Friday, March 27, 2009

All in a Day’s Work

Life has become considerably more hectic since the changes made. To give you a small idea of how things are now, I'll just describe yesterday.

Very early I had a knock on my door from 4 of my precious "pequeninhos" (the little boys under 12 years of age) asking for the soccer ball that I keep safe in the house. I grabbed the busted ball that they had only had 2 days (just the outer cover was ripped, the inner ball was still inflated) and a roll of duct tape and took them out to where all the boys play soccer. I gave them a little lesson on how they need to avoid playing close to the wall that has spikes on it, because I couldn't buy them a new soccer ball every week. Then one of them helped me wrap the ball completely in duct tape to protect it from further harm.

Augustino (one of the older kids) asked if he could have his MP3 player back that he had given me the day before to charge, though it took me a minute to understand what "empetres" meant: in Portuguese the letters Em Pe and the number Tres.

The night before I was told that our massive leaders' meeting for the afternoon was cancelled, and it was my responsibility as administrator to let everyone know (over a dozen people). Problem was, I didn't know all the leaders' phone numbers, so after the soccer ball lecture I ran around the base asking everyone either to give me their phone number or the numbers of other leaders. Once I had collected everyone's numbers I composed a text in Portuguese and sent it out to all of them with the news, and received so many responses that my phone's inbox filled up and couldn't take any more. Thing was, since I composed the message in Portuguese I forgot to tell one missionary.

Three workers were supposed to have a meeting with some visiting missionaries, but they either weren't told or forgot, so I had to run around and collect them. When I finally got them to the meeting place, one of the said missionaries asked me to translate a conversation she wanted to have with a pastor about his future.

Vito (one of the younger kids) had come up to me the night before saying he needed 20 mets for school (less than a dollar), so when I saw him again in the morning with Luis (the Mozambican staff person in charge of the kids' school), I ran back to the house and grabbed the money. Later I had to make a receipt for it, because the financial world here revolves around receipts.

It was payday for all the workers, so even the workers who are off this week came to get their money. I wanted to have a quick meeting with all my children's leaders, so I ran around and collected them all, but then later had to cancel the meeting and ran around again to tell them all not to bother. I still forgot one of them who sat waiting for me for some time, I felt bad.

Luis brought me a little boy named Antonio who looked very sad, and explained that he had lived here before but was reintegrated to live with his family members in the community. However, he wasn't happy at home and today he returned to the base to tell us he wanted to come back. I sat down with him and Luis to get the whole story—he came to the center when he was 4 years old, lived here 6 years and now is very unhappy at home. He said he has problems with his stepfather and he's lonely without his friends. I was completely lost, I haven't even been in charge of the kids for a whole week and this was a huge decision to make. I prayed with him, and told him to go get his mother and bring her back so we could talk about it further with her present.

Pastor Pascual (leader of the Bible School) said that one of the Bible students was very sick, possibly with malaria, and needed to be rushed to the hospital. I ran to find the missionary in charge of transport who ran to find a driver, then I went to the financial office to get the 101 mets Pascual asked for (1 met for the consultation, 50 for tests and blood-work, 50 for any medicine). Then I ran back to the house, wrote up a receipt, and ran back out to find Pascual to have him sign it.

Domingo Fernando (to distinguish him from my other 3 Domingos) then came up to me saying he needed a pencil for school. I took him and his little brother Minesse to the "biblioteca", or library, on the base to find him one. As they were leaving they showed me that their backpacks were ripped, and I promised to fix them over the weekend.

I was just about to meet with a couple of the older boys about their futures when Antonio came back with his mother, who had his little sister strapped to her back. She didn't speak any Portuguese, so I had to get Luis and Maria (the other children's leader) to translate her Sena to Portuguese for me and vice versa. She said that Antonio was much happier on the base with his friends, and that she didn't like to see him sad and lonely at home, so she fully consented to having him come back. I explained that our vision was to help children who are orphans as much as possible, and that if kids have the opportunity to grow up with a family, that in the long run that is usually much better for them. I still didn't know what to do, but since it looked like Antonio wasn't in any immediate danger or starving, I told him to give me a week to think and pray about it then come back for my decision. I also encouraged him to pray, saying God would let him know what he was supposed to do. (I still don't know what to do about this situation).

Then I got to meet with the older boys. Jack is about to leave the center in May, because that's when he turns 18 and it becomes illegal for him to live here anymore. Unfortunately, he has dyslexia and has had such a hard time in school that he had some behavior problems and got expelled twice and now isn't going. I tried to talk with him and see if there was any training we could find for him to work with his hands that wouldn't necessarily need an education. He said his dream is to be a mechanic, so we talked about how we might be able to find him an apprenticeship before he leaves. The other boy, Ricardo, has been off the base for a couple years now, but hasn't made much of his life yet. He wants to get training to be a driver, but he has been asking for work on the base for a while now, so we need to consider where we could possibly use him.

Keep in mind, all of this was before lunch.

I finally did get to sit down with my "massa" (the staple food made from cornmeal, kind of like really thick grits) and beans. After eating I collapsed on the bed for a while, and I think I dozed off for a bit (praise God for siesta time), but not for very long. Shortly after I got up Jon got a call from the visiting missionaries, who right after lunch went out to a funeral. They were calling to say that there would be a missionary couple from Brazil coming to Dondo to stay for a few weeks, and the wife and kids of another missionary couple for a few days. The only thing was, I'm over hospitality too, so I had to make sure they had spaces prepared…

We have a good deal of vacant long-term housing on the base, in faith that we'll eventually have more missionaries. There's an apartment on our strip that we thought would be good for the couple staying a long time, and the family could use the visitor's center. The only problem with the apartment is it hadn't been cleaned in ages, and I didn't have enough time to get both rooms prepared alone. Jon was frantically working on getting our next month's financial estimates submitted, so I knew I couldn't ask him. Most of the kids have school in the afternoon, but I did find a couple that didn't—Zito, 14, and José, 7, who is arguably one of the cutest and sweetest kids on the planet (not that I'm biased). They were a good balance, because Zito was very thorough and could work independently while José was extremely eager to help, but needed a lot of direction and supervision. I'm definitely learning a lot about the patience of a mother. Even with my helpers, deep cleaning that house took most of the afternoon. I gave them some kool-aid as a reward.

At dinner time I grabbed my little bowl and went to the kitchen to eat with the kids. I want them to feel like they're part of a family, so I like to check up on them as much as possible, and in Mozambique the best way to connect with people is over food. They've been having a lot of tests in school lately, so I like to ask them if they thought they were easy or hard—that's usually a good indicator of how their grades will be: if they thought it was easy, they probably did well.

After supper I realized that I had totally forgotten about the commission of pastors coming in that night, who all needed beds prepared in the clinic (which we use as a guest house for visiting pastors since we don't have any medical staff yet). I tried to do that all at once, but every time I tried to walk between the clinic and my house for supplies I would get stopped 3 or 4 times for other issues, problems, or questions. Manuel needed a bike early in the morning, so I needed to tell the guard to unlock the shipping container where the bikes are kept let him have one. The missionaries got back from the funeral and needed to eat (but the kitchen was already closed), they wanted to meet with someone before he left, and they needed me to find the translator. I finally finished preparing the clinic nearly an hour after I had started.

Then I could start getting the hospitality room ready for the family. I grabbed all my cleaning supplies yet again and trudged over to the visitor's area. First I had to just sit down and pray for a minute, because I was so exhausted I could barely lift the broom. I did finally get the room wiped down, dusted, swept, and the bathroom cleaned and beds made. Then I had to wait for the visitors to arrive. I told the guards they could expect a car coming very late and to come knock on my door when they arrived. I knew they were due to get in well after 11:00, but I didn't think I'd last that long so I just laid down and dozed on our wicker couch to wait for a knock on the door. The knock finally came, but thankfully Jon was still up and had more wits about him than I did, so he was able to attend to the visitors and direct them to their respective rooms. As soon as that was done, I promptly crawled under our mosquito net into bed and dropped off to sleep.

All in a day's work.

1 comment:

  1. Somehow this blog slipped under my radar. However, reading it I think it is sad that there are no comments on this one! Even though it is over 5 months old...I just want to say, you are awesome! Not one thing you do is missed by God. You will surely receive your reward. Thank you for having me last week, for giving me a nice, clean room to stay in, cooking wonderful french toast for breakfast, and making me feel so welcome and giving me so much of your time which I know is precious. I love you! Chao

    Angie :) <><