Living in a third world country it is a must that you use young men in the city to watch your car, carry your bags and just be a body guard like when shopping. These young men are all over the place desiring to be chosen as the one to help to earn coins to pay for their school, food, clothes or their family. I love how God puts these certain young men into my life to help, minister and to love.
There are 8 fella's that we use on a regular basis.
Joaquim and Fei Fei are the two teens that we use when we are in the center of the city buying food and fruits at the open market, having a cup of coffee, exchanging money or just shopping for whatever the needs are for the day. When we saw them for the first time this year they both had grown a head taller than what I remembered from last year and they looked worn and torn. Their smiles were big and it was obvious they were glad the Americans had returned. They wanted to know how our families were and if we were in good health. They practiced their English and we our Portuguese, now that is a challenge!
We shop at Shop-Rite for groceries like cheese, yogurt, frozen chickens, peanut butter and Coke Lite. All of these American type so called needs. We are so spoiled in America when it comes to our food and what is available. Did you know that 80% of the world is dying from lack of food, and the other 20% is dying from too much? This is crazy! I see the starving while I live here half the year and as soon as I walk into the United States I have to brace myself for obesity!
Monterrio and Jose' are the two men who help us at this store. Jose' is about 28-30 years old, tall, deaf and dumb but has a way of communicating! His joy is overflowing each time he sees us and he squeals with excitement when we are getting out of our cars. Hugs and hand shakes of welcome are his gift, he has a language of love and never says a word. Monterrio, is a very small man in structure with birth defects. And he too is full of excitement when we drive into the parking lot. They both help us park the car, direct traffic for us to get in and out, push our cart, helps us pack the bags of food and then escorts us out to the car protecting us from beggars and thieves.
Monterrio'a handicap is a short stump on his left side and his right side has an arm that stops before his elbow with 3 fingers. Each time we bag groceries I watch him in amazement at how he manages to get this done. He lives about 15 klms from where we live in Dondo so after bagging our food he always wants a ride home and we accommodate him. One day last year he wanted us to see the mud house he was building by himself! It was amazing! Seriously, I stood there with my mouth hanging wide open at what he had accomplished with one half arm and a stump. We gave him a little money for a door to help and yet today, he still does not have a door and it is cold at night. While we were shopping today, he asked for some corn meal to take home, how do I say no to this? Isn't this what supporters want me to do with what they give me?
Then we have Johnny and another man who is deaf and dumb and no one knows his name that I have found. These two men watch and wash our car at the beach. Johnny is crippled and uses one crutch but he can scatter to our car in a split second when he sees us approaching from a far and he too with this enormous toothless smile. Both guys take good care of us, helping us park and get back out onto the busy road.
And finally the two guys that I see first when we come into the country and who we see very last, Tomias and Antonio. These two young men are married and have families. They work as porters at the airport. I always look for them when I walk into the airport, they are waving and smiling, wanting to help with our bags. Having other Americans come in to stay with us on a frequent basis, I get to see these two fella's often as well. I tell them the days I am going to be at the airport and they wait for us and have a parking place ready to keep the cars, wash them and I even give them the keys and let them clean the inside.
I find myself thinking about how fortunate I am to know each one of these guys and a little about their lives and their stories. Knowing them has changed my life. I know that they have been placed before me to serve them, to help them, to mentor them, to speak the name of Jesus to them and to be an example of the light to them. There are boys and beggars everywhere here, I could have chosen hundreds of others but God had these 8 fella's for me to love. They are part of my ministry. They have become part of my life. They are a basic need for me when I am in town. I love to bless them with more than what other's do. I love to bless them so their quality of life can be better for a bit of time. These 8 are great!
"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother." Deuteronomy 15:7
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Each day I believe that the people that God puts before me is for a purpose. Maybe to shine my light, the speak life into their hearts, to minister or encourage and some to just bring into my life to love as family.
Back in 2007 I spent 6 months in Mozambique finding my way around the culture, around the land and becoming part of what God called me to here. During this time I spent many days visiting with the children at the pre-school in a near by village. The village population is about 19,000 people and spans a rather large area with mud houses and several small markets throughout. The interesting thing about this particular village is that an estimated 7-8,000 people in this village are witchdoctors. This makes for a very dark culture.
Sitting right in the middle of all of this darkness is our Ray of Light Pre-school. Each day I would try to visit the children at the school and build relationship with the future generation of leaders being developed. This is when I met Batman. So you asked, “how did he get the name Batman?” This little fella would run up to me each time I came to the school and he would woo me with his smile and his Batman t-shirt. It became more of I wanting to visit Batman, than anything else. He definitely had stolen my heart. His smile, and hugs were just exactly what I needed to get my grandbaby fix.
I didn’t think about it at first, but then realized that everyday I saw him, he had on this Batman shirt. I thought, doesn’t he have any other shirt than this one shirt? You know, I really didn’t understand what living in poverty meant. Batman had on this shirt every time I saw him because this was the shirt he had. This was it. That’s all. No other shirt was good enough to wear to school. I sobbed at the thought of this precious child having only one shirt for school and my grandchildren having a closet and boxes stored of clothes that they owned.
This little guy is learning about Jesus at our Pre-school. God put Flavio (Batman) and now his entire family before me to love, encourage, pray with and become their Big Mamma. Flavio now has several outfits, his mother has a bible, she is going to school at night and they are all learning English. We sit together at church as a family on Sunday nights and this is good.
Today Flavio, his mother and brother, Aquila came to show me his school papers and how well he is doing in school. It was a moment for a grandmother to be proud. I encouraged him with his schoolwork and pointed out how great his artwork was. He smiled. I don't have much Portuguese yet, but a smile and a hug, and kisses can go a long way here. I love Flavio and how God put him in front of me one day a few years ago. I am happy I can watch him grow into a man step by step.
"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11
Monday, May 17, 2010
We have been in Mozambique now for 5 days and it seems like a month. It has been a pure delight to see the faces of those we love and work with in the Project. Val and I both knew that coming back we would have to face the fact that Zaira would not be here and we were not looking forward to going to her house but we had to. We needed to see, and smell, and touch the things that belonged to her. We needed to see the children and love on them like they know we can and most importantly we needed to grieve with Zito her husband. We needed to take another step of closing the door on that season in our lives and move on with this family in hand.
As we drove up to the house the spirit of a woman living there was gone. All of the busyness of washing clothes, and gardening, going to the well for water, all of the paths that Zaria would take were missing. I walked around the house to where we had planted a papaya tree last year to make tea for malaria. It was growing but the tea would be too late. Where the corn once was grown was a small field of weeds and small trees starting to come up. The living fence was in disarray and was becoming overgrown. The stand that we had built for her business to earn extra money to save for vitamins for her fragile daughter Noemia was empty and all of the food was gone. The path to the well was overgrown as it was not used as frequently as she would go to the well for water and baths each day. That was an empty feeling for me. I walked around and tears filled my eyes tumbling down my cheeks again asking, "God why?" It doesn't take me long to remember that God doesn't make mistakes and this was part of His plan. I know that Zaira is dancing in heaven and waiting for us all to come and meet her someday. She wins, she went first to be with the Lord.
Val knows this feeling of losing a spouse to death. We walked to the car at the end of our visit and turned back to the house and looked and said, "things change when people die." We both left feeling like we are about to embark on a new season. We are encouraged with what God is going to do.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I'm leaving on a jet plane and will be home again soon in Dondo. One week from today I will be sleeping under a mosquito net on a foam rubber bed. I will be hoping that we have water and electricity and that our cell phones work. I know that the first few days we will be so excited to see everyone, visiting with our family Zito and the children, hugging the Piepers, the Cessito's who are the national leaders and all of the loved one's we have made our extended family.
This week Val and I are trying to spend as much time as we can with my parents, seeing the kids and their kids and saying our farewell's to our MBC family and supporters. Life is so good in America it doesn't take long to get back into the routine of living here because it is so easy. It doesn't take long to make a plan to go out to eat, go to a friend's house to hang out, eat anything under the stars and watch a movie, or go to one.
What we will find when we return to Mozambique are the smiles of our loved one's who have found hope in Jesus. We will find at least one less of our friends. We are trying to figure out what it will be like to walk to Zaira's house and she not be there to greet us, and kiss us and love us. We are trying to picture the look on Zito's face when he sees us for the first time without his wife. We are longing to hold the children and wonder what are they thinking because they too knew how special Zaira was to us.
We are praying for a time of grief to be short and not a distraction to what we need to do once we are there. God knows, He holds each one of our tears in a bottle. And Zaira..... she is dancing on the streets of gold. Waiting for all of us to come and join her praising our Savior and King. Amen!