Sunday, April 28, 2013

Far-Flung Family

I have never, in all my life, been to a location as remote as where we were yesterday. In order to reach the small, satellite churches of Inhassunge UMC near Quelimane, our travel plan was downright insane. The Inhassunge area is completely isolated, blocked by an ocean and rivers on three sides. To reach these villages, we rented motorbikes, which were loaded onto a very full and precarious ferry boat. After crossing the river on the ferry among throngs of people, we arrived safely on the other side, unloaded our motorbikes, and headed into the jungle. We drove for a good hour, passing coconut groves, vast rice fields, and trees full of wild monkeys.

We have drilled 4 wells in these tiny communities, and it was my job to see to it that they were complete and water was flowing. I wanted to hear stories from the people who had received this water in order to learn more about their lives. My big plan was simply to listen and learn.

When I arrived, I was curious to see if this group of United Methodists had any context for a blond girl like me. As I polled the group, not one of them knew where the United States of America is located (let's not even bring up the state of Missouri), and only three had ever seen a white person in their lives. I was a spectacle to behold. Their kind-hearted and curious stares were evidence of our differences.

I say all of this not to point out how adventurous I am (although, truly, this work takes a "Dora the Explorer" kind of attitude), but to say that in this tiny village, so far from home, where I looked completely out of place, I was among family. I was welcomed into the lives of these beautiful people who share the faith that I call my own. We share the same gospel, we work for the same purposes, and our hope is in the same God.

On this epic day, we shared stories and laughed. They showed me their homes and how they cook their meals. They showed me how they collect water, and how the new safe water pump works. I learned how rice is harvested, dried, and shelled. I learned about my brothers and sisters, and I am a better person today for knowing them.


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