Friday, April 22, 2011

The Crucifiction

This last Sunday at the English fellowship we were watching a video where American Pastor Andy Stanely talked about the day Jesus died. He talked about how crucifiction was reserved only for enemies of Rome and never a Roman citizen. He talked about how much detail is in the bible of those hours prior to and up to the crucifiction. Clearly it was so important that these details were left in. He went through the detail of the trial. The only way Jesus could be crucified would be if he was an enemy of Rome. Pilot did not believe he was and yet Jesus did not answer any of the questions. He was silent. Andy talked about how when he was asked if he was king of the Jews he would not have had to answer. But Jesus answered knowing full well that particular question would fit him for the qualification of an enemy of Rome and crucifiction. It is stated again and again that Jesus laid his life down willingly but I think I have often fallen into the temptation of thinking it was Rome, Pilot, Jews, etc. But by answering the question he condemned himself, willingly. Willingly as Abraham and Isaac on the alter.

It was also interesting to here him talk about how the cross was not an accepted icon of the church until all the people who had seen a crucifiction where dead. The cross was a shameful way to die. Anyone who had seen a crucifiction would not want to have any association with such an act.

Andy went on to talk about how Rome had devised a crucifiction to be as painful as possible, actually nailing their rists above their head instead of out like is always depicted. They put a platform under their feet so that it would take a lot longer to die. He also talked about the flogging Jesus received which often left people dead. The more I thought of it the more I realized inside that I would never, ever, ever be able to do what Jesus did. At least not willingly and I would not go peacefully. I hate pain. We have many movies that show of heros, saviours, I can think of Braveheart for example where the heros die for a cause. It is one thing to see someone crucified, a victim of the system or oppression but would anyone in this world condemn themselves. Especially without a fight? Without stubborness? Without a hope for justice? Would anybody? God even chose a time in history when capital punishment was a horrific cross. Would it be the same if Jesus was lethally injected?

All I could think of to respond to such an act of courage and will is "Worthy, worthy, worthy is the lamb of glory". Because he was willing, I don't have to.
Easter Services




It is good friday afternoon and singing is rising from the speakers leading the procession outside of the catholic church across the street from our apartment. One of the things that I have appreciated about Mozambique, or at least in the Catholic and Anglican traditions, is the marches they do. On Palm Sunday we marched down the street into the church singing hymns of praise to God. What a great public demonstration of our identity with Christ. We also did this in Chimoio and walked almost 2 kms singing. The churches will have services on Thursday, Friday and again on Sunday.

Last night, at the Anglican survice focused on the Lord's supper. It was done in English, Portuguese and Changana. They had the usual communion but at the end of all the priest read the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet. He called for 12 people, 3 men, 3 women, 3 children and 3 older persons. As the congregation sang he washed the feet of these 12 symbols of the orginal disciples. It was quite a powerful imagery of Christ's identification and love, a bit different than I have been used to in the Mennonite Church with the priesthood of all believers, but yet beautiful in a different way.









Changes

Today I am noticing changes. I went out to do some grocery shopping and to the ATM to pay bills. Four years ago in Chimoio and Gondola, I had to carry money everywhere and wait in long lines at the electric, phone and other bills. I do not know about the rest of the country, but in Maputo they have now instituted bank cards that can pay bills directly by ATM. I remember in Chimoio and the rest of the country the banking systems were popping up everywhere so this could be available eslwhere soon. Long gone are the days of sending our maid to stand in line for hours to pay bills.

Of course this could be the difference in Maputo and the rest of the country. Afterall a friend once asked how life was in the capital city and wondered if the sand on the beach was air conditioned (not the case if anyone is wondering). What I have noticed is the city getting more and more packed with cars. We were in South Africa for the two months of January and February and the traffic has gotten noticeably worse. This is the downside, at least for us who want to get somewhere by car. Fortunately they repaved a bunch of roads, are updating the toll booth and working on some of the drainage systems. Also on the upside, I walked into the ATM at our nearest bank and as I entered my choices with the buttons, the machine flipped from screen to screen within a matter of seconds. It used to take 10-20 seconds as recently as last year for the system to move. Gone are the lines at the ATMs. I wonder if this is really a change in the banking systems for the better or if this will only last a mere several weeks. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tidbits
Pure bliss...
- drinking tea with my husband and daughter at an outdoor cafe overlooking the ocean
- drinking tea at home on a cool rainy day with a good book
- eating one of our favorite soups--Curry Vegetable Soup
- taking walks around the city and noticing new flowers
- walking in procession around the block with other worshippers while waving palm branches and singing hymns to begin the Palm Sunday service
- Nadia giving hugs and kisses as she pretends to leave and coming back repeatedly before she "leaves" (To where? I don't think she knows, she just knows she's leaving and rides off to the other room on her little car)

Nadia-isms...
Last week I took Nadia out of church because she was being too loud. As I explained to her that she needs to talk quietly and sit on the pew or stand on the floor between Joel and I, she noticed another woman bringing her two children outside. She told me, "Baby time out".

She's begun singing with me as I sing to her, "If I were a butterfly". When I get to the part, "I just thank you for making me, me" she joins in with a hearty, "Making me, Me!"

I recently found my flipflops that were missing for several months (never unpacked from a suitcase from a trip). When I first wore them around the house, she called them "Nois shoes" because our friend, Lois (Nois) in Johannesburg wears flip flops often.

My Kitchen
- I wish i had more space in our freezer. As it stands now, we have a number of items in it that because of the location of where we live, they need to be in the freezer, but do not really need to be frozen--lots of Joel's chocolate, several containers of flour/wheat bran, and chicken broth. There isn't much room for things that I would like to store in it--seasonal vegetables so we can have them more year-round, ice cream (it it was more readily available), popsicles (there's no room even if I wanted to make them.
- There's a distinct smell to washing dishes with hot water from the tap. I remember being enchanted with the smell when we moved to our house in Chimoio and had hot water from the faucet. Now we're back to heating water for our dish water, the smell's not the same.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Drunk Driving

It seems like our street is giving us entertainment by the day but not the kind that you want to rejoice over. I have been trying to run on a regular basis for health and good spirits. Usually I do it at 6 in the morning. There is a long street behind our house, past the military base, that does not have a lot of cross streets, thus I do not have to deal with a lot of traffic. This Sunday morning it was drizzling a bit but the temperature was perfect.

I had finished and was walking back to my apartment and had reached within two blocks of home when I heard a sound of metal grating behind me. The streets were pretty void of traffic on Palm Sunday morning but there must have been one car traveling and he must have been going fast by the sound of the screaching metal. Two blocks back I watched as the car was skidding along the edge of the asphalt, scraping on the cement curb. It jumped the curb without flipping over but in horror I watched as it headed right for one of the huge lamp posts in the median. It nailed the lamp post putting what looked like a two foot dent in the front of the car, the back flew up and around as the top of the lamp post flew off, falling on the car and the pole laid flat on the ground.



Nothing moved except my thoughts.

I wan't the only one witnessing it. "They're drunk," stated the man who passed me on the sidewalk.

"Plastered drunk," the man up the street agreed in a voice with a hint of disdain in it.

I considered running to see if the people were alright but I am embarrassed to say that I did not really want to and actally kept walking, hoping that someone else would help, knowing I do not handle such situations well. I actually didn't need to because within 1 minute the car was surrounded by 20 people and the police were called. In reality, I am embarassed to say, but what I thought was,"Shoot, the street was just getting nice and now we have one less light on this street because of a careless drunk person." That was a terrible judgement, I know, because I do not even know if he really was drunk, but at that time in the morning and that kind of driving, there is not much else it could be.

I do not know what happened to the person or people in the accident. The car was gone by afternoon. I hope the city fixes the pole, I doubt they had insurance.
Street Justice

The other day I was sitting down to a nice cup of tea and to play with Nadia after work and we heard this high pitched screaming out the window. I noramally would assume this to be noisy teenagers trying to impress each other on the streets however, this sounded a bit different. I went to the window to see a grown man across the street in front of the church scraping trash with a stick onto the road. This would be normal if the man was scraping the trash with the stick off the road. This is how people clean the streets in the morning. This man was in disheveled, torn clothes, without shoes and looked like he had not had a bath for some time. Every so often if someone or something passed to close to him he would go into a frenzy, throwing rocks and clods of dirt at various targets and screaming at the top of his lungs. Crazy? Maybe. He could be an old war veteren, possessed or on drugs, all common things here that would make a man do such things. In any case, it was sad to watch. I was actually glad that I had returned recently. I had been out with Nadia to buy some vegetables, passing right by where he had been. We often see homeless, psychologically different individuals but normally they are harmless and in their own world.

This man was getting dangerous, however. I watched as a car tried to park near and he started launching rocks at it. People watched but did not do anything about it. What could they do, he may hurt someone. The car moved realizing the danger. I then watched a car pass on our busy street and at about 15 feet he launched a small rock in its side. The driver did not hear it or if he did he thought best to continue on. After a few minutes another car passed and the man took a large softball sized stone and at 5 feet threw it into the door with a loud thud that everyone heard. I couldn't beleive my eyes. The car proceeded forward and then stopped at the intersection. You could see people pointing fingers and talking.

10 minutes later, after playing some cards with Nadia I went to look outside. What I saw to my horror was 10 men, several security guards with clubs and others with sticks beating the man sensless, knocking him out. Ok, so he was dangerous and some kind of action needed to be taken to keep him from hurting someone else but they continued to beat him after he was unconscious and some looked like they were just in it for the fun. Why?

They tied his hands and feet and soon the police were there. They loaded him up on the back of the pickup truck but instead of just putting him in the back, they shoved him underneath the bars of the seats in his own prison. That is barely enough room for a person. A man who probably did not know what he was doing.

I don't know what happened in this man's life to bring him to where he is but regardless this all left me questioning what was really necessary in all the violence towards him. Sometimes I see things here that make me think that at the root of most people is a need to be violent and beat up someone who is weaker. I don't want to believe this but somedays it seems that way.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Colors

We are trying to work on Nadia's colors. Jenny made cards that have pictures of different colors and I make up games with Nadia based on the matching the colors on the cards. Her favorite color is pink because every card that is laid down she says pink. Then I have to say no and tell her to pick a different color. We were sitting around the table today eating our fruit. We had been telling her what an orange was that she was eating. It is tricky because normally an orange is, well, orange. But these are unripe green oranges that can sometimes be yellow. So I made the mistake of telling her it is yellow.

"But," I said, "It is usually orange."

It doesn't matter, Jenny said, she still isn't able to understand the difference.

"But she knows what pink is," I said.

"Not really," she replied. I picked up the ketchup and asked Nadia what color it was.

"Pink," she said. I corrected her, saying it is red and then held up a pink lid.

"Red," she said.

Ok, Jenny, you are right.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Colds

I have successfully made it through 5 years living in Africa without getting majorly sick. I suppose this should be cause for some sort of celebration. I have never had malaria and after the stories, I am happy that I have not. I have heard from various people comparing it to something like being hit by a train and that you wished you could die. So take your pick. I have had little things happen to me, more often than not related to stress.

Of all the things that can happen in Africa I would not expect the common cold to be the one that knocks me out. I had gone four years with very little illness and then we moved to Maputo I have had two colds and the flu in the last year. I am trying to figure out what the difference is. I was a lot more stressed in Chimoio. Maybe the warmth kept it at bay. The weather changes here have been more drastic. Maybe it is the pollution. Maybe it is because we have more contact with people. Maybe it is my daughter who catches illness from the children in the park. Whatever the reason, I have had more here than the first years combined in Mozambique. And they aren't little sissy colds. I remember in Denver I would go to work at the tree nursery in the snow and cold hauling trees around when I had a cold. It was no big deal. Sure I didn't feel good but it was not enough to put me down.

The first cold I had in Maputo gave me the worst sore throat I think I have ever had. It lasted for like 5 days. There were big ugly white spots on my throat and I could barely swallow. I got the flu in October and it was not overly bad in and of itself. I had a fever and aches and pains the first day. The second day, however, I went to the bathroom and sat down and before I knew it Jenny was waking me up. I had crushed my head and kneck on the floor after passing out on the toilet. I went to the doctor thinking it must be the beginning of malaria but it seemed like just a virus.

This last week Nadia came home with the sniffles and stopped eating. A cold we thought. I remembered the horror of the soar throat from the first cold I had. I tried to avoid it but I had not been sleeping well. Our neighbors had had a party and it had been especially hot the week before. I went to work the first day but the second day knocked me out. Nose running like crazy and a splitting headache and no energy. I wanted to stay in bed all day. It was a holiday and we went out for breakfast but the sun made my head hurt worse. I wanted to sleep all day and I was not much help around the house. Today it is a bit better but the sore throat and cough are coming on. I feel like such a wimp. Why am I getting beaten by a common cold. The only thing I can think of is that since we are on the other side of the world, my body does not have as much resistence to the type of colds that are circulating in this area and so they hit me harder than they would in the US. It makes me scared what I would do if I ever do catch malaria.