Into the Bush. // Mozambique, Africa

IMG_3094Today was incredible. After driving out to the rural bush village of Impiri, and camping overnight, I woke to Mozambicans singing and thanking God for the day ahead.  The whole morning was spent in worship, prayer and dancing with the village mamas and children. It was such a beautiful time of community that I never wanted to end! It was very important to spend this time soaking in the presence of God as He had much in store for the day ahead.

Even if you don’t believe in the spiritual world, in Jesus, or the Devil, what happened next is powerful and I’d love to share this video with you to convey the background story and atmosphere in which I was immersed. Witch Doctor Testimony

I met the witch doctor and his girlfriend– Their lives are so completely transformed I would never have guessed who they were if I had not held the woman’s hands that were eaten away from her previous leprosy. They were filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and so pleased with their own transformation from their new life in Jesus!   ‘He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!’ – 2 Corinthians 5:15, 17 

I watched as they burned all of their witchcraft fetiches in a big pit as God had prompted them to clean out their home. This man was the witch doctor for all provinces in northern Mozambique. Burning these things in front of the village was a very significant sign to the people living there of a choice to leave darkness to live a life of light.    ‘God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.’ – 1 John 1:5-7 

Following this we went out into the village in groups of four to talk and pray with people. I was with a group of three other girls from my school and one Mozambican Bible School Student who is learning to be a Pastor.

As we went out we walked past a few houses until a lady greeted us and invited us to talk with her. Selama! Mohavo? Kihavo?

While we spoke with her, another lady laid out on a daybed nearby raised her head from under a sweaty capalana.  

This woman was obviously ill and we asked if we could pray for her. We listened to her story as we prayed for Holy Spirit to come and bring healing. She began to feel somewhat better! She said she had tried to go to the hospital but there was no room. She had been sick and laying there on the daybed for two months! Unable to go to the church, she would pray for Jesus to help her and she cried as she realized he had answered her prayer by sending us. We prayed a second time and she sat upright completely healed, saying that she would like to try to eat some food! Praise Jesus! Next she asked if we would cast all the demons out of her house! We went inside and prayed. We explained to her that she had full authority in Jesus name to tell them to leave. As she prayed we could feel the spiritual atmosphere shift dramatically. I offered to anoint the doors and windows with oil but she didn’t have any oil. I used water from my water bottle instead, and the girl next to the door felt the water turn to oil! Can you imagine? I couldnt believe the heaviness of the presence of God there. He really is so tangible!

‘Let all who are helpless take heart. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!’ – Psalm 34:1-2, 4-5, 8

We then walked out of the house, not quite sure what to do next. In that moment, the cutest little old lady teetered up to us and we saw that her eyes were clouded with cataracts that caused blindness. She asked us to pray for her, and as we did, nothing changed. We asked if she knew Jesus as her Savior, but she responded no. Suddenly, the woman who had just received healing ran forward. She began excitedly sharing her testimony of how she had received healing just minutes before. All of a sudden the old woman exclaimed, ‘I can see!! I can see!!’ She looked into my eyes with joy and the biggest toothless smile on her face. The cloudy cataracts had disappeared and her blue eyes were glistening!     She announced desperately, ‘I want this healing power you have so I can heal other people in my village!’ We explained to her this power comes from knowing the love God offers us all through believing in His Son Jesus.

“For God so greatly loved the world that He even gave up His only Son, so that whoever believes, trusts, clings to, and relies on Him shall not be lost but have eternal everlasting life.” – John 3:16

She responded excitedly, ‘Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!’

We spoke about the significance of her decision as she had previously been a Muslim. We explained that a water baptism would symbolize her new life with Jesus. She wanted this now, so I again used my water bottle, with water in my hands and baptized her in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

‘If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.’ – Romans 10:9-10

How amazing is His grace! How unfailing is His love!

What other King leaves his throne? What King leaves his glory to die?

That He would lay down his life, that I could be set free?

It is for freedom, that I have been set free.    ‘God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.’ 1 John 4:9-10

Zura

My first morning in Pemba, I was In the hammock reading quietly and enjoying the sunrise when a parade of beautiful Mozambican mamas came and sat on the edge of my porch.  I greeted them in my limited Emakua. ‘Selama! Mohavo? Kihavo!’ One of the ladies rushed to my side, put her arm around my shoulder and asked my name in Emakua. She smiled, ‘Kaysha y Zura, amigas!’  I don’t know why this made us instant friends, but I was thankful for the quick acceptance as her amiga.

Zura is one of 12 ladies at our base hired to do laundry for the staff here. This is an amazing opportunity for these women to have jobs as it is extremely difficult for Mozambican women who don’t speak English to find work in the city.    They meet at my porch every morning to gather the laundry and wash and sing, a true highlight to my day as I’m journaling and reading above.

Every chance she could get, Zura would come to my side and chat in mixed Emakua and Portugese even though I could not understand most of what she was saying, I felt her hunger to understand and relate. I would read verses from the Bible to her in English as well, knowing she couldn’t understand. But it didn’t matter. We were amigas.

One day we happened to cross paths outside the gate. Yay! It was her day off from work! She grabbed my hand and took off for the village. I assumed she wanted me to meet her family she had described to me briefly.

Approaching her house she was greeted by three beautiful daughters. Gloria, Narzesa, and Jesuina. Zura spread a mat outside in the dirt and motioned for me to sit.

The girls scrambled on top of me, touching my face, stroking my hair, stealing my sunglasses and laughing at everything I said.  Before I knew it I had braids in my hair and the little one had adopted my Portugese dictionary as her own picture book.      My heart was completely undone as Zura indicated that she was a single mother providing for these babies on her own the best she could. Her middle child, Narzesa, had a concerning laceration on her foot that was sticky and muddy with flies landing around the cut. I helped her wash the foot, and put clean band-aids over it that I had with me.  I felt the smallness of what I had to offer against so much need.

That week someone left a Portugese Bible at our house accidentally. I snatched it up and began journaling verses to Zura.

“For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:33, 35

She loved the Word. She was glowing with a new brightness in her eyes. So much so, that we began writing notes back and forth in the journal every morning.      Then this message broke my heart. She asked if there was any way I could help her family with my two hands. She barely makes enough income in a day to bring home food, much less to pay her rent and clothe her children adequately.

I knew this was coming. If it was myself in her shoes as a mother, how could I not ask for help?

I prayed desperately for a way to answer her. I continued to give her verses and promised I would ask God to give me wisdom as I am very small on my own.

The next morning I felt God gave me a picture that He wanted to heal Narzesa’s foot. He wanted to affirm and assure Zura and her family to know Him as their protector and provider and that they can run to Him to meet ALL their needs. He is such a good, good Father.

I held the word in my heart and prayed about who I could ask to go to her home and join me with great faith in prayer for this healing that would be a new sign of love and his goodness.

I felt God highlight Leo and the boys. It was part of His plan for them to pray for their own neighbor. I asked the boys the next day and they readily agreed to meet the following evening to go to Zuras house.

I wish I could describe the power of prayer in her home that night. The presence of God was overwhelming as Leo prayed. I was expectant to see radical healing, still the cut appeared the same to me. Leo confidently told me we were done and that it would be healed.

Before leaving, we washed Zura’s feet to honor her in her home. She received all of this in honest humility and with light, grateful tears.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:31-32

The next morning I gathered my housemates to visit Zura. We brought bread and peanut butter and I also brought her a Portugese Bible I was able to get my hands on.

As soon as we rounded the corner of the path to her house the girls came out running! I scooped them up in my arms, trying to catch Narseza long enough to look at her foot.    If only I had a photo to show the extent of the injury before– her foot was completely healed and the wound covered with new skin!!

Wow! Thank you Jesus our Healer! Zura pulled out the welcome mat and we praised God together! All of us laughing and hugging and talking over one another.             Every day since, Zura is praising God. Their circumstances haven’t changed, but their spirits are full of hope and their eyes filled with joy.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – Jesus

 

A day in Mozambique

What does a day hold at the Village of Joy? What possibilities are held waiting within today?

5:30 am // Morning light.I wake to my screened view of the sunrise. With twelve girls stacked snug in bunks around me I creep out of my mosquito net to make a coffee and wrap myself in a cozy hammock on the porch for a morning chat with Jesus. My King. This time with Him is priceless. Vision for today.

6:30am// Daily Bread.      The breakfast bell rings to gather twelve bread rolls at ‘The Bread Tree’ for my housemates.    We break bread, scrambling around for peanut butter, hair-brushes, water bottles, sunscreen, toothbrushes, tea. We tie capalanas while braiding hair, laughing, scratching bug bites and cracking jokes about our weird sleep patterns. Once a week each of us has an assigned laundry day. It’s best to get your laundry on the line first thing before the washline is filled to capacity.

 8:00 am // Harvest School Hut      Here we worship, here we grow. We are hungry to praise, we are hungry to be watered by our faithful leaders. Our attention never wanders. It is an honor to be taught in this place by planet shakers from across the world.

1:30 pm // Rice and Beans     The lunch line gets kind of crazy! But it is a time I won’t forget, socializing and laughing and trying to communicate in Portuguese. Sometimes the line takes over an hour for a bowl of rice and beans, but it never tasted so good. I am so excited when I get it! I think God made my stomach for this food 🙂

3:00 pm // Town Run // Back Porches   In the afternoons we have the opportunity to hear from special guest teachers on optional classes we call ‘back porch’. I have most enjoyed hearing from a visiting team from Scotland.         IMG_1629
If I am not in a back porch, we can go to town and get groceries at the local store or fruit and veg market. Apples and peanut butter are a treat and I make sure to get enough for the week.

4:00pm // Beaches IMG_2424
       Once or twice a week we have time to walk down to the beach. A walk in the beauty of the ungroomed sand is especially refreshing after working in the red dirt of the hot villages.

5:30 pm // Evening light      What a treat to see the sun rise and set everyday. The expanse and variety of the sky in Mozambique is one of my most favorite things I could write an entire post about. If I could only capture a photo of the night sky. I have never seen so many stars in such detail! The vastness of our Creators love for beauty is beyond my comprehension.

6:00 pm // Matapa vs. Fish Heads

You never can tell what you will find on your rice at dinner time. Hungrily making it to the end of the dinner line to face a blackened fish head was slightly not as satisfying as you might think. But the Mozambicans love it. So I embrace it. This is love.  If not fish, we are served a plant based sauce called Matapa. Matapa is basically ground up leaves cooked with some spices. It’s a bit gritty in texture because of the sand stuck to the leaves. Hopefully my intestines appreciate the scrubbing, my teeth are not as stoked.

9:00 pm // Bedtime! This bottom bunk has been my resting place the four weeks! With 12 girls in two bedrooms we have laughed and fought and cried and laughed some more. This is the place where true character is born. Sleeping here is not the most peaceful routine, with doors banging and shuffling and dropping stuff on eachother, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Josina Marchel Village

Yesterday was probably one of the most special and moving days of my life.

On Thursday, after my classes, I felt God whispering to go up, go up on the hill above base as far as I could.

I thought it was for the view, so I set off with just my music and a water bottle to go higher up.

When I got as far as I could I came to the gated entrance of the Iris school. I thought this is as far as I go, but the guard opened the gate and motioned for me to go on.

I went in and felt so at home, I walked into one of the classroom buildings and became so overwhelmed with Gods presence and the burning intensity of my own dream to build schools and what education means for this country. I couldn’t stay long as a few students started filtering into the room for class. I wiped my tears and tried to sneak out, as I didn’t want to be a disruption. –Sometimes seeing a white person around is quite the disruption.   I walked across the red dirt campus and stood by a tree to observe. Eventually three teenage boys walked over to say hi, and had lots of questions for me in broken English. (The kids who are in school get very excited to practice their English and are very curious about life in America.)

Surprised by their curiosity and polite conversation I stayed with them talking and trying to relate in our mixed languages. They told me they would receive their grades for the semester the next day and asked if I would come back for this. I was delighted by their eager faces and honored by their request. After getting permission from my house leaders, I joined the class the next day to receive their grades.   It was so special and I was very proud as the three of them received the best grades in the class. They have high goals and dreams of becoming a businessman, a doctor, and a biology teacher. After class, they asked if they could show me their village. I gathered four other girls from my house and met the boys at the gate for our adventure.

And what an adventure we had. I had asked Leonardo, the oldest to take us to meet his family. He warned me that his house was a far distance, but I assured him we were strong girls and were up for the walk. After all he does this walk twice a day it couldn’t be that bad.As we strolled through the village our eyes and hearts were gaping wide at the life and commotion held hidden in this culture we had ventured into.IMG_2019-0 We thought our student life in mud houses without running water — bucket showers and pit latrines was a sacrifice. While seeing the poverty and lifestyles of the village people, my humble accommodations seem like a palace. My daily meal of rice and beans is fit for kings.

We walked and talked about life and cultural differences with the boys. Leon taught us how they used different plants for nutrients and washing their skin. IMG_2004-0    IMG_1918-0Even in their poverty, there was a distinct difference between homes and the standard of living between neighborhoods.   We walked through tiny alleyways, crossed muddy streams filled with trash, traveled dusty red roads and the ‘long walk’ we started out on I realized was probably more than six miles one way to Leon’s house.       When we finally arrived to the house we were amazed by what we saw. As the only man in his family, he had built their humble home from bamboo and some scrap sheet metal. The bamboo was tied together by stripped rubber tires. Three people live in this room with a fire on the ground to cook their food. They have one battery powered lantern for Leon to study by and read their Bible at night.      They laid out straw mats for us to sit on outside and we played with the kids and rested and loved on them.  Their faith in God is beyond comparison. They are happy. They trust Him with everything. They have the greatest faith In Him to provide for their family day to day, for water, for food, for clothing, for protection.   What can separate us from the Love of God?

Even Leon’s friends, the other two boys who walked with us, were visiting his home for the first time and were amazed and grateful for their own humble homes close to school. They teased their friend about how he should get a motorcycle so he doesn’t have to walk so far every day.

We prayed for Leon and his family, asking for more of Gods presence and protection, His loving hand on them is so evident.

We left them with some food we had brought along, and continued to the homes of the two other boys.       What can separate us from the love of God?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Your Heavenly Father knows ALL that you need. What can separate us from the love of God?

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

I am convinced that neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in ALL creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.