Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Faith 'n' Bugs

Yesterday was a good day. I went to church with Ofalia, a neighbor of mine, her son Sameul (2) and another neighbor, Angela (8). The church was a typical mud hut that is very common around here. It is small, has one window, and two doors. Not too much ventilation inside of it for the 60 or so people who grew to fill it. And oddly, right when the singing and dancing started up, they CLOSED the doors =/ Air? Not much! But, the music being made, by the two drums and the voices of the congregation were so beautiful that no amount of sweat could have distracted me. It was truly music to my ears, in the most wonderful sense of that saying. When I was in there I thought, these folks get it. It's not about the building, the decorations, the equipment, your clothes, how many bible studies you've led, or how many passages you memorize. Faith is simple. Or at least, it should be. Faith is singing and dancing because you know that you are Beloved and you know that your neighbor is as well. Faith is recognizing the Divine and the Divinity in each and every individual. Why must we so often complicate everything? Stop focusing on WHAT we call God. Stop aruging about everything there is to argue about and let LOVE.

Ok, tangent over =) They had Ofalia, my friend I came with, introduce me to the church. She did and then came my turn to speak. Surprisingly, they all somehow understood my Portuguese. I told them my name and that I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer from the United States of America working as a Community Health Volunteer at Save the Children. The reaction I got lit up my face and still makes me smile! Hallelujahs and Amens and Xena the Warrior Princess' type cries filled the air. People in the room were unfamiliar with Peace Corps, since I'm the first Volunteer at this particular site, but they know Save the Children well and obviously appreciate the work they do in Morrambala. After the cheers were over, I took my seat back on the wooden bench. Soon after they were collecting offering, and I saw very poor people going up to the front, giving. Though what they gave might appear small, I realized how large a sum it actually is for most. And of course, being me, I forgot to bring my bag, thus I had no money, not even ONE met (which = LESS than 1 penny! And ps. you CAN buy food for ONE met.) Well, during the offering many people went to the front to give one or two mets. I sat and quietly took it all in. And then a man came up to me. He smiled and handed me 1 met. He motioned for me to go up to the front to offer this piece. He included me. It was a small act, but it showed so much beauty.

3 hours later from the time it began, goodbyes started. Every single person was greeted and wished blessings with a hand shake. I felt so welcome by this church, by these people. Though I'd only been there one time, I felt connected. It was a good morning! =)

Ok, now if I may, I would like to jump to last night. Let me paint the picture. I'm laying in my bed, under my mosquito net, feeling so glee that the bugs can't reach me in there. Then, I hear...a noise...from up above...on my tin roof. Incase you are unaware, let me rewind to the night where I became easily jumpy thereafter.

Over a week ago now, my friend Zach's brand new MAC laptop was stolen out of my bedroom during the wee hours of the morning. The robber cut through the mosquito netting on the window, opened the latch, then the window. He slipped his arm in through the grates ever so quietly, reached inside and grabbed the silver prize, which was where it never should have been in the first place, by the window, a very tempting place for all robbers around here. All of this was occuring about 4 feet from where I lay...SLEEPING!! =/ That experience scared me enough to get a dog, who is actually a small child locked in a puppy I've named Bobom not much of the ferocious, scary type of canine I was hoping for. I also decided to pay to get better grates installed on all my windows, harder for someone to reach in their arm, even a hand. Ok, house = more secure. BUT I hear this noise on my tin roof get louder and LOUDER. My first thought is...someone is ON my roof. Then, No, it'd be much louder if it were a person. But what IS it then?

Note: I have two lights that I turn on every night, one in the front of the house and one in the back. The lights are supposed to help keep robbers away. Well, thankfully it has been raining here, but the downside (besides the fact that the downpour continues INSIDE my house =( ) are the bugs that come with the rain. First, the mosquitos come and God only knows how much I loathe them! But, these OTHER bugs, apparently there is no name for them in Portuguese, but I was told that in Sienna, the local dialect they are called SIEENA WORD FOR BUG. I also learned the other day that peop le eat these bugs, a snack, similarly to the way you'd pop some trail mix in your mouth =) nice and crunchy! I will try it...and let you know how tasty they are! These bugs ONLY and ALWAYS come after the rain and they have a love obsession with all lights, particularly the lights around MY house. They must be blind, so they see this bright light, and they must get to it.....they gravitate to the light like people gravitate towards turkey on Thanksgiving. That noise grows louder...what is it? What do I do?

I get out from under the safety of my bug trap around my bed, tip toe to the front window, and move the curtain just enough to peak outside. In the darkness of night, with the only visible light being the one in front of my house, a cloud of white, moving back and forth is so large that I can't believe my eyes. Can it be? I squint my eyes to make the view more clear. Thousands of these bugs are swarming my house. I go to the back window and there too peak out. There are so many of these bugs here too that I can't see anything else. The noise that frightened me, was in all actuality thousands of bugs flying around, on, into my house. =/ Gross! These bugs are so strange! Their wings fall off and their bodies completly disappear, no joke. I decided to turn off the outdoor lights, hoping that they would leave in search of new light. As I had guessed these dumb bugs must have been so confused...the clatter grew quieter, till it was just a whisper. Smiling, I crawled back into my net, thinking I'd outsmarted them! =)

The next morning when I opend the doors, leaving the grates with the net still closed of course - I wasn't too surprised to see their leftovers. Thousands upon thousands of WINGS decorated my yard. Where did their bodies go? Who knows-it truly is a mystery. But my yard nonetheless did become their tombstone (note the picture!)

On the topic of bugs, would you say I've adjusted to life here if I've come to accept the bugs accompany my oatmeal every morning? Daily I pour the oats, add some honey and water and little, dead bugs float around. I still have to eait it though. I think if I didn't eat food that didn't have at least some bugs in it, I wouldn't eat at all. It is extra protein right?! Life in M'bala, Zambezia, Mozambique-it's quite the love/hate relationship. Reminds me of Katie Perrie's song "Hot n Cold" yup, that is how I feel about being here...=) Until next time

Love the bug killer,


* Brianna * said...

I love reading your blog! ... Thanks for writing - I miss you and I'm thinking about you always! You're amazing and the sacrifices you've made show that! <3 You!

Katie Koz said...

you are SO FUNNY. i love reading your blog! I'm glad it's you not me there - I think I would have died if bugs were swarming my house. AH! And you eat them. Manda, you are officially an Amazon woman. haha.
Also, on a deeper note - I love how beloved Save the Children is! It means so much to know that you're working with an organization that makes a difference enough for the locals to love it not hate it.
keep fighting, love!

Anonymous said...

Hey lovely. I have been thinking a lot about you lately. We both shaved our heads in the past month or so. kinda funny experience huh? I read your last few blogs. I know things are hard but sounds like you are discovering some of the joys of living there which are much greater than visiting. ...but I am glad you are pressing on. I remember Uganda... the bugs, the no running water or electricity, the always speaking a different language, the always being stared at because you are white, the loneliness. I hope God restores you. To encourage you, I wanna let you know I am in a state of waiting, and it is really hard to be in the US wanting to be abroad serving. I don't know when I am leaving for India, but I am so ready and excited and... still no date set. So I'm a little envious that you are out there, doing, or being, or whatever. At the same time, I resonate with wanting to be the place you are not. I don't think that ever changes unless we learn to be. So we are both learning to Sit i suppose. I love you so much and hope you are doing well. Write me some time at

melissa dorman