Machava and Pemba
Life continues to be full of excitement, joy, frustrations, love, ups, downs, and everything in between… Since our last update, we did receive favor with the visa office, but not quite the way we had expected. We wanted a 3-month visa so that we could spend one month in each of 3 more Iris Ministry bases, two of which are in the north of the country and would be difficult to cross the border to constantly renew the 30-day kind we had at first. Well, instead we got a 2-month visa, so we had to rearrange our plans a little but it’s still a lot better than having to leave every 30 days!
We spent one week in the Machava base, which is in a suburb of Maputo, the capital city. All of the missionaries are from Brazil, so they didn’t bother teaching many of the kids English, which made it a little more challenging for us :-). It’s a smaller base than Zimpeto, the one we were at before, and very peaceful. They had about 90-100 kids in their orphanage and they run a community school as well. The week we were there they needed extra help in their preschool, so I was quite happy to jump in and be of service! The kids are so precious and love all the attention they can get. That base also organizes and puts on a weekly youth worship event in Maputo called Som do Ceu (Sound of Heaven), and we got to help with that as well. They asked me to sing a song for the altar-call, so I did one I had just learned in Portuguese. It is such an honor to worship with so many people who are completely sold-out for God and love Him with everything they have.
Now we have been in Pemba for about a week, and we absolutely love it here. The Iris base is right on the beach and very beautiful. This is the base that Rolland and Heidi Baker currently live at, though they have been in the States ever since we got here. The base is very different than Zimpeto or Machava, which were both much more established and in safer communities–the Pemba base is smack in the middle of a huge and very poor village that poses an interesting combination of opportunities and challenges. The base houses about 230 orphans, but it is constantly filled with kids from the village as well, which produces mixed feelings. On one side, they’re a challenge because they are constantly stealing food, clothes, toys, valuables, and everything they can get their hands on from the Iris kids–as well as taking the time and attention of the missionaries and visitors that could be going to nurture the orphans. On the other hand, even though the kids have family in the village, most are very neglected and/or abused at home, so we know they need help too. One thing the base is doing to help the problem is provide lunch for the village kids separately from the Iris kids every day Mon-Fri, and that does relieve at least a little of the tension at meal times.
Jon and I have definitely loved our time here in Pemba. Right now over half of the long-term missionaries are gone (vacations, language schools, furloughs, various reasons), so they need a lot of help. I was given the job of spending time with the babies every day (I tell you, they really had to twist my arm for that one… not) and I’ve been teaching guitar to a few girls, and Jon has been running around the base fixing random things (computers, generators, pumps, anything that breaks). Both of us have been really blessed to spend time with the missionaries and Mozambicans, especially Norberto and his sister Rosa. Both of them are so full of the Holy Spirit they just radiate with His love and character.
We definitely feel like we’re more on the front-lines of the spiritual battle, more so here than at the other bases. In addition to the usual poverty and witchcraft, this area is also more prone to natural disasters like floods, is very strongly Muslim, and has unthinkable immorality problems. It is very common for parents to teach kids “sex ed” at very young ages–5 to 6 years old. Many girls end up in prostitution before they’re 10. Within families there is usually no concept of marital faithfulness or commitment. Even though Mozambique had one of the lowest numbers of people with AIDS in Africa about 10 years ago, now the missionaries estimate probably 75-80% of the people in this area are HIV+. Many of the kids in the base have AIDS as well, but thankfully they have a much better chance of survival due to better nutrition and medical care.
The floods going on right now in Mozambique are absolutely devastating. This is early in the flood season–usually it lasts until the end of April–and it’s already the worst in most people’s memories. Thousands of acres of farmland, millions of houses, and entire towns that are usually high enough to be safe are now completely underwater. There are whole villages that have been wiped out with the survivors still stranded on little islands or in trees for days without food or clean water. Many of these islands are completely inaccessible by truck or plane, so Iris Ministries is praying for a boat or helicopter to help bring relief. Of course it doesn’t help that the flooded rivers are letting crocodiles into much wider territory, even further endangering lives. To make matters worse, the neighboring country Zambia is experiencing flooded reservoirs, so they are about to open up 5 huge dams within the next couple of days which will ALL flow into Mozambique and cause even greater devastation. Please pray for Mozambique.
There’s a lot more to write about–how the water supply has been cut off here in Pemba and the political unrest and riots in Maputo going on right now just to name a few, but this update is already pretty long, so I’ll save them for next time :-P. How’s that for a cliff-hanger?
* We got the 2-month visa we needed to come to Pemba and next Dondo!
* We are both doing much better with Portuguese and can communicate more readily, though keep praying for this to increase.
* We have been able to travel safely.
* We got out of Maputo right before the riots started.
* For the flood victims, that relief may find them quickly and that the rains will miraculously stop soon.
* For protection for the team of missionaries from Iris who are bringing food and medical care to the flood victims.
* For Iris Ministries to get a boat or plane to help with the flood relief effort.
* For protection for Jon and me from illness and injury, both of which are still randomly plaguing us.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!
May God bless you richly,
~Carla and Jon Reinagel