Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Truck Crash

Last night our truck was in a bad accident.  Amazingly nobody was killed or badly hurt.  The truck was carrying food, not people, so none of the kids were in it when it crashed and the truck it collided with was not really damaged.  Mainly we are just grateful that nobody was badly hurt.  This is Africa.  This is Mozambique.  The risks on the road here can be very, very high.  God has graciously kept us and our loved ones safe on the road time and time again.  So thank you for all your prayers!

Concerning our truck – this truck has been FANTASTIC for the life of the orphanage.  A few short years ago we were able to get it from one organization’s great generosity towards us.  In our city everyone puts messages on their vehicles, so our truck says, “Jesus Christ is the King of Glory” (in Portuguese), and the kids all call the truck “Gloria.”  Right now the cab of the truck is badly damaged but we are already working on repairs and it looks like our only serious challenge will be finding a new windshield.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conversation of the Day:

Today two of our little girls were braiding (my hair) for fun.  These girls have played with me and called me “Mana Christina” a million times but now that they have Yohani I have suddenly become “the Mother of Yohani.”  Listening to the way the kids word things (especially in another language) is always so entertaining to me . . .

Mena (age 7):  You’re not old enough to braid yet.  Go play with Yohani.

Dorcas (age 4):  No! I need to make the Mother of Yohani’s hair look good.

Mena:  Yohani wants you to play with him.

Dorcas:  I can’t right now. I’m busy braiding the Mother of Yohani’s hair.

Mena:  You have to go play with Yohani in case a bug comes and you have to kill the bug so that it won’t get him!

Dorcas:  The Mother of Yohani will kill the bug when it comes!

Mena:  No she won’t! The Mother of Yohani also needs someone who can kill bugs!

Dorcas and Yohani playing in our living room.  Yohani LOVES Dorcas!!!

 Mena (then age 3) and me when I first came to Mozambique.

Dorcas (then age 2) and me when she first arrived at the orfanato.

 Dorcas, Mama Maria, Yohani, and Mena.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Animal of the Day: "Baby" Spider

Isaty with the "baby" spider.

This morning I saw this large (in my mind large) spider descending from the mango tree I was sitting under.  I asked the kids if it was dangerous and Isaty immediately jumped up and grabbed one of the spider’s legs and then Canito started playing with it and carrying it around on a little twig.  I told them I didn’t want them to bring it to me because I was scared of it.  They all thought this was really funny.  After playing with the spider they placed him/her gently back in the tree, but the spider fell out.  I asked if the spider was very old and about to die and the kids informed me that, no, he (or she) was just a “baby.”  How did they know?  Because this spider is so “little” and haven’t I seen the grown up ones?  Yikes!  Yes I have seen some gigantuan spiders here but this one seemed pretty big to me!  If you can’t tell from the pictures the body of the spider is the size of a finger.  Anyway . . . I am terrified of spiders but I actually started feeling sorry for this one when the kids were trying to help him climb back up into the tree.  They kept placing him back on the trunk and trying to help him climb up, which he eventually kind of did. 

The poor baby spider trying to climb back up the mango tree trunk.  (I think he blends in a little too well.)

(On a side note - I noticed that the spider only had 7 legs and asked the kids if they thought he was hurt cause one leg was gone.  They told me he was born this way and that in Mozambique spiders can have only 7 legs.  I was starting to think they just weren’t educated about spiders enough but then I remembered all the times I’ve thought that only to be proven wrong and learn something new.  The kids telling me this came from the jungle and I’m sure they’ve handled billions of spiders.  So now I am just going to believe that some spiders in Mozambique are born with 7 legs, until proven otherwise.)

A close up of him (or her?).  His (or her) body is the size of a finger and he (or she) is only a baby (according to the kids)!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Delicacy of the Day: Mowowo


One day I heard a huge commotion and then Jose crying and barely able to talk as he reported some injustice that had been inflicted upon him.  Later when all had been restored to peace and Jose was happy again, I asked TJ what happened and he explained that someone hadn’t let Jose get any mowowo.  “Wait.  There’s a word, mowowo????”  Yes – it’s the food crust still stuck to the bottom of the pot when it’s time to wash the dishes and the Macua word for it is “mowowo.”  Okay - this may not seem funny to you reading about it but in the context of everything here – I think “mowowo” is the funniest word ever.  The sound of “mowowo” somehow perfectly captures what is left in the pot – think something that looks like the remains of mashed potatoes or split pea soup.  And mowowo is somehow like a delicacy to the kids.  Don’t worry – they are getting good sized portions of food three times a day – but coming away from dinner with a palm full of beans scraped off the bottom of the pot seems to make anyone’s day here.  And the fact that it’s called “mowowo” is just SO fitting.


Merecido eating mowowo from a pot of matapa.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sound of the Day: Batukis

This may look like a peaceful scene, but TONS of noise and sometimes even raging fires come over this wall quite often.

This morning I woke up to the sounds of the batukis and I thought to myself, “Oh, the sounds of Africa.”  Ironically I then remembered these same sounds drifting by my window in Wallingford whenever the free-spirited Seattleites had drum fests at the Good Shepherd Park near my parents’ house.  But anyway . . .  back to here in the deep heart of Africa . . . “Batukis” are traditional African drums.  In our neighborhood here on the edge of the city batukis have long been replaced by radios and loud speakers playing reggae, hip hop, and Celine Dion music.  But whenever the batukis do come back – it means there is a real traditional ceremony taking place.

The traditional ceremony of the day is the King of the Village, our neighbor, being crowned king.  We all thought he was already the king but I guess today it becomes official with a batuki ceremony.  The old king just recently passed away and he was really old and had been king since colonial times when our area was still “the jungle” and had lions roaming around in it and stuff.  The new king is like a teenager (or young 20s?) and he is pretty different from the old king.  Anyway . . . if you want to read about the new king’s wild parties you can find all that information on TJ’s blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Banana Madeira (Plantains): My New Obsession

Plantain Bananas
The cutest tree
 I think banana trees are the cutest tree so last year Victor planted a few along the outside of our wall and then a few months ago he plopped down a gigantic bunch of ripe plantains on our kitchen table.  This was the beginning of my obsession with plantains, which I’m sure will last the rest of my life.  For Mozambicans and probably more than half of the rest of the world, plantains, a.k.a. Banana Madeira (“wood banana” in Portuguese), are not this exciting because it’s a normal part of the cuisine.  But for me!  I can’t believe I was missing out on this most delicious, delicious treat my whole life and I am now making up for it on a daily basis!

Here are my three current favorite ways to eat Banana Madeira:


Put the plantains in a gigantic pot and boil them for a while.
Peel a cooked plantain and put it in a bowl.
Mash it up.
Mix in some water and then show it to a cute baby.
Feed the baby the mashed plantain.  He will love it.  It tastes like banana and apple mixed together.


Peel the plantains and then slice them up.
Fry the plantain slices in hot oil.
Dry the fried plantains on napkins.
Put them in a pretty little glass dish and sprinkle them wish salt.  They are SO tasty!
Or even better – Cuban Style – serve them with black beans and rice.  This is the best African version of a Caribbean meal EVER!


Mix up a dough with a few mashed up plantains, ½ a cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, ½ a teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar (Wycliffe Cookbook), shape the dough into little paddies, and then fry them in hot oil.
Dry the fritters on napkins and then dip them in powdered sugar.
Plantain fritters are SO good.
A tasty American style African breakfast:  Black Gurue Mozambican tea with sugar for Victor, South African red bush tea with milk for me, boiled plantain mash for Yohani, boiled eggs, and plantain fritters – yum.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What the Orphanage Looks Like Today

 The front gate.
 The front wall.
 Along the front wall and the road outside the orphanage.
 Our beautiful new boys dorm.
 Our girls dorm being built now.
 The house where the girls are currently living while they wait for their dorm to be built.
  TJ's house a.k.a. male volunteer and visitors house.
 Marta's house a.k.a. female staff and visitors house.
 Mama Maria's house.
 Future recording studio (we hope to someday have a Christian radio station in the Macua language).
 Storage house.
 Current dining hall.  (We hope to build a new one after the girls dorm is completed.)
 Current cooking house.
 Bathrooms (and shower).
 Guard and meeting house.
Looking into the orphanage from the front gate. 
Looking towards the front gate from inside the orphanage.