I arrived in Pemba, Mozambique on Thursday, December 2, and was greeted by Sergio and his fiancée Zita. It was wonderful to give (and receive) a big hug from him after not seeing him for 5 years. Just seeing his face made the challenging journey all worth it.
We went directly from the airport to Sergio’s house where Zita’s family and Sergio’s family were gathered for dinner. It was warmly familiar to see the same dirt roads leading to his house, exemplary 4-while drive dirt road with just the right degree of fine dry dust to work its way into the engine, gas, and bearings on even the best of cars.
At Sergio’s house, we ate dinner, with everyone sitting around in a circle. It was dark and somewhat formal as the two disparate families came together. Sergio’s somewhat Christian family with Zita’s somewhat Muslim family. Sergio spoke and offered greetings. He then proceeded to introduce me and the impact that Elisabeth and I have had on his life over the years starting with when we met him in 1997 when he was one of the children at the Machava children’s center where we worked in Maputo, Mozambique. He talked about our role in both his education and the personal impact we have made. I was honored. After he spoke, I pointed out that, Sergio was the real hearo as he took the little that we did and amplified it, improving hundreds of lives over the years, whether fellow street children and orphans, family, and neighbors.
After dinner, Sergio and I went back to his house and crashed, waking up the next morning at 5 AM to start errands in preparation for the wedding. I was Sergio’s chauffer, and this was great as it provided a time to hang out and catch up. We visited many of Sergio’s properties and businesses and he updated me on all his entrepreneurial ventures. I was especially intrigued by the progress he has made on the well-digging business and how he is cobbling together a bigger drill. He is quite the successful entrepreneur. In addition, we went to check on the wedding venue several times. It is a beautiful setting located at a university associated built by Iris Ministries (the organization Elisabeth and I worked within ’97-’98) and on a gorgeous beach.
There was a myriad of decisions to make of which everybody had their own opinion. I spent the day reminding Sergio that Zita was the most important person, and we should do whatever Zita wanted. Tradition, family opinions, and social norms be dammed. I kept having to repeat the guidance. 😊
In the evening we went back to the house where some of Sergio and Zita’s family are staying for dinner. We hung out until late and then some close family of Zita’s surprise announced they were coming into town for the wedding after all. Several of Zita’s family indicated they weren’t coming because it wasn’t a Muslim wedding but in the end, they came anyway. Having this particular aunt really made Zita happy even though it meant we were all up waiting for them until 1 AM the night before the wedding. I thought this was unfortunate, but seeing Zita’s joy reminded me of my own advice – Zita is the most important person for the wedding and all that matters is that she is happy.
In the morning we ran a few more errands, getting the wedding car washed and decorated, haircuts, and final odds and ends. (By the way, they seemingly didn’t wash any of the hair-cutting paraphernalia between clients from what I could tell.)
Sergio and I went back to his house (where we were staying) around 1 PM to get dressed. He was getting a little nervous.