August 3, 2010

Orlando's church

Orlando's church is not as far away as the other villages, but the dirt roads here are washed out from unseasonal rains with deep ruts and 'pot holes' that are more like small ponds filled with muddy water.  Driving anywhere  is slow going and I want to say bumpy, but there's got to be a more descriptive jolting, body slamming or as if you were driving in a trampoline. Your body moves side to side and then back and forth. You discover body parts you never knew could jostle....or at least never felt before, like your liver and spleen. I know just where they are now and I also know it's best to not disturb them.  It's not just a drive, it's a workout. I am home while the others are out to another village. My back felt stiff when I went to bed and when it loosened up around 3 am, it did not go well. This morning I am sitting in the Dinas very pleasant living room with high ceiling, open windows and chiming clock. I have a heat producing gel pack between the couch and my back and 4 ibuprofen floating around in my bloodstream being nice to me.

Earnesto, the house helper, has been busily washing up breakfast dishes, sweeping floors and is now running errands. He speaks only Portuguese and I only English but it only took us 3 or 4 minutes to communicate and understand that he was going out to run an errand. He is so nice, always smiling and busy and he stays later than he is supposed to most of the time.  It looked like Wanne was fussing at him the other day and she explained that she was shooing him home. But I think he wants to be around the Johnsons too since he knew Jeremiah so well. They spent 3 long weeks here by themselves while the Dinas were gone last Spring and he loved Jeremiah. We learned this morning that Earnesto also helped with a new mission started recently here on the outskirts of Quelimane. He is not the pastor, but is a disciple and believer. The Dinas have a high respect for him.

I sure wish I knew some Portuguese to say some things to him. That is one of the most frustrating parts of being here for a short time, you cannot personally communicate with people and you want to. In every village, forging along down roads, in the shops in town, you can see so clearly that these people on the other side of the world are exactly the same as people in your own culture. Humanity is a common condition, with common habits, personalities and love of friends and family.

Yes, and now on with the story. We arrived in Orlando's village, called Machimano in the Madal region, to singing. Their songs have verses and choruses and they have their own musical score, although it is not written down as far as I know. Most of the songs are in Shwabo, which is not usually written. Where I was sitting was right in front of the drum section. Two young men were on big normal looking drums that fit between your knees and are beaten with open hands. The other man was on a drum that was small and stood up on a stick. He beat that with two thick drumsticks. And though the drum he played was small....about 10 inches was the loudest one. His arms went high into the air and came down with precision on that thing, beating a really enthusiastic rhythm for the singing. And all the time he played his little son, maybe a year old, sat at his side, never even blinking at the loudness or the wild arm swinging. He was almost an exact miniature of the drummer. Cute! At one point in the second song though, the people all just looked at him and the other drummer took the drumsticks and showed him how the song went. He tried again and another young man came up from the audience and took the drum and moved into that position to continue. He didn't look ashamed or embarrassed, he just scooted down the bench and clapped along. Later on after a few more songs, he silently went back and shoved the other guy out and continued playing.

As before the church members stood up and talked to the Johnsons about their son who they had come to know and love. Their admiration and honor of him really touched them. Juli McFadden said in one of her comments, "I knew God would show them amazing things that they would not know if they had not gone. (to Mozambique)" And He has. It has been amazing to hear it from the mouths of those who knew him here and see their love for him and how his influence is going on. They are so proud of how Jeremiah was letting God work through him. 

Jose from Madumwe was there and added his testimony (Orlando is working with the church in Madumwe and discipling Jose).  And Joao, a young man from Quelimane came with us this day. He works for SIL ministries and is college trained in Greek and Biblical studies, so he is helping translate parts of the Bible into Shwabo language for people to use in building up the churches there. Most people in these villages speak Shwabo and Portuguese, but Shwabo is their first language. He charged the church with this verse:

 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

 A few times when people here gave testimony John got very choked up and could not translate. Other times, he spoke too quietly for me to hear the translation, so maybe I will get some of those stories from him at a later time. But this service seemed to be especially meaningful for David and Diana. God is turning their sorrow into joy.....which reminds me of a story....

When we were having problems in Maputo airport, getting another flight to Quelimane, David and Charles met a man who worked there named Michael. Michael helped them with the changing of flights and would say things like "God bless you" or "God is good" and he was very kind and helpful. Then we saw Michael again at the boarding gate. This time he had a little extra time, so David and Charles talked to him more. They asked if he was a Christian (but they never told him the reason for their trip or anything about Jeremiah) and he was, so they told him they were pastors. At this, Michael looked up at them and said, "Oh! I have something for you!" He got out a slip of paper and wrote on one side 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Then he turned the paper over and wrote Psalm 30:11, just writing the references for the verses, not the whole verse. David said he knew what 1 Corinthians 10:13 said, but what was Psalm 30:11? Michael looked at him and quoted,

 You turned my wailing into dancing; 
       you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

How absolutely, astoundingly COOL is our God to send us Michael, the prophet to encourage them like that?  I'm telling you, this whole trip is full of little nuggets, but that one was huge.

One of the songs the people at Orlando's church sang was a simple chorus that talks about how there in no one like Jesus. I have looked and searched and there is no one like Jesus. They did motions of walking, of searching, of turning around to see, but there is no one they have found who is like Jesus.


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