Mozambique: Hospitals, Heartache, and Hope

It has been a few weeks since my last update and my, oh my – much has happened! We left Johannesburg a couple of weeks ago and flew to Mozambique. We had no issues going through customs in both South Africa and Mozambique, which is a big deal when you have travelers from 3 continents and 5 different countries. God is so faithful! We were picked up by a guy named Domingos who is a YWAMer. He has been our translator and has become part of the team since then – going wherever we go, eating with us, and playing cards at night (by the time we leave, I’m quite sure that over 500 games of UNO will have been played).

The YWAM Base we live in is not like the base in Muizenberg, rather it is a small house. There are three bedrooms (one is occupied by our boys, one is occupied by our girls, and one is occupied by our coordinator/translator, Domingos), one kitchen, an open living/dining area with plastic tables for our meals, and one bathroom for all nine of us. When I first got here, I thought that might be an issue in terms of shower schedules and such, but the water is so cold that it isn’t even a temptation to take a long shower! We have all managed the bathroom sharing pretty well, I must say. There have been a few times when the water has run out so some people have been without showers. Fun times! 😉

Our team has had quite the adventure over the past couple of weeks as we have sought opportunities and have walked away from closed doors to pursue open ones. We started off in a community called Matola Gare. We took a taxi to get there, which means we crammed 23 people into a van that probably officially seats 15, and bumped along dirt roads all the way to a town about 30 minutes away from where we are staying. Once there, we headed to the church we had arranged to meet with and started the day off with dancing and worship with the congregation. Domingos translated everything for us because they speak Portugese here in Mozambique and very few people understand, let alone speak, English.

We then felt led as a team to pray for healing for many people in their church who were there, so we prayed for an hour or so. There was a girl who was in a lot of pain when she walked and was basically shuffling instead of walking. When we were done praying for her, she was walking perfectly normally. It was incredible! God did some other emotional as well as physical healing during our time with them that morning. He is so faithful! After that, we headed out and walked (for about 2 hours in the super hot African sun) to the homes of people in the congregation. Some of them lived in homes constructed of sticks but quite a few had concrete homes. We stopped at each home and prayed for a while with whoever lived there.

Then, we came back to the church late in the afternoon and ate a meal the women had prepared for us as a welcoming. An hour or so later, we caught a van back. We were planning on moving into the village later in the week and camping out among the people for 2-3 weeks. It was going to be super rough physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but we were committed as a team to go. Our second morning there, however, we met with the pastor and group again and due to some pretty big misunderstandings about why we were there, our team went out to pray together and re-evaluate our commitment to the church in that village. Three of us on our team specifically got the verse about shaking the dust of off your feet if a town doesn’t receive you and all of the other group members really felt a lack of peace in staying in the village and shared other verses. We talked and prayed about it for probably 40 minutes or so and then after we all really felt like God was saying it was time to move on, our leader talked to the pastor and we said goodbye to the congregation and left.

It was a really hard thing to do because we all knew we were letting people down, but each of our team members very clearly heard from the Lord and felt very strongly that we were not supposed to continue in the village. We believe maybe God was testing us to see if we would be willing to move into the village, but He made it very, very clear that Matola Gare was not the place for us to set up camp or invest in during our time in Mozambique.

For me, it was really powerful to see that Scripture come to life like that. I mean, I know that part about “shaking the dust off of your feet” is in the Bible, but for some reason I guess I didn’t think Paul actually meant it. But then I realized he said it because it was something he actually did in his ministry. After we said goodbye, the 9 of us hopped in the back of a truck (another form of the taxi here in Mozambique) and had a laughter-filled joy ride all the way back to our stop. God was great to supply joy and an adventurous ride home after a hard team decision which could have been really discouraging. He is faithful!!

So now our ministry looks different and is a lot more local. Every morning, we are teaching a group of kids that comes here to the YWAM base to meet with a woman who is part of the YWAM team here. Then twice a week we go to the orphanage that is literally a 2 minute walk from our doorstep, to play soccer with the kids and then share a testimony about God. The other two days of the week, we go pray for the sick at a hospital. Ministry on Saturdays fluctuates week to week and then on Sunday we preach, lead worship, and give a testimony (or some variation of those things) at a local church. Monday is our off day.

Our first visit to the hospital was a really heart-wrenching experience for me. Once we got inside, we were told we would be praying for people with TB. I don’t know if you know much about that disease (I didn’t), but it is really severe and pretty highly contagious. Definitely an opportunity to exercise our faith, not only for the people we are ministering to but also for God’s protection over our team. The hospitals here aren’t at all like back in the states. Vanderbilt is like a vacation spot compared to the hospital we visited in Maputo.

As we walked into the first room, I saw 8 beds, metal nightstands, and very frail bodies lying beneath blankets with flies swarming overhead. There were no nurses attending to them at the moment (though nurses did come in and out of some rooms while we were there) and no emergency call buttons that I could see. No TVs, no reading material…just blank walls and the look and sound of death. I shared a brief word of encouragement about how God sees them and hasn’t forgotten them and loves them, which was translated for them by a local guy we were ministering alongside. This was repeated at each room (though a different team member shared in each room).

Lifeless eyes, emaciated bodies, and hopelessness met us in each room. Though I fully believe God was already present with them before we even got there, my heart was completely broken by the hopelessness, helplessness, and abandonment that I know they felt. I cried from the time we entered the first room until after we had left the hospital grounds. Part of it was because I have never seen anything like that. I have been close to death before, but never like that. I was also so sad for them because they are so hopeless without the knowledge and revelation of Jesus Christ and the power He has to totally transform our lives. I have known Christ for most of my life, so I do not remember that hopelessness. Also, when Jesus said pray for the sick – He really meant to have compassion for people in such a lifeless condition. My spirit was awakened to the reality of what Jesus was saying and I was convicted by not loving the sick in this way before and it absolutely broke my heart. My heart was already in a sensitive place because of some other things I’d been wrestling with earlier in the week.

In all honesty, the past couple of weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. I know that God sent me here to Africa. I know the promises He gave me and I know He has been meeting me in every moment and filling me up with more of Himself – enough love to share with those we are ministering to and for my team members as well. But this is a very stretching time and in reality, the stretching is very painful. Living in very close proximity with 8 other people is very, very challenging. I love each of my team members, but it is very tough to always be in each other’s faces. Just as every joy is felt, every tension and strain is equally felt in community living. Usually when my heart is aching, I will send a quick email or text to family or close friends if I am in need of encouragement or prayers for discernment in a situation involving other people. However, we do not have internet so there is no way for me to contact people except if we happen to find internet on our off-days. All that to say, I’ve been journaling way more than usual, crying a lot, and spending a lot more time in prayer lately – which is good. And God has been providing joy and life too, so no worries. I’m not depressed. J Just really in need of encouragement and prayers.

I share that to say that my heart right now longs for my friends and family back home and I am feeling very torn right now emotionally. I know God has called me here and I want to be fully here but I am realizing more and more that there is no way I can do it in and through my own strength, because it is waning. But God supplies more – just enough – for each day. Which is beautiful. Please pray with me that God will flood and fill me with more of His strength, hope, joy, and peace each day. Pray that these longings for home will inspire prayers for people back home rather than sorrow that renders me ineffective here. Please pray also that God will give me the stamina and endurance to complete the race set before me. That I might fight the good fight and continue to see God at work here each day. He is definitely living and active here in Mozambique! I am so glad God never leaves or forsakes us!!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and perseverance in walking this road with me. Just as the Word says God is the anchor of our souls, I feel like you – the Church – are an anchor for me as well through your prayers and encouragement. I am so grateful for you each! You all are amazing! I miss you tremendously and am SUPER thankful for each of you, dear friends! Journey family, I pray for you often!

Love you all so much and miss you immensely!

Peace,

-s

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