Friday, March 23, 2007

The Bombs Bursting in Air

Bombs literally were bursting in air over Maputo yesterday. This is the way a news agency described it: "A series of powerful explosions rocked Maputo on Thursday afternoon, as once again obsolete military equipment stored in an arsenal of the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) in the outer suburb of Malhazine blew up."

Helena and I were sitting in the office and suddenly we started hearing thunder. I kept looking at the blue sky and wondering where the storm was. Then we saw a cloud of smoke in the distance and Helena got a call from a friend who said the arsenal was blowing up because of the heat. A couple of loud booms rocked the office and rattled the windows and people decided it was a good time to go home.

At home I watched TV and saw many people walking away from the noise. Some were looking for their children who just left school, others were just walking, they didn't know where. Most looked afraid. I wasn't too worried because the arsenal is pretty far away but then I heard that the bombs have a range of 30 km. We had two loud blasts that rattled our windows and the second one shook our 5-story building. All I could do was pray and trust God to be my strong tower.

TV footage started showing the injured and dead being taken to the hospital. As of this morning they are reporting 72 dead and 300 injured although I'm sure that number will increase. Many houses have been damaged or destroyed. I just got a call from Amelina whom I wrote about in a previous blog. They are asking people to evacuate Zimpeto because there are still unexploded bombs there. So it looks like she and her family will spend some time with us.

Steve is on his way home from Zambia today. The airport here is closed until they remove debris from the runway. If his afternoon flight is canceled he will come back with a WR driver who is taking a group to Jo'berg today.

It's time like these where we really know we need to depend on God. I'm extra thankful today for His protection. Your prayers for Maputo and Mozambique are appreciated.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Greetings around the world

Since we’ve been here, I’ve seen several different kinds of greetings.

Of course, you know the American way—stand and look at each other and say Hi. Every now and then you give a handshake or if you’re close to someone, a hug. That’s it. Well, the rest of the world is a bit different.

In Mozambique the standard is two kisses on the cheeks. Actually, it’s not really a kiss, it’s more like cheek to cheek. Sometimes I need a towel because some people really sweat! And there are a couple of different kinds of hand shakes that are a bit hard to describe, I’ll just show you sometime. If the hands are dirty, then you grab arms. You always ask how they are: Como esta? Estou bem, obrigado or graças a Deus.” If they ask you how you are, but you forget to ask them, they will just tell you “eu tambêm” or me too.

I made the mistake of thinking all Africans kissed. Once I kissed a Malawian guest and felt him stiffen up. I think in Malawi they just hug or shake hands. South Africans are more about hugs and shakes also.

In France it’s three kisses. Two is plenty for me …

In a tribe in Nigeria they get down on the ground like they would be doing a pushup. I’m trying to imagine that as you walk down the street and see several people you know.

Then I saw two Congolese men who bumped foreheads. I’d heard of rubbing noses like the Eskimos, but foreheads? I think they did it three times, left, right, left.

I found a website that has lots of other greetings from other cultures. It’s fun reading if you’re interested -

So, hugs, kisses and shakes to you all.