Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 August 2014

That's MY Baby!

Have you ever read or heard of stories about the atrocities that happened in Catholic boarding schools a couple generations ago? There's a new twist on that old story that makes me shudder, partly because I almost felt I had BEEN THERE!

Back, maybe sixty years ago, or so the story goes there was an all girls orphanage run by nuns who were very severe. Possibly because of the lack of love in that atmosphere, some of the girls got carried away with guys they secretly met, and babies resulted. Of course this was responded to with shock, horror, and disapproval. The one girl who the story focuses on dearly loved her little boy, but was only allowed to see him for a short time once a week. Imagine the delighted reunion when they fell into each others arms during these brief visits! Picture these very young moms running into the room barely heeding the stern commands to walk like ladies!

The scene changes in a flash!! Almost too late this girl finds out that her child is going to be snatched away and adopted! How she screams and wails and races down the stairs but is held back. She tears up the stairs once again and calls and calls out the window to her sweet little boy. Imagine her excruciating dispair and agony of losing the love of her life! Little boy crying outdoor

She never, never forgets him, and eventually searches exstensively...and finds him...after he dies.

So what does this have to do with ME, you ask?

I had a strange sensation while we stayed in a spacious cottage that used to be a vacation home for nuns. It was chill, musky, plain house and far too easy to picture that young girl flying down the stairs in that sort of atmosphere. There was even one or two iron crosses hanging on the walls.

But I'm leaving you on a down note. Next time I'll post about the positive sights on this spots.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Three H's

  • I was told there were three or four stages a missionary who goes through when they come to a place like Africa. I only remember three of them. 
  • Honeymoon
  • Horror
  • And Home.
    I wasn't there long enough for it to feel like home, but the first two sure 'smershed' together in my mind in those short two weeks we were there. I love, loved, loved it  therein many ways, but oh my, the horror! Let's get into a little more. 
Try to picture all the clusters of tin roof shanties surrounded by barren ground on all sides. Not a blooming bush or strip of green grass to soften the village yards. Not a curtain fluttering in any window, or even, at night, the welcoming glow of electric lights. Can you see it? Now let's go inside. See the rooms? One, two, three. One for living, one a bedroom, and the other for storage. Ya, that's a bare dirt floor beneath your feet, and thanks for removing your sandals before entering, that's only courtesy, and we sure don't want to trample all over that bamboo mat where we'll be sitting.

Show respect to what they are serving you, and at least try to eat it. Do you know they might be going rather hungry for the rest of the week because they tried to serve you their very best?  That white stuff that looks sort of like stiff mashed potatoes is called Masa, or something like that. It's made from white cornmeal, I think. If you catch on quickly you'll be able to made a spoon out of a dab of it to scoop up some of the broth. I didn't quite get the hang of it partly because I didn't know what they were doing.

If you're like me, you'll be feeling sorry for that lively eighteen month old baby that wants so badly to run outside and play. Unfortunately it's not safe out there. Today the cattle are roaming close to the house and even if they weren't, the goats and pigs would not be far off. In some places there would also be small, skinny dogs and scrawny chickens in the picture. 

I really liked this couple with the toddler. We went there for a meal, although the spread set before us was fancier than it would have been in many homes. Zach  is the interpreter and an interesting story teller as well. I really felt for him though. His father was all swollen up and congested, and lived quite a distance away from his son as well as proper medical facilities. I've wondered often how that poor, old pastor is doing. 

Once I thoroughly delighted a few little children who were pretending to make Masa around their tiny cook fire. I asked if I could have some to, and shared pretend food with them.  The children are so sweet. 

One thing that bothered me since coming home is the assumption that they have bare yards because that is how they have always done it. Sure there is a grain of truth in it, but people like Zach and others, are obviously intelligent enough to realize how much safer it is that way. Think of the fire hazard, especially in areas where there is lots of thatched roofs if they didn't keep their yards clear. It is an ancient custom that goes back thousands of years for a good reason. I don't want to scare you with the thought of snakes and scorpions and other nasty beasties that could hide in tall vegetation, but it sure would be possible! 

Oh, back to those three H's. Maybe it did feel more like Home than I realized, because I sure did leave part of my heart there!

Monday, 21 July 2014


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.