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.
I take things like this in stride here in Mozambique, though. It’s hard to have a bad-hair-day or a bad any-kind-of-day in this place. As a whole, the country (minus its beauty salons) really is magical. It’s the kind of place everyone should venture to at least once in their lifetime. In particular, Mozambique captivates me because I’m fascinated by the work that’s being done here, the people around me who are rebuilding a war-prone, land-mined locale into a country of relative cooperation. Since being here, I’ve seen abandoned HIV/AIDS patients get the care they need, witnessed a program that puts women at the forefront of economic development, and documented unlikely collaboration between conservative sects of Christianity and African traditional healers. In short, I’ve seen theology in action. Only, it’s the kind of theology that’s difficult to fully grasp inside a classroom; it’s the lived issues that complicate what a person previously took for granted.
In my case as a student who studies religious-based peacebuilding, I no longer see peacebuilding as primarily policy oriented. Instead, I now gravitate to on-the-ground scenarios that are an integral part of the development process. In particular, I’m interested in the difference that my particular denomination (the UMC) can make in this area. I see the need for change all around me, I imagine the positive developments that can occur.
As my time in this country draws to a close, I’m invigorated by the possibility that we all have in discovering places where theology can be put to practice, where preconceived perceptions can be complicated, and where ideas can be created anew. I hope that we all find these places in our ministries.