Saturday, August 22, 2009

Loving Your Neighbor

The words said it all…

“What a world it could be…

What a world it could be…

Everyone living in Harmony…

No more war, no more strife…

Everybody loving one another”

Yes, isn’t this what we all want…EXCEPT AT 2:00 IN THE MORNING AT 500 DECIBALS!!!

Instead of peaceful, loving thoughts, the only thing I can think of is how I could attach the cords to the bumper of our car and drive off with the speakers trailing behind me through the streets of Chimoio. That would keep them quiet. Maybe water balloons launched into the party would break it up. Then my sense came to me and I realized that doing that to about 100 drunken people would not be in my best interest. I must turn the other cheek and bear the pain.

The irony is just too great. We have spent a wonderful first week back in Mozambique. It has been the first time we have returned when it really feels like home. It was great to see our house workers, to see the fresh coats of paint in town, the new lines and crosswalks painted the new construction bringing hope that progress is happening. All in all it has gone well with the baby, granted we have lacked sleep and I was developing a sore throat and the last couple of nights. We had finally reached the weekend and N had fed early and was ready for bed. We decided to turn in early to get extra rest, looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday morning.

No sooner than we had laid our heads down on the pillows it came…


Screaming through the cracks in the window, bouncing off the wall in our backyard, circulating through the plumbing…dance music, signaling to the entire world that there is a party and the party is in our back yard.

I guess this is a modest plea from a sleep deprived man that loving your neighbor is not just the poor or suffering person on the other side of the world. Maybe it actually means loving your neighbor. And that building peace means turning the music off so there is one less person in the world tempted to put a car in front of their neighbors house and turn the car alarm on to accompany their morning hangovers.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Countdown to reality

Our time in South Africa is coming to a close. On Monday, 10 August, we are heading back to balmy Mozambique, just in time for the final days of the cool season (Mozambicans tell us, pretty accurately from our experience, that 15 August is the beginning of the hot season). We are heading back with Nadia and all the wonder and challenges that will entail. We covet your prayers as we adjust and parent her. We pray that she will not get malaria and that we'll have time to balance our work with caring for her. Thanks!
For those who think Africa is always hot...
Sleet! Johannesburg, South Africa
1 August 2009

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Bond of Community
Last week I was sick--fever of 103 F, chills, and achey body. Joel and I tried to lower the fever with compresses and consulting the nurse at the Baptist Guesthouse where we were staying. At one point, Joel called my mom to ask her advice (cool bath--successful but definitely not comfortable).

After she got off the phone with us she called both my grandmothers, Joel's mom and various other people. Joel's mom then emailed all extended family on their side and several close friends. The next time my mom called to check in she said "Lots of people are praying for you." Ok, didn't ask for it, but thanks. Several days later we talked with Joel's parents and they mentioned that various people from their community who weren't included in the email asked about how I was doing. Add to that various people at the guesthouse also checked in with us. It's a reminder to me of how God cares for me even when I am grown up and far away from my mother's couches where it'd be much more comfortable to be sick.

By the way, I saw a doctor and he gave me antibiotics to fight the infection that caused the fever and chills. I'm feeling much better now. Thanks to all who prayed for me.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Failure of Judging the Culture to Quickly

I was having problems the other day with the iron shutting off the electricity and I was failing in locating the electrical box. I finally decided to ask our neigbor, who I believe manages some of this housing complex, to help me locate it. Him, his wife and daughter have been the friendliest, neighborly people to us since coming here in June. I told Jenny that I would walk over, knock on the door and ask if he couldn't come and help me. Jenny said ok but then said that maybe I ought to call first because they always called to ask permission before coming over. I had noticed that and thought it a little odd as I usually feel comfortable just going up to the door and knocking. Maybe that is the way it is in Jo-burg and so I thought it best to do so.

Hugo was glad to come over and helped me find the box. His wife came by just to say hi since we had not seen her for a better part of the week. Somehow in our conversation they told me that when our directors first moved in the wife would always call them before coming over.

"In fact," she said, "Our custom is just to knock and walk right in. I did that once but the look on Lois's face told me that Canadians may not do that. So we started to call first."

I laughed. What first perceptions we pick up from the places we visit can be so skewed. I told her that I would have no problem walking over an knocking, though for Americans and Canadians, if someone just walked right into the house, it may seem a little strange."

So we now find it no problem to walk up and knock on the door.

Our Friends with Nadia

I have now been in Johannesburg for two months and it has been a pleasant experience. I have found people to be quite friendly here even though Josie or Jo-burg as it is called locally is a metropolitan area of 10-12 million people. I was told that Soweto alone has about 2-3 million people alone. Most people know Jo-burg to have a reputation of being quite dangerous but whatever that has been in the bast, the consensus here is that it has improved and is definitely blown out of proportion. I would be just as fearful walking in Philadelphia, L.A. or Chicago as here. Of course it all depends on where you are in the city and street smarts is always important. However, I am actually more nervous in Beira at night then I am in Jo-burg and I actually was held up at knife point in Capetown, so this feels quite safe to me.

Anyway, I was not writing to create fear or determine which city is safest in the world but to write about the friendliness her in such a large metropolitan area, which I have not found in our North American Cities. I might add that the friendliness has been throughout, regardless of the people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups here in the city. People always ask how I am in the store with a smile and people will smile and chat if you talk to them.

Yesterday, I was walking back from our directors to the guesthouse and I realized that I have gotten used to purposefully not looking at people I pass on the street since living in Denver so as not to disturb their private space or make them uncomfortable with my smile or "hi". Or maybe it is just street smarts of protecting oneself. In Mozambique, if eye contact is made, dozens of people will try to sell you something, or comment on your white-ness, call you their friend and try to sell you something or ask you for something. how you really want to do something for something. It is easier to not look them in the eye then to dissappoint them in the end. Anyhow, I happened to glance up at a young woman as I passed. Her beautiful dark face broke into smile and she said, "Hello". It felt so good to be recognized and I smiled back and said, "hi" as well. Maybe it was the surpirse of it, or the pleasant face, but I thought about it all the way back to the guesthouse. It is what the world needs, a few more pleasant faces and friendly "hellos".

Kick'n up the feet

Nadia's doing well and there are some more pictures on Flickr for those interested.