Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thangera Scoop Hole as of July 10, 2007
Thangera Scoop Hole this year July 25, 2008


A Year With A Change
We who do this work of development always are looking for proof that our work is paying off and that people’s lives are improving. After all, that is what we are working for. It is easy to get lost in the work and forget that the real reason we are doing it is so people live better healthier lives and that God will receive praise.

I visited the Sand Dam communities once again crossing my fingers since July was the first time we entered the communities a year ago to introduce them to the sand dam concept. Here it is a year later. What changes will happen? Will they be positive? Will the communities be happy with the changes, will it be life as normal without water or worse yet will they be yet upset and discouraged as yet an organization has come to help them without results. The last is my biggest fear. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised. When I had traveled a few months ago I had heard community leaders in Tchinda and Thangera say they were tired from work and I never really received good answers to my questions about whether there was a change this year. That trip was after the rainy season when the communities normally have water. This trip, however, has entered the time when the water sources should already be drying up. In both of the communities we heard much encouragement. The leaders say people are happy. Tchinda still has water behind the dam at this point. The evidence is tomatoes that are still growing behind the dam. This would have been impossible last year. Thangera had dug down 7 meters into the river to get water at the beginning of last year when we had visited. This year they are just beginning to dig at the end of July. I included pictures to show the difference. Over the next few years as the sand fills behind the dam this should get even better.

Praise God it is working! Let us continue.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Deaths

Our church has had two deaths this week. Sunday evening, an older woman passed away. She had been sick for a while and every Sunday for the past month, people had gone after church to pray for her. Her husband took care of her and some of her daughters, but a few weeks ago the daughters stopped coming daily to bathe her. On Sunday, she passed away. Joél went to the initial sitting with the family on Sunday evening. The final prayer (they have three days of prayer—the funeral and then prayers for the next two days) was yesterday. She was baptized in the church and was ready to go to heaven.

Then this morning (Thursday), a young man from the church passed away. He was the husband of one of the women who comes to church. He died from malaria. He leaves three small children, Musa, age 5, Fiusha, age 3 and Moises, 7 months. It’s heavy. So unexpected, so young, what will Jilda, his wife do?

I’ll go visit the family later today. In this culture, it’s important that someone from families nearby makes an appearance at funerals. Joél’s presence Sunday night was sufficient for that passing. I’ll go today for this family.
Good news
Our neighbors do not have to move after all. The landlord, I guess, decided to find another place. So our friends get to stay. Happy news for them; for us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Transitions

- Our beloved next door neighbors are moving. Our neighbors who have so patiently explained much of culture, where to get things done in Gondola, talked with us despite our pitiful Portuguese. The landlord wants the house back for his son who is getting married.
- The Pastor at the Mennonite church is getting officially married. He’s been married traditionally for over 20 years but wants to get married officially and in the church.
- Our co-MCC, Sara is preparing to leave in October. She’s been here four years and has been a steady influence of calm and positive thinking as the rest of us have battled culture shock. We’re already mourning her leaving and cherishing the remaining time with her.
- We will be getting a new person on our team in August. This will be the first time we will have a person with the SALT program since Joél and I have arrived. I have the privilege of working with her to help her adjust. I’m looking forward to it.
Vacation – Mozambican style

I recently read an article about a couple whose vacation started off with several predicaments that “shouldn’t” happen on vacation – being so hot that they went to sleep with a bottle of ice, and other adventures. The couple was able to laugh about it after it happened and mused that only them had crazy vacations. Our recent vacation mimicked their vacation in craziness, Mozambican style.

It sounded like it was going to be a lovely vacation, 10 days on the coastline of Northern Mozambique, where there are reefs, blue waters and white beaches. We should have known when we planned to get there by chapa. But we thought, this will be an adventure and it was!

It began our first chapa, Chimoio to Quelimane. The day prior to leaving, we bought our tickets, procured our seats – the back two next to the window. The people who sold the tickets said that the back seat would only have five people, there were five numbers that indicated seats, and so we trusted them. When we arrived at 5 AM, there were already four people in the back row, one couple, a child and a Zimbabwean woman. The couple claimed that they bought a seat for the child. We and the Zimbabwean were befuddled and endured a cramped journey of 10 hours in the back row. But we were on vacation and once the child fell asleep her guardians seemed to make more room for the rest of us. The highlight of the trip was the ferry crossing at the Zambezi River. There was a bridge but it was destroyed during the war, so for now until the next bridge is completed (which is 60% finished), people cross the river on a ferry. We got to Quelimane, found a Pensão, (inn) walked around the city and then went back to the bus station to buy our tickets for the next chapa.

Enter adventure #2. The bus from Nampula arrived around 4:30 and there was already a small crowd waiting to buy tickets. Somehow, when the line formed, I was able to be one of the first (a major accomplishment for me who does not usually assert myself in crowds). I bought the tickets, asked the cobrador (fare collector) if our seats were secure and when the bus was leaving in the morning. In the morning, we caught a taxi and arrived about an hour prior to leaving the station. Already the bus was packed with people who had spent the night on the bus and we managed to find two spaces in the overhead compartment for our two backpacks. We sat down, delighted with comfortable seats, two seats together and got comfortable.

Comfort? Hah! We were on the chapa that never ends. Perhaps we were in our own little two seat world, but Moz pushed in on us in the form of people standing in the isle, the bus stopping at every single solitary bush, goat, cat, village that remotely waved it’s arm. It took us 5 hours to go 140 kilometers (79.5 miles). And that was only one third of the way. During that five hours, the bus had problems with the storage compartments randomly opening and we had to stop a few times to shut them and then eventually tie them. Once a sack of rice fell out and was picked up by a biker who claimed he didn’t know where it came from. The cobrador and others from the bus took a while but eventually convinced him to return the sack. We finally rolled into town around 5:00 and by the time we were able to get off the bus, it was dark so we wandered around the dark, unknown town trying to find our way to our hotel.

The next two days were spent traveling to and enjoying the Ilha de Mocambique (Island of Mozambique). It was until the mid-1800’s the Portuguese capital of Moz. The island nowadays is half a crowded fishing village and the other half the remains of the Portuguese capital city. We thoroughly enjoyed walking through the tiny allies, traversing the island and watching the sunset over the blue waters of the straight between the island and the continent (as locals called it).

After two days, we again caught a chapa (ironically the exact same bus and coincidentally sat in the exact same seats). This time we got off at Monapo, the crossroads town for transport to the Ilha or onto Nacala. We caught an open air chapa, whose fare collector connivingly tried to collect twenty (almost $1) extra meticais from us knowing that we were foreigners. But we had been advised and paid the usual fare. We made it to Nacala, thoroughly windblown and called our contact to pick us up. He came and told us that we should pick up some food because the house we were borrowing was quite a ways out. We bought some bread, milk, juice, butter, and tea and figured that we’d be able to easily get to the market in the morning.

Enter adventure #3. We arrived at the house after driving probably a good 15 minutes. The view was beautiful because the house was up on a hill overlooking the deep blue waters of the natural harbor of Nacala. We walked down the narrow, steep steps to the front door and heard a cat mewing in the house. The South African missionary who had picked us up talked with the guard who was explaining how the cat was trapped in the house for the past three days. Thus, when we opened the doors, the odor of cat feces and urine filled our noses and shredded foam mattress covered much of the floor. The cat, relieved to have the opportunity to be free left the house and we were left to face the mess, the remoteness and the lack of water (the tank of the roof of the house only had a little bit of water). The missionary graciously offered to bring us drinking water and told us where his house was if we needed anything. We then began a meticulous house cleaning. When that was over, we ate a simple lunch, and spent the remaining 45 minutes of daylight walking on the beach, checking out the small marine life that filled pockets of water in the rocks and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We woke up the next morning, and set out for the market accompanied by the very amiable and helpful guard. What was meant for a short trip to the market took 4 hours—walking two kilometers to the road, catching an open bed chapa, searching all through the market for salt (and never finding), and boarding again an open bed chapa that was filled to the gills. We got home at 12, having survived packed truck and the cobrador (fare collector) telling Joél that we may leave, but I’m still his woman. ugg.

Saturday afternoon, we walked the coast past many fishermen, women doing laundry and people just hanging out on the beach. We picked our way across sea weed covered rocks with small pools filled with sea urchins, hermit crabs, small fish and trash (unfortunately the reality here). It took us about 2 hours to make our way down to the restaurant where our friend told us had good food. My goal for the whole vacation was to have ice cream, but every place we went that had ice cream on the menu, didn’t have it. However, this afternoon, the restaurant did and I got my ice cream! :)

The next day was the perfect vacation day—reading, journaling, walking on the beach, relaxing in the quiet. It stilled our souls in silence and reflection away from the confusion that daily bombards us to hear the quiet in ourselves.

Monday, we went to the local diving/hotel and checked in for our final night in Nacala. We rented snorkeling equipment, but like the rest of our vacation, conditions were not quite right. The waves were choppy, the wind was blowing, the temperature was cold and instead of being able to focus on learning how to snorkel, we had to focus on the elements. At least we got to snorkel some; Joél saw some schools of fish.

Adventure #4 We boarded the chapa for Nampula at 8 am – short trip, only 187 km, shorter then Chimoio to Beira. By the time we got to Nampula, it was 2 PM! A trip that should have been at the maximum 3 hours took over 5! Our driver drove so slowly. Then the transit police were out in force, checking all the documents of chapa drivers and how many people they had on board. It was our lucky day, the day the driver forgot his documents. The first stop, I think, the cops also fined the driver and cobrador for too many people. So between being stopped by the cops, stopping for anyone who want to board, or get off and the pokey driver we took a long time getting to Nampula.

When we got to Nampula, we went to 3-4 hotels before there was a room available and that room was even only after there was a cancellation. We then bought our tickets home, from the bus that ran between Nampula and Maputo. We asked them what time we would get to Inchope, where we had to get off and they said that we’d get there by noon. They didn’t say that was noon the next day after spending the night in Quelimane. We went to bed rejoicing that we only had one more bus before getting home, only to discover the next morning that we’d be spending the night and another day on the bus.

Our bus ride from Nampula to Quelmane was quicker this time but still took 11 hours. The next day, we cruised. But when we were 184 kilomoters from Gondola, the bus had difficulties and for the next 80 kilometers, we only went 40 km/hr or less. They finally stopped, fixed something and we made it to Inchope, caught a small chapa to Gondola and got home in time for supper.

We were never so thankful to be home from vacation before! Never again, will we go on vacation, that far away that we need to take three chapas, 2 or more days to get there.