The past month has been really challenging. Acclimating to a new language, culture, set of bacteria and cuisine has been more difficult than I expected. I've begun to read 2 Corinthians 4:8 in a whole new way. I may not be crushed, but I've certainly felt pressed as my four to five hour daily commute has literally jammed me in various forms of public Mozambican transportation. I was certainly perplexed and tempted by despair as riots in Maputo kept me in a confused state of house arrest for five days. Barriers of language, skin color and customs made me feel lonely, and sometimes I struggled to remember that I'm not abandoned. And after being bruised, bloodied, muddied, stubbed, and generally struck down (just in my walk to work alone), much of my patience and energy has been destroyed. But God has continued to remind me that my increasingly fracturing clay jar only leaves more room for him to fill in my ever-expanding weaknesses and inadequacies. Lately, I'm learning a lot about vision—not only in the act of seeing, but also in recalibrating my perspective.
Physically and tangibly, I've stopped taking many things for granted. Transportation, time, family, friends, running water, conversations, soap and vegetables all mean something different to me after being here. Health has also cut into my altering perspectives, as a few days of pink eye renewed my gratefulness for the ability to have vision. Additionally, stumbling back to my host family's house—a treacherous 12 minute walk from the paved main road—in the utter blackness of the bush after a long day in the city makes me super thankful for the sight aids of cell phones and mini flashlights.
Before I came to Mozambique, I had a vision for what my host family and living situation would be like. I live with my new mami, Dona Monica, and her four daughters. Our house is in Matola, a “suburb” of Maputo, located southwest of the city. The road we take into the city is the same that directs traffic into South Africa and/or Swaziland. The family's husband and father passed away last year, but people are never scarce in this house. Grandma, a nephew, friends and grandchildren keep the house bubbling with Portuguese discourse, Changari orders, and in-human shrieks, just for the sake of noise. The family is loud, welcoming and filthy rich. Wine bottles clutter the main sitting room, a china and gold laden table constantly remains set in the dining room, (at least) three kitchens create a maze when trying to locate anyone, and multiple cars crowd the long brick driveway. Needless to say, it turned out to be a bit different in reality than in my imagination. My vision did not include an upper class family, the luxury of having food but choosing not to eat or the daily passing of slums to arrive at a mansion in the middle of nowhere. But my new vision is slowly changing to incorporate the reality of class divide and the existence of affluent Mozambicans. As my MCC coworker Stephen said a few weeks back, “One day this will all seem normal, but today is not that day.” I'm still waiting for that day to come.
But despite the challenges of changing my perspectives, I've also experienced the excitement of gaining a new overarching vision. I've spent the last week in Beira with the entire MCC Mozambique team for a retreat. It took us Maputo residents 16 hours to get here, but I've greatly enjoyed learning more about the country, my coworkers and our joint vision for our MCC programs. Through our meetings, frustrations have been aired, joys have been shared, friendships have been solidified, many games have been played and serious strategic planning has taken place. In the last two weeks, my colleges in the sustainable agriculture and water (ASA) program of CCM have chartered our vision, mission and objectives for the next three years, as well as how they fit into MCC's work in Mozambique. Being the development geek that I am, I've been thrilled in discovering our collective mission, as well as my contribution toward it. Our team has articulated that MCC Mozambique seeks to follow the teachings of Jesus through healthy, sovereign partnerships to nurture just, abundant life in the areas of water, food security, education, peace and HIV/AIDS awareness. I'm so excited to be a part of a group that shares my passions, goals and drive, and I'm anxious to watch our Spirit-led vision unfold in our attempt to bring a little heaven to this corner of the earth. And I'm also glad to finally watch my preoccupied short-sightedness wither away in the light of a new vision.