Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Praying for chickens?

This week we went on a field trip to a chicken processing plant (I was glad they were done for the day). WR is partnering with Moz Farms who give all the inputs to WR volunteers to raise the chickens and then they take them all and pay them per chicken. While we were there we met the Muslim guy that slits their necks and says a prayer over each one. Now there's a unique job! This is a requirement for the Muslims so they can say it is “Hallal” (like kosher). We asked him what he prays, and he said he would pray whatever we wanted! I can’t say I’d have much to pray over a chicken about to be killed.

Later we visited with WR volunteers, and the highlight was seeing Reginaldo, one of our “kids” from Chokwe. He’s been building chicken houses in this community. He is getting a lot of pressure from his dad to have his fiancee move in and postpone the wedding until later. I couldn’t understand that until someone explained that young people help support their parents until they get married. Talk about a twisted system that works against marriage. I encouraged him to do things God’s way and he said others are saying the same. I’m sure it’s hard for him to buck the system plus his own family. Then there are the huge expectations of making it a real feast when you do get married and going broke to do so. You can pray for him.

It's been a busy week with lots of meetings and guests. Now Steve is off to Zambia where he is helping host a team from the U.S. and they are having board meetings. They will all come here the end of the week and go to a village.

The excitement over fare hikes has calmed down. Apparently the government is subsidizing the price of gas for the chapa drivers. Too bad they didn't lower it for all of us!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Unrest in Maputo

Things are calming down in Maputo after some serious trouble this past week. Tuesday was a scheduled rate hike for the "chapas" (mini buses). The people were very upset a lot of basic foods like bread and rice have gone up and if transportation costs are raised by 30-50% it becomes hard to make ends meet. Mainly young, unemployed people started blocking intersections and burning tires in the road and throwing rocks. The chapas stopped running and the shops closed because of some looting. Parts of the city were pretty deserted.

Picture by Sarah Olds of Iris Ministries

The next day the government made the chapas return to original fares for 3 days while they talked, but then the chapas went on strike because their profit has been cut in half by gas increases (we’re up to $6/gallon). The fuel trucks couldn’t get through on Tuesday when there were fires on the streets, so there was some panic yesterday about a scarcity of fuel and long lines at all gas stations that had any.

You can find lots of articles and details at : http://allafrica.com/mozambique/ if you want to know more.

We’ve continued life as normal. The roads were OK between our house and WR so we’ve been in the office every day. However, very few of our colleagues have been here because of the disturbances. Several people have walked 2-3 hours to get here. That’s dedication! Today some chapas seem to be running again so we may be getting back to normal. Things could flare up again depending on government decisions and there are many issues right under the surface that people get upset about.

It’s felt a bit like we’ve been in a boat on a lake and around us we could see a thunderstorm, but the rain and lightning didn’t get to us. However, it’s a bit disconcerting to see all the power of the storm so close by. Jesus says “be still and know that I am God. I am calming the storm and giving you peace.” He is so good. We appreciate your prayers for us and Mozambique.