Sunday, June 26, 2011

NADIA'S TWO YEARS OLD



Nadia Plays the Guitar



Cold

I woke up this morning and I was truly cold. I thought of how I must really be a wimp after all these years of living in Sub-Saharan Africa. How my body had changed because of all the heat and how Julie and Heidi must have though us funny when we were in fleeces and they were in shorts and T-shirts walking around town.

Then Jenny looked at the temperature. 38 degrees! And with cement walls and no heating in the house this is bone chilling cold. This is the coldest it has been in Mozambique since we got here. I went to church wearing double socks and flannel pajamas underneath my pants.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Walking
Maputo. In general we like the city. It is a very safe, walkable by African standards with a mediterranean feel to it. I was thinking about returning to the US and one of the things I will miss most is the slow pace of life and the ability to walk almost anywhere. I enjoy being able to walk, though most people here, especially expats wonder about my choice and why I often do not take the car. I guess it makes me feel normal. I have always liked the excercise and exploring the world. That is why I was a hiker. And it costs nothing, uses no gas and usually I do not have to take myself in for repairs. The more I use the car the more I have to fix it and that is definitely not simple in Mozambique.

I understand it takes more time but life seems simpler. Why do we have to rush so fast through our lives anyway. I have determined that I get a much fuller sense of life the way God created it and of the lives of people when I walk. I get to feel the air on my face, the sounds of, well, cars of course, but the sound of people, markets as well. I get to see their lives, to experience what it is like, to understand a bit though the divide is still great. It gives me a stronger basis to minister Christ to people. To share in their lives. I get to see that life is not just about getting from point A to point B but actually enjoying the journey, the intricacies along the way. To enjoy the sight of vegetbles, books and fish being sold next to the street, the flowers in people's yards and the new construction and reabilitation that often gets missed in the broken buildings. Sure, I have to avoid the dogpoop, not mentioning what else ends up on the ground, and broken glass bottles. But this seems more of a challenge. I personnally enjoy cement that is broken and heaved hither and to by the tree roots or simple neglect. It breaks the monotony of cement and gives me a challenge, somewhat like hopping along boulders in the mountains.

Plus, it just makes me feel good! So I will walk.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Xai-Xai







Passeio above Delagoa Bay in Maputo

Julie and Heidi visited us this last week. They are lifelong friends whom I could almost call family since we grew up together in church and school. This was the first set of visitors we have had other than family who have taken the time to visit us. We appreciate that very much, Julie and Heidi. Though we have no expectations of other friends visiting us nor want to place that expectation on anybody. We are keenly aware that such a visit encourages us and helps us remember that though we may be odd-balls living in a foreign land we still come from somewhere normal, loving communities.


They spent a lot of time exploring Maputo, including the Natural History Museum which turns out does not keep anything in secret but shows birds of prey and other such animals attacking others in very vibrant and gruesome ways. I suppose it is for effect. People want excitement not just in movies but from stuffed animals in an exhibit. Somehow, though, it does seem to ruin thoughts of living in a Peacable Kingdom or trying to get back to nature. It looks downright vicious, even horrifying! They showed us the pictures. We did have the privilage of spending time with them a few days when we did not have work to do, having coffee at the European style cafes and trying the Portugues pastries.

On Sunday, we headed to Xai-Xai. It is one of the few beaches in Mozambique where I have actually been on the open ocean and not a bay or inlet. Since it is the low season during winter, there was virtually no-one there on this stretch of sand that goes for miles and miles with towering sand dunes behind it. There is an incredible reef running like an asphalt highway horizontal to the beach. It is under water at high tide and creates a little swimming area next to the beach that is protects it from the waves. It breaks up in some places into big chunks and the
waves crash into them sending spray up to 20 meters in the air. Truly a beautiful sight.
We stayed in a house all by ourselves just 100 meters from the beach. It was cold but still fun to be in such a beautiful setting. Nadia herself could not get enough of running and jumping in the puddles left by the low tides.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Gorongosa Adventures





MCC Mozambique Team




Despite the long 26-hour trip back to Maputo, I want to write a little bit about the wonderful time we actually did have in Sofala Province which indeed is the reason that we were able to handle with patience the long trip afterwards. We were to have team meetings in Beira like we usually do every 3 months but this time, on someone's suggestion, which I might add was wonderful, we decided to spend some time at a camp just outside Gorongosa Park and have our meetings in this rural bush setting. For those of you who do not know, Gorongosa Park is probably the best game reserve in Mozambique and if it weren't for the war, it would be one of the best parks in Southern Africa if not Africa for seeing game. At this point you can see warthogs, baboons, vervet monkeys and any number of antelope and gazelle. The lions and elephants are coming back and the setting is very much more rugged and wild than anywhere else I have been in southern Africa and the vegetation and forest savannah beautiful. The park borders Gorongosa Mountain which is unique in its own right. It is a single mountain in the middle of flat savannah plains but full of wildlife and a unique forest on top.




We spent our time in a camp run by a South African couple just outside the park. They are working on there registration for there tourist business and so they have lived Swiss Family Robinson style in a house that looks like a labrynth beautifully made of bamboo, reeds and grasses while they build there more permanent house. The bamboo opens up to room after room as you walk back with furniture and paintings that look like it came from 'Out of Africa'. It is in the middle of the forest and quiet but completely open. Anyone could walk in and not be noticed and there is no security. I asked Piet how they can live without walls or security remembering the gangs of thieves that used to scare us in Gondola, which is only 2 hours drive away. He said they have been here 8 years and nothing ever happened to give them concern. They get along excellently with the neighboring communities who offer them protection and the community benefits because their land is protected from logging companies that want to come in and exploit the land. This is conservation and tourism at its best.




They have a number of daughters and one of them is in charge of tourist trips. She speaks Portuguese, Afrikaans, Sena and English with perfection and is as comfortable with the locals as she is with us, running around in barefeet all day. She is 16 and has been driving since she was 11. The government tried to stop her at one point but they realized she is a better driver than a lot of other locals and so she drives for the government people as well. What an amazing life. She took us one evening to see the stunning sunset over the Pungue River valley. I had been there before with Brooke and Sara but this time we had food, soda and a guitar. As the song goes,"No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I'm clinging. If love is Lord of heaven and earth, I cannot keep from singing." So we sang.






Nadia and I above the Pungue River Valley












Jenny, Nadia and Melanie in the Sunset



Jon and I hiked up a steep footpath about 50-100 meters up to the top of the fall. We did it in barefeet and I was seriously precarious at times. I felt like I was in virgin territory exploring the deep of the jungle in a remote corner of the world. Actually, we were. This is little known territory but is sure to be known as the tourism grows in Mozambique. The rest took turns jumping into the cold water. I have done that enough in my life, I decided I did not need to do it this time. We all ate lunch there at the waterfall.





Waterfall. Can you find Jon?



On Gorongosa Mountain trail to the Waterfall



Each day we ate lunch and dinner together which was cooked by the mother in the bamboo house. It was some of the most amazing meals I have ever had. Especially the gazelle stir fry. We slept in tents with hot showers and spent the evenings sitting around the campfire, playing guitar and laughing. The last evening we spent with Piet and Ria but I was so exhausted that I did not get to talk much. Piet said my face looked familiar from my days in Chimioio. He must have seen me in town somewhere. That made me miss Chimoio so much. If we still lived there we could easily come visit them for vacation.




Amazing Dinners




On Saturday we had a very meaningful worship service and communion together with Piet and Ria. Piet became a Christian sometime in the 90s and they are very humble people. They are also working some with conservation agriculture so we will probably connect in the future now that MCC has translated some materials. They have a heart for the community around them and that is so good to see.

We all voted that we would love to come back to this place. We felt so refreshed spiritually, emotionally and physically that going back on the 26 hour trip to Maputo was not as bad as it could have been. It teaches me once again how important it is to take care of ourselves when doing the kind of work we are doing.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

When did it change?

Every year about this time, I long to walk or sit in the sunshine. The rest of the year, I seek the shade. The change is so gradual and creeps up on me. I never know when that change happens or when it goes the opposite way of prefering the shade. Suddenly one day, I'm struck that I am enjoying the warmth of the sun instead of hiding from it. For now I am enjoying the warmth on my toes as I walk "bundled up" in long pants, long sleeves and a sweater wearing sandals. Or relishing the feel of shoes and socks

Picnic in the sunshine in july 2009 with my mom and 2-week old Nadia