Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meeting our Partners

Day 4

So, e3's model is to partner with nationals and help encourage and model healthy evangelism and discipleship.  We work alongside them for a short time, then turn over the reigns to them!  Well, on Day 4 we met our nationals.  Jeremy and I were placed on a team with this girl, Amanda:

Amanda....  nuff said

Amanda was a hoot, and we loved serving with her.  This photo pretty much speaks for itself.  Amanda is so fun, so energetic and positive, and so passionate about Jesus.  I was really struggling on Day 4 due to lack of sleep and a little homesickness too.  I think God placed Amanda with me that week to encourage me and to show me how I needed to be more positive, push through my fatigue, and be joyful as I served.  I was convicted that first day out on the field of my attitude, and I thank Amanda for helping teach me this lesson.  I was reminded of the verses:  "Do everything without complaining." and "God loves a cheerful giver."  

Day Four was Thursday for us.  We headed out on the red, dusty road to our community, Kiri.  The truck dropped us off where we met our nationals, Muni Johnson and Robert Wani.  They live in Kiri village, and they were our ministry partners and translators all week.  Samuel is a church leader that also worked with us most days.  

Robert, Jeremy, Johnson, Me, Samuel
My favorite pic of Jeremy, Robert, and
how Johnson hiked in a shirt and tie all day!

These guys were SO impressive.  Robert is only 17 and Johnson is only 20.  They are mature beyond their years!  Johnson knew so much scripture and lived and breathed it every day.  It definitely convicted all of us to know more of God's word.  They both have attended the local Bible school and hope to be pastors.  Johnson wants to be involved in children's ministry.  

Thursday we walked miles and miles it seemed to various families.  When we entered a family's land, they welcomed us graciously each time.  The Sudanese families live in tuquels (not sure how to spell this, but it's pronounced "two-cull" and it's a grass and mud hut pretty much)  The parents have one hut they share with the babies and each older child has a hut usually.  They are situated in a dirt clearing with a fire pit of some sort nearby.  Surrounding the huts are the family's crops.  Almost everyone had maize growing and most also had cassava and sweet potatoes too.  

typically what a family's home looked like as we walked up
I was amazed by a few things.  First of all, many of the people had pretty large plots of land that they plant and the ONLY tool they use is a handmade hoe.  Seriously, I can't even count how many people I saw out in the middle of a field of grass as tall as me, breaking that soil with a simple hoe.  These are fields we would probably bush-hog first and then run a plow or tiller through several times before planting.  I was amazed at how hard they work to plant their food with just that one simply tool.  

Secondly, I can't believe the number of farm animals that are present.  Literally every place we went had chickens, roosters, goats, and ducks running around.  I can't tell you how many gospel presentations were interrupted by a loud rooster's crow.  The baby goats were quite a distraction too because they are just so darn cute!  Thus, every home we went to smelled of fresh soil and farm animals.  Not a bad smell...very earthy.  Jeremy broke the rules and held this cutie:

Jeremy with baby goat
Thirdly, I was floored by the locals' hospitality.  They didn't have cold drinks or food to offer us, but when we walked up to a family, out of thin air they would produce wooden chairs, plastic chairs, stools, and benches for us to sit on.  They insisted that we take the chairs, and they sat on mats on the ground.  That was their way of welcoming us and making us feel at home.  

Once everyone was gathered around, we used our evangecubes to present the gospel story.  Our translators translated for us.  We typically headed over to Kiri New Life Baptist Church for lunch.  The church was a large mango tree with tree branch benches underneath.  We usually had a prayer and devotion time together.  At around mid-afternoon, we would start our long walk back to the main road to meet our driver.  

Unfortunately, our driver was not where he was supposed to be.  We waited for him under a tree for quite a while when Amanda suggested we just start walking down the main road.  He would be coming that way eventually, so we could meet him midway.  We walked and walked and walked down the red dirt road.  I was beyond tired and feeling like the weakest link as I kept needing to take breaks.  The truck finally came when we were about 2/3 down the main road.  I could not believe how God enabled me to do that amount of walking on our first day out in the village, especially given that I had had no sleep the night before.  

Once back at the compound, my nightly routine was to shower and freshen up, meet in the commons room for dinner with everyone, debrief with the teams (this was my favorite thing), and pray, head to the latrines one last time, and then hit the bed shortly after dark.  I wanted to take advantage of the first few hours of sleep that we would have with our fan ON.  We slept with our door wide open and window curtain wide open too to allow as much air circulation as possible.  Any old chicken or rooster could've wandered right in!  Every night after that first horrible night was much, much cooler thank the Lord. We even got heavy downpours one night that really cooled it down!  Those mosquito nets that tucked into the bed frame around our mattresses were GOLDEN!  I would lie there and hear the little buggers buzzing around the outside of my net.  I don't think I ever would have rested easy without the protection of the nets! 

No one accepted Jesus at Kiri village on that first day, but many other teams saw people be born again at their church sites.  On Day 5, we finally did see some folks come to know Christ at our village.  Keep checking back for that story tomorrow!

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