My favorite Disney character is Eeyore. I have had a soft spot in my heart for this sad, little donkey since I was a child. I am not sure why. He has always just tugged at my heartstrings. My husband likes to occasionally compare me to Eeyore saying that I share his melancholy outlook on circumstances at times. As I look over my blogs that I have written since moving to Mozambique, I wonder if my husband is correct in his assessment. I began to worry that I may scare some of you off from coming here to visit me, so a few months ago I began to compile a list of the things that make me love this place hoping that it will make you love this place too. Please read on and don’t be put off by the length of this blog. The list is shorter than it looks - it is only the spacing makes it lengthy.
The things that make me love this place:- Seeing my little friends who sell oranges in the parking lot at the grocery store. I always buy two from each boy. They love seeing me pull in and are so helpful to return my cart to the store for me.
- Watching one of these little boys as he crossed the street at the stop light one day. He carried his tub of oranges on his head. While balancing this tub on his head, he crossed the street doing very precise, very deliberate karate moves. I stopped to chat with him about his moves, and he told me he had been watching Kung Fu movies and was very inspired by them. Too cute!- Participating in an African worship and prayer service. The people sing and dance with abandon. Every person sings. Every person claps. Every person dances. No one is standing still. No one is just moving their lips. No one holds back in expressing their love for God. No one cares what the person next to him thinks about what he is doing. They love to worship and it shows. They express their worship to God and God alone. They are not putting on a show for the people around them. It is a privilege to worship alongside them.
- Then when they pray, everyone erupts with prayers said out loud at the same time with genuine fervor. It illustrates to me how important prayer is to them and that they know to Whom they should turn to with their requests.- Buying my vegetables from the lovely women along the street. I always give them a bit extra. It is pennies to us, but such a blessing to them.
- Watching a young man cross the road. He was all by himself, but apparently could not contain his joy. He was skipping, lifting his feet as high as his knees- just because.- Hearing women breaking out into song as they walk down my street.
- Watching children run alongside my car racing me, laughing hysterically as they try to keep up.- Watching the kids from the center in my rear view mirror chase my car as I pull away from the center. You would be as surprised as I am to see how fast and how long they run after me on those little legs!
- Greeting the lovely old mamas who come to church at the Bocaria garbage dump. They warmly embrace you and plant a kiss on each of your cheeks. Such a privilege!
- The chicken man - he rides his bike through town with at least a dozen chickens hanging from the handle bars by their feet.- Simply greeting a stranger walking by my house and seeing them light up from ear to ear with a smile - all because you noticed them and said hello.
- Visiting with cashew farmers in the bush bush. They honor us by bringing out their best chairs for us to sit while they themselves sit in the dirt.- Bringing a group of teenaged girls from the children’s center for a special day. Washing their precious hands and feet and painting their nails.
- Driving up to the children’s center to a chorus of “Mama Terri! Mama Terri!”- Seeing my men (Don, Brent and Will) interacting with and loving on the kids at the center.
- Driving 4 year old Zefanias back after bringing him to Kids’ Praise and Play at our church. He sat in his seat carefully studying the craft he had made that day. It had the words “Merry Christmas” printed across the top of the paper. His picture was on the left side. On right side we painted his feet green and put his footprints like a wreath with a red heart in the middle. He was so happy to have made something like this. We hung it on the wall above the bed he shares with another boy.- Successfully being able to send a text - in Portuguese!!!
- Buying tomatoes from Ajla - a dear sweet woman at the local market who has scarring from burns on her neck and chest and her hand is crippled- she hides it in her pocket. When I come, she greets me with a kiss on each cheek - such an honor!! And she always throws in a couple of extra tomatoes for me!- Watching two little boys walk hand in hand down the street sharing a pair of blue sandals - one boy wore the right shoe, the other boy wore the left shoe.
- Tickling little Salito and hearing his giggles. He loves having his stomach poked at and can’t get enough of it. He rarely says a word to anyone. In fact as I think about it, the only sounds I have ever heard him evoke are giggles.- As I drove Will to school, a man was waiting at the side of the road for traffic to clear so he could cross. While waiting, he passed the time by dancing. I was last in the line of traffic, after my car passed, he threw his arms out and crossed the road with them spread wide - the picture of freedom!
- The creativity of children in the toys they make. A plastic grocery bag with a rock tied to the handles becomes a parachute. An old spool that once had wire becomes a pull toy when a rope is tied around it. Plastic grocery bags are torn into strips, tied together and become a Chinese jump rope.- Watching all the “goings on” as we drive along the roads - people walking, talking, laughing; children running and playing; chickens and goats meandering about; goats riding on top of buses; venders selling their wares- I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that it is a visual delight and I never get bored of it!
- Having 20 year old Lyria come alongside me and hook her arm into my elbow in a Mozambican gesture of friendship and acceptance as we watch the workers at the center gut the fish for the evening dinner. Then hearing the laughter from the women at the look on my face when I was invited to join them in this effort.- The amazing Portuguese baked goods- yummy!
- Morning tea with Don up on our roof, overlooking the beautiful scenery beyond with a palm tree perfectly placed a bit to the left and the Matola-Rio in the background.- As sad as this was for the cow, it was so funny to watch some men trying to lift a dead cow back up onto a wagon they were using to haul it on.
- Waving at the little children along the road and being gifted with a big smile and return wave from them. This brightens up the darkest of days.- Chicken dinner at Tubiakanga! Come eat one with us - you will see!
- Driving by the large banana and sugar cane plantations in South Africa. So very lush and green!- Listening to Berta sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as she cleans our home.
- Watching a young girl of about 12 dancing along the street like Ginger Rogers with an imaginary Fred Astaire. She was in her own little world, oblivious to the fact that anyone was watching her. She was just beautiful!- Stuffing ten children into my car and driving them to school. When we arrive, all the doors are opened and they spill out into the school yard so excited for all their peers to see they had a ride in a car to school that day. Each one gets a kiss on the forehead and is told to study hard and have a good day.
As I drove them to school yesterday, I realize that I have become a part of a new community. Children from the center who were returning home from the morning session as well as the local village children waved at me and called out my name. Men and women who have gotten to know me waved as well. We passed a deaf and mute man named Domingo who sells me brooms and mops. He waved from his bike as we passed by. We saw Pai Sitoe with his children and got lots of smiles and exuberant waves from this happy bunch as well. I have been invited to little Teneka’s fifth birthday party in May and have been given the honor of cutting her cake. Mai and Pai Sitoe are planning a church wedding in July. Mai Sitoe has asked me to be her madrina (This is the term for matron of honor, but it is so much more here. I will be more like her godmother and will be look to for marital advice and wisdom-uh oh!). I am touched deeply by the happiness we share together. I am touched that I am accepted and have earned their respect. I frequently feel the need to pinch myself to see whether I am dreaming or whether I really am experiencing a life in a place so far removed and different from where I have lived my whole life, a place I only ever dreamed of visiting. I am so often tossed into a feeling of awe for where God has placed me and what He has opened up to me. I am blessed and privileged indeed!