Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It feels amazing to be home. I love that I made it in time to see these autumn leaves. I took a day to rest under a big blanket on the sofa, read magazines and get on the INTERNET! I get excited about hot baths and getting to drive on smooth roads. Every meal is a delicacy.

I met my sister and her family at 211 Main in Lavonia for lunch.  A stranger couple watched me pull in and jump out of the car and hug my family all waiting outside their van. They stood and watched as I planted kisses on everyone and hugged them tight, spun them around. They asked if they could have a hug too. Christine and Axel came and Laura, in Kentucky, called ahead to have them present me with gourmet cupcakes announcing the sex of her baby.

Of course I miss my family back in Mozambique and I am already distracted with so much to see and do here. But I am simply elated to be home, in a big bed, under a big quilt, with free wifi, coffee in my cup. I am going into town today with the top down. I will blare the radio and sing to the top of my lungs. We are so so blessed to live in this country. You have no idea and I can never explain it to you. My gratitude is deep and my appreciation never more sincere. I am still processing and taking it all in.

I guess the one thing that I want to say is to encourage you to do the same. Drink it in.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

coming and going

i'm in joburg, departing for home tonight. mixed emotions of leaving my mozambican family behind and my amazing students. looking forward to the easy life of running water and internet and good food. but i know i will miss my students, my friends and the sea. it is hard to go back in many ways that are impossible to explain. you all have been living life without me for a year now. i know you but you are not a part of my life and i'm not a part of yours. i feel disconnected from what used to be my home, but want to wedge myself right back into it all as if i never left. living among poverty changes you. i live in such an extreme world of contrasts. it is also a hot, hectic, rough, intense atmosphere. coming home is relaxing to my entire being. but i also feel unknown. i live a very different life in africa. mozambique has forever changed my lens of how i view life.

i am elated to come home to you. i have updates and pictures and videos to post. and hope to see you all. thank you for everything.

Friday, November 2, 2012

forgot to mention

i will be landing in johannesburg this time next week for a quick overnight stay before my saturday afternoon departure and sunday morning arrival in ATLANTA!


The other day I hired two of my students to repair the bamboo fence behind my house. It was in the heat of the day and they carried large bundles of bamboo all the way from the village to my house and poured sweat and spent a whole day repairing my fence. I gave them bottles of water and sodas and paid them for their work. I had asked them to help me clean my front porch which has been littered with clutter and junk for months. It was all just boxes chewed up by rats, filled with ants, old plastic bottles and items I had failed to properly throw away from clearing out the house when I moved in. We went through it all together and Jose found a 9 meter length of chain. I knew this to be a valuable, important item here but I had no need for it, so I gave it to him.

He had offered to clean the school the next day at 10:00. I showed up at 10:30 and he wasn't there. I had a feeling something was wrong. The next day he showed up in class with a red eye. He tells me he had spent the night in jail and that the police caught him walking home with the chain the night before, accused him of stealing, punched him in the face and put him in jail. Yesterday we went to the jail to settle the dispute.

We had to walk about two miles. It was hot and my shirt was drenched by the time we arrived. I was a novelty in the little village as we walked along the dirt path underneath coconut trees. All the little children yelled, excited to see the stranger in their village. I yelled back in my very best Makua, shouting my appreciation and they giggled. We finally got to the police station. It is a tiny concrete building, wooden door. There is a government issued metal desk, an out of date calendar on the wall and a poster of a cartoon condom. The police is a man in plain clothes with handcuffs on his belt. An argument ensues as my student tries to tell him that we are here for the chain, nine meters. It belongs to me he says and refers to me as "a Dona", the female boss. I think it also implies, older woman in charge. I stand there and listen and nod and grunt as if I understand every word. I hear "Dona" "nine meters" , "wait". So we wait. Mozambicans have mastered this. I am learning. My saving grace this time was a magazine. Instead of being annoyed and impatient, I whipped out my magazine and was grateful they were giving me the opportunity to sit and rest a spell.

You've met Jose' before, he helped us make pizza. Just a boy.
Before I could get past the editorials, a woman arrived who also looked like a Dona. My student stood up so I did too and we all crammed into the tiny police station once again. Apparently the person with the keys has arrived. They bantered back and forth and the one guy raised his voice and called my student crazy. I was already very upset with them for mistreating him and for making this innocent boy spend the night in jail. I was astounded at how respectfully and patiently he treated the policemen who had done him wrong. He showed no temper, no animosity. He told me he didn't like them but in talking to them he was respectful and even laughed at a few of their jokes. I didn't crack I smile. I resumed my boss lady role and crossed my arms. They wanted me to pay. No way, Jose. Funny, that's the name of my student and that is what I said and the joke was totally lost. So they keep saying they want me to pay and he tells me "only" 150 mets. Then they lower it to 100. I find the Portuguese to tell them how ridiculous that is and I am not going to pay for something that is already mine and I am not happy that my student had to spend the night in jail unjustly. She gets on the phone with a guy who she asks if it is alright to release the chain and he says yes.  Then the Dona takes a look at the chain and offers me 150 mets for it. I refuse her offer and tell Jose' to get it and let's go.

This was my fifth visit to an African jail. I am learning what to do. Pray. Without having to understand their words, I could hear the nonsense coming from their lips and simply spoke truth and justice over the situation. I declared peace. Greater is He that is in me. I had prayed this as I flipped through my magazine and as I did the atmosphere shifted and we got our things and left.

Sweet Jose' could tell I was hot and tired and didn't want to walk the 2 miles back home. I honestly would not have minded if I had not had my laptop with me. I had taken it to school to show a video to the students and it was hot, heavy and expensive. I also didn't have the 30 minutes that it takes to walk back. Without having to explain myself, Jose' hailed a cab for me, a stranger with a car and no where to go. When we got back to the school, Jose' pulled 50 mets from his pocket to pay the driver. Southern Gentlemen do exist here! Be still my heart. Sweet Jose' was willing to pay half of a days work for me to not have to walk. I handed him the fare from my bag and thanked him.

This culture astounds me. The hardships are everywhere, as is true kindness and compassion. I am forever learning and forever being taught.