I made my way through the narrow passage way and it was a very warm day and underneath the low roof it was hot and there was a hustle about the place because everybody seemed to need something to buy. I did not feel unsafe and when I entered the small quad the sun blinded my eyes because the market tunnels and passages are quite dark. I found the rest of the crew at a little café where they all drank cold cokes and ate Portuguese rolls.
On this specific day we decided to visit the local market where most of the people that live in Chimoio come to buy their weekly/monthly goods. I took a seat and we all enjoyed the vibrant market very much. I looked at the crew and thought back to our first day in Mozambique.
Natural Msasa and Panga-panga forests stretched as far as the eye could see and there were rocky hills that lay scattered over the horizon like big cobblestones and they were round and they stood tall. Underneath us lay a seemingly sustainable utopia of stories with a strong and courageous backbone. We felt it as we stood there and took in the sights. There were 21 of us and we travelled 3500 km to get there, to that specific hill. We were in Northern Mozambique and we had questions that needed to be answered because we were still young.
From Stellenbosch we flew to Johannesburg and then took a 31-hour bus drive through Mozambique to Chimoio, which is in the Manica Province, 50km from the border Zimbabwe. We visited Francois and Alta Rauch, transformational engineers with a good understanding of the relationship between courage and grace. They have been there for 17 years and started the ASAM base, that we were privileged enough to go and visit. When they first moved to Mozambique 17 years ago they lived in a 2-man tent, had brown-onion soup for a year and they did not know anybody. They did not even have toilets. They had a bath however, which they tied to the roof of their car when the time came for their adventure to begin. Must have been quite something. One thing they knew was that they needed to live out some of the questions in their heart regarding this place.
Currently, they have 15 buildings to accommodate all their projects and they have almost 18 000 people involved with them on a permanent bases, not to mention the additional 90 000 people that flow out of the projects they started. They started schools, orphanages, social benefit projects for men and women as well as churches. Mercy Air also built a hanger and runway to use the ASAM base as an HQ for their missions. Now, they have almost 20 toilets and showers. And they actually work.
“To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.” – Steere. This is exactly what they did. Don’t just do something. Stand there. And when the time came for them to do something, they did.
Before we left Stellenbosch we kitted ourselves with a journal and pen and we travelled as light as we could. ‘An Unravelling Exploration’ guided this vocational expedition with Stellenbosch Congregation. We wanted to understand what makes us who we are, within our own context of distinguishing between a job, career, occupation and calling. ‘What makes you, you?’ A question we asked ourselves at night around the fire. We were gracefully welcomed into the culture and experienced a submersion into ‘who’ we are, as the people from the Manica Province showed us how to open up to courage within ourselves to change the way we perceive grace. We called this invocation. Brian McLaren has this to say about invocation: “Through invocation, we are calling inward to our souls, summoning ourselves to wake up, so we can attend to the presence in whose attention we are held and in whom we live, move and have our being.”
Hemingway once said that courage is grace under pressure. He also had distinct criteria for what he considered to be heroic behavior. These set of traits included grace under pressure, self-control, self-containment, courage, and personal honour. In pursuit of one’s personal honour you will face obstacles that will test if what you believe is actually true and real for you to apply in your life. Deep in Mozambique, we tried to make sense of our personal honour, what we aspire for in life and how on earth we are going to get there. If you want to change the world you live in you must start by changing your living culture, your day to day. Personal honour means that you must love your story with all that you have. Is it possible to be happy in this life? Are you happy with your story?
One morning Francois woke up to a baby that was left on his porch. The mother could obviously not care for the child and so during the very early morning hours she decided to leave the child in front of his door.
Francois and Alta went in search of a courageous and powerful story that would forever change that little child’s life. He heard about a widow that lost her leg when she stepped on a land mine during the civil war and now dragging herself through her vegetable garden to carefully plant her vegetable seeds during the day she shows courage by caring for the people around her- also showing grace in the presence of a difficult situation. Francois and Alta also heard about the woman who had leprosy whom lived alone and was very much regarded as an outsider by the community, but whom desperately needed love and attention as well. Then, they started an orphanage where the two women can care for the orphans and in return, give these children a chance to love and be loved and cared for.
“All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing.” I hope that in pursuit of our personal honor we can love our own story with such vigor that it is possible for us to believe that we can live the full life of our mind, exhilarated by new ideas and intoxicated by the romance for the unusual.
We finished our cokes and made our way back to the base where we made a big fire and listened to the beat of the drums in the distance and we watched the moon as it lit up a new perspective on courage and grace within our own dark continent.