June marks a significant milestone in our lives here in Mozambique. Kim and I have officially completed our year of language training in Portuguese! Now, you may be thinking, “Hey, haven’t they been in Mozambique more than a year?” and you would be right, we have. Though our language training started a couple weeks after our arrival last March and with the two months the school was closed for holidays and time taken off for various church events we have actually completed our 12 months of study in good time (insert applause here). We are very excited to be done with attending classes nearly every day. It is, however, a bittersweet sort of victory in that we have thoroughly enjoyed our growing relationship with our instructor, Professor Nota. He has been and, I am sure, will continue to be a significant resource for us as we navigate life in Mozambique. Now, we move forward to a new stage of our relationship, one of colleagues and friends rather than teacher and students. I guess that means I am going to have to start calling him by his first name - I wonder what it is???
Other exciting events from June include having attended the national church men’s conference in Manica, a peace seminar hosted by a local church in Beira, continued REDES training for young women leaders, participating in and teaching a Bible study and English class with the Munhava congregation in Beira, and, of course, continued vehicle repairs.
The men’s conference in Manica was a lot of fun. I even joined in with the dancing a bit. While I don’t have pictures of this to share (thankfully) I seem to remember Pastor Lucas sneaking around with his camera during the celebration so some photographic evidence does exist. We had a wonderful time worshiping together with church members from all over Mozambique and even some from Zimbabwe. Since it is winter here we even got a little cold after the sun went down. I haven’t felt cold in a long time. It was kind of nice, though I never thought I would consider 50 degrees Fahrenheit cold! Back in Oregon anything above 55 was shorts weather. Well, I guess we are acclimating to our new sub-tropical home at last.
I was very pleased to be invited to participate in the local peace seminar hosted by the Esturro congregation in Beira. We spent the day hearing a very good presentation from Rev. Jacob Augusto Tivane focusing on equipping local pastors to teach and encourage peacemaking in the local church. I find myself leaving these events enriched and encouraged, hopeful for the future in Mozambique. This same week Kim’s leadership recruits spent another couple days continuing their training for the REDES program. They are looking forward to beginning a new program for encouraging and equipping young women soon.
Like most vehicles in Mozambique, our car continues to have its little aches and pains. I have come to see it as an ongoing project. This last stint at the mechanic fixed some major fuel delivery and overheating issues and it now seems to be running fairly well. I still have a list of things that need attention, not least of which is repairing the non-functioning turbo, but it gets us down the road and that is good enough for now (Feel free to pray for this trend to continue). It is especially nice to have the car back to help us get to church events at the Munhava church where our transition into the congregation seems to be going well. We have become involved in the life of the church through the weekly Bible study and prayer services as well as being asked to teach English.
It might interest you to know that in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions regarding homosexuality in the US, Mozambique has recently decriminalized homosexuality by repealing an old Portuguese law used to persecute homosexuals; a major decision for an African country. The former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, is also a significant advocate for gay rights as part of his strong stand for fundamental human rights and basic freedoms. It is an interesting time to be in Mozambique as the government and the people continue to determine what it means to be Mozambican and to decide what their country will stand for.
Kim and Erik Free serve with the United Church of Christ in Mozambique. Their appointments are made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.