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!