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An Enforced Interlude on The Road From Mozambique to S. Africa

Category Articles
Date December 1, 2000

Charles Woodrow is an American surgeon who has been working for years in Mozambique and now is building a hospital. He also pastors a growing congregation in the vicinity of the church, and writes the following in a recent letter…

For the past few months I have felt God’s undertaking in an extraordinary way (for me) in some of the main messages, and I very much enjoy the Christocentric themes I have been using during our evangelistic services. I have always appreciated consecutive expository preaching in the churches I attended in the States and used to feel guilty when departing from consecutive exposition in our services, but I noticed that when preaching to the fledgling believers of Corinth, Paul said he endeavoured to know nothing but Christ, and Him crucified. That is what I felt our attenders needed a year ago as so many of them were unsaved, and I have much enjoyed giving them that. God has granted encouraging signs of spiritual awakening in several people the past year.

Living in Containers

Some months ago the Health Department asked us to vacate their apartment which we have used the past 11 years. Rather than move to a second house, and then move again to the property, we have fixed up three containers on the property for our provisional ‘gypsy’ dwelling. We finally moved out there this week, and are still trying to get re-organized and make adjustments to the new lifestyle. We appreciate the relative peacefulness compared to the nonstop noise of our apartment, and we exult in having running water and being able to take showers. The kids love being outdoors all day. Julie likes having a large kitchen, but the fact that it is outdoors is a problem as the flies and flying ants are terrible for the first few weeks of the rainy season. One container is our bedroom and it is screened and air conditioned, so there isn’t much wrong with that. One container is a huge closet with shelves for storing everything we used to have in the house. The third container is the office and indoor part of the kitchen, also screened. The outdoor kitchen, bathroom, and dining area has a thatch cover, but rain does blow in from the sides at times and I worry about the outdoor electrical sockets when the rain is pelting us. Julie is sceptical of the latrines which are African style hole-in-the-ground models, but the kids have accepted them as part of the fun. The dogs are thrilled the family is finally reunited, and the cats, turtle, crab, and other animals that lived in our apartment are also happy to be back in their native habitat. Yesterday we bought two turkeys, Mr Thanksgiving and Miss Christmas. Those are unusual birds here in Mozambique and we were glad we could snap them up when they became available. In our apartment we could not keep meat on the hoof for more than a day, but at the property it is no problem.

We had hoped to travel to South Africa in August to pick up supplies for the house and finish our preparations on the plans for the hospital. That trip was delayed for a month and we finally left the last few days of August and were gone a full month. A highly regarded architectural firm in Johannesburg has completed the full plans for the hospital except for a couple of matters which we believe are being finished off now. The trip to Johannesburg and back was almost uneventful, despite the fact that this time we were traveling as a family in the Land Rover and hiring a driver to drive the truck for us. We had more security traveling in a convoy as there would always be one vehicle to help if the other broke down in the bush, but we also doubled our odds of having vehicle problems that way.

The Hole in the Ferry

As it was, the only breakdown we suffered was to the very ferry that transports cars and trucks across the Zambezi river in the middle of Mozambique, or one might say, the middle of nowhere. The water level was far down as this was the end of an unusually dry dry season. Just hours before we got to the ferry, the ferry knocked a hole in its hull on one of the shallow boulders at the river’s edge. That left us with no way ahead. We were reluctant to turn back as we would have to drive a full day just to get to the next alternate route, which itself would have taken us two more days out of the way. So we camped out at the river even though we had not brought food or water for such an event. Because breakdowns at the ferry are not infrequent, the mud hut bars that had been erected there in the middle of the bush had good stocks of mineral water. Once a day a vehicle arrived with bread. So we lived off bread and water for two days while sweating in the tropical heat without a tree in site until the damaged panel could be replaced.

The time in Johannesburg had been non-stop work for me, as I was eager to get back to Nampula and finish out the house before the rains began, so the two day delay at the border was a wonderful family time for us. During those two days we read aloud the biography of John G. Paton (Banner of Truth), a remarkable and godly missionary of the 19th century, whose life and affairs is a benchmark for helping the rest of us put our trivial and often selfish concerns into proper perspective. I thank God for working the delay into the plan.

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