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.
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