Family events and a busy schedule kept me away from Mozambique for most of this past summer. When I am here in Mozambique, I miss America. When I am in America, I miss Mozambique. I have resigned myself to the fact that no matter where I am, I will always be in a state of homesickness. As I was away in the US for so long this year, I started getting too used to life there…being with my children, family and friends…indulging in all that is good…relishing a life that is predictable and planned. It was so easy to settle back into life as I once knew it.
And while I yearned to return to Mozambique, when I arrived here, I was not so sure I was ready to face life here again. On my first day back, I wanted to hole up in our home and not go out. I wanted to just stay inside and cry for what I missed back home. But I knew that was not a good idea at all. So I made myself get up and go out. I reluctantly pulled out of my driveway and had to literally force myself to close the front gate behind me and continue down the road. I said a prayer, pushed on the gas pedal, and went on my way. And God met me right then and there.
As I turned the corner at the end of my street, I spied a random middle-aged man walking along the road. This is so very normal here as most people walk everywhere. My eyes were drawn to his, and his eyes locked with mine as I drew closer to him. Then all of a sudden, he broke into a huge smile and waved to me like we were best friends. My heart was immediately filled with happiness, and I thanked God for this gift.
I drove to Berta’s preschool where all the women in the surrounding village came out to greet me and told me how much I was missed and asked why I had stayed away so long. The thought hit me…I was missed! I entered into Berta’s Preschool where I was literally swarmed by at least 40 little children who chanted my name as they hugged me to the point of almost knocking off my feet. Berta came out and cleared them away. She turned her attention to me. Her face lit up and she welcomed me with the biggest ever hug. This all had occurred within 20 minutes of leaving my house! The day continued on like this as I went from place to place. I was received with such love. A love that filled the hole in my heart.
I drove around from place to place most of the day. As I did, it was like a walk down memory lane for me.
I had forgotten how tired a person can look.
And then I saw how sweet was a baby’s face as it peeked around at me from his mommy’s back.
I had forgotten the smoke that stings your eyes and fill your nostrils.
And then I remembered the smell of freshly baked pao (Mozambican bread) at the bakery.
I had forgotten the over-stuffed vans that carry people around like they were cargo.
And then I saw little girls dancing freely along the streets.
I had forgotten the sight of garbage lining the streets, overflowing onto them in many places.
And then I saw the care and pride that people take of their little homes that you and I would be devastated to stay in for even just one night.
I had forgotten what it was like to see men and women picking food out of garbage dumpsters and eating it. Food that I would not even give to my dogs!
And then I had the privilege of gifting a man picking spoiled food from my garbage can in front of my home with a bag of fresh fruit and bread and water.
I had forgotten the hopeless look in the faces of the poor sitting around with no work, no opportunity, no dignity.
And then I had the privilege of holding a recently abandoned two year-old girl until she fell asleep in my arms.
I had forgotten what it was like to see children in tattered clothing and mis-sized shoes that were either too big or too small for their feet.
And then I had the privilege of buying a pair of shoes for a brother and sister who had none.
I had forgotten the irritation of being pulled over by a police officer and interrogated for no reason at all.
And then I was able to surprise a police officer doing legitimate work directing traffic in the middle of a busy intersection on a hot day with a Coca Cola to thank him for his service.
Life here is hard for everyone. Yet it is a good life. It has its up and its downs, just as in every other place. But there is something very, very special about life in Mozambique. Something that makes you feel like you are making a difference. Something that makes you realize you are needed and wanted. Something that makes you feel just plain good at the end of the day.
Every time I have to say goodbye to visitors who have come to stay with us and experience Mozambique, I feel so very, very lucky. They have to leave. But I get to stay here. In my beloved Mozambique.