What we take home from Mozambique

On the long flight home this morning, team members took a few minutes to reflect on their time in Africa. Here are our thoughts:

Doris – What I will take home are the faces of the widows, the children and their smiles—as well as the hopes and dreams of the missionaries for the orphanage and the seminary. It was a great experience.

Molly – For me this has been a “breakthrough” trip. So many treasured moments of the Holy Spirit breaking through. The breakthrough of a new understanding of how God is calling me. Breakthroughs in my relationships with particular and very special Mozambican friends and missionaries. This team created a breakthrough of possibilities for “connectedness” and community with future teams. And the most evident and visible breakthrough was of God’s grace and love and hope.

Harry – I leave with the feeling that the children at the orphanage have hope for a brighter future. For them to be able to think there can be better days ahead is the best gift we can give them.

Debbi – I was struck by the warm, gracious hospitality and the generally sunny disposition of the Mozambican people. This was in spite of difficult living conditions and dependence on others for significant financial support. Their habit of singing was infectious, and I hope that spirit will stay with me after returning home.

Tina – I wanted to help make a difference in a community in need (the orphanage). I think our work was fantastic, and we did help more than we will ever know. “We love you!”

Jolie – What will stay with me the most, after the team has disbanded, the gifts have been given and the souvenirs have been admired? My lasting takeaway will be the recognition of how much talent, thought, time and, yes, money we spend on erecting artificial borders that separate us from one another. What a waste.

Erin Amazing love! Wonderful relationships! Everyone working together! Spiritually fulfilling! Outstanding team! Many opportunities to learn! Excellent food! Gifts of partnership! Overwhelming joy! Desire for more!

Pat – This trip showed me how much God cares for all of his people, through sharing, caring and love, and how we can all work together, build relationships and show compassion to one another. There is much work to be done, but hopefully we helped to plant seeds so that the building may continue. My small part with this team hopefully gave a glimmer of hope to the orphans, the widows and all in Mozambique who we came to know and love. God commands us to “love one another.”

Gary – There is much work to do in Mozambique. The people in Cambine and Chicuque have a plan. Education of local leaders to spread the word of social justice and medical issues is a start. Their beautiful land and its people need help. My presence here was small but large in the eyes of the local people. I’m blessed to make this journey and look forward to serving and be served again.

Jay – When I look back at our time in Mozambique, I think about the impact a small pebble can have when it strikes the water—the way it creates ever-widening circles. I saw many examples of how simple, heartfelt gestures—acts of love, kindness, caring and stewardship—can have a ripple effect. The Methodist Church’s efforts in Cambine and Chicuque are “ripples of hope” that will have a profound and lasting impact on the people there. We are all pebbles making a bigger difference than we can ever imagine.

Helen – I just want to thank everyone for being so kind and encouraging throughout the trip. It has been an amazing and inspiring journey for me. I feel like I left my heart at the orphanage as I ache for them. They will always be part of me.


‘Renew a steadfast spirit within me’

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10

Driving to the Inhambane Airport to fly to South Africa gives me time to reflect on our mission work in Cambine and savor one last look at the place I have called home these last nine days. Along the dirt roads and on the highway, I see hundreds of school children walking home. They walk in groups, laughing and calling to each other like students anywhere. Half the population of Mozambique, we have been told, is under the age of 20. It is a land of many traditions, yet in many ways it is new and fresh. Thatched huts made of woven grasses are prevalent, but so are cell phones. Women carry loads on their heads and walk miles to draw potable water. As hard as life seems in this area of the world, the people are happy and shine with the brightness of hope.

Julio and Jeremias are two good examples of the new Mozambique. Both men grew up in the Cambine area but went away to school. Jeremias studied public health in Texas. Julio went to African University to become a Methodist minister. Both men came back to Mozambique to help make a difference and rebuild their post-civil war country. Jeremias runs the hospital and Center of Hope in Chicuque. Julio runs the Cambine mission and directs the seminary. Both are passionate about their work and have a vision for the future. I feel blessed to have spent time with each of these men. They are quiet, soft-spoken, strong, pure and steadfast in their love of God and their country.

At the seminary, I met a young man named Joseph, a fourth-year student. The students have their own church service each morning before classes start. On two occasions I attended, although I did not understand the language they spoke. But Joseph sat next to me, patiently translating all that was said and read. I cannot explain the connection I felt towards him, but it was touching the way he leaned towards me, earnestly telling me the significance of each gesture and word. When we had regular church service on Sunday, Julio squeezed into our pew and did the same, telling us what was happening and what it meant.

To translate, I discovered, is to give of yourself. Those who have translated here have poured out their hearts to us—Vitoria at the widows’ home in Hanhane, Thomas at the orphanage and Joseph at the seminary. When I have visited other countries, I have wanted to learn the language for basic communication reasons. To ask where the restroom is or how much something costs. In Mozambique, I wanted to learn the language to share, to love and to sing with the unabashed joy I saw in the seminary students.

I leave Mozambique with my spirit renewed. That is the happy byproduct of all mission trips. As the scripture says, “Renew a steadfast spirit within me.” We have touched many lives, but the people of Mozambique have touched us in many wonderful ways. On this trip, I saw men and women with steadfast purpose—on our own team and in Cambine. All have given me new hope and inspiration that I carry home to Annandale.


What a week!

One week ago, I landed in a country that my whole life I didn’t think I would ever have a chance to see because it is so far away. It’s beautiful! Palm trees, coconuts, beaches (actually sand is everywhere) and gorgeous sunsets.

I have so much to tell everyone. Children that barely speak African are singing in English and can say, “I love you,” Helen’s theme song. Our meals have been good, and we have had a roof over our heads. Seeing how some of the people live is unbelievable. Their kitchen is a fire pit outside, and a thatch-roof house is where they sleep.

Tonight the seminary students marched up the street to the guest house, singing and playing a drum and a cikitse (a Mozambican rhythm instrument). How cool it was! I can’t put it into words

The students stayed about an hour. It was very, very nice. They gave us each a capulana wrap. These have been plentiful gifts for us.

We leave tomorrow. God speed!


‘Come to the church in the wildwood’

“Come to the church in the wildwood; O come to the church in the vale.  No spot is so dear to my childhood as the little brown church in the vale.”

Okay…maybe the Cambine church we worshiped it is not in the wildwood or situated in a vale, but, over the century that it has stood on the compound, it has provided sanctuary for many a traveler and so it did for us today.

We worshipped among many familiar faces – the seminary students that we have met previously, the freshly scrubbed and neatly dressed orphans with whom we’ve played and feted, and persons who have ministered to us in a variety of ways since we arrived last Sunday. We sang, clapped, and “marched” our way through the service; looked to each other with smiles of recognition as the congregation sang the Xitswa chorus that we know as “Crown Him, Crown Him, and crown Him Lord of all;” and were greeted with handshakes, hugs, and kisses by all during the passing of the peace.  As so often happens during worship we were gathered in to become one with all present.

After church, we took a drive, heading east toward the Indian Ocean.  Most of us walked along the sand, dipping toes in the rather rough looking surf with some braver souls rolling up pants legs to submerge knees into the cool but pleasant water. One brave member of our tiny band swam some yards out and pronounced that what looked like an angry sea was really quite mild.  None of us however, duplicated her feat.

Our days are dwindling down.  Tomorrow it is back to the orphanage, to work again on the building project, spend time with our young friends, and to say “Ciao” instead of “Ate Logo: (roughly translated as “see you later, alligator.”


The team visited the Center of Hope in Chicuque this week, which includes conference rooms for community health outreach.

Shoes for God’s children

Friday morning Jolie, Doris and I sorted the brand new shoes and socks we brought for the children at the orphanage; 59 pairs, plus 4 extras, just in case.  Buying new shoes for these children was a collaborative effort!

In June, Nancy Forrest’s medical team came to Cambine for the day to give check-ups to the children.  The five youth were given the task of tracing each of the children’s feet on a piece of paper; the right foot on one side of the sheet of paper, and the left on the other.  They included the name of the child, and whether they were male or female.  Half the children were at school when the team did the tracings, so they were only able to get 25 tracings done.  A master list was made, that included the first and last name of each child, their birth date and their sex.  This was very helpful!.

In July a UMW team came to Cambine, led by Sue Boltz.  Her team took on the job of getting the rest of the tracings completed. Her team took the master list and traced the feet of each child not already checked off.  As you might imagine, this took some time.  The younger children go to school in the morning.  The older children go to school in the afternoon.  They traced the feet of sleeping babies and young men as old as 28. But they were able to get them all done.

Having collected the tracings, the next task was to photocopy each foot, right and left, on card stock.  With help from the Mary and Martha Circle each of the feet were cut out and clipped together, recording the name and sex on both right and left cut outs.  African children’s feet are wide from not wearing shoes, it is important to check both the right and the left foot for size.

Pat, Erin and I then proceeded to Target with a sack full of orange, cut-out feet, and began the fun game of fitting the shape into the correct sized shoe!  Soon we had 3 shopping baskets and stacks of shoes everywhere!  People asked us what we were doing and were so pleased to hear that all of these shoes were for children at an orphanage in Mozambique.  It took us several shopping outings before we had all the shoes.  Jolie then took the Master List, now marked with the shoe size for each child and purchased each child 2 pair of socks.

It took 5 blue Disaster Response Team duffle bags to pack the shoes!  On Friday we unpacked the shoes, which had been numbered 1 to 59, and wrote the names of the children on a slip of paper attached to each pair.  While Doris recorded the names, Jolie put the shoes in numerical/ alphabetical order.  I got to watch this process because I was unpacking the 60 sets of twin sized sheets we bought for the children.  As I pulled out each set, I checked to see that it had a blessings card that Sally Bizer and Liz Hoefer helped the children at AUMC make in Sunday school.

After all the shoes were lined up on 3 long tables, we pulled out the backpacks that the AUMC children gathered during Lent.  Helen arranged the back packs in an array colors, styles and sizes. Maravilha, the Director of the Orphanage, decided that the school-aged children would receive their shoes inside their brand-new backpack.  After Doris recorded the name of the child on the little tag on each pair of shoes, Maravilha walked over to the selection of backpacks. She spent whole minutes pondering the array of packs, looking for just the right one for Pasqual, for Fatima, for Beatrix… It was so touching to see the thoughtful reflection given each child.

At last each pair of shoe, each pack was ready for the big party that we were hosting for the children on Saturday!


Playing ball at the orphanage.

Today in Cambine

What an incredible day! Today we spent the day playing with the orphans. What a wonderful opportunity. We did crafts, shared a meal, sang songs, played games, laughed… We wrapped up the day with the distribution of a new pair of shoes for each child, a pair of socks, and for all the school aged children, a new backpack. The teams that came in June had traced the outline of each child’s foot, brought them back to the US and we cut them out and took them with us to buy the shoes. The backpacks were collected during Lent at Annandale UMC by the children’s Lenten Mission Project. As we organized the gifts on Friday, the Orphanage Director, Maravella, very carefully looked at each child’s name and shoes and chose a backpack that would best fit the child. It wasn’t just a random distribution, but a very thoughtful, caring action. The children were very excited. I think for the smallest children, it was probably the first time they ever had shoes on (other than flip-flops). And socks truly seemed to be a new adventure for a number of the children.  The toddlers began stomping around in there new shoes, some of which lit up, like they were on parade.
What a blessing to know that our church offered such a wonderful gift to these children. There were so many smiles and hugs and so much love. It was truly a happy day!

Friday, August 10

Today we woke to a bright African sun. After sharing a meal, we set out with the purpose and will to improve the orphanage facility.

We attended a worship service with the seminary students with wonderful songs and music. It was especially inspiring.

Today, we shared our love with the children, helped with the construction of a new building and painted all the trim on the orphanage gathering place. With God’s will, we have made the orphanage a better place.


Thursday, Aug. 9

The team shares a craft with the widows of Hanhane.

This has been the most amazing trip. The faces of the children and the widows will stay with me forever. I had no idea the dirt was so sand-like; it is like walking on the beach. My legs should be well-toned up by the time we leave.

Our visit with the widows was many things. Their courage was inspiring, and their smiles, their singing, their hugs and their kisses were uplifting.

Today we went to Chicuque to visit the Central Rural Hospital and the Center of Hope. The work they are doing is amazing, considering what is available to them.

Many smiles and much love from the children at the orphanage.

I have done a number of first-time things. Today, we ate barracuda for lunch!

Keep us all in your prayers as we continue on this mission trip.


Wednesday, Aug. 8: Visiting the widows at Hanhane

Today was an off day for construction of the storage building at the orphanage. Our physical strength was given a rest. On the other hand, our mental toughness was put to the test. Today we visited the widows in Hanhane. These ladies have been ostracized by their children and their families. In most cases, their husbands have died and the other members of the family blame the death on the wife. At the present time, there are 27 widows at the home in Hanhane. Their ages range from the upper 50s to the 80s.

The widows were very glad to see us, and they greeted us with song and dance. While there, we made small pins with them. The pins consisted of beads and a cross. They were also given a cloth case of personal items.

There is a food shortage at the widows’ home. We delivered enough food to last three months. The food was donated by the children from Annandale UMC’s Vacation Bible School.

It was very enlightening day for all of the team members, and many tears were shed—some of joy and some of concern over what we can continue to do to help our sisters in need.

Blessings – Gary

Day 2 in Cambine

Today, Victoria, the General Secretary of the Mozambican Society of Women from Maputo, took us to the market for food to deliver to the widos of Hanhane tomorrow. How nice to shop with those who live and work in Maxixe. After a delicious lunch (the beef spices were intriguing), the group returned to the orphanage for the afternoon helping the local workers build concrete walls on the storehouse. Of course, the best part was being with the orphans of all ages. It was a particular pleasure to know that we’ll be with our new friends several more days!


Monday: our first day at the orphanage

Today we awoke to a clear blue sky, a Mozambican breeze, and a warm sunny day. This was our first day at the orphanage work site. We walked to the orphanage from the guest house. As we approached the grounds, the children surrounded us, each wanting to touch you, to hold your hand, to have you pick them up and hug them, and just love them. It was such an emotional greeting, and everyone enjoyed sharing a small part of their heart with the orphans.

Thomas, the German missionary at Cambine, met us and gave our team some history of the orphanage. We met the director who told us there are currently 64 orphans living at the compound. They range in age from 2-28. Thomas then gave us a tour of the grounds. The girls live in one building and the boys in another, each with a housemother. There were very small rooms with 3-4 beds in each room. The boys outnumber the girls, so most sleep 2 to a bed. There is another building that houses the younger children, some in cribs. The accommodations are very small and crowded. We saw their all-purpose room where they study in two shifts—morning and afternoon, and also use it as a celebration room for birthdays and holidays. There was a thatched building where cooking is done over coals and fire, and another area where the laundry is washed by hand.

Our team was divided into 2 groups.  One was to cut up ad move logs from trees that were removed to make room for new buildings. The other group helped the local builders, who are building a storage area to be able to secure their supplies. We formed a chain to move block to the area of construction to be used in building the storage rooms. Our next task was to form a chain of team to move buckets of mixed concrete to be poured in the columns of the building.  Everyone felt it was a tiring, but productive and rewarding morning of work. We had lunch back at the guesthouse and had a short time to rest.  We went back to work. One of our goals was to move some very large tree trunks to outside the fence area to give them room to build.  It took all 11 team members plus the builders and some of the older boys living at the orphanage to move the trees. That was a big accomplishment.

Since this was a point in the building that there was not anything for us to do, we spent time with the orphans. We had plastic eggs that were given to them and we had bubbles for everyone. The children were excited to blow bubbles in the sky.  We also were able to spend time with the children, to hold the kick a soccer ball with them, or even dance the electric slide with them. They also sang some songs for us. What a special time to show God’s love to the children with quality time. Each of us will remember a special smile, a small hand in our hand, or a warm hug. We were blessed to be able to be here in Mozambique today and experience God’s grace and love for each of his children.


Feeling God’s love and grace

We are finally here in Cambine and the guest house the mission team built is beautiful. I can feel God’s love and grace in this house and feel so privileged to be surrounded with so any people who give selflessly.

Ladies at the house are great cooks and we had a nice tour of the compound.

I had been up all night so I’m hoping to get some good sleep in my mosquito net.

By the way, my roomies are Jolie and Debbi.


We made it to Joburg!

We have arrived in Johannesburg. After 18+ hours, we were very happy to get off the plane. The flight was smooth and uneventful. Of course is the first leg. The real baggage test comes tomorrow on the flight to Inhambane. We are blessed with a wonderful, enthusiastic team. And though we are a tired group tonight, a good night’s sleep will rejuvenate us all. For those of us returning, we are looking forward to seeing old friends. For first timers, there is great anticipation, to put faces to names, to see the children, to just be there. Thank you to all who support us while prepwhile pray for us while we are here, and listen to our stories on our return. We are blessed to have these opportunities and grateful for all the love.



Why we feel called to Mozambique

Our team departs Dulles International Airport later this afternoon, the first leg of our journey to Cambine. A prayer calendar is available if you would like to pray for the members of our team and our hosts.

We want to again thank everyone for supporting us. We hope to post tomorrow from Johannesburg!

As we prepare for the long flight to South Africa, we offer these thoughts on why we feel called to Mozambique:

Molly – Mozambique is my heart. I return year after year to be nourished, to grow my faith, to witness the Kingdom—to spend time in the warm light of true discipleship. My Mozambican brothers and sisters model what it is to love and serve with your whole heart. I can’t wait to see them again!

Tina – My first mission was the Kairos prison ministry. Last year, my mission was children. This year, I feel the widows are my focus.

Erin – I went on my first mission trip to Haiti 16 years ago. I didn’t know what to expect, either from the place or my personal experience. I hope that I made at least some positive impact. But what I learned that it was a life-changing experience—for me! Serving in mission has deepened my faith—in God, in the church and in my fellow human beings. This will be my third trip to Mozambique, and I feel called to do whatever I can to provide a hand up to this extremely poor nation. My prayer is that my presence will serve as a reminder of God’s love and the hope which that inspires.

Doris – The story of the widows just touched my heart. I am a widow and feel very lucky that in the U.S. we are not treated as second class with no rights at all. To experience the loss of your husband as well as everything you have must be devastating. I feel that to go and be with them as another human being is a way to show, by our presence, that God loves them. I have been on two other UMVIM trips this year but they have not “called” to me like this one. I am looking forward to using my “Talents,” knowing that God will guide and provide whatever is needed.

Helen – I feel as though this trip has been planned for me for years. Maybe it all came about because my grandmother started an orphanage to help kids in need on the street. Through her example of kindness, I developed a heart for orphans. I’ve wanted to visit an orphanage for a long time, but in the hustle and bustle of life, I drifted away from my personal passion. God has a way of redirecting people to his purpose, though, and through Touching Heart, I was able to pour my energy into orphans. The trip to Mozambique became a clear calling from God. In my view, going to Mozambique will honor the spirit of my grandmother, who dedicated herself to orphans who need love. I want to take this trip to meet these precious kids, see the hardship they endure, and feel their aching so that I can be a voice on their behalf and provide for them and protect them as any parent would do. I feel honored to be serving his kingdom by sharing his love.

I have three children who still need a lot of guidance, but I also want to demonstrate that they should follow their heart and passion to serve God. If God calls you, even though worldly reasoning doesn’t make sense, you must follow him wherever you go. If he called you, then he will carry you to the end.

Pat – I am excited to again be going to Mozambique. I was blessed to go last year, and I am going this year because I left part of my heart in Mozambique with the orphans, with the widows and with our friends in Cambine. I am going because God has called me to be his disciple, to share love, hope and faith, and to renew old and make new relationships with our brothers and sisters in Mozambique. I go to be able to give of myself, to share my gifts and to share God’s love with others. I am called to love God, to love our neighbors and to serve the world. As the words to Jeffery Rowthorn’s song say, “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”

Debbi – First, thanks so much for sharing this trip with us. We’ve been asked to write about why we decided to participate in this mission trip. To be honest, although I am over-the-top excited, I’m having trouble answering this basic question. For years, I have had a heart for international relief and development and was able to work for a not-for-profit the last nine years in that area. But that’s not the same as being there. Three times in the last four years it was necessary to cancel my participation in mission trips to Haiti, Cuba, and Haiti again, due to family illness, work requirements and civil unrest. When this trip came up, it seemed perfect for me. The two weeks would not be a problem since I have recently retired. My previous trip to Mozambique through Project HOPE was very positive. The team purpose is to both help with construction and strengthen relationships formed through previous visits by members of our congregation and other AUMC friends. And not least of all, it is to be led by two women that I greatly admire.

Having said all that, the foremost reason to go to Mozambique is to spend time with the people there. My spiritual journey is based on study and experiences with folks primarily like me. While I want to share what I have with the brothers/sisters in Christ, it will be just as important for me to learn from them and feel the Holy Spirit moving in that place. With God’s help, I can come back home and share that excitement with those who will experience it through our stories and pictures. Who knows what God has in store for the future? My prayer is to be open to His calling.

Gary – Being in mission gets into your blood, your head, and feeds the rest of your body. I am going to Mozambique to serve and be a productive member of a wonderful team. We all have our individual goals, but our teamwork is at the forefront of our mission trip. Our physical work is important, but often the blocks and mortar are set aside so we may listen to the people we are serving. These brothers and sisters have a faith that makes you proud to be a humble servant of Jesus Christ.

Jay – My passion for mission work began four years ago when I went on my first mission trip to Girdwood, Alaska. That got me hooked. It renewed my faith in God and taught me the power of Christianity in action. Living and working in fellowship, valuing everyone’s talents and skills, letting go so you can “let God” and loving everyone with all your heart—those are some of the lessons I’ve learned on past trips. In Mozambique, I look forward to loving my neighbors and losing myself in a higher power to accomplish things that I know I couldn’t possibly do on my own. It is a joy and privilege to serve when you are part of team that is committed to following Christ’s example.

Jolie – My friend Rhoda died last week.  This very warm, extremely practical, and totally realistic woman always had a careful, crafted reason for all her actions. She would have been the first to ask “why” if I had told her of this trip to Mozambique. And, even knowing how she assayed information, I still would have had to reply, “I don’t have the words to wrap around a reason. I just know.”  I can imagine her rapid-fire follow up questions—what skills do you bring (few); how’s your Portuguese (limited—very!); are there not enough challenges right here to be met (definitely)—and all I would/could respond with would be, “I just know. This is one of life’s thresholds, and I am going to cross it.” Rhoda, we will miss you.

Harry – God bless us everyone!

Getting ready for Africa

We’re getting ready!

Follow our mission team from Annandale, Va., as we work with the orphans in Cambine, Mozambique. We’ll be blogging Aug. 3-15. We hope you’ll check back often.

You can receive our posts via e-mail by clicking the “Follow” button on the bottom right. You can also find out more about the Methodist Mission in Mozambique by visiting the other pages on our site.