Summer 2004. Can it really be a year ago? Memories of my time in Mozambique are still fresh in my mind. One of many favorites: cramming 7 girls into the back of a pickup and squeezing the guys into an African-style taxi with 10 others, we drove 6 hours over bumpy roads to Inhaminga (pronounced ya'minga). We passed several trains that lay upside down, blown up during the 20+ year civil war. Everytime we had to stop for a bathroom break, we had to find a place by the side of the road where tractors had plowed. That way, we were assured, we would not accidently set off a landmine.
We stopped by a roadside market and purchased roast goat meat and grilled chicken. And we gulped down bottles of Fanta and Coke, not allowed to take the bottle with us unless we had bottles to trade...
It was late afternoon by the time we arrived in the small village. Everyone from the neighborhood had gathered to welcome us. As we filed out of our vehicles, people were singing and dancing. For many, we were the first white people they had ever seen.
Relationship is key in Africa, and so we did all we could to connect with the people who could not understand us, nor could we understand them. We pulled out jump ropes from our luggage, and as the sun set behind the papaya trees and the African huts, the singing and laughter of children's voices were louder than the sounds of the bugs announcing the end of the day.
Later, as we sat around the fire, I stepped aside to look at the star-filled sky. The milky way was a thick, white line. I could spot many satelites and shooting stars. One of my team members joined me and we prayed, thanking God for his awesome creativity. Then I felt a little hand in mine. Some children had noticed us standing a distance from the fire. As I knelt down and held the child, more joined us. Though they couldn't understand my words, I told them how precious they were.
As I looked up, the children were perfect silhouettes against the African stars. A treasured memory of the little village in the middle of nowhere.