March 3, 2013

Yesterday was weird. Today was weird.

Here's what happened...

So yesterday, we were planning to make a new schedule for the school because we've gotten so many new teachers. This is the schedule that is supposed to be staying for the rest of the year, so it is really important. I didn't really know if it was going to happen or not considering all the false “making the schedule” days we've had. My colleague that was helping us called me and told me he'd be over at 9 to start working on the schedule. So obviously he didn't show up until 12. And he showed up with a bottle of whiskey. Apparently the first order of business was popping it open, but we had nothing to mix with said whiskey and I was NOT about to drink it straight up. Gag. So he went on a run to the market and bought himself 4 Manica's (in total 2 liters of beer) and bought Sarah and I each a coke. I was supposed to leave to help with the Catechist group at church at 2...yeah, so that didn't happen. Anyway, as I made the afternoon schedule, the afternoon annexed classroom's schedule, and the morning annexed classroom's schedule, my colleague worked on the morning schedule. He still hadn't finished when he left our house around 6.

After the Catechist group was done meeting (I felt really bad that I didn't go, it was just impossible when we had so much work to do on the schedule), my co-leader called me and told me he was going to stop by my house. When he got to my house, some of my students also happened to be walking by. I greeted them, and they started talking to me about church, and later about our class. I asked them if they're learning anything, and they promptly answered with, “Yes! We are learning so much! Are you coming with us to 12th grade?” So that was a booster for my confidence. We also talked about the fact that a lot of people here think that women are incapable of doing math, and I told them that I was proving them all wrong. They nodded in agreement. So yayyyy women who can do math! Power to the people! They told me studying math was very courageous, which I don't know if I necessarily agree with, but I didn't counter it. It was just a really good conversation. I felt bad making my Catechist counterpart wait, but I'm really happy I got the chance to talk to some students and get some feedback (and even happier that it was good feedback!).

Then I talked to my Catechist counterpart and broke the news to him that I'm actually going to be missing these Saturday sessions rather frequently. I told him that I really want to go when I can make it, but the weekends are the only times I can travel and see other volunteers. We also have conferences and other school functions on the weekends, so it really is just bad timing for me most of the time. He told me to just let him know if I'll be there or not and it's completely fine. I'm really glad I have such an understanding counterpart. He also told me that there was a mass and meeting after for Catechists at the other church the next morning. He gave me very shaky directions on where to meet someone to walk with me over to the church (which I'd never been to because it's the one on the other side of Messica that I for awhile didn't know existed). He told me to leave my house at 7:30 and start walking there.

So that's where the story from today starts. I did as he said, left my house at 7:30 and followed his directions. I had absolutely no idea where I was going – shocker – and called him when I got to the police station asking if I'd passed it. He told me that I must have passed it. So I started walking back the way I came from when I ran into some of my students that are also Catechists and asked them if they were going to the church that's “la”. They told me that they were, and told me I should walk with them. So I gave up on whoever I was supposed to meet, and decided it would be best to just go with someone who knew their way around Messica. We went down some crazy weird sand paths that I would NEVER be able to pick out again, and eventually (after about 20 minutes) got to the main road. We walked further along the main road, and then took another maze of sand paths until about 15 minutes later we got to the church. We got there around 8:30, so total walking time was about 1 hour. The church was a little smaller than the Catholic church on our side of Messica, but it was similarly set up. Upon arriving I realized that there was a priest there! And then I got really excited for my first real mass in Messica. :)

Mass was really good, besides not knowing what was going on half of the time because it was in Shona. I was a little disappointed that even the readings were in Shona, but I read them with my English bible, so at least I understood-ish the message from today. Mass was focused on the youth, and there were some teenage kids that actually acted out the Gospel (which was really cool) and they also did a really cool version of the Our Father when they sung part of it, and then a student would come in and preach a little bit about how we can apply the prayer to our lives. I was secretly super proud when one of my 11th grade students would participate in the parts for the I did something to inspire it even though that is definitely not the case. Anyway, at least 5 of my students were involved in the mass, which was really awesome. It was also just really awesome to witness the consecration of the Eucharist. When you see it every week, you kind of take it for granted, but I hadn't witnessed it since Christmas so it was a big deal for me.

After church, all the Catechists made their way to the health center that is run by the Brazilian nuns that live here in Messica. Our meeting started around 10. At around 12:30, I was done. I didn't know what was going on, and I was grasping approximately 0% of useful information being shared. To be honest, I don't even think there was very much useful information being shared anyway. I asked when we were going to be ending the meeting, and I was told at 1 o'clock. 1 o'clock came and went. Let me remind you, I left my house at 7:30. I had eaten a piece of bread with peanut butter on it before leaving my house. And after more than 4 hours of sitting not knowing what was going on and an hour walk, I was seriously so hungry. Then came the migraine due to hunger. At 2 o'clock, I'd had enough. There was another woman that was leaving to go to Chimoio, and I promptly followed her out of the meeting, and walked with her back to my house, arriving at 3pm. Welp, there went my Sunday.

From now on I think I'll stick with the church on my side of Messica. Oh also, random sidenote, I was asking the lady I was walking with home about the population of Messica, and first she said 2,000 (which is wayyyy too low) and then rethought it and said 20,000 (which seems like way too much). So I've come to the conclusion the population of Messica is somewhere between 2,000 and 20,000. That should clear it up for all inquiring minds out there. :)

Another week of teaching is coming up. I'm settling into my routine pretty well at this point. There are only three more weeks of new material, one week of review, and then provincial exams and the end of the trimester. Crazy!

This week, I'm going to try to find a Mozambican counterpart to help me start a music club at the school. There's a Peace Corps initiative in Mozambique called JUNTOS (Jovens Unidos No Trabalho para Opportunidades e Sucesso - Youth United in the Work for Opportunities and Success) which basically unites kids that are interested in similar extra-curricular activities and allows them to learn about something they like to do while also teaching them about other important and relevant issues in the community, within Mozambique, etc. So my goal is to form a music group since there is a lot of interest over here in music, and I also enjoy it. I've heard from a few different students that they like to write songs and want to write music in English, so that might be another aspect of the group. I would also like to help write songs in Portuguese, and learn some Shona. Overall, I'm really excited about the group, but my first step is to find a reliable Mozambican who will be able to help me organize performances within the community, and will ultimately want to keep the group going after I am back in the U.S. I'm praying that I can actually make this happen!