I celebrated my one year anniversary this weekend. I have been living in Mozambique for one year. I went to back to Georgia for 7 weeks and had that little respite just a few weeks ago, but other than that, I have been here. I celebrated a day early by packing a bag on Saturday morning and taking my iPod and orange juice to the beach. It was the perfect way to spend a big part of the day. There are only a handful of public places that exist here and obviously I never go completely alone anymore, because I promised Mother. So now I just go and sit beside strangers. I went and sat and soaked in one of the most beautiful views on Earth. The tide was way out. The little Mozambican girls were there gathering food in their little tin pots. They stare and I wave. It seems so out of place, as if they are looking through time, only their plastic flip flops reveal the decade, and the woman in the “Obama Girl” t-shirt.
I drank in the sun and the sea as I often feel that even if I live here another year or ten, 365 or 3,650 it is not enough time to look at this view. I am rarely here as it is. Monday through Friday the view is quite different. There is work to do, classes and running around. But it is the weekend and the morning and early afternoon are all mine.
By 4:00 I was washing lettuce and tomatoes from a bucket of water and preparing salad. Rodrigo is leaving. It was his farewell party. The boys were making pizza from our brick oven. Nick had prepared 40 balls of dough. The boys had prepped by cutting up vegetables and hauling water and started the fire. It was dark and hard to see. We finally found light and borrowed headlamps and the boys created an assembly line. With focused determination Jackson and Tinente added roasted chicken and cheese and vegetables and the boys outside master the brick oven after only two slightly burned mistakes. They come out beautifully and the missionaries raved and the boys beamed. It was a lot of work. But the plan is to continue training the boys until they can run the business on their own, with as little monitoring as possible. It is fun to look back at the big picture and see how just a little instruction and a little education can go such a long way in giving someone a skill that can literally be life-changing. I love this model and being able to play a part in this. It is a lot about just waking up the dreamers. It is not about awakening a passion of making pizza but opening their eyes to the awareness that they can do, create, make, build and equip themselves with what they need.
My students are becoming my best audience. They absolutely love an animated, goofy sense of humor. Who knew? They laugh when I act out words and explain words and phrases with dramatic overemphasis. Mr. Bean is popular here. I am learning that goofy wit in the classroom works. The kids sit on the edge of their seats when I explain “slang” and popular phrases. They listen to Western music and a few weeks ago one asked me, “Mana Grace, what does ‘welcome to my ‘hood’” mean? I am always a little wary of just what they will ask me next. They bring out their memorized lyrics and I try to explain the meaning of these songs. They bring phrases from television and more and more I catch them mimicking me in saying, “Wow! Good job. Very nice.” to one other. After Monday’s lesson Amilcar said, “Mana Grace, you are my favorite English teacher”. Granted I am his only English teacher and his only teacher at that since he dropped out of school. But it made my year. He will never know what that meant. Thanks Amilcar. Thanks for welcoming me to your ‘hood.