Here's an email I wrote this week:
Dear family and friends,
I hope this letter finds you healthy and thriving. I am always happy to receive the many letters I get from you and I appreciate them all. Last month I got many encouraging letters from people I admire greatly. It's no secret that life is busy in the States, so thank you for your time. It is a joy to know you.
What a funny three-letter word that is. Joy. It's one of those words that are so important and yet often easy to forget. Maybe this month more than previous months I've let that slip. I’ve found myself more distracted than usual. Between breaking my computer, losing my cellphone, getting ready to move to a new house, and completing a two-day saddle-sore motorcycle trip from Beira to Tete, I’ve had a hard time settling down to focus. February this year it seems for me, was like the Battle Hymn, terrible and swift.
In Mozambique, I suspect that life is busy for everyone near the end of the rainy season. The corn and the millet tower overhead in the fields and for many Mozambicans the harvest is on. There is so much work that often subsistence farmers here to keep up choose to sleep in their fields. The cereal harvest is their most important campaign of the year and will determine greatly the hunger in this nation. Now is their time to gather and store and plan for the long dry season.
The Christian Council of Mozambique has been busy too. Many of my colleagues have just returned from a trip to Kenya where they exchanged information about dams with similar organizations from across Africa. CCM also just wrapped up their national conference in Beira, planning the next year of work in all ten provinces. Right now, CCM in Tete is in the middle of constructing three dams. The team is trying a lot of new ideas from their observations in Kenya. There are big plans on the way and the work seems a little daunting.
Melinda Gates spoke last year comparing the work of non-governmental organizations to that of Coca-Cola. She asked why it is that Coke is successful everywhere, even deep into rural Africa, in the very areas where NGOs struggle to provide clean water, cure AIDs, or reduce poverty. She said it was partly because Coke advertised joy and hope and celebration. Remember that song Waving Flag which was performed for the World Cup by a singer from Somalia? It's played everywhere here in Moz. Did you know it was produced by Coke? I love that song because it's full of hope.
There is something about joy that we tend to want to underrate it. We are often afraid that it'll come off as saccharine and insincere. If there is something to learn from Coke, maybe I should spend more time rejoicing, especially since it is true and right here. If there is a lot of work here, there is also much more to celebrate. The work that CCM does is life changing and life giving, yet I often forget this from day to day. It was a joy to see CCM's renewed attitude and
commitment to the ideas of community ownership and sustainable development. There are many things to be thankful for in this rainy season, not the least of which is the food to be harvested. And too, it is a privilege for me to be working here in Mozambique.
The book of Phillipians in Scripture, they say, is the book of joy. In it, Paul reminds us 'whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things.' Herman Melville once wrote in Moby Dick that 'meditation and water are wedded forever.' So it is I think about these things. I couldn't be here without you. Thank you again.