Sunday, November 30, 2014

BACK IN AFRICA


After spending this last year in the U.S. for various family and ministry reasons, we returned home to Mozambique for a few months (Victor) and weeks (me).

First we traveled to Seattle where our kids got to meet their new cousin, Lucy.


We also enjoyed witnessing the conversations between the two most talkative people in our families.


Then Victor and I traveled three days from Seattle to Nampula.

EBOLA SCREENING FOR AMERICANS IN MOZAMBIQUE

When we arrived at the airport in the capital city, Maputo, they took each arriving passenger’s temperature and asked what countries we had come from.  When we mentioned the U.S., they immediately took us to a medical room where they interviewed us, collected all our tracking information, and told us to contact them immediately for quarantine if we get a fever.

I thought the officials in the airport were doing a good job screening people and I thought it was ironic that lots of Americans would be scared about travel to Mozambique because of ebola, while Mozambicans have more of a reason to be scared of us Americans coming into Mozambique, as ebola has actually been in our country and not theirs.  When they wrote our information down, I saw the list of all the other passengers who had come from “ebola countries” and every one of them was from the U.S.

The continent of Africa is almost four times the size of the continental U.S., is home to over 1 billion people, and is divided into 54 countries.  Ebola is in three of those countries, which are all closer to Norway than to Mozambique.

NAMPULA

In Nampula the kids came to the airport to pick us up and as we rode through the city in the back of the truck it felt like we had never been gone.  I was exhausted after four days with almost no sleep and I went straight to bed.  But Victor always hits the ground running when we’re in Africa and his work drive doesn’t even seem human.  After hugging all the kids “hello” he stayed up late organizing things in the office and the next morning he was back up at 4am, taking a team to the farm to build a house!  The team of workers returned home around 8pm and had almost finished the foundation.

The next morning we went back to the farm to continue working on the house.

This is the drive from the orphanage to the farm, which takes about 15 minutes:

Victor driving the truck.

Passing other vehicles on the road.



Turning off the main road and going a few kilometers down a path in the bush.

Witch doctor hut.

The orphanage truck. There is no water in this area yet so we bring our own water in a huge tank.

This is the most extreme part of the dry season.  The rainy season will start at any time and then things will turn lush and green.

Mountains and rock formations surround the area in the distance.

This is the orphanage farm and this is where we are building a little house.

Working on the foundation.

Mixing the cement.

The guys worked really hard all day and returned to the orphanage in the evening.

THIS IS AFRICA

Back at the orfanato, I accidentally locked myself out of our house.  I went to Timisa and told her what I had done and she said that Samito could get the door open.  I waited for Samito to arrive with a paperclip or something, to pick the lock, but instead he came with Martinho and a gigantic heavy pipe thing that was like several feet long!  I’m not going to tell you what they did with the pipe to get into the house (because then all the banditos who read this blog will know how to do it) but it was AMAZING.  I’m always super impressed with the way people in Mozambique use what’s available to do things I would never dream are possible!


Their friends enjoyed this.

SINGING AND DANCING

Children singing and dancing before evening devotions.

Older girls singing and dancing.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kids Research Competition

Merecido, Mauricio, Martinho, Samito, Nereda, Atija, Nolita, Ronilda

Opportunities in education are a very new thing in Mozambique.  Under Portuguese colonial rule (which lasted over 400 years), there was no system of education for local children and only a few lucky ones got to go to small schools run by Catholic missions.  Then there was a war for independence, which lasted about a decade, and then a civil war, which lasted 16 years.  The Civil War didn’t end until 1992, and that’s when Mozambicans really got their first chance to focus on building schools.  In order to quickly train teachers, any student who finished 10th grade could then enter a one-year teachers training program and then get a classroom of 100 elementary school students without enough desks, no pencils, and no paper. 

Victor grew up going to school under a tree, without any school materials.  The teachers would hold up large pieces of papers with the lesson and the kids would look and learn that way.  Today elementary schools in the bush are still functioning under similar circumstances and most rural areas don’t have secondary schools.  Even in the city where we live, the first grade classrooms can have over 100 kids with only one teacher and little or no materials.  The children also attend class only three hours a day and many kids don’t have anything to eat in the morning.  From my perspective it is astounding and miraculous that children learn to read and write in this environment!

When the orphanage first started, universities were beginning to open in Mozambique and Victor tried to inspire the kids to set goals for higher education.  The kids had never seen or heard of anyone going to college and didn’t even know anyone who had gone past 10th grade.  They had no desire to do something they had never seen.  It was a great disappointment that the first generation of kids in the orphanage didn’t want to advance in school.  But after a few years we had several kids graduate from teachers training colleges and one from nursing school.  Now that the younger kids have actually seen someone go to college and become a professional, the attitude has changed.  Over the last few years we have sent kids to trade school, Bible School, and several are now in university!  The environment this new generation of orphanage kids is being raised in is completely different and very exciting!

Victor’s sister, Artimisa, is responsible for overseeing anything that has to do with education in the orphanage, and she has been doing a fantastic job.  Ever since she’s been on the staff she's made a big difference in the kids’ academic progress.  She went through the same school system they are going through now and excelled academically.  She went to a local university and got a degree in social work.  She tutors and helps the kids with their homework and she mentors and challenges them to set higher goals academically. 

During the school break Artimisa organized a research competition for the kids who are in secondary school and nearby universities.  She got older students from local churches to mentor and evaluate their research and presentations.  When it was time to present their findings, the kids decorated the cafeteria, everyone got dressed up, and the speeches were taken very seriously!

Artimisa lecturing on tips for choosing a profession, emphasis on social work.

Calton lecturing on tips for choosing a profession, emphasis on social sciences.

8th-10th graders speaking on how to combat severe poverty in Mozambique.

11th grade Humanities students Cocas, Pilonte, and Virginia presented on education in Mozambique and the practice of teachers using students in the teaching-learning process.  The 11th grade science students presented on common diseases in Mozambique:  causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention; and how health centers operate in the country.

University students Leonora and Gil researched and spoke on gender roles in Mozambique.

The elementary students presented cultural singing and dancing!

Everyone who participated.

From Artimisa’s Notes:

Research and Presentation Objectives:
  • Educate each other with fact-based knowledge in order to promote health, education, and work ethic.
  • Allow the safe and individually focused environment of the orphanage to provide the kids with a chance to build confidence in public speaking.
  • Create a platform where the kids could interact with each other on important topics and inspire each other to get involved in analyzing issues that affect the country.
  • University students and graduates guide younger students in making education and career choices.
It was a very nice day.  Thank you to everyone who participated, especially Achilles Jr’s brother who helped evaluate the groups.  And all thanks to God. 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Graduation

Victor, Leonora, Anabela, and Noemia
This summer three of our kids from the orfanato - Victor, Anabela, and Noemia - graduated from a culinary program and one girl from church - Leonora - graduated from a cosmetology program at the Young Africa trade school in Beira.

Anabela has been in the orphanage since she was a tiny child and has been a good friend and sister to the other girls.  She is a talented singer and has been in the band and on the praise and worship team for over five years.  Anabela wasn't sure what she wanted to do after high school but decided on this culinary program after everyone thought she would be a great cook and that these skills would open doors for her.  She did well in the program and we are excited to see what she does next!

Noemia came to us more recently but has been a great asset to the orphanage family - taking on any responsibility asked of her and making friends quickly and easily.  She is quiet, observant and hard-working.  Noemia has always loved cooking and baking and gravitated to the kitchen to learn new things.  We love Noemia's enthusiasm for making tasty food and we expect her to go far with the culinary certification and new skills she's added to her repertoire.

Victor ("Little Victor" though he is very tall now) is a young man who has always shown exceptional character.  He is extremely hard-working and usually the first to volunteer for jobs that nobody wants.  He happily helps with the most difficult tasks and when he notices that something needs to be done he takes care of it without waiting to be asked or noticed.  Victor loves cooking and took charge of marinating and grilling chicken, preparing rice and beans, and anything else in the kitchen when he was very young.  The food he cooks is delicious and we were excited about him learning more about what can be done in the kitchen.  We hope the skills he's learned in the culinary program will open up lots of opportunities in the future and we will be thrilled if he chooses to come back to us to be on the staff!

Leonora grew up in our church and is Marta's younger sister.  She has wanted to be a beautician and after finishing secondary school, Marta and Silimone were able to send her to Young Africa with the kids from the orfanato.  She did well in the program and is very excited about her new knowledge of hair care and everything else she needs to know to work in a salon.

It takes more than 12 hours to drive from Nampula (where our orphanage is) to Beira (where Young Africa is located).  The roads are not easy to drive on and the trip can be dangerous due to frequent fatal accidents and sporadic violence.  Over the past eight years we have been sending kids from the orphanage and from local churches to this area for Bible school, trade school, and even university.  Most of our kids have never traveled more than a few miles and it's a very big deal for them to go all the way to Beira.  The people in Beira are from different tribes and speak different languages.  The local culture is different, and even the climate is different.  In the U.S. we have a heritage of traveling and living in far away places.  But in this part of the world people have lived in one place with their families and tribes for hundreds of years.  When our kids travel to Beira they are somewhat like pioneers making a new way.  After our first few groups of young people set the example and a handful of them are now settled in this area, it seems like there's now a bridge between us and them.  The following pictures show other kids who have graduated from our orphanage who are now living in Beira and have supported these guys in every way since they've been in school there:

Jeremias Victor, Leonora, and Noemia.  Jeremias grew up in the orphanage and is now a law student at a university in Beira.
Gizela with the graduates.  Gizela grew up in the orphanage and then went through the culinary program at Young Africa a few years ago.  She now has a great job working as a cook for a preschool at a Bible school in Beira.
Osvaldo with the graduates.  Osvaldo is an amazing young man who has been involved with our ministry for the past few years.  He has been a volunteer and mentor to the younger kids and is currently in Bible school in Beira.  He will join the Evanjafrica staff after he graduates.
Victor eating the special graduation meal.
Noemia.
Anabela and Pacheco.  Pacheco also grew up in the orphanage and is now a law student with Jeremias at the same university in Beira.

Catching Up

Jordao, Isaque, Belson, Canito, and Enoque.  (Photo by Grace Boto)

Dear Family and Friends,

Over the next few weeks we would like to catch up on our blog and tell about what’s been happening in Mozambique and with us over the past year.

OUR FAMILY IN THE U.S.

Our family is currently on furlough in the U.S.  We originally planned to be here only a few months but are now going to stay longer to work on fundraising and expanding the services of our ministry in Mozambique.  We are also staying longer to get speech therapy and other services for our four-year-old son, Yohani, who was recently diagnosed with Autism. 

We first noticed that Yohani was behind in his development when he was about six months old, but didn’t realize how serious it was until he got older and still never began to talk.  When we were in Seattle in 2012 Yohani got into a program for kids with developmental delays and started progressing with signing, speech, and in other areas for the first time.  But the next year in Mozambique he stopped moving forward again.  We have prayed about this constantly and have prayed for Yohani’s life since before he was born. 

After arriving in the U.S. a few months ago, Yohani was able to get into an amazing special education program and now has some phenomenal teachers, therapists, and other professionals working with him in and out of school.  We feel that this has been a huge answer to prayer as we have seen Yohani open up to things that we couldn’t imagine him doing before.  We love everything about Yohani and don’t even have words to describe the joy he has brought into our lives.  We are so grateful to be here getting services for Yohani at this time.  Yohani is still not talking and we would love your prayers for his progress and development.

Our girls, Leila and Aya just turned two and are greatly enjoying the treats of America – spending time with family and friends, cheeseburgers, pizza, Sunday School, wading pools, pet dogs, air conditioning, and Daniel Tiger.  I know they miss the kids back in the orphanage and still use some of the Portuguese and Macua words they learned there that I didn’t even know!

Kids and staff praying at the mountain.

NAMPULA ORPHANAGE

Since we've been in the U.S. the orphanage staff has been doing a wonderful job with the kids.  Victor keeps in contact with them through skype every day and we have been greatly impressed with how smoothly things have been going.  All the kids are on track in school and a small group of our kids from the orphanage have recently graduated from trade school.  We also thank God that there have not been any serious illnesses among any of the kids or staff since we’ve been gone.

CUAMBA CHILDREN’S PROGRAM

Daniel (Photo by Grace Boto)
Cuamba, a small town in the province north of Nampula, has many orphans but no orphanages, and over the past few years we have had to reject many requests to help kids from there because of regulations against moving orphans to another province.  For almost ten years Victor has dreamed of one day setting up an orphanage in Cuamba in the same way that he set up the orphanage in Nampula.  Before I ever met him, Victor had already purchased a piece of land there, and last year he traded it for something better for starting something like this.  Over the past few months Daniel, one of our staff members who grew up in our orphanage in Nampula, has been in Cuamba doing preliminary work for starting a feeding program for orphans there.  We are excited about expanding our services to help more children in Mozambique and would greatly appreciate your prayers for God’s guidance and work in the lives of the most vulnerable kids who we hope to work with in Cuamba.

VISITING CHURCHES IN THE U.S.


While we are here in the U.S. we hope to visit as many churches as possible so that we may share the work and ministry in Mozambique with people who may want to partner with us in caring for orphans, helping widows become self-sustaining, providing scholarships for young people from poor families, training local pastors, evangelizing, and much more.  Please pray that God will open doors for us to be able to share and connect with people in a variety of churches.

Thank you all so much for still remembering us, praying for us, and supporting us during this past year when we have been so quiet.


Love, Victor and Christina