Monday, September 17, 2012

Giving and recieving in Pemba

So much happens in a week, it's hard to put it into organized places in my thoughts in order to share. I feel like Im always neglecting incredible experiences when I share these little bits. But here are some, and that is the best I can give or today. 

Wednesday I had a very real moment that  I’m thankful for, though it is a bit hard for ones heart to hear it, I find it really amazing because it’s real life and I had an opportunity to love practically as well as remember one of the reasons Im here.
Memuna, A little girl can be a rascal around the base sometimes, invited me to her house and seemed really excited for me to say yes. She doesn’t live in the children’s center here, but she is one of the children from the village who almost seems like she does because she spends most of her time here as well as goes to school and eats at the daily childrens feeding that happens in our church (adjacent to my office, so I hear the singing, shouting and screaming of these sometimes 200 little guys that are usually only eating this one meal for the day). I love that she took a special interest in being my friend, because I think she is overlooked a nd maybe not even liked very often, and Im so happy to love her.
We walked to her house and she didn’t speak very much the whole time. Which is sometimes her personality, but she also just seemed tired that day. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she was hungry.
We got to her house. I know her mom because she used to be in our jewelry class, but moved into the gardening group before I returned this year. She also is one of the women that I truly love but can at times…well for lack of a better way to say it, she can be manipulative. But I truly love her, and it was wonderful to see her home. She has 7 children, and a very sick father living there. She has no husband; this is the all too normal situation of our wonderful ladies here.
Usually when I visit friends int heir homes I can see that they have needs, but we still have a wonderful time together, talking, laughing and enjoying each others company, but this bunch was incredibly somber. Every one of them, even the little ones, were frowning and looked weary, as if they were incredibly tired. I soon found out that it was because…simply put, they were hungry. It was such an eye-opening moment for me. It was one of those moments when you realize that somehow youve found yourself sitting on the inside of a story sometimes told by people in first world countries in a theoretical, sad way about people “starving in Africa”.I know Im around hungry people all of the time, but somehow it isn’t the focus for me most of the time; I’m usually focusing on bigger picture , how to get them skills and jobs to change their entire lives, as well as realize their own dreams, desires, potential  and extreme value that God sees in them different to the rest of the world. But in this moment, it was simple.
These people were hungry, and I asked them the details; they had run out of the food that Iris gives them almost a week earlier than the food is supposed to last. Probably because of the amount of kids she has, and feeding her father as well, and to be honest she probably solds part of it to buy other things. They actually have to pay for water, which they were also almost out of. I asked them if they had eaten anything today, and none of them had. Apparrently Memuna brings some of her food from the children’s feeding home and shares it, but she hadn’t that day because she was waiting for my visit. But that was basically, as far as they told me, all they had been eating since the Sunday before.
.So, I gave them some money. It wasn’t a lot, but it was what I had in my wallet. About 40 mets, which is about 2 dollars. But that can buy some beans, xima, and water. This is going to sound backwards, but it is important for me to be cautious about giving money here. The point of what we’re doing in Iris is to encourage Mozambicans, give them dignity, and opportunity to take care of themselves without dependency on us. As someone a part of the widows ministry, it’s extra important for me because it can be really unfair for me to have special friends within the group. But when God says give, I give. This was definitely a situation to break any “rules” and basically, feed some very hungry friends. I’m also going to check into seeing if she can be signed up for more food because of how many kids she has.
I’ll always remember that somber heaviness in the air over their hut; it was as if the unspoken words were just hanging in the air:“We’re hungry and don’t have food”.  I am soso thankful that I have money and food to share with friends. I’ve never been truly hungry like that in my life. And somehow I was born with the ability to only be that hungry by choice.
God, I don’t understand why I was born with that privelage, but I  thank you for it. And I thank you for the opportunity to feed the hungry. Thank you for Iris giving food and opportunity for life. Thank you for the Jewelry class that will provide money and food for these women.

I’ve had a few exciting gifts these last two weeks. My friend Emilda has sent her two oldest sons, Jaime, and Alberto, to my house to bring me sugar cane, Mandioca root, and a strange bean (or I guess it isn’t actually a bean but it looks like one?) two times. For no reason! They were jut waiting outside of my house a couple of times over these last two weeks bearing gifts! I can’t tell you how this touched me. Of course I want to refuse gifts like this from a momma who literally has no one providing for her but Iris. But, she wants to give it to me and it even hurts her for me to refuse. I even offered some to the boys to share, and they refused.
Of course I sent the boys back home with some little gifts as well. This is what we do around here: back and forth sharing and loving. The poorest of poor sharing their little with me, Of course I’m going to share out of my (by comparison) wealth and abundance!
These are the kinds of experiences that aren’t easy to put into words and share with others. What this kind of experience does inside of your heart is truly a piece of the Kingdom of God. It speaks of the truths that exist in heaven, where life is MORE THAN FOOD or what we OWN. I think this is a lesson you simply can’t grasp until you get the blessing of seeing true LACK and seeing generosity and joy inside of it. 

Small group with village girls:
Ive started a small group that’s consisting of about 5 girls from the surrounding villages who come to church but have no one pouring into them, no place to share questions, thoughts, ideas or problems in their lives.
Im really really excited about it. So far we have talked about the possibilities of their lives, abilities to dream, and their value. We have also talked about Jesus being  REAL, real enough to know that He is with us at all times, we can talk to Him, sit beside Him, He has thoughts about us, had plans for us when He made us. Ive shared a lot of my testimony, regarding how I became a Christian when I didn’t really know what that meant, and got to a point of learning for myself in an incredibly real way that God was more than an idea and a concept like a lot of the church sees Him as. And I talked about how I wondered bouth this thing of “hearing God” for so long and wanted it to be real, but never saw proof of Himreally being able to speak of us. And how I now hear Him all of the time. What a joy. I realiyed how amaying Jesus was when we were talking. Especially when reading psalm 139 and hearing about how God truly loves us and took great care in the way He made us.
The girls have been so excited about it. WE have been doing some fun things like making bracelettes and playing games as well and Ive been giving them opportunity to share about any problems during the week. So far they have proved to be shy abot themselves to some extent. I know it will take tim for them to truly feel safe to share things they feel. And to be honest they probabl don’t think much about how they feel, because they are used to not being allowed to….jsut managing through lifes difficulties. Im so excited to get to become like sisters with these precious girls.
Update on me:
Ive had some things shaken these last couple of weeks. Normal problems within the minstry in communicating as a team have seemed bigger than they should be have and affected me and at times made me feel doubts about my strength and abilities. But Im having to remember that Ive been here over two months and Im starting to feel tired! I have to remember to not neglect my tim with God that recharges me physically, emotionally, and mentally. Ive started fasting this week for the first tim in so long. I can already see it "working"...amaying how it always does. 
Again, this week is an important one. jane, the visitor from England is leaving and we are evaluating what to add into our prorgam from what she has taught and what to exclude or change from what we have been doing. Please pray for us as w make big decisions.

prayer requests:
_ I wont give into lies that stem from tiredness or basic warfare from being on the "frontlines" so to speak, here.
- Unity in our team and in our vision for the program
- Grace for myself to be God's daughter and nothing else

Thank you all! love you!

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