Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A new beginning

It has been a long long while since I've blogged.  I always have these grand expectations for myself... I will blog every week, or I will blog twice a month....  Well... yeah.  Life happens, and nothing "blogworthy," just plain old messy life with a toddler and a baby.  :-) But, I'm back.  And this time, I WILL blog regularly.  Maybe not every week... but, I'll give it my best shot.

This week is bringing a lot of changes to our little world.  Daniel is moving to Mozambique!!  And we are SO excited.  He is going over to build the house that we will all live in when we go!  So, he's leaving monday (July 15), and we'll be here for a while on our own.  The girls and I are going to head over Aug 16, with my sister as a traveling companion (for the crazy woman with two babies).  We can't wait! 

Hannah, our sweet girl will be two on Sunday!  Where does the time go??  She's an energetic toddler, and just where she taps her energy from, I don't know.  I only wish I could share some of it, some days!  Hannah loves to run and play outside.  Her current favorite things are: ballet, dancing, Curious George, her friends Asher and Gideon, pushing her sister in the stroller, to name a few.  She is turning into a big helper!  Hannah daily picks out toys and tells me that she wants to bring THOSE toys to "beek" (Mozambique).  She's definitely got her pile of go and take sorted out.  :-)  She is really excited to go on the "A-me-ane" in the "sty" to "beek" to see Daddy and "Inga" (Jacinta), and talks about it multiple times a day.  

Our sweet Lydia is six months old, and she just started crawling.  She definitely gets around.  She is a very determined girl.  Her little personality is very laid back, and she puts up with a lot of "love" from her big sister.  She has a ready smile, and a big laugh.  She is very social, and will choose people over sleep 9 times out of 10, which has made napping difficult for her.  But, she is generally a good sleeper.  She has made friends with all the mamas and babies in nursing room at church.  She talks to anyone who will listen.  It is so fun to see how God made their little personalities SO different, yet it is definitely obvious they are sisters. Lydia loves her sister, her mommy and daddy, to eat anything--especially power cords-- she will crawl and roll across a room to get to one (shaking my head), going for walks in her stroller, talking, and trying to steal food off of plates. 

Now that we are updated, and will be having more bloggable life soon... I'm sure the blog posts will be more frequent. :-)  Pray for us as we begin this new adventure!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Differences Part Five: Daily Life

Every time I turn on a faucet and get clear running water, and it runs hot or cold, in the kitchen, the bathroom or outside in a hose, I say a thank you.

Every time I turn on an electric switch and a light comes or a machine works, I say a thank you.

When I can go to a refrigerator and get ice cubes, when it is hot, I say a thank you.

When it rains, and I have a roof over my head, that does not leak, I say a thank you.

When its hot, and i can turn on a fan, or if its cold, some kind of heat, I say thank you.

If i need warm water for a cup of tea, i turn a knob, and gas heats the stove immediately, or the microwave heats things in very little time, I say a thank you.

When I pull into a gas station, and they have gas available for purchase, I say thank you.

When I drive 100 miles, on a road, without a single pothole, I say thank you.

Not having these things as readily in Mozambique, as we have in other places, reminds me more and more to give ''thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.''

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Differences Part Four: Prisons

I have yet to have any first hand experience with working in a prison of any kind in Mozambique, (trust but verify - do your own confirming research) but one of the ministries at Maforga, visits the local prison on a weekly basis, and I have had several discussions, and read several things about prison conditions in Mozambique. One of the most shocking things to Western thought, is how little care (food and health care) is given. Prisons tend to feed the prisoners very little, similar to the situation in hospitals where family members or friends are counted on to help. over the past few years one proposal was to have the prisoners grow their own food. Other organizations have documented the overcrowding and lack of facilities (no toilets, no beds) in some prison cells in Mozambique. Hebrews 13: 1-3 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Differences Part Three: Hospitals

Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world, and this is reflected by the number of hospitals and doctors there. Most recent estimates say that there are about 600 doctors for the entire population, or one doctor for every 30,000 people. In the U.S. its about three doctors for every 1,000 people. Mozambique only has the capacity inside the country to train about 60 doctors per year, and many of those who go outside the country for training, do not return. Money for medicine is scarce, and many times, in order to get any care in a hospital, money must be paid up front, or a patient will not be given care at all. This all equates to very high infant and child mortality rates (about 76 out of every 1000 infants dies before the age of one, 180 out of 1000 children die before the age of five.) In the U.S. 6 infants out of every 1000 die before the age of one. Perhaps the largest difference is that hospitals in Mozambique (and many other places) do not have the responsibility or capacity to feed the patients that are staying in the hospital. That is a responsibility left to friends or relatives. If no one is available to provide food, or buy medicine, this makes medical situations that much more difficult to solve. This contributes to a life expectancy of 47 years currently. We knew of 11 people who died during the six months we were in Mozambique in 2011.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Differences Part Two: School

We experienced several differences related to schools in Mozambique. Children can walk up to several miles a day (without shoes) in order to get to school. sometimes very young, 5-6 year old children do this , without supervision. Class sizes in Mozambique now average right around 70 per class. The US Department of Education estimates that in the US, nationally, the average class size is twenty-five. Many times, driving along the Beira corridor, from Beira to Mutare, we will see classes meeting outside, for lack of classroom space. We have also seen classrooms that are simply bare rooms, no furniture, sometimes students carry small stools back and forth to school with them.
Another difference. Currently in order to be a become a teacher in Mozambique, (as it was explained to me) one can go to six-eight years of regular school, with one or two years of teaching education. Essentially nine years of schooling will get a teaching credential right now in Mozambique. With fewer teachers, schools also have fewer support staff, secretaries, counselors, nurses, etc are pretty much non-existent in the rural schools. finally, universities, It's difficult to count, but in trying to find information on Universities in Mozambique I think I found references to about ten entities that could call themselves Universities, for a population of 22 million people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Differences Part One: Work

It's May Day! Every worker in the country gets a raise! (More on that later.)

We get asked questions all the time about the differences between Mozambique and the United States, and sometimes when we try and answer those questions, we are met with some of the most quizzical expressions.  I hope that doesn't reflect our powers of description as much as it reflects how vast the differences are between the two nations, and how difficult that is to grasp, if you haven't seen it and experienced it for yourself.

As a theme for May, I'll try and describe with words and pictures, some of the differences in the following areas (as I currently understand them, reserving the right to update that knowledge and I gather more facts as we continue to learn about the area where we are at.) 

Banks /ATMs
Grocery stores / Markets
Trash Cleanup

I'll start with this difference.  Work. Today is May Day. May 1st.  A big deal globally for the International Workers of the World set.

One could set down a very lengthy treatise on differences in Labor Law between Mozambique and the United States,  but here is one difference.  The Labor Consultative Commission (the National government, the trade unions and the employers' associations) has decided, to give raises to all of the workers in every industry across Mozambique for the last several years.

Minimum and maximum wages are set in twelve different categories of industry. (Ranging from about 80 to 220 dollars per month.)

Even given the mandatory minimum wage, unemployment in Mozambique is around 40%. Of those working, about 70 % earn the minimum wage in their sector of labor, and the average minimum wage only pays about 50% of the poverty line in Mozambique.

A very different scenario from that in the United States.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Usable or Not?

There was a great event in Gainesville over the weekend in which several local churches banded together to help clean up a building that had been sitting vacant for some time, in order to prepare it for some new groups and ministries.

Throughout the day, the dumpster grew more and more full of items that were not considered to be of any more use at that facility. So the items were thrown in the trash. Some of us struggle with the Reduce - Reuse- Recycle theme, and some of us don't.

One example of throwaway items were books. I kept thinking of how difficult it is to get books in Africa, specifically Mozambigue, but other countries as well, and how easy it is to throw them away in America. Just one of thousands of items that we throw away here in America as having no further use to us, and that are invaluable in other places where resources are more scarce.

Take water bottles for instance. Easy to get and everywhere in the USA right? I've seen children, in churches, in Mozambique, sipping out of liquor bottles, with the labels still on them, and you share your head, and then realize, that is what this child is using for a water bottle.

Is the solution then to just recycle everything, or donate these things to African countries? For a variety of reasons, it isn't that simple, nor is it actually that easy, or cost effective. It can certainly be done, but not in every situation. So the reality, and the perspective, is still there.

We have so much surplus in this country, that we throw away perfectly good and usable items simply because it is more cost effective for us to do that, while some other places lack those same items, but it is difficult to make the match sometimes between surplus and need (in terms of physical items) and justify the cost of sending those items to the people who may need them.

A while back, I found this ball, a beat up old volleyball, abandoned in a gutter.

It wasn't pretty, but I saved it as an example of one of those thing that has run out of useful life in the US, but would still have use in Africa. Probably 100 million African kids would clamor to play with this ball if they had the chance. I doubt if one single American child would claim it as their own. I think the very same thing can happen in our lives, with one important difference.

Many of us have been tossed aside, thrown away, deemed to be of no more use because of our past history or sin. But as long as we have breath and life, and we turn our lives and hearts to Jesus, not only can what was deemed unusable become usable in God's hands, He will make us new!

Colossians 3:5-10

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.