[Source: Sheenagh Burrell]
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A flight delay on the flight from Johannesburg to Maputo meant the planned afternoon meeting with Bishop Carlos was cut short as he was flying to Beira for a weekend with national church leaders there. However it was good to meet Bishop Carlos in his new role and indeed the other new post holders in the diocese including Revd Sérgio Bambo, the new Diocesan Secretary, and Ivan Macie the new ALMA Link Officer. Maputo itself seemed even busier with much more building work going on and many cranes in evidence.
Very early on Saturday morning I saw more of this as Ivan and I left Maputo via the new, Chinese built coastal road which is part of a new ring road for the city. The section we travelled on was almost complete and we then joined the main N1 north-south road from it. This road takes one across the Limpopo River and through Xai Xai (where there is a large Anglican church which Hammersmith and Fulham Deanery Synod helped build).
We stopped at Zandemela to meet Archdeacon Agostinho Buque briefly and then met with several other clergy in Zandemela, including Fr Rogerio from St Mark’s Matola, Fr Armando Miguel from Buquene who were attending a memorial service for Fr Luis Zandemela’s father. It was my first visit there so very good to meet people including Luis’s sister who is part of the congregation in Matola that emeritus Bishop Dinis is looking after.
Fr Armando travelled with Ivan and me to Magumeto, along the very narrow track with much overhanging vegetation, to see the completed ALMA’s Children nursery and water project.
It was a delight to see the solar panels installed, water flowing from the three taps that Archdeacon Rachel had blessed in March 2014 and to see that the addition of a leisure battery mean the solar panels could, in addition to powering the borehole, assist the community by providing a mobile phone charging station! Since 2014 work had also started on building toilets for the nursery with water coming from the tanks.
Despite it being a Saturday many of the nursery children had gathered with their teachers to recite and sing for us. Their grasp of the alphabet, vowels, numbers and their songs were most impressive – video clips available! This visit also enabled Fr Armando to meet with his Catechist while we ate a meal the community had organised.
After returning to the main road and dropping off Fr Armando we went to Nhamavila, recently twinned with St Paul’s Knightsbridge. Fr Alfredo, his wife Alzina, church wardens and catechists were there to greet us and show us their community dominated by the large school. The church is the mother church of several satellite churches – beautifully depicted in Alfredo’s diagram, some still without roofs since the hurricane that affected the region, including Maciene, so badly three years ago. We toured the site, visiting the church, the school including the classrooms under construction to enable students to study up to grade xx, meeting: the head teacher and admiring his rainwater harvesting systems; the widow of Archdeacon Muianga who I had met previously, and also Joanna who runs the small health post. Preparations for the next day – Children’s Sunday were visible. Several large trees were sheltering well established cuttings of a variety of trees for the children to take home, plant and nurture. It seemed very appropriate with the focus on climate change this month and in the run up to the Paris conference. We had afternoon tea at Fr Alfredo’s home meeting two of his three daughters, and his toddler son Alfredo. A warm welcome and the prospect of a fulfilling link relationship ahead.
Our final brief stop of the day was at Maciene where I met the new priest, Fr João Cruz Cumbe, saw one of the Sisters and also visited Ivan’s grandfather, learning that Ivan himself was from Maciene and had attended the school there for several years. Our journey back to Maputo was completely in the dark –the volume of traffic indicating how quickly Mozambique is changing.
Sunday morning worship, at 8am, was at Influene – a church plant from St Ciprian’s in a new expanding suburb of Maputo. It is a church with an inspiring story: the congregation decided the old church was too small and needed to build a new church to cater for the growing community. They have been doing this over the last few years on Sundays with the men working as the women prayed and vice versa. Without outside assistance they have built their church up to roof height entirely by their own fundraising and brick laying. Happily an ALMA donor has been able to assist with the roof and I was able to worship with the congregation under this new roof.
Clearly there is a way to go before the building is completely finished but each first Sunday there is a second collection taken for the building work. It was announced, when I was there, that the floor would be the next major area to be tackled. Then it will be the doors and windows, the interior plastering and painting. Emeritus Bishop Paulino (former Bishop of Niassa) led the service which also involved young musicians from St Bernard Mizeki T3 church. After the service the children were treated to a party to mark Children’s Day.
The rest of my Sunday was spent with Emeritus Bishop Dinis, Lina at a family gathering, which included his great niece who had sung so beautifully at Influene that morning. On arrival I was greeted by a familiar face on national television in his newest incarnation: ‘Vida Plena’ (Life in all its fullness) – an interview programme with viewers questions put to Bishop Dinis by an interviewer and with follow up by email.
Monday, my final day in Maputo, began at a strangely muted Diocesan Centre, as preparations were underway at St Ciprien’s for the funeral of a 17 year old later that morning. The young man was the son of Fr Germano Manlate, the former priest of St George’s Beira who died in December 2013. Our thoughts were very much with the bereaved mother and the other family members. Fr Germano was known to many in London who will mourn along the family. It was hard to leave and follow our schedule for the day.
St Barnabas Bagamoyo (twinned with St John’s Greenhill, Harrow) had newly painted exterior walls and the nursery children were in fine voice. The nursery co-ordinator lives on site and also manages the water project there (the church has a borehole, originally funded by Harrow, to which it allows neighbours access in exchange for a financial contribution which goes towards the mission of the church – including church planting). Fr Juan Ramirez showed us around and came with us to two St Barnabas church plants.
Santa Monica Malhazine (twinned with St Paul’s Bow Common) is a growing church led by the Catechist Carmona. Since my last visit the old church adjacent to the new church has been knocked down and a substantial concrete slab laid to build a pastoral or priest’s house which could enable Santa Monica’s to become a parish in its own right. There is much enthusiasm for the well-drawn plans and great pride in the steps taken this far. Saint Barnabas have provided some bricks for the new building and Santa Monica a further stack! Several of the Mothers’ Union were present too and led us in worship together.
Magoanine is approached by some of the best block paved roads in Maputo. Ivan explained this was because it was a new area of the city opened up to rehouse people after the major floods of 2000. By the time we approached the church /nursery site the road had reverted to sand and even the 4x4 got firmly stuck trying to turn a corner. Neighbours were very helpful in digging us out and pushing! We had to take a different route to get to the site. This project is a London Lent Appeal project that has unfortunately stalled since the untimely death of Fr Juliao Mutemba in 2013. There is an old straw church on the site and the partially completed exterior walls of the nursery building. This was a missional project to reach out to and serve the community and was intended to precede the building of a new church (although footings of the church have also been laid). To improve security the congregation has built a substantial brick sacristy (for church property and building materials) which in the future will adjoin the new church.
On returning to central Maputo, Magoanine was one of the things discussed with Bishop Carlos who will also visit it shortly so we can together decide in how best to finish the project. He has been hugely busy travelling around his new diocese and visiting each parish/pastoral zone and in August will meet with all the Clergy for training and planning.
Bishop Carlos was delighted with the ALMA Tutudesks and thought Maciene School and the Rural Schools network in Pungue would be worthy recipients.