Saturday, July 03, 2010

You win some, you lose some

Although soccer is not the primary topic of this post, I must mention how sad I am that as of Friday, Brazil is out of the World Cup soccer playoffs. There’s something not right about that, being that Brazil and soccer are almost synonymous. But, you win some and you lose some. And that’s just what makes the winning so fun.

We’ve had a bit of exciting soccer action in our neck of the woods last week too when the Mucombedzi home team took on visiting short term teams.

The game may not have been World Cup caliber, what with pigs hanging around goal posts

and pedestrians wandering across the playing field (speaking of myself here—I had a home visit to make and it was a short cut--but I did try to stay out of the way).

It was a good game, even so. The players played their hearts out as the fans watched and cheered.

Well, granted, they were a bit distracted by each other at times.

I had to leave early but I think home team won the game. Sorry visitors, but it was fun anyway, right? ☺

Little did we know that there was more fun on the way this week. It started with a plan to take the nearby hospital’s mobile immunization team to a remote school for an immunization blitz on Friday. We all piled in the mission van and off we went to Vanduzi to pick up the hospital staff and supplies.

From Vanduzi, the staff nurse who accompanied us gave us directions. “First, you turn left here off the highway onto this dirt road, then it's about 10 km on dirt road.”

Now, dirt roads in Mozambique are seldom good and we were in a van built for luxuriously smooth highways (originally it was a touring van), so I was a little concerned. I was concerned because I knew the following things to be true:

#1: Dirt roads don’t get better as you drive further on them, they get worse. Much worse.
#2: Spare parts and tires for the van are scarce and cost blood, sweat and tears to come by (ok, almost).
#3: I was ultimately responsible for where the van went that day so if there was damage, I’d be the one doing the explaining and helping to come up with solutions.

I’m not a pessimist but I am a realist, and all the above thoughts were in my mind as we hit the dirt road to the Chinhamacungo and Ndengalenga communities. But I decided I'd try to be optimistic for a change.

That lasted for about 5 minutes when we came upon a broken bridge on the road whose detour led us down to, and through, a river bed with water in it. This water also served as the local livestock watering hole. As we approached with the van, a herd of cows scampered out and the gentleman with us said, "Yes, this spot is where we could get hung up..."

The water was muddied so it was hard to tell how deep it was, or how soft the bottom was. We looked and examined and debated for awhile, then Suzanne, brave soul that she is, offered to actually venture into the water herself to determine the depth and to see if the bottom was too soft to pass.

Before long, the good spots had been identified and it was decided that the riverbed was passable. So while the passengers crossed the bridge on foot, Kevin (the driver) drove through the water like a champion.

On the other side, we all piled back in and continued down the dirt road which, as we drove, became narrower and the ruts became larger and deeper. So much so that we even got stuck at one point. Good thing we had lots of muscle power inside to help the van get out. Heave-ho everybody!

The scenery became more and more beautiful the further we went, but there were bends and turns and forks in the road, and sometimes our guide seemed a bit unsure which one we should take. After one wrong turn, we found a kind local man who was willing to accompany us to our destination.

What we thought would be a quick easy trip to vaccinate an entire school turned into a major cross-country bush whacking adventure. We considered turning around at several points, but the further we went, the more we had committed to making the trip and the tougher the decision was to turn around and go back.

The good news is that we eventually arrived at the bush school.

Only to discover that it was quiet and empty. Instead of having 3 shifts of classes throughout the day, as most Mozambican schools do, they only have one. And that class was over for the day and the kids had all gone home.

Classroom #1

Classroom #2

What to do now? There was another larger school about 5 km away, but we decided not to chance it anymore in the van. We would have to make another trip another day with a more appropriate vehicle. And so we packed up and headed back home through the brush and ruts and waterhole.

Yesterday went better though as we went to do home visits to orphan homes and to homes of those who have recently lost loved ones. The visiting nursing team had been involved with these families over the past few weeks and had helped with household chores including carrying 20L jugs of water, chopping firewood and pounding maize. And now that their time is nearly over, they wanted to bless them with a few gifts.

Thankfully the driving was, for the most part, on tarred road. And we didn't get lost. And the people were all at home. You win some. Yay!

I was reminded this week though that our adventures do not even compare with those of Mozambican monitors who provide leadership to pastors in even more remote areas than Chinhamacungo or Ndengalenga. These men, who receive training and discipleship through the mission, will take that same teaching to other pastors under their care. They will also follow up on orphan care programs being conducted out of local churches. But they do all this by foot or by bicycle. They forge not only livestock watering holes, if need be, but crocodile and hippo infested rivers as well, and they do not have the comfort of a hotel to stay in at the end of the day. But they do get some supplies which consist of a suitcase, a tent, a rain coat, a flashlight, and a few other items to help make their work of love just a little easier.

Rick, Pastor Ricardo (coordinator), Pastor Pires (receiving his supplies), and Dwight

And with that, I will close. It's Sunday and I need a bit of r&r before the new week begins. There are a few more van trips ahead and, I suspect, more adventure as well.

Have a great week. TTYL

PS: Check Dwight's recent blog update.


Anonymous said...

wow! and i think it's rough when i get prickle spines stuck in my fingers when i'm weeding.will continue our prayers for your safety (and sanity)love to all.

Amanda said...

great post mom! I love the photo of the van going through the river on the way back:)