Spaghetti bolognaise is a welcome treat after rice and beans for the past ten days. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the menu at Zimpeto Iris base, but a change is relished. We had been invited to have dinner with Laura, one of the missionaries on the base. Along with the 3 of us was an Austrian who is currently a missionary in India and 2 Americans who are missionaries in Madagascar. An interesting bunch of people, to say the least. Conversation bounced between Mozambique, India and Madagascar. As food was served, conversation turned to the recent Xenophobic attacks in South Africa. I had been following the updates via the BBC and we had prayed for the victims at our church meeting the day before. Laura knew that the following day we were returning to South Africa and she asked us about our route. After we gave her the particulars she asked us what the latest was on the border between Mozambique and South Africa heading to Nelspruit. Little did we know, the border had been closed that day in retaliation to the Xenophobic attacks. In particular, the border had closed because of Mozambicans protesting and throwing rocks at vehicles with South African registered number plates.
This came as a shock as we had originally intended to cross that exact border that day and would have been amidst the chaos. Luckily we delayed by a day due to a mistake when we gave our next hosts dates and also Laura’s dinner invite. After a while, conversation moved on to other topics but my mind was pondering the border we had to negotiate the following day. Would the border be open? Would we encounter problems? Should we remove our number plates?
Another stream of thoughts were more focused on our film. Would this event prove to be a plot point in our film? If it does, then we need to shoot some footage. I hadn’t really shot much at Zimpeto as it wasn’t directly related to our topic. Now all of a sudden I needed some establishing content showing where we were and why. I need some content explaining the Xenophobic outbreak in South Africa and the effect it was having on our trip. You can’t just shoot random content and expect to put together a coherent story.
The following morning we got up early and got to work. I went to the local market to buy some breakfast supplies and took along a camera. On the way there and the way back I shot content around the orphanage of ordinary life on the base. When I got back, we set up cameras and shot 2 interviews / video diaries. Also when every conversation with other people about the situation came up I tried to get it on camera. We found out that the border had been reopened but there was going to be a protest that day in Maputo and it was advised that we avoid the center of town. We decided to play it safe and rather return to South Africa via a different border and first cross into Swaziland before crossing into South Africa.
Leaving the base was a mixed bag of emotions. We said goodbye to many of the missionaries that we had gotten to know. Our minds were on the day ahead and not on saying goodbye to people. This was highlighted when we were just about to ride through the gate and Alex, one of the boys we has built a relationship with, ran up to us. He asked with a sad look on his face whether we were leaving that day. I tried to reassure him that we would come back at some point but to be honest I wasn’t sure if that would be the case. We had been to Zimpeto once before but this time I felt like we had gotten to know a lot of the missionaries and orphans a lot better. It was sad to say goodbye to Alex.
In the end, the border crossings proved to be uneventful. We got stuck in traffic leaving Maputo, which seemed to take forever. We also had to ride further, because we were riding through Swaziland, which meant we got to Nelspruit after dark.
I feel through this incident that God was reminding me to not let anxiety prevent me from being present and valuing relationships.
Before I wrap up, I should summarize the past 2 weeks. We left Durban and connected with a couple that owns a pineapple farm near Hluhluwe. We had a great time there learning about pineapple farming and visiting the Hluhluwe game reserve. We’d especially like to thank our hosts, Stephanie and Mienie de Haas, for their gracious hospitality.
From there we crossed into Swaziland. Our first border crossing went well apart from a police lady knocking over Anneen’s bike when she wanted a photo on the bike. We were occupied with another police woman at the time. But Swaziland was beautiful.
The following day we entered Mozambique and went to Zimpeto Iris base, in Maputi. Mozambique was exciting as we definitely felt like we where in a foreign country. At Zimpeto, we spent time with the kids and did a few outreaches. We made friends with a young American family that is based in Beira in central Mozambique. We’re hoping to visit them later. I had the privilege of leading a young man to Christ who was working on the rubbish dumps on Maputo. We returned to the rubbish dumps the following week to see that he had connected with the church there!
After Maputo, we went to Nelspruit where we had a fantastic couple of days with our hosts, Adam and Melanie. Steady flow of coffee and good company! I also got my quad-copter in the air for the first time in a while. We got to meet Surprise Sithole who has some amazing stories.
From there we are heading to Zimbabwe. This morning we are heading from Tzaneen to Musina and crossing the border tomorrow.
There is really so much more I’d like to include in this post but it’s becoming too long. We’ll write again in 2 weeks time. Make sure you are following our progress via the map on the website and Facebook!