How this Blog is sorted

I have used dating to re-organise how this blog is laid out. The first 7 postings (the ones about the trip are in reverse date order so the 1st posting up here is the 1st blog about the trip and so on until post 7

After that they are posted as normal so they are newest posting 1st. I hope that makes some sort of sense to everyone.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

A Mission Trip Part 1

To get to Angoche was a mission on it's own, it would take 3 days, a lot of sweat, a few tears, meeting some amazing people, a lot of prayer and quite a few laughs. So lets start at the very beginning as Mary Poppins, would say. We left Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church at around 2pm Friday the 14th of November and arrived at Heathrow at about 5:00pm ish. We all congregated at fast check in (Mr Administrator had already checked us in online) and I went to find Mr C (an ex elder from SCBC now living in Devon) who was a few yards away!!!! We said our good-byes to Ms G who was taking the minibus back to SCBC and checked in.
We flew at just after 8pm and arrived in Johannesburg at just after 6am local time. We were met by Mr & Mrs R who work for The Missionary Organisation as fixers, getting the things that the guys in Mozambique Mission Field and other places need. We were taken to their house and made to feel very welcome, we showered and had tea and coffee, melon, biscuits and sandwiches. In the afternoon we went to a craft market, where I met Picasso who sculpts rock, photo below. We then had tea at R & R's a fantastic cooked meal and a time of just wonderful sharing and fellowship. Later Mr C, Cameraman and myself were taken to an amazing guest cottage somewhere in countryside that was so beautiful and very peaceful (apart from the peacock!!)
At 6:30am the next morning (Sunday) we were taken to the airport and off we flew to Maputo (International Airport hahaha) a short 1 hour flight. Maputo is a funny airport for an international airport, it is tiny and cannot receive anything bigger than a 737? ho hum. We had a 6 hour wait also Ms T would be joining us here. We had bumped into her at Jo'burg airport earlier that morning. Two guys had gone to find Ms T from immigration but she had been taken somewhere else. After they had been gone an hour and they hadn't returned I was a little concerned and mentioned to Mr Administrator that I would like to see what was happening. Mrs G and I went outside and were heading to arrivals when I heard a small cry of "English Blogger!!!" I looked around and there was Ms T running up to us. She was OK but a little shaken. Immigration had tried to put her on an earlier plane and other things.

From Maputo we flew to Nampula a 3 and half to 4 hour flight. For a meal we were given a small can of coke and a bag of crisps?. The flight went very smoothly and we met up with E and P in the baggage claim, E and P are friends of Missionary Man and Missionary Lady from Holland, Missionary Lady trained with E as a midwife. Missionary Man and B.G a fellow worker for The Mission Organisation met us at the airport and took us to the Organisation Campus. We had a Boys and Girls house, joined by a wooden door, there were a few screams in the night. hahaha none of them were mine!!!

After a shared breakfast on Monday we had a tour of the Organisation Compound site and saw the offices and "Kithaapuo" the work that Missionary Man and Missionary Lady Missionary Girl and Missionary Boy have spent the past 12 years working on!!!!

Then we had a dust ride!!!! a 2 and bit hours ride to Angoche, most of the road is a dirt road.......well a dust road and we got filthy in our Land Rover unlike the other two cars going to Angoche we had no air con so we had the windows down....I am sure I still have red dust in my lungs.
Well it was a great ride and I learned so much from our driver, J (who is Missionary Man's boss!!!) he was telling me about the tribal systems and the way things work in the villages and stuff like that, it was just amazing. As we were driving we saw hardly any wildlife apart from the odd chicken or goat, Most of the houses along the road were made of grass, mud or weaved palm leaves. It was very Tarzan for want of a better description. I was so amazed at the beauty of the place and how peaceful everything seemed to be.... We stopped a few miles out of Nampula and looked at a Mountain...."Old Man" it's called.....
Hardly any cars or trucks, plenty of push-bikes and people walking. Having a convoy of the three 4x4 vehicles did turn a lot of heads...this would be one thing I did find hard, which I will mention in a later blog. Anyhoo after just over two hours of dust and very fast driving!!!!! We made it to Angoche safe and dirty Monday late afternoon!!!! 3 days of travelling and we would need to do this again in 8 days time!!!!!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Mozabique Mission post 2

We arrived hot, sweaty and very dusty in Angoche, though the others in the other cars obviously had air-con so felt cool and relaxed!!! Our first views of Angoche thanks to J were of the harbour...Angoche used to be the Worlds exporter of Cashew Nuts, until a virus hit the trees and the factories went bust. There are about a dozen boats moored up at the harbour...they never moved when we were there.

Angoche is now a subsistence town, people fish, sell the fish so they can survive if they don't sell the fish they eat the fish. Obviously this isn't everyone but it does seem to count for a lot of the people especially on the islands. Some will be farmers, goats and chickens seem to be feral but will belong some people, how they can tell who's are who's is a thing I have wondered about as they have no markings or tags?

Anyhooo back to my Mission Trip. The next morning we were up at 5am!!! I know arghhhh.....But as it gets light at about 3:30am and when it gets light it gets even hotter you tend to wake early. This was the first dedication and was on the mainland It was about 25 minutes away near the beach. The village was called Thamoole (pron Tamooley). This dedication affected me the most, it was biggest culture shock I guess.

Arriving at the village I was blown away buy how simple the village was, grass and mud huts, children looking after children. Then I heard the singing coming from the Church, it was beautiful. We weren't actually having the dedication service in the Church as the Church would not be big enough, so they had erected a temporary Church for this occasion.

In the Church, after taking our shoes off!!! Chris had forgotten tell us this little gem, they had found us some chairs (that wouldn't happen again!!)

We were all introduced, then all of the other visitors were introduced, people from other Churches, from different districts etc. This was just wonderful and would mean so much more after a few more dedication services to see how far some of these fellow Christians had actually travelled!!!!

We then went into a time of worship, I was moved to complete speechlessness!!! I know me!.. this lasted for about 30-50 minutes??? not really sure (the worship not my speechlessness) Then 3 of the team gave testimony or a prepared sermon, then the dedication of Kithaarpu, followed by 4 sermons, and communion, communion was really special, unless I could hear a translation of what was going I was a little lost sometimes, but having communion was a united Christian act. We had a little more worship and prayer, lunch was prayed for and then the service was over. During the sermons, Ian asked if I would fetch the water container he had in his car.... I was passed the keys and off I went, and burnt my feet in the sand I ran much laughter from some children sat in shade outside. Put on my shoes and then fetched the water.

Water was the largest part of our lives. The house we were in only had running water from about 5am to 5pm. That water was brown and needed to be filtered so we could drink it!!! in the heat and humidity of Mozambique you needed a lot of water, and coke (isotonic drinks replace the salts and sugars lost) We also needed to wash.... There were two large water buts in the bathroom for washing and flushing the toilet. (more about this in a later blog...back to Thamoole)

I had brought some modelling balloons to make stuff for the kids...I started to do this and ended up mobbed not just by kids but by adults and it was ugly. I stopped after 20 minutes. (again more about this in a later Blog) We were asked into the Church, it was laid out with mats and some large cooking pots of food. I walked in and burst into tears. The generosity of the village was so overwhelming. I don't think the basics of Christianity had ever been shown to me in such a way. I left the Church to try and compose myself and bumped into Chris, I thanked him for letting come to this amazing place and just cried. The love and compassion of Christ is an amazing thing, I believe I glimpsed a tiny part of it that day. We sat on the mats in circles and a man came round and washed mour hands, again I just cried, it was all so scriptural and so amazing. I have been a Christian 22 years I like to think I am a fairly nice guy and an OK Christian, Thamoole showed me I have so much to learn, even the basics are so important. Sharing and serving each other.

We had lunch of Coconut rice, chicken in a wonderful sauce and beans. (also it contained a bit of sand, well more than a bit) I loved every mouthful. To be honest I would have eaten and loved anything served to me I felt so honoured and humbled by the Thamoole/Angoche people.

After dinner we had our hands washed again. Then a few of us were shown shown around Vitor's house. a small Hut with a small kitchen, living room and a tiny bedroom. 8 people live in Vitors house...I left speechless again.

Vitor is the leader of Tariki ya Haakkhi which is a group of 5 Churches where the dedications will be taking place. Well 4 dedications. Vitor is an amazing man, and a very good pastor. Whilst in his house I made his children some balloon swords....this seemed to go down very well.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Mozambique Mission Part 3 (A few Problems and what we did on some of the Rest Days, rest days indeed)

On the Mission we did have a few problems, most were concerning health and the heat, I had a migraine one day, that took me out of action. I sent out a txt to Mission Team Leader back at home and I was prayed for and it had lifted by the evening!!! A couple of others had upset tums and were taken out of action for the odd day but over all we all did very well.

The other problem we had was after the first dedication. We were all full of the joys of an amazing day, we arrived back at the men's house (there were a lot of us as about 6 or 7 extra people had arrived from The Organisation to join in the first dedication) We were visited by the Police and immigration. Obviously we all kept a low profile and let Missionary Man + J deal with this. There was a lot of talking at the front of the house, a couple of armed police kept their eye on everything, when I say armed, I mean armed to the teeth, Side Guns, AK47's and hand grenades!!!(a tiny bit over the top I think). Missionary Man and J would update us and say things like...well they want to check our passports and visa's, then, what the man from immigration really wants is a bribe!!! There was no way we would pay him a bribe so, things got a little worse. He wanted all passport numbers, names and visa numbers. J started to write these out for him then he said no, no, no I want everyone to come down to the Immigration Office with Passports.

So off we all walked or were frog-marched I'm not sure really.but it was all jolly interesting. There will have been 20+ people all standing in his office, the armed Police waiting over the road with an eye on us. And one by one we had our passports and visa's checked, well the team from the Mission Organisation couldn't have theirs checked as they didn't have them with them... and Missionary Man hadn't had his passport stamped at immigration, he had given in his passport along with Missionary Girl and Boys and they hadn't stamped his passport. This was a big problem or so the Immigration Officer said. Missionary Man would have to go back to Nampula and try and sort it out. J would stay with us and Missionary man and Missionary Boy along with the Mission Organisation team would go to Immigration in Nampula.

Missionary Man's passport should have been stamped when he entered Mozambique, but they hadn't done this. This is a way of generating some money as they charge you $50 a day for not having it stamped!!! Well Missionary Man spent a very frustrating morning in Nampula, the Immigration man had caused himself a whole heap of problems!! when they got to Nampula and the Organisation team arrived with their passports all sorted with the right Visa's his boss was not well pleased and told him so. Mozambique are trying to encourage tourism and this was a real spanner in the works. Anyhoo Missionary Man couldn't get it sorted so J told him to come back and see what happens at the Airport. (Guess what? he left Mozambique without any problems at all, the Power of Prayer is amazing)

We all felt a little deflated and attacked back at the Men's house. I made us all some Homemade Soup for out tea, a hearty soup with loads of fresh vegetables. After Tea I lead the devotions I felt it was a good thing to debrief about the day in full. I started off by reading from John and the washing of the Disciples feet. Then said how I been so affected by this service, the washing of our Hands, the food and how I felt we had helped lay a massive foundation stone for the Church in Angoche, and if we do that Satan would be really cheesed off and we should expect to be attacked and this really felt demonic. As a group we had a great discussion and a wonderful time of Prayer and reclaiming of the day for God.

The day after the dedication was a rest day. I had a walk up to the shopping centre or Down Town Angoche ..... well this is an amazing thing. I think there are about 12 shops all selling virtually the same thing. I walked down to the town with Mr and Mrs Administrator he was buying some provisions for the team, cokes and other bits and bobs.

Mr & Mrs Administrator buying things in one of the shops in Down Town Angoche

I thought I would have a look at what was available....not a lot to be honest. As I have said Angoche is really a subsistence town so I guess there is no point stocking trinkets and nick-knacks that wouldn't sell in a month of Sundays. But there again in one shop window there was a clutch from a Morris Minor? I think there must be 30 cars in Angoche and not one of them is a Morris Minor.
Rush Hour Down Town Angoche

With Pipi in the shopping centre of Angoche

So we had a few rest days, on one of these I went to the market with Missionary Girl, the market is a wonderfully colourful place full of colours, smells (some not so nice) people and dust. I went with Missionary Girl as she can speak Portuguese and would help me buy some Kapulana's (a wrap worn by ladies) I wanted some as gifts. Missionary Man asked us not to take any photo's of the market as it a Muslim area and it may cause some problems. So I don't have any photo's from there.

In the Men's House we had a house man called Assani, Assani was Mr & Mrs Missionary Man's House Man. And as Mr Missionary Man said he is a golden find; he is honest and a very hard worker. He will look for work, he would do our washing, ironing, if the water was off he would walk to the Girls House and fetch water.... and he would cook a meal for us on the rest days. This is a photo of him cooking for us. He is an amazing cook

Assani Cooking us a wonderful meal

Now when I am away on I usually keep my head shaved, it saves time and its so easy to keep tidy, well don't let Missionary Girl and Mrs G loose with your razor........

The Men's unlike the Girls house only had Water for part of the day, also the Girls house had Air-con in the bedrooms...we didn't. I had a fan in my room that was louder than an aircraft taking off, which is more than Mr and Mrs Administrator had in their bedroom. A shower usually consisted of.... Standing in the bath next to a large container of water with a Jug, poor a jug of cold (well luke warm) over your head, this felt wonderful as by then I was boiling hot. Then washing yourself down, get another Jug of water and poor away. 1 shower completed, the toilet cistern needed to be filled the same way after use.

More about Dedications and 8 weddings in my next posting.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Mozambique Mission Part 4 (8 weddings and a boat trip)

The next dedication was just amazing. We had to be up very early 4 a.m!!!! and walk to the harbour beach to catch a Dow at 5 a.m to an Island called Khelelene (pron Keya-laynee). The boat trip was 3 hours which I loved every second of. We sailed past Islands that could have been in Bounty adverts, I dipped my hand in the sea and it was as warm as a cool bath.

On some of the little islands there would be guys fishing with big nets catching everything they could, these nets would be so heavy when they were pulling them in it would make you wonder if they ever would pull them in.

When we arrived at Khelelene there was a shortish walk to a rest area a small gazebo like area they had built for us. we were then invited into the Church where one of the best things I have ever tasted was waiting for us.

The Church on Khelelene

Fresh green Coconuts!!! I have had a coconut before, they are brown and sometimes they have a little milk inside... naaa. Fresh green Coconuts taste nothing like that. The milk inside is clear and just has a hint of a coconut flavour to it, but they do taste slightly fizzy!!! and it is so refreshing!!! I have never tasted anything like it in my life. God knew what he was doing creating the Coconut. As Ray Mears the survivalist says...If I was ever marooned on an Island with Coconuts I could last forever. The tree gives you... Food, shelter and the best drink ever.

Cutting open our Coconuts for the best drink ever.

Enjoying God's Bounty!!!! without the chocolate.

After a break and time to collect our thoughts we were taken on a small tour of the island and to the beach. We were followed by loads of Children who it seemed were mesmerised by us. They would hold our hands and keep looking at us smiling, it was just wonderful. When we got to the beach I was taken with how beautiful the Island was and how perfect it seemed, I said to Missionary Man that the island was Paradise, to which he replied, Yes if you don't have to live here. Which was very true.

Some of the Children who had followed us to the beach playing in the sand.

A fisherman showing us his catch

Some of the fish caught drying in the sand, if only I could of bottled the smell!!!!

Again this island is a fishing Island and as we headed back to the Church we would come across area's of fish drying in the sun, you could smell them way before you ever saw them!!! We walked back by what must be the High Street!!! half a dozen or so houses with produce outside for sale Mango's, Rice, this root that is mashed up into a porridge that has no taste or nutrients but fills you up, clothes and this shop that even had Haribo!!! Julia you could live here!!!!

A General Store that even had Haribo!!!

As we were walking back to the Church we passed a slightly larger hut that even had a satellite dish next to it, it was a cinema and had a couple of posters up advertising films!! both were the violent types like Fight Club!!! Just before the Church we walked past a small hut and the little boy who was holding Mr Administrator's hand mimed getting drunk and said no and pointed to the Church!!! Then he mimed smoking a Joint and did the same...obviously what goes on that little hut come pub...but at least this little chap of about 8 new it's wrong to get drunk and high....

The service was again just amazing and it left me emotional and totally drained, it is just amazing that during most of the services I didn't really understand the words but I knew what was being said. I can see God working and feel that he is changing the lives of the Koti. Whilst the service was going on a little girl sat near me and would inch her way closer, eventually she got close enough and got up the courage and touched my arm where I have a tattoo and rubbed it gently with her finger then looked at her finger to see if it had come off. I couldn't help but smile.

After the service and a wonderful meal, the same sort of meal we had before Chicken, Beans and Coconut Rice, we had 20 minutes to refresh ourselves before we headed back to the beach to catch our Dow back to the mainland. I looked up at a Coconut tree and there was this little boy maybe about 8 years old, standing happy as anything a good 20 feet up at the top.

The Dow trip back was a little more exciting the wind had got up a little bit and this made the boat rock a little. I thought this wonderful, a few of the team didn't really like it, which is understandable. As we got closer to the beach the boat needed to cross the waves and of course this made the boat rock a lot....Yay I thought, it's like a fair ground ride. I don't think everyone agreed with me.

The next big thing we did was head inland early one morning to attend a wedding, this wasn't a Koti wedding but a Macau Wedding, Macau in an area a little further inland. It was a wonderful honour to be invited to a wedding and I was very excited to attend. It took quite a while to arrive at the wedding because the truck we had borrowed belonged to the shop we had earlier purchased the cokes from and changed our Dollars to the local currency at. Well, he wanted us to deliver some corrugated zinc roofing in exchange for the use of his truck. This involved a trip up a wonderful dirt track to a house nearly finished. We all thought ohh a Church with no roof!!! I hope I have enough sunscreen on. Everyone got off the back of the truck the roofing was removed and everyone got back on and we headed back down this track. It was so funny, as no one knew what was happening.

On the way back down this track I saw a Mongoose!!! Yay I saw some real African wildlife. It took probably another 30 or so minutes to arrive at the wedding, and an area had been saved for us at the front in the shade under a Cashew Nut tree, that was shedding cashew nuts, one landed on my head!!! and it hurt. There were a few sermons 5 I think and Missionary Man did 2 of them, the 2nd one was due to a misunderstanding about a passage and he cleared up what was being said. (Paul and it's better not to marry, Missionary Man explained the context and all was OK)

Sitting under a Cashew Nut Tree (sorry I am yawning) (yes I am in Mrs EB's trousers)

We then went through 8 Marriage ceremonies!!! I know but it was just amazing and wonderful 8 couples wanting to stand up in front of a entire village and say we believe in Christ and want to marry and promise to stay faithful to each other and God. In these Muslim Villages and the culture of many wives and divorce, it is an amazing and brilliant thing. Though affection is not really shown, after the vows (supplied by our Church's previous Minister using the book of common Prayer, the; to have and hold, richer or poorer) The couple give each other a small piece of wedding cake and then some mango juice, wipe each other face and then kiss...well a peck on the cheek. Then it's a big cheer and you then give them a present, usually a small gift, and most people do give them a present, some sweets, a small amount of cash, fizzy pop, a head scarf etc. After the amazing weddings we went to the Church and were given a wonderful meal of Goat, beans and Coconut Rice and then someone came in with some wedding cake for us. It was possibly the best and longest wedding I have been too, unless of course I was at your wedding and then that was the best wedding.

The next post the last two dedications.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Mozambique Mission Part 5 (2 Dedications and a Translation Office)

The next dedication was in Angoche itself so didn't require a mega early start, though with it getting light at 3:30am we tended to wake early anyway. The area was called Inguri and again this was outside under a Cashew nut tree. The service was slightly different this time with some drama and a Choir singing for us. The one big difference this time we were next to a water pump well. I managed to move after a short while of sitting on the floor and sat on a small wall by the well and did end up missing a few bits due to the noise of buckets being filled.

The Choir of Ladies singing the Worship

Missionary Man handing over Kithaapu to Jose

Missionary Man playing a Video message from Missionary Lady to the Church at Inguri

Me sat at the well listening to either a sermon or a bucket being filled

The following day was a free day and we did a few things one of them being a hospital visit, I decided not do that and had a slow start to the day along with Mr C and Cameraman. We arranged to meet the team at a certain time at the Church house building in Down Town Angoche. Well that time came and went...I kept forgetting Africa time and Missionary Man was great at keeping Africa time ;-) Anyhoo we were meeting there as The Missionary Organisation are now using a room there as a translation Office and Missionary Man was taking some of his books there for the library, and he thought it would be good for us to see where it will all be happening from now on. Also whilst we were there Dr S joined us!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay.

With Jose taking in some books for the new Translation Office

Sorting the Books for the Library

Happy that Dr S has joined us.

The last dedication was again on an Island and involved and early morning boat ride this the team were split up as it would be on two smaller Dow's. We headed off for Nyaluki at 6am I believe. There wasn't much wind and the tide was very low and our Dow did ground once or twice on very shallow sand banks. I spent quite a lot of this time with my IPod on just reflect on what I had taken in so far. I was also preparing myself to share my testimony. I had spent time over the last few days rewriting what I wanted to say to fit into 5 minutes (including translation) and also to be relevant to the Church and the people there.

The other Dow

So when we moored up at a beach...a quite smelly and muddy beach at that , and then we had a walk.....oh boy what a walk! it must have been a good couple of miles clear across the Island. I haven't really mentioned this before but now is a good time. These are Islands and they are very beautiful but they don't really have plumbing, the villages will have a well or two and that is about it. So trying to find a flushing toilet on the island would be like trying to find teeth on the feral chickens. What the Villagers tend to do is wait for the tide to be out, pop over to the mangroves do what needs to be done and let the tide flush it all away later.

So we had a very interesting and smelly walk through the low tide Mangroves to the first Village, then through that village across to the other side of the island to the other Village. It was so good to arrive there, I was so hot and shattered, walking in the heat and humidity was so exhausting. We were shown into the Church. Most of the Village and a lot of other people were gathering under the temporary gazebo Church not far away. When we got into the Church we were greeted with a wonderful Green Coconut each...I don't think I have ever wanted anything so much as the man with the machete opened my Coconut, it was amazing and so refreshing. We waited in the Church for about 20 minutes or so and then we were called over to the Church.

The Church at Nyaluki

The service followed the usual format for the services of Tarikki ya Hakki so we were introduced and then others were introduced. People had come far and wide and some will have travelled for a maybe even a few days!!! It is so humbling to think that people wanted and needed to come to all of these dedication services. We then had a time of Worship, listening and worshipping I was getting used to some of the songs and I was joining in, I really hope that wasn't videoed ......

After a short time I was asked to give my testimony, I think this was one of the scariest and most amazing things. I would say a sentence or two, this would be translated into Portuguese and then into Koti. I believe that it went well and will have spoken to at least one person. After I had spoken Mrs Administrator and Dr S both spoke and both were wonderful. We then had four Sermons, and prayer. Then we asked if the Church would pray for us on our journey home. The Church did this and it was mind blowing, one of the team described it as a Typhoon of prayer swirling around us.... It did make my eyes leak again. But what else would expect from me?

Jose bringing one of the Sermons

3 leaders from one of the Churches with their new Kithaarpu's!!!

After the service we then went into the Church for dinner, this one was different!!! Coconut Rice, Beans and Prawns and it was a magnificent meal. Again this was started off with the washing of hands. It is such a simple act but probably spoke to me the most.

Leaving the Church our Fan Club

After the meal we headed back to the boats, they had been able to move around the island as the tide had come up. This meant we didn't need to walk for miles, just a few hundred yards, as you can see from the photo it was still very muddy. I think I still have mud under my toe nails!!!!!

Getting on the boats on a very muddy beach

And that was all of our Dedication Services all over and done with, I think the impact of Kithaapu will not be known for several years. I feel very privileged to have been a very small part of the dedication services and being able to see what Missionary Man and Missionary lady and their family have been involved in for the past twelve years.

My Next blog will be a surmise of some my thoughts and what I think I will have taken away from the Mission Trip.