about the world and current events. They know what is happening in their own country. Immediately after the flooding of the Zambezi river, a call was put out to churches to help with relief materials. People gave, albeit it was not much, but they did give to help others.

Now as we are working in the Distrito de Mandie (Mandie District – pronounced man dee a) with the sand dam project, we are given yet another glimpse into what poverty is. I hear people in Gondola and Chimoio toss around the phrase, “absolute poverty” as a description for their condition. It’s a phrase I heard in graduate school and it seemed a good description at that time. Now that I live here in Mozambique, I’m not quite sure I like the term. Yes, it does describe some of the conditions that people experience on a daily basis but it is a very negative term. It lacks dignity and sometimes is trapping, as if when people use the phrase to describe to themselves, they have given up. While I was working for DOOR, I heard of a story that a child had hung out with a group of volunteers and enjoyed himself. He didn’t notice the economic differences between them until the last day and someone said something about poor people. He didn’t know that he was poor until that moment and it suddenly separated him from the people he had come to love and respect. Hearing from them that he was poor suddenly took away his dignity and said that something was lacking in his life when before he wasn’t lacking.

I’m not saying that people here are not poor, but I wonder about the words we use to describe. How can we describe poverty that shows people’s dignity? When we asked the communities that we are considering partnering with to build sand dams, what they would do with access to water, almost all of them said that they would use it to bathe, wash clothes, grow vegetables, and water their cattle. The sand dam project is designed for the communities to take ownership of the dam and eventually of the water that will come. For them, the potential of having water close by year round is an answer to prayer and I hope that their involvement in building and maintaining the dam will add to their dignity.

In the meantime, as we work with groups in Gondola and Chimoio that use the phrase “absolute poverty”, how do we not become trapped by the description, to not have it be a self-fulfilling prophesy but only a proscription, not a prescription? Not only for us who are outsiders working with communities but also for the communities themselves? As I wrote previously, I see many positive things happening and I think it is important to remind people of what they are doing and how they are not trapped by the phrase. It seems to me that people who are continually trying new things are moving, growing and taking risks to see the world in a new way, are battling the label.
Wedding
Life in the Igreja Evangélica Menonita is always interesting as the church continues to learn and be faithful to the call of Jesus in this community and the life of the church. Being a fairly new church they are learning much and trying to reorganize their lives such that they can walk faithfully. In Mozambique the laws are such that to be recognized as married you have to be registered which is quite expensive for most people. Also with the custom of having huge weddings with hundreds of people, food and a fermented drink made from corn and lots of sugar called “Muheu” (pronounced “moo-hey-oh” and non-alcoholic for those that are worried) it is too expensive for a major part of the population. Thus people just move in together because they can’t afford it or do it the traditional way which is exchanging gifts between families and the groom’s family comes to the Brides families house to take her away bringing gifts. In trying to be faithful to the Bible our Associate Pastor, Saide, and his wife, Noemia, decided to get married so that they can in turn marry the rest of the church, serve communion with a good conscience and lead by example. The rest will follow as funds permit and the church can help make it possible.

The following is a short account of the festivities:

Jenny had been commissioned to make the cake. We were told that it would just be one small cake and one larger one and fairly simple. However, two days before the wedding the other women of the church found out and came with all their opinions on how it should be and fairly soon we had a three tiered cake on our hands. We had quite a weekend trying to make the cake, finding the equipment to do so and preparing our house to host our CRs, Cheryl’s parents and our colleague, Brooke, as well. After burning one icing to the consistency of hard taffy, making a second icing that looked like runny milk and destroying two cakes, we finally completed the task. It was quite beautiful in spite of the circumstances. The weekend went quite smoothly and was enjoyable.

The festivities began at the church with people gathering and making food in huge pots, in a grass enclosure beside the church. I drove our MCC vehicle with singers singing all the way to the registration building in the center of town. Noemia and Saide arrived in a truck with all her family in the back. Everyone sang and threw rice as the couple walked to the registration, Saide in front and Noemia following, neither one smiling. They registered and left the building to much singing and entered our vehicle and I drove them and their Padrinhos (God-Parents) all the way to the church honking the horn with kids running and singing all around the car and the rest of the people following and singing behind.

I will explain what we understand about the Padrinhos. They are an older married couple that gives direction to the couple about how to be married and the also leads the couple through the ceremony. The couple cannot smile, talk or do anything for themselves until after the reception. The Padrinhos have to help them cut the cake, put the rings on and all the other activities. They do this because it is such a serious occasion in their life to smile or talk does not respect the seriousness of it. We actually were able to get Saide to smile a little when I gave him a thumbs up halfway through the wedding. It is so different than our American weddings were if we are not smiling people think something is wrong with us.

After arriving to the church they entered with rice flying and there was much singing and dancing. They sat on chairs in the front with two flower girls for the ceremony. There was a presentation of singing by the youth from both churches followed by a young women singing and dancing in front of the church. It kind of reminded me of someone doing interpretive dance for those who are familiar with that, but she was singing at the same time. Jenny and I read some of the verses that were presented at our wedding. Noemia and Saide were then married by the Associate Pastor of the Mennonite Church in Tete who had come down for the occasion. It was the first time he had ever done a wedding ceremony so it was a good thing for the Mennonite Church.

A few weeks ago I had posed a question to some of our Mozambican friends. “Do Mozambicans kiss?” I had never seen them kiss so I wondered if they don’t or if it is just out of the public’s sight. They kind of laughed and said that it is not really present much in their culture but that outside influences from Brazilian TV and the West are changing that. However, my answer was confirmed after the marriage ceremony as they kissed in front of the whole community. It was a better kiss than Jenny and I had at our wedding. The couple then came to the front and cut the cake and fed it to one another as well as a glass of Fanta (the soda, for some reason they always use it in weddings).

We then went outside where there was a man dancing on a table and singing and shouting with people all dancing around him. Evidently he is the entertainer who was to present the gifts that the bride’s family had brought for the couple. We were told he is an evangelist and we can see why. He was quite animated. To our eyes he seemed quite crazy. But I guess it is a thing they do at all weddings.

We then had a meal of “Sadza” (corn porridge) chicken, goat and cake. When all was done we drove the couple back to their home where the relatives of the couple carried them from the car to their house and we all retired to ours. What a day for them, the church and for all of us who were experiencing it for the first time!