We hope you have had a wonderful and sacred holiday season. Everything in Mozambique tends to slow way down over the holidays so we have not had much to share lately, but that will soon change as the new year begins and new plans are put into motion.
We spent much of December making trips back and forth to the national transportation office, working on obtaining our Mozambican driving licenses. We started the process back in October, collecting documents and having health checks. There are not so much waiting lines at the office as there is a crowd of people all mashed together, crowding the desk, trying to get their paperwork in order and get out for some fresh air. (The water venders outside do a brisk trade) At times I felt like I was having the introvert’s worst nightmare, standing there in the press of bodies for hours simply to be told to “come back tomorrow.” The greatest challenge, though, was taking the driving theory test in Portuguese. I hadn’t taken a driving test since I was 16 years old and the language they use in the English one was confusing enough at times. This time I had to attempt it in a language I am just beginning to learn! Needless to say, we were not very confident going in to our first attempt, even with studying all week beforehand.
We were not surprised to find a week later that we had not passed. Then we had to figure out what to do next. Thankfully, our British missionary friends, who speak much better Portuguese than we do, also had to take their test soon. We were able to band together and have a meeting with the transport office manager to explain our situation and ask for help. He graciously offered to allow us to take the test in his office and to help us with some of the more confusing terminology. It was a true blessing after working and being terminally frustrated with the license process for well over two months to have someone offer to help us so much. We were all able to pass and have received our official license receipts. We can expect to get our actual license cards sometime within the next three months. It may sound odd, but this is one of my proudest accomplishments during this first year in Mozambique. We were able to work through a difficult process and succeed with the help of many people, including Pastor Lucas and Pastor Augusto as well as our friends Liz and Sergio and the very gracious and helpful Jeremias, manager of the local transport office. It may seem like such a small thing, having a proper license to drive, but it has helped us build relationship with people who have helped us and shows proper respect for local government statutes, which many ex-patriots simply ignore.
While it is very hot here, we are sharing with you the sometimes blessing of masses of precipitation. I say “sometimes blessing” because while it is desperately needed to sustain farmers’ crops, during many years, like this one, there is too much water in some places, leading to massive flooding, loss of life and destruction of property and resources. The northern provinces of Mozambique have been, and are currently, struggling with this level of flooding. People have lost their homes and crops along with the ability to plant next year due to the loss of seed from those crops. They are getting sick from contaminated water, but have no alternative sources. Mozambique is a country with little infrastructure for immediate emergency response. Our church partners here in Mozambique are working on providing aid, though the flooding is even making the roads into the affected areas impassible. Please join us in praying for these people and this situation. The need for food, drinking water, and medical aid in these areas is very serious.
Mozambique is still reeling in the wake of the latest presidential elections as well. The opposition party, RENAMO, has refused to take their seats in the National Assembly as a protest to the election results. They continue to hint towards potential violence in certain areas of the country, increasing the level of concern among the people. All the while, the current government and especially the churches and Christian Council are working hard, promoting peacemaking and organizing programs to spread this ideal throughout the country. Pastor Lucas is one of the country’s religious leaders and is a key person in this work. We ask you to continue to pray for his continued wisdom and ability to speak as a peace advocate for Mozambique.
Soon, we will be participating in the local Synod meeting where Erik will be offering a short talk on the meaning of Easter. After the conference, we have invited local pastoral leaders to participate in an introductory seminar on project management. We hope to provide some resources to promote more success in their local and regional projects through this and subsequent trainings. During our first year here we have noticed a real need for these skills and have been able to source culturally appropriate training material in Portuguese. With the church’s support, we hope to make these resources and training available to as many people as possible.
As we look forward to Easter, we are very thankful for all of your support and prayers. Keep them coming! Soon we will have been in Mozambique for a whole year and we are looking forward to what the next year has to bring and how God will continue to use us in partnership with our new Mozambican friends and colleagues. Please continue to check our blog and Facebook pages for new updates that should be coming more regularly now that the new year has begun.
In God’s love,
Kim and Erik Free serve with the United Church of Christ in Mozambique. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.