As you know, we are here because God called Don to come and building food processing factories to transform this county. The people here are sweet and fun. As we drive along the road, we see that they are very social and love laughing, talking, and enjoying each other. They are so very pleasant. Their joy is not dependent on what they have or their circumstances. They love life and live it to the fullest with the little they have. Yet we also see that they are forced to work very hard to make a living. They look tired from years of laboring for very little gain. As I see the beautiful children, they are so happy and carefree. And then I think, “What do they have to look forward to?” We hope to be able to enable them to achieve more and experience God’s best for them. Don is in the final stages of completing the legal documents to establish his company so that the final sale of the property can go through. He has been working on finalizing the establishment of his company here in Mozambique so that he can finalize the purchase of the factory so that he can finalize getting his work papers. He hopes to be up and running in January.
William is a very happy boy here in Mozambique. He spent most of his summer vacation quiet and a bit withdrawn. He clearly was worrying over this move and how it would go for him. Yet as soon as we arrived, he transformed into a very happy, jovial young man. It appears he is relieved and glad to be here. He enjoys our caretaker, Alberto. It was so cool to look out front one day shortly after our arrival and see him talking with Alberto, playing soccer, and playing with the dogs. It is just neat to see him developing a relationship with someone so different from himself. He is now in his third week of 8th grade at the Christian Academy of Mozambique. The school is located in Machava. When asked how he liked it when we picked him up on the first day he responded, “That school is small!” And it is.
William’s class of 8th graders consists of 6 students (including Will). They do combine with the 7th grade class for some subjects. I told him to consider himself lucky. Just think how many questions he will get to answer in a day! No more sitting back and letting others answer for you. He was not impressed. He is making great friends (Luke, Muhammad, Junior ) and enjoys going each day. The students are from many different countries. We have been fortunate to join with 2 other families from Matola to carpool together. The drive to the school is about 25 minutes for us. His friend, Luke, is from one of these families. He is a very impressive and nice young man that we highly approve of. He and Will get along great and are already planning to get together outside of school. Will loves his new phys ed teacher and the headmaster of the school has taken a great liking to him. Because she is American as well, she loves to tease him since, as she says, he is one of a few who gets her humor. His favorite part of the school day, playing soccer after they finish lunch. William is also making friends at our church, New Life, particularly with the DeTombe family’s kids. They have 14 year old Dawson, 13 year old Leah, and 12 year old Jack. These kids and others get together on Saturday afternoons at a soccer field near the pizza shop, Mimmo’s, and play soccer. He is looking forward to going this week. He is enjoying his new bedroom and is decorating it with a Liverpool theme. He also loves the dogs. They have been good for him since he had to leave Bailey behind. Of all of our kids, he took leaving Bailey the hardest. He would prefer for them to sleep with him at night, but he has learned that their role is to guard our home and therefore they must be outside patroling the yard at night. When we let them in the morning, they head straight to Will’s room, jump on his bed, lick him all over, and then curl up next to him and they all go back to sleep together.
As for me, I have been taking time to first just be with the Lord. My favorite spot to meet him was quickly discovered - our front porch. I love it out there. The roof allows you to sit in the shade but you can stick your legs and feet out in the sun to warm them after a cold night. The front yard is beautifully landscaped and a delight to take in. There is usually a breeze blowing as well making the nicest sounds as it goes through the palm trees. As the day progresses and the sun rises, the entire porch is shaded and the breeze continues to blow, keeping you cool, Therefore, being here is an all day treat. I go out with my cup of Robois tea and a few lemon cream cookies. Don joins me on the weekends. I bring along my bible, journal, my all-time favorite devotional book, Come Away, My Beloved and a new one called Jesus Calling. (Cassie and I each have a copy of this. We do one each day knowing that we are doing the same one. She and I have found ways to feel connected despite the distance that separates us. Like the matching bracelets we got to wear 24/7 to remind us of each other.) I begin my day out on the porch and return to it often between other tasks as well. I plan on going to the Iris Matola-Rio orphanage each week on Monday and Thursday mornings to play with the babies. Don had been driving me there, but the road to the center is deeply rutted and difficult to travel on for our little Honda Accord. After several trips, Don told me that it was not good for the car and he could not drive me there again until we got a 4x4 car. It is not safe for me to walk there alone, so I am waiting for him to get that car. I miss seeing them. There are 6 babies. Armandinho is 1 and ½ years old. He is quiet and sweet, HIV positive. He is the quiet one of the group. Dircio is about 7 and has cerebral palsy (they think). He is in a stroller all the time. The educators (the name for the workers) are busy and can not give him the attention he needs. He loves, however, to be held. He especially likes being taken outside and seated in a small plastic chair in the sun watching the children play around him. He smiles and waves his arms in circles. Junior and Zefania are twins who recently arrived at the center, weak and malnourished. Their grandmother brought them in from the bush. She just could not continue to care for them and provide for them. They are getting strong, gaining weight, and thriving. Zefania is the mischievous one. Junior, HIV positive, is the cuddly one. He loves to climb on you and be held. The twins are 4 years old but are the size and development of a 2 year old. Carlito and Andri (the only girl) are the children of a young unwed woman who lives at the center. Carlito is very bright and social. He plays well with the other children and seems to be the peacekeeper in the group. His sister Andri is still just a baby. She is so tiny and delicate. I really enjoy going and playing with them, loving on them, and praying over them. While the center does provide the children with a safe home, a bed, food, clothing, and medical care, it is sad to see how poor, dirty, broken, and old these provisions are. You and I would never allow such things in our home. We would throw them away. It is also difficult to see these children with no mom or dad to love them best of all. This is why Don and I are here. They deserve God’s best not just in material things, but in life and in their future.
I am developing new friendships with wonderful people here, which I will describe more in the next section. They are helping me adjust, showing me around, fetching me when Don can’t drive me to an event, and just plain helping me learn to live life here. I immediately connected in with a ladies’ group that meets at Katy’s home every Wednesday. Most of the women are from South Africa, one from Zambia. All are ex-pat wives like me. Some of them go to the new church we attend as well.
Where to begin?
Cila is a young woman Don has hired to oversee the workers at the plant. She worked at the Rogue plant that was there before. Rogue made high end leather safari hats. She is pregnant and due on Sept. 23rd. She has been instrumental in getting us settled here. We swear she personally knows everyone in Mozambique. She has amazing connections and got us internet and DS TV in one day- something that normally takes months. She connects us with everything we need- even fresh pizza dough for our brick pizza oven. She is honest and truthful. She is kind and giving. She is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She barters and battles getting us a good price on what we need. She is our personal translator as well.
Alberto is the caretaker of our home. He is 26 and has worked on this property for 11 years now. The previous owner took him in when he was just a boy of 8 and has pretty much raised him. Alberto speaks very good English. He did have to get used to our accent (apparently we have a slow drawl). He comes to our home Mon-Fri from 7am to 4 pm. He takes care of and cleans the entire house and maintains the yard as well. He washes the dogs and the cars. He does anything we need to be done.
This is an incredible treat for me. I didn’t understand how invaluable he would be until I realized the constant daily battle here in keeping up with the dirt and dust! It truly is a full time job. Cleaning once a week just isn’t enough. For me, just doing the laundry is an all day affair. We do have a washing machine. The water trickles in and so I must fill and pour bucket after bucket of water into it to fill it up. I have learned to use this time to exercise, so I do leg lifts and squats to pass the time as I wait for the buckets to fill. NO BODY invests in a dryer. (I have discovered they do sell them and have put that at the top of my Christmas list). So everything is hung on the clothes line to dry. I have mastered this job in keeping everything out of the dirt below and hanging it in time to dry before the sun sets. It did take us some getting used to having him around all the time and the loss of privacy. It is also very weird to be called, “Boss” and “Madam” But we are getting used to it and see that he is growing to be a part of our family. He is faithful, honest, and trustworthy. Alberto is a Christian. He spends his break time reading his bible (in English). He accepted our invitation to join us in the Alpha course (a course explaining the basics of Christian beliefs) at our church, so we are excited about that. He knows the bible well and comes to us with questions to discuss. He is very bright and is studying to take exams in physics and chemistry in December. He wants to get an electrician’s degree. Don really wants to take him and use him at the factory. While I don’t know how I could live without him, I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of God’s best for him. He has so much more potential and should be more than just a caretaker.
Katie is the friend who hosts the Wed ladies bible study and the mother of the 3 children Will is becoming great friends with at church. She married Chris, a widower, 3 years ago and became an instant mother of 4 children (they also have a 17 year old daughter) and they just had baby Nathan about a year ago. Katy came to Mozambique from Michigan as an Iris missionary and worked with Heidi Baker. She left Iris to begin a ministry to street prostitutes. She, and others like her, fascinate me with their selfless devotion to God and their bravery and courage. She has a center downtown in Maputo where prostitutes who want to change can come for education and food. She also has a center out past our house that is a safe house for these women’s children. She invited me to go with her last Sunday to pick up a little 10 year old girl and take her back home to her mom in Machava. While Katie would like her to live at the center full time, her mom (a prostitute) will not allow it. Mom needs her to work around the house and to care for her when she is servicing men or passed out drunk. Thankfully she does allow Katie to take her on weekends as that is the worst time for her. You see, when men come to her mom for services, if she is passed out or unavailable, they use this little girl. The weekends are when most of the men come calling. So here I sat in the truck right next to this little girl. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I was wrecked. How can one relate to the life she must live. We took her to her home. It was a cement block structure (which means mom must do pretty well). The door was a hole in the wall, there were no windows, no electricity, no plumbing. There were 2 rooms off the main one for bedrooms, and the only furniture was a small table and 2 stools. We prayed with this little girl, hugged her, and she went in. She didn’t complain, cry, or balk in any way. This is her life and she says that at least the men bring her food.
Katy M. is another friend who also came as an Iris missionary with Heidi Baker. She is from England. She left Iris when God called her to go out on her own and adopt 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy). She has since married Emile (a South African) and had a little girl who is soon to be 3. She recently opened an orphanage called The Promise Center in Matola. She has 30 children there. It is a lovely center and her creative touches are seen in everything from its design, to the paint colors on the walls, to the colored mosquitos nets over the children’s beds. As I was going to the center with her, I got to experience first hand how she receives new children. She got a phone call from someone who had a little 3 year old girl left at their doorstep. The little girl was abused by her step-father and the mom could not care for her anymore. Earlier this year Katy suffered a brutal attack by a man robbing their home. According to the doctors, she is a living miracle and they can not understand how she survived. She is still recovering physically and emotionally, as is her husband. I was privileged to join her on her first trip to the city since the incident. We went shopping and to lunch. It was a lovely day and we really enjoyed each other’s company. We had lunch together at Zambi’s. It is located right along the water in Maputo. We sat outside overlooking the blue water, sandy beaches, street lined with palm trees, a beautiful blue sky, and a lovely breeze. I found it very hard to believe I was in Africa!
Corrie is the director of the Iris Matola-Rio orphanage near us. I am learning that these people are not just dying to self, they are stone cold dead to self in their sacrificial lives of service to Jesus. Corrie has very little and her accommodations are quite crude. Yet she loves her children (about 30 of them) and they are her life. That is not to say that she doesn’t need a break from them and this life. She comes with one of the 19 year old girls raised at Iris named Amina to teach us Portuguese. Afterwards, we either enjoy a meal together or treat them to chicken at Tubiakanga, a restaurant right down the road from our house. They only make chicken, but it is amazing!
We quickly learned that part of the reason why we received this home was to use it to bless the missionaries in giving them a place to take a break. One of our first guests were Sherri (the head nurse at Iris Zimpeto) and Matt (the tech guy). They began breathing a sigh of relief and refreshment as soon as they shut the doors of their car. They told us countless times that night how their time in our home felt like a vacation for them away from the noise, children, and problems of the center. They stayed quite late, wanted to enjoy every moment that they could squeeze out. We had lots of fun learning how to cook pizzas in our brick over pizza without ruining them. Rolling and tossing the dough as well as adding the toppings became a competition among everyone to see who would make the best pizza.
Contrary to popular belief, zebras, elephants, lions, and monkeys are not seen just sauntering around in Africa. And I have not seen a single snake yet- Praise the Lord! To see such things, one must go to a safari park. We are fortunate to have what is claimed to be the best safari park in Africa, Kruger Park, just across the border in South Africa only an hour and a half away. We took Willliam shortly after we arrived. He had great favor in seeing most of the major animals within the first hour of driving through the park. It usually takes a full day of driving to see them all.
Here at home we have the enjoyment of monkeys and a baboon named Bobby living at the guest house next door to us. William had requested a pet monkey before we moved here. As I mentioned earlier, he has learned first hand why this is not possible. When Matt and Sherri were visiting, we took them over to see the monkeys. William dared Sherri to touch the tail of one that was sitting just a few feet from her. They all looked so cute, so she did. This monkey did not like this at all. It bared its teeth and took off after her. She ran and then stopped. The monkey stopped, stared her down, and began to chase her again. She was smart enough to run to our gate and open it. Our faithful and fearless dogs came charging out and chased the monkey away.
These monkeys had been coming into our yard and would sit on our roof and in our trees eating the leaves. This drove our dogs crazy. One day while we took Will to school, one of the monkeys did not make it over the fence in time. Jack got ahold of it and a fight to the monkey’s death began. Another monkey came to help, but Rusty held him off until he retreated back across the fence. Jack dragged the bloody monkey carcass back to our front porch. Fortunately, Alberto was here to see it all, as well as to deliver the monkey back to its owners and to clean the front porch before we got home. The owners were not upset. In fact, they said this monkey was the naughty one, For the next two days, however, the mate and baby of this monkey were coming over and looking for her. Apparently when a monkey dies, they take the body and mourn over it. How very sad.
Little lizards, like geckos, are quite common here, even in your house. But this is a good thing since they eat the mosquitoes. One day a lizard was on Will’s wall. He kept throwing a box of pencils at it to knock it down. He finally succeeded, but Jack caught it mid-air in his mouth. He went running out of the room with its tail hanging out of his tightly locked jaws. After some coaxing, he spit it out on the living room floor, dead. But the tail came off. And it was still moving. I guess this is a self-defense mechanism they have to distract predators. Will refused to discard the lizard and its tail, so I had to do it- with a very, very large wad of Kleenex. I must admit that I was screaming the entire time. I guess there are some things I will have to be very brave about over here.
WHAT I MISS
Of course my children, Cassie and Brent are at the top of this list. We are so blessed to be able to easily call and Skype them. Yet it is hard to be away from them. Brent’s first day of his senior year was especially difficult for me. I was teary often throughout the day wishing I were there.
Close behind our children would be our family and friends, DC, and East Gate. We look forward to seeing you again, but even more so, to have you over here to experience Africa! So much that I see makes me think of you. One day we were held up by a mother hen crossing the road with her little chicks. I knew my fellow 3rd grade colleagues Peggy and Karen would have loved this. I think of my dog when each day I see the mangy mutt who lies in the middle of the road on the way to Will’s school. He doesn’t move and could care less about what is going on around him. Also, he would get such a kick out of seeing how they tow cars by simply tying a rope to the bumper and pull it along. As I see the little children who so need a hug, you all come to mind.
Next, I would give my right arm to have my warm cozy Ugg slippers here! Winter here is colder than you would think. The weather here is fantastic. Imagine the most beautiful ever spring day, and that is what it is like for most of the year. We will have to face the rains in November and December and the heat of January and February, but the rest of it is just gorgeous.
Materialistically, I miss…
- Reeses’ peanut butter cups and chocolate covered pretzels
- BBQ Kettle Cooked potato chips
- parmesan cheese
- fresh pasteurized milk
- Burlap & Bean and Starbucks (but we did find a café near Will’s school that sells an Indian chai that is not as sweet but very good. It will do just fine for now.)
- my electric dryer
- water pressure
- going out to buy what I want when I want it
I guess that is not so bad. I was thinking my list would be longer. We can get most of what we need here or in South Africa. We even found Hershey’s chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, and Hellman’s mayo.