Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Daniel Graduates From His First Year Of Bible School

Vincent, Daniel, Robbie, and Solomão

Last year we sent Daniel (from the orphanage) and Solomão (from our church) to a bible school in Beira. This past weekend was their graduation from the first year, so we made a trip down to the center of the country to attend the graduation. We took Clara (from the orphanage) and Bautista and Benvinda (a young couple from church) with us because we want to send them to this bible school next year.

Bautista, Benvinda, Clara, and Yohani

The Road

Our trip began so sadly. We left Nampula before 5am and just around 6am we were driving along through the bush (in “the middle of nowhere”) when we could see up ahead of us a large crowd of people standing on the side of the road, all with their backs toward us. We slowed down and as we approached the crowd we could see that there were over a dozen people lying on the ground on the side of the road. The people were lying so still, shoulder to shoulder and they looked perfect and then we realized that they were all dead. I don’t think I have ever seen anything more terrible and sad in all my life. It was on the edge of a bridge and only one police officer was at the scene, reporting into his phone that there were so far 17 dead. A large truck with no covering, transporting people, had driven off the bridge. It looked like everyone from the nearest village was there pulling bodies out of the dry riverbed below. A young woman sitting under a tree had survived the accident but beside her on the ground was her baby the same size as Yohani, not alive anymore.

I can’t stop thinking about the people lying on the side of the road - young men dressed in their best shirts for traveling, pretty girls with their capulanas neatly tied around the waist – such dignity in the clothes of these people in their poverty. There are no choices for transportation for 99% of people here. Too much of life here – people are at the mercy of something so massively out of control – like public transportation, fragile food and water sources, flooding, disease, non-existent sanitation, first grade classrooms with one teacher and 150 students. A hundred little children watching this accident – seeing their people – every dead person looks just like a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, a cousin, a friend. Nobody should see something like this but how much death do these children see? I can’t fathom the range of the human experience – how can you even compare life in Sweden with life in the Congo? How does God oversee us all?

Everyone in our car was so sad after seeing this accident even though the rest of the 15-hour drive was uneventful. There was one other thing we saw that was unsettling. After we crossed the great Zambezi River in mid-afternoon we were again driving along in “the middle of nowhere” when we saw a crowd of people in the road up ahead. We again slowed down and this time we saw the most raggedy makeshift camp on the side of the road. It looked almost like a normal market but without any life – no colorful fabrics, fruits and vegetables, or lively people – in fact no women either. It was strange and weird and we were all confused. At the end of the camp was a bridge and as we crossed the bridge we looked over the edge and in the river below there was a scene that looked just like something from the movie Blood Diamond – the shallow river below was full of people mining with pans. We think they were mining for gold. It seems they have recently discovered gold and precious stones in this country and now there is a big issue of illegal mining. The whole scene was very creepy, especially considering history and what happens when something valuable is discovered on African soil.

The Bible School and the Graduation

We are now in Beira, in the center of the country, for Daniel’s graduation from bible school. Daniel came to the orphanage after his mother was killed by a land mine left over from the war. She had been working in the fields when it happened. After that Daniel’s father and other relatives made him into a servant and didn’t allow him to go to school or do anything but make beer for them to drink and sell. Daniel was rescued and brought to our orphanage. As Daniel got older we found him to be a person who could handle a lot of responsibility graciously and without ever complaining. Last year after he finished 10th grade (the highest grade needed here to go to most colleges) Victor sent him to bible school in Beira.

A wonderful Australian lady and her team of pastors and volunteers who teach all the classes in Portuguese and English run the bible school. During the graduation there was incredible singing, lots of dancing, an inspiring speaker who flew in from Kenya, and a community of outstanding Christian leaders. All the graduates looked so sharp and handsome in their dress shirts and ties and robes and they were singing and dancing with joy throughout the whole thing. At the very end of the ceremony there were awards for different areas of ministry and academics. Solomão and Vincent won quite a few of the awards and everyone cheered – we are so proud of them. At the end of all the honors, the director, Robbie, came up and talked about one final award that exceeded all others because it would be presented to the person who most embodied the Christian character we should all be aspiring to. She described this person as being one who never complained, never “murmured,” always worked hard, always put others first, always served quietly, etc. etc. etc. I wish I had a transcript of her words and a recording of her emphasis because I am not doing it justice. The way she was describing this award and this person – you could almost cry with emotion imagining how wonderful one of these young people is to be like this. And then when she finally called the person’s name, it was Daniel. I knew it would be him, but when I heard his name I did burst into tears. It is so true how Daniel is like that. What an amazing honor to be recognized for his humble ways by a great lady at such a spirit filled place.

Daniel receiving his award.

I feel I am failing to describe the bible school but it is a place where God is really working in the lives of young men and women who will be sent out to preach the love of Jesus and work for the most precious and humble people living in the most severe conditions of poverty and spiritual oppression. This bible school is equipping these young guys with everything they can give – to understand the message God has given to us through the bible, to aspire to live a true Christian life, and to support his people, working for the Kingdom.

Towindo, Bautista, Solomão, Vincent, Benvinda with Yohani, Gracio, Daniel, Clara with Tobey, Victor, Norma, and me.

Celebration dinner afterwards - the power was out in Beira most of the weekend so the lighting didn't really work out for pictures. But we had a great celebration dinner after the graduation.

So now we have Daniel, Solomão, and Vincent with us for a few months before they go back for the second year of bible school. Solomão is a young man from our church and Vincent is a young man who came to Mozambique from Malawi after his parents died. Gracio helped Vincent go to the bible school and Daniel and Solomão became good friends with him and helped support him while he was there.

Norma with Yohani who is talking to her. Norma used to work at the orphanage before I came but now lives with her husband, Towindo, in Beira. Norma and Towindo showed our group enormous hospitality all weekend and beyond. We hit it off so well - I really wish they lived closer to us. They are both originally from Zimbabwe so I didn't have any language barriers connecting with Norma on a deeper level.

Yohani with his Aunt Heliane who is also in school in Beira.

Victor is Mustafa and Yohani is the Lion King.


Yohani loves playing with Gracio!

After the graduation we went to Chimoio with Gracio. I don’t know how to even describe who Gracio is but he is someone very special to Victor and to my family. If you have ever heard Victor’s more detailed testimony, when he first started in the ministry he had a group of guys who went with him when he was involved in the most powerful evangelism, before the orphanage started, and Gracio was the first in that group. Gracio is also one of my brother’s best friends here in Mozambique and is also very dear to my parents. After working at Simon’s orphanage in Chimoio for many years, Gracio is now living in the city in a bairro and has started a prison ministry. Victor and I were so touched by what he has been doing in the prison. It’s actually one of only three penitentiaries in the country. Considering what a struggle it can be for normal people to survive and get enough food and water – I’m sure you can only imagine how much worse it is for prisoners . . . let’s just say they are the last priority. Gracio does not have much but what little he has he shares with the men he ministers to in the prison. We are just so touched and impressed by him and we think so highly of the work he has started here – bringing the Good News to the most despised people. So far he has only been able to go on the men’s side. Please pray that he will also be allowed to bring ladies to work on the women’s side. This morning Victor and the three bible school guys – Daniel, Solomão, and Vincent – went to the prison with Gracio.

Simon’s Orphanage

Erin, Yohani, Silvia, and Clarissa.

In Chimoio we also stopped by Simon’s orphanage and were so happy to see Simon, Erin, Clarissa, Silvia, and everyone else. We are only missing Courage who is at school in South Africa!


Kate said...

I'm a new church member at Elim and had heard about your blog. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blogs posts and how impressed I am by the work you all are doing. The post about the car accident you witnessed was so heartbreaking and moving. The story definitely changed how I move through my days - I'm sending up prayers to those who died and wishing you all the best in your endeavors in the work you do.

A friend sent me this music post and it struck me how many people "you stand by". Hope you enjoy:

Kate Gavigan

momsi/Nonni said...

That picture of Yohanni looks exactly like Josh...Smile and ALL!!

momsi/Nonni said...

The one with Gracio!!

ruben said...

Eu sou um dos que viveu no orfanato evanjafrica sò gostaria de agradecer em prikeiro lugar à DEUS que deu-me um maravilhoso pastor tambem agradecer ao mano victor que monstrou-me o caminho da verdade.
I dizer que ele não pode parar de fazer o bem ,sei que ele numca vai deixar este trabalho porque DEUS è que lhe ajuda ,de dia ,de noite oro à para saber como agradecer este homen mas não vejo como CREIO QUE UM DIA VOU SER ÙTIL PARA ELE OS MEUS IRMÃOOS DO ORFANATO