Well, Kim is completely healed from her Typhoid experience and we were able to make a week-long trip to Gogoi in March. We spent a lot of time meeting with local leaders and fulfilling protocol requirements in order to gain permission to work in that area. It was an eye-opening experience since it never would have occurred to me that the local tribal chief, who is miles away, would care anything about us working on the church’s private land. It is just one more thing I have learned about the differences in our cultures. We were blessed to have the guidance of Pastor Edmore, the pastor in charge of the Gogoi farming project, to help us navigate the process of meetings and introductions. While we are continually gaining proficiency in speaking Portuguese, most people in this rural area speak only the local language, Ndau.
Making these visits and offering greetings and letters from the church in Beira was a very important step towards solidifying our presence in Gogoi on behalf of the church. Proper respect must be shown; especially when you understand that the local tribal leaders feel a sense of responsibility for all people in their surrounding areas, including us. It was very important for us to introduce ourselves and include them in the process as we begin our work in the area. With Pastor Edmore’s admirable leadership and guidance, we were able to successfully complete our obligations and begin positive relationships with all the local leaders.
We also spent some time working around the house. There were some stumps to pull and walkways to build. Since the house was built on the backside of the hill, we also built a retaining wall to help with drainage of the large amounts of rainfall that occur in Gogoi. We went on a long walk around the fields and even found an old stone marker from one of the very early missionary houses on the farm. The trip was a good one until we tried to return home. Our car’s engine died about a half hour away from Gogoi and it took us until midnight to get home with Pastor Lucas’ help. He had to come out from Beira to tow us home. The engine has since been rebuilt and is in the process of being “broken in,” which for you non-gearheads out there basically means it only goes real slow and not real far. But, it’s wheels and that’s good for now.
The next weekend we travelled across the country again, this time via public transportation, with two young women from the church to attend a REDESH training event in Chimoio. You may remember me mentioning this project in our last update. It is a curriculum/group that works to teach young women health/life skills and increase self-esteem/self-worth. The two young women were trained as group leaders and were the only ones from Beira. The organizers of the event are very excited to have their leadership in Beira. Kim and the young women will be meeting again soon with the facilitators to plan for the next year.
We will be going back to Gogoi again in April for two weeks. During this time we hope to begin the layout for some test gardens to model the conservation farming method we will introduce. We will also be getting a visit from our new Global Ministries Africa Area Executive, LaMarco Cable. We look forward to meeting him at the Zimbabwe border and showing him the farm at Gogoi. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
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.