We are applying for a church planter job in Maxixe (pronounced “Mah-sheesh”), Mozambique (pronounced “Moe-zam-beek”). As I mentioned yesterday, Mozambique is a security level 1 country on a scale of 1-3 with one being the least restrictive security concern. Therefore, I can share information freely about our job match. I would like to state, though, that this job is not finalized yet, meaning that until January 19th’s vote of our file to indeed be funded by the Trustees to go to Mozambique, we cannot say definitively that we are indeed going to Mozambique. In the meantime between this job match and our January 19th vote, the IMB is verifying our references and doing a huge amount of paperwork on their end. So if you’re a reference for us, know that your part in this process is coming up very soon. I will tell you with some confidence, though, yet not boasting, that Matt’s 9.5 years of being on staff at a church, our cultural awareness and Matt’s MDiv are VERY strong contenders in the IMB’s eyes. This is in no way to imply that we are going to be easing ourselves through, but this is to say that we have been informed by multiple IMB workers that our file is a strong candidate.
So let’s walk through this together a moment. Pull up your chair and grab your cup of hot tea. Let me share our adventure’s details so we can all chit chat freely about it.
Provided that all goes well on January 19th (my birthday and the first board vote of the new year), like I shared yesterday, we will be commissioned at the end of February 2016 (think wedding ceremony here) in Richmond, VA. Then we will return to our home to continue the Upward basketball season, continue praying and visiting friends and family, and prepare for our departure. Our orientation in Richmond, VA begins on April 11 and continues through June 11th. When we leave for that orientation (called Field Placement Orientation – FPO) we will no longer be returning to this house in Ohio. We are set to fly to Mozambique around June 25th, 2016.
Once in Mozambique, we will not be going straight to Maxixe. Instead, we will go to Quelimane (pronounced “Kilo-mah-nee”, naturally) for language and cultural school for 12-18 months. What language will we be learning? Portuguese.
As a reminder on the map below, the red arrow is Quelimane and if you scale down the map toward the capital, Maputo (pronounced “Mah-poo-toe” or “Mah-poo-too”), then Maxixe (our final destination), thought not pictured on this map, is located near the Inhambane dot.
Jeopardy trivia: Portuguese is spoken nationally by 4 countries in the world; Portugal, Mozambique, Angola (also in Africa), and Brazil (though they have a slightly different pronunciation of some words).
The Portuguese we will be learning is called European Portuguese, not Brazilian Portuguese.
Language school, while sounding very formal, is a home-based language teaching method. So while we will have a teacher, and possibly even a teach a piece, we will be learning in our home while Eden (and quite possibly Hannah) runs amuck and is cared for by a Portuguese nanny in our home. Um, didn’t you forget two kids there? Why yes, yes I did. Rachael and Abi (and possibly Hannah depending on how she adjusts) will be given the opportunity to attend a Portuguese school themselves for 4 hours per day. This may very well not replace homeschool, but will given them the opportunity to be emerced in the language, the culture, and make friends with Mozambique children. While the daycare/school begins at 3 years old, we are going to wait until we see how Hannah and Eden adjust to the transition before choosing to enroll Hannah or not. We certainly see benefit in Hannah being in a Portuguese learning classroom with other three year olds, but we also see the value in Eden and Hannah sticking together, especially early on in the learning curve. There will be plenty of opportunities for Hannah to learn Portuguese through gleaning our language school lessons at home and also through conversation with our Portuguese-only speaking nanny.
Helpers? Nannies? Whaaa?
Let me take an aside to talk about home helpers like Nannies and guards, etc. This is a cultural thing that I have had to wrap my mind around. So if you started like me in thinking that nannies are reserved for stereotypically spoiled British children, then this aside is for you. A nanny will not live with us, but will come to care for the children while we are doing language school. The full logistics will need to be worked out as we help shape our schedule there in Quelimane, but generally there is a morning and afternoon school session for Matt and I. The nanny will come to our home before the morning session and return to her home after the afternoon session. Since the IMB has had connections in the area for over 20 years, they know reputable grandma-figure ladies in the community that would love to nanny our little ladies during this transition. For further clarity, we will be assigned night guards to avoid petty theft and nighttime shenanigans. This too was hard to wrap my mind around. And I would like to clarify again upfront that we are in a security 1, lowest security threat zone. But poverty and desperation come hand in hand with petty crime, hence our night guards. We will have the option of having a day guard should we desire it. Benefits of day guards are that they are more of home helpers in keeping the yard swept free of glass and trash coming in off of the street, helping run errands, opening and closing our gate as we come and go during the day, etc. As a reminder, things take longer in Africa; cooking from scratch, cleaning out the constant African dirt and happy little mosquito-eating lizards, washing and hanging laundry, etc. So home help can be a very valuable tool beyond just benefiting the economy. We will get to make those decisions once we get there, get settled and assess our needs.
So when do you finally get to Maxixe?!
After our 12-18 months of language school and passing of our fluency test (easily said, but not easily done!), we will begin to transition to Maxixe from Quelimane. This is the first time the IMB is placing a family in Maxixe, so we will get to have a fun hand in setting up our home in Maxixe, etc. I’m not sure if “the IMB” (which very well could look like us coordinating for the work to be done, but still) will build something from the ground up or fix up an existing property, but regardless Matt will get to take some trips down to Maxixe to help set up house before we all make a final move from Quelimane to Maxixe as a family (it’ll be a haul people!). Once in Maxixe we will ACTUALLY GET OUR SHIPPED ITEMS FROM THE STATES!!!! Yes, you heard that right, dear friends, we will be living out of our suitcases that we first packed and brought to Richmond, VA when we first left for orientation April 2016 and the set-up house in Quelimane (dishes, etc). And NOW you know why it’s so important to bring extra clothes and shoes, split between the shipping box headed to Maxixe and our luggage which will be at our immediate disposal. So if you think it’ll be challenging just to jump cultures, now add in predicting the size of each of your children in 18 months so you can be sure to pack it in your limited space. EEK!
Once in Maxixe, we will begin our church planting role by spuring off of weakly established Baptist church(es) in the area to build discipleship relationships and bible studies. We will also have the opportunity to coordinate community work (ex. organizing for a village to get a well drilled) as a means to help build into others’ lives as well as share the Gospel. My primary role will be to homeschool our children and then build relationships in the community alongside of Matt. We first fell in love with this job because it is a really family-oriented job which will allow us to live where we serve and serve the community together as a family many times. Maxixe is a rural setting of 100,000 people in four different people groups all living nearby each other. Each people group in Maxixe speaks their own dialect, naturally. Our main people group is the Chopi (pronounced “Show-pee”). We will not be expected to learn the local dialects fluently in our first missionary term (4 total years between Quelimane and Maxixe combined) before we return to the States for furlough (a paid return trip home for up to a year). So that makes about 2.5 years of actually being stationed in our home in Maxixe before we would be returning to the States for furlough.
A little more about Maxixe?
We will have electricity, filtered running water, and internet accessibility in Maxixe (as well as Quelimane). We will most likely be living in a concrete home with a fenced in yard in Maxixe, much like our accommodations in Quelimane. In Maxixe, we will have access to local shopping and amenadies so that our focus will not be on survival, but reaching out to the people. As is typical in Mozambique, though, we can anticipate cooking from scratch, having a washer but no dryer, and avoiding Malaria (which is comparable to the common cold there when caught early) with bug spray and staying inside during dusk. There will be clinics available to us with malaria tests that take as little as 20 minutes to diagnose malaria with a finger stick. And I will assure you that we will spare no expense in using our best precautions about Malaria. Beyond that, there are no other dangerous illness threats in Mozambique.
What’s the hospital situation like?
Regarding hospitals and clinics, we will have access to (a) local clinic(s) and at least one local pharmacy. When it comes to more dangerous situations, which we hope to avoid, the IMB will spare no expense in helicoptering us to Johannesburg, South Africa for the best “Americanized” treatment possible. From what we can tell, we will be about 35 miles from an airport and four hours drive to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.
Are you stranded?!!!
We will work with team members in Mozambique as well as the Zambezi (pronounced “Zam-bez-zee”) cluster group. While our closest team members may range from 1 hour to four hours away, we are told that is a close in Africa terms. Hehe. We will also have regular Skype accountability sessions with teammates in which to encourage and be encouraged by God’s work throughout Mozambique.
So while we will be the only IMB workers in Maxixe, we will not be alone in our endeavors. There are also other Christian groups working in the area in which we will get the chance to build friendships and further the Gospel together.
So what questions do you have? I know I just overwhelmed you with information, but I have been dying to share it for so long!!!
Yes, there are still a lot of pieces to get worked out and so many of them will just happen as time naturally folds out. But we. are. ECSTATIC!!!!! to continue this adventure in which the Lord has called our family.