Family? Community? Neighbors? All Of The Above? The merging of Mozambican & American culture

By Craig Stevenson

Those who know me well—know that I tell a story about getting to know a man at the Mozambican Embassy here in the USA several years ago. The man was finishing his tour of duty as a consular services member. I asked him what he would miss about the USA and was most excited about in returning home. He said that he would miss the access to everything—he had no idea the access to grocery stores, things, and each other that we had in the USA.

Then, he described a scene about returning home. He said here in the USA, when he has a problem, we have a great service called 911–where a trained professional comes. He said that’s great to get you stabilized, but that person leaves eventually and you don’t have community. In Mozambique, he said, when someone has a problem—he goes to his neighbor. If his neighbor can’t help him—they (together) go to their next neighbor and problem solve—as a community.

The last 18 hours have been a whirlwind. A major health issue caused Ezekiel and Ashley’s parents to reach out to us at 5AM. At around 7:30AM, I picked them up from the local hospital while healing can take place. It’s made me think about that story all day.  They had a need, utilized our USA channels (911) and then also took the next step and reached out to us as ‘neighbors’ — the Mozambican way.

I think a lot about how to describe our relationship with our previous foster children and their family to acquaintances. Under traditional definitions, we don’t fit anything. We’re not family. We’re not neighbors. We’re not even really community members together because of the distance between our homes.  If none of these—then what are we? It’s often hard to explain on social situations….but that’s okay. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I think we’re all of them: family, neighbors, and in community together. This relationship between us and them embodies Christ’s desire for us–to uplift one another. To step in when there are times of need. To not ask too many questions. To allow ourselves to be disrupted–vulnerable.

Kids have an amazing way of just….breaking adults. Ezekiel begged that “Bleed the Same” be played on repeat when we saw them on the 31st—and again at 7:30AM this morning when I picked them up. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know what this means. If you hadn’t, for full understanding, you’ll need to go back and read to get caught up.

At our house, he asked that “Alexa” (Echo Dot) play “Never Alone” by Tori Kelly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this incredible 6 1/2 year old boy—it’s that God speaks to him through music. I fully believe he needed to know, today, that we all bleed the same and hat we are never alone.

The relationship we have with the kids is just incredible, one of respect, love, and happiness. Ezekiel said today several times that he was “happy.” The cheezy smile on Ashley’s face as the day went on was proof of her happiness and non-jealousy of the new baby in the house. On a day where so much crazy took place—they had a place to go to be happy, just what every child deserves. I also know that they will be equally happy to return home in a few days, when their (and our) lives return back to normal.

It’s been an emotional day. I feel all the feelings: loved, like I have love to give, thankfulness, God’s presence in Ezekiel and Ashley’s (and their parents) lives, and just humility for the grace that we are called to give to one another.

Today, be someone’s family, neighbor, and be in community together. You won’t regret it–and you may be more Christ-like and Mozambican-like in it. Today, I felt closer to both Christ and my Mozambican brothers and sisters.

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