Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

I'm really liking this picture idea. Here are some of my favorites, with a bit of explanations. If you want to here the whole story, come find me :)

My group leader, David, and the mascot chicken of Frengo King, the KFC of Mozambique.

Another brilliant sunset.

Road trip to Chocas! We had quite a few adventures on the way there and back again.
-monkey sightings.
-being crammed in the back of the Ker's charming, dusty Land Rover. I loved it, actually, cramped as it was. It took road-tripping to a whole new dimension!
-buying cashews from vendors on the side of the road. You have to understand, though, these aren't just ANY cashews. They were roasted, toasted, and perfect in thier unsalted glory. You know I've never liked cashews before? Well - I bought a giant sack of them for the way home.
-a flat tire on the way home. That was an adventure in of itself!

The view from out the cafe window in Tete. In many ways it speaks for itself.

We stopped at a little village on the way to Chocas. It was one of the richest moments of the entire trip. I bought an ear of roasted corn (delicious) while they heaped our Land Rover with firewood for the next evening.
David had a conversation with the villagers in Portuguese that went something like, "No, you don't want to marry these girls. They would make terrible wives! They don't know how to carry things on thier heads, they don't know how to start a fire, and they can't make shima!"
We wondered why everyone was lauging so hard when we pulled away.

Many an evening, the cooks welcomed us in to supper by singing to us.

And last but not least - as a last hurrah of our Chocas trip, we held a chapel service in one of the oldest still-functioning churches in Africa.

It was crumbling

and sun-streamed

and exquisite

We had goosebumps as we sang -

God was there.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Culture Shock: what was so different about Mozambique

*disclaimer: all of these things, even if they sound strange or irritating, were wonderful.

*except numbers 5 and 8.

1. African time:
We had the honor of visiting a different church every week. The first week, the pastor said, be at the gate at eight am.

So we were.

Pastor came oh, about 8:45.
And we weren’t even late for church.

2. Chapas
We used a chapa every time we went into town, and it cost about 15 cents. A chapa is like our taxi. Except it’s a rickety white van that is supposed to hold, mmmmm about 10-15 people. On average they contained 20, and once we even counted 24…not including chickens.

3. Tea time
At ten o’clock every morning, we paused our work and went to the cafeteria, where the cooks had laid out big bowls of popcorn and peanuts (no movies), and hot tea with milk and raw sugar. Over this splendid excuse for a break, we got to sit around and chat with the Mozambiquan pastors, and try to learn some Portuguese!

4. Church music
I have to try really hard not to be biased here…but I’m failing. African church music is way better.

5. Malarious mosquitoes
At first we were paranoid to go outside after dark, like the first time I was in Chicago and was afraid of getting mugged anytime I stepped out on the street. Like Chicago, that paranoia quickly wore off. But it was very sobering to realize that most Africans were not on anti-malaria medication like we were, and I gathered that it is a fairly common cause of death in Mozambique.

6. Seven hours difference

And a whole different skyful of stars.

7. Mud huts
People in Mozambique spend most of the day outside. As a result, their yard (which they keep swept clean and clear of grass, weeds, and brush) is their playplace, their kitchen, their living room. I rather liked this.

8. LAM
(aka Lineas Aeras de Mozambique)
(aka Mozambique Airlines)

Two words:
Always. Late.

9. Markets
Could be a madhouse. Could be terribly charming. Could be a challenge to navigate, and could be very very cost efficient!

10. Sunset
Early, swift, and dazzling. In Mozambique the sun started setting 4:30 or five o’clock, drops quickly, and leaves you marveling.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


For debrief, our team visited the beach at Chocas, where stayed in charming bungalows, lounged around in hammocks (I slept in one!) built bonfires on the beach, made friends with the shell-sellers and an excitable dog, visited a beautiful old village by the sea, watched the sun rise over the Indian ocean, and drank in all of the beauty. Here are some highlights, in a thousand words:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Yes. I love food. Acually I was rather notorious among my team members during the trip for eating so much...a couple of times I became nervous that I was eating us out of our entire Discovery budget!

Anyway, there was some lovely food in Mozambique. Nothing fancy, really. Nourishing, though. Like the chicken stew in the above picture, and matapa and beans, below. Matapa is made with manioc leaves and ground peanuts.


One of the staple foods in Mozambique is called shima. (I've seen it spelled several different ways; I'm using this one because it sounds like it looks). Shima looks and tastes like cold cream of wheat. It is served in globs. You eat it with your hands. I happen to like cream of wheat (cold or not), so I liked shima!
Shima has a hierarchy, though. A hierarchy of taste. I am told that shima made from manioc root flour is not tasty at all. Shima made from millet flour, from my own experience, is barely edible. Shima made with corn flour (the kind we had most) is quite tolerable.
But here's the thing - its served with caril, which is pretty much any kind of sauce. Like the beans in the picture above. Every kind I tried was delicious: beans and cabbage, chicken and potatoes, greens and tomatoes, even fish.

While I stayed in Tete, I stayed with Jenni and Mikael Bister, who are helping to translate the Bible into Nyungwe. I had the pleasure of meeting Mikael's parents, who were visiting from Sweden. They had lots of stories about thier lives in Sweden and about being missionaries to Thailand. Mrs. Bister was always cooking something. One day she made us orange cake...
(no more words are needed. Bask in its glory.)

Last, but not least, I decided to be especially adventurous and try grasshoppers. I have to try at least one wierd food, right? They were so good.
...just kidding. They were actually one of the worst foods I have ever tasted.
But we probably just cooked them wrong.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


A capulana is the simple cloth with a bright pattern that Mozambiquan women use for absolutely everything: skirts, baby slings, bags, tablecloths, curtains...mostly skirts though. The girls on the Discovery team adored them - I alone bought ten capulanas and brought them all home! I began to master the art of capulana-wrapping, and found them extremely comfortable and handy, and ended up wearing them most of the trip!

Here's us (well - our capulanas) on the last day in Mozambique:

and a few of my favorites:

Most Frequently Asked Question: “So what did you actually DO??”

There were plenty of linguists on my Discovery team, and they did all kinds of wonderful things: gathering information about the many languages of Mozambique, editing dictionaries and writing scholarly-sounding papers. (Portuguese is the official language of the country, but it isn’t the heart-language of most Mozambiquans). There was also Brad, who was always fixing the iffy internet, Jess, who designed the logo for, and Megan, who could do just about anything.

I, not being a linguist, or a Brad, filled in. Throughout the trip, I was able to help propel a Nyungwe primer towards being published, edit databases of information about dozens of publications, attend a dedication ceremony for the newly-translated book of Mark into Nyungwe, and edit the publications for the website, (check it out). I did other various and sundry jobs as well– some of the most enjoyable of which were teaching Bible club for a day at a school in Tete, and planning all of the meals for our debrief beach-trip to Chocas.

Even though sometimes I felt like I didn't have a specific niche, I was glad to be able to help out where I could. The above picture is the office where we spent our work hours.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some important things to know

Everywhere I go, I look for home.

“Home” is different every time. It comes upon me suddenly, in the middle of cluttered, loud, wonderful moments: on a front porch with red chairs and twenty friends, or in the wild excitement of a thunderstorm, in the daily messes and stresses that life likes to tumble our way –

Home is a mosaic, then, of places and people and memories. Often home is where I don’t expect. Or when I expect to find it, it isn’t there. I do know one thing, though: Wherever I feel the presence of God, I find home there too every time.

I went to Africa looking for the presence of God. Hoping to see the Holy Spirit move mountains before my eyes, to see miracles and feel His indwelling and watch hearts change.

I went to Africa and learned that these things do happen.


I also learned a few other things. Like:

-Just because I want to see all these things happen doesn’t mean I will.

-Just because I don't see these things doesn't mean they're not happening.

- so trust matters.

- and little things matter.