Thursday, August 8, 2013

Between the Hyrax and the Hilux

Living and working here in rural Africa among the Makua-Metto people gives us a wide range of experiences among very different people.  As missionaries who’ve learned the language and culture we are accepted among people who live on less than a dollar a day, but as educated foreigners we are accepted among people whose net worth is much higher than our own, and we live in and navigate between these two different worlds. 

On Sunday, our family worshiped with a cluster of churches in the village of Omeringue - about 50 of us crowded under an awning of a mud house.  During worship, I sat on a rope bed next to a man named Zimbabwe.  I taught through the story from Mark 5 of Jesus’ healing of the Gerasene Demoniac in Makua, and then different church members shared the way that Jesus had changed their lives; Zimbabwe talked about how he and his wife removed all the magical amulets and demonic relics from their house.  After worship was over, everyone shared a meal of xima and hyrax.  Before Sunday our family had never seen, let alone eaten(!), a hyrax, which turns out is a little like a tailless, rock-dwelling beaver.  Everyone there got a tiny little piece of the meat with their sauce and xima, though Rachel wasn’t able to eat much because it took so long to get the meat off the tiny bones for the girls.  Our friends enjoyed explaining how they caught the hyraxes and showing off the one that they were drying in order to sell.

In contrast, on Tuesday I found myself in the air conditioned office of a bank manager here in Montepuez.  A wealthy Indian businessman, Api, had made the best offer on our Toyota Hilux pick-up truck and he was transferring money from his account to ours.  We talked in Portuguese about credit cards and trips outside of Mozambique, and, as he was fasting for Ramadan, we also talked about his pilgrimage to Mecca a few years back.  At one point a phone rang and he pulled 4 different cell phones out of his pocket until he found the right one.  In our conversations over the years he has always treated me as an equal even though we are in very, very different economic brackets.

Sometimes it can feel a little strange, like going back and forth between two worlds.  We could be drinking a cold coke on the beach in Pemba one day (having had to go for a business day to go to the bank and post office and immigration) and then the next day visiting a friend in a village who doesn’t have enough food to get through the month.  In the early years we wished these tensions would go away, but now we’ve accepted them as part of living in Africa as a foreigner, and we try to navigate the tensions with humility and generosity.

Grace and Peace,

P.S. - Update on our truck situation:  We are really thankful that we were able to sell our vehicle for a good price, and we are especially thankful for the Donelson and New Heritage churches and other individuals who’ve contributed to help us purchase a new vehicle!  To read more about why we’re purchasing a new truck, click here.  Lord willing, in a couple weeks, I will fly down to Mozambique’s capital city, pick up the new vehicle, get it outfitted in South Africa and drive it home.  Please keep all of us and that process in your prayers - it will be such a blessing to have a reliable vehicle again.  We still lack about $1900 to reach our fundraising goal, if you are willing to contribute please make checks out to “Donelson Church of Christ” with “Mozambique Truck Fund” in the note section and send them to: 2706 Old Lebanon Rd. Nashville, TN 37214

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