Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Traveling into Mozambique

Water tank and pump Nathan had to install. They rent the house but had to do a lot of things to make it livable by our standards.
Emily's kitchen. Notice the water filter by the sink.

After a few days of rest and relaxation in the beautiful guest house at Mercy Air, we made our way into Mozambique. Having been a missionary in Mexico for nearly seven years, I was a little accustomed to extreme poverty, so I wasn't really surprised by what I saw as we crossed into Mozambique. Going through customs and immigration reminded me of our earlier days crossing into Mexico. Going from South Africa to Mozambique is like entering a totally different world.

As soon as you walk into the immigration office you smell the perspiration and urine. Emily told her children not to touch the railing or anything else in the office. When you realize what the people have to go through to take a bath, and that they can't afford things like antiperspirant, you understand more why they smell the way they do, and that their life is about survival--they are just trying to put food on the table.

We got through quickly and without any problems. I was relieved that they didn't inspect our trunk, as it was loaded to brim with groceries. They buy meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, and a few other things in South Africa because the quality is better and less expensive. Fresh milk is very hard to come by in Mozambique--they usually drink UHT milk, the same thing we have in the Canary Islands--or what I call "shelf" milk because it doesn't need to be refrigerated until you open it.

Once we arrived in Matola, I immediately had an even greater appreciation for what they have to deal with living here in Mozambique. Their home is very basic, but by Mozambican standards it is above average. The street they live on is very old pavement, covered with sandy dirt, so it appears to be a dirt road. It is very dusty, and there is trash everywhere. People that do have nice houses live behind cement walls with a gated driveway.

My biggest concern while visiting here is staying healthy. I do everything I can to avoid getting bit by the abundant mosquitoes. Running a fan, putting on repellent, and sleeping under a mosquito net are just a few of the precautions I take. When I get up to go to the bathroom, I swish the mosquitoes away as they fly around me. Maybe I am too paranoid--Nathan's family has been here for almost three years without contracting malaria, but still it is very common here.

They have to purify their drinking water, and have a huge filter by the sink. When they clean the filter there is a muddy sludge that has been removed. I decided to buy filtered water, just for peace of mind.

Emily has a full time job caring for her three small children, all under five. Just keeping them clean would be a major task. They enjoy playing outdoors, but most of their yard is sandy dirt.

As I was fixing myself a cup of coffee last night I saw something move under the kitchen curtain. I was afraid to look, but was relieved when it was only a big lizard, rather than a dreaded cockroach. Emily's kitchen is very clean--but when you live in such a hot climate it is practically impossible to eliminate every pest, especially since the house is older and has so many crevices where they can crawl in from outside.

I came in the "cool" season--but I should say "cooler" because yesterday it "only" 90 degrees. I can't imagine how taxing it must be on them when it is 110 degrees. I am thankful they have an air conditioner in their living room.

There is only one reason I can think of why anyone would want to live here, and what will keep Nathan and Emily here, and that is John 3:16. I am thankful that they are willing to serve the Lord here in what most of us would find rather uncomfortable.

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