Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Maputo Con Man

This morning I was doing some shopping and as I walked home I was approached by a man in a suit and tie.

"Hi, do you remember me?" he said.

I looked at him curiously and said "No, I don't believe I do."

"Oh, I'm the man from customs at the airport. I look a little different without my uniform."

Since I had just dealt with customs recently, I thought maybe I had seen him there.

"Are you traveling soon?" he asked.

"No, I don't have anything planned."

Then he said, "I was trying to get to work, but my car ran out of gas. Would you have some cash you could spare?"

I had a cautious feeling so I said, "No I really can't give you any."

"Just 50 MTs so I could get a couple of liters? Then next time you come through customs I'll be your friend!"

I declined again, he shook my hand and I left.

A few yards away I stopped at a sidewalk stand to make another purchase. A man was standing there and asked me if I knew that person. I said I didn't and asked if he was a good person or not. "Actually, he's a 'mafioso,'" he said.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Our "new" apartment

On Sunday the preacher had an interesting comment. He said "I never thought I'd see the day when Mozambique was in better shape than South Africa." This week it was true, as SA had many rolling power outages that created huge traffic jams, closed malls and restaurants and clinics, etc. And the amazing thing is that they are getting some of their energy from a hydroelectric dam in Mozambique. Apparently the government did not heed the warnings and now there is a shortage. New electric plants will not be finished until 2011 so it could be interesting for SA until then.

On the home front, we have moved. Here are a few pictures of our new place:
We live on the second floor (it looks blue here) although the door is on ground floor. The guard and his family live on the ground level which is built into a hill.

Steve with Wally the dog that came with the house.

Daniel, our first visitor and the guard's son. He has a baby sister.

We have a nice big kitchen and living room, 3 bedrooms and plenty of beds. So just let us know when you're coming to visit!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Good news from Zambia

Here is part of a monthly report that came out of Zambia, where Rachel and I spent two weeks in November 07 working with the staff and teaching the micro enterprise development course:

"The Microenterprise training program conducted by Steve and Rachel has started bearing fruit in the community as demonstrated by two graduates (Pastors Matale and Mulyata) who started training traders from the market in entrepreneurship skills. The training program has been funded by SNV (a development agency of Netherlands). The first training workshop was for 5 days and 23 participants were trained who thereafter qualified to receive loans for their small trading businesses. This exemplified the versatility of the training program and its relevance in the lives of all those aspiring to succeed in their businesses be it agriculture or trading. Most important of all is that as a result of the spiritual component of the course,7 participants gave their lives to the Lord after the session 'The plan of salvation.'”

I was so touched when I read this. It made the work of training others (or packaging and sharing seeds, so they can sow) quite rewarding.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Swaziland R&R

We’ve just returned from a bit of R&R in Swaziland and South Africa. Swazi is a small country and we drove in a big loop and saw quite a bit of it. We stayed in Bulembu, up in the corner next to SA. It was an asbestos mining town that was abandoned when the mine was closed. It was given to a Christian organization that is working with abandoned children and orphans, HIV/AIDS programs, a school, a clinic, a church, Teen Challenge and more. They are trying to create jobs by running a timber project, a lodge and a honey project. You can read more about them at It is surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery. To get there we had to travel 18 kms on a dirt road but the reward was that it was very calm and quiet. There were no city noises outside our windows when we slept, just the sounds of nature. Another plus was that it was cooler than Maputo.

One day we went to SA for an appointment and wished we had taken our camera as the mountain scenery was amazing. We saw emerald mountains as well as blue and darker green. We did get a picture outside the lodge, although the colors aren’t quite as nice as they were in person.

We also saw lots and lots of flowers. I was surprised to see so many flowers that we have at home: daisies, roses, hydrangeas, iris, coreopsis, butterfly bush growing everywhere wild, dahlias of many colors. These were mixed in with more tropical varieties like hibiscus and tulip trees plus many that I can't name and they were all beautiful. Here are just a few pictures so you get the idea.

On the way back we stopped at a waterfall. We found out we could take a 20 min hike to see it or a 1-3 hr. hike. We went on the 20-min. and it’s probably a good thing. I’m not sure I could walk at all if we had done the longer one! I think I’m in pretty good shape, after all I climb 60 stairs every time I go out the door and do so without huffing and puffing too much. But the steps down to the falls were really steep. This picture doesn’t show how steep it really was. It was worth the sore muscles and we had a great time.

Now we’re back in our regular routine after the holidays. Sunday morning we said goodbye to Jamene, our friend who has been with us since the end of October. The house seems empty without him.

We’re getting ready to move this weekend to a semi-temporary place, hopefuly several months. It’s a house owned by the Wesleyans and our landlords are wonderful people. We may keep looking, but we’ve found that the prices in Maputo are getting ridiculous – many ask $1,000/month for an unfurnished not very nice apartment. That’s about twice what rent was in 2005. Apparently there is not enough housing and people (mostly foreigners) are willing to pay the prices so they keep increasing. We’re thankful to have a place for now.