We desire to bring sunshine to Africa....opportunities to allow people to realize their destinies and be released from oppression. We are starting in Mozambique with The Sunshine Nut Company. The majority of proceeds from this company will go to the poorest of farming communities and the neediest of children. Mozambique is ranked among the poorest in economic status but we believe they are among the richest in spirit. Join us in our adventure....

Monday, January 22, 2018

Miséria Sofrimento da minha Mãe

Six of our Sunshine Nut Co employees have been laboring with me on building a cement wall around the property of the house our company and caring friends in the US have provided for 3 orphaned children. It has been the best of times. It has been the worst of times. It is the first wall I have ever helped to build. It is the last wall I will ever help to build. We could not have picked a worse time of year to do this job. It is the peak of summer here in sub-Saharan Africa. The daily temperatures are 100 F with heat indexes as high as 115 F. We arrive each day by 8 am and work until 3 pm. Our two main breaks are breakfast around 10 am with a cup of tea and a fried egg on pão (Mozambican bread) and 1 pm with our lunch provided by the factory. Our lunch break is taken in the minuscule shade provided by a 12 foot tall half-dead tree. We all gather around under this sickly tree and sit on the cement blocks we are using to build the wall.

On the Tuesday of our fourth week working on the wall, I clued in on a woman yelling from the road. I don’t know how long she had been standing there by the time I noticed her. I looked around the person next to me and spied a middle-aged Mozambican woman standing in the middle of the road, looking in through the opening that will be a gate, and yelling directly our way! As I listened, it occurred to me that she was not yelling at our group; she was yelling at me! She was asking why we were sitting there eating and not offering her food to eat. I knew she was yelling at me because she kept directing her comments to “the dona”, meaning the head of the household. It was evident that she was drunk and not very stable mentally. Other people walking on the same road just passed her by without even a glance. It is not uncommon to see such a thing here.

We all stopped eating to hear what she was saying. One of the workers told her to come in off the street and talk with us. She came in and stood behind me, playing with and trying to flatten the wispy hairs around my face that had come out of my ponytail. She then came around to the front of me and sat down directly in front of me. I was glad I was surrounded by 4 very strong adult men who could come to my rescue if things were to go badly. We asked her questions to get to know her. As she answered them, she kept stroking my foot. She was a mother of 7 children. Her husband had abandoned her. She had no job. She had no money. She had no skills or training of any type to get a job. She asked me if she could do a “biscato”- a small job like sweeping, raking, washing clothes for which she would get paid. She asked again and again during our conversation for a biscato.

Her story is one I hear day in and day out. There are many people here, too many people, with similar sad circumstances. I truly don’t know how they survive! As my husband so often tells me, “Mama Terri, you cannot help every person in Mozambique.” Sadly, he is right. I have learned that I must define my mission here. I must know what I am called to do and stick with that. There is so much need everywhere. If I did try to help every need I saw, I would be ineffective, burned out, and on a plane back to the US. So I must determine in my heart that I am here to help the children and adults God brings my way. For the others, I can listen, offer encouragement, and pray. This is what I could offer to this woman.

Yet this woman’s story had a punch to it. We asked her what her name is. She replied, “Miséria Sofrimento da minha Mãe”. The English translation is not hard to decipher, “Misery Suffering of my Mother”. What mother in her right mind would name her baby girl Misery Suffering of my Mother?!?! She told us that her mother had several miscarriages. She and her twin sister were the first live birth for this woman. I would think she would have been thrilled! But I don’t know what her story was. Clearly it was a story filled with pain and suffering. The name this mother had given to her daughter had set the course for her life. She does live a life of misery and suffering.

My first response was to share God’s love with her. To teach her that she cannot live a meaningful, happy, fulfilling life without honoring God first. To redeem her name and break off the curse that had been spoken over her life. Yet my fellow Mozambicans around me (one of whom is a pastor and another is a worship leader) cautioned me to let her go. She was very drunk. She was very unstable. To approach her now would not be a fruitful effort. They are more experienced than I am. I deferred to their wisdom and let her go. We did invite her to come back and talk more with us when she had not been drinking. I prayed she would return sober and that we could share God’s love with her. But she did not. We finished our work without seeing her again. I keep her in my thoughts and prayers. God sees her. He knows her suffering. He has the answers for her. I can only hope that during her time with us, she was able to feel and experience God’s love for her through us.