Saturday, January 28, 2012

Curriculum and a Projector

Thanks to you were are getting materials in just a few weeks. A visitor is bringing a video projector and a set of DVD's! Dad picked out the projector and got us a deal and my friend Travis found these teaching DVD's for Community Development. I think the combination will be an excellent way to teach our community health workers. Having the projector will offer us more ways to teach all sorts of things and find materials in their language. It is a huge blessing. Thank you!


I am officially coming home March 25th! 6:30am. I will leave Pemba on March 23nd and fly to Johannesburg and stay the night. I will then leave Jo'burg on the 24th at 7:30pm and 17 hours later arrive in the ATL. I already know that I want my first meal to be the three egg omelet with soysage, english muffins and sweet potato cakes at Ria's Bluebird Cafe. I always get coffee but I might, just might, have to get Sweet Tea.


Great day in the afternoon classroom. I just had two students, a very advanced student who could most likely serve as a translator and a bright student who understands Portuguese grammar well, and takes tidy notes, but she doesn’t speak much English. She often wanted to know the object in Portuguese and would answer my English in Portuguese. We spent an hour on the verb “to be”. Then Benjamin, the advanced student, showed up so I handed him the chalk and I sat beside Berta and he taught us both, “in front of”, “next to”, “behind” etc... It was perfect to allow him to think outside the box and for me to learn more Portuguese and for Berta to laugh at my Portuguese and learn. The three of us had a great time. Or maybe it was just me, but I thought it was so much fun. I had an English Grammar book in my backpack that I had brought just for Benjamin and was so glad he came. We will go over Chapter 1 together next week. 
I am still not feeling well. My symptoms are nausea and a stiff neck. I am clueless as to what it could be and have no other medical remedies other than a few Cipro and Ibuprofen. 
I Skyped home for the first time since Christmas tonight. It is always good to hear from home. It doesn’t really make me homesick either, it just feels good to see faces and to know that everyone is okay and get a good look at what everybody looks like and hear a good Southern accent. Axel is walking. Carson got a lizard. Natty made a dinosaur. Mom and Dad were at an EC basketball game. All is well. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taxes and Donations

Letters of donations received for 2011 have been mailed by ALF. If you have not received your letter please let me know and send your mailing address. Thank you for giving!

The School

School started this week. Only 4 students showed up and one was a village kid who walked in off the street. It was disappointing. There should have been about 30. It is certainly not about the numbers but disappointing that I have done all I know to do to raise awareness and to get everyone on board. Iris has been great in joining me in this endeavor and want to make this a part of the kids daily schedule. This week was an off week though and we are short staffed. I am going to have to literally go and get the kids and bring them down to school. It is frustrating. The first few days of teaching went well. I had help from our visiting YWMA students and was able to divide the students up and give one on one instruction to the introductory level students. Then in the afternoon class it was just me. I had a very advanced student who could have been doing proper English grammar but I only had my basic introductory book and was completely thrown on how to teach him. I wound up scrapping the book and talking about directions and geography and trying to get an idea of his depth of vocabulary. It made me feel like I don’t have a clue what I am doing. But I do know and it just means that I am going to have to plan and prepare for anything and everything. It means I have to get up an hour earlier and round up students. 

We had about 15 show up today and we practiced asking questions. Our missionaries who are here working on our farm came and answered the questions that we asked. The girls protested that they want to have class EARLIER rather than later so now this means I have to get up two hours earlier. And this week of all times I am sick. Other than that little mango allergy, I have been well. But this week I have bit hit with nausea and other violent stomach issues. I have not felt well at all. I am in between classes now and will have our afternoon session in an hour. I have got to study and review and figure out what in the world I am going to teach. And how in the world I am going to do it with just me. Materials arrived in the mail this week and they will be incredibly helpful, when I have time to sit down and add them into the syllabus. Some of the books I have don't really work in this culture.  There are entire readings on "going to the mall" and "Christina Aquilera" and so many things Western. It will take advanced simple planning and preparation and what teachers all over the world do every day. But it is new to me, in this context and I am learning. 
Then there are the problem kids. There are unruly kids who misbehave. There are kids who talk the whole time. There is the class clown. I was all of this and more. There are some who sit quietly and peacefully and listen intently. I was never this student. There are some who answer all the questions and some who never say a word. It is a chore to be fully aware of what is going on in the classroom and go over the material, leaving no one behind and getting the whole group involved. It ain’t easy. 
And now, just as I am getting started, I am already making preparations to go home. As excited as it is to come home, it is honestly rather premature. This six months "on", six weeks "off" schedule is one that has been forced upon me because of my visa. But it would be much easier to stay here a bit longer. We are just getting started and to leave in 8 weeks is just too soon and I don’t want everything to fall apart. 
But I am excited to see all of you and excited to see what the next 8 weeks brings here with our students. I am looking forward to the weekend to plan and prepare for the coming week. It is my neighbor’s birthday today and she and a few friends are coming over tonight for cake and card playing. 
I also had an idea, in my illness, to set up Edy with a Personal Shopping business. All day yesterday I needed someone, anyone to go into town or a barraca and get a cold Coke for me. It is the number 1 remedy for all illnesses in my book. I had to go and get it myself, but it made me think. I sat town with Edy last night and made a list of all the things that most missionaries buy in town; eggs, bread, milk, cocoa, peanut butter, bananas, tomatoes, cucumber. We are going to go to town tomorrow and price all the items. I will help him make a shopping list for us to simply add the quantity of items we want. This has been done before. Apparently the boy took a very huge order that wound up being several thousand mets worth and decided that getting ten percent was not good enough and pocketed the cash. But I think I can trust Edy. I just asked him to get me credit for my phone and gave him more than enough. It could be a lucrative business for him. The buyer will have to pay less then $2 for his ride on the bus into town and will pay him 10% (or some other agreed upon price) for his labor. I think it can work. He needs 3,600 mets and I told him he could earn this in no time. With a little diligence and a lot of integrity, I know that he can. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The "Bath Bucket"

Granny McCarley always calls a bath, "tub bath". Was never  sure how one has a bath other than in a tub, until now. Here's the difference. My skin is glowing and my tan nightly washing down the drain. My fingertips are pruney even now from soaking. Just another perk of being 5'3". I am not sure how many more years my bursitis hip will let me still run and sit with my ankles on my knees but for now this is bliss. And I am not being sarcastic. It really is really good. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Polly Put the Kettle On

School doesn’t start now until Monday. We decided to delay it to give the students a week to get settled before starting something new. So I am still waiting. I am anxious for it to start. I can certainly fill my days with just doing life here, cooking, cleaning, going to town, buying food, attempting to write, returning emails, meetings, buying school supplies, arranging teachers and planning the curriculum. Yet, I am eager to get started. I want to do what I came here to do and am excited to spend time with these kids. I have been through a journey to get here and am ready to start creating something. 
And yes, I feel some pressure. My own pressure. I am task oriented. Mozambicans are not. They are event oriented. I read it in a book about cross-cultural relations. I took the test it had inside and confirmed that I am task and goal oriented. I like sticking to the plan and checking off the items I accomplish. I love setting my sights on something, doing it and marking it off. Sometimes I will write in things on my calendar, after I have done them, just so I can mark through them. Okay, not just sometimes, all the time. Mozambicans are all about just showing up for the party. They love the fellowship. The savor the moment and the time spent together. For them it is about fellowship and living in the moment, not about some time-oriented goal. I have a lot to learn. I say this to myself every day. 
I do know that I didn’t come here to suffer and have learned that giving your life to God and saying yes to His plans is the most rewarding decision I have made and I live a life of luxury as His child. He doesn’t give His child serpents and stones. He has blessed my socks off here. 
I know I reflect a lot about home and being home and what I had at home and what awaits me at home, but this is just me being real. It is me walking out the reality of this journey. It remains an honor and a pleasure to be here. I am still dreaming big about plans for businesses for the kids and setting them up with new opportunities. I know this can be done. It will take time and my goals and objectives may have to sit on the shelf from time to time as I build relationship with my new family here. Jesus is the perfect model for how to do relationship and in this too, I am learning. 
Some days I wonder if I can ever relate or befriend or find something in common with a culture so different than my own. I am always very aware of how different I am. I dress different. I eat different. I think different. I communicate different. This afternoon I sat on my crisply made day bed reading a paperback book while my cleaning lady hoisted a washing bin the size of the trunk of my car, that I used to  have, and put it on her head and walked home. And she doesn’t live next door. I could not have gotten that bin up off the floor. She is maybe 5 feet. Maybe 100lbs. And it was raining. Right now I don’t even want to go out on the scooter in the rain because it is muddy and there are frogs. That kind of different. I eat pickled beets for lunch and she looks at them and stares at me. But she is teaching me. She is so patient with my Portuguese and we laugh, but I am learning. She appears to have no interest in learning English but she will sing along to my music. I love hearing her. There is a Rita Springer song where they lyrics are “come in, come in, come in”, an invitation to God. Filomena sings this and giggles when I sing too. 
And then there is Edy. Edy is a boy who lives in the transitional village. He is the type of child we want to target. He is the one who wants to be a pilot. He is in the 10th grade. Now he wants to get his license to be a commercial driver. He needs 3,600 Mets ($130) to be able to go for one month and get certified. Absolutely I am tempted to just give him the money. But is this wisdom and is this the way to do it? I have read enough on dead aid and dependency to know that you cannot just throw money at the problem. And yes I have thought about letting him borrow it and pay me back. But he has no other plan, no job, no instruction in accountability with finances, no one to help him and oversee his spending, his studies. I want to just give him money, but I know I need to give him more than that and this part is not easy. I want to help him get it himself. But you should see his face. He is a good kid. I want to invest in him. But I want to invest in hundreds of others just like him. It’s complicated. I am learning. 
What else? Oh yes, I have been totally taken for a ride several times this week. And not in a good way. Once when I needed scooter repairs and was charged an arm and leg but totally at his mercy and once when I trusted the guy to count properly and he didn’t and I was charged double. Oh, and again when a boy offered to put gas in the scooter but took the money, put in a tiny bit of gas but pocketed the rest of the money. And he wasn’t a stranger, I thought he was my friend. All three times I trusted and then I got taken advantage of. It happens every day. It is frustrating that I lost money. But it is also frustrating that they are in a seemingly hopeless situation. Their poverty puts them in this place of desperation and I cannot say that if I were in it that I would behave any differently. I have never known their poverty and do not know their circumstances. They see me as an opportunity. I have to chose to forgive and love them in the place where they are, over and over and over. And even though Christ does it for me, over and over and over, it still isn’t easy. I hesitate even writing this because it isn’t pretty. But it is a glimmer into the reality of my life. Again, so much to learn.
But there was some pretty big excitement this week.  I bought the biggest wash tub money could buy, Made in China Bright Blue and bigger than the one Filomena carried on her head today. Bigger than a Volvo trunk. Or maybe as big. I paid 500 mets for it in the potato market and didn’t care or flinch. I plopped it down in my non functioning shower, filled it with four pitchers of freezing cold water that will take your breath away and make your heart stop for just a second or two and then patiently boiled 3 kettles of steaming hot water. I squeezed in some Aveeno something and ginger body wash and entered my first hot bath since October 3, 2011. It was at Carla’s house a few days before I left. I sat crossed legged in that tub and had to laugh out loud at how ridiculous I looked. I haven’t bathed in a wash tub since 1978. I got out feeling like I had had a “clean bath” as Granny McCarley says. I wished I had her robe and terry cloth slippers and could have had a bed time snack of a candy bar and a glass of milk and watched reruns of the Golden Girls with her. Instead, I made split pea soup to have later this week and then ate the last of the cookies Christine sent in her care package. They didn’t last a week. But I am kind of impressed they lasted that long. As for now, I am going to put the kettle on. It is 7pm and my washtub awaits. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

ninety nights or thereabout

I am in that moment just above deep REM sleep. I have had 8 hours of lovely, peaceful sleep. My lids are still heavy and shut tight but I see my closet doors, double and white with silver knobs, the sheet bunched in my fist under my chin, my mahogany end table piled high with books, my blackberry dutifully resting on top of a hardback. I open my eyes. I see a drab once white concrete wall, veiled by a mosquito net. I am not in East Point any more. It takes me what seems like minutes, but was really milliseconds, to remember where I am. It is a rude awakening. I lie on my back and picture the globe and the plane route on Delta Flight 200 from Atlanta to here. I have to bring myself back here. This happens every few weeks. I sleep deep and in those first few moments of coherency I have no clue where I am. I have no clue who I am or how I got here. I quickly remind myself, cast off the sheets and start my day.
I have now been here over three months. As I write this the power is out and I have lit a lone candle in a little glass container. There is rat poop in the wax. Or maybe it is Gecko poop. My neighbor Ruth can tell the difference. Rats live in my ceiling and the poop falls through. Geckos are everywhere. My computer screen has invited every bug and flying insect to come and inspect it. I need to find my headlamp. I want to read in bed. 
Last week I went to the Mieze Milk Clinic. I love going to Mieze. It is a small village where two Iris Missionaries chose to invest and create a model of sustainable development. They have created relationship with the villagers there. I have an online article around here somewhere and will post it when I can find it. They have set women up with small businesses with goats and chickens. They have a weekly medical clinic. And they offer a milk clinic for women with twins or who are unable to produce milk. It is common here that women themselves do not have enough nutrition to produce milk or for various reasons, none of which I want to elaborate on, cannot produce milk. I got a complete education in the field of lactation. And I saw things I have never seen before. I also saw the cutest most adorable babies and weighed them in trees just like I did 13 years ago in Zimbabwe. That summer was one of my happiest and it reminded me of that time and how much I love doing things like this. We had many underweight babies but gave them all milk and bottles and they will come every Friday for more. 
I found beetroot this week at the overpriced South African store and I am one happy girl. 
The weeks seem to fly by here. Even slow days go by fast. This week I have sorted through the few language books I have and am mapping out lesson plans. I bought a few notebooks at a local barraca that also sold apples and oil. I didn’t buy enough. I will get them tomorrow. I would like to get index cards and start making flash cards with vocabulary. Christine sent a care package with The Little Engine that Could inside! It will be a perfect book for reading and I could use more Primary Readers. The list for things I need is growing but it took me coming here to find out precisely what we need. I am hoping to buy a projector for the school soon. There is a lot of curriculum out there in Portuguese on DVD that will be helpful for other subjects. I would like to eventually get a few basic laptops and English Language CD’s and make a little language lab where students can come and learn at their own pace. Did I tell you this already?
The plastic scooter is broken and I am taking it in to a proper mechanics shop in the morning. I can’t wait to see what that looks like. Or how much they charge.
I went and bought fabric on Monday at Natete Market. The boy selling it had a book across his lap and sat on a little wicker stool. After I made my purchase I asked what he was reading and he showed me a Portuguese/English Dictionary. I would like to get that book. It was different in that the words were culturally relevant, like Fire, Breast, Capalana. He had taken notes but I noticed at the bottom in blue ink a small heart with the words Te Amo Juanita. Love is love and 16 years old is 16 years old, from Georgia to Mozambique. I had to smile. He asked me to come back and practice English with him. I think I will. I hope Jaunita won’t mind.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

School starts in 11 days!

 I am still waiting on curriculum to arrive. But have enough to put something together until it does. I have two new helpers with YWAM. We met yesterday and are meeting again today to get a few things ready. I have moved to the other base so pray the scooter holds up. Heidi told me they only last about a year. It ran out of gas yesterday. It was my fault, as it usually is when one runs out of gas. The funny thing was in the moment when I looked at the gauge to determine if it was on caution yellow or stop red, I thought, “no one fills up here, this thing was made to run off fumes”, it came to a slow puttering halt. Evidently the needle was more on red than yellow. The miraculous thing was that it puttered to a halt in front of a restaurant where I know the owner. I never leave my wallet or phone behind but had this time. I was helpless. She gave me the keys to her car and a gas can and I was able to get my wallet and gas. She saved me a whole lot of walking. 
Rainy season is upon us. It rained yesterday and the day before. It makes all sorts of frogs and insects come out and the roads slick with mud and full of puddles. My roof leaks.
I got a whole slew of cards in the mail! Thank you Granny McCarley, Jenny Bell, Laura, Mom and Christine. I love them! I have them strewn all over the house and love the Christmas ones and the photos of your beautiful faces. Christine put gum in her cards. Laura put chia seeds. I love getting to look at you every day. Keep them coming!

I am already a little apprehensive about the fact that I have to come home. I see it partly as an interruption and inconvenience as I have things that need to be done here. Obviously my next 6 months stay in Mozambique will be more productive in that I won’t be spending the first 3 months settling in and can hit the ground running. Yet, April will be here so quickly. And yes, of course, I want to come home to all of you, but the transition can be more of a rude awakening than a nice trip. Going from here to there is not easy. Getting jerked from one culture to the other can leave you dizzy. 
I have been reading and listening to a lot lately about dreams. I stumbled upon an old sermon about Dreams and put it on last Saturday morning. I found a paperback book here titled “Money and the Prosperous Soul” that included a chapter entitled Dreams. In the sermon the pastor said that most people spend their whole lives living someone else’s dream. I spent ten years serving men and women who dreamed of becoming elected officials. I spent a year serving men and women who dreamed of being a member of Cherokee Town and Country Club. Now it is my turn and I get to walk out this dream, the one that is mine. He also went on to say that in some context we weren’t even God’s first choice! I know I wasn’t. I know that so many others could serve much better in this capacity. I would not doubt that He asked a few others and they weren’t interested. In His Sovereignty they never miss their destiny, nor I mine. But I am fully aware that I was just a yielded vessel who said yes. 
As I count down the days to school, I daily have to change my approach. I have to scratch one thing and recreate another. I am having to open my mind to something new each day and what this is going to look like. I am learning that so much of it comes out of a place of rest and not really striving. (Note here I have to say the word “really” in front of “striving” because I myself am yet convinced that striving is not productive). Much of it occurs through what one might call happenstance. Historian Thomas Cahill said “Leisure is the necessary ground of creativity, and a free people are free to imitate the creativity of God”. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch but I am seeing it every day and I am learning it while I am here. Here leisure includes relationship and creativity includes productivity. I am learning that getting what I need in most every area comes when I am yielded, rested, at peace. I could quite easily become overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to start the school. I make the long lists of things I need in my head and I become instantly overwhelmed. I pick a few things off the top of the list and I pray them out loud. Most every day the answers come and every time out of a place of rest. Often just walking from one place to the other on base brings about the one person I need to see or creates a conversation that meets a need. I am beginning to wonder just what could happen if I truly laid it all down. I love my lists and plans and 26 week lesson syllabus. But I am beginning to wonder if even that will work. Mozambicans are masters at relationship and patience. What, to me, looks like just milling about is actually quite productive. I have a lot to learn. 

Just yesterday the foot starter thingy on the scooter broke. It has been breaking off and I keep a large rock underneath the seat to bang it back on every now and then. This time it came all the way off and a guy saw it fall of and came to help me. I wanted to just hammer it back on and be on my way. But he insisted that I come and get it fixed. We rolled it over to the mechanic shop on base. Not one person was working and they were all chatting. He came and joined the circle of men and sat and talked with them as I stood there impatiently. After a few minutes he came and told me that the man with the key to the tool box was not there but he would come. That man never came but another guy came who knew a guy, who knew a guy who might have the key. After about 15 minutes of not one person standing up but lots of chit chat on wooden benches and leaning on motorcycles, a guy came out of nowhere with a tiny wrench, tightened my foot starter thingy and I was on my way. Then 3 kilometers later, Miss Striving ran out of gas! Oh, the irony. I am learning.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

2012 is here. Kind of hard to believe. Already fully aware of what a year has brought in my life. A full year of traveling and working and preparing and planning. I quit working in January. Went to Ohio and D.C. and Virginia in February. Mozambique and South Africa in March and April. In May, I spoke to the Bible Study women about my trip and shared the vision out loud and listed my house for rent. The women prayed and the house rented a week later. In June, I went to Austin, Texas and was given an avenue through which to raise funds to move to here and start the vocational school. Weekly Portuguese lessons for months. In July, Ramona threw me a farewell party and I went to Bolivia with Mom and Dad and I boxed up my entire house and moved out. In August, I drove to Hartwell with a suitcase and keyboard in the backseat and opened the door to the cabin and slept right in the middle of the four poster bed. I turned another year older. In September, I sold my car and stored and organized the last of my personal belongings and finances and went to Columbia, SC and Manhattan, KS to say goodbye to Shannon and Laura. In October, Mom drove me to the ATL and Betty Conner dropped me off at the airport, as she has for so many trips over the past 10 years. And now I am here. I can’t believe there were 365 days in all that. Time flies. 
I have been living here for three months now. Time is still flying by. I met with one of our students yesterday, Edy. He wants to be a pilot. He is in grade 9. I don’t know if he will ever be able to be a pilot or not, but I will do what I can to help. And I still have no clue as to what I am doing. Classes start in two weeks. The Georgia General Assembly convenes in a few weeks too. I am so glad I won’t be there for that. 
There is a YWAM team here to serve and I am excited to have their help. We have tentative plans to also include some basic computer courses, supplementary to our core classes. Thanks to a visitor from Tennessee I now have file folders on every student. The ESL curriculum is being mailed from Australia. Pray it makes it on time. Pray it makes it. I will be spending the next two weeks getting curriculum prepared, volunteers briefed and students informed. I am trying not to sweat the small stuff and at the same time, not drop the ball. Many things have to be done here in Mozambican time and very relationally. I have seen God work and show up at just the right time over and over again. I am learning to be patient, still. 
Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you for everything. More to come. 
New Years Eve Bonfire