A story without an ending is no good at all. Therefore, even though it has been over 2 weeks since the J-term team left Mozambique, and even though they are now deeply embedded in the second academic semester of their senior year, and even though none of their parents will probably read this ending blog of their time here (why would they- they can hear it from their own child’s mouth after all), I still have unfinished business to attend to in order to close out this first DC sponsored mission trip to Mozambique.
So this is how the story ended…
Thursday, Jan. 12th was a quiet day for us in Matola-Rio. The guys went down to the Iris Matola-Rio children’s center to repair the broken pieces of the playground while the girls stayed back with me to watch the “Mama Heidi” DVD. One cannot watch this movie without being motivated to love the one in front of him, no matter how unlovely that one may be. We then went down to the center to play with the children one last time. In the evening, we returned to the center for a prayer service. Just like they did for the team last week, the children performed their songs, skits, and dances for this new team of US students.
I could tell that everyone was impressed by their skill and were thinking, “Could this be the same group of runny-nosed ruffians who were running all over and playing in the dirt this morning?” Towards the end of the service, the team was called up front to sit at the altar while the children from the center prayed over them.
As they bowed their heads, the children from the youngest to the oldes went up and laid hands on the team members and prayed. These children do not just lift up a simple, “Bless this person” prayer to Father God and move on. They pray fervently over each and every person. I am always taken aback to see their little faces transformed when they pray. They show that they truly believe God hears and answers their prayers and they take this time very seriously.
I don’t believe that one member of the team left that altar with a dry eye. All were touched by the presence of God that was brought on by the prayers of these children. I then was able to hand out pencil boxes preciously made by the third graders at DCCS.
At the end of the service, the women who care for the children at the center treated us to home cooked samosas and dumplings and soda.
On Friday morning, I took the team to visit the Promise Center. Here they received a tour of the center and then had time to sit and play with the children. We returned home to await the arrival of the other team who was coming from Zimpeto. It was fun to reconnect and be together for the rest of the day and evening. We went out to the church they had built around 4:00 for a dedication service. It was exciting for the first group (who had built the foundation) to see the finished product.
The sign designed by Jordan and Amy and painted by Tara and Linda was presented.
Team pictures were taken in front of the church.
We then headed in for the service that was led by the man who will pastor this new church, Pai Sitoe and his wife. Everyone was attentive.
He will also have help from Pastor Paulo and Mama Helena. Songs, prayers and the Word of God were lifted up and shared in Portuguese and Shongun and thankfully translated into English for us.
About a dozen Mozambican men, a dozen women, and two dozen children joined us. The kanisso provided a rather cool place to worship in despite the hot afternoon temperatures outside. The reeds allow for a most welcome breeze to blow through the room. After the service we headed back to our home for a brai (South African term for barbeque) in which we were joined by some of the Iris missionaries. After everyone ate their fill, Jimmy and Linda (two of these Iris missionaries) led us all in a period of worship and praise. It was a wonderful time to end the trip- lifting up and glorifying God for who He is and all He has done. We concluded the evening with a time of heartfelt sharing about the trip and what impacted us during this time.
Most of us went to bed since we had an early wake up call, but a few did head off to the pool at the guesthouse for a late night swim.
The team left on Saturday to return home. The bus pulled out right on schedule at 6:00 am. It was not at all easy for me to see them off after the time I had shared with them and spent getting to know each person. The fact that my own two children, Cassie and Brent were on board just made it all the worse.
They made a side trip through Kruger Safari Park on their way to Johannesburg Airport. The guide with them told us they saw a male and female lion by the riverbed, rhinos, hippos, the usual game (zebras, giraffes, warthogs, impalas), and elephants (one which tried to crawl in the back window!). They made it to the airport in plenty of time to check in and board their plane home. After the two full weeks they spent here in Mozambique, I am sure they appreciated the 16 hours of flying time to catch up on their sleep and to process all they had seen and done.
Now I am left with two reminders of their time here. One reminder is the loads of laundry on the floor to be washed- clothes, sheets, and towels plus shoes, sunscreen, etc. left by the team- all will be donated to those less fortunate. The second reminder is the multitude of children who greet me at the orphanage asking where the “visitas” are and if they will be coming back. The team was so loved by these children and they will be greatly missed.
Until we meet again next year.....Goodbye from Mozambique. May all who traveled here be blessed with a new appreciation for this wonderful land and people.