When Edie and I arrived in Mozambique to launch the Tonga Project, we were anxious to convert our short-term visas into ones that would allow us to stay longer than a few weeks. In the past, this would have been an easy process. Unfortunately, we were unable to get the Mozambique residency visas we had hoped for. Under Mozambique’s new policy, we were required to return temporarily to the USA and submit a stack of notarized paperwork in order to apply for a Mozambique work visa that will allow us to stay long-term. At the time of this writing in June 2019, we are still waiting for the work visas to arrive.
We are thankful we were able to rent a car and visit the area of the Tonga before we returned to the States. We stayed three nights in the city of Inhambane where we plan to live. We hoped to discover how to live among the Tonga. Where do we buy food? How do we get around the city? Is there a house we can rent? Is there a nearby Seventh-day Adventist Church? We prayed for God to give us wisdom and guidance during our short visit.
At our hotel, we asked where we could find a grocery store. We were pointed down a narrow potholed street to the one and only supermarket in the whole city of Inhambane. As we pushed open the front door, we found everything in disorder. Cartons of food were heaped into piles on the floor. Other packages of food were thrown randomly into woven baskets. All but five of the isles were empty, and the shelving was pulled apart. None of the main freezers or refrigerators were in operation. After much searching we found sliced cheese in the drink refrigerator at the front of the store, crackers in one of the heaps and chips in one of the baskets. We walked out of the supermarket discouraged. We had not expected things to be so run down in the capital city of the province. Where did the thousands of people around us go to get their food?
Back at the hotel, Edie asked the employees where they buy groceries. They told us that the city of Maxixe (pronounced “Ma-she-she”), across the bay from Inhambane, has bigger and better stores. It was rumored that even refrigerators and stoves could be found there. Determining to go and see for ourselves, we boarded the ferry and crossed the bay.
The city of Maxixe is definitely larger than Inhambane. We were pleasantly surprised by how much commerce was taking place on the sidewalks. We were obliged to weave around piles of avocados, tangerines, oranges, cassava, cashews, Portuguese buns, used clothing, shoes and even construction materials. We got a few tangerines and asked the merchant for directions to the supermarket.
When we arrived at the supermarket, we were relieved to see that it was large and orderly with a wide variety of products. There was even a second floor with furniture and electronics. Down the street we found a store full of kitchen appliances and other household goods. We returned to the ferry with light hearts, encouraged that we could find the groceries and goods we would need when we returned to Mozambique.
Please pray that we receive our visas soon so we can begin our ministry among the Tonga people.