Overnight Update part 2.

So, where did I leave off…

Ah, yes. The story thus far left our trustworthy hero in the hands of a local, with his fellow companions and he not knowing whence they should then depart to, and whatfor they were about to be occupied…

So off we went, the dear companions, our volunteer helper/translator, and I, off down the dusty mud-lined prickly hedged alleys of sub (very sub) urban Maputo.

Most the houses are made of cheap concrete breese-blocks, or from bamboo or reed thatch. The rooves are generally from corrigated iron, or occasionaly from more thatch. Floors are just cold concrete, if at all. Many are just mud, like the church building of the compound. There are often bamboo/reed mats on the floors, kind of like the ones we might use at the beach, just a little bigger, and rougher, probably hand-made.

No running water, but with electricity, so you get a television in every house. I hate televisions, now. We visited a few houses, but every one had a T.V in it, and it was on. We talked to a few people, but with the T.V. on it was quite hard! We went to one man’s house, a friend of our translator/volunteer, and sat down in his living room, to talk. He went to a different church, but apparently both pastors are good friends, so that’s all right.

Anyway, he began to tell us (via translation) about his plans and work that he is starting to begin a youth/young-people programme in an area not far off, where there is a lot of poverty, and unimployment, and so on. He was asking us for what kind of things we had been envolved with, and some of the others shared about some of their experiences, and gave him advice, along the lines of how to get it going, how to make sure it didn’t just stay as talk, but actually became something.

This is one of the things that the line-up teams have been emphasising to us the whole time in Mozambique. The Line-Up team is a team of 3 people (or so) who get sent to a port a few months in advance of the ship’s arrival, and there they do all the negotiations of getting a berth for the ship, telephone lines, etc, as well as working with the local churches, and municipality, and so on, to find and work out the programme that the Doulos will have when she arrives, in order to be of greatest benefit.

There are currently 2 or three line up teams out there, one in Richards Bay, and one in Madagascar. In some ports they will decide that the greatest need is practical work, so much of the effort of the Doulos will be in that sector. In some ports (like the last ones), a massive problem is HIV/AIDS, so we have had many programmes on board which are talking about this problem, as well as orphanage visits and work.

Many people in Mozambique just have NO idea about HIV/AIDS at all, and partly because of the culture, and other things, sex outside of marriage is quite common, with and without commitment, and even within marriage and family relationships, incest is rife, with some fathers sleeping with their daughters as a “normal” state of affairs. Adultery also is quite common, and there is little or no objection to this, by most of the population, and even parts of the church. They just don’t know.

From hearing this, from the various line-up teams and from pastors in the area, it is quite easy to see why HIV/AIDS is such a problem! In many of the churches we visited, 1 in 3 of the congregation had HIV. It is very sad, and very hard to deal with. Much prayer needed.

Anyway, back to my point… one of the other things that the line-up teams of Mozambique, and particularly the one of Maputo had said to us was that there is very little teaching and knowledge of leadership and structure. Now I know that my dad, and others, will object to this being a problem. In the West, we have the opposite… too much leadership and structure. In the West, we are ALL encourages to “Become Leaders”, lead small groups, bible studies, learn to motivate people, to have good people skills, to find the felt-needs of people to encourage them to come to church, and then at church, the structure is very confining, and mickey-mouse, and tries to make everyone the same.

The problem with leadership in Mozambique, from what we were told, is that they have no ideas at all about this. For instance, say God calls someone to work with the street-kids, and they think that they need a team of people to work together. So they get a bunch of people interested, and then… well… they don’t know what to do next. Yes, we need the Holy Spirit, and Yes, He will help us through these things, but… a certain knowledge of how groups function, how to stay focused during meetings, the realisation that different people have different gifts, and can not all do the same work with the same way, and so on, can be of great benefit.

Anyway. Enough of the theoretics.

We chatted to this guy for a while, me the whole while having problems concentrating, as the blasted T.V. was on, and then the others were watching, and going “Oh wow, it’s Oprah! It’s just like home again” and so they turned it up for a while to watch. Of all inane programmes I have ever been forced to watch part of, I think that whatever that was has to be one of the worst. Man…

Anyway (again). We left after a while, and went and met some other people, and then went back to the house. There we went inside, and sat down, and they brought us coffee, milk, and tea. Very very good, compared to ship coffee & tea. (All of it was Nestle, by the way…).

We heard music then, people singing, and were brought out by the pastor into the church building, where there were 25 or so people. We had not had time to change clothes, or to get any props (for the Numbers Presentation, pictures of the ship, a map, or whatever). We went in, sang some songs with them (their songs. very cool, typical African style, a cappella).

Then after various things, praying, the pastor talking a little, and everyone singing an oyo-oyo song (oyo-oyo means “welcome” in the local language Shangana) to us, Jordan, the team leader said “OK, Daniel, would you like to share?”

So I stood up, opened my bible, and couldn’t find my notes. I had made two A5 pages of notes, just points to pick up on, and possible links. But, none of them were there.

So I just dived in. It’s quite easy to do a sermon, if you know the kind of thing to do, and aren’t afraid of talking in public. Thankyous for welcoming us, gosh, how wonderful it is, beautiful church, etc, today I want to look at a psalm… and so on. I think it went OK. I mean, it wasn’t anything special, I didn’t really say anything new, but whatever.

Anyway, afterwards, then Jordan shared a story with them, David & Goliath, and also linked to a similar psalm, and to Jesus walking on water. Afterwards, he came and told me “When you started preaching, I leant over to Ryan (the other boy on the group) and said ‘ He’s stolen my message!’ you picked exactly what I had!”, just very slight differences.

Quite funny. I’m sure there should be some way to make the whole thing sound very spiritual and “Amen, obviously this means God must have been saying something special!” but if He was, I didn’t really notice it. Oh well.

Then at the end of the meeting, the pastor said for anyone who wanted to, to come forward, and these wonderful American brothers and sisters would pray for them. So everyone started singing, and then one after another most of the people in the church began coming forward one after another, and knelt down and we laid hands on them and prayed for them.

We had no idea what any of them wanted us to pray for, so just prayed that God would answer thier prayers, whatever they were, and give them peace. Quite emotional, I think, very confusing and humbling to have people kneeling before you asking for prayer… I was feeling quite tired and low, unsure of why I was there or anything, and so after many of the church had been prayed for, I ended up on my knees, and Jordan and the pastor prayed for me. Nice people, then all the rest of the team and the pastor knelt and we all prayed for each other. Rather nice.

Afterwards, We all stood around talking outside, when the son/volenteer came up to me “Brother Daniel, it is now time for you to have your bath.”

Oh. Right. Well, OK.

So I followed him into a tiny little room behind the church room. Basically a 1.5 metre cube with a corrigated iron roof. A washing basin full of warm water that they had heated for me on the fire, and a packet of soap was on the floor. “You can use this towel if you want” he said, and then left.

There was no door to the room, just a light shower curtain. So, not wanting to offend or anything, I quickly stripped, tipped water over my head to make it look like I had had a “bath”, used a bit of soap, and dried off and went out again. Quite nice actually.

The trouble was that most of the church was just outside wandering around talking, and I realised that probably I had been given first “bath”, or even the only “bath”, because I had preached, and so probably everyone was waiting for me to finish quickly, so that we could either eat, or the rest could have “baths”, or we would do another service, or something. You never know.

By this time, Ryan had gotten his new name. They thought that his name sounded like “rain”, and so he got them to call him “Shuva” which means “rain” in Shangana. So after Brother Jordan and Brother Shuva had partaken of baths, (Brother Shuva somehow managing to have a bath in aprox. 40 seconds, and come out with dry hair), we then went in to eat. The girls were not offered baths, by the way. Something cultural, I guess.

So we sat down to eat, us and the pastor only, and the women (his wife, and daughter in law) brought food out for us, they and other random relatives and people ate elsewhere. It was a kind of mashed rice thing, with a vegetable soup, and also a few other vegetable foods. Wonderful.

After that we sat in the living room, talked about families, got introduced to them, and them to us, and then went to bed.

We were all sleeping nicely, us guys in one room, I presume the girls were sleeping in the other room, when just outside our window a most tremendous racket, a rooster.

Oh man. What time is it? Jordan and Brother Shuva were groaning and saying “Do we have to get up already?” but I checked my phone clock, to discover that the rooster was slightly over enthusiastic about greeting us, and the hour was 3.32 in the morning. Thanks dude.

He continued to keep us amused with his loud raucus crowing until about 7.00, whereupon I got up, the family already up and working, the rest of the team all asleep. I guessed that I might have to do another sermon soon, so got my bible, and began to prepair something. Didn’t really get anywhere though.

About 8.30 or 9 or so the rest of the team got up, and we were served breakfast. Lovely lovely lovely. Pancakes, or crepes, (which for some reason Brother Shuva insisted should be called “craps”), mixed banana chunks and apple chunks (1cm cubes), with yogurt, and lovely crisp fresh white bread, and real butter. Amazing. On ship we don’t have real butter, only marg, and the cereals get old, as we don’t normally have real milk either.

Anyway.

Lovely food, and afterwards, some more coffee and tea and stuff. After that, we knew we had a childrens program in the morning, and then a womens conference and then a youth event in the afternoon, and then another church service in the evening. So we got ourselves all ready to do the childrens program, until they told us that no, we were going out this morning.

Oh. Right. Well, OK.

But first they would kill the duck we had seen walking around, so that we could have it for dinner.

Oh. Um. Right.

That was my reaction. Not so the other lads.

“Oh boy! Wow, cool? Can I kill it? No? OK, I’ll film it then! This is so cool….” so they caught the duck, chopped off it’s head with an axe, and then dumped it on the ground. It continued writhing for a few minutes, with Brother Shuva and Jordan walking around with cameras saying “Man, this is so brutal. Like, this is just, so brutal man. Like, brutal.” The family watching amused at their antics. Lovely. The girls were feeling a bit grossed out, they said. I didn’t really feel anything. I knew it would happen. I don’t like it, but offending other people is worse than offending me.

So we got a whole load of little booklets in Portuguese, and then a whole crowd of us went out. We gave them out to everyone we met, and then went into a whole load of peoples houses. We would just all troop in, and start singing a song. Then they would come out of some back room somewhere, look at us all “oh, hello.” and then we would pray for them (more kneeling), and wander out again. Often they would join us.
Many of these people were
the not-quite-so-faithful, we were told. People who had not recently attended the church. OK.

At one house, we were just leaving, when our translator told us, “Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, at the previous house, not this one, but the one before, a man died yesterday. The womans brother. He was cleaning the house, his feet were wet, and he touched the electrics.”

Oh. Oh dear. Um, thanks for telling us, how did you manage to forget to tell us while we were there? We could have prayed for her then!

Anyway. We went home for lunch.

Sounds awfully cold blooded, doesn’t it. We did visit some more places, and so the same, singing and praying, but all of us felt a bit damped by that, I think.

Lunch was a chicken thing, with loads of vegeitables and other stuff. I didn’t have any chicken. The cook asked why, and if I ever ate meat? So I said, no, not normally, so if I she had cooked the duck for the evening, and I ate her lovely chicken now, I would probably feel ill from too much meat. Well, that’s kind of true. A bit true. Not totally a lie, anyway. I ate the chicken given to our church team last week sometime, and felt bad for the rest of the day and some of the day after, so, yeah. She didn’t seem to have a problem with it, though, so that’s OK. I hope.

Anyway, after that, everyone was so tired, they said, that they would sleep until 2.30, for the childrens program. So they went off to sleep, and I played Jordans guitar, I had not had much chance to practice before that. Nice guitar. I also read a bit. I woke them at 3.00pm, but they went back to sleep, and again at 4ish, and eventually, I gave up, and went to read outside.

At 5pm, ish, they staggered out of bed, and found that there were quite a lot of kids in the church, and some of the people we had met on the morning. But they were just leaving, as it was too late for them to stay. Oh. OK. So we did some kids songs for the kids, “Allellu, Allellu, Allellu, Allelluya, Praise ye the Lord”, and so on. The adults loved them too, and then at about 6.30, the pastor came in, joined in, and then eventually said “OK, let’s start tonights service now then!”

So, we sang a whole load of Shangana songs, and then he talked for a bit, we talked for a bit, and showed them a map where we all were from, and Jordan gave a sermon. I then told them all the story of the prodigal son, w/o bible, and a small application of it, and then the pastor asked the girls if they would like to say anything to the women?

This rather dumbfounded the poor girls, who had been slightly in culture shock the whole time from seeing how much work the women did, how they didn’t eat with the men, but served them, how they worked _constantly_ in the kitchen, looked after the kids, and so on, and yet didn’t complain. So they said a few things, and said how much they were learning from the women themselves.

Anyway. It all went well, and after that, we were all offered “baths” again, this time the girls as well, after we had finished. Then for the meal (at about 9pm). Loads of food, rice, vegies, soup, bread… and the duck. So I took the smallest piece, and some extra sauce, half-hid it under a bit of potato, and smeared it around a bit. I was forced to eat some of it, and tell the cook how good it was. I think it probably was good. She is an amazing cook, but alas, meat is wasted on me now.

But anyway. Again coffee afterwards, and then we all went to bed. Next morning, another amazing similar breakfast, and then the church service. We realised that we had never told the people that we were from a ship! For all most of them knew, we had just randomly visited. So we told them all about the ship, many of them knew about it already though.

There was another congregation visiting with them this Sunday, as their building was still in the process of being built. Most of them seemed a bit richer than this congregation, but anyway. Then many of them got up and talked about the ship too. One lady, the widow of one of the pastors who had died a few months ago seemed in very happy form about the ship.

We had another translator that service, a 19/20 or so year old girl, quite friendly. One thing she said made everyone laugh, and when translated was this: “You all know that the way to Heaven is to follow Jesus, but now I tell you that the way to the ship is to follow me. I will be going there at 2.30 this afternoon.” Funny.

Then after she talked about the ship, she began to talk about someone who had just died. The translator said that we would have a few minutes of silence. So we all bowed our heads, until everyone started singing. Then our translator began sobbing, and went and collapsed in front of the table/altar thing, sobbing on the floor. This quite suprised us, until we were told that it was her father had just died last week. Wow…. we would never have guessed before.

So Jordan was asked to pray for her, so he did, and then after a while she got up again, and went back to translating. So humble, wow.

Anyway, the service ended, and we all went outside. They offered us baths again, but we said “Thanks, but we are already clean, we had baths last night!” So they had baths instead.

Then lunch, which was amazing, again. Pasta and rice and vegies, and some chicken for those who wanted it. Mmmm… Then coffee, and then it was time to go. They gave us each a huge orange, and a few bags of cashue nuts. We all walked back to the main road together, they insisted that they carry all the bags and such, we were definately NOT allowed to. Then we all squashed into a chappa bus and went home. No real excitement on the bus this time.

We got to the port, and then took them on board to ship to give them a tour. Unfortunatly there were no more red dinner-guest badges, only yellow ones, which meant there there was no capacity to give them dinner on board. We showed them around, and then took them up to the book-ex. Jordan took their badges, and then after shaking hands, hugging, laughing a lot, and shaking hands some more, he and Brother Shuva and Jennifer (also on our team) left to go have showers.

Rachel and I felt rather bad about just dumping the guests, while they were still on board, in our home, so we stayed with them in the book-ex, showing them around. It turned out that none of them had brought any money with them, not expecting to go to the bookshop. Rachel and I did have some local money though, so we bought them a Portuguese New Testament each (not all of them had any kind of bible at all!), and I gave the pastor some money to buy a cookery book that he really wanted (he too is a wonderful cook).

The pastors method of trying to buy the book was a bit… er… interesting. We were all waiting just past the book-ex, waiting for him to buy his book at the cash desk. He didn’t join the queue, but went strait to the front, and tried to push in. This did not impress the other people in the queue, who didn’t let him in. Nor did the cashier. Eventually he got through.

We waved good bye to them as they left down the gangway, and went back inside. I found that I didn’t have any clothes left. All of my clean ones were in my Big Brother’s cabin, and I couldn’t find him anywhere! So after wandering around for ages not finding him, I decided to spend the last of my local money, and brought a few CDs at the book-ex.

Eventually I found him, and oh, joy! He gave me his key. And Oh Joy! All of my clothes were lying on his bed all folded, and OH JOY! They were clean!! Amazing how the little things can make one so happy at times. Lovely lovely clean clothes. And lovely lovely clean towel. So I went and had a shower.

And that pretty much wraps up my over-night. Except for one small story at the end. That evening was the last evening that the volunteers would have on board, after their good-byes and all, Vasco (our volunteer/translator/son-of-the-pastor/generally-all-round-nice-person) was talking to me and Bro. Shuva.

As we were talking, we heard the page from info that it was the time to get free ice cream. So we got him one, and his brother, and stood around talking on the quayside. Just before he left, he said that one thing he really wanted was an English Bible, as no-one he knew had one, and he really wanted to read one, to help his English, and to let him know the Bible in English too.

The book-ex was closed, and we couldn’t find another English one about, so I gave him mine. Bro. Shuva was a bit suprised, I think, but as I said, we’re living on the Doulos! Worlds Largest floating bookshop! I can get a new bible any time. Anyway. Vasco left, very happy, and I went to bed. It felt good to be home. Funny how a place can become
home so quickly.

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