Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I forgot...

...that I am living in one of the poorest countries in the world. Not just a "third world country". Mozambique is on the list of the 10 most poor countries. 

The "Bocaria", Maputo's garbage dump, where people live, and spend all day rummaging
through the trash that is dumped off in trucks like this one. And when they find something worth keeping or selling, they are thrilled!
I really think before I throw anything out, because I know it will be uncovered here.

An advertisement for witch doctor "medicine", labeling some of the sicknesses they promise to cure. Witch craft is so steeped into this country. The president of Mozambique has ceremonies for the witch doctors to "consecrate" new buildings with their rituals.

Mama and baby heading home from "grocery shopping".

Somehow, after living here for 3 years, it only just occurred to me yesterday, that I really live in a third world country, with the very poorest of people. Yes, I know they don't live like American's. I know they live in little one or two room grass huts or block houses. I know they are lucky to eat 2 meals a day, and there is a very large percent of unemployment. I know the average monthly salaray is about $50. 

But yesterday, it all just really hit me. I was walking home from visiting an old man in the community who I help look after. I had just shared a Bible story at his house to 5 little kids who had followed me there. Every time I walk in the community I have a group of "followers". There are about 30 of these sweet little kids (30 that know me) in the community behind our center, and when they see me, they come running, shouting, "E Malungu Mana Anna!" (It's the white mana Anna!!). On my walk home, I encountered several more of the children. Then I heard from behind a row of thorn bushes, "Mana Anna, come see what we are doing!" I came around to see. There were about 8 or 10 kids gathered around 2 very tiny cooking fires they had made with little twigs. And on these 2 miniature cooking fires they had cut a pop can in half, to be a cooking pot, and they were boiling the potato peelings from the potatoes their mothers were cooking on real fires for their dinner. They were pretending to be cooking dinner. These children were so excited to show me their play, and one of the mothers came over to greet me, and laugh with me at the fun these kids were having.

That's when it hit me. "Do these kids know they are the poorest of the poor? Do they know they are the ones on the bottom of the list? That they are considered hopeless?" 

Compassion is not feeling sorry for someone, it is having hope for them. When I see these happy kids, running around in filthy clothes that fit them 2 years ago and certainly don't now, clothes that are full of holes. When I see these dirty little bare feet, I can't see them as poor. Because I see their sparkling eyes, and I have such hope for them! The sweet little dirty hand that slips into mine and walks along beside me. The hungry hearts of kids who sit and feed off the story of Jesus calling the little children to come sit on his lap, because he loves them. The joy in their voices as they laugh and play, and say "Look! Here comes Mana Anna!" And when I must leave them, they say, "We will see you next time!" 

Oh, the love I have for these kids. This country is called the poorest of the poor. But to God, they are the richest of the rich. They are the ones with the most hope. They are the ones Jesus was talking about, when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

Friday, March 27, 2009

The closing of a chapter...

Mozambique, Africa

One way to transport a tire...

A sweet little girl outside her home.

The way to carry things around here.

Visiting Olga, who was reintegrated to her home, with her older brother Celino.

A Mozambican lady setting out her produce to begin selling for the day.

About a year ago God put it on my heart to start praying for the person to come after me in the girl's dorm. At first I thouhgt, "I am not planning on going away any time soon!" But I did pray off and on for her, that God would be preparing the right person for the right time.
Then when I was preparing to go home last August, the Lord spoke to me that my time here was coming to an end. I went home and shared this with my parents, and prayed allot. When I returned in October, I spoke with my leaders here, and they prayed with me, and released me to keep following God's plan for my life. We prayed for God to bring someone to fill my responsibilities here, in the girl's dorm. What God called me here to accomplish in and through me has been completed, and I have built on the foundation others had laid. In February Heather arrived, and it was clear she was the one God had prepared for such a time as this! She is from England, and is exactly 2 weeks younger than me! She really loves the girls, and God has really blessed us with plenty of time to transition, and get to become friends before I go.

I will be leaving here on April 29th, and closing this amazing chapter God has written in my life. I will be sad to say good bye to my dear friends (both Mozambican, and missionaries). And it won't be easy saying good bye to the precious daughters God temporarily placed in my care. These past 3 years have been a time of growth, and seeing God do so many miracles. He has protected me, comforted me, changed me. He has shown me how big and wide and deep His love really is. He has given me compassion for those who have no hope, and taught me to hope for them, and teach them to hope. I have gotten to be a carrier of His love and life to countless babies, children, and adults! It is a privilege I do not deserve, but have been given and am so grateful for.

I want to also testify that I have such peace, and God has given me such grace as He takes me from this place, to a place yet unknown. He is amazing, and I am seeing it more and more every day!

The next step...
will be going home for a time. At first I really struggled with just going home, and not knowing where or when I will be sent back out to the "foreign mission field". But as I submitted to God's word of "Wait", I felt such peace, and I see that He is giving me an incredible gift of getting to spend time with my dear family for awhile! I will get to see me niece who I've not met yet, and spend time with people I haven't had much time with in the last 3 years. I will be home at least until the end of the year (and I am so excited to be home for Christmas this year!!). In September I plan to do a 2 week medical course called "Missionary Medical Intensive", which will be very useful for a future in third world countries. And in the mean time, I am going to soak up this time with my family, share God's amazing love with those in Ohio, and wait on God for my next marching orders!

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek...
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:8, 13-14

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My twenty-third birthday

I am so overwhelmed at all the love I have been showered with over my birthday. Everyone made it so special!

First they surprised me with an amazing Anne of Green Gables party Friday night (see last post). Saturday morning 11 of us loaded up and went to "The round garden cafe" (I think it is really called "The Blue Moon Cafe"):

We wore our "Anne Hats" from the night before, and pearls and fancy fans... true ladies we are!
We had delicious iced coffees (nothing compared to Starbuck's Frappicinos, but they are very good!) and dainty, little sandwiches...mmm:-) It was so fun to hang out and laugh and chat.

While we were away, the girls and tias were preparing the Saturday night dinner in the dorm (every Saturday the girls choose a dish to make for dinner, go to the market, buy the ingredients, and return home to spend the afternoon cooking for all 48 girls, plus the tias, and others who want to join). This Saturday they were preparing something extra special...

As we gathered in the girls dorm in the evening on the grass mats they sit on to eat together, out marched the girls and tias with a pots of rice, a big pot of chicken in a sauce (very special here!), and 2 beautiful birthday cakes! They sang happy birthday to me, and to Tia Inez who's birthday was Friday, and lifted us up in chairs, and had us cut the cake like they do at weddings and feed it to each other, then gave us each a cup with milk to give each other a drink! It was an evening I will never forget! The girl's presented me with this beautiful card they made, inside each of the girls had made me a little card that was glued in (they had help from Heather and Rachel--two missionaries working in the girls dorm). The tias served all of us the special chicken (it was sooo good!), and we had cake and talked and laughed. It was so special!

Thank you so much to all those who helped make my birthday absolutely unforgettable! Thank you to those who planned and worked so hard on the surprise party, came out to lunch, helped the girls, everyone who phoned, or e-mailed, or sent cards, or messages... I am so blessed by each one of you! You are all amazing. I pray God's richest blessings upon you...:-)

Friday, March 20, 2009


It's birthday time! We had 2 birthday parties in 2 weeks for about 18 girls who had birthday's recently. These birthday parties mean so much to the girls. They love to look at the birthday list on my while, and find their names, and see who has a birthday in their month so they know who they will be having a party with. A day to make them feel special and loved. A day to celebrate their life!

The balloons are hung, the gift bags arranged, everything is set...:

A decorated cake is a must-have to make a birthday special:-)...:
We have a theme for the birthday parties for a whole year, so each girl gets to experience it. Our current theme is princesses and butterflies. At each party the girls come, and open presents (just a few little things: chapstick, a sticker sheet, a bracelet, and some candy) and "ooh" and "ah" over each others gifts. Next we play a game, do a craft, sing happy birthday and pass around the birthday bear that sings happy birthday and lights up. We finish up with cake and juice, and the girls go away feeling on top of the world. Such a simple afternoon that creates memories they will never forget!

The game we are playing this year is lots of fun. The girls find partners, one of them is blind folded and has to dress up their partner. The first to get all the dress up items on their partner is the winner!

In photo below: 
Tania (left) and Serjia (right), twin sisters, age 10.

... Speaking of birthdays... Tonight all the ladies made a very special surprise birthday celebration for me! It started with dinner with 3 other missionaries. That part I knew about. It was so nice to look forward to that all day. After our dinner, they said I would have to find the cake and cut it while blindfolded. They then blind folded me and led me away, and gave me 23 turns - I was quite dizzy...- and we somehow ended up at another missionaries house where they shouted surprise and took off the blind fold. Most of the ladies were there, and they had it all decorated just for me! I am just so blessed by all the work they put into this night for me. We had such a fun evening, watching Anne of Green Gables on the projector, dressed up with fun pastel colored "Easter hats", and they had a wedding dress for me to wear for the evening:-) We had cake and desserts, and decorations my mom sent me. It was the most fun birthday! I had never had a surprise party before, and this was certainly a surprise! 
     Tomorrow, for my real 23rd birthday, we are going out for lunch at a lovely little green house cafe. In the evening the girls are making rice and beans for me, my favorite Mozambican food:-) I am blessed indeed...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A new little girl

This afternoon I was called to the girl's dorm to welcome a new arrival. This little girl is about five years old. Her mama abandoned her here today on the sidewalk by our clinic. The ladies who work in the clinic found her sitting there alone. She is blind, cannot walk, and is possibly autistic. She doesn't talk, but she does an awful lot of babbling and "singing" in baby language. And screaming. We prayed for her, and then Rachel (missionary who is helping in the girl's dorm) and I brought her back to my house to change her diaper and bathe her. She loved playing in the basin of water and splashing it all over the floor. 
We have no idea what her name is, so I got the pleasure of giving her a name. The only name that kept coming to my mind was "Lydia". That happens to be my favorite girls name, but I always just planned that I would name my first daughter Lydia. I never thought about naming another child that. But today that name just seemed right. (I just looked up the meaning, and it means "Noble, Kind". Nothing extravagant, but atleast it is not Mara which means sorrow!). 
She is a bit of a handful, but also sweet. The girl's all gathered around to watch me feed her her supper tonight. Then I set her on the bed in the room she will be sleeping in. I think it was her first time to sit on a mattress. She loved it, and laid down and kept rolling over and laughing. I think she is used to sleeping on grass mats on the floor. 
Please pray for Lydia. She has old cuts on her shoulders from witch doctors (they cut the shoulders with a razor blade to "bleed out the infirmities"). 
Tomorrow morning our home visiting team will head out to try and find her mother. If they don't have success we will look at putting her in another children's center for disabled kids. 
It is such a privilege to be here, to be a mother to the motherless, and welcome with open arms kids who have been rejected and abandoned, and to pour out love and life into each child God brings here. 
Thank you for your prayers!