Tuesday, January 28, 2014

20 – 26 Jan 2014 Mosquitos,WaterJugs,FamilySearch,Laura

Transfers were announced on Monday.  Many elders were going to the Beira/Manga area from Maputo and vice versa.  We heard bitter/sweet feelings being expressed between missionary companions as duplas were split to accommodate the changes.  Zone Conference is next week for Beira and Maputo Zones, so some of the missionaries won’t actually be in their new areas until the end of next week.

Sandy used some of her P-day this week to make a colorful skirt out of a capulana.

Many people in our neighborhood are dependent on obtaining water for their homes in large plastic jugs as shown in this picture. The supply of water is a source of income for those who have water to sell. It is very common to see in the early morning many taking their empty jugs to fill with water and returning to their homes either carrying two in their hands or balancing one on their head.

The only good mosquito is a dead mosquito! We have been seeing more of both kinds since we have been having more rain and hot humid weather. They seem to like the building elevators very much. Many of the mosquitoes are very small, but this was one of the larger ones. Thank goodness it is rare to see one inside our apartment.

We continue to enjoy watching the comings and goings of ships to Maputo from our apartment.  This week we had a day when we had a very large cruise ship arrive as well as a military ship.

As we ride to and from the Mission Office we often are next to the water which is particularly beautiful at sunset and when the waves come with the rising tide. We saw a ship this week that looked like it belonged to pirates or belonged in a Peter Pan movie.

Teaching family history continues to be a blessing.  This week’s class was about how to use FamilySearch.org.  So, in addition to some short explanatory videos Sandy had downloaded onto her computer, we were going to go “live” into lds.org to show the class members the vast resources available.  Well, we are learning to always have a back-up plan – yep, the Internet wouldn’t connect and it was very frustrating!  We used the explanatory videos and apologized for not being able to do what we had planned.  Our wonderful students took this drama in stride, of which we were thankful, and they indicated they had learned the basics this week and we could go into further detail in future lessons.  Although some of the instructional videos are available in Portuguese, many of the ones Sandy wants to use are not.  So, we have to resort to showing English screens and explaining them in Portuguese.  Wednesday evening’s experience also taught Sandy that she needs to be even more prepared to present the lesson content in alternative ways. 

On Saturday we taught another lesson to a Sister who is learning to be a family history teacher. She has only been a member of the Church since November 2013. We were very impressed at her eagerness to learn and her ability to grasp the importance of this work and her depth of understanding. She told how her branch president had her talk in Sacrament Meeting last week about family history. She bore a strong testimony to us of this work as she shared some of the things that she had included in her talk. We felt very humbled by her willingness to serve in such a calling being so new in the Church.

Most people in Mozambique do not have cars so their travel is limited to the make-shift system of “chapas,” vans that pack at least 4 people per bench and more sometimes, to get from place to place. Often you cannot see through the chapa because so many people are in it and sometimes the side door is not all the way closed. This is the way most people get to church. The sister who came on Saturday, for example, had to travel about 10 miles each way in a crowded chapa. It only costs about (7 MT) 25 to 50 cents per ride around town, but it is not a very comfortable ride. There are no posted schedules; would-be riders gather at chapa stops and wait for the next one going to their area of town. The chapa fare-taker announces where the chapa is headed when it stops to pick up passengers; some chapas have signs on them indicating their destination.

After we finished our class on Saturday evening, we met Elder Porter who told us they were going to have an evening baptism of a gentleman who would soon be arriving from his workplace.  We decided to wait and attend the baptism. As it turned out, Sandy led the music and I spoke about baptism, because the speaker for that subject did not arrive. Obviously my talk was a rapidly prepared speech while the other speaker was talking. I felt good about it as the Portuguese flowed better than expected. In baptisms there is an opening song then two talks: baptism and the Holy Ghost. Then the baptism happens outside in the font behind the Church. Those involved in the baptism get dressed, and the rest of us return to the chapel to listen to and sing hymns accompanied by the piano or by a viola played by Sister Thornton, one of our Sister missionaries. This time we sang 4 or 5 hymns. After that there is a testimony or comments by the one conducting and then those who have been baptized are invited to share their testimonies if they would like. Most take that opportunity to give a short or sometimes longer testimony. We enjoyed hearing the depth of testimony of this newly baptized brother. The closing song and prayer ended  the evening baptism. The confirmation followed on Sunday morning at Church.

We had a reunion with the Laura and Gimo family at Church. She had been out of town helping with the care of extended family members. We had met them shortly before their baptism some months ago, and Sandy had kept in contact with her while she was out of town. The two pink hats in the pictures were made by Sandy as well as the booties on the baby. Laura now would like a hat for herself. It was good to see the family back together after her being away.

When it was time to go home Laura and Gimo and family were planning to take a chapa, but one of the members who had a van offered them a welcome ride home.  They put the children in the back and the parents filled the benches and off they went!

At the other Sacrament meeting that we attended, we first heard talks about faith and baptism, and the atonement. After the first two speakers they always have a stand-up intermediate hymn. The one conducting the meeting then comments on what the first two speakers spoke about and adds a few comments, wishes the congregation a good week, and then announces the closing song and prayer and the concluding speaker. This week the one conducting the meeting said to the congregation, “May God bless all of you, and may God Bless Brother Castelo Branco.” Brother Castelo Branco was the concluding speaker. He is a man over 80 years old. He also speaks some English.

Brother Castelo Branco based his talk on President Uchtdorf’s message about when is a good time to plant a tree. He said that planting trees is like “planting” children in the Church where they can be nourished and grow and be raised unto the Lord. The best time to plant a tree is now. At the beginning of a year is a good time to plant a tree. Let us make decisions for the new year. Make a long list of goals and watch for a miracle as we work to have the strength to accomplish them. The work of the Lord is marvelous. The sun will rise every day. With a new day is a new opportunity for us. Let us set goals. The moment to start is now. Let us plant a tree and nourish it. Now is the time to start for now and for eternity.  Brother Branco is a faithful active member of the Church.  We first met him many months ago during a service activity where this picture was taken.

After Sacrament Meeting, it was pouring rain and here that is a literal description of the rain. Sandy met with the branch clerk to correct a member’s records. Doing family history work, the members review their Church records and often find errors that need to be corrected.  When we went down stairs we joined a branch choir practice which was practicing for District Conference to sing “How Great Thou Art” in Changana, a dialect of a southern African Bantu language, Tsonga, that is spoken by about 10% of Mozambicans. In the Maputo area the percentage is much higher than 10%.  They certainly were singing it with great volume and energy.  Here is the first verse in Changana, "Hosi yanga ndri vona a ku xonga, ka hinkwaswu leswi uswi yentxiki, Tinyeleti, Kudruma ka matilo, ni matilo matwalisa wene." If we had been called to speak this language, it would have been an even greater challenge than Portuguese.

While we waited at the door deciding if we should walk home in the rain, a chapa arrived and many got in to get a ride home. It appeared that the chapa had been invited to deviate its route to pick up members at the church being that there was not a chapa stop at or near the church.

It was still raining, but we dodged, but not really, the rain drops and made it home wet but happy to be there out of the storm and able to fix dinner. Starting church at 8 a.m. and not getting home until almost 3 p.m. makes a long day of Church.

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