Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So the last week or so has been relatively uneventful, and I’ve spent the majority of the time reading various books. The highlight of the week was the Sunday service of the Nazarene church in town. It was very participatory. I had to introduce myself at the beginning in front of about 200 people in Portuguese, and different age groups lead worship songs, first the women, then the older youth, then the children, then the men. The pastor preached on the first 4 verses of Ephesians chapter 6, and was very balanced on telling kids to be good kids and parents to be good parents, and not leave their kids behind on Sundays to guard the house or watch the goats. 

So two reflections I had today. The first came after talking to an American peace corps volunteer. She had expressed that she could never do what some Christian missionaries/development workers do: dedicating their entire lives to a neglected community. I’m not one myself but I wished I had thought about it enough beforehand to explain to her some of what I understand their motivations to be. First, he or she does this because her eternal joy and sense of purpose and perspective overwhelm any sense of sacrifice now. They trust the promises of God and understand that their position fits into God’s personal plan of showing love to this world. It is based on the love of the Living Creator, and it would be difficult to do out of a goodhearted sense that the West’s random historical privilege must be shared.

Also I have also realized that the world when it is fully restored (often called heaven) will be populated by the poor, the oppressed, the prisoners, and the hungry (don’t believe me, read in the scriptures Luke 4:18-19 and 6:20-24). The stories of this present and future will not be forgotten. In fact, even Jesus is still known as the slain Lamb in these restored times. (Revelation 7:9-11) Similarly, the sufferings of the poor and persecuted will be over then but not forgotten. Since I’m going to be chillin with these folks in heaven, I should stop simply seeing the least of these as the Jesus I serve(see Matthew 25:31-46), but also see them as the community that will give me a better sense of heaven.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Amazing Marula

So I got to visit another even more remote village and observe a leadership and TB training there. The chief and the whole village was there and it was a big ordeal. I learned a lot. One of the practices that is most harmful and difficult to change, at least in this part of Mozambique is a cleansing practice that occurs after a husband dies, leaving a widow. The husband's brother or another relative from the community must have sex with the widow daily for a period of time set by the local witch doctor. If this is not done properly, the declining health of the woman (who may have been infected with HIV by her husband, who in turn might have contracted it when working far away for months in the South African mines) is blamed on negligence of this cleaning ritual (sperm apparently has a cleansing power).  Actually, any subsequent case of TB in the village can be blamed on improper completion. The result of this is that HIV continues it's slow steady climb in Mozambique (not as common as in neighboring but still at a devastating 15% of adults). Since people living with HIV more easily catch TB, one result is that TB goes up as well, making communities more desperate to do anything to prevent it (such as completing the cleaning ritual, and so the vicious circle continues).  There is hope, however, as this community meeting shows. The chief of the village was an excellent leader, if all the leaders in Mozambique were as committed as he, the US would soon be coming to Mozambique to ask for economic aid.

So that was a great experience, but most of my time has been spent making a solar fruit dryer (I'll put up a picture when it is done) and preparing for and selling Marula products at local festivals in South Africa. The Marula tree drops hundreds of ripe marula fruits on the ground from December to March.  It's like a small plum with a thick skin. It has excellent flavor, 4 times as much vitamin C as oranges, and the large, incredibly hard pit hides two small nuts that have extremely high quality protein and oil that is nutritious as well as great for your skin. It could become the new health craze in the US, move over acai berry. It also makes great beer and a fantastic creme liqueur that is becoming wildly popular in South Africa and England. I even met an guy from Israel who said they are having good success growing it there.

I also got to drive through Kruger Park, one of the best game parks in the world. check out elephants, lions, rhinos, and more at my facebook photo album

tis all for now