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Our first month in Mozambique

May 6, 2014

Kim and I have been in Beira, Mozambique for about a month and a half so far and are only just beginning to adjust to life in this new and beautiful place. Our transition has been a positive one as well as one fraught with difficulties, both expected and unexpected. We have quickly learned the intricacies of being subject to an electric pump for water in an area where electricity outages are common (we now make sure to have full jugs of extra water on hand at all times for washing, etc.). We have enjoyed the hospitality of Rev. Lucas Amosse and his staff at the Igreja de Cristo em Mozambique who have been instrumental in helping us arrange everything from our visa applications to finding household items and the best place to buy fresh fish.

We are becoming more and more comfortable in our new surroundings every day. The daily Portuguese classes with Professor Nota have been a big help in guiding us towards understanding the language and being better able to communicate. Some of you may remember talking to us and hearing us share about how we understood the transition process would be a slow and steady one, sometimes frustrating, though nonetheless fruitful. It was easy to understand that concept in theory. I have found it more difficult, at times, in practice. Part of this transition process is learning a different pace of life and functioning. It reminds me of one of my favorite t.v. show moments from “The Red Green Show” wherein Red is talking with one of his friends about holiday times with family and Red asks his friend how he interacts with his nieces and nephews. The friend brightens up and says, “Oh, we have a great time playing a game called ‘Adapt’”. “How do you play that?” Red asks. “Well,” his friend says, “The adults do whatever they want and the kids. . .adapt.”

Of course, our situation here is quite different in that we have a partnership with the church here and each offer our gifts to the common goal of helping God’s people. The similarity is that much like the children in the joke, there is much in our new context that we have no control over, requiring that we adapt and learn how to function in new ways. In some ways it is a bit of a game, really. At least it can help to think of it that way as in learning new rules and having successes and sometimes failures. You only really win by showing respect and patience and striving to learn. Our times in worship have been one of the many opportunities for us to learn the rules and rhythms of life here in Mozambique. Here once again, our hosts have been very gracious and very good teachers.

In many ways worship here is similar to that in churches in the U.S. There is a worship leader, a choir (sometimes multiple), pews, elders, a communion table, pulpit, etc. In other ways things are much, much different. For instance, while young people in American churches often sit together in the front pews, here they sit all the way up on the chancel, in full view of the entire church. Rev. Amosse told us (jokingly), when we asked about them, that it is so that they can keep an eye on them. In truth, these young people are the pride of the church community as well as an impressive choir group, leading the congregation in nearly every worship and praise song during the service. They play drums, sing, and dance, smiling and laughing with the joy that it brings.

We look forward to the days ahead, of sharing ourselves, learning from our partners, and finding joy in God’s service. Though tough times will come, sometimes often, these words from Jeremiah may provide some hope, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord” (Jer 29:11-14, ESV). May we all continue to trust and pray in the assurance that God hears us and is ever-present.

May God bless you and keep you,

Rev. Erik and Kim Free

Meeting a critical presence request by the United Church of Christ in Mozambique, Kim and Erik Free were approved as missionary candidates to serve a full four year term working in rural Mozambique as a health worker and local minister, pending financial support for this position.

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