Friday, December 7, 2012

Uncomfortably Comfortable

We're back from Mozambique and I'm getting back into the swing of life, back into the regular routine, back into the common comforts.  These comforts include nothing short of hot, fresh coffee made every morning, daily warm showers for as long as I want, food from any restaurant that I desire at my fingertips, and the list goes on. I have it all here.  St. Louis is my oyster.  For these things, I am grateful.  Because of these things, I am comfortable.  But in light of this journey, it's hard to put these comforts into a larger global context when so many people around the world lack basic needs.  We met lots of hungry people for whom a meal at any restaurant would be an extreme luxury.  We met people who had no clean water to drink, much less hot coffee every morning.  I'm left asking what I do with this uncomfortable feeling that I have around being so damn comfortable all of the time.  Some of it has to do with giving, and serving, and choices, and living differently, and advocating.  It's a struggle that I have every day, and it's a struggle that I share with all of you who identify with how Christ modeled life on Earth.  Born in a stable, living without a home, loving unto's a high and difficult call.  It all feels very uncomfortable if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Church in Mozambique (by Linda Harris)

Sunday, November 4

Arriving 45 minutes before worship at the Jerusalem UMC, a small group of people was still gathered to welcome us with songs and dance. It seems it is never to early, or too late in the day to extend radical hospitality to guests no matter how inconvenient our schedules might be.

Sitting under the shade of a tree we had the opportunity to visit with members of the sustainability project committee. As Missouri begins to reduce salary grants for pastors in Mozambique, sustainability projects will help the church to generate income to support the salary and ministries of their church.

The Jerusalem UMC is beginning a Simbile Pole project. Simbile poles are the main structural support in building many of the homes and roadside shops found here. It is the "Home Depot" of rural Mozambique. Missouri has funded a loan for the church to help this project begin. The shop will not only make poles available in a community that has to travel some distance to purchase them; it will also help the congregation generate income to support its ministries. This church community has limited cash resources. Their weekly offering averages about $10 U.S. Their Simbile Pole project will make a significant difference in the future of this church.

But the Simbile Pole project has not taken the place of extravagant generosity in this congregation. In worship our hearts were touched to witness even the smallest of infants being taught to give as mothers brought them forward with a coin in their tiny hands to place in the offering basket.

Traveling down a narrow rural path through a beautiful valley with newly planted field waiting for the rainy season to begin; Mango trees dense with ripening fruit and Coconut Palms ready for harvest we arrived at the Bethlehem UMC. More than 150 people poured out the front doors of the church to sing greetings in the name of Jesus. Even though we had come to meet with the Safe Water Committee and Sustainability Project Committee; most of the congregation waited for some hours after worship to greet us.

Clean water began to flow at this church just a few short weeks ago. It was a joy to celebrate and see this new well. The well means the church can offer clean water to their community and it gives their church a new opportunity to invite people to meet Christ.

The church has also received a sustainability loan to begin a pig project. There is no place nearby for people to purchase pigs so not only have they "cornered the market"; they are taking the initiative to support and grow their church into the future.

Driving on to Jogo UMC the safe water members of our team met with church committee members to look at a well situation that has been difficult. Currently there is a less than adequate well in the community that does not produce enough clean water to meet the needs. Thankfully the bore hole for a new well has been drilled. A new pump will be installed in the next weeks and once again the church will be able to offer living water to their neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ.

The church presented us a wonderful gift of the fruits of the community; Papaya, Garlic, Sugar Cane and new to us all, Monkey Oranges. Cutting one open revealed a fruit that was a strangely colored jelly like mass. Not all of us were brave enough to try a sample!

Bumping and jostling our way along what wasn't much more than two tire ruts in the sand we arrived at that Magumbane UMC. The pastor and lay members had just returned from a two-day district conference. Their bags were still piled up by the door. With no time to unpack - they took time to greet and meet with us.

Baby piglets ran squealing through our feet as we toured the churches pig project. This sustainability project began in June and in just a few short months now the first pigs will be ready for the market.

Walking the dirt path down into a beautiful valley the team pumped water at the well that provides clean water to this community.

After a long day our team along with our colleagues from Mozambique stopped for something cold to drink and a wonderful time of laughter and fellowship.

What a joy it has been today to see and share in the amazing ways God is at work in the people and churches in these communities.

In Christ,

Jerusalem UMC:

Belem UMC:

Magumbane UMC:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Glory of God (by Tim Rosenbury)

God's Glory is in full evidence in the world -- sometimes you have to look for it. And other times God's Glory looks at you, face to face.

The faces of those whom we've encountered today are clear marks of the Glory of God. Certainly we see it in the faces of children. But we've seen God at work in a rural hospital in Chicuque, a remote church near the Indian Ocean, and in -- of all places, one might say -- a United Methodist District Conference.

Hundreds crowded into the church at Arnaldo Guibunda UMC for a District Conference. Roughly two dozen pastors are attending the three-day conference. Business was suspended for our arrival, and we were welcomed in a jubilant song accompanied by hand clapping, drums, wood blocks, sticks and even a referee's whistle. Our team was introduced to much applause, and afterward, the District Superintendent dismissed us to a congregational song equally jubilant as the one we came in with.

The church at Sahane is a model of what the Mozambique Initiative is about. We went to observe their new well and to learn what the church is doing in their community. And what a vital congregation! They have a herd of work cattle, are starting an egg-producing chicken coop, and are considering applying for a micro-loan to purchase a plow and wagon that the bulls can pull. Laypeople serve in various teams to oversee these operations, and in the past few months, the congregation has grown by four families.

The hospital, founded by Methodist missionaries a century ago, may appear to Westerners as a shabby, antiquated compound of simple shed-style buildings in the middle of nowhere. But to a population of a half a million Mozambicans it represents hope and health where both seem to be in short supply for many. The 11 physicians on staff clear 4,000 cases a month, with treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and hernias the most frequent. 300 babies are delivered each month in the two delivery rooms.

In this part of the world the Wesleyan system is very much alive, providing a strucutre for doing good Gospel work for the Glory of God!

Written by Tim Rosenbury

District meeting and children at Arnaldo Guibunda UMC:

Sahane UMC:


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Micro-finance in Mozambique

One of the major issues that we are exploring while here in Mozambique is the idea of micro-finance projects, aka sustainability projects. It is the goal of the Mozambican United Methodist Church to help communities become self sufficient and strengthen local economies in the areas where our churches are represented. Our visits to these churches up north were intended to show us some of these projects and find out how the success of these projects might continue to grow.

What is so difficult about many of these is that these churches literally have no economies. There is no money to be spent. There are no banks. They are so remote, so removed, so impoverished that transactions using currency often just don't happen. So, how do we help pastors and their communities become self sustainable in this scenario? Our meetings with the conference leadership today and tomorrow are to help us think about these issues and come up with ways for churches to be able to support themselves. In the meantime, these churches are working diligently to come up with ways to be productive. They are raising chickens, and selling kerosene, and making bricks. It's amazing to see these communities at work and it's a blessing to come alongside them and assist them in finding ways to feed their families and grow their churches.

Baking bricks in the North:

A chicken project at Maratane Refugee Camp:

Location:Rua Paiva Couceiro,Maputo,Mozambique

Monday, October 29, 2012

Around the table (from Yvi Martin)

Sitting at the dinner table tonight on the Ilha de Mocambique, with four talented, passionate, faithful colleagues, I was reminded again of the sacramental experience at every table. After 3 full (full would be a gross understatement) days on the road visiting churches and sharing worship and meals with Mozambican congregations in the northern districts of the country, the five of us reflected on all that filled our minds.

Around the table, Americans and Mozambicans see one another face to face (and a Skype connection isn't necessary). At the table, we can pose questions that invite honesty and vulnerability. Over a shared meal, big thoughts have room to rise and imaginations spark possibilities for a new way forward.

The blessing of this partnership between Methodists in Missouri and Mozambique is so complex and full of possibility that it threatens to overwhelm any individual mind. But as Ezequiel shared with us tonight, when we come together at the table, it is not so overwhelming. The impossible becomes possible.

This may just be a table on a porch at a hotel on an island in Mozambique, but it is a holy table. The table is where the Spirit of Christ does great work. It is humbling to sit here together tonight.

Yvi Martin (MI team chair)

Sarah and Yvi, adorned with Mozambican gifts!

Children at Nampula UMC welcoming our team.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Road to Nampula

We are safe and sound in Nampula after a long, bumpy, middle-of-nowhere journey through the Niassa and Nampula districts. It was a 12+ hour drive on some of the worst "roads" you've ever seen. Actually, we're probably insane for even attempting such a journey, but the visits to churches were indescribably amazing, the company was astounding, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world! Here are some highlights with more thoughts to come once I get some much deserved sleep:
The mountains in Malawi:

Cuamba UMC and a Bible delivery - Bibles from Morning Star UMC in Missouri:

Lurio UMC:

Malema UMC:

Macedonia UMC:

Beautiful Mozambique:

Stay tuned for stories to follow!


Thursday, October 25, 2012


A blog post just doesn't quite do the day justice, but I'm going to try to sum up the experience anyway.
After a 3 hour drive heading North from Blantyre over rough, dirt roads, we finally arrived at a small, open air clinic in a rural village called Chikweo. We got out of the car, and roughly twenty moms were waiting to have their children screened for severe malnutrition by the Project Peanut Butter crew. We had 3 new children who met the criteria for severe malnutrition, 3 that were returning for continued treatment for severe malnutrition, and 3 that required additional emergency care for other illnesses and needed to be driven to the hospital immediately. One child was so ill that he couldn't lift his head and could only barely open his eyes - he was suffering from paralysis of some sort but he has never had the luxury of seeing a doctor...until today. All of us sat misty-eyed and broken-hearted, speechless and prayerful.

What was truly magical about today was that those 3 children who returned for treatment were actually getting better. Since the last time they came to clinic, their charts showed that they were gaining weight, growing, eating regularly, and almost eligible to graduate from the program. Beside the frightened and desperate moms whose children were headed for the hospital in critical condition sat these moms who were smiling and thankful as they saw their children become healthier over the course of 6 weeks of treatment.

I couldn't stop thinking about all of the times back home that I've exclaimed to my friends and spouse, "man, I'm starving to death" or "I'm so hungry I could die", knowing full well that in a moment's notice, I could have all of the food that my heart desired and I would probably never know real hunger. How utterly heart wrenching to see kids today, quite literally, starving to death, while realizing the absurd, over abundance that pads my life.
And so how does one contain and process this information? What are we suppose to DO with this knowledge? I don't know really, but I guess the only answer to the question of what we do, is just to DO justice. Not just to think about justice, or talk about justice, or feel good about justice. But DO justice. DO something - just like the folks at Project Peanut Butter. Give, go, serve, love, fight, struggle, care, DO. Do justice, do justice, do justice. And love kindness. And walk humbly. And maybe, just maybe, we'll see more smiling and thankful moms.

Location:Kabula Hill,Blantyre,Malawi

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


"...there is nothing but mystery in the word, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it."
--Sue Monk Kidd

It's fascinating how we can load up into a giant tin can, hurl ourselves across an ocean thousands of feet above the surface of the earth, and wake up, bleary-eyed, to a whole new land full of wonder and amazement. That's how we spent our day yesterday - thousands of feet above the world in great anticipation of the adventure that awaits us on the other side of the ocean.

Having arrived safely in South Africa last night, we are now preparing to board another plane headed for Malawi in order to visit Project Peanut Butter, a project focused on alleviating severe malnutrition in children in Africa. As we anticipate what awaits us on the other side of the giant tin can today, we assume a posture of openness, curiosity, and humility, trying to understand hunger and how to possibly address it in Mozambique. Our great task today and every day is to always be attuned to the mystery - the mystery of our faith ever-present in a world where some children just don't have enough to eat, the mystery of Christ incarnate behind hungry eyes and distended bellies, the mystery of action when it's more comfortable to be passive. We are praying for eyes to see and ears to hear this mystery as we begin our journey.

"...the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." --Colossians 1:26-27

p.s. We will be blogging during the entirety of the trip as internet access allows. I will be asking my wonderful and brilliant team members to be stepping in as guest bloggers here so that you all can hear many perspectives of this amazing, epic journey. Stay tuned for insight from all of us - Tim, Yvi, Linda, and myself!

Location:Rokewood Street,Kempton Park,South Africa

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Road Trip of Epic Proportions

In just over one week, myself and the new leadership team of the Mozambique Initiative (MI) will be crossing the ocean, heading back to Mozambique for the journey of a lifetime!  As many of you know, the MI has been extremely productive this year.  Examples of this include the completion of 12 safe water projects (with another 12 in process!), the funding and implementation of 10 sustainability projects, and the upcoming graduation of 15 seminary students. The team will be visiting many of these projects throughout the country, celebrating and documenting this work. This journey will begin with a brief stop in Malawi where we will visit Project Peanut Butter, as we search for solutions to malnutrition in Mozambique.  From Blantyre, Malawi, we will drive through the Niassa and Nampula Districts on a road trip of epic proportions.  As you can see from the map below, after Blantyre, we will be stopping at Cuamba UMC to see their sustainability project of raising chickens for meat that is in the works there.  Then we will heading over to Nampula to visit the Maratane Refugee Camp where we have been drilling a safe water well, and finally, we will drive over to the Island of Mozambique to see the historic beginnings of the country.

The new MI leadership team was voted in during Missouri Annual Conference in June of this year.  Since this time, we have been tasked with envisioning the future of the MI and brainstorming about this new chapter of ministry.  This visioning involves working closely with the leaders of the Mozambican conference, which is another major goal of this journey. During this important time, we plan to dream, vision, and build relationships with our partners in ministry in Mozambique in anticipation of some important growth and change in our ministry together. This will be a time of intentional, thoughtful work. The team will also begin to plan for an April 2013 itineration with Bishop Schnase of the Missouri Methodist Conference to solidify the next quadrennium of ministry in Mozambique.

We ask for your prayers for guidance, safety, creativity, successful brainstorming, brilliant ideas, and loads of fun as we work closely with our brothers and sisters in Mozambique for the next few weeks.  Stay tuned here for updates about the journey!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Fluid Inheritance

Last month was a successful and brilliant month for the Mozambique Initiative (MI), as we completed a record number of clean water wells in Mozambique. One of these wells was placed at the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage, where kids who would otherwise have no family, food, water, or provisions, find home. This is cause for celebration!!

Due to the fancy footwork of those who came before me and to the generous donations of a number of churches across the state of Missouri, the MI Team was able to begin working with private drillers across the country to jump start this program a few years ago. Now, we quite literally save hundreds and even thousands of lives through these wells on a regular basis. The recent success of our safe water projects is largely attributed to the foundation of wisdom and a rich network of relationships that were built long before I took the position. I am elated to report that the next generation of people who are dedicated to God's work in Mozambique are harvesting the fruit of seeds that were planted long ago. Indeed, my inheritance is beautiful to me. Click the "Contact the Misfit" link above to find out how you can get in touch and contribute.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Peanut Butter (Jelly) Time!

The new leadership team of the Mozambique Initiative (MI) was voted in by Missouri United Methodists in June of this year during our Annual Conference meetings.  We have a completely stellar group of people who are stoked to begin a brand new chapter of this ministry!!  Since this time, we have been working feverishly  to dream big and envision what the next four years of our work in Mozambique should look like.

One of the interesting projects that is potentially on the horizon is a connection with Project Peanut Butter (PPB).  PPB is a local, St. Louis based organization started by a pediatrician and researcher at Wash U.  This guy cooked up an amazing new formula to treat severe malnutrition, and PPB is now saving lives all over Africa.  The stats are actually amazing.  In literally 4-6 weeks, 95% of children completely recover from severe malnutrition using this ready-to-use therapeutic food. The project plant is based in Malawi, Africa, which borders Mozambique.  

As you probably know, malnutrition is a huge issue in Mozambique.  And we see a great potential  connection between this local project and the needs related to hunger in Mozambique.  UNICEF estimates that 44% of children suffer form chronic malnutrition, and 18% of children under five are underweight in Mozambique.  The problems are worse in the Northern part of Mozambique, which is much less developed.

The MI leadership team will visit the PPB plant in October of this year during our upcoming visit, and will be in discussion with the PPB team about how we might start a program such as this in Mozambique.  We have meetings scheduled with the Ministry of Health in Mozambique to discuss our findings and talk about ways that this might be implemented.

What are your thoughts?  Are you as excited about this opportunity as I am?!?

You might want to "like" PPB on facebook and stay tuned to the MI on facebook about ways that you can help to foster this connection!

And also:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Broken Hearts

Hearts get broken all of the time.  My dad's broke this weekend on a float trip in the middle of Nowheresville Missouri when he started feeling chest pain.  Doctors told us later that this was the beginning of a severe heart attack that nearly killed him.  Mine broke today when I saw my strong, reflective, and unbreakable daddy sitting in his hospital bed fearing for his life as he anticipated open heart surgery.  Tomorrow he goes under the knife to fix what has been broken.  

Unfortunately, there is no simple surgery that heals the kind of breaks in the hearts of my family members as they have watched the recent events is not as simple.  It's not just a clean cut, and stitches, and 6-8 weeks of recovery.  Healing these breaks requires something much more complicated.  These kinds of breaks require a vast network of community that makes meals and takes your dog out when you can't.  These kinds of breaks require text messages from dear friends from all over the country.  These kinds of breaks require prayers...and in this case, prayers not just from all over the US, but all over the world.  All up and down the country of Mozambique people are praying for my dad's surgery, and for my family, and for a peace that passes all understanding.  In languages I cannot even understand, I have received prayers.  It's not as simple as surgery, it's much more complicated and much more beautiful.

I ask for your prayers, near and far, for tomorrow.  
Prayers know no distance, and they heal a multitude of things that are broken.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

June - Whewwww

June was insane. Crazy.  Like, I-can-just-barely-keep-my nose-above-water NUTS.
The long and short of it goes like this:

June 1 was the official start date of "Sarah as full-time Mozambique Initiative Coordinator".  AWESOME...aaaannndd just the slightest bit overwhelming.  Carol (my predecessor) and I had our last week of overlap before the Missouri Methodists' Mayhem Meeting (otherwise known as Annual Conference), where Carol was honored for her 13 years of service and I was introduced to the conference at large as the new Coordinator.  There was pomp, there was circumstance, there was a huge Mozambican hut set up as a display...every time I turned around I was meeting a new person, and shaking hands with another church leader.

In addition to this introduction to the Conference, my band was asked to lead the music at the Sunday morning worship service. This was no ordinary worship service - this was the largest group I had ever played for in my entire life. From the piano, I looked out onto a crowd of 2,000ish people who were all very excited to see what the music is like at The Gathering UMC, and who were on the edge of their seats waiting to hear how rock-n-roll and Jesus make a pretty darn good mix.  I must say, it was a delightfully amazing event in every way.
I took a couple of days to rest after this whirlwind of adrenaline, and woke up bright and early that following work day.  I walked into the World Head Quarters of the Mozambique Initiative (read: my home office), and felt a sudden twinge of panic... along the lines of....OMG, what did I just do?? ...similar to that feeling I had after I got that first tattoo when I was 18... you know the one....

But then I skyped with our representative in Mozambique, got to work drilling a safe water well at the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage, and a wave of relief hit me because I knew that I was exactly where I belonged doing exactly what I love.

 Photo: The Missouri Annual Conference Mozambican chapel. Stop by and see us!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


In addition to this new gig as the Mozambique Initiative Coordinator, I am still toiling away on the dissertation and hope (plan, pray, plead) to graduate in May 2013. Data collection has ramped up to full speed this week, while previously, I had just been working on the literature review and background information.  But now (on a much more exciting note!) I am conducting interviews with young, African American women with breast cancer throughout the city of St. Louis.  I am up to my ears in new data.  These interviews involve asking intimate questions about personal history, family life, and the growing up experience, in addition to asking about the current circumstances regarding their diagnosis and treatment.   

What has struck me the hardest is the fact that when you dig, you quickly uncover tragedy, heartache, and pain just lying beneath the surface of many of these women's lives.  Before breast cancer ever came into the picture, many of these women had long since been survivors.  I have been inspired by their resiliency,  their ability to forgive, their capacity to grow and blossom under the most extreme circumstances, the laughter that has been cultivated in the midst of heart ache, and the smiles that cover me like a warm blanket.  I have been humbled and inspired by their stories.  Whether or not anybody ever has reason to call me Dr. Bollinger, I know that these one-on-one exchanges with the women in my study have given me knowledge and insight beyond what I had ever imagined.  I am changed and I am grateful.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Spice of Life

The Mozambique Consultation is a gathering of Methodists from all over the world that takes place every 3 years to discuss the state of the work being done in Mozambique. I had the privilege of attending this meeting in Tampa, Florida earlier this week. As I sat and glanced around the conference table during these meetings, I was struck by the value of variety. Germany, Brazil, Mozambique, and then a number of States including Missouri, Virginia, New York, and Texas, all had people sitting at the table and contributing. The Bishop of Mozambique, cloaked in beautiful, traditional African garb, was the focal point of the consultation. She was flanked by a spunky little Brazilian Bishop who wore Elvis Costello glasses and bright red flats. One of our friends from Germany was quite "to the point" (in a stereotypical, make-you-giggle sort of way) and kept us all on task, but his seeming rigidity was flavored by wit, intellect, and an endearing smile.

Not only did we all come from very different locations, but we each had very different skills, talents, and training. Of course there were clergy and missionaries represented among us, but also nurses and public health professionals and treasurers and architects and teachers and professional translators. Each individual had their own, unique understanding of the issues at hand and their own, unique suggestions as to how to go about addressing each of these issues. There were many points on which we didn't agree and there were times when I thought I might go batty from that special kind of exhaustion that kicks in near the end of a 14 hour meeting.

But one of my colleagues exclaimed as we walked into the room that this was our own small, little glimpse of the Kingdom of God, and truly, this was the case. We were all together, listening to each other share about how to care for orphans, facilitate malaria prevention in local villages, and provide access to safe water. We worked under a common vision, while bathed in divine grace. And just for these two days, no oceans separated us and no borders divided us. Our diversity better equipped us for addressing the tasks at hand and our differences helped us to generate creative strategies.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Thing About Numbing

Last week was a roller coaster week - the kind of roller coaster where your insides somehow get pinned to the roof of your mouth and your heart ends up where your tongue should be. One of my bestest friends in the world was here for a brief, fly-by visit. Over the course of about 36 hours, we laughed and wept and biked 20 miles and ate and drank and had the time of our lives...and then she was gone. There are no words to describe how amazing this time with my friend was. Two days later, I put my 13 year old dog to sleep after watching her slowly succumb to the dark haze of doggie dementia. That was by far one of the shittiest things I've had to do in a long time. It was a week of extremes - a wonderfully, engulfing sense of friendship and love, followed by terrible loss and emptiness.

One viable option when feeling the pain of loss this week was to drink myself into oblivion and sleep for 3 days (which I sheepishly admit that I sometimes do). But when I do this, I miss the depths of love, wonder, and awe that are just as palpable as the pain. When I do this, I sleep through the friendship and the biking through the park in the brilliant sun and the long conversations over rich glasses of wine. The thing about numbing is this - although we try, we can't selectively numb. We can't numb pain and suffering without numbing hope, joy, and fulfillment. Perhaps this isn't very zen of me, but I choose to feel it all. Passionately. Every. Day. I choose to slurp up every last drop of joy and pain and bliss and suffering equally in gratitude and in hope that I will not just live life, but that I will live life abundantly.

Friday, April 6, 2012

When Words Fail

I love language and communication. I love to talk in and around and through things, wrap words around experiences, and process, process, process.  But how in the world do I answer the question: "so, how was your trip?"  I can't seem to figure it out.
  • I can and often say: "uhhhh, good." - this is woefully insufficient, but often, it's exactly what people want to hear.  I get obligatory pats on the back and bewildered smiles.
  • I've toyed around with: "completely life changing in every way and everything about my world is different now." - this tends to catch people off guard and completely overwhelm them, leaving us staring at each other in awkward silence...not a great approach.
  • I've tried: "what trip?" while feigning malaria-induced delirium.
  • To forfeit, I say: "great, I'll have to show you pictures sometime." - of course, this never happens, but it does let people off the hook and allows them to feel good about themselves for asking.
  • For those friends who really, really, really want to know and care deeply, I say: "It was heart breaking, completely joyous, beautiful in every way, intimidating, filling, emptying, and then filling again..."  and then we sit for long hours and laugh and cry and honor the inevitable silence that comes when words aren't enough.  
All this to say, words fail.  They are mere shadows of a gigantic, looming experience that will inform who I am, in ways that I cannot even comprehend, for the rest of my days.  I ask for patience as I figure out how to process this experience, use it, and live into it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Going Home

Over the last couple of weeks, I have at times felt like a stranger in a strange land. Every place that we have visited has been new to me. All of the cities and villages we have entered are places that I have never before set foot. That is, until yesterday, when we arrived in Gondola, the site of the new Gondola Training Center. Our arrival at Gondola was a little bit like arriving back home. You see, Gondola was the site of my first journey to Mozambique in October of last year, and it was here that my team spent most of their time. And so, when I was greeted by the community there yesterday, it was kind of like I was being greeted by family.

Carol and I had the opportunity to dedicate the new dining hall that my team worked on in October, which has since been completed. We planted fruit trees around the property to symbolize all of the spiritual growth that will take place here at this center of learning. The women from the surrounding community worked under the nearby tree all afternoon, cooking us a fabulous, celebratory dinner. In the evening, the district superintendent hosted a special service for us at the church in the nearby city of Chimoio and presented gifts to both Carol and me. The day brought with it feelings of familiarity and I was wrapped in warm memories and bright hopes for the future.

Tonight is our last night in Mozambique; we fly out of Beira tomorrow afternoon. I'm ready to go home in many ways, but part of my heart remains here with this new family, in my new home. I am confident in all that God is doing here through the Mozambique Initiative and I can't wait to see how this family grows in the coming years.