"i am hungry."
every year, there's a hunger season, but this past year's hunger season was particularly bad; missionaries who live here have been saying that it hasn't been this bad since the 1980s.
much of the reason for this stems from the fires that occurred this past september, fires which ravaged homes and crops, leaving many homeless and hungry. then the rain came late this past year; people bought seeds to grow maize in their mashambas (gardens) and planted them expecting rain to come in october, but it didn't. the seeds died, and the people had to buy seeds again. again, they planted them in a couple of weeks expecting rain to come, but it didn't. rain didn't come until mid-december (just a day after i arrived! which is december 16...). because people lost a lot of seed and didn't have money to purchase more, many weren't able to grow their crops. for the people who were able to, the late rain caused the maize to grow, but people were forced to reap them prematurely before they were even ripe. between october and april, people literally had nothing to eat. reports of deaths in nhamatanda (a community that hands is beginning to reach into) reached us, reports that read, "age 6. died of hunger."
during this time, hundreds of people from neighboring villages came to maforga everyday asking for food. roy, a missionary who oversees maforga, was able to give out small portions of maize meal to these people. it wasn't since the 1980s that roy and maforga decided to do mass food distributions everyday. shigeida, the missionary community across maforga, also started to give out small portions of maize meal to hundreds of people. tens of people would knock on my door everyday for something to eat.
it was especially tough for rubatano. rubatano lost two of its major donors at the end of 2008, but funds ran dry way before then. even the funds for volunteer incentives, which were promised to the volunteers until the end of the year, ran dry in october. volunteers also struggled to survive. it was heartbreaking to see rubatano's volunteers also waiting in line to receive small portions of mealie meal. we had nothing to give even to our own when the crisis was more real than ever.
witnessing this, dara wrote a letter to family/friends and churches back in the states, one of which included wellspring church. in response to that letter, wellspring fundraised for this crisis, and the response was incredible. in only a couple of months, thousands of dollars were raised for relief, and the donations were wired to hands hub in south africa. after a few challenges with transferring these funds from south africa to mozambique, the support finally arrived in march, right before we headed off to conference in south africa. we were able to give out small food parcels to everyone in rubatano's program -- children, patients, and volunteers -- about a total of 700 households in three communities. every household received one monthly package of maize meal, beans, and oil for two months (march and april).
when looking back, i have so much to say. there were and still are so many questions, most of which pertain to the how's and why's. "how is it that an entire country can be suffering so much at once?" "why, God?"
other questions, i found even more personally difficult to digest. people were constantly knocking on my door asking for food, money, clothes. many approached me in a way that did not invite much sympathy, and i found myself easily frustrated by the hunger, by the people.
"why is it so hard for me to love?" "why is it so hard for me to give?"
i still don't know the answer to many of these questions, and i have yet to grow and understand many things. but at the end, i can only say one thing.
God is good, all the time.
especially after seeing the response from the church, i realize more and more that even at times such as these, or rather, especially at times such as these, we are truly together. and we are in this together. when one part of the family is hurting, another part responds and helps, whether or not that family member is thousands of miles away. at a time and place where we thought we were in the desert and felt that God was far away, God was closer to us than ever. He gave us an opportunity to draw nearer to each other and draw nearer to Him. He provided for us abundantly, and He showed us once again that He is God, and He is God of mozambique.
some of the volunteers in nhembia.
starting from top left, clockwise: lazaro, adao, katarina, marcelino.
please remember us in your prayers.
please continue to pray for carlos.
please continue to pray for our volunteers. they are the hands and feet that visit the homes of the children and the sick. even during the hunger season, even when hands announced last year that there would be no more monthly monetary incentives, all of our volunteers wholeheartedly stayed. we are currently trying to implement new ways, new IGAs (income-generating activities), to care for our volunteers. please pray for wisdom, that we would trust and obey God's guidance.
please continue to pray for the children and the sick.
please continue to pray that God would stir up more hearts in the local and international Church, to care for its own body, to care for its own family.
please continue to pray for mozambique.