May 15, 2009

Happy (very belated) Mother's Day

For the fourth year running, a brief phone call had to suffice to wish my mom a happy Mother's Day in Mozambique. With the annoying 'speaking via satellite' delay and egregious price of international long distance calls, the conversation was typically short and not always to the point.

There once was a time when this wouldn’t have bothered me at all. My mother’s evangelism, if not shared, can be incredibly alienating in large doses. But surprisingly, after picking up and moving to Southern Africa to be at the centre of a worldwide Christian revival, her outward expressions of faith have moderated to a point where we can have a mostly rational discussion about our lives, God included. Clearly, our relationship has improved as a result.

On the phone last week, I actually would have loved to hear more about the work she’s been doing since returning to Pemba in March. Every year, she seems to take on a new role on her project – an outpost of Iris Ministries – and with each passing year she gets assigned to something that seems more ill-suited to her skill-set as a health care professional and evangelical missionary.

When I visited the project in 2007, she was designing the first phase of public health improvements to her ‘base’ – the centre where over 500 orphans, missionaries and students live and work on a daily basis. While she knew nothing about building latrines, her project management skills had the task completed on time and under budget. This landed her the unenviable position of being in charge of constructing an underground septic system for the entire base in 2008.

Though nominally related to public health and stopping the spread of cholera (which invades the base every rainy season), to see pictures of my mother in a hard-hat and steel-toed boots, standing proudly in front of what amounts to a massive concrete shithole, was illuminating.

And she was so good at rooting out corruption and eliminating waste in that project that, this year, they’ve put her in charge of the notoriously corrupt kitchen (though thinking back to my mom’s equally notorious cooking when I was growing up, it may also become infamous for the food).

But in all seriousness, this Mother’s Day I was happy just to have the opportunity to tell her that I’m incredibly proud and supportive of her mission – and that’s not something I’ve been able to say until recently. But I’ve seen the difference she’s made and how hard she’s worked to answer her calling. Whatever our theological differences, I’ll always admire her for that.

1 comment:

April said...

Your mom sounds like a woman with amazing drive and dedication.