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Some Parting Thoughts

posted in: 2009, Mozambique - 1 Comment

There are some places so wonderful—so absolutely magical—that everyone should venture there at least once in their life. I assure you, however, that going to the beauty salon in Quelimane, Mozambique is not one of them. All in all, the experience is more worrisome than wonderful, more madness than magical. In a sense, it’s like walking into the barber shop and having Edward Scissor-Hands on speed as your stylist. I found this out the hard way after my firsthand experience this morning. My hair now makes my body look like one side is shorter than the other—the cut is diagonal from left to right. READ MORE

Confusion: A Cycle Underneath the Surface

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I’m currently reading Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Shadow of the Sun. Kapuscinski was the first African correspondent for Poland’s state newspaper, and this 1998 collection of short stories details a series of acute observations Kapuscinski made during his 40 years of exploration. His stories range from firsthand encounters with Ugandan madman Idi Amin to life-threatening battles with cerebral malaria and the 12-foot-long pythons of the Sudan. From his descriptions, the guy seems to be more of an Indiana Jones-type figure come to life than a Polish journalist (only the Indiana Jones of The Temple of Doom days rather than 2008′s disappointing Harrison Ford disaster). He escapes near death in the Sahara with only a canteen of water, figures out how to use black magic to his advantage in Ghana, and walks side-by-side with Hutu militiamen in the Rwandan mountains. Amidst all these tales worthy of cinematic frenzy, though, are also encounters with ordinary people that he’s met over the years, descriptions providing a connect-the-dots game of who’s who among the easily forgotten of this continent. And thus far, the story that’s stuck with me the most is one set during dinnertime in Ethiopia. Kapuscinski describes the event, saying, “More beggars crowded on the other side of the dirty window, staring at our plates. Men in tatters, women on crutches, children whose legs or arms had been blown off by land mines. Here, at this table, over this plate, one didn’t know how to behave, what to do with oneself.” READ MORE

Hallelujah: Here in Mozambique

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MOZ-2BoysSmile_horz4x6Thus far, the song of the summer has been Brandi Carlile’s Janis-Joplin-style-bellow of “Hallelujah.” Considering that Aquarius is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard, I play it repeatedly in the truck in hopes that he will get the message and sing along. A few weeks ago, my plan started showing results: Aquarius told me he liked the tune. [Insert conniving laugh here.] Now, I’m proud to say that I’ve played the song so many times that it’s come close to hypnotizing my traveling buddy, making it so he only requests one song when we are on our way to the field: Hallelujah. READ MORE

Big Revelations in Female Condoms

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MOZ-MariaPicture1 041-2womenAs a U2 devotee, I believe that the lyrics to the band’s songs are close to Gospel, spreading messages around the world that need to be heard. One of their most recent releases off their new album, “No Line On the Horizon,” is no different. In “Get On Your Boots,” Bono bellows: “Women are the future hold the big revelations,” just as The Edge provides a guitar riff that’s sure to let listeners know that these lyrics demand to be heard. As I listen to the tune via the wonders of my iPod, I’m astounded by the relevance of the band’s message when it’s applied to my context here in Mozambique. READ MORE

A Source of Healing

posted in: 2009, Mozambique - No Comments

Luke 5:17

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

For the past two weeks we have been visiting community-based organizations (CBO) throughout the Inhambane province of Mozambique. We have taken extremely long trips—some up to four hours away—to sit down with the leadership and members of each association to get from them a firsthand encounter of their successes, concerns and the challenges that they are facing. For the past two weeks this scripture has been with me as we visited each CBO. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a passion for those who are afflicted with disease—any disease—and my passion is working with those who face the daily battle of HIV/AIDS. READ MORE

Income generation and sustainability: The magic cure-all… or is it?

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Monday in Maxixe finds the internet down all around town. No emails, no Skype long distance phone calls, and saddest of all, no in-between time on facebook. What’s a person living in this modern age to do! Nick has been calling the internet company all morning trying to get the problem fixed. As expected with technology issues in Mozambique, it’s as of yet to no avail. The only answer the company provides is to say that there’s a glitch in the fiber-optic cable. Oh no! Not the fiber-optic cable! I have no idea what this is, but it sounds serious, right? I mean, you could blame the world’s end on a problem with the fiber-optic cable and I’d probably be convinced. And according to Nick, that’s oftentimes just what happens around here. If there’s a problem with the phones, it’s the fiber-optic cable. If the fax machine messes up, it’s got to be the fiber-optic cable. And if you’re late to work, just say the words “fiber-optic cable” and everyone will give a knowing nod and a look of unsolvable desperation. From what I’ve discovered, these are the three magic words in Maxixe. (Gosh, the thought of this creates many a-good Saturday Night Live skits in my head. Can’t you just see Tina Fey giving the Weekend Update and blaming the current economic crisis on the fiber-optic cable?) READ MORE

Hello from Mozambique

posted in: 2009, Mozambique (Tags: ) - 1 Comment

Aquarius Gilmer in the surf in Mozambique.

Matthew 13:44 “Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”

This morning I woke up with prayer on my mind and I could not stop thanking God for all the marvelous things (opening opportunities, safe travel, salvation, family, friends and anything else that I could think of) that God has done. I was led to this scripture Matthew 13:44 after Dr. Erskine, Maria and I left dinner last night with Mark, our supervisor here in Maputo.

While at dinner the topic of seminary arose. Dr. Erskine began a topic surrounding the idea that many people believe that seminary READ MORE

Welcome to Mozambique

posted in: 2009, Mozambique (Tags: , ) - 1 Comment

Maria gets acclimated to her new environment

I face a conundrum as I begin to write this post: It is both impossible yet necessary to describe Mozambique in words. Impossible because the beauty of the people and the land here can only really be known firsthand. No words or 4 x 6 snapshots can depict the life that reverberates through this country like a drum. I was here one other time in 2005 and my attempt and failure in articulating the magic of Mozambique to the folks back home was my biggest problem. Forget the slowness of the internet connections or the constant lack of bathroom toilet paper. Nothing proved to be a bigger issue than putting this place into words. I return four years later and this problem is no better (and I’m sad to report that neither is my internet or toilet paper situation). My words will never do this country justice.

However, I believe that it is vitally important and perhaps even more necessary than ever to at least attempt to describe Mozambique, to put into words the sights and sounds of the country I see when I look out my window. READ MORE