Monday, January 26, 2009

A Tremendous Gift

The mission of Evanjafrica is to preach the gospel and care for the orphans, needy, and widows in Mozambique. Our goal is to raise up children who will be future leaders that serve God by truly serving others. An important part of this ministry and vision is to have a really good and safe place for the kids to live with facilities and transportation that honor people who used to be treated like they were nothing.

As we had planned to build up the orphanage we realized that the majority of the cost would come from renting trucks for construction. Besides construction needs, we have been limited in areas of evangelism and general transportation and everyone felt it would be a dream come true to have some kind of vehicle that could handle our various needs. Victor and the kids have been praying for this for a long time.

This week we received a brand new Nissan UD40 truck and we do not even know how to explain what this means to us. To put it simply, this truck will cut all of our construction costs in half (!!!), will allow us to transport the ENTIRE orphanage ANYWHERE (!!!), and will cut out almost every possible (physical) obstacle to evangelism trips (which will be the primary use for the truck after we are finished with construction). And since we were able to purchase the truck new, it will last us many, many decades (used vehicles are in scary shape by the time they make it here - but a new one can be made to last forever). We can not exress enough how exciting and meaningful this is for the orphanage.

Our brand new truck is an incredible gift from a donor that wishes to remain anonymous. We thank God for giving us this great assistance from other people who are serving Him.

Please rejoice with us as we thank God for our new truck!

Picking up the truck at the Nissan dealership in Nampula. It took several months to arrive from South Africa.

He can't believe he's driving a brand new truck belonging to the orphanage!!!

The kids running after the truck in jubilation as they see it for the first time.

All the kids fit in the back at once!!! The days of walking for several hours, not going, or begging and barganing with chapa drivers to transport the kids everytime we need to go somewhere are over!!!

Inaugural Ride. The police even pulled us over just to enjoy the kids singing and to tell us how bonito (pretty) our new truck is! They were amazed and thrilled to see that our orphanage now has something like this for the kids!

Immediate first mission: Firewood for the cooks for dinner!

Look how wide the cab is!!!


Now that we have our own transportation we are expecting the boys dorm to go up very quickly (compared with how long the foundation has taken). Expect many construction updates with good progression to follow! And thank you so much to all who have been helping us for making all of this possible!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Best and Worst List

1. Best thing to eat when you need to feel like you’re in an adventure:

Jungle Oats.





2. Best use for rubber bands:

Real home-made slingshot like David and Goliath (being aimed by Francisco).





3. Best way for 50 children and a broken chapa to spend two hours:

This went on and on for a very long time . . . you get the point.





4. Worst result of stepping in a puddle:

Matahwi-tahwi. (You're welcome.)





5. Best "Picture Face":

Canito, Ofeita, Belson, and Isac Pequeno after somebody tried to get them to smile for the camera by saying, “Show your teeth more."





6. Best thing to find happening five minutes after complaining that there’s no window in your kitchen:

Somebody making one with a hammer.





7. Best combination of people to do “trust fall” with:

Peter and lots of very tiny kids.





8. Worst place to eat if you don’t like herds of loud, aggressive, wild, mangy cats who will stop at nothing to share your meal:

Complexo Turistico Chocas.





9. Best kind of mini-dino to find in your sink:

Lagardija.





10. Worst toy ever:

(Real) Dead rato in hot pink Barbie car. (Photo by Ashlie Rice - thanks Ashlie.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Language • Língua • Nthava


Caneto, Nolita, Me, and Cocas

Hello! This post is for anyone who might ever want to visit us or write a few words to the kids in Portuguese (or laugh at me for all the mistakes I must be making and am clueless about (starting with the spelling of the word Macua . . . yes, I know)). Anyway . . .


Macua

Macua is the local language in the area where we live and has more speakers than any other African language in Mozambique. Though Portuguese is the official language and the only one used in business, literature, and school, Macua is the language first spoken at home and is better understood by many older people. Every church service is translated into both languages and some of the best music is in Macua.

It seems that to many people here there is nothing more exciting and funny than when a mukunya (foreigner) says a word in Macua. You can basically make people laugh their heads off whenever you want by simply saying anything and some people even act like they just heard a goat speak. For the first few months I was here it was really really fun being able to entertain people so easily by doing nothing but speaking one word or phrase. Now it’s not new to me anymore, but to everybody else it’s still exciting and funny every time. I guess this will last for the rest of my life – I hope I will always appreciate it. Anyway – if you visit us in Nampula you will be constantly rewarded if you are able to say something in Macua. I would highly recommend at least learning the following three words:

Ihali? (“E”Holly?) How are you?
Salama I’m fine
Kooshookooroo Thank you

The kids and everybody else will be more than happy to teach you more Macua while you’re here.


Portuguese

Portuguese is the official language in Mozambique and is used everywhere in the country (unlike Macua and other African languages which only exist in the provinces where they originate). Almost every visitor has said they regret not learning more Portuguese before arriving here, so if you plan to visit and have time, try to learn as much as you can now. And make sure you bring a little language dictionary! (The Portuguese in Mozambique is closer to what is spoken in Portugal than to what is spoken in Brazil but it’s no more different than American English vs. British English.)

Here is a list of some words and phrases you will hear most often at the orphanage and around where we live.

Bom dia. • Good morning.
Boa tarde. • Good afternoon.
Boa noite. • Good night.
Obrigado. • Thank you (spoken by males).
Obrigada. • Thank you (spoken by females).
De nada. • You’re welcome.
Ajuda-me. • Help me.
Espera. • Wait.
Tchau. • Good-bye.
Faz favor. • Please.
Desculpe. • Sorry.
Com licença. • Excuse me (to pass by).
Cuidado! • Be careful!
Chega! • That’s enough!
Como está? • How are you?
Estou bem. • I’m fine.
E você? • And you?
Como vai? • How’s it going?
Bem. • Good.
Tudo bem? • All good?
Tudo bem. • All good.
Fala português? • Do you speak Portuguese?
Não. Falo inglês. • No. I speak English.
Fala inglês? • Do you speak English?
Sim. /Não. • Yes./No.
Como se chama? • How do you call yourself?
Chamo-me . . . • I call myself . . .
Quantos anos tem? • How old are you?
Tenho . . . anos. • I am . . . years old.
Você gosta . . . ? • Do you like . . .?
Sim. Eu gosto . . . • Yes. I like . . .
Não. Não gosto . . . • No. I don’t like . . .
Você está pronto/a? • Are you ready?
Estou pronto/a. • I’m ready.
O qué é isto? • What is this?
Como se dice . . . em português? • How do you say . . . in Portuguese?
O que acontaceu? • What happened?
pessoa • person
criança • child
joven • youth
adulto • adult
grande • big
pequeno • small
comida • food
matabicho • breakfast
almoço • lunch
jantar • dinner
arroz • rice
banana • banana
batata • potato
cabrito • goat
carne de vaca • beef
chima • chima
couve • greens
feijão • beans
frango/galinha • chicken
mandioca • cassava
manga • mango
manteiga • butter
milho • corn
pão • bread
papinha • rice porridge
peixe • fish
salada • salad

Pronunciation
Two big pronunciation differences in Portuguese (compared with English and Spanish) are:
O at the end of a word makes the “oo” sound (like in zoo).
S makes the “sh” sound (unless it is the first letter of a word).
Examples
Obrigado (“Obrigadoo”)
Como vai? (“Comoo vai?”)
Espera (“Eshpeda”)
Desculpe (“Dishcoolp”)
Como está? (“Comoo shtah?”)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Catching Ladrões

Daniel (not a thief) running.
At the end of the year an aid organization here in Nampula downsized and decided to donate almost everything from their office to the orfanato. When Victor found out how much stuff we would be getting he immediately ordered every single vehicle working in the orphanage to abandon their mission and start hauling the donations back here. Since we are currently doing huge construction we have several different trucks and even a gigantic tractor (which is another story in itself) hauling rocks, sand, concrete blocks, people, and other things in and out of here all day. This includes quite a few drivers and workers from “outside” (people we don’t “know”).

For one ENTIRE day trucks drove in and out of the orphanage dropping off desks, tables, chairs, benches, cabinets, bookshelves, tires (lots of them – which is amazing because tires are so expensive and hard to get here), all kinds of different car and motorcycle parts, motorbike helmets, and like 10,000 jumbo notebooks overflowing with random papers that blew all over the orphanage and whole neighborhood the second they were (THROWN) out of the trucks. I am really regretting that I did not take any pictures of this INCREDIBLE pile. There was a lot of really valuable stuff that we need and can’t get here (which we are thrilled about receiving) all mixed in with the billions of paper floating everywhere - the whole scene looked pretty out-of-control. Oh yeah – there were also like ten gigantic (partially broken) air conditioning machines and tons of incomplete computer parts too.

Amazingly, during all this coming, going, and unloading, things were pretty orderly and under control. But once the final truck had finished and we (the kids, staff, normal construction guys, and outside workers) were all left standing there with this massive pile of valuable things big and small and trash all mixed together (that needed to be moved before it got dark) – it was time for the games and strategies for stealing to begin. The kids and staff in the orphanage and all our normal daily construction workers (who are our neighbors and friends) are all honest. But among the random people doing different odd jobs and even a few visitors who happened to come by to “help,” there were at least five ladraõs (thieves). It’s just that nobody yet knew who they (the ladraõs) would be.

During the entire day the ladraõs had been strategizing how they would steal things without being noticed. And the funniest, most delightful part of this is that they all thought they had identified which people they would have to hide from (mainly Victor and the security guards). They thought that if Victor or other men they assumed were “in charge” didn’t see them, they could steal whatever they could get away with. They obviously have NO idea what this place is and who is in charge and has ownership of it.

As it began to get dark and Victor had to drive people back to their houses, the ladraõs began to carry out the little plans they had been crafting all day. They were happy to see how easy it would be to go unnoticed in the bustling about of so many people and kids in such a huge space all over the orfanato as it was getting dark.

I don’t know how they got them out of the orphanage, but the tractorista (tractor driver – another funny word I like) and one of his workers found a way to get a gigantic tire and some other valuable car parts outside, unnoticed. But they only made it about 100 feet down the road before a swarm of “pasarinhos” (this word means “little birds” and is the name Victor calls all the littlest ones in the orphanage) surrounded them, reprimanded them for stealing, and retrieved the tire and other things. When the pasarinhos returned with the tires all the older kids were whispering to each other what had happened – who had tried to “rob” us, who had caught them, and where the tires were now.

The next thing that happened was that other kids noticed two men trying to hide things that they would probably come back and pick up later. The kids secretly retrieved the things and gave them to one of the older girls who hid them in her room. After that everyone was highly entertained as they watched the men spend the rest of their time looking for the things they had hidden, not being able to figure out where they had gone.

The next thing was that one of our girls (who is only 9-years-old) caught one of the day’s visitors with a whole little array of stolen things. She reprimanded him, took the things out of his hands, and gave them to an older kid to guard. Everyone expected the man to go home in shame after that but he refused to leave. We called Victor on the phone and told him that this visitor was stealing and refused to go. Just then our night security guard arrived and Victor asked him to find the visitor (who was trying to stay hidden among the kids), see if he had taken anything, send him out, and then not allow him back in. When the visitor heard his name being spoken he went into a little rage. The guard asked to see what he was holding, which started another big argument and commotion. Immediately about four of the older boys came around him, took the things out of his hands, and found blank tapes, motorcycle parts, and other items that he was planning to sell. The man got in a huge argument and was so angry and blowing up saying the things were his. It was kind of funny because it was so obvious that the goods had come straight out of our pile. The boys sent him out of the orphanage.

After that the group of about 6 or 7 older boys went and found every single person who was not part of the orphanage and made sure they left, as it was dark and all the rest of the kids had gone to eat dinner. Then the boys, Janete, and the guard got flashlights and searched the whole property for thieves and things that thieves might have hidden to sneak back and get in the night when everyone would be sleeping. Simba was also running around with the group looking for suspicious things and I went along too, asking for everything in Macua to be translated into Portuguese and everything said in Portuguese to be repeated slowly so I could understand. Nobody ever acts like I’m a burden and they all seem enthusiastic about letting me know what’s going on – and they all think it’s funny when I react to things that nobody else reacts to.

The boys searched everywhere, even under big stacks of grass that were waiting to become a roof. Then the whole little search party – by the way – Rock and Filipe, the two who get in some of the most trouble inside the orphanage, are the MOST hard-core and diligent about never allowing an outsider to do anything against it – they were like leading the whole thing. The group searched around the whole outside of the property and found little piles of stolen stuff that had been thrown over the wall in different locations. Whatever thieves had done this were planning to return in the night to get them. The kids made sure they found EVERYTHING and brought it back inside. Then they organized among themselves who would secure each place where we had stored different things and found locks and locked them up. Since we have no extra in-door space, they had to be very creative and locked all the air conditioning machines in one of the shower huts. Lastly – they decided who would stay up and help the guards patrol the property in the night, knowing that all the thieves would return to get the stuff they had thrown over the wall. When Victor finally returned from taking people home, the boys were all sitting by the gate with their flashlights, eating dinner in the dark, telling funny stories, discussing who the thieves were and planning how this can be prevented from happening again.

Outsiders think that Victor is the number one protector of the orphanage but they are wrong. The kids are fiercely loyal and will never allow this place to be taken advantage of.


A Few Photos From This Week


This has definitely been a "down" week as most of the kids have been gone. But it has been pleasantly calm and nice as everyone has been resting and hanging out in one little group all the time.


Our House


We live in a concrete house with a tin roof (and no insulation (or air conditioning (in Africa))). I'm sure you can imagine why Trish referred to our house as the "easy bake" oven. During this time of year it's either over 95 degrees outside (which would equal about 5,000 degrees inside) or pouring rain (and if you've ever been under a tin roof when it's raining you will not have to ask why we watch movies with subtitles in the language already being spoken or go outside INTO a storm to make a phone call). After seeing all the Seattle snow pictures I was really falling apart under the Mozambican sun so last week Victor put a grass roof on top of our tin one. Amazingly this has decreased the temperature by at least 10 degrees, made it possible to hear a person one inch from your ear talking while it's raining, and even stopped swimming pools from forming in our living room during every storm. I LOVE our grass roof!!!
Starting to put grass on our roof (sorry you can't really see the roof) but that's our house.
The Kids Making Then Eating Dinner
Last Sunday Helder had all the kids making mini-doughnuts and french fries for dinner (don't worry - this is not a "normal" meal on our menu, just a once-in-a-while, fun, super healthy one). All the little ones shaped the doughnuts and cut the potatoes and then Helder fried them in a gigantic skillet.
Victor is always really happy when the kids all hang out together and I do too. This dinner making episode reminded me of camping with family and friends at Kalaloch (on the Washington Coast) when I was a kid (everyone sitting around the fire, relaxing, talking, and cooking dinner together).
When it was time to eat it was dark and the electricity had gone out so the kids had a candle light dinner. This included a really funny conversation about how "there exist" expensive restaurants in other countries where they put candles on the tables to make the atmosphere "romantic."
The Guards' House
Here is the Guards' House we are building at the entrance gate. Every neighbor that passes by comes in to look and is shocked to see a tiled floor (it's being tiled to experiment for tiling other rooms later). Then they can't believe that this is really going to be the guards' (who are their friends) house. It's just one tiny space but I think the tiles on the floor make it seem really exciting!
Dinner In Our Living Room
Since so many kids were gone I was actually able to "invite" the whole orphanage over to our house (into our living room) for dinner and it was so fun! I made chili, corn bread, and pizza. A lot of the kids had "heard" of pizza but never tasted it before so this was very exciting (I hope none were disappointed after so much hype.) After dinner we all watched Robin Hood (the Disney one with the foxes), which was my favorite movie when I was little. It was too hot to stay in the house and not raining so we put the T.V. on a table in front of the porch. All the kids loved it and it was so fun to watch with them!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years


The Kids Visit Their Villages

In Mozambique the school year lines up with the calendar as school ends in November and starts up again at the beginning of February. December and January are months when people travel and visit family. New Years is usually the one time of year when our kids can leave the orfanato and visit the villages where they came from. This year over 30 kids left. On Tuesday the children washed their clothes and packed their things. Early Wednesday morning they all set off down the road with their little backpacks. I am always astounded at how little people can travel with – most of their backpacks for a week-long trip are smaller than my purse. The kids were full of energy and excitement as they left and the ones staying behind walked with them to the chapas. Please pray for the kids safety, health, emotional, and spiritual well-beings while they’re away from us. Some will only be gone one or two days while others may be gone up to two weeks.

Simba follows the last kid down the road


Of course Simba was the most excited and wanted to escort each person down the road. When we, the ones staying here, walked back to the orfanato, we found out about some of the things Simba does when he goes outside the wall. We watched him run into a neighbor’s house to get another dog to play and the kids wanted me to take a picture of his dog friend from far away like we were people in a movie secretly spying on them and would later share this “proof” (about Simba having another life outside the orfanato) with the rest of the kids. (See photo with arrow pointing to the friend.) He (Simba) also spent a lot of time cooling off in mud holes. (See photo.)

New Years Eve

For New Years Eve we had rice and beans with curried potatoes that were so good. By midnight most of the little ones had gone to bed but all the teenagers and staff were still up and were playing music and celebrating and cheering when the New Year came in. Then we were all quiet and laughing, trying to identify the cheers of specific neighbors and yell out to them. After midnight each person talked about how grateful they were that everyone has made it into the next year. Life expectancy in Mozambique is 40 or 41-years-old. If you think about it, this means that 50% of the people you know will die when they’re a child, as a teenager, in their 20s or in their 30s. I can think about this, but the reality of it has not yet sunk in. For everyone here – New Years is a REALLY big deal as it is a time to be thankful that you and your loved ones made it into another year.

Marta

One person we are especially thankful for right now is Marta. Marta is our young staff member who became sick with an intestinal infection a few months ago and had to be operated on. There were complications that led to two more surgeries, the last being an emergency procedure this week. On New Years Eve Marta returned to the orphanage after several days recovering in the hospital. I think everyone feels pretty emotional when they look at Marta as we have all watched what she and her family have been through this past year. Last April her teenage sister was sick in the hospital and then died (nobody knows what sickness she had) and the whole orphanage was closely involved with Marta’s family during that time. Her parents go to our little church and her mom is one of the most-involved ladies in the community. Please pray that the procedure Marta had this week will have taken care of the problem completely and that she will not have any more complications.

Marta, Leonora, Gabriel, and Felex (a few days before Christmas)


New Years Day

After so many kids left to visit their villages we only had about 20 people left, which felt so small but also gave everyone an opportunity to relax and do things that we can’t do with 60. For breakfast we had egg sandwiches and French fries and then Helder and Zaqueio cooked some amazing chicken with pasta. The kids got to have refrescos (soft drinks) for breakfast AND lunch, which will probably be talked about for the rest of the year. The other thing that will be talked about for the rest of the year is that Victor allowed them to have a movie marathon. We put mats and chairs under a tree and then watched movies in the shade all day – Shrek, The Little Rascals, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and then Banana Joe, which Victor says was every Mozambican kid’s favorite movie when he was a child (I have no idea how they watched it since nobody had T.V.s but somehow they did and all LOVED it).

Simba’s Bath, Eating Habbits, and Need for a Wife

Earlier in the day Simba had mashed his face in dog-doo (don’t be alarmed – yes, I know this sounds disgusting, but it is a “normal” thing for a dog to do. I don’t remember what it means but I did learn about it when Jane, my dog back in Seattle, used to do it and it apparently has a meaning). Anyway – after mashing his face in it he was running around the orphanage scaring everyone. Immediately a little group of kids got a rope, tied Simba to a tree, hosed him down, and then scrubbed his cheeks with soap.
Ofeita, Celso, Estela, Belson, Cocas, Pilonte, and Francisco giving Simba a bath.

Everyone loved watching the bath. The funny thing is that Simba loves baths in mud holes but was not happy about one with clean water coming out of a hose. At one point he broke free from the bath but was quickly chased and brought back. (See photo.) When the bath was over he immediately tried to mash his face in dirt from the trash heap! Everyone wanted Simba to stay clean so they tied him to a little tree near where we were all sitting and he had to stay there for a while.

A few hours later it was time to eat and the kids gave Simba some left-over food at the same time that we all got ours. But once Simba saw everyone else in another place, he started screaming out (the same dog scream like when he got his rabbies shot). Even though he had food he was crying out because he wanted to be with the kids. That is when Victor announced that Simba had “won his heart” for caring about being with people more than food. No sooner had he said this than Simba chewed through his rope, broke free, raced full-speed to the group, and (in Victor’s words) “flew” onto a plate! The plate was my plate because I was the only person who didn’t swoop it up out of his way, but luckily I was done eating. Simba devoured the chicken bones and skin left on the plate in seconds. Then he ran to each person and all the kids threw him their left over bones. This started getting a little out of hand and finally ended with Jeremias and Simba eating a spaghetti noodle together like on the cover of the movie Lady and the Tramp. I’m sorry I failed to get a picture - please just imagine it.

The kids tried to feed Simba a few other things but he wasn’t interested. We have actually discovered that Simba is a very “picky eater.” This is pretty astounding considering that he one – lives in Africa, and two – is a dog. We have noticed that he chooses what he eats very carefully. One time we gave him a little bowl of left-overs all mixed together and then watched him use his snout to meticulously separate out all the black beans and then NOT eat them. When he was finished the beans were actually licked clean but still left behind! We often hear the kids declaring, “he doesn’t like chima,” about Simba. Simba is pretty clueless about what his life is like here in the orfanato compared with other dogs.

Another big topic concerning Simba . . . almost every day some child asks when we are going to buy Simba a mulher (the use of the word mulher is always really funny to me in this context because it means both “woman” and “wife”). Also – no matter what Simba does, somebody will say, “it’s because he doesn’t have a wife!” Why is there a little group of flies pursuing Simba? Because he didn’t take a bath because he doesn’t have a wife! Why does Simba misbehave so much when he plays? Because he doesn’t have a wife! And the most persuasive argument for why we should buy him a “woman” . . . Why does Simba escape from the orfanato at night and where does he go? He goes looking for a wife. If we would buy him one already he wouldn’t ever have to leave his night guard job here again.

Back to New Years - the day finally ended with fish and rice for dinner and three little cakes - lemon, chocolate, and carrot. Today was a great day!

The ant hill outside the orfanato. There are no street signs here but you can say, "take a right at the ant hill."