Good news, I am alive! You did not subscribe for nothing! By the way, thank you to everyone who is subscribed, it is very encouraging to me to know so many people are interested in what is happening in Mumena. And please, pass the link on to other people, I want everyone to know how God is working here!
Having just gotten internet access, I have about 3 weeks to catch you all up on, so here goes….
First I need to introduce you to the team. There is Sam and Ellie Rodriguez. They have been here for 2 1/2 years, and will be here for 2 1/2 more. They are a retired couple and are sent by the Cedar Hill Church of Christ. And then there is the Rick and Karen Love family. Rick and Karen have four children: Matthew (9), Lydia (7), Emily (5) and Caleb (2). They have been here for 6 years and will be in Mumena for another 4. After that they have plans to move to the town closest to us, Solwezi, so the kids can go to a good school (they are home-schooled right now).
Now, I arrived in the dry season (winter). This means the temperatures get up to the mid-90’s in the heat of the day and just walking around outside sucks all the moisture out of you. I’ve been drinking water like crazy, but mild dehydration has been my constant companion. Still though, the mornings and evening are very nice, and the “bad heat” only lasts for about 5 hours before it breaks.
So, my first week here was one of re-immersion into the Kaonde culture. Within the first 3 days I had gathered “bullets” for my “catapult” (small dried balls of mud to be fired from a traditional “Y” slingshot), had a spear made (for killing small rodents and snakes), and got myself a bamboo fishing pole. Since that time I’ve been fishing twice (and caught 3 little fish), hunting with my catapult many times, and killed a mouse with my spear. :)
I’ve always enjoyed this part of the Kaonde culture. When trying to reach people it is vital to form relationships with them, and here a great way to form bonds with the men is to go hunting. Some of these guys are excellent hunters, and killing birds, rats, moles and squirrels is a very real way for them to provide food, and specifically protein, for their families. Now, I’m still practicing with my catapult (2 killed birds from 2 years ago doesn’t count now), but there is an upside to my dismal attempts to hunt. I am a “mizungu” (pronounced me-zoon-goo) and therefore not expected to be able to hunt at all. Therefore any time I even get close to hitting a bird is met with resounding congratulations! I even had a round of applause from some guys, haha. But joking aside, hunting is one of the best ways I have discovered to really connect with this people and show them that I do care about who they are. When I tell new Kaonde I meet that I enjoy hunting with the catapult, they ask me if that is really true, and when I tell them it is I am almost always met with a satisfied smile. I remember when I successfully hunted those birds two years ago – the men called me the “Kaonde-Mizungu Hunter” and told me I was the first mizungu to kill a bird like that. There was so much more excitement and even respect for us interns (Travis Green, Zeke Gustafson and myself) after that. I look forward to my first successful hunt this time around. I want to establish my reputation with the people that I am not just another mizungu that has come here to teach. I want them to see that I have also come to learn.
After that first week, my time here has been spent preparing for and participating in the Muzha Wa Yesu (Servant of Jesus) seminar. This is a 2 week long seminar that is held in April and September for any church leader who wants to come. Sam Rodriguez and I co-taught in the morning the theme of “Discipleship – What it means to be a disciple and disciple others.” Rick taught in the afternoons on the subject of the men’s relationship with their wife and removing sin from our (each man’s) life. He also taught the men how to use Bible study curriculum he is developing, to give the men specific material to use in their own village evangelism that is very simple and easy to work with.
We had a total of 18 men come and stay here at the [Mumena Christian Outreach] Center. It was a good two weeks of learning and sharing, especially by some of the men. There were some that opened up more than is culturally normal, which speaks a lot to their desire to change. We are praying that what the men read in the Bible will stay with them and they will heed God’s Word.
As to other events going on, well, there is always something. That’s the thing about living here, each day is truly a new day. As for big things though, my truck is officially broken. The engine was in a sorry state, and though the mechanic was able to get it to a much better place than it was, my rear differential is completely destroyed. But, I still have a bike! I’m praying that the cost to get the truck completely fixed would not be too high; if it is I may be without vehicular transportation for a while.
I would ask that you pray for the Kaonde people, and especially the church leaders. It seems difficult for them, or perhaps they are still unwilling, to apply what God teaches us and commands us about holy living to their lives. What I have found is that often the men know what to say, but they don’t know (or are unwilling to explain) the deeper implications behind the words. This is the area of teaching that I will be focusing on for now; trying to grow these brothers and sisters in Christ in having a deeper understanding of what they’re reading in the Bible and how it applies to their lives. So please pray for them, and pray that it is God teaching them through me and through His Word.
That’s all for now, pictures to come soon!!!
-He must increase and I must decrease.