Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Significant Night

Hello again.  It's been a month long interval since I last wrote and I'm feeling more then a bit of regret at having been so out of touch with family and friends.  My family raised me in love of the kind that does not suffer distance easily.  I frankly sought out isolation of a kind coming here.  I wanted to become 'unplugged,' as it were and in the first few months at site seeing the emails in my inbox dwindle seemed a most natural and even liberating thing.  However, of late, it occurs to me just how much time has gone by without my even sending word to loved ones their importance in my life.  Third goal of Peace Corps is to tell the outside world about our work, about this country's culture, to help make the world a smaller place.  I've for too long now used inaccessible internet and lack of resources as an excuse to ignore this third goal, and to remain out of touch with those who have such an important role in my life.  That being said, all of you reading this, please know you are in my thoughts and that I hold you in love.

It's 4 am and I'm in a rude state.  Rude may not be the word.  Agitated is neither the word.  Something like a pain, an aching that nothing is being done.  Of course a clarification is merited. 

I'm in Chimoiu where is located our Peace Corps office and an internet that doesn't quit and comes like strong waves in a western city hooked into the 21st century.  And yet Chimoiu has become for me a symbol of poverty and neglect the kind that ought make anyone in ownership of a car here, blush.  We volunteers have sufferred a variety of crime here.  Home invasions.  Rape.  Muggings.  Police incompetence.  A police force with so little resources that they need borrow phone credit from you to make a phone call.  Never mind a car of their own.  Everytime I've come to Chimoio I'm beset by beggars.  I've grown too good at ignoring them.  Each time I resolve to buy fruit to have something, anything to give them that helps.  Money never seems the right choice and to ignore them outright seems heartless, though as I said, it's become routine. 

For the reasons cited above, it was pertinent for me to walk a colleauge here to the office as her early morning taxi doesn't know our place's address.  Walking here we passed a man huddled on the street.  I must tell you it is cold here now that the winter has arrived.  This poor man.  Not so much as a place to rest his head at night. 

We met the motorista at the office and as my friend ran upstairs to collect her things I explained our difficulties to him and how struck I am by the problems of this city.  I described to him the man we passed, without so much as a blanket to comfort him.  The motorista says, 'he was probably drunk.'  I said, I hope he was.  Perhaps that would help him forget the cold.  But irregardless, drunk or no, doesn't everyone have the right to a place where they can lay their head?  To warm themselves?  To have some compassion from another?  Good God.

And so I feel a compulsion.  And an anger.  And a desire to speak out. 

There is an organization Eleos Ministries of whom I'm fortunate to know the husband and wife who are its founders.  I met them in Romania where they've adopted three children who are now young adolescents.  Ed travels around the world trying to awaken the spirit of God in others that the Bible teaches us to love those who are in need.  Their message is a simple one and it is one of love.  They run a beautiful gospel outreach to the homeless in London.  It is known to its congregants as 'the Church Without Walls.'  I'm so fortunate to have their example in a moment like this.

In the community I grew up in, I gained a distinctly negative view of Christians as those who wish to exert their viewpoints on others in a spirit most un-Christian.  There is a decidely anti-Christian sentiment out there kept alive and stoked by a few very outspoken misguided souls.  They give cause for too many of us to disparage a group of people around the world who commit great acts of compassion as general course.

And too many wish for us all to worship at the altar of reason and evolution when there are people who need some more immediate help.  In Romania I met a missionary whose later espoused hatred for Muslims and Gays did not detract for me the power of his message to one very poor little girl: He had her stand up.  He directed his finger at her and told her: 'God loves YOU.'  I can't imagine the dark tunnel that girl's life may be.  But I pray she remembered that man's words.  That love cannot be taken away.  Caprice, a gentle woman who preached the Gospel in Ocna Mures before it was acceptable, told me when they first arrived a Gypsy told her: 'We didn't know that God loved us.'   

Put his political opinions aside, the mans' message of love wasn't some watered down nothing.  He gave that little girl a candle that doesn't go out.  She is loved.  Who will relate that message?  Be it Christian, Muslim, Jew, secularist, non believer, coach, what have you.  I don't care what your beliefs are if you are showing love in your actions for the person in front of you.  The light that doesn't go out.  As the great Gay, Harvey Milk said: 'You gotta give 'em hope.'

I don't want to stay in Mozambique.  I don't want to make this my life.  I get older but these other volunteers stay the same age.  I love it here.  I am happy in my work.  But I have also been doing this five years.  I miss friends and family.  I miss seeing my nephew grow up.  I miss being part of a culture I feel a part of.

But tomorrow I'm seeing if I can't extend if it would mean I can find a church here to help the homeless.   

For more info on Ed and Karen's organization visit:  There you'll find many stories about the orphanage that I frequented in Ocna Mures: the children there, and the miracles the church has enacted in restoring these children to themselves.

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