First of all, WHOA – what an exciting time we are having right now! It’s difficult for me to even write about last week because of what is going on this week – but I’ll try my best. Just to give you a little preview of next week’s update, we are sharing the base with 3,000 visitors from surrounding village churches that have been coming in since Tuesday. We’ve been running out of water and food, cleaning latrines (except me, don’t worry!), and serving food to the multitudes for hours each day and it’s just wonderful! There are so many people everywhere! Last night was the first day of the conference (which is why everyone is here) and tomorrow is Rolland and Heidi’s daughter’s wedding. We’ve all been baking cakes and getting ready for the wedding feast! The Mozambiquanos (Makua tribe) are some of the nicest most welcoming people I’ve ever met. Last night we danced for what felt like hours, and very well could have been. The women would grab me by the arm and pull me into a train that was parading around the room or into a dance line showing me the steps and giving me the thumbs up when I did it correctly. Men were all around wildly dancing in groups and even making little dance circles where they could display their fanciest steps (kind of like breakdancing), and kids running around, loud music, smiling faces, and just wild crazy fun exciting worship! It was a huge party! So, we have class this afternoon instead of this morning and tomorrow will be amazingly wild so I’m updating early.
By the way, I’m in my second trimester now! Doing great, feeling great, sleeping great, eating great – I think I’m actually gaining weight and so are my housemates… they all have sympathy cravings and excessively snack along with me! It’s funny. We figured out that there is a “sign” of pregnancy where you wear a capulana (cloth used for a skirt and/or carrying babies) across your shoulder as if a baby were in it, as a sign of preparation for the baby. So, now I can let everyone know without trying to explain why I can’t lift the humungous pan of rice and beans.
THIRD WEEK – Theology
Last week was difficult in a lot of ways. We had just finished two amazing weeks with several amazing speakers. Then we jumped into the dryness of theology. It was great information and some of it I will share, but it was difficult to swallow and stay awake at the same time. It gets pretty warm after 9am so being tired from increasing duties and responsibilities, classes, and workshops made for a good nap environment, bad school environment. Plus it has been on again off again with the water situation. Apparently the whole town is out of water and Iris has been hauling (buying) truck loads into the center. We’re all conserving as much as possible: taking showers every third day or so, washing clothes when really really dirty, saving sink water to flush toilets with, and so on. It’s difficult for Darryl and I to really rationalize doing things like mopping, cleaning, and bathing when the very water we use to do those things is what the rest of the center depends on for drink – this wakes you up a bit to your blessing – at least we have money to buy bottled water to drink.
Some of the added activities that were overwhelming at first and seem like nothing now that all this conference/wedding stuff is in play involve things like doing art classes with the children, helping with horse riding lessons (yes they had horses donated too!), hanging out with the construction crew (which Darryl is doing), and infant playtime (which both Darryl and I are doing). There are other activities but I can’t remember them. The little ones are just precious. They haven’t really learned how to manipulate and ask you for things with a sad face, holding food behind their back and telling you how hungry they are. I mean, it’s understandable why they are that way, but we came to bring them love and attention which they can’t buy or steal. Anyway, the little ones just want it all – they want to be held and want to play and pull your hair and pee on your lap and most of them have scabies or ringworm among other things. But we love on them anyway. They’ve stolen our hearts! And they LOVE when Darryl and I come in there together. One time they were getting him to kiss their hand and bringing it to me to kiss, as if it were Darryl I was kissing. So we figured out what they were doing and just kissed each other in front of them. Well, they went nuts! They loved it! Screaming and jumping around wildly and begging us to do it again. We imagine they haven’t ever or rarely have seen that, being that most or all of them don’t have or know their parents, and they are taken care of by Tias which are like Aunties. And they all ask me over a dozen times, “You have baby? Where?” and I point to my belly. Not all of the children are delightful, and a lot of them are not delightful all the time. But we still love on them and often, you see a change in them with that unconditional display. A lot of these activities are really tiring so taking naps every day has been a must. Especially with night class sessions.
OH yeah, we went out to a hotel restaurant near by called the Nautilus. It was nice. We go there some times and check our email in the lobby, but we have to wait for hours because there are only a few machines. So after our last message we went and had this amazing meal overlooking the bay of Pemba as the sun set – it was gorgeous, but we couldn’t help but feel like we were doing something bad or wrong. It really felt like vacation, and we’ve been here sitting, eating, and living with the poor so it was strange eating a fancy meal in a fancy place in fancy (best we could do) clothes. But Darryl had some good chicken and chips (fries) a salad, and a Coke and I had a mixed meat kabob that was about a foot and a half long! It was SO good. Oh, and chips and a salad with that too. I’ve since been craving those chips with salt and vinegar, mmmmm!
Now to the teaching: ((It’s been interesting learning from people with such different views on things and even contrasting views and ideas at times. It shows us that we don’t have to conform to a mold or agree with everyone – we are all one body and it’s really important for us to function in unity and with love.)) We learned from Don Cantell who has been here at Iris for over 10 years. He taught us about the Kingdom of God. He was showing us how this is the most important subject in the bible (Matt 13, Luke 8). He pointed out how the church is only mentioned twice in the bible gospels and the kingdom is mentioned 120 times. Also, that the Great Commission is for believer – not when you go, but as you are going, wherever you are going – to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. He defined disciples as followers, to reproduce the original in a disciplined, obedient, and strategic way, to replicate his example, teaching life and that Jesus was a disciple of God. Another day he taught us that discipleship results from harvest, and harvest results from understanding the kingdom. Most churches don’t teach the kingdom, but that should be our primary concern because that was Jesus’ primary concern. A stunning statement he made that felt painfully true was that “never before have so many Americans called themselves Christians (born-again) and it made so little difference.” Authentic Christianity should be centered in a kingdom priority in everything we do (tv, recreation, time, relationships, etc). A lot of believers and missionaries think that the gospel is to be preached unto all the earth before the coming of Christ, but it’s the good news of the kingdom that is to be preached unto all the earth before the coming of Christ.
We also learned from a guy named Bob Eckbald who wrote a book called A New Christian Manifesto. He was interesting and controversial at times with is liberal background and invited many questions and debates. He preaches in prisons near the border in California (I think).
Another couple who has been here for five years shared and it was just what we needed. It’s probably something that should have been taught at the beginning, but it was well received and right on time. The husband was from Wilmington, NC and the wife from Brazil. They met here in Mozabmique and were the first foreign marriage here – they had to create the papers! They shared about their experience and how they stepped into the offering plate and gave not just their money (since God doesn’t really need that) but their time – which everyone has equal portion. The wife shared about how unforgiveness and dissention between believers is actually the enemy’s greatest weapon against us. If we have drama between believers, we create problems in the church and keep unbelievers at bay.
This was my previous email that I’m posting now (thank the Lord it was still on the computer I left it on!) and the wedding/conference was a blast. There were actually over 4,000 visitors we found out today and most of them are in the process of leaving so things are returning to “normalcy.” We are going to have an ‘off’ day tomorrow as a school and they are taking us to a real nice private beach for the day, yay! There are some islands near by that you can see from the shore across the street from the center and some hotels near by host boating out to them to snorkel the coral reefs. We may do that this weekend so my next post may be later than Saturday – hopefully not, there is a lot we’d like to share about the week and the weekend and so on. Until then, know that you are blessed and highly favored! We love you and miss you and can’t wait to show pictures!
Darryl & Mimi