Thursday, March 28, 2013

I got a sewing machine!!!

I had been wanting a sewing machine for the school for quite some time. I had tried to buy one each time I went through South Africa but it never worked out. I was always at the mercy of strangers, never had a car, never had a place to keep it, never had room in my bags. But finally, a couple coming to visit Iris from South Africa agreed to bring one for me. This sweet couple hand carried the machine for me and now the school owns it’s very own sewing machine! Elated to see what creations will come of it. I can hardly wait to show you! But don’t hold your breath. It could take a really long time. 

Driving into town with Twyla. This isn't me on the scooter but will try to get that shot for you.

The Roundabout

Monday, March 25, 2013


so on the day that i am mad at my students for behaving badly, here is this one. you know him too, the one that only wants one wife. Zito, totally lost in worship.

photo by Rolland Baker

don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, i need it to flush the toilet!

It is only 5:30 and I am already in my pajamas. I have eaten dinner and am ready for bed. The sun has set. I’m beat. My face is gritty from the sandy roads on G-l-o-r-i-a the Scooter. We still don’t have water. Two weeks now I think. 

Sunday morning I get a text from my student Cesar. His father has died. I’ve told you about Cesar before. His father has been sick and he has often told me, “I’m in a bad way”. His mother died a long time ago. His text said, “I’m parentless”. I can feel the weight of his new responsibilities, doing life alone, in his messages. He says, “I know my life’s gonna be totally different coz none of my parent will be here to tell me what to do”. This scenario is all too common here. With a life expectancy of about 53, so many in his generation are orphaned way too early. So I am carrying Cesar around in my heart all day. I feel helpless in so many ways but also glad that I am here for him. I asked if he needed anything and he said he did not. He will find me when he returns from the village and from burying his father. I have a feeling he is now going to ask ME what to do and I get to tell him. What do I know about raising teenage boys? Henrique first and now Cesar. I hold them at arms length because of my exit strategy and all. But I cannot help but desire to be there for them and offer them good advice and simply encourage them. After all, that is why I am here. Lofty plans mean nothing. Dreams, visions and strategies, numbers and programs aren’t the focus, people are and love is. So this week, already I find myself investing in people and the programs are taking shape too.

You’ve met Veronica, my cleaning lady. She is so incredibly reliable and responsible and hardworking. She is the one who came to work the day after she gave birth! She astounds me. Today she complained to me about how a former missionary had promised her money for a business and then left without giving her any. She told me she wanted to have a business for her children. She even said she wanted to have a business so she would have the money herself and not have to ask me for money to send her children to the hospital. She has no clue about my little loan program. Cesar is also a recipient. I tell her all about it. I sit down with her and show her a calendar and tell her about the payment plan. She says, “let’s do it”. I have a feeling she will pay me back in record time. I just wish I had the time and resources to help really monitor her business and help her get good prices on the goods she wants to buy and help her market and advertise and find a strategic location, but I have to let her run with it and do it in her own way as she knows the culture, the opportunities and demands. 

Iris recently went on a large mission trip to the north with a large medical mission team from the US. They were in need of translators and I offered the opportunity to a few of my students who speak Makonde and English. They told their friends and a few of the students who had no business going went along with the crowd and joined in. They weren’t qualified in having the proper English to do the job, but they heard they would be paid so they signed up. They returned this weekend and I got bad reports on “Grace’s boys”. Sadly it was both groups of those who could have translated well and those who had no business being there. Reports back told me they were lazy, they rebelled, they complained and were up to all sorts of “no good” that I won’t even say. Just think, Junior High Field Trip Unsupervised. They went a little wild. But these are not children, these are 18, 19, and even 20something year old men. I could wring there skinny little necks. I was livid. Today, they got a good talking to and I got a good look at myself as a mother. An angry mother. I almost lost sleep last night over it because I was so mad and rehearsing just what I was going to say and not say. For 20 minutes this morning I lectured them. I started with sharing with the group, the ones who didn’t go, about the opportunity that our students had had this weekend. I told the other students about it being a paid position and how I am daily seeking internships and opportunities for them as well. I was calm and cool and incredibly collected. But then, I let ‘em have it. It reminded me of that childhood experience of when you actually got in the car. All was well. But when you got in the car and doors were closed, Mama let you have it. You had no idea you had misbehaved or even been caught and suddenly you are in the backseat, hot Ford Escort pleather on the back of your thighs and you cannot escape and she is glaring at you in the rear view and then you start crying and...Well, there were no tears. But heads hung low. I gave them a speech about honor and about treating others the way you want to be treated. I announced that they had lost all chances of future jobs with the Clinic or Hospital. I am crushed about that for them. I told them their actions reflected poorly on me and how they had let me down. I told them how sorry I was that life had brought them such insecurities, how they always feel they are the victims and have to retaliate. I belabored the point about treating others the way you want to be treated. I told them how horribly disappointed I was in them. The guilty didn’t make eye contact for the rest of the day. The innocent one came to me and apologized. I am still a little sad about the whole thing. But it was good. We had our first serious Family Meeting. I realized I could be a little harsh and I could discipline lovingly too. I can be a mother to teenagers, I can love and be fuming mad at the same time. I also realized I still have the utmost hope in each of them. 

This weekend I went to the sea with a European friend. I asked her about what she struggles with most in being here. It is always my question. I am seeking survival techniques. She says it is hard, that it is “all hard”. But she finds when she goes home, nothing has changed. Everyone is the same and nothing much changes. She steps right back into her family and friends and their lives are essentially, not drastically any different. Their days remain a cycle of sameness. But she is completely changed, everything about her is now different as a result of being in this place and she gets to share the changed part of her. She gets to share her hard learned lessons to help others in their walk. Some people are starving for the stories, some ambivalent. But most, she says, are impacted by simply the change in her, the new her. I am for certain ever changing. I am not the same person who arrived here a year and a half ago. I’ve grown up. I have become a “mother figure” to Ernest T. Bass AKA the Little Dutton Boy (who I had to stop from getting in a fight today over who had stolen his English worksheet today in class) and a dozen or more just like him. I’ve become a little survivor in my own way. I’ve become tough and resilient but oh so more sensitive. I have fallen more in love with our Savior as I lean on Him for absolutely everything. My life has become an open book for you to come and read. And I pray my change, my constant change, never ending change, and drastic life has changed you too. 


I'm out of credit on the Internet and the vender outside doesn't have any either so I am forced to send this update via the phone. Apologies for brevity and typos.

I just returned from the office of Mozambique Airlines to inquire about flights for MY PARENTS!!

They are planning to visit in July. As are Dr Roy and Vicki Morgan and Emmanuel College student, Haleigh Lewis.

It will be surreal to have my parents see this big part of me, my life in Africa and to meet my students. I'm excited to have my father teach them and for them to get to meet "Mr. Davis".

Also today I interviewed our second candidate for our small loan program, a woman!! Of course she was approved because women are naturally more resourceful and dependable. I believe in her and can't wait to see her little business grow!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

chicken and change

Mozambican Sky yesterday & a Coca Cola Truck

Today as I left my house after lunch to go back to class, my cleaning lady Veronica was waiting in the outdoor “kitchen” area of our compound. It’s a smelly place.  Twice a day flat bed trucks deliver rice and beans (sometimes matapa, cabbage, spaghetti or chicken) in large plastic containers for us to come with our bowls to fill for lunch and dinner. The rains caused flooding and it is a muddy lake. The kitchen has a filthy wooden table where flies congregate and a wooden bench where are guards rest. The cleaning ladies sit their too and gossip in Makua. Veronica perked up when she saw me and said, “Mana Graca, nos vamos”. She wanted a ride. I told her I had to go buy cashews first, that I was not headed in the direction of her house but she could come along. She jumped on the back of Gloria and off we went. The cashew lady is sometimes on the side of the road at Wimbe Beach near The Dolphin restaurant (any time I have heard of a Westerner getting food poisoning, it is from here. I never go there.). Sure enough, there she is with peanuts and cashews. She sells the cashews in a large straw shallow basket and has tiny class cups for measuring. The larger cup is 15 mets, the smaller 5. I ask for 100 mets ($4) worth and she fills 15, 15, 15, 15, 15, 15, and two 5’s. The last “5” only had 2 nuts in it because she was too busy looking at me and smiling. Veronica told me she knew the lady and that she was her friend so I asked Veronica her name. She didn’t know. :) We all introduced ourselves. I try to never buy myself anything without asking if the person with me wants anything too. Manners. Veronica said she didn’t but I wanted to get her at least something. I told the lady to give her 50 mets worth. Veronica ordered peanuts, “for matapa” she said. Veronica then tells the lady to only give her 20 mets worth and to give her the change. That’s my girl. Smart. Silly me. Amateur. I should have known better. 50 mets is about 4 hours work. Veronica is a survivalist. She can’t know how to just receive the blessing of an abundance of extra peanuts. And I cannot blame her. She has 5 little mouths to feed. But it is my heart for this nation to know that they are not paupers but princes and that God will provide and to learn to receive blessings. I watch my own students take food from the garbage. I try to tell them that that is trash and that there is more. But I have never gone hungry. It is a lesson I continually teach and learn at the same time.

to the Tennis Gang, you are on my bulletin board and in my prayers, Jim & Gene
I had told my afternoon class to take the day off. They came in the rain this week and I wanted to give them, and myself, a break! But I knew there were others that would show up and I didn’t want to disappoint them so I went to class anyway. Sure enough a handful of students showed up. Henrique (one of my favorites and the one I have known since 2007) sat down with me and told me that he had just bought new “Colgate” and two days later it was stolen from his bathroom. For him to even tell me that story I assumed it must have been troubling him. Earlier my student Afonso was upset because his cell phone was dead. He later would not participate in class because he said he was “not able to talk today”. I assume it had to have been more than a cell phone battery bothering him. But he left as soon as class was over and I had students surrounding me and I was not able to find out. The day before The Little Dutton boy wanted money. It was the oldest trick in the book. The “I Need Money for My ID” Trick. It is the “I am in Burma and I need to wire $10 million and I will give you half” email. But I gave him the $8. Simply because I heard God say, “what’s it to you”? In that moment I felt it was not my place to teach him a lesson, to be firm, to encourage him to get a job. I just wanted him to know I care about him and that he is loved. Perhaps it was a mistake. I am confident, like Veronica, he “kept the change”. But, what’s it to me? I won’t miss that $8. I am here to show the Little Dutton Boy I believe in him. And he does have a name. It is something like M’zunya. M’kuna. M’something. So he gets his “documents”. 

And now I must get Henrique toothpaste. He could be a poster boy for the stuff. His smile is big and beautiful. Both of his parents are deceased. He is 17. So off we go.   We hit up the local baraccas that are the tiny “wal-mart’s” of Pemba. We are now blessed to have a nice assortment of barracas that all mostly sell the exact same thing right near my house. For 60 mets we get the boy toothpaste. I want to sit and talk with him. We are in an open field so I let him drive the scooter. He LOVED that. I got off of course. We went to a little bamboo restaurant. The owner was asleep on a lounge chair. We managed to rouse her and she screamed for the cook and 15 minutes later we had cold drinks. Fanta for Henrique. Club Soda for me. The little chalk board boasted a variety of meat dishes for sell. Henrique eyed that and I knew he was no longer a cheap date. He wanted what all Mozambicans absolutely love, chicken. I told him to order the big one. He did. I have been a vegetarian for almost 7 years and recently cut out all animal proteins. Watching this boy suck, gnaw and crunch on chickens bones was delightful and disgusting at the same time. We talk and laugh and I ask him about school. He tells me about his teacher. I saw Henrique in the middle of day leaving school earlier this week. He told me he had gotten kicked out of class essentially, for talking. I have noticed Henrique sings in class and always has to be moving and making noise. I can see how he would be a problem in the classroom. So I think I need to have a parent/teacher conference with this teacher. Henrique has no parents. He was so excited I agreed to meet with his teacher. I've never had a parent/teacher conference. I've been the student in question but never the parent. And now to a 17 year old boy with ADHD. Never in my wildest dreams. I hope I can intercede and help him a little. 

This is where I don't know how to manage it all. I eventually want to go home and have a career and play tennis and read Southern Living. But then there is this boy, with this smile and no parents and no toothpaste and he needs me. And for now, he's got me. This teacher better watch out! You don't mess with my boy.
Henrique and his Colgate Smile

I know this is disgusting and I apologize but you just had to see his plate. Those bones?!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

in spite of myself

this week has been rainy which means wet and muddy. we have intermittent water. we are blessed to have it come on just enough to fill our buckets and water filter each time we start to get low. i got drenched today on the way to class. i only had 5 students show up and they were all soaked but none of them even mentioned it. the boys took their shirts off and shook them and put them on again and came inside. 

i met briefly with the guy over the hotel and hope to meet for coffee today to make a plan and see how we can help. 

i’ve been in pain with my right shoulder. it has been hurting me for months. i have officially given up tennis for now. it is just too painful and i don’t want to injure it even more. i think it may be a nerve. mostly just frustrated and so anxious for it to simply just get better. i also feel quite helpless as there is little i can do here for it. i am using my prayer shawl, Morning Glories! 

i am learning to live and love in spite of myself. i once heard a pastor say, don’t pray “more of you, less of me”, pray “more of you and more of me”. because the “me” is needed in the equation. the “me” is needed to be the hands and feet. i see the importance of both prayers. there are many parts to all of us and many opposites co-exist. my unloving self and my loving self. my generous self and my selfish self. i got to have a 6 minute conversation with Carla the other day. i wanted to tell her the funny story of one my students that only she would understand. you see, we used to have this neighbor, The Little Dutton Boy. it would take a good hour for me to write out his story but just envision rural Georgia, small town Faulkneresque family. little smelly barefoot boy in his underwear. part Boo Radley. part Ernest T. Bass. age 5 and there you have him. i now have this student who describes himself as “a street boy”. he says other people call him crazy but he isn’t crazy he just “sings songs that are in (my) his head”. i can see how others would think him a little off. his eyes give him away. he is becoming my favorite. he loves to laugh and his smile is so sweet. he is simply just a really troubled kid who doesn’t feel loved and you can feel it just by looking at him. all i feel when i look at him is sheer compassion. he is so goofy and off and out there and yes, i can see all sorts of anger inside, but i just see a boy needing to be loved. i relayed to Carla how my Little Dutton Boy student is now my favorite. she answered me in tears and told me a similar story of having a boy in one of her classes who no one wanted to teach. she gave him “manly” tasks to do and made him feel valued and he too, became her favorite. as she told her story all i could think about was our Granny Davis, a teacher. she always doted on the down-trodden. she always had such compassion for those experiencing tragedy or less fortunate. the more tragedy in your life, the more sympathy you got from her. as a child, that just made me, the “perfect” kid with the “perfect” family, feel invisible. i saw it as Carla was telling me her story. Carla is a lot like Granny Davis. but then it hit me, i have a little bit of it too. maybe it’s genetic or maybe it’s Jesus. maybe this is just a tiny moment of me being who God really wants me to be. and that it is easy to love the really broken kid and he is teaching me how to love and see the cheeky, bratty ones with the same compassion. he wants me to see that everyone deserves that level of understanding. i always admired my grandmother's
sympathy and look at myself a little bit amazed that i have a sliver of it too. 
every day i learn more lessons than i could ever teach. my fear is not living a life of always learning. 

i’m embarrassed to admit how often i escape this place in my mind. the lack of all things wears on you and i dream about all the excess just lies just that 24 hour plane ride away. i dream a lot about what the future holds and what i would eat and wear. i dream about my career and am seeking God’s advice on what that would look like for me. i laughed the other day when my friend asked when i was coming home and i said, “my sentence is over in October”. she laughed too. but it is a glorious “sentence”. i have been “sentenced” by God to come and help others and He in turn is helping me. He is teaching me to love, in spite of myself. in spite of my oh so selfish self. as a result of my life here, i will never be the same. i never want to want to be complacent, unmoved, by not just the plight of the poor, but by every plight, person, cause, need that He places in front of me. i want to be open to being changed, to becoming better, to giving of myself to help others and a better me. He sees my anger and my frustration and my love of food and fashion and He loves me. He sees my potential and possibilities and my future and career. He doesn’t ask us to take on the world either. i don’t have to take on every plight of every person. it’s all Him and all me. and He knows that i am “dust”. so he just gives me little “manly” tasks to do, to show me that i can do it and that He needs me. 

disclaimer: please know that i referred to my time as a “sentence” with a very close friend who has actually been here before and knows fully about what i do, more than most anyone. it was a joke and in no way meaning to describe how much i adore what i do and what an honor it is to be able to do it. XO

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More Market finds

I love this repeat pattern of blue and red chickens and eggs.

i have taken all my baskets home over the last year to give away. replenishing my stash. perfect for the market and the beach. about $4 each.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday in Pictures

i like this quaint and actually quite fancy little place in the Natete market. it seems abandoned. 

Natete Clothier

Seamstress making pleated skirts for school uniforms

clothing auction

clothing auction




my market find, a shallow basket $2.00

Pemba Shoe Store 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


The afternoon gang

I am headed to school now. Rains yesterday have left everything so muddy. Waiting on the hot African sun to soak it all up.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

pictorial this week

Ishmael teaching on Cholera. Later Francisco and 5 other students performed a skit about how it is spread. Candid but good.

The day I got the scooter I drove her out to the beach and watched this electrical storm.

Personalized License Plate


Daydreaming with Emelyn about all that we can do!

Leaving Murreubue

No words.


Classes today went well. Yesterday afternoon we were able to talk to Carmen Bennett’s class in Louisville, GA. I talked to the kids beforehand about how Louisville was rural, and how many of the students were black like them. I explained how in American culture not every child lives with both their mom and their dad, just like them. Carmen sent pictures and they were giddy to see a black student, Josh, with corn rows. They loved them. They said he looked like Snoop Dog. Whoever that is. :) I was shocked to find out that most of my students are little Evangelists. They kept wanting to ask them questions about Jesus. Which is all fine and good but I felt sorry for Carmen over there in Public School Land having to ask her children about how long they have known Jesus. But I was quite proud of my little pastors. They liked hearing the accents and and were proud of themselves for being able to understand and translate. It was a fun lesson. I still have not heard if our letters have arrived or not but they ask me daily about them and are awaiting their replies. 

My afternoon class is about half the size of the morning one. The morning class is slowly getting out of control. Just way too many. We need help. I am such a mother hen though and I don’t want to turn them over to just anyone. Today I laughed when we were practicing CAN, MAY, SHALL etc. We have been studying this for two weeks and will be on it for awhile. I often praise them with correct responses, just to boost some confidence and get them comfortable speaking. I chose two students to come up front with the instructions of one asking MAY I ...and the other answering YES, YOU MAY. I have completely forgotten how to play Mother May I, but that game might come in handy. I cannot believe I have forgotten that. Oh wait. It is coming back to me now. Yikes, we may have to try that tomorrow. But here we were up front. Chawale always takes forever and clears his throat over and over and stands up big and tall and clears his throat again. The kids laugh. He says, “May I borrow your pen. Good job”. I want to tell him that the “good job” part doesn’t belong but I can’t bring myself to correct him. The other student answers, “Yes, you may. Excellent”. I laughed. And of course told them, “That was perfect”. Even though it wasn’t. I appreciate their efforts. I see the pain on their faces when they know they have messed up. I feel my own pit in my stomach when I haven’t a clue what to say in Portuguese. 
I do have to say that today I realized how much those dreaded lessons paid off for me. I am still rubbish at the language but without fail when I have needed to really explain something, I have the parallel Portuguese I need to show them one language vs the other. I had several big moments today when I saw myself pouring over those lessons with Lincoln, paying all that money and was so glad I did that. (I took private Portuguese lessons for months before arriving at something like $50 an hour. But I knew I needed to get my head around the language and now I can understand and write way better than I can speak). 

I have contacts now with all major hotels here. I am hoping to start taking my students there as part of our lessons. The morning students will be impossible because there are too many of them and too few of me. But the afternoon class is feasible. I would like to start taking them on field trips where we simply volunteer and make beds and prep food and do whatever needs to be done to 1) train them 2) teach them a language 3) create relationship with local businesses 4) allow the students to build relationship with management to get jobs!

Meanwhile I have several other big projects I want to work on but find myself doing this for now. I am trying to rest and not overdo it all and take a look back at all this great fruit that I am able to see around me daily. I was once told that I may never see the value I have here and it may be generations away. I am fine with that and willing to never see the return on my investment. But I see it even now. I get to see these kids every day and simply speak good into their lives. They hang on to every word I say. We cut up and laugh together. We are becoming quite a little family. Today I found out which one of the twins was born first. And we had a nice long discussion on birth order. I can pick out the bossy ones and the whiney ones and which ones are the baby vs first born. I love getting to see their personalities. They are all so incredibly unique. I need to introduce them to you and have them introduce themselves. We will work on that. It may never happen but I hope it does. 
Today was a good day, a productive, fruitful day. 
I love, love hearing from you. Write when you can. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Old Scoot New Scoot

i'm the owner of a bright yellow scooter!

A few weeks ago I was going to a dinner for “Women of Pemba”, a gathering of Ex Pats at a local restaurant. Applying make-up,  I was talking to my niece Catherine, age 15, via Voxer (the greatest app ever invented). She asked my plans for the evening and I told her. She offered advice as I would to her and encouraged me in my efforts to meet new friends. Then she said, “maybe one of them will have a car”. I had not realized my complaints of being without transport had made it quite that far. But apparently they have. And fortunately for me, you heard my cries. Cokesbury UMC and Hartwell First Baptist Church bought me WHEELS!!!

When I first arrived in Pemba, October 2011, I went to Osman’s (the Wal-Mart of Pemba) and bought a small 50cc scooter. It cost about $500 and I spent at least that in repairs the following year. The tiny tires were often flat and every attempt to go anywhere resulted in flat tires or breaking down on the side of the road. The first time I took it in for repairs the mechanic stripped it completely of anything valuable, replaced the battery with a cheaper one and tied it back together with string. I took it back to Osman for repairs and he kept it for over a month and charged me $300, of which I had to pay when I returned last month. 

Driving here is crazy dangerous. Every road is filled with potholes and drivers abide by no rules. I have seen countless accidents. Really bad ones with crumpled motorcycles in the middle of the road. Yet, owning a car here is time consuming, complex and expensive. Our ministry cars are often discovered as stolen and then repossessed. Mechanics can’t always be trusted. Parts are not always in supply. Paperwork and documents are huge hassles. Petrol isn’t cheap. So my only options for transport are scooter/motorbikes and walking. I’ve been walking for the past month. This scooter is way better. There apparently were only 2 in the whole town. Made in China Motorcycles are in most of the shops but 6 months later, they all look the same, falling apart, money pits. I pray this purchase is not the same. It seems a little more sturdy and has a bigger engine. It is 125cc’s and it will scoot. It will go up hills and the brakes work! As do the headlights. I am ecstatic really. I went to the little South African market on my first day and met a friend for coffee. I can fit a pineapple, four apples, and two avocado in the compartment under the seat. I was able to even pick up a friend yesterday and the two of us ride out to the beach for the day. I have friends and food! I can finally get wherever I need to go. Walking isn’t always an option. I am still in danger of being robbed whenever I carry anything on my person and sometimes even empty handed. Walking at night is out of the question. Having this scooter gives me incredible freedom and the ability to go to town to buy food and opens doors for a whole new world. Words cannot express my gratitude. I had resigned to relying on friends with cars and taxi’s but Cokesbury UMC and Hartwell First Baptist saw otherwise. I wish I could take you all for a spin and show you my utter joy and thankfulness. Blown away by your kindness. “Thank you” seems so small. Photos to come!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of the New Testament. AW Tozer The Pursuit of God

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

how to cook matapa with veronica

peanuts 1/2 cup (or cashews) crushed
coconut milk 1 can
1 large bundle of kale
3 small onions
1 medium bell pepper

crush peanuts with a small wooden hand carved mortar and pestle or if you want to see Veronica squeal use a food processor :)
wash kale extremely thoroughly and don't freak out when you see a worm or two. maybe even soak kale in a little diluted bleach water since the cholera outbreak and all. cut greens into small pieces. i start mine by cutting them julienne and go from there. cover kale in water and bring to a boil. (you can use any combination of any leafy greans. spinach, collard greens, etc. mix and match.) cover.  after boiling for a few minutes, stir and add the onion and peppers. cover again. let that cook for maybe 8 minutes or more and then add peanuts and coconut milk. the original recipe calls for oil but i don't think it needs it or that it is good for you. the peanuts and the coconut suffice. add salt. boil on medium until water boils off and you are left with the greens just covered in broth.
serve over rice.
you will need to know the Portuguese word "queimar"- to burn

i taught Veronica the English word "smile" and she taught me "sorrir" 


i am hoping today is the day! i have scrounged together money from various sources (the ATM will only let me take out a certain amount each day) and have the huge wad of meticais for the transaction. the problem now is even finding one in town for sale. i went to all possible places last week and only found one and it is way overpriced. i am going in today to bargain. regardless, i need wheels and have long given up on ever finding a deal in Pemba. i could wait another month for a shipment to arrive from Nampula or go myself. but that will most likely not happen. i test drove a friends yesterday. it is SO different from what i have now. the cadillac of cheap made in china scooters. it will change my life. it's fancy. can't wait!

the truth

I’m reading this book, Kisses from Katie. Based on the title I would never have selected this book on my own. My last read was entitled Paris in Love: A Memoir, preceded by the NYT bestseller about the affair with JFK. But I had heard of her from another missionary here and knew her basic bio, a girl who moved to Uganda and adopted a bunch of kids. I knew she kept a blog but have never read it. While home I saw her book in a Christian bookstore, decided to download on my kindle simply to read about how someone else copes with life outside their own culture. We have these conversations here all the time in the daily comments about how we crave Starbucks and the mall. But I knew I needed to read her story. I wasn’t sure if I could relate. Adopting children?! From page one it seemed that much of her story was my own. So much of her perceptions and emotions are identical to mine. I still see her as incredibly amazing as she has completely sold out and given her entire life to these girls in Uganda. Meanwhile I have a tentative, but uncertain, exit plan.

I’ve highlighted entire pages. Here are some that I have to share.

“People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid. I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable. Matthew 10:28 tells us not to fear things that can destroy the body but things that can destroy the would. I am surrounded by things that can destroy the body. I interact almost daily with people who have deadly diseases, and many times I am the only person who can help them.  I live in a country with one of the world’s longest-running wars taking place just a few hours away.  Uncertainly is everywhere. But I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amid things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy”. 

So true. Mozambique is a little better than Uganda. My students are healthy for the most part (malaria and AIDS are huge threats). There is no war (but there was). But I know this feeling of terror. I’ve often said God orchestrated this entire place and the series of events that brought me here just to simply show me His goodness. He wanted to set up the perfect environment to show me how well He can take care of me and settle it once in for all in my heart so that wherever we go, I can do life with Him. I love my culture but it is absolutely without a doubt a self-serving society. It has strong points. My society has generously sent me here. But I know who I am when I live in that culture. I know that my dependency falls on my pay check and my car with four wheels. I know my life of living here and being solely dependent upon Him and watching others trust Him with their lives completely, has changed me. “Complacency, comfort and ignorance” frighten me. And I am honored I get to live this wild, insane life of being stretched daily. And as much as I adore my culture, I never want to be complacent and I want the poor to always be a priority in my life, as God has called us to feed His sheep. I want to value the human race the way He does. In the West we are quick to judge, accuse others of being lazy, not taking advantage of opportunities, making poor choices. I say, “we”. I mean “I”. But I know what He says about judging. And I have learned from the generosity of all of you who give to me, about how He speaks. I cannot count the times, many of  you once strangers, came to me with a check and the same message, “God put you on my heart and I want you to have this”. He will forever put people on our hearts because people are constantly on His heart. “Feed my sheep”. He doesn’t say to feed his socially responsible sheep. Or to only invest in the sheep that will be good stewards. He means every smelly, stubborn ram and ewe who are hungry, a hunger so much more than physical. 

She goes on to to share her story of taking in young girls, being given a home, starting a huge school, and a non-profit. She saw the incredible need and linked it with the resources so abundantly available in the West. I am fully aware of the current US economy and the lack and the loss. But it all pales when you come here. I also know how upside down God is and how to get you have to give. He honors sacrifice. You can never out give Him. I recently gave deeply because of my complete faith in that concept. Most all of you are the ones who have taught me that. I have watched you give to me so faithfully, giving your hard earned dollars to fund a little teacher in a little school in a poor, poor place. I have seen Him give it all back and then some. I gave deeply because I am learning that it is not mine to begin with. You have taught me that too. This living on donations from others has taught me that lesson. It’s an awkward one but it has taught me. 

Katie named her organization Truth. She talks about the “truth” behind each of her students. That the truth is that they are hungry, dying, starving, malnourished, abducted child soldiers, unloved and uncared for. My students fit into some of these categories. “The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to the 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left”. We have a responsibility as Christians. The other really neat truth is children who are well cared for and loved grow into healthy adults who are leaders themselves, who themselves love others. An entire nation can be changed in one generation.  I claim that daily over my little tribe. I pray for one leader to step forward, for one young person to get the revelation of love, to be transformed, to step into his destiny. 

Lastly she talks about going “home”. This is one I wrestle with, the living in two worlds. She writes, “When I returned to Uganda...I didn’t feel so far away from my parents and my former life anymore.  I had learned while being ‘home’ in America and away from ‘home’ in Uganda just how small this earth really is.  It was as if the two worlds I had been living in had finally merged a bit and I was discovering just how great a distance love can bridge. God really does have the whole world sitting in the palm of His hand. All of us are, literally, neighbors.  With the simple purchase of a plane ticket, I can get from my house in the village to my parents' living room in twenty-four hours. And I could get back to Jinja from Brentwood in twenty-four hours as well. People tell me they miss me  they think i am so far away. But I’m not. I’m right here, on the same earth as everybody else, doing what I know to do to make it a little bit better.

In Uganda, as in all the nations of the earth, human beings are hungry for God; they long to live lives filled with purpose and love. They want to be able to support their families; they want to be able to work; they want to be able to give back and to be good, noble people. They ant to feel important and needed and beautiful. Children want to play, eat, learn and be loved. We are all the same. We do not live in different worlds; we live in the same world”. 

I needed to hear this this week. While life seems to be passing me by as my family and friends move along without me, I needed this spoken to my mind, my will and my emotions today. Natty turns 5 this week and I won’t be there to eat cake. Laura is due to give birth to another baby girl any minute now and I won’t get to hold her. Last night, Christine went to the outlet mall without me!  But we are not so far away. I am just right here, right where I am supposed to be, doing all I know to do (often one day at a time) to “make it a little bit better”. And I the very same time, being made a little better myself.