Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Roosters

I hate roosters. It's a known fact. I started my dislike of them when I was in Russia in 1997. My time in Moz  did not help my dislike--it worsened it. The stupid birds crow whenever they feel like it, whether it be 3:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the middle of the night. For my 30th birthday in Moz, I wanted to go somewhere where I wouldn't hear a rooster. We went to a beach resort and didn't hear any--it was LOVELY. In my mind, roosters are just one of those necessary, annoying animals that help accomplish something for the greater good (help produce more chickens for eating and laying eggs). They are not quaint, they are not pretty, they are not darlingly chic. Someone in my parents' neighborhood has a rooster. I hear it in the mornings when I brush my teeth. Really? Here in Bucks County? Please get rid of it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Transition


Joel and I soon after arriving in Moz
I'm tired of transition. I should be accustomed to it by now because, my "normal" life, for at least the past seven years, has been constantly changing. Joel and I were only married a year and half before we went into MCC. Then we moved 2-5 times (if you count the three months of language study and going to Johannesburg twice for extended times for the births of our children). And now, after a little over two months in  the States we are transitioning again. Why? Because Joel got a job!

Our most recent family photo
Today was his first day at work. He's working for a landscape maintenance company. He came home really tired. But that's par for the course--having spent the greater part of the past 6 years working in an office to returning to manual labor.

The transition is welcome. We've been praying for a job for a long time, it's just the adjusting (again) that I'm tired of. It's a good reminder that this world is not our permanent home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Journey

Now that we are back, people who find out that we have spent time overseas and have just returned, often ask if I liked Mozambique, my standard reply is that it's been a journey. They don't usually ask me to expound, but if I would here is some of the parts of the journey:

- a journey of liking being in Moz more than just for the bananas (which I now miss). It took me a while to like Mozambique. I remember a time during our second year someone asked me what I liked most about Moz. I promptly replied, "The bananas". He commented that I replied quickly. I responded that we had just spent some time in the States and I realized that if we had stayed in the US, the only thing at that point I would have missed were the bananas. As time passed, over five years, I found other things to like in Moz other than the bananas. And in my final year there, I found myself liking it more and more. I can't point to exact things but finding my way through the culture and making friends helped alot in that journey.

- a journey, still happening, of learning that who I am is more than what I do but who I am in Christ. This is a hard one, especially for those of us who like to do. I went into my term of MCC wanting to serve and do something for people, to change the world. But when things with my various assignments didn't work, out it hurt--alot. I had to learn, through many mental struggles, that my identity is not based on what I do or the roles that I normally defined myself, but just by being a follower of Christ and knowing how he sees me--a person deeply loved and that just being myself is all He wants me to be, in whatever circumstances I find myself.

- a journey of changing roles--from rarely considering myself an outsider to having that a part of my temporary identity (estrangeira--a foreigner), becoming a mother (of one then two children), of being a wife in a patriarchal society

- a journey of internalizing that the kind of woman I am and my experiences that I've had are just as valid as women around whose life experiences are vastly different than mine. And none of us are "less of a woman" than the other because of our differences. My first months in Gondola threw me for a loop because all the women I knew in the community carried their own water, may have had electricity in their homes (most did not), became mothers in their teens and attended only a few years of primary school. It took me a while to realize that prior to living in Gondola all the women I had ever known, from my great-grandmother born in 1904 to my women I knew in Russia and all the women I knew in the States had running water, for the most part completed high school, if not some university and had electricity. But we are all women.

- a journey of finding work and accepting when I didn't have work. When we started our term I did not have a defined job description with MCC. And my jobs changed sometimes by the year. There were busy times and slow times and not at all times. During one of my not-at-all times of work, I learned that it was okay to wait. It wasn't what I preferred. I felt guilty for living overseas being supported by other people without doing something but sometimes life is like that.

- a journey of putting into practice the social work mantra: don't do for others what they can do for themselves. This was hard. Like I said earlier, I went into MCC wanting to serve. There were times when it would have been easier to do something than to wait for the local people to do it. Inwardly, I longed to be needed and could just as easily do something instead of waiting for them to do it. But, if people don't do something for themselves, then they don't always own it. We talked about things that needed to be done and I stood by and encouraged them, but ultimately it was up to them to do things to change their life like it is up to me to change mine.

- a journey of pushing myself to go out even when I didn't feel like it. As my mom always said, "Attitude follows actions". Prior to our leaving for Moz, a couple who had just returned to from their MCC told us that someone had advised them to take a walk, even if they didn't feel like it. That getting out helps to clear one's head and get a new perspective. It's true. We often felt alot better after getting out.