I am in a state of mourning.
I am mourning the loss of a beloved book that is strewn somewhere on the Marginal hillside. I am mourning my missing residency visa that was both ridiculously expensive and brand new. I am mourning having one less long-sleeved shirt come winter. I am mourning not having my purse or wallet which were both made by local artisans and having to live out of my pockets and makeshift bag. I am mourning my personal belongings that were cast aside because they are of no value to anyone but me. I am mourning not having my simple and ideal phone that saw me through a year of conversations in Mozambique. I am mourning the corruption of the Maputo police force whose purpose is to make money instead of serving the people. I am mourning my lack of peaceful inner calm when in shock and my quick turn to anger over forgiveness. Mostly, I am mourning the fact that I have control over nothing.
When I arrived back in Maputo a week and a half ago, everything was wonderful. Getting back to friends, work, church and the streets I’ve come to know so well was great. Even last week’s chilly storms and this week’s warm sunshine have been delightful. But sometimes things change very quickly.
This past Sunday, my church had a fabulous guest pastor from Kenya come and preach for us. He was funny and poignant, and touched on how God has plans for each of us, and how when we cling to the hope of that knowledge in dark times, it will get us through. On the way home from church, I spoke with my new Dutch friend who recently moved to Mozambique with his wife, but without any job. They both felt a calling to come here, and they have totally surrendered to God’s will for placing them where He will in the country. I commended him for what a cool, brave and slightly crazy testimony that is for living a life in God’s plans instead of our own. Then that night, a missionary working in South Africa spoke at the Sunday night fellowship I attend. He described how God has plans to use each of us, even if that means a lot of shaping and sloughing off of unhelpful parts of us.
I went into Monday so encouraged from all of the encounters I just had in various forms of church. But I suppose that all of that enthusiasm for God’s control and plans was put to the test on Monday night when my purse and all of its internal treasures were snatched away as a friend and I simply sat talking on a park bench. While my passport, work notebook and baggie of medicine came back to me, many other belongings will never be mine again. I was overcome with senses of shock, rage, despair and grief. I was so angry with non-committing police officers who demanded payment in order to be encouraged to work. I was so upset at the thought of having to go through the arduous process of getting my residency visa all over again. And I was so appalled by the injustice of having my things as casualties in a thief’s pursuit of money.
All of my worldly possessions in Mozambique fit in three suitcases. The capacity of my things could stretch across the surface of my twin sized bed and no further. Yet I lost a few beloved treasures from my simple and sparse trove without any warning or explanation. But then slowly, I began to acknowledge these they are just things. Just stuff. And maybe I somehow felt entitled to that stuff. Like it was mine or I deserved it. Somehow I must have felt justified in having domain over the few items in my room. And I think I must have stuffed myself with thinking that they were important. My purse was stolen by a hand and not a knife or gun. My friend and I were not injured in the event. And despite my major inconveniences now, I will be fine. I do not know why I fell into the plans of a bag-napper. But I do know that I always fall into God’s bigger plans. And now I will keep falling, but with a few pieces of stuff sloughed off.