The stars are fading in the pre-dawn glow as we load our suitcases into the car. Looking toward the beach, we see moving pinpricks of light on the blackness of Inhambane Bay—small fishing sailboats beyond the sandbars. We can just make out the silhouettes of men and women casting nets. Others, only a couple hundred feet away, are digging clams from the sand flats exposed by the low tide. Groups of flamingos are wading in the shallow water, their long necks bent low, swinging their beaks back and forth. The air is cool and moist.
By sunrise, we hope to already be outside of Inhambane and near the main road. We have a seven-hour drive ahead of us to Maputo, the capital city. We are driving a rental car that needs to be returned later in the day.
The street is quiet but not deserted as we weave around potholes on our way out of the city. In our headlights we see the shapes of many people. Some are walking, and others are waiting at street corners beside the road. The only other vehicles on the road at this hour are buses picking up small groups in the semi-darkness. There are no painted lines on the road, and the morning is very foggy. We slow down, and our eyes search the road ahead for pedestrians. With our windshield wipers on high, we yearn for the light of the sunrise.
We rejoice as morning’s light brings clarity to our vision. Every 10 to 15 miles we pass through a small town. The Tonga people are up at the crack of dawn. Already the women are out sweeping the streets with large brooms. The small cement shops are painted with cell-phone advertisements. People are walking everywhere. The street vendors are open for business selling shoes with their laces tied together slung over low tree branches, packets of food spread out on blankets, and even mattresses stacked out in the sun and dust.
Mozambique seems to have a school in every town along the highway. For more than an hour we pass long lines of children walking along the road, coming from unseen settlements behind the trees. Some of the children, even as young as five or six years old, must have walked for several miles judging by how far from town we met them. None of them are accompanied by an adult. They smile and wave at us, looking smart in their colorful school uniforms.
In one of the towns we pass a farmer in his field walking behind his yoke of oxen guiding a plow through the soil. We wonder what he will plant. Maybe he is only removing weeds. Other men drive ox carts loaded with firewood to sell in the town market. One young man even has a donkey hitched to his wagon. It is fun to see the farmers at work using their animals. It seems that everyone wants to get their business done early before the sun gets too hot.
We wonder about the people we see going about their daily routines and doing their morning chores. Do they read their Bibles and pray to God before going outside? Do they know who Jesus is? Do they have hope of eternal life without pain and suffering? How many more mornings will it be until they know their Savior and Creator?