Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Figs and Advent

Posted this on facebook, but I realize some people who may read this blog don't have facebook. So, here ya go.

How did a jar of fig jam help me reflect on Advent? Perhaps only my family will appreciate this, but here goes.

Recently I found for the first time in four years a jar of Fig Jam in the big store in Chimoio. When I brought it back to Amatongas I couldn't resist heating up some of our homemade rolls and eating the figs and hot bread. This may not seem like much to most of you, but I know my family will appreciate this for sure. You see, from my earliest days visiting my Grandma Sweeney (Ella) in Lake Charles one of the real pleasures in life was to sit at the counter breakfast table and be served up hot biscuits and homemade fig preserves, and no one made them like Grandma. As I was reflecting on this fact this week I had another realization and appreciation of Grandma. She was someone completely and sincerely selfless, a gentle and holy soul. She always, every minute, lived and worked to make you happy and full. To this day no one can duplicate her chicken gumbo, potato salad, fig preserves and many others, but I don't think it had anything to do with the recipe. It was all about her putting her whole self into what she was doing. Now, how does this relate to Advent you ask? I think it means everything. As we begin this period of waiting on the ultimate selfless example and gift of Jesus Christ into our lives, we must spend time in prayer and reflection on how we can become more selfless, recalling those in our lives who lived and live it everyday, people who are examples of the Heart of Christ in our lives, God with us now. Beyond her food, I remember as if it were yesterday, Grandma would tell me, "you know I pray for you everyday." I have no doubt she did and continues to do so in heaven.

Early Christmas Gift

Thanks to a generous donation in the memory of the mother and father of Br. Noel Lemmon, SC, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Louis Lemmon, Sr., we now have a new roof on the building we are renovating to one day use as a new dorm. The roof was installed in just two weeks and is made of only metal materials. The two big rooms could house around 50-60 new boarders. However, as you can see there's plenty of work left to do. New windows, doors, electricity, floors and of course new beds and lockers will be installed during the 2015 school year, or as we get funds to complete the work. We are very thankful though that the hardest part of the job is done and just before the rainy season. 

The new roof looks great,
but the floor really looks like it went through a war

Just lacking new windows and doors now

A new front wall had to be built to support the roof on one section

Just in case you forgot what it looked like before

This outdoor bathroom next to the new dorm could be renovated as well

It even has some nice tile 

The old toilets need a little work though

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mission Amatongas Article in Vision Vocation Guide

Starting over from scratch

By Carol Schuck Scheiber. Photos courtesy of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart with special thanks to Brother Chris Sweeney, S.C. Moving from New Orleans to Mozambique was dramatic enough. But for Brother Chris Sweeney, S.C. rebuilding an abandoned school out of the ashes of civil war has made life really interesting.

Click on the link below to read full article in Vision

Miles for Moz Race Swag - Amatongas Style

How's this for race swag? It just can't get any better. Sign up to run or walk for Miles for Moz at the Louisiana Marathon, raise $250 with crowdrise and you will receive this one of a kind, hand made in Amatongas shirt. Since I'm coming in for Christmas, I'll be delivering the shirts myself. However, in order to get these for Christmas, you need to register by December 1, 2014. You can register to run the Full, Half, Quarter, 5K, or Kids Marathon. Here are the links: 
Crowdrise Fundraising:
Menes models our "Made in Amatongas" shirt

Fundraising Websites - Crowdrise

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Gas Kitchen thanks to Manos Unidas

Thanks to our wonderful friends at Manos Unidas we have a new kitchen. No more cooking on the floor over a wood fire. In addition to the two new burners we were able to purchase a new industrial vent, pots and utensils as well as a beautiful new sink and table to prepare and store meals. We are indeed blessed to have Manos Unidas on our side. The kitchen also received a new floor, new windows and paint, though it could use another coat or 10 to cover the years of black soot.

Our wonderful cooks, two special ladies loving their new home.

New gas powered cookers with new pots as well.
Gas tanks

New deep sink, even the cat loves.
 Our baker is happy as well because we now have an electric oven. He now can bake 500 rolls a day, but in half the time.
Our baker loves his new electric oven.

Over 500 rolls a day

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Miles for Moz again at the Louisiana Marathon

"Miles for Moz" will again be raising funds at the Louisiana Marathon Jan. 18, 2015 in Baton Rouge. Pictured below is the dorm we hope to renovate using 100% of money raised this year. The dorm will be used to house young women in the area who would not have the opportunity to continue their education otherwise. Please consider helping us meet one of the greatest needs in Africa, the education of young women. Follow this link to our fundraising page and set up a team of your own.

The dorm we hope to renovate

It's located on the back side of our existing dorm...

...and was used as a hospital maternity ward during the war.

Just needs a new roof, windows, doors, a new floor and lighting

It has been one of my personal frustrations to see young girls here get married off sometimes as young as 13 years of age. Young girls like the one below often do not get a chance to experience their own childhood much less receive an education. It is the world we live in here in Amatongas, but it does not have to continue.
Children taking care of children

Let the Lights Shine

The lights are on in Amatongas thanks to a few generous donors and much patience.

I'll begin this series of posts with one of the most important additions to our campus, a generator. Because of the many problems with electricity since January in central Mozambique our power supply has been cut off more often than it's on. We have been needing a solution for some time. A huge thank you goes out to the family of Br. Noel Lemmon, Mr. and Mrs. Roland Toups and a combination of many others for providing the significant funds to purchase and install this big generator. We now can power the entire campus when the lights go out, a very important thing since we have school at night.
Our new generator...

...just a big tractor motor, but a whole lot more.
 While I was in the U.S. for a few weeks our vegetable gardens continued to grow. We are now harvesting cabbage, tomato, and onion.
Some of our orphans staying with us during the holidays picking cabbage

The cabbages garden
 I was home in Louisiana for a few weeks visiting family, brothers and some of our sponsors. It was a great trip, just a little short this time.
Some of my family in Louisiana, the tall skinny little brother
and his clan at a triathlon for kids.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mass with the Bishop at Santa Clara

The Bishop of the Diocese of Chimoio, the famous Bishop Francisco Silota, began his pastoral visit to our parish this week. During his visit he takes the time to celebrate Mass at one of the many satellite rural churches within the parish. Today our three volunteers joined the Bishop and the priests of the parish at the Community of Santa Clara, about 20 kilometers north of Amatongas.

The church at the Community of Santa Clara

Bishop Francisco Silota

No stained windows, marble floors, or statues.
Just great spirit.
There's something about mass in a rustic church with people who live in houses built in a similar fashion. Nothing against the big multi-million dollar cathedrals, but the spirit in this church can't be beat. Though the differences are startling, it must be said that the same body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ is present in each. It saddens me when I read more and more about the many problems people have with how mass is celebrated and under what conditions. The great love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reaches out to all and through all. I was blessed today to experience his love at Santa Clara.

In this church there's no lack of dancing, clapping and singing.

Our volunteers with the Bishop

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Volunteers Arrive in Amatongas

Our three volunteers from Baton Rouge, La landed at the Beira airport yesterday and hit the ground running as the poor picture below demonstrates. After a 41 hour journey and an adventurous ride down the rough EN6 highway Lindsey, Kelsey, and Matt joined our boarders in time for supper. They will be working in Amatongas for the next two weeks teaching health classes in the primary school, tutoring our students in English and helping in the many tasks around the mission. Thanks to our three volunteers and for all those who helped them get here. We couldn't do the work here without the help from many generous people. We are truly blessed and thank God everyday.

Why I need a new camera.
The 3 volunteers walk from the plane to terminal.

The 3 stars arrive in Mozambique

Volunteers are read a letter of welcome...
...and then they're treated to dancing and singing, of course.

Matt Adler enjoying supper with the students. 

Lindsey Mouton learning some portuguese.
Kelsey Schexnayder returns to Amatongas
for a 2nd volunteer experience.

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Classroom Block Dedicated at Primary School

Just one of our little side projects. Last month the new classroom block at the primary school just across the street from our school was officially dedicated. The ceremony included government officials, school administrators, teacher and students. Br. Angel was the official representative of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Many thanks go to the Foundation Corazonistas in Spain for providing the majority of funding for this project. The four classrooms with new desks were much needed since the elementary school was using some of our classrooms. We now free up three classrooms which can be used for our students.

Four new classrooms with new desks were dedicated.

Br. Angel with other dignitaries

The ceremony draws a crowd... 
...of all ages.

And of course there was much dancing and singing