God has been extra busy answering prayer requests lately. Not like this is anything new, but while I’ve been extra busy balancing two jobs, language learning and life in general, it’s pretty great to know that he’s taking care of everything. When I moved back to Maputo a little over a month ago, I had a few concerns on my mind. Fret number one: I didn’t care where I lived the city, I just wanted to be safe. God answered my prayer by placing me in the Fort Knox of Maputo; naturally, a missionary guest house. Fret number two: I didn’t care where I lived in the city, but it would be super swell to be able to walk to work. The prayer was answered by my prime location of a 15 minute walk in different directions to work, downtown and the ocean. Fret number three: my friends and church in Beira were really wonderful, and it would be lovely to find the equivalent in Maputo. I realized how incredibly this was answered as at ladies’ Bible study this past week—made available through the great international church I’ve started attending—my newest Australian and Sierra Leonean friends were sharing their thanksgiving that I was brought into their group. Awesome.
My life has been filled with such lavish blessings lately that Maputo has taken on a whole other form. It actually feels like home, weirdly enough. It still is the quirky, dirty, frustrating and crowded place that it always was, but I’ve begun to see its underlying charm of diversity, community and opportunity for improvement. My Portuguese is lackluster, but it functions well enough to share jokes and learn Shangana vocabulary not from English, but from Portuguese. My social circle is small, but I’ve been blessed with the companionship and grace of a few great people. I’m finding comfort in the broken sidewalks, the erratic temperatures, the flourishing acacias and the soul-warming gelão lattes.
On top of everything else, work has been stellar. I spend about 10 hours a week getting in touch with my geeky organizational side as I revamp the booking, filing and clutter-management systems of the guest house of my two elderly employers. Evangeline, the older of the two sisters, said during one of our planning meetings, “God is wonderful, but we have some room for improvement.” I’m helping them sort out all of the different ways the guest house can improve. In my real job, our water and food security program is making huge progress in the development of our budgeting, project management, monitoring and researching systems. Our Water and Food Security Program (called ASA, which stands for Água e Segurança Alimentar) is continuing the work of individual projects that have been running since 2007, but as of August 2010, are now unifying them all under one national program. In the past few months I’ve done a ton of work in helping solidify all of our meetings and conversations and brainstorming about the project into objectives, activities and plans that we can actually utilize. The word asa means wing in Portuguese, and a few months ago Jorge, the wonderful boss of my boss, said “If asa means wing, then with the ASA Program, we are going to fly.” He’s a source of never-ending inspiration.
The ASA Program is currently running water conservation and sustainable agriculture projects in two provinces, but we’re getting ready to expand into an additional four provinces by the end of 2014. My coworkers on the coordination team and I are realizing how much work goes into managing a national program, but it’s really exciting to see how far we’ve come in the time that I’ve been here. Because of the type of work that I’ve been doing lately and the ways that the ASA Program has progressed, my position has changed a bit. I am now the Donor Management and Communications Official, which is a really fancy title for report writing, brochure making and Internet researching. Finally after eight months, my coworkers and I are realizing that I may actually have skills to offer and contributions to make as the ASA Program grows. I’ve learned so much about development through the lenses of program management, multicultural teams, rural community involvement and technical approaches to meeting peoples’ needs. It has been so rewarding to be part of this program and to test and expand my textbook knowledge into practical, hands-on skills.
Back in February, I worked on a massive grant proposal to help propel the ASA Program into the next three years. MCC and CCM (Christian Council of Mozambique—the organization with which I work) learned a lot through this grant writing process, such as all the room that the ASA Program has to grow in terms of development, technical options, organizational partnerships and human resources. It was around this time that my job description changed, as CCM recognized that I have past experience working with donors and fundraising. It was also around this time that CCM offered me a position to stay on after my SALT term ends! I thought about it, prayed about it and talked about it, and then decided that the opportunity is too great to pass up. I deeply honored to have a chance to actually do something about food and water scarcity in places deeply affected by these needs. I love working submersed in a context different than home and building upon all that my education taught me. And I’m thrilled with the prospect of watching all of our hard work unfold as ASA expands.
The plan is that I’ll still come home at the end of July when my SALT term ends, but I’ll come back to Mozambique probably around October. The only catch in this whole prospective continuation is that everything depends on the funding from this grant which we applied for in February. If the grant is not awarded, then I am able to stay for six months, so I’ll return home around March 2012. But if the funding does come through, then my position is available for the next three years, until October 2014. Six months versus three years is a big difference, but I can do nothing but patiently wait until August when we find out the yay or nay about the grant. Regardless of what the outcome will be, I am so thankful for the ways that God has woven everything together in the last few months. I have been blessed with a new community and a fresh perspective that will make returning to Maputo come October more like a homecoming, regardless of how long I will stay. God has developed all of this development work in such a more excellent way than any of us organizations could have ever done it, and for that I have true gratefulness and peace about whatever the next batch of months will bring.