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Is any border simple--no big deal? Maaaybe...somewhere. But certainly not between Mozambique and Malawi. I'm not sure why it had to take so long, but being ignorant with the language and customs certainly didn't help.

Look around you. See all the traffic, even huge older trucks nosing it for a better spot? See all the pedestrians and all the different stops we have to make and all the papers we have to sign. Quite a deal, huh?  I reckon this is a favorite spot for both beggars and sellers! Ah, but they have such appealing eyes...the beggars, I mean, and the craftsmen sure did want us to come to their open air markets. Sometimes they would come right up to us with their goods. Did I actually say sometimes??!! They must spot a tourist a mile away and make a beeline towards us! But hey, we can't help everyone, not that we were even tempted, sorry to say!

There is one unforgettable border crossing though. We had a man and a boy in our truck. The boy had had a club foot that had been surgically repaired, earlier, and now infection had set in so Milton was bringing him in to the Be In CURE hospital. This memory isn't about them though, because they were so quiet, I hardly noticed them.

While we were milling around, mostly waiting, of course, I caught sight of a young mother with a sad face and a baby on her back. She was holding a little boy by the hand. For some reason she tugged at my heart so I said Bon Deah. (Good day) She responded without any light in her eyes, and a little while later I decided to try again, so pointed to her baby and said "Bonita." Surely that would make her smile. I think it means "Beautiful" in Portuguese and doesn't every mother like to have her child complimented? It brought a response alright, but I couldn't understand a single word she said, so Milton had to come to my rescue.

It came out that she wanted just a little money, but our son investigated further and found out that her little boy's arm had gone limp a month or two before, and he strongly suspected that he had Malarial Cerebral Palsy. (Groan) So we  brought her with us into Malawi and to the hospital. It was hard on me having her sit in the back of our covered truck while we sat in comfort in the front, so offered to join her there. I was told that it was okay,  she was probably sitting on our luggage so I went quiet.

An interesting cultural difference showed up at the hospital. She didn't mind if I helped carry her luggage, but when my husband picked something up, she quickly said, "Let it be, let it be."

She was overwhelmingly grateful for the room in the hostel and other assistance All I could do was haltingly try to point her to the Giver of All Good Gifts.

Please pray for her. I hope all is well with her and her family.

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Come on grab a pair of sandals, there's plenty of those over there by the door. I can lend you an extra sunhat if you don't have one, and don't forget the sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Even though it's wintertime in Mozambique we don't want to take any chances of getting the nasty, and sometimes recurring malaria.  I want you to walk where I walked and see what I saw. It didn't take me long to feel bombarded by all the different impressions. Just between you and me and the baobab tree I experienced some serious culture shock while there. Don't tell anyone, but I broke down and cried uncontrollably for a couple hours. It was just too much. Too much poverty, too much ignorance, too hard a life, and I felt too helpless to do anything about it. 

I found it a bit uncomfortable bumping along these rocky, rutted roads in our big, four wheel drive truck, but all around us people were walking, always walking which would be far more exhausting. . We saw thousands of black faces, many so solemn looking, carrying heavy bundles, often on their heads and the women, it seemed like more often than not, had a baby or toddler wrapped on their backs. I guess seeing the numerous pedestrians with heavy loads and  knowing they would be  sleeping on bamboo mats, and the pitiful diets were among the things that hit me the hardest. Hey, they are people just like you and I! 

At first we babbled foolishly about what can we do to help, but eventually fell silent. What could we do? Their needs are so great, and our efforts so small. Even the education of many was a crying shame. Some children could hardly even write their name. 

We saw far too many places similar to this. How would you like to call this home? 

I was asked later if I would go back if I had a chance. I thought about it for a while and this is my answer. For an adventure, no, but as a missionary in order to help the people, yes, a resounding yes, IF I could learn the language sufficiently to share my love with them. Life for so many in Africa is a hard life, and it would be also, to a lesser extent for the missionary because it would be a huge adjustment. No an adventure seeking spirit couldn't drag me back, but love could. 

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Bon Deah!

I hope all you Portuguese speaking readers aren’t flinching over my spelling, but I chose to write words the way they sound in order to pronounce them more accurately.

Come with me to our first well repair site. You may well be surprised with how many people are walking along the roads wherever you go. I certainly was. Mozambique is definitely a land of contrasts but some of the dramatic changes are very recent. The beautiful, smooth pavement we are now driving on came in within the last six months so try to imagine what it was like before that!

Since it is their winter time the landscape is dry and desolate but interesting because of its very strangeness. I kept half wanting one of Africa’s famous animals to show up somewhere off to the side but this is far too populated an area for that to happen! Every year the grass is burned and the mice and rabbits flushed out and eaten so obviously there isn’t enough vegetation, or small game left for the mightier beasts.

Soon we’ll leave the highway behind, and then we’ll get a more authentic picture of the ‘real Africa.”  Before we left Tete, Milton picked up a slim man by the name of Antonio who could speak Portuguese. Since he would be directing us to the well site I got my first chance to hear my son having a real conversation in a foreign language. Why did I suggest that this man was slender? I quickly observed that most of the natives were not over weight, probably because of all the walking they do, and the heavy loads they must carry.

If you are like me, you are wondering about now if Antonio knows where we are going. Having Milton say he had forgotten his GPS doesn’t help, but I’m not really concerned, because I know he has gone on trips like this countless times. Sometimes we are on rocky excuses for roads, but other times the track disappears completely as far as I can tell, but we keep plunging across the uneven terrain. Sometimes we see a little brick shanty or two or three, and of course even way out here black people show up, going somewhere or maybe just sitting and watching us as we manoeuvre along. The ‘roads’ we are traveling on were not in the so distant past mere walking trails that evolved into something for motorbikes, then eventually vehicles like ours pushed their way through.

AH! Here it is: the well site! I watch with interest as the men quickly and efficiently unload the truck in preparation for the repair job. Now where did all these little black children come from? They seem to have arrived from all directions! Even some mamas with their babies are observing from under that tree over there. The children are shy, especially at first, and hang together and a little back. How I longed to be able to talk to them. Some are so bright-eyed and giggly but we couldn’t communicate! My stammering efforts to speak Portuguese wouldn’t even help here because they only knew Chichewa. How can we tell them about the wonderful Heavenly Father when there is such a communication barrier between us?

Even here there is the suggestion of class difference. One wee urchin was wearing a seriously ragged T shirt. I mean it had huge holes in it, while others were clinging to their school satchels and seemed better dressed. They were obviously the more fortunate ones. One little girl had a constant nagging cough and I tried to express my sympathy through sign language but I don’t think she quite got the message.

Milton tried to explain to them that I was a Mama and a Grandma. It saddened me tremendously that children like these are still being taught that white people want to steal little black children and eat them, although I’m not quite sure they really believed it.

On the way back I understood better why Milton remarked about wishing he had the GPS along. Antonio stayed at the village, and we ended up doing some back-tracking because one clump of brush and wider area in the sand looked pretty much the same as the next, but obviously we made it out or I wouldn’t have gotten this written!

 Ate’ Logo: Ahteh Lawgo (Until later)

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“Good Night” In the Air
Our next flight was three hours longer than the first one and was also an over-nighter. I’m really not great at falling asleep even at home, and this was no exception. How my legs did ache! Out of desperation I would get up and walk around once in a while. It is a marvel to behold how readily some folks zonked off. There were those that were snoozing with their chin almost on their chests. Did I envy them? Well, maybe a little, but I did wonder how their necks would feel when they woke up.  One sweet, young teenager leaned over to talk to me as I trudged past. Our conversation was about this long: “You can’t sleep? I can’t either!” But it was a friendly connection in a sea of shadowed faces. On a different plane one man was asleep even before takeoff and slumbered almost constantly until he had to drag himself off the plane many hours later. Oh, to keep the record straight, I did fall asleep for a few seconds, not minutes on the flight from London to Johannesburg. On the way home I even slept longer!
There were others that were prowling around in the dark. One businessman (?) was doing knee bends to aid circulation and he and I got to chatting. These late night vigils gave me opportunity to exchanged smiles and a few words with more than one gentle-faced woman clothed in Middle Eastern attire.
I felt sorry for one Chinese couple, though. Off and on all during a certain flight their toddler was fussing. I wanted so much to go help them, but that just Isn’t Done and besides they may have not even known English. I saw “Daddy” in the back with a child but could offer little more than a sympathetic smile. When daylight arrived, I discovered that it wasn’t one, but two toddlers that were having an unhappy flight. They were identical twins!
Maybe that’s enough for now. I feel ready for a nap!
2 Photos - View album

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More About Africa! Soon.

Wow! Look at that! My laptop is actually working! It’s sure handy having a son in law visit that is more knowledgeable than I am when it comes too messed up computers! Even he couldn’t fix the PC though. It was threatening imminent failure long before that infamous hacker got his fingers on my files.

Okay, okay, I know you came here to check out the details of our trip so I’ll get to it. Be assured of one thing, though. These reports shouldn’t sound quite so much like they were scribbled off in haste while the library clock was ticking ‘cuz now I can work at them at home and maybe even catch my errors before you do!


Let me see: have we left the Heathrow airport behind? Maybe we left Rye too quickly! I never told you about the antique and tea shops and famous English breakfasts! (I had delicious smoked haddock, though!) Oh well, find out for yourself if you’re drooling with curiosity. We’re heading for the terminal.

World Travel is just another name for Hurry Up and Wait, right? I don’t know how many times we did exactly that. We had time on our hands after arriving at the airport so did a little Short-Distance exploring. We hadn’t walked very far down a busy, bustling street when we met an interesting character. He was a street person with all his earthly goods piled into a grocery cart. We stopped and chatted for a while and learned that he had spent the last seven years caring for his mother who had dementia. As the story unfolded it became more disturbing. As a lad “Johann” had grown up Greek Orthodox but was now agnostic. His father, while in a drunken rage, would beat him and his mother cruelly in spite of being most pious on Sundays.

 When his mother became ill, did he help? No, it was up to “Johann” to support her and watch, alone, as she gradually went downhill. She died two or three months before we met him. But like I said “Johann’s” dad was very devout, so guess what he did with the inheritance that normally goes at least partly to the children? He donated it to the church so that his soul would be prayed for, for 36 Sundays.

In the course of the conversation we admitted that many atrocities have been done in the name of Christ, but they were definitely not the Father’s will. We encouraged him to make a direct connection with the Father, because God is love, and He can lead him. As you read this, please whisper a prayer for this gentleman. I would love to meet him in Heaven and find out how his story unfolded from there.
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