Mozambique: The Unforgettables

In terms of people, stories, and experiences, there are some which were especially significant that I’d like to share with you.

Always at the front of my mind is Elita. It’s funny, her name comes from the word “elite,” which comes from the French word “eliré,” meaning “to choose” (I just checked it out on a hunch). She couldn’t have been farther from elite, but she definitely was chosen. I met her on my second trip to pray at the hospital…

“I entered the room full of women sitting in their beds and was immediately drawn to one of them, a woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties and had her hair up in beautiful corn rows swirled around her head. But it was her eyes that caught my attention. So sorrowful and resigned, like she’d given up and couldn’t bear to be disappointed by hope even one more time. Despair and stoicism were etched in her eyes and I went over to pray with her, Courtney following soon after. Her name was Elita, she had three boys at home, her husband had died, and she herself had already been in the hospital for five months and was dying of AIDS. I had already been given a huge compassion for her, and when I heard she had AIDS my heart broke completely. I began crying and praying like I have never prayed in my life. Soon I was weeping uncontrollably like it wasn’t even me but the Spirit of God over me and I cried out to God for peace and healing for beautiful Elita. I wept as if she were my own blood sister. I prayed by the blood of Jesus, blood so clean it can cleanse us from the inside out, something that especially hit me as I thought of her own blood which was her death sentence. I sang and wept and prayed some more. And when we finished, I followed Courtney in embracing her and saying what I too had felt so strongly, that she was my sister. My sister. And I kissed her head where before I had loving stroked her hair. She also cried as we prayed and it was evident that she’d been deeply touched by our heartfelt care for her. She asked what church we were from and said she’d visit it if and when she was well enough to leave the hospital. A couple times she had to turn and spit up into a bucket that also apparently served as a toilet, as the smell was so atrocious you couldn’t breathe out of your nose for a second. But it wasn’t even an issue when I was praying as I didn’t have any distractions at all then. We promised her we’d continue praying for her, and she was so appreciative and obviously blessed by what had transpired there. Oh, but my heart was broken and has still not recovered. . .

“I think God was preparing my heart and mind before I went in the women’s room because as I sat on the bench waiting to go in, I found myself asking the “Why?” question. Why is there such suffering? Why do babies get cancer? (We were on the oncology floor.) And my heart was stirred with compassion for hurting people and I wanted to provide them with prayers and with a heart that would give them space to ask those questions, space to lament, space to be COMFORTED. . .Praying with Elita opened my heart and connected it with another’s and with the Spirit in a way that’s never happened before.”

From just moments afterward until now, I have been reflecting on that experience. I remember sitting down right after I prayed with Elita and feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. It was the first time I experienced prayer as hard work. But what a satisfying and glorious feeling it was! I want to live from that place more and more. So that’s the story of when my heart broke, which accomplished one of my hopes for the trip, which was that my heart would be broken with the things that break the heart of God. Now I know—not just in my head but with my heart—that God’s heart breaks for AIDS patients, for those who are lonely, for those in despair, for those who feel hopeless, for those who endure with misery and stoicism the burdens Christ already died to take from them. And so you see, Elita was far from elite. But she was definitely chosen, for God was thinking specifically of her when he led two young women from opposite sides of the world to fly to Mozambique, sign up for hospital ministry on a certain Sunday afternoon, visit her room, and gravitate to her bedside where God had planned all along to love her through their prayers, tears, affection, and compassion which all came from Him. How deep the Father’s love for us!

Another “unforgettable” was my second street ministry experience. It was even more awesome than seeing the Milky Way that first night in the bush. A small group of us drove to a busy street in Maputo, the capital, where we parked our van and waited as a group of young guys and middle-aged men gathered in expectation of the weekly service and the bread they’d receive at its conclusion. After ten or fifteen minutes a group of 25 had formed and we began to worship. “We all stood in a circle and clapped, danced, raised our arms, and praised Jesus! It was amazing freedom and amazing joy. And it kept reminding me of my dear friend’s beloved Bible verse: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therein.’ It was like, ‘Yes! The earth IS the Lord’s! And all of Mauto, too! We can worship God anywhere!’ What a magnificent privilege it was to lift my white hands with their black hands and praise God right there on the sidewalk, undeterred by the sound of traffic or stares of passersby. The whole earth is the Lord’s!

There are many more powerful experiences I’d like to share, but they’ll have to wait for another entry. Here’s a few more pictures to satisfy you until then. Thanks for your patience!