Journal Entry Day 7

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

This morning before our seminar began we went to the Chicuque Rural Hospital to distribute baby hats and blankets (knit by the women of Burke UMC).

There were twins and also a mama who had lost her baby. I wept with her.

There were 6 beds in a room in the maternity. There were only 4 in the NICU. There was no incubators, but they did have one baby on oxygen. They were having to use and adult NC tube

We also visited the pediatric unit and prayed with them. There is a mosque nearby in the town of Maxixie. One of the patients we met was Muslim and preferred for us not to pray for him because if he prayed with us and said Amen it would feel for him like he was agreeing with Christianity and not Islam. We said we understood and respected his wishes and hoped that his child would heal soon.

Next month will be a year since the hospital employees have gotten paid. Yet, the still come to work everyday. Sarah asked the hospital director, “How do the employees feed their families?” His answer was, “I can only imagine. This is my greatest headache every day.”

I saw a child with a wound dressing that appear to be a combination of newspaper and gauze. The viles of medication are in glass vials with snap off caps. The surgical rooms are open air rooms with plastic sheeting hanging around the operating table. There is no air conditioning in the hospital. They also experience a lack of electricity when the town has no electricity because they no longer can use their generator.

We joined the ladies for the last day of our seminar and were able to listen as each woman shared a challenge from their ministry that God helped them to overcome. It was a blessing to hear them share with one another because some women had overcome the very challenge that others were currently struggling with in their setting. Getting water and electricity for their ministry setting, or being rejected from their congregation for some reason. We all found strength and encouragement from hearing how God helped other women overcome some of the challenges in their ministry.

We closed our time together with a time of prayer and blessing for one another as we remembered our baptism which connects us to Christ and to one another.

After the time of sharing for our seminar was over we welcomed a speaker from the Chicuque Rural Hospital. The District Superintendent had requested we allow some time for him to speak to the gathered women. We sat in a small cluster with our interpreter and observed the speaker. It was a fascinating discussion to see him sharing information about health and helping the pastors understand what can be considered “normal.” In some of the communities the pastors shared that when a person is never ill they are considered to be abnormal. There was some back and forth about the information he was sharing because the lived experienced of the pastors in their communities didn’t always line up with what he was hoping they would be able to do and say in their parishes.

-Lisa & Sarah

Videos Day 6

Clergywomen singing songs of praise to God!

 

 

 

 

Photo Day 6

Clergywomen of the Virginia and Southern Mozambique Conferences gathered at Jerusalem House, Chicuque.

Journal Entry Day 6

Our Clergywomen’s Seminar began today. We gathered with 16 Mozambican Clergywomen who serve churches in the Southern Conference. Eight of the women had dinner with us in the guest house and it was a fairly quiet meal because we didn’t really know one another, and the language barrier prevented us from going past the general pleasantries of greetings and sharing names. We began the morning with getting to know one another’s name and sharing the greatest challenge and greatest joy that each of us has in our ministry settings. Our interpreter, Orlando, did a great job of helping us tear down the language barrier so that we could learn more about the stories behind the smiling faces gathered around the room.

Some common themes across cultural contexts emerged in the challenges: juggling time as a pastor with time at home with family; problems with parsonages and parishioners unwilling or unable to help; not having enough money given through offerings to sustain the ministry of the local church; parishioners not willing to take Scripture seriously and devote themselves to discipleship; rejection of a pastor for some reason…being a woman, being “too young,” being single, not “looking like a pastor.”

Some common challenges were specific to the African Context: no access to clean and fresh water, not speaking the local language of the parish where they are assigned, or having to walk many kilometers to make pastoral visits without a car or money for the public bus.

We were able to share and discuss what is the same and what is different about our contexts so that we could get a sense of our common places in life and in ministry.

We shared lunch together, and enjoyed some free time outside in the cool air. For our afternoon sessions Pat offered a presentation related to leadership styles. We gave each woman a chance to discuss the very different styles of leadership and discuss how we can all follow the example of Jesus and be servant leaders. She did a great job inviting each pastor to reflect upon their leadership style and how it might connect with Jesus’s style as a servant leader. She also laid some groundwork for Lisa’s presentation later that day.

Lisa was able to share her personal story that contained loss and emotions that every woman was able to connect with in some way. She offered the story of how God was able to come to her in the midst of brokenness and breath new life into her.  She spoke of various spiritual disciplines that offer life to her spirit. She emphasized the importance of prayer, mentoring, and having other clergywomen who will pray for us. We took time to partner up and spent 30 minutes with a pray partner, sharing specific concerns and praying for one another. This time was deeply appreciated by all who gathered together that day.

Finally, the day concluded with the “homework assignment.” On Sunday evening when we had the opportunity to chat with the Bishop in the guest house one of the many questions she graciously answered was, “What one hope do you have for our time together during the clergywomen’s seminar?” She said that she hoped the Mozambican clergywomen would be able to share with one another how God had helped them overcome challenges in their ministry so that they might learn from one another. So, at the conclusion of our first day I asked each woman to prepare to share the next day one challenge in their ministry that God helped them to overcome. I wanted them to have some time to prepare so they could tell their stories and encourage one another and so that our team might learn from our Mozambican sisters.

One of the highlights of the day for me was the time when we had some down town together, waiting to resume our seminar, and I was able to ask the ladies to sing one of my favorite songs in Xitshwa. It made them smile and laugh as I tried to recall the name of it, and as soon as they figured out which song I mean they were happen to sing it for us. The says, “Jesus is the only one for me.” I was able to get some videos of the ladies singing for us!

Eleven of the women stayed in the guest house with us that night and the atmosphere around the dinner table was much more animated and jovial than the night before. We had  shared with one other so much throughout the day that we were able to move past our language differences without our interpreter at dinner. In fact, a few of the ladies were feeling really brave and were excited to try out some English phrases. We had fun establishing what each item on our dinner table was called in both English and in Portuguese. We even pulled out a dictionary to help determine exactly which protein we were being served at dinner…turns out it was turkey! 🙂

It felt like a great accomplishment at dinner because our goal of this seminar time is not only to share information with one another, but to build relationships between the clergywomen of our two conferences and to strengthen the bond between our parts of the body of Christ.

~ Sarah

Videos – Day 5 Worship in Chicuque

The offering (which took 3o minutes) and the choir performing. (A special UMW choir for the women’s conference.)

Photos Day 5

Journal Entry Day 5

Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

Today we attended the Chicuque UMC. We were blessed to have Julio translate for us during the sermon. I was amazed at the offertory. It was such an event of Joy and celebration. “Thanks be to God!” they sang for over 30 minutes. People danced forward putting in coins and bills. First the men, then all the women, now the mothers, and the visitors, now those from the north, now those from the south…on and on. And the aisles were bustling with dancing and smiling.  Later I spoke with the Bishop. This was only the UMW annual meeting. At the December annual conference they take up offering for over two hours. “Once they get started,” she said, “you can do nothing but let them go. Until they are all finished they won’t stop.”

After church and the Bishop’s sermon. We had curry for lunch and rice with a salad of tomato, onion and cucumber. We went back to the church to observe a wedding but the bride and groom had been travelling and could not make it to Chicuque. So they will get married on another day. Very different!

We came back to the guest house and decided to go to the beach. There is really nothing to do on Sunday except relax and take Sabbath. We walked down the steep and narrow path to the beach and put our feet in the Indian Ocean.

After our steep climb up the hill to the guest house we all took naps. It is dark by 5:30 p.m. here and there are so many mosquitos we try to stay inside.

We went the sitting room and the Bishop was there. We spoke with her until dinner was ready. The Bishop indicated that at this time there are about 75 clergywomen in her care from North and South Mozambique and South Africa. There are more than 5 times as many male clergy. This is difficult for the women clergy. Many of them are lonely and struggle to find colleagues who are close enough to meet with, even infrequently. Many must wait until conferences or special meetings. I look forward to hearing their stories.

– Lisa