Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mozambique Email Update #6

Dear family and friends,

Thank you for taking the time to read these letters. I hope that this finds you all healthy and happy. I was reminded this month of a famous story from modern physics. The story goes Einstein was riding a bus to work one morning in Bern, Switzerland. The bus had driven by a clock tower when he began to think of time and speed and light. Specifically, he wondered how the clock would appear to him as the bus approached the speed of light. Einstein had later said “a storm broke in my mind” as the clock tower passed and in that moment he had the first inklings of the relativity of time. He theorized the next day that time changes depending on the speed at which you are moving. Time, it seems, is elastic.

I think I am experiencing such an elasticity of time. I don’t think it’s because my life is so fast here though, because I spend a lot of time in quiet reading. Life is really flying by though and a lot has changed since I last wrote you. In Tete the temperature now drops into the 70s at night and I may even start sleeping under my sheets, which is something I would have never guessed in back in September. On the motorcycle ride to work in the mornings the wind is actually cold. I have running showers in my house, but I went back to bucket showers because I can warm the water in the kettle that way.

Because we only have three construction managers, one flatbed truck, and enough form work for one dam CCM has been working on improving the efficiency of the process between dams. This is important because we want to honor the community’s time as well as stay on schedule. We’ve often discovered that there is a temptation to continue with work though earlier parts of the construction process haven’t been completed. This inevitably takes more time to go back and do right. Our project year ends with August and we are currently pouring our third of ten dams scheduled for completion. There is a lot of work to be done in the four months left.

On the community side, a leader from the village of Chigamanda waited for days at one of our dam sites to meet with CCM staff to request assistance with building a dam. That moment represents an important shift for us, because it means they will be our first community to initiate the project on their own. This act indicates that Chigamanda will likely have more motivation to construct the dam and maintain the dam into the future. We hope to have more communities such as this as news of our work spreads through the district.

In the book of Genesis, the universe that God created in the first six days was good, but on the seventh, the day itself was made holy. Time, not thing nor space, is first in the Bible to be consecrated holy by God. I think that the holiness of time demands that it be shared with others. Einstein’s description of time was maybe incomplete - it is elastic but it is also sacred. What makes my year in Mozambique special, more than the sights and the location, is that I get to share it with the people here. And the time you spend reading my letters and connecting to this country, too, is holy for me. It would be very lonely without you. Thank you again for sharing this experience with me.

Your brother,
Stephen Esaki