It is Sunday. I am waiting on the power to shut off and hoping it doesn’t. We have been having the 10th Congress here and the power was left on last weekend. Apparently it is a meeting of national leaders primarily from the ruling political party and a few invited guests, prime ministers from other countries. I only read one article online so I am still confused as to just exactly what they were doing. But having worked in politics for ten years, I have a general idea. The flood of 4000 people into this city was noticed as was the fact that they fixed all the potholes in the road for the event and put police with real guns and on real motorcycles at the end of every street. They built an entire compound with housing and meeting facilities to host this event. It cost millions. You’re the 11th poorest country in the whole wide world and you spend a reported $4 million, or maybe it was 8, on a conference. My students come to class hungry. Your health care and education system are pitiful. $4 million could do a lot here and 8 would do more. But once again I am reminded to love no matter what. Despite my opinions of leadership, I came here to love. Poverty is incredibly unfair. Corruption is too. I will enjoy the newly patched roads and keep doing what I do.
Rodrigo is leaving in two weeks with no plans to return in the immediate future. He met a girl. Andrea is arriving from England in four. She is coming to help take over while I am gone. I will have one week to train her. I am ecstatic that she is coming. Just as with Rodrigo, I feel that she is hand-picked for this job and I am elated that she is coming to join our team.
Hopefully this week some of our kids will be joining the older women in our Iris sewing school. And in the near future making handmade items for us to sell. In a few weeks, Baptista, our young farmer will return from his training program. And this weekend John left for Kenya to attend a month long training in organic farming that will offer funding for him to return and develop farms in rural areas. Great things are happening, even though they never happen as fast or quite like I had planned. The Mozambicans are teaching me. You all played a part in these triumphs and I am grateful.
I am trying this “relaxing” thing and it seems to be working. It sure beats working myself into a tizzy and putting undue pressure on myself. Our classroom numbers seem to be dwindling again and I put pressure on myself to perform and give them what they want so that they will keep coming. I want to return with a product to show you. I want you to know you are investing in worthwhile projects by investing in me. But this business of changing a culture is not easy. 500 years of captivity. I can’t change it in a day or in a two year commitment. Our director talks a lot about “going low and slow”. It doesn’t sound one bit productive but it really is the only way here. It works. I am learning how.
I am learning that creating plans and programs and businesses is all in vain without the foundation of true relationship. I am simply being sent here to love. I have been sent to be a safe place and to do my very best to point these children into the direction of hope, joy, peace and all the things relationship with Christ brings. I want to plug them into my source, my hope, my joy and my peace. I am here to show them how I walk out my faith and to share my experience of the unfailing, ever constant love of God in my life. It seems like a very tall order for a girl like me. Relationship means deep friendship. It means family and commitment and the “trough” is messy. (Proverbs 14:4) It is not easy to love these kids through their lying and stealing. It is not always easy to love my most trustworthy neighbor. I am not always good at it. As a matter of fact I am kinda bad at it most of the time. But these kids don’t point out my weaknesses but take me as I am.
I have recently been invited into the little expat group of tennis players. Now for one hour, three days a week I am no longer Mana Graca the missionary teacher. I get to shed my dress below the knee and put on shorts (once I get there of course) and play tennis. I’ve promised Mother I will not walk or run alone so this sport is an answer to prayer. We gather our pale worn out balls and flip for the court that doesn’t have grass growing through the cracks. Language teachers, a veterinarian, oil worker wives and me. The hour is up before I know it and I wrap my capalana around my waist and walk with a short stride back to the scooter and pray each and every time that she cranks so I won’t be embarrassed.
Nick, another missionary, is working with some of our boys making brick oven pizza. A long time ago other missionaries built the oven on the base. Nick has decided to put it to work. The plan is to sell them to the 300 students who come here for our ten week mission school twice a year. Their coming provides lot of opportunities for us to create small entrepreneurial based training programs. This little business will teach our students about money management, marketing, customer service and how to make pizza. I have invested some of our funding to help get the business up and running and will be helping as we make and sell twice a week. A few of our students are also involved in this business. I love working alongside our kids in ways like this, having fun and creating something together and teaching one another.