Final Moz Post…Guest Writer…Nunu!

Every morning over the last two weeks, I’ve woken up to get on Facebook to check this blog. When I met John last year, I could tell that he was a deep and thoughtful person. So, I wanted to see what his thoughts were on our ministry, The Widow’s Might, and life in Mozambique. I hope you found John’s stories as interesting as I did. The main thing I want to talk about are some of his expectations and confusion about their mission trip.

Growing up in an orphanage, I’ve watched many short-term mission trips come and go. In John’s blog Day 1315 Benny and the BratJohn talks about what most people do on mission trips, painting churches, vacation bible school, passing out Bible tracts and compelling people to follow Jesus…I’ve seen all of these things and many other so why didn’t we have the Packs do these things?

The plan was for John and his boys to help with construction on a small block building with 2 classrooms and 2 offices. When the time came, John felt it best to let the builders build, so he and his boys moved blocks to where the builders needed them. This took them less than 2 days.

In 2016, The Widow’s Might started by entering 25 kids in school. We wanted to get to know the families around us and become, for most, their first Christian friends. We wanted to build relationships and earn trust; these things take time. Slowly we have introduced the gospel and this June I shared with 60 kids about my faith in God and made sure they knew that Jesus is why we are here.

Our goal is to introduce people to Jesus through daily life while helping with education and life skills. Our village is our focus. For this reason, when visitors come, we try not to make a show. If every time we had visitors come we handed out gifts (even useful ones like hygiene products) or did anything we don’t normally do, it looks like we are here to celebrate visitors or make visitors out to be like Santa. While each group of visitors brings different skills, our ministry must be consistent. If you visit us anything we do with you in our village, we would also do if you were not here.

One of the things people like to do when they are on mission trips is bless people, I’ve noticed those blessings often come in the form of things. Toothbrushes, soap, shirts, shoes, beans and rice… things. This can create “fake” friendships and what we sometimes refer to as a culture of expectation.

To be clear, there are times we hand things out, mainly for Children’s Day and when school begins. Sometimes when we see great needs, we have someone privately deliver something, but we do it as quietly as possible and with no cameras. We feel this way helps people to maintain their self-respect and dignity.

We want locals to be excited to meet our visitors as people, not because visitors bring gifts or leave things behind. Of course, there are exceptions to this; not everyone in Mozambique has this motive, but it can easily build when things are handed out at the wrong time or in the wrong way.

You might think this means we are against short term mission trips, but we¢re not! Our ministry is young but the Packs are the third to visit. We encourage people to come to Mozambique for several reasons, but two mean the most to me.

Each year we come to the States to talk about the ministry and fundraise. Even if you heard us share a couple of times, you wouldn’t truly understand the needs and what village life looks like in Mozambique. It’s not until you walk out of our gate, down a dusty road to our neighbor’s house, and are greeted with smiling faces that you get to see real life, and the reason God has called us here.

We love having visitors come to see what the ministry does, who we are trying to reach, how our team works here in Muxara, what life looks like in a village and so many other things. We do our best to share all of this during our visits to the States, but nothing ever compares to a first-hand experience.

Amanda and I are human; being missionaries doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Missionaries struggle, get discouraged and have to battle feeling alone. It’s not always easy. So when someone wants to travel 30 or more hours to spend a week or two out of their place of comfort, we are encouraged before they even say one word. With each set of visitors that have come, the one thing they have left behind for us is encouragement!

One of the things that surprised me about reading Johns blog was that he was confused about why he was here. When I read this passage, I paused for a moment and thought to myself, ²if John knew how much he has already encouraged me, maybe he wouldn’t have written this.²

Amanda and I are expecting our first child in November and so it was interesting to see John and Rebecca parent their boys. I loved how they interacted with their kids, I loved the words and phrases John often used when talking to his kid. Things like “buddy,” “dude,” “What’s up,” and “What you got for us.” It was cool to see the Packs joke and tease each other, because this is not common in Mozambican culture.

I enjoyed all of my car rides and talks with John. I had fun talking to him about so many things but especially the gospel. It was clear and encouraging how passionate he is about Jesus. His opinion was good to hear, he was always very direct and I liked this. His passion for Jesus and his strong opinion meant that he boldly spoke about things like leaving a legacy to his kids that is Christ centered, his love for Jesus and the gospel in action.

Just think a family of five, flew 30 or more hours to come visit 2 missionaries, a few workers and 30 to 60 kids (depending on the day) just to teach baseball and share about how much they love Jesus. It was easy to see this on our first day playing baseball as John and Decker patiently taught each kid to wear a baseball glove and throw. As Eli hit the first ball, even showing how you can strike out. Indiana looked into Silva¢s eyes and spoke English, convinced he understood every word. All while Rebecca cheered for the boys and took pictures to remember the day the Pack¢s introduced baseball to Muxara, Mozambique. Did you notice, they didn’t hand anything out, except for their love of Jesus. That is the gospel in action.

Thank you so much for joining the Pack’s on their mission trip to Mozambique, we hope you were as encouraged as we were! If you would like to stay updated on our lives and ministry, you can sign up for our email newsletter http://eepurl.com/ho6x6 or follow us on Social Media.

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Sincerely,

Nunu

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Days 16-18: The Long Game…

It’s 9:03 pm. I’m sucking on a Green Apple Jolly Ranger and drinking tea. We had tuna noodle casserole for dinner, I took a deep smell and then looked at Nunu and said…”This is what America smells like bro!”

This afternoon, we all got together for a final debrief before heading towards home tomorrow. Amanda, once again was thoughtful, even taking time to put an awesome slideshow together and played it for us so our memories would be jogged for the reflection time.

She asked us several questions but one still has me thinking.

“What’s one thing you’ve learned?”

I think I’ve learned a dozen little things, not just about foreign missions but about international travel, parenting, husbanding, staying in someones home for two weeks, going with the flow, relying on Gods word for insight, seeing the beauty in things that don’t seem beautiful at first…as Bill would say, ” we could increase the list ad infinitum.”

So far though, albeit very fresh and not having had much time to breath here goes…

I’ve learned about the beauty in the long game.

As a first world brat, I find that many of my problems can be solved and several of my desires can be satisfied by simply opening my wallet and throwing cash at a thing. Before we left for Moz I had a very direct conversation with Robert the pool guy. I said…”Robert, I don’t want you to spend all summer again chasing one little thing after another and then finally coming to the conclusion that we needed a new pump all along. Please do whatever you need to do to get this pool crystal clear and working properly by the time we get back and let me know how much I owe you.” See what a brat I can be! But seriously, you can throw cash at a swimming pool and it will get crystal clear, relatively quickly.

Problem: Green Pool.

Solution: Hand my open wallet to Robert the pool guy.

Result: Crystal clear pool.

Here’s another one…

Problem: John has an enormous bald spot that makes him self conscious.

Solution: $40,000.00

Result: ACTUAL HAIR THAT GROWS!

It’s absolutely amazing what money can do.

It’s equally amazing what money CAN”T do.

Things like investing in the lives of women and children in a small town in Mozambique, hoping and praying for opportunities to to share the Gospel along the way and believing that these little boys will grow into men that love Christ and share his love with others.

Way better than fixing swimming pools and bald spots!

Thing is, all the money in the world doesn’t get it…just time.

The long game is beautiful…

I’ve been watching a few of my favorite people play it for the past couple weeks. Little by slow, they build, they teach, they learn, they pray, they invest, they wait…they repeat.

The long game takes faith…

This adventure is nothing short of crazy without faith. These people are poor, relative to American standards but let me tell you, they are seemingly less miserable than most people in line at Starbucks for sure. They could teach us a thing or two about contentment to be sure. The only thing of real substance that this diligent trio has to offer the people of Muxura, is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now please don’t hear that at the wrong volume. The Good News is, in my view, best preached with actions not bullhorns. It’s heard “little by slow”, one day at a time. The Gospel shines through as Amanda learns Portuguese and Emakhuwa so she can better connect and come alongside the women. It shines through as Nunu walks the dirt roads of the village checking in on everyone and showing compassion as they hurt. It shines through as Latino pours into these kids so that they do well in school. See, in this predominantly Muslim village, Amanda and Nunu and Latino are The Jesus People of Muxura and look what the Jesus People are becoming famous for…connecting, teaching, loving, investing…I think all of us “Jesus People” would do well to be famous in our neighborhoods for such things.

It’s all about the long game…

I’m sure there is more to this wonderful story, just not tonight:)

By the way, thank you for coming along on this journey with us. It’s has been a joy to dig deep at the end of the day and extract the story for you. It has helped me to be more reflective and more open to what God is doing inside me. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

In a few days, Nunu is going to be a quest blogger here so that you get a chance to hear from him in person. It has been an absolute joy getting to know this guy and I’m excited for you to hear from him.

See you tomorrow,

John

PS. Here are a bunch of pics from the last couple days, scroll over them and they are captioned. Enjoy:)

 

 

 

 

Days 13-15: Benny and The Brat…

When believers go to third world countries, they are supposed to paint a church, run a vacation bible school, pass out bible tracts in the town square, hang mosquito nets as we pray over the children, COMPEL PEOPLE TO FOLLOW JESUS…right? That’s what I always thought, but here we are, in a third world country and none of the above have been on the itinerary. Instead, we’ve mostly hung out with our friends Amanda and Nunu, doing life with them, the way they do life. In fact, tonight for dinner we had DELICIOUS spaghetti with fresh tomato, tomato paste and a packet of “Benny”, a chicken bouillon that is used like crazy here. They intended to put canned tuna in it as well but I wrinkled my nose soo incredibly rudely at the mention of it that they graciously withheld it. When I heard tuna, it hit me sideways and I got a terrible image stuck in my head. Turns out, Africa hasn’t sucked the spoiled brat out of me completely…

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I’m not sure what I’m getting at other than confessing to you that I’m carrying some guilt, surrounding what we haven’t done on this trip, probably because of all the assumptions I made about what a trip like this is “supposed” to look like. I’m probably talking too soon about it because honestly, the more accurate emotion is confusion. Confusion because I feel deep inside me that God himself prompted us to come to Mozambique. Moreover, I’ve felt on several occasions since arriving that God has used Rebecca or one of the kids or even me, to remind Amanda and / or Nunu & Latino that God loves them so very much, that the work they are here to do is critical and beautiful,  and they are not in this alone. Wow, when I look at it here in black and white it makes more sense:)

Day 13 was Sunday. It truly was a day of rest. Late in the morning we all headed out to the Mango tree where Amanda had a really thoughtful environment all set up for us. My family and hers, sang some worship songs together and she shared a few words, and then she asked us some questions about our experience so far. She asked what has surprised us the most about Moz and what we think God has used the experience to teach us so far and a few other questions like that. Finally, Amanda asked us to take a few minutes to write a prayer, or a verse that we’d like to bury on the perimeter of the property, sort of like a prayer fence. Amanda and Nunu have done it as well as other visitors they’ve had so it’s a bit of a tradition. We all shared what we wrote with each other and then put them into old ketchup bottles and headed out to the lot were we have playing baseball to bury them. The whole thing went a long way towards reeling things back in and refocusing on Jesus. After this we spent the day at the beach and Rebecca and I continued to talk about the things Amanda helped us unpack in the morning. It was a great day.

Day 14 was yesterday (Monday). This was the beginning of the big “vacation” getaway of our trip. On this fine morning, we set out to the other side of Pemba where we were supposed to be meeting up with a boat that would take us on the final leg of the journey. Prior to parking the car near the water, we drove around Pemba for a while as Amanda and Nunu shared what they new about different neighborhoods and buildings, sharing stories as we went along. Eventually Nunu pulled over and went to have a conversation with a man standing in front of a rusty gate. Before long he jogged back across the street and assured us that we were in the right place. The old man opened the gate and we drove in and through to a small area behind a house right on the beach. Admittedly, it was a really strange start. Nunu parked the car and three super thin, super mangy dogs crept out from behind things to have a look at us. Their ribs were visible and they all had open sores on their ears and shoulders that were being swarmed by flies. It was quiet inside the car, none of us knew quite what to say…so we just stared at these poor dogs. Finally Amanda said that it felt like were on the set of an ASPCA commercial and that comment seemed to give us all permission to breath and speak to how disturbing the sight was. Now we needed to get out of the car and get ourselves, our bags and the kids across the parking area and through a small gate and out onto the beach. One thing at a time… At this moment, we just wanted to make sure the kids didn’t touch the dogs as they looked very sick. Thankfully, a man wearing a shirt displaying the name of the place we were headed appeared on the scene. He said something to Nunu and then reached in and heaved our largest duffle bag onto his shoulder and started walking…we did our best to follow. We successfully made it onto the sandy beach and were immediately greeted by dozens of local children. One little girl not older than 6 just walked up along side me and slid her hand into mine as I walked, like we’d always known each other. The simple gesture melted my heart…and broke it, in a single second. So much was going on in this moment. All seven of us and our stuff were walking across the beach and towards the water, presumably to the small wooden boat that was about 2 football fields out into the water. Sure enough, we hit the waters edge and kept right on walking. The tide was out so the boat had to be quite far from the shore in order to have enough water to float. Ankle deep for a while, then shins, then knees…made it! We hopped into the small wooden boat and the guy that had been leading us grabbed a 12 ft long bamboo pole and started pushing on the ocean floor, guiding the craft out to deeper water. Once we got to 3 or 4 feet of water, the other man fired up the 50hp Evenrude outboard and we were off!

The ride was short, about 20 minutes. Apparently we could have driven as well but it takes 5 hours. Same story on the destination shore. The boat stopped a long way from the shore and we had to walk through the water in order to get to the steps leading up to Arti Pemba Lodge. Literally, steps came down all the way into the water and we walked up and onto a beautiful landing covered by a tiki style thatched roof. At the top we were greeted warmly by a white lady with purple pants and a floral print shirt. She reminded me of home, like someone you might see through the window of a State Farm insurance office on Main Street, happily typing away at her desk. Once we all made it to the top and onto the landing, she introduced herself officially, with a thick South African accent, and motioned to a small table she had prepared. On it, there were 7 small chrome goblets. In each goblet, was ice cold pineapple juice, about 2 ounces. We all tipped them back and off we went on a quick tour of the property and then to our bungalows. Everything was just right. Every inch of the place seemed to be put together as thoughtfully as the goblet table we’d just enjoyed. Vacation feelings were rising up in everyone. Easier smiles, slower strides, eager faces on the kids. Lunch was waiting for us in the outdoor restaurant and since we were the only guests on the property, there was no wait:) We had beef lasagna. It was very good. I’m not sure what kind of cheese was used but not ricotta. I think it may have been cream-cheese inside and mozzarella on top because it was incredibly creamy.

From lunch until dinnertime, Rebecca and I and the kids decided to venture off on a little hike to the beach on the other side of the island. It turned out to be a longer hike than anticipated. From the time we left out bungalow to the time our feet hit the white sandy beach was one hour. I suspect it was about 1.5 miles. We were moving at a pretty slow pace as Indiana had some pretty serious blisters on his heels from the water shoes.

The beach was awesome. 80 degree water and big powerful waves. I even went in! I walked out until the water was up to my waist and just waited. The very first wave that came, knocked me right to by behind and then proceeded to suck me under for a moment. I stood up and planted my feet, determined to overpower the next one. In it came and with all my strength I was able to remain standing…but the next one got me again. I’ve been thinking about it all day, how powerful the ocean is. Reminds me that how “tough” you are depends on who you ask. Sure, ask your kids and they’ll admit that your tough, but ask the ocean and she’ll answer your question by simply putting you on your rear-end.

We played for a while and then headed back in time to relax for a while before dinner. There was a nice dog and her two puppies running around the property so the little guys were in heaven. Decker went out in the kayak for a little while.

Dinner was even better than lunch. Rebecca, Amanda and Decker had filet of beef. The rest of us had fresh fish and prawns. Good music playing softly, ocean in the distance, broad smiles all around. A night to remember.

Off to bed after dinner and then up early for breakfast at 8:00 am. Simple scrambled eggs with fresh tomato and eggplant on the side…and a grilled hot dog wiener?? Weird.

Snorkeling at 10:00 am. Crytal clear water, beautiful reef, lots of fish. The water was so calm, even the little guys got to participate and had an awesome time. I’m thankful their 1st snorkeling experience was so positive. Craziest thing was, there were thousands of jellyfish all around us, knocking into us, sticking to our masks. Dude took one and rubbed it all over himself to prove they were harmless and sure enough…they were harmless.

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Back to the lodge for lunch, grilled half chicken and fries…again, really good.

The boys played with the dogs and farted around in the hammock for a couple hours and we finished our time by watching them kayak out in the bay. They did a great job and had a super time.

Promptly at 3:00 pm, we were warmly sent off by State Farm lady and made our way back onto the small wooden boat, headed for the shore across the way. As we approached the shore, the contrast to where we had been for the past 24 hours was far more obvious than when we’d left. The beach was tired, strewn with trash and people, hundreds of people… but none of them vacationing. We made our way across the beach and back to the lot with the mangy dogs and out onto the road without incident.

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The ride home was quiet, I think we were all mostly just looking out the window and noticing the difference between our normal lives and this one once again.

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Finished the night with Monopoly, Spaghetti, Showers…and this post.

See you tomorrow.

John

 

Day 12: Baseball & Building Supplies

It’s 7:59 pm. Amanda made tortillas from scratch and we enjoyed a fajita feast for dinner, complete with garlic chicken, avocado, pico de gallo, rice and lime. A labor of love indeed.

I spent some time under the mango tree and then we headed over to the field for our 9:00 am appointment with 66 kids! The typical Saturday routine is that they come over and Nunu and Latino share a Gospel centered teaching or bible story with them, then they have kool-aid and finally a soccer game. We did the same thing this week except we substituted baseball in place of soccer. They did so good! After watching Sandlot last night and playing with us last weekend, they showed up this morning ready to go. Like I said, we had 66 kids so we made up 4 teams and had 2 games. They hit the ball harder, made more plays at first base and I think, had even more fun. What a great way to start the day.

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Nunu and Latino sharing the Gospel

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These kids don’t know it, but it’s nothing short of a miracle that these guys decided to go “all in” on them. They both pray hard and study hard and work hard…and then love these these kids towards Jesus…”little by slow” as my friend Frank would say.

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Africa…The real Sandlot

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After the big games, Nunu and I headed out to procure 21 long timbers to be used as the main roof supports for the building. We went to 4 different wood guys looking for a deal and finally found a guy willing to sell them to us for 750 mets each rather than 800. The total savings we enjoyed by finding the guy willing to deal was 17.50 us, and every dollar counts when it’s ministry dollars that are being spent. Nunu lined up a friend that has a truck and a bunch of guys to meet us at the lumber shack. This guy rolls up and his guys hop out and make light work of loading the truck. They had a really easy going way about them, like they were great friends having fun as they worked, pretty cool. I asked Nunu how they were going to fit in the truck after it was loaded with our lumber and he just smiled and said “watch”. Sure enough, they did what they do and off we went. We stopped at one other lumber place to grab some smaller timbers and then back to the house.

Pretty quiet afternoon until dinner. Kids played with a local kid named Silva, Rebecca read a couple chapters of Harry Potter and we had dinner.

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Indiana, Eli, Silva Sword Fighting

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I’ve been accused of sometimes talking just to hear my head rattle so in the name of self-awareness, I’ll leave you with good night…and some cool pictures:)

 

See you tomorrow,

John

Day 11: The Sandlot, Mozambican Premier!…

It’s 9:12 pm. I’m drinking unsweetened iced tea. Rebecca brought Liptons Tea Bags from home cuz she’s awesome like that.

I woke up late, like around 8:00 am this morning but so did everyone else in the house so I was still able to sneak out to the mango tree for a little while before things got moving. It was warm even in the shade, and the breeze off the ocean was like a natural fan blowing at just the right speed. I smoked a Nicaraguan puro, 60 x 4.5 like a Nub, but not a Nub, ash held on till the very end. While I was reading, Nunu came along and handed me a little yellow pouch tied in a knot at the top. He told me it was local tobacco, that a lady in the village grows it and sells it. It’s not for smoking, it’s for chewing which is fine with me:)

As the kids begin getting dressed and moving, they all seemed a little hung over from the long day at the beach yesterday, especially Indiana. Every time I turned around he seemed to be spitting mad about something one of his brothers did or said. Now don’t get me wrong, his brothers are more than capable of pissing him off but this was different, Indy was looking for a fight. What he got instead was lots more hugs from Rebecca. We’ve been gone a while and I think he’s feeling it so some grace was in order. Late in the morning I took the boys out to the tree and read Harry Potter to them for good long while, it seemed to settle everyone down. Rebecca was hanging cloths on the line while I read, it was nice.  After that, Rebecca read to me for a good long while from a different book, while the kids played. I can’t remember the name of the book but she’s gonna read me the whole thing. It’s a book about food and moreover, about how food connects us more deeply to each other, and to God. She read the introduction and forward, I can’t wait to get into it with her.

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We had beans and rice again for lunch. At home, beans and rice seems like such a side dish but here it takes center stage and more and more I understand why. It’s inexpensive, contains basic nutritious sustenance and is really delicious when made with love and let me tell you…it’s made with love here. As a frame of reference, Decker even gobbles it up…nuff said.

After lunch we all headed out to do lots of running around. We went to the market to buy some authentic fabric and then brought it to a tailor so he could make some clothing for us to take home. So awesome! We also bought some hand made keepsakes like baskets and such and Amanda bought some 4′ x 6′ wicker mats to put out on the ground for kids to sit on for our this evenings festivities. From there we headed into the old downtown area of Pemba to buy big bottles of fresh water and then we waited while Nunu ran in to buy some binder clips to hold the sheet in place for this evenings big event. Our next stop was the vegetable market where 17.00 us bought us about 8 full bags of fresh fruit and veggies. Mostly normal stuff except this fruit they have here called a custard apple. It’s pretty ugly but the soft custardy inside tastes like a smoothy made from banana and pear. Also, we got some local bananas, smaller than ours, and better. Same texture but there is a slight tang to them that is really delicious.

On the way home, our final mission was to find some fresh crabs and Amanda and Nunu were confident that the guy we saw on the side of the road on the way to the veggie market was our man. They were right! Dude had dozens of crabs. We bought 30 live crabs, probably 20 pounds for 50.00 usd.

We bolted back to the house and got the water boiling for the crab along with beans on the stove and mac n cheese…a feast indeed. While dinner was being made, we were also getting ready for the 40 or so kids that would be burting through the gate in just a little while. Amanda had the GREAT idea of using a projector we brought from home to show The Sandlot on the side of the house for all the village kids. I also took the opportunity to show a little bit of the 2005 world series cuz ya know….WHITE SOX BABY! Amanda made a garbage can full of popcorn and Nunu made a 5 gallon bucket full of cola flavored kook-aid…yes you read that right…COLA FLAVORED KOOL-AID. The kids has a wonderful time. Lot’s of smiles and laughs. I can’t wait to see if all the baseball cinema changes the way they play tomorrow since we’ll be having another big game starting at 9:00 am. Speaking of which, I should get to bed.

See you tomorrow:)

John

 

Days 9 & 10: nZuwa, The Widows Might, Man-Child Finally Plays…

It’s 4:30 pm and I’m not smoking a cigar OR eating anything and no…hell hasn’t frozen over I’m just full:)

I was up at 5:30 this morning because I was eager to spend some time with God as the sun came up from behind the Indian Ocean. It was a breathtaking site, and a rich time with God. Psalm 104 was the passage I connected with. It’s all about the precision of it all, the perfect thoughtfulness. The psalmist rattles off detail after detail to validate his claim that God is in fact, “Very Great”. I look out at the sun rising and acknowledge that a little further away and I’d freeze yet a little closer and I’d burn to a crisp. The truth stares me in the face, no religion required.

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So far I’ve mostly shared what we’ve been doing with our days here in Mozambique. I feel like the why, is coming to me little by slow…but it is coming.

It would be an understatement to simply say I was overwhelmed by all that is true about this beautifully broken place. Each time I thought my mind was wrapping around a thing, I would learn about the other side of the conversation and stand corrected, and a bit confused. At a glance, I look out at the seemingly obvious need all around me and my 1st world brain computes solutions and opinions and judgements, as if I were here for the purpose of sharing my precious brand of reasoning with all who had ears to hear. I’ve sincerely tried to catch myself as my ego runs amuck in this way. Instead of spouting “you ought ta” as my shallow epiphanies surface, I’ve instead worked on asking more questions and trying to get at the “real”. For the most part, it’s as you would guess. As it relates understanding what’s broken, how best to help, and who or what is to blame… I suppose there are more questions than answers.

One thing I have learned though, is this…My friends Amanda and Nunu along with their trusty sidekick Latino, are in fact, part of the solution.

When we first arrived and I got the lay of the land, admittedly, I was having a bit of trouble truly understanding “the mission” of The Widows Might. As Amanda talked about the things they were doing and the things they hoped to do I kept finding myself wondering where the bible tracts and toothbrushes were. Aren’t missionaries supposed to just bring God’s word to hurting people…and help with hygiene? OF COARSE NOT, but that’s the shallow ignorant image I’ve mostly carried in my head all these years.

Anyhow, I’m long past any reservations I may have had and have officially fallen in love with what God is doing through this faithful trio.

The three of them met about six years ago at an orphanage here in Pemba. Amanda was there on missionary assignment with the Dream Project and Nunu worked there in leadership. Latino was a 15 year old resident.

Amanda and Nunu fell in love and ultimately got married while serving at the orphanage…

Like most great work, The Widows Might is a response. A response to their collective experience at the orphanage. They came out of that season knowing beyond a doubt that an orphanage upbringing isn’t ideal, even for a child living in severe poverty, if that child has parents or stakeholders that love him at home. The Widows Might has a hope to empower the women of Muxura by helping them develop skills to make things, and then bring those things to market. This presumably lifts them out of poverty to some degree and takes the idea of their children getting a “better life” at the orphanage off the table. The women see the promise of daily rice and beans along with access to school at the orphanage and can’t help but think their kiddos would be better off. TWM exists to get in the way of this thinking by helping women rise economically to a place where they don’t have to entertain such morbid options. In addition to coming alongside women in this way, they are running a robust tutoring program in the village in the hope of building a culture over time that places a high value on learning. Under girding these two important pieces of the puzzle is the advancement of the Gospel itself. I’ve had a chance to connect deeply with Nunu on several occasions now since I’ve been here and I’ve been blown away by his passion for Jesus, and his ability to make friends in the village. As we walk down the dirt paths, kids are calling out to him with waving hands and parents stick their heads out to smile and wave. He’s able to come to these people where they are and talk to them about life…and Jesus.  Also, he’s a sponge for knowledge. As we were driving into town the other day and talking, he was quoting A.W. Tozer and asking me if I had read Craig Groeschels’ new book. This morning I found him on the beach reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis! He is truly uniquely made for this work. A native Mozambican, gifted in pastoral ministry that speaks the major languages as well as English who is married to a feisty white girl with a passion for helping these women and a best friend (Latino) that is reliable and brilliant and beautifully in Love with Jesus. The whole thing causes me to yet again, stand in awe of the precision in all of it.

Ahhhh, it felt good to share all that with you, I hope it felt good to read it.

For the last couple days, we been at the beach relaxing at a resort called nZuwa Lodge. It’s only a few miles away from the village but it feels like a million miles. It was wonderful. We’ve eaten good food, the boys have played until they are totally exhausted and Rebecca and I have had a moment to breath in the ocean air and process everything a bit. Amanda, Nunu and Latino were with us as well which made for an even better experience.

Lastly, I’m happy to report than Decker (13) let his hair down today and played like kid, all day long, swimming and splashing and riding waves into the shore with his brothers. It’s an answer to prayer to see him uncrossing his arms a little more each day:)

Here are some pictures of the last couple days, Enjoy:)

 

See you tomorrow,

John

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Day 8: Ball Tag, Dirt Angels and Chicken N Dumplings…

It’s 8:26 pm. I’m drinking a Coke Zero. My buddy Josh told me that Coke Zero is just Diet Coke that they market differently so more men buy it. Definitely worked on me cuz I think it tastes better than Diet Coke. Makes total sense to me, years ago I read a book called “Blink” and one of the stories talked about how 7UP changed the color green on the can, making it a couple shades lighter and they got thousands of comments complaining about how it tastes more lemon than lime. People are funny, and easily fooled into believing things that aren’t true because of how they feel….myself included.FullSizeRender

Anyhow, I woke up feeling the withdrawals from my normal diet which includes mostly…junk, so I was compelled to eat a container of Pringles that I smuggled here in my carry-on for breakfast, it was awesome in a gross sort of way.

Once the minions were awake and fed, we headed out on another adventure into the village to visit with lady friends of Amanda. It was great, it actually reminded me of time with my own extended family in the south. Sitting on the porch in the heat while Granny shucked beans or peeled potatoes, just sitting and enjoying the quiet satisfaction that comes from sitting with someone rather than sitting alone. Intermittent laughter would emerge from time to time as Indiana or Eli would do something funny like making “dirt angles” but for the most part it was just quiet relaxing in the shade, sitting on “inside chairs”. She even brought out the mat the serves as the only floor covering of her dirt home out so the boys could sit and play more comfortably. I’m learning lessons about hospitality and humility each day.

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Once we got back, we me and the boys decided to go out and see if if we could drum up some fun in the sun. We grabbed the soccer ball and headed over to the field where we were playing baseball the other day. Nunu let some kids know as he drove through the village on his way to run some errands and within minutes, the field was full of kids! Decker, Eli, Indiana and I demonstrated playing ball tag for them for a few minutes. Ball tag is a game where the person with the ball is “it” and they are running around trying to peg someone else with the ball, making that person “it”. Basically you just try not to get hit with the ball. After a few minutes of demo, I pegged a local kid gently. He laughed, picked up the ball and chased down Indiana and pegged him. GAME ON. They understood loud and clear and for the next couple hours they played ball tag, soccer, climbed trees, had whistling contests using mango tree leaves as whistles. Once again, I was amazed by the kids collective ability to connect and understand one another without words. We were made to connect.

Decker has been a bit slower than the other boys to put his inhibitions aside and “jump in the pool” so far on our journey but today was different. He put his toes in the water and realized it felt good and then jumped in. I was so proud to see him operating outside his comfort zone, playing and laughing with kids that were very different than him. I don’t know you got the memo, but jr. high kids don’t often put their toes in the water much less get in the pool because they are too cool. Not today…today my boy was swimming in unknown water like a fish! He received an email from his youth pastor today letting him know he was thinking of him and also asking Deck to share his experience with the group upon his return. He said some important things to Decker and I think some of those things stuck and caused him to look at this trip through a new lens. I’m grateful beyond measure that he has other good men in his life to help me, help Decker get a sense for what a man of faith looks like.

I left the field early to start on dinner. I decided to fix some good ole fashioned chicken n dumplings for supper. It was well received:)

While the boys played and I cooked, the girls were listening to Amanda’s playlist which includes almost as diverse a mix as her brother Josh’s (my best bud), while they worked on cutting pieces of fabric from patterns Amanda made in order to sew all sorts of things like hats, bags, headbands etc. They had a great afternoon talking about life and looking cute in their head-lamps.

After dinner, we busted out the old school Sega Genesis so the boys could unwind USA style for a little while. It’s really neat, I got it at toys r us for 50 bucks and it’s a little mini Sega with 100 games built in, complete with two controllers. MORTAL KOMBAT 1,2 and 3 BABY!

Another day to remember.

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See you tomorrow:)

 

John