Monday, April 27, 2009

Scary Bugs

Bugs enter.
Bugs head to kitchen.
Bugs begin to climb.
"We should burn them."
Burning in the house is kind of scary.
This is why.
Just kidding (but I imagined it).
Bugs gone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

10 Foods I Love Or Am Not A Fan Of

Fresh Coconuts – the coconut flavors are SO delicious in Mozambican cooking. Nolita, Ronilda, Cocas, and Virginia in the kitchen.


Chamusas are little triangle shaped pastries filled with beef, chicken, fish, or potatoes. I don’t know how long ago but they originally came here with people from India. The Mozambican version is SO good with just the right meat and spices inside each crispy pastry. When there’s a special occasion the girls spend several hours making chamusas together, which is really fun. Chamusas are not really like tacos but if you like tacos you will probably love chamusas. Claudia, Marta, Janete, and Graça making chamusas for a special meal.

2.Chicken Zambezia

Chicken Zambezia is one of the most famous Mozambican dishes and originally comes from Zambezia Province. The chicken is marinated, roasted and then served under a delicious coconut white sauce with rice and steamed vegetables or french fries and salad. We’ve never found a person who did not love this meal and I think it is something I will crave when I’m away from Mozambique.

3. Cassava with Red Sauce

Before I came to Africa I didn’t even know what cassava was. Now it is one of my very favorite foods. It’s probably bad to try to compare one unrelated food to another, but if you’ve never had cassava the closest thing I could compare it to would be a potato but with more strength. Sometimes people will bring us a fresh cassava root from their machamba (garden plot) and it is the greatest treat. I already loved eating cooked cassava alone. But then one day Victor’s sister, Carmina, made this red sauce (fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic, and a little oil) to go over it. This ended up being one of the most tasty and flavorful things I have ever eaten and now I want it all the time.

4.Rice and Beans

Rice and beans are the most common dish in Mozambique. They’re hearty, healthy, and taste really really good when they’re made well and with the right ingredients. Rice and beans are served about six times per week at the orphanage. I’m actually eating them right now as I’m writing this.

5.Santal Mixed Fruit JuiceThis is the best tasting juice in the whole world. It’s made from all the fresh tropical fruits that are abundant here, like mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit.


6.Jumbo prawns/shrimpI am not a seafood person so I will never try these myself but from other people I gather that the Mozambican Coast is one of the world’s best places to visit if you like seafood and the jumbo prawns/shrimp seem to be the highlight.

(Just my peronal opinion)

7.Dried Fish

I don’t know if they’re anchovies or sardines or something else but there are millions of tiny, tiny dried fish imported from Angola being sold EVERYWHERE here. Just walking in any neighborhood you will find many make-shift stalls with people selling them. I don’t know if they are good for you or not but I have never liked seafood and the smell of these little dried fish almost kills me when I pass by (which is whenever I walk anywhere). My worst experience was being on a bus ride several hours long with a gigantic (the size of a person) bag of dried fish under the seat in front of me.


Xima (pronounced “shima”) is the staple starch food that goes with almost every meal in many parts of Africa. It seems like it is so common because it is cheaper than rice or bread, which most people can’t afford very much of. Xima makes you stop feeling hungry but it has no nutritional value. People make xima by growing corn, drying the corn, grinding it into powder, and then mixing it with hot water into something that looks like mashed potatoes. Some people seem to really like xima but it seems like most people would have rice or bread instead if they could afford it. I feel so guilty for talking bad about xima that I ate a huge chunk of it today at lunch to punish myself for not liking it.

9.Chicken Feet

I don’t want to say anything bad about chicken feet because I know that if I grew up in a place where we all ate chicken feet because we were hungry and couldn’t afford other parts of the chicken I would probably like them. But if like me you grew up in a place where you had the luxury of being a picky eater and had never even seen a chicken foot - when moms give them to little kids almost sitting on your lap on a crowded chapa for several hours, sucking on a gigantic chicken foot with huge scraggly talons the whole time and it’s dripping on your arm and they’re wiping their hands on your clothes – you might not like it.


Once again, I’m sure that if I grew up without the luxury of being able to afford and eat whatever I wanted I would not be so stuck-up and snobby towards things like rat-kabobs. But since I didn’t grow up with limited choices – I am putting rat-kabobs on my list of foods I'm not a fan of. On long chapa trips you stop every half hour or so and people with different kinds of foods sell you stuff through the windows. On my first day traveling in Malawi a boy offered us a stick with eight very small extra crispily roasted rats in a little row (yes, I counted them). I was relieved that nobody in our chapa (especially the lady squished in the same seat with me) wanted them. And I do have to say that I haven't really found anyone here (who I have talked to about this) who has ever actually eaten a rat (unless they are older and were in a hunger situation during the war or something). It seems like everyone here feels the same way that I do about rats. The only exception would be my own brother who is not a picky eater and did happen to be in Mozambique when he roasted and then ate a wild rat.

Illustration of Rat-Kabobs. Sadly I was not able to take a picture but I will never forget this image and I wanted to make sure whoever reads this will be able to visualize it correctly.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Dinner from Alzira and Santos

Easter Dinner was extra special this year because it was a gift from Alzira and Santos, our two young teachers from the orphanage. Alzira and Santos were kids in the orphanage who grew up, finished school, and were then accepted into a teachers training college. They graduated at the end of last year and then both got jobs as fifth grade teachers in a school about 70 kilometers from Nampula. This week they returned to tell Victor that they had received their first paychecks and wanted to pay for Easter dinner for the kids. They also asked Victor to pray with them and continue mentoring them. It was really touching to see how they expressed their gratitude towards the orphanage and how they feel such a sense of responsibility for using what they now have in the right way (helping their families, saving for the future, and giving back to the kids who are in the same place where they were just a few short years ago). It is really wonderful to see a dream being realized - to remember a child in a seemingly hopeless situation who has now made it further than almost anyone they had ever seen go before them.
At dinner Santos told all the kids what an important role they and the orphanage had played in his life. He said that through the orphanage and the prayers of the kids he had received an education and become a teacher. He thanked everyone for continuing to pray for him in his job and said he wanted to be the one giving them Easter dinner to show his gratitude.
Alzira talked about how she had sometimes found herself in dangerous situations, walking in dark places at night where people had been killed - but God protected her and the prayers from the kids and others kept her safe. When she faced serious struggles at the college she returned to the orphanage for encouragement and said that Victor always gave her confidence to return and overcome whatever was most difficult. Knowing that she was covered in prayer made her able to succeed and she wanted to show her gratitude to the orphanage by providing Easter dinner.
It's hard to even describe how meaningful it is for the kids to see two of their own come back and provide a special meal for all of them. Alzira and Santos are now amazing role models for the kids, especially as Christians who take their faith seriously and genuinely try to follow the model of Jesus in their daily lives.
Victor dividing the food, which was made by Zaqueio and Helder.Me passing out refrescos.Lazaro and Ruben sitting in the window.In the rondoval. (Alzira is third from the left wearing a purple shirt.)Alzira and Santos with Victor after graduation last year.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kids’ Sunday and the Tcharuwani Choir

Believe it or not – this picture still doesn’t capture how many kids there really were on the platform.

On Kids’ Sunday children lead the entire church service. This year it lasted a little over four hours.

The girls leading praise and worship. (Marta’s little sister, Virginia, Graça, Anabela, and others.)

Isac, Virginia, Pilonte, and another boy did a skit showing the story of Jacob and Esau in Macua. Isac (playing Isaac) kept telling Esau to go hunt for very specific animals only found in the bush here. The congregation LOVED it and couldn’t stop laughing because only somebody from the bush would even know the animal names he was using.

After the kids went to Sunday School Victor’s dad, Pastor Mocala, preached about how to be a good parent. Victor’s dad always does lots of entertaining physical illustrations. He used one of those dried branches from the vases to demonstrate that you should not beat your kids and that you can teach them things like how to sweep by sweeping yourself.

Grupo Coral Tcharuwani

After church Victor and I drove the Tcharuwani choir out into the bush to take pictures. (Okay I need to back up with this story.) About six months ago a church in Nampula invited different choirs from all over the city to come sing for the anniversary of their choir. They invited our kids’ band to play and Victor and I went with them. This is how we came to hear the most incredible, beautiful African choir ever – a group called Tcharuwani made up of young people from several different churches. After hearing them sing we wanted to somehow get involved with them and invited them to come to the orphanage to participate in the voice class that Ashlie came and did in October and November. In December we were able to record our kids’ music and after building a relationship with the studio we were able to help Tcharuwani record their songs too. I LOVE their music so much – their range and harmonies are incredible and all their music sounds like an African lullaby to God.

On Sunday they sang in our church and then we drove into the bush to take pictures for the cover of their CD. This was really fun. We packed 10 people plus 1 baby into our car (which is designed for five people) and then drove a long way with everyone singing. Whenever I’m with them (or the kids band) and they’re all singing their hearts out – I just can’t believe that I get to be in the midst of it! I feel like I’m getting something really valuable for free. Anyway – we drove to this river and took pictures there. Then we drove to a place where you can just see the Mozambican landscape stretching to the mountains. The choir did a few different poses and then we took tons of pictures with them actually singing. The funnest and funniest thing about this was that though you are in the middle of the nowhere and it seems like it should be “empty” – if you stop somewhere for any reason at all, there will be a crowd of people there to watch within seconds. It is impossible to figure out where the people actually come from but this always happens no matter what. Grupo Coral Tcharuwani singing on the side of the road.

So we are driving in the bush with nobody in sight, in any direction. We stop at a scenic place and get out of the car. In less than two minutes there is somehow a crowd there to see what we’re doing. Then when the choir starts singing their INCREDIBLE music it is SO fun to see this random little crowd get to hear them for a few minutes. Everyone is smiling and laughing. Every truck that drives by is overloaded with dozens of people crammed into every nook and cranny and hanging off the back and sides. The trucks that passed would slow down to see what was going on and as they slowly drove by they would see this choir singing on the side of the road to no audience except for an impromptu group of whoever lives somewhere nearby and a mucunya with a camera. I didn’t realize the opportunity I missed in taking pictures of the “bigger picture” and now I’m kind of mad at myself for not capturing the little crowds and passerby. But nevertheless, Sunday was fun.