Look at the flamingos of the air

[an excerpt from Elizabeth’s journal]

We had not even been in Maxixe for two weeks.  The drive up from Maputo was long and hot.  It was after dark when we arrived in Maxixie.  The street we came in on was very dirty and crowded.  Our house was not far off of that street.  The first thing I noticed was an amazing smell….a flower planted in our “yard” that only blooms at night.  Then we walked into our nearly empty house.  The house had been rented-out fully furnished previously, but since we had children, someone thought it would be best if we purchased everything new.  I’ve never had all new in my life….but whatever.  We were graciously given a few borrowed mattresses, plates, and cutlery. Our hosts prepared a meal for us to share in our new house.  We met people that we had been hearing about and emailing with for dinner and fell into bed, exhausted.

The next day, we set out to furnish our house.  There are a few small “lojas” or stores in Maxixe that sell appliances and mattresses.  The stores we went to maybe had two or three options for a stove…we opted for the one with electric and propane burners so that we would be prepared for electricity outages.  Then we went to all of the stores again to find the propane tank, hose and connections for the propane tank.  Sincerely, this took all day as no single store had all of the parts we needed.  Progress….we could make coffee the next morning.  Thankfully, we brought one pot in our carry on so we could heat water. 

The next day, we made more progress.  We found a refrigerator and mattresses!  In Louisiana I would have spent hours looking at product reviews and considering if we would want a firm or pillow-top mattress.  Perhaps I would have waited for a 4th of July sale.  In Maxixe, this was not the case.  The options were springs or foam….box spring or no box spring.     

I quickly realized that there were no typical furniture stores.  Luckily, I saw wicker furniture made on the side of the road where I ordered a few chairs and a couch.  My new Mozambican friend talked the maker into throwing a coffee table in for free!   If we wanted a headboard or a bookshelf or dinner table or even a couch, someone would have to make it.  There were even less options for purchasing things I considered to be basic such as a bath mat or white towels.  The options available involved purchasing second hand linens from a constant yard sale on that busy street we came in on the first night.  I am all for a garage sale, but…  I had thought of myself as low maintenance until this very moment. 

I found myself stressing out over these material “needs.”  I needed a tub stopper, curtains, white flour, a rug, sunscreen, and a hat to keep this winter sun off of my face…..and I needed all of our boxes to ship from the USA so we could have more than one pot in which to cook! I went to bed that night feeling very selfish.  I spent all of this time and energy thinking about material things when there were people so close to me surviving on next to nothing.  I was ashamed of my desire to make my family and myself comfortable.  Then I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth….Be anxious for nothing…Look at the birds of the air; your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value?...But seek first the Kingdom of God.” 

The very next day, my children brought me their devotional, which referenced the same scripture.  Even today, the New Testament reading from“Common Prayer” was from Matthew 6. (The birds in our air happen to be pink flamingos.)  Our Lord has been persistent with this message for me.  And such a good lesson in patience and trust it has been!  Of course, we can live without curtains….but what a sign of God’s provisions when I find just the ones in my mind from a lady on the road!  (Perhaps I’ll find the rods to hang them on next week.)  Of course, my kids don’t need Playdoh and finger paint, but what a sign of one christian’s care for another when a friend in Maputo sends some up for our girls as a surprise.  Of course, I don’t need a pool to sit by, but what a nice oasis to remind me that we are to rest…and it feels a bit like “normal life” as Eva calls it.  Also, finding craftsmen to make our household furniture has offered opportunities to build relationships and support fellow Christians that simply would not happen from a simple transaction at a store. 

There is so little that feels “normal” these days, but we are settling in.  I have had the great blessings of being able to see God’s provisions everyday.  This Master Planner has repeatedly shown me that God has gone before us and God hears our prayers.  God has put just the right people in our path at just the right time and has given me confirmation that this is the place God wants us right now.