Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mozambique Journal Day 6

August 12, 2015

Had to be up early this morning to meet Augustino and activista ladies from the church to walk for what seemed like 15 miles, going from house to house to visit people who are apart of Project Life.  The people in the program are sick or dying, so there are a group of women (activistas) that go every morning and visit these people and pray with them and help meet any needs they might have.  Most of the people we met with weren't super sick.  Everyone was very nice and welcoming and offered us food.  There was one woman that was HIV positive and had been battling tuberculosis for months.  She had a head wrap on and took it off for us to see cantaloupe sized masses on each side of her neck.  My hypochondria started to set in a little at this point.

We then walked to the church to pick up a bucket of soup to carry over to the local hospital.  There is a preschool at the church and all of the kids were playing outside.  They literally attacked me when I walked through the gate.  They all wanted to hug and touch me and rub on my white skin.  They were laughing and pushing each other out of the way to get closer to me.  Apparently white people are super interesting to kids here.

 We grabbed the soup and went to the hospital.  There is two buildings next to one another, children and adults.  Each building has 4 rooms with 6 beds per room.  It was dirty and smelled like the worst nursing home you've ever been in.  The mattresses were stained and there were little mosquito nets covering each bed.  There were only 4 kids admitted there today, 2 of which were just a little sick, 2 that probably won't make it.  The patients aren't given hospital gowns so everyone is in their own clothing that they showed up in.  I never saw a doctor or nurse.

In the adult building, there were probably 20 people or so.  A few of which would not make it out of there alive, several others who probably had malaria.  Pastor Augustino would talk with each person and find out what was wrong with them.  Since there aren't accurate ways to diagnose people, they all just said they were very sick.  He would read a passage from the bible and pray over them and then we would serve them and their family members soup, as food is not provided here either. 

I have never felt the need for a hot shower more than I did after leaving the hospital today.  Project Life is a wonderful ministry....just not the ministry for a hypochondriac.

We came back to the farm house and Natalia had cooked butternut squash, coconut rice and fried chicken.  I wish I could bring her home with me.  My poor kids never get good food like this.

This afternoon Manuel picked me, Christa and Afonso up and we headed to one of the families who are waiting to get a Green Door home.  One of my ideas for Green Door is to have a video interview of each family.  That way I can take those videos to people I know and hopefully get lots of sponsors.  So Manuel wanted me to do one of the interviews so he would know what I'm looking for. 

We pulled up to Pedro Sande's mud hut, one of the worst I've seen here.  He is older and disabled, was sitting on the ground in front of his home.  His wife, Lucia, was with him and several of their family members.  Pedro and Lucia have been married for 57 years, he said that Lucia was his greatest gift from the Lord.  They had 10 children, 5 of which had died and now they care for several grandchildren.  I asked him what their biggest hardship was and he said hunger, never knowing when his next meal would be.  I asked him what the biggest challenges were living in his home.  He said that there were always repairs that needed to be made, and he couldn't keep up with it anymore.  That the mosquitoes were bad, malaria is the number one killer here.  Then he said something that took my breath away.  He explained that during rainy season, which is coming up, a lot of times their homes flood and they have to sleep standing up....but he can't stand up.

I asked him if there was anything he'd like to say to me?  He asked what my name was and couldn't pronounce it, nobody can here.  I told him he could call me whatever he wanted, so he said he'd call me Nana's name.  That's when I promised Pedro a house and he started singing hallelujah and waving his hands in the air.  Manuel told me I couldn't promise people here things.  I will not be able to sleep until Pedro and Lucia are resting comfortably in a Green Door home.  To think there are thousands of other stories like his.  So much work to be done here, so much work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mozambique Journal Day 5

August 11, 2015

What a day!  This morning was my morning at Tessa Grace.  I got there at about 8:30 and there were women and babies everywhere waiting to be seen.  Tessa Grace is right next to the clinic where people in the community can be seen and receive meds for very inexpensive.  At Tessa Grace a certain number of children, ages 0-2, can come weekly to get the care and formula that they need.  Most of the moms are HIV positive, or the baby is in the care of a relative due to parents death, and they need formula that they cannot afford.  There is a bible study, singing, baby weighing and a visit with the clinic director to receive formula for the week. 


The director gave me a quick tour of the clinic and Tessa Grace, grabbed a weighing contraption, hung it from a beam on the porch, gave me a pen and paper and told me to weigh all the babies and give the weight on paper to the mom.  So, thankfully all the moms knew what to do and started taking all of their babies clothes off and putting them in these homemade slings.  Imagine a cloth diaper with a long strap attached.  They put the baby in the diaper and hang them on the hook attached to the weight and they dangle in the air until I can get an accurate weight.  I did my best to get accurate weights on all of them, then introduced myself and told them why I was there and prayed over them while they waited to be seen.

We moved to the office where the women would come in two at a time and would be asked a few questions about their baby's health and make sure that they were gaining weight.  Then they were given an opened can of formula.  The reason for opening the formula is because a lot of the women would sell it instead of give it to their baby.  If the can is open, no one will buy it.  Lots of cute babies came in and out and I held as many as I could and asked all the moms their ages because all the women here look so freaking young.  Well, it's because they ARE all very young. 

I thought we were all done when they called back a mom, Maria, and her 1 month old twin boys that had been waiting.  I asked to hold them and she seemed very relieved to not have take care of them for those few minutes.  The clinic didn't have room for any more children, but Maria explained that her husband doesn't work, so there isn't much food, so she wasn't making enough breastmilk to feed her twins.  The director made an executive decision to let them in to the program based on the fact that most twins don't make it here and they take priority.

Maria started answering questions to get put into the system.  When she was asked what the boys names were, she pointed to me and told me to name them.  I thought there was a translation problem.  I must have looked very confused, so the director explained to me that apparently it's very common for women to wait awhile to name their child.  They don't discuss names before the child is born because so many babies die during childbirth.  Then the parents think a lot of names are associated with evil spirits, so to Maria, I was a christian and could not possibly give her boys names that could ever be linked to evil.  I quickly wracked my brain for biblical names that I had heard here and decided on David and Joseph, strong men of bible.  As she continued on with her mundane paperwork, my tears started flowing.  Partly because it was one of the most precious moments of my life, partly because Maria looked so sad and hopeless.  She didn't look at those boys like they were a treasure, she looked at them like they were a burden...and they were.  She didn't need anymore kids.  She was 39 and had 3 other children at home that she couldn't provide for.  I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay, but I would be lying.  I did tell her that if the twins wanted to attend El Shaddai when they went to grade school, that I would sponsor them to go.  She quickly said her other children hadn't graduated preschool, so she doubted these boys would go to school either.  Then we gave her rice and beans, formula and bottles.  She put one newborn on her back and the other on her 6 year old son and they headed home.  Surreal.

(Fun fact about twins in Africa...whoever comes out last is the big sibling because they had to be the strongest to push the first one out!)

After Tessa Grace we came home for Natalia's beans and rice.  OMG.  I'd put them in my top 5 best meals ever.  For realz.  It's buttery rice with red beans, green beans and carrots.  I can't even tell you how delicious this was.

Around 1:30 Braxton drove me and Max to El Shaddai school so I could assist Max in teaching his English classes.  On the way down the long dirt road that leads to the school, we passed a chubby little boy that saw Max and started yelling and waving, "Hey Teacha"!  We had to stop and give him a ride and I hope I never forget him running his little heart out to the truck with the biggest grin on his face you've ever seen.  He sat by me and giggled the whole way there.  I knew he was the next kid the Hubby and I had to sponsor. 

El Shaddai is beautiful.  Several modest concrete buildings with a playground set among the most beautiful landscape I've seen here.  Kids are everywhere, they all seem super happy.  The classroom size was large, 30-40 kids.  We taught 2 classes to 8-10 year olds.  The kids are wild!  Lots of talking, little listening, many giggles.  Very different than American schools, but they are here, which is great.  If they come and absorb half of the lessons and learn to read and write, they are ahead of most of the population here.  We worked on basic words like please, thank you, breakfast, lunch, dinner, hello, goodbye, good morning, good afternoon and goodnight!  Their accents are adorable!

Max and I had a long walk back to town and he told me how he came to know Christ and how he started working for Children's Relief.  I could talk to him for hours.  His joy, passion and energy are intoxicating.  He is going to do great things.  Everyone should have a Max and Afonso in their lives.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mozambique Journal Day 4

August 10, 2015

What a day!  We left early this morning to go to the Bush.  We drove a 20 year old truck 20 miles and it took over 45 minutes to get there on a very bumpy and dusty road.  Manuel is over Green Door and church planted there to minister to the poorest of the poor.  To set the setting...there is probably 200 church members, over 100 being children.  They walk up to 2 miles to come to church and had to miss a day in the fields to come to this special event at the church where there would be a food distribution.  These people haven't seen much rain this year, so their crops aren't doing well, which means they don't eat consistently.  We pulled up to the church building, literally in the middle of nowhere, and you could hear the singing from inside probably a mile away.  There were a couple of men playing on makeshift drums and about 5 women on the stage singing and dancing their hearts out.  The church was packed and very energetic.

Pastor Manuel had to eventually stop the music, or they would have continued for hours.  He asked the children to go outside with Christa and his wife to have bible stories and playtime.  He called me up to speak to the adults.  I told them about my family and why I was here.  I tried to give them helpful tips for marriage and parenting.  How do I explain what a healthy family looks like to women who think their husbands beating them is a sign of love?  To men who have multiple wives and families?  To parents who don't have a relationship with their children?  I read some of my favorite scriptures and spoke about love and respect in a marriage.  Tried to articulate how to be relational and intentional with your children and how they are looking up to you and watching what you do, even when you don't think they are.

After I spoke, Manuel opened up for questions.  Most of the women had more prayer requests than questions.  From the woman that desperately wanted a family, to the man who's children didn't obey him or go to school when they were suppose to, to the woman who took in her husband's second wife's children when she died, to the woman who feels like her husband treats her like an animal, to the woman who hides going to church for fear of her husband beating her to death.  It's impossible to express how hard every aspect of these people's lives are.

Once the questions were over, they pulled me on stage and made me dance with them.  I don't even know what to say about?  There's a video floating around somewhere that shall never be posted.  Then the women gave me a capallanna and told me to wear it and think of them.  Most people here have expressed that they don't feel like anyone cares about them.  That's mostly true.  We create so many "problems" of our own, that it's hard to care for someone across the globe that has actual problems.  I will never forget my time with them.

We left and visited one of the two Green Door homes in the Bush.  The man of the house had a hand disability.  Him, his wife and baby were found sleeping under a stick tent.  He recently was given a home.  I asked him what the biggest blessing to come out of having a home was?  He said, "I'm 27 years old and for the first time in my life, I can dream about my future."  He dreams about one day having furniture in his home and having a place to raise his children.  Something as simple as a $2200 house can make the BIGGEST impact on a family here.

We headed back to church for lunch.  The women had made us rice and boiled chunks of a whole chicken.  It looked a little scary, but actually tasted great!  I talked in depth with Manuel about ideas for marketing Green Door.  He is so nice and receptive to anything that would make this ministry better.  He talked about his vision for the future of his church, how he'd love for it to one day be a school for the children here.  Such an inspiring man.

We left and visited the other Green Door home there which belonged to a set of grandparents that had lost all of their children and were taking care of 7 grandchildren.  Because Green Door homes have inheritance papers, he knows that his grandchildren will be okay when him and his wife die.

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping in town and grocery shopping in the only grocery store near by.  It was actually really nice and you could find just about anything you needed there...including a decent wine selection!  We came home to Natalia's spaghetti which is noodles, vegetables and a little tomato sauce.  It was delicious.  Braxton, Todd, Christa, Afonso and Rafa ate here and then I made them affogato for dessert.  They loved it and I'm pretty sure I am now their favorite American ever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mozambique Journal Day 3

August 9, 2015

It's Sunday here.  I am tired.  Couldn't sleep last night from coughing, it's really dusty here.  We got ready and headed to church.  Church here is very different, but the same.  Everyone kind of wonders in over the course of an hour.  There is a lot of singing, dancing, praying, preaching, praying, preaching and more praying.  My sweet translator, Max, did his best to keep up with the sermon.  It became very hot, very quick because of jammed packed building.  My capallanna made my legs sweat, how do all the women wear these things?  I got teary a few times taking in the fact that God is universal.  That we sing the same songs, to the same God, on opposite sides of the world.

After church I basically grabbed a fat baby boy out of a moms arms and did not want to give him back.  I'm pretty much obsessed with black babies.  He stunk and had a runny nose and slobbered all over me and I could not get enough of him.

Then we headed to lunch with Ercylio and Ana.  Ercylio runs Spark of Hope, which combines sports with teenage boys who don't have stable families, or families at all.  They do bible study with them and teach them how to be Godly men, make sure they're going to school and help them get into college through sponsorship.  Ana is the daughter of Pastor Jeranamo and Noemia.  She is definitely not the normal Mozambican woman.  She is strong willed, not a fan of most of the customs here and refers to her dogs as her babies.  (which is absolutely ridiculous here)  I loved her.  She's in school to open labs that can do blood tests for numerous conditions here so that people can receive proper treatment for their illnesses.

They told me about their relationship and how he didn't love Jesus but came to church every week to see her.  She didn't give him much thought and moved to America for a couple of years to attend school.  When she came back, he came to her and told her that God told him to marry her.  She laughed and said that they must pray to different God's because he hadn't told her that!  He eventually won her over and he had to pay a huge dowry for her.  Noemia was so mad that Jeronomo had asked for a dowry because he hadn't even paid one for her.  So, during the process Jeronomo paid Noemia's parents a dowry so she couldn't throw it in her face anymore!

We headed back to the farm house to get ready for evening church and there was no electricity so we ate Nutella sandwiches on local bread by candlelight for dinner.

Evening church was a lot shorter than morning.  Jeronomo and Noemia's little girl sat in my lap most of the time.  After church I asked her to count and she did in Portugese and then I started counting in English and she would yell one, two, three, four, five, eleven, seven, nine..etc.  Just like Henny and Robee do.  Adorbs.

Late night of popcorn, chocolate, African wine and deep talks.  I found out tonight that I am the guest speaker at a church in the Bush tomorrow, so I should probably figure out what I am going to talk about.  Yikes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mozambique Journal Day 2

August 8, 2015

Busy day!  Slept great under my little mosquito net although it was very cold in my room, it's winter here.  I left with Max and Afonso to walk the town we were staying in. 

Children's Relief had set up meetings with 3 people that had received Green Door houses.  The first guy, Narcissio, was super nice.  He is young and told me a little bit about how he came to know God.  When he was younger, his dad would send him to church with money for the offering box.  He kept telling his dad that he was going to church when really he was taking the money to go and have fun every Sunday.  One day he decided to actually go to church and the message that was spoken that really resonated with him and he accepted Christ.  He got involved in the church and now leads worship on Sunday mornings.  His mother was very ill and he was the only one caring for her at a young age, so he received a green door home through the church.

We walked a bit further to the next house of a man that lived in a small mud hut with his mother and several brothers.  He had a friend ask him to church a few years ago and when the pastor asked if anyone wanted to stand and accept the Lord, his friend nudged him to stand.  His life completely changed, he became involved in the church and received a green door house next to his mom.
The area we walked through all morning was terribly poverty stricken.  Way worse than anything I experienced in Ethiopia.  Most people live in mud huts, the size of my laundry room, with their large family.  Everyone sits outside by a fire to cook, eat and get warm.  There's trash everywhere and kids younger than my 3 year old are running wild throughout the streets in soiled pants because diapers are too expensive.  Chickens and roosters come into the peoples homes at night so they don't misplace any of them.  Everyone is trying to sell something to make enough money to feed their families that day.

The last house we visited haunted me the most.  It was a 12 year old boy wearing girls clothing because a robber had stolen all of his.  He had jiggers all over his feet and ankles that make walking extremely painful.  He lived with his grandmother because his mother had died and they didn't know where the dad was.  He didn't speak much, but did say that he would love a bike because walking to school was very painful so he missed a lot.
We then had a long walk back where I got to talk in depth with Afonso and Max about what families and marriage look like here.  Most men get their girlfriend pregnant to make sure that she can give him children.  When he gets tired of her or when she stops having kids, he takes on a second or third wife.  He cannot support all of his families, so he usually picks one and the others are left to take care of themselves.  The marriages aren't relational and parents aren't relational with their kids.  Makes sense that I haven't seen a single mother show any type of affection to her children.  Most adults don't believe in God so they don't teach their children about him, the cycle just continues generation after generation.

Our afternoon was our fun day.  We went to a really good restaurant on the beach.  Todd had his friend, Tomias, come to give me his testimony and plans for the future.  He told me about how he was working at a clinic where a woman came in and was very sick.  They gave her meds and she left.  (Mozambique clinics don't know how to properly diagnose anything other than HIV or malaria, so most illnesses are just a guess)  Two days later, she came back, and was even more sick than before.  They gave her different meds and learned that she had walked over 8 miles to get to this clinic.  Tomias offered to take her home and she died with him before he got her home.  It was in that moment that he decided to become a doctor and open clinics that are more accessible to people and where they will receive good care.  He has 3 more years of med school and interns at the local hospital from 7am to 1am almost every day.

After lunch we did a little sidewalk shopping and then I got to skype with my babies.  We headed back to the farmhouse and made egg sandwiches on fresh, local bread.  Tomorrow is church day, can't wait to experience church here.

*Sorry for the poor picture quality.  Only had room for my old iPhone.