Visiting Beira, Mozambique... Where to start... What to say... There are so many things to say! I'll start with this, if you plan on visiting Jon and Carla in Mozambique, then keep on planning because it is an amazing experience!
While I was in Beira I grew a lot spiritually and mentally. Who knew God would bring you half way around the world to learn how to forgive and have Agape Love for those who have hurt you? I saw such fervent worship and prayer it was overwhelming, (in a good way). Sometimes during church services all I could do was just stand, watch, and soak it all in.
The cultural experience is pretty awesome. I'm not a very touchy-feely person, but it's culture here to be close to people. And I actually didn't mind it. Being squished in a Chappa was just another day to day happening. Knowing some Portuguese would definitely be beneficial for you to visit, but if you are just learning, (like I am), keep your mind open and be willing to learn. Some of my favorite conversations contained lots of language barriers, but with patience and lots of laughing we could communicate.
If you have a chance to do ministry work, there are many choices. I got to teach English, visit the jail, teach Sunday school, and do Bible studies. I formed friendships that I still keep up with here in Missouri, and I have carried the impact home with me to continue growing.
In a nutshell, it's a growing, challenging, and wonderful experience. I already want to go back, and bring a group of people with me to share my experiences with them. So, again, if you are planning on visiting Beira, it may be something new, different, possibly scary, but the moment I stepped out of the airport, the anxiety was swept away. I was part of God's works, and you can be too, all it takes is a willing heart to say, "I will go."
Day 1 of Media Training found me sitting there in front of a dozen Mozambicans. I was full of nerves, being the 'professional' in the room, having traveled across the globe to impart some sort of video/media wisdom to this group. For a moment it was confusing. I had to keep reminding myself that that no, I wasn't that high schooler way back when, making videos in the backyard with my neighbors. In this instance, I was indeed the professional and had to remind myself that I knew that I had more resources and knowledge to give out than what my nerves told me. A crazy thing happened as I spoke and our Equip Moz friends interpreted: our 'students' started taking notes. People asked questions. Our students were thinking critically and going levels deep, spurring discussion and even more questions.
It was only the first day, but already I was in awe of what God had orchestrated for our time in Beira. Mozambicans who had a passion for Christ and a desire or skill in digital media were eager to unite for the first time and learn how they could better use videos to impact thousands at their local churches."
Last year we prayed about doing a family mission trip and contacted different people we knew [doing mission work] throughout the world...Mozambique, with Jon and Carla, is where we felt God was leading us to spend some time.
I feel like we are learning so much more about 'helping' people. Equip Mozambique isn't an evangelistic ministry or a relief ministry. They want to disciple followers of Jesus.
For my [crochet] class, an interpreter was 'hired' to assist me. Helena, 19, an former orphan was hired to come to my classes with me. She was in an orphanage run by a woman who moved back to the United States. Mama Lee happened to be in the country this week and suggested Helena. She has such an infectious smile! She also knew how to crochet which was a huge help. (I'm pretty much self taught in crochet and just make it up as I go.) I loved that Helena asked to teach, herself, and not just translate! The culture here is to not share knowledge, so this is a great step. She was paid for her time with me and she also was given a crochet hook. I gave her a pair of scissors too...Wow! a 19 year old was very excited to be given scissors!
One of the big take aways that I am formulating in my brain is that all people are in fact people. They are not a statistic, they are not a side show, they are real people with feelings and desires. I need to constantly be aware of respecting people who are different than me as a real person. I tried really hard to only take pictures of people doing things that I would not mind people taking a picture of me doing and sharing it with their friends. Yes, I was a tourist, but the people of Mozambique where not my 'entertainment'.
I would encourage every family to do a trip like this together.
Jon sent us an email of things that we could potentially help with, [and] I was very happy to find that piano lessons and math tutoring were on that list. I had some experience working as a tutor... so I was very confident going into that.
The piano lessons were a different matter. I have played piano for five years and had a rough idea that I could teach. Teaching does not come naturally to me. I find explaining things in a different way exceedingly difficult, a problem that is only magnified when you are trying to teach in another language through a translator who may not understand what [you are] saying. Thankfully, I was paired with a translator, named Domingos, whom Carla had already taught guitar, so he was already familiar with the terminology I was using and was able to teach me just enough Portuguese that I could help people while he was occupied with something else. The speed with which the piano students learned was extremely encouraging, as was the depth of understanding Domingos acquired, enabling him to teach new arrivals after the first day everything that had already been taught [in the preceding classes] in a matter of minutes.