Back in the truck after being where Jeremiah had the accident and hearing about it, the mood was quiet and thoughtful. John pointed out things along the way and soon we were out of town, turning onto a dirt road and into another world.
Tall grass grew on both sides of the rutted road. Tree branches would sometimes swipe the side of the car and come into the windows a little. Once Diana got a wet mango branch to the side of the head, sending little tiny blossoms into her hair and all over the seat and our clothes. We smelled of blossoms the rest of the day.
People walked along the road and had to step off into the tall grass when we passed by. Men roade bicycles (women are rarely on a bicycle, except when being given a ride by a man), women walked, a lot of them with big baskets on their heads. They carried sticks, garden tools, supplies and food in the baskets and there were babies swaddled onto their backs. The areas alongside the road that were cleared were planted with family gardens, long rows of mounded dirt with deep furrows between them, women hoeing or harvesting. The women here do tend the gardens and walk a long way from village to garden, such hard work.....just a normal day to them. Lots of beans, lettuce, squash and root vegetables were growing. People we passed had two reactions....either they stared and scowled at us or they smiled and waved. Most of the children run away. We smiled and waved and called "bon dia" as we passed.
Our first stop was Orlando's church. They have a large mud hut building, situated in a pleasant, clean village....very orderly and well kept. I cannot imagine that keeping a mud hut village neat is an easy job, but you can tell there is a sense of pride and ownership with the people here and they even had some bushes and plants growing around their huts sometimes. We just visited a few minutes before piling Orlando and several youth into the truck. (I just asked Wanne and she said there were about 9 people in the bed of the truck, while Orlando sat in the cab with us.) This was Jeremiah's normal routine. He and Sobrinio would ride the motorcycle here, then meet Orlando. Then the guys on the motor cycle would ride ahead, then wait for Orlando to catch up on foot. They told us a funny story about how one day they waited and waited for Orlando, but he never came, so they went back. But Orlando had come and gone to the village leaders home to get permission and they missed each other so Orlando and the village leader were waiting on Jeremiah and Sobrinio who never came. He and Sobrinio just laughed and laughed at that. I think he thought Jeremiah was impatient. ;)
We visited two more small villages that day. Both of them were preaching points that Jeremiah and Sobrinio had started by gaining favor and welcome with the soccer ball. We met Jose (pronounced Jo-shway) at Madumwe, where he became Jeremiah's first convert. Two other men came to know Christ there too and now there are several more who meet with them regularly to study the Bible with Orlando and worship under a large mango tree along the road into their village. We would come back there for lunch, so we just introduced ourselves and went on to Palani, a little more primitive village, but the people there sang and talked to us about Jeremiah and what he'd meant to them. It means so much to the David and Diana to hear it all and see the places their son came here to serve.
While we were in Palani, we took a walk down to the river because Jeremiah had told them stories about how he'd had to leave his motorcycle and wade through the mud to get to another place, you may remember his stories too. On our walk we were joined by some drunken men, who were kind of poking fun at the 'preachers', John, Charles and David. He was a minor distraction to us, but the men of the village were embarrassed by him and asked him to leave. John said their drug problem there stems mainly from homemade alcohol. They make it from the sugar cane that grows abundantly here.
Having been traveling a bumpy road all day, I finally decided that it was a good time to get an education in the squatty potty. Their bathrooms are just straw walls and the ground. They used a bucket of water to kind of rinse the ground several times a day. This one was actually upgraded with two flat rocks to balance on and a pot of water to wash your hands in after balancing practice. Wanne was so nice to remind us to wear skirts this day (squatty potties in mind)....much easier than jeans in such a situation.
....and back to the story....
We went back to Madumwe, where Jose had his people preparing lunch for us and had logs to use as benches, chairs for us guests, and a mango tree for shade. We sang and the three men who had known Jeremiah gave testimony about his work there. Then began a discussion about church growth. We felt as if we'd walked in to a building committee meeting in an American church. It all began because Jose was apologized profusely for not having a roof over us (as it was raining lightly). Orlando and John gave him lectures about how your shoes can be muddy but if you just talk about it, they stay muddy. Something like that....it was comical to me as Wanne was interpreting it, but Jose had serious tears in his eyes and shame on his face about the whole situation. He was deeply ashamed and embarrassed. The other 2 men from that village who were also converts just hung there heads and nodded. Orlando told them he would come and help them and bring other men if they would just gather materials and get some land to put it on. Jose admitted that there were women who were believers and wanted to come to learn with them, but it was dishonorable to just sit out in the air with no roof for such a thing.....this is their custom.
Jose quickly ran to his home and arranged with his wife, who is not a believer and did not seem very into the idea, to have us come to their home to eat the lunch his people had prepared. His home was interesting, as it was a mud hut, but it had nice wooden doors and windows built into the mud walls and he had a tin roof instead of straw.
Very interesting happenings to witness. I loved seeing all of it and we prayed for Jose's family to be brought into faith in Christ as we ate and visited there.
We were kind of afraid of what the lunch would be. We had passed several places in these villages where little tiny fish were lying out in the open air on mats, drying. I really started getting nervous that we would see something like that on our plates. But we didn't. They served us a very nice meal of rice and stewed chicken. The stewed chicken was not tough like the roasted kind we had the previous day. So relieved.
After that village, John drove his fully loaded truck....15 of us in all I think, to the beach. We drove out across a long plain with coconut trees waving in the wind and finally came up on a large berm that went down onto the sandy beach. We climbed down and went out to the water, it was so beautiful. I will post pictures later when I am home. The coconut trees grow right up to the beach and there were old wooden fishing boats along the shore, waiting for high tide and fishermen to ride out again into the ocean.
God's love and His work among these people is so apparent when you are here. I have heard each person who comes back to our church from here talk about how they would come back anytime they could to this place. And now I understand that feeling.
God is here in Mozambique and the harvest is ready.